Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 Timothy 6:11-21

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Timothy's Responsibility - 1 Timothy 6:11-19

Paul Charges Timothy to be an exemplary disciple of Jesus, pursuing life. Throughout his letter to Timothy, Paul has offered three vital elements of a remedy to false teachers, who have arisen from within the church. First, they must be confronted and commanded to stop (see note 1:3). Second, 'healthy teaching' about Jesus Christ must replace their 'false teaching.' And, third, 'good works' offered in corporate worship before God and in social witness before neighbors will contrast the contentious, greedy lives of false teachers who are aimed at their own gain. As Paul's chosen delegate, Timothy has been charged to lead and exemplify this remedy, but his 'good confession' points to that of Jesus Christ (6:12-6:13).

Fight the good fight of the faith - 1 Timothy 6:12

fight the good fight of faith. In his farewell letter to Timothy (see note 2 Tim 2:3; 4:7), Paul will again take up the image of battle under Christ's command. Generally, Paul used the metaphor to describe the character of the Christian life in the overlap of the ages (cf. 1 Cor 9:24-27; Eph 6:10-18). It includes this, more particular, skirmish against false teaching. The battle begins with God's call and endures to 'eternal life.' To survive, however, the soldier must 'seize' or 'hold on tightly' to God, 'who gives life to everything' (6:13). This perseverance under fire is like Christ's own 'good confession' before Pontus Pilate, which resulted in resurrection, though through suffering and death.

The appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ - 1 Timothy 6:14-16

the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul himself makes a 'good confession' (6:12, 13) with this closing doxology. Using common language for 'the appearance' of a god, a semi-divine being or a great king on the day of their birth, at their coronation, or a display of their great power, Paul confesses Jesus as 'Lord,' who is equal in power and glory with Israel's 'God.' Both are identified as 'Lord,' the only true 'Ruler' over all other kings and lords. This 'good confession' was subversive before the Roman procurator in Jerusalem, and in Ephesus, the center of the imperial cult in Asia.

Tell the rich - 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Tell rich. In this final subsection of a larger portion on relating to various groups in the congregation, Paul final focuses on 'the rich.' Having clearly identified greed or 'the love of money' as incompatible with Christian discipleship, Paul acknowledges that wealth in and of itself is not evil. However, it is a source of great temptation towards 'arrogance' when it is the object of hope for security against life's uncertainties. So, Paul would have Timothy 'urge the rich' to put their hope in God alone, and to use their riches as instruments of 'good works' or 'generosity' that benefits everyone in the community, and builds a foundation for life together in the age to come.

Paul's Closing Exhortation & Blessing to Timothy. - 1 Timothy 6:20-21

As he had in 1:18 (see note), and as he will again in his farewell letter (see note 2 Tim 1:14), Paul exhorts Timothy to 'guard what has been entrusted' to him for delivery to others. Like Paul, Timothy is a go-between, a representative of Jesus Christ and his gospel. The gospel or 'healthy words' or 'healthy teaching' about Jesus Christ (see notes 1:10-11 and 6:3) is set against the 'foolish talk' and 'conflicting ideas' of the 'false teachers,' who wrongly label their teachings 'knowledge.' Many commentators, who have held a later date for the Pastoral epistles, have identified this knowledge with the Gnostic teachings of the second century. As we have seen, however, the 'false teachers' at Ephesus are Jewish, who disputed aspects of the Law, and drew from a mix of Jewish and pagan wisdom traditions to oppose the gospel (cf. 1 Cor 1:10-4:21; 8:1-13; Col 2:1-10)

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