BIBLE STUDY


Paul's Letters To Timothy
by Greg Williamson (c) 2014, 2019
Featuring the text of the New American Standard Bible *
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Intro | 1 Timothy 1:1-11 / 1:12-17 / 1:18-20 | 2:1-8 / 2:9-15 | 3:1-7 / 3:8-13 / 3:14-16 | 4:1-6 / 4:7-12 / 4:13-16 | 5:1-16 / 5:17-25 | 6:1-2 / 6:3-10 / 6:11-21 | 2 Timothy 1:1-7 / 1:8-12 / 1:13-18 | 2:1-7 / 2:8-13 / 2:14-18 / 2:19-26 | 3:1-9 / 3:10-12 / 3:13-17 | 4:1-4 / 4:5-8 / 4:9-22 ** | Articles & Definitions | Sources

THE CHURCH'S MINISTRY TO THE PASTOR & TO THE RICH
(1 Timothy 6:11-21)
11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 which He will bring about at the proper time -- He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
18 Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge" --
21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.

 
Know the things you should flee, follow, and fight, and do not confuse them. When you think it too difficult to stand up for the Lord, remember how He stood up for you. God wants you to enjoy His gifts and employ them for the good of others; but beware when your heart is set on getting rich (Prov. 15:27; Eccles. 5:10). You have a deposit of spiritual truth to guard and invest, and the enemy wants to take it from you. Beware those who want to give you “new knowledge” beyond what God says in His Word. - Warren Wiersbe [ref]
 

QuoteWorthy: All Three
Some fight for truth but neglect holiness. Others pursue holiness but have no comparable concern for truth. Yet others disregard both doctrine and ethics in their search for religious experience. The man or woman of God combines all three. - John Stott [ref]

1 TIMOTHY 6:11 - Personal Holiness
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Personal Discipline

Even if we are committed to doing God’s will, we must still be diligent in training ourselves in godliness. (see 1 Timothy 6:11-16) [ref]

But ... you (1 Timothy 6:11)
The thought here is: "but as for you in contradistinction to others." [ref] It is "an emphatic contrast" with the "some" of the previous verse (1 Timothy 6:10) "who chase after riches." [ref] In 1 Timothy 6:11-16, "Paul draws a direct and intentional contrast ('But as for you') between Timothy and the false teachers. True ministry is not motivated by greed but by the reality of eternal life and an awareness of accountability to God." [ref]

flee ... pursue (1 Timothy 6:11)
"Vigor and intensity are suggested both in fleeing things that lead from the faith and in pursuing things pertaining to the faith." [ref]

flee from these things (1 Timothy 6:11)
Here the main idea is that of ongoing separation. [ref] Timothy is "to make it the habit of his life to be everlastingly fleeing away from a fondness for money" [ref], "along with the other proud obsessions of false teachers." [ref] Timothy is to "'ever flee these things' like a pestilence, like poisonous serpents, like the devil’s snares. One would cease to be a man of God if he did not so flee these things, if he let them catch him. Alas, some only pretend to flee. They often stay near and think they are at a safe distance until they are overtaken and caught. Continue to flee, do nothing but flee, the margin of safety cannot be too great." [ref]

Paul's instructions here and throughout this letter would necessarily set Timothy at odds with the false teachers. In contrast to the well-intentioned but ill-informed efforts of some believers who advocate peace at any price, one commentator wisely notes: "Not all unity is good, and not all division is bad. There are times when a servant of God should take a stand against false doctrine and godless practices, and separate himself from them. He must be sure, however, that he acts on the basis of biblical conviction and not because of a personal prejudice or a carnal party spirit." [ref]

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RUNNING IN PLACE

Why do we find it so hard to flee from the love of money?

We are constantly bombarded by TV and the rest of the media to buy, buy, buy. We are not even required to pay . . . at least not right away. All the pleasures of having money are offered to us on credit! Even the typical vacation simply takes us to a new location to go shopping.

Christians need times of solitude and isolation in order to quiet the urgent messages to live up to our identity as consumers. It is helpful to physically cut ourselves off for a while from the intrusions of materialism.

Spending time alone in nature can have an amazing healing effect. It restores our closeness with God, restores our perspective, and enables us to cope with the financial pressure. When did you last go camping or fishing? Even a long, leisurely hike in the woods has antimaterialistic therapeutic value.

- Life Application Bible Commentary on the New Testament [ref]

man of God (1 Timothy 6:11)
"This is a common designation for prophets in the OT (e.g., 1Sam 9:6; 1 Kings 12:22; 13:1). There has been considerable discussion as to whether it carries that connotation here or is used as a general title for all Christians. The only other place in the NT where it occurs is in 2 Timothy 3:17. Even there it is not absolutely clear whether it is used in a particular or general sense. J.N.D. Kelly says of the expression: 'It connotes one who is in God's service, represents God and speaks in his name, and admirably fits one who is a pastor.'" [ref]

As another commentator brings out well: "Here is a title of honour. When the charge is given to Timothy, he is not reminded of his own weakness and sin, which might well have reduced him to pessimistic despair; rather he is challenged by the honour which is his, of being God's man. ... The very fact that Timothy was addressed as 'Man of God' would make him square his shoulders and throw his head back as one who has received his commission from the King." [ref]

Other commentators understand "man of God" not as a formal designation but as an informal yet strong affirmation of Timothy's godly character. [ref] In any event, it certainly "affirms his authority and stands in contrast with the false teachers, who are not men of God." [ref] And of course Paul's instructions apply equally to every believer who, like Timothy, "is known by what he: 1) flees from [1 Timothy 6:11]; 2) follows after [1 Timothy 6:11]; 3) fights for [1 Timothy 6:12]; and 4) is faithful to [1 Timothy 6:13, 14]. The key to his success in all these endeavors is the perfection produced in him by the Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16, 17)." [ref]

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WHERE ARE ALL THE GODLY MEN?

Where have all the godly men gone? These days I ponder that question with increased frequency and concern.

If the lack of godly men were only a matter of personality or ministerial preference, then little would be lost. Such is not the case, though. The church is in great need of awakening and renewal and, in the spirit of English Puritan leader Richard Baxter, its greatest need might well be godly men.

Not that long ago, "man of God" was a common and honored descriptor in the church. The phrase ranked alongside "great preacher," "brilliant theologian" or "gifted writer" in frequency and surpassed them in value. Now, it seems as though the designation "man of God" is a largely passé referent to a bygone era of church life.

We have increased the mundane and ancillary aspects of Christian ministry, all the while cheapening its true virtues and values. In God's economy, though, character is valued over talent, and holiness over giftedness.

Why is there a dearth of godly men? Admittedly, godliness is nearly impossible to measure, and godly men are nearly impossible to quantify. Yet, three factors seem especially to contribute to the paucity of godly men:

Many churches don't seek men of God.

Given the complexity of modern ministry, many churches prioritize giftedness and experience above godliness in their candidates for ministry. Churches often look for competent administrators, capable speakers, polished people skills, a cute family and other secondary concerns before assessing the heart. Like ancient Israel, we have the propensity to look on the outward; all the while God looks on the heart.

Many ministries no longer necessitate godliness.

There may now be more distance between the minister and the congregation than ever before in the history of the church. Through the years, pastors have lived among their people (as seen in the New Testament) and by their people (parsonage). Now, everything from the size of the church to the expansion of auxiliary campuses has created distance between the pastor and his people. Moreover, video-screen pastors often have no relationship at all with their people.

An overcommitted laity does not desire personal interaction with their ministers, and overcommitted ministers have less time for personal interaction anyway. Though social media grants the appearance of personal engagement, the truth can be altogether different. The distance between the pastor and his people means there is less life-on-life engagement and less moral accountability one with another.

Ministry "peer pressure" is not toward godliness.

The "peer pressure" of ministry is oriented toward events, products, conferences and materials. It is as though the paraphernalia and garnishes of ministry have displaced the more biblical and eternal aspects, like godliness. Perhaps this is why Matthew Henry lamented some preachers who, "when in the pulpit, preaching so well that it is a pity they should ever come out; but, when out of the pulpit, living so ill that it is a pity they should ever come in."

"Man of God" is a biblical designation granted to Old Testament giants like Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah and Elisha. In the New Testament, Timothy is the singular designee. The title was not merely honorific. It was a lofty and noble designation granted to men with lives that merited it. In the context of 1 Timothy 6, the title "man of God" is associated with action. It is found in a list of admonitions, commands and encouragements that flow both descriptively and prescriptively. Paul instructs Timothy that the man of God is known for fleeing from immorality, fighting for the faith and for following after Christlikeness. Moreover, 2 Timothy 3:15–17 links the adequacy of the man of God with the power and authority of holy Scripture.

Clearly, the New Testament prioritizes godliness in the life of the minister. The qualifications for ministry found in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9 deal almost exclusively with character, with little reference to giftedness beyond the ability to teach. Thus the timeless ministerial admonition, "Beware of letting your talent gain you a ministry position that your character cannot keep you in."

In the main, the modern church has most everything it needs -- save revival. We have more conferences than ever, but fewer conversions. We have more books and blogs than ever, but fewer baptisms. We have more products and paraphernalia than ever, but little power. Indeed, we have a surplus of resources, but a deficit of revival.

Of course, revival is a work of the Holy Spirit, initiated and carried forth by God. At the same time, we cannot expect God to bless our shallowness, staleness and carnality. Perhaps revival will not arrive in the pew until it first arrives in the pulpit. It may well be that the greatest need of the church is godly men who shepherd the flock of God with holiness and grace.

Where have all the godly men gone? I am not exactly sure, but I pray God will call forth a new generation of men consecrated in heart and devoted to His glory. As the hymn of old begs, "Rise up, O men of God! The church for you doth wait, her strength unequal to her task; rise up, and make her great!"

- Jason K. Allen [ref]


Jason K. Allen is president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. This article first appeared at www.jasonkallen.com.

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NAMES FOR CHRISTIANS

In the earliest years of the Christian era, when the church was unified, no denominational names (such as Baptist or Roman Catholic) existed. Local churches did not have names but were known by their locations (such as “the church at Ephesus”). Nor was there a single official name for the new Christian movement. Many designations were used for the followers of Christ, and these changed as the historical situation changed. Many Christians considered themselves simply Jews who followed Jesus.

What Christians Were Called by Others
As Jesus’ disciples preached and won converts after the resurrection, other Jews began to see this as a new movement. They applied four names to the Christian community, not all of them complimentary.

Galileans. Since Jesus and most of the 12 disciples were from Galilee, it was natural for the term to be applied to all of his followers, especially since it implied that the movement was not as pure as Judean Judaism.

