A study of 1 Tim.6:1-21
Paul concludes his first letter by suggesting advices to Timothy in coping with various kinds of people and situations in the Church.
He encourages “All (servants) who are under the yoke of slavery” <1 Tim.6:1 (NIV)>; those that are under the oppression of servitude are to do so with respect and sincerity in the same way as they serve and obey the Lord Jesus <see Eph.6:5-8>, such service should also display reverence for the Lord with the understanding that “It is the Lord Christ you are serving” <Col.3:22-24 (NIV)>. Slavery was the “way of life” in the Roman and Greek empires, and many slaves became followers of Christ and continued to work for their Christian masters.
He continues to counsel and addresses the dilemma of false teachers in the Church; revealing their chief interest, their ruling motives and the outcome of their teaching. They have “an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words” <1 Tim.6:4 (NIV)>; constantly arguing about the content of scripture, the manner in which it is written and how various words should be interpreted; they dwell on the “so-called errors” but fail to understand the accurate meaning of The Word of God. They continually think and teach “that godliness is a means of financial gain <1 Tim.6:5b (NIV)>, a subject that is quite evident from some of our pulpits today. The outcome of their teaching is seen in “envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth…” <1 Tim.6:4-5 (NIV)>. These people who want to use godliness as a means of getting rich “fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” <1 Tim.6:9-10 (NIV)>. This form of teaching also produces bitter envy and selfish ambition, it is secular and of the devil, causing disorder and evil practices <see Jas.3:14-16>.
Paul therefore directs Timothy “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life…” <1 Tim.6:12 (NIV)>, claim the benefits by placing his hope in God alone and not in material wealth, by paying careful attention to his character and doctrine <1 Tim.4:16>. A command to each of us, that as followers of Christ we should do the same until death or the second coming of Christ, whichever comes first <1 Tim.6:14>.
We all must live godly lives and follow this command as we look forward to Christ’s second coming, a day and time that has been set by God, “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever, Amen” <1 Tim.6:14-16 (NIV)>.
He appeals to those that are rich and instructs them “not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth…. but to put their hope in God” <1 Tim.6:17 (NIV)> since it is God who richly provides for us <see Jas.1:17>. They are further commanded to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share; for by doing so they will accumulate real wealth in the coming kingdom of Christ.
Finally, he encourages Timothy. “…guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” <1. Tim.6:20 (NIV)>
“Guard what has been entrusted to your care”; this is indeed the whole duty of the Pastor, Elder, Bishop, whatever the title may be; and this protection is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit <see 2 Tim.1:14>. The gospel has been entrusted to the care of all believers in Christ, and we need to take note of Paul’s encouragement to Timothy; but more important, to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself <see Matt.28:19-20; Lk.24:46-49>. Furthermore, all Pastors are given additional instructions found here in Paul’s letter to Timothy in relation to doctrine, public worship, false teaching and church discipline; and these instructions are extremely important, for Paul had given a previous warning in his farewell address to the Ephesian Church Elders <see Acts 20:28-31>; and the unfortunate effect that this has had on the Church down through the ages is evident today in the incompetence of many Churches because Pastors have neglected their responsibility.
So, the question is: As a Pastor, how well am I guarding what has been entrusted to my care?
Timothy, and indeed all followers of Christ, are instructed to be aware of and to avoid the false teaching of Gnosticism which states that our salvation can be accomplished through knowledge. Let us all hold to and proclaim the gospel of God that has been committed to us, that salvation comes only in and through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.