|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:6-10 Those that make a trade of Christianity to serve their turn for this world, will be disappointed; but those who mind it as their calling, will find it has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come. He that is godly, is sure to be happy in another world; and if contented with his condition in this world, he has enough; and all truly godly people are content. When brought into the greatest straits, we cannot be poorer than when we came into this world; a shroud, a coffin, and a grave, are all that the richest man in the world can have from all his wealth. If nature should be content with a little, grace should be content with less. The necessaries of life bound a true Christian's desires, and with these he will endeavour to be content. We see here the evil of covetousness. It is not said, they that are rich, but they will be rich; who place their happiness in wealth, and are eager and determined in the pursuit. Those that are such, give to Satan the opportunity of tempting them, leading them to use dishonest means, and other bad practices, to add to their gains. Also, leading into so many employments, and such a hurry of business, as leave no time or inclination for spiritual religion; leading to connexions that draw into sin and folly. What sins will not men be drawn into by the love of money! People may have money, and yet not love it; but if they love it, this will push them on to all evil. Every sort of wickedness and vice, in one way or another, grows from the love of money. We cannot look around without perceiving many proofs of this, especially in a day of outward prosperity, great expenses, and loose profession.
Verse 6. - Godliness, etc. The apostle lakes up the sentiment which he had just condemned, and shows that in another sense it is most true. The godly man is rich indeed. For he wants nothing in this world but what God has given him, and has acquired riches which, unlike the riches of this world, he can take away with him (comp. Luke 12:33). The enumeration of his acquired treasures follows, after a parenthetical depreciation of those of the covetous man, in ver. 11. The thought, as so often in St. Paul, is a little intricate, and its flow checked by parenthetical side-thoughts. But it seems to be as follows: "But godliness is, in one sense, a source of great gain, and moreover brings contentment with it - contentment, I say, for since we brought nothing into the world, and can carry nothing out, we have good reason to be content with the necessaries of life, food and raiment. Indeed, those who strive for more, and pant after wealth, bring nothing but trouble upon themselves. For the love of money is the root of all evil, etc. Thou, therefore, O man of God, instead of reaching after worldly riches, procure the true wealth, and become rich in righteousness, godliness, faith," etc. (ver. 11). The phrase, Αστι δὲ πορισμὸς μέγας ἡ εὐσεβεία μετὰ αὐταρκείας, should be construed by making the μετα couple πορισμός with αὐταρκείας, so as to express that "godliness" is both "gain" and "contentment" - not as if αὐταρκεία qualified εὐσεβεία - that would have been expressed by the collocation, ἡ μετὰ αὐταρκείας εὐσεβεία. Contentment (αὐταρκεία). The word occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in 2 Corinthians 9:8, where it is rendered, both in the R.V. and the A.V., "sufficiency." The adjective αὐτάρκης, found in Philippians 4:11 (and common in classical Greek), is rendered "content." It means "sufficient in or of itself" - needing no external aid - and is applied to persons, countries, cities, moral qualities, etc. The substantive αὐταρκεία is the condition of the person, or thing, which is αὐτάρκης.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But godliness with contentment is great gain. By "godliness" is not meant any particular grace, but all the graces of the Spirit of God; as faith, hope, love, fear, &c. the whole of internal religion, as it shows itself in outward worship, and in all acts of holiness of life and conversation; and which the doctrine that is according to godliness teaches and engages to; and this is gain, very great gain indeed. A man possessed of true godliness is a gaining, thriving, man: such as are godly, or truly gracious, they are come into good and happy circumstances, and are possessor of the true, solid, satisfying, durable, and unsearchable riches of grace; all their debts are paid, they are richly clothed, and deliciously fed, and are in a good family, even the household of God, who before were in debt, arrayed in rags, were in a starving condition, and strangers and foreigners; yea, they are heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, and have both a right and a meetness for the heavenly inheritance; they are now made kings and priests to God, and, in the present state of things, have God to be their portion, and exceeding great reward; they have an interest in Christ, and in all spiritual blessings in him, and have the Spirit as the earnest of their future inheritance; they are rich in faith, and in good works; their souls, which were lost, are gained, and shall be saved with an everlasting salvation; and ere long they will be possessed of all the riches of glory, signified by a house not made with hands, a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God, an incorruptible inheritance, and a kingdom and glory: how great is the gain of godliness! And what adds to this gain, and now goes along with it, is "contentment"; for this is not to be considered as the condition of godliness being great gain, as if it was not so without it; but as the effect of godliness, what that produces, and as a part of its gain. The word here used signifies "sufficiency"; and so it is rendered in the Vulgate Latin version: it designs a competency of the good things of this life; and what that is, is expressed in 1 Timothy 6:8 and such God gives to them that fear him, his godly ones, who shall lack no good thing convenient for them; for godliness has the promise of this life, as well as of that which is to come; and God does give to such all things pertaining to life and godliness, even all things richly to enjoy. The word indeed properly signifies "self-sufficiency", which in its strict sense, only belongs to God, who is "El-Shaddai", God all-sufficient and self-sufficient; but here it intends such a sufficiency as a man himself judges to be so; for this phrase does not so much design the thing itself, which is a sufficiency, as the opinion, the sense which the godly man has of it, who himself judges it, as Jacob did, to be enough; and such a man is content with what he has, and thankful for it, submits quietly to the will of God, and patiently bears every adverse providence: and this is now the fruit and effect of godliness, or true grace, and is a considerable part of that gain which godliness brings with it; and such a man is a happy man indeed, let his circumstances be what they will. The Jews have a saying (n), that
"he is a rich man whose spirit rests in, or is contented with his riches;''
that is, as the gloss explains it.
"who rejoices in his portion, be it little or much: thus, though godliness is not gain, nor gain godliness, in the sense of the false teachers, yet is it true gain in a spiritual sense.''
(n) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 25. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. But—Though they err in this, there is a sense in which "piety is" not merely gain, but "great means of gain": not the gaining which they pursue, and which makes men to be discontented with their present possessions, and to use religion as "a cloak of covetousness" (1Th 2:5) and means of earthly gain, but the present and eternal gain which piety, whose accompaniment is contentment, secures to the soul. Wiesinger remarks that Paul observed in Timothy a tendency to indolence and shrinking from the conflict, whence he felt (1Ti 6:11) that Timothy needed cautioning against such temptation; compare also the second Epistle. Not merely contentment is great gain (a sentiment of the heathen Cicero [Paradox 6], "the greatest and surest riches"), but "piety with contentment"; for piety not only feels no need of what it has not, but also has that which exalts it above what it has not [Wiesinger]. The Greek for contentment is translated "sufficiency" (2Co 9:8). But the adjective (Php 4:11) "content"; literally, "having a sufficiency in one's self" independent of others. "The Lord always supplies His people with what is necessary for them. True happiness lies in piety, but this sufficiency [supplied by God, with which moreover His people are content] is thrown into the scale as a kind of overweight" [Calvin] (1Ki 17:1-16; Ps 37:19; Isa 33:6, 16; Jer 37:21).
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