corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Timothy 6

 

 

Verse 1

1 Timothy 6:1. The politico-social problem of the first ages of Christianity was the relation of freemen to slaves, just as the corresponding problem before the Church in our own day is the relation of the white to the coloured races. The grand truth of the brotherhood of man is the revolutionary fire which Christ came to cast upon earth. Fire, if it is to minister to civilisation, must be so controlled as to be directed. So with the social ethics of Christianity; the extent to which their logical consequences are pressed must be calculated by common sense. One of the great dangers to the interests of the Church in early times was the teaching of the gospel on liberty and equality, crude and unqualified by consideration of the other natural social conditions, also divinely ordered, which Christianity was called to leaven, not wholly to displace.

The slave problem also meets us in Ephesians 6:5, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9, Philem. 1 Peter 2:18. In each place it is dealt with consistently, practically, Christianly.

The difficulty in this verse is ὑπὸ ζυγόν. The contrast in 1 Timothy 6:2, οἱ δὲ πιστ. ἔχ. δεσπ. seems to prove that a δοῦλος ὑπὸ ζυγόν is one that belongs to a heathen master. The R.V. is consistent with this view, Let as many as are servants under the yoke. The heathen estimate of a slave differed in degree, not in kind, from their estimate of cattle; a Christian master could not regard his slaves as ὑπὸ ζυγόν.

τοὺς ἰδίους δεσπότας: The force of ἴδιος was so much weakened in later Greek that it is doubtful if it amounts here to more than αὐτῶν. See on 1 Timothy 3:4.

δεσπότης is more strictly the correlative of δοῦλος than is κύριος, and is used in this sense in reff. except Luke 2:29. St. Paul has κύριος in his other epistles (Romans 14:4; Galatians 4:1; Ephesians 6:5; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:22; Colossians 4:1); but, as Wace acutely remarks, in all these passages there is a reference to the Divine κύριος which gives the term a special appropriateness.

πάσης τιμῆς ἀξίους, worthy of the greatest respect.

ἵνα μὴβλασφημῆται: The phrase “blaspheme the name of God” comes from Isaiah 52:5 (cf. Ezekiel 36:20-23). See Romans 2:24, 2 Peter 2:2. See note on 1 Timothy 6:14. The corresponding passage in Titus 2:10, ἵνα τὴν διδασκαλίαν τὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ κοσμῶσιν, supports Alford’s contention that the article here is equivalent to a possessive pronoun, His doctrine. On the other hand, the phrase does not need any explanation; the doctrine would be quite analogous to St. Paul’s use elsewhere when speaking of the Christian faith. For διδασκαλία, see note on 1 Timothy 1:10.


Verse 1-2

1 Timothy 6:1-2. The duty of Christian slaves to heathen and Christian masters respectively.


Verse 2

1 Timothy 6:2. A Christian slave would be more likely to presume on his newly acquired theory of liberty, equality and fraternity in relation to a Christian master than in relation to one that was a heathen. The position of a Christian master must have been a difficult one, distracted between the principles of a faith which he shared with his slave, and the laws of a social state which he felt were not wholly wrong. 1 Corinthians 7:22 and Philemon 1:16 illustrate the position.

μᾶλλον δουλευέτωσαν: serve them all the more, magis serviant (Vulg.).

For this use of μᾶλλον cf. Romans 14:13, 1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 6:7; 1 Corinthians 6:9, Ephesians 4:28; Ephesians 5:11. Ignat. Polyc. 4 says of Christian slaves, μηδὲ αὐτοὶ φυσιούσθωσαν, ἀλλʼ εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πλέον δουλευέτωσαν.

ὅτι πιστοί, κ. τ. λ.: The Christian slave is to remember that the fact of his master being a Christian, believing and beloved, entitles him to service better, if possible, than that due to a heathen master. The slave is under a moral obligation to render faithful service to any master. If the spiritual status of the master be raised, it is reasonable that the quality of the service rendered be not lowered, but rather idealised. “The benefit is the improved quality of the service, and they that partake of or enjoy it are the masters” (Field in loc.). So Vulg., qui beneficii participes sunt.

εὐεργεσία has its usual non-religious signification, as in Acts 4:9. It does not indicate the goodness of God in redemption, as suggested in A.V., influenced no doubt directly by Calvin and Beza, though the explanation is as old as Ambr., because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. On the other hand, it is more natural to use εὐεργεσία of the kindness of an employer to a servant or employee, than of the advantage gained by the employer from his servant’s good-will. Accordingly Chrysostom takes it here in the former sense, the whole clause referring to the slaves. Von Soden, taking εὐεργεσία similarly, renders, as those who occupy themselves in doing good. No doubt the best reward of faithful service is the acquisition of a character of trustworthiness and the grateful love of the master to whom you are invaluable; but it is rather far-fetched to read this subtle meaning into the passage before us. In support of the view taken above, Alford quotes from Seneca, De Beneficiis, iii. 18, a discussion of the query, “An beneficium dare servus domino possit?” which Seneca answers in the affirmative, adding further: “Quidquid est quod servilis officii formulam excedit, quod non ex imperio sed ex voluntate praestatur, beneficium est”. See Lightfoot, Philippians, 270 sqq., St. Paul and Seneca.

ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι: ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι properly means to lay hold of, hence to help, as in reff.; and the Harclean Syriac gives that sense here. Like our English word apprehend, it passes from an association with the sense of touch to an association with the other senses or faculties which connect us with things about us. Field (in loc.) gives examples of the use of ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι as expressive of a person being sensible of anything which acts upon the senses, e.g., the smell of a rose. The Peshitta agrees with this. Alford renders mutually receive, by which he seems to intend the same thing as Ell., who suggests that ἀντί has “a formal reference to the reciprocal relation between master and servant”. Field rejects this because “receive in exchange” is ἀντιλαμβάνειν, and the examples cited by Alf. are middle only in form.

δίδασκε καὶ παρακάλει: See note on 1 Timothy 4:13.


Verse 3

1 Timothy 6:3. ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ: See note on 1 Timothy 1:3.

καὶ μὴ: Blass (Gramm. p. 514) notes this case of μή following εἰ with the indicative (supposed reality) as an abnormal conformity to classical use. The usual N.T. use, εἰοὐ, appears in 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 Timothy 5:8. In these examples, however, the οὐ is in the same clause as εἰ, not separated from it, as here, by a καί.

προσέρχεται: assents to. The noun προσήλυτος, proselyte, “one who has some over,” might alone render this use of προσέρχομαι defensible. But Ell. gives examples of this verb from Irenæus and Philo; and Alf. from Origen, which completely justify it. The reading προσέχεται, which seems to derive support from the use of προσέχειν, 1 Timothy 1:4, Titus 1:14, has not exactly the same force; “to give heed,” or “attend to,” a doctrine falls short of giving in one’s adhesion to it.

ὑγιαίνουσι λόγοις: See on 1 Timothy 1:10.

τοῖς τοῦ κυρίου: This is in harmony with St. Paul’s teaching elsewhere, that the words spoken through the prophets of the Lord are the Lord’s own words. It is thus we are to understand Acts 16:7, “The Spirit of Jesus suffered them not,” and 1 Corinthians 11:23, “I received of the Lord,” etc. The words of Jesus, “He that heareth you heareth me” (Luke 10:16) have a wider reference than was seen at first.

τῇ κατʼ εὐσέβειαν διδασκαλίᾳ: See ref. and notes on 1 Timothy 1:10, 1 Timothy 2:2.


Verses 3-21

1 Timothy 6:3-21. Thoughts about the right use of wealth are suggested by the slave problem, a mischievous attitude towards which is associated with false doctrine. If a man possesses himself, he has enough. This possession is eternal as well as temporal. This is my lesson for the poor, for you as a man of God (and I solemnly adjure you to learn and teach it), and for the rich.


Verse 4

1 Timothy 6:4. τετύφωται: inflatus est ((290), (291)50, (292)); superbus est (Vulg.). See on 1 Timothy 3:6.

νοσῶν: morbidly busy (Liddon), languens (Vulg.), aegrotans ((293)50). His disease is intellectual curiosity about trifles. Both doting and mad after (Alf.) as translations of νοσῶν, err by excess of vigour. The idea is a simple one of sickness as opposed to health. See on 1 Timothy 1:10.

περὶ: For this use of περί see on 1 Timothy 1:19.

ζητήσεις: See on 1 Timothy 1:4.

λογομαχίας: It is not clear whether what is meant are wordy quarrels or quarrels about words. The latter seems the more likely. There is here the usual antithesis of words to deeds. The heretic spoken of is a theorist merely; he wastes time in academic disputes; he does not take account of things as they actually are. On the other hand, it is interesting and suggestive that to the heathen, the controversy between Christianity and Judaism seemed to be of this futile nature (see Acts 18:15; Acts 23:29; Acts 25:19).

φθόνος, ἔρις are similarly juxtaposed Romans 1:29, Galatians 5:20-21, Philippians 1:15.

The plural ἔρεις is a well-supported variant in Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:20. In Titus 3:9 it is the true reading; but in other lists of vices (1 Corinthians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 12:20, Philippians 1:15) the singular is found.

βλασφημία also occurs in a list of sins, Ephesians 4:31, Colossians 3:8.

ὑπόνοιαι πονηραί: ὑπόνοια (only here in N.T., but ὑπονοέω in Acts 13:25; Acts 25:18; Acts 27:27, all in neutral sense, to suppose) has sometimes the sense of suspicion. See examples given by Ell. The phrase here does not mean wicked or unworthy thoughts of God—the class of mind here spoken of does not usually think about God directly, though an unworthy opinion about Him underlies their life—but malicious suspicions as to the honesty of those who differ from them.


Verse 5

1 Timothy 6:5. διαπαρατριβαί: The force of the διά is expressed in the R.V., wranglings, which denotes protracted quarrellings, perconfricationes ((294)), conflictationes ((295), Vulg.). Field (in loc.) comparing διαμάχεσθαι, διαφιλοτιμεῖσθαι, etc., prefers the sense of reciprocity, mutual irritations, gallings one of another (A.V. m.), “as infected sheep by contact communicate disease to the sound” (Chrys.). παραδιατριβαί (T.R.), perverse disputings, is given a milder sense by Winer-Moulton, Gram. p. 126, “misplaced diligence or useless disputing”.

διεφθαρμένων τὸν νοῦν: cf. κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν, 2 Timothy 3:8, the acc. being that of the remoter object. Cf., for the notion, τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν φθειρόμενον κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης, Ephesians 4:22, also 1 Corinthians 15:33, 2 Corinthians 11:3, Judges 1:10.

ἀπεστερημένων: privati. ἀποστερέω conveys the notion of a person being deprived of a thing to which he has a right. See reff. This is expressed in R.V., bereft of. The truth was once theirs; they have disinherited themselves. The A.V., destitute of, does not assume that they ever had it.

νομιζόντων, κ. τ. λ.: since they suppose. For this use of the participle Bengel compares Romans 2:18; Romans 2:20, 2 Timothy 2:21, Hebrews 6:6.

πορισμόν: a means of gain, quaestus. The commentators quote Plutarch, Cato Major, § 25, δυσὶ κεχρῆσθαι μόνοις πορισμοῖς, γεωργίᾳ καὶ φειδοῖ.

