1 Timothy
by Francis Foulkes ©


'Teach and urge these duties. 1f anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs' (6:3-10)

From beginning to end the Bible sets before us two ways of life. Small and great, young and old - all must choose one way or the other. In these verses the apostle begins by speaking of two kinds of teachers, and goes on to speak of two different attitudes to money.

a. Two kinds of teachers

Timothy was called to give a certain kind of teaching. Whether it applied to slaves (verses 1,2) or to anyone else, it was 'teaching which accords with godliness'. We have had the word 'godly' or 'godliness' before in this letter. We have read in 4:7 Paul's charge to Timothy, 'train yourself in godliness' and we thought of that godliness as 'a God-centred life'. Any religious teaching that does not help a person to live a God-centred life is worth nothing. Then there were those who were teaching 'otherwise'. They were self-centred ('puffed up with conceit') instead of God-centred men. Because they thought of themselves as the centre of life, they knew nothing, were 'bereft of the truth' and 'depraved in mind'. The word that is translated by 'a morbid craving' literally means that they were 'sick', sick in mind and soul, because they rejected 'the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ'. This word 'sound' we have also met before (in 1:10), and it means 'healthy' or 'health-giving'. The words of Christ, the teaching that is from Him and concerns Him, gives life and health to our souls. Without it, men's souls are sick, and they quarrel about the beliefs that they have. Controversy, disputes about words, envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, wrangling, these are the things that marked and spoilt the lives of the false teachers who opposed Timothy and rejected his teaching of the saving gospel of Christ.

There are still false teachers today, as there were in New Testament times. How can we tell the true from the false? Matthew 7:16 gives the answer, 'You will know them by their fruits' (see what Galatians 5:22, 23 says about the fruit of a Spirit-controlled life). The life of the teacher will be a God-centred life, showing forth love and joy and peace and unselfishness (see also James 3:13-18). The false teacher will show a love of controversy, and a 'love of money' as well.

b. Two attitudes to money

From speaking about false teachers the apostle is led on to speak about a false attitude to money. The false teachers thought of 'godliness', or the giving of religious teaching, as 'a means of gain'. They wanted to make money out of religion. The true Christian knows that 'there is great gain in godliness'. But it is not financial gain. When God called Abraham, that call meant that he had to leave home and go out 'not knowing where he was to go' (Hebrews 1: 8); and God said to him, 'I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward' (Genesis 15:1, Authorized Version). If we have God in our lives, what more can we ask for? 'If God is for us who is against us?' (Romans 8: 31). We have 'the unsearchable riches of Christ' (Ephesians 3:8).'He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?' (Romans 8:32). If we have God in the centre of our lives, we will have 'godliness with contentment'. Whatever life may bring, we will be content. We will know the true values. We will remember that 'we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world'. Our real riches will be the eternal riches of God. We will be content that God provides for us sufficient food and clothes and shelter, and that He answers us when we pray, 'Give us this day our daily bread.' We will be able to say with the great apostle, 'I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content' (read Philippians 4:10-13). If we can live like this we will avoid many pitfalls. We will avoid numerous temptations - because the love of possessions brings temptations to think just of our own comfort, popularity, power and pleasure. We will avoid all the anxieties and worries which great possessions bring. And we will avoid the final tragedy of standing before God and realizing too late that we have lived for the things of no lasting value. The desire to be rich is a deceitful desire - it promises pleasures that it cannot give. In 'godliness with contentment' there is great joy, and the God-centred, unselfish life brings joy and blessing to others as well.


Lord, may I not be deceived, and my life spoilt, by the love of money. Teach us to love Thee as the Provider of all that I need now, and the Giver of eternal life. So may I be content in all the circumstances of life, and forget myself in serving Thee, and helping those around me; forJesus Christ's sake. AMEN.

Notes. 1. In verse 8 the word translated 'clothing' is really 'covering' (New English Bible), and may include both clothing and shelter.

2. Verse 10 is often quoted wrongly, It does not say that 'money is the root of all evil'. It does not say that every other evil is caused by the love of money. It says that 'the love of money' is a 'root', from which all kinds of evil may spring. 'Loving money leads to all kinds of evil' (Phillips). There are other roots of evil as well, but certainly the Bible and present-day experience show how many different kinds of sin and evil may follow when a person's heart is controlled by the love of money.

Further Study. 1. What teaching does our Lord in the Gospels give concerning possessions? See Matthew 6: 19-34; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 12:13-34; 16:1-13; John 12:1-8.

2. Study also the contrast in the Bible between the value of things in this world and the value of the eternal gifts of God - e,g. see 4:8; Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; Philippians 3:18-21; Hebrews 11:1, 7-16,24-26,32-35.