1 Timothy 6
Act like you’re God’s child
One rule for Christian slaves1 All believers who are slaves should treat their masters with nothing but honor. The slaves should do that so no one says bad things about God or our teaching. 2 And if the slave master is a believer, don’t hate him. The slave and slave master are brothers. So, the slave should work all the more because the kindness they show is helping a cherished believer. Teach this to the people. Encourage them to do this.
A word about religion for profit3 You might meet someone whose teachings clash with what our leader, Jesus the Messiah, taught. Jesus is the one who got it right. His words point us to God. 4 Anyone who says otherwise has a swelled head with nothing much inside it. That person has a twisted attraction to oddball theories. This gets people all worked up. They start arguing over the meaning of words. Then they get mad at each other. They get jealous, suspicious, and then they start the badmouthing. 5 They end up constantly irritated with each other—a wall of tension between them. By this time, their minds are full of poison, not truth. These folks have convinced themselves that getting their brand of religion is the way to get rich.
6 I’ll grant you this. Religion can make you rich, in a manner of speaking. But only if you’re content with what you already have. 7 We brought nothing into this world. We’re taking nothing out.
8 In the meantime, let’s be content with the food and clothes we have. 9 As for those folks who want to get rich, bad news. Temptation will lure them into dangerous traps that will capture them and decimate their lives. 10 Money love leads to trouble, and plenty of it. It has led a good many people away from their faith. And it has caused heartbreak and regret like you wouldn’t believe.
Don’t give up the fight11 But you are a man of God. So, run away from those things I listed. Chase goodness, devotion to God, faith, love, patience, and gentleheartedness. 12 Fight for the faith. It’s worth the trouble. Win that battle and take your prize: eternal life. God invited you in. You accepted that good invitation in front of witnesses. 13 I’m going to ask you to do something. God, the giver of all life, is watching. So is Jesus, who spoke honorably in front of Pontius Pilate. 14 You know the command I’m giving you. Obey the teachings of our leader Jesus, the Messiah, until he comes back. Don’t do anything that would give people reason to doubt your goodness. 15 Jesus will come at the right time. Meanwhile, know this.
To the only king, blessed indeed,
To the King of kings,
And the Lord of lords,
The only one bathed in unapproachable light,
The one no human is able to see,
To him belongs all the honor and power.
And that’s the truth.
Tips for rich believers17 Teach the rich not to get snooty about their money or to put their hope in something as unpredictable as their assets. Tell them: in God we trust. He’s the source of everything that enriches our life with joy. 18 Tell the rich to do good—to become rich in good deeds and generous in sharing. 19 If they do this, they’ll be laying a good foundation for their life in the coming age. And that’s a life that is truly life.
Avoid nastiness and dumb debates20 Please Timothy, do everything you can to guard the treasure of teachings entrusted to you. Tune out the nasty words and the ridiculous debating over warped ideas that people mistake for wisdom. 21 Some believers have lost their faith because they got sucked into this mess. May God’s kindness follow you wherever you go.
Pontius Pilate served as the Roman governor of Judea in what is now Israel and Palestinian Territories from about AD 26-36. He reluctantly ordered Jesus crucified, at the insistence of Jewish leaders.
Paul doesn’t say what the command is. One guess, illustrated by this paraphrase: everything Paul mentioned in verses 11-12, which is a summary of the Christian faith. On the other hand, Paul may have had something else in mind. The commandment may have meant Timothy’s vow as a minister, for example.
Paul breaks out into poetic-like praise of God. Bible experts call this a doxology.
Paul’s advice to slaves is particularly troubling in our culture that sees slavery as thoroughly selfish on the part of the slave owner, and absolutely unjustifiable. So how can we justify cutting Paul some slack and allowing him to get by with telling slaves to work for their masters as though they are working for their “brother” (6:2)?
Paul’s description of “a wall of tension” (6:5) that builds up between two people arguing over religion sounds a lot like the wall that can get built between two friends or family members arguing over just about anything, including politics. Maybe especially politics. What do you think is the best approach to maintaining a good relationship with a friend or family member who passionately disagrees with you?
Paul makes a case against falling in love with money. If you had to pull one idea from 1 Timothy 6:6-10, write it on a poster, and carry it on a stick at Wall Street, at a church board meeting, or at your next family reunion, which idea would you pick?
Paul tells Timothy to teach the rich folks “not to get snooty about their money” (6:17). What do you think Paul meant by that? How does a rich person express a snoot?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul calls Timothy “a man of God,” and then he lists several traits he wants Timothy to nurture: “Chase goodness, devotion to God, faith, love, patience, and gentleheartedness” (6:11). As you think about church leaders you’ve known, which of these traits would you say is most needed these days?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul seems to quote one of the oldest songs about Jesus (6:15-16). The song identifies some of the traits of Jesus that captured the interest of first-generation Christians. If we were writing a song praising Jesus today, what ideas might we want to sing about?