6:2 Those who have believing masters, let them not despise them, because
they are brothers,
but rather let them serve them, because those who partake of the benefit are believing and beloved.
6:12 Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of the eternal life to
which you were called,
and you confessed the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.
6:13 I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate testified the good confession,
6:14 that you keep the commandment without spot, blameless,
until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ;
From Paul's writings it is evident that then, as well as now, there were many false teachers that were payed for preaching and would introduce much of their own opinion and futile ideas so as to satisfy their hearers and justify getting payed for their "special knowledge."
Everyone experiences different degrees of slavery as we are all under the yoke in the sense that we are all under some kind of authority. The slavery of which Paul spoke could be particularly burdensome depending on the type of master one had. Nonetheless Paul, and Peter as well, advocated the practice of submission and respect towards such masters, as we see in Peter's writing, "Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully." 1Peter 2:18,19
Such a concept is foreign particularly to those in Western or Westernized societies today where the emphasis is on personal rights and freedom. Yet Christians are called to be servants. And inherent in servanthood is submission to authority. Of course many like to be called "servants", even though they refuse to be treated like servants.
When Christians disrespect legitimate authority, the name of God and
the doctrines of Christianity are blasphemed - whether it be disrespect
towards civil authorities, one's boss, parental authorities, or a wife's
disrespect of her husband, in all these cases the name of God and his doctrine
inevitably gets maligned.
A more comprehensive record of Paul's exhortation between Christian masters and their Christian slaves can be found in the book of Philemon. There we learn of Onesimus who was a slave who escaped from his Christian master, Philemon. Onesimus apparently met with Paul and became a Christian. Paul sent him back to Philemon along with the letter.
Among Paul's comments is the following: "I am sending him— who is my very heart— back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good— no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me." Phm 1:12-18
By "teaching otherwise", Paul is referring not only to his teachings concerning slavery just prior to this, but also to the rest of his instructions in the letter. Throughout the letter Paul has been pausing to emphasize that Timothy needs to teach and emphazise these instructions. (Note 1:3,4; 4:6,7; 4:11; 4:15,16; 5;21)
Those who disagree with what Paul teaches here - or with what he has written elsewhere - are proud and ignorant. You find such people being overly divisive over trivial issues - or concerning issues of which the Bible isn't clear. At the beginning of his letter Paul mentioned of those that "want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm." 1Tim 1:7
But the fruit of such empty and divisive arguments are things like envy
and strife and suspicions - conspiracy theories - like that of the "Davinci
This is one of the instructions Paul give us - of which if we reject and don't consent to these wholesome words we find ourselves among the very people Paul is referring to. Thus part of the Christian life is discerning those who are overly divisive and withdrawing from such.
But realize also that if one misjudges another and thus "withdraws" for illegitimate reasons, that person is the divisive one, hypocritically playing the very role of which they cast judgment against. So be careful how you apply this idea, being "completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Eph 4:2,3
Secondly, though perhaps it is an immature motivation, it is not illegitimate to be motivated to live the Christian life out of a sense of personal gain. The promises of God concerning personal gain in following Him are in fact supposed to encourage us in that struggle. But love is not self-seeking. And thus as we mature so also do our motivations.
But there are those who identify with the Christian community with ONLY
the hope of material rewards, perhaps the fruit of the health and wealth
gospel. Paul writes of them in Titus saying, "there
are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those
of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households,
teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain."
A very wealthy man was asked as to how much was enough. His reply? "Just a little more." Those who have contentment are richer than the richest. For while contentment and satisfaction may be the goal of the striving for gain, the only one who will achieve that goal are those who learn contentment.
And indeed contentment conversely reinforces godliness. For ambition,
envy and striving for gain can be so distractive, not to mention destructive
to relationships. But the content can have a "gentle
and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1Peter
This is the perspective that brings contentment. For Paul writes, "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." 1Cor 15:19 And this in light of his severe suffering.
What brings contentment to the Christian concerning material things is a perspective on the transitory nature of this life, as Jesus points elsewhere saying,"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." Luke 12:33 So what's the big deal with being rich? Afterall, the more you have, the more you will be held accountable for.
So if you feel discontent about your circumstances or your material
things, just remember - one day soon you will die. "Just
as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."
Thus Paul writes to the Phillipians, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Php 4:11-13
So how are we to conduct ourselves?
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be
content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will
never leave you nor forsake you.'" Heb 13:5
The desire to be rich first of all brings a continual sense of discontentment.
It can lead to get-rich-quick schemes, which are by their very nature counter-productive. Winning the lottery is such a scheme. Or other schemes which cross the line between investing and gambling.
But even if one is successful in getting rich quick, it is written, "An inheritance gained hastily at the beginning Will not be blessed at the end." Pr 20:21 And thus the strange phenomenon that many (or is it most?) who win the "lottery" end up worse off for it. But there are also those more wise in worldly ways who "get rich slowly", yet neither is that virtuous if their desire was to get rich.
How can you identify whether you are greedy? And indeed what can help you overcome greediness? Very simple - Generosity. To the rich man Jesus said, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." Luke 18:22 - and so also another rich man recognized this principle without having to be told. "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Luke 19:8 And even the poor are commended for their generosity, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything— all she had to live on." Mark 12:43,44
Do not desire to get rich - if for no other reason than that you may
stray from the faith and end up with all kinds of unnecessary worldly sorrows.
Rather, be generous - give without expecting anything in return.
That is, flee from foolish and harmful desires - such as the desire to get rich. A related harmful desire is the pursuit of pleasure. And so also is the pursuit of popularity. These are to be alien to the Christian. Rather we are to pursue:
righteousness - to do what is right simply because it is the right thing to do.
godliness - to behave as children of God.
faith - to understand and act upon what God has said.
love - to consider and act upon meeting the real needs of others, for no other reason than one's genuine concern for them.
patience - to continue in these despite the immediate lack of visible results
gentleness - to react to opposition and to difficulties with
a spirit of lowliness and humility.
And indeed, though it's primarily about attitudes, it is a fight. For "the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." Gal 5:17
Elsewhere Paul writes of his own fight saying, "Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." 1Cor 9:26,27
And at the end of his life writes, "I have fought
the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally,
there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the
righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also
to all who have loved His appearing." 2Tim 4:7,8
Notice the similarity to that of the previous chapter. "I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality." 1Tim 5:21 Paul is invoking everything and anything which will keep Timothy in line.
There I urge you in the sight of God who gives live to all things, including yourself, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate and thereby setting for us an example of testifying to the truth without regards for the consequences to us, that you live consistently with these commands in 1Timothy - working out the implications and applications. And that you do so blamelessly with a view towards the judgment day.
While many obsess over the timing of the second coming, when asked concerning
his appearing, Jesus responded, "It is not for you
to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority."
1:7 But while it's not important to know exactly when Jesus will appear,
what is important is that one be prepared. "Watch
therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." Mt
24:42 "Watch therefore, and pray always
that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come
to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:36
For while there are authorities in this life to whom we have to give an!
account, Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and as such our
accountability to him outweighs our accountability to all others.
We are reminded that "He was released those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."Heb 2:15 People are enslaved to the fear of death. It controls their behavior and attitudes. But Christians have been released from the fear of death with promise of immortality. And while the philosophers of this age along with those who preach strange religions are vain sources of enlightenment, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." John 1:18
The LORD dwells in such bright light that it is unapproachable. In fact
by shining the light of the gospel on the world, many scatter like vampires
from the light. For Jesus said, "men loved darkness
rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing
evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should
be exposed." John 3:18,19
While the Bible preaches contentment (1Tim 6:8) and preaches against greediness, covetousness and against the general desire to GET rich ("those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition." 1Tim 6:9), and I would say also against the desire to STAY rich, for hoarding to oneself is simply greed, as we note for example the parable of the Rich Fool of Luke 12:16-21 and the rich young ruler of Luke 18:22, it also recognizes that some among God's people will be rich. Abraham is mentioned a number of times in the New Testament as an example of faith which Christians should follow. Abraham was rich.
But riches easily (and deceptively) can lead to idolatry. And "You cannot serve both God and Money." Mt 6:24 So one challenge for the rich is not to trust in their riches. Yes God gives us richly all things to enjoy. But let not the enjoyment be an excuse for idolatry.
So I would bring up two questions here:
1. How do you know whether you are rich?
Well, for example, if you can turn on your faucet and out comes drinkable water - you are rich. Not even Solomon could do that.
2. How do you know whether you're trusting in riches?
That's what the next verse is about.
Of examples of the godly who are rich, they also have a spirit of generosity. Note for example Zacchaeus who said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham." Luke 19:8,9 We note also Barnabus "having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet." Acts 4:37
Now your wealth may be in the form of money, ability, availability, authority, or the like. But the Christian should not hoard these to himself, but freely be willing to share with those in need. "Whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" 1John 3:17
Furthermore generosity in doing good is the measure of whether or not
your wealth has become an idol. And if so, it is also the way of getting
over idolatry and greed.
Jesus said, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." Luke 12:33
See also "Investing in an HRA" http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/hra.html
This kind of warning is reiterated in chapters 1,4, and earlier in this chapter. This apparently being a significant issue, it's important for Christians to be able to identify what constitutes "profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge." While this calls for discernment, unfortunately much of the Christian community today, in the name of "toleration", discourages exercising such discernment, and as such has fallen into the devil's scheme. Yet we see in this letter and throughout the New Testament letters there is much critique concerning deviant ideas and deviant behaviors.
Now to analyze this further:
the phrase "idle babblings" is actually a single greek word "kenophonia", which the lexicon defines as "empty discussion, discussion of vain and useless matters."
In fact the phrase "profane and idle babblings" occurs again in 2Tim 2:16 "But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness." And then Paul goes on to reference the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus who claim that the resurrection is already past. Apparently these kind of idle speculations promote ungodliness.
The Christian life and message should not be based upon idle speculations,
but upon the solid facts and ideas of the Bible, understood in the sense
it which they were meant to be understood.
Again this referenced in 2Tim 2 saying "Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth."2Tim 2:18 And also back to 1Tim 1:5-7 "Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm."
Straying from the truth is a common phenomenon among the Christian community.
Therefore let us all be vigilant to study the Bible and apply it appropriately.
The Berean Christian Bible Study ResourcesSep 12,2020