New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


6:1 Let all that are under a yoke as slaves- This reads rather strangely, because a slave was axiomatically under a [AV "the"] yoke. It appears to be saying the same thing twice. And there is no evidence that 'under the yoke' was a common term for slaves in New Testament times. Perhaps the idea is to remind slaves that actually they were under the yoke of Christ, which is "light" (Mt. 12:29,30). Whatever slavery we may feel under, perhaps in our working or domestic lives, we can remind ourselves that ultimately we are under slavery to the Lord Jesus, and His yoke is light. But Acts 15:10 and Gal. 5:1 speak of those under the yoke as being those in bondage to the Mosaic law. Perhaps Paul is addressing the delicate question of how a slave was to behave if he came to Christ but was under the yoke of Jewish law because his master was Jewish. This was likely a live issue in Ephesus because the church there began with Paul making converts from within the synagogue. He does not urge rebellion against those masters or sticking on points of principle; but rather to treat these masters as Christ and thus get higher than them (see next comment).

Regard their own masters as worthy of all honour- This is a clever word play. The Greek translated "regard" is elsewhere translated as the noun "Governor" (Mt. 2:6; Acts 7:10), "he that is chief" (Lk. 22:26), "chief speaker" (Acts 14:12), "chief men" (Acts 15:22). By regarding their masters as "worthy of honour" because they were to serve them as they served Christ- who alone is the One "worthy of all honour"- they were effectively masters of their masters. It recalls the spirit of the Lord's command to offer to take a Roman soldier's bags another mile when asked. Those treated as low become the high by their Christian attitude. Let's remember that many slaves were abused by their masters; not even their bodies belonged to themselves. Sexual abuse was common. Yet never does Paul tell slaves to refuse the sexual demands of their masters. And slaves, according to contemporary references to Christianity, formed a large percentage of Christian congregations. This is not to say that the moral teaching of Christianity in this regard was not to be taken seriously- to refuse such demands and face the consequences was clearly the highest level to be taken by a Christian slave. But Paul in this matter surely makes a concession to human weakness and the nature of human situations, which the letter of the law could never accommodate. The way of Christ however elevates the drudgery of slavery and dead end situations, of the type faced today by many in effective slavery to minimum wage employment, abusive employers or very claustrophobic, limited domestic situations.

So that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled- "Reviled" or "blasphemed" is exactly what the pagans in Ephesus had accused Paul of doing to Diana (Acts 19:37 s.w.). Clearly the pagan opposition were looking for every opportunity and reason to do the same back to the God of the Christians, whose name they carried by baptism. Paul makes an assumption here, in warning believing slaves to act faithfully before their unbelieving masters, lest the doctrines of God be blasphemed by them. Paul takes it as read that the slave would have taught the doctrines of the faith to his master, and therefore any misbehaviour by him would cause those teachings to be mocked. He assumed that radical preaching would be going on. And again in Tit. 2:5, he writes that wives should behave orderly so that “the word of God be not blasphemed”. He assumes that all believing men and women would be preachers of the word, yet if the wives were disorderly in their behaviour they would bring mockery upon the message preached. Paul so often in writing to Timothy expresses concern about the disrepute possible in the eyes of outsiders. Clearly there was a conscious effort to destroy the church in Ephesus through legal procedures, and so care had to be taken not to give genuine reasons for this to happen. Further, Paul had entrusted Timothy with a teaching ministry, and bad behaviour amongst the converts would mean that his teaching would be "reviled". The message preached was therefore backed up by the behaviour of those who believed it. Conversions are not often won by the simple attraction of the message of itself; that word is made flesh in the eyes of the world by those who believe it. "The teaching" would be reviled if those hearing it behaved in a way which invited mockery. So the teaching and the example of the believers of that teaching are parallel.

6:2 And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brothers- Why should a Christian slave despise his believing master? Perhaps because slavery was so obviously wrong; a Christian master should not participate in the style of slavery then practiced. The master should release his slave- because that is just the language used of what Jesus did to all in Him. He released us from slavery, redeeming us from it, paying the price of manumission whereby a person could be bought out of slavery. But for whatever reason, these believing masters hadn't responded as they might. The Lord had warned His followers to “despise not” the ‘little ones’ (Mt. 18:10). Paul picks up this phrase here in warning servants not to despise their masters who were brethren; the implication that they were to treat those wealthy but perhaps not very spiritually mature masters as ‘little ones’, with all the patience this would require. The command is not to despise them; but we might think that the dominant emotion in this case would be anger. Yet Paul focuses on not despising because his point is that we must respect others because of their status in Christ; every believer in Him should be respected by us. We must ask whether our churches are places of respect, or whether various strata of respect and acceptance have robbed them of the spirit of mutual respect which ought to characterize the communal life of God's people.

But rather serve them because those whom they are serving are believers and beloved- The reference to "beloved" invites connection to Christ who is "the beloved"; just as unbelieving masters were to be given "all honour", i.e. served as Christ, to whom alone "all honour" is due. In any difficult relationship with a believer, however abusive to us we consider them to have been, no matter how much better we feel they ought to be able to do in their relationship with us, let us remember that 'God loves this person'. They are beloved. So much so that He gave His only begotten Son for them. Some MSS, followed by the AV, add here: "Partakers of the benefit", literally, 'partakers in the good deed', referring surely to the cross. The Lord died not only for me. But for those who name His Name whom I consider to have abused me. We cannot condemn another believer, so we are to presume their acceptance by the Lord. This will mean that they have partaken in the benefits of His death, just as we have. This is so easy to write, but it was equally difficult for first century Christian slaves being abused by their Christian masters.

Teach and exhort these things- The idea is of comfort, and the message to abused slaves was indeed a comfort.

6:3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine- Paul's opening charge to Timothy at Ephesus was to stop false teaching (1:3). From those who taught different teaching, Paul says that Timothy is to "withdraw thyself" (:5 AV- although omitted in some MSS and NEV). Timothy was to distance himself from such teachers, which is equivalent in 1:3 to not allowing them the platform. This little phrase "withdraw thyself" has been much abused in closed table communities to mean that we are to withdraw ourselves from anyone who differs from us on some matter of understanding or practice. But the context here, and the parallel with 1:3, is that the persons in view should not be allowed to teach. Who takes bread and wine is one issue, and does not ultimately affect anyone much. But who is allowed to teach is another issue altogether. The "different doctrine" or teaching references the teaching about the possibilities for slaves in :1 and :2. We can imagine that the teachers were also materially wealthy and may have been those referred to as the "believing masters". We can assume that they would have been tempted to not agree with the teaching of :1 and :2, and not to teach it- despite the simple command at the end of :2 to teach these things.

And consents not to sound words, the words of our Lord Jesus Christ- The teaching in view is that about slaves and masters in :1 and :2. To disagree with what Paul has said would be to disagree with the words of the Lord Jesus. This could be because Paul's inspired words were effectively the words of the Lord Jesus, although in that case we wonder why the reference is to the words of Jesus rather than of God. Or Paul may mean that the teaching he had just given was a repetition of the essence of the logos, the essential idea, of the Lord Jesus. He may not have been quoting recorded words of the Lord Jesus (although maybe he is alluding to words of Jesus which were then well known but were unrecorded in the Gospels)- but in any case, Paul was repeating the logos, the word or essential ideas, of the teaching of the Lord Jesus.

And to the doctrine which shows reverence towards God- The teaching or doctrine in view is that of :1 and :2 which have spoken of the need not to bring God's Name to disrepute; and to reverence / respect people because God is working through them and they in a sense represent Him. But "reverence towards God" is the word for "Godliness" which often occurs in 1 Timothy; and it occurs in this context in :5, where these alternative teachers are portrayed as men teaching "that reverence towards God ["Godliness"] is a way of gain". They didn't want to teach things like those in :1 and :2 because they used their teaching as a way of gain. So far in this exposition I have suggested that there were female teachers in the church who were acting like the female mediators of the Diana cult, and taking money for their sexual services to brothers in Christ by getting money from the church for their services under the front of the widows' support fund. And here we find Timothy again being told to remove some from teaching- and again money is involved. These people were using 'Godliness' to get gain for themselves and were abusing their teaching ministry to that end. It sounds like the same group. It was doubtless with this money that the women could dress themselves up with such expensive and provocative clothing in 2:9,10.

6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words- This is the warning of chapter 1 repeated now at the end of this first letter. Those who 'know nothing' are those of 1:7: "They neither understand what they say, nor what they confidently affirm". They did of course know something theoretically, for they were teachers. But in real spiritual essence, they knew nothing. They were "bereft of the truth" (:5), which is Jesus and the great, real salvation in Him. All else is insignificant. The obsession with disputing and arguing about words frankly sounds like elements of many small time Protestant groups in their neo-Judaism. And the fruit of that attitude is the same- envy, strife and division. "Obsessed" translates a word meaning 'to be sick', in the sense of vomiting. That is what all the disputes and arguments amount to- vomit. The only time Paul uses the term 'arguments over words' again is in 2 Tim. 2:14, where Timothy is told that he must still stamp out this attitude. I have mentioned several times that the Lord's assessment of the church at Ephesus in Rev. 2 is such that we can conclude Timothy's charge was carried out successfully by him; for they are then commended for not having false teaching. But the way Paul has to repeat these charges about not allowing false teachers suggests that this was not so easily achieved; in the gap between the two letters, Timothy had not made total progress. His final success is therefore the more noteworthy and commendable.

From which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions- We see here the importance of having a good teaching ministry. The congregation become this way according to the kind of teaching they are receiving.

6:5 Wranglings of men corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth- The word can mean 'meddlings' and is used about being a busybody. Although a different word is used, this is the very accusation made about the female false teachers of 5:13. Again we get the impression that the same group of teachers are in view; the women and their male supporters, teaching a heady mixture of Jewish and pagan [Diana cult] heresy.

Who suppose that reverence towards God is a way of gain- See on :3 To the doctrine.

Some MSS and AV add "From such withdraw thyself". See on :3.

6:6 But reverence towards God with contentment is great gain- In chapter 2 and elsewhere, Paul urges the false teachers to settle down into Christian family life and where appropriate, have children. We note that he doesn't tell Timothy to cast these people out of the church. He wants their salvation. And from personal experience I would tend to think that the "Godliness with contentment" which is "great gain" is a reference to a Christ-centered family life which is not focused upon getting personal wealth and success nor leadership in the church.

6:7 For we brought nothing into the world, for neither can we carry anything out- This is a quote from Seneca, contemporary with Paul. The Bible is full of allusions to contemporary literature and wisdom, approving some of the ideas and deconstructing others. Some of the Bible's most difficult passages are likely difficult to our eyes because they are alluding to material we are unaware of. For the Bible is written for us but not directly to us in our generation. The fact we cannot take anything material with us is proof enough that any amassing of personal wealth is for this life only. The deception of wealth is the idea of permanent ownership of property, in various forms. But the permanence is only until death. The opening "for" connects with the idea of 'gain'. Overall in life, we gain nothing. We start and finish with nothing, so why stress about 'gaining' as we pass through the life process. Ps. 49:17 may be in view: "For when he (the rich man) dieth, he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him”. In saying this, Paul is alluding to how Job faced up to the reality of our condition by saying that we entered this world naked and return naked (Job 1:21). Paul is saying that we are all in Job's position, facing up to the loss of all things, and should count it a blessing to have even clothing. We need not pass through Job's experience if we learn the theory. Solomon says the same in Ecc. 5:15, but only after passing through the wealth experience. It is our wisdom to absorb this principle without having to be dragged through a hedge backwards to make us realize its truth.

6:8 But having food and covering we shall be content- The reference may be to God's provision of these two things, food and clothing, to Israel in the wilderness. Their journey towards the promised land is a common prototype of our path towards the Kingdom. Note that there is no promise of a stable place to live; Paul himself had "no certain dwelling place" and neither did Israel in the wilderness. So much angst goes with the question of property ownership. But the promise we can take comfort from is that we ourselves shall always be provided with food and clothing.

6:9- see on Lk. 5:7.

But they that are intent on being rich- Paul had thought deeply about the parables. He doesn't just half-quote them in an offhand way. For example, Mt. 13:22 says that riches choke a man's response to the word. 1 Tim. 6:9 warns that those who want to be rich are choked by their desire for riches. Likewise Paul saw the rich man of Mt. 19:23 as actually one who wanted to be rich (= 1 Tim. 6:9,10). So Paul had thought through the parable. He saw that possession of riches alone wouldn't choke a man; he saw that the Lord was using "riches" as meaning 'the desire for riches'. And because "riches" are relative and subjective, this must be right. And therefore the Spirit was able to use Paul's deductions. My point is that the Spirit could have used just anyone to write (e.g.) 1 Tim. 6:9. But it was no accident that God chose to use a man with a fine knowledge and appreciation of His Son to be His pen-man.

Fall into a temptation and a snare- Twice in 1 Timothy, Paul speaks about a snare; the snare of the devil (1 Tim. 3:7), and the snare of wanting wealth (6:9). He mentions the snare of the devil again in 2 Tim. 2:26. In the immediate application, the 'devil' referred to the enemy of the church which surrounded them in Ephesus- a combination of Jewish and pagan powers who were eager to trap the Christians by accusations regarding financial and moral matters in order to close down the church. The clear influence of the Jewish Eve cult and the pagan Diana cult indicates that this snare was very real. Yet the Ephesian church survived, for the Lord wrote a letter to them in Rev. 2. Again we sense that Timothy's difficult ministry was successful, for despite all this surrounding desire to snare and strangle the church to death, it survived.

The desire for wealth in whatever form is the very epitome of the devil, our inherent sin which we must struggle against. The idea of a snare is that it results in a sudden and unexpected destruction. The unexpectedness of the destruction should set us thinking: surely the implication is that those who are materialistic don't realize that in fact this is their besetting sin, and therefore their rejection in the end because of it will be so tragically unexpected. It's rather like pride; if you're proud and you don't know it, then you really are proud. And if we're materialistic and don't know it, we likewise really have a problem. The idea of riches being a snare connects with copious OT references to idols as Israel's perpetual snare (Ex. 23:33; Dt. 7:16; Jud. 2:3; 8:27; Ps. 106:36; Hos. 5:1). Paul's point is surely that the desire of wealth is the equivalent of OT idolatry. But there is another, even more telling Biblical usage of the "snare". The day of the Lord will be a snare to the unsuspecting worldling, who will suddenly find that the Lord has come and destroyed him (Is. 8:14; 24:17,18; Jer. 50:24; Lk. 21:35). Yet the materialistic believer falls into the snare of riches here and now. Surely the point is that our attitude to riches is a preview of the judgment; the materialistic believer has condemned himself, right now. Not only does such a man fall into the devil's snare, but he pierces himself through with sorrows (1 Tim. 6:10), which is the language of crucifixion. This connection suggests a powerful logic. We face a cross either way; either the cross of the Lord Jesus, with the matchless eternity it heralds; or the cross, the twisting, unsatisfied pain of a life devoted to material advancement, which finally results in the darkness of rejection.

And many foolish and hurtful lusts- The lust for wealth spawns many other lusts, for the things which can be done with wealth or for things which are thought to lead to wealth. Hence :10 says that the desire to be wealthy is the root of all evil.

Which drown men- The word is only elsewhere used about the disciples almost drowning because they overloaded their boats with fish (Lk. 5:7); which Paul saw, through this allusion, as rooted in a desire to be wealthy. The fish were given by the Lord, all the same; He could give or not give them, but by giving them, the disciples almost drowned.

In destruction and condemnation- Quite simply, men will be condemned at the last day because they wanted to be rich in this life. This is a sober warning.

6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil- We could read the "all" literally, as if all evil can be traced back to a love of wealth. Or we can read these "kinds of evil" as referring to the "many foolish and hurtful lusts" of :9 which arise directly or indirectly from a desire for wealth. In the context of Ephesus, Paul's reference to love of wealth would apply to the women / sisters receiving money for sexual services to brothers, taken under cover of spirituality from the widows' relief fund. "Love of money" is literally 'love of silver'. Again in the context of Ephesus, we recall that the images of Diana were made of silver; and it was the guild of silversmiths who raised the persecution against the early church in Ephesus and sought to have Christianity banned. Their literal love of silver led them to "all kinds of evil". But those materialistic ones within the church were in essence no better than those in the world outside who were persecuting them.

Which some, by seeking for, have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows- The Greek translated "pierced themselves through" is related to the verb 'to crucify'. We are asked to crucify ourselves, to give up the brief materialism of this life. Yet if we refuse to do this, we still pierce ourselves through, we crucify ourselves, with the pain which comes from a mind dedicated to materialism and self-fulfilment, a life devoted to reaching the end of a rainbow. So what is the logical thing to do? It's crucifixion either way. The idea of piercing self through with sorrow is actually a direct quote from the LXX of 1 Kings 21:27, where Ahab was pierced with sorrow as a result of his coveting of Naboth’s vineyard. And yet when Naboth was dead, Ahab tore his clothes and put on sackcloth, in sorrow for what he had done (1 Kings 21:16 LXX- omitted in the AV); but these very words are used in describing how when Ahab heard the words of his condemnation, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth (21:27). His sin brought him to tear his clothes, just as he did when his condemnation was pronounced. In his seeking for happiness he pierced himself through with the sorrow of condemnation. Quite simply, people who are bent on getting wealthy are not happy. Wealth

6:11 But you, o man of God, flee these material things- The call to flee suggests weak minded Timothy was tempted by material things.

And instead pursue after righteousness- There must always be something positive in place if we decide to flee sin. The fleeing from must become a pursuing after. Paul repeats this idea in 2 Tim. 2:22- flee youthful [sexual] lusts and [instead] follow after the same positive attributes.

Reverence towards God, faith, love, patience, meekness- To aspire to meekness is the acme of spiritual endeavour.

6:12- see on 2 Tim. 4:6-8; Lk. 13:24.

Fight the good fight of the faith- In 2 Timothy, Paul urges Timothy to accept the disciplined life of a soldier, as if Timothy was naturally weak minded and not well disciplined; we recall the command to him to have his children more firmly in order in chapter 3. Paul uses the same words in saying that he has "fought a good fight" (2 Tim. 4:7), unashamedly and consciously setting himself up to Timothy as an example. This is possible to do, without pride and any self affection, if truly we live in integrity before God and man.

Lay hold on the everlasting life- We can experience eternal life by starting to live now how we shall eternally live. Hence the Lord in John's Gospel speaks of having eternal life now. Paul goes on to write of how the wealthy can lay hold on everlasting life (:19 s.w.) by giving away their wealth in the Lord's service. But Timothy was to be their example of laying hold on the Kingdom life right now. We are frequently spoken of as having been 'laid hold of' by the Lord; and we are to respond by laying hold of the things of the Kingdom as firmly as He has taken a grip upon our lives.

Whereunto you were called and did confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses- The confession was perhaps related to confessing that we have been called to eternal life, and have taken hold of that offer and will try to live that eternal life now. This was such a fundamental idea that it was part of some unrecorded "good confession" which was presumably declared by baptismal candidates (s.w. Rom. 10:9,10 "If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus... confession is made unto salvation"; "the obedience of your confession" of the Faith, 2 Cor. 9:13). We note that such materials have not been preserved for us- so that we would not slavishly hold to any form of words. For a confession of faith by its nature is personal and unique. Yet the confession before witnesses may not necessarily refer to Timothy's baptism, but rather to the time when the elders, the "many witnesses", laid hands on him to grant him the Holy Spirit for his ministry (4:14). The Greek for 'confess' means essentially 'to agree'; the agreement was therefore regarding the reality of the hope of eternal life, and Timothy's promise to live that eternal life now and fight for the faith. The "good fight" he was to fight connects with the good confession he had made.

I urge you in the sight of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate made the good confession- Timothy's confession was one of faith and commitment to the life and work appropriate to e belief that God really will give life to all in His Son. And the essence of that confession of devotion and faith in the life to come was seen in the Lord's confession before Pilate. In Mt. 27:11 we read that Jesus before Pilate said just one word in Greek; translated "Thou sayest". It is stressed there that Jesus said nothing else, so that Pilate marvelled at His silent self-control and intense focus of meaning upon that word- that Pilate had said truly in saying that Jesus was a King who would reign in God's Kingdom. Yet Paul speaks with pride of how the Lord Jesus "before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession". You'd expect him to be alluding to some major speech of Jesus. But it seems, reading his spirit, Paul's saying: 'Lord Jesus, your self control, your strength of purpose and faith towards the coming Kingdom an eternal life... was just so great. I salute you, I hold you up to Timothy as the supreme example. Just one word. What a witness!'. And as He witnessed in His ministry, so must we (Rom. 2:19 cp. Mt. 4:16). As He witnessed before Pilate, so must we witness (1 Tim. 6:12,13).

6:14 Keep the commandment without stain- Which charge or commandment? Presumably here at the end of the letter, Paul is summarizing and referring back to his opening charge to Timothy to remove false teachers and inculcate good works, with love as the intended end result (1:3-5). Yet in the immediate context, the charge / commandment might be that to which Timothy had given a good confession (:12); which would suggest his 'good confession' was not at his baptism but rather in agreement to the commission given him to care for Ephesus. The sentence as it stands can be read two ways- either the commandment itself was to unstained; or Timothy was to keep the commandment without stain. The question is whether "without stain" refers to the subject or object of the sentence, and in my judgment of the Greek it refers to keeping the commandment itself unstained- until the Lord's return. This could only be achieved by handing on the commandment / charge to maintain pure doctrine to faithful men of the next generation (2 Timothy 2:2). If Paul meant that Timothy was to keep the commandment until the Lord returned, then it would mean that Paul expected the Lord's coming to be within Timothy's lifetime. And indeed Paul does write like that and in other places he does appear to make that assumption- as we all should live in the hopeful expectation of the Lord's imminent return. 

Without reproach- Timothy as the bishop at Ephesus was to be without reproach (3:2). This strengthens the impression that "the commandment" was the command to Timothy to take care of Ephesus.

Until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ- See on :14 Keep the commandment.

6:15 In due time He shall reveal him, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords- Caesar was seen as king of many subject kings, Lord of many conquered and inferior lords. In this we see the radical challenge of 1 Tim. 6:15,16: that Jesus Christ is the only potentate, the Lord of Lords, the King of all Kings. The RV margin brings out the Greek even more radically: “them that rule as lords”- those who think they are lords when compared to the Lord Jesus they are nothing. Many of the terms used in relation to Caesar worship are deliberately used in the New Testament and redefined in an exclusive Christian context, setting the Christian view of them up against any other use of them, and insisting upon it as the only valid meaning of the term. Thus ‘evangelion’ was a well-known concept. It meant the good news of victory, and the corresponding duty to make thank and praise offerings for it. The Imperial Cult used the word for announcing Caesar’s victories, his birthdays, his accession to power, his granting of salvation to his people… Mark’s Gospel especially uses the word evangelion in a way which sets it up in contrast to the way it was used in the Imperial Cult. It is the good news of the birth, victory, resurrection and Kingdom of the Lord Jesus, and the evangelion calls men and women to make self-sacrifice in response to it. It has been noted that "King of kings and Lord of lords", along with the surrounding couplets, are rhythmical. They are likely a quotation from some early Christian liturgy- a hymn or prayer. This means that such radical challenge of the Caesar cult and the Roman empire would have been a regular part of church life; just as we should be constantly aware of our radical collision course with the spirit of this world.

When Paul exalts that Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, dwelling in light which no man can approach unto, this isn’t just some literary flourish. It is embedded within a context of telling the believers to quit materialism, indeed to flee from its snare. 1 Tim. 6:6-14 concern this; and then there is the passage about Christ’s exaltation (:15,16), and then a continued plea to share riches rather than build them up (:17-19). Because He is Lord of all, we should quit our materialism and sense of self-ownership. For we are His, and all we have is for His service too. And the principle of His being Lord affects every aspect of our spirituality. Dennis Gillet truly observed [in The Genius Of Discipleship]: “Mastery is gained by crowning the Master as Lord and King".

6:16 See on Ex. 32:30-32.

Who only has immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable- This may be a final swipe at the Diana cult, which taught there were thousands of immortal gods; and of course they lived in the Artemisian temple at Ephesus, rather than "dwelling in light unapproachable". And it is also for sure a swipe at the imperial cult, which claimed that many of the dead emperors of Rome had been deified and were now immortal.

Whom no one has seen, nor can see. To whom be honour and power eternal. Amen- This likewise is a contrast between the one true God, and the pathetic idea of a god who is a visible idol like the Diana statue or the silver images made of her.

6:17 Instruct those that are rich in this present world- The connection between wealth and world continues the theme of :7. We come into this world naked and exit naked. Any wealth is only for this present world- and we who have the sure hope of eternity are looking for the world to come.

That they are not proud, nor have their hope set on the uncertain riches; but instead on God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy- The same Greek phrase for “not proud”, "be not high minded", is used in Rom. 11:20 about those who think they are spiritually superior to others. And so perhaps the idea was that the wealthy liked to think their wealth was a result of their spirituality, and therefore they despised the poorer brethren. And Paul directly warns against any such thinking, the like of which is seen so much in Pentecostal circles. The rich fool was not read by Paul as referring to some Hollywood millionaire; he saw that character as being in the ecclesia (Mt. 19:21 = 1 Tim. 6:17-19).

6:18 Let the rich do good, that they be rich in good works- The true wealth is in giving away rather than accumulating.

Ready to distribute- "Ready" suggests Paul is not envisaging selling all and giving away. The rich should be "ready" to share, rather than looking for reasons not to.

Willing to communicate- Literally, 'to fellowship'. Fellowship is not an on paper agreement based on dry theology. Fellowship in practice means sharing wealth with others.

6:19 L
aying up in store for themselves a good foundation- The Spirit describes our final redemption as our "soul" and "spirit" being "saved"; our innermost being, our essential spiritual personality, who we really are in spiritual terms, will as it were be immortalized (1 Pet. 1:9; 1 Cor. 5:5). This means that our spiritual development in this life is directly proportional to the type of person we will be for evermore. If, for example, we develop a generous spirit now, this is "a good foundation" for our future spiritual experience (1 Tim. 6:19). This is a stupendous conception, and the ultimate fillip to getting serious about our very personal spiritual development. Our mortal bodies will be changed to immortal, Spirit nature bodies according to the Spirit which now dwells in us (Rom. 8:11 Gk.). The attitude which we have to the Lord Jesus now will be the attitude we have to Him at the day of judgment (Mt. 7:23 cp. Lk. 6:46). So the wealthy who give their wealth away are not buying a place in the Kingdom for themselves, but who they eternally will be shall eternally reflect the generous character they developed in this life. In this sense they have 'laid hold' on the eternal life; they have begun to live the kind of life which we shall eternally live.

Against the time to come- They have 'laid up in store for themselves' spiritually, in that the future day ["time to come"] which in is subconsciously in the mind of all savers, hoarders and folk rich and poor... is going to be revealed as the day of judgment. Those who have given away wealth [so that they are left at a real minus, and not simply being generous in ways they wouldn't notice]... have laid up a store of wealth for that day.

That they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed- God richly gives things to all of us, Paul says; and by our being “liberal and generous [we] thus lay up for [ourselves] a good foundation for the future, so that [we] may take hold of the life which is life indeed”. “The life which is life indeed” is not the lower middle class striving-for-security life of slowly saving and occasionally splashing out on something, building, building up, watching the interest slowly grow, worrying about inflation and the possible need for a new boiler or roof… Much as those things are all part of our human experience in this age, they’re not “the life which is life indeed”. That life begins now, in a counter-instinctive going against the grain of being generous.

6:20 O Timothy, guard- We sense from Paul's emotional appeal that Paul really feared Timothy was not going to hold on, and would allow his weaknesses of character to dominate, with the result that the truth of Christ would be lost in Ephesus. The Lord's letter to the Ephesians some time later shows that Timothy did hold on and discharged his commission. The only problem was that all the emphasis on good works and maintaining purity of teaching was achieved without agape love- and this was why the Ephesian church was finally reprimanded. But from the point of view of Timothy's calling and mission- he fulfilled it, and out of weakness was made strong.

That which was committed to you- Paul urges Timothy a while later to guard or keep what was committed to him, i.e. the charge of 1:3,4 of maintaining true teaching and good works in Ephesus, "by the power of the Holy Spirit which dwells within us" (2 Tim. 1:14). Given Timothy's weaknesses of personality, the only way he could have achieved his calling was by internal psychological strengthening. And that is exactly what the Holy Spirit / mind "which dwells within us" is all about. It works within the human mind. The ability to do miracles etc. was not in view. And Paul uses the same idea about keeping what the Lord committed to us in saying that the Lord is able to guard / keep what we have committed to Him (2 Tim. 1:12). He has committed His work to us to do, and we have committed our lives to Him. We have undertaken to be totally taken up with His work, and thus we have staked our entire lives and future on His existence and real working with us. There is thus an indescribable mutuality between God and man if we are committed to what He has committed to us.

Turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of false knowledge- Again we see a connection with the opening of the letter, where Paul has noted that some have 'turned away' unto vain ideas; and Paul urges Timothy to likewise 'turn away' these ideas, perhaps in practice by not granting a platform to those teaching them. The idea is not just that Timothy personally should turn away from such babblings, but should himself turn those babblings away- by stopping them being taught, according to his charge in 1:3,4. Again we note that Timothy was being asked to stem a tide which the prophetic word had said would not be turned away- for in the last days, men would depart from the faith (4:1), and be turned away unto fables (2 Tim. 4:4). But Timothy was asked to bravely still battle that tide of apparent inevitability. Just as Moses prayed for the destruction of Israel not to happen. And it succeeded; for the Lord's summary of the Ephesian church in Rev. 2 stated that they were doctrinally intact. "False knowledge" is gnosis, possibly a reference to incipient Gnosticism, but more likely a criticism of the mentality which is alive and well to this day in the internet generation: 'I know something you don't, I've got access to sources you don't have access to... so do what I say'. The immediate reference would have been to the Jewish fables taught by the old Jewish women, and the nonsense connected with the cults of Eve and Diana which Timothy had to engage in chapter 2.

6:21 Which some professing- The female false teachers of 2:10 had 'professed Godliness' at their baptismal confession; and yet it seems they had also made some profession / confession to the Diana cult, and had seriously erred from the Christian faith as a result.

Have erred concerning the faith- Another connection with the opening section of the letter, where Paul notes that some have 'swerved' (1:6). "The faith" is a path, a road with an end point- spiritual mindedness, the imitation of Christ, resulting in eternity in God's Kingdom united with Christ. Smart ideas, philosophies, Jewish fables etc. all cause people to swerve from that path. 2 Tim. 2:18 uses the same word in giving concrete examples of those who have 'erred' by saying that the resurrection has already come-  first century form of the Preterist heresy which is rife today. Those who hold false doctrines have "missed the mark concerning the faith" (1 Tim. 6:21 RVmg.). The true faith has an aim, a mark to which it aims. A false 'faith' misses that aim. "Profane and vain babblings... increase unto more ungodliness" (2 Tim. 2:16)- they precipitate a downward spiral of practical behaviour.

Grace be with you
- The word charis means literally 'the gift', and refers surely to the internal gift of Holy Spirit strengthening commented on under :20 Guard that...