1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
[Let as many servants as are under the yoke] The word here means slaves converted to the Christian faith; and the yoke is the state of slavery; and by masters we are to understand the heathen master of those Christian slaves. Even these, in such circumstances and under such domination, are commanded to treat their masters with all honor and respect, that the name of God, by which they were called, and the doctrine of God, Christianity, which they had professed, might not be blasphemed - might not be evilly spoken of as a result of their improper conduct. While slavery is much diminished in this day, relationships between employer and employee represent a similar situation. The civil state in which a man was before his conversion is not altered by that conversion; not does the grace of God absolve him from any claims which either the state or his neighbor may have on him. All these outward things continue unaltered.
2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
[And they that have believing masters] Supposing themselves to be their equals because they are brethren in Christ, and grounding their opinion on this, that in him is neither male nor female, bond nor free; for, although all are equal as to their spiritual privileges and state, yet there still continues in the order of God's providence a great disparity in their station; the master must ever be in this sense superior to the servant.
[But rather do them service] Obey them the more cheerfully because they are faithful and beloved; faithful to God's grace, beloved by him and his true followers.
[Partakers of the benefit] This is generally understood as referring to the master's participation in the services of his slaves. Because those who are partakers of the benefit of your services are faithful and beloved, or it may apply to the servants who are partakers of many benefits from their Christian masters. Others think that the benefit here refers to the grace of the Gospel, the common salvation of believing masters and slaves.
3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
[If any man teach otherwise] It appears that there were teachers of a different kind in the church, a sort of religious levellers, who preached that the converted servant had as much right to the master's service as the master had to his. Teachers of this kind have been in vogue long since the days of Paul and Timothy.
[And consent not to wholesome words] Healing doctrines - doctrines
which give nourishment and health to the soul, which is the true character of
all doctrines taught by our Lord Jesus Christ; doctrines which are according
to godliness, securing as amply the honor and glory of God as they do the
peace, happiness and final salvation of man.
4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
[He is proud] He is blown up or inflated with a vain opinion of his own knowledge; whereas his knowledge is foolishness, for he knows nothing.
[Doting about questions] He is sick, distempered about those questions relative to the Mosaic law and the traditions of the elders; for it is most evident that the apostle has the Judaizing teachers in view, who were ever, in questions of theology, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.
[Strifes of words] Verbal contentions; splitting hairs; producing Hillel against Shammai, and Shammai against Hillel, relative to the particular mode in which the punctilios of some rites should be performed.
[Whereof cometh envy and strife] How little good have religious disputes ever done to mankind or the cause of truth! Most controversalists have succeeded in getting their own tempers soured, and in irritating their opponents. ...Should not all Christians know that the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of the Lord?
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
[Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds] Disputations that cannot be settled because theri partisans will not listen to the truth; and they will not listen to the truth because their minds are corrupt. Both under the law and under the Gospel the true religion was, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength; and thy neighbor as thyself." Such corrupt disputers are as destitute of the truth as they are of love to God and man.
[Supposing that gain is godliness] Professing religion only for the sake of secular profit; defending their own cause for the emouluments it produced, and having no respect to another world.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
The word godliness here and in several places in this epistle signifies the true religion, Christianity; and the word contentment signifies a competency, a sufficiency; that measure or portion of secular things which is necessary for the support of life, while the great work of regeneration is carrying on in the soul. So, if a man have the life of God in his soul and just a sufficiency of food and rainment to preserve and not burden life, he has what God calls great gain, an abundant portion. It requires but little of this world's goods to satisfy a man who feels himself to be a citizen of another country, and knows that this is not his rest.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry
9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
[But they that will be rich] The words are emphatic and refer to persons who are determined to get riches; who make this the object and aim in life; who live to get money; to get all they can, save all they can and keep all they can, yet feel 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 or such.
[Fall into temptation and a snare] of the devil is added by many manuscripts. It is in consequence of the temptation of the devil that they have determined to be rich; this temptation once received, others quickly follow. And when they have swallowed the temptation to the thing then they drink in a thousand temptations to the means; and all of them lead them into an unforseen and concealed trap. The word translated snare signifies a net, trap, snare, spring, or a pit dug into the ground, filled with sharp stakes and lightly covered over, so that when a man or any animal steps upon it he tumbles in and is taken or destroyed.
[And into many foolish and hurtful lusts] The whole conduct of such a person becomes a tissue of folly; scraping, gathering, heaping up riches and scarcely affording to take the necessaries of life out for himself. These lusts are not only foolish, but hurtful; the mind is debased and narrowed by them; benevolent and generous feelings become extinct; charity perishes and selfishness, that last and lowest principle of mental degredation, abosrbs the soul.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
[The love of money is the root of all evil] A more literal translation is, Of all kinds of evil. It cannot be that the love of money is the root of all evil, for it certainly was not the root from which the transgression of Adam sprang, but it is the root from which all the evils mentioned in the preceeding verse spring. This text has often been very carelessly quoted, for how often do we hear, "The scripture says Money is the root of all evil!" No, the scripture says no such thing. Money is the root of no evil, nor is it an evil of any kind, but the love of it is the root of all the evils mentioned here.
[While some have coveted after] Insatiably desiring.
[Have erred from the faith] Have totally erred. Have made a most fatal and ruinous departure from the religion of Christ.
[And pierced themselves through with many arrows] To be transfixed in every part. An allusion to one of those snares mentioned in verse 9, where a hole is dug in the earth and filled with sharp stakes, then slighly covered over so that the danger is not perceived. Whatever steps on it falls in and is pierced through with those sharp stakes.
Historical information drawn from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from Amazon.com
This page updated 09/12/2008Copyright (C) 1999,2008 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved