1 TIMOTHY - CHAPTER 6
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy
of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.”
In those days slavery was
part of the social structure, and it is instructive to note that neither the Lord nor
His disciples ever spoke against it or tried to change the system, the lesson for us
being that we are not left here to promote social reform, but to preach the gospel.
Many of the believers were
slaves, and here Paul instructs them relative to their attitude towards their
masters. They were to be respectful of
them; and in Eph 6:5 the Apostle commands them also to be obedient to their masters;
and in verse nine of that same Epistle he instructs those masters who were believers,
“And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing
that your Master also is in heaven: neither is there respect of persons with him.”
“... that the name of God
and his doctrine be not blasphemed (brought into disrepute or be ill spoken of)”
related to the conduct of those believers who were the slaves of unbelieving masters.
For the slaves to be disrespectful, insolent, lazy, etc., would result in
God’s name being dishonored by those masters.
That many of the believing slaves obeyed Paul’s injunction is attested by
the fact that masters generally were willing to pay higher prices for Christian
It need scarcely be said
that the same principle holds good today relative to the relations between employee
and employer. The believing employee is
to be respectful towards his employer or boss, doing his work as unto the Lord,
Who in the final analysis is really his Employer, see Eph 6:5-8.
At the Bema the Lord will abundantly reward such respectful obedience, and
compensate for all unfair treatment endured for His sake, see Col 3:22-25.
Every believer should remember that he has been bought with the precious blood
of Christ, and is therefore responsible to render Him faithful loyal service as an
expression of gratitude for the love that led Him to pay that price to deliver us
from Satan’s bondage, see 1 Cor 7:21-24.
“And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because
they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved
partakers of the benefit.
These things teach and exhort.”
Believing slaves of
believing masters were to be no less respectful towards them just because faith in
Christ had made them spiritual brothers. The
slaves were, in fact, to render believing masters the more faithful service just
because those masters were believers, and were therefore, as beloved brethren,
worthy of such whole-hearted service. “...
the benefit” here seems to refer to the benefit that such masters would derive from
just such service, though some understand it to mean that they, in common with their
believing slaves, are partakers of the benefit of the common salvation.
Timothy was to be faithful
in teaching these things, and in exhorting slaves and masters alike to obey that
teaching. The principle is no less
valid, nor the teaching and exhortation less needful in this present day of the big
impersonal corporation. Christians in
managerial positions are to act so as to glorify Christ; and believers under
managerial control are also to glorify Him by their respectful obedience and
diligence. See also Tit 2:9; 1 Pe 2:18,
and of course the Epistle to Philemon, for additional instruction concerning the
conduct of slaves and masters.
“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the
words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to
“He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of
words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,”
Here Paul instructs Timothy
relative to those who would teach differently, rejecting Paul’s words, even though
what he taught was what was given him by the Lord Himself, he being simply the
Lord’s spokesman, and his doctrine therefore being that which would produce godly
conduct in those who obeyed.
The man who would reject
Paul’s teaching is described as being puffed up with pride, or as the NEB version
translates it, “is a pompous ignoramus.” “...doting
about questions, etc.,” is variously translated as, “diseased about questionings
and word-battles” - “with a sickly appetite for disputations and contentions
about words” - “a morbid appetite for discussions and controversies.”
Vine’s explanation of
“doting” is, “to be ill ... ailing, whether in body or mind; hence to be taken
with such a morbid interest in a thing as to be tantamount to a disease.... The
primary meaning of “dote” is to be foolish ... unsound.”
Such an attitude foments
envy (the false teachers envied one another), strife or wrangling (they argued, and
contradicted one another), railings (denunciations of one another often expressed in
scriptural language so as to lend imagined validity to the arguments and
denunciations), and evil surmisings or suspicions (attributing evil motives to those
who opposed them). William MacDonald,
quoting Lenski, writes, “In their questions and word battles, one envies the other
because of the proficiency which he develops; there is strife as they vie with and
contradict each other; blasphemies result, namely, denunciations couched in sacred
words.” In contrast with sound or
healthy doctrine which produces spiritual health, the unhealthy teaching of these
spiritually sick teachers produces spiritually sick Christians, and therefore
spiritually sick assemblies.
While there are some genuine
believers who are given to disputatious wrangling over words, and whose activity mars
many a Bible study, it is clear that the men being described here by Paul are not
believers at all.
“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth,
supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
Perverse disputings is
variously rendered “wranglings” - “perpetual contention” - “constant
friction,” while “men of corrupt minds” are those whose minds are depraved,
perverted, warped by sin and rejection of the truth.
Their perverted reasoning had produced a mind set against the truth.
They deliberately sought every imagined justification for rejecting it and
accepting instead Satan’s lies.
“... destitute of the
truth” is literally “robbed of, or who have lost the truth,” not in the sense
that they had ever possessed it, but rather that their lust for money and power had
blinded them to the truth.
“... supposing that gain
is godliness” means simply that they see Christianity as nothing but a means of
making money. It is apparent that the
clerical system is governed largely by just such thinking, the majority of those who
comprise it viewing it simply as a
gainful trade similar to medicine, law, engineering, teaching, etc. The whole system which governs “Christianity” (Catholic and
Protestant alike) is infected with the same evil mind set.
Look, for example, at all the money-making schemes being used to finance its
operations. The “Christian” house of
God has become virtually the same “house of merchandise” as was denounced by the
Lord in Jn 2:16.
The words “... from such
withdraw thyself” are not found in most manuscripts, but that doesn’t detract
from the soundness of the advice. We
should keep ourselves far away from all such men, systems, and schemes.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
basically related to the idea of having sufficiency, of having enough, needing no
assistance. According to Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, it means
“a perfect condition of life, in which no aid or support is needed; a sufficiency
of the necessaries of life: a mind contented with its lot; sufficient for one’s
self, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support; independent of
external circumstances; contented with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the
slenderest.” For the believer this
self-sufficiency is the result of having total trust in the sufficiency of God, and
of having that dependence upon Him which believes implicitly that His perfect wisdom
combines with His perfect love to ordain or permit all the circumstances of our lives
for our ultimate blessing, as it is written, “... all things work together for good
to them that love God” Ro 8:28.
In contrast with the worldly
attitude that sees “religion” as simply a means to financial gain, the
contentment which accompanies godliness is true gain, for it gives peace here on
earth, and at the Bema will bring eternal reward.
(As noted already, godliness is that manner of life which reflects the
thinking, speech, and conduct of God Himself as displayed in the life of the Lord
“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry
Some translate this verse as
“We brought nothing into the world, since (because) we take nothing out either.” It is strange that a fact so axiomatic is so universally rejected
as is manifested in the diligence with which we seek earthly wealth and ignore that
which is eternal. He is a wise man who
learns early to evaluate the worth of earthly things by the standards of heaven, and
who doesn’t impoverish himself eternally by the vain pursuit of the temporal.
MacDonald has very aptly commented, “There are three times in life when we
have empty hands - at birth, at the time we come to Jesus, and at death.”
“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
In the original this is a
statement of fact rather than a command, the “let us be therewith content” being
“we shall be content therewith.” The
reason so few of us achieve this high standard is that we fail to distinguish between
our needs and our wants. God has
promised to supply the former, not the latter.
“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many
foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
Those who set their hearts
on being rich expose themselves to many temptations which Satan uses to lure them on
step-by-step to ruin, for once the heart has been set on riches it will never be
satisfied. No matter how much is
accumulated it never seems enough. There
is the insatiable longing for more. The
craving for wealth is in the same category as the four things which are never
satisfied, “The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with
water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough,” Pr 30:15-16. Those who crave wealth are like creatures caught in a snare.
Unless delivered by God, their end is death: death for the unbeliever being
consignment to the eternal torment of the lake of fire; and for the believer, eternal
loss of reward at the Bema.
“... foolish and hurtful
lusts” is rendered by TCNT as “foolish and harmful ambitions,” and by Phillips,
as “silly and wicked desires.”
The craving for riches is
foolish in several ways. When attained,
the riches bring no lasting peace or satisfaction; and his pursuit of money robs the
man of time and energy that might have been devoted to the accumulation of eternal
treasure. It also tends to make him
selfish, and a hindrance rather than a help to the assembly of which he is a member.
It is almost always associated with shady business methods, lies, etc.
Relative to “destruction
and perdition:” in the case of the unbeliever the pursuit of wealth will occupy him
to the exclusion of any concern about his soul, and will thus drag him down to hell.
It is significant that the word “perdition” is used in connection with
Judas, Jn 17:12, and the beast, Re 17:8. In
the case of the believer, it will ruin his testimony here on earth, and leave him to
enter heaven without a reward, as described in 1 Cor 3:15 “...saved; yet so as by
fire,” i.e., all the activity related to the pursuit of this world’s wealth will
prove to be the equivalent of “wood, hay, and stubble” which will not survive the
testing by fire at the judgment seat of Christ.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted
after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many
Every commentator has
pointed out the obvious: it is not the money itself, but the inordinate love of it
that produces all kinds of evil. It is
to be noted also that the more accurate rendering of this verse is “a” not
“the” root, not of all or every evil, but of a variety of evils, for clearly the
love of money is not the only thing which produces evil.
