1 Timothy 6

In the Apostolic age, as now, the gospel won many of its triumphs
among the poor, hence not a few servants, or slaves, were found in the
church. Chapter 6 opens with instructions which show the way of
god­liness as it applies to them. Slavery is foreign to Christianity
yet inasmuch as the rectifying of earthly wrongs was not the Lord's
object in His first coming, (see Luke 12:14) and is only to be
accomplished when He comes again, the will of God for His people now is
to accept the conditions which characterize their times, and in them
adorn the doctrine and honour His name.

Servants have the lower place, then let them be marked by
subjection and the honouring of their masters, and should these
themselves be believers far from it being a reason for slighting them
or belittling their authority it would only furnish the slave with an
additional reason for serving them faithfully. These instructions the
Apostle calls “the doctrine which is according to godliness,” for they
were wholesome words as given by the Lord Himself.

The present age is marked by a very considerable uprising against
authority even in Christian circles. The thing itself is not new for it
was in evidence when this epistle was written. There were men teaching
things which were in contradiction of “the words of our Lord Jesus
Christ,” even in the first century; it is not surprising therefore that
such abound in these later times. The Apostle writes very plainly about
these opponents. He unmasks their true character. They were marked by
pride and ignorance. How often these two things go together! The less a
man knows of God and of himself the more he imagines he has something
to boast in. The true knowledge of God and of himself at once dispels
his pride.

Verse 4 also makes plain what is the effect of repudiating the
authority of the Lord. Questions and strifes of words come to the fore.
This of course is inevitable, since if the Lord's authority is set
aside it all becomes a question of opinion; and if so one man's opinion
is as good as another, and argumentative and verbal strife may be
carried on almost ad infinitum , and all kinds of envy and strife flourish.

Men who thus dispute show themselves to have corrupt minds and to
be destitute of the truth, and that which underlies their proud
thoughts is the idea that personal gain is the real end of godliness –
that a man is only godly for what he can get out of it. If that is
their idea then of course they would not advocate a slave rendering
such service as is enjoined in verse 2, since any gain from that would
accrue to his master and not to himself. The truth is that not gain but
God is the end of godliness, though as the Apostle so strikingly adds,
“godliness with contentment is great gain.” To walk as in the presence
of the living God with a simple trust in His good­ness and with
contentment of heart is very great gain of a spiritual sort.

We have to recognize that we are but life tenants of all that we
possess. We entered the world with nothing; we go out with nothing. God
may indeed give us much for our enjoyment but on the other hand we
should be contented with just the necessaries of life – food and
raiment. This sets a high standard before us; one that but few of us
come up to, though the Apostle himself did. The exhortation of verse 8
is much needed by us all in these days.

On all hands are people who earnestly desire to become rich; the
making of money is to them the chief end of life. The Christian may all
too easily become infected with this spirit to his great loss. Verse 9
does not speak of those that are rich, as does verse 17, but of those
that “will be rich” or “desire to be rich,” that is, they set it before
them as the object to be pursued. Such become ensnared by many lusts,
which in the case of the man of the world plunge him into destruction
and ruin. This is so whether they succeed in their aim and amass wealth
or whether they do not, for the coveting of money it is that turns men
aside from the faith and pierces them through with sorrows, and not the
acquisition and misuse of it only. The love of money is declared to be
the root of every kind of evil. It is not that every bit of evil in the
world can be traced to the love of money, but that the love of money is
a root from which on various occasions every description of evil

The appeal to Timothy in verses 11 to 14 sets before us the will
of God for the believer, which is wholly apart from and opposed to the
idea that gain is godliness with its consequent love of money. Timothy
is here addressed as a “man of God.” The meaning of this term is
evident if we observe its use in Scripture. It signifies a man who
stands with God and acts for God in days of emergency when the majority
of those who are professedly His people are proving faithless to His

The man of God then, or for the matter of that, all true
believers are to flee all these evil things that follow in the train of
the love of money and they are to pursue the things which are the fruit
of the Spirit. Six lovely features are enumerated which hang together
like a cluster of fruit; beginning with righteousness, which ever has
to be to the fore in a world of unrighteousness and sin, and ending
with meekness, which is the very opposite of what we are by nature, for
it concerns our spirit as righteousness concerns our acts.

If we make such things as these our pursuit we shall at once
become conscious of opposition. There is plenty of opposition in the
pursuit of money for we live in a competitive world. Money-making
becomes usually a fight, in some cases a fight of a pretty sordid kind.
It is a fight also if we pursue these things that please God, only this
time it is a fight of faith, for our opponents now will be the world,
the flesh and the devil, and nothing but faith in the living God will
prevail against these.

Moreover these excellent things are the working out into
expression of that eternal life which is the portion of the believer on
the Son of God. The life is ours as is made so abundantly plain in the
writings of the Apostle John, yet we are exhorted to lay hold of it,
for it is a dependant life, Christ being its Source and Object, and we
lay hold of it in laying hold by faith of Him and of all those things
which find their centre in Him. The men of the world lay hold of
earthly gain, or of as much of it as they can compress into their
fists. We are called to eternal life, and are to lay hold of it by
going in for all those things in which from a practical standpoint it

Timothy had made a good profession and now he is solemnly charged
in the sight of God, who is the Source of all life, and of the Lord
Jesus, who was the great Confessor of truth before the highest circles
of the world, to walk according to these instructions in an untarnished
way until the moment when the servant's responsibility shall cease.

The time is coming when the Lord Jesus Christ shall shine forth
in His glory and then the faithful servant shall see the happy fruit of
faithfulness and of the good confession rendered. That time is fixed by
the blessed and only Potentate whose purposes nothing can frustrate,
who dwells in fadeless splendour beyond the reach of mortal eye.

Notice the full and complete way in which Scripture identifies
the Lord Jesus and God. In these verses (14-16) it is not easy to
discern which of the two is spoken of. It appears however that in this
Scripture it is God who is King of kings and Lord of lords, who is
going to show forth the Lord Jesus in His glory when the time is come.
In Revelation 19:16 it is without a doubt the Lord Jesus who is King of
kings and Lord of lords.

Observe also the force of the words, “who only hath immortality,”
for there are not wanting those who attempt to press them into service,
as supporting the denial of immortality to the soul of man and the
teaching of annihilation. Their meaning is of course that God alone has
immortality in an essential and unqualified way. If creatures possess
it they have it as derived from Him. Did it mean that as to actual fact
God only is immortal we should have of course to accept the ultimate
extinction of all the saints and even of the holy angels. Read in that
way the words mean too much even for the annihilationist.

Having ascribed “honour and power everlasting” to the immortal,
invisible God, before whom Timothy was to walk far removed from the
spirit and ways of those whose main object was the acquisition of
riches, the Apostle turns in verse 17 to give instructions as to those
believers who are “rich in this world.” His words indicate first of all
the dangers attached to the possession of wealth. It has a tendency to
generate high-mindedness and to divert the possessor from trust in God
to trust in money. The worldly man of wealth naturally fancies himself
greatly and feels himself secure against the ordinary troubles and
struggles of humanity. The wealthy Christian must not imagine that his
money entitles him to domi­nate the church of God and lord it over his

Secondly Paul shows us the privileges attaching to wealth. It may
be used in the service of God, in the help of His people; and thus he
who starts by being rich in money may end in being rich in good works,
and this is wealth of a more enduring kind. Earthly riches are
uncertain, and he who lays it up in store for himself may find his
store sadly depleted just when most needed. He who uses his riches in
the service of God is laying up in store a good foundation of reward in
eternity and meanwhile his trust is in the living God, who after all
does not deny us what is good but gives it to us richly for our
enjoyment. It is just those who hold and use their possessions as
stewards responsible to God that can be trusted to enjoy God's good
gifts without misusing them.

We saw that trust in the living God is the very essence of
godliness when we were looking at verse 10 of chapter 4. The expression
occurs again in verse 17 here. Rich believers are to be godly and to
bend their energies not to the laying hold of larger things in this
world but to the laying hold of “eternal life,” or “that which is
really life.” The latter is probably the correct reading. Real life is
not found in money and the pleasures it procures (see v.6) but in the
knowledge and service of God.

The closing charge to Timothy is very striking. To him had been
entrusted as a deposit the knowledge and maintenance of the revealed
truth of God, as stated more fully in 2 Timothy 3:4-17. This he was to
jealously guard for it would be imperilled, on the one hand by profane
and vain babblings – doubtless foolish teachings akin to the “profane
and old wives' fables” of 4:7 – and on the other hand by “science
falsely so called.” These words plainly infer that true science exists which is in complete harmony with revelation. They plainly state
that there was even 2000 years ago a misnamed science which opposed
revelation. It was largely composed of the speculations of the
philosophers. The misnamed science of today also is composed of partial
knowledge based on imperfect or inaccurate observations with a very
large admixture of speculation, often of the wildest kind. If that kind
of “science” be professed the faith is missed altogether.

As to all this the instructions are very simple. Avoid
the babblings and AVOID the misnamed science no less than the
babblings. We shall need grace from God to do this. Hence the closing
words, “Grace be with thee. Amen.”