1 Timothy 6
PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Duties Toward Others||Honor Masters||Responsibilities Toward Believers||Slaves|
|False Teaching and True Wealth||Error and Greed||Final Instructions||False Teaching and True Riches||The True Teacher and the False Teacher|
|The Good Fight of Faith||The Good Confession||Personal Instructions||Timothy's Vocation Recalled|
|Instructions to the Rich||Rich Christians|
|Guard the Faith||Final Warning and Conclusion|
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
A. The subject of false teachers returns (cf. 1:3-11,19-20; 4:1-5; 6:3-11,17-19). This entire letter addresses the problems caused by the doctrinal and moral issues raised by the heretics.
B. Verses 1-2 seem out of place, but they probably also relate to the false teachers' messages about Christian slaves and their new rights and freedoms. The UBS4 and TEV both see the structure of this section of the book as Paul encouraging Timothy on how to deal with different groups within the church.
1. older men and women (5:1-2)
2. widows (5:3-11)
3. elders (5:17-25)
4. slaves (6:1-2)
C. Surprisingly 1 Timothy does not end with a series of personal greetings. Paul stayed longer in Ephesus than in any other city and had tremendous evangelistic results. He knew many faithful believers in this city. Why greet only Timothy?
This letter is obviously meant to be read to the assembled church or in the house churches ("you" is plural in v. 21). However, it was also a personal letter with advice and instructions specifically for Timothy, his Apostolic surrogate.
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:1-2
1All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. 2Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.
6:1 "All who are under the yoke as slaves" Christianity adapted itself to the culture of its day in regards to slavery. Two-thirds of the Roman world were slaves. It was the truth, justice, and love of God in the gospel that eventually brought slavery to an end. Paul chose to deal with human attitudes in their cultural situation instead of a violent overthrow of that cultural situation (much like he did the societal role of women).
▣ "to regard their own masters as worthy of honor" Apparently verse 1 refers to Christian slaves serving non-Christian masters, while verse 2 refers to Christian slaves serving Christian masters. A Christian slave is to act toward believers and unbelievers in such a way as to bring honor to God and the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Eph. 6:6-7). Verse 1 has the same orientation as 3:2;7;10; 5:7,8,14; and Titus 2:5, which means "no handle for criticism." Also see v. 14 of this same chapter.
6:2 "Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them" This is literally "look down,"which is a present active imperative with the negative particle, implying stop an act already in process. This phrase relates to the doctrinal concept that everything we as believers do must be of the highest quality for Christ's sake (cf. I Cor. 10:31; Eph. 6:6-7; Col. 3:17; I Pet. 4:11).
The term "masters" is not the normal term for slave owner, kurios (cf. Eph. 6:5,98; Col. 3:22; 4:1), but despotēs. It is usually used of God the Father and the Son, but in the Pastoral Letters it is used regularly for earthly slave masters (cf. 6:1,2; 2 Tim. 2:21; Titus 2:9). Paul may have used a different scribe.
▣ "Teach and preach these principles" These are two present active imperatives, which implies a continual obligation (cf. 4:11). This phrase can conclude the previous admonition (cf. NASB, NKJV) or introduce what follows (cf. NRSV, TEV, NJB).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:3-10
3If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 6But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
6:3 "If" This is a first class conditional sentence (which is assumed to be true) continuing the literary context from v. 3 through v. 5. There were false teachers who rejected Paul's teachings (cf. 1:3-7; 4:1-3).
▣ "advocates a different doctrine" This is the Greek term heteros, which means "another of a different kind." The false teaching was a combination of Jewish legalism and Greek philosophy similar to that found in Colossians and Ephesians.
▣ "and does not agree with sound words" See note at 1:10.
▣ "those of our Lord Jesus Christ" Paul asserts that the origin of the "sound words" is Christ's teachings which were given to Paul. These false teachers rejected both Christ and His Apostles' teachings.