τὴν εὐσέβειαν: not godliness in general, pietatem (Vulg.), but the profession of Christianity, culturam Dei ((296)50). See 1 Timothy 2:2. Allusions elsewhere to those who supposed that the gospel was a means of making money have usually reference to self-interested and grasping teachers (2 Corinthians 11:12; 2 Corinthians 12:17-18; Titus 1:11; 2 Peter 2:3). Here the significance of the clause may be that the false teachers demoralised slaves, suggesting to slaves who were converts, or possible converts, that the profession of Christianity involved an improvement in social position and worldly prospects. The article before εὐσεβ. shews that the A.V. is wrong, supposing that gain is godliness.


Verse 6

1 Timothy 6:6. The repetition of πορισμός in a fresh idealised sense is parallel to the transfigured sense in which νομίμως is used in 1 Timothy 1:8.

αὐταρκείας: not here sufficientia (Vulg.), though that is an adequate rendering in 2 Corinthians 9:8. St. Paul did not mean to express the sentiment of the A.V. of Ecclesiastes 7:11, “Wisdom is good with an inheritance”. Contentment does not even give his meaning. Contentment is relative to one’s lot; αὐτάρκεια is more profound, and denotes independence of, and indifference to, any lot; a man’s finding not only his resources in himself, but being indifferent to everything else besides. This was St. Paul’s condition when he had learnt to be αὐτάρκης, Philippians 4:11. “Lord of himself, though not of lands” (Sir. H. Wotston). See chap. 1 Timothy 4:8. The popular as opposed to the philosophical use of αὐτάρκεια, as evidenced by the papyri, is simply enough. See Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., vi. 375.


Verse 7

1 Timothy 6:7. The reasoning of this clause depends on the evident truth that since a man comes naked into this world (Job 1:21), and when he leaves it can “take nothing for his labour, which he may carry away in his hand” (Ecclesiastes 5:15; Psalms 49:17), nothing the world can give is any addition to the man himself. He is a complete man, though naked (Matthew 6:25; Luke 12:15; Seneca, Ep. Mor. lii. 25, “Non licet plus efferre quam intuleris”).

Field is right in supposing that if δῆλον, as read in the Received Text, is spurious, yet “there is an ellipsis of δῆλον, or that ὅτι is for δῆλον ὅτι. L. Bos adduces but one example of this ellipsis, 1 John 3:20 : ὅτι ἐὰν καταγινώσκῃ ἡμῶν καρδία, ὅτι μείζων ἐστὶν θεὸς τῆς καρδίας ἡμῶν; in which, if an ellipsis of δῆλον before the second ὅτι. were admissible, it would seem to offer an easy explanation of that difficult text.” Field adds two examples from St. Chrysostom. Hort’s conjecture that “ ὅτι is no more than an accidental repetition of the last two letters of κόσμον, ον being read as οτι” is almost certainly right.


Verse 8

1 Timothy 6:8. ἔχοντες δέ: The δέ has a slightly adversative force, guarding against a too literal conclusion from 1 Timothy 6:7. It is true that “unaccommodated man” (Lear, iii. 4) is “a man for a’ that,” yet he has wants while alive, though his real wants are few.

σκεπάσματα: may include clothes and shelter, covering (R.V.), tegumentum ((297)), quibus tegamur, as the Vulg. well puts it; but the word is used of clothing only in Josephus (B. J. ii. 8. 5; Ant. xv. 9, 2). So A.V., raiment, (298), vestitum (so Chrys.).

Jacob specifies only “bread to eat and raiment to put on” (Genesis 28:20); but the Son of Sirach is more indulgent to the natural man (Sirach 29:21; Sirach 39:26-27).

ἀρκεσθησόμεθα: This future is imperatival, or authoritative, as Alf. calls it. He cites in illustration, Matthew 5:48, ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι. From this point of view, the R.V., We shall be therewith content, cf. reff., is preferable to his rendering (which is equivalent to R.V. m.), With these we shall be sufficiently provided (cf. Matthew 25:9; John 6:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9).


Verse 9

1 Timothy 6:9. οἱ δὲ βουλόμενοι: St. Chrysostom calls attention to the fact that St. Paul does not say, They that are rich, but They that desire to be rich (R.V.), they that make the acquisition of riches their aim. The warning applies to all grades of wealth: all come under it whose ambition is to have more money than that which satisfies their accustomed needs. We are also to note that what is here condemned is not an ambition to excel in some lawful department of human activity, which though it may bring an increase in riches, develops character, but the having a single eye to the accumulation of money by any means. This distinction is drawn in Proverbs 28:20 : “A faithful man shall abound with blessings: But he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be unpunished”.

ἐμπίπτουσιν. Wetstein notes the close parallel in the words of Seneca: “Dum divitias consequi volumus in mala multa incidimus” (Ep. 87). Cf. also James 1:2, πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις. πειρασμόν refers rather to the consequencess of one’s money-grubbing spirit on others, παγίδα to its disastrous effect on one’s own character.

ἀνοήτους καὶ βλαβεράς: The desires in question are foolish, because they cannot be logically defended; they are hurtful, because they hinder true happiness. See Proverbs 23:4, “Weary not thyself to be rich”.

αἵτινες: qualitative, such as.

βυθίζουσιν: The word is found in its literal signification in Luke 5:7. Moulton and Milligan (Expositor, vii., vi. 381) illustrate its use here from a papyrus of cent. 1 B.C., συνεχέσι πολέμοις καταβυθισθεῖ[ σαν] τὴν πόλιν. Bengel notes on ἐμπίπτ. βυθίζ., “incidunt: mergunt. Tristis gradatio.” We must not lose sight of εἰς. Destruction and perdition are not, strictly speaking, the gulf in which the men are drowned. The lusts, etc., overwhelm them; and the issue is destruction, etc. See reff. on ἀπώλειαν.


