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I Timothy 1-6    Listen Podcast

Introduction to I Timothy
Paul wrote this letter to Timothy probably somewhere between 62 and 66 A.D; we are told in the postscript that Paul was in Laodicea at the time of the writing. Timothy was one of Paul's preacher boys. The postscript to II Timothy tells us that Timothy was "the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians." This letter gives pastoral instruction to Timothy for direction in his ministry. Timothy had a Greek father and Hebrew mother...which made him Greek. However, after conversion, Paul took him through the Jewish proselyte rituals for the sake of their ministry to Jews; Timothy was circumcised at that time.

Watch out for those false teachers (I Timothy 1:1-11)

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,
2 ¶ To Timothy, a true son in the faith: ¶ Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
3 ¶ As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine,
4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith,
6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk,
7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.
8 ¶ But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully,
9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,
11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

Paul first met Timothy on his second missionary journey at Lystra in Acts 16:1-3 (see notes). He then became a companion to Paul. Later, Timothy became a dependable messenger for Paul to the churches. Having discipled Timothy, Paul refers to him as "my own son in the faith" in verse 2. The trip into Macedonia, while leaving Timothy in Ephesus (verse 3), is not documented in the Book of Acts. It probably took place afterward. Just as then, Paul instructs Timothy to hold the doctrinal line when he says in verse 3, "...that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine." There is some description of that doctrine against which Paul warns in verses 4-7, but not to the extent that we can get a clear view of exactly the error that was being taught. It would appear to be doctrine associated with the teaching of the Gnostics of the first century.

From these comments, here's what we may derive about this false doctrine:

Based upon these comments, it seems that Paul is probably warning against a strain of Gnostic doctrine being taught.

The Gospel message was being abused by incompetent teachers. Paul sums it up in verses 6-7, "from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm." As you must be aware, incompetent teachers thrive even today. Unfortunately, there are a lot of preachers today who do not spend time studying God's Word - rightly dividing the Word of Truth. As a result, a lot of preaching today has insufficient scriptural basis. It was true in Paul's day, and it's still true today.

Paul goes on to explain that these incompetent preachers even misunderstand the purpose of the law. Believers don't live by the law of Moses - it's there to condemn the lost, sinful condition of man. Romans 3:19-20 (see notes) says, "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin." Paul makes a similar short declarative statement about the Law of Moses in verse 8, "But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully." These incompetent teachers miss that important lesson. And what is that lawful use of the law? Condemnation of the wicked as seen in verses 9-10. In other words, the Law of Moses is not to be taught as the goal of victorious Christian living; that only comes through leadership of the Holy Spirit. There are a host of misguided Christians today who believe that they are saved by grace, but kept saved by adhering to the Law of Moses. Ironically, these Christians have never faced the issue of their deliberate dismissal of commandment #4 regarding sabbath-day keeping. For a greater perspective on this issue, click here to read the article entitled, "The Sabbath Day."

Verse 11 actually tags onto the end of verse 10. After Paul describes the actions of unregenerate wicked people, he throws in a catch-all phrase, "and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine." Verse 11 then expands upon the term "sound doctrine" when Paul says, "according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust." There is a systematic approach to life in Christ taught by Paul and based upon salvation by grace. This system excludes "law" as a means of finding favor with God. Paul fought for this doctrine of salvation by grace against those who sought to dilute it throughout his ministry because he believed that this doctrine was "committed to my trust."

Saving sinners (I Timothy 1:12-20)

12 ¶ And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry,
13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.
17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
18 ¶ This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,
19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,
20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Paul continues with his ministry resume in verse 12 crediting Jesus Christ for "putting me into the ministry." That means it wasn't just a job choice for Paul, but a calling from Christ himself - a calling despite the fact that he refers to his past as having included being a "blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man." Since he actually presided over the execution of Stephen in Acts 7 (see notes), one might even go one step further in indicting Paul's past. All of this was done ignorantly in the name of religion, as he points out in verse 13. Nonetheless, he is assured in verses 14-15 that Christ's grace was waaaaay sufficient to forgive his past, even though he categorizes himself as "chief" (Greek: "protos" meaning number 1) among sinners. Christ came to save sinners. Paul says that he was "chief" (number 1) as a sinner. After all, he did persecute Christians before his conversion - probably even sentenced some to death...and then there was Stephen, but Christ saved him anyway. That's a powerful message that can save someone like Paul. He encourages Timothy to stick to this saving message.

Why was mercy extended to Paul for salvation? We see in verse 16 that Paul regarded the mercy extended to him by God as an example of God's longsuffering to those who follow. If Jesus Christ would reach down and save the number 1 sinner, he'll save anyone. Verse 17 speaks to his authority to do so because he is "the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God."

Paul then issues a charge to Timothy in verses 18-19 which includes a restatement of his previous ministry call, having been confirmed by "prophecies" regarding him at the time of his ordination. Note the two references to Timothy's ordination found in verse 18 here and I Timothy 4:14:

I Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,
I Timothy 4:14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.

It appears that Timothy had been ordained to the ministry in a setting accompanied by prophecies concerning his ministry as well as the laying on of hands by the body of elders present; that sounds like a formal ordination service. Here's the charge: "wage the good warfare." Isn't it interesting that Paul uses warfare terminology to define the ministry to which Timothy was called. Then Paul deals with a couple of fellows who blasphemed in the course of their ministering, Hymenaeus and Alexander. One of them gets mentioned again in II Timothy 4:14 (see notes), "Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works." Obviously their wrongdoing was doctrinal, and Paul does to them what he had suggested be done to the adulterer in I Corinthians 5 (see notes) where the decree in both instances was to deliver the offenders over to Satan. It is believed by most that this terminology involved the withdrawal of fellowship from the offenders by people of faith i.e. excommunication. What was their sin? Paul describes it as, after "having faith and a good conscience," then "concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck." They didn't hold the line on their teaching of sound doctrine. It is apparent that Paul took seriously the preaching of heretical doctrine.

Pray for our leaders (I Timothy 2:1-3)

1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

In verse 1 Paul writes, "I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men." It's interesting that he uses three different words which might be used interchangeably, but they do each describe prayer from a little different perspective.

Notice the three words used here:

As you can see, all three words address a little different aspect of one's prayers. Add to that the "giving of thanks," and Paul has just defined spirit-led prayer life. These prayers, however, are specifically directed toward leadership. In other words, we pray for our leaders that we might lead peaceful lives, a subject Paul also addressed in Romans 13:1-7 (see notes). It is ironic that it was the very Roman government for whom Paul is praying here that gave him fits. And...according to tradition, Paul was executed by that Roman government after a subsequent incarceration. Why pray for such evil people? First of all, "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life" (verse 2). Furthermore, we see in verse 3, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior," In short, it's just the right thing to do.

Salvation for all (I Timothy 2:4-7)

4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,
7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Verse 4 is worth repeating here regarding salvation for all: "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." No matter what you may have thought, God does desire (Greek: "thelo" means "will, desire, wish") to see everyone come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The fact that, in God's foreknowledge, he knows the names of all the people who will reject Christ as savior presents a doctrinal dilemma for some, but not me. It is what it is. Yes, he wants everyone to be saved, and yes, he knows who will accept and reject; he's God; he knows everything. If you still have questions about the issue of God's foreknowledge and the doctrine of predestination, click here to read the notes on Romans 9.

I Timothy 2:5 is a powerful verse, "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." Who, alone, stands between God and man to make intercession? Answer: ONLY JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD! No substitutes allowed! We see the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross for us in verse 6 where he is seen as "a ransom for all." This single New Testament usage of the Greek word "antilutron" ("ransom") is defined as "the means or instrument by which release or deliverance is made possible." He makes clear in verse 7 that it is this Christ-is-our-mediator message that has been entrusted to him which he preaches faithfully to the Gentiles in "faith" and "truth" (Greek: "alethia"). Though not a popular message back home or to Jewish leaders anywhere, Paul had to preach the "truth."

A matter of public testimony (I Timothy 2:8-15)

8 ¶ I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;
9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,
10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.
11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.
12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.

Now, after a little informational detour, it's back to the issue of prayer which Paul began in verse 1. In that verse he dealt with the content of one's prayer; now he continues in verse 8 with the testimony aspect of prayer. He declares, "I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting." Paul expresses his desire that Christian men be seen praying for the people in verses 1-2 "everywhere." That's not a figurative statement; Paul uses the Greek dative form of the noun "topos" with the all-inclusive adjective "pas" to indicate "in all places." He is stressing the importance of men having a public testimony that characterizes them as men of prayer. He adds that their prayers should be "without wrath and doubting." We know Paul is talking about a public display because of his continuation in verse 9 with the public testimony of women, introducing it with, "in like manner also."

Now, Paul discusses the public testimony of Christian women. The problem is that political correctness in today's society rejects this God-given role of women. First of all, Paul says that women should dress themselves modestly. He itemizes a style of dress that identified loose women in his day. Don't get hung up on the specifics of the dress style here; just know that there is similarly a style of dress which advertises the wrong aspect of women today - one that flaunts all the wrong characteristics of a woman from a Christian perspective; this style should be avoided. Instead, the aspect of a Christian woman that should be accentuated is her service for the Lord (verse 10).

Then we have the stake in the heart of the modern-day women's movement. Paul says in verses 11-12, "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence." I don't feel a liberty to apply this scripture outside of a church setting, but it seems clear in that setting. What about women preachers? says what it says. The literal meaning and all implications here seem clearly stated by Paul; within the church setting, men are charged with taking the lead. A similar statement is made regarding the participation of women in corporate worship in I Corinthians 14:34 (see notes).

Paul does venture outside the church setting here with verses 13-15 in validating a woman's role in marriage. The verb "saved" (Greek: "sozo") in verse 15 does not necessarily refer to spiritual salvation, and it does not mean that here. His comments here are meant to suggest the following idea: For Godly women, their fulfillment in life is met as they raise good, strong, principled children. It's sad that we live in a society today where homemakers are discounted and demeaned. Bible-believing Christians place a badge of honor on all women who choose to put their families in the spotlight as Paul encourages here.

Qualifications of Elders/Bishops/Pastors/Shepherds (I Timothy 3:1-7)

1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach;
3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous;
4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence
5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);
6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

In the New Testament, four words describe a single office within the local church - elder, bishop, pastor, shepherd." Elder" comes from a Greek word, "presbuteros," which was the term used to describe those who governed a city or province in addition to being the general term for an older person. "Bishop" comes from the Greek word, "episcopos," which means "superintendent" or "overseer." This word was commonly used to describe a person who was in charge of a particular job, like a building contractor. "Pastor/shepherd" are translations of a third Greek word, "poimaine." This word is only translated "pastor" in one verse in the New Testament, Ephesians 4:11 (see notes). Every other occurrence is translated shepherd.

When Paul addresses the Elders of the church in Ephesus in Acts 20:17-38 (see notes), he uses all three Greek words seen here to describe the same office. So, there is no scriptural differentiation between and elder, bishop, pastor or shepherd; they are all the same office with each word highlighting a different aspect of that responsibility. Men who are called by God to this office serve as pastors/shepherds of a flock (local church body). In this passage, Paul gives the scriptural qualifications for those who feel that God has called them to this office. See the information box to the right of this window for complete information regarding the duties and qualifications of this office or click here to see the article entitled, "Pastors, Bishops and Elders" in a separate window.

And then there are deacons (I Timothy 3:8-13)

8 ¶ Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money,
9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.
10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless.
11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things.
12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Paul then gives the scriptural qualifications for those who want to serve as deacons. While it is not indicated per se, we assume that the 7 men who were appointed by the apostles in Acts 6 (see notes) to assist them in the ministry of the distribution to the needy within the church were the first deacons. That being the case, the model seems to be that, when there is more to be done in the ministry than there are elders to do it, the church subsidizes the effort with deacons. Since elders/bishops/pastors are called by God to the gospel ministry, it would be inappropriate to appoint someone to be an elder who was not called to that office by God. Therefore, deacons are the local-church solution to this problem.

Here are the qualifications Paul lists for deacons in verses 8-12:

Paul concludes in verse 13 by saying, "For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." The Greek word for "standing" here is "bathmos" which means "social standing." In other words, the office of a deacon puts one out front for scrutiny. It is an example position for others.

The mystery of godliness (I Timothy 3:14-16)

14 ¶ These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly;
15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.

Paul expresses his desire to visit with Timothy, but until then, this letter will have to suffice, serving as a document of detailed instructions on how one's ministry should be conducted. He adds gravity to the mission when he highlights the target in verse 15, "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Paul means to convey the vital importance of the pastoral ministry here. If any pastor ever thinks that what he does isn't really that important, read verses 14-16 again.

So, in Paul's ministry, what's all the flack about with the Jews? Well, here it is in a nutshell - the mystery of godliness. A "mystery" is that which cannot be known by the natural (not spirit led) mind, usually in the context of having been previously hidden. This, indeed, is the concept rejected by the Jews. Let's look closely at this "mystery" in verse 16, "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory."

Now, let's break down verse 16:

And that's why it's called by Paul a "mystery" (Greek: musterion). The natural mind rejects the supernatural purpose and existence of Jesus Christ.

A fight against asceticism (I Timothy 4:1-5)

1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,
3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;
5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

It is generally believed that first-century Gnostics were ascetic in their approach to lifestyle issues, expressed most noticeably in their sexual and dietary practices. Whether these comments are directed specifically toward the Gnostics or not, there are some people (then and now) who think they aren't doing enough sacrificing for Christ. In Paul's day, as well as ours, there were those who adopted strange practices that they proclaimed should be practiced by everyone with a commitment to Christ. Basically, however, it amounts to false doctrine - not pleasing before God. It adds an extra-scriptural layer of obedience to following Christ that is not appropriate. Therefore, it becomes an evil addition to one's faith, and Paul treats it as evil in this passage. These ascetic measures do sound familiar, don't they?

Paul names two practices of these false teachers that help us identify their error in verse 3, abstinence from marriage and vegetarianism. Don't misunderstand; one may practice either of these and not be a false teacher. However, we see in this passage that they taught these as the way to find favor with God; that's what makes it heresy...and heresy it is.

Look at the unflattering remarks he makes regarding their doctrine and those who teach it in verses 1-2:

In verses 4-5 he confirms that these two heretical practices are not to be regarded as scriptural mandates. Why is Paul so hard on practices that seem quite innocent? Consider this: When people add extra-scriptural conditions to salvation or life in Christ, they destroy the doctrine of salvation by grace. So, while Paul names just two of the characteristic false teachings of these first-century teachers of asceticism, understand that ANY teaching which adds to the conditions for salvation or favor with God are equally as evil.

A good servant of Jesus Christ (I Timothy 4:6-16)

6 ¶ If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.
7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.
10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
11 These things command and teach.
12 ¶ Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.
16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

In verse 6 Paul encourages Timothy to stick with his training; teach those things which he knows to be sound doctrine. In doing so, he is a "good minister of Jesus Christ." The Greek word for "minister" is "diakonos" and is frequently used in the context of non-pastoral service. Based upon context, it is obvious that Paul intends his comment to reflect the worthy service of a pastoral minister in holding the doctrinal line. Paul encourages Timothy to stay focused. Don't get distracted with meaningless rituals and teachings which he describes as "profane" (Greek: "bebelos" - worldly, godless) and "old wives’ fables." The word "fables" is the Greek: "muthos" i.e. "myths" - things made up without any basis in substance. In other words, people tend to add spurious accessories to doctrinal truths; don't be fooled by them.

Paul figuratively uses the word for physical exercise in verse 7 when he encourages Timothy to exercise himself spiritually. When compared to his statement in verse 8, "For bodily exercise profits a little," it is obvious that Paul is talking about the aggressive sharpening of Timothy's ministry skills, just as one physically exercises in pursuit of athletic excellence. He further comments that the former has eternal rewards. Paul emphasizes in verse 9 that his preceding comments are to be universally accepted as sound doctrine. Paul himself has labored and suffered for this doctrine (verse 10). Notice his comment in verse 10, "the Savior of all men." That is so in that Jesus paid "a ransom for all" (verse 2:6, see above), although only Believers are born again, the concept captured in Paul's additional stipulation here, "especially of those who believe."

Beginning in verse 11, Paul challenges Timothy to "command and teach" these things, but in so doing, act like an adult. That may seem like a strange admonition, but obviously Timothy was a young man. Paul is telling him that if he displays the immaturity of youth, he will have a difficult time ministering, especially to more mature Believers. Hang up the skateboard Timothy, you're in a man's world now!

He comprehensively itemizes aspects of living in which Timothy should make certain he shines as an example in verse 12.

He gives him the successful ministry key in verse 13, "give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." No question - Paul has placed some high expectations on Timothy here. He reminds him of his ordination to the ministry in verse 14 (see notes on 1:18 above). Paul concludes the remarks he began in verse 1 regarding those teaching false doctrine by emphasizing that correct doctrine "saves." The implications are clear; false doctrine causes people to miss the message of salvation. Paul again encourages him to hold the doctrinal line.

Various instructions to Timothy to relay to the church (I Timothy 5)

1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers,
2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.
3 ¶ Honor widows who are really widows.
4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.
7 And these things command, that they may be blameless.
8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 ¶ Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man,
10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.
11 ¶ But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry,
12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.
14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some have already turned aside after Satan.
16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.
17 ¶ Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.
20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.
21 ¶ I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.
22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.
23 ¶ No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.
24 ¶ Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later.
25 Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.

How slaves are to act (I Timothy 6:1-2)

1 Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.
2 And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.

Slavery during the first century was a legal reality and had been for centuries in the Roman empire and the empires that preceded it. These slaves under Roman rule were not entire races, but rather certain people from within each race who were in bondage as slaves.

So, how might one end up being a slave during that era? Derived form extra-biblical historical documents, here are a few ways:

The first two scenarios listed were probably the primary sources for the greatest number of slaves in Roman society during that era.

Paul deals briefly with the proper attitude of slaves toward their owners. He had no power to change laws governing slavery. Some have questioned why Paul did not condemn slavery altogether in this and other passages. Keep in mind two issues at hand: First, when raised as a slave from birth, Roman society would have been economically intolerant of one who had acquired his freedom in most circumstances. This was the lifestyle to which they were accustomed. The security of a benevolent slave owner was preferred by many over freedom. Second of all, Paul's ministry was not one of government reform. His was a ministry of reconciliation to God. Here was a man writing to people from prison, enduring his own version of false imprisonment. So, understand that these verses represent Paul's instructions to Believers who were slaves and to slave owners.

Click here to see the notes on Ephesians 6:5-9 regarding the slave/master relationship. In that passage Paul also explains the proper attitude a slave owner should have with regard to his slaves.

Don't expect to get rich preachin' (I Timothy 6:3-10)

3 ¶ If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness,
4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,
5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
6 ¶ Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Even though these words immediately follow Paul's brief encouragement to slaves, he seems to be referencing the entire body of his teaching with these comments. This would seem to be the capper on this whole letter of doctrinal mandates.

Notice the authority Paul places upon the writings of this epistle in verse 3 by referring to them as:

Those who dispute Paul's teachings are addressed specifically in verses 4-5. Here's the deal: Paul's words written to Timothy (and elsewhere in the New Testament) have the absolute authority of inspired scripture from God...equal in strength with the words of Jesus and the entirety of the Old Testament. Paul writes to Timothy in II Timothy 3:16-17 (see notes), "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Understand that verses 4-5 dispel the notion that doctrine contrary to the teachings of Paul may be considered in any way acceptable. Not only is the contrary doctrine to be rejected, but those teaching that doctrine are to be rejected as those with evil intent.

Paul is directing this passage to Timothy, warning him of these who would use the ministry for financial gain. These false teachers modify their messages so as to extract money from their followers. That's wrong, wrong, wrong! Paul then makes some general comments that should serve as a warning to anyone who puts the accumulation of wealth as a higher priority than serving God. Paul has already acknowledged that it is appropriate to receive compensation for the ministry back in 5:17-19 (see above). However, he finds unacceptable those who are in the ministry for the money in this passage. He addresses those who do not accept that premise of ministry in verse 9 when he says, "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition." If we stick to the context, Paul is obviously talking about one's motivation for ministering. The Gospel of Jesus Christ should not be preached strictly for financial compensation. While many have taken this as a general exhortation regarding greed for money, it really seems to be a money-versus-sincere-ministry issue in verses 9-10 as well. Those who ministered for the money "strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." Timothy is then encouraged to stick to the correct motivation for ministry in verses 11-12.

Fight the good fight of faith (I Timothy 6:11-21)

11 ¶ But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.
12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
13 I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
14 that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing,
15 which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
17 ¶ Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
20 ¶ O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—
21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. ¶ Grace be with you. Amen.

Paul encourages Timothy to minister with the correct motivation (verse 11). Here's Timothy's pep talk from Paul. Timothy is to view his ministry like a fight; Satan certainly does. He warns Timothy not to fall into the trap practiced by so many of modifying the clear presentation of the Gospel (verse 14). As a matter of fact, that seems to be the overriding theme of this letter written to Timothy, "Stay firm with sound doctrine." In his parting words, Paul strengthens his encouragement for Timothy to stick to his solid ministry resolve.

Paul concludes this letter to Timothy with some additional words about the proper message he should convey to those of financial means in verses 17-19. They should be encouraged to use their wealth for God's glory in that they share with others.

Finally, Timothy is once again told to resist teachings that contradict sound doctrine. "Profane" comes from the Greek word, "bebelos." It literally refers to worldly, godless words. In other words, when we are talking about the supernatural nature of God, we do an injustice to the clear teaching of scripture when we minimize God's power and authority with concepts that are anything less than descriptive of God in that supernatural context. These "vain babblings" come from the compound Greek word "kenophonia." These are "empty sounds" - sophisticated-sounding words that have no real meaning. The Greek word translated "knowledge" in the NKJV is "gnosis." It's the word for "knowledge," but here holds the connotation of being the doctrine of "knowledge" taught by those in the first century we know as "Gnostics." Their sinister teachings were mostly error built upon a little bit of truth. Paul deals with them in his opening words of this letter in I Timothy 1:1-11 (see above). Paul also warned of this Gnostic teaching in Colossians (see notes).