1 Timothy 6
Pulpit Commentary
Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
Verse 1. - Are servants for servants as are, A.V.; the doctrine for his doctrine, A.V. Servants; literally, slaves. That slaves formed a considerable portion of the first Christian Churches may be inferred from the frequency with which their duties are pressed upon them (see 1 Corinthians 7:21-22; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:11, 22; 1 Peter 2:18 (οἱ οἰκέται); see also 1 Corinthians 1:27-29). It must have been an unspeakable comfort to the poor slave, whose worldly condition was hopeless and often miserable, to secure his place as one of Christ's freemen, with the sure hope of attaining "the glorious liberty of the children of God." Under the yoke; i.e. "the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). Perhaps the phrase contains a touch of compassion for their state (comp. Acts 15:10). How beautiful is the contrast suggested in Matthew 11:29, 30! Masters (δεσπότας); the proper word in relation to δοῦλος. The doctrine (ἡ διδασκαλία); equivalent to "Christianity," as taught by the apostles and their successors (see the frequent use of the word in the pastoral Epistles, though with different shades of meaning (1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 4:6, 13, 16; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 3:10; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:10, etc.). Blasphemed (compare the similar passage, Titus 2:5, where ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ answers to ἡ διδασκαλία here). Βλασφημεῖν does not necessarily mean "blaspheme" in its restricted sense, but as often means "to speak evil of," "to defame," and the like. If Christian slaves withheld the honor and respect due to their masters, it would be as sure to bring reproach upon the Christian doctrine as if it taught insubordination and rebellion.
And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
Verse 2. - Let them serve them the rather for rather do them service, A.V.; that partake of the benefit are believing and beloved for are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit, A.V. They that have believing masters. The direction in the preceding verse applied to all slaves, though chiefly to what, as Alford says, was far the commonest ease, that of those who had unbelieving masters. But now he adds a caution with regard to the Christian slave of a Christian master. There was a danger lest the feeling that slaves and masters are brothers in Christ should unduly interfere with the respect which he owed him as his master. And so St. Paul addresses a word of special advice to such. Let them not despise them. Let not their spiritual equality with their masters lead them to underrate the worldly difference that separates them; or to think slightly of the authority of a master relatively to his slaves (comp. 2 Peter 2:10). But let them serve them the rather, because they that partake of the benefit are believing and beloved. There is a good deal of obscurity in this sentence, but it may be observed first that the grammatical rendering of the R.V. is clearly right, and that of the A.V. clearly wrong. "They that partake of the benefit" is beyond all doubt the subject, and not the predicate. Then the construction of the two sentences (this and the preceding one) makes it certain that the subject in this sentence (οἱ τῆς εὐεργεσίας ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι) are the same persons as the δέσποται in the preceding sentence, because it is predicated of them both that they are πιστοί, and of both that they are, in convertible terms, ἀγαπητοί and ἀδελφοί. And this leads us, with nearly certainty, to the further conclusion that the εὐεργεσία, the beneficium, or "benefit," spoken of is that especial service - that service of love and good will running ahead of necessary duty, which the Christian slave gives to the Christian master; a sense which the very remarkable passage quoted by Alford from Seneca strikingly confirms. The only remaining difficulty, then, is the meaning "partake of" ascribed to ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι But this is scarcely a difficulty. It is true that in the only two other passages in the New Testament where this verb occurs, and in its frequent use in the LXX., it has the sense of "helping" (Luke 1:54; Acts 20:35); but there is nothing strange in this. The verb in the middle voice means to "lay hold of," You may lay hold of for the purpose of helping, supporting, clinging to, laying claim to, holding in check, etc. (see Liddell and Scott). Here the masters lay hold of the benefit for the purpose of enjoying it. There is possibly an indication in the word that the masters actively and willingly accept it - they stretch out their hand to take it. There does not seem to be any sense of reciprocity, as some think, in the use of ἀντι. The sense of the whole passage seems to be clearly, "Let not those who have believing masters think slightly of their authority because they are brethren; but let them do them extra service, beyond what they are obliged to do, for the very reason that those whom they will thus benefit are believing and beloved brethren." Teach (δίδασκε). Observe the connection of this word with the ἡ διδασκαλίΑ of vers. 1, 3, and elsewhere.