▣ "and with doctrine conforming to godliness" See note at 2:2. Christ's teachings always had godliness as their goal (cf. 3:16). These false teachers tried to separate truth from life, justification from sanctification, the indicative (gospel truth) from the imperative (gospel godliness, see Special Topic at 4:7). See SPECIAL TOPIC: NEW TESTAMENT HOLINESS/SANCTIFICATION at 2 Tim.2:21.
NASB, NRSV"he is conceited"
NKJV, NJB"he is proud"
TEV"is swollen with pride"
This is a perfect passive indicative. The term is literally "smoke-blinded" by means of pride (cf. 3:6; 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:4). See SPECIAL TOPIC: VICES AND VIRTUES in the NT at 1:9.
▣ "but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words" There has been an ongoing emphasis on Timothy not being involved in these futile discussions of the false teachers (cf. 1 Tim. 1:3,4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:14; 4:4; Titus 1:14). I wonder how this would apply today?
The term "morbid" is literally "to be sick." It came to be used metaphorically of an intense craving for something. These false teachers were not seeking godliness, but wanting esoteric knowledge about unrevealed areas or peripheral areas of truth. They wanted to argue over oblique doctrinal issues which only caused arguments and prideful divisions.
The older I get the more I know I do not know and the happier I am with less understanding! The main truths of Christianity are clear and repeated! Yet, somehow we strive to know "all" the details and implications and weave theological webs containing all the inferences of difficult, oblique, apocalyptic and prophetic passages. We glory in our detailed systems instead of our relationship with Christ. It may be harder for a dogmatic, systematic theologian to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person!!
Preach the clear truths! Discuss the peripherals in love! Be gracious to all! Maturity will make us less judgmental and more Christlike.
6:5 "men of depraved mind" Either (1) the entire context refers to the false teachers or (2) the first few verses refer to them and the rest refers to the consequences caused in the local house churches by their teachings (cf. Arichea and Hatton's A Handbook on Paul's Letters to Timothy and Titus, UBS). I think the young widows, and also possibly some slaves (cf. 6:1-2), were surrogate speakers for the false teachers (cf. Gordon Fee's First and Second Timothy and Titus in the New International Biblical Commentary Vol. 13).
▣ "deprived of the truth" Both of these last phrases are Perfect passive participles, implying a settled state of mind and heart brought about by an outside agent, probably the evil one (see Special Topic at 3:6). He is the father not only of lies, but also of religious speculation and theological elitism. See Special Topic: Truth at 2:4.
NASB"who suppose that godliness is a means of gain"
NKJV"who suppose that godliness is a means of gain"
NRSV"imagining that godliness is a means of gain"
TEV"They think that religion is a way to become rich"
NJB"imagine that religion is a way of making a profit"
This seems to involve one of two things: (1) the false teachers taught a theology of success and possessions or (2) they charged for their teaching (cf. Titus 1:11; II Pet. 2:3). Number 2 is probably more likely.
The King James Version adds a phrase at the end of v. 5, "from such withdraw thyself," but this only occurs in the Corrector of the fifth century Greek uncial manuscript D. It does not occur in the more ancient manuscripts א, A, D*, F, or G. The UBS4 gives the shorter text an "A" rating (certain).
For "godliness" see Special Topic at 4:7.
6:6 "when accompanied by contentment" This word basically involves not prideful self-sufficiency, but the Holy Spirit-encouraged sufficiency that comes not from circumstance or personal resources, but dependence on God in Christ (cf. Phil. 4:11-13).
6:7 "For we have brought nothing into the world" This may be an allusion to several OT passages (cf. Job 1:21; Ps. 49:17; Eccl. 5:15). It gives a rationale for the statement in v. 6. Verses 6 and 8 are similar to statements found in the Greek Stoic philosophers. Paul was familiar with these moralists. Many of his lists of sins and virtues are also similar to these Greek writers. See Special Topic: Paul's Use of Kosmos at 1:15.
The KJV adds "and it is certain" for "because." This addition appears in MSS א2 and D2, as well as some Old Latin, Vulgate, and Syrian versions. MS D and some Old Latin, Vulgate, and Syriac versions have "true" before "because." The UBS4 gives the shorter text an "A" rating (certain).
6:8 Believers need to be content with God's provision of daily needs (cf. Pro. 30:8; Matt. 6:11). Paul's use of the word "gain" in v. 5 caused him to elaborate on the false teachers' greed (cf. vv. 6-10 and 17-19).
6:9 "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation" Believers bring many things on themselves because of greed for earthly things, power, and popularity (cf. Pro. 23:4; 28:20; Matt. 6:19-34).
"Temptation" is the Greek term peirasmos.
▣ "and a snare" There are three variants.
1. snare – MSS א, A, D2, H
2. snares – minuscules 33, 1175, and the Peshitta and Coptic versions
3. snare of the devil – MSS D*, F, G, and the Old Latin version
The UBS4 gives option #1 an "A" rating (certain).
▣ "ruin and destruction" This concept is used several times in the NT (cf. Matt. 7:13; Rom. 9:22; Phil. 1:28; 3:19; II Thess. 2:3; II Pet. 2:1; 3:7; Rev. 17:8-11). It is metaphorical for the violent ceasing of physical life. This term does not relate to the theological concept of annihilation (see Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes for a cogent argument for annihilation), which asserts that the spiritually lost do not suffer permanent separation, but at some point in time the loss of existence. Annihilationalists would interpret this literally. This is asserted to be more "humane" of God than an eternal hell. However, the same term (aiōnion) that describes an eternal heaven in Matt. 25:46, describes an eternal hell.
6:10 "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil" This may have been a well-known proverb. Money is not the problem; it is the love of money that is the problem! The Greek does not have the definite article with "root" which means it is one of many problems (cf. 2 Tim. 2:25-26; 3:2-5,7-9). Money is a tool, not a goal. It can become a god (mammon, cf. Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:9-13).
The NASB translation, like the NKJV and NRSV, tries to soften the Greek (lit. "for a root of all evils") hyperbole by adding "sorts" (NKJV, NRSV, "kinds of"). Money is not the only temptation (cf. Col. 3:5), but it is a significant one (cf. 3:3).
▣ "some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith" Does "faith" here speak of salvation or godly living? In this context the false teachers have left the faith and are trying to influence others (cf. Mark 13:22). Greed and financial exploitation (along with sexual exploitation, as well as claiming special knowledge or insight) is a recurrent characteristic of false teachers. If money becomes ultimate, it becomes a god. "Mammon" in Matt. 6:24 is capitalized in NASB because it is assumed to reflect the title of a money god from Syria. Love of money can become idolatrous. It can cause disastrous results in this life and in the next (cf. 4:1; 5:8; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; Titus 1:16).
It is hard to discern the difference between a lost false teacher and a duped believer. Often they look, think, and act alike. Only God knows the heart. He will make the final decision. Jesus' words in Matthew 7 ("by their fruits you shall know them") and 13 (the parable of the soils) are very troubling to our cherished systematic theologies. See SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI) at 1 Tim. 4:1).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:11-16
11But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which He will bring about at the proper time‒He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
6:11 "But flee from these things" Timothy is commanded (present active imperative, cf. 2 Tim. 2:22) to flee from the things discussed in vv. 3-10 (i.e., endless controversies and/or love of money). This is in contrast to the things he was to preach and teach (cf. v. 2b), which are listed in 5:1-6:2a. Christianity involves initial and continuing choices!
TEV"you man of God"
NKJV"O man of God"
NJB"as someone dedicated to God"
This was an honorific title from the OT which was used of Moses (i.e., Deut. 33:1; Josh. 14:6), Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, David, and unnamed prophets (i.e., I Sam. 2:27; I Kgs. 12:22; 13:1). In 2 Tim. 3:16,17 it is used for all believers equipped by the word of God. The false teachers are not men of God nor are they equipped by the Word of God.
▣ "pursue" This is another present active imperative, an ongoing command. The first ("flee") is negative, the second imperative ("pursue") positive. Both are crucial for sound teaching and personal righteousness.
