Rules for Slaves. 1* Those who are under the yoke of slavery must regard their masters as worthy of full respect, so that the name of God and our teaching* may not suffer abuse.a 2* Those whose masters are believers must not take advantage of them because they are brothers but must give better service because those who will profit from their work are believers and are beloved.b
V. False Teaching and True Wealth
Teach and Urge These Things. 3Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teachingc 4is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, 5and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain.d 6* Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.e 7For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.f 8If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.g 9Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction.h 10For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.
Exhortations to Timothy.* 11But you, man of God,* avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.i 12Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.j 13I charge [you] before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession,k 14to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ 15that the blessed and only ruler will make manifest at the proper time, the King of kings and Lord of lords,l 16who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.m
Right Use of Wealth.* 17Tell the rich in the present age not to be proud and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth but rather on God, who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment.n 18Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, 19thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life.o
VI. Final Recommendation and Warning*
20O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid profane babbling and the absurdities of so-called knowledge.p 21By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith.
Grace be with all of you.q
* [6:1] Our teaching: this refers to the teaching of the Christian community.
* [6:2b–10] Timothy is exhorted to maintain steadfastly the position outlined in this letter, not allowing himself to be pressured into any other course. He must realize that false teachers can be discerned by their pride, envy, quarrelsomeness, and greed for material gain. 1 Tm 6:6 is rather obscure and is interpreted, and therefore translated, variously. The suggestion seems to be that the important gain that religion brings is spiritual, but that there is material gain, too, up to the point of what is needed for physical sustenance (cf. 1 Tm 6:17–19).
* [6:6] Contentment: the word autarkeia is a technical Greek philosophical term for the virtue of independence from material goods (Aristotle, Cynics, Stoics).
* [6:11–16] Timothy’s position demands total dedication to God and faultless witness to Christ (1 Tm 6:11–14) operating from an awareness, through faith, of the coming revelation in Jesus of the invisible God (1 Tm 6:15–16).
* [6:20–21] A final solemn warning against the heretical teachers, with what seems to be a specific reference to gnosticism, the great rival and enemy of the church for two centuries and more (the Greek word for “knowledge” is gnōsis). If gnosticism is being referred to here, it is probable that the warnings against “speculations” and “myths and genealogies” (cf. especially 1 Tm 1:4; Ti 3:9) involve allusions to that same kind of heresy. Characteristic of the various gnostic systems of speculation was an elaborate mythology of innumerable superhuman intermediaries, on a descending scale (“genealogies”), between God and the world. Thus would be explained the emphasis upon Christ’s being the one mediator (as in 1 Tm 2:5). Although fully developed gnosticism belonged to the second and later centuries, there are signs that incipient forms of it belonged to Paul’s own period.