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
Verse 3. - Teacheth for teach, A.V.; a different doctrine for otherwise, A.V.; consenteth for consent, A.V.; sound for wholesome, A.V. Teacheth a different doctrine (ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ); see above, 1 Timothy 1:3, note. Consenteth (προσέρχεται); very common in the New Testament, in the literal sense of "coming to" or "approaching," but only here in the metaphorical sense of "assenting to." The steps seem to he, first, approaching a subject with the mind with a view of considering it; and then consenting to it - coming over to it. The term προσήλυτος, a convert to Judaism, and the phrase from Irenaeus ('Fragm.,' 2.), quoted by Ellicott, Οὐ τοῖς τῶν Ιουδαίων δόγμασι προσέρχονται, "They do not fall in with, or agree to, the doctrines of the Jews," sufficiently illustrate the usage of the word here. Sound (ὑγιαίνουσι) see 1 Timothy 1:10, note. Godliness (ἐυσεβεία); see 1 Timothy 2:2, note.
He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
Verse 4. - Puffed up for proud, A.V.; questionings for questions, A.V.; disputes for strifes, A.V. He is puffed up (τετύφωται); see 1 Timothy 3:6, note. Doting (νοσῶν); here only in the New Testament, but found occasionally in the LXX. Applied in classical Greek to the mind and body, "to be in an unsound state." Here it means "having a morbid love of" or "going mad about." In this morbid love of questionings and disputes of words, they lose sight of all wholesome words and all godly doctrine. Questionings (ζητήσεις); see 1 Timothy 1:6, note. It corresponds nearly to our word "controversies." Disputes of words (λογομαχίας); found only here. The verb λογομαχέω is used in 2 Timothy 2:14. Would that the Church had always remembered St. Paul's pithy condemnation of unfruitful controversies about words! Surmisings (ὑπόνοιαι); only here in the -New Testament. In classical Greek it means "suspicion," or any under-thought. The verb ὑπονοέω occurs three times in the Acts - "to deem, think, or suppose." Here the "surmisings" are those uncharitable insinuations in which angry controversialists indulge towards one another.
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
Verse 5. - Wranglings for perverse disputings, A.V. and T.R.; corrupted in mind for of corrupt minds, A.V.; bereft for destitute, A.V.; godliness is a way of gain for gain is godliness, A.V. Wranglings (διαπαρατριβαί, R.T.; παραδιατριβαί, T.R.). The R.T. has far the largest weight of authority in its favor (Ellicott). The substantive παρατριβή in Polybius means "provocation," "collision," "friction," and the like. Hence διαπαρατριβή (which is only found here) means "continued wranglings." The substantive διατριβή (English diatribe) means, among other things, a "discussion" or "argument." The addition of πάρα gives the sense of a "perverse discussion," or "disputing." Bereft (ἀπεστερημένων). The difference between the A.V. "destitute" and the R.V. "bereft" is that the latter implies that they once had possession of the truth, but had lost it by their own fault. They had fallen away from the truth, and were twice dead. Godliness is a way of gain. The A.V., that gain is godliness, is clearly wrong, utterly confusing the subject with the predicate, and so destroying the connection between the clause and ver. 6. A way of gain (πορισμός); only here and in ver. 6 in the New Testament. but found in Wisd. 13:19 Wisd. 14:2; Polybius, etc. It signifies "a source of gain," "a means of malting money," or, in one word, "a trade." The same charge is brought against the heretical teachers (Titus 1:11). The cause in the A.V. and T.R., from such withdraw thyself, is not in the R.T.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Verse 6. - Godliness, etc. The apostle lakes up the sentiment which he had just condemned, and shows that in another sense it is most true. The godly man is rich indeed. For he wants nothing in this world but what God has given him, and has acquired riches which, unlike the riches of this world, he can take away with him (comp. Luke 12:33). The enumeration of his acquired treasures follows, after a parenthetical depreciation of those of the covetous man, in ver. 11. The thought, as so often in St. Paul, is a little intricate, and its flow checked by parenthetical side-thoughts. But it seems to be as follows: "But godliness is, in one sense, a source of great gain, and moreover brings contentment with it - contentment, I say, for since we brought nothing into the world, and can carry nothing out, we have good reason to be content with the necessaries of life, food and raiment. Indeed, those who strive for more, and pant after wealth, bring nothing but