It is unclear whether the
“some (who have) coveted after” and have “... erred from the faith” are
believers or unbelievers, but in either case the result is that the individual
suffers many painful prickings of conscience, and as the end of life approaches, has
also bitter regrets over a wasted life.
“But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness,
godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
“Flee” not only suggests
the thought of urgency in getting away from the evil of loving money, but indicates
also how evil such a love is. Nor is the
fleeing a one time only act. The idea is
of fleeing continually from evil. It is
not, however, good enough to flee from the evil of loving money: there is to be the
equally energetic pursuit of good. Righteousness
is simply the doing of what is right in the sight of God and man, while godliness is
that pattern of thought, word, and deed which reflects the thoughts, words, and deeds
of God Himself, as demonstrated in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Faith refers to that
attitude of mind which believes implicitly that every circumstance of life is
ordained or permitted by God, and is designed for our eternal blessing.
It may also refer to faithfulness in doing whatever God gives us to do, and it
is to be remembered that every believer has been commanded, “To ye into all the
world, and preach the gospel to every creature,” Mk 16:15.
Not everyone has the ability to preach, but everyone can at least pass on a
The love mentioned here is
not the sentimental thing which the world calls love, but rather that response to
God’s goodness which expresses itself in obedience, the Lord Himself declaring,
“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jn 14:15.
That obedience, however, requires us also to act towards others in love, as it
is written, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love
one to another,” Jn 13:35. That it is
possible to manifest such love to all men is made clear when we remember that it
doesn’t require us to have for everyone the same emotional love we have for our
spouses, children, parents etc., but that we act towards them as though we had that
Patience needs little
comment except to note that the frenzied busyness of our modern world is more
conducive to impatience than its godly opposite, but that is all the more reason why
we should strive for God’s ideal, particularly in the midst of trial.
What makes the cultivation
of meekness (a kindly gentle disposition) so difficult is that it is often mistaken
for cowardice. Attainment of the divine
ideal, however, will be easier if we remember that God values meekness highly, and it
is His opinion, not man’s, that matters.
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art
also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
This reminds us that faith
in Christ automatically sets us at odds with Satan, unconverted men, and the world in
general, to say nothing of our own old nature, the contest beginning the moment we
trust Christ as Savior, and continuing until we enter heaven.
Its being described as a “good” fight declares the truth that all the
things we are called upon to fight against are evil, because they are the inveterate
foes of God, and therefore of us who through faith in Christ, possess His life and
They cannot keep us out of
heaven, but they can rob us of our peace, and the joy of communion, and of the reward
with which the Lord has promised to recompense obedience, hence the exhortation here
to keep a firm grip on all that pertains to eternal life, lest our enemies rob us of
what God has given us and wants us to enjoy, not only here on earth, but also in
“... whereunto thou art
also called” reminds us that God, through the gospel, called us to the enjoyment of
present and eternal blessing; and having taken hold of His priceless gift of eternal
life, we are not to permit anyone or anything to rob us of any part of that glorious
We are to remember, however,
that profession (more correctly confession) is inseparably linked with that gift, as
it is written, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth
confession is made unto salvation,” Ro 10:9-10.
“I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and
before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;”
“That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the
appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:”
Paul’s command to Timothy
to “fight the good fight of faith” was given in the presence of witnesses: God,
Who is the Source and Observer of all life; and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who when He
was arraigned before Pilate, fearlessly witnessed to the truth, even though He knew
that that testimony would result in His death. The
reference to God as the Source of all life may have been to remind Timothy that even
if the confession of his faith resulted in his death at the hand of man, the God they
both served is the God of resurrection Who raised the Lord Jesus Christ up from
death, as He will also every believer.
Timothy was being reminded
that God Himself would be the Witness as to how faithfully he carried out Paul’s
instructions. We should remember that
our lives are also lived under that same divine scrutiny, and that we have the
Lord’s example to encourage us.
Timothy was to fight the
good fight, and maintain a fearless testimony for God, being careful to keep himself
from any taint of sin, or of anything that might afford anyone opportunity to
reproach him, and through him the Lord Jesus Christ.
We should exercise the same care relative to our own lives.
The mention of the Lord’s
appearing indicates that Paul viewed that event as being imminent, but two thousand
years have passed since then, and with the canon of Scripture complete we have
available to us information not available to the Apostle.
Since one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as
one day, the Lord’s return was in a sense imminent in Paul’s day, but with
the foretold events of those two thousand years virtually all fulfilled, we have the
assurance that literally that return could be today.
May we then have the wisdom to walk in the light of that knowledge.
Today may be the last opportunity we will have to witness to the saving and
keeping power of the Lord Jesus Christ. (It
is necessary to note that the appearing spoken of here is that of the Lord in glory
with His saints at the end of the Tribulation, to inaugurate His millennial kingdom,
that return, of course, being preceded by His coming to the air seven years earlier, before
the Tribulation, to rapture His church home to heaven).
“Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate,
the King of kings, and Lord of lords;”
That glorious appearing of
Christ is an event which God, the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of
lords,” will bring about in His own predetermined time, but which we know from
Scripture to now be very near. Since
this is the same description given of Christ in Re 17:14, it emphasizes His equality
with the Father.
“Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach
unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting.
deathlessness, declares that God will never die, hence the need for God the Son,
coequal with God the Father, to become Man: as God He could not die.
The brightness of that light which is the very essence of God would destroy
man in his natural state, so that no man in his natural body has seen, or can see
God. God at times has appeared in human
form to men (such an appearance is called a theophany), but never in all the
effulgence of His glory. It to this same
One that all honor and everlasting power belong.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor
trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to
Those who have been
entrusted with this world’s wealth are not to be proud, arrogant, haughty, etc.,
nor are they to place confidence in those same riches, but rather in the glorious God
described in the preceding verses. Their
trust is to be in Him Who has given them the riches, and Who can also take them away
again. Riches may fly away, but the
immortal, unchanging God is the eternal Portion of all who trust in Him.
Unlike the riches of earth, the things He gives us for our enjoyment are like
Himself, eternal. Earthly riches are never to be taken as evidence of God’s
blessing. They are given to test us.
Accepted as from Him, and used for His glory, they are a blessing.
Looked upon as being the result of our own efforts or cleverness, or used for
our own selfish pleasure, they are a curse.
“That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute,
willing to communicate;”
The rich, instead of using
their riches to gratify their own desires, are to use them to alleviate the need of
the poor. Their being “rich in good
works” implies that this godly use of earthly riches will make them rich eternally:
the Lord will recompense them at the Bema.
“... ready to
distribute” means simply to be free or generous in sharing their riches with those
in need. They are to use their wealth in the same spirit as was enjoined by
the Lord when He sent the disciples out richly endowed with spiritual wealth, saying
”... freely ye have received, freely give,” Mt 10:8.
“... willing to
communicate,” is rendered as, “inclined to make others sharers in one’s
possessions, inclined to impart, free in giving, liberal,” Thayer’s Greek-English
Lex of the NT. Connected with this
kind of giving is the thought of fellowship with the one benefitted.
In other words, it rules out that cold impersonal giving which is associated
with organizational giving where giver and recipient never know each other.
“Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to
come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
This isn’t teaching
salvation by works, but rather that giving, according to the principles set forth,
forms a good foundation upon which to rest the assurance that at the Bema all such
giving will bring a great and eternal reward in the currency of heaven, for “the
time to come” clearly points to that day of review and reward of earthly service
rendered to Christ.
“... that they may lay
hold on eternal life,” doesn’t mean that they acquire eternal life by liberal
giving, but that such giving is one of the evidences that they already have eternal
“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and
vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:”
In the preceding verse Paul
has referred to liberal giving as being the equivalent of a deposit laid up in
heaven, and here by means of a similar metaphor he describes what Timothy has
received from God as being something that God has entrusted to him or has deposited
with him, and he exhorts his young friend to guard that deposit with the same care as
does God what men commit to His safekeeping.
The exhortation extends also to us, for God has committed to our trust the
same faith (sound doctrine) as He had deposited with Timothy.
“Profane and vain
babblings” are variously translated as “irreligious and frivolous talk; worldly,
futile phrases; irreligious and empty discussions; empty and worldly chatter.”
How frequently we are guilty of this very sin! How seldom we engage in the discussion of spiritual things!
“Science” is literally
“so-called knowledge.” It is to be
noted that such “knowledge” is in opposition to what is of God.
It objects to, and contradicts what God says.
Timothy was to avoid all such profitless discussion, and so are we.
“Which some professing have erred from the faith.
Grace be with you. Amen.”
Some professing to have this
so-called superior knowledge had “erred concerning the faith,” that is, they had
gone far astray from the faith: they had never known it: they were Satan’s agents
masquerading as believers, and attempting to discredit sound doctrine.
Christendom today is filled with such false teachers who sneer at sound
doctrine as being unworthy of acceptance by intelligent people.
Paul’s closing words
express his wish that Timothy may continue under God’s favor and blessing.
That grace was never more needed than today faced as we are by the
intellectualism of our “educated” western world which is directing all its power
to destroying the knowledge of God.