1 Timothy 6

1 Throughout the world at that time, the institution of slavery was widespread. Slaves were considered property and had few, if any, rights. Judaism probably went the furthest in protecting the rights of slaves in ancient times, but Christianity revealed that slave and master had equal status in God's eyes. This apparently caused many social problems throughout the Church and is addressed several times in the New Testament. The spiritual freedom found in Christ might make a slave long for physical freedom as well. Of course, a slave could accept freedom if it was offered to him, but while he was still under the yolk of his master, he was to continue to honor him. Note that this is not merely obedience, but an attitude of respect - the same as the Christian should give his spiritual leaders.
A Christian slaves was not to allow his own conduct to be a reason for his pagan master to blaspheme God. If a slave uses Christianity as an excuse for pride, disobedience, or distraction from his duties, it would naturally follow that the master would distain the religion and perhaps even seek to stop its influence in society. On the other hand, if the master saw that his slaves were revived and respectful because of Christ he would not only allow Christianity's influence to continue, but might become interested in Christ himself.
In modern times, slavery is practically eliminated throughout the world. However, these principles apply just as well to the employee / employer relationship. We want our employers to see that our faith in Christ is beneficial for order and stability, not a source of rebellion and revolution. We must be examples of what God wants us to be spiritually and socially so that others will praise and seek God because of our exceptional attitudes.
2 There were households where both master and slave were Christians. In some cases, the slaves began being disrespectful. Perhaps the used their equality in Christ as an excuse to backtalk or make more demands. Similar dynamics can take place whenever an employer and employee have a common bond like faith, family, or friendship. A personal bond may typically lead to more leniency in the workplace, but Christians should never take advantage of familiarity to do poor work or disobey their employer. Instead, Paul encourages Christian slaves to serve their Christian masters even better and more cheerfully than they might have otherwise. The reason is that those who benefit from their service are those they love and have a family relationship with through Christ.
Paul wants Timothy to teach his congregation these kinds of principles.
3 Though some have used this verse to continue the thought of the previous one, it is more likely that Paul has changed his focus back to false teachers. Here Paul defines these false teachers as those who teach a "different doctrine" that opposes the "health words" of Jesus and those instructions that conform to godliness.
4 The false teachers have no idea what they are doing or what the consequences are for themselves and the others they manage to persuade, yet they boldly put their own ideas above God's word. In addition to what was discussed in 1 Tim 1:7, these people probably desired attention. They had a "sick" interest in all kinds of controversies, and nothing gets attention like a good fight. It is true that some things in Christianity are not clearly explained in the Bible, but the majority of these are trivial matters. In some cases, there may be several right ways to interpret something, and they should all be accepted or at least tolerated. However, there are also incorrect interpretations that should be resolved as peaceably as possible by the elders. False teachers, however, are not interested in peace, but will escalate questions until people become emotionally set against one another. The result is all kinds of relationship-breaking behaviors, both openly confrontational and passive-aggressive.
5 These false teachers pandered to their sinful nature and wasted away the time by perpetuating and participating in arguments between people. Some may have believed some kind of "prosperity gospel," and used religion solely for their own personal gain. Some possibly charged people to listen to them, as was common among Greek orators. However, their lessons were of no value because they were devoid of truth.
6 Far from being aggressively confrontational, Christianity is supposed to build relationships both between people and between each person and God. What Christians seek to gain is not physical wealth, social status, or other things that promote worry, but spiritual contentment that will last for eternity.
7 It should also be obvious to everyone that when we die, we leave all of our possessions behind. Paul echoes this idea that has been recognized widely in ancient literature, even Job 1:21. It seems fitting that since we do not bring property into the world when we are born that we take none away when we die. The point of this saying is that there is no sense in hording wealth since it has not benefit to us when we die. Rather, we should be content with keeping enough of what we earn to provide life's necessities. Those who have more than enough should realize that they will benefit much more by helping those in need than keeping money they will never be able to use.
8 If a Christian earns enough to buy the food, cloths, and shelter he needs, he should be content. Our focus is not to be on attaining the luxuries of this world, but on our relationships with God and each other.
9 Those who put attaining extra money high on their priority list will be more likely to fall into different temptations. Granted, there are legitimate ways to earn fortunes, but there are also seemingly "easier" schemes that are either illegal or pander to other people's sinful nature. Some ruthless business practices include intimidation, deception, cheating, and stealing - all behaviors that displease God. Businesses in the sex and drug industries thrive, but involve activities that no Christian should be a part of. People may get rich doing these things, but they can also lead to a person's destruction. In some cases, the very business practices they use may backfire, leading to financial, social, and political ruin. However, on the larger scale, they endanger their very souls if they do not repent and make pleasing God their highest priority.

Even godly people can fall into traps if they focus their lives on making money. In many legitimate businesses, it takes more work to make more money. If someone increases his workload, this leaves less time for family and friends, and might eventually interfere with his relationship with God. Although it is not a requirement for Christians, the kind of Sabbath rest that God demanded of the Israelites is still a good idea. Setting aside one day a week specifically to focus on worshiping God and building family relationships is a great way to keep one's priorities straight. Even better is to make sure that each family member gets to spend time with every other family member throughout the week. There should be time to minister to friends as well, both Christian and non-Christian. Excessive work can interfere with these more important activities. Thus, if a Christian finds himself in a workaholic lifestyle or one focused on money, he should reconsider what he is doing. He may need to make a radical change like finding a new job that will allow him to earn what he needs without leaving his important relationships behind.

10 When a person loves money, his focus turns away from God. Since he is more concerned about attaining riches than God's kingdom, he will use any means necessary to attain more riches. This pursuit is harmful to himself and others. He may do physical harm by getting people out of his way or depriving himself or others of necessities. Mentally, the pursuit of money produces anxiety since it can be difficult to attain and protect. Spiritually he does damage because he is more concerned about saving money than the lives of people. He is more concerned about pleasing himself than honoring God. How much more sorrowful he will be on judgment day when he finds out that what he has pursued is worthless, and the real treasures are those things he neglected.
11 Although Paul is specifically contrasting Timothy's attitude with those of false teachers here, all of God's people are to avoid greediness in their lives rigorously. We must recognize that greediness will hurt us and those with whom we interact. However, we cannot simply run away blindly, or else we will likely pursue some other sin. We must instead change what we are pursuing. The people of God are to actively pursue righteousness, love, and the other attributes listed here (thought the list is not exhaustive). This is the direction that God wants to lead us, and we should be following Him in all aspects of our lives.
12 Paul encourages Timothy to "fight the good fight." He is using an allusion to athletic competition to encourage Timothy to struggle with those who were misleading the church. Victory is certain, and when all is done, he will be able to lay hold of eternal life similar to how a victorious athlete would seize the crown of olive leaves, which was the common trophy of the day. Timothy was called to this life of ministry and he should carry it out with enthusiasm and determination.
Timothy had made "the good confession," that is, he had publicly proclaimed his faith. Some have felt that this refers only to his baptism, but as a minister, he would undeniably be confessing his faith every day. Undoubtedly, he would continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus as he continued to struggle for the faith.
13 Jesus, too, had also given the good confession by maintaining His identity and completing His mission even while facing His executioners (John 18:36-37). It is before Christ, who gave this example, and God, who "preserves" all life, that Paul again solemnly charges Timothy to do these things that he was commanding.
14 Timothy was to keep these commands fully until Jesus' Second Coming. Paul and many others expected Jesus' return to occur "soon." He may have already resigned to the idea that Jesus would not come back during his lifetime, but may have expected Timothy to see that Day. We still do not have a sense for when Jesus will return, but the application here is certainly that obedience is a lifelong endeavor, not only for leaders, but also for all Christians. To do less leads to "stains" against one's character and reproach coming from both inside and outside.
15 While it may be frustrating for some not to know when the Second Coming will occur, Paul assures us that it will occur at the proper time. To confirm God's ability to make this ultimate decision, he gives a short doxology. He first confirms that God is the one and only Ruler of the universe, and therefore the King of all kings, and the Lord over anyone in any kind of leadership position. He is also blessed, meaning holy and worthy of worship.
16 God alone is "deathless," usually translated as "immortal." This encompasses the facts that God has always existed, will always live, and has the ability to give eternal life to people at the Resurrection. He alone lives in unapproachable light, symbolic for heaven, His purity, and ultimate source of all the power energy in the universe. His spiritual nature, combined with the Shekinah glory that accompanies his most dramatic theophanies, makes it impossible for mortal eyes to behold Him (See commentary on John 1:18 and 1 John 4:12). God is certainly worthy of all honor, respect, and voluntary submission to His rule.
17 In verses 5 and 10, Paul spoke of those who pursued material wealth. This verse speaks specifically to those who were already considered rich. Certainly, the discussion in the previous verses applies to both the rich and poor since greediness is rarely satisfied no matter how many possessions one has attained.

Here, Paul wants Timothy to command those Christians who are already wealthy not to be prideful. Christians, of all people, should recognize that whatever they receive in this life is a gift from God, not solely for their personal enjoyment, but so that they might be stewards of what they have been given. This should bring about a sense of humbleness and responsibility, not arrogance.

Riches are not to be the source of security in life. Riches come and go, and fortunes can be made or lost in a day. Sometimes misfortune happens without the "victim" being at fault in any way. Occasionally, God may even ask a person to give up their wealth.

Even if a person remains wealthy all their lives, they will eventually die. Wealth rarely prevents sickness or injury, and while it can be helpful in paying medical bills, there are times when the body simply cannot be repaired. Probably most importantly, wealth does not help one spiritually at all. No one can buy their way into heaven, nor does money cover one's sins. People can give money to as many charities and churches as they like, but if they do not have a personal relationship with God, then they have no hope of being in heaven with Him after the Resurrection. God does not desire our money. He made the universe, so if He wanted gold or silver, it would be trivial for Him to make more.

Wealthy Christians, just like all other Christians, need to put their hope in God, who alone can provide the enjoyable eternal life that everyone desires. Wealth may bring temporary pleasure in this lifetime, but in the afterlife, living with God will be immeasurably more wonderful. What we do have on earth we are made to enjoy and use responsibly. The world is full of many things God created to allow us to live well. The lesson should be that we should trust in the One who made these things to provide our needs, not place our hope in the creation itself.

18 Instead of being selfish and self-serving, those with wealth should do good works. When they can support the church and good causes, they should be generous. Overall, they should have a readiness to share. It should not take badgering and guilt trips to pry money out of a wealthy Christian's hand. They can be selective and conscious of their budget in giving, of course, but when they see that they can do some good with their excess, they should be willing to do so.
19 Several have said that helping others is one of the most meaningful and fulfilling things a person can do. The wealthy have an incredible opportunity to magnify their own happiness by enriching the lives of others and contributing to their eternal welfare. Furthermore, they have resources to build their "treasures in heaven" (Mat 6:19-21) in ways that most others do not. Whether rich or poor, true life is not in providing luxuries for oneself, but giving a portion of one's time, talents, and money to those in need in the name of Jesus Christ.
20 Paul ends his letter to Timothy with a final plea. He is to guard in his own heart the true knowledge of the Gospel and the commands in this letter, which was entrusted to him so that he could benefit others through ministry. He would encounter many who oppose the Gospel and argue against it with worldly wisdom or simply to cause trouble. Timothy was to avoid getting involved in these useless debates, nor was he to give into them. Especially, he was to keep his church free from such false teachings.
21 People who try using worldly wisdom to "explain" God, Jesus, and salvation make many errors, the greatest of which is turning away from the truth of the Gospel, and thus either missing salvation completely or compromising the effectiveness of their witness for God. During this time in the early church, the philosophy of Gnosticism was beginning to grow. The people who developed this set of false teachings thought they had "special knowledge" concerning matters of Christianity. Paul particularly points out several of these early teachings throughout his letters, strongly indicating that their "knowledge" was spiritually destructive.

In modern times, one influential "worldly" religion is evolution. The theory of evolution is an interpretation of scientific facts that has lead many to believe that the universe essentially "created itself," leaving no need for God. However, there are other scientists who have been able to show or explain why the vast majority of the so-called "proofs" of evolution are incorrect, and there are many Christian scientists who interpret scientific facts in a way that favors the Creation and Flood as outlined in the Bible. Despite the fact that even among secular scientists there is no agreed upon mechanism or undisputable evidence for it, evolution is still widely taught in public schools, and unfortunately has been adopted by many churches. Since this theory contradicts important ideas in the Bible, including the central concepts of God, sin, and salvation, it is no wonder that the modern church has lost credibility and, thus, its positive effect on society. Fortunately, a few as Paul charged Timothy, actively fight against such false knowledge by exposing it and demonstrating why the Gospel is far superior to it. There are many other erroneous philosophies besides evolution that the Church must guard itself against, but certainly the best defense it to keep Christians focused on Jesus. We must always make our presentation of the Gospel relevant to our times and circumstances, but the central message remains the same and applicable to all people at all times.

In conclusion, Paul wishes Timothy the continued unmerited favor he has received from God.