1 Timothy 6:3-19 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:3

3If anyone teacheth differently The word ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ, being a compound, may also, not improperly, be translated, teacheth other things Yet there is no ambiguity as to the meaning; for he condemns all those who do not agree with this manner of teaching, although they do not openly and avowedly oppose sound doctrine. It is possible that he who does not profess any wicked or open error may yet, by endeavoring to insinuate himself by means of silly babbling, corrupt the doctrine of godliness; for, when there is no progress, and no edification in the doctrine itself, there is already a departure from the ordinance of Christ. Now although Paul does not speak of the avowed supporters of wicked doctrines, but of vain and irreligious teachers, who, by their ambition or covetousness, disfigure the plain and simple doctrine of godliness, yet we see with what sharpness and severity he attacks them. Nor need we wonder at this; for it is almost impossible to tell how much injury is done by preaching that is hypocritical and altogether framed for the purposes of ostentation and of idle display. But who they are that are blamed by him, appears more clearly from what immediately follows —

And consenteth not to sound words This clause is intended to explain the former. It frequently happens that such men as are here described, carried away by foolish curiosity, despise everything that is useful and solid, and thus indulge in wanton freaks, like unruly horses. And what is this but to reject the sound words of Christ? for they are called “sound” or “healthful,” because they give health to us, or are fitted to promote it.

And to the doctrine which is according to godliness This has the same meaning with the former clause; for the “doctrine” will not be consistent with “godliness,” if it do not instruct us in the fear and worship of God, if it do not edify our faith, if it do not train us to patience, humility, and all the duties of that love which we owe to our fellowmen. Whoever, therefore, does not strive to teach usefully, does not teach as he ought to do; and not only so, but that doctrine is neither godly nor sound, whatever may be the brilliancy of its display, that does not tend to the profit of the hearers.

Cambridge Bible

1Tim 6:3. teach otherwise] More fully R.V., teacheth a different doctrine, but even this does not completely give the force; for the ‘different’ is not so much ‘different from what has just been laid down,’ as ‘different from the one true deposit, the creed of all my gospel and all your life;’ and helps to form the meaning now attached to heterodoxy, lit. ‘opinions different from established truth.’ The close of the Epistle takes up the opening where this word has occurred before there has been time to lay down any teaching, 1:3. Lewin renders here ‘if any man teach what is heterodox.’

wholesome words] Again taking up his opening phrase 1:10, where see note. Sound is the best English equivalent, if we do not stay on the most modern and ‘cant’ sense of the word, but go back to its early vigour, so as to appreciate St Paul’s contrast here with the ‘sickly questionings’ of the false teacher, v. 4. See Appendix, K.

our Lord Jesus Christ] This exact order of the words so familiar to us in St Paul’s other writings occurs only here and v. 14 throughout these Epistles according to the true text. An imitator would surely, as we see by the various readings so often attempted, have taken pains to make the well-known formula a marked feature. It may be also noted that the aged saint, so near the end of his ‘good fight,’ does not presume familiarly on his Saviour’s intimacy, so as to use the one name ‘Jesus’ with tripping fluency. It is still ‘Christ Jesus,’ ‘Jesus Christ,’ ‘The Lord.’ See note on 1:1.

the doctrine … according to godliness] Two characteristic words of these Epistles combined in a phrase which might be taken as their keynote—‘Holy Truth—True Holiness.’ See previous notes on the words and especially the note on the central doctrinal passage 3:16.

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 6:3

Teach otherwise (ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ)

See on 1Ti_1:3.

Consent (προσέρχεται)

Lit. draw nigh. To approach as one who confidingly accepts another’s proffer. Hence, to assent to. Comp. Act_10:28; 1Pe_2:4; Heb_4:16; Heb_10:22. Often in lxx, and habitually in the literal sense. The figurative sense, Sir. 1:27, 30; 4:15; 6:26. oP. The phrase only here.

Of our Lord, etc.

Either concerning our Lord, or spoken by him. Probably the latter, according to N.T. usage, in which word of the Lord or word of God commonly means the word that proceeds from God. The phrase words of our Lord Jesus Christ only here.

Doctrine which is according to godliness (τῇ κατ εὐσέβειαν διδασκαλίᾳ)

The phrase only here. See on 1Ti_1:10. For εὐσέβεια, on 1Ti_2:2.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:3

If any man teach otherwise – Any otherwise than that respect should be shown to masters; and that a more cheerful and ready service should be rendered because they were Christians. It is evidently implied here that some might be disposed to inculcate such views of religion as would produce discontent and a spirit of insubordination among those who were held to servitude. Who they were is not known, nor is it known what arguments they would employ to do it. It would seem probable that the arguments which would be employed would be such as these: that God made all people equal; that all had been redeemed by the same blood; that all true Christians were fellow-heirs of heaven; and that it was wrong to hold a Christian brother in bondage, etc. From undeniable principles it would seem that they drew the inference that slaves ought at once to assert their freedom; that they should refuse obedience to their masters; and that the tendency of their teaching was, instead of removing the evil by the gradual and silent influence of Christian principles, to produce discontent and insurrection. From some of the expressions here used by the apostle, as characteristic of these teachers, it would seem to be probable that these persons were Jews. They were people given to subtle disputations, and those who doted about questions and verbal disputes, and who were intent on gain, supposing that that which conduced to mere worldly prosperity was of course religion. These characteristics apply well to Jewish teachers.

And consent not to wholesome words – Words conducing to a healthful state of the church; that is, doctrines tending to produce order and a due observance of the proprieties of life; doctrines leading to contentment, and sober industry, and the patient endurance of evils.

Even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ – The doctrines of the Saviour – all of which tended to a quiet life, and to a patient endurance of wrongs.

And to the doctrine which is according to godliness – Which tends to produce piety or religion; that is, the doctrine which would be most favorable to an easy and rapid propagation of the gospel. The idea seems to be, that such a state of insubordination and discontent as they would produce, would be unfavorable to the promotion of religion. Who can doubt it?

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:4

4He is puffed up, knowing nothing Such persons Paul first charges with pride, foolish and empty pride. Next, because no punishment can be imagined that is better adapted to chastise ambitious persons than to declare that all that they delight in proves their ignorance, Paul pronounces that they know nothing, though they are swelled with many subtleties; for they have nothing that is solid, but mere wind. At the same time, he instructs all believers not to be carried away by that windy ostentation, but to remain steadfast in the simplicity of the gospel.

But languishing after questions and debates of words There is an indirect contrast between “the soundness of the doctrine of Christ,” and that “languishing;” for, when they have wearied themselves much and long with ingenious questions, what advantage do they reap from their labor, but that the disease continually grows? Thus not only do they consume their strength to no purpose, but their foolish curiosity begets this languishing; and hence it follows, that they are very far from profiting aright, as the disciples of Christ ought to do.

Not without reason does the Apostle connect “questions and disputes of words;” for by the former term he does not mean every kind of questions, which either arise from a sober and moderate desire to learn, or contribute to clear explanation of useful things, but to such questions as are agitated, in the present day, in the schools of the Sorbonne, for displaying acuteness of intellect. There one question gives rise to another; for there is no limit to them, when every person, desiring to know more than is proper, indulges his vanity; and hence, there afterwards arise innumerable quarrels. As the thick clouds, during hot weather, are not dispelled without thunder, so those thorny questions must burst into disputes.

He gives the name λογομαχίας (logomachies, or disputes about words) to contentious disputes about words rather than things, or, as it is commonly expressed, without substance or foundation; for if any person carefully inquire what sort of contentions are burning among the sophists, he will perceive that they do not arise from realities, but are framed out of nothing. In a word, Paul intended to condemn all questions which sharpen us for disputes that are of no value.

From which arises envy He demonstrates from the effects how much an ambitious desire of knowledge ought to be avoided; for ambition is the mother of envy. Where envy reigns, there also rage brawlings, contentions, and other evils, which are here enumerated by Paul.

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 6:4. he is proud, knowing nothing] ‘Puffed up,’ R.V. The word occurs only here and 3:6; 2Ti_3:4; and goes towards composing the strong vocabulary of the Epistles: ‘filled with a blind “inflated ignorance” ’ (to quote from Dr Farrar’s strong modern vocabulary) may represent the force. The perfect expresses the state in which he is; the particular negative his relative, not absolute, ignorance, according to the tendency of N. T. usage.

doting about questions] ‘Diseased’ or ‘mad’ on points of subtle disputation. The word in other writers has both meanings, and the opposition to ‘sound’ would hold equally good with both; but the moral responsibility for this state is clearly implied, and points rather to the former: ‘full of a diseased disputatiousness.’ For ‘questionings,’ see note on 1:4.

strifes of words] Our own derived ‘logomachies.’ The corresponding verb occurs 2Ti_2:14, ‘otherwise only in ecclesiastical writers,’ Alford.

railings] Clearly as in Eph_4:31, ‘anger, and clamour, and railing;’ Jud_1:9, ‘durst not bring against him a railing judgment,’ not blasphemy against God, but slanderous reviling of one another.

evil surmisings] Our ‘suspicions;’ this word again is new to N.T. usage. Altogether we have four peculiar words in this verse, puffed up, doting, strifes of words, surmisings, indicating the new region of the Church’s experience and of the Apostle’s feeling.

Pulpit Commentary


Puffed up for proud, A.V.; questionings for questions, A.V.; disputes for strifes, A.V. He is puffed up (τετύφωται); see 1Ti_3:6, note. Doting (νοσῶν); here only in the New Testament, but found occasionally in the LXX. Applied in classical Greek to the mind and body, “to be in an unsound state.” Here it means “having a morbid love of” or “going mad about.” In this morbid love of questionings and disputes of words, they lose sight of all wholesome words and all godly doctrine. Questionings (ζητήσεις); see 1Ti_1:6, note. It corresponds nearly to our word “controversies.” Disputes of words (λογομαχίας); found only here. The verb λογομαχέω is used in 2Ti_2:14. Would that the Church had always remembered St. Paul’s pithy condemnation of unfruitful controversies about words! Surmisings (ὑπόνοιαι); only here in the -New Testament. In classical Greek it means “suspicion,” or any under-thought. The verb ὑπονοέω occurs three times in the Acts—”to deem, think, or suppose.” Here the “surmisings” are those uncharitable insinuations in which angry controversialists indulge towards one another.

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 6:4

He is proud (τετύφωται)

See on 1Ti_3:6.

Knowing nothing (μηδὲν ἐπιστάμενος)

Although he knows nothing. oP. Very frequent in Acts. Comp. 1Ti_1:7.

Doting (νοσῶν)

N.T.o. Lit. sick. Comp. ὑγιαίνουσι healthful, 1Ti_6:3.

Questions (ζητήσεις)

oP. olxx. Quite often in Class. Lit. processes of inquiry; hence, debates. Comp. 1Ti_1:4.

Strifes of words (λογομαχίας)

N.T.o. olxx, oClass. One of the unique compounds peculiar to these Epistles. The verb λογομαχεῖν 2Ti_2:14.

Surmisings (ὑπόνοιαι)

N.T.o. See Sir. 3:24. Ὑπὸ under and νοῦς mind, thought. A hidden thought. The verb ὑπονοεῖν to suppose, only in Acts. See Act_13:25; Act_25:18; Act_27:27.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:4

He is proud – That is, he is lifted up with his fancied superior acquaintance with the nature of religion. The Greek verb means, properly, “to smoke, to fume;” and then to be inflated, to “be conceited, etc.” The idea is, that he has no proper knowledge of the nature of the gospel, and yet he values himself on a fancied superior acquaintance with its principles.

Knowing nothing – Margin, “a fool.” That is, that he does not understand the nature of religion as he supposes he does. His views in regard to the relation of masters and servants, and to the bearing of religion on that relation, show that he does not understand the genius of Christianity. The apostle expresses this in strong language; by saying that he knows nothing; see the notes on 1Co_8:2.

But doting – Margin, “sick.” The Greek word – νοσέω noseō – means properly to be sick; then to languish, to pine after. The meaning here is, that such persons had a sickly or morbid desire for debates of this kind. They had not a sound and healthy state of mind on the subject of religion. They were like a sickly man, who has no desire for solid and healthful food, but for that which will gratify a diseased appetite. They desired not sound doctrine, but controversies about unimportant and unsubstantial matters – things that bore the same relation to important doctrines which the things that a sick man pines after do to substantial food.

Questions and strifes of words – The Jews abounded much in disputes of this sort, and it would seem probable that the persons here referred to were Jewish teachers; compare 1Ti_1:6-7 notes, and Act_18:15 note.

