All who are under the yoke of slavery should regard their masters as fully worthy of honor, so that God's name and our teaching will not be discredited.
I. THE HONOR DUE TO PAGAN MASTERS. "Whoever are under the yoke as bondservants, let them reckon their own masters worthy of all honor."
1. The condition of the slaves was one of much hardship. There was practically no limit to the power of the masters over the slaves. They might be gentle and just, or capricious and cruel. The slaves had no remedy at law against harsh treatment, as they had no hope of escape from bondage.
2. Yet their liberty had not been so restricted that they had not the opportunity of hearing the gospel. There were Christian slaves. Their hard life was ameliorated, not merely by the blessed hopes of the gospel, but by the privilege of spiritual equality with their masters which was one of its distinguishing glories.
3. The gospel did not interfere with the duty of obedience which they owed to their masters. They were to give them all honor - not merely outward subjection, but inward respect. Christianity did not undertake to overturn social relations. If it had done so, it would have been revolutionary in the last degree; it would have armed the whole forces of the Roman empire against it; it would itself have been drowned in blood; and it would have led to the merciless slaughter of the slaves themselves. Yet Christianity prepared the way from the very first for the complete abolition of slavery. The fact that with the great Master in heaven "there was no respect of persons," and that "in Jesus Christ there was neither bond nor free, but all were one in Christ," would not justify the slaves in repudiating their present subjection, while it held out the hope of their eventual emancipation. They must not, therefore, abuse their liberty under the gospel.
4. Yet there was a limit to the slave's obedience. He could only obey his master so far as was consistent with the laws of God and his gospel, consenting to suffer rather than outrage his conscience. Cases of this sort might arise, but they would not prejudice the gospel, like a simple revolt against existing relationships.
II. THE REASON FOR THE DUE HONOR GIVEN TO THEIR PAGAN MASTERS. "That the Name of God and his doctrine may not be blasphemed."
1. There would be a serious danger of such a result if slaves were either to withhold due service to their masters or to repudiate all subjection. God and his doctrine would be dishonored in the eyes of their masters, because they would be regarded as sanctioning insubordination. Thus a deep and widespread prejudice would arise to prevent the gospel reaching their pagan masters.
2. It is thus possible for the meanest members of the Church to do honor to God and the gospel. The apostle contemplates their adorning "of the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" (Titus 2:10).
3. The same considerations apply to the case of domestic servants in our own day. The term translated here "slaves" is used with some latitude in the Scripture. It applies sometimes to persons entirely free, as to David in relation to Saul (1 Samuel 19:4), to Christians generally (Romans 6:16; 1 Peter 2:16), to apostles, prophets, and ministers (Galatians 1:10; 2 Timothy 2:24), and to the higher class of dependents (Matthew 18:23; Matthew 21:340. Thus the term implies a relation of dependence without legal compulsion. Christian servants must yield a willing and cheerful service that they may thus honor the gospel. - T.C.
Servants as are under the yoke.
I. LET US FIRST SEE WHAT CHRISTIANITY DID NOT DO FOR THE SLAVES. That the followers of Him who cared most for the poor and needy, and who longed to break every yoke, pitied these slaves in their abject and humiliating condition, goes without saying. But they certainly did not urge the slaves to escape, or to rebel, nor did they make it an absolute necessity to church membership that a slave-owner should set all his slaves free. We may be quite sure that such a man as Paul would not be insensible to the evils of slavery, and further, that it was not from any deficiency in moral courage that he did not urge manumission; but told some slaves to remain in the condition in which they were, and, by God's help, to triumph over the difficulties and sorrows peculiar to their lot. Strange as this may seem at first sight, was it not wise? Did it not prove in the long-run by far the best thing for the slaves themselves, leading to a more complete extirpation of slavery than if more drastic methods had been tried at first?
II. LET US SEE, THEN, WHAT CHRISTIANITY DID FOR THE SLAVES.
1. It taught masters their responsibilities.
2. It inculcated on the slaves a course of conduct which would often lead to their legal freedom. Under Roman law, liberty was held out as an encouragement to slaves to be honest, industrious, sober, and loyal; and, therefore, any Christian slave who obeyed the laws of Christ would be on the high road to emancipation. Liberty thus won by character was a better thing than liberty won by force or by fraud, and was more accordant with the genius of Christianity.
3. It gave dignity to those who had been despised and who had despised themselves. The work, which had once been a drudgery, became a sacred service; and this your toil and mine may surely be.
4. But, besides all this, Christianity laid down principles which necessitated the ultimate destruction of slavery. It taught that all men had a common origin; that God had made of one blood all nations; and that men of every class were to join together in the wonderful prayer, "Our Father which art in heaven." Learn, then, to trust to principles rather than to organization. Let life be more to you than law, and change of life more than change of law. Care for character first, believing that circumstance will care for itself. And, finally, in conflict with evils deep and wide-spread as ancient slavery, be patient, and have unwavering faith in the God of righteousness and love.
(A. Rowland, LL. B.)
(A. Rowland, LL. B.)
