I Timothy 6:17-21 Guarding The Trust.

As a man of God Timothy was to eschew sinful pride and greed. Paul, in turn, tells Timothy to “command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (v. 17). By modifying ‘rich’ with “in this present age,” Paul is clearly speaking of material wealth and prestige that some do rightfully enjoy in this life. However, he also calls them “uncertain,” and this combined with “this present age,” shows how fleeting they are, both in respect to this life and in that which is to come. Timothy is to command them not to be haughty, not only because it would not be wise to be proud of that which is fleeting, but also more importantly because it is “the living God who gives us all things to enjoy.” It is ultimately the living God who blesses people with material wealth (Cf. Jer. 9:23-24; 48:7; Eccl. 5:18-20).

It is because it is ultimately the living God who blesses people with material wealth that Paul instructs his pastoral protégé to urge the rich to be “rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (v. 18). He does not repeat the word ‘command’ but instead tells Timothy to in effect ‘urge’ the rich to be “ready” and “willing”. It is better for us all, and more needful, that we give not out of command but because we are ready and willing out of gratitude for all that God has given us. In so doing, we store up for ourselves “treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt. 6:20). This is the “good foundation” which Paul wrote about here. The lasting nature of these riches contrast sharply with the uncertain material wealth of this age. Better to use the latter in the service of the former.

When Paul urges the rich to store up riches for the life to come, “that they may lay hold on eternal life,” he does not contradict his firm commitment to the gospel of justification by faith. We know “that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16 Cf. 3:11; Rom. 3:20, 28; 4:1-4). What Paul does affirm is that those who are truly saved will inevitably show this change in how they then live. Right after he affirms grace in Ephesians 2:8-9 he goes on to write the following. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (v. 10). We are saved by grace for a purpose-that we might be true image bearers of Christ Himself in a ‘creation mandate’ renewed (Cf. Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15, 18). We work out what God works in, and this is why these works are of lasting value (Cf. Mt. 19:21; Phil. 2:12).

The words of this epistle are absolutely critical, and this is why Paul took the time and effort to leave such a letter for his pastoral protégé and ultimately for the church. The parting conclusion here merits an exclamation-“O Timothy!” He and we need to guard the faith against all assaults. The gospel which he has reiterated here and his other letters must be protected, and this includes both doctrine and the life of the individual and the church. This was that which was committed to him and to every true minister of the word when one is ordained. We don’t do this in our own strength, but in the strength which the Spirit gives us (II Tim. 2:12-14). The word of God is something placed in our trust, therefore we must avoid “the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (v. 20). It is false teachers who enjoy arguing for argument sake. However, the word entrusted to us does not contradict itself.

I Timothy

I Timothy 6:11-16 The Good Confession.

Paul regarded Timothy as a man of God who should flee the snares of the false teachers, such as sinful pride and greed (vv. 3-10). There were more valuable things for Timothy to pursue such as “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (v. 11). These are all the fruit of the Spirit’s presence in one’s life (Cf. Gal. 5:22-23). The life of a Christian must be one of continual progress in sanctification, it is a spiritual war, “the good fight of faith” (v. 12a). Who we are and how we live must measure up to “the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (v. 12b). Integrity is having harmony between one’s confession and how one lives.

Paul regarded these words as a command to Timothy, made “in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus” (v. 13a). It is a command to follow the very pattern given by the Lord Himself when He “witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate” (v. 13b-14a). “This may refer to Jesus’ trial before Pilate (Matt. 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3; John 18:33-37; 19:8-11), but is more likely an allusion to His death” (NGSB p. 1915). Again, the call to be blameless does not mean sinless, but it does mean not justifying sinful behaviour. This is a command for the church to follow “until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing” (v. 14b (Cf. II Tim. 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13).

This appearing is according to His own time, but even now He reigns as “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (v. 15 Cf. Rev. 17:14; 19:16). As the second person of the Trinity, He shares with the Father and the Spirit “immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen” (v. 16). Immortality means to live forever. The unapproachable light is the light of the Glory-Presence surrounding the throne of heaven. As to their deity, no one has ever or can ever see (Cf. Jn. 6:46). This is the only living and true God, and thus is alone worthy “to receive glory and honor and power” (Rev. 4:11).

I Timothy

I Timothy 6:3-10 The Word, And The Danger Of Sinful Pride And Greed.

Paul upholds the word. He regarded everything that preceded, along with “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,” as “wholesome words” (v. 3a Cf. II Tim. 1:13). The word alone provides the substance for “doctrine which accords with godliness” (v. 3b Cf. Titus 1:1). Those who oppose the word are “proud, knowing nothing” (v. 4). We only know the truth by revelation, and this is humbling. There are people who enjoy arguing over disputable points simply because they enjoy arguing-the more disputable the better. This attitude ultimately stems from “envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions.” Doctrine that accords with godliness is useful, that which is contrary to it is “useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth” (v. 5a). A good minister will preach and teach in defence of the truth. False teachers will promote discord over disputable matters and do so for pride and financial gain. The church needs to support the former and withdraw from the latter (Cf. II Tim. 3:5).

With true godliness comes contentment (Phil. 4:11; Heb. 13:5). True godliness is not greed, or arguing for it’s own sake, or pride. These are all contrary to “the doctrine that accords with godliness.” “Godliness with contentment,” far from being a loss, is a “great gain” (v. 6). “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (v. 7). What kind of gain of any kind is it if we leave it all behind? All we really need to be content is to have food, clothing, and shelter (v. 8 Cf. Prov. 30:8-9). The danger for those who pursue wealth just so they can be rich, is that they have fallen into the temptation of putting the love of wealth over love for God. Having crossed this line, their wealth then only feeds their other lusts (v. 9). Money itself is not the root of all kinds of evil, but the love of money places it above everyone and everything else, including God (v. 10a). Many have strayed, and many continue to stray from the faith because of their greed, “and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (v. 10b).

I Timothy

I Timothy 6:1-2 Honour To Whom Honour Is Due-A Good Testimony.

A bondservant or slave in NT times is not equivalent to an employee today. Obviously an employee has more freedom and independence. All the more reason for us to follow the general principles here. We are called to honour those in authority over us, and we show that honour by giving an honest effort in our work. As Paul pointed out elsewhere, we should work as if working for the Lord (Eph. 6:5-8; Titus 2:9-10; I Pet. 2:18-19). When we do what is right in our employment, we guard against “the name of God and His doctrine” from being blasphemed. As the name of God refers to everything about His character, what Paul emphasizes is both who God is and what He has revealed. People will look at the life and teaching of the Christian church and use it to form their understanding of God and His word. It is also important for those working for a fellow believer to not take advantage of this, but work just as hard to do the right thing to guard the reputation of both, and also “because those who are benefited are believers and beloved.” This is what Paul wanted Timothy to teach and exhort or preach.

I Timothy

I Timothy 5:17-25 Honour The Elders, And Exercise Good Judgment.

Elders are called to rule, and some labour full time “in the word and doctrine” (v. 17). Being worthy of “double honor” refers to “the honor of the position as well as financial remuneration (v. 18).” (NGSB p. 1914) Paul appeals to two scriptural references to support this point. The first in reference to an ox is also referred to in I Corinthians 9:7-9 (Dt. 25:4). The second reference is more direct-“The laborer is worthy of his wages” (v. 18b Cf. Lev. 19:13; Dt. 24:15; Mt. 10:10; Lk. 10:7; I Cor. 9:14). Paul also comes to the defense of the reputation of elders. Paul does not set down a rule only for elders. It is a basic Christian principle that an accusation is not to be received about anyone “except from two or three witnesses” (v. 19). This was a principle which Jesus reiterated from the law (Mt. 18:16 Cf. Dt. 17:6; 19:15).

Some sinned in thinking that this principle didn’t need to be applied with respect to elders, probably because they were being confronted about their sin. One cannot preach and teach the word without at some point exposing sin, especially if one follows Paul’s injunction and exposes those publicly sinning. Those sinning publicly need to be publicly rebuked, “that the rest also may fear” (v. 20). This was not to be done in haste. This is the point of having the need for witnesses. We should also not show partiality (Dt. 1:17). So the elders were also not above the law, nor anyone else who might have a unique place in the church. Church government must be exercised without prejudice. To this end Paul appeals to his own witnesses in this charge-“before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels” (v. 21).

Given the immense responsibility that accompanies the eldership, Paul instructs Timothy to not be hasty in laying on hands, an expression which refers to an ordination to the office, just as it was done with respect to Timothy (v. 22 Cf. 4:14). The point is Timothy needed to keep himself pure (Cf. II Jn. 10-11). Paul was also concerned about Timothy’s health, and keeping himself pure obviously did not mean abstaining from alcoholic beverages like wine (v. 23). “Some men’s sins are clearly evident,” and hence what Paul has just pointed out concerning a public confrontation for those who sin publically (v. 24). However, for some people their sin is less public but will nevertheless still come to judgment. In the same way some people’s good works are public, and for some they will be revealed later (v. 25).

I Timothy

I Timothy 5:3-16 Widows And Their Care.

Speaking of family, Paul saw a person’s first responsibility to be the care of one’s own (v. 3). A widow in Paul’s day would most likely be a woman truly in need of assistance. In Paul’s example he also views her as being old enough that she would likely have children of sufficient age to help her. In fact, he will go on to add that anyone under sixty should not be taken under care (v. 9a). Apparently he regarded any under sixty as likely to seek marriage again (v. 11). It should be said that Paul is here delivering general guidelines and not with possible exceptions. Obviously not all widows have children nor will seek to remarry (Cf. v. 10). In our day and age we also would not consider sixty as young. One’s ability and probability of having children certainly comes before sixty. However, conversely, in our day we have life insurance, and part of taking care of one’s own family surely has to include having insurance for one’s possible demise. The point is, the church should not be insurance where other options are available (v. 16).

Nevertheless, the guidelines which Paul sets down here are still relevant to the church today. The point is that we need to focus the church’s resources on those who are truly in need and who have demonstrated genuine faith. This does not mean that the church won’t help outsiders if it has the means, but just as care starts at home, even so charity must begin with those who are members of the church family. Most parents or grandparents will want to see that their children and grandchildren have what they need to get a start on life, but in some cases children will need to return this favour (Cf. II Cor. 12:14). “This is good and acceptable before God” (v. 4). A real widow is one who is truly alone, “trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day” (v. 5). This is in direct contrast with one who “lives in pleasure,” and “is dead while she lives” (v. 6). The first is a genuine believer, the second is not. As with a good minister, the former is blameless, which does not mean sinless, but she does not justify a sinful lifestyle (v. 7).

Speaking of true and fake believers, Paul goes so far to say that those who refuse to care for their own family are not true believers. In fact, these have not only denied the faith, but they are worse than an unbeliever, since many unbelievers will at the very least care for their own families (v. 8 Cf. Mt. 18:17). Besides recommending a dividing age of sixty, Paul also stipulated that she be the wife of one husband (v. 9). This could mean, as in the case of overseers and deacons, that she not be polygamous, or it could imply that with more than one husband in succession she should have set aside some resources for later years. Not all women have the opportunity to raise children, but all have an obligation, if true believers, to evidence the fruit thereof. One evidence would be the raising of godly offspring, but there are also other good works, including the lodging of strangers. Paul very likely had in mind fellow believers visiting from distant places, or in any case, those in need when she had the means to help (Cf. Is. 58:7).

We do not typically wash each others feet, but certainly offering lodging could include washing facilities and a meal. Similarly, relieving the afflicted can take on many forms depending on the nature of the affliction. The point is, there are many things that would qualify as good works. Speaking of younger widows, when Paul says that they will become “wanton against Christ,” he does not mean that they will necessarily deny Christ, but that they will likely seek to remarry rather than desiring to be married to Christ alone for the rest of their lives (vv. 11-12). Paul no doubt witnessed the danger that comes to younger widows, who because they are not busy with children or another job or good works, then become gossips and busy bodies, “saying things which they ought not” (v. 13). Again, Paul envisions younger widows as still being able to remarry and have children and thus to manage a household (v. 14a). When people are idle it gives the devil an opportunity to lead astray (vv. 14b-15).

I Timothy

I Timothy 5:1-2 Like Family.

Paul gave Timothy a paradigm that should be the standard for all of us in the church-treat each other like family. What follows is a warning to Timothy not to abuse his authority. Exhorting an older man as a father instead of rebuking him appeals to what he ought to know. In so doing we show him the respect one ought to have for one who is more advanced in years. The point is no one is exempt from the need for continual progress in the faith, but each is shown respect in a way that is unique to their station in life. A younger man should be approached as a brother, neither as a child nor as one old enough to be one’s father. Likewise with women of the church, we must treat older women as mothers and “younger women as sisters, with all purity” (v. 2). With this last group he emphasizes purity, because I think Paul understands that for a young man it is important that his relationship with younger women be marked by purity, in so doing he also shows them their due respect. All this echoes what Paul said to Timothy earlier about not letting anyone disrespect him or “despise” his youth (4:12). So we should do unto others as we would have done unto us (Cf. Mt. 7:12; Lk. 6:31).

I Timothy

I Timothy 4:12-16 An Example Of Progress In Doctrine and Life.

Maturity does not always walk in lock step with age. Timothy was young for one in the ministry, but this did not stop Paul from encouraging him to be “an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (v. 12 Cf. Phil. 3:17; I Pet. 5:3). This is not to suggest that Timothy was a teenager. He was probably in his thirties, which would have made him younger than most of the elders he was called to lead. In any case, it is important that a minister be a good example of the faith in speech and conduct. A good minister must be loving but also pure. Too often the culture defines these as in conflict. However, if our conduct is not pure it is not loving. These were instructions which Paul gave in his absence. This situation helps us understand what Paul regarded as the essentials of a church’s activity-“to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (v. 13).

Clearly, from this context, the gift which Paul wanted Timothy to exercise was that of teaching and preaching. It was a gift which came from the Spirit, the knowledge of which came by prophetic revelation, “with the laying on of the hands of the eldership” (v. 14). This expands on the charge which Paul had given Timothy earlier (1:18). None of us have arrived at perfection. What should be evident to all is progress. Paul wanted Timothy to attend to both the exercise of the teaching-preaching ministry and to the spiritual discipline of meditation. “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine” (v. 16a). One’s personal life and doctrine should not be contradictory, they should both be progressing forward. Sanctification involves both doctrine and life (Cf. Titus 2:7). A good minister must be as concerned about his own condition as he is of those he leads to truly lead.

I Timothy

I Timothy 4:6-11 Being A Good Servant Of Jesus Christ.

Paul, in writing to his trusted co-worker and son in the faith, wanted him to clearly understand the nature and qualifications required to be a good minister of Jesus Christ. First of all, he needed to instruct his congregation in the truth that Paul had written to him about up to this point. “These things” included apostolic doctrine, the centrality of the gospel, fighting the good fight of faith, praying for all, focusing on the qualifications of church officers, all the while refuting false teachers attempting to lead others astray. A good minister of Jesus Christ is one who is “nourished in the words of faith” (v. 6b Cf. II Tim. 3:14).

The scriptures are the words of faith for, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). From this word alone “good doctrine” can be “carefully followed.” “Profane and old wives fables” are to be rejected as contrary to the word (Cf. II Tim. 2:16; Titus 1:14). It is in the word alone that a good minister of Jesus Christ can exercise himself “toward godliness” (v. 7). It seems that Timothy was engaged in some physical exercise, which Paul does not discourage outright, but relative to godliness, the latter is a more necessary exercise. All other things being equal, bodily exercise will certainly afford one a healthier and longer life.

Godliness, on the other hand, benefits us for the present and for all eternity, “having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (v. 8 Cf. Ps. 37:7-11). Paul regarded this as “a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance” (v. 9). One must exercise themselves in the oracles of God to get beyond milk to eating solid food (Cf. Heb. 5:12-14). A good minister should not be so immersed in official duties that he neglects the spiritual disciplines. Paul and his colleagues laboured to further these truths, and they also suffered reproach for this defence. They did this because they trusted in the living God not lifeless idols or the figments of human imagination.

To this end he tells Timothy –“these things command and teach” (v. 11). When Paul says that the living God “is the Savior of all men,” he is simply reiterating what he said earlier, that men and women of every nation and station in life can be saved. Furthermore he is also reiterating that there is no one other than Jesus Christ through whom any can be saved. However, the fact that he says “especially of those who believe” highlights the great divide-some people believe and some do not, and only those who believe are ultimately saved. Only “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).

I Timothy

I Timothy 4:1-5 Apostasy In Doctrine And Life.

According to Paul and the Spirit there will be apostasy, some “will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (v. 1 Cf. II Tim. 3:13). Issues of doctrine have always been about spiritual warfare. Furthermore, what one believes affects how one lives. Some will teach lies while claiming to hold to the truth-these are hypocrites whose consciences have been “seared with a hot iron” (v. 2). Such false teachers have silenced their consciences for so long that they are no longer sensitive to the truth of scripture. One might imagine that such a time as this would lead the church to retreat from life, but Paul criticizes this approach.

The religion of the apostate heretics involved abstaining from marriage and “foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (v. 3). These are not satisfied with simply falling into error themselves, they insist on commanding and thus binding other people’s consciences to their apostasy. With the new covenant there was a change in the ceremonial laws. When Peter got the revelation that all foods were now clean, besides it meaning the opening of the gospel to the Gentiles, it also meant that foods that were previously considered unclean were now clean (vv. 4-5 Cf. Acts 10:9-16).

Paul would never advocate doing anything contrary to the word, this is why he defends what may be called “the regulative principle,” which is to follow only that which God commands in holy scripture. With the change of sacrifices to the once for all sacrifice of Christ, the ceremonial system of the old covenant found fulfillment. The apostolic witness was that “word of God” which declares every creature good and not to be refused, “if it is received with thanksgiving” (v. 4). Our response must be one of thanksgiving to God in prayer for all that He has given. This also includes marriage, which from the dawn of creation God declared to be good and honourable (Heb. 13:4).