Nazarenes. Jesus was known as “Jesus of Nazareth” or “Jesus the Nazarene,” so it was easy to transfer that title to his followers. They were “followers of the Nazarene” or “Nazarenes.”

Followers of the Way. Christianity was far from being simply an abstract belief; it was a whole way of life. The new way of living was obvious to those around Christians and to the Christians themselves, for they were following Jesus’ life style, the way he had lived and taught. Soon the term “this Way” or “the Way” meant Christian.

Christians. When the Christian movement reached Antioch in Syria, the gospel was preached to Gentiles as well as Jews. Such evangelism marked the sect as more than a new type of Judaism; it was a new religion. The Gentiles in Antioch invented a name for the new group. Since members of the group constantly talked about Christ, they were called Christians, meaning the “household” or “partisans” of Christ. Some satire may have been intended in the name.

What Christians Called Themselves as a Group
[Most of the names used by Christians to identify themselves, whether as a group or as individuals, had their roots in the Old Testament in general and in God's dealings with Israel in particular.]

Christians naturally had a set of names for themselves, some used to refer to individuals, others to a whole group. Three terms were used to identify Christians collectively.

Church. Christians often referred to themselves simply as the church or the congregation (with “of God” being understood). The term could be applied either to all believers in the world or to any local group of them.

Multitude. The term “the multitude” is similar to “church” as a way to describe Christians as a body. It was probably a shortened form of “the multitude of the righteous,” “the multitude of God,” or some similar title. But when Christians referred to “the multitude,” they meant the whole group of Christians.

Flock. The simple designation “the flock” or “the flock of God” was sometimes used for Christians (Acts 20:28; 1 Pt 5:2, 3; also in Clement of Rome’s writings). The title grew out of a common Jewish metaphor for Israel. It became a title, so that a Christian referring to “the flock” meant the whole Christian body, whose shepherd was God.

What Christians Called Themselves as Individuals
At least nine terms were used by early Christians to describe themselves as individuals.

Disciple. Jesus was followed by a group of men and women who listened to his teaching of the Scriptures, observed his way of life, and patterned their lives after his. Those followers were called by a term common in the ancient world for a teacher’s pupils: “disciples” (Mt 10:1; Lk 6:17; Jn 6:66).

Slave. Five NT authors called themselves “slaves [or servants] of Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10; Phil 1:1; Col 4:12; 2 Tm 2:24; Ti 1:1; Jas 1:1; 2 Pt 1:1; Jude 1; Rv 1:1). In many cases the term is a synonym for “Christian.”

Often the title “slave of the king” meant that the person was an officer in the king’s service; it was a title of honor. In Jewish literature Moses and others were called slaves of God (Nm 12:7, 8; Rv 15:3). The term “slave” was thus a title both of honor and of subjugation; in the NT it is hard to know which sense is intended. Certainly subjection was often meant (1 Cor 7:22; Phil 2:7), but when applied to the apostolic writers the term probably suggested their honored position in God’s household. At the same time it indicated their obedience to Christ: he commanded and they obeyed. Since obedience was characteristic of all Christians, “slaves of Christ” became a title for members of the young church.

Elect; Called. The NT presents Jesus as supremely the chosen one of God (1 Pt 2:4). His followers, who knew themselves to belong to God and indeed to be the true heirs of the election of Israel, also called themselves “the elect,” “the chosen,” or “the called” (Rom 1:6; 16:13 KJV; Col 3:12; 2 Tm 2:10; 1 Pt 1:2; 2 Jn 1:13; Jude 1; Rv 17:14; the same meaning may be reflected in Mt 22:14). That title pointed to the special place of Christians within God’s plan as the heirs of his promises. Yet it also indicated that their position was not based on any special merit; God chose them when they could do nothing. Pride was eliminated because God had graciously given them such an honored position.

Righteous. For Christians, Jesus was the one truly righteous person (1 Pt 3:18; 1 Jn 2:1). Christians saw themselves as having been made righteous by Jesus, and, since they now lived in obedience to God, they could claim for themselves the OT title of “the righteous” (Rom 5:19; Gal 3:11; Jas 5:6; 1 Pt 4:18; Rv 22:11). The title may not have been used regularly enough to be considered a “name,” but its use was not infrequent.

Saints; Holy Ones. “Saints” became the apostle Paul’s favorite name for Christians (Rom 1:7; 8:27; 12:13; 15:25, 26, 31; 16:2, 15; plus 31 other places in Paul’s letters). The name means that Christians are expected to be holy (Heb 12:10; Rv 22:11); they have been consecrated to God as a holy priesthood and have rejected the ways of the world (1 Pt 2:5, 9; cf. 1:15, 16). More than that, they are the people of the coming age, who will reign with God over the earth and over angels. The early church could hardly have found a more exalted name for itself.

Believers. [Believing in Jesus] meant not only believing as a mental activity, but total commitment of one’s whole person to Jesus. Christians were called not merely to believe something but to give themselves to someone. Although NT authors emphasized believing, they rarely used the term “believer” as a name for Christians. There are a few clear examples (Acts 4:32; 10:45; 19:18; 1 Tm 4:3, 12), but in other places the term is a description, not a name (Acts 2:44; 15:5; 18:27). As a name, “believer” points to the personal commitment of Christians to Jesus.

Friends. Since Jesus called his disciples friends (Lk 12:4; Jn 15:14, 15), it would have been natural for Christians to refer to themselves as “the friends (of Christ).” Such terminology was used for members of philosophical groups in the Greek world. The designation is used only once in the NT (Acts 27:3); some translations read “his friends,” but the Greek has simply “the friends.” Apparently “friends” seemed too cold a title, losing its place to “family” designations.

Brothers (Sisters). [A]long with “disciple” (in Acts) and “saint” (always plural in the writings of Paul and the Book of Revelation), it was one of the most popular names for Christians and the only one used in James and 1 John.

Each Christian was called “brother,” and the Christians collectively were “the brothers.” The name stressed the intimacy of the Christian community. That is, the relationship of believers to one another was as close as that of blood kin (closer, in fact -- Mk 10:23–31). In 1 John and James the name underlines the claim that poorer Christians have upon those better off (Jas 2:15; 1 Jn 3:10–18; 4:20, 21). It also points to equality among members of the Christian community.

Children of God. It was natural for Jesus to call those who behaved righteously “sons” or “children of God,” stressing their moral likeness to God (Mt 5:9, 45; Lk 6:35; 20:36). The church picked up that usage, referring to Christians with the term whenever their moral likeness to God needed stressing (Rom 8:14; 9:8; Eph 5:1; Phil 2:15; 1 Jn 3:1, 2, 10; 5:1, 2).

The title also points to Christians as God’s elect, chosen to be part of his family (Jn 1:12; 11:52; Rom 8:16–21; Gal 3:26). The two ideas complement each other because anyone who is made part of a family must act like the family.

The title “sons of God” was always used in the plural to refer to Christians. The singular “Son of God” was reserved for Jesus Christ. The early Christians would speak of themselves as “children of God.”

- Peter H. Davids [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)

pursue righteousness, etc. (1 Timothy 6:11)
To "pursue" (a command) is "to do something with intense effort and with definite purpose or goal." [ref] The sense is to "continue/keep on pursuing," and Paul is telling Timothy to "make these things your lifelong pursuit." [ref] Rather than material wealth, Timothy was to "chase instead after personal virtues that are of eternal value." [ref]

"Separation without positive growth becomes isolation. We must cultivate these graces of the Spirit in our lives, or else we will be known only for what we oppose rather than for what we propose." [ref] The specific "virtues chosen are the central Christian virtues, first towards God, then towards men, and those specially needed for enduring trial, the opposition of false teachers." [ref] It is possible to group these qualities into three pairs: 1) righteousness and godliness, which "are the ground of all performance of duty to man and to God"; 2) faith and love, "the supreme Christian graces"; 3) perseverance and gentleness, "especially necessary in dealing with opponents." [ref]

As one source notes well: "This list defines the kind of person that would generate the respect of outsiders, but also is aimed at the problem of false teachers Paul has just castigated as money mongers without moral or spiritual scruples. In this sense, Timothy's virtuous character must stand in stark contrast to those who would subvert the congregations's life with God." [ref]

righteousness: "the act of doing what God requires -- ‘righteousness, doing what God requires, doing what is right’" [ref] (used 91x in the NT/5x in the pastoral epistles)

  • "Moral rectitude according to God's law." [ref] "[P]erhaps here meaning justice and fair dealing with people." [ref]
  • "'[G]iving both to men and to God their due.' It is the most comprehensive of the virtues; the righteous man is he who does his duty to God and to his fellow-men." [ref]
  • "[O]bservable 'uprightness,' a life in accordance with God's values." [ref]

godliness: "appropriate beliefs and devout practice of obligations relating to supernatural persons and powers -- ‘religion, piety’" [ref] (used 15x in the NT/10x in the pastoral epistles)

  • "God not mammon is the right object of human worship." [ref]
  • "[This] is the reverence of the man who never ceases to be aware that all life is lived in the presence of God." [ref]
  • "Paul's term for the whole of the Christian experience, the vertical posture of faith and its horizontal, visible outworking in life." [ref]

faith: "to believe in the good news about Jesus Christ and to become a follower -- ‘to be a believer, to be a Christian, Christian faith’" [ref] (used 243x in the NT/33x in the pastoral epistles)

  • At its core is "active reliance on God and his promises." [ref]
  • "[F]aithfulness or integrity." [ref]
  • "[This] means fidelity, and is the virtue of the man who, through all the chances and the changes of life, down even to the gates of death, is loyal to God." [ref]

love: "to have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard -- ‘to love, to regard with affection, loving concern, love’" [ref] (used 117x in the NT/10x in the pastoral epistles)

  • "God’s love as produced in the heart of the yielded believer by the Holy Spirit." [ref]
  • "[T]he love of sacrifice and service which has no room for greed." [ref]
  • "[This] is the virtue of the man who, even if he tried, could not forget what God has done for him nor the love of God to men." [ref]

perseverance: "capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances -- ‘endurance, being able to endure’" [ref] (used 33x in the NT/3x in the pastoral epistles)

  • It "describes the man who remains under trials in a God-honoring manner." [ref]
  • It is "brave patience that remains under privations and sufferings without complaining." [ref]
  • "[P]atience in difficult circumstances." [ref]
  • "[This] never means the spirit which sits with folded hands and simply bears things, letting the experiences of life flow like a tide over it. It is victorious endurance. 'It is unswerving constancy to faith and piety in spite of adversity and suffering.' It is the virtue which does not so much accept the experiences of life as conquers them." [ref]
  • "[T]he 'won't quit' determination of God's servants in the face of opposition to the gospel." [ref]
  • To persevere is to "trust in God’s outcome." [ref]

gentleness: "gentleness of attitude and behavior, in contrast with harshness in one’s dealings with others -- ‘gentleness, meekness, mildness’" [ref] (used 10x [9x = different Greek word] in the NT/2x [1x = different Greek word] in the pastoral epistles)