Whereof cometh envy – The only fruit of which is to produce envy. That is, the appearance of superior knowledge; the boast of being profoundly acquainted with religion, and the show of an ability for subtle argumentation, would produce in a certain class envy. Envy is uneasiness, pain, mortification, or discontent, excited by another’s prosperity, or by his superior knowledge or possessions; see the notes on Rom_1:29.

Strife – Or contentions with those who will not readily yield to their opinions.

Railings – Harsh and abusive language toward those who will not concede a point – a common effect of disputes, and more commonly of disputes about small and unimportant matters, than of these which are of magnitude. Such railings often attend disputes that arise out of nice and subtle distinctions.

Evil surmisings – Suspicions that they are led to hold their views, not by the love of the truth, but from sordid or worldly motives. Such suspicions are very apt to attend an angry debate of any kind. It might be expected especially to exist on such a question as the apostle refers to here – the relation of a master and a slave. It is always very hard to do justice to the motives of one who seems to us to be living in sin, or to believe it to be possible that he acts from right motives.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:5

5Of men corrupt in understanding, and that are destitute of the truth It is certain that here he censures the sophists, who, neglecting edification, turn the word of God into trivial distinctions, and an art of ingenious discussion. If the Apostle only shewed that the doctrine of salvation is thus rendered useless, even that would be an intolerable profanation; but far heavier and fiercer is that reproof, when he says that evils so pernicious, and plagues so hurtful, spring from it. From this passage, therefore, let us learn to detest (σοφιστικὴν) sophistry as a thing more destructive to the Church of God than can easily be believed.

That godliness is gain The meaning is, that godliness is a gainful art; that is, because they measure the whole of Christianity by gain. Just as if the oracles of the Holy Spirit had been recorded with no other design than to serve the purposes of their covetousness, they traffic in it as merchandise exposed to sale.

Withdraw thyself from such. Paul forbids the servants of Christ to have any intercourse with such persons. He not only warns Timothy not to resemble them, but exhorts him to avoid them as dangerous plagues; for, although they do not openly resist the gospel, but, on the contrary, make a false profession of adhering to it, yet their society is infectious. Besides, if the multitude see that we are on familiar terms with those men, the danger is, lest they insinuate themselves under the guise of our friendship. We should therefore, labor to the utmost, that all may know, that so far are we from being agreed with them, that they have no communication with us.

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 6:5. perverse disputings] The best attested reading of the Greek word transposes the order of the preposition, and should give us for its meaning ‘continual collisions.’ This seems the reason for the rendering of R.V. wranglings. Compare a similar compound in LXX. 2Sa_3:30, and Jos. Ant. x. 7. 5.

of corrupt minds] Lit. corrupted in mind. See note on ‘mind’ Tit_1:15, and on ‘uncorruptness’ Tit_2:7.

destitute of the truth] Our ‘destitute’ has almost ceased to have its original proper force ‘deprived’ of what was once possessed; hence R.V. has rightly substituted, as corresponding with the perf. pass, participle of the Greek, bereft.

gain is godliness] A well-known violation by A.V. of the law which places the article with the subject. The ending of the Greek noun for ‘gain’ implies rather a ‘trading,’ a ‘means of profit,’ like ‘the reaping time’ for ‘summer.’ Hence the twofold correction of R.V. godliness is a way of gain. But we lose the emphasis of the subject kept back to the end. Point is gained however in this respect by the omission (required on the authority of the best mss.) of the next clause, From such withdraw thyself.

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 6:5

Perverse disputings (διαπαρατριβαὶ)

N.T.o. olxx, oClass. Παρατριβή, is a rubbing against. Διὰ signifies continuance. The meaning therefore is continued friction. Hence wearing discussion; protracted wrangling.

Of corrupt minds (διεφθαρμένων τὸν νοῦν)

More correctly, corrupted in mind. The verb not common in N.T. In Paul only 2Co_4:16. Only here in Pastorals. Διαφθορά corruption only in Acts. Comp. κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν corrupted in mind, 2Ti_3:8.

Destitute of the truth (ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας)

Rev. bereft of the truth. In N.T. commonly of defrauding, Mar_10:19; 1Co_6:7, 1Co_6:8; 1Co_7:5. The implication is that they once possessed the truth. They put it away from themselves (1Ti_1:19; Tit_1:14). Here it is represented as taken away from them. Comp. Rom_1:8.

Gain is godliness (πορισμὸν εἶναι τὴν εὐσέβειαν)

Wrong. Rend. that godliness is a way (or source) of gain. Πορισμὸς, only here and 1Ti_6:6, is a gain-making business. See Wisd. 13:19; 14:2. They make religion a means of livelihood. Comp. Tit_1:11.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:5

Perverse disputings – Margin, “gallings one of another.” In regard to the correct reading of this passage, see Bib. Repository, vol. iii. pp. 61, 62. The word which is here used in the Received Text – παραδιατρίβη paradiatribē – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means “mis-employment;” then “idle occupation.” (Robinson’s Lexicon) The verb from which this is derived means to “rub in pieces, to wear away;” and hence the word here used refers to what was a mere “wearing away” of time. The idea is that of employments that merely consumed time without any advantage. The notion of contention or dispute is not necessarily implied in this passage, but the allusion is to inquiries or discussions that were of no practical value, but; were a mere consumption of time; compare Koppe on the passage. The reading in the margin is derived from the common usage of the verb “to rub,” and hence our translators attached the idea of “rubbing against” each other, or of “galling” each other, as by rubbing. This is not, however, the idea in the Greek word. The phrase “idle employments” would better suit the meaning of the Greek than either of the phrases which our translators have employed.

Of men of corrupt minds – That is, of wicked hearts.

And destitute of the truth – Not knowing the truth; or not having just views of truth. They show that they have no correct acquaintance with the Christian system.

Supposing that gain is godliness – That that which contributes to an increase of property is of course true religion; or that it is proper to infer that any course which contributes to worldly prosperity must be sanctioned by religion. They judge of the consistency of any course with religion by its tendency to promote outward prosperity. This they have exalted into a maxim, and this they make the essential thing in religion. But how could any man do this? And what connection would this have with the subject under consideration – the kind of instruction that was to be given to servants? The meaning of the maxim seems to be, that religion must necessarily promote prosperity by its promoting temperance, and industry, and length of days; and that since this was the case, it was fair to infer that anything which would not do this could not be consistent with religion. They adopted it, therefore, as a general rule of judging, and one in entire accordance with the wishes of their own hearts, that any course of life that would not do this must be contrary to the true spirit of religion. This maxim, it would seem, they applied to the relation of the slave and his master, and as the tendency of the system was always to keep the servant poor and in an humble condition, they seem to have inferred that the relation was contrary to Christianity, and hence to have excited the servant to disaffection. In their reasoning they were not far out of the way, for it is fair to infer that a system that tends to produce uniform poverty, and to perpetuate a degraded condition in society, is contrary to the genius of Christianity. They were wrong:

(1) In making this a general maxim by which to judge of everything in religion; and,

(2) In so applying it as to produce insubordination and discontent in the minds of servants toward their masters; and,

(3) In supposing that everything which produced gain was consistent with religion, or that they could infallibly judge of the moral quality of any course of life by its contributing to outward prosperity. Religion will uniformly lead to that which conduces to prosperity, but it does not follow that every way of making money is therefore a part of piety. It is possible, also, that in some way they hoped for “gain” to themselves by inculcating those principles. It may be remarked here, that this is not an uncommon maxim practically among people – that “gain is godliness.” The whole object of life with them is to make money; the rule by which they judge of everything is by its tendency to produce gain; and their whole religion may be summed up in this, that they live for gain. Wealth is the real object of pursuit; but it is often with them cloaked under the pretence of piety. They have no more religion than they suppose will contribute to this object; they judge of the nature and value of every maxim by its tendency to make people prosperous in their worldly business; they have as much as they suppose will promote their pecuniary interest, and they sacrifice every principle of religion which they suppose would conflict with their earthly advancement.

From such withdraw thyself – That is, have no communion or fellowship with them. Do not recognize them as religious teachers; do not countenance their views. Timothy was, in no way, to show that he regarded them as inculcating truth, or to patronize their doctrines. From such people, as having any claim to the character of Christians, every man should withdraw with feelings of unutterable pity and loathing.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:6

6But godliness with sufficiency is great gain In an elegant manner, and with an ironical correction, he instantly throws back those very words in an opposite meaning, as if he had said — “They do wrong and wickedly, who make merchandise of the doctrine of Christ, as if ‘godliness were gain;’ though, undoubtedly, if we form a correct estimate of it, godliness is a great and abundant gain.” And he so calls it, because it brings to us full and perfect blessedness. Those men, therefore, are guilty of sacrilege, who, being bent on acquiring money, make godliness contribute to their gain. But for our part, godliness is a very great gain to us, because, by means of it, we obtain the benefit, not only of being heirs of the world, but likewise of enjoying Christ and all his riches.

With sufficiency. This may refer either to the disposition of the heart, or to the thing itself. If it be understood as referring to the heart, the meaning will be, that “godly persons, when they desire nothing, but are satisfied with their humble condition, have obtained very great gain.” If we understand it to be “sufficiency of wealth” (and, for my own part, I like this view quite as well as the other,) it will be a promise, like that in the book of Psalms,

“The lions wander about hungry and famished; but they that seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”(Psa_34:10.)

The Lord is always present with his people, and, as far as is sufficient for their necessity, out of his fullness he bestows on each his portion. Thus true happiness consists in piety; and this sufficiency may be regarded as an increase of gain.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown

1 Timothy 6:6

But — Though they err in this, there is a sense in which “piety is” not merely gain, but “great means of gain”: not the gaining which they pursue, and which makes men to be discontented with their present possessions, and to use religion as “a cloak of covetousness” (1Th_2:5) and means of earthly gain, but the present and eternal gain which piety, whose accompaniment is contentment, secures to the soul. Wiesinger remarks that Paul observed in Timothy a tendency to indolence and shrinking from the conflict, whence he felt (1Ti_6:11) that Timothy needed cautioning against such temptation; compare also the second Epistle. Not merely contentment is great gain (a sentiment of the heathen Cicero [Paradox 6], “the greatest and surest riches”), but “piety with contentment”; for piety not only feels no need of what it has not, but also has that which exalts it above what it has not [Wiesinger]. The Greek for contentment is translated “sufficiency” (2Co_9:8). But the adjective (Phi_4:11) “content”; literally, “having a sufficiency in one’s self” independent of others. “The Lord always supplies His people with what is necessary for them. True happiness lies in piety, but this sufficiency [supplied by God, with which moreover His people are content] is thrown into the scale as a kind of overweight” [Calvin] (1Ki_17:1-16; Psa_37:19; Isa_33:6, Isa_33:16; Jer_37:21).

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:6

But godliness – Piety; religion. The meaning is, that real religion should be regarded as the greatest and most valuable acquisition. “With contentment.” This word, as now used, refers to a state of mind; a calm and satisfied feeling; a freedom from murmuring and complaining. The idea is, that “piety, connected with a contented mind – or a mind acquiescing in the allotments of life – is to be regarded as the real gain.” Tyndale gives substantially the same interpretation: “Godliness is great riches, if a man be content with that he hath” Coverdale: “Howbeit, it is of great advantage, who is so godly, and holdeth him content with that he hath.” The word which is used here – αὐτάρκεια autarkeia – means, properly, “self-sufficency,” and is used here, in a good sense, to denote a mind satisfied with its lot. If there be true religion, united with its proper accompaniment, peace of mind, it is to be regarded as the true riches. The object of the apostle seems to be, to rebuke those who supposed that property constituted everything that was worth living for. He tells them, therefore, that the true gain, the real riches which we ought to seek, is religion, with a contented mind. This does more to promote happiness than wealth can ever do, and this is what should be regarded as the great object of life.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:7

7For we brought nothing into the world., He adds this for the purpose of setting a limit to the sufficiency. Our covetousness is an insatiable gulf, if it be not restrained; and the best bridle is, when we desire nothing more than the necessity of this life demands; for the reason why we transgress the bounds, is, that our anxiety extends to a thousand lives which we falsely imagine. Nothing is more common, and indeed nothing is more generally acknowledged, than this statement of Paul; but as soon as all have acknowledged it, (as we see every day with our eyes,) every man swallows up with his wishes his vast possessions, in the same manner as if he had a belly able to contain half of the world. And this is what is said, that, “although the folly of the fathers appears in hoping that they will dwell here for ever, nevertheless their posterity approve of their way.” (Psa_49:13.)

In order, therefore, that we may be satisfied with a sufficiency, let us learn to have our heart so regulated, as to desire nothing but what is necessary for supporting life.

Cambridge Bible

1Tim5:7. we brought nothing into this world] A further reason for contentment is drawn; ‘the nakedness of our birth and death.’ Exactly, into the world.

and it is certain] Editors are divided as to the authority for this word here: the Revisers and Westcott and Hort omit. Inclining to this view with Codex Sinaiticus, and on the ground that proclivi praestat ardua lectio, we have to render the connecting particle that remains ‘because;’ but need not adopt Alford’s strained explanation ‘we were appointed by God to come naked into the world, to teach us to remember that we must go naked out of it,’ which mars the simple sequence of thought (we should look rather to the looser usage of such particles already beginning to prevail): ‘because’ may be referred back to the contentment, and so introduce a parallel not a subordinate clause to ‘we brought,’ because too we cannot carry anything out. The verse is linked at the commencement of the Prayer-Book Burial Service with Job_1:21, ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,’ and so illustrates further the ‘godly content’ of the previous verse.

Adam Clarke

1 Timothy 6:7

We brought nothing into this world – There are some sayings in Seneca which are almost verbatim with this of St. Paul: Nemo nascitur dives; quisquis exit in lucem jussus est lacte et panno esse contentus; Epist. xx, “No man is born rich; every one that comes into the world is commanded to be content with food and raiment.” Excutit natura redeuntem, sicut intrantem; non licet plus auferre, quam intuleris; Epist., cap. ii. “Nature, in returning, shakes off all incumbrances as in entering; thou canst not carry back more than thou broughtest in.” Seneca and St. Paul were contemporary; but all the Greek and Latin poets, and especially the stoic philosophers, are full of such sentiments. It is a self-evident truth; relative to it there can be no controversy.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:7

For we brought nothing into this world … – A sentiment very similar to this occurs in Job_1:21 – and it would seem probable that the apostle had that passage in his eye; see the notes on that passage. Numerous expressions of this kind occur in the classic writers; see Wetstein, in loc., and Pricaeus, in loc. in the Critici Sacri. Of the truth of what is here said, there can be nothing more obvious. It is apparent to all. We bring no property with us into the world – no clothing, no jewels, no gold – and it is equally clear that we can take nothing with us when we leave the earth. Our coming into the world introduces no additional property to that which the race before possessed, and our going from the world removes none that we may have helped the race to accumulate. This is said by the apostle as an obvious reason why we should be contented if our actual needs are supplied – for this is really all that we need, and all that the world is toiling for.

We can carry nothing out – compare Psa_49:17. “For when he – the rich man – dieth, he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him.”

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:8

8Having food and raiment When he mentions food and raiment, he excludes luxuries and overflowing abundance; for nature is content with a little and all that goes beyond the natural use is superfluous. Not that to use them more largely ought to be condemned on its own account, but lusting after them is always sinful.

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 6:8. And having food] Rather, but; the opposite, positive view of life. The words for ‘food’ and ‘raiment’ are both unused in N.T. except here; both are in the plural, indicating ‘supplies of,’ for each mouth to be fed, each household to be clothed.

raiment] A rather out-of-the-way word for ‘clothing,’ if we go by the use found once in Aristotle and once in Josephus, Ar. Pol. vii. 17; Jos. B. J. ii. 8. 5: literally, ‘covering;’ and so R.V., perhaps merely to keep an unusualness of phrase. But the meaning ‘shelter,’ tent or roof-covering, has been also assigned, from the root word having a more common turn towards this; and ‘covering’ may have been chosen to include this, if not to express it alone. But the immediate context in v. 7 favours the reference to merely personal possessions such as dress.

let us be therewith content] The verb is future passive, we shall be therewith content, as R.V.; hardly an implied exhortation, but ‘we shall, if we are godly.’ This rendering is preferable to that in the margin of R.V. ‘in these we shall have enough’ from the similar use of the passive, Luk_3:14, ‘be content with your wages;’ Heb_13:5, ‘content with such things as ye have.’ The connexion of the word with ‘contentment’ above should also be maintained.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:8

And having food and raiment – Food and raiment, here, seem to be used to denote supplies for our needs in general. It is not uncommon to denote the whole by a part, and, as these are the principal things which we really need, and without which life could not be sustained, the apostle uses the phrase to denote all that is really necessary for us. We cannot suppose that he would forbid a desire of a comfortable habitation, or of the means of knowledge, or of conveniences for worshipping God, etc. The idea is, that having those flyings which meet the actual necessities of our nature, and save us from distress, we should not strive after “uncertain riches,” or make wealth the object of our anxious pursuit; compare notes on Phi_4:11-12.

Sir 29:21 The necessities of life are water, bread, and clothing, and also a house to assure privacy.

Sir 39:26-27 NRSVA The basic necessities of human life are water and fire and iron and salt and wheat flour and milk and honey, the blood of the grape and oil and clothing. (27) All these are good for the godly, but for sinners they turn into evils.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:9

9They who wish to be rich After having exhorted him to be content, and to despise riches, he now explains how dangerous is the desire of having them, and especially in the ministers of the Church, of whom he expressly speaks in this passage. Now the cause of the evils, which the Apostle here enumerates, is not riches, but an eager desire of them, even though the person should be poor. And here Paul shews not only what generally happens, but what must always happen; for every man that has resolved to become rich gives himself up as a captive to the devil. Most true is that saying of the heathen poet, — “He who is desirous of becoming rich is also desirous of acquiring riches soon.” Hence it follows, that all who are violently desirous of acquiring wealth rush headlong.

Hence also those foolish, or rather, mad desires, which at length plunge them into perdition. This is, indeed, a universal evil; but in the pastors of the Church it is more easily seen; for they are so maddened by avarice, that they stick at nothing, however foolish, whenever the glitter of gold or silver dazzles their eyes.

Cambridge Bible

1Tim 6:9. they that will be rich] In so wealthy a city as Ephesus the temptation would be very great to the teacher to adapt his ‘wares’ of doctrine to the popular Asiatic speculations, so as to get and keep name and means; and his hearers would be equally tempted to accept such a compromise. There would be the genius loci to whisper ‘si possis, recte; si non, quocunque modo, rem;’ ‘ye know that by this business we have our wealth.’ Hence the specially appropriate warning now addressed to those that are desiring to be rich, as we must render exactly. Chrysostom’s words ‘not “the rich,” for one may have money and dispense it well and disesteem it all the while,’ are well quoted here. But G. Herbert’s words are still better (Priest to the Temple, c. 3), ‘The country parson is very circumspect in avoiding all covetousness, neither being greedy to get, nor niggardly to keep, nor troubled to lose any worldly wealth; but in all his words and actions slighting and disesteeming it, even to a wondering that the world should so much value wealth, which in the day of wrath hath not one dram of comfort for us.’

temptation and a snare] There seems no reason to depart from the usual rendering elsewhere of the phrase ‘into temptation’ as R.V. does ‘into a temptation,’ because of the words coupled with it; ‘a snare’ naturally follows, just as ‘deliver us from the evil one’ follows ‘bring us not into temptation,’ Mat_6:13; it is the thought present to the Apostle’s mind at this time; see above 3:7, ‘lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil’ where the conjunction of words is very similar, and from whence some mss. have even added here ‘of the devil;’ and 2Ti_2:26, ‘that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil.’ See Appendix, K.

lusts, which drown men] The lengthened generalised relative here is properly ‘of a kind which,’ ‘which indeed naturally,’ so R.V. such as. Cf. 3:15. The simple use of the passive of ‘drown’ in Luk_5:7, ‘they were being sunk,’ is the only other N. T. use of the verb; the noun from which it comes is used by St Paul of his (unrecorded) shipwreck, 2Co_11:25, ‘a night and a day I have been in the deep.’

destruction and perdition] The two words give solemnity to the idea of the ruin to be incurred, though it is too much to assign ‘ruin of body’ to the one and ‘ruin of soul’ to the other. The compound word is instinctively chosen (see v. 8) to complete the terrible picture.

Chrysostom gives many instances of these ‘snares and lusts’ in his day leading to ‘destruction and perdition.’ To the example (almost forced upon the memory by the word) from Holy Scripture itself of ‘the son of perdition’ (Joh_17:12), may well be added G. Herbert’s searching words to his brethren; ‘they, who, for the hope of promotion, neglect any necessary admonition or reproof sell (with Judas) their Lord and Master.’ The Priest to the Temple, ch. 2.

Adam Clarke

1 Timothy 6:9

But they that will be rich – Οἱ δε βουλομενοι πλουτειν. The words are emphatic, and refer to persons who are determined to get riches; who make this their object and aim in life; who live to get money; who get all they can, save all they can, and keep all they get; and yet are apprehensive of no danger, because they seek to be rich by honest means; for it is likely that the apostle does not refer to those who wish to get riches by robbery, plunder, extortion, etc.

By the term rich it is very likely that the apostle refers to what he had said above: Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content. He that has more than these is rich in the sense in which the apostle uses the term.

Fall into temptation and a snare – Του διαβολου, Of the devil, is added by D*FG, Vulgate, Itala, and many of the fathers. It is in consequence of the temptation of the devil that they have determined to be rich; this temptation once received, others quickly succeed: and when they have swallowed down the temptation to the thing, then they drink in a thousand temptations to the means; and all these lead them εις παγιδα, into an unforeseen and concealed trap. Παγις signifies a net, trap, gin, snare, spring, or pit dug in the ground filled with sharp stakes, and slightly covered over; so that when a man, or any animal, steps upon it, he tumbles in, and is taken or destroyed. Such a snare is that into which those who will be rich must necessarily fall. But who will believe this? See on 1Ti_6:10 (note)

And into many foolish and hurtful lusts – The whole conduct of such a person is a tissue of folly; scraping, gathering, and heaping up riches, and scarcely affording to take the necessaries of life out of them for himself. These lusts or desires are not only foolish, but they are hurtful; the mind is debased and narrowed by them; benevolent and generous feelings become extinct; charity perishes; and selfishness, the last and lowest principle in mental degradation, absorbs the soul; for these foolish and hurtful lusts drown men in destruction and perdition – the soul is destroyed by them here, and brought through them into a state of perdition hereafter. The apostle considers these persons like mariners in a storm; by the concurrence of winds, waves, and tide, they are violently driven among the rocks, the vessel is dashed to pieces, and in a moment they are all ingulfed in the great deep! Such is the lot and unavoidable catastrophe of them that will be rich, even though they should strive to accomplish their desires by means the most rigidly honest.

In this place I beg leave to refer the reader to a sermon on this text by the late Rev. John Wesley, in which the whole of this subject is treated by the hand of a master; and, for usefulness, the sermon is superior to every thing of the kind ever published. It is entitled, The Danger of Riches; and is found in his Works, Vol. 2, page 248, American edit.

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 6:9

They that will be rich (οἱ βουλόμενοι πλουτεῖν)

Better, they that desire to be rich. It is not the possession of riches, but the love of them that leads men into temptation.

Fall (ἐμπίπτουσιν)

oP. Lit. fall into; but invariably in N.T. with εἰς into.

Temptation (πειρασμὸν)

See on Mat_6:13.

Foolish (ἀνοήτους)

Foolish answers to several words in N.T., ἀνοήτος, ἀσύνετος, ἄφρων, μωρός. Ἁνοήτος not understanding; a want of proper application of the moral judgment or perception, as Luk_24:25, note; Gal_3:1, note. Ἄφρων is senseless, stupid, of images, beasts. Comp. Luk_12:20, note. Ἁσύνετος approaches the meaning of ἀνοήτος unintelligent. See Sir. 22:13, 15; 27:12. It also implies a moral sense, wicked, Wisd. 1:5; 11:15; Sir. 15:7. On the etymological sense, see on Mat_11:25; see on Mar_12:33; see on Luk_2:47. Μωρός is without forethought, as Mat_7:26; Mat_25:3; without learning, as 1Co_1:27; 1Co_3:18; with a moral sense, empty, useless, 2Ti_2:23; Tit_3:9; and impious, godless, Mat_5:22; Psa_94:8; Jer_5:21.

Hurtful (βλαβεράς)

N.T.o. lxx once, Pro_10:26.

Drown (βυθίζουσι)

Only here and Luk_5:7, note. A strong expression of the results of avarice.

Destruction (ὄλεθρον)

See on 1Th_1:9, and additional note.

Perdition (ἀπώλειαν)

It is unsafe to distinguish between ὄλεθρος destruction in general, and ἀπώλεια as pointing mainly to destruction of the soul. Ἁπώλεια sometimes of spiritual destruction, as Phi_1:28; but also of destruction and waste in general, as Mar_14:4; Act_8:20. One is reminded of Virgil, Aen. iii. 56:

“Quid non mortalia pectora cogis,

Auri sacra fames?”

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:9

But they that will be rich – Further to enforce the duty of contentment, the apostle refers to some of the evils which necessarily attend a desire to be rich. Those evils have been so great and uniform in all ages, and are so necessary accompaniments of that desire, that, even amidst many inconveniences which may attend the opposite condition, we should he contented with our lot. Indeed, if we could see all, it would only be necessary to see the evils which the desire of wealth produces in the world, to make us contented with a most lowly condition of life. Perhaps nothing more would be necessary to make a poor man satisfied with his lot, and grateful for it, than to be acquainted with the perplexities and cares of a rich man. There is more emphasis to be placed on the word will, here, in the phrase, “will be rich,” than might be supposed from our translation. It is not the sign of the future tense, but implies an actual “purpose” or “design” to become rich – οἱ βουλόμενοι hoi boulomenoi. The reference is to those in whom this becomes the object of earnest desire, and who lay their plans for it.

Fall into temptation – That is, they are tempted to do wicked things in order to accomplish their purposes. It is extremely difficult to cherish the desire to be rich, as the leading purpose of the soul, and to he an honest man.

And a snare – Birds are taken in a snare, and wild beasts were formerly; see the notes on Job_18:8-9. The net was sprung suddenly upon them, and they could not escape. The idea here is, that they who have this desire become so entangled, that they cannot easily escape. They become involved in the meshes of worldliness and sin; their movements are so fettered by cares, and inordinate desires, and by artificial needs, that they are no longer freemen. They become so involved in these things, that they cannot well break away from them if they would; compare Pro_28:20.

And into many foolish and hurtful lusts – Desires, such as the love of wealth creates. They are foolish – as being not such as an intelligent and immortal being should pursue; and they are hurtful – as being injurious to morals, to health, and to the soul. Among those desires, are the fondness for display; for a magnificent dwelling, a train of menials, and a splendid equipage; for sumptuous living, feasting, the social glass, company, and riotous dissipation.

Which drown men in destruction and perdition – The word which is here rendered, “drown” – βυθίζω buthizō – means, to “sink in the” deep, or, “to cause to sink;” and the meaning here is, that they become submerged as a ship that sinks. The idea of drowning is not properly that of the apostle, but the image is that of a wreck, where a ship and all that is in it go down together. The destruction is complete. There is a total ruin of happiness, of virtue, of reputation, and of the soul. The ruling desire to be rich leads on a train of follies which ruins everything here, and hereafter. How many of the human family have thus been destroyed!

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:10

10For the root of all evils is avarice There is no necessity for being too scrupulous in comparing other vices with this. It is certain that ambition and pride often produce worse fruits than covetousness does; and yet ambition does not proceed from covetousness. The same thing may be said of the sins forbidden by the seventh commandment. But Paul’s intention was not to include under covetousness every kind of vices that can be named. What then? He simply meant, that innumerable evils arise from it; just as we are in the habit of saying, when we speak of discord, or gluttony, or drunkenness, or any other vice of that kind, that there is no evil which it does not produce. And, indeed, we may most truly affirm, as to the base desire of gain, that there is no kind of evils that is not copiously produced by it every day; such as innumerable frauds, falsehoods, perjury, cheating, robbery, cruelty, corruption in judicature, quarrels, hatred, poisonings, murders; and, in short, almost every sort of crime.

Statements of this nature occur everywhere in heathen writers; and, therefore, it is improper that those persons who would applaud Horace or Ovid, when speaking in that manner, should complain of Paul as having used extravagant language. I wish it were not proved by daily experience, that this is a plain description of facts as they really are. But let us remember that the same crimes which spring from avarice, may also arise, as they undoubtedly do arise, either from ambition, or from envy, or from other sinful dispositions.

Which some eagerly desiring The Greek word ὀρεγόμενοι is overstrained, when the Apostle says that avarice is “eagerly desired;” but it does not obscure the sense. He affirms that the most aggravated of all evils springs from avarice — revolting from the faith; for they who are diseased with this disease are found to degenerate gradually, till they entirely renounce the faith. Hence those sorrows, which he mentions; by which term I understand frightful torments of conscience, which are wont to befall men past all hope; though God has other methods of trying covetous men, by making them their own tormentors.

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 6:10. the love of money] One word in the original, occurring only here and belonging to the later Greek; the adjective in Luk_16:14, ‘the Pharisees, who were covetous,’ R.V. ‘lovers of money,’ and so 2Ti_3:2. ‘It differs from the ordinary word for covetousness (e.g. Col_3:5) (which does not occur in these Epistles) in denoting rather avarice, a love of money already gained, than an active grasping after more.’ Trench’s N. T. Synonyms, § 24.

the root of all evil] It has been much questioned whether we are to translate this admitted predicate ‘a root’ or ‘the root.’ On the general grammatical question, such passages as 1Co_11:3, ‘the head of the woman is (the) man,’ make ‘the root,’ quite correct; if with R.V. we render ‘a root,’ it lays a stress on there being other roots, which is beside the point: the stress surely is on the ‘all,’ interpreted however in that rhetorical sense, if it may be so called, which is common in N. T. as elsewhere (cf. v. 17), and is well given in R.V. We may translate the root of all kinds of evil. For this use of the plural we may compare ‘supplies of food,’ v. 8.

which while some coveted after] ‘Which (love-of-money) some reaching after,’ R.V. keeping to the root-notion of the participle. The verb (and its noun) occur four times in N. T. and in each place the Revisers give a different version, 1Ti_3:1 and Heb_11:16 in a good sense; here and Rom_1:27 in a bad sense. ‘Desire,’ a colourless word, would fit everywhere, but is weak. Bp Wordsworth ingeniously explains the seemingly incongruous desire for the love-of-money thus: ‘riches were a proof of divine approbation: love of wealth was a love of God’s favour: thus they sanctified avarice.’ But the relative is only formally, logically, in agreement with the abstract. ‘love-of-money:’ all readers of A.V. or R.V. would refer the ‘which’ to the real antecedent in sense, ‘money,’ and would be virtually right.

have erred from the faith] R.V. is justified in rendering have been led astray. The Greek aorist ‘merely represents the action of having occurred, as filling a point of past time’ (Winer, iii., xl. 45, a). When it stands by itself, as here, with no qualifying word, this force is represented by the English perfect, as giving just in our idiom the past verbal idea merely, with no further stress or point, cf. Ellicott on 1Th_2:16. The word occurs in N.T. again only in Mar_13:32, ‘that they may lead astray, if possible, the elect.’ ‘The faith’ as in 1:19, where see note.

pierced themselves through] Lat. transfigo; only here in N.T.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 6:10

the love of money — not the money itself, but the love of it – the wishing to be rich (1Ti_6:9) – “is a root (Ellicott and Middleton: not as English Version, ‘the root’) of all evils.” (So the Greek plural). The wealthiest may be rich not in a bad sense; the poorest may covet to be so (Psa_62:10). Love of money is not the sole root of evils, but it is a leading “root of bitterness” (Heb_12:15), for “it destroys faith, the root of all that is good” [Bengel]; its offshoots are “temptation, a snare, lusts, destruction, perdition.”

coveted after — lusted after.

erred from — literally, “have been made to err from the faith” (1Ti_1:19; 1Ti_4:1).

pierced — (Luk_2:35).

with … sorrows — “pains”: “thorns” of the parable (Mat_13:22) which choke the word of “faith.” “The prosperity of fools destroys them” (Pro_1:32). Bengel and Wiesinger make them the gnawings of conscience, producing remorse for wealth badly acquired; the harbingers of the future “perdition” (1Ti_6:9).

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:10

For the love of money is the root of all evil – That is, of all kinds of evil. This is evidently not to be understood as literally true, for there are evils which cannot, be traced to the love of money – the evils growing out of ambition, and intemperance, and debasing lusts, and of the hatred of God and of goodness. The expression here is evidently a popular saying – “all sorts of evils grow out of the love of money.” Similar expressions often occur in the classic writers; see Wetstein, in loc, and numerous examples quoted by Priceaus. Of the truth of this, no one can doubt. No small part of the crimes of the world can be traced to the love of gold. But it deserves to be remarked here, that the apostle does not say that “money is the root of all evil,” or that it is an evil at all. It is the “love” of it which is the source of evil.

Which while some coveted after – That is, some who were professing Christians. The apostle is doubtless referring to persons whose history was known to Timothy, and warning him, and teaching him to warn others, by their example.

They have erred from the faith – Margin, “been seduced.” The Greek is, they have been led astray from; that is, they have been so deceived as to depart from the faith. The notion of deception or delusion is in the word, and the sense is, that, deceived by the promises held out by the prospect of wealth, they have apostatized from the faith. It is not implied of necessity that they were ever real Christians. They have been led off from truth and duty, and from all the hopes and joys which religion would have imparted.

And pierced themselves through with many sorrows – With such sorrows as remorse, and painful reflections on their folly, and the apprehension of future wrath. Too late they see that they have thrown away the hopes of religion for that which is at best unworthy the pursuit of an immortal mind; which leads them on to a life of wickedness; which fails of imparting what it promised when its pursuit is successful, and which, in the great majority of instances, disappoints its votaries in respect to its attainment. The word rendered “pierced themselves through” – περιέπειραν periepeiran – occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and is a word whose force and emphasis cannot be well expressed in a translation. It is from πείρω peirō, and is made more emphatic by the addition of the preposition περι peri. The word πείρω peirō, means, properly, “to pierce through from one end to another,” and is applied to meat that is “pierced through” by the spit when it is to be roasted (Passow); then it means to pierce through and through. The addition of the preposition περι peri to the word, conveys the idea of doing this “all round;” of piercing everywhere. It was not a single thrust which was made, but they are gashed all round with penetrating wounds. Such is the effect on those who cast off religion for the sake of gold. None can avoid these consequences who do this. Every man is in the hands of a holy and just God, and sooner or later he must feel the effects of his sin and folly.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:11

11But thou, O man of God, flee these things By calling him man of God he adds weight to the exhortation. If it be thought proper to limit to the preceding verse the injunction which he gives to follow righteousness, piety, faith, patience, this is an instruction which he gives, by contrast, for correcting avarice, by informing him what kind of riches he ought to desire, namely, spiritual riches. Yet this injunction may also be extended to other clauses, that Timothy, withdrawing himself from all vanity, may avoid that (περιεπγίαν) vain curiosity w hich he condemned a little before; for he who is earnestly employed about necessary employments will easily abstain from those which are superfluous. He names, by way of example, some kinds of virtues, under which we may suppose others to be included. Consequently, every person who shall be devoted to the pursuit of “righteousness,” and who shall aim at “piety, faith, charity,” and shall follow patience and gentleness, cannot but abhor avarice and its fruits.

Cambridge Bible

1Tim 6:11 thou, O man of God] Opposed not only to the ‘some’ of v. 10 but to the ‘any’ of v. 3. The phrase ‘man of God’ occurs also with the same reference to the ministry, 2Ti_3:17, derived probably from the O. T. ministry of the prophets; cf. 2Pe_1:21, where the best reading, however, slightly varies the phrase ‘men spake from God;’ and 1Ki_17:18, 1Ki_17:24. It marks the high tone of this final address; and is in keeping with the full dignity of title which in both these last contrasts of the false and the true ministry is given to the great Head of the Church’s ministry (and given here only in these Epistles) ‘Our Lord Jesus Christ.’

flee these things] ‘Unsound words, and ungodly doctrine,’ ‘questionings and evil surmisings,’ ‘traffic in godliness and love of money.’ These three heads of evil, in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th to 10th verses respectively, are opposed by three pairs of contrasted virtues: ‘righteousness and godliness,’ ‘faith and love,’ ‘patience and meekness.’ In the first pair ‘the sound words,’ ‘the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,’ go to the very root of the matter as fully expounded, Rom_6. ‘Baptised into Christ Jesus … dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus … obedient from the heart to that form of teaching … ye became servants of righteousness,’ and 1Co_1. ‘We preach Christ crucified … Christ the power of God … of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God and righteousness’; all this being but the working out of the very ‘words of the Lord,’ Mat_5:6, ‘Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.’ In the second pair ‘faith’ is as evidently the antidote to ‘ignorance,’ ‘questionings,’ and ‘disputes of words,’ as ‘love’ is to ‘envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings. In the third pair ‘patient endurance’ and ‘meekness of heart’ are well fitted to produce ‘godliness with contentment,’ as being the very graces to which ‘the words of the Lord’ assign the blessings of that ‘kingdom of heaven’ which is ‘godliness,’ and that ‘inheritance of the earth’ which is ‘contentment.’ ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,’ ‘Blessed are the meek.’

meekness] The compound word, meekness of heart, a word peculiar here, is to be read. See note on 2Ti_2:25.

