COMMENTARY

1 Timothy 6:11-21


11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

[But thou, O man of God] You, who have taken God for your portion. and are seeking a city that has foundations, whose builder is the living God, flee these things. Escape for your life. Even you are not out of the reach of the love of money. How many of the ministers of religion have been ruined by this! And how much has religion itself suffered by their love of money!

[Follow after righteousness] Justice and uprightness in all your dealings with men. Godliness - a thorough conformity to the image of God and the mind of Christ. Faith in Jesus and all that he has spoken; fidelity to the talents which you have received, and the office with which you are intrusted.

[Love] To God and all mankind. Patience in all trials and afflictions.

[Meekness] Bearing up with an even mind under all adversities and contradictions.

12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

[Fight the good fight of faith] You have a contest to sustain in which your honor, your life, your soul, are at stake. Live the Gospel and defend the cause of God. Unmask the hypocrites, expel the profligate, purge and build up the Church, live in the spirit of your religion, and give yourself wholly to this work.

[Lay hold on eternal life] All this is in allusion to the exercises in the public Grecian games: Fight, conquer and seize upon the prize; carry off the crown of eternal life!

[Whereunto thou art also called] The allusion to the public games is still carried on. You have been called into this contest; you have been accepted as one proper to enter the lists with any antagonists that may offer; in the presence of many witnesses you have taken the necessary engagements upon yourself, and submitted to be governed by the laws of the stadium; many eyes are upon you, to see whether you will fight manfully and be faithful. Timothy's faith was undoubtedly tried by severe persecution. In Hebrews 13:23 it is said, "Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty." Hence it appears that he was imprisoned for the testimony of Christ, and perhaps it was then, more than at his ordination, that he made the good confession here mentioned. He risked his life and conquered. If not a martyr, he was a confessor.

13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

[I give thee charge] This is similar to that in verse 21 of the preceeding chapter.

[Who quickeneth all things] God, who is the fountain of life, and who is the resurrection; and who will raise you up at the last day to a life of ineffable glory. And, should your life fall a sacrifice to the performance of your duty, all will be safe for your life is hid with Christ in God, and when he who is your life shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory! Your kingdom is not of this world; remember that this good confession was made by the Master before Pilate. Keep disentangled from all earthly things, live to and for God, and all will be well.

[A good confession] The confession made by Christ before Pontius Pilate is that he was Messiah the King but that his kingdom was not of this world. See John 18:36-37 and Mark 14:61-62.

14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

[That thou keep this commandment without spot] Two things are mentioned here; 1. That the commandment itself - the whole doctine of Christ - should be kept entire. 2. That his life should be agreeable to that doctrine. Keep it without spot. Let there be no blot on the sacred book; add nothing to it, take nothing from it; change nothing in it. Deliver down to your successors the truth as you have had it from God himself.

[Unrebukable] Let there be nothing in your conduct or spirit contrary to this truth. Keep the truth and the truth will keep you.

[Until the appearing of our Lord] Hand it down pure, and let your conduct be a comment on it, that it may continue in the world and in the Church till the coming of Christ.

15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

[Which in his times he shall show] Jesus will appear in the most proper time; the time which the most infinite God in his wisdom has appointed for the second coming of his Son.

[The blessed and only potentate] Potentate is applied to secular governors, but none of these can be styled the King of kings, or the King over all kings; and the Lord over all lords or rulers. These are titles which could not be given to any mortals. This is made more specific by the verse following.

16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

[Who only hath immortality] All things that are not eternal must be mutable; but there can be only one eternal Being, that is God; and he only can have immortality.

[Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto] All this is said by the apostle in three greek words which may be translated, inhabiting unapproachable light. Such is the excessive glory of God that neither angel nor man can approach it. It is indeed equally unapproachable to all created beings.

[Whom no man hath seen, nor can see] Moses himself could only see the symbol of Divine presence; but the face of God no man could ever see. Because he is infinite and eternal, therefore he is incomprehensible; and if incomprehensible to the mind, consequently invisible to the eye.

[To whom] As the author of being, and the dispenser of all good, be ascribed honor and power - the sole authority of all-prevading, all-superintending, all-preserving, and everlasting might.

17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

[Charge them that are rich] He had before in verses 9 & 10 given them an awful lesson regarding obtaining riches; now he gives them one equally so concerning their use of them.

[That they be not high-minded] That they do not value themselves on account of their wealth for this does nothing to mind or moral worth.

[Nor trust in uncertain riches] The uncertainty of riches; things which are never at a stay, are ever changing and seldom continue long with one proprietor; therefore, as well as on many other accounts, they are not to be trusted in; they cannot give happiness because they are not fixed and permanent; neither can they meet the wishes of an immortal spirit. Trust in the living God who is the unchanging fountain of perfection.

[Who giveth us richly of all things to enjoy] Who not only has all good, but dispenses it liberally for the supply of the wants of his creatures; and he does not give merely what is necessary, but he gives what tends to render life comfortable. God giveth liberally, men divide it badly.

18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

That they relieve the wants of their fellow creatures according to the abundance which God has given them. That their good works may be as abundant as their riches.

19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

The meaning is simply this, as it is judiciously paraphrased by Mr. J. Wesley in his note on this passage, " Treasuring up for themselves a good foundation, of an abundant reward by the free mercy of God, and that they may lay hold on eternal life. This cannot be done by almsdeeds; yet they come up for a memorial before God; Acts 10:4."

20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

This is another repetition of the apostolic charge. Carefully preserve that doctrine which I have delivered to you. Nothing can be more solemn and affectionate than this charge.

[Avoiding...oppositions of science falsly so called] And oppositions of knowledge falsely so named. Some false teachers claimed to posess special knowledge or inspiration in order to dignify their misinterpretations of the ancient scriptures and to establish doctrines opposite to and subversive of the Gospel. Which inspired knowledge some pretending to, have set up Levitical rites in opposition to the great Christian sacrifice, and consequently have erred concerning the faith - have completely mistaken the whole design of the Gospel.

[Grace be with thee] May the favor and influence of God be with you and preserve you from these and all other errors.


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

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