trouble upon themselves. For the love of money is the root of all evil, etc. Thou, therefore, O man of God, instead of reaching after worldly riches, procure the true wealth, and become rich in righteousness, godliness, faith," etc. (ver. 11). The phrase, Αστι δὲ πορισμὸς μέγας ἡ εὐσεβεία μετὰ αὐταρκείας, should be construed by making the μετα couple πορισμός with αὐταρκείας, so as to express that "godliness" is both "gain" and "contentment" - not as if αὐταρκεία qualified εὐσεβεία - that would have been expressed by the collocation, ἡ μετὰ αὐταρκείας εὐσεβεία. Contentment (αὐταρκεία). The word occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in 2 Corinthians 9:8, where it is rendered, both in the R.V. and the A.V., "sufficiency." The adjective αὐτάρκης, found in Philippians 4:11 (and common in classical Greek), is rendered "content." It means "sufficient in or of itself" - needing no external aid - and is applied to persons, countries, cities, moral qualities, etc. The substantive αὐταρκεία is the condition of the person, or thing, which is αὐτάρκης.
For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Verse 7. - The for this, A.V.; for neither can we for and it is certain we can, A.V. and T.R.; anything for nothing, A.V. For neither, etc. The omission of δῆλον in the R.T., though justified by many of the best manuscripts, makes it difficult to construe the sentence, unless, with Buttman, we consider ὅτι as elliptical for δῆλον ὅτι, The R.V. "for neither" seems to imply that the truth, "neither can we carry anything out," is a consequence of the previous truth that "we brought nothing into the world." which is not true. The two truths are parallel, and the sentence would be perfectly clear without either δῆλον or ὅτι.
And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
Verse 8. - But for and, A.V.; covering for raiment, A.V.; ice shall be for let us be, A.V. Food (διατροφάς); here only in the New Testament, but common in the LXX., rare in classical Greek. Covering (σκεπάσματα); also a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον in the New Testament, not found in the LXX., and rare in classical Greek. The kindred words, σκέπη and σκέπας, with their derivatives, are used of the covering or shelter of clothes, or tents, or houses. St. Paul may therefore have used an uncommon word in order to comprise the two necessaries of raiment and house, though Huther thinks this "more than improbable." The use of the word "covering" in the R.V. seems designed to favor this double application. Ellicott thinks the word "probably only refers to clothing." Alford says, "Some take ' covering' of both clothing and dwelling, perhaps rightly." If one knew where St. Paul got the word σκεπάσματα from, one could form a more decided opinion as to his meaning. We shall be therewith content (ἀρκεσθήσομεθα). The proper meaning of ἀρκεῖσθαι followed by a dative is "to be content with" (Luke 3:14; Hebrews 13:5). There is probably a covert hortative force in the use of the future here.
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Verse 9. - Desire to for will, A.V.; a temptation for temptation, A.V.; many for into many, A.V.; such as for which, A.V. A temptation. The reason of the insertion of the article before "temptation" in the R.V. seems to be that, as the three substantives all depend upon the one preposition εἰς, they ought all to be treated alike. But if so, the reasoning is not good, because "temptation" implies a state, not merely a single temptation. The prefixing of the article is therefore improper. It should be "temptation," as in the A.V. and in Matthew 6:13; Matthew 26:41; Luke 22:40, etc. Snare (παγίδα); as 1 Timothy 3:7, note. The concur-pence of the two words περιρασμός and παγίς show that the agency of Satan was in the writer's mind. Several good manuscripts, Fathers, and versions, add the words τοῦ διαβόλου after παγίδα (Huther). Drown (βυθίζουσι); only here and Luke 5:7 in the New Testament. Found also in 2 Macc. 12:4, and in Polybius - "to sink," transitive. Destruction and perdition (ὔλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν). The two words taken together imply utter ruin and destruction of body and soul. Ὄλεθρος, very common in classical Greek, occurs in 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:9, and is limited in the first passage to the destruction of the body, by the words, τῆς σαρκός. Ἀπωλεία, less common in classical Greek, is of frequent use in the New Testament, and, when applied to persons, seems to be always used (except in Acts 25:16) in the sense of "perdition" (Matthew 7:13; John 17:12; Romans 9:22; Philippians 3:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 17:3, etc.).
