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?

7. Rewarded

The seventh characteristic of a Christian is found right here in verse 12:

12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

According to Jesus, there is a “GREAT” reward for us in heaven. So He commands us to “rejoice and be glad”, because one day the weight of glory will far outweigh all the light and momentary troubles this world throws at us.

These are the characteristics of Christians:

  • They are meek when others are prideful.
  • They hunger after righteousness when the world thirsts after sin.
  • They are merciful to others even when they are sinned against.
  • They are pure in heart and donʼt just look good on the outside.
  • Christians are active peacemakers in a world at war against God and one another.
  • We may be rejected, but we will also be rewarded.

If we will surrender our lives, and be willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus, from a human perspective our lives may seem to be a waste. Our family or acquaintances may call us crazy. The world may reject us and write us off as loony. But in Godʼs economy no life given to Him is wasted.

God is fully accountable to make use of any and every life that has been laid down to serve and follow Him.

You may not have heard of John Leonard Dober or David Nitschman, who lived in the 1700s. There was an island in the Caribbean where an atheist British owner had 2000 to 3000 slaves. The owner had brazenly declared, “No preacher, no clergyman, will ever stay on this island. If heʼs shipwrecked weʼll keep him in a separate house until he has to leave, but heʼs never going to talk to any of us about God. Iʼm through with all that nonsense.”

Can you imagine? Three thousand slaves from the jungles of Africa were brought to an island in the Atlantic, there to live and die without ever hearing of the person and work of Christ. These two young Moravians, Dober and Nitschman, heard about this plight.

But what could they possibly do about it? How would they reach the slaves on that island if the Gospel (and therefore preaching) was forbidden?

These two young men did the unthinkable: they actually sold themselves as slaves to the British slave owner, using the money they received from their sale to pay for their voyage to his island. As the ship left its pier, the church gathered to see these two men, in their early twenties, off. This would not be a “see you later”.

The two young men were on a voluntary, one-way trip to lifelong slavery. The families stood there on the departure dock weeping, knowing they would literally never see the two again. As the gap widened between the ship and the shore, one of the young men raised his hand and shouted out the last words that were ever heard from them again:

“MAY THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN RECEIVE THE REWARD OF HIS SUFFERING!”

God is responsible for those who give their lives to Him. Itʼs a backwards kingdom–and a backward economy.
God allowed Jesus, who knew no sin, to become sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Jesus was fully God and yet He came from the highest place: heaven to earth and took the lowliest place–the place of a servant, and was crushed in our place.

Jesus brings mercy to those who donʼt deserve it, paying their penalty through His death on the cross.

Jesus–the spotless lamb of God who was the only human to ever truly be pure in heart–was nailed to the cross for you.

Jesus took the punishment you and I deserved.

The Beatitudes are attributes of Christ-followers because they are attributes of Christ Himself!

So letʼs be willing to offer our lives to Him–to live what the world may call a waste. Because when we give our lives in surrender to Jesus, it isnʼt a waste. He calls it worship.


Pastor Pilgrim Benham is the lead pastor at Shoreline Church, in southwest Florida.

Learn more at thisisshoreline.com

6. Rejected

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

The people of God are distinct from this world, and because of Jesus, we will be insulted, rejected, and lied about. Some may even be put to death. Today around the world millions of Christians are being persecuted for their faith–even being killed for believing in Jesus.

Did you know that the original 12 apostles who heard Jesus say this actual verse to them would eventually all be persecuted?

  • Peter was crucified upside down because when they went to crucify him he said he wasnʼt worthy to die like his Lord.
  • James was sawn in half–long ways.
  • Andrew went to Russia, Turkey, and Greece, and was crucified on an X- shaped cross because he too didnʼt want to die like Jesus.
  • Philip went to North Africa and was eventually crucified.
  • Bartholomew went to Armenia in eastern Europe and was eventually flayed and beheaded.
  • Thomas went to India and was killed by four soldiers spearing him to death.
  • Matthew the tax collector went to Ethiopia and was impaled to the ground and then beheaded.
  • The other James was either thrown off the temple and beaten to death, or surrounded by a mob who clubbed and stabbed him to death.
  • John, the apostle of love, was boiled in hot oil but didnʼt die, so he was banished to a rocky island as an exile. But eventually he was the only apostle to die from old age and not martyrdom.

Every year, 160,000 Christians are martyred for their faith. This year 160,000 will go to be with Jesus because of persecution.

These stories sound gory and awful–but Jesus calls those who are persecuted blessed. In the Beatitudes: blessed is repeated 9x and it means “Oh how happy”: the secret to happiness–to the blessed life–is not having a Popeyes chicken sandwich (even though those things are amazing!).

The secret to happiness is not having more money, more notoriety, or more comfort.

No, Jesus is saying that the recipe for a happy Christian life isnʼt about having anything, or doing something, but BEING something.

5. Peacemaking

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Christians are called to be those who bring people together, not those who gossip or tear others down and cause war. War has been happening for thousands of thousands of years, and it is one of the patterns of this world. The peace God wants us to have isnʼt an emotional state of oneness with others, but a true fellowship where wholeness is achieved.

The [original language] word is more of a concept: shalom. When we strive to do everything we can to be ambassadors of shalom we are called sons of God.

I wonder if the vitriol we find on social media can be countered by the salty and peacemaking injection of Christian witness?

Often we are more angry and demeaning to one another than the world is to one another— all behind the safety of our laptop screens. I have made it a personal goal to build relationships with those I disagree with and to engage them personally before digitally—all while maintaining what I believe without apology or compromise.

We have much work to do in this regard, but voices like Ray Ortlund, Jr and others are setting a great example for all believers in avoiding brawling and clamor.

These are the marks of the citizens of Godʼs Kingdom.

When we are living this BACKWARDS life on earth, then verses 10 and 11 will ALWAYS be the result

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousnessʼ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

#6 may surprise you, but according to Jesus, a characteristic of Christians is…

4. Pure

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Purity means to be whole, to not be tainted in any way. When we are seeking God and keeping our hearts pure, guarding them from anything or anyone that would contaminate them, then we have a better vision of Who God is. We can see God more clearly.

Often our vision is blurred because our hearts have become corrupted or contaminated.

We complain that we donʼt see God at work, that there is a doctrine too hard to believe, or we donʼt sense God is for us or with us. I have noticed that some people walk in darkness while complaining that they canʼt observe the light.

But when our hearts are pure, our motives are pure, then we find verse 9 and the fifth attribute marking our lives significantly…