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Bible: What Does 1 Timothy 6 Teach Us About False Teachers, Money, and Godliness With Contentment?
The Apostle Paul
Masters and Slaves
Before instructing Timothy further about the immoral character of false teachers (vv. 3-5, 9-10) and about how he should conduct himself as a man of God (vv. 11-14), Paul provides him with advice on how to help Christian slaves relate well to their masters.
Slaves should always honor their unbelieving masters, so that the latter could have no cause to blaspheme God and His teachings (v. 1).
If their master is a believer, slaves should work well for them and not despise them.
Since they belong to the same spiritual family as their masters, they should want them to prosper.
Paul encourages Timothy to stress these points with them (v. 2).
The apostle returns to his denunciation of the false teachers who are disturbing the church at Ephesus by disregarding doctrine that espouses godliness (v. 3).
Identifying them in various colorful ways—proud, ignorant, obsessed about legalistic minutiae, argumentative to the point of developing various mania and paranoia, mentally corrupted, and spiritually bankrupt people who feign spirituality to gain financially—, Paul warns Timothy to keep away from them (vv. 4-5).
In a parenthetical aside of sorts, the apostle continues to instruct Timothy on this matter before completing his tirade; he avers that godliness (when united to contentment) brings great spiritual benefit (v. 6).
[Ryrie pens an eloquent description of this state of being: “self sufficiency, which results from an inner satisfaction with the situation that God has ordained for him” (New Testament Study Bible, 384).]
Paul states aphoristically what Job had noted in earlier days; namely, people bring nothing into this life, and they will take nothing out of it into the next one (v. 7; cf. Job 1:21).
The apostle considers food and clothing as all that Christians should need in order to be satisfied (v. 8).
The Focus of False Teachers
A Far More Worthy Pursuit
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False Teachers: Lovers of Money
False teachers, on the other hand, desire great wealth because they love money; because of this inordinate craving, they find themselves succumbing to temptation and being caught in snares that lead them to indulge in “many foolish and harmful lusts,” eventually bringing about their personal destruction and ruin (v. 9).
[Paul omits specifying what lusts these are-- probably because any inordinate desire will qualify.]
Greed (“love of money”) characterizes this idolatrous attraction; it always leads people astray from true moral teachings into “all kinds of evil,” and precipitates much discontentment (v. 10).
Paul exhorts Timothy, as a servant of the Lord, to recognize the danger inherent in such fleshly desires and run away from them; instead, he should “run after” (aspire to manifest through diligent effort) Christ-like virtues (v. 11).
The apostle wants him to keep fighting for the truth and against spiritual and moral error by grasping the true significance of his baptismal relationship with Jesus and living his life in light of it (v. 12).
Reminding Timothy that he lives his life before the One Who created and sustains the universe, and before the Savior who remained steadfast to the truth while under Roman inquisition, Paul encourages him to stay true to Christ’s commandment until the Lord’s parousia at the Rapture (vv. 13-14).
The LORD of Glory
Christian Attitude Toward Wealth
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Jesus: The Provider of All Good Things
Having broached this topic, the apostle launches into a doxological description of Jesus, “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of lords” (v. 15; cf. Rev. 19:16).
Only Jesus Christ possesses the absolute ability to maintain His immortal status in Himself; only Jesus Christ dwells within God’s shekinah.
No human being has ever seen or is able to see Him in His divine essence (v. 16a; cf. John 1:18).
To this Person, Paul ascribes honor and eternal dominion (v. 16b).
Paul instructs Timothy to order wealthy Ephesians to follow both negative and positive commands especially made for them.
Negatively, he tells the rich that they should not manifest a proud attitude regarding their position, as if by their own strength they had garnered their wealth.
Nor should the well-to-do trust that they will be able to maintain that status, thinking that they control all the vicissitudes of life (v. 17a).
Instead, they should depend upon “the living God” who provides everything for them to enjoy (v. 17b).
Rich Christians should use their wealth wisely, generously contributing to various good “charities”; by so doing, they will manifest their spiritual understanding and knowledge of God, and earn for themselves spiritual rewards that will abound in eternity (vv. 18-19).
The Holy Scriptures
Protect the Word of God From Error
Finally, Paul fervently pleads one last time with his associate and son in the faith to keep unsullied the body of Christian truth that he has passed onto him by separating himself from those who exalt themselves as the guardians of real knowledge, but who in fact babble contradictory doctrines (v. 20).
He warns him that these teachers have succeeded in swaying some people from the truth of the gospel (v. 21a).
Paul prays that God’s grace would empower and guide his companion (v. 21b).
Study Questions for 1Timothy
1. What are the definitions of “grace” and “peace”?)
2. To what ancient heresy may the Jewish extra-biblical legends about which Paul warned Timothy have led?
3. What is the goal of teaching God’s word?
4. What is a proper use of the Law?
5. In what three ways did Saul act against the Lord?
6. Why does Paul consider himself “the foremost of sinners”?
7. What formulaic expression does Paul use to set up a statement of belief?
8. Examine the theology of Paul’s doxology.
9. Who are the two false disciples who “shipwrecked,” and about which one did Paul warn the Ephesians?
10. What three kinds of prayer does Paul instruct Timothy to develop?
11. What two theological facts about “truth” does God want all people to know?
12. What does Paul’s analysis in chapter two demonstrate about men and women? Does Paul mean this as a universal truth? Are the Scriptures “sexist” and “patriarchal”?
13. What do you think the clause “women will be preserved through childbearing” means?
14. Discuss the several moral, social, professional, and spiritual qualifications of elders.
15. What difference do you see between the qualifications of the bishop/overseer and those of the deacon?
16. What are the five aspects to the “Mystery of Godliness”?
17. Discuss what will happen during the apostasy of the “latter times.”
18. How might Timothy prove himself a good minister of Jesus Christ?
19. In what sense is the “living God” the “Savior of all men”?
20. In what three ways can Timothy develop his spiritual life and ministry?
21. Discuss the issue of the support of true widows.
22. About what two specific aspects of an elder’s relationship to a local church does Paul instruct Timothy?
23. Discuss Paul’s description of false teachers.
24. How does the apostle describe “godliness with contentment”?
25. Discuss Paul’s doxological description of Jesus.
26. What does Paul understand as the responsibility of rich Christians?
27. With what topic does Paul leave off in this epistle to his associate?
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