1 TIMOTHY-SERIES NR 11
1 Timothy 6: 11 – 21
Theme: The good fight of faith
At this stage of the letter, Timothy receives a very personal word from the Apostle Paul. He is namely addressed as “man of God”. That is big! He is in the Lord’s service, he speaks the Lord’s Word and he represents the Lord. Is that not powerful!
In the OT the notion “man of God” is used for men such as Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and David. And Timothy is perfectly aware of that! And now he hears his spiritual father calling HIM “man of God”.
It is not a compliment, it is a huge responsibility. Because look, it comes with a twofold charge: He – the man of God – must FLEE and PURSUE at the same time! Child of God, the man of God, the woman of God, you must flee and pursue – continuously!
Simultaneously, he had to flee/run away from the sins mentioned in verses 3-10 and also PURSUE the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Daily the child of God must choose to FLEE. Literally, flee. And chase after the things that are close to the heart of God and are characteristic of being a Christian, such as sincerity – nothing of appearance or pretense. Devotion to the Lord, faith-confidence, a heart on fire, endurance and perseverance, godliness and gentleness.
A Christian is continuously busy fleeing from something and pursuing something else. The clerical language calls it “daily repentance“. It is like an athlete on the track or a wrestler in the ring. There is not much time for playing games. A child of God has little time for playing games. It is a daily race. The athlete put his/her every effort in to win the prize.
Verse 12 puts it so beautifully. “If you consider, Timothy, that in Christ you ARE saved, and that the eternal life assured in Christ IS your eternal award – then it is indeed over and over worth the effort to flee from sin and pursue the fruit of the Spirit. That is what you were called for with a Godly calling. Think of it. You are irrevocably committed to it.”
Besides God’s calling, there was also Timothy’s confession in the presence of many witnesses in the church. Timothy confessed his faith openly because being a Christian is not something you can do in secret. But confession in the presence of others also brings about more responsibilities. And so it is the case with all of us.
Verses 13-14 next…
With the Lord, there are no neutral, grey areas. It is either this or that. It is either truth or lie. Life or death. Heaven or hell.
Someone who is once bound to Christ must wholeheartedly live for Him. Nothing less can be tolerated.
Timothy was called by God and taken into His service. Now only one thing remains: He must be diligent and without blame in the execution of his high calling. And PERSIST with it. Even to the day of the second coming of Christ. And to the Apostle, the second coming might have taken place in their lifetime. But, it is also just as close as one’s own death – which may be any day.
Timothy, therefore, had to 1 > be faithful in his ministry 2 > see that the Gospel message is kept blameless and is not slandered. The Greek of verse 14 – who speaks of a command – contains both of these aspects. There are no alternatives. It is a MUST.
Paul naturally still had the danger of influence from the false preachers in the back of his mind. It has to be opposed with all their might. And even still today.
For proof to indicate HOW seriously this command to Timothy is meant (and in fact to all of us), he uses in verse 14 a double affirmation under oath with God the Father and the Lord Jesus as witnesses.
What he is commanding Timothy, is that Timothy must persevere in the good fight in the same way the Lord Jesus was faithful, courageous, and steadfast. Is it not awesome?
John 19:7-11 describes how Jesus was steadfastly faithful to His Father before Pilate. Towards Pilate, He witnessed to the Truth of the Gospel and right thereafter affirmed it with His own blood.
Shall the Lord then not help Timothy (and us)? The inner vitality for that surely comes from the Father who gives life. There is no way in which Timothy could remain steadfast. But the Father gives life and the Lord Jesus inspires us with His own steadfastness. Good news indeed!
Nothing in the Scriptures is as glorious as the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul proclaimed it in plain words. It is the certain future hope of every true believer. And when Paul talks about it, he does it as a doxology – as here in verse 15.
Here he talks about the coming of Jesus as His “appearance”. In other places such as 1 Cor 1:7 and 2 Thess 1:7 he calls it the REVELATION of His coming! Jesus is therefore already present, but at a given moment He shall be revealed. It is an awesome idea! The word APPEAR connects with that.
Christ is therefore not absent at the moment and has to COME from somewhere. No, He is already totally present but is not yet revealed. That shall take place at the exact time the Father has determined. A time that no one knows, Jesus said in Matt 24:36. It is impossible to determine when it will be in any way whatsoever. Throughout the ages and up to today many have tried to do it, but have always failed dismally. There is but ONE Person who is taking care that the revelation of the glorified Son of God shall definitely take place, and that is God the Father. And the fact that He is taking care of that, gives us absolute peace of mind and security. The universe is in His hand. And it is the best hand there is!
Because WHO is God the Father exactly? He is absolutely good and there is no evil in Him. He is the blessed and only Ruler. HE is the King of kings. And He is Lord of lords. The word LORD (Kurios) means supreme authority – as the Roman Emperor called himself. But – the truth is: God himself is the highest Ruler there is. People who belong to HIM in Christ, have therefore perfect security.
What powerful, beautiful, and glorious praise this verse is! By this, we know that it was the TRUE Holy Spirit who had owned Paul’s life – because the task of the Holy Spirit is exactly to turn our eyes away from ourselves and the focus on the living God. The Spirit fills the heart of God’s child with the Father and the Son! That is His ministry!
In verse 16 the Spirit focuses – through Paul – on the Father. And what is He saying about the Father?
That HE alone is immortal. That does not mean that He cannot give immortality to for example Christian believers. He can and He does! But that He ALONE is immortal means that His immortality is unique and that He is the Source of life. What distinguishes Him from everything and everyone. The immortality that Christian believers have, is a BESTOWED immortality – that we may have eternal life through the resurrection of Christ. But that does not mean that the Christian is a minor god who is immortal like God.
Besides immortality, God lives in unapproachable light. The splendour of the glory of His dwelling-place is so overwhelming that nobody can approach it and live. So teaches Psalm 104:1-2 and Exodus 33:17-23. As a spirit, God is therefore invisible to the ordinary human eye, as Col 1:15 teaches. That is why He is also unattainable to the sinner so that nobody ever could see His full glory. The honour and eternal power belong to HIM alone. Those are facts. And to think that people who are reconciled with God by the blood of Christ, will live in this glory forever.
But now already Timothy – and us – can know that we need not be afraid in our service to Christ – because God is with us in His power and majesty and He can bring victory to His kingdom.
Verses 17-19 next…
The praises in the previous few verses, was an interruption of the Apostle’s thoughts because he was still busy warning against the temptation of riches. He returns once more to that subject.
Material welfare is not necessarily something that leads to sin. It can also have a positive value for a Christian, but then it has to be used wisely. The Apostle has nothing against MONEY but the corruption of the fallen human heart. The fallen human heart will always be inclined to do 4 things at the same time:
1 > be proud and arrogant
2 > put their hope in the wealth itself
3 > put the Lord second
4 > focus on the ego
That is what Paul is warning against. Paul lists them one by one. It can be summed up with two great dangers:
1 > Secretly have a high opinion of yourself
2 > false security in the wealth
Ephesians 5:5 simply calls it IDOLATRY or the breaking of the first commandment. And that is not a small matter. Materialism is still the main idol of our time. That is why the apostolic warning about the insecurity of riches is very fitting and timely. Where the living God plays second fiddle, trouble is imminent. With someone who is gloriously reborn out of the Holy Spirit, this MUST not happen.
It behooves a Christian to determine what the Lord’s true meaning is with the abundance He so richly provided. He wants the Christian to enjoy it to His glory. He wants to be praised and worshipped by how His children administer His gifts. And they must bless and serve OTHERS with their prosperity (verse 18).
The more the focus is away from the self and is focused on the Lord, the easier it is to be generous and willing to share. It is the eternal life in Christ that is the ACTUAL true life and the best investment of all! Worldly people think that material riches is the real LIFE. But the Christian knows better: life that is truly LIFE, is the investment in the kingdom of God, where moth and rust cannot destroy. Glory to the Lord for His glorious truth.
Verses 20-21 in closing…
With these two verses, Paul is ending his letter to Timothy. And it is here where we find that which is weighing the heaviest on his heart.
And that is: At all cost guard the pure truth of the apostolic doctrine that has been entrusted to you and avoid absolutely everything that deviates from it.
something valuable that is entrusted to someone for safekeeping, so was the content of the Truth of the Gospel message entrusted to Timothy and he must correctly administer it.
And so too for us today. This packet of truth is often called “the faith” in the NT. It is not faith in the subjective sense of the word, the personal heart-trust of the Christian. No, it is the objective truth UPON which is trusted. The content of the Gospel message – as the Apostles proclaimed it with authority and which is 100% in correlation with the OT. That is “THE FAITH”.
Those who heeded the false preachers have already wandered away from the faith, says Paul. There is no grey, neutral area. It is EITHER, OR. EITHER you’re wholehearted with the Word, OR you have become lost somewhere.
Those who have wandered away, always suggest that they have discovered the real truth and everyone must join THEM to come right. They have discovered the final spiritual “knowledge“. False prophets always suggest that THEIR doctrine is the real knowledge of the truth. No, it did not pass the test of 2000 years of church history, but it is discovered NOW. Today we know, we hear so it often from some leaders in the church.
Well, the Apostle is saying that it is merely chattering. Unholy, senseless talk. And whoever knows the Lord, must avoid it. Otherwise, you also have wandered away, says Paul. These things have suction power. And it must be hated and avoided.
The way to avoid it is to positively and actively pursue the truth, to protect, to study, to cherish, to know, and to submerge yourself in it. If one is filled with precious gold, plastic diamonds will not charm you. He who is full loathes honey, says Proverbs 27:7.
FILL YOURSELF WITH GOLD, Paul tells Timothy, to the church in Ephesus and us, and know that God’s favour rests upon you.
Translated by Marthie Wilson