  • "'It is that temper of spirit in which we accept God’s dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. … This meekness, however, being first of all a meekness before God, is also such in the face of men, even of evil men, out of a sense that these, with the insults and injuries which they may inflict, are permitted and employed by Him for the chastening and purifying of His elect.'" [ref]
  • It is "the very opposite of what pagan and worldly morality admires, its ideal being strong, self-assertive men." [ref]
  • "[P]atience with difficult people." [ref]
  • "It is translated gentleness but is really untranslatable. It describes the spirit which never blazes into anger for its own wrongs but can be devastatingly angry for the wrongs of others. It describes the spirit which knows how to forgive and yet knows how to wage the battle of righteousness. It describes the spirit which walks at once in humility and yet in pride of its high calling from God. It describes the virtue by which at all times a man is enabled rightly to treat his fellow-men and rightly to regard himself." [ref]
  • "[A]n attitude of patient, gentle composure that encourages the repentance of the unbeliever and the apostate." [ref]
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RUN FROM ... RUN TOWARD

What is specially noteworthy [concerning 1 Timothy 6:11] is that this ethical appeal has both a negative and a positive aspect, which are complementary. Negatively, we are to ‘flee’ from evil, to take ‘constant evasive action’, to run from it as far as we can and as fast as we can. Positively, we are to go in hot pursuit of goodness. This combination occurs frequently in the New Testament, although in different terms. We are to deny ourselves and follow Christ (Mk. 8:34), to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and ‘yes’ to godliness and self-control (Tit. 2:12), to take off the old clothing which belonged to our previous life and put on the new which belongs to our Christian life, and here to run away from evil and run after goodness.

Now we human beings are great runners. It is natural for us to run away from anything which threatens us. To run from a real danger is common sense, but to run from issues we dare not face or from responsibilities we dare not shoulder is escapism. Instead, we should concentrate on running away from evil. We also run after many things which attract us -- pleasure, promotion, fame, wealth and power. Instead, we should concentrate on the pursuit of holiness.

There is no particular secret to learn, no formula to recite, no technique to master. The apostle gives us no teaching on ‘holiness and how to attain it’. We are simply to run from evil as we run from danger, and to run after goodness as we run after success. That is, we have to give our mind, time and energy to both flight and pursuit. Once we see evil as the evil it is, we will want to flee from it, and once we see goodness as the good it is, we will want to pursue it.

Ethically, we are to flee evil and pursue goodness. Doctrinally, we are to avoid error and contend for the truth.

- John Stott [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 6:12 - Timothy, Fight the Good Fight (vv. 12-16)

Fight the good fight of faith ... take hold of the eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12)
"[In 1 Tim. 6:10, 21] Paul describes the false teachers as having ‘wandered from the faith’, meaning the apostolic faith, the body of doctrine to which he alludes throughout the Pastoral Letters as ‘the truth’ (e.g. 1 Tim. 2:4; 3:15; 4:3), ‘the teaching’ (e.g. 1 Tim. 4:6; 6:1; Tit. 1:9; 2:1) or ‘the deposit’ (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:12, 14, literally). Since some have ‘wandered’ from it, it is all the more urgent that Timothy should ‘fight’ for it." [ref]

"Fight the good fight of faith" has the sense of: "Keep on straining every muscle and nerve in the noble straining for the faith!" [ref] It is drawn from the world of Greek athletics [ref], and the basic idea is "[to exert] every ounce of energy to win." [ref] As one source explains further, it "literally means 'compete in the good competition of the faith,' using words that may refer to a race or to a boxing or wrestling match: 'run the good race' or 'fight the good fight.' The similar phrase in 1 Timothy 1:18 uses a military picture and is more literally 'war the good warfare.'" [ref] [ref] The athletic imagery would immediately call to mind "the need for perseverance, sustained effort and training." [ref] (For more info, see below under "Fighting the Good Fight")

Whereas the false teachers were engaging in self-destructive word-battles, Paul calls for Timothy to "carry on the noble fight that springs from and is inspired by his faith." [ref] "Of faith" means "[t]his contest ... is the personal warfare with evil to which every Christian is called." [ref] As one commentator reminds us, fighting for the faith is a nasty but necessary business:

 
Nobody enjoys a fight, unless of course the person concerned is pugnacious by temperament. Fighting is an unpleasant business -- undignified, bloody, painful and dangerous. So is controversy, that is, fighting for truth and goodness. It should be distasteful to all sensitive spirits. There is something sick about those who relish it. Nevertheless, it is a ‘good fight’; it has to be fought. For truth is precious, even sacred. Being truth from God, we cannot neglect it without affronting him. It is also essential for the health and growth of the church. So whenever truth is imperilled by false teachers, to defend it is a painful necessity. Even the ‘gentleness’ we are to pursue (the last word of [1 Timothy 6:11]) is not incompatible with fighting the good fight of the faith [1 Timothy 6:12]. [ref]
 

"Take hold of" alludes to "the crown, or garland, the prize of victory" in the athletic games. [ref] "Eternal life" is the prize in the "good fight." [ref] [ref] "All our life long we keep on contending for The Faith so that at the end we may grasp the eternal life." [ref]

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"OF FAITH"

Faith is an absolutely indispensable part of the Christian life. Far from a warm and fuzzy feeling or mere wishful thinking, true, committed faith involves acceptance, belief, confidence, expectation, hope, knowledge, and trust -- all put into action. While much could be (and has been) written regarding this vital topic, here we simply take note of the phrase "of faith" in the following NT verses (NASB):

  • Acts 3:16 - "on the basis of faith in His name"
  • Acts 6:5 - "Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit"
  • Acts 11:24 - "and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith"
  • Acts 14:27 - "how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles"
  • Romans 1:5 - "the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles"
  • Romans 3:27 - "by a law of faith"
  • Romans 4:13 - "through the righteousness of faith"
  • Romans 10:8 - "the word of faith which we are preaching"
  • Romans 12:3 - "as God has allotted to each a measure of faith"
  • Romans 16:26 - " leading to obedience of faith"
  • 2 Corinthians 4:13 - "having the same spirit of faith"
  • Galatians 3:7, 9, 12 - "it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham ... those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham ... the Law is not of faith"
  • Ephesians 6:16 - "taking up the shield of faith"
  • Philippians 3:9 - "the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith"
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:3 - "your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope"
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:8 - "the breastplate of faith and love"
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:11 - "the work of faith with power"
  • 1 Timothy 6:12 - "Fight the good fight of faith"
  • Hebrews 6:1 - "a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God"
  • Hebrews 10:2 - "a sincere heart in full assurance of faith"
  • Hebrews 12:2 - "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith"
- AC21DOJ

The Christian life is an ongoing struggle/fight -- a truth repeated throughout the NT:

  • Striving for the goal is the first thought here (Lk. 13:24). Exertion (1 Th. 2:2) and a concentration of forces (Col. 1:29; cf. 2 Tim. 4:7–8) are both necessary.
  • Striving also calls for denial (1 Cor. 9:25), the setting aside of provisional ends (1 Cor. 9:27). This is not asceticism but athletic discipline (2 Tim. 4:5). It is not contempt for the world but a right ordering of priorities.
  • Little reference is made to antagonists, but obstacles and dangers have to be faced (cf. 1 Th. 2:2; 2 Cor. 7:5; Jude 3).
  • Martyrdom is the final conflict (cf. 2 Tim. 4:6; Heb. 10ff.)
  • The goal is not just our salvation but that of others too (Col. 1:29–30). Paul struggles “for” the church (Col. 2:1–2; cf. 4:12–13). Prayer is crucial here (Col. 4; Rom. 15). So is unity in the Spirit (Phil. 1:27ff.). The gospel brings conflict to the entire Christian life, but as we pray and stand together the sign of the cross is a sign of victory. [ref] (quoted verbatim)
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FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT

In the exhortation to Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith” [in 1 Timothy 6:12], we have a reference to the Greek athletic games.

Paul was educated so far as his Greek training was concerned, at the University of Tarsus, at that time the foremost Greek university in the world, outstripping, according to Strabo, the University of Athens, in its zeal for learning. The great apostle shows a first-hand acquaintance with Greek athletics in his writings, where he frequently uses them as illustrations of spiritual truth, for instance, 1 Corinthians 9:24–27 and Philippians 3:12. All the churches Paul founded were composed of Greeks. Here he was writing to Timothy, whose father was a Greek.

One of the chief activities of Roman life was the Greek games, held all over the empire. It was part of the atmosphere the Romans breathed. When Rome conquered Greece in a military sense, Greece conquered Rome in a cultural one. The word “fight” is agōnizomai. Its cognate noun was used in pagan Greece to refer to the place of a contest, the lists, race course, the assembly at the national games, a struggle, battle. The verb means, “to contend in the athletic games for the prize, to fight.” When we find that the gloves of the Greek boxer were fur lined on the inside, but made on the outside of ox-hide with lead and iron sewed into it, and that the loser in a wrestling match had his eyes gouged out, we come to some appreciation of what a Greek athletic contest consisted of.

Thus, the word “fight” (agōnizomai) had a very definite meaning for Timothy. The verb is present tense, imperative mode, commanding a continuous action. It showed Timothy the necessity for the continuous nature of the Christian’s warfare against evil, and of his desperate effort to live a life pleasing to God. The second use of the word “fight” is agōn, the cognate noun of the verb. Expositors translates, “Engage in the contest.” The word “good” is not agathos, referring to intrinsic goodness, but kalos, speaking of goodness as seen from the outside by a spectator.

Paul, writing to Timothy just before his martyrdom, says, “The desperate, straining, agonizing contest, marked by its beauty of technique, I, like a wrestler, have fought to a finish, and at present am resting in its victory” (2 Tim. 4:7). The phrase, “marked by its beauty of technique,” refers to the beautiful display of his art which the Greek athlete presents to the thousands in the stadium, and in Paul’s sentence, to the beautiful technique inspired by the Holy Spirit, which he used in gaining victory over sin and in the living of a life pleasing to God. Paul therefore exhorts Timothy, “Be constantly engaging in the contest marked by its beauty of technique.”

The word “faith” is preceded by the definite article in the Greek text, “the faith.” It is not “faith” in general as exercised by the Christian, to which reference is made here, but to the Faith as consisting of a body of doctrine with its corresponding ethical responsibilities, namely, Christianity and the Christian life. “Lay hold of” is epilambanō, “to seize upon, take possession of.” Thayer, in defining the word, says, “i.e., to struggle to obtain eternal life.” Thus, the act of fighting the good fight is the same act as seen in the words, “lay hold of.” The verb is in the aorist imperative, referring to a single act rather than a process. It refers to the habitual act of fighting the good fight, but takes no note of the process, rather emphasizing the result. Grammarians call it the culminative aorist, viewing the action from its existing results.

Now, when Paul exhorts Timothy to lay hold of eternal life, he does not imply that he does not possess it. Timothy was saved, and possessed eternal life as a gift of God. What Paul was desirous of was that Timothy experience more of what this eternal life is in his life. The definite article appears before “life,” marking it out as a particular life which the Scriptures say God gives the believer. The word “profession” is homologeō, made up of legō, “to say,” and homos, “the same,” hence, “to say the same thing as another says,” thus, “to agree with what someone else says.” Here it is used of Timothy’s statement of his agreement with the doctrines of Christianity at the occasion of his baptism. “In the early Church, the baptism of a person was a matter in which the Church generally took an interest and a part. The rule in The Didache was, “Before baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able” (Expositors). This explains the many witnesses who testified to Timothy’s statement of faith in the doctrines of the Church, and his acceptance of them.

- Kenneth Wuest [ref]

take hold of the eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12)
It is vital to note that Paul is not saying:

  • Timothy "could gain eternal life by his own efforts." [ref]
  • Timothy did not already have eternal life. [ref]
  • "Timothy was remiss or lax in carrying out his religious duties." [ref]

"Timothy was saved, and possessed eternal life as a gift of God. What Paul was desirous of was that Timothy experience more of what this eternal life is in his life" [ref], "to possess eternal life more practically, more fully, and more confidently." [ref] As one commentator explains well: "['Take hold of' (Greek epilambanomai)] means to ‘take hold of, grasp … sometimes with violence’ and to ‘take hold of, in order to make one’s own’ (BAGD). The ‘violence’ is seen in Jesus catching Peter when he was beginning to sink (Mt. 14:31), in the soldiers seizing Simon of Cyrene (Lk. 23:26), in the crowd seizing Paul (Acts 21:30), and in the tribune arresting him (Acts 21:33; cf. Phil. 3:12). Just so, although Timothy had already received eternal life, Paul urged him to seize it, grasp it, lay hold of it, make it completely his own, enjoy it and live it to the full." [ref]

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ETERNAL LIFE

Mode of existence referred to in Scripture characterized by either timelessness or endlessness, and especially by a qualitative difference from mortal life.

The Greek word translated “eternal” is derived from the word for “age” or “eon.” Jesus Christ’s coming as God’s definitive revelation brings the possibility of the qualities of life in the future messianic age into present reality.

In his response to the rich young ruler Jesus equated the reception of eternal life with entrance into the kingdom of God (Mk 10:23–25). The kingdom of God is not simply a future event but is already inaugurated in Jesus’ life, ministry, and teachings. The kingdom is a gift of life available while the follower still lives within the present age. Many of Jesus’ parables emphasize this point (e.g., those in Mt 13). The Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:3–12) reinforce the concept of a present blessedness that includes salvation, forgiveness, and righteousness. Thus eternal life is a present blessing available to those who submit to God’s reign and are enjoying the blessings of this new era of salvation before the final consummation at the present age’s end.

Paul’s usages of “eternal life” (Rom 2:7; 6:22; Gal 6:8; 1 Tm 1:16; Ti 1:2; 3:7) have primary reference to the consummation of all things at the end of history as we know it. The numerous passages in which Paul speaks of walking “in newness of life” (e.g., Rom 6:4), however, clearly indicate that he understood that eternal life must not be limited to the hereafter.

The definitive discussions of eternal life come from John’s Gospel. John’s purpose delineates the crucial significance of the concept: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life” (Jn 20:31).

John clearly shared in the Jewish expectation of the age to come with its anticipated blessings (e.g., Jn 3:36; 4:14; 5:29, 39; 6:27; 12:25). The central emphasis of John’s Gospel, however, does not lie in the anticipated future, but in the present experience of that future life. The life of the age to come is already available in Christ to the believer. The metaphors with which Jesus defined his own mission emphasize the present new life: living water that is “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14); living bread that satisfies the world’s spiritual hunger (Jn 6:35–40); the light of the world who leads his followers into the light of life (Jn 8:12); the good shepherd who brings abundant life (Jn 10:10); the life giver who raises the dead (Jn 11:25); the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6); and the genuine vine who sustains those who abide in him (Jn 15:5).

Jesus added further content to the concept of eternal life by connecting it with knowing the true God (Jn 17:3). This knowledge does not come by education or manipulation of the mind, but by revelation through the Son (Jn 1:18; cf. 14:7).

A brief survey of the primary elements in the concept of eternal life clearly shows that it is not simply an endless or everlasting life. Although there are no final boundaries to eternal life, the Bible’s primary emphasis is on the quality of life, especially its redemptive elements. Eternal life is the importation of the qualities of the age to come into the present through the revelation of a faithful God in Christ, and brings knowledge of God’s relationship with him.

- Morris A. Weigelt [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)

you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12)
"Eternal life is not something we naturally choose, but something to which God supernaturally calls us (Rom. 8:30)." [ref]

While Timothy's calling was "inward and private," his confession was "outward and public." [ref] "At some point in Timothy's life, he publicly acknowledged Jesus as the resurrected Lord, perhaps either at his baptism or his ordination as a minister of the gospel. With this reminder of the historical moment of his good confession, Timothy is encouraged to remain steadfast in his faith and to finish his life as a minister in the same way it began." [ref] In that respect, the "many witnesses" would/could/should inspire Timothy "to be ever faithful to the confession he has made [cf. Hebrews 12:1]." [ref] That said, regarding the "many witnesses" associated with Timothy's ordination/commissioning ceremony, one commentator explains: "That is, the board of elders who had earlier commissioned Timothy to his ministry now form a jury of 'witnesses' with the quasi-legal authority to measure his compliance to his sacred calling." [ref]

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CONFESS, CONFESSION

The biblical concepts expressed by the words “confess” and “confession” have in common the idea of an acknowledgment of something. This is the root idea of the two verbs that lie behind the great majority of occurrences of the words “confess” and “confession” in the English Bible: Hebrew yād₠(in the hiphil root) and Greek homologeō. English versions such as the NIV therefore sometimes translate these verbs as “acknowledge.” From this common root emerge two distinct theological senses: the acknowledging or confessing of faith (in God, Christ, or a particular doctrine), and the acknowledging or confessing of sins before God.

- Douglas J. Moo [ref]


Admission, especially of guilt or sin; also, a statement of religious belief. “To confess” can mean to agree, to promise, or to admit something.

Two types of confession occur in the Bible. First, individuals confess that they have sinned and are therefore guilty before God, often confessing a particular sin (Lv 5:5; 1 Jn 1:9). In such confession one agrees or acknowledges that he or she has broken God’s Law (Ps 119:126), that its penalty is justly deserved (Rom 6:23), and that in some specific way God’s standard of holiness has not been met (Lv 19:2; Mt 5:48).

Second, individuals confess that God is God and that he rules the world (1 Chr 29:10–13), that he is faithful in showing his love and kindness (Ps 118:2–4), and that he has helped his people (Ps 105:1–6). Such confession or agreement, expressed publicly in worship or song (Ps 100:4), is spoken of in the OT as “blessing the Lord.”

The two types of confession are often combined in the Bible, producing many psalms of thanksgiving.

Both those meanings also occur in the NT. Christians confess (that is, they declare as a matter of conviction and allegiance) that Jesus is the Christ and that they belong to him.

In only a few passages does the NT discuss confession of sin. Those being baptized by John the Baptist publicly admitted their sins and repented (Mk 1:4, 5). All Christians, in fact, must agree with God that they are sinners; otherwise “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn 1:8). James presented a fuller picture: when a Christian is ill, the elders are to visit and give the person opportunity to confess any sins. As in the psalms, forgiveness and healing (the moral and the physical) are tied to confession. Recalling that principle, James urged Christians to confess their sins to one another (Jas 5:13–16).

- Peter H. Davids [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)

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1 TIMOTHY 6:13 - Timothy, Fight the Good Fight (vv. 12-16)

Here we see Paul doing more than simply appealing to Timothy,

 
for he knows about human apathy and our consequent need for incentives. So he buttresses his appeal with strong arguments, namely the presence of God and the coming of Christ. First, it is impressive that Paul lived in the conscious presence of God, so that it was natural for him to write: In the sight of God … and of Christ Jesus … I charge you (1 Tim. 6:13; cf. 2 Tim. 4:1). Moreover, he reminded himself and Timothy of an appropriate truth about each. God he describes as the one who gives life to everything (cf. Acts 14:15; 17:28ff). As the giver and sustainer of the life of all living creatures, he is intimately involved in their affairs. Christ, on the other hand, is described as the one who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, by acknowledging that he was indeed a king (Jn. 18:33–34; cf. Mk. 15:2). His disciples never forgot the historical precedent of bold testimony which he set. He was, beyond comparison, ‘the faithful and true witness’ (Rev. 3:14; cf. 1:5). The ‘good confession’ expected of us was first made by him (1 Tim. 6:12, 13). It is in the sight of God the life-giver and of Christ the witness that Paul issues his charge. [ref]
 

I charge you (1 Timothy 6:13)
"Paul says, 'I charge,' or 'I command,' that is, 'I pass along an authoritative message'" (cf. 1 Timothy 1:3; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17). [ref]

in the presence of God, who gives life to all things (1 Timothy 6:13)

 
Christian service is not something God initiates, like the christening of a ship, then leaves to run its own course. It begins with God's choice and continues in his presence and fellowship. ... To be in the sight of God (1 Tim 5:21; 2 Tim 4:1) is cause for reverent fear. The Hebrews were terrified of God's presence, which, as Moses explained, was to keep them from sinning (Ex 20:20). But God's presence meant for them also his faithful care -- guidance, food, clothing (Deut 8:1-5). And the description of God as life-giver means the same for Paul's readers. God's constant presence should spur the Christian on to excellent service. Equally, this truth provides encouragement and strength, for the ever-present God is the one who gives and sustains life. [ref]
 

who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13)
"Testified" (Greek martureō), which is closely related to our English "martyr," means "to provide information about a person or an event concerning which the speaker has direct knowledge -- ‘to witness.’" [ref] Jesus bore witness through both his words and his deeds, including his death and resurrection. [ref]

"Jesus' good confession was his affirmative answer to Pilate's question 'Are you the king of the Jews?' (see Matthew 27:11; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3; John 18:33-37)." [ref] [ref] Jesus' confession, or witness, would also have included his voluntary submission to death on a cross, which "was the crown of his testimony." [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 6:14 - Timothy, Fight the Good Fight (vv. 12-16)

keep the commandment without stain or reproach (1 Timothy 6:14)
"Keep" = "stand guard over, protect, and preserve." [ref] Timothy "was to guard the commandment and obey it. Why? Because one day the Commander would appear and he would have to report on his assignment! The only way he could be ready would be to obey orders 'without spot or blame' (1 Tim. 6:14, NIV)." [ref]

"There is a difference of opinion whether this command [NIV] refers to the threefold appeal which Paul has just made in verses 11 and 12, or to the ethical instruction of the whole letter, or -- more widely still -- to ‘the whole law of Christ, the rule of faith and life enjoined by the gospel’." [ref]

"'Without stain or reproach' (NASB) may allude to the requirements for pure sacrifices to God as unblemished (e.g., Lev 1:3, 10; 3:1, 6; 4:3, 23, 32) or to 'undamaged' merchandise and so forth; it was a natural image for virtual perfection." [ref]

until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:14)
This refers to Christ's second coming. "It is evident that Paul is still as certain about the event as he is uncertain about its time (cf. Mk. 13:32; Acts 1:7; 1 Jn. 5:1)." [ref]

Christ's future return will mean both deliverance and judgment:

 
It is equally important for Timothy to concentrate on the promise of Christ's return, for two reasons. First is the promise of relief. The term Paul chose to describe the Second Coming here (the appearing) pictures the event as a glorious intervention to bring help. In fact, Paul uses the same term to refer to Christ's first advent (2 Tim 1:10; Tit 2:11; 3:4); this shows how the present age is to be understood in relation to Christ's two "appearances" -- what began with Christ will end with Christ. When God's appointed time arrives, relief will come to the minister. A Christian's earthly duties will cease.

Second is a note of urgency. The obligations connected with the call to service (the command, vv. 11-12, to lead an exemplary Christian life) must be kept, the course must be finished in all faithfulness (without spot or blame), for Christ comes to judge (2 Tim 4:1, 8). In light of the certainty of this future event, without spot or blame stresses the need for a life that expresses godliness consistently and in all respects. The early Christians lived as if Christ's return would occur during their lifetime. We for the most part do not, and we are the weaker for it. This confident hope of consummation and evaluation can sustain us when days are long, bodies grow weary and results seem few. [ref]
 

There are three main terms used in connection with Christ's second coming. "Sometimes it is described as an 'appearing' (epiphaneia) as in [1 Timothy 6:14]. This stresses the return of Christ as a manifestation (2 Ti 1:10; 4:1, 8; Tit 2:13). Elsewhere the return is called a 'revelation' or 'unveiling' (apokalupsis), stressing God's act (1 Co 1:7; 2 Th 1:7; 1 Pe 1:7, 13; 4:13). The most common term is 'coming' (parousia), which emphasizes the presence or arrival of the one who returns (1 Co 15:23; 2 Th 2:8; 2 Pe 3:4, 1 Jn 2:28)." [ref]

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PAROUSIA

[Parousia is the t]ransliteration of a Greek word meaning “presence,” “arrival,” “appearance,” or “coming.” While it is used often with reference to men (1 Cor 16:17; 2 Cor 7:6; 10:10; Phil 1:26; 2:12) and once with reference to the antichrist (2 Thes 2:9), the word is employed most frequently with reference to Christ (Mt 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thes 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thes 2:1, 8). Consequently, the Parousia has come to denote the second coming of Christ at the end of the ages.

Paul, who was probably responsible for the technical emphasis on Christ’s return, while rejecting all attempts to calculate the time (1 Thes 5:1, 2; 2 Thes 2:2, 3; cf. Mt 24:4–36), nonetheless paints a vivid picture of the Parousia (1 Thes 4:13–18; 2 Thes 1:7–2:8; see also 1 Cor 15:20–28, 50–55). According to his teaching, it will be a personal, visible, sudden, and glorious coming (1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thes 2:19; 3:13; 4:15–17). Though apparently he felt he and his readers would experience Christ’s return (1 Thes 4:15; cf. Rom 8:23; 13:11), his approaching martyrdom caused him to moderate his thinking (Phil 1:23). James, also sensing the delay in Christ’s return, calls for patience (Jas 5:7, 8). Peter, too, cautions against allowing the delay to create doubt (2 Pt 3:8–10). The message is not myth (2 Pt 1:16), and scoffers will be silenced (2 Pt 3:3, 4). John encourages consistent faith lest the believer be put to shame at his coming (1 Jn 2:28).

- Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible [ref]


SECOND COMING

The term second coming is not used in the Bible, though it names an event that is important in biblical eschatology. The NT speaks instead of the return of Christ sometime at or near the end of human history. Both terms -- “second coming” and “return” -- build on the motifs of the incarnation (the “first” coming to earth) and ascension into heaven (from which Christ will pay a return visit to earth).

Representations of the second coming in art have generally developed along two lines. The most popular portrays Jesus in his role at the Great Judgment, following his return. The second has Jesus returning to earth on the clouds, accompanied by an army of angels. This latter image borrows from Jesus’ own rendering (cf., e.g., Mk 13:26; 14:62), itself an interpretation of Daniel’s vision (Dan 7:13–14). If viewed together, these images would display in one frame the two primary emphases of NT presentations of the second coming -- its certainty and suddenness on the one hand, the need for vigilant preparedness on the other.

In the NT the sudden and unexpected nature of Jesus’ return is captured in the image of the thief who comes in the night (Mt 24:43; Lk 12:39; 1 Thess 5:2, 4; Rev 3:3; 16:15), the master who returns after a long journey (Mk 13:34–36; Lk 12:35–38, 42–48) and the bridegroom who arrives in the middle of the night (Mt 25:1–13). Jesus and his first followers thus employ scenes from everyday life to depict his return.

In these examples darkness plays an obvious role. No doubt this is due both to the tendency to relate light and dark by analogy to God and Satan, respectively (e.g., Acts 26:18; Col 1:13), and to the normal rhythm of life that has us active during the day and sleeping during the night (cf. Mk 4:27). While highlighting the abruptness of the second coming, then, these images also underscore the necessity of constant readiness, symbolized in the call to stay awake.

This dual emphasis, surprise and readiness, inspired the biblical writers sometimes to mix (or at least develop) related metaphors. For example, Jesus is coming like a thief, so his followers should keep their clothes on (Rev 16:15). Being clothed in this instance has to do with constant faithfulness in the midst of suffering, similar to that demonstrated by Jesus in his suffering and death. Paul, on the other hand, can develop the metaphor in the other direction, insisting that Christians, who live in the light, should resist behavior characteristic of the night (e.g., drunkenness, 1 Thess 5:1–8; cf. Rom 13:11–14).

In describing the second coming of Jesus, Paul uses another cluster of images borrowed from the triumph of the divine warrior. The trumpet call (1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:16), for example, is reminiscent of the call to battle, just as the picture of the faithful meeting the Lord in the air (1 Thess 4:17) is drawn from the practice of coming out of the city to welcome a returning warrior who has been successful in battle. The use of this cluster of images communicates that Jesus is God’s agent of salvation but also defines salvation, in part, as the defeat of Satan (and all that would oppose God’s purpose) in cosmic warfare. The book of Revelation, of course, continues the theme of divine warfare in relation to Jesus’ return.

What is telling about Revelation’s portrayal of the cosmic struggle, then, is its pervasive portrayal of Jesus as the Lamb who defeats evil. This suggests that the overturning of evil at the second coming will not be accomplished by force. Instead evil is overcome then, just as it is now, through faithful service that refuses worldly definitions of power and might. According to Luke, Jesus himself spoke of his return along these lines: the master who returns “will fasten his belt and have [the faithful] sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them” (Lk 12:37 NRSV). Jesus, whose earthly ministry can be characterized as “serving at the table” (Lk 24:24–27), will return to do the same.

Finally, specific images are indelibly part of our picture of the second coming. It is a cosmic event and therefore associated with nature -- with images of cataclysmic destruction like the sun being darkened, the moon not giving its light and the stars falling from heaven (Mt 24:29). Because Christ will journey from heaven to earth, his coming is associated with the heavens -- with arrival on the clouds of heaven (Mt 24:30; Rev 1:7; 14:15) and descent from heaven (1 Thess 4:15). The universal visibility of the coming is part of the picture (Rev 1:7). And everywhere the second coming is accompanied by the spectacle of people’s responses of either joy or terror, as we read about all tribes on the earth wailing (Rev 1:7) and people hiding in caves and among the rocks of mountains (Lk 23:30; Rev 6:15–17).

- Dictionary of Biblical Imagery [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 6:15 - Timothy, Fight the Good Fight (vv. 12-16)

which He will bring about (1 Timothy 6:15)
"Last of all in the charge to Timothy, Paul calls to mind the sovereign and majestic God. A clear vision of the true nature of God is a strong motivation for holy living and service for all Christians. ... The Greek makes it clear that Paul has actually inserted a doxology, which celebrates the majesty and mystery of God, to describe the subject of the verb of execution (bring about) in verse 15." [ref]

at the proper time (1 Timothy 6:15)
"Time" (Greek kairos) here refers to: "'the critical and epoch-making periods fore-ordained of God when all that has been slowly, and often without observation, ripening through long ages, is mature and comes to birth in grand decisive events which constitute at once the close of one period and the commencement of another.' ... It will be in God the Father’s own personal time only known to Himself that the Lord Jesus will come in glorious manifestation." [ref]

"Paul's early teachings and writings show that he believed [Christ's] return would occur very soon. However, at the time of this letter to Timothy, Paul realized that this return might not occur before his death. It would occur in God's own time." [ref]

the blessed and only Sovereign (1 Timothy 6:15)
It may well be that the purpose of Paul's doxology (1 Timothy 6:15-16) is to "focus on the glory of God in order that the corresponding smallness of Timothy’s opponents might be seen." [ref]

"Paul's doxology may be words from an early Christian hymn or even a Jewish blessing. See Deuteronomy 10:17; Psalm 136:2-3; Revelation 17:14; 19:16 for similar words of praise to God. In any case, Paul's reference to God's plan immediately filled his mind with a word-vision of the one he served with his life. ... The word for Sovereign indicates chieftain or prince. Paul's usage indicated that God was the independent, absolute, and unique possessor of power." [ref]

King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15)
"God is invincible, beyond all interference by earthly powers." [ref]

"'King of kings' is literally, 'King of those who are ruling as kings.' 'Lord of lords' is again, 'Lord of those who are ruling as lords.' This is a protest against the Cult of the Caesar in which the Roman emperor was worshipped as lord and god. Domitian (A.D. 81–96) assumed the titles of 'lord' and 'god.' The Roman emperors were called 'saviour of the world.'" [ref] [ref]

These "two titles, 'King of kings and Lord of lords,' are applied to Christ twice in Revelation (Revelation 17:14; 19:16). They are used for God in the OT (Dan 4:34, LXX; cf. Deut 10:17; Ps 136:3)" [ref] "in contrast to the heathen gods, here also in contrast to earthly kings." [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 6:16 - Timothy, Fight the Good Fight (vv. 12-16)

"Having set forth God's relation to the universe and particularly to all earthly rulers, Paul in the last four terms dwells on the divine essence itself, the majestic being of God." [ref]

who alone possesses immortality ... unapproachable light ... whom no man has seen or can see (1 Timothy 6:16)
In many respects God (the Father) is our opposite: he is immortal, while we are subject to death; he can approach us, but we cannot approach him; he sees us, but we cannot see him. [ref]

who alone possesses immortality (1 Timothy 6:16)
"Emperor worship may be behind the use of monos (alone) here." [ref] As one commentator explains: "Why did Paul write so much about the person and glory of God? Probably as a warning against the 'emperor cult' that existed in the Roman Empire. It was customary to acknowledge regularly, 'Caesar is Lord!' Of course, Christians would say 'Jesus Christ is Lord!' Only God has 'honor and power everlasting' (1 Tim. 6:16b). If Timothy was going to fight the good fight of faith, he had to decide that Jesus Christ alone was worthy of worship and complete devotion." [ref] [ref]

"God is immortal, not subject to the changes caused by time, death or dissolution." [ref] "God alone is 'immortal' -- literally, 'the only one having immortality' (athanasia, only here and 1Cor 15:53, 54). The Greek word comes from a-negative and thanatos, 'death.' So it means 'not subject to death.' The idea of immortality is not clearly expressed in the OT. But the NT teaching is that God alone has inherent immortality; ours is derived from him. It is in the resurrection that the true believer receives an immortal body (1Cor 15:53), so that the whole man, body and soul, becomes immortal." [ref]

unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16)
This "speaks symbolically of [God's] absolute holiness." [ref] [ref] "The original idea of holiness was separateness or shining, a reference to the special sphere of God's existence, separate, apart from, above all else. Sinful humans cannot approach the holy God." [ref] "God is inaccessible, beyond the reach of sinful people ... Darkness [= sin] in any shape or form, whether falsehood or evil, cannot enter his presence, let alone overcome him (e.g. Jn. 1:5; 1 Jn. 1:5)." [ref]

whom no man has seen or can see (1 Timothy 6:16)
"God is invisible, beyond human sight and so beyond human apprehension ... All that human eyes have been allowed to behold is his ‘glory’ (e.g. Ex. 24:9ff.; Is. 6:1ff.; Ezk. 1:28), his back not his face (Ex. 33:18ff), his appearing as a theophany (e.g. Gn. 16:7ff.; 18:1ff; 32:24ff), or his image in his incarnate Son (Jn. 1:18; 14:6; Col. 1:15). Being in himself invisible, we can come to know him only in so far as he has been pleased to make himself known. Otherwise, he is wholly beyond us." [ref]

honor and eternal dominion (1 Timothy 6:16)
"God's legitimate power and position require two responses from us: honor and submission to his eternal dominion. When we approach God, we must not emphasize our own understanding or self-confidence; instead, we must submit to him and worship his awesome majesty. Any claim to equality with God simply widens the gulf between us. As Paul pointed out to the Romans (Romans 1:21-22), those who treat God lightly will not be able to bear the weight of his judgment." [ref]

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DOXOLOGY

[Gk doxología, from doxa -- ‘praise, honor, glory’ and logos -- ‘utterance’]. A brief expression of praise, primarily to God or to other members of the trinity.

The basic form is the blessing formula “Blessed be the Lord” or “Blessed be the God and Father …” (Gen. 24:27; Ex. 18:10; 1 Ch. 16:36; Lk. 1:68; 2 Cor. 1:3f; Eph. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3; etc.), followed by a statement of the attributes motivating the utterance, primarily God’s activities in the lives of His people. Variants are “Worthy is the Lamb” (Rev. 4:11; 5:9, 12) and “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:8).

Doxologies may begin with an imperative verb, exhorting the hearers to “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength” or “the glory of his name” (Ps. 29:1f par 96:7–9; 1 Ch. 16:28f; cf. Bar. 2:18) or “ascribe power” (Ps. 68:34 [MT 35]), “praise the Lord” (Ps. 150; cf. Rev. 19:5), “worship the Lord” (Ps. 29:2), or “glory in his holy name” (1 Ch. 16:10). Among the qualities thus attributed to God (frequently using only the phrase “to him be”) are

  • glory (Rom. 16:27; Gal. 1:5),
  • honor, dominion (1 Tim. 6:16; 1 Pet. 4:11),
  • salvation, power (Rev. 19:1),
  • majesty, and authority (Jude 25; cf. 1Clem 61).

Such blessings are “for ever” (Rom. 11:36) or “for ever and ever” (2 Tim. 4:18; 1 Pet. 5:11; cf. 4 Macc. 18:24). In the NT doxologies may begin with exclamations of “Hallelujah” (Rev. 19:1), “Glory to God in the highest” (Lk. 2:14), or “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Mt. 21:9, 15; Mk. 11:9f; Jn. 12:13).

Although God is the primary focus of NT doxologies, other objects of praise include Christ (Mt. 21:9; Rev. 5:12) and the kingdom of God (Mk. 11:10). A frequent Christological doxology exclaims “Blessed is he [or the King] who comes in the name of the Lord” (Mt. 21:9; 23:39; Mk. 11:9; Lk. 19:38; cf. Ps. 118:26). To Him are ascribed

  • salvation and power (Rev. 19:1),
  • blessing and might (Rev. 5:18),
  • glory (He. 13:21),
  • and dominion (Rev. 1:6) “both now and to the day of eternity” (2 Pet. 3:18).

Blessings are frequently offered to God “through Jesus Christ” (Rom. 16:27; He. 13:21; Jude 25; cf. 1Clem 6:13) or “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3; 3:21).

Only rarely are the doxologies expressed in the second person, as “Blessed art thou” and “thine” is the greatness, power, glory, victory, and majesty (1 Ch. 29:11f). Following this prayer of David, some NT MSS and the Didache add to the Lord’s Prayer the doxology “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Mt. 6:13 mg; Did 8:2; 9–10).

Originally doxologies were voiced by the congregation at the conclusion of hymns and prayers (1 Ch. 16:36; Rom. 11:33–36), in connection with the response “Amen” (Mt. 6:13 mg; Rev. 1:6; cf. Rom. 9:5; 16:27; 1 Pet. 4:11; 5:11; etc.). However, blessings do occur in the opening lines of prayers (1 Ch. 29:10–13; Dnl. 2:20–23; Lk. 1:67–79). As in Jewish ritual, they may have been uttered in response to each mention of God’s name (cf. Rom. 1:25; 2 Cor. 11:31). It is generally held that doxologies were added editorially to mark the conclusion of the five sections of the Psalter (Pss. 41:13 [MT 14]; 72:18f; 89:52 [MT 53]; 106:48; 150).

The doxology was commonly employed in the various parts of the NT epistle, including the salutation (Gal. 1:5), opening thanksgiving (2 Cor. 1:3f; Eph. 1:3; 1 Pet 1:3), final exhortations (1 Tim. 6:15f; 1 Pet. 5:11; 2 Pet. 3:18), and closing (He. 13:20f; Jude 24f).

Doxologies of the early Christian Church reflect the various interpretations of the trinity. To the forms ascribing praise “through Christ” were added the phrases “through Christ and the Holy Spirit,” “through Christ in the Holy Spirit,” and “to the Father and Son with the Holy Spirit in your holy church.” The Gloria Patri or “Lesser Doxology,” used as a response to the Psalms since the 4th cent, equates the three members of the trinity, a reaction against the Arian heresy. Other Christian doxologies include the Gloria in Excelsis, the “Greater Doxology” or “Angelic Hymn,” an expansion of Lk. 2:14 that begins “Glory be to God on high.” Often emphasizing a particular aspect of Christ or of the ecclesiastical calendar, doxologies were added to various hymns; perhaps most familiar is the stanza beginning “Praise God from whom all blessings flow,” written by the Anglican Bishop Thomas Ken (1637–1711).

- A. C. Myers [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)

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1 TIMOTHY 6:17 - Object of Hope
A PRINCIPLE TO LIVE BY
Being Generous

As Christ-followers, we should use material possessions to do God’s work in this world. (see 1 Timothy 6:17-19) [ref]

Paul "has written already of the dangers of wealth. Now [in 1 Timothy 6:17-19] his concern is for the spiritual state of wealthy believers. He focuses on the responsibility and proper attitude toward wealth that comes from a proper understanding of God." [ref]

those who are rich in this present world (1 Timothy 6:17)
Regarding wealth in the ancient world: "The very wealthy usually derived their income from landowning; they rented out the land to tenant farmers or residents, or derived profits from crops grown on the land. A socially inferior but nonetheless wealthy class of merchants also arose, especially of ship owners. Wealth could be gotten by a variety of means, not all of them immoral." [ref]

Regarding the particular situation in Ephesus: "Apparently there were wealthy believers in Timothy’s church at Ephesus. The city was extraordinarily prosperous. In fact, its tourist trade brought in so much revenue that the town leaders opened the first world bank. Paul had penetrated this vibrant economic life with the gospel, winning many converts. No doubt some of the rich Christians he addresses here brought their money with them into the faith -- just like many in the modern church." [ref] And so "Paul advised Timothy to deal with any potential problems by teaching that having riches carries great responsibility." [ref]

not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17)
"The first danger that confronts any rich man, also a Christian rich man, is to become 'high-minded,' to think himself superior to poorer people, to put on lordly airs, to make poorer people bow to him, etc." [ref]

"The world of the Greeks despised the humble, lowly mind, admired the self-assertive mind which imposed its will on other men." [ref] Whereas conceit was considered a virtue by the Greeks, Paul repeatedly condemns it (Romans 11:20; Philippians 2:3; 1 Timothy 3:6; 6:4, 17; 2 Timothy 3:4). [ref]

Wealthy church members "must be neither snobbish nor smug" regarding their wealth. [ref] "A contrast is implied between being highminded on account of wealth -- cherishing and worshipping it -- and rightly enjoying it. The true character of such enjoyment is shown in [1 Timothy 6:18]." [ref]

not ... to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God (1 Timothy 6:17)
There are at least three reasons for this:

  1. Hope in this world's wealth is incompatible with hope in God. [ref]
  2. Material wealth can be lost in an instant (Proverbs 23:5). [ref]
  3. Material wealth cannot save in the ultimate, final sense. [ref]

"Sure hope must have a sure and certain basis, and wealth is not such a basis." [ref] Lest we doubt the certainty of such a statement in the context of our contemporary situation, one Bible commentator offers a wise reminder: "Unlike the game of musical chairs -- wherein there’s only one chair too few -- if the music in the financial world stopped today and every government, corporation, financial institution, and private individual called in their debts, only three out of ten would get a chair. In other words, the entire world economy is built on faith that the music’s not going to stop. But when it does -- and it will -- the world will be shocked to realize how many chairs are missing. Thus, the reason the Bible calls riches uncertain is because they are!" [ref]

So how can we avoid the danger of placing our hope in material wealth? "We can avoid this danger only by being properly oriented to God. Paul defines this orientation as hope in God. How can the rich believer hold on to God in this way? It can only be done by recognizing that one's wealth has come from God (2 Cor 8:15). Gifts from God are things to be 'enjoyed,' for Paul states clearly that God gives richly for this reason. But the gift is not to be confused with the Giver; it is rather to point the recipient back again to hope in God. Hope, which acknowledges the Giver, releases the recipient of the gift to 'enjoy' or make use of it in ways that mirror the divine Giver." [ref]

who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17)
The physical world is God's gift to all of humankind. [ref] It belongs to no one and yet it is everyone's to enjoy equally. Too often we feel we must own something to enjoy it. "Not so. A walk on the beach, a picnic by a stream, and a bike ride through the park are all free. Thus, God has given us freely the best things to enjoy." [ref]

When it comes to material wealth, "[e]njoyment consists in giving, not in holding fast." [ref] There is no joy in selfish hording. Rather, joy is derived from sharing what we have with others in need.

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GOD'S ETERNAL AUDIT

Earthly treasures: Dangers of money

  • Forgetting God (Deuteronomy 6:10-13; 8:11-20; Proverbs 18:11; Luke 18:24; 1 Timothy 6:9-10)
  • Acting dishonestly, taking advantage of others (2 Kings 5:20-27; Proverbs 10:2; 22:16, 22-23; Isaiah 5:8-9; Amos 3:10; 5:11; 8:4-7; Micah 6:10-12; James 5:1-6)
  • Being greedy (Exodus 20:17; Luke 12:15-21; Ephesians 5:5)
  • Allowing it to take God's place (Proverbs 11:28; 18:11; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Matthew 6:24; Luke 6:24)

Heavenly treasures: Good use of money

  • Give generously and cheerfully to help the poor (Proverbs 11:24-25; 19:17; 21:13; 22:9; 28:27; Luke 12:33-34; 2 Corinthians 9:7)
  • Give generously to those doing God's work (Deuteronomy 25:4; Nehemiah 13:10-11; 1 Timothy 5:17 TitheMalachi 3:8-10; 1 Corinthians 16:2)
  • Pay your taxes (Romans 13:6-7)
  • Always be honest (Deuteronomy 25:14-16; Proverbs 20:10, 23; Luke 16:10-12)
  • Provide for your family (1 Timothy 5:8)
  • Plan wisely for the future (Proverbs 21:20; 22:3; 24:3-4, 27; 27:23-27)
- Life Application Bible Commentary on the New Testament [ref]

QuoteWorthy: A Conflict
It ill becomes any men, but especially men of God, to set their hearts upon the things of this world; men of God should be taken up with the things of God. There must be a conflict with corruption, and temptations, and the powers of darkness. - Matthew Henry [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 6:18 - Responsibilities to Others

generous and ready to share (1 Timothy 6:18)
Whereas riches are uncertain, God's provision is a certainty. Because this is so, "[t]he generosity of the rich is their logical response of devotion to a generous God." [ref]

"[M]aterial blessing involves a special responsibility. For [wealthy believers], the normal Christian life of good works must include practical expressions of generosity and the willingness to share. ... Since all they possess has come from God (v. 17), the rich are to assume a healthy attitude of detachment toward their wealth and use it to help the needy." [ref]

"Ready to share" implies "a personal share in the pleasure imparted by the gift." [ref] Jesus himself said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), and knowing that we are daily recipients of God's mercy and grace should cause us to be quick to show the same to others in need (see, for example: John 1:16; Acts 15:11; Romans 4:16; 1 Corinthians 1:4; Ephesians 1:17; 2:8; Hebrews 4:16; 2 John 1:3).

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SHOULD WEALTH BE AVOIDED OR RETAINED?

1 TIMOTHY 6:17–18 -- Should wealth be avoided or retained?

MISINTERPRETATION: Jesus urged the rich young ruler to “sell what you have and give to the poor” (Matt. 19:21). The early disciples sold their possessions and laid the money at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:34, 35). And Paul warned that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Some cultic communal groups refer to these texts to justify the demand that members surrender all wealth and material possessions to the group.

CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION: Jesus’ instruction to “sell what you have and give to the poor” (Matt. 19:21) was to a rich young man who had made money his god. There is nothing wrong with possessing riches -- there is something wrong with being possessed by riches. God blessed Abraham and Job with great riches, and the apostle Paul does not instruct the rich to give away all they have, but to use and enjoy their blessings (1 Tim. 6:17–18).

Further, there is no indication that the early disciples in Acts were either urged to sell all, or that they actually did. The land that was sold (Acts 4:34–35) may have been extra property. It is noteworthy that the narrative does not say they sold their homes. See the discussion of Acts 2:44–45.

Paul does not say that money is evil, but only that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Seeking riches for their own sake is wrong, but seeking to have something to share with others in need is not. Thus, while God “gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17), in the same breath he warns us not “to trust in uncertain riches.”

- Norman L. Geisler & Ron Rhodes [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 6:19 - Spiritual Benefits

storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future (1 Timothy 6:19)
This is the "[s]ame paradox as in Matthew 6:19, 'laying up in store' by giving it away." [ref]

As one commentator notes well: "Every time we could give and do not give lessens the wealth laid up for us in the world to come; every time we give increases the riches laid up for us when this life comes to an end. The teaching of the Christian ethic is, not that wealth is a sin, but that it is a very great responsibility. If a man's wealth ministers to nothing but his own pride and enriches no one but himself, it becomes his ruination, because it impoverishes his soul. But if he uses it to bring help and comfort to others, in becoming poorer, he really becomes richer. In time and in eternity 'it is more blessed to give than to receive.'" [ref]

And as another commentator explains well: "When rich believers share, what they actually lay up (as if it were a treasure) is a firm foundation for the coming age. The building metaphor with the time reference communicates an important truth. Responsible living in this life is a necessary building block or stepping-stone to the coming age. For the rich, responsible use of wealth (sharing, giving) is evidence of genuine faith. In this way they "work out their salvation" in this age. This practical evidence of new life provides unshakable certainty that one's future hope is secure. ... In the case of wealthy Christians, by exchanging temporary material wealth for spiritual wealth, they may exchange this fleeting life for eternal life." [ref]

that which is life indeed (1 Timothy 6:19)
"The call for the wealthy to use their wealth to prepare for the future either means that how they use their wealth demonstrates whether they are saved, or that they should seek for greater reward in heaven, or both." [ref]

"The alluring but vain and plastic substitutes for life, supplied by an unhealthy attachment to material things, pale into worthlessness when compared with that life which is found in Jesus Christ (cf. Matthew 16:24-26), who is Himself the Life (John 14:6) and whom to know is life everlasting (John 17:3)." [ref]

God's love flowing in and through us, as evidenced by our generosity toward others, testifies that we have indeed "enter[ed] into the true life of love." [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 6:20 - Guard the Deposit (v. 20) ... The Danger of False Doctrine (vv. 20-21)


In all likelihood Paul dictated this letter except for the closing (1 Timothy 6:20-21), which he wrote in his own hand. [ref]

guard what has been entrusted to you (1 Timothy 6:20)
"Guard" (Greek phylassō) means "to hold someone in close custody -- ‘to guard closely.’" [ref] "Has been entrusted to you" (Greek parathēkē) means "that which has been entrusted to the care of someone -- ‘what is entrusted, what is someone’s responsibility to care for.’" [ref] "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." [ref] [ref]

Regarding this deposit,

 
E. F. Brown quotes a famous passage from St. Vincent of Lerins: "What is meant by the deposit? (parathēkē). That which is committed to thee, not that which is invented by thee; that which thou hast received, not that which thou hast devised; a thing not of wit, but of learning; not of private assumption, but of public tradition; a thing brought to thee, not brought forth of thee; wherein thou must not be an author, but a keeper; not a leader, but a follower. Keep the deposit. Preserve the talent of the Catholic faith safe and undiminished; let that which is committed to thee remain with thee, and that deliver. Thou hast received gold, render gold."

A man does well to remember that his duty is not only to himself, but also to his children and his children's children. If in our day the Church were to become enfeebled; if the Christian ethic were to be more and more submerged in the world; if the Christian faith were to be twisted and distorted; it would not only be we who were the losers, those of generations still to come would be robbed of something infinitely precious. We are not only the possessors but also the trustees of the faith. That which we have received, we must also hand on. [ref]
 

"What has been entrusted" refers to "the gospel and the apostolic teachings based on it (see 2 Tim. 1:13, 14; 2:2)." [ref] "Paul's ministry on earth would eventually end with his death; Timothy was entrusted with the truth of the gospel so that he, in turn, would pass it along to others. ... Paul considered all that Timothy had learned to be a priceless deposit that needed to be preserved or guarded by carefully investing it in the lives of others." [ref] [ref]

It was this "body of Christian truth which in some way was under attack in Ephesus. Paul was concerned that Timothy give himself wholly to the truth and reject even the subtle inroads of error." [ref] "The threat to the [gospel] message and the church's mission posed by the false teachers in Ephesus was Paul's main reason for writing." [ref]

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WHAT GOOD IS CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS?

Apologetics simply is a reasonable defense of the Christian faith. The word is derived from the Greek noun apologia and means "a defense." Apologia and its verb form apologeomai are used nearly 20 times in the New Testament, often in the classic legal sense, but more importantly to describe the call of God to all believers to defend the Christian faith with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).

But how is sound doctrine applied practically? Put another way, what good is Christian apologetics?

Apologetics has at least four practical applications. We may use apologetics to:

BUILD
There is a positive case to be made for Christianity, and apologetics helps us get there.

The Bible, history, archaeology and other sources help establish that a real person named Jesus burst onto the scene 2,000 years ago. He claimed deity, performed miracles, spoke the truth, modeled compassion, died on a Roman cross, was buried and rose physically on the third day. His coming to earth was the most important event in human history.

Further, apologetics helps us know who God is; who we are; why there is purpose in life; how we can be restored to a right relationship with our Creator; why we can face death without fear; and what God is doing about evil in the world.

DEFEND
Christianity is under attack on many fronts, from moral relativists to radical Islamists to angry atheists. Many times they misrepresent Christianity, so we can go a long way in defending the faith by clarifying the Christian position on matters of faith, answering objections and clearing away difficulties.

For example, Jehovah's Witness leaders historically have claimed that orthodox Christians worship a "freakish-looking three-headed god." While we may not be able to convince our Jehovah's Witness friends of the truth of the Trinity -- their New World Translation of the Bible and their official publications have stripped this biblical truth from JW doctrine -- we may at least provide biblical clarity.

The Bible teaches that there is one true and living God who exists as three distinct, co-equal, co-eternal persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We do not worship a three-headed god, or three separate gods, or even one God who shows up sometimes as Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. Defending the faith against mischaracterizations of Christian doctrines is an important function of apologetics.

CHALLENGE
Sometimes Christians have to go on the offensive by challenging critics to provide evidence for their unbiblical beliefs. For example, when a moral relativist boldly declares, "There is no absolute truth," a good response is, "Are you absolutely certain about that?"

When our Muslim friends tell us that Jews and Christians have corrupted the Bible, it's only fair to ask them how they came to that conclusion.

We have significant manuscript evidence that the scriptures have been carefully copied and faithfully preserved. Further, the Qur'an states in several places that the sacred writings of the Jews and Christians faithfully attested to the truth of Islam. If Muhammad believed the scriptures were intact in the 7th century, what happened since then to make them corrupt?

Sometimes the best defense of the Christian faith is to hold critics accountable for their unbiblical views.

PERSUADE
Ultimately, Christian apologetics finds its greatest application as an effective means of evangelism. When we build a positive case for Christianity, defend Christianity from attacks, and challenge critics to defend their views, we can bring them to a point of commitment to Christ.

We should never coerce another person to trust in Jesus. That's the work of the Holy Spirit (see John 16:7-11). But we should eagerly invite our unbelieving friends to receive Christ and thus pass from death unto life (John 5:24).

In his book "Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions," Gregory Koukl writes, "It may surprise you to hear this, but I never set out to convert anyone.... I have a more modest goal, one you might consider adopting as your own. All I want to do is put a stone in someone's shoe. I want to give him something worth thinking about, something he can't ignore because it continues to poke at him in a good way."

May all of us be Christian apologists that gently and respectfully place pebbles in the shoes of our lost friends.

- Rob Phillips [ref]

avoiding ... chatter ... arguments (1 Timothy 6:20)
Paul is telling Timothy to "turn aside from opponents and do not argue with them." [ref]

"The opposing arguments" (Greek antithesis) has the basic idea of "contradiction" [ref] and can mean "Opposition, opposite opinions, contrary positions or doctrine." [ref] As one commentator insightfully notes:

 
The word antithesis could mean a controversy; and this might mean: "Avoid controversies; don't get yourself mixed up in useless and bitter arguments." This would be a very relevant bit of advice to a Greek congregation in Ephesus. The Greek had a passion for going to law. He would even go to law with his own brother, just for the pleasure of it. This may well mean, "Don't make the Church a battle-ground of theological arguments and debates. Christianity is not something to argue about, but something to live by."

The word antithesis can mean a rival thesis. This is the most likely meaning, because it suits Jew and Gentile alike. The scholastics in the later days used to argue about questions like: "How many angels can stand on the point of a needle?" The Jewish Rabbis would argue about hair-splitting points of the law for hours and days and even years. The Greeks were the same, only in a still more serious way. There was a school of Greek philosophers, and a very influential school it was, called the Academics. The Academics held that in the case of everything in the realm of human thought, you could by logical argument arrive at precisely opposite conclusions. They therefore concluded that there is no such thing as absolute truth; that always there were two hypotheses of equal weight. They went on to argue that, this being so, the wise man will never make up his mind about anything but will hold himself for ever in a state of suspended judgment. The effect was of course to paralyse all action and to reduce men to complete uncertainty. So Timothy is told: "Don't waste your time in subtle arguments; don't waste your time in 'dialectical fencing.' Don't be too clever to be wise. Listen rather to the unequivocal voice of God than to the subtle disputations of over-clever minds." [ref]
 

what is falsely called "knowledge" (1 Timothy 6:20)
"Such knowledge was the supposed key to the mystery religions which were already aborning and which would mature into a full-fledged Gnosticism during the next century." [ref]

"The false teachers may flatter themselves by labeling their teaching “knowledge,” but since they reject “the truth” (i.e., the gospel), their teaching cannot be true knowledge." [ref]

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Gnōsis (knowledge) was the characteristic word of the Gnostic school, the most formidable enemy of the church of the second century. The Gnostics claimed a superior knowledge peculiar to an intellectual caste. According to them, it was by this philosophic insight, as opposed to faith, that humanity was to be regenerated. Faith was suited only to the rude masses, the animal-men.

The intellectual questions which occupied these teachers were two: to explain the work of creation, and to account for the existence of evil. Their ethical problem was how to develop the higher nature in the environment of matter which was essentially evil. In morals they ran to two opposite extremes - asceticism and licentiousness. The principal representatives of the school were Basilides, Valentinus, and Marcion.

Although Gnosticism as a distinct system did not reach its full development until about the middle of the second century, foreshadowings of it appear in the heresy at which Paul's Colossian letter was aimed. It is not strange if we find in the Pastoral Epistles allusions pointing to Gnostic errors; but ... it is impossible to refer these allusions to any one definite system of error.

- Marvin Vincent [ref]


[Gnosticism is r]eligious thought distinguished by claims to obscure and mystical knowledge, and emphasizing knowledge rather than faith. Until the mid-20th century Gnosticism was regarded as a Christian heresy which developed through the interweaving of Christian experience and thought with Greek philosophy. More recently, many scholars define the Gnostics more broadly as devotees of a religious view which borrowed ideas from many religious traditions. The meanings of these borrowed terms and practices were shaped into mythological expressions of experiential salvation.

Understanding the Gnostic Purpose
Perhaps one of the greatest problems for the uninitiated readers of Gnosticim is understanding the purpose of the Gnostic myths. The myths often seem so strange that the readers are tempted to scratch their heads and wonder how anyone with any intelligence could believe such wild stories. One must realize, however, that the myth writers were seeking to communicate elements of the unexplained relationships between the human and the divine.

The bondage of evil in the world and its relationship to a good god has stretched the minds of the greatest theologians and philosophers of history. The Gnostics devised their answer to the problem of evil by shifting the blame from this world back to either God himself or to divisions within the divine realm. By compartmentalizing good and evil, it was possible to decide one’s destiny by the alignments one made.

But the role of evil was seen as so strong in this world that the Gnostics, like the Greek philosophers before them, concluded the world was a hopeless context for the victory of the good. Accordingly, they abandoned the world to the evil god and developed a theology which focused on salvation as the process of escape from the world. Their theory also provided a salvation while on earth: Since the Gnostics contained divine light particles, they were in fact immortal, and their spirits, though existing in an evil context, would not ultimately be contaminated. The body and all its lusts and lower animal desires would be shed from the spirit as it rose through the realms of the lower godhead to be reunited with the divine spiritual realm after death. Some Gnostics, indeed, carried the idea of noncontamination to ridiculous lengths and devised systems whereby sexual relations with various persons represented divine-human encounters -- the more the better! Others tended to affirm more ascetic tendencies whereby they sought to conform the miserable body to the life-style of the incorruptible spirit.

One of the realities the Gnostic interpreters encountered was the fact that not everyone accepted their theories. Accordingly, they devised mythical methods to distinguish between various types of people. Using ideas suggested by Paul in 1 Corinthians 2 and Romans 8, the Gnostics developed a highly sophisticated categorization of people. The pneumatic or spiritual (i.e., Gnostic) persons were divine in origin, being from light particles. The sarkic or fleshly persons were formed totally from the substances made by the creator and could never inherit the divine realm. The Christians whom they saw as struggling to be obedient to the biblical message, however, were a kind of mixture. They needed desperately to work out their salvation, and if they were obedient as psychic people they might gain some form of acceptance. This elitism of the Gnostics and their distortion of the Christian message clarifies the hostility of the Christians against the Gnostics.

The myths were the methodological formulations the Gnostics used to express their theological constructs. To understand them the reader needs the key of gnosis, or knowledge. Interpretation of the myths was in fact an early type of demythologizing, not unlike the process Bultmann employed in interpreting the Bible. The Gnostic writers were among some of the brightest minds of their day. Their creativity is to be admired. Their theology, however, is to be rejected as a distortion of the biblical message.

- Gerald L. Borchert [ref]

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1 TIMOTHY 6:21 - The Danger of False Doctrine (vv. 20-21) ... Closing Wish (v. 21)

which some have professesed and thus gone astray from the faith (1 Timothy 6:21)
Gnostic "influence was already being felt in Ephesus, so much so that Paul could say that some had gotten so caught up in professing their esoteric gnōsis that they wandered from the faith (lit., 'concerning the faith missed the aim'; cf. 1 Timothy 1:6; 2 Timothy 2:18)." [ref]

Grace be with you (1 Timothy 6:21)
"You" is plural, "no doubt indicating Paul’s awareness that this letter would be read widely in the churches." [ref] And so these words could be translated: "Grace be with you all" (NET; NIV), or "Grace be with all of you" (HCSB).

Thus "the apostle places Timothy and the entire community in God's loving care. As in the letter's opening greeting (1 Timothy 1:2), grace signifies the whole of God's love and care for his people, coming to those who cannot earn it -- an encouraging reminder that despite the awesome responsibility to pursue godliness in all parts of life, the Christian stands by grace alone. What Paul has said to Timothy and the Christian leaders he has said to all." [ref]

By definition, "grace" is "favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that person deserves." [ref] It "is the dimension of divine activity that enables God to confront human indifference and rebellion with an inexhaustible capacity to forgive and to bless." [ref] [ref] "Theologians distinguish common grace from special grace -- a difference of type rather than degree or quantity. While God’s special grace pertains to salvation, common grace signifies the undeserved favor he extends universally to all humans -- believers and unbelievers alike -- in the form of earthly and material blessings." [ref]

"Grace" is found 131 times in the entire Bible, including 122 times in the NT (NASB). It is used 83 times by the apostle Paul, including in the opening and closing of every one of his letters (Romans 1:7; 16:20, 24; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 16:23; 2 Corinthians 1:2; 13:14; Galatians 1:3; 6:18; Ephesians 1:2; 6:24; Philippians 1:2; 4:23; Colossians 1:2; 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 3:18; 1 Timothy 1:2; 6:21; 2 Timothy 1:2; 4:22; Titus 1:4; 3:15; Philemon 1:3, 25).

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*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org) | **This outline is from The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe