1 Timothy 6
E W Rogers, Oxford
The Personnel of the Church - their Perils. It will be observed that neither Paul nor the Lord Jesus made an onslaught upon the principle of slavery. What they did rather was to create an atmosphere in which such a degrading custom could not survive (see especially the letter to Philemon).
Slaves are to honour their masters with the view of safeguarding the esteem in which the name of God and Christian doctrine are held. They are not to take advantage of the fact should it be that their masters are also believers; rather they should serve them because the benefits from such service will be enjoyed by believers, saints beloved. Today the principle of master and servant, the principle of a bargain of so much service for so much pay, is apt to cause Christians to overlook the fact that God has set His children in different stations and relationships of life, but the New Testament not only recognizes their existence but states the respective duties that devolve upon the various occupants (see e.g., Eph. 6. 5-9; Col. 3. 22; 4. 1).
Timothy must expect opponents and contradictors, but he is entrusted with the health-giving teaching that relates to the Lord Jesus Christ and which will promote practical godliness, 1 Tim. 6. 3. Those who teach differently are marked by pride and controversy. Paul calls them "proud", v. 4, who are themselves sick, marg. What they promote is envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth. They wrongly suppose that godliness is a way of gain, reflecting the covetousness which is in their own heart.
This leads Paul to discuss the subject of the Christian's attitude to wealth. Contentment should mark him, for he came into the world empty-handed and it is certain that he will go out in like manner. Anything amassed in the meantime will either be used for the glory of God, or for self-gratification, or left behind for the consumption of others in ways of which he may disapprove. This vexed the Preacher, Eccl. 2. 18. But if he is content with his divinely appointed lot, 2 Cor. 9. 8, and couples with it godliness, he is in the veriest sense rich. Conditional guarantees of food and clothing were given by the Lord Jesus, Matt. 6. 33, and having these what more could we desire? But discontent is apt to creep into every heart and a craving to become rich. Money itself is not evil, for its proper use may lead to many a God-honouring benefit, but the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. One has but to think of Achan, Gehazi and Judas, and to consider their ends to see how true this is. Those who aspire after wealth are like the wild beast which, leaping at the bait hung over the pit, falls into it and is impaled on the spike below. Paul's words are very descriptive: "a snare" entrapping the aspirant after wealth; drowning in the attempt to clutch at the unobtainable; "seduced", I Tim. 6.10 marg., from the faith so that they are without an anchor in the sea of life; "pierced through" with arrows of their own making. Contrast the end of Micah's priest, Jud. 18, with that of the apostle Paul. Paul coveted no man's silver or gold or apparel, his own horny hands which plied at the canvas tent bearing witness to his selfless labours for his own needs and those of his associates. Materialism is the bane of our present age. It not only affects the world but it affects the people of God. Vying with one's neighbour, "keeping up with the Jones's", indeed endeavouring to go one better than they, cause the child of God to spend unduly on himself and his family, to the loss of the furtherance of the work of the Lord. If only we could remember that we have "only one life, 'twill soon be past; only what's done for Christ will last", then we should be saved from the snare of materialism. We should learn from the example of the Lord: "buy those things that we have need of", John 13. 29, and of Paul, whose hands had ministered to his necessities and to them that were with him, Acts 20. 34.
Paul addresses Timothy as "man of God", 1 Tim. 6. 11; he is God's man as were the prophets of old. He must flee, and follow and fight, w. 11-12. The things under review, covetousness in all its forms, must be eschewed. He must follow after righteousness, godliness, faith or fidelity, love,
He must fight the good fight of the faith and lay hold on the life eternal, instead of seeking to seize as much of the things of this life as he could. To that he had been called; and there were many who could witness that this was his goal in life.
Timothy is charged to keep the commandment until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, v. 14. This is significant. Paul does not say until Timothy passes on by death. It is a consistent principle of his writings never to instruct the saints
Verse 15 relates to the Father, despite the fact that almost similar words are used of the Lord Jesus, Rev. 17. 14. God is unique, supreme, immortal, unapproachable, invisible, all-
Paul reverts to the matter of riches and those who possess them, 1 Tim. 6.17-19. He does not condemn them but exhorts them not to be highminded (a very easy propensity) nor to set their hope upon those riches which can so easily disappear,
Paul adds one final plea addressing his words with "O Timothy". He feels things deeply. He has in mind the "deposit", that body of Christian doctrine with which he himself had been entrusted, and which now he was passing on to Timothy and which he was expected to transmit to others (see 2 Tim. 1. 12, 14; 2. 2). Attacks will be made upon it; it must be guarded as diligently as Shammah defended the field of lentils, 2 Sam. 23. 12. The oppositions of "science falsely so called" must be avoided. Some having gone in for such knowledge have missed the mark as regards the faith. Intellectualism has intruded into the assemblies of God's people. Believers tend to forget that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; to him they are foolishness, 1 Cor. 2. 14. Mere knowledge (otherwise termed "science") puffs up. Mere knowledge per se is a dangerous tiling. It has to do with things, but eternal life consists in the knowledge of "the only true God, and Jesus Christ", John 17.3. This is the "most excellent" thing, and Paul made it his aim in life, Phil. 3. 8, 10. He did not lack academic learning; yea, he excelled in it, yet after his conversion he had another aim in life. No wonder his "unlearned" brother Peter wrote, "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 Pet. 3. 18. "Grace be with you", R.v. terminates the letter. "You" is not the colloquial "you" of modern speech, but the plural embracing all the saints who were associated with Timothy.