Paul has just given instructions about Timothy’s duties toward the various groups of believers in church. Before closing the epistle, he gives more personal instructions to Timothy and reminds him to guard what has been committed to him. In the midst of these instructions, Paul includes two important passages that teach the correct Christian attitude toward material wealth. Paul’s urge to Timothy to keep the commandment also moves him to write the final hymn of praise in this epistle.
Did You Know...?
- “You” (6:21): “The Greek for “you” here is plural, indicating that, although Paul is writing to Timothy, he expects the letter to be read to the entire Ephesians congregation.” [ref]
- “Some have strayed” (6:21): The word “strayed” here means “missed the mark.”
- Godliness with Contentment (6:2b-10)
- Charge to Timothy (6:11-16)
- Instruction to the Rich (6:17-19)
- Concluding Instruction to Timothy (6:20-21)
The teachings that Paul instructs Timothy to teach the believers are “wholesome words” that are based on the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as “the doctrine which accords with godliness” (3). But Paul points out that there are those who will contradict this sound doctrine and teach otherwise. According to Paul, why would these false teachers want to teach other doctrines?Hide Answer
1. They are proud, knowing nothing, but are obsessed with disputes and arguments about words (4). In other words, they hope to win respect and admiration by spreading a different kind of teaching and by winning arguments.
2. They suppose that godliness is a means of gain (5). These false teachers hope to win followers and benefit financially from these followers.
What does it mean to be godly and content?Hide Answer
Being godly means having God’s nature and leading a life that is according to God’s word. Contentment means joyfully accepting whatever circumstances God places us in (cf. Php 4:11-13).
True godliness is not just having an appearance of piety. It is a total devotion to God from the heart. Its only goal is to love others with a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith (1Tim 1:5). As such, it is free from all kinds of greed or ulterior motive. Therefore, godliness and contentment are inseparable.
Are you content with your current possessions and occupation?Hide Answer
There are many today who continuously seek to upgrade their standard of living and their social status. As believers, however, we should learn to be thankful for our material possessions or our current social status. We do not need to envy the rich and the famous. Rather than feel continuously dissatisfied, we ought to serve to the best of our capacity in whatever area we have been placed and be grateful for what God has already given to us.
Why is godliness with contentment great gain?Hide Answer
Godliness and contentment bring joy in Christ. By obeying and trusting God, we can have a close relationship with God and not be entangled by anxieties or greed.
What physical possessions should believers be content with? Why?Hide Answer
Believers should be content with food and clothing (8) The reason is that we brought nothing into this world and will carry nothing out (7). The accumulation of wealth is futile because all that we work for will all come to nothing one day. Hence, why should we be like the unbelievers and strive after more than our basic necessities?
What warning does Paul give concerning material possessions?Hide Answer
1. Those who desire to be rich will fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition (9)
2. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (10)
Thus, we have to be vigilant in terms of wealth since there were many, in history, who had fallen over this matter. As verse 10 teaches, all sorts of evil have resulted from the love of money. Demas (2 Tim 4:10), Judas Iscariot (Lk 22:3-6), and Gehazi (2Kgs 5:20-27) are examples to serve as a warning for us. The prayer of Agur, on the other hand, is a good example for us to emulate in this matter (Prov 30:8-9).
What does it mean to love money?Hide Answer
The love of money means greed and the desire to be rich (9,10), as well as being discontented with having food and clothing (8).
Why does the love of money lead to such dire consequences?Hide Answer
When a believer is greedy for more and more money, he becomes vulnerable to temptation (9). His mind is filled with such lust for wealth that he will easily sacrifice his faith in order to gain wealth. Rather than seek spiritual growth and fulfill the Lord’s commission, he chooses to chase after the wind, only to realize eventually that he has given up what is most valuable—faith and even eternal life, for things that cannot last. In the meanwhile, he may also suffer the consequences of his own lust, such as stress, worries, broken relationships, etc.
What should all men of God flee?Hide Answer
Flee the love of money as well as disputes and arguments (cf. 3-10,20)
What should they focus on instead (note all the commands in this paragraph)?Hide Answer
1. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness (11).
2. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life (12).
3. Keep the commandment without spot and remain blameless (14).
Why is our life of faith a fight? How can we fight a good fight?Hide Answer
In pursuing spiritual qualities, we will face oppositions, hardship, and temptations. Overcoming these challenges is like engaging in a fierce struggle. We must always keep in mind the commission God has entrusted to us so that we will endure to the end and be victorious.
How would you describe Paul’s command to Timothy (13)?Hide Answer
It is a most solemn charge because it is given to Timothy in the sight of God and before Christ Jesus.
How did Christ Jesus witness the good confession before Pontius Pilate?Hide Answer
Jesus Christ testified before Pilate saying that He came into the world to be King and that He had come to bear witness to the truth (Jn 18:36-37). Not only so, Jesus Christ laid down His life for the sake of the truth. His personal sacrifice is the greatest testimony that He had come to the world to be a ransom for all men.
What motivates us to keep the commandment without spot and be blameless?Hide Answer
We must keep the sound doctrine without spot and be blameless because we know that we will have to give an account to the Lord Jesus Christ, the only and most glorious King of kings and Lord of lords when He appears (14-16).
What lessons about wealth can we learn from Paul’s instructions to the rich? What should be our attitude toward our possessions and what should we do with them?Hide Answer
1. We ought not be haughty (17). Many in the world today indeed take pride in their riches, often flaunting their wealth. They may despise or even oppress the poor. This injustice has inevitably shaped the mentality of many who therefore focus their lives on the pursuit of wealth in order to gain recognition in the world. Christians who are rich must be careful not to be haughty lest they make others stumble. On the contrary, we need to be humble, giving glory to God for His blessings, recognizing that all these things come from God.
2. We ought not to trust in riches but in the living God (17). It is easy for a rich person to put his trust in his riches, thinking that “money is power” and that “money makes the world go round.” The Bible, however, constantly reminds us not to trust in riches. (Prov 11:28; Lk 12:16-21). Riches are uncertain. Only God alone is constant and trustworthy.
3. We ought to do good and be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share (18). Christians who are rich must understand that one reason God has made them rich is precisely for them to share the blessing of God. Hence, the Bible tells us that God has made both the rich and the poor and put them together (Prov 22:2). The parable of the rich man and Lazarus also reminds us to share and care for the less fortunate (Lk 16:19-31).
What lesson can we learn from these teachings about the present and the future?Hide Answer
Riches in the present age are uncertain (17). Instead of being arrogant and trusting in the temporary riches, we need to trust in God and invest our present riches in the things of the future so that we may have a good foundation for the time to come and lay hold of eternal life (18-19).
What is Paul’s concluding instruction to Timothy?Hide Answer
1. Guard what was committed to his trust (20)—i.e. the commission to preach the gospel of salvation and to teach the doctrine that accords with godliness.
2. Avoid the profane and idle babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge (20).
What kinds of “profane and idle babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” should we avoid today in order to guard the gospel that we have been entrusted with?Hide Answer
Prevailing trends and ideologies can often oppose the message of the gospel. Examples of this include materialistic and godless lifestyles as portrayed in movies and on television, moral relativism, higher criticism of the Bible, the New Age movement, etc.