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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Timothy 6

 

 

Verses 1-21

1 Timothy 6:1-2. Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, by obeying their commands, for in civil society we are all servants, and have duties which must be discharged. If reverence be not paid to the orders of the master, christianity will be blasphemed. If a servant have a believing master, he is still a servant; and it will be a double shame for him to be punished for idleness or disobedience, or in anywise not doing his best for his master, as though he was working for himself. See on Ephesians 6:5-7.

1 Timothy 6:3-5. If any man teach otherwise, he will excite insurrections among the slaves, who frequently revolt against their masters. God is a God of order: proud and perverse teachers disturb that order; and while losing themselves in violent disputations, they forget that the true spirit of religion is meekness and forbearance.

1 Timothy 6:6-8. Godliness with contentment is great gain. True godliness consists in our being like God, bearing his image, having the same mind that was in Christ Jesus, and seeking in all things to do his will. This, combined with contentment, its natural attendant, will not only relieve the mind of all worldly ambition and inordinate anxieties, but produce a serenity, a peace that passeth all understanding, a gain far exceeding that of earthly riches. I lead in the way of righteousness, says heavenly wisdom, and in the midst of the paths of judgment, that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures. Proverbs 8:20-21. Why then encourage the love of money? What can riches do for us? Man wants but little, and short are the days of his pilgrimage. A contented mind with our providential lot is the greatest portion we can enjoy on earth.

1 Timothy 6:9. They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare. Such were St. Paul’s ideas of the Grecian speculators, with their limited means of trade and commerce. What would he now think of British speculators, who have the world at their command? It may be said that they employ the poor, acquire wealth, and enrich the country. But after the villa, the carriage, and footmen are acquired, what becomes of faith, of conscience, of religion? These are in great danger. On the other hand, what becomes of thousands who by blind speculations ruin themselves and their friends? Then after defrauding the public by a bad failure, their countenance is depressed, their mansion enjoyed by another, and a moral anguish preys upon their vitals. So circumstanced, they often seek relief by a voluntary exile, and leave their character and their debts behind. — How preferable to rise gradually, like a tree, to riches and honour, with an honest and contented mind.

The admonition however is not directed against riches, nor against the acquisition of wealth, but against such as will be rich at all events, regardless of the means, or not over scrupulous in what way they gain their wealth; men who can sacrifice every moral and honourable principle, be guilty of deceit, and overreaching their neighbour, for the sake of filthy lucre. Many such there are, who in their reckless pursuit of worldly gain, are content to barter away their own souls, and sink themselves into endless perdition and despair.

1 Timothy 6:10. The love of money is the root of all evil. Not the possession, but the love of money, is the sin here denounced. Persons may enjoy much of this world, and yet not set their hearts upon it, as was the case with Abraham, David, and many others. Those who possess no property may nevertheless covet it, and make it the chief object of pursuit. All temporal blessings have their use, and become sinful only when over-valued or misapplied. The fault lies in making them an end, or a leading object, rather than the means of good. If worldly riches be appropriated merely to our own benefit, to multiply our enjoyments, or to gratify the pride of life, rather than serving the Lord and promoting the interests of piety and benevolence, they become a great evil, and fearfully encrease the condemnation of the possessor.

So common, so prevalent is the love of money among all classes, and even among the professors of religion, that our Lord found occasion to admonish his followers to take heed and beware of covetousness; and the apostle, considering the extensive influence of this baneful principle, denounces it as the root of all evil, there being scarcely any sin to which men have not been prompted by the love of money. It has extinguished every principle of common honesty, and created the necessity for penal laws for the protection of person and property. Whence come wars and fightings, and the tragic history of ages and generations, but from the love of conquest and the possession of gain. What has extinguished the principles of humanity, of natural affection, and produced division in families, and separated chief friends? What has given rise to the horrid Slave trade, dealing in the persons and the souls of men? What has corrupted religion, to render it subservient to worldly policy, and transformed the primitive church into a scarlet-coloured beast with seven heads and ten horns? Did not Judas sell his Master for the love of money? Did not Demas forsake the truth, because he loved the present world? Shall not this root of all evil be cut down and utterly exterminated from the christian church, where it has too long flourished, too long been connived at, or passed over without censure, and without remorse, while far inferior evils, mere venal offences, have been excinded by the axe, and by the arm of ecclesiastical authority.

1 Timothy 6:11. But thou, oh man of God, servant of Jehovah Elohim, flee these things. Entangle not thyself with worldly acquisitions and pursuits, but learn of speculators, who follow mammon, to follow after righteousness, the true riches which the Lord rains down upon his people. Follow after godliness, which will ennoble the mind, and hallow it in all the work of the ministry. Follow after faith, a confidence in God thy Saviour, that he will be with thee, and prosper thy work. Follow after love, earnestly desiring the salvation of all men, and rejoicing in their prosperity. Follow after patience, for provocations will arise daily, and these must not divert thee from thy work. Follow after meekness; be not rash in censuring others, but labour to keep and guard the christian temper.

1 Timothy 6:13-14. I give thee charge in the sight of God. The high trust of the gospel is connected with a dread responsibility. Paul speaks in earnest about the gospel which he had preached at the risk of life, and for which the Saviour had died. Such also was the Lord’s charge to Ezekiel, that he should be a faithful watchman: chap. 3. Timothy must preserve the truth committed to him without spot of sin, or heresy in doctrine, or relaxation in discipline; the commandment left by the Saviour on his ascension, the commandment which no man can change till the Lord shall come in the clouds of heaven. This is the sacrament sealed with his blood, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 6:15. The blessed and only Potentate. The doctrine of a supreme divinity was generally taught in the heathen mythology, though mixed up with the fable of inferior gods.

Jupiter omnipotens, Regum rex ipse Deûmque, Progenitor, genetrixque Deûm, Deus unus et omnes. Valerius Solanus apud Varro. Almighty Jupiter, the king of kings, And gods, progenitor and genitrix, Father and mother of the other gods, One God, and all that is.

1 Timothy 6:16. Who only hath immortality, originally and essentially. Hence he is exclusively and with infinite propriety stiled “the true and living God.” The Father hath “life in himself,” said our Lord to the jews, and hath given to the Son to have life in himself, by an ineffable generation. John 5:26. Of the Son it is also said, “in him was life,” and the life was the light of men. John 1:4. He is “that eternal Word of Life” which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us. 1 John 1:1-2. Eternal life dwells essentially in Christ, in virtue of the hypostatic union of the divine and human nature. He is the Lord, the Prince of life, the fountain of all existence, and the giver of eternal life to all that believe in him. No creature is ever said to have life in himself, though life and immortality may be conferred as a free gift.

Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto. The Gnostics believed that God was a darkness which beclouded all conception, an eternal darkness. In opposition to this, the apostle more joyously represents him as dwelling in light, beyond all conception and approach. He is not inaccessible, as were the kings of Assyria, but is openly revealed in his holy word, and may now be approached by the Mediator, though his essence is unsearchable, and cannot be approached.

1 Timothy 6:17. Charge them that are rich, that they be not high-minded. Many of the Greeks had been ennobled by the Macedonian kings, and some of them had embraced the gospel. Other christians in those cities of Asia were also rich and encreased with merchandize. The human heart had need to be prompted to humility and charity, by the example of Christ, and all the rewards of the world to come.

REFLECTIONS.

The charge of St. Paul to Timothy his son is sublime, impressive, and striking beyond any example in profane writings. The subject is of everlasting moment, embracing the salvation of Timothy, and of those that heard him. It is to observe the whole gospel commandment, comprising every doctrine, precept, and charge of Christ and his apostles. — He charged him to keep it in this day of conflict, in which he was called to fight the good fight of faith, to keep this commandment and code of truth, as many would ultimately depart from the faith. — He charged him before God, who quickeneth all things, and from whom alone Timothy must expect life and salvation. — He charged him before Jesus Christ, who kept his Father’s commandments, and who witnessed a good confession of his regal sovereignty before Pontius Pilate, the grand point which would touch his life. — In a word, he charged him to keep his commandment until the appearing of Christ. And all this was done in reference to Timothy’s sufferings from pagan princes or magistrates, as appears from Christ’s making manifest himself as the only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. Revelation 19:16.

Here the Lord Christ differs essentially from all other kings. They reign but a short time; but immortality, eternal power and godhead, are his prerogatives. They may be approached by their subjects seated on the throne of state; but the Lord is surrounded with glory to which no man can or ever did approach. Yea, Moses and Isaiah saw him but in the visions of his incarnate nature. Let us therefore keep his charge immaculate, that we may one day see him as he is.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/1-timothy-6.html. 1835.

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