Sunday, July 22, 2012

1 Timothy 6 – Slavery, False Teaching and the Love of Money

Read 1 Timothy 6
(see the next entry for more on slavery and oppression in the pastoral letters)

Pastoral Letters Series
The beginning of this chapter begins with instructions to slaves that may appear to us to condone, or at least not condemn slavery. Let us understand that this practical advice to slaves need not be taken as implying that their situation is acceptable. Jesus said clearly that he came so the oppressed would be set free. People in the early church who worked as slaves were treated as equal members along with rich landowners. There was no slave in the body of Christian community. Beyond this, I will say no more about slavery as it is in this chapter. I will expand a great deal more about the situation of slavery in the first century and the church's response in my notes on Colossians and Philemon.

(also see the next entry for a little more on slavery)

The chapter concludes 1 Timothy by once again encouraging Timothy to stick to the message of the gospel. Paul tells him that those who teach or practice otherwise are actually dangerous to the church community. Both legalism and Gnosticism lead to bondage and ineffectiveness. Jesus has called his church to live as free people, and a force of justice in the world. These heresies damage the church on both fronts.

Along with his final words about the dangers of false teaching, Paul also gives sharp warnings and instructions for the relationship of Christians with wealth.

1 Timothy 6:6-11,17-19 (ESV)
6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

I repeat this entire passage because I believe it speaks for itself. Furthermore, it is so often contrary to our practice in the church today, I feel it must be amplified to be truly seen. The first half of verse ten is most well-known, of course, but it has often been reduced to a toothless proverb, or worse dismissed right out without even considering its context. The passage is clear.

Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness are contrary to the love of money.

The love of money causes people to wander into temptation, into a snare, into destruction, into senseless and harmful desires, away from the faith. It is the root of all kinds of evil. It is a craving that is contrary to godliness and contentment. There are no loopholes here. Jesus followers do not participate in the corrupt empire's practice of seeking after wealth.

  (see the next entry for more on slavery and oppression in the pastoral letters)

Read 1 Timothy 6

No comments:

Post a Comment