1 Timothy 6:5
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
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(5) Perverse disputings.—The older authorities read here a word which should be rendered “lasting or obstinate conflicts.” These words close the long catalogue of the fruits of the teaching of the false masters of the new faith, and point out that the disputes engendered by these useless and unhappy controversies would be no mere temporary difficulties, but would indefinitely prolong their weary story.

Of men of corrupt minds.—More accurately Tendered, corrupted in their mind. From their mind, over which corruption had spread, arose those mists which (1Timothy 6:4) had clouded their sight with pride. The language used seems to imply that for these unhappy men a time had existed when corruption had not done its fatal work.

Destitute of the truth.—More literally, deprived of the truth. The truth was taken away from them: this was the immediate consequence of the corruption which had spread over their minds.

Supposing that gain is godliness.—Here the translation of the Greek words must run thus, supposing that godliness is a source of gain. The article before the word signifying godliness requires this rendering of the sentence. (See Titus 1:11.) St. Paul, here adding his command to Timothy to have no dealings with these men, dismisses the subject with these few scathing words of scorn and contempt. One can imagine with what feelings of holy anger one like the noble chivalrous St. Paul would regard the conduct of men who looked upon the profession of the religion of the Crucified as a source of gain. This was by far the gravest of his public charges against these teachers of a strange and novel Christianity. We read elsewhere (1Corinthians 3:12-15) men might go wrong in doctrine, might even teach an unpractical, useless religion, if only they were trying their poor best to build on the one foundation—Christ. Their faulty work would perish, but they would assuredly find mercy if only they were in earnest, if only they were zeal. But these, St. Paul tells Timothy and his church, were not in earnest; these were unreal. Their religion—they traded upon it. Their teaching—they taught only to win gold. There was another school of teaching—he had just been dwelling on it—the teaching which told men, even slaves, simply, lovingly to do their duty as though ever in the presence of the Lord, without any restless longing for change. This teaching would win souls to Christ, but it would never win gold, or popular applause, or gain, as the world counts gain.

From such withdraw thyself.—Most, though not all, the ancient authorities omit these words.

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.Perverse disputings - Margin, "gallings one of another." In regard to the correct reading of this passage, see Bib. Repository, vol. iii. pp. 61, 62. The word which is here used in the Received Text - παραδιατρίβη paradiatribē - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means "mis-employment;" then "idle occupation." (Robinson's Lexicon) The verb from which this is derived means to "rub in pieces, to wear away;" and hence the word here used refers to what was a mere "wearing away" of time. The idea is that of employments that merely consumed time without any advantage. The notion of contention or dispute is not necessarily implied in this passage, but the allusion is to inquiries or discussions that were of no practical value, but; were a mere consumption of time; compare Koppe on the passage. The reading in the margin is derived from the common usage of the verb "to rub," and hence our translators attached the idea of "rubbing against" each other, or of "galling" each other, as by rubbing. This is not, however, the idea in the Greek word. The phrase "idle employments" would better suit the meaning of the Greek than either of the phrases which our translators have employed.

Of men of corrupt minds - That is, of wicked hearts.

And destitute of the truth - Not knowing the truth; or not having just views of truth. They show that they have no correct acquaintance with the Christian system.

Supposing that gain is godliness - That that which contributes to an increase of property is of course true religion; or that it is proper to infer that any course which contributes to worldly prosperity must be sanctioned by religion. They judge of the consistency of any course with religion by its tendency to promote outward prosperity. This they have exalted into a maxim, and this they make the essential thing in religion. But how could any man do this? And what connection would this have with the subject under consideration - the kind of instruction that was to be given to servants? The meaning of the maxim seems to be, that religion must necessarily promote prosperity by its promoting temperance, and industry, and length of days; and that since this was the case, it was fair to infer that anything which would not do this could not be consistent with religion. They adopted it, therefore, as a general rule of judging, and one in entire accordance with the wishes of their own hearts, that any course of life that would not do this must be contrary to the true spirit of religion. This maxim, it would seem, they applied to the relation of the slave and his master, and as the tendency of the system was always to keep the servant poor and in an humble condition, they seem to have inferred that the relation was contrary to Christianity, and hence to have excited the servant to disaffection. In their reasoning they were not far out of the way, for it is fair to infer that a system that tends to produce uniform poverty, and to perpetuate a degraded condition in society, is contrary to the genius of Christianity. They were wrong:

(1) in making this a general maxim by which to judge of everything in religion; and,

(2) in so applying it as to produce insubordination and discontent in the minds of servants toward their masters; and,

(3) in supposing that everything which produced gain was consistent with religion, or that they could infallibly judge of the moral quality of any course of life by its contributing to outward prosperity. Religion will uniformly lead to that which conduces to prosperity, but it does not follow that every way of making money is therefore a part of piety. It is possible, also, that in some way they hoped for "gain" to themselves by inculcating those principles. It may be remarked here, that this is not an uncommon maxim practically among people - that "gain is godliness." The whole object of life with them is to make money; the rule by which they judge of everything is by its tendency to produce gain; and their whole religion may be summed up in this, that they live for gain. Wealth is the real object of pursuit; but it is often with them cloaked under the pretence of piety. They have no more religion than they suppose will contribute to this object; they judge of the nature and value of every maxim by its tendency to make people prosperous in their worldly business; they have as much as they suppose will promote their pecuniary interest, and they sacrifice every principle of religion which they suppose would conflict with their earthly advancement.

From such withdraw thyself - That is, have no communion or fellowship with them. Do not recognize them as religious teachers; do not countenance their views. Timothy was, in no way, to show that he regarded them as inculcating truth, or to patronize their doctrines. From such people, as having any claim to the character of Christians, every man should withdraw with feelings of unutterable pity and loathing. This passage 1 Timothy 6:1-5 is often appealed to by the advocates and apologists for slavery, to prove that Christianity countenances that institution, and that no direct attempt should be made by the ministers of the gospel, or other Christians, to show the evil of the institution, and to promote its abolition, and to prove that we have no right to interfere in any way with what pertains to these "domestic relations." It is of importance, therefore, in view of the exposition which has been given of the words and phrases in the passage, to sum up the truths which it inculcates. From it, therefore, the following lessons may be derived:

(1) That those who are slaves, and who have been converted to Christianity, should not be indolent or disorderly. If their masters are Christians, they should treat them with respect, and all the more because they are fellow-heirs of the grace of life. If they are not Christians, they should yet show the nature of religion on themselves, and bear the evils of their condition with patience - showing how religion teaches them to endure wrong. In either case, they are to be quiet, industrious, kind, meek, respectful. This Christianity everywhere enjoins while the relation continues, At the same time, however, it does not forbid the slave earnestly to desire his freedom, or to use all proper measures to obtain it; see 1 Corinthians 7:21.

(2) that the ministers of religion should not labor to produce a spirit of discontent among slaves, or excite them to rise upon their masters. This passage would undoubtedly forbid all such interference, and all agencies or embassies sent among slaves themselves to inflame their minds against their masters, in view of their wrongs; to put arms into their hands; or to induce them to form combinations for purposes of insurrection. It is not so much in the true spirit of Christianity to go to those who are wronged, as to those who do the wrong. The primary message in such cases is to the latter; and when it does go to the former, it is to teach them to be patient under their wrongs, to evince the Christian spirit there, and to make use only of those means which are consistent with the gospel to free themselves from the evils under which they suffer. At the same time, nothing in this passage, or in any other part of the New Testament, forbids us to go to the master himself, and to show him the evil of the system, and to enjoin upon him to let the oppressed go free.

Nothing in this passage can be reasonably construed as teaching that an appeal of the most earnest and urgent kind may not be made to him; or that the wrongs of the system may not be fully set before him, or that any man or set of men may not lawfully lift up in his hearing a loud and earnest voice in favor of the freedom of all. And in like manner there is nothing which makes it improper that the slave himself should be put fully in possession of that gospel which will apprize him of his rights as a man, and as redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Every human being, whether held in bondage or not, has a right to be made acquainted with all the provisions and truths of that gospel, nor has any man or class of men a right to withhold such knowledge from him. No system of things can be right which contemplates that that gospel shall be withheld, or under which it is necessary to withhold it in order to the perpetuity of the system.

(3) the passage teaches that it is possible that a man who is a slaveholder may become a Christian. But it does not teach that, though he may become a Christian while he is a slaveholder, that it is proper for him to continue this relation after he becomes such. It does not teach that a man can be a Christian and yet go into the business of buying and selling slaves. It does not teach that a man can be a Christian and continue to hold others in bondage, whatever may be true on that point. It does not teach that he ought to be considered as maintaining a "good standing" in the church, if he continues to be a slaveholder; and whatever may be the truth on these points, this passage should not be adduced as demonstrating them. It settles one point only in regard to these questions - that a case was supposable in which a slave had a Christian master. It settles the duty of the slave in such a case; it says nothing about the duty of the master.

(4) this passage does not teach that slavery is either a good thing, or a just thing, a desirable relation in life, or an institution that God wishes to be perpetuated on the earth. The injunctions to slaves to be patient, meek, industrious, and respectful, no more demonstrate this, than the command to subjects to be obedient to the laws proves that God regarded the government of Nero as such an administration as he wished to be perpetuated on the earth. To exhort a slave to manifest a Christian spirit under his oppressions and wrongs, is not to justify the system that does him wrong, nor does it prohibit us from showing to masters that the system is contrary to the gospel, and that it ought to be abandoned.

(5) this passage, therefore, furnishes no real support for slavery. It can no more be adduced in favor of it than any exhortation to those who are oppressed, or in any degrading situation in life, to be patient, proves that the system which oppresses and degrades them, is a good one. Nor does the fact that a man might be converted who was a slaveholder, and might be spoken of as a πιστός pistos, or believer, prove that it would be right and desirable that he should continue that relation, anymore than the fact that Saul of Tarsus became a Christian when engaged in persecution, proves that it would have been right for him to continue in that business, or than the conversion of the Ephesians who "used curious arts" Acts 19:19, proved that it would have been proper for them to continue in that employment. People who are doing wrong are converted in order to turn them from that course of life, not to justify them in it.

5. Perverse disputings—useless disputings. The oldest manuscripts read, "lasting contests" [Wiesinger]; "incessant collisions" [Alford]. "Strifes of words" had already been mentioned so that he would not be likely to repeat the same idea (as in the English Version reading) again.

corrupt minds—Greek, "of men corrupted (depraved) in mind." The inmost source of the evil is in the perverted mind (1Ti 6:4; 2Ti 3:8; Tit 1:15).

destitute of the truth—(Tit 1:14). They had had the truth, but through want of moral integrity and of love of the truth, they were misled by a pretended deeper gnosis (knowledge) and higher ascetical holiness, of which they made a trade [Wiesinger].

supposing, &c.—The Greek requires, "supposing (regarding the matter in this point of view) that piety (so translated for 'godliness') is a means of gain (that is, a way of advancing one's worldly interests: a different Greek form, poriswa, expresses the thing gained, gain)"; not "that gain is godliness," as English Version.

from such withdraw thyself—omitted in the oldest manuscripts. The connection with 1Ti 6:6 favors the omission of these words, which interrupt the connection.

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth; paradiatribai, mutual tearings, and gallings of or interferings with one another. The word is applied to horses knocking one foot against another. The word without the preposition para signifies school conflicts by disputations; the preposition added makes it to signify, in an evil sense, disputations of sophisters, not candid for the finding out of truth, but perverse and litigious merely for masteries; which he saith proceeds from men corrupted as to their understanding and judgment.

Supposing that gain is godliness; all whose religion is gain of riches or reputation.

From such withdraw thyself; with such men have nothing to do, avoid them in thy private converse, and cast them out of the church if their faults be public scandals, and they be contumacious.

Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds,.... Who being corrupt in their principles, and corrupters of the word of God, dispute in a very froward and perverse way, rubbing and galling one another, and so provoke, to wrath and anger, and, every evil work:

and destitute of the truth of Christ, who is the truth, knowing nothing of him spiritually and savingly; and of the Gospel, the word of truth; and also of the truth of grace, being carnal, sensual, and having not the Spirit of God.

Supposing that gain is godliness; such were Simon Magus and his followers, and other false teachers, who made merchandise of men, looked everyone for his gain from his quarter, and acted as if there was nothing in religion but worldly profit and gain; these served themselves, their own bellies, and selfish interests, and not the Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore the apostle gives the following advice to Timothy, and through him to all ministers and churches,

from such withdraw thyself: do not come near them; have nothing to do with them; do not lay hands on them, or admit them into the ministry; do not suffer them to preach, or encourage them by hearing them: if in the church, cast them out; have communion with them, neither in a civil nor in a religious way; avoid all conversation with them. The Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions omit this clause; it is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, and in Beza's Claromontane Exemplar, but is in other copies.

Perverse {c} disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

(c) Such as we see in those shameless schools of popery, which are nothing else but vain babbling and foolish talking.

1 Timothy 6:5. διαπαρατριβαί: The force of the διά is expressed in the R.V., wranglings, which denotes protracted quarrellings, perconfricationes ([294]), conflictationes ([295], Vulg.). Field (in loc.) comparing διαμάχεσθαι, διαφιλοτιμεῖσθαι, etc., prefers the sense of reciprocity, mutual irritations, gallings one of another (A.V. m.), “as infected sheep by contact communicate disease to the sound” (Chrys.). παραδιατριβαί (T.R.), perverse disputings, is given a milder sense by Winer-Moulton, Gram. p. 126, “misplaced diligence or useless disputing”.

[294] Cod. Frisingensis

[295] The Latin text of Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

διεφθαρμένων τὸν νοῦν: cf. κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν, 2 Timothy 3:8, the acc. being that of the remoter object. Cf., for the notion, τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν φθειρόμενον κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης, Ephesians 4:22, also 1 Corinthians 15:33, 2 Corinthians 11:3, Judges 1:10.

ἀπεστερημένων: privati. ἀποστερέω conveys the notion of a person being deprived of a thing to which he has a right. See reff. This is expressed in R.V., bereft of. The truth was once theirs; they have disinherited themselves. The A.V., destitute of, does not assume that they ever had it.

νομιζόντων, κ.τ.λ.: since they suppose. For this use of the participle Bengel compares Romans 2:18; Romans 2:20, 2 Timothy 2:21, Hebrews 6:6.

πορισμόν: a means of gain, quaestus. The commentators quote Plutarch, Cato Major, § 25, δυσὶ κεχρῆσθαι μόνοις πορισμοῖς, γεωργίᾳ καὶ φειδοῖ.

τὴν εὐσέβειαν: not godliness in general, pietatem (Vulg.), but the profession of Christianity, culturam Dei ([296]50). See 1 Timothy 2:2. Allusions elsewhere to those who supposed that the gospel was a means of making money have usually reference to self-interested and grasping teachers (2 Corinthians 11:12; 2 Corinthians 12:17-18; Titus 1:11; 2 Peter 2:3). Here the significance of the clause may be that the false teachers demoralised slaves, suggesting to slaves who were converts, or possible converts, that the profession of Christianity involved an improvement in social position and worldly prospects. The article before εὐσεβ. shews that the A.V. is wrong, supposing that gain is godliness.

[296] Speculum

5. perverse disputings] The best attested reading of the Greek word transposes the order of the preposition, and should give us for its meaning ‘continual collisions.’ This seems the reason for the rendering of R.V. wranglings. Compare a similar compound in LXX. 2 Samuel 3:30, and Jos. Ant. x. 7. 5.

of corrupt minds] Lit. corrupted in mind. See note on ‘mind’ Titus 1:15, and on ‘uncorruptness’ Titus 2:7.

destitute of the truth] Our ‘destitute’ has almost ceased to have its original proper force ‘deprived’ of what was once possessed; hence R.V. has rightly substituted, as corresponding with the perf. pass, participle of the Greek, bereft.

gain is godliness] A well-known violation by A.V. of the law which places the article with the subject. The ending of the Greek noun for ‘gain’ implies rather a ‘trading,’ a ‘means of profit,’ like ‘the reaping time’ for ‘summer.’ Hence the twofold correction of R.V. godliness is a way of gain. But we lose the emphasis of the subject kept back to the end. Point is gained however in this respect by the omission (required on the authority of the best mss.) of the next clause, From such withdraw thyself. See Appendix, K.

1 Timothy 6:5. Διαπαρατριβαὶ) διατριβὴ, a scholastic disputation or treatise. The insertion of παρὰ renders it significant of something perverse, as κατατομὴ for περιτομὴ, Php 3:2. It is opposed to accede (consent), 1 Timothy 6:3.—διαπαρατριβαὶ διεφθαρμένων ἀνθρώπων) perverse disputings, which only become men of corrupt minds, 2 Timothy 3:8 : men corrupted in mind.—νομιζόντων, thinking) i.e. inasmuch as they think, for there is no and put before it; comp. Romans 2:18; Romans 2:20; 2 Timothy 2:21; Hebrews 6:6, where the use of the participles is the same.—πορισμὸν) a gain[48] (means of making gain), a thing given for the sake of procuring property.

[48] The article before εὐσέβειαν, and not before πορισμὸν, show the construction to be, “that godliness is a gain,” a way to advance one’s worldly interest not as Engl. Vers., “that gain is godliness.”—ED.

Verse 5. - Wranglings for perverse disputings, A.V. and T.R.; corrupted in mind for of corrupt minds, A.V.; bereft for destitute, A.V.; godliness is a way of gain for gain is godliness, A.V. Wranglings (διαπαρατριβαί, R.T.; παραδιατριβαί, T.R.). The R.T. has far the largest weight of authority in its favor (Ellicott). The substantive παρατριβή in Polybius means "provocation," "collision," "friction," and the like. Hence διαπαρατριβή (which is only found here) means "continued wranglings." The substantive διατριβή (English diatribe) means, among other things, a "discussion" or "argument." The addition of πάρα gives the sense of a "perverse discussion," or "disputing." Bereft (ἀπεστερημένων). The difference between the A.V. "destitute" and the R.V. "bereft" is that the latter implies that they once had possession of the truth, but had lost it by their own fault. They had fallen away from the truth, and were twice dead. Godliness is a way of gain. The A.V., that gain is godliness, is clearly wrong, utterly confusing the subject with the predicate, and so destroying the connection between the clause and ver. 6. A way of gain (πορισμός); only here and in ver. 6 in the New Testament. but found in Wisd. 13:19 Wisd. 14:2; Polybius, etc. It signifies "a source of gain," "a means of malting money," or, in one word, "a trade." The same charge is brought against the heretical teachers (Titus 1:11). The cause in the A.V. and T.R., from such withdraw thyself, is not in the R.T. 1 Timothy 6:5Perverse disputings (διαπαρατριβαὶ)

N.T.o. olxx, oClass. Παρατριβή, is a rubbing against. Διὰ signifies continuance. The meaning therefore is continued friction. Hence wearing discussion; protracted wrangling.

Of corrupt minds (διεφθαρμένων τὸν νοῦν)

More correctly, corrupted in mind. The verb not common in N.T. In Paul only 2 Corinthians 4:16. Only here in Pastorals. Διαφθορά corruption only in Acts. Comp. κατεφθαρμένοι τὸν νοῦν corrupted in mind, 2 Timothy 3:8.

Destitute of the truth (ἀπεστερημένων τῆς ἀληθείας)

Rev. bereft of the truth. In N.T. commonly of defrauding, Mark 10:19; 1 Corinthians 6:7, 1 Corinthians 6:8; 1 Corinthians 7:5. The implication is that they once possessed the truth. They put it away from themselves (1 Timothy 1:19; Titus 1:14). Here it is represented as taken away from them. Comp. Romans 1:8.

Gain is godliness (πορισμὸν εἶναι τὴν εὐσέβειαν)

Wrong. Rend. that godliness is a way (or source) of gain. Πορισμὸς, only here and 1 Timothy 6:6, is a gain-making business. See Wisd. 13:19; 14:2. They make religion a means of livelihood. Comp. Titus 1:11.

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