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Verse 10. - A root for the root, A.V.; all kinds of for all, A.V.; some reaching after for while some coveted after, A.V.; have been led astray for they have erred, A.V.; have pierced for pierced, A.V. Love of money (φιλαργυρία); only here in the New Testament, but found in the LXX. and in classical Greek. The substantive φιλάργυρος is found in Luke 16:14 and 2 Timothy 3:2. A root. The root is better English. Moreover, the following πάντων τῶν κακῶν (not πόλλων κακῶν) necessitates the giving a definite sense to ῤίζα, though it has not the article; and Alford shows dearly that a word like ῤίζα, especially when placed as here in an emphatic position, does not require it (comp. 1 Corinthians 11:3, where in the second and third clause κεφαλή, being in the emphatic place, has not the article). Alford also quotes a striking passage from Diog. Laert., in which he mentions a saying of the philosopher Diogenes that "the love of money ( φιλαργυρία) is the metropolis, or home, πάντων τῶν κακῶν." Reaching after (ὀρεγόμενοι). It has been justly remarked that the phrase is slightly inaccurate. What some reach after is not "the love of money," but the money itself. To avoid this, Hofmann (quoted by Luther) makes ῤίζα the antecedent to η΅ς, and the metaphor to be of a person turning out of his path to grasp a plant which turns out to he not desirable, but a root of bitterness. This is ingenious, but hardly to be accepted as the true interpretation. Pierced themselves through (περιέπειραν); only here in the New Testament, and rare in classical Greek. But the simple verb πείρω, to "pierce through," "transfix," applied 'especially to "spitting" meat, is very common in Homer, who also applies it metaphorically exactly as St. Paul does here, to grief or pain. Ὀδύνησι πεπαρμένος, "pierced with pain" ('Il.,' 5:399).
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Verse 11. - O man of God. The force of this address is very great. It indicates that the money-lovers just spoken of were not and could not be "men of God," whatever they might profess; and it leads with singular strength to the opposite direction in which Timothy's aspirations should point. The treasures which he must covet as "a man of God" were "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience meekness." For the phrase, "man of God," see 2 Timothy 3:17 and 2 Peter 1:21. In the Old Testament it always applies to a prophet (Deuteronomy 33:1; Judges 13:6; 1 Samuel 2:27; 1 Kings 12:22; 2 Kings 1:9; Jeremiah 35:4; and a great many other passages). St. Paul uses the expression with especial reference to Timothy and his holy office, and here, perhaps, in contrast with the τοὺς ἀνθρώπους mentioned in ver. 9. Flee these things. Note the sharp contrast between "the men" of the world, who reach after, and the man of God, who avoids, φιλαργυρία. The expression, "these things," is a little loose, but seems to apply to the love of money, and the desire to be rich, with all their attendant "foolish and hurtful lusts." The man of God avoids the perdition and maul fold sorrows of the covetous, by avoiding the covetousness which is their root. Follow after (δίωκε); pursue, in direct contrast with φεύγε, flee from, avoid (see 2 Timothy 2:22). Meekness (πρα'υπαθείαν). This rare word, found in Philo, but nowhere in the New Testament, is the reading of the R.T. (instead of the πρᾳο;τητα of the T.R.) and accepted by almost all critics on the authority of all the older manuscripts. It has no perceptible difference of meaning from πραότης, meekness or gentleness.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
Verse 12. - The faith for faith, A.V.; the life eternal for eternal life, A.V.; wast for art also, A.V. and T.R.; didst confess the good confession for hast professed a good profession, A.V.; in the sight of for before, A.V. Fight the good fight. This is not quite a happy rendering. Ἀγών is the "contest" at the Olympic assembly for any of the prizes, in wrestling, chariot-racing, foot-racing, music, or what not. Ἀγωνίζεσθαι τὸν ἀγῶνα is to "carry on such a contest" (comp. 2 Timothy 4:7). The comparison is different from that in 1 Timothy 1:18, Ἵνα στρατεύῃ... τὴν καλὴν στρατείαν," That thou mayest war the good warfare." The faith. There is nothing to determine absolutely whether ἡ πίστις here means faith subjectively or "the faith" objectively, nor does it much matter. The result is the same; but the subjective sense seems the most appropriate. Lay hold, etc.; as the βραβεῖον or prize of the contest (see 1 Corinthians 9:24, 25). Whereunto thou wast called. So St. Paul continually (Romans 1:1, 6, 7; Romans 8:28, 30; 1 Corinthians 1:29; Ephesians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; and numerous other passages). He seems here to drop the metaphor, as in the following clause. Didst confess the good confession. The connection of this phrase with the call to eternal life, and the allusion to one special occasion on which Timothy "had confessed the good confession" of his faith in Jesus Christ, seems to point clearly to his baptism (see Matthew 10:32; John 9:22; John 12:42; Hebrews 10:23). The phrase, "the good confession," seems to have been technically applied to the baptismal confession of Christ (compare the other Church sayings, 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:1; 1 Timothy 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8). In the sight of many witnesses. The whole congregation of the Church, who were witnesses of his baptism (see the rubric prefixed to the Order of "Ministration of Public Baptism" in the Book of Common Prayer).
I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
Verse 13. - I charge thee for I give thee charge, A.V.; of for before (in italics), A.V.; the for a, A.V. I charge thee. It has been well observed that the apostle's language increases in solemnity as he approaches the end of the Epistle. This word παραγγέλλω is of frequent use in St. Paul's Epistles (1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:11: 2 Thessalonians 3:4, 6, 10, 12; and above, 1 Timothy 3; 1 Timothy 4:11; 1 Timothy 5:7). In the sight of God, etc. (compare the adjuration in 1 Timothy 5:21). Who quickeneth, etc. The T.R. has ζωοποιοῦντος. The R.T. has ζωογονοῦντος, with no difference of meaning. Both words are used in the LXX. as the rendering of the Pihel and Hiphil of תָיָה. As an epithet of "God," it sets before us the highest creative act of the Almighty as "the Lord, and the Giver of life;" and is equivalent to "the living God" (Matthew 26:63), "the God of the spirits of all flesh" (Numbers 16:22). The existence of "life" is the one thing which baffles the ingenuity of science in its attempts to dispense with a Creator. The good confession refers to our Lord's confession of himself as "the Christ, the Son of God," in Matthew 27:11; Luke 23:3; John 18:36, 37, which is analogous to the baptismal confession (Acts 8:37 (T.R.); 16:31; 19:4, 5). The natural word to have followed μαρτυρεῖν was μαρτυρίαν, as above ὁμολογίαν follows ὡμολόγησας; but St. Paul substitutes the word of cognate meaning, ὁμολογίαν, in order to keep the formula, ἥ καλὴ ὁμολογία.
That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Verse 14. - The for this, A.V. without reproach for unrebukable, A.V. The commandment (τὴν ἐντολὴν). The phrase is peculiar, and must have some special meaning. Perhaps, as Bishop Wordsworth expounds it, "the commandment" is that law of faith and duty to which Timothy vowed obedience at his baptism, and is parallel to "the good confession." Some think that the command given in vers. 11, 12 is referred to; and this is the meaning of the A.V. "this." Without spot, without reproach. There is a difference of opinion among commentators, whether these two adjectives (ἄσπιλον ἀνέπιληπτον) belong to the commandment or to the person, i.e. Timothy. The introduction of σέ after τηρῆσαι; the facts that τηρῆσαι τὰς ἐντόλας, without any addition, means "to keep the commandments," and that in the New Testament, ἄσπιλος and ἀνέπιληπτος always are used of persons, not things (James 1:27; 1 Peter 1:19; 2 Peter 3:14; 1 Timothy 3:2, 5:7); and the consideration that the idea of the person being found blameless in, or kept blameless unto, the coming of Christ. is a frequent one in the Epistles (Jude 1:24; 2 Peter 3:14; 1 Corinthians 1:8; Colossians 1:22; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23), - seem to point strongly, if not conclusively, to the adjectives ἄσπιλον and ἀνεπίληπτον here agreeing with σέ, not with ἐντολήν. The appearing (τὴν ἐπιφανείαν). The thought of the second advent of the Lord Jesus, always prominent in the mind of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 1:7, 8; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 15:23; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:9, etc.), seems to have acquired fresh intensity amidst the troubles and dangers of the closing years of his life, both as an object of hope and as a motive of action (2 Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:12; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13).
Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
Verse 15. - Its own for his, A.V. This correction seems to be manifestly right. The same phrase is rendered in 1 Timothy 2:6 and Titus 1:3 "in due time," in the A.V.; but in the R.V. 2:6 is "its own times," and in Titus 1:3 "his own seasons. In Galatians 6:9 καίρῳ ἰδίῳ is also rendered "in due season," in both the A.V. and the R.V. Such a phrase as ἐν καιροῖς ἰδίοις must be taken everywhere in the same sense. It clearly means at the fitting or proper time, and corresponds to the πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου, "the fullness of time," in Galatians 4:4. The two ideas are combined in Luke 1:20 (πληρωθήσονται εἰς τὸν καιρὸν αὐτῶν) and Luke 21:24 (comp. Ephesians 1:10). Shall show (δείξει). Δεικνύειν ἐπιφανείαν, "to show an appearing," is a somewhat unusual phrase, and is more classical than scriptural. The verb and the object are not of cognate sense (as "to display a display," or "to manifest a manifestation"), but the invisible God, God the Father, will, it is said, display the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wonder displayed and manifested to the world is the appearing of Christ in his glory. The Author of that manifestation is God. The blessed; ὁ μακάριος (not εὐλογητός, as in Mark 14:61), is only here and in 1 Timothy 1:11 (where see note) applied to God in Scripture. The blessed and only Potentate. The phrase is a remarkable one. Δυνάστης (Potentate), which is only found elsewhere in the New Testament in Luke 1:52 and Acts 8:27, is applied to God here only. It is, however, so applied in 2 Macc. 3:24 2Macc. 12:15 2Macc. 15:23, where we have Πάσης ἐξουσιας δυνάστης Γόν μέγαν τοῦ κόσμου δυνάστην, and Δυνάστα τὧ῀ν οὐρανῶν; in all which places, as here, the phrase is used to signify, by way of contrast, the superiority of the power of God over all earthly power. In the first of the above-cited passages the language is singularly like that here used by St. Paul. For it is said that ὁ πάσης ἐξουσίας δυνάστης, "the Prince (or Potentate) of all power made a great apparition," or "appearing" (ἐπιφονείαν μεγάλην ἐποίησεν), for the overthrow of the blasphemer and persecutor Heliodorus. St. Paul must have had this in his mind, and compared the effect of "the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ," in overthrowing the Neros of the earth with the overthrow of Heliodorus (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10). King of kings, and Lord of lords, etc. (compare the slightly different phrase in Revelation 17:14 and Revelation 19:16, applied to the Son). So in Psalm 136:2, 3, God is spoken of as "God of gods, and Lord of lords."
Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
Verse 16. - Light unapproachable for the light which no man can approach unto, A.V.; eternal for everlasting, A.V. Unapproachable (ἀπρόσιτον); only here in the New Testament, but found occasionally in. the later classics, corresponding to the more common ἄβατος. Whom no man hath seen, nor can see (comp. 1 Timothy 1:17 (where see note) and Exodus 33:20-23). The appearance of the "God of Israel" to Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, related in Exodus 34:9-11, was that of the Son in anticipation of the Incarnation. The invisibility of the essential Godhead is also predicated in our Lord's saying, "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24). This whole passage is a magnificent embodiment of the attributes of the living God, supreme blessedness and almighty power, universal dominion, and unchangeable being, inscrutable majesty, radiant holiness, and glory inaccessible and unapproachable by his creatures, save through the mediation of his only begotten Son.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
Verse 17. - This present for this, A.V.; have their hope set on the uncertainty of for trust in uncertain, A.V.; on God for in the living God, A.V. and T.R. Charge (παράγγελλε); as in 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 4:11; 1 Timothy 5:7; and in ver. 13, and elsewhere frequently. Rich in this present world. Had St. Paul in his mind the parable of Dives and Lazarus (comp. Luke 16:19, 25)? That they be not high-minded (μὴ ὑψηλοφρονεῖν); elsewhere only in Romans 11:20. The words compounded with ὑψηλός have mostly a bad sense - "haughtiness," "boastfulness," and the like. The uncertainty (ἀδηλότητι); here only in the New Testament, but used in the same sense in Polybius (see ἄδηλος in 1 Corinthians 14:8; and ἀδήλως in 1 Corinthians 9:6). The A.V., though less literal, expresses the sense much better than the R.V., which is hardly good English. Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; for enjoyment. The gifts are God's. Trust, therefore, in the Giver, not in the gift. The gift is uncertain; the Giver liveth forever. (For the sentiment that God is the Giver of all good, comp. James 1:17; Psalm 104:28; Psalm 145:16, etc.)
That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
Verse 18. - That they be ready for ready, A.V. Do good (ἀγαθοεργεῖν; here only, for the more common ἀγαθοποιεῖν). That they be rich in good works (1 Timothy 5:10, note); not merely in the perishing riches of this present world - the same sentiment as Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:33 and 21. Ready to distribute (εὐμεταδότους); here only in the New Testament, and rarely in later classical Greek. The opposite, "dose-handed," is δυσμετάδοτος The verb μεταδίδωμι means "to give to others a share or portion of what one has" (Luke 3:11; Romans 1:11; Romans 12:8; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 2:8). Willing to communicate (κοινωνίκους); here only in the New Testament, but found in classical Greek in a slightly different sense. "Communicative" is the exact equivalent, though in this wider use it is obsolete. We have the same precept in Hebrews 13:16, "To do good and to communicate forget not." (For κοινωνεῖν in the sense of "giving," see Romans 12:13; Galatians 6:6; Philippians 4:15; and for κοινωνία in the same sense, see Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Hebrews 13:16.)
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Verse 19. - The life which is life indeed for eternal life, A.V. and T.R. Laying up in store (ἀποθησαυρίζοντες); only here in the New Testament, but once in Wisd. 3:3, and occasionally in classical Greek. A good foundation (θεμέλιον καλόν). The idea of a foundation is always maintained in the use of θεμέλιος, whether it is used literally or figuratively (Luke 11:48; Ephesians 2:20; Revelation 21:14, etc.). There is, at first sight, a manifest confusion of metaphors in the phrase, "laying up in store a foundation." Bishop Ellicott, following Wiesinger, understands "a wealth of good works as a foundation." Alford sees no difficulty in considering the "foundation" us a treasure. Others have conjectured κειμήλιον, "a stored treasure," for θεμέλιον. Others understand θεμέλιον in the sense of θέμα, a deposit. Others take ἀποθησαυρίζειν in the sense of "acquiring," without reference to its etymology. But this is unlikely, the context being about the use of money, though in part favored by the use of θησαυρίζειν in 2 Peter 3:7. The reader must choose for himself either to adopt one of the above explanations, or to credit St. Paul with an unimportant confusion of metaphors. Anyhow, the doctrine is clear that wealth spent for God and his Church is repaid with interest, and becomes an abiding treasure. Life indeed (τῆς ὄντως ζωῆς); so 1 Timothy 5:3, 5, τὰς ὅντως χήρας ἡ ὄντως χήρα, "widows indeed;" and (John 8:36) ὄντως ἐλεύθεροι, "free indeed," in opposition to the freedom which the Jews claimed as the seed of Abraham.
