The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
April 28, 2013


1) 1 Timothy 6:1-8 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


1 Timothy 6:1-8
by Tom Edwards

During the time of Paul's writing there were millions of slaves from different races in the Roman Empire -- many of whom had been captives taken in battle, which was viewed as being more humane than killing them.  The New Testament shows that some of these were becoming Christians.  Paul, therefore, gives the following instruction in the beginning of 1 Timothy 6: "All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against" (v. 1).

Various passages throughout the New Testament address slaves.  For instance: "Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave" (1 Cor. 7:21,22). "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13).  In Ephesians 6:5-9, Paul declares: "Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.  With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.  And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him."  Paul gives similar instruction in Colossians 3:22-4:1.  Peter, too, exhorts, "Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable" (1 Pet. 2:18).  And Jesus used the term "slave" many times in His parables and elsewhere in the New Testament.  So they were very much a part of the world in that day.

And just as the citizen is to respect the authority of the civil government (Rom. 13:1-7), even so, slaves were to respect the authority of their masters (and to do so while realizing and submitting to that even greater authority of God above).  Note, too, the reason for this: "so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against."

Think, also, of the positive impact that slaves faithfully following the Lord could have on others -- especially if the masters of those slaves were cruel and unreasonable.  It is in dark times like that when one's light can shine even brighter.  Just as the early martyrs who kept their faith in the Lord could face their deaths for the cause of Christ -- and at times, by their serenity of countenance, had even caused spectators to want to learn more of that faith that these were willing to die for -- the faithfulness of the slaves could also have a positive impact on others. 

Because the gospel does not come right out and specifically condemn slavery, it does not mean that it was approved by God.  For He has set forth precepts in His word that are to govern man's relationship to his fellow man and which, in an indirect way, can cause one to realize the inhumanity of oppressive and involuntary slavery.  For one thing, God expects us to obey the laws of the land (providing they do not conflict with His laws); but if a nation ever would sanction kidnapping (to make slaves), then that would certainly be in conflict with God's word.  For if it is sin to steal a man's hammer, would it not be even more so of a crime to steal the man? 

David Lipscomb comments that if the apostles would have attempted to eliminate slavery "by preaching it as hateful to God and degrading to men," it "would have produced rebellion and revolution in its darkest and most violent form; and Christ did not propose to break up such relations by violence."  

The gospel is a way of peace.  It is to be taught; and its laws are to mold, fashion, and govern us as a way of life.  And one of things that it instills is the proper regard one should have for others and treating them accordingly.  

Paul shows a major reason for why the slaves were to "regard their own masters as worthy of all honor."  He says it is "so the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against" (1 Tim. 6:1).   In that, we see a general principle that goes beyond the slave-master relationship.  For we must each be living to bring glory to God's name rather than reproach by our misconduct or ungodly life.  This is also spoken of elsewhere in the Scriptures.  For instance, "you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?  You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?  You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?  For  'THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,' just as it is written" (Rom. 2:21-24).  Also 2 Peter 2:1,2: "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.  Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned."

It is the gospel that helps one to be the best kind of person one can be in any relationship of life -- whether an employer, an employee, a husband, a wife, a parent, a child, a citizen, a neighbor, a friend, etc.  

Paul then says in 1 Timothy 6:2, "Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles."

It could very well be that some slaves would act as if their masters who became Christians would not require the same quality service of their slaves, as before; and that because the slave and master are both on an equal standing before God that the slave no longer needed to submit to his earthly master.  But Paul shows in this verse that the slaves were still in that slave-master relationship and should want to do an even better service for them, since their masters are now also saints.  

Notice what Paul then goes on to say in 1 Timothy 6:3-5: "If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain."  As we think of the importance of New Testament doctrine -- rather than the indifferent attitude that many folks have toward it -- notice the essential nature of it in verse 3: It is the necessary means whereby we can become godly.  Compare also 2 Peter 1:3,4: "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust."  Paul, therefore, warns against the one who would teach "a different gospel" or, as the KJV renders it, "teach otherwise."  

Though any "different gospel," in general, would be wrong, as Paul shows in Galatians 1:6-9; here, in 1 Timothy 6:3, teaching "otherwise" or "a different gospel" is seen specifically as that which would be contrary to Paul's instruction in 1 Timothy 6:1,2, that the slave is to regard his master as worthy of all honor and serve him, so as not to bring reproach upon God and the gospel.   This, of course, is not to say that the slave could never seek emancipation; but it was not to be done in a rebellious way. As we saw in 1 Corinthians 7: "Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.  Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.  For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave.  You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men" (vv. 20-23).  Verse 23 appears to be a play on words.  Does it really mean that it would be wrong to become a slave?  During our country's Colonial Period, many Western Europeans had become indentured servants in order to pay their passageway to America. According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, "Perhaps as many as half of all the white settlers in North America were indentured servants...."  So these had agreed to work for someone who had paid their passage.  Would not this command to "do not become slaves of men" parallel with the Lord's statement, "No man can serve two masters"?  If the slave was putting God first in his life as he serves his earthly master, then he would primarily be serving the Lord and not compromising his faith.  

Paul calls the one who doesn't accept sound doctrine as being conceited.  Compare Proverbs 16:18: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling."  Pride can keep people away from God and His word.  Therefore, the Lord implores that we humble ourselves and accept His way.  

The Greek word for "sound" literally means "to be well, to be in good health"; and that is its primary meaning, according to Thayer.  But he also shows a secondary and figurative meaning as "of Christians whose opinions are free from any mixture of error."  From this, it appears that we can say that folks  who reject the gospel are spiritually sick and have need of Jesus Christ, as the Great Physician.  Of course, a person needs to realize that need before he can come to Christ (cf. Luke 5:32).  

Paul also speaks of those "who suppose that godliness is a means of gain."  The "gain" they have in mind appears to be only that which would be non-spiritual.  We can, therefore, use this as a principle pertaining to various things that should not be the reason or motivation for godliness.  For instance, what about a business man who "joins a church" for the primary reason that he thinks it will be good for business?

Paul then states in 1 Timothy 6:6-8 the following: "But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.  For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content."  Here, the gain Paul has in mind is that which pertains to spiritual things -- and not merely carnal.  

Paul also shows a good reason why we shouldn't become all wrapped up in only the things of this world: Because we can't take it with us.  Whether you are poor or rich, or anywhere in between, there is a sense in which we all leave the same when departing this earth-life -- and that is that we leave all of it.  Everything that we had accumulated over the years will all be left behind.  As someone once observed, "You'll never find a luggage rack on a hearse."  Or as one ancient proverb renders it, "There are no pockets in shrouds."  

But notice again of Paul's attitude toward this: "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either."  Long before Paul had ever mentioned this, the great patriarch Job had declared, "...'Naked I came from my mother's womb...  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away..." (Job 1:21).  The psalmist speaks of it this way: "But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah.  Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, When the glory of his house is increased; For when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him.  Though while he lives he congratulates himself -- And though men praise you when you do well for yourself -- He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They will never see the light.  Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, Is like the beasts that perish" (Psa. 49:15-20).

So all the good things we have should be considered a blessing to be thankful for.  And from birth to death, we will probably accumulate many things.  But we need to remember the words of Jesus in Luke 12:15, "And He said to them, 'Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.'"  

Having contentment is a main ingredient for a happy life.  Paul could be content with just food and clothing; and from what we see in his life, his contentment also went beyond external circumstances. For it was a comfort he had in serving Christ, even when that led to "...insults... distresses...persecutions..." and "difficulties" (2 Cor. 12:9,10). Paul could be content in any circumstance, whether abounding or suffering need (Phil. 4:11- 13).   May that also be true of us -- always. 


News & Notes

On May 1, Pam MacDonald will be having major back surgery.  Initially, this had been planned for two operations in two days.  But now both will be performed on the same day.  Working on her back will involve the surgeon not only going in through the back side, but also through the front as well.   Let those of us who are Christians be remembering her in prayer.

And let us also be praying for the following:

Virginia Fontenot who has been having a difficult time with the chemo therapy she recently began.  She said that one of the bad side effects has been the feeling of her throat closing off.  She is also very weak physically.

Bill Barfield (Virginia's brother) was recently moved to a Regency Hospital.  He has now been continuously in a few different hospitals for more than a year.  But it was here at Regency that Bill was able to stand on his own for the first time since about March 2012.  So it would be good if he could remain there and continue receiving their treatments until he is able to return home, but Medicare will approve of only three weeks.  Prayer, therefore, has been requested that Medicare will allow for Bill to be there as long as needed.  

* Let us also be remembering the following in prayer: Linda Blevins who has been diagnosed with bilateral renal artery stenosis and will be undergoing some more tests in May; Tom Smitherman (Lee's father) who has been diagnosed with an aggressive prostate cancer; Cheryl Crews who has some chronic ailments; Shirley Young who suffers from fibromyalgia; and Jean Calloway who had been in the hospital for several days, but is now back home -- though still with health problems.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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