▣ "righteousness" This must refer to holy living (cf. James 3:13-18), not to imputed (forensic) righteousness as in Romans (cf. chapter 4). Romans 1-8 (a doctrinal summary) speaks of our position in Christ (i.e., justification). The Pastoral Letters (letters against false teaching) speak of our possessing our possession (i.e., sanctification, see Special Topic at 2 Tim. 2:21).
For "righteousness" see SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS at Titus 2:12.
This list of Christlike qualities is exactly opposite of the lifestyles of the false teachers. By their fruits you shall know them (cf. Matthew 7).
▣ "godliness" This is a recurring theme (cf. 3:10; 4:7-8; 6:3,5-6; 2 Tim. 3:5, see Special Topic at 4:7). Eternal (see Special Topic at 4:7) life has observable characteristics. To know God is to be (desire to be) like God (cf. Matt. 5:48).
The Greek word hupomonē has several possible English translations. In A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker say that this word refers to the enduring of toil and suffering (p. 846). Timothy was to face (1) the problems; (2) those who caused the problems; and (3) those affected by the problems with a steadfast endurance. See Special Topic at 4:16.
▣ "gentleness" Not only was Timothy to endure and persevere, but he was to do so with a faithful, loving, gentle spirit (cf. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:25; Titus 3:3; Gal. 6:1; James 1:21; 3:13,17; I Pet. 2:18; 3:4).
6:12 "fight the good fight of faith" This is a present middle (deponent) imperative. The cognate verb and noun are used here to intensify the athletic (cf. 1:18; Heb. 12:1-3) or military (cf. Eph. 6:10-18) metaphor (Paul also "fought the good fight," cf. 2 Tim. 4:7). We get the English word "agony" from this metaphor.
▣ "take hold of the eternal life" This is an aorist middle imperative (cf. v. 19). This is metaphorical of the winning athlete receiving the trophy or crown. This shows mankind's need to initially respond (cf. v. 12b) and continue to respond in faith. The next phrase shows God's keeping power (cf. v. 12c). These are both true and valid covenantal aspects of salvation; they are paradoxical, but true! Eternal life is a way of referring to the consummation of the gospel hope (i.e. glorification, cf. Rom. 8:30).
▣ "to which you were called" This emphasis on God's electing and keeping power (cf. I Cor. 1:9) must be combined with our daily faith cooperation. Predestination and perseverance must be held together as two sides of one coin.
▣ "and you made the good confession" This is the Greek word homologeō, which speaks of a public profession or confession (cf. I John 1:9). This seems to refer to Timothy's baptism as his public profession of faith. Early believers repeated the formula "Jesus is Lord" (cf. Rom. 10:9-13) as their personal and public profession of faith in Jesus. This brief phrase implied His humanity, deity, atonement, and exaltation (cf. Phil. 2:6-11).
▣ "in the presence of many witnesses" This may refer to
1. Timothy's ordination (cf. 5:14; 2 Tim. 1:6)
2. his public profession before the local church (cf. Acts 16:1-2)
3. more probably, his baptism.
6:13 "I charge you in the presence of God" Verses 13-16 are one sentence in Greek. As Timothy confessed Jesus publicly (cf. Matt. 10:32-33), now Paul charges him also in God's presence (cf. 5:21; 2 Tim. 4:1).
Paul "charges" or commands Timothy often in the Pastoral Letters. Sometimes these refer to things that Timothy should do (cf. 1:3,18; 4:11; 5:21; 6:13; II Tim. 4:1) and sometimes to what he should tell others (cf. 5:7,21; 6:17; 2 Tim. 2:14).
The pronoun "you" is in the infinitive "to keep" of v. 14. Some MSS inserted it after the verb "I charge" in v. 13 (MSS א2, A, D, H). It is omitted in MSS א*, F, G. UBS4 cannot decide which is original. Obviously, like so many Greek variants, it does not affect the meaning of the long sentence from verse 13 to verse 16.
▣ "who gives life to all things" God is the origin and source of all life (cf. v. 16; 1:17; 2 Tim. 1:10). There is no life apart from Him. The OT title YHWH, from the Hebrew verb "to be" (cf. Exod. 3:14), is a word play on this very concept. God is the only one who can give and sustain physical and eternal life.