Verse 10

1 Timothy 6:10. ῥίζα, κ. τ. λ.: The root of all evils. The R.V., a root of all kinds of evil is not satisfactory. The position of ῥίζα in the sentence shows that it is emphatic. Field (in loc.) cites similar examples of the absence of the article collected by Wetstein from Athenæus, vii. p. 280 A ( ἀρχὴ καὶ ῥίζα παντὸς ἀγαθοῦ τῆς γαστρὸς ἡδονή), and Diog. Lært. vi. 50; and adds five others from his own observation. It is, besides, unreasonable in the highest degree to expect that on the ground of his inspiration, St. Paul’s ethical statements in a letter should be expressed with the precision of a text book. When one is dealing with a degrading vice of any kind, the interests of virtue are not served by qualified assertions.

φιλαργυρία: avaritia ((299)) rather than cupiditas ((300), (301), Vulg.). The use of this word supports the exposition given above of 1 Timothy 6:9. Love of money, meanness and covert dishonesty where money is concerned, is the basest species of the genus πλεονεξία.

ἡς: In sense the relative refers to ἀργύριον, understood out of φιλαργυρία, with which it agrees in grammar. The meaning is clear enough; but the expression of it is inaccurate. This occurs when a man’s power of grammatical expression cannot keep pace with his thought. Alf. cites as parallels, Romans 8:24, ἐλπὶς βλεπομένη, and Acts 24:15, ἐλπὶδαἣν καὶ αὐτοὶ οὗτοι προσδέχονται.

τινες: See note on ch. 1 Timothy 1:3.

ὀρεγόμενοι: reaching after (R.V.) expresses the most defensible aspect of coveting (A.V.).

ἀπεπλανήθησαν: peregrinati sunt ((302)) erraverunt ((303), Vulg.). The faith is a very practical matter. Have been led astray (R.V.) continues the description of the man who allows himself to be the passive subject of temptation. Chrys. illustrates the use of this word here from an absent-minded man’s passing his destination without knowing it.

περιέπειραν: inseruerunt se. The force of περί in this compound is intensive, as in περιάπτω, περικαλύπτω, περικρατής, περικρύπτω, περίλυπος.

ὀδύναις πολλαῖς: There is a touch of pity in this clause, so poignantly descriptive of a worldling’s disillusionment.


Verse 11

1 Timothy 6:11. ἄνθρωπε θεοῦ: It argues a very inadequate appreciation of the fervour of the writer to suppose, as Theod. does, that this is an official title. The apostrophe is a personal appeal, arising out of the topic of other-worldliness which begins in 1 Timothy 6:5. Timothy, as a Christian man, had been called to a heavenly citizenship. He was a man of God, i.e., a man belonging to the spiritual order of things with which that which is merely temporal, transitory and perishing can have no permanent relationship. The term occurs again, with an admittedly general reference, in 2 Timothy 3:17. In any case Man of God, as an official title, belonged to prophets, the prophets of the Old Covenant; and we have no proof that Timothy was a prophet of the New Covenant, though he was an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5), and possibly an apostle (1 Thessalonians 2:6).

ταῦτα: i.e., φιλαργυρία and its attendant evils. Love of money in ministers of religion does more to discredit religion in the eyes of ordinary people than would indulgence in many grosser vices.

It is to be noted that φεῦγε· δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην, πίστιν, ἀγάπην recurs in 2 Timothy 2:22. The phraseology is based on Proverbs 15:9, διώκοντας δὲ δικαιοσύνην ἀγαπᾷ, and is thoroughly Pauline, as the reff. prove. The six virtues fall perhaps into three pairs, as Ell. suggests: “ δικαιοσ. and εὐσέβ. have the widest relations, pointing to general conformity to God’s law and practical piety [cf. σωφρόνως κ. δικαίως κ. εὐσεβῶς, Titus 2:12]; πίστις and ἀγάπη are the fundamental principles of Christianity; ὑπομ. and πραϋπ. the principles on which a Christian ought to act towards his gainsayers and opponents”. As a group, they are contrasted with the group of vices in 1 Timothy 6:4-5; but we cannot arrange them in pairs of opposites. We may add that πίστις results in ὑπομονή (James 1:3; Romans 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Timothy 3:10; Titus 2:2; Hebrews 12:1), as ἀγάπη does in πραϋπάθεια. ὑπομονή is sustinentia ((304) here, and Vulg. in 1 Thessalonians 1:3) rather than patientia ((305) and Vulg. here).

πίστις, ἀγάπη, and ὑπομονή are also combined in Titus 2:2; cf. 2 Timothy 3:10, also 2 Peter 1:5-7, where εὐσέβεια, with other virtues, forms part of the group.


Verses 11-16

1 Timothy 6:11-16 are a digression into a personal appeal. Cf. 2 Timothy 2:1; 2 Timothy 3:10; 2 Timothy 3:14; 2 Timothy 4:5.


Verse 12

1 Timothy 6:12. ἀγωνίζουἀγῶνα: There is evidence that ἀγωνίζομαι ἀγῶνα had become a stereotyped expression, perhaps from the line of Euripides: καίτοι καλόν γʼ ἂν τόνδʼ ἀγῶνʼ ἠγωνίσω (Alcestis, 648 or 664). See an Athenian inscription quoted by Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., vi. 370. Nevertheless the metaphor has its full force here, and in 2 Timothy 4:7 : Engage in the contest which profession of the faith entails; it is a noble one. Allusions to the public games are notoriously Pauline (1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:12). The present imperative indicates the continuous nature of the ἀγών, while the aor. ἐπιλαβοῦ expresses the single act of laying hold of the prize (so 1 Timothy 6:19). It does not seem an insuperable objection to this view that καταλαμβάνω is the word used in 1 Corinthians 9:24, Philippians 3:12. On the other hand, Winer-Moulton (Gram., p. 392) argues from the asyndeton (cf. Mark 4:39) that ἐπιλαβοῦ, κ. τ. λ. forms one notion with ἀγωνίζου; that “it is not the result of the contest, but itself the substance of the striving”. Yet in 1 Timothy 6:19 ( ἵνα ἐπιλάβωνται τῆς ὄντως ζωῆς) there is nothing in the context suggestive of struggle.

εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης: We are called to eternal life (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Peter 5:10); it is placed well within our reach; but it is not put into our hands; each man must grasp it for himself.

καὶ ὡμολόγησας, κ. τ. λ.: This clause has no syntactical connexion with what has preceded. It refers to ἀγῶνα, the contest on which Timothy entered at his baptism, when he was called, enrolled as a soldier in the army of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:4; 1 Corinthians 9:7), and professed fidelity to his new Leader (his response to the divine call) before many witnesses. ὁμολογία is perhaps best referred to a formal profession of faith, here as in the reff. Cyril Jer., when recalling the baptismal ceremonies to the newly baptised, says in reference to their profession of belief in the Trinity, ὡμολογήσατε τὴν σωτήριον ὁμολογίαν (Cat. xx. 4).

In the primitive Church the baptism of an individual was a matter in which the Church generally took an interest and part. The rule laid down in The Didache, 7, shows this: “Before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able”. Also Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 61, ἡμῶν συνευχομένων καὶ συννηστευόντων αὐτοῖς. These passages explain “the many witnesses” of Timothy’s good confession. It is not so natural to refer the good confession to a crisis of persecution, or to his ordination. The epithet καλήν here and in the following verse does not characterise the particular act of confession made by Timothy or by Christ, but refers to the class of confession, its import, as Ell. says.


Verse 13

1 Timothy 6:13. παραγγέλλω σοι: St. Paul passes in thought from the past epoch in Timothy’s life, with its human witnesses, among whom was the apostle himself, to the present probation of Timothy, St. Paul far away; and he feels impelled to remind his lieutenant that there are Witnesses of his conduct whose real though unseen presence is an encouragement as well as a check. See on 1 Timothy 6:21.

ζωογονοῦντος: This word has the sense preserve alive, as R.V. m. See reff. A good example from O.T. is 1 Samuel 2:6, κύριος θανατοῖ καὶ ζωογονεῖ. The word has here a special appropriateness. Timothy is stimulated to exhibit moral courage by an assurance that he is in the hands of One whose protective power is universal, and by the example of One who, as Man, put that protective power to a successful test, and was “saved out of death” (Hebrews 5:7).

τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν must have the same reference here as in the preceding verse. We have seen that in the case of Timothy, it means his baptismal profession of faith in God as revealed by Jesus Christ. In the case of Jesus Himself it is best understood of His habitual sense of His heavenly Father’s presence and protection, which found its supreme expression on the Cross (Luke 24:46).

μαρτυρήσαντος: Although Jesus, as Man, and His followers make the same ὁμολογία, yet their respective relations to it are different. μαρτυρέω indicates a power of origination and authentication which ὁμολογέω does not. The utterances and acts of Jesus, as Man, are human; yet He spoke and acted as no other man ever did. Matthew 17:27 (“That take, and give unto them for me and thee,” not “for us”) and John 20:17 (“I ascend unto my Father and your Father,” etc. not our Father or our God) illustrate very well this difference between Jesus and His brethren in relations which they share alike. This is why St. Paul does not here use ὁμολογέω ὁμολογίαν of Christ, but employs instead the unusual μαρτυρέω ὁμολογίαν. Jesus is μάρτυς πιστός, Revelation 1:5, μαρτ. πιστ. καὶ ἀληθινός, Revelation 3:14. Bengel suggests that the two verbs indicate the attitudes of the bystanders in each case: “confessus est, cum assensione testium: testatus est, non assentiente Pilato”. The Vulg. treats τὴν καλ. ὁμολ. as an acc. of closer specification, qui testimonium reddidit sub Pontio Pilato, bonam confessionem.

ἐπὶ ποντίου πειλάτου: With the explanation of the ὁμολογία of Jesus which has just been given, it would be natural to render this, with the Vulg., under Pontius Pilate; and this view is favoured by the change from ἐνώπιον, 1 Timothy 6:12, to ἐπί, and by the likelihood that this is a fragment of a creed. Yet the rendering before Pontius Pilate (Chrys., etc.), is not inconsistent with the notion that the ὁμολογία in one sense was made all during our Lord’s ministry; for undoubtedly from one point of view it was when Jesus’ life was hanging in the balance, depending on the decision of Pontius Pilate, that His trust in the protective love of His Father was most tried. His calm repose of soul on the assurance of God’s wise and good disposition of events is well illustrated by His words as recorded in John 19:11, “Thou wouldest have no power against me, except it were given thee from above”. Until it has been been proved that the Fourth Gospel is not a record of facts, it is reasonable to suppose that St. Paul and his contemporaries were acquainted with the general account of the trial of Jesus as therein described.


Verse 14

1 Timothy 6:14. τηρῆσαι κ. τ. λ.: The phrase τηρεῖν τὴν ἐντολήν, τὰς ἐντολάς or τὸν λόγον, τοὺς λόγους is a common one; found in Matthew 19:17, and especially in the Johannine writings; but wherever it occurs it means to obey or observe a command or a saying; whereas here it means to preserve intact. Perhaps the two meanings were present to the apostle’s mind; and no doubt in actual experience they merge one into the other; for a tradition is only preserved by obedience to the demand which it makes for observance. This use of the verb and the similar τὴν πίστιν τετήρηκα, 2 Timothy 4:7, mutually illustrate each other. τὴν ἐντολὴν τηρεῖν is probably equivalent to τὴν παραθήκην φυλάσσειν, understanding the tradition or deposit in the most comprehensive moral and spiritual sense, in which it is nothing else than “the law of the Gospel (cf. παραγγελία, 1 Timothy 1:5), the Gospel viewed as a rule of life” (so Ell. and Alf.). St. Paul would not have distinguished this from the charge given to Timothy at his baptism. Cyril Jer. (Cat. 1 Timothy 6:13), in quoting this passage, substitutes ταύτην τὴν παραδεδομένην πίστιν for ἐντολήν. This interpretation is permissible so long as we do not divorce creed from character.

ἄσπιλον ἀνεπίλημπτον: These epithets present a difficulty somewhat similar to that presented by τηρῆσαι. ἄσπιλος is a personal epithet (though applied to οὐρανός, Job 15:15, Symm.); and so is ἀνεπίλημπτος. See reff. on both. Alford shows, after De Wette, by examples from Philo and Plato, that ἀνεπίλ. may be applied to impersonal objects, such as τέχνη, τὸ λεγόμενον. Nevertheless although it would be intolerably awkward to refer the adjectives to σε—the ordinary construction with τηρεῖν being that the qualifying adj. should belong to its object, e.g., 1 Timothy 5:22; James 1:27; 2 Corinthians 11:9 (Alf.)—yet St. Paul had the personal reference to Timothy chiefly in his mind when he chose these words as qualifying ἐντολήν; and the R.V., which places a comma after commandment, possibly is intended to suggest a similar view. The man and the word are similarly identified in the parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:19, etc.). If Timothy “keeps himself unspotted” (James 1:27) and “without reproach,” the ἐντολή, so far as he is concerned, will be maintained flawless.

The Ancient Homily which used to be attributed to Clem. Rom. contains a sentence written in a similar tone (§8), τηρήσατε τὴν σάρκα ἁγνὴν καὶ τὴν σφραγῖδα ἄσπιλον, ἵνα τὴν ζωην ἀπολάβωμεν.

μέχρι τῆς ἐπιφανείας, κ. τ. λ.: Death may mark the close of our probation state; but we shall not render the account of our stewardship until the ἐπιφάνεια. When the Pastorals were written the ἐπιφάνεια had in men’s thoughts of it receded beyond each man’s death. At an earlier period Christians set it before them as men now set death. In 2 Thessalonians 2:8 the compound phrase occurs ἐπιφάν. τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ. ἐπιφάνεια is the term used in the Pastoral Epistles (see reff.); but the Second Coming of Christ is called παρουσία in 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1. In 2 Timothy 1:10, ἐπιφάνεια includes the first manifestation of Christ in the flesh; and this application of the term is in exact correspondence with its use in heathen sacred associations, where it denoted “a conspicuous appearance or intervention of the higher powers on behalf of their worshippers”. The title ἐπιφανής, assumed by the Seleucidæ, meant a claim to be worshipped as an incarnation of Zeus or Apollo, as the case might be (see Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., vii. 380).


Verse 15

1 Timothy 6:15. καιροῖς ἰδίοις: See note on 1 Timothy 2:6. In due season may refer primarily either to the appropriateness of the occasion of the ἐπιφάνεια or to the supreme will of the δυνάστης. The wording of the discouragement given by Jesus, in Acts 1:7, to those who would pry into the future makes it natural to suppose that this latter notion chiefly was in St. Paul’s mind here ( καιροὺς οὓς πατὴρ ἔθετο ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ ἐξουσίᾳ). We may perhaps put it thus: A devout mind recognises the providential ordering of past events as having taken place at the time best fitted for them, and shrinks from the presumption of guessing the appropriate time for future events. Thus there is no presumption in saying “When the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son”; and when the time is ripe, He will send Him again (Acts 3:20).

δείξει: Ell. well explains the force of this verb from John 2:18, τί σημεῖον δεικνύεις ἡμῖν; The last ἐπιφάνεια will be the final proof offered by God to the human race.

The terms of this magnificent characterisation of God are an expansion of the epithets in the doxology in 1 Timothy 1:17 q.v.

μακάριος: See on 1 Timothy 1:11. Philo (de Sacrific. Abelis et Caini, p. 147) has the remarkable parallel, περὶ θεοῦ τοῦ ἀγεννήτου, καὶ ἀφθάρτου, καὶ ἀτρέπτου, καὶ ἁγίου, καὶ μόνου μακαρίου.

δυνάστης is found as a title of God in the Apocrypha. See reff., esp. 2 Maccabees 3:24, δυνάστης ἐπιφανίαν μεγάλην ἐποίησεν. It occurs in the ordinary sense, Luke 1:52, Acts 8:27. The choice of the phrase μόνος δυν. here was perhaps suggested by the thought of His absolute and irresponsible power in arranging the times and seasons for the affairs of men. It is unnecessary to seek any special polemical object in μόνος, as exclusive of dualism. As has been already suggested (on 1 Timothy 1:17), the predications of glory to God that occur in these epistles are probably repeated from eucharistic prayers uttered by St. Paul in the discharge of his prophetic liturgical functions.

βασιλεύς, κ. τ. λ.: The Vulg. renders rather inconsistently, Rex regum et Dominus dominantium. So also in Revelation 19:16. It is not quite obvious why the phrase is varied from the usual βασιλεὺς βασιλέων (2 Maccabees 13:4; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16) and κύριος [ τῶν] κυρίων (Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalms 136:3; Enoch ix. 4). Perhaps the participle gives new vigour to a phrase that had lost its freshness.


