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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 Timothy 6

 

 

Verse 1

1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

Ver. 1. Count their own masters] And not under a pretence of Christian liberty, and because in Christ Jesus there is neither bond nor free, seek to shake off the yoke of obedience that God hath hung upon their necks. See 1 Peter 2:18.

That the name of God and his doctrine, &c.] Be traduced as a doctrine of liberty. Heathens lay at the catch, 1 Peter 2:12, spying and prying (as the word εποπτευσαντες there signifies), and imputing all public judgments to Christian miscarriages. Nunc male audiunt castiganturque vulgo Christiani (saith Lactantius, de opif. Dei ad Demet.) quod aliter quam sapientibus convenit, vivent, et vitia sub obtentu nominis celent. Christians are very hardly spoken of to this very day, because their conversation is not as becometh the gospel of Christ, but they think to cover their faults with the fig leaves of profession.


Verse 2

2 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.

Ver. 2. Partakers of the benefit] i.e. Of Christ who is here called the benefit, as John 4:10, the gift of God.


Verse 3

3 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 godliness;

Ver. 3. If any man teach otherwise] ετεροδιδασκαλει, discover himself heterodox out of affectation of singularity, &c., as divers do in this licentious age; broaching things different from the received doctrine, as holding it, with Phocion, a goodly thing to dissent from others.

Consent not to wholesome words] Words that have a healing property in them. The Scripture (as that library of Alexandria) may be properly said to be the soul’s medicine, η της ψυχης ιατρεια. By the reading of Livy, Curtius, Aventinus, and other historians, many are said to have been recovered of various desperate diseases. 0 facile et beatum curationis genus, saith John Bodin (de Utilit. Historiae). But the reading of the Holy Scriptures doth a far greater cure than this upon the soul. King Alphonsus, cured of a fever by reading Quintus Curtius, cried out, Valeat Avicenna, vivat Curtius, Farewell medicine, well fare history. May not we better say so of these wholesome words, this doctrine according to godliness, purposely composed for the promoting of piety in the world?


Verse 4

4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

Ver. 4. He is proud] Gr. τετυφωται, he is blown up, big swollen. Swelling is a dangerous symptom in the body; but much more in the soul. Pride and self-conceit is a bastard (saith one) begotten between a learned head and an unsanctified heart; which being once conceived in the soul, causeth it to swell till it burst asunder with unthankfnlness to God for the bestowing, with envy, scorn, and disdain of men in the imparting of such gifts as may be to them beneficial. Some think that the apostle alludeth here to the wind Typhon, which the ancients held hurtful to men’s wits and senses; so that those that were blasted with it ran mad.

Knowing nothing] sc. Aright, and as they ought to know, 1 Corinthians 8:2. {See Trapp on "1 Corinthians 8:2"} The Gnostics boasted that they knew all things knowable. Irenaeus saith, that they were so besotted with an opinion of themselves, that they accounted their own writings to be gospel. Such self-admirers also were the Illuminates (as they called themselves), the Manichees, the Novatians. And such are now the Jesuits, the sectarians, &c.; and other male feriati fanatici, who lest they should not be reputed to know something unknown to others, profess skill beyond the circumference of possible knowledge.

Doting about questions] Gr. Question sick. As the schoolmen, and our new questionists. But God loveth curristas non quaeristas, saith Luther.

And strifes of words] λογομαχιας, frivolous questions and quarrels. The wit of heretics and schismatics will better serve them to devise a thousand shifts to elude the truth than their pride will suffer them once to yield and acknowledge it.


Verse 5

5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

Ver. 5. Perverse disputings] ταραδιατριβαι, endless and needless discourses and exercises, opposite to those above, 1 Timothy 4:13-15. The Greek word signifieth galling one another with disputes, or rubbing one against another, as scabbed sheep will, and so spreading the infection.

Of men of corrupt minds] That lack not time but waste it, aliud agendo. As Lactantius saith of some brain sick idolaters in his time, they feigned what they pleased, and then feared what they feigned; so many conceit what they like, and then think themselves bound to justify their wild conceivings.

From such withdraw thyself] Gr. αφιστασο, stand off, keep at a distance, as you would from one that hath a plague sore; say of them to yourselves and others, as Austin doth of certain heretics, Illi garriant, nos credamus. Let them prate as they please, let us hold fast the faithful word.