This term has connotations of both (1) giving life (cf. I Sam. 2:6; 1 Tim. 6:13) and (2) preserving life (cf. Jdgs. 8:19; I Sam. 27:9,11; I Kgs. 21:31; Luke 17:33; Acts 7:19). YHWH does both through Christ.
▣ "and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate" Jesus is called the "Faithful witness" (cf. Rev. 1:5; 3:14). The term "before" (enōpion) can mean (1) "front of" or (2) "in the time of." Therefore, this could refer to Jesus' entire life of witness or specifically His trials (cf. Matt. 27:2; John 18:33-37).
6:14 "that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach" This may refer to vv. 11 and 12. Timothy was to live in obedience and purity, unlike the false teachers. See Special Topic at 3:2.
▣ "until the appearing of" In 2 Tim. 1:10 and Titus 2:11 this term (epiphaneia) is used of Jesus' first coming, but here and in II Thess. 2:8; 2 Tim. 4:1,8; Titus 2:13 it is used of His Second Coming. The Second Coming has always been a strong incentive to live the Christian life. See Special Topic at Titus 2:13.
6:15 "which He will bring about at the proper time" This same phrase is used in 2:6 and Titus 1:3 of Jesus' first coming. The "He" describes God the Father's knowledge and control over the first and second comings of the Messiah (cf. Matt. 24:36; Acts 1:7). The Jerome Biblical Commentary (p. 357) suggests that vv. 15-16 are a quote from a Christian hymn (cf. 1:17; 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:11-13).
▣ "He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords" This prayer is similar to 1:17. These descriptive phrases initially and contextually refer to God the Father:
1. "blessed" (1:1)
2. "only Sovereign" (1:17; cf. Ecclesiasticus 46:5)
3. "Lord of lords" (Deut. 10:17; Ps. 136:3)
The title "King of kings" is parallel to "Lord of lords" and is used of Jesus in Rev. 17:14; 19:16. It originally referred to the kings of Mesopotamia, but was used by the Jews during the interbiblical period to refer to YHWH.
6:16 "who alone possesses immortality" This is the term "death" with the alpha privative (cf. I Cor. 15:53-54). This seems to be the basic meaning of the OT title "YHWH," the ever-living, only-living One (cf. Exod. 3:14-16). Notice the inference of monotheism (see Special Topic at 2:5), "who alone possesses"! YHWH is the origin and source of life and there is no other!
▣ "and dwells in unapproachable light" The rabbis called the "cloud of glory" the Shekinah, which is from the Hebrew term "to dwell" (with the implication "to dwell with permanently," cf. Exod. 24:17; 23:20).
▣ "whom no man has seen or can see" In the OT God's holiness was so awesome that no sinful human could see God and live (cf. Gen. 16:13; 32:30; Exod. 20:19; 33:18-20; Judg. 6:22-23; 13:22; Isa. 6:5; John 6:46; I John 4:12). In the NT believers have seen Him truly revealed in Jesus (cf. I John 1:18; 6:46) and will see Him personally one day (cf. Matt. 5:8; Heb. 12:14; Rev. 22:40).
▣ "to Him be honor and eternal dominion" Paul often breaks into a doxology of praise to God the Father (cf. 1:17). The Son is the Father's instrument of creation, revelation, redemption, and judgment. However, the eternal kingdom belongs to the Father through the Son (cf. Dan. 7:13; I Cor. 15:25-28).
▣ "Amen" This is a Hebrew idiom of affirmation.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:17-19
17Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. 18Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
6:17-19 One wonders if vv. 17-19 were an after-thought or if Paul received more information about the house churches in Ephesus. It is also possible that Paul wrote vv. 17-21 himself, as he regularly closed his letters (cf. II Thess. 3:17-18).
6:17 "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited" As verse 9 warns about an evil desire for money, verse 17 warns those who have money against putting their faith in it and not in Christ (cf. Matt. 6:19-21; 13:22; 19:23-30; James 1:9-11; 5:1-6).
▣ "or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches" This is a perfect active infinitive. Humans tend to trust in their resources, not God's resources (cf. 4:10; 5:5). Some of Jesus' strongest words were directed at the wealthy (cf. Luke 18:18-30).
▣ "but in God" There are several variants.
1. on God – א, F, G
2. on (the) God – MSS A, I, P
3. on God living – MS D*
4. on (the) God (the) living – MS D2
The UBS4 gives option #1 an "A" rating. The descriptive form is taken from 4:10.
6:18 "Instruct them" Here are Paul's threefold guidelines for those who have worldly goods.
1. continue doing good (cf. 5:10; 2 Tim. 2:21; 3:17; Titus 3:1,8,14)
2. be ready to share
3. be generous (cf. II Corinthians 8-9)
6:19 This verse reminds one of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, especially chapter 6 (cf. Luke 12:15). It uses two metaphors: (1) storing up true riches and (2) building a sure and strong foundation. The wise use of wealth does both! By them believers take hold of true life (i.e., eternal life, cf. v. 12).
NRSV"the life that really is life"
TEV"the life which is true life"
NJB"the only like that is real"
The variety of the English translations involves the choice of
1. ontōs – MSS א, A, D*, F, G
2. aiōniou – MS D2
3. both – minuscules 69, 296, 467, and 1175 (these copyists must have had Greek manuscripts that had both options)
The UBS4 gives option #1 and "A" rating.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 6:20-21
20O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge" 21which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.
6:20-21 These closing verses (also possibly vv. 17-19) may have been hand written by Paul himself to authenticate the letter (cf. II Thess. 3:17-18).
6:20 "guard what has been entrusted to you" The verb is an aorist active imperative. The term "entrusted" is related to the banking term for "deposit," which is used three times in the Pastoral Letters for "the gospel" (cf. 1:11, see full note at 1:18) or the body of Christian truth (cf. Acts 6:7; 13:8; 14:22; Gal. 1:23; 3:23; 6:10; Phil. 1:27; Jude vv. 3,20). Believers are stewards of the gospel (cf. I Cor. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 1:12,14).
▣ "avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge" "Avoiding" is a present middle participle used as an imperative. 1 Timothy is a letter primarily about heresy, not church organization. The guidelines in the book are directly related to the problems caused by the false teachers, not necessarily universal guidelines for all churches of all times in all places.
▣ "knowledge" The false teachers in the Pastoral Letters are a combination of "Jewish legalists" and Greek Gnostics (much like those in Colossians and Ephesians). "Knowledge," usually secret or specially revealed knowledge, was the claim of these teachers. These false teachers separated truth from life, justification from sanctification, and turned salvation into a secret, special knowledge divorced from godliness.
NASB"which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith"
NKJV"by professing it, some have strayed concerning the faith"
NRSV"by professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith"
TEV"for some have claimed to possess it, and as a result they have lost the way of faith"
NJB"by adopting this, some have missed the goal of faith"
This same word is used in 1:6 to describe the false teachers; also notice 1:19; 4:1-2; 5:15; 6:10. There are so many strong warnings in this book!
Remember Christianity is (1) a person to be welcomed; (2) doctrine to be believed; and (3) a corresponding life to be lived! If any one of these is de-emphasized or left out, then tremendous problems occur (cf. Matt. 7:21-27).
▣ "Grace be with you" The "you" is plural (MS D). This shows that the letter, although addressed to an individual (singular "you" in MSS א, A, F, G), was to be read publicly. Notice Paul prays for them God's grace and true knowledge (cf. v. 20)! This same plural ending is in all the Pastoral Letters (cf. 2 Tim. 4:22; Titus 3:15).
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.
1. Why didn't the Christian church attack the issue of slavery? (Other passages of Paul's which deal with slaves are I Cor. 7:21-24; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22-25; Philemon vv. 16,17; Titus 2:9; I Pet. 2:18).
2. What do verses 1 and 2 say about our modern day employer/employee relationships?
3. What is heresy?
4. What is the difference between a false teacher and differences in interpretation?
5. Is money evil?
6. Describe as much as you can the theology of the false teachers.
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