Verse 16

1 Timothy 6:16. μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν: God the Father is the subject of this whole attribution; and it is the Catholic doctrine that He alone has endless existence as His essential property, ( οὐσίᾳ ἀθάνατος οὐ μετουσίᾳ, Theod. Dial. iii. p. 145, quoted by Ell.). God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are co-eternal with the Father; but Their life is derived from and dependent on His. This is expressly declared by Christ of Himself, “As the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself” (John 5:26). On this Westcott notes: “The Son has not life only as given, but life in Himself as being a spring of life.… The tense (gave) carries us back beyond time”. Accordingly, the creed of Cæsarea, which formed the basis of that adopted at Nicea, spoke of the Son as ζωὴν ἐκ ζωὴς; a doctrine sufficiently expressed in the other phrase, φῶς ἐκ φωτός, which has survived.

φῶς οἰκῶν ἀπρόσιτον: This is a grander conception than that in Psalms 104:2, “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment”. Here, if one may venture so to express it, the Person of God is wholly concealed by His dwelling, which is light; and this dwelling is itself unapproachable. Josephus, Ant. iii. 5. 1, says that God was thought to dwell in Mount Sinai, φοβερὸν καὶ ἀπρόσιτον. (See also Philo, de Vita Mosis, ii. [iii.] 2 cited by Dean Bernard).

ὃν εἶδεν οὐδεὶς ἀνθρώπων: None of men; only the Son (John 1:18; Matthew 11:27, etc.).

κράτος: For this word in doxologies see reff.


Verse 17

1 Timothy 6:17. ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι: It is the present contrast, not that between riches in this world and riches in the world to come (as Chrys.), that the apostle has in mind. Those who have money may, as well as those “that are poor as to the world,” be “rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, etc.” (James 2:5). The passage indicates that the Church had affected Society more widely in Ephesus than it had at Corinth when St. Paul wrote, “Not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26). It is to be observed that the expression νῦν αἰών is only found in N.T. in the Pastoral Epistles (see reff.). αἰὼν οὗτος is the expression elsewhere in N.T. (Matthew 12:32; Luke 16:8; Luke 20:34; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Corinthians 2:6 (bis), 1 Corinthians 2:8, 1 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 1:21). Both represent the Rabbinic עולם הזה, the present age, as contrasted with עולם הבא, the age to come. St. Paul also has κόσμος οὗτος in 1 Corinthians 3:19; 1 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 7:31, and νῦν καιρός in Romans 3:26; Romans 8:18; Romans 11:5, 2 Corinthians 8:14. See Dean Armitage Robinson’s note on Ephesians 1:21. It does not follow that because these are renderings of the same Hebrew expression, they meant the same to a Greek ear. In the three places in which νῦν αἰών occurs it has a definite material physical sense; whereas αἰὼν οὗτος has a more notional ethical force.

ἠλπικέναι ἐπί: have their hope set on. See note on 1 Timothy 4:10. For the thought compare Job 31:24, Psalms 49:6; Psalms 52:7, Proverbs 11:28, Mark 10:24.

ἠλπικ. ἐπὶ πλούτου ἀδηλότητι: This vigorous oxymoron is not quite parallel in form to ἐν καινότητι ζωῆς, Romans 6:4, as Ell. suggests. There ζωῆς is a further definition of the καινότης, the prominent notion. This is a rhetorical intensifying of riches which are uncertain; πλούτου is the prominent word. “When the genitive stands before the governing noun, it is emphatic” (Winer-Moulton, Gram. p. 240). For the thought cf. Proverbs 23:5; Proverbs 27:24.

ἀλλʼ ἐπὶ θεῷ: God who cannot change, who abides faithful, is contrasted with the uncertainty of riches which are unreal.

τῷ παρέχ. πάντα πλουσίως: cf. Acts 14:17.

εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν: This is a greater concession to the sensuous view of life than the εἰς μετάλημψιν of 1 Timothy 4:3. It approaches the declaration of the Preacher that for a man to “eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labour … is from the hand of God” (Ecclesiastes 2:24), “the gift of God” (Ecclesiastes 3:13; Ecclesiastes 5:19). No good purpose is served by pretending that God did not intend us to enjoy the pleasurable sensations of physical life. After all, things that have been enjoyed have served their purpose; they have “perished,” yet “with the using” (Colossians 2:22). Obviously, they cannot take God’s place as an object of hope.


Verse 18

1 Timothy 6:18. ἀγαθοεργεῖν: corrects any possible misunderstanding of εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν. πλουτεῖν ἐν ἔργοις καλοῖς: see note on 1 Timothy 3:1. Cf. εἰς θεὸν πλουτῶν, Luke 12:21.

εὐμεταδότους: facile tribuere (Vulg.), ready to impart (cf. the use of μεταδίδωμι in Luke 3:11; Romans 1:11; Romans 12:8; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 2:8).

κοινωνικούς: This does not mean sociable (A.V. m.), ready to sympathise (R.V. m.), as Chrys., and Thdrt. explain it, but ταῖς χρείαις τῶν ἁγίων κοινωνοῦντες. Romans 12:13 (cf. Galatians 6:6; Philippians 4:15). A good illustration of the general sentiment is Hebrews 13:16, τῆς δὲ εὐποιΐας καὶ κοινωνίας μὴ ἐπιλανθάνεσθε. Von Soden notes that the thought in εὐμεταδ. is of the needs of others, in κοινων. of the imparting of one’s own.


Verse 19

1 Timothy 6:19. ἀποθησαυρίζοντας: The true hoarding produces, as its first result, a good foundation, which will entitle a man to grasp the prize, which is true life, the only life worth talking about. Stability is the essential characteristic of a foundation. There is a contrast implied between the shifting uncertainty of riches as a ground of hope, and the firm and permanent foundation of a Christian character. (So, nearly, Theod.)

