The Latter Epistles -1 Timothy 6, Part 1

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered.  Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers.  Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.
These are the things you are to teach and insist on.  If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing.  They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

  • 1 Timothy 6:1-10

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

On ‘if anyone (false teachers)’: “Paul identifies 3 characteristics of false teachers. 1) they ‘teach otherwise’ – a different doctrine, or any teaching that contradicts God’s revelation in Scripture (see Gal. 1:6-9); 2) they do ‘not consent to wholesome words’ – they do not agree with sound healthy teaching, specifically the teaching contained in Scripture (2 Pet. 3:16); and 3) they reject ‘doctrine which accords with godliness’ – teaching not based on Scripture will always result in an unholy life.  Instead of godliness, false teachers will be marked by sin (see 2 Pet. 2:10-22; cf. Jude 4, 8-16).”
On ‘controversies and quarrels about words’: “’Disputes’ refers to idle speculation; ‘arguments over words’ lit. means ‘word battles.’  Because proud, ignorant false teachers do not understand divine truth (2 Cor. 2:14), they obsess over terminology and attack the reliability and authority of Scripture.  Every kind of strife is mentioned to indicate that false teachers produce nothing of benefit out of their fleshly, corrupt, and empty minds (1 Tim. 6:5).”
On ‘robbed of the truth’: “False teachers are in a state of apostasy; that is, although they once knew and seemed to embrace the truth, they turned to openly reject it. The Gr. word for ‘destitute’ means ‘to steal., ‘to rob,’ or ‘to deprive’ and its form here indicates that someone or something was pulled away from contact with the truth (it does not mean they were ever saved; see 1 Tim. 1:19; cf. 2 Tim. 2:18; 3:7, 8; Heb. 6:4-6; 2 Pet. 2:1, 4-9).”
On ‘contentment, having food and clothing, rich falling into temptation’:  “The Gr. word for ‘contentment’ means ‘self-sufficiency,’ and was used fy Stoic philosophers to describe a person who was unflappable and unmoved by external circumstance.  Christians are to be satisfied and sufficient, and not to seek for more than what God has already given them.  He is the source of true contentment (2 Cor. 3-5; 9:8; Phil. 4:11-13, 19).  The basic necessities of life are what ought to make Christians content.  Paul does not condemn having possessions, as long as God graciously provides them (1 Tim. 6:17).  He does, however, condemn a self-indulgent desire for money, which results from discontentment.  See Matt. 6:33.  ‘Desire’ refers to a settled wish born of reason, and clearly describes those guilty of greed.  The form of the Gr. verb for ‘fall’ indicates that those who have such a desire are continually falling into temptation.  Greedy people are compulsive – they are continually trapped in sins by their consuming desire to acquire more.  Faith – from the body of Christian truth.  Gold has replaced God for these apostates, who have turned away from pursuing the things of God in favor of money.”

  • John MacArthur, One Faithful Life

1 Timothy 6:7-8 ‘being content’: “’Satisfied?  That is one thing we are not.  We are not satisfied. …
“We take a vacation of a lifetime…  We satiate ourselves with sun, fun, and good food.  But we are not even on the way home before we dread the end of the trip and begin planning another.
“We are not satisfied.
”As a child we say, ‘If only I were a teenager.’  As a teen we say, ‘If only I were an adult.’  As an adult, ‘If only I were married.’  As a spouse, ‘If only I had kids’ …
“We are not satisfied.  Contentment is a difficult virtue.  Why?
“Because there is nothing on earth that can satisfy our deepest longing.  We long to see God.  The leaves of life are rustling with the rumor that we will – and we won’t be satisfied until we do.”

  • Max Lucado, When God Whispers Your Name

My Thoughts

You could divide this portion of 1 Timothy 6 into two parts:  Warning against false teachers and the love of money.  But before you do that, ask yourself why they are connected, as the Apostle Paul indicates here?

My wife sometimes gets up in the middle of the night and cannot go back to sleep.  She will turn the television to the Christian channel, hoping a boring preacher will bore her back to sleep.  (I apologize to those TV preachers who are not that boring, but that is my wife’s thought pattern.  It’s either that or some talking-head network with a person who has a monotone voice.)  The reason that I bring it up is that she will hear “seed money” mentioned and then make a mental note to never listen to that preacher again.  God does not perform a miracle in your life because you are a good person, because we are not good people, all having sinned.  God does not perform a miracle, because we paid for it, provided a seed.  God created the earth; He does not need the cash.  (Churches?  That’s another subject, but they do not perform the miracle.  God does.)  See, the money goes into the preacher’s hands.  The preacher desired the money and he got it, or she.

Sure, there is the epiphany within us when we realize that we can give up our money and trust God.  That miracle seems to be rarely performed these days, especially in a church with people who brag about how God has blessed them with great riches.  I would like to know how they became rich.  Whose money did they take, and did they give fair value in return?  I presently belong to a church that is called the ‘rich church,’ because a member of the church was the president of a bank and gave the church an endowment in the low eight digits when he died.  In my opinion, the money has brought nothing but grief.  The building has expanded, filling the block.  Most of the church is new and fresh.  Okay 15 years old.  But many of the non-believers in the community refer to the church as the basketball court with a church attached.  When you double the size of a church, custodial care doubles, utility bills double, along with maintenance, even in a brand-new building.  And when you are the ‘rich church,’ the members are less likely to give.  Without saying a word from the pulpit on the subject, the ‘money’ says to believe in the ‘endowment’ instead of believing in God.  Why else do they call the endowment money a “trust?”

There are good believers in the church, but there is that foreboding from the money that just sits there, collecting interest, with the church duty bound to only use the interest for church growth.  But I have often wondered how a bank president makes millions of dollars in his lifetime?  How many mortgages were foreclosed?  How high were the banking fees for people who had too small of a balance – thus needing every penny?  I never met the banker, joining the church on the Sunday that they announced the endowment, and I have heard that he was the nicest man.  Yet, I wonder.

Over the years, I have been asked to partner with various people on “get-rich-quick-schemes.”  With each new scheme, I was asked to sell products that were overpriced and marginally needed.  The trick was in the sales pitch to make people think they could not live without it.  But they were…  Living…  Without it.  I never got caught up into such schemes.

My wife is very social.  She loves meeting new people.  In one community, a new neighbor encouraged my wife, who seemed to know everyone, to throw a block party.  My wife invited everyone in the neighborhood, a chance to meet the new neighbor.  One of my wife’s friends called her to inform her of what the new neighbor’s intent was, to sell something, having invited the sales person that she was partnering with.  My wife told the new neighbor that if she was selling anything, there would be no party.  If she had known it was “THAT” kind of party, she would have not invited anyone.  If she had advertised that it was “THAT” kind of party, most of her friends would have declined the invitation.  That’s why the new neighbor was sneaky.  The party happened, but nothing was sold, and my wife never did anything with that neighbor again.

Making an honest living and providing a value-added product or service for the customer is a good thing.  As MacArthur mentions, the Apostle Paul was talking about placing money as the focus of life instead of God.  Even the Apostle Paul worked, making tents, and he got paid for doing so.

But we should not lose the context of this tiny verse that is quoted and often misquoted.  It follows the discussion regarding false teachers.  Why do these false teachers provide their “different doctrine?”  Could it be that they intend on making some money off the people that they misdirect away from God?  It is not just the idea of making money dishonestly, but using the “Christianity” label to draw people into the tent, or church, or home.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“As for loving God or money, how can you tell which is ‘number 1’ in your life?  How is the ‘love of money’ tugging on your heartstrings now?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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