1 Timothy 6


‘All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves.’ 1 Timothy 6:1-2

Slaves And Masters

In this chapter, Paul deals with the sensitive issue of slaves and masters. It would be useful to understand how a person became a slave in the first place, this could happen in one of three ways.

1. If your father was a slave and if your mother was a slave and you were born into that family, you became the owner’s property. The owner could sell you and do whatever he wants with you.

2. Maybe the person was a thief who stole money and under Jewish or even Roman law, if you stole and couldn’t pay it back, then they can take you as a slave.

3. Maybe they were a murderer, but instead of killing him, they would decide to give him to the victim’s family and the family could take him or sell him or do whatever they liked.

So whatever reason, for a person becoming a slave, the point is the slave had no rights whatsoever, they were a piece of property, and their masters owned them.

In New Testament times, at the slave market, they would auction salves off for shekels. Then someone would buy them for so many shekels and now the slave belongs to the person who bought them.

Remember the slave has nothing, no bedding, no clothes, no food and so the slave’s master is the one who is going to take care of them and all their needs.

The slave depended completely on the master for their life and they had nothing if the master didn’t provide it for them. However, that also meant that the slave didn’t worry about anything because they simply depended on the master.

We know that Paul is speaking about slaves here as he’s addressing those who are ‘under the yoke of slavery,’ Matthew 11:29. In Paul’s day it was very common for the wealthy to have slaves within their household, Ephesians 6:5-8 / Colossians 3:11 / Colossians 3:22-24 / Titus 2:9 / 1 Peter 2:18.

Paul first begins by addressing those Christian slaves who have Christian masters. Of course, all slaves wanted to be free and they could earn that freedom, Deuteronomy 15:12-17 / 1 Corinthians 7:21 / Ephesians 6:5-8 / 1 Peter 2:18.

However, while they were still slaves, they were to treat their masters with total respect and not do anything which would dishonour their own faith in Christ. The reason for showing respect to their master was to prevent God’s name and our teaching from being slandered.

This is all about practising what we preach and not giving anyone an excuse to find fault in our faith in Christ or His teaching, by what we say or how we conduct ourselves, Matthew 5:39-41 / 1 Corinthians 6:7 / Romans 13:1-7. People will often judge Christianity based on how we conduct ourselves, Colossians 3:22-24.

Paul now addresses the slaves who have Christian masters, and he tells the slaves not to show any disrespect to their masters just because they are Christians, Matthew 6:24 / Luke 16:13.

I guess the slave may have thought he could take some liberties because his master was also his brother in Christ, Ephesians 6:6, but Paul reminds them that they still have responsibilities to their master, despite them being their brother in Christ, Philemon 8-20.

Instead of treating their master with disrespect, they were to serve their masters even better. This gives us the idea of a totally different attitude of the slave toward their master.

We can imagine how the slave didn’t want to really serve their master before they became Christians but now that the slave has been converted, they want to please their masters more than ever because their master, also a Christian wants to devote himself to the slave’s welfare.

Slaves should obey their masters with a sincere heart, Colossians 3:23-25. If they give grudging service, such will bring harshness upon them by their masters. Their service should be motivated by a heart that fears God.

In the Old Testament, the fear of God was in reference to our obedience to God. Those who feared God obeyed His commandments. In this context, when we fear God, we will be the best employee we can possibly be in response to the will of God.

‘Work at it with all your heart’, should be the attitude of all Christians who serve either masters or employers, Colossians 3:23 / Ecclesiastes 9:10 / Romans 12:11.

Paul’s point is that Christianity changes the nature of our service to others. Those employees who are in the world may give grudging service to their employers but not so with Christians. Their attitude toward their masters and employers should be based on their fear of God, 1 Peter 2:18-25.

The service of the Christian is given to others as if they were working for the Lord, and not a master or employer. When the Christian is working for their living, therefore, they are working on behalf of the Lord.

When we become a Christian, our attitude changes concerning our work in making a living. As a Christian, they go to work every day for the Lord. By working to earn a living to support our own necessities, we earn in order to help the poor and to support the Gospel being spread throughout the world, Romans 10:15 / Philippians 4:17.

Those servants and employees who do wrong to their masters and employers will reap what they sow. Both servants and masters, employees and employers should work because all men will stand in judgment before God, 2 Corinthians 5:10. As Christians, we must remember that all our service in this world to others is because God served our sin problem through Jesus.

Masters must deal fairly with their servants, Colossians 1:4. Christian masters must understand that they will also give an account before their Master in heaven. Therefore, they should deal with their servants or today’s employees, because they will stand in judgment for their own behaviour. There must be mutual respect between believing masters and slaves so that both spiritually benefit, Philemon 8-20.

It’s an encouragement that’s based on the concept that they should do to others as they would want the Lord to do to them, Matthew 7:12. We all have to remember, whether slave or master, that on Judgement Day, the only people that will walk through the pearly gates are those who respond to the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’ Matthew 25:21.

False Teachers And The Love of Money

‘These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.’ 1 Timothy 6:2-5

Paul insists that Timothy teaches those slaves who were possibly showing disrespect to their masters to maintain their civil respect for their masters, 2 Timothy 1:13 / Titus 1:9.

Paul says that he’s teaching the very words which Jesus taught concerning this matter, that is his words carry the same authority as Christ’s, Matthew 5:38 / Matthew 22:21 / 2 Timothy 3:16-17 / 2 Peter 2:20-21. The sound instruction and godly teaching all point to obedience to God’s Word.

Those who don’t agree with Christ’s words are conceited, 1 Timothy 3:6, and don’t understand anything, 1 Corinthians 8:2. It’s these same people who have an ‘unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words’, in other words, they will argue about anything and with anyone, because they think they know God’s will better than anyone else, Acts 18:15 / Titus 3:9-11.

Notice they have ‘corrupt minds’, this is the spiritual mental state of those who love nothing better than to argue over opinions and things that aren’t salvational issues because they think they know better. No wonder all they end up with is ‘envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction,’ Romans 1:29.

It’s clear that Paul recognises that these so-called Christians who love nothing but arguing with the saints want some kind of status with the church. They want to be popular to such an extent, they see the Gospel as a way of making an income, and so they wanted not only the general support of the church, they also wanted the financial support of the church, Luke 16:14 / 2 Peter 2:1-3.

You will notice that the N.I.V. and most other translations have left out the words, ‘withdraw yourself from such’, as is found in the K.J.V. I believe this is important to the context because Paul is telling Timothy the same as he told the Christians in Rome, Romans 16:17, to stay away from those people who want to do nothing but cause division within the Lord’s church.

Those people who want to argue over opinions and issues which have no relevance to the salvation of our souls, 1 Corinthians 1:10 / 2 Timothy 3:5.

‘But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.’ 1 Timothy 6:6-8

If I could summarise today’s generation, I would use the Rolling Stones song, ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’. Paul says that ‘godliness with contentment is great gain’, in other words, Christians should be content with God and His Word to help us live right for Him in this world, John 10:10 / Philippians 4:12-13.

Christians should be content with the blessing they have in this life because they have eternal benefits too, Psalm 37:17 / Philippians 4:11 / Hebrews 13:5 / James 4:14.

We indeed brought nothing into this world when we were born, Job 1:21, and it’s certainly true we can’t take anything with us when we die, Psalm 49:17. However God supplies us with everything we need in this life, that is all the basic necessities we need to live on, like food and clothing, Genesis 28:20-22 / Hebrews 13:5.

When we understand that God really does take care of His people, then we should find contentment in this, Matthew 6:25-34 / 2 Corinthians 9:8 / Philippians 4:11.

‘Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.’ 1 Timothy 6:9-10

After speaking about being content with what we have in life, Paul now addresses those who want to get rich. Most people who desire get be rich, often forget what it means to be content. The great temptation and the trap are simply that they believe if they can surround themselves with wealth, then they will be happy, Job 18:8-9 / Proverbs 15:27 / Proverbs 28:20.

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, the problem comes when we start to rely on our wealth more than we do on God to get by in life. As a result, we may end up losing our salvation because of it, Proverbs 30:8-9 / James 2:6 / James 5:1-5.

Notice that money itself isn’t evil, it’s the heart of those who are totally obsessed with having money, which is evil, Deuteronomy 16:19. Paul says some in Ephesus were so ‘eager for money’, they lost everything they had, they traded in their eternal riches for the temporary riches of this world, Matthew 6:19-34 / 2 Timothy 4:10.

As a result of their eagerness for money, they ‘pierced themselves with many griefs’, in others words, they lost everything, their faith, their family and their friends.

Final Charge To Timothy

‘But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.’ 1 Timothy 6:11-12

Paul calls Timothy ‘man of God’, 2 Timothy 3:17, and tells him ‘to flee’ from all this worldly thinking he’s just spoken about, 1 Corinthians 6:18 / 2 Timothy 2:22.

As Timothy is fleeing he must start pursuing, ‘godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness’, there are the things which characterise a righteous person, Romans 9:30-31 / Galatians 5:22-23 / 1 John 2:29 / 1 John 3:7.

Paul urges him to ‘fight the good fight of the faith’, notice again the words, ‘the faith’, in other words, Timothy must defend or contend for ‘the faith’, the doctrine taught in the Scriptures, which was ‘delivered once for all’, 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 / 1 Timothy 1:18 / Jude 3 / Colossians 1:28-29 / Ephesians 6:10-17 / Colossians 3:1.

Timothy is to ‘take hold of the eternal life to which he was called’, that is, he is to hang on to the hope of eternal life. Surely the promise of eternal life is one of the biggest reasons people are Christians and if we truly believe that we have eternal life, 1 John 5:13, then surely we would want to share that good news with others, 1 Corinthians 9:25 / Philippians 3:12 / Hebrews 6:18-19.

At some point in time, Timothy openly declared in ‘the presence of many witnesses’, his ‘good confession’. Confessing that ‘Jesus is Lord’ is the same ‘good confession’ all Christians made when they were called by the Gospel, Matthew 10:32-33 / Romans 10:9-10 / Philippians 2:11 / Hebrews 13:23 / 2 Thessalonians 2:14.

‘In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might forever. Amen.’ 1 Timothy 6:13-16

Paul ‘charges’ Timothy again, 1 Timothy 5:21, ‘in the sight of God who gives life to everything and of Christ Jesus’, Ephesians 2:1 / 2 Timothy 2:8-10. Paul is telling Timothy that it’s God that he is accountable to.

As Timothy was to remember his ‘good confession’, 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul reminded him of the ‘good confession’ which Christ made before Pontius Pilate, Matthew 27:11 / Mark 14:61-62 / Luke 23:2-3 / John 18:37 / John 19:11.

Paul charges Timothy ‘to keep this command,’ that is the command to ‘fight the good fight of the faith’, 1 Timothy 6:12. He was to keep this command ‘without spot or blame’, James 1:27 / 1 Peter 1:19 / 2 Peter 3:14. This means he should so keep the command in the sense that there should be no stain on his moral character, Philippians 2:15.

Timothy was to keep the command and stay spotless and pure until the final coming of Christ, 1 Thessalonians 2:19 / 1 Thessalonians 4:16 / 1 Thessalonians 5:23. No one knows when Christ will return, only the Father in heaven, Acts 1:7.

When Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, He began His reign over all things, and now Jesus is the King of all kings, Daniel 7:13-14 / Ephesians 1:20-22 / 1 Peter 3:22 / 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 / Revelation 7:14.

He is also Lord of all lords, Isaiah 9:6-7 / Zechariah 9:9-10 / Matthew 2:1-2 / Matthew 27:37 / Matthew 28:18 / Luke 22:29-30 / Luke 23:37-38 / John 1:49 / John 13:3 / John 17:2 / 1 Peter 3:22.

Although at the present moment we don’t see all things in subjection to Him, He still reigns over all things, Hebrews 2:8. He is the head of the church, Ephesians 1:21-23.

Jesus as God was in eternity with God, but here the word, ‘immortality’ refers to the resurrected body of Christ, He will never die again, John 5:26 / Romans 6:9 / Philippians 3:21 / Philippians 4:10 / 1 John 3:2.

It’s because of the resurrection of Christ that Christians have the promise of immortality, John 5:21 / John 5:26 / 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 / 2 Timothy 1:10 / 1 John 5:11-12 / 1 John 5:20.

The ‘light’ where Christ dwells is so brilliant and dazzling that no human eyes can endure it, 1 John 1:5 / 1 John 2:1. Heaven is constantly described as a place of the purest and brilliant light, needing not the light of the sun, or the moon, or the stars, Revelation 21:23-24 / Revelation 22:5, and God is represented as dwelling in that light, surrounded by amazing and unapproachable glory, Revelation 4:6 / Ezekiel 1:4 / Hebrews 1:3.

No one has seen or can approach the light because God is Spirit, John 1:18 / John 4:24 / John 6:46 / Romans 8:34 / Colossians 1:15 / 1 Timothy 1:17 / 1 John 2:1. However, when Christ reruns we shall see Him as He is, 1 John 3:2. Because of what Christ did, He receives all the honour and might forever, Romans 11:36.

‘Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.’ 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Paul now commands the Christians in Ephesus who are rich not to value themselves on account of their wealth or look down with pride and arrogance on their inferiors. The rich often separate themselves from those who are poor, thinking they are better people or nearer heaven, because they are wealthy, Romans 12:16.

Very often it’s the rich who put their hope in wealth, rather than putting their hope in God, Proverbs 23:5 / Jeremiah 9:23 / Jeremiah 48:7 / Matthew 6:19-34 / Luke 12:21 / Romans 11:20 / Romans 12:16.

When we put our hope in God, we put our trust in God that He is more than able to meet supply all our needs, Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 / Philippians 4:11-13 / Philippians 4:19, and to do for us what riches cannot do. Unlike riches which can be ‘so uncertain’, they can be gone in a moment, God never changes, Hebrews 13:8, or leaves those who put their trust in Him, Hebrews 13:5.

Those who are rich have clearly got a gift for earning money, and so Paul commands them to use their wealth to do the following four things.

1. To do good, Galatians 6:10 / Hebrews 13:10.

2. To be rich in good deeds, that is, their deeds should be as abundant as their riches, Acts 20:34-35.

3. To be generous, Acts 4:34.

4. To be willing to share, Hebrews 13:16 / 2 Corinthians 8:13-15.

By doing these things, they would ‘lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation’, that is, it would contribute to their eternal welfare, Matthew 6:20 / Luke 16:9. The idea is that their wealth would provide an opportunity for them to learn the character of giving.

‘Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith. Grace be with you all.’ 1 Timothy 6:20-21

Paul ends his letter by telling Timothy to ‘guard what has been entrusted to his care’, this would be the message of the Gospel and the faith, that is, the doctrine of the church, Galatians 1:6-9 / 2 Timothy 1:14 / Jude 3 / Revelation 22:18-19.

He is to turn away from ‘godless chatter’, that is any controversy or teachings which only result in dividing the church rather than edifying the church, 1 Timothy 1:4 / 1 Timothy 4:7. He is also to turn away from ‘the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge’, that is, he was to avoid everything which falsely laid claim to being ‘knowledge’ or ‘science’, as the K.J.V. uses.

It appears as though some Christians were attracted to the ‘meaningless talk’ and ‘false knowledge’, and as a result, they departed from the faith, that is, they departed from the teachings of the church, 1 Timothy 1:6-7 / 1 Timothy 6:10.

Paul understood the importance of God’s grace, Ephesians 2:8-9 / Romans 16:20. He’s basically saying, may God continue to bestow His favour on all who love Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 16:23 / 2 Corinthians 13:13 / Galatians 6:18 / Philippians 4:23 / 1 Thessalonians 5:28 / 2 Thessalonians 3:18 / Philemon 25.


"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."