1 Timothy 6 – Final Words

This is adapted from a session I taught at a conference in South Asia recently to a group of pastors and Bible college students.


We are wrapping up the letter today with a final word to the pastor, to the church leader, to the potential church-planter, to the person in ministry, to the believer, to Timothy.

I am not Timothy, you are not Timothy, our churches are not where this church was, but we can learn from what Paul wrote to Timothy. So this says what it says and means what it means, there is one interpretation, yet many applications.


Why do I need to be like this?

Why do I need to live like this?

Why do I need to live humbly as the leader, as a believer?


Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

Teach and urge these things. 

The church is the place where we leave our worldly status at the door, who the world says we are at the door. Why? So that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

In Bahrain, we have lots of military people -senior generals and enlisted men who fellowship and worship together.

As the leader, as the church planter, as the believer, you need to model this. 

Who did Jesus talk and interact with? Everyone. 

Leaders. Slaves. Priests. Sinners.

The church itself was a place where slavery was destroyed. It was not uncommon for a master and a slave to go to church together. This teaching was especially important in the ancient world, where slaves might be treated very differently from master to master, and where there was sometimes intense racism and hatred between slaves and masters.

This cannot be present in the church, in our churches.

These verses, and these first few chapters, this is the kind of life we are to live, to model. Then, in vv.3-10, things NOT to do…

3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Do you know the worst thing? Notice with me the end of v.5

…imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

While not ignoring the blessings of following Jesus Christ, we must proclaim the need to follow Jesus because He is God, and we owe Him everything as our Creator. What is right before God, and what glorifies Him, is more important than whatever benefit we may gain (Enduring Word).

We need to be Christians who are more concerned with what glorifies God than with what benefits me.

The main point for the minister seems to be in vv.11-16.

The life you live is just as important as the doctrine you teach.

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Timothy, as a man of God, was to do the opposite—to flee from all this, flee these things…

The same is true for you as a man of God, a woman of God, but as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses

Is that you?

Maybe the characteristics sound familiar…

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires

Galatians 5

Back to Timothy…

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Charles Spurgeon said that it is the same as God feeding the birds;

He provides the seeds,

But does not throw them into the nest.

It is the same with us;

The faithfulness of Jesus is there,

The doctrine, the teaching of and about Jesus is there,

The life of Jesus is there,

Fight for it.

Take hold of it.

Will you fight for it?

Will you teach it?

Will you live it?

Have you taken hold of it with two hands?

Paul then gives Timothy a charge, an instruction.

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

So, in the presence of God, and of Christ Jesus, 

Live this life.

Keep it unstained.

Be consistent.

The life you live is just as important as the words you use to teach.

Being questioned by Pilate in Matthew 27, Jesus said only a few words, but His life spoke so many words.

If you say lots of things about Jesus, but do not live like He is real to you, you are doing more bad than good.

That is not unstained.

That is not above reproach, as we read of in chapter 3.

So Paul wrote about slaves and masters, about the poor, and now about the rich…

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

I once read that being a believer and being blessed with financial prosperity is only for the purpose of being generous and ready to share. It’s not for you. God gives it to you, but as Christ did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but added humanity to His Deity and came to live among us for our benefit, material riches are given to us for others.

As Paul wrote, we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

We are taking hold of the eternal life on offer to us through our faith in the faithfulness of Jesus

Even if we feel we are not good enough, He is, and through faith in Him, we are counted righteous in the eyes of God.


Why do I need to be like this? Why do I need to live like this? Why do I need to model this teaching and teach this teaching?

Because, to your people, your church, your family, you are the hands and feet of Jesus.

Why do I need to live like this?

…to show Jesus to your people.

…to introduce your people to Jesus…

…with everything that you say…

…and everything that you do…

The life you live is just as important as the doctrine you teach.

One last thing…

Maybe you feel like you can’t do this, I can’t do this, I am not strong enough…Remember Zechariah 4.6,

…not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit…

Think about this – Jonah – do you know story?


Think about this then – God’s plan for Nineveh was one man – Jonah.

God’s plan for humanity was one man – Jesus.

God’s plan for your city, your village, your church, your nation, needs only to be one man…is that you?


1 Timothy 5.21-25 – Personal Reminders

21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.

First and foremost Timothy as the leader of the local church, and we all by extension, must seek to serve and please God and…Christ Jesus. The leadership of a local church, as the Christian life in general, is to be lived in worship, reverence, and obedience to the Lord. Serving Him first, we show no prejudice and partiality.

I read something that said that in church, everyone should be treated as they will be before Christ.

Paul then gives more instructions about church leading; ordinations and the conduct of the minister in v.22, and then some personal advice to Timothy to care for his health so that he is able to fulfil his ministry (v.23). Evidently, Paul had no promoting to declare miraculous healing over Timothy, rather he told the young leader to take advantage of the natural remedies and medicines on offer – more on this below

Paul is evidently concerned with the conduct of Timothy as vv.24-25 show, and we must all remember that whatever we do, be it good or bad, nothing is hidden from our Father in heaven (Hebrews 4.13).

This is why we must remember we are serving Him first (v.21), that our conduct matters (v.22), that we must take care of ourselves and the bodies God has given us (v.23), and so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10.31).


 


 

David Guzik writes on v.23,

Timothy was probably abstaining from alcohol for the sake of setting a good example. However, this abstinence was hurting his health – wine was safer to drink than water. So, Paul told Timothy that it wasn’t wise to sacrifice his health for the sake of this abstinence – he would do more good for the Jesus and His kingdom by taking care of his body in this circumstance.

“Paul is simply saying that there is no good in an asceticism which does the body more harm than good.” (Barclay)

If it is God’s will for all to be healed right now, then Paul (and the Holy Spirit who inspired him) here led Timothy into sin – calling him to look to a natural remedy instead of a divine healing. God uses natural remedies and the work of doctors in healing, as well as the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit – they don’t contradict one another.

1 Timothy 5.17-20 – The Elder Example

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

Paul transitions back into how the church should be led and structured and mentions the elders who rule well. Timothy as the pastor is instructed on how to deploy elders as part of his role, as is Titus in Titus 1.5. Those who serve as elders are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. Here Paul is talking about those that give their lives to the proclamation of the Word. The honor is the respect of those being fed the Word by these men (Hebrews 13.7), but also that these men are to be employed by the church (v.18). In our modern day church this would look something like the lead pastor, the senior pastor, the teaching pastor, or however your church likes to use those terms. 

The character of the elder who preaches and teaches, the elder who serves in a spiritual oversight role, and everyone who displays elder-like character (which should be all of us), are given a stern warning when we read that as for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear

Not concealing the sins of those in leadership is a bold move for any organisation to make, especially the church. We want our leaders to be of good character, leaders we can follow with a clear conscience, leaders who will point us to Jesus in their words and ways.

Elders should be of such good character that we can say that we will not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. However, should they fall into sin, they should still serve as an example, hopefully of a contrite and repentant spirit who humbles themselves before the Lord and seeks forgiveness and restoration. 

Isn’t this the kind of character we all need to display, not just those asked to serve in a particular capacity for a particular period?

1 Timothy 5.3-16 – Widows

Having instructed Timothy on how to interact with the different members of the church family, Paul continues and talks about one group in particular, widows

Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry 12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. 13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. 14 So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. 15 For some have already strayed after Satan. 16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.

The main point seems to be that the family takes care of the family. If the family of a widow can care for them, they should (v.4). This is backed up when Paul writes in v.8

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The church is to step in, then, when there is no immediate family to provide care (v.9-10). Rather than take this as meaning that the church cares for no ladies under sixty, the idea is that the family takes care of the family first, the church should always be ready to help (Philippians 2.3-4, 1 Corinthians 12.26), but the full-time care of widows is to be taken on by the church only when no family remain (Let a widow be enrolled)

This may sound harsh, but Paul finishes with a reason, 

16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them.

Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.

The church, and all of us, should be seeking to help those who truly need it. It can be hard to discern who really needs help and who is looking for a handout, so we must rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 6.13) and godly counsel from those around us.

The main point here though for us today has to be that we need to be ready to help whoever, whenever, however they need it.

God’s church is always there to help the needy and help the helpers but as people, are we?

1 Timothy 5.1-2 – In The Family

Here Paul continues writing to Timothy on the church and how it should be structured and run. Again, given that we are all called to be the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.27), the exhortation and instruction is valid for us all in application.

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Timothy is told, in the original language, not to strike at an older man…so if he needed to challenge the behaviour or conduct of an older man, to do it with respect, as you would a father. It is an unavoidable part of the work of the pastor, to encouragingly rebuke and realign conduct that has strayed from the Word of God.

The same instruction goes for rebuking anyone in the church for Timothy, and it also goes for us now. Older men, younger men, older women, younger women, no matter, we are to treat everyone with respect, as fathers, as brothers, as mothers, as sisters, and to interact with them in all purity

Rather than cut people down with words, the instruction is to encourage those around us as if we are one family. 

Functional and fruitful families build each other up, they don’t tear each other down with words.

Today then, rather than seeking to rebuke in the harshest way possible, let us seek to interact with our church families in a spirit of mutual encouragement, encouraging one another in all purity.

1 Timothy 4.11-16 – As for Timothy, As for You…

We’ve said before that 1 Timothy was written to the new Pastor, Timothy, with instructions on how the church should be run and structured. But does that mean that the personal qualities that your Pastor possesses are only for him to have, and nobody else in church should be displaying them?

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We see some pastoral prerequisites that we should all really be taking to heart;

Command and teach these things – the teachings and truths of Jesus (3.16) are to be incontrovertible in the life of the Pastor, in the life of the church, and in your life too.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in… – if Timothy was God’s man for that church, then his age was irrelevant.


As for Timothy, as for you;

if God wants you to do something for Him, you are never too young or too old. 


Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching – we should all be constantly evaluating ourselves in light of the teachings and truths of Jesus, and asking the Holy Spirit to work in us to change what needs to be changed.

The teaching here refers to the full counsel of God’s Word, all that is taught about Jesus, all that refers to Jesus, all that guides us to Jesus. The main job of the Pastor in your church is to present the teaching, the doctrine, the truths of the Word of God. We should all, today and every day, seek to live in the light of the teaching, and each of us should be concerned with both ourselves and our Christian brothers and sisters. 

Charles Spurgeon told this story whilst preaching on a Sunday evening, the 19th of June, 1870,

I have been thinking while I have been preaching to you, this evening, of my own self awhile, and I shall turn my thoughts to myself and any others who are preachers or teachers, and who try to do good to others.

Years ago Hamburgh was nearly half of it burned down, and among the incidents that happened, there was this one. A large house had connected with it a yard in which there was a great black dog, and this black dog in the middle of the night barked and howled most furiously. It was only by his barking that the family were awakened just in time to escape from the flames, and their lives were spared; but the poor dog was chained to his kennel, and though he barked and thus saved the lives of others, he was burned himself.

Oh! do not you who work for God in this church perish in that fashion. Do not permit your sins to enchain you, so that while you warn others you become lost yourselves. Do see that you have the godliness which has the promise of the life that is to come.

And now, you who really desire to find godliness, remember, it is to be had in Christ, and only in Christ.

1 Timothy 4.7-10 – Temporal or Eternal

Lots of people nowadays seem to put energy and effort into things that have no eternal benefit, don’t they. 

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

Having talked of the witness given by God’s people through the centrality of the Word, today Paul talks about the other side of the coin, have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.

Paul then taps into the culture of the day and says, look, stop worrying so much about how you look, how strong you are, for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

For us now, this could be so many things. People are so concerned with and caught up in things that have no eternal value. This could be the politics of the day, the latest tv/movie release, the favored sports team, the new relationship, the new car, the new house…

Let’s be clear, none of those things are inherently sinful, but when they take over and become the number one concern, priority, and passion in our lives, that’s wrong.

Rather than working towards these temporal treasures, we ought to be focused on the eternal reward that is the object of our hope, which is set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially those who believe