Verse 6

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Ver. 6. But godliness with contentment] True piety hath true plenty, and is never without a well contenting sufficiency, a full self-sufficiency. The wicked in the fulness of his sufficiency is in straits, Job 20:22. Contrariwise the godly in the fulness of their straits are in an all sufficiency.


Verse 7

7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

Ver. 7. We can carry nothing out] But a winding sheet, as Saladin’s shirt, which he commanded to be hung up at his burial, a bare priest going before the bier, and proclaiming, Saladin the mighty monarch of the East is gone, and hath taken no more with him than what you see. (Carlon. Chron.) Indeed I read of one that being ready to die, clapped a twenty shilling piece of gold into his mouth, and said, Some wiser than some; if I must leave all the rest, yet this I will take with me. (Mr Rogers’ Treatise of Love.) But this was none of the wisest men, you will say; as that great caliph {a} of Babylon was none of the happiest, that was starved to death by the great Cham of Cataia, amidst the infinite treasures of gold, silver, and precious stones that he and his predecessors had most covetously heaped together, whereof he willed him to eat, and make no spare. It is with us in the world (saith one) as it was in the Jewish fields and orchards; pluck and eat, they might, while there; not pocket, or put up. Or as boys that rob an orchard and meet with the owner at the door.

"- modo quem fortuna fovendo

Congestis opibus donisque refersit opimis,

Nudum tartarea portarit navita cymba."

De Annibale, Silius Ital.

{a} The title given in Muslim countries to the chief civil and religious ruler, as successor of Muhammad. ŒD


Verse 8

8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Ver. 8. And having food and raiment] Houses are not named: for that then they were to stand ready to run from place to place, and to leave house and all behind them. Food and raiment, τροφην ου τρυφην, σκεπασματα ου κοσμηματα, as Isidore here elegantly observeth, Food not junkets, raiment not ornament; garments quasi guardments to guard us from the cold air. Nature is content with a little, grace with less; as, not to starve, not to thirst, μη ριγαν, μη διψαν, saith Galen; Cibus et potus sunt divitiae Christianorum, saith Jerome. Bread and water with the gospel are good cheer, saith another. Epicurus could say, that he would think himself as happy as might be, si aquam haberet et offam, if he could get but a morsel of meat and a mouthful of water. (Aelian.) This was strange from Epicurus. But Epicurei mihi videntur melius facere quam dicere, saith Cicero, Epicurus and his followers practised better than they held. (Cic. de Fin. it.) A little of the creature will serve turn to carry a man through his pilgrimage. Insaniae igitur damnandi sunt (saith Vives), qui tam multa tam anxie congerunt, quum sit tam paucis opus. He is little better than mad that heaps up such a deal, when far less will do the deed.

Let us be content] Gr. αρκεσθησομεθα. Let us have enough, let us count it enough, if we have necessaries (to maintain our state, and live like ourselves); though we have not superfluities, let it seem sufficient.


Verse 9

9 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.

Ver. 9. But they that will be rich] That are resolved to have it, howsoever- rem, rem, quocunque modo rem. {a} "He that hasteth to be rich shall not be innocent," Proverbs 28:20.

And a snare] As the panther, which so loveth man’s dung, that if it be hanged a height from it, it will leap, and never leave it till it have burst itseff in pieces to get it.

Drown men in destruction and perdition] Ita demergunt ut in aquae summitate rursus non ebulliant, So as they never show themselves above water any more. {b} We read of the inhabitants of Oenoe, a dry island beside Athens, that they bestowed much labour to draw into it a river to water it, and make it more fruitful. But when all the passages were opened, and the receptacles prepared, the water came in so plentifully, that it overflowed all; and at the first tide drowned the island and all the people. So fareth it with many covetous caitiffs, (wretches) who seem to be of Nevessan the lawyer’s mind, "He that will not venture his body shall never be valiant; he that will not venture his soul shall never be rich." Hubertus, an English cormorant, made this will: I yield my goods to the king, my body to the grave, my soul to the devil. How much better Aristippus and Crates the Theban, with their Hinc abite malae divitiae: satius enim eat a me vos demergi, &c.: they threw their riches into the sea, saying, Hence, hence, base trash! better we drown you in the sea than that you should drown us in perdition and destruction. Plutarch reports of one Philoxenus, that finding his heart too fast affected to his wealth, he made away with it; and said, nay, swore, that he would part with it rather than be undone for ever by it. {c} Christians have a better way to dispose of their riches than to throw them away, Psalms 16:3; Luke 16:9. But many rich wretches do as Heliogabalus did, who provided silken halters to hang himself withal, ponds of sweet water to drown himself with, gilded poisons to poison himself with, rather than to fall into the hands of his enemies. So do these strangle, drown, poison their precious souls with profits, pleasures, and preferments, &c., and many times meet with perdition and destruction, that is, with a double destruction, temporal and eternal, as some expound it.

{a} Divis qui fieri vult, et cito vult fieri. Juv.

{b} βυθιζουσι, such a drowning as is desperate.

{c} μα ατους θεους εμε, ταυτα, τα αγαθα ουκ απολει, αλλεγω τυτα. Plut.


Verse 10

10 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 sorrows.

Ver. 10. For the love of money] Phocylides saith the same, ηη φιλοχρημοσυνη μητηρ κακοτητος απασης. Covetousness is the mother of all mischief. Bion called it the metropolis of misdemeanor. Timon, the proper element of evils. There are those who draw it through all the commandments, and demonstrate it to be a breach of all.

The root of all evil] As there is life in the root when there is no sap in the branches; so covetousness often liveth when other vices die and decay, as in old men, who because they are likely to leave the world, spit on their hands and take better hold.

They have erred from the faith] Selling themselves to the devil, as Judas, Ahab, that pope for seven years’ enjoyment of the popedom.

And pierced themselves through] Undique transfixerunt, They have galled and gored themselves. The covetous man hath his name in Hebrew of a word that signifieth sometimes to pierce or wound, Psalms 10:3; cf. Joel 2:8. He that will be rich takes no more rest than one upon a rack or bed of thorns; when he graspeth earthly things most greedily, he embraceth nothing but smoke, which wringeth tears from his eyes, and vanisheth into nothing. Three vultures he hath always feeding upon his heart, care in getting, fear in keeping, grief in spending and parting with that which he hath; so that he is in hell beforehand.


Verse 11

11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

Ver. 11. But thou, O man of God] If Timothy were that angel of the Church of Ephesus, Revelation 2:1, that left his first love (as some think he was), this counsel was but needful. Christ cautions his disciples to beware of worldliness, Luke 21:34.

Flee these things] Remis velisque, with all thy might, that thou be not tacked with them, taxed for them.

Follow after righteousness] These are notable antidotes against covetousness. Paul shows him a better project; points him a sovereign amulet or antidote made up of these precious ingredients: 1. Righteousness, which gives every man his own. 2. Godliness, which gives God likewise his own (this the covetous man cannot awhile to do). 3. Faith, which feareth no famine, quelleth and killeth distrust. 4. Love, a professed enemy to sinful self-love, that nurse of covetousness. 5. Patience, to wait upon God, and not to make haste to be rich. 6. Meekness, in case of cross accidents; when the covetous, troubled by others, troubleth his own house, and meditateth revenge.


Verse 12

12 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.

Ver. 12. Fight the good fight] Not only follow after the former graces, but fight for them, rather than fail of them.

Lay hold on eternal life] While others lay hold on wealth, honours, &c. Catch at the crown, which is hanged up on high, as it were, and provided for conquerors only, that so fight as to finish, 2 Timothy 4:7-8. Tempus est nos de illa perpetua iam, non de hac exigua vita cogitare, could the heathen orator say (Cic. ad Attic. x.). It is high time now we should think of heaven. Catch at the opportunity, as the echo catcheth the voice.


Verse 13

13 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;

Ver. 13. Who before Pontius Pilate] Not dissembling the truth, though jeered by Pilate, who scornfully asked him, "What is truth?" q.d. Do you stand upon your life, and yet talk of truth John 18:38. Julian and his heathen instruments had set out certain foolish and false relations under Pilate’s name, purposely to cast dirt upon Christ, which are refuted by Augustine and Cyril.


Verse 14

14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Ver. 14. Without spot] Of foul sins, Deuteronomy 32:5.

Unrebukeable] So as no just exception can be laid against thee for allowance of lesser evils.

Until the appearing] επιφανειαν. Illustrem illum adventure, as Beza renders it; the bright, clear, or radiant appearing. St Paul would have Timothy so carry himself as if Christ should then come, and to remit nothing of his zeal, though he should live till that time.


Verse 15

15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

Ver. 15. Which in his times he shall show] Let no man therefore ask, Where is the promise of his coming? Though he be slow, yet he is sure; and his time is the best time: wait, James 5:7.

The blessed and only potentate] A lively and lofty description of God, whom yet none can possibly describe. One being asked, what God was, answered, Si scirem, Deus essem.


Verse 16

16 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 honour and power everlasting. Amen.

Ver. 16. Dwelling in the light] So that the seraphims in their addresses to him, clap their wings on their faces, Isaiah 6:2, as men are wont to do their hands when the lightning flasheth in their eyes.

Nor can see] We can see but God’s back parts and live: we need see no more that we may live for ever.


Verse 17

17 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 enjoy;

Ver. 17. That they be not highminded] The devil will easily blow up his blab, if we watch not. Should the ant think herself some great business, because gotten upon her hillock? or the sumpter horse, because laden with treasure? Should the Egyptian ass think himself worshipful for bearing the golden Isis upon his back? And yet so it happens in common experience. Many men’s good and their blood rise together; their hearts are lifted up with their estates, as a boat that riseth with the rising of the water. Every grain of riches hath a vermin of pride and ambition in it. Magna cognatio ut rei, sic et nominis, divitiis et vitiis.

In uncertain riches] Riches were never true to any that trusted to them. Vitrea est fortuna: cum splendet, frangitur. Riches, as glass, are bright but brittle. (Mimus.) Some render it the unevidence of riches ( αδηλοτης); and indeed they do not evidence God’s special love; they are blessings of his left hand, of his footstool, bona scabelli. "Not many rich," &c.

Who giveth us all things richly to enjoy] Thus riches cannot do for us. The covetous enjoy nothing, nor the sick, nor the discontented, nor any else, unless with riches God gives us himself. Our God should therefore be trusted, because he Isaiah 1:1-31. A living God. 2. A giving God. The Athenians made their gods standing with their hands upwards, as if they were more willing to receive than to give. (Archaeol. Attic. xlvi.) But our God openeth his hand, and lets fall his blessing upon everything living, and holds it a more blessed thing "to give than to receive," Acts 20:35.


Verse 18

18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

Ver. 18. That they do good] Not the richer the harder; as the sun moveth slowest when it is at the highest in the zodiac, or as the moon when it is fullest of light gets farthest off from the sun.

Rich in good works] This is to be rich in God, Luke 12:21, when our works are good, Quoad fontem et quoad finem. As from the source until the end.

Ready to distribute] A virtue much commended in the kings of Egypt (Diod. Sic. i.); practised by the Pythagoreans, Essenes, but especially by those primitive Christians, Acts 4:34-35. See my Common Place of Alms, and to those many examples there set forth of Christian bounty, add that of Mr Fox, who never denied any that asked him aught for Jesus’ sake. And being once so asked by a poor man, he questioned him whether he knew Jesus Christ? And finding signs that the man was a believer, he gave him his horse, when he had no money. I commend not his discretion, but his zeal and charity were admirable. The like is reported of Aidanus, as hath been said before. Queen Anne Boleyn gave in alms fourteen or fifteen thousand pounds in three-quarters of a year, as Mr Fox reporteth; accounting that she had nothing of her own but what she had given away. Hoc habeo quodcunque dedi. (Seneca.)


Verse 19

19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Ver. 19. Laying up in store] As wise merchants, happy usurers, parting with that which they cannot keep, that they may gain that which they cannot lose.

On eternal life] Or, as some copies have it, "Of life indeed," της οντως ζωης. Aeterna vita, vera vita. (Augustine.)


Verse 20

20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

Ver. 20. That which is, &c.] viz. The treasure of true doctrine, esteeming every particle of it precious, as the filings of gold.


Verse 21

21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. <<The first to Timothy was written from Laodicea, which is the chiefest city of Phrygia Pacatiana.>>

Ver. 21. Which some professing] Gr. Promising, as the Gnostics and other heretics.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-timothy-6.html. 1865-1868.

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