Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 Timothy 6:3-19

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False Teaching and Financial Gain - 1 Timothy 6:3-19

Paul Warns Timothy & the Church about Loving Money, which also Questions the Motives of the False Teachers. The last main section of Paul's instructions to Timothy directly addresses "the love of money" (6:10) as a corrosive force, which undermines Christian discipleship. Specifically, it disqualifies the false teachers at Ephesus, who believe "godliness is a means to financial gain" (6:5). This section parallels Paul's opening instruction to Timothy in 1:3-11 to oppose 'false teachers' with 'healthy teaching' and good living.

Loving Money and Loving Christ are incompatible. - 1 Timothy 6:3-10

The first half of this last confrontation with the 'false teachers' of Ephesus strongly echoes 1:3-7, where Paul made it clear that Timothy's first priority was to oppose their 'false teachings' (Gk. heterodidaskalei; 1:3; 6:3). Their words do not agree with the 'sound teaching' (lit. healthy words; 6:3) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, these false teachers are contentious, quarrelsome (6:4) and they are also motivated by greed (6:5), two qualities expressly disallowed in the 'overseers' and 'deacons' (cf. 3:1-11) of Christ's church.

Reliable instruction - 1 Timothy 6:3

reliable instruction. See note on 1:10-11. In Greek hugiainousi logois literally means 'healthy words.' The genitive phrase which follows can be read as a genitive of source, "healthy words from our Lord Jesus Christ," but the use of the phrase 'healthy words' or 'sound doctrine' elsewhere in Paul's letters to Timothy (1:10; 2 Tim 1:13; 4:3) and Titus (1:9; 2:1) is shorthand for the gospel. Paul provides a two-fold test for the church at Ephesus, orthodoxy and orthopraxy. 'Sound words' about Jesus Christ produce 'godliness' in those who hear and obey them.

Controversies and arguments about words. - 1 Timothy 6:4

controversies and arguments about words. The false teaching at Ephesus is identified by arguments that produced strife and envy, instead of godliness (see note 6:3). Instead of being characterized by their gentleness and self-control, as is required of church officers (see 3:1-11), the false teachers are marked by contentiousness (cf. 1:4; 2 Tim 2:14, 23; Titus 3:9).

True motive of false teachers is money - 1 Timothy 6:5

they think that godliness is a way to get more money. Paul points here to the true motive of the false teachers, financial gain. Most likely, they charged for their teaching like lecturers who were hired to speak at elaborate dinner parties called symposia. It is possible they also taught that law-keeping would produce financial prosperity necessarily. While the Scriptures teach that God will provide for those who trust Him (cf. Ps 1:1-2), that material provision is focused on daily necessities like food, clothing and shelter. Again, Paul's reading of the Law closely parallels that of Jesus (cf. Matt 6:25-34; 1 Tim 6:8).

Godliness with contentment is great gain - 1 Timothy 6:6

godliness with contentment is great gain. Paul contrasts 'those who want to become wealthy' (6:9) with 'those who are satisfied or content' (6:6). The former is motivated by greed; and, the latter by godliness. Already, in 4:7-8 (see note), Paul instructed Timothy to reject the content of the false teachers and their call to asceticism, then to replace that sort of physical training with training in godliness. For Paul, godliness is cultivated through 'good works' (see note 2:10) of service to God and neighbor that benefit others in the community, not just one's self.

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