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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1 Timothy 6

 

 

Verse 1

c. To servants, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and to mercenary counter-teachers, 1 Timothy 6:3-10.

1. Servants—For the New Testament meaning of the Greek word see our note on Luke 7:2.

Under the yoke—The servile yoke is a Greek phrase as old as Herodotus. Here it is used to characterize unmitigated Roman slavery, as described in our note on Luke 7:2, and as it stands in contrast under the believing masters.

Own—Respectively.

All the honour—Required by the existing law of the relation.

That… not blasphemed—The duty is not based on the rightfulness of the relation, but upon the disorder and reproach incurred from heathendom upon Christianity if the relation were enjoined to be summarily broken up by the servants. See Titus 2:10.


Verse 2

2. Believing masters—Whose servants were not under the yoke. Each one was “not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved.” Philemon 1:16. The forms of subordination remained; the Roman statutes were still in legal force; but the servant was no longer a slave.

Let them—The servants.

Not despise—Set at naught the authority of them, the masters.

Because—That is, under the pretext that they, the masters, are brethren—Are Christians, and so bound to release them.

But rather do them service—And in the same form of servitude, yet under a new principle and law, the law, namely, of Christian love. Note, 1 Corinthians 7:21. That is, serve them, (literally, rendered) because the partakers or receivers of the benefit of your service, namely, the masters, are faithful and beloved. Those whom you once served compulsorily under the law of slavery continue now to serve voluntarily, under the law of gospel freedom. Teach, in principle, and exhort, urge, in practice. These words close the topic in hand, as in 1 Timothy 4:11; 1 Timothy 4:13-14.


Verse 3

3. Teach otherwise—Said here in concluding, as in 1 Timothy 1:3 in commencing. A general refutation of the errorists, as opposing against Christianity a system of technical notions, abounding in words without meaning, adverse to actual piety, and with none but mercenary motives.

Wholesome—Healthful, as opposed to doting; that is, unhealthful, or morbid.

Words of… Christ—Their teaching contradicted the health-giving teaching of the historical Jesus of the gospels, and contradicted godliness, piety of heart.


Verse 4

4. Proud—The Gnostics, or knowing ones, (see note, Acts 11:19,) claimed to be the aristocracy of knowledge.

Knowing nothing—Although claiming, as Gnostics, to know every thing.

Questions—Note 1 Timothy 1:4.

Strifes of words—Literally, logomachies; either where the words had no meaning, or the whole dispute was about a word. The evil tempers by this aroused, are next traced.


Verse 5

5. Corrupt minds—Whose mental intentions are bad.

Destitute—Nay, even deprived of the truth, (as in 1 Timothy 1:19 and Titus 1:14,) from having finally abandoned it. The reason for their abandoning truth and taking up the propagation of error is next given.

Gain… godliness— Rather, godliness is a means of gain, a speculation. And all their godliness was for that purpose.


Verse 6

6. Is great gain—Emphasis on is in order to concede what truth there is in the proposition. But it is godliness with contentment, and not for the restless sake of the earthly gain.


Verse 7

7. For—Reason why earthly gains should not be the supreme end of our godliness; it ends with this world, and reaches not eternity.

Nothing into… nothing out—We go into eternity as naked of this world’s goods as we came into the world.


Verse 8

8. Food and raiment—Literally, nourishments and covering.

Let us be… content—Rather, we shall be sufficed. Wealth itself can afford us little more than these.


Verse 9

9. That will—That is, determine to be rich; who say, “At all events, honestly if I can, yet certainly, I will be rich.” The certainly will often dismiss the honestly.

Fall into temptation—Inducements seduce their will at every turn to get gain at the price of godliness. These inducements in an age of trade and successful venture are stupendous. Men are tempted with a million or half million which can be secretly pocketed; and even if known, the contempt for their dishonesty can be braved for such a price; or it can be dazzled away by the splendid display of the successful knave.

A snare—But, alas! the great man is caught, a victim in a net, in a trap; and by whom it is set is significantly hinted in 1 Timothy 3:7.

Hurtful lusts—The wealth acquired induces free gratification of appetites; luxuries, revelries, excesses, which call for gain to sustain them.

Drown men—So that a wealthy, luxurious age plunges itself into temporal and eternal destruction; not “mere moral degradation,” says Alford.


Verse 10

10. The root—No definite article; a root, or a source.

All evil—Evil of every sort; of total amount.

Erred from the faith—Often has the Christian man apostatized by becoming rich. Sometimes he abandons the Church, gives up all profession, and becomes professedly profane. Sometimes he stays in the Church; yet only to dishonour religion by persistent frauds. But St. Paul is here specifying Christian teachers who abandon the truth in order to propagate a false yet remunerative doctrine; a doctrine which gives freer license to immorality, and so attracts adherents and pay.

Pierced themselves through—As with a dagger, with many arrows, or pangs; the pangs being either the dagger itself, or its agonizing accompaniments. These piercing pangs are the penalties of conscience; the deep assurance of guilt and forewarning of retribution, which, forgotten in the eagerness of the pursuit and the flush of enjoyment, return at their own time.


Verse 11

2. Final charge, 1 Timothy 6:11-21.

11. But—In opposition to the guilty and fatal course of the apostate, mercenary errorist.

Man of God—The solemn title of the Old Testament prophets, to which Timothy is heir. Deuteronomy 33:1; Joshua 14:6; Judges 13:6; 1 Samuel 9:6.

Flee these things—The destruction, the thirst for riches from which it proceeds, and the apostate and antichristian, teach… otherwise (1 Timothy 6:3,) from which the whole takes origin. And St. Paul directs not only what to flee, but what to follow. A whole rank of pure Christian virtues, arrayed against the opposed vices (1 Timothy 6:4-5) of the errorist. Righteousness, faith, etc., in full array against envy, strife, etc. In the next verse commences the fight.


Verse 12

12. Fight—For such hostile foes will not only come to battle, but to ceaseless war.

Good fight—It is the battle of good against evil; the war of right against wrong, for which wrong is to blame; for it has no right to exist, much less to fight.

Of faith—Which means faith in Christ, in God, in heaven, in holiness, and in truth. In this great fight there is no room for mistake or doubt; or for fear of failure, or destruction, if we only fight. It is the coward or the apostate alone that is ever conquered and undone.

Lay hold on—As a prize of victory, eternal life.

Called—By a divine summons, as Paul himself was “called to be an apostle.”

Professed… profession—Rather, hast confessed the good confession. This refers not to any one particular profession, any more than fight refers to any particular battle. Timothy’s ministry at Ephesus was to be a fight; his preaching Jesus was the good confession; the many witnesses are not only men (Hebrews 12:1) but the elect angels, (v, 21,) Christ Jesus, and God.


Verse 13

13. I… charge—Solemnly and repeatedly, (v, 21, and 1 Timothy 1:18,) and this before a solemn audience—God and Christ.

Who before Pontius Pilate—In the face of pagan authority and in view of certain death.

Witnessed—Assorted as a testifier. A—Rather, the.

Good confession—Namely, of a truth hated by the world and condemning the world.


Verse 14

14. This commandment—Greek, not this, but the.

Commandment—A different word from that in 1 Timothy 1:5, yet designating the same thing, namely, the law in the gospel; the commandment to live the life of faith and holiness. Of that commandment to men Timothy is the depositary and holder; he has it in charge; and he must keep it without spot, so that it be stainless and unrebukable, above all reproach.

The appearing—The epiphany. See note on 2 Thessalonians 2:2.


Verse 15

15. In his own times—An obvious allusion to Acts 1:7, (where see notes,) and clearly indicating that St. Paul fully recognised that the judgment advent is to be at an unknown time.

Shall show—Shall exhibit the sublime spectacle of Christ’s epiphany. And now we are told, in St. Paul’s most vivid style, who is this He that shall show the final forthcoming of Christ.

Only Potentate—The sole dynast; for what earthly sovereign can be named as real potentate in the comparison?

King of kings—A sublime title, given by St. John to Christ himself, Revelation 19:16. Philo has the phrase King of kings and God of gods. We trace the phrase back to David, Psalms 136:3, and even to Moses, Deuteronomy 10:17.


Verse 16

16. Only hath immortality—So Justin Martyr says: “God is said alone to have immortality, because he has it, not from another’s will, as all other immortals have, but from his own essence.” All other substances disintegrate; all other beings decay and die; it is only as God holds them together, and pours vitality into them, that they are kept in being and life. And we must acknowledge the same dependence upon God for continued existence in a thinking substance, unless we maintain that brutes and insects are immortal. And so from him comes the power of consciousness in a thinking intelligence; unless we maintain that our souls are still conscious, not only in sleep, but in a swoon.

Light… approach untoInhabiting inapproachable light—A sphere of living light, too intense and dazzling for finite mind to face and approach.

No man… can see—He is so intensely luminous as to be to us a darkness; “dark with excess of light.”

A modern philosopher doubts of God because he is a vast incomprehensibility. He should also doubt of light, for the luminiferous ether is at once too vast for our mind to grasp, and too subtle, if not too luminous, for our eyes to see. He should doubt of gravitation; for he can never see it, (but by its efforts;) he can neither imagine its immensity, nor draw around it limitations; yet he knows its existence, and that it rules with its forces every particle of our bodies, every moment of our lives.

Honour and power—Greek, κρατος, force. God is the author and controller of all forces. Note 1 Timothy 1:17.


Verse 17

17. Charge—Again this solemn word, full of admonition to Timothy and to the rich whom he is to address.

In this world—Who may be millionaires here, and miserable paupers in the world to come.

Uncertain—The wings with which riches fly away have long lived in proverb, and are so verified in experience as not likely soon to die out.

The living God—As your riches are a dead god.

Richly—The apostle repeats in spiritual connexion the words of wealth, rich in good works. Laying up (Greek, treasuring) in store.

Richly… enjoy—Literally, affording to us richly all things for enjoyment. It is better to have the permanent divine source of wealth than the transient wealth itself.


Verse 18

18. They do good—Wealth may exist without sin; but not hoarded, illiberal wealth. It would be well for every rich man to take a concordance, find the words rich and riches, and read with solemn appreciation what things the Bible says upon that subject. Men as they grow rich should increase their benefactions faster than they increase their personal expenses.

Rich in good works—A double richness. The possessor has all the happiness of wealth, and the infinitely higher happiness of living in the benefactions he bestows.

Distribute—To adjust the donation to the various proper objects.

To communicate—To share with others the blessings that belong to you.


Verse 19

19. Laying up—Literally, treasuring. Making their perpetual deposits in the divine repository. And this will prove a good foundation, an eternal basis, for the time and world to come.


Verse 20

20. O Timothy—The final, most personal, most earnest address of all.

That which is committed to thy trust—In Greek, a single word, the deposit, the intrusted thing. The duties in this epistle commended to him; his care of his own salvation and that of his hearers; his rebuke of errorists and firm maintenance of Christ’s gospel, through the apostle intrusted to him.

Vain babblings—Rather, the profane empty-talkings. See note on 1 Timothy 1:6.

Oppositions of science—A remarkable phrase. Literally, antitheses of gnosis. And gnosis (identical with the English word knowledge) is the word from which subsequently the Gnostics derived their proud title. Note, Acts 11:19. The word gnosis was for a while in good repute in the Church, (used Luke 1:77; Romans 2:20; Romans 11:13; and elsewhere,) embracing the settled truths of the gospel. But as used by the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 8:1, (where see notes,) it is apparently treated sarcastically by St. Paul, as it is here reprehendingly. As the Corinthian gnosis was a little pretentious, so this gnosis, being further advanced, is absolutely fictitious, being falsely so called. It had already begun to indicate that arrogance, based upon purely imaginary superiority, by which the Gnostics of the next century were distinguished. Note on 2 Thessalonians 2:7. What the oppositions, antitheses, were, is not clear. They may have been the points opposed to the gospel. More probably they were counter propositions, balances of phrases, within the gnosis itself. One is reminded of the antinomies in the Kant philosophy; consisting of a series of coupled prepositions seen by the mind to contradict each other, yet both sides of the contradiction seeming, and claimed by the philosophy, to be true.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-timothy-6.html. 1874-1909.

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