Ingenious conjectures have been suggested for θεμέλιον; but it is safe to say that the mixture of metaphors—due to the condensation of language—does not distress those who read in a devout rather than in a critical spirit. For the sentiment cf. Matthew 6:19-20. There is some support given to the conjecture of Lamb-Bos, θέμα λίαν, by the parallel from Tobit 4:8 sq. cited by Bengel, μὴ φοβοῦ ποιεῖν ἐλεημοσύνην· θέμα γὰρ ἀγαθὸν θησαυρίζεις σεαυτῷ εἰς ἡμέραν ἀνάγκης. See, on the other hand, what Sirach 1:15 says of Wisdom, μετὰ ἀνθρώπων θεμέλιον αἰῶνος ἐνόσσευσεν. θεμέλιος is used metaphorically also in reff. It is to be observed that in 2 Timothy 2:19 there is again a confusion of imagery: the foundation has a seal.

εἰς τὸ μέλλον is found in a slightly different sense (thenceforth), Luke 13:9.

ἐπιλάβωνται: See on 1 Timothy 6:12.

τῆς ὄντως ζωῆς: the life which is life indeed, an expression which is one of the precious things of the R.V. It is “the life which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:1).

For ὄντως see 1 Timothy 5:3.


Verse 20

1 Timothy 6:20. As Ell. points out, this concluding apostrophe, like the last paragraph in 2 Cor. (2 Corinthians 13:11 sqq,), is a summary of the whole epistle.

On the intensity of the appeal in the use of the personal name see on 1 Timothy 1:18.

τὴν παραθήκην: depositum. The term occurs in a similar connexion with φυλάσσω, 2 Timothy 1:14, and also in 2 Timothy 1:12, where see note. Here, and in 2 Timothy 1:14. it means, as Chrys. explains, πίστις, τὸ κήρυγμα; so Vincent of Lerins, from whose Commonitorium (c. 22) Alf. quotes. “Quid est depositum? id est. quod tibi creditum est, non quod a te inventum; quod accepisti, non quod excogitasti; rem non ingenii, sed doctrinae; non usurpationis privatae, sed publicae traditionis … catholicae fidei talentum inviolatum illibatumque conserva.… Aurum accepisti, aurum redde: nolo mihi pro aliis alia subjicias: nolo pro auro aut impudenter plumbum, aut fraudulenter aeramenta supponas.” That the “deposit” is practically identical with the “charge,” ch. 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:18, “the sound doctrine,” 1 Timothy 1:10, “the commandment,” 1 Timothy 6:14, is indicated by the use of the cognate verb παρατίθεμαι in 1 Timothy 1:18, 2 Timothy 2:2, and the correlative παρέλαβες, Colossians 4:17, and even more by the contrast here between it and “the knowledge falsely so called”.

ἐκτρεπόμενος: turning away from, devitans.

τὰς βεβήλους κενοφωνίας: In 2 Timothy 2:16 the Vulg. has vaniloquia. The rendering vocum novitates found here in Vulg. and O.L. represents the variant καινοφωνίας. The term does not differ much from ματαιολογία, 1 Timothy 1:6, which is also rendered vaniloquium.

ἀντιθέσεις: In face of the general anarthrous character of the Greek of these epistles it is not certain that the absence of an article before ἀντιθ. proves that it is qualified by βεβήλους. The meaning of ἀντιθ. is partly fixed by κενοφωνίας, to which it is in some sort an explanatory appendix; but it must finally depend upon the signification we attach to τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως. The epithet ψευδων. is sufficient to prove that γνῶσις was specially claimed by the heretics whom St. Paul has in his mind. That it should be so is in harmony with the other notices which we find in these epistles suggestive of a puerile and profitless intellectual subtlety, as opposed to the practical moral character of Christianity. We are reminded of the contrast in 1 Corinthians 8:1, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up”. Hort (Judaistic Christianity, p. 139 sqq.) proves that γνῶσις here and elsewhere in N.T. (Luke 11:52; Romans 2:20 sq.) refers to the special lore of those who interpreted mystically the O.T., especially the Law. Knowledge which is merely theoretical, the knowledge of God professed by those who “by their works deny Him” (Titus 1:16), is not real knowledge. The ἀντιθέσεις then of this spurious knowledge would be the dialectical distinctions and niceties of the false teachers. Perhaps inconsistencies is what is meant. For an example of ἀντίθετος in this sense, see Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., 6:275. Something more definite than (a) oppositions, i.e., objections of opponents (so Chrys. Theoph. and von Soden, who compares ἀντιδιατιθεμένους, 2 Timothy 2:25) is implied; but certainly not (b) the formal categorical oppositions between the Law and the Gospel alleged by Marcion.


Verse 21

1 Timothy 6:21. τινες: See note on 1 Timothy 1:3.

ἐπαγγελλόμενοι: See note on 1 Timothy 2:10.

περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἠστόχησαν: See notes on 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 1:19, and reff.

μεθʼ ὑμῶν: An argument in support of the μετὰ σοῦ of the Received Text is that μεθʼ ὑμῶν is indisputably the right reading in the corresponding place in 2 Tim. and Tit., and might have crept in here by assimilation. Ell. has reason on his side when he maintains that the plural here is not sufficient to prove that the epistle as a whole was intended for the Church. “The study of papyri letters will show that the singular and the plural alternated in the same document with apparently no distinction of meaning” (Moulton, Expositor, vi., vii. 107). The colophon in the T.R., “The First to Timothy was written from Laodicea, which is the chiefest city of Phrygia Pacatiana,” has a double interest: as an echo of the notion that this is the Epistle from Laodicea (Colossians 4:16), a notion sanctioned by Theophyl.; and the mention of Phrygia Pacatiana proves that the author of the note lived after the fourth century, towards the close of which that name for Phrygia Prima came into use.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-timothy-6.html. 1897-1910.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology