27 March 2013
The Pastoral Letters (7): I Timothy 6
I Timothy 6:
1 Οσοι εἰσὶν ὑπὸ ζυγὸν δοῦλοι, τοὺς ἰδίους δεσπότας πάσης τιμῆς ἀξίους ἡγείσθωσαν, ἵνα μὴ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἡ διδασκαλία βλασφημῆται. 2 οἱ δὲ πιστοὺς ἔχοντες δεσπότας μὴ καταφρονείτωσαν, ὅτι ἀδελφοί εἰσιν: ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον δουλευέτωσαν, ὅτι πιστοί εἰσιν καὶ ἀγαπητοὶ οἱ τῆς εὐεργεσίας ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι.
Ταῦτα δίδασκε καὶ παρακάλει.
3 εἴ τις ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖ καὶ μὴ προσέρχεται ὑγιαίνουσιν λόγοις, τοῖς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ τῇ κατ' εὐσέβειαν διδασκαλίᾳ, 4 τετύφωται, μηδὲν ἐπιστάμενος, ἀλλὰ νοσῶν περὶ ζητήσεις καὶ λογομαχίας, ἐξ ὧν γίνεται φθόνος, ἔρις, βλασφημίαι, ὑπόνοιαι πονηραί, 5 διαπαρατριβαὶ διεφθαρμένων ἀνθρώπων τὸν νοῦν καὶ ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας, νομιζόντων πορισμὸν εἶναι τὴν εὐσέβειαν. 6 ἔστιν δὲ πορισμὸς μέγας ἡ εὐσέβεια μετὰ αὐταρκείας: 7 οὐδὲν γὰρ εἰσηνέγκαμεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον, ὅτι οὐδὲ ἐξενεγκεῖν τι δυνάμεθα: 8 ἔχοντες δὲ διατροφὰς καὶ σκεπάσματα, τούτοις ἀρκεσθησόμεθα. 9 οἱ δὲ βουλόμενοι πλουτεῖν ἐμπίπτουσιν εἰς πειρασμὸν καὶ παγίδα καὶ ἐπιθυμίας πολλὰς ἀνοήτους καὶ βλαβεράς, αἵτινες βυθίζουσιν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους εἰς ὄλεθρον καὶ ἀπώλειαν: 10 ῥίζα γὰρ πάντων τῶν κακῶν ἐστιν ἡ φιλαργυρία, ἧς τινες ὀρεγόμενοι ἀπεπλανήθησαν ἀπὸ τῆς πίστεως καὶ ἑαυτοὺς περιέπειραν ὀδύναις πολλαῖς.
11 Σὺ δέ, ὦ ἄνθρωπε θεοῦ, ταῦτα φεῦγε: δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην, εὐσέβειαν, πίστιν, ἀγάπην, ὑπομονήν, πραϋπαθίαν. 12 ἀγωνίζου τὸν καλὸν ἀγῶνα τῆς πίστεως, ἐπιλαβοῦ τῆς αἰωνίου ζωῆς, εἰς ἣν ἐκλήθης καὶ ὡμολόγησας τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν ἐνώπιον πολλῶν μαρτύρων. 13 παραγγέλλω [σοι] ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ζῳογονοῦντος τὰ πάντα καὶ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ μαρτυρήσαντος ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου τὴν καλὴν ὁμολογίαν, 14 τηρῆσαί σε τὴν ἐντολὴν ἄσπιλον ἀνεπίλημπτον μέχρι τῆς ἐπιφανείας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, 15 ἣν καιροῖς ἰδίοις δείξει ὁ μακάριος καὶ μόνος δυνάστης, ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν βασιλευόντων καὶ κύριος τῶν κυριευόντων, 16 ὁ μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν, φῶς οἰκῶν ἀπρόσιτον, ὃν εἶδεν οὐδεὶς ἀνθρώπων οὐδὲ ἰδεῖν δύναται: ᾧ τιμὴ καὶ κράτος αἰώνιον: ἀμήν.
17 Τοῖς πλουσίοις ἐν τῷ νῦν αἰῶνι παράγγελλε μὴ ὑψηλοφρονεῖν μηδὲ ἠλπικέναι ἐπὶ πλούτου ἀδηλότητι, ἀλλ' ἐπὶ θεῷ τῷ παρέχοντι ἡμῖν πάντα πλουσίως εἰς ἀπόλαυσιν, 18 ἀγαθοεργεῖν, πλουτεῖν ἐν ἔργοις καλοῖς, εὐμεταδότους εἶναι, κοινωνικούς, 19 ἀποθησαυρίζοντας ἑαυτοῖς θεμέλιον καλὸν εἰς τὸ μέλλον, ἵνα ἐπιλάβωνται τῆς ὄντως ζωῆς.
20 Ω Τιμόθεε, τὴν παραθήκην φύλαξον, ἐκτρεπόμενος τὰς βεβήλους κενοφωνίας καὶ ἀντιθέσεις τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως, 21 ἥν τινεςἐπαγγελλόμενοι περὶ τὴν πίστιν ἠστόχησαν. Ἡ χάρις μεθ' ὑμῶν.
1 Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honour, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved.
Teach and urge these duties. 3 Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, 4 is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, 5 and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by 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 evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 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, I charge you 14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will bring about at the right time – he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.
17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
20 Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the profane chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge; 21 by professing it some have missed the mark as regards the faith.
Grace be with you.
At the beginning of this academic year, this tutorial group set out to look at the Pastoral Epistles (I Timothy, II Timothy and Titus). Now that we have come near the end of the year, we have only come to the end of the first of those Pastoral Epistles, I Timothy. But it has been a useful introduction to New Testament books that are particularly relevant to the practice and spirituality or ordained ministry.
This morning’s passage (I Timothy 6) contains some well-known and oft-quoted – even misquoted – Biblical sayings, including:
● “godliness is a means of gain” (verse 5);
● “for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it (verse 7);
● “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (verse 10);
● “Fight the good fight …” (verse 12).
But the chapter also contains one of those difficult passages in New Testament about slavery (see verses 1-2; cf Philemon).
Reading I Timothy 6:
The first section of this chapter brings to a conclusion (verses 1-10) the positive instructions that began at Chapter 2. Since the beginning of Chapter 5, the author has been dealing with different groups in the Church, including men and women, widows and elders.
Now he deals with the treatment of slaves (6: 1-2) and with false teachers (6: 3-10). In its final directions, the letter warns against false teaching, against false ascetism and against seeking to make a profit of religion. Do you find this a warning against clerical careerism?
Verse 1: “The yoke of slavery.” See Titus 2: 9f; Colossians 3: 22ff; Ephesians 6: 5ff; I Peter 2: 18ff; Philemon 16.
The RSV and NRSV say: “Let all who …” But this opening line could also be translated as: “Let as many as …” As this is continuing on from Chapter 5, this may indeed be advice to priests or elders in the church in Ephesus who are slaves, whereas the masters referred to are not Christians, in contrast with the “believing masters” or Christian masters in verse 2.
The social order is not being challenged or disturbed here. But it silence is not a justification for slavery, and what is lacking here is supplemented or complemented by other Pauline sayings on slavery, injustice and equality (see, for example, Galatian 3: 28).
But the real emphasis here is on the inseparable connection between faith and love, which we shall see again in 11.
Having dealt with order in the church, the letter now returns to dealing with teaching in the church, and false doctrine, especially in relation to its impact on conduct.
Verse 3: “sound words” or teachings – this is a phrase that is used by the writer six times (e.g., see I Timothy 1: 10 and II Timothy 1: 13).
Verse 6: See II Corinthians 9: 8.
Verse 7: see Job 1: 21; Wisdom of Solomon 7: 6; see also verse 10.
Verse 10: This verse is popular and frequently misquoted It is not money but the love of money that we are warned against. There are similar saying in Patristic writers (e.g., Polycarp) and in Greek literature of the time.
The writer then goes on to offer personal instructions on pursuing godliness (6: 11-21), discussing how Timothy should “fight the good fight (6: 11-16) and offering a final word of warning to the wealthy (6: 17-19).
Verse 11: We have here an impressive list of virtues that are in opposition to the love of money. I particularly appreciate the combination of faith (πίστις, pístis) and love (ἀγάπη, agape), which I referred to in verse 2.
Verse 12: “the good fight” – this image is from the classical games rather than warfare (see also I Timothy 4: 8; II Timothy 4: 7; I Corinthians 9: 24 ff).
“eternal life” – here we have an idea that finds its strongest expression in Johannine texts (see, for example, John 3: 36).
Verse 13: What testimony does Christ give, what confession does he make, before Pontius Pilate? Saint Mark depicts Christ as virtually silent, (see Mark 15: 1-4), as do Saint Matthew and Saint Luke, apart from the brief statements such as “You have said so” (see Mark 15: 2). Only in Saint John’s Gospel does Christ make his case at length to Pilate.
Although we often associate the word confession with penitence, the word used here (ὁμολογία, homología) comes from baptismal language, and carries with it a meaning that includes adoration, belief and praise.
Verse 14: “the commandment” – is this a reference to the “new commandment … that you love one another” (John 13: 34; see John 15: 12)?
Verse 15: note the Christological titles: blessed, only Sovereign, King of kings and Lord of lords (see Daniel 2: 37; Ezekiel 26: 7; II Maccabees 13: 4; Revelation 17: 14, 19: 16).
Verse 16: The attributes of God continue to be enumerated.
“immortality,” see I Timothy 1: 17; John 5: 26.
“unapproachable light” – see Psalm 104: 2.
Note the use of the word “Amen” here, although the Epistle has not come to a conclusion, yet it is not used at the end of the letter in most versions.
Once again we have warnings to the wealthy – rather than warnings against the wealthy.
The epistle then ends with a closing or final blessing (6: 20-21), including a warning against gnostic pretensions or “what is falsely called knowledge” (verse 20).
Verse 21: “Grace be with you.” This letter ends with a typical Pauline greeting (see Colossians 4: 18; Galatians 6: 18; Philippians 4: 23; I Thessalonians 5: 28).
The “you” here is plural, although the address is singular (see I Timothy 1: 2), and this is so with the conclusions to the two other Pastoral Epistles.
Some versions add the final word “Amen,” which already appears in verse 16.
Collect of the Day (Wednesday in Holy Week):
whose blessed Son our Saviour
gave his back to the smiters,
and did not hide his face from shame:
Give us grace to endure the sufferings
of this present time,
with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Psalm 70; Hebrews 12: 1-3; John 13: 21-32.
Post Communion Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ,
you humbled yourself in taking the form of a servant
and in obedience died on the cross for our salvation.
Give us the mind to follow you
and to proclaim you as Lord and King,
to the glory of God the Father.
Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and an Adjunct Assistant Professor, Trinity College Dublin. These notes were prepared For a Bible study with MTh students in a tutorial group on 27 March 2013.
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