1 Timothy 6:2
And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
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(2) And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren.—This being in servitude to Christian masters, of course, in the days of St. Paul would happen less frequently. Let those Christian slaves who have the good fortune to serve “believing masters” allow no such thoughts as, “Shall I remain my brother’s slave?” take root in the breast and poison the life-work. Let them not presume on the common brotherhood of men in Christ, on their being fellow-heirs of heaven, and on this account deem their earthly masters their equals, and so refuse them the customary respect and attention. Let them remember that, though in heaven there would be no respect of persons, on earth the old class differences were not removed.

But rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit.—The Greek here is better translated thus: but the rather serve them, because believing and beloved are they who are partakers of their good service. Let these slaves of Christians rather (or, the more) serve their masters zealously and loyally, because the masters who will profit by their true faithful service are themselves believers in Jesus, the beloved of God. This thought should never be absent from the heart of a Christian slave to a Christian master. “Every good piece of work I do will be a kindness shown to one who loves my Lord.”

6:1-5 Christians were not to suppose that religious knowledge, or Christian privileges, gave them any right to despise heathen masters, or to disobey lawful commands, or to expose their faults to others. And such as enjoyed the privilege of living with believing masters, were not to withhold due respect and reverence, because they were equal in respect to religious privileges, but were to serve with double diligence and cheerfulness, because of their faith in Christ, and as partakers of his free salvation. We are not to consent to any words as wholesome, except the words of our Lord Jesus Christ; to these we must give unfeigned consent. Commonly those are most proud who know least; for they do not know themselves. Hence come envy, strife, railings, evil-surmisings, disputes that are all subtlety, and of no solidity, between men of corrupt and carnal minds, ignorant of the truth and its sanctifying power, and seeking their worldly advantage.And they that have believing masters - Masters who are Christians. It is clear from this, that Paul supposed that, at that time, and under those circumstances, a man might become a Christian who had slaves under him. How long he might continue to hold his fellow-men in bondage, and yet be a Christian, is, however, quite a different question. It is quite clear, from the New Testament, as well as from facts now, that God may convert people when pursuing any kind of wickedness. The effect of religion, however, in all cases, will be to lead them to cease to do wrong. It is by no means improbable that many of those who had owned slaves, in accordance with the prevailing custom in the Roman empire, may have been converted - for the fact that a man has been living a life of sin does not prevent the possibility of his conversion. There is no evidence that Paul refers here to any who had bought slaves after they were converted; nor is there any intimation of any such transaction among Christians in the New Testament. Nor is there any intimation that he regarded it as right and best that they should continue to hold slaves; nor that he would approve their making arrangements to persevere in this as a permanent institution.

Nor is it to be fairly inferred from this passage that he meant to teach that they might continue this, and yet be entitled to all the respect and confidence due to the Christian name, or be regarded as maintaining a good standing in the church. Whatever may be true on these points, the passage before us only proves that Paul considered that a man who was a slaveholder might be converted, and be spoken of as a "believer," or a Christian. Many have been converted in similar circumstances, as many have in the practice of all other kinds of iniquity. What was their duty after their conversion, was another question and what was the duty of their "servants" or slaves, was another question still. It is only this latter question which the apostle is here considering.

Not despise them, because they are brethren - Not treat them with any want of the respect which is due to their station. The word here used sometimes denotes "to neglect," or, "not to care for;" Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13. Here it is not necessary to suppose that it denotes actual contempt, but only that want of respect which might possibly spring up in the mind if not well instructed, or not on its guard, among those who were servants or slaves. It was to be apprehended that the effect of the master and the slave having both embraced religion, would be to produce in the mind of the servant a want of respect and deference for his master. This danger was to be apprehended from the following causes:

(1) Christianity taught that all people were made of "one blood," and were by nature equal; Acts 17:26. It was natural, therefore for the slave to infer that by nature he was equal to his master, and it would be easy to pervert this truth to make him disrespectful and insubordinate.

(2) they were equal to them as Christians. Christianity taught them that they were all "brethren" in the Lord, and that there was no distinction before God. It might be natural to infer from this, that all distinctions in society were to be abolished, and that, in all respects, the slave was to regard himself as on a level with his master.

(3) some, who did not well understand the nature of Christianity, or who might have been disposed to cause trouble, may have taken advantage of the undeniable truths about the equality of people by nature and by redemption, to produce discontent on the part of the slave. They may have endeavored to embitter the feelings of the slaves toward their masters who held them in bondage. The effect, it is easy to see, may have been to lead those who were in a state of servitude to manifest open and marked disrespect. In opposition to this, the apostle would have Timothy teach that Christianity did not rudely assail the existing institutions of society, and especially did not teach those who were in subordinate ranks to be disrespectful to these above them.

But rather do them service - That is, serve them with more cheerfulness and alacrity than they did before the master was converted; or serve them with the more cheerfulness because they were Christians. The reasons for this were, because the master was now more worthy of affectionate regard, and because the servant might look for better treatment at his hands; compare notes on Ephesians 6:6.

Because they are faithful - That is, "because" they are "believers," or are Christians - πιστοί pistoi; the same word which in the beginning of the verse is rendered "believing." It does not here mean that they were "faithful" to their servants or their God, but merely that they were Christians.

And beloved - Probably, "beloved of God;" for so the word is often used. As they are the friends of God, they who are servants should show them the more respect. The idea is, simply, that one whom God loves should be treated with more respect than if he were not thus beloved; or, a good man deserves more respect than a wicked man. In all the relations of life, we should respect those above us the more in proportion to the excellency of their character.

Partakers of the benefit - That is, the benefit which the gospel imparts - for so the connection requires us to understand it. It cannot mean, as many have supposed, that they were "partakers of the benefit of the labors of the servant," or enjoyed the fruits of their labors - for how could this be a reason for their treating them with the more respect? It would be rather a reason for treating them with less respect, because they were living on the avails of unrequited toil. But the true reason assigned is that the master had been, by the grace of God, permitted to participate in the same benefits of salvation as the servant; he had received, like him, the pardon of sin, and he was to be regarded as a fellow-heir of the grace of life. The expression here might be rendered, "they are partakers of, or are devoted to, the good cause." Robinson's Lexicon. The argument is, that they were not infidels, or strangers to religion, or those who would try to hinder the progress of that which was dear to the heart of the servant, but were united with them in that same good work; they participated in the blessings of the same salvation, and they were really endeavoring to further the interests of religion. There ought, therefore, to be the more respect shown to them, and the more cheerful service rendered them.

2. And—rather, "But." The opposition is between those Christian slaves under the yoke of heathen, and those that have believing masters (he does not use the phrase "under the yoke" in the latter case, for service under believers is not a yoke). Connect the following words thus, "Let them (the slaves) not, because they (the masters) are brethren (and so equals, masters and slaves alike being Christians), despise them (the masters)."

but rather, &c.—"but all the more (so much the more: with the greater good will) do them service because they (the masters) are faithful (that is, believers) and beloved who receive (in the mutual interchange of relative duties between master and servant; so the Greek) the benefit" (English Version violates Greek grammar). This latter clause is parallel to, "because they are brethren"; which proves that "they" refers to the masters, not the servants, as Tittmann takes it, explaining the verb in the common sense (Lu 1:54; Ac 20:35), "who sedulously labor for their (masters') benefit." The very term "benefit" delicately implies service done with the right motive, Christian "good will" (Eph 6:7). If the common sense of the Greek verb be urged, the sense must be, "Because they (the masters) are faithful and beloved who are sedulously intent on the benefiting" of their servants. But Porphyry [On Abstinence, 1.46] justifies the sense of the Greek verb given above, which also better accords with the context; for otherwise, the article "the," will have nothing in the preceding words to explain it, whereas in my explanation above "the benefit" will be that of the slaves' service.

These things teach—(1Ti 4:11; Tit 2:15).

Some Christians were servants to Jews or pagans, who both came under the gospel notion of believers; as to these the apostle had given directions in 1 Timothy 6:1. Others served masters and mistresses that were Christians. The apostle, not ignorant of Satan’s devices, foresaw that the former would be under a temptation to neglect and despise their masters or mistresses, because they were idolaters, or of a false religion, enemies to the gospel; and the latter under a temptation not to be so diligent and serviceable as they should be, because their governors in a spiritual sense were their equals, their brethren and sisters. The apostle here declares, that the rules of the gospel neither allow the one nor the other: as to the former he had spoken; nor, saith he, let those that have masters or mistresses that are Christians

despise them, by which he means, not be equally obedient or serviceable to them, because there is a spiritual equality or relation between them.

But rather do them service, looking upon this as a further obligation upon them.

Because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit; because they are believers, such as love our common Lord, and are beloved of him, and such as all good Christians ought to love, being partakers of the gift of God, Christ Jesus, and the great benefit of redemption through his blood.

These things teach and exhort; and he willeth Timothy to teach the Christians at Ephesus, that this was the will of God, and accordingly to call upon them for an obedience to it.

And they that have believing masters,.... That believe in one God, in opposition to the Gentiles, that held many gods, and in Jesus Christ, in distinction from the Jews; who believed in him with the heart, and professed him with their mouths, and held the mystery of faith in a pure conscience. What is said before, is said to servants that had unbelieving masters; who would be ready to blaspheme, should they act amiss. Servants were under a snare both ways, through the insinuations of false teachers; who suggested, that their servitude was not consistent with their Christian liberty; that they ought not to serve wicked men, because being called of God, they were advanced above them; nor good men, because they were upon a level with them. But the apostle teaches another doctrine;

let them not despise them, because they are brethren; of the same family named of Christ, and of the same household of God, and of faith, and have the same father; for though with regard to spiritual blessings, privileges, and ordinances, they were equal; yet not with regard to temporal and civil affairs; and therefore should not treat them with less respect, or be more backward to obey their lawful commands, on that account:

but rather do them service; more heartily, and with a greater good will, as to the Lord; these masters belonging to him, and being engaged in his cause; which they, their servants, by yielding a cheerful obedience to them, are assisting in: and the rather,

because they are faithful; in lesser things, in giving to them, their servants, what is just and equal, proper food and suitable raiment, and their just wages; and in using their wealth and riches in a good way, for the interest of Christ, the assistance of the poor saints, and the spreading of the Gospel; and so in greater things, by holding fast the profession of their faith, adhering to Christ, his truths and ordinances: or "because they are believing, or believers"; it is the same word as before used; and therefore they should be precious to them, and high in their esteem; for faith is a precious grace, and such as have it are chosen of God, and precious:

and beloved; of God, who had chosen them to salvation; and of Christ, who had redeemed them by his blood; and of the saints, who are taught of God to love one another; and this is another reason why they should be served, and not despised; and a third follows:

partakers of the benefit; of the free grace of God; of redemption and salvation by Jesus Christ, and of all spiritual blessings in him; and therefore should serve them the more cheerfully. The Syriac version renders it, "such as enjoy rest in", or "are refreshed by their service"; or "by their service to them", as the Arabic version: the sense is, that when believing servants serve their believing masters readily and faithfully, their masters are well pleased with them, delight in their service, and consider it as a benefit to them, and a kindness done them; and which therefore should animate and encourage them to serve them. Some understand these characters of

faithful and beloved, of the servants' themselves; that because they are such; therefore they should serve, and not despise their believing masters; and particularly the last clause, which may be rendered, "who in return receive a benefit from them", as food, raiment, and wages; and besides, they are used with humanity and kindness, and in a manner becoming Christians; to which agrees the Ethiopic version, which renders it, "who will receive and help you"; will take care of you, and assist you, and supply you with what is proper and necessary:

these things teach and exhort; the Syriac and Arabic versions add them; the servants. The apostle was not above instructing and exhorting persons of such a capacity, and in so low a state of life; and it became Timothy to do so likewise; and every minister of the word.

{3} And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, {a} partakers of the benefit. {4} These things teach and exhort.

(3) The second rule: let not servants that have come to the faith, and have also masters of the same profession and religion, abuse the name of brotherhood, but let them so much the rather obey them.

(a) Let this be sufficient, that with regard to those things which pertain to everlasting life, they are partakers of the same good will and love of God, as their masters themselves are.

(4) A general conclusion, that these things ought not only to be simply taught, but must with exhortations be diligently learned by them.

1 Timothy 6:2. A Christian slave would be more likely to presume on his newly acquired theory of liberty, equality and fraternity in relation to a Christian master than in relation to one that was a heathen. The position of a Christian master must have been a difficult one, distracted between the principles of a faith which he shared with his slave, and the laws of a social state which he felt were not wholly wrong. 1 Corinthians 7:22 and Philemon 1:16 illustrate the position.

μᾶλλον δουλευέτωσαν: serve them all the more, magis serviant (Vulg.).

For this use of μᾶλλον cf. Romans 14:13, 1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 6:7; 1 Corinthians 6:9, Ephesians 4:28; Ephesians 5:11. Ignat. Polyc. 4 says of Christian slaves, μηδὲ αὐτοὶ φυσιούσθωσαν, ἀλλʼ εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πλέον δουλευέτωσαν.

ὅτι πιστοί, κ.τ.λ.: The Christian slave is to remember that the fact of his master being a Christian, believing and beloved, entitles him to service better, if possible, than that due to a heathen master. The slave is under a moral obligation to render faithful service to any master. If the spiritual status of the master be raised, it is reasonable that the quality of the service rendered be not lowered, but rather idealised. “The benefit is the improved quality of the service, and they that partake of or enjoy it are the masters” (Field in loc.). So Vulg., qui beneficii participes sunt.

εὐεργεσία has its usual non-religious signification, as in Acts 4:9. It does not indicate the goodness of God in redemption, as suggested in A.V., influenced no doubt directly by Calvin and Beza, though the explanation is as old as Ambr., because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. On the other hand, it is more natural to use εὐεργεσία of the kindness of an employer to a servant or employee, than of the advantage gained by the employer from his servant’s good-will. Accordingly Chrysostom takes it here in the former sense, the whole clause referring to the slaves. Von Soden, taking εὐεργεσία similarly, renders, as those who occupy themselves in doing good. No doubt the best reward of faithful service is the acquisition of a character of trustworthiness and the grateful love of the master to whom you are invaluable; but it is rather far-fetched to read this subtle meaning into the passage before us. In support of the view taken above, Alford quotes from Seneca, De Beneficiis, iii. 18, a discussion of the query, “An beneficium dare servus domino possit?” which Seneca answers in the affirmative, adding further: “Quidquid est quod servilis officii formulam excedit, quod non ex imperio sed ex voluntate praestatur, beneficium est”. See Lightfoot, Philippians, 270 sqq., St. Paul and Seneca.

ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι: ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι properly means to lay hold of, hence to help, as in reff.; and the Harclean Syriac gives that sense here. Like our English word apprehend, it passes from an association with the sense of touch to an association with the other senses or faculties which connect us with things about us. Field (in loc.) gives examples of the use of ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι as expressive of a person being sensible of anything which acts upon the senses, e.g., the smell of a rose. The Peshitta agrees with this. Alford renders mutually receive, by which he seems to intend the same thing as Ell., who suggests that ἀντί has “a formal reference to the reciprocal relation between master and servant”. Field rejects this because “receive in exchange” is ἀντιλαμβάνειν, and the examples cited by Alf. are middle only in form.

δίδασκε καὶ παρακάλει: See note on 1 Timothy 4:13.

2. rather do them service] Better, serve them the rather, all the more zealously.

partakers of the benefit] The article with the participle is clearly subject; and the masters are certainly meant. But then divergence arises, Bp Wordsworth making both masters and slaves the benefactors: ‘they (i.e. the masters) who take part in the mutual good offices (between masters and slaves) are believing and beloved.’ He quotes from Thucyd. ii. 61 for this sense of the verb ‘to take hold of with a view to mutual assistance.’ Conybeare and Lewin make the slaves the benefactors, quoting from Arist. Ran. 777 for the verb ‘they who claim their slaves’ services.’ Grimm, following Chrysostom and Grotius, makes the masters the benefactors, quoting from LXX. Isaiah 26:3 for the verb ‘they who devote themselves to the kindly care of their slaves.’ So far as the usage of the verb in N. T. goes—‘to help’ ‘to succour,’ and also of the noun ‘the good deed’ (to the impotent man), Acts 4:9 and LXX., the help of the weaker by the stronger is suggested, and so the last view is borne out. Compare too the significant use of the connected noun ‘benefactor,’ in Luke 22:25, ‘they that have authority over them are called benefactors.’ Is St Paul using a recognised synonym honoris causa for ‘lordship,’ and, with all the delicate grace natural to the writer of the Epistle to Philemon, lifting it to the height of Christian love? ‘Bid them serve their masters all the better. Masters did I say? Nay; own and requite the faith, the love, that makes them set it as their aim to be—not Masters,—no—Brothers of Blessing.’

These things teach and exhort] The words have more weight if held to close the whole section from 1 Timothy 5:1 than if thought merely to refer to 1 Timothy 6:1-2.

1 Timothy 6:2. Ἀδελφοὶ, brethren) and in that respect equal.—εἰσὶν, are) viz. the masters. Servants (slaves) might seek a pretext for refusing obedience, whether they had believing or unbelieving masters. Both sins are met (counteracted).—δουλευέτωσαν, let them do service) let them remain in the household.—πιστοί εἰσι καὶ ἀγαπητοὶ are faithful and beloved) Supply, the masters, beloved, having experienced the Divine love, and then in consequence showing love to their servants (slaves).—οἱ τῆς εὐεργεσίας ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι, [Eng. Vers. partakers of the benefit, but Bengel] subserving the [divine] beneficence) Beneficence is the beneficence of God, as the word, the name, the Spirit, the wrath, stand for the word of God, the name of God, etc. Believing masters, as being benefactors [εὐεργέται, taken out of εὐεργεσίας], subserve this beneficence. Believers experience the heavenly beneficence towards men, and subserve it; for example, masters towards their household, and through their household towards others. This by implication teaches also believing masters their duty: 1 Timothy 6:17 also teaches it.

Verse 2. - Let them serve them the rather for rather do them service, A.V.; that partake of the benefit are believing and beloved for are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit, A.V. They that have believing masters. The direction in the preceding verse applied to all slaves, though chiefly to what, as Alford says, was far the commonest ease, that of those who had unbelieving masters. But now he adds a caution with regard to the Christian slave of a Christian master. There was a danger lest the feeling that slaves and masters are brothers in Christ should unduly interfere with the respect which he owed him as his master. And so St. Paul addresses a word of special advice to such. Let them not despise them. Let not their spiritual equality with their masters lead them to underrate the worldly difference that separates them; or to think slightly of the authority of a master relatively to his slaves (comp. 2 Peter 2:10). But let them serve them the rather, because they that partake of the benefit are believing and beloved. There is a good deal of obscurity in this sentence, but it may be observed first that the grammatical rendering of the R.V. is clearly right, and that of the A.V. clearly wrong. "They that partake of the benefit" is beyond all doubt the subject, and not the predicate. Then the construction of the two sentences (this and the preceding one) makes it certain that the subject in this sentence (οἱ τῆς εὐεργεσίας ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι) are the same persons as the δέσποται in the preceding sentence, because it is predicated of them both that they are πιστοί, and of both that they are, in convertible terms, ἀγαπητοί and ἀδελφοί. And this leads us, with nearly certainty, to the further conclusion that the εὐεργεσία, the beneficium, or "benefit," spoken of is that especial service - that service of love and good will running ahead of necessary duty, which the Christian slave gives to the Christian master; a sense which the very remarkable passage quoted by Alford from Seneca strikingly confirms. The only remaining difficulty, then, is the meaning "partake of" ascribed to ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι But this is scarcely a difficulty. It is true that in the only two other passages in the New Testament where this verb occurs, and in its frequent use in the LXX., it has the sense of "helping" (Luke 1:54; Acts 20:35); but there is nothing strange in this. The verb in the middle voice means to "lay hold of," You may lay hold of for the purpose of helping, supporting, clinging to, laying claim to, holding in check, etc. (see Liddell and Scott). Here the masters lay hold of the benefit for the purpose of enjoying it. There is possibly an indication in the word that the masters actively and willingly accept it - they stretch out their hand to take it. There does not seem to be any sense of reciprocity, as some think, in the use of ἀντι. The sense of the whole passage seems to be clearly, "Let not those who have believing masters think slightly of their authority because they are brethren; but let them do them extra service, beyond what they are obliged to do, for the very reason that those whom they will thus benefit are believing and beloved brethren." Teach (δίδασκε). Observe the connection of this word with the ἡ διδασκαλίΑ of vers. 1, 3, and elsewhere. 1 Timothy 6:2Partakers of the benefit (οἱ τῆς εὐεργεσίας ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι)

The verb means to take hold of; hence, to take hold for the purpose of helping; to take up for, as Luke 1:54; Acts 20:35. oP. Ἑυεργεσία, benefit only here and Acts 4:9. Better, kindly service. Rend. they that busy themselves in the kindly service. The reference is to the kindly acts which the masters do to their slaves; not to the benefits received by the slaves. Comp. Galatians 5:13.

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