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
Verse 20. - Guard for keep, A.V.; unto thee for to thy trust, A.V.; turning away from for avoiding, A.V.; the profane for profane and vain, A.V.; the knowledge which is falsely for science, falsely, A.V. Guard that which is committed unto thee; τὴν παραθήκην (παρακαταθήκην, T.R.). Guard for keep is hardly an improvement. The meaning of "keep," like that of φυλάττω, is to guard, keep watch over, and, by so doing, to preserve safe and uninjured. This meaning is well brought out in the familiar words of Psalm 121, "He that keepeth thee will not slumber.... He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord himself is thy Keeper" (so too Psalm 127:1; Genesis 28:15, etc.). Παραθήκη or παρακαταθήκη, occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in 2 Timothy 1:12, 14, where the apostle uses it (in ver. 12) of his own soul, which he has committed to the safe and faithful keeping of the Lord Jesus Christ; but in ver. 14 in the same sense as here. "That good thing which was committed unto thee guard ['keep,' A.V.]." There does not seem to be any difference between παραθήκη and παρακαταθήκη, which both mean "a deposit," and are used indifferently in classical Greek, though the latter is the more common. The precept to Timothy here is to keep diligent and watchful guard over the faith committed to his trust; to preserve it unaltered and uncorrupt, so as to hand it down to his successors exactly the same as he had received it. Oh that the successors of the apostles had always kept this precept (see Ordination of Priests)! Turning away from (ἐκτρεπόμενος); only here in the middle voice, "turning from," "avoiding," with a transitive sense. In the passive voice it means "to turn out of the path," as in 1 Timothy 1:6; 1 Timothy 5:15; 2 Timothy 4:4. The profane babblings (see 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:16); κενοφωνία; only here and 2 Timothy 2:16, "the utterance of empty words," "words of the lips" (2 Kings 18:20). Oppositions (ἀντιθέσεις); here only in the New Testament. It is a term used in logic and in rhetoric by Plato, Aristotle, etc., for "oppositions" and "antitheses," laying one doctrine by the side of another for comparison, or contrast, or refutation. It seems to allude to the particular method used by the heretics to establish their tenets, in opposition to the statements of the Church on particular points - such as the Law, the Resurrection, etc. The knowledge which is falsely so called. There is a very similar intimation of the growth of an empty philosophy, whose teaching was antagonistic to the teaching of Christ in Colossians 2:8, and with which St. Paul contrasts the true γνώσις in ver. 3. This was clearly the germ (called by Bishop Lightfoot "Gnostic Judaism") of what was later more fully developed as the Gnostic heresy, which, of course, derived its name from γνῶσις, knowledge or science, to which they laid claim (see Bishop Lightfoot's able 'Introduction to the Epistle to Colossians,' specially p. 100; and his notes on 1 Timothy 2:8, sqq.).
Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.
Verse 21. - You for thee, A.V. and T.R. The R.T. omits Amen. Professing (ἐπαγγελλομένοι) see 1 Timothy 2:10, note. Have erred (ἠστόχησαν); 1 Timothy 1:6, note. Grace be with you. The authorities for σοῦ and ὑμῶν respectively are somewhat evenly balanced. The T.R. σοῦ seems in itself preferable, as throughout St. Paul addresses Timothy personally, and as there are no salutations here, as in 2 Timothy and Titus (see 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 3:14; 1 Timothy 4:6, etc.; 1 Timothy 6:11, 20). This shorter form, ἡ χάρις, is used in the pastoral Epistles (2 Timothy 4:22; Titus 3:15)for the fuller and more usual form, Ἡ χάρις τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Ξριστοῦ (Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 16:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:18, and elsewhere). The short form also occurs in Hebrews 13:25. The words are a gracious, peaceful ending to the Epistle.

Pulpit Commentary


1 Timothy 5
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