Pulpit Commentary


O man of God. The force of this address is very great. It indicates that the money-lovers just spoken of were not and could not be “men of God,” whatever they might profess; and it leads with singular strength to the opposite direction in which Timothy’s aspirations should point. The treasures which he must covet as “a man of God” were “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience meekness.” For the phrase, “man of God,” see 2Ti_3:17 and 2Pe_1:21. In the Old Testament it always applies to a prophet (Deu_33:1; Jdg_13:6; 1Sa_2:27; 1Ki_12:22; 2Ki_1:9; Jer_35:4; and a great many other passages). St. Paul uses the expression with especial reference to Timothy and his holy office, and here, perhaps, in contrast with the τοὺς ἀνθρώπους mentioned in 2Pe_1:9. Flee these things. Note the sharp contrast between “the men” of the world, who reach after, and the man of God, who avoids, φιλαργυρία. The expression, “these things,” is a little loose, but seems to apply to the love of money, and the desire to be rich, with all their attendant “foolish and hurtful lusts.” The man of God avoids the perdition and maul fold sorrows of the covetous, by avoiding the covetousness which is their root. Follow after (δίωκε); pursue, in direct contrast with φεύγε, flee from, avoid (see 2Ti_2:22). Meekness (πραΰπαθείαν). This rare word, found in Philo, but nowhere in the New Testament, is the reading of the R.T. (instead of the πρᾳότητα of the T.R.) and accepted by almost all critics on the authority of all the older manuscripts. It has no perceptible difference of meaning from πραότης, meekness or gentleness.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:12

12Fight the good fight of faith In the next epistle he says,

“He who hath become a soldier doth not entangle himself with matters inconsistent with his calling.” (2Ti_2:4.)

In like manner, in order to withdraw Timothy from excessive solicitude about earthly things, he reminds him that he must “fight;” for carelessness and self-indulgence arise from this cause, that the greater part wish to serve Christ at ease, and as if it were pastime, whereas Christ calls all his servants to warfare.

For the purpose of encouraging him to fight such a fight courageously, he calls it good; that is, successful, and therefore not to be shunned; for, if earthly soldiers do not hesitate to fight, when the result is doubtful, and when there is a risk of being killed, how much more bravely ought we to do battle under the guidance and banner of Christ, when we are certain of victory? More especially, since a reward awaits us, not such as other generals are wont to give to their soldiers, but a glorious immortality and heavenly blessedness; it would certainly be disgraceful that we, who have such a hope held out to us, should grow weary or give way. And that is what he immediately afterwards adds, —

Lay hold on eternal life As if he had said, “God calls thee to eternal life, and therefore, despising the world, strive to obtain it.” When he commands them to “lay hold on it,” he forbids them to pause or slacken in the middle of their course; as if he had said, that “nothing has been done, till we have obtained the life to come, to which God invites us.” In like manner, he affirms that he strives to make progress, because he has not yet laid hold. (Phi_3:12.)

To which also thou, hast been called Because men would run at random, and to no purpose, if they had not God as the director of their course, for the purpose of promoting their cheerful activity, he mentions also the calling; for there is nothing that ought to animate us with greater courage than to learn that we have been “called” by God; for we conclude from this, that our labor, which God directs, and in which he stretches out his hand to us, will not be fruitless. Besides, to have rejected the calling of God would be a disgraceful reproach; and, therefore, this ought to be a very powerful excitement: “God calls thee to eternal life; beware of being drawn aside to anything else, or of falling short in any way, before thou hast attained it.”

And hast confessed a good confession By mentioning his former life, the Apostle excites him still more to persevere; for to give way, after having begun well, is more disgraceful than never to have begun. To Timothy, who had hitherto acted valiantly, and had obtained applause, he addresses this powerful argument, that the latter end should correspond to the beginning. By the word confession I understand not that which is expressed in words, but rather what is actually performed; and that not in a single instance merely, but throughout his whole ministry. The meaning therefore is: “Thou hast many witnesses of thy illustrious confession, both at Ephesus and in other countries, who have beheld thee acting faithfully and sincerely in the profession of the gospel; and, therefore, having given such a proof of fidelity, thou canst not, without the greatest shame and disgrace, shew thyself to be anything else than a distinguished soldier of Christ.” By this passage we are taught in general, that the more any of us excels, the less excusable is he if he fail, and the stronger are his obligations to God to persevere in the right course.

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 6:12. Fight the good fight of faith] St Paul has now mounted above the lower ground in which Timothy was to maintain the true pastor’s rôle against his rivals. ‘The faith,’ i.e. the Christian creed, the Christian life, is now a ‘fight,’ ‘a strife,’ a ‘race,’ against time and sense, earth and hell. The metaphor is the most inspiring perhaps to the Apostle himself of all his metaphors as it is also his last; see 2Ti_4:7, ‘I have fought the good fight,’ ‘run the fair race.’ Taken from the Greek games, the word ‘fight’ can be only mimic fight, if it be referred to the wrestling or the boxing contest; and if, as 2Ti_4:7, ‘I have finished the course’ suggests, the running contest is meant, ‘fight’ is misleading. Not much less so is Farrar’s and Alford’s ‘strive the good strife.’ But for the associations which have gathered round our familiar ‘fight,’ and which have prevailed perhaps with the Revisers, we should be surely nearest—for a reader coming fresh to it—with the rendering ‘contest.’ And the weighty verb, present in tense, placed at the commencement of the sentence, is better represented by Longfellow’s ‘Be a hero in the strife’ than by keeping too close to the identity of verb and noun. We may render then, Play thou the man in the good contest of the Faith.

lay hold on eternal life] More force is given to the intended point by R.V. the life eternal. The verb and noun recur v. 19, but the epithet is changed to ‘the true,’ ‘the real.’ (see note.) And this at once suggests to us that ‘eternal life’ is not regarded by St Paul here only as ‘the prize,’ but as also the ‘straight course’ to be now vigorously laid hold of; that ‘the life eternal’ in fact is exactly the same as ‘the life which now is, and the life which is to come’ of 4:8, where the metaphor is also of the games. See notes there. Christ is our ‘strength’ as well as our ‘right’; ‘the path’ as well as ‘the prize.’ The present imperative refers to the bearing of Timothy through the whole contest; the aorist is, as it were, the voice of the earnest friend standing at a critical corner of the course and rousing him to renewed energy, ‘now lay hold.’ What Cambridge athlete of the river or the path but knows the value of this? What Christian athlete of the heavenly course? In no way more beautifully could the view now given be expressed than in Dr Monsell’s hymn:

‘Fight the good fight with all thy might,

Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right;

Lay hold on life, and it shall be

Thy joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,

Lift up thine eyes and seek His Face;

Life with its way before us lies,

Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.’

whereunto thou art also called] Properly, omitting ‘also,’ thou wast called at thy baptism, and, more particularly still, at thy ordination, cf. 1:18, 4:14. Compare the present language of the Prayer-Book; Order for Private Baptism—‘Our Lord Jesus Christ doth not deny His grace and mercy unto such Infants, but most lovingly doth call them unto Him’; the Catechism—‘He hath called me to this state of salvation,’ ‘God the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God’; Ordering of Priests—‘Thou hast vouchsafed to call these thy servants here present to the same office and ministry.’ The direct metaphor is no longer probably continued.

hast professed a good profession] Lit., as R.V. didst confess the good confession; ‘the good confession’ like ‘the good contest’ with reference to its spiritual character, the faith and obedience of Christ. See next verse.

before many witnesses] in the sight of, the word being taken up in the appeal of the next verse to ‘a more tremendous Presence’ (Ellicott).

Pulpit Commentary


The faith for faith, A.V.; the life eternal for eternal life, A.V.; wast for art also, A.V. and T.R.; didst confess the good confession for hast professed a good profession, A.V.; in the sight of for before, A.V. Fight the good fight. This is not quite a happy rendering. Ἀγών is the “contest” at the Olympic assembly for any of the prizes, in wrestling, chariot-racing, foot-racing, music, or what not. Ἀγωνίζεσθαι τὸν ἀγῶνα is to “carry on such a contest”. The comparison is different from that in 1Ti_1:18, ἵνα στρατεύῃ .. τὴν καλὴν στρατείαν,” That thou mayest war the good warfare.” The faith. There is nothing to determine absolutely whether ἡ πίστις here means faith subjectively or “the faith” objectively, nor does it much matter. The result is the same; but the subjective sense seems the most appropriate. Lay hold, etc.; as the βραβεῖον or prize of the contest (see 1Co_9:24, 1Co_9:25). Whereunto thou wast called. So St. Paul continually (Rom_1:1, Rom_1:6, Rom_1:7; Rom_8:28, Rom_8:30; 1Co_1:29; Eph_4:1; 1Th_2:12; and numerous other passages). He seems here to drop the metaphor, as in the following clause. Didst confess the good confession. The connection of this phrase with the call to eternal life, and the allusion to one special occasion on which Timothy “had confessed the good confession” of his faith in Jesus Christ, seems to point clearly to his baptism (see Mat_10:32; Joh_9:22; Joh_12:42; Heb_10:23). The phrase, “the good confession,” seems to have been technically applied to the baptismal confession of Christ (compare the other Church sayings, 1Ti_1:15; 1Ti_3:1; 1Ti_4:9; 2Ti_2:11; Tit_3:8). In the sight of many witnesses. The whole congregation of the Church, who were witnesses of his baptism (see the rubric prefixed to the Order of “Ministration of Public Baptism” in the Book of Common Prayer).

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of faith – The noble conflict in the cause of religion; see the notes on Eph_6:10-17; compare notes on 1Co_9:26-27. The allusion is to the contests at the Grecian games.

Lay hold on eternal life – As the crown of victory that is held out to you. Seize this as eagerly as the competitors at the Grecian games laid hold on the prize; see the notes on 1Co_9:25.

Whereunto thou art also called – That is, by the Spirit of God, and by the very nature of your profession. God does not “call” his people that they may become rich; he does not convert them in order that they may devote themselves to the business of gain. They are “called” to a higher and nobler work. Yet how many professing Christians there are who seem to live as if God had “called” them to the special business of making money, and who devote themselves to it with a zeal and assiduity that would do honor to such a calling, if this had been the grand object which God had in view in converting them!

And hast professed a good profession before many witnesses – That is, either when he embraced the Christian religion, and made a public profession of it in the presence of the church and of the world; or when he was solemnly set apart to the ministry; or as he in his Christian life had been enabled publicly to evince his attachment to the Saviour. I see no reason to doubt that the apostle may have referred to the former, and that in early times a profession of religion may have been openly made before the church and the world. Such a method of admitting members to the church would have been natural, and would have been fitted to make a deep impression on others. It is a good thing often to remind professors of religion of the feelings which they had when they made a profession of religion; of the fact that the transaction was witnessed by the world; and of the promises which they then made to lead holy lives. One of the best ways of stimulating ourselves or others to the faithful performance of duty, is the remembrance of the vows then made; and one of the most effectual methods of reclaiming a backslider is to bring to his remembrance that solemn hour when he publicly gave himself to God.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:13

13I charge thee The great vehemence of solemn appeal, which Paul employs, is a proof how rare and hard a virtue it is, to persevere in the ministry, in a proper manner, till the end; for, although he exhorts others, in the person of Timothy, yet he addresses him also.

Before God, who quickeneth all things What he affirms concerning Christ and concerning God, has an immediate relation to the present subject; for, when he ascribes this to God, that he quickeneth all things, he wishes to meet the offense of the cross, which presents to us nothing but the appearance of death. He therefore means, that we should shut our eyes, when ungodly men hold out and threaten death; or rather, that we should fix our eyes on God alone, because it is he who restoreth the dead to life. The amount of the whole is, that, turning away our gaze from the world, we should learn to look at God alone.

And Christ Jesus, who testified a good confession before Pontius Pilate. What he now adds about Christ contains a remarkable confirmation; for we are taught, that we are not in the school of Plato, to learn philosophy from him, and to hear him discoursing in the shade about idle disputes; but that the doctrine which Timothy professes was ratified by the death of the Son of God. Christ made his confession before Pilate, not in a multitude of words, but in reality; that is, by undergoing a voluntary death; for, although Christ chose to be silent before Pilate, rather than speak in his own defense, because he had come thither — devoted already to a certain condemnation; yet in his silence there was a defense of his doctrine not less magnificent than if he had defended himself with a loud voice. He ratified it by his blood, and by the sacrifice of his death, better than he could have ratified it by his voice.

This confession the Apostle calls good. For Socrates also died; and yet his death was not a satisfactory proof of the doctrine which he held. But when we hear that the blood of the Son of God was shed, that is an authentic seal which removes all our doubt. Accordingly, whenever our hearts waver, let us remember that we should always go to the death of Christ for confirmation. What cowardice would there be in deserting such a leader going before us to show us the way!

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 6:13. God, who quickeneth] The word which has the sanction of the mss. points to God as Preserver of Life, rather than as Creator; but R.V. leaves quickeneth in the text because ‘New every morning is the love Our wakening and uprising prove.’

The word is especially suitable, looking back to the charge to ‘lay hold strongly of the true heavenly life.’

before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession] the good confession. The meaning may be either (1) ‘suffered under (i.e. in the time of) Pontius Pilate,’ and as the faithful Witness (Rev_1:5) made that good confession of the Cross, and in it of His Father’s love, His own Sacrifice, which has inspired every life of witness and every martyr’s death, or (2) ‘before (i.e. before the tribunal of) Pontius Pilate attested the good confession’ as ‘true King,’ i.e. ‘very Lord and Christ;’ this it is which the oral Gospel must have taught as the basis on which Mat_27:11; Mar_15:2; Luk_23:3; Joh_18:33-37 were founded; this it is which from St Peter’s sermon (Act_2:36) to St John’s epistles (1Jn_4:14, 1Jn_4:15) and thence to every Ordination and every Holy Baptism has been confessed by Christendom. Though the whole passage is more than polemical, the form of ‘the charge’ is affected perhaps by the thought of that teaching which was beginning to assail the old ‘knowledge’ and creed about the person of Christ; and so the second which is the sharper, more defined, interpretation may be preferable. The later phraseology seems to take up and draw out more fully the language here, 1Jn_4:14, 1Jn_4:15, 1Jn_4:3:23.

‘Before’ of place and ‘under’ of time are equally admissible for the preposition: see note on 5:19.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 6:13

quickeneth all things — that is, “maketh alive.” But the oldest manuscripts read, “preserveth alive”; as the same Greek means in Act_7:19; compare Neh_9:6. He urges Timothy to faithfulness here by the present manifestation of God’s power in preserving all things, as in 1Ti_6:14, by the future manifestation of God’s power at the appearing of Christ. The assurance that “eternal life,” 1Ti_6:12, will be the result of “fighting the good fight,” rests on the fullness and power of Him who is the God of all life, present and to come.

witnessed — It was the Lord’s part to witness, Timothy’s part to confess (or “profess,” 1Ti_6:12) “the good confession” [Bengel]. The confession was His testimony that He was King, and His kingdom that of the truth (see on 1Ti_6:12; 1Ti_6:15; Mat_27:11). Christ, in attesting, or bearing witness to this truth, attested the truth of the whole of Christianity. Timothy’s profession, or confession, included therefore the whole of the Christian truth.

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 6:13

Quickeneth (ζωογονοῦντος)

oP. Rend. who preserveth alive. Quickeneth is according to the reading ζωοποιοῦντος maketh alive. Comp. lxx, Exo_1:17; Jdg_8:19. This association of God as the preserver with confession is noteworthy in Mat_10:28-33.

Witnessed a good confession (μαρτυρήσαντος τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν)

Letter, the or his good confession. The phrase is unique. The good confession is the historical confession of Jesus before Pilate, which is the warrant for the truthfulness of Timothy’s confession. Christ is called “the faithful and true witness” (μάρτυς), Rev_1:5; Rev_3:14. It is true that μάρτυς was used very early of those who laid down their lives for the truth (see Act_22:20; Rev_2:13), and Polycarp speaks of τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ σταυροῦ the witness of the cross (Phil. vii.); but this did not become general until after the end of the second century.

Before Pontius Pilate

The mention of Pontius Pilate in connection with the crucifixion is of constant occurrence in early Christian writings. See Ignatius:

Magn. xi (“I desire to guard you beforehand, that ye fall not upon the hooks of vain doctrine, but that ye attain to full assurance in regard to the birth, and passion, and resurrection which took place in the time of the government of Pontius Pilate, being truly and certainly accomplished by Jesus Christ, who is our hope, (1Ti_1:1) from which may no one of you ever be turned aside.”) ;

Tral. ix (“Stop your ears,therefore, when any one speaks to you at variance with Jesus Christ, who was descended from David, and was also of Mary; who was truly born, and did eat and drink. He was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate; He was truly crucified, and [truly] died, in the sight of beings in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth. He was also truly raised from the dead, His Father quickening Him, even as after the same manner His Father will so raise up us who believe in Him by Christ Jesus, apart from whom we do not possess the true life.”) ;

Smyrn. i.(“For I have observed that ye are perfected in an immoveable faith, as if ye were nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, both in the flesh and in the spirit, and are established in love through the blood of Christ, being fully persuaded with respect to our Lord, that He was truly of the seed of David according to the flesh, (Rom_1:3) and the Son of God according to the will and power of God; that He was truly born of a virgin, was baptized by John, in order that all righteousness might be fulfilled (Mat_3:15) by Him; and was truly, under Pontius Pilate and Herod the tetrarch, nailed [to the cross] for us in His flesh.”)

It has been supposed that these words were taken from a liturgical confession in which the Christian faith was professed.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:13

I give thee charge in the sight God – see the notes on 1Ti_5:21.

Who quickeneth all things – Who gives life to all; notes on Eph_2:1. It is not quite clear why the apostle refers to this attribute of God as enforcing the charge which he here makes. Perhaps he means to say that God is the source of life, and that as he had given life to Timothy – natural and spiritual – he had a right to require that it should be employed in his service; and that, if, in obedience to this charge and in the performance of his duties, he should be required to lay down his life, he should bear in remembrance that God had power to raise him up again. This is more distinctly urged in 2Ti_2:8-10.

And before Christ Jesus – As in the presence of Christ, and stimulated by his example.

Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession – Margin, “profession.” The same Greek word is used which in 1Ti_6:12 is translated “profession.” The reference is to the fact that the Lord Jesus, when standing at the bar of Pilate who claimed to have power over his life, did not shrink from an open avowal of the truth; Joh_18:36-37. Nothing can be better fitted to preserve our minds steadfast in the faith, and to enable us to maintain our sacred vows in this world when allured by temptation, or when ridiculed for our religion, than to remember the example of the Lord Jesus; Let us place him before us as he stood at the bar of Pilate – threatened with death in its most appalling form, and ridiculed for the principles which he maintained; let us look on him, friendless and alone, and see with what seriousness, and sincerity, and boldness he stated the simple truth about himself, and we shall have one of the best securities that we can have, that we shall not dishonor our profession. A clear view of the example of Christ our Saviour, in those circumstances, and a deep conviction that his eye is upon us to discern whether we are steadfast as he was, will do more than all abstract precepts to make us faithful to our christian calling.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:14

14That thou, keep the commandment. By the word commandment he means all that he hath hitherto said about the office of Timothy, the sum of which was, that he should show himself to be a faithful minister to Christ and to the Church. What is the use of extending this to the whole law? But perhaps it will be thought preferable to view it as denoting the office which he had received by divine authority; for we are appointed to be ministers of the Church on no other condition than this, that God enjoins upon us whatever he wishes us to do. Thus to “keep the commandment” would be nothing else than to discharge honestly the office committed to him. I certainly view it as referring altogether to the ministry of Timothy.

Spotless and unblameable Whether we consider the case or the termination of the two Greek adjectives which are thus translated, they may apply either to the commandment given, or to the person of Timothy; but the meaning which I have assigned is much more appropriate. Paul informs Timothy, that he must he wish to discharge his office in a proper manner.

Till the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ It is impossible to tell how necessary it was to all the godly, at that time, to have their mind entirely fixed on the day of Christ; because innumerable offenses existed everywhere in the world. They were assailed on every hand, were universally hated and abhorred, were exposed to the mockeries of all, were oppressed every day with new calamities; and yet they saw no fruit of so many toils and annoyances. What then remained, but that in thought they should fly away to that blessed day of our redemption?

Yet the same reason is in force with regard to us in the present day, and indeed applies equally to almost every age. How many things does Satan constantly present to our eyes, which, but for this, would a thousand times draw us aside from the right course! I say nothing about fires, and swords, and banishments, and all time furious attacks of enemies. I say nothing about slanders and other vexations. How many things are within, that are far worse! Ambitious men openly attack us, Epicureans and Lucianists jeer at us, impudent men provoke us, hypocrites murmur at us, they who are wise after the flesh secretly bite us, we are harassed by various methods in every direction. In short, it is a great miracle that any man perseveres steadfastly in an office so difficult and so dangerous. The only remedy for all these difficulties is, to cast our eyes towards the appearing of Christ, and to keep them fixed on it continually.

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 6:14. that thou keep this commandment] the commandment; this phrase in the singular or plural (as indicated above, v. 13) specially characterises St John’s first epistle and is closely linked with the confession of the true Christ: and the commandment there is ‘love’: see e.g. 1Jn_3:23. Again St Paul here, in vv. 13, 14, ‘I charge thee’ &c. Is clearly recurring to ‘the charge’ of 1:5, ‘the end’ of which is ‘love, out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned.’ We have therefore no difficulty as to ‘the commandment’ here.

without spot, unrebukeable] Both words used of persons only in N.T., elsewhere of things; the latter has occurred 3:2 and 5:7, and so A.V. apparently here refers them to Timothy; R.V. alters, giving the alliter ation and leaving open the question whether they agree with the subject or the object without spot, without reproach. The early Greek interpreters take them with ‘commandment,’ which on the whole the construction favours.

the appearing of our Lord] At His second Advent; lit. ‘the Epiphany.’ After use in the Apostle’s earliest letters, 2Th_2:8, which dealt directly with the subject, the word has been dormant till now; now in each of the latest letters (here and Tit_2:13 and 2Ti_4:1 and 8) it shines out, as is so natural after the 15 years that have made an old man of him:—‘Surely the world too is growing old; Timothy may see His coming: yet let it be its own time—no nearer, no further.’

Pulpit Commentary


The for this, A.V. without reproach for unrebukable, A.V. The commandment (τὴν ἐντολὴν). The phrase is peculiar, and must have some special meaning. Perhaps, as Bishop Wordsworth expounds it, “the commandment” is that law of faith and duty to which Timothy vowed obedience at his baptism, and is parallel to “the good confession.” Some think that the command given in 1Ti_6:11, 1Ti_6:12 is referred to; and this is the meaning of the A.V. “this.” Without spot, without reproach. There is a difference of opinion among commentators, whether these two adjectives (ἄσπιλον ἀνέπιληπτον) belong to the commandment or to the person, i.e. Timothy. The introduction of σέ after τηρῆσαι; the facts that τηρῆσαι τὰς ἐντόλας, without any addition, means “to keep the commandments,” and that in the New Testament, ἄσπιλος and ἀνέπιληπτος always are used of persons, not things (Jas_1:27; 1Pe_1:19; 2Pe_3:14; 1Ti_3:2, 1Ti_5:7); and the consideration that the idea of the person being found blameless in, or kept blameless unto, the coming of Christ. is a frequent one in the Epistles (Jud 24; 2Pe_3:14; 1Co_1:8; Col_1:22; 1Th_3:13; 1Th_5:23),—seem to point strongly, if not conclusively, to the adjectives ἄσπιλον and ἀνεπίληπτον here agreeing with σέ, not with ἐντολήν. The appearing (τὴν ἐπιφανείαν). The thought of the second advent of the Lord Jesus, always prominent in the mind of St. Paul (1Co_1:7, 1Co_1:8; 1Co_4:5; 1Co_15:23; Col_3:4; 1Th_3:13; 1Th_4:1-18.!5; 2Th_1:9, etc.), seems to have acquired fresh intensity amidst the troubles and dangers of the closing years of his life, both as an object of hope and as a motive of action (2Ti_1:10; 2Ti_2:12; 2Ti_4:1, 2Ti_4:8; Tit_2:13).

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 6:14

Commandment (ἐντολὴν)

Usually of a single commandment or injunction, but sometimes for the whole body of the moral precepts of Christianity, as 2Pe_2:21; 2Pe_3:2. The reference may be explained by ἡ παραγγελία the commandment, 1Ti_1:5, meaning the gospel as the divine standard of conduct and faith. Comp. 2Ti_1:14. The phrase τηρεῖν τὴν ἐντολὴν to keep the commandment is Johannine. See Joh_14:15, Joh_14:21; Joh_15:10; 1Jo_2:3, 1Jo_2:4; 1Jo_3:22, 1Jo_3:24; 1Jo_5:3.

Without spot (ἄσπιλον)

Unsullied. Comp. Jam_1:27; 1Pe_1:19; 2Pe_3:14.

Appearing (ἐπιφανείας)

See on 2Th_2:8. In the Books of Maccabees it is used to describe appearances and interventions of God for the aid of his people. See 2 Macc. 2:21; 3:24; 14:15; 15:27; 3 Macc. 5:8, 51. In 2Ti_4:18, and Tit_2:13, it denotes, as here, the second coming of Christ. In 2Ti_1:10, his historical manifestation, for which also the verb ἐπιφαίνειν is used, Tit_2:11; Tit_3:4. for the Lord is second advent Paul commonly uses παρουσία presence; once the verb φανεροῦν to make manifest (Col_3:4), and once ἀποκάλυψις revelation (2Th_1:7). It is quite possible that the word ἐπιφάνεια, so characteristic of these Epistles, grew out of the Gnostic vocabulary, in which it was used of the sudden appearing of the hitherto concealed heavenly aeon, Christ. This they compared to a sudden light from heaven; and Christ, who thus appeared, though only docetically, without an actual fleshly body, was styled σωτὴρ savior, although his oneness with the God of creation was denied. The Creator and the Redeemer were not the same, but were rather opposed. Christ was only a factor of a great cosmological process of development. As Neander observes: “The distinctive aim of the Gnostics was to apprehend the appearance of Christ and the new creation proceeding from him in their connection with the evolution of the whole universe.”

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:15

15Which in his seasons he will show We are commonly hasty in our wishes, and not far from prescribing a day and hour to God, as if we should say, that he must not delay to perform anything that he has promised; and for that reason the Apostle takes an early opportunity of restraining excessive haste, by expecting the coming of Christ. For that is the meaning of the words, “which in his seasons he will show.” When men know that the proper time for anything is not fully come, they wait for it more patiently. How comes it that we are so patient in bearing with the order of nature, but because we are restrained by this consideration, that we shall act unreasonably, if we struggle against it with our desires? Thus we know, that the revelation of Christ has its appointed time, for which we must wait patiently.

The blessed and only Prince Those splendid titles are here employed in exalting the princely authority of God, in order that the brilliancy of the princes of this world may not dazzle our eyes. And such instruction was, at that time, especially necessary; for by how much all kingdoms were then great and powerful, by so much were the majesty and glory of God thrown into the shade. For all that governed the kingdoms of the world not only were deadly enemies of the kingdom of God, but proudly mocked at God, and trampled his sacred name under their feet; and the greater the haughtiness with which they despised true religion, the more happy did they imagine themselves to be. From such an aspect of things who would not have concluded that God was miserably vanquished and oppressed? We see to what a pitch of insolence Cicero rises against the Jews on account of their humbled condition, in his oration for Flaccus.

When good men see that the wicked are puffed up with prosperity, they are sometimes cast down; and therefore Paul, for the purpose of withdrawing the eyes of the godly from that transitory splendor, ascribes to God alone “blessedness, principality, and kingly power.” When he calls God the only prince, he does not overthrow civil government, as if there ought to be no magistrates or kings in the world, but means that it is He alone who reigns from himself and from his own power. This is evident from what follows, which he adds by way of exposition, —

King of kings, and Lord of lords The sum of it is, that all the governments of the world are subject to his dominion, depend upon him, and stand or fall at his bidding, but that the authority of God is beyond all comparison, because all the rest are nothing as compared with his glory, and while they fade and quickly perish, his authority will endure for ever.

Pulpit Commentary


Its own for his, A.V. This correction seems to be manifestly right. The same phrase is rendered in 1Ti_2:6 and Tit_1:3 “in due time,” in the A.V.; but in the R.Tit_2:6 is “its own times,” and in Tit_1:3 “his own seasons. In Gal_6:9 καίρῳ ἰδίῳ is also rendered “in due season,” in both the A.V. and the R.V. Such a phrase as ἐν καιροῖς ἰδίοις must be taken everywhere in the same sense. It clearly means at the fitting or proper time, and corresponds to the πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου, “the fullness of time,” in Gal_4:4. The two ideas are combined in Luk_1:20 (πληρωθήσονται εἰς τὸν καιρὸν αὐτῶν) and Luk_21:24 (comp. Eph_1:10). Shall show (δείξει). Δεικνύειν ἐπιφανείαν, “to show an appearing,” is a somewhat unusual phrase, and is more classical than scriptural. The verb and the object are not of cognate sense (as “to display a display,” or “to manifest a manifestation”), but the invisible God, God the Father, will, it is said, display the Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wonder displayed and manifested to the world is the appearing of Christ in his glory. The Author of that manifestation is God. The blessed; ὁ μακάριος, is only here and in 1Ti_1:11 (where see note) applied to God in Scripture. The blessed and only Potentate. The phrase is a remarkable one. Δυνάστης (Potentate), which is only found elsewhere in the New Testament in Luk_1:52 and Act_8:27, is applied to God here only. It is, however, so applied in 2Ma Act_3:24; Act_12:15; Act_15:23, where we have Πάσης ἐξουσιας δυνάστης Γόν μέγαν τοῦ κόσμου δυνάστην, and Δυνάστα τῶν οὐρανῶν; in all which places, as here, the phrase is used to signify, by way of contrast, the superiority of the power of God over all earthly power. In the first of the above-cited passages the language is singularly like that here used by St. Paul. For it is said that ὁ πάσης ἐξουσίας δυνάστης, “the Prince (or Potentate) of all power made a great apparition,” or “appearing” (ἐπιφονείαν μεγάλην ἐποίησεν), for the overthrow of the blasphemer and persecutor Heliodorus. St. Paul must have had this in his mind, and compared the effect of “the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” in overthrowing the Neros of the earth with the overthrow of Heliodorus. King of kings, and Lord of lords, etc. (compare the slightly different phrase in Roy. Act_17:14 and Act_19:16, applied to the Son). So in Psa_136:2, Psa_136:3, God is spoken of as “God of gods, and Lord of lords.”

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:16

16Who alone hath immortality Paul labors to demonstrate that there is no happiness, no dignity or excellence, no life, out of God. Accordingly, he now says that God alone is immortal, in order to inform us, that we and all the creatures do not, strictly speaking, live, but only borrow life from Him. Hence it follows that, when we look up to God as the fountain of immortal life, we should reckon this present life as of no value.

But it is objected, that the human soul and angels have their immortality, and therefore this cannot be truly affirmed of God alone. I reply, when it is said, that God alone possesses immortality, it is not here denied that he bestows it, as he pleases, on any of his creatures. The meaning is the same as if Paul had said that God alone is immortal from himself and from his own nature, but has immortality in his power; so that it does not belong to creatures, except so far as he imparts to them power and vigor; for if you take away the power of God which is communicated to the soul of man, it will instantly fade away; and the same thing may be said about angels. Strictly speaking, therefore, immortality does not subsist in the nature of souls or of angels, but comes from another source, namely, from the secret inspiration of God, agreeably to that saying, “In him we live, and move, and are.” (Act_17:28.)

If any one wish to have a larger and more acute discussion of this subject, let him consult the twelfth book of Augustine “On the City of God.”

Who inhabiteth unapproachable light He means two things, that God is concealed from us, and yet that the cause of obscurity is not in himself, as if be were hidden in darkness, but in ourselves, who, on account of the weak vision, or rather the dullness of our understanding, cannot approach to his light. We must understand that the light of God is unapproachable, if any one endeavor to approach to it in his own strength; for, if God did not open up the entrance to us by his grace, the prophet would not say:

“They who draw near to him are enlightened.” (Psa_34:5.)

Yet it is true that, while we are surrounded by this mortal flesh, we never penetrate so far into the deepest secrets of God as to have nothing hidden from us; for

“we know in part, and we see as by a mirror, and in a riddle.” (1Co_13:9.)

By faith, therefore, we enter into the light of God, but only in part. Still it is true, that it is a “light unapproachable” by man.

Whom no man hath seen or can see This is added for the sake of additional explanation, that men may learn to look by faith to him, whom they cannot see with the bodily eyes, or even with the powers of their understanding; for I view this as referring not only to the bodily eyes, but also to the faculties of the soul. We must always consider what is the Apostle’s design. It is difficult for us to overlook and disregard all those things of which we have immediate vision, that we may endeavor to come to God, who is nowhere to be seen. For this thought always comes into our mind: “How knowest thou if there is a God, seeing that thou only hearest that he is, and dost not see him?” The Apostle fortifies us against this danger, by affirming that it ought not to be judged according to our senses, because it exceeds our capacity; for the reason why we do not see is, that our sight is not so keen as to ascend to so great a height.

There is a long dispute in Augustine on this point, because it appears to contradict what is said, in the first Epistle, “Then shall we see him as he is, because we shall be like him.”(1Jo_3:2.)

While he reasons on this subject in many passages, there appears to me to be none in which he explains it more clearly than in the letter which he writes to the widow Paulina.

So far as relates to the meaning of the present passage, the answer is easy, that we cannot see God in this nature, as it is said elsewhere, “Flesh and blood shall not possess the kingdom of God.”(1Co_15:50.)

We must be renewed, that we may be like God, before it be granted to us to see him. And that our curiosity may not be beyond measure, let us always remember, that the manner of living is of more importance in this inquiry than the manner of speaking. At the same time, let us remember the judicious caution which Augustine gives us, to be on our guard lest, while we are keenly disputing how God can be seen, we lose both peace and sanctification, without which no man can ever see God.

1 Timothy 6:16

Who only hath immortality (ὁ μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν)

Comp. ἀφθάρτῳ incorruptible, 1Ti_1:17. It has been suggested that there is here a possible allusion to the practice of deifying the Roman emperors, with an implied protest against paying them divine honors. In the Asian provinces generally, this imperial cultus was organised as the highest and most authoritative religion. Domitian (81-96 a.d.) assumed the titles of “Lord” and “God,” and insisted on being addressed as Dominus et Deus noster in all communications to himself. Trajan (98-117 a.d.) forbade his subjects to address him as “Lord” and “God,” but Pliny (112 a.d.) required the citizens of Bithynia to pay divine honors to Trajan’s statue. Hadrian (117-138 a.d.) allowed the worship of his statues.

In light

Comp. Psa_103:2; 1Jo_1:5, 1Jo_1:7; Jam_1:17.

Which no man can approach unto (ἀπρόσιτον)

More simply, unapproachable. N.T.o. olxx.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:16

Who only hath immortality – The word here – ἀθανασία athanasia – properly means “exemption from death,” and seems to mean that God, in his own nature, enjoys a perfect and certain exemption from death. Creatures have immortality only as they derive it from him, and of course are dependent on him for it. He has it by his very nature, and it is in his case underived, and he cannot be deprived of it. It is one of the essential attributes of his being, that he will always exist, and that death cannot reach him; compare the expression in Joh_5:26, “The Father hath life in himself,” and the notes on that passage.

Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto – Greek, “Inhabiting inapproachable light.” The light where he dwells is so brilliant and dazzling that mortal eyes could not endure it. This is a very common representation of the dwelling place of God. See examples quoted in Pricaeus, in loc. Heaven is constantly represented as a place of the most pure and brilliant light, needing not the light of the sun, or the moon, or the stars Rev_21:23-24; Rev_22:5, and God is represented as dwelling in that light, surrounded by amazing and inapproachable glory compare Rev_4:6; Eze_1:4; Heb_1:3.

Whom no man hath seen nor can see – notes on Joh_1:18.

To whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen – see the notes on Rom_11:36.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:17

17Command (or charge) those who are rich There being many among Christians who were poor and in a mean condition, it is probable that they were despised (as usually happens) by the rich; and especially this might be common at Ephesus, which was a wealthy city; for in such cities, for the most part, pride is more extensively prevalent. And hence we infer how dangerous is a great abundance of riches. Nor are there wanting good reasons why Paul addresses so severe an admonition to the rich; but it is for the purpose of remedying faults which almost always follow riches in the same manner as the shadow follows the body; and that through the depravity of our natural disposition, for out of the gifts of God we always draw an occasion for sinning.

That they be not haughty, nor hope in the uncertainty of riches He expressly mentions two things against which rich men ought to be on their guard, pride and deceitful hope, of which the former springs from the latter. Accordingly, Paul appears to have added, in the same place, “nor hope in the uncertainty of riches,” in order to point out the source of all pride. For whence comes it, that rich men grow insolent, and take extreme delight in despising others, but because they imagine that they are supremely happy? Vain confidence goes first, and then arrogance follows.

Rich in this world When Paul wishes to correct those faults, he first speaks contemptuously of riches; for the phrase, in this world, is intended to lower them in our esteem. All that is in the world has the taste of its nature; so that it is fading, and quickly passes away. The uncertainty and vanity of the hope that is placed in riches are shewn by him from this consideration, that the possession of them is so transitory that it is like a thing unknown; for, while we think that we hold them, they slip out of our hands in a moment. How foolish is it, therefore, to place our hope in them!

But in the living God He who understands this will find no difficulty in withdrawing his hope from riches; for, if it is God alone who supplies us with everything for the necessary purposes of life, we transfer to riches what is this prerogative, when we place hope in them. Now observe that there is an implied contrast, when he affirms that God giveth abundantly to all. The meaning is, that, although we have a full and overflowing abundance of all things, yet we have nothing but from the blessing of God alone; for it is that blessing alone which imparts to us all that is needful.

Hence it follows, that they are egregiously mistaken, who rely on riches, and do not depend entirely on the blessing of God, in which consists a sufficiency of food and of everything else. Hence also we conclude, that we are forbidden to trust in riches, not only because they belong to the use of mortal life, but likewise because they are nothing but smoke; for we are fed, not by bread only, but by the blessing of God. (Deu_8:3.) (133)

When he says πλουσίως εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν, abundantly for enjoyment, he describes how kind God is to us, and even to all men, and to the brute beasts; for his kindness extends far and wide beyond our necessity. (Psa_36:6.)

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 6:17. them that are rich in this world] Or more exactly in the present world, this being the peculiar phrase of these Epistles equivalent to the general ‘this world.’ So 2Ti_4:10, of Demas ‘having loved the present world;’ Tit_2:12, ‘live soberly … in this present world.’ The word ‘world’ is literally ‘age,’ having original reference to time, and so denoting the physical, social, or spiritual state of things at the given time.

be not highminded] Not as we now speak of a ‘noble highminded man,’ but as of ‘too high and mighty a bearing,’ cf. Psa_131:1, Prayer-Book, ‘Lord, I am not highminded: I have no proud looks.’ The compound verb occurs in N.T. only Rom_11:20, ‘Be not highminded, but fear;’ ‘do not, because of your Christian standing, assume a lofty superiority over your “broken” Jewish brother;’ and the phrase of which it is compounded only Rom_12:16, ‘Be of the same mind one toward another. Set not your mind on high things, but condescend to things that are lowly.’

nor trust in uncertain riches] it is the same perfect as 4:10 and 5:5, and the substantive of character; R.V. accurately, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches.

in the living God] The ms. authority is against the adjective here, and in favour of the preposition ‘upon’ rather than ‘in,’ but on God. ‘Living’ has come in from 4:10, where (see note) it has its own appropriateness.

all things] Relative or rhetorical, not absolute; as v. 10.

to enjoy] Lit. ‘for enjoyment’; the word in N.T. recurs only Heb_11:25 of Moses at court, ‘to have enjoyment of sin for a season.’

1 Timothy 6:17

Them that are rich in this world (τοῖς πλουσίοις ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι)

Forming one conception. Chrysostom says:; “Rich in this world, for others are rich in the world to come.” Comp. Luk_16:25. Πλουσίος rich, by Paul only metaphorically. See 2Co_8:9; Eph_2:4. The phrase ὁ νῦν αἰών the now age, only here and Tit_2:12, the usual expression being ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος this age or world, which is not found in Pastorals.

Be not highminded (μὴ ὑψηλοφρονεῖν)

The verb N.T.o. olxx, oClass. Comp. Rom_11:20; Rom_12:16.

Uncertain riches (πλούτου ἀδηλότητι)

A rendering which weakens the sense by withdrawing the emphasis from the thought of uncertainty. Rend. the uncertainty of riches. For a similar construction see Rom_6:4. Ἁδηλότης uncertainty, N.T.o. olxx. Originally obscurity. Πλοῦτος wealth, frequent in Paul, but never in the material sense. The play upon the word rich in this and the next verse will be noticed.

To enjoy (εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν)

Lit. for enjoyment. Only here and Heb_11:25. See 3 Macc. 7:16. In class. occasionally, but the verb ἀπολαύειν to have enjoyment or benefit is common. 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 the next verse.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 6:17

Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded – One of the evils to which they are particularly exposed. The idea is, that they should not value themselves on account of their wealth, or look down with pride and arrogance on their inferiors. They should not suppose that they are any better people or any nearer heaven, because they are wealthy. Property really makes no distinction in the great things that pertain to character and salvation, It does not necessarily make one wise, or learned, or great, or good. In all these things, the man who has not wealth may be vastly the superior of him who has; and for so slight and unimportant a distinction as gold can confer, no man should be proud. Besides, let such a man reflect that his property is the gift of God; that he is made rich because God has chosen to arrange things so that he should be; that it is not primarily owing to any skill or wisdom which he has; that his property only increases his responsibility, and that it must all soon be left, and he be as poor as the “beggar that lies at his gate;” and he will see ample reason why he should not be proud.

Nor trust in uncertain riches – Margin, “The uncertainty of.” The margin expresses the meaning of the Greek more accurately than the text, but the sense is not materially varied. Riches are uncertain because they may soon be taken away. No dependence can be placed on them in the emergencies of life. He who is rich today, has no security that he will be tomorrow; and if he shall be rich tomorrow, he has no certainty that his riches will meet his necessities then. A man whose house is in flames, or who is shipwrecked, or whose child lies dying, or who is himself in the agonizes of death, can derive no advantage from the fact that he is richer than other people; see notes on Luk_12:16-21. That against which Paul here directs Timothy to caution the rich, is that to which they are most exposed. A man who is rich, is very liable to “trust” in His riches, and to suppose that he needs nothing more; compare Luk_12:19. He feels that he is not dependent on his fellow-men, and he is very likely to feel that he is not dependent on God. It is for this cause that God has recorded so many solemn declarations in his word respecting the instability of riches (compare Pro_23:5), and that he is furnishing so many instructive lessons in his providence, showing how easily riches may suddenly vanish away.

But in the living God –

(1) He is able to supply all our needs, and to do for us what riches cannot do; and,

(2) He never changes, or leaves those who put their trust in him. He is able to meet our needs if in the flames, or in a storm at sea, or when a friend dies, or when we lie down on a bed of death, or wherever we may be in the eternal world.

Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy – The meaning of this seems to be, that God permits us to enjoy everything. Everything in the works of creation and redemption he has given to man for his happiness, and he should therefore trust in him. He has not merely given wealth for the comfort of people, but he has given everything, and he on whom so many and so great blessings have been bestowed for his comfort, should trust in the great Benefactor himself, and not rely merely on one of his gifts; compare notes on 1Co_3:21-23.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:18

18 To do good He adds another remedy to the former, for correcting the sinful dispositions of rich men, by stating authoritatively what is the lawful use of riches; for the richer any man is, the more abundant are his means of doing good to others; and because we are always more tardy than we ought to be in giving to the poor, he employs many words in commendation of that virtue.

Cambridge Bible

18. that they do good] Another of the many compound words; used however (according to the right reading) of God in providence, Act_14:17, ‘in that He did good;’ stronger than the ordinary word (e.g. Luk_6:9), and taken up in the next clause; render that they work at doing good.

rich in good works] The riches are jewels of God’s giving, and can be best seen and best enjoyed ‘in a setting of fair works.’ The two adjectives for ‘good’ here have a distinction, but not that given by Alford; the first according to a probable derivation signifying what is ‘kind and good’ in its inner character in a man’s conduct towards others, the second what is ‘fair and gracious’ in outer expression and bearing. The two together came to be used at Athens as one phrase to denote ‘a gentleman.’ And so such a use of wealth marks ‘the Christian gentleman.’ For the second word is the one used Mat_5:16, ‘let your light shine … that they may see your good works,’ and 1Pe_2:12, ‘your good works which they behold. Compare Bp. Westcott’s definition, Heb_10:24 ‘works which by their generous and attractive character win the natural admiration of men,’ and his synonym Heb_6:5, ‘tasted the goodness—the beauty—of the Word of God.’ See notes on Tit_1:16, Tit_2:7, Tit_3:8.

ready to distribute, willing to communicate] Again two peculiar compound adjectives. Cranmer’s version followed in the Offertory Sentences of the Prayer-Book has ‘ready to give and glad to distribute,’ giving also the same rendering to the second of our two words in the text from Heb_13:16, ‘to do good and to distribute forget not,’ where A.V. and R.V. ‘to do good and to communicate.’ Possibly ‘communicate’ in such a connexion would have been misunderstood. The corresponding noun is rendered ‘distribution’ by A.V. in 2Co_9:13, by R.V. ‘contribution.’ The ‘sympathy’ suggested by the margin here of R.V. is certainly implied in the word, which may be said to sum up, in itself, the unity, generosity, and practical piety of the Church, as it worked out, under St Paul (see esp. 2Co_8:9), that problem of ‘rich and poor together’ which the earliest impulses of ‘the faith’ had solved for the moment only by the short rule of Act_2:44, Act_2:45, ‘all that believed were together and had all things common,’—the same word from which our ‘willing to communicate’ comes. The root principle remains the same (2Co_8:13-15), and this our word conveys, though the practice was not workable for long of selling all into a common stock. G. Herbert seems to express both of the present adjectives in

‘Joyn hands with God to make a man to live,

Give to all something; to a good poore man,

Till thou change names, and be where he began.’

The Church Porch.

The Christian wealth of England is still far below such a principle; else why the ‘weariness and painfulness’ known to so many of our clergy in begging appeals for ‘good works’ of piety and charity?

John Calvin

1 Timothy 6:19

19Laying up for themselves a good foundation Besides, he adds an incitement drawn from the promise of a reward; that, by bestowing and communicating, they will procure for themselves a better treasure than they can have on earth. By the word foundation he means a firm and lasting duration; for the spiritual riches which we “lay up for ourselves” in heaven, are not exposed to the ravages of worms or thieves, (Mat_6:20,) or fires, but continue always to be placed beyond all danger. On the contrary, nothing on earth is solidly founded; but everything may be said to be in a floating condition.

The inference drawn by Papists from this passage, that we therefore obtain eternal life by the merit of good works, is excessively frivolous. It is true that God accepts as given to himself everything that is bestowed on the poor. (Mat_25:40.) But even the most perfect hardly perform the hundredth part of their duty; and therefore our liberality, does not deserve to be brought into account before God. So far are we from rendering full payment, that, if God should call us to a strict account, there is not one of us who would not be a bankrupt. But, after having reconciled us to himself by free grace, he accepts our services, such as they are, and bestows on them a reward which is not due. This recompense, therefore, does not depend on considerations of merit, but on God’s gracious acceptance, and is so far from being inconsistent with the righteousness of faith, that it may be viewed as an appendage to it.

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 6:19. laying up in store] The compound verb, again peculiar, is another example of the law of later Greek explained v. 8. Here we have the riches in the form of ‘good works’ laid away as a solid foundation in and from which the building rises. This ‘building up,’ if the full explanation of the verse given on 3:13 be sound, is of the spiritual life both here and hereafter. The rich cannot ‘lay hold of’ any true higher life, if they neglect the plainest duty, lying first and lowest, of using their wealth for ‘God who provided all.’ So in 4:8 the life is only to be grasped by spiritual ‘training.’

that they may lay hold] The same tense and voice as the ‘lay hold’ of v. 12, and the interpretation is similar.

on eternal life] The ms. authority is strongly in favour of the adverb ‘really’ in place of ‘eternal,’ with the article; as R.V. the life which is life indeed; and nothing could be better than such a phrase to describe the ‘heavenly’ or ‘spiritual’ or ‘eternal’ life, in its two parts on this side and on that side the grave, as explained above on v. 12 and 4:8; ‘the life worth living.’

Pulpit Commentary


The life which is life indeed for eternal life, A.V. and T.R. Laying up in store (ἀποθησαυρίζοντες); only here in the New Testament, but once in Wis. 3:3, and occasionally in classical Greek. A good foundation (θεμέλιον καλόν). The idea of a foundation is always maintained in the use of θεμέλιος, whether it is used literally or figuratively (Luk_11:48; Eph_2:20; Rev_21:14, etc.). There is, at first sight, a manifest confusion of metaphors in the phrase, “laying up in store a foundation.” Bishop Ellicott, following Wiesinger, understands “a wealth of good works as a foundation.” Alford sees no difficulty in considering the “foundation” us a treasure. Others have conjectured κειμήλιον, “a stored treasure,” for θεμέλιον. Others understand θεμέλιον in the sense of θέμα, a deposit. Others take ἀποθησαυρίζειν in the sense of “acquiring,” without reference to its etymology. But this is unlikely, the context being about the use of money, though in part favored by the use of θησαυρίζειν in 2Pe_3:7. The reader must choose for himself either to adopt one of the above explanations, or to credit St. Paul with an unimportant confusion of metaphors. Anyhow, the doctrine is clear that wealth spent for God and his Church is repaid with interest, and becomes an abiding treasure. Life indeed (τῆς ὄντως ζωῆς); so 1Ti_5:3, 1Ti_5:5, τὰς ὅντως χήρας ἡ ὄντως χήρα, “widows indeed;” and (Joh_8:36) ὄντως ἐλεύθεροι, “free indeed,” in opposition to the freedom which the Jews claimed as the seed of Abraham.


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