1 Timothy 6 Commentary

vv.1-2 “For the church to have encouraged slaves to revolt against their masters would have been fatal.  It would simply have caused civil war, mass murder, and the complete discredit of the Church.”[1]

“In communities where membership included numerous slaves together with some of their masters, the relationship between them was a pressing problem.  Slaves enjoyed equality of status within the church, but a decided social inferiority in their respective households, an irreconcilable antithesis which found its only solution in the ultimate abolition of slavery.  But since the time was unpropitious for overturning this deeply rooted system, interim Christian rules were indispensable.”[2]

vv. 3-5 “Here in this passage are set out the characteristics of the false teacher. (i) His first characteristic is conceit.  His desire is not to display Christ but to display himself.  There are still preachers and teachers who are more concerned to gain a following for themselves than for Jesus Christ, more concerned to press their own views than to bring to men the word of God. […] (ii) His concern is with abstruse and recondite speculations.  There is a kind of Christianity which is more concerned with argument than with life.  […] (iii)The false teacher is a disturber of the peace.  He is instinctively competitive; he is suspicious of all who differ from him; […] The source of his bitterness is the exaltation of self; for his tendency is to regard any difference from or any criticism of his views as a personal insult. (iv) the false teacher commercializes religion.  He is out for profit.  He looks on his teaching and preaching, not as a vocation, but as a career.”[3]

vv.4-5 “The next words are not easy to represent clearly in English.  NIV renders them He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words. The literal meaning of the verb is ‘to be sick’, which is obviously intended as a contrast to the healthy words of verse 3.  The controversies and arguments have impaired their mental health to such a degree that they have become diseased.  This is a noteworthy example of the processes by which intellectual wrangling so often ends in moral deterioration.”[4]

“The Greeks were intoxicated with the spoken word.  Among them, if a man could speak, his fortune was made.  It was against a background like that that the Church was growing up; and it is little wonder that this type of teacher invaded it.  The Church gave him a new area in which to exercise his meretricious gifts and to gain a tinsel prestige and a not unprofitable following.”[5]

vv.6-10 “Paul’s word for contentment is the regular term used by the Stoics for a self-sufficiency which is altogether independent of circumstances.  Christian contentment also does not depend on external things.  […]  this Christian ‘secret’ is not to be found within ourselves, however, as Stoics taught and New Agers teach, but in Christ. ‘I can do everything’, Paul went on, ‘through him who gives me strength’.  Thus genuine contentment is ‘not self-sufficiency but Christ-sufficiency’.  This is why godliness plus contentment equals great spiritual gain.”[6]

vv.9-10 “Scripture does not say that money is the root of all evil; it says that the love of money is the root of all evil.  […] Money is not itself an evil, but it is a great responsibility.  It is powerful to good and powerful to evil. What then are the special dangers involved in the love of money? (i) The desire for money tends to be a thirst which is insatiable. […] (ii) The desire for wealth is founded on an illusion.  It is founded on the desire for security; but wealth cannot buy security.  It cannot buy health, nor real love; and it cannot preserve from sorrow and from death.  The security which is founded on material things is foredoomed to failure. (iii) The desire for money tends to make a man selfish.  If he is driven by the desire for wealth, it is nothing to him that someone has to lose in order that he may gain.  The desire for wealth fixes a man’s thoughts upon himself, and others become merely means or obstacles in the path to his own enrichment. […] (iv) Although the desire for wealth is based on the desire for security, it ends in nothing but anxiety.  The more a man has to keep, the more he has to lose and, the tendency is for him to be haunted by the risk of loss. […] (v) The love of money may easily lead a man into wrong ways of getting it, and therefore, in the end, into pain and remorse.”[7]

vv.20-21 “The passage talks of the trust that has been entrusted to him.  The Greek word for trust is paratheke, which literally means a deposit.  It is the word for money deposited with a banker or with a friend.  When such money was in time demanded back, it was a sacred duty to hand it back entire.  […]  The Christian faith is like that, something which we received from our forefather, and which we must pass on to our children. […] A man does well to remember that his duty is not only to himself, but also to his children and his children’s children.”[8]


[1] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Daily Study Bible Series (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1975) 121-122.

[2] Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grant Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity, 1990)121.

[3] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Daily Study Bible Series (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1975) 126-128.

[4] Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grant Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity, 1990)123-124.

[5] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Daily Study Bible Series (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1975) 126.

[6] John Stott, Guard the Truth, The Message of 1 Timothy & Titus (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996) 149.

[7] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Daily Study Bible Series (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1975) 131-133.

[8] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, Daily Study Bible Series (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1975) 138-139.

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