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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

1 Timothy 6

 

 

Verses 1-21

It may be noted that in this epistle the relationships of husband and wives, children and parents, are not mentioned, as are the questions of elders, widows, and now servants. For family ties are not at all the subject here, but godly order as to the assembly, therefore that which is more before the public eye. Bondslaves were, of course, in a position that God never intended for man, but introduced by men's per­verse wills. What was the Christian slave, therefore to do? Bitterness of rebellion against "the establishment" would accomplish no good end. Nor was he even to run away, as did Onesimus before his conversion, and was sent back after Paul brought him to the Lord (Philemon 1:10-17). Some may feel this to be hard treatment, but we must learn to bow, not to sin, but to the governmental results that have plagued the world because of sin - even though we feel them unjust and objectionable.

The slave, therefore, was to count his master as worthy of all honor - no doubt not an easy thing for a slave to do; but this subject spirit was essential in order that the name of God and His doctrine should not be blamed for a rebellious attitude on his part; and others, therefore, heap dishonor 111)011 the One he professed to serve. If the master were a believer, the slave might be inclined to despise him for the fact that he actually promoted the principle of slavery; while he himself was a brother. But no, the slave was all the more responsible to do his master service because the master was "faithful and beloved, partaker of the benefit." A true regard for another believer is always pressed upon us, for, let us remember, they too are "God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus." And to learn to serve well is one of the blessed glories of true Christianity. "These things teach and exhort": they are of no small importance.

The spirit abroad today, so highly publicized and advo­cated, of self-expression, self-assertion, self-determination, resistance against authority, is hereby solemnly condemned, and those who teach it, Scripture does not hesitate to charac­terize with a dreadful denunciation. For this teaching is directly antagonistic to the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ - words, in fact, carried out in His own life of pure obedience and subjection to proper authority - words which are of true power in maintaining righteousness in the midst of abounding unrighteousness - doctrine consistent with godliness.

The man who teaches otherwise is "puffed up": his own self-importance has inflated him: self-judgment he has not learned, as one who has seen himself as in the light of the cross of Christ, a sinner condemned and worthless. He is "sick about questions and strifes of words." He has no spiritual health, for though he may love to argue about the logic and virtue of human rights, he is flatly ignoring the rights of God. This leads to envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. It gives occasion only to the strong activity of the flesh, with its confusion and corruption - no rest, no peace, no quiet calmness as in the presence of God. Such doctrine would encourage a servant to envy his master, then to strive, then to rail against his master-or any authority­ then to surmise the worst things about him. How repulsive is this entire concept of self-willed men!

But they are adept at manipulating and wrangling, which, of course, is noisy quarreling, because their minds are corrupted: the truth is really foreign to them: they are empty, yet consider that material gain is godliness. Timothy is told to withdraw himself from such: they must not be given the satisfaction of his disputing with them, but must be left alone. It is, of course, the teachers of this kind of thing to whom Paul refers, not to those likely to be misled by them; for the sheep must, of course, be protected.

Verse 6 gives the precious positive side of this matter. If the two things are present, godliness and contentment, this is a great gain. Contentment alone could not be this, for it would then be that in which the flesh would glory; but godliness must come first, and be the root cause of contentment. Paul was himself a true example of this. Compare Philippians 4:11-13. If Christ is truly the Object of the soul, will this not produce a contented spirit? And it is a most pertinent reminder for us that in entering the world we had nothing, and in leaving it we shall take nothing. Why then grasp all that we can, as though it is this upon which we depend? How many are like the apostle Paul in this matter, honestly content with the simple necessities of life? This should be no small exercise to our souls, and specially in a civilization that today places great emphasis on material comforts and luxuries. How subtle a snare this becomes to any of us who may be attracted by it!

In verse 9 it is not the riches or the money that is condemned, but the will to be rich and the love of money. One who has nothing may still will to be rich, and if so is on dangerous ground. And it is possible for one who has riches to be preserved from setting his heart upon riches, and instead to be rich in good works, using his wealth for the Lord, to relieve the need of others compare verses 17 and 18). But the love of money is simply a sign of lusting after those

things which may be bought with money. When this is so, it is a great mercy for many a man that he does not get the money he wants, for it would only lead him into more sin. These are the very things that drown men in destruction and perdition. A believer certainly will have no such end, but he is yet seriously warned against any polluting of himself with those things that cause the ungodly to perish. Let us guard continually against the selfishness of our own hearts. The expression here is properly translated, "The love of money is a root of every evil," that is, that it is a root that bears all manner of evil, not that it is the only root. Covetousness will lead one far astray from the faith, and some had already been so overcome, piercing themselves through with many sorrows. It will always defeat its own ends.

In verse 11 is the only occasion in the New Testament where one is called a "man of God." Doubtless there were others also, but Scripture only sparingly uses the expression, which surely involves a character of faithfulness in the representa­tion of God. This was true of Timothy, yet being of a timid nature, he doubtless needed the encouragement of being so addressed; and he is strongly exhorted to be true to character. "Flee these things" is an urgent admonition: the danger of them should drive the soul far from even contact with them. In this case the believer is not to "fight," but to "flee": it is a danger to be completely avoided.

But along with this is the positive character of faith: "Follow after righteousness." Righteousness has been said to be "consistency with relationship": and this involves serious exercise to maintain conduct in accord with any rela­tionship in which one may be placed. Then, "godliness," which evidences a habit of communion with God. "Faith" is the confidence that depends upon His faithfulness in every circumstance. "Love" is the very energy and warmth of the

nature of God, that which is shed abroad in the believer's heart by the Holy Spirit, bringing a genuine concern for the good of others. How deeply "patience" is needed in connec­tion with all of this: it can bear long in cheerful continuance and quietness, and must be over and over again impressed upon us. And "meekness" is an essential addition to this also, that character of lowly submission that insists not upon personal rights. How contrary are all these things to mere natural conceptions and practice! They cannot be fol­lowed without serious self-judgment and exercise of soul. May our God and Father give us more to know this in experience.

But if we are first to "flee," then to "follow," it is also necessary to "fight." We are given no path of ease, and no room for indolence. Indifference is really shameful defeat. Faith will stand up to the battle. Not that this is mere fighting against people, least of all against the saints of God. But the fight must be against every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Ephesians 6:1-24 shows this to be against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places (v. 12), that is, every kind of Satanic influence that would drive one off the ground of faith, down to an earthly level, a level of rationalism and present self­-interest, a level of personal pride and earthly advantage. Let us fight resolutely against all such wretched tendencies in our own hearts and rather make a living faith the ruling principle of our lives. This is worth fighting for. It is the only way to "lay hold on eternal life." For though every redeemed soul possesses this matchless gift of eternal life, yet to lay hold of it is another matter, a matter of making it a practical reality in daily life. Timothy had been called to this, as is every believer; but of him also it could be said that he had confessed a good confession before many witnesses: let him remain true to this honorable stand.

In verse 13 another charge, peculiarly solemn, is given to Timothy: it is "before God, who preserves all things in life,, (Darby Trans.), not only creating life, but continually sustain­ing it in all His creation. How needful a reminder to impress upon us the fact of our continual dependence, moment by moment, upon Himself, and that those to whom one bears witness are also as fully dependent upon the same life ­sustaining God. But also the charge is "before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession." Here was God's true Representative in the world, standing before the man who represents the world. How precious and clear His witness, though His words were few. He bore witness to the truth: His kingdom was not of this world; but He was a King indeed, God's King, high above all that was merely temporal: He sought no prominence in this world, but the glory of His Father (John 18:33-37). This gives precious character to the commandment Timothy is told to keep "without spot, unrebukeable." There is to be no lapse, no tarnishing of this testimony, so as to leave him open to rebuke; for it is in view of the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And He would, in duly appointed time, show in His own person, the glory of God, the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords. To us who are saved, such glory manifested in the person of Christ is a blessed reality now; but the full display of it to all creation we may with patience and confidence await unashamed meanwhile to bear a true witness for Him, though it may be that even falsehood is in public authority now. It is He only, the Eternal, who has immortality: others who receive it do so only as a communication from Himself 1 Corinthians 15:53-54). Intrinsically it is His alone. He dwells in light unapproachable, not in darkness, but in light infinitely brighter than creature eyes can endure. Honor and power everlasting are His alone: the heart that gladly subscribes to this ascription to Him, will bear willingly a place in which he himself is given no honor or power.

If there are those among Christians who do possess some apparent measure of honor or power now, being rich in this world, Timothy is to charge them to guard against the natural pride that uses such things to exalt the flesh; and also against the evident danger of trusting in riches. Constant exercise must be maintained to trust in the Living God, He who gives richly all things to enjoy. If this trust is real, then it will reflect His own character of unselfish giving. Positive good was to be done with what they possessed: let them be rich in good works, not merely in possessions; ready on any occasion of need, to distribute, gladly willing to share what God has entrusted to them. This is true investment, a laying up in store a good foundation against the time to come: it is true wisdom in view of the future; and it is present true enjoyment of what is really life, a real grasp of true living.

With so serious and vital themes engaging him, the apostle cannot but be deeply affected to urge upon his beloved child in the faith the firmness of proving faithful in the trust of God's Possessions. The entrusted deposit is the truth of God committed to us for the present age. As the treasures brought from Babylon were weighed both before and after the journey to Jerusalem (Ezra 8:24-34), nothing to be missing; so we must expect a close check of all with which we have been entrusted, and zealously keep in purity what actually belongs to God. Mere profane and empty babblings are to be avoided, for what we have is precious and real, and we must not waste time on unprofitable speculations and things that claim to be intellectual and appealing to human pride, yet are actually void of true spiritual good. Today the world is full of this kind of thing. Young men may be too easily deceived into thinking this to be a helpful addition to Christianity, while actually it will prove not only of no profit, but positively damaging to spiritual growth and blessing. So Timothy is warned, and we must not ourselves ignore such a warning: it is needed. Those who adopt such things have "missed the faith." We must resist to the very end every determined effort of Satan to bring Christianity down to an earthly level, whether it be by means of the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life. If the epistle seems to end on a negative note, let us all the more take heed.

Yet, the last word is beautifully positive, "Grace be with thee." In grace, the pure favor of God, is the power for meeting and rising above all the opposition that may ever present itself. And it is available for the personal joy, blessing and strength of the individual, not only, as in other epistles, for the collective company of the saints. Let us but identify ourselves with Timothy's needs and exercises, and the value of this epistle we shall learn in vital experience.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/1-timothy-6.html. 1897-1910.

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