2. We deal with it as a sentinel does with one he has allowed to pass without challenge — he thinks it all right, and lets him pass again and again, until at last he is horrified to find he has been giving admission to a foe. John Newton, for example, after his conversion (which was as genuine as it was remarkable), carried on for years the inhuman traffic of slavery, and felt his conscience at rest so long as he did what he could for the bodily comfort of the slaves. He was quite insensible to the sinfulness of slavery until it pleased God to open his eyes, which had been blinded by custom. And, at the close of last century, an American gentleman left a plantation well stocked with slaves to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, and was evidently unconscious of any inconsistency. It is not to be won dered at that, in the early days of Christianity, disciples of Jesus were similarly deceived. Instead of condemning them, let us ask ourselves whether custom is not blinding us to other sins.
(A. Rowland, LL. B.)
That the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed
1. In the first place, then, the persons by whom the objection is adduced, seem, in many cases, to be influenced by a determination to censure, with or without reason, the conduct of Christ's professed followers. Whatever aspect we put on, and whatever deportment we maintain, they must discover, or imagine, something which they may use as a pretext for personal reproach, and which they may ultimately level against the doctrine or principles that we hold. If we are grave, they accuse us of being morose and gloomy. If we are cheerful, then we are light and joyous spirits, having as little seriousness and as much wantonness as themselves.
2. We remark, in the second place, that the fact which gives rise to the objection we are considering is not unfrequently exaggerated by the fault of an individual being transferred and imputed to the whole class to which he belongs. The ultimate aim is to bring Christianity into disrepute — to "blaspheme the name and the doctrine of God"; and in order to accomplish what is thus intended, the aberrations of every individual Christian are spoken of as descriptive of all who have embraced the religion of Jesus, and as a sort of universal and necessary accompaniment to the faith and character of His disciples.
3. It may be observed, in the third place, that the fact of which we are speaking is often exaggerated, by considering one part of the Christian's conduct as a test of his whole character. The splendour of their virtues is obscured by an individual spot, which malice or misconception has magnified far beyond its real size. And their character is appreciated, not by the tone of their principles, in connection with the habitual tenor of their conduct, but by a single vicious action, of which their mind is utterly abhorrent, which they bewail with unfeigned sorrow, and which a candid eye would trace to those imperfections of the heart, and those infelicities of condition, which adhere to humanity in its best estate. The unmanly equivocation of Abraham, the aggravated crime of David, and the unhappy strife between Paul and Barnabas, are held out as the characteristic features of these eminent persons; that faith, and piety, and humility, and zeal for the glory of God and the best interests of mankind, by which they were severally distinguished, go for nothing in the estimate that is formed.
4. In the fourth place, the fact by which unbelievers are furnished with the objection we refer to, is frequently amplified by a too rigid comparison of the Christian's conduct with the religion in which he professes to believe. Now, it would be fair enough to judge us by the standard to which we appeal, if they would take care at the same time to apply it under the direction of those rules, which the very nature and circumstances of the case require to be observed in such an important trial. They forget that the morality of the gospel must be perfect, because it is prescribed by a perfect Being, and that, had it been otherwise, they would very soon have discovered it to be unworthy of its alleged author. They forget that moral imperfection is an attribute of our fallen nature, and must therefore mingle in all our attempts to comply with the Divine will, and to imitate the Divine character.Conclusion:
1. And, in the first place, let it not be thought that we mean to plead for any undue or unlawful indulgence to the disciples of Jesus.
2. In the second place, let Christians beware of encouraging unbelieving and ungodly men in this mode of misjudging and misrepresenting character.
3. Lastly, let us scrupulously abstain in our own conduct from everything of which advantage may be taken, for that unhallowed purpose.
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
1. Let it be considered what a multitude of excellent characters have been formed by the influence of the gospel. From its first establishment down to the present day, every successive age has had a number of individuals and of families by whom its sanctifying power has been deeply felt and practically exhibited. On looking into the history of its progress and effects, we observe that it no sooner obtained a footing, than it began to change the moral aspect of society, wherever, at least, the profession of it prevailed.
2. But the holy tendency of the gospel is obvious, not only from its powerful effect on those who have truly believed its Divine origin, and given a candid reception to its doctrines; the same thing may be seen in the improved moral condition of those also who have either given a mere speculative assent to it, or who are acquainted only with its tenets and precepts, or who live merely in countries where it is professed. The history of the gospel furnishes us with a detail of interesting and incontrovertible facts, which demonstrate that Christianity has neither been useless nor detrimental as a moral system: that it has maintained an influence peculiar to itself over the sentiments and manners of mankind; and that this influence has been at once powerful, important, and extensive.
3. It is not enough, however, to state that there are many who show in their conduct the holy tendency and sanctifying power of Christianity; that there are, and have been, multitudes of Christians who have adorned their religion by the exercise of every virtue; it is proper to state, in addition to this, the contrast which their present conduct exhibits to their former conduct, and also to the deportment of others who have rejected the gospel, or who have never heard of its existence. It is right also to compare the moral character of the Christian with that of others who have not known or adopted the same religious faith.
4. It was formerly stated that the fact upon which the objection we are considering is founded, is frequently exaggerated by the fault of one Christian being transferred or imputed to the whole Church. But I have now to observe that the fact is also most unfairly and injuriously misapplied in another way. Our adversaries make no distinction between real and merely nominal Christians.
5. That the gospel has not been more generally efficacious in reforming mankind and in perfecting the character of its votaries, is to be accounted for in various ways. Without entering into any detail, however, I may merely mention one general principle which appears to solve the whole difficulty. The gospel is not a system of compulsion.
(A. Thomson, D. D.)
1. And, in the first place, we exhort you never to forget that the gospel is a practical system. When you turn your mind to any one of its doctrinal truths, you will consider that it is not only to be believed, but that it is to make you free, in some respect or other, from the dominion of iniquity. When you meet with any precept, you will recollect that it is not merely a proof of the perfection of that morality which revelation inculcates, but a rule for your deportment in that branch of holiness to which it refers. When you cast your eye upon the delineation of a character, you will view it as not only held out to attract, or to interest you, but as set before you to warn you against certain offences or to recommend the practice of certain virtues.
2. In the second place, with the same view we exhort you to a faithful and conscientious discharge of the duties which belong to the several relations in which you stand, and the various circumstances in which you are placed. Nor is this all. The circumstances, as well as the relations of life, come under the government of the rule we are considering.
3. In the third place, we exhort you to make a willing sacrifice even of certain privileges and comforts, when the exigences of the case require it, though, in ordinary circumstances, you would be warranted in refusing to make it, if it were demanded. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke," says the apostle, "count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed." While you recollect what is due to yourselves, you must recollect still more what is due to the gospel.
(A. Thomson, D. D.)I. First I am to consider WHAT JUST GROUND OR COLOUR THERE MAY BE FOR A COMPLAINT OF THE EXCEEDING WICKEDNESS OF MEN NOW UNDER THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION. And here it may with truth be observed to the advantage of our holy religion, that, as bad as men are under it, they would have yet been worse without it. The rule by which Christians are obliged to walk is so excellent, and they are thereby so fully and clearly informed of the whole extent of their duty; the promised assistances are so mighty and the rewards so vast, by which they are animated to obedience; that their transgressions, as they are attended with a deeper guilt, so must needs appear to be of a more prodigious size than those of other men. And it is no wonder, therefore, if, on both these accounts, good and holy persons have spoken of them with a particular degree of detestation and horror. And as the vices of Christians are, for these reasons, open and glaring, so their virtues oftentimes disappear and lie hid. The profound humility and self-denial, which the Christian religion first enjoined, leads the true disciples of Christ, in the exercise of the chief gospel graces, to shun the applause and sight of men as much as is possible. On these, and such accounts as these, I say vice seems to have the odds of virtue among those who name the name of Christ, much more than it really hath.
II. Secondly, THAT THEY ARE VERY UNREASONABLE IN SO DOING, I AM IN THE NEXT PLACE TO SHOW. For —
1. The holiest and purest doctrine imaginable is but doctrine still; it can only instruct, admonish, or persuade; it cannot compel. The gospel means of grace, powerful as they are, yet are not, and ought not to be, irresistible. Let the gospel have never so little success in promoting holiness, yet all who have considered it must own that it is in itself as fit as anything that can be imagined for that purpose, and incomparably more fit than any other course that ever was taken. Did philosophy suffer in the opinion of wise men on account of the debaucheries that reigned in those ages, wherein it flourished most among the Grecians and Romans? Was it then thought a good inference that, because men were very dissolute when wisdom was at the height, and the light of reason shone brightest, therefore wisdom and reason were of little use towards making men virtuous?
2. The present wickedness of Christians cannot be owing to any defect in the doctrine of Christ, nor be urged as a proof of the real inefficacy of it towards rendering men holy;Because there was a time when it had all the success of this kind that could be expected; the time, I mean, of its earliest appearance in the world; when the practice of the generality of Christians was a just comment on the precepts of Christ; and they could appeal from their doctrines to their lives, and challenge their worst enemies to show any remarkable difference between them.
1. There must needs be a great disparity between the first Christians and those of these latter ages; because Christianity was the religion of their choice. They took it up while it was persecuted.
2. Another account of the great degeneracy of Christians may be drawn from men's erecting new schemes of Christianity which interfere with the true and genuine account of it.
3. It is not to be expected but that, where Christians are wicked, they should be rather worse than other men; for this very reason, because they have more helps towards becoming better, and yet live in the contempt or neglect of them.
III. SOME MORE PROPER AND NATURAL INFERENCES THAT MAY BE DRAWN FROM IT. They are many and weighty. And —
1. This should be so far from shocking our faith, that it ought on the contrary to confirm and strengthen it; for the universal degeneracy of Christians in these latter days was plainly and punctually foretold by Christ and His apostles.
2. Consider the monstrous degree of pravity and perverseness that is hid in the heart of man, and to account for the rise of it.
3. Learn from thence not to measure doctrines by persons, or persons by doctrines: that is, not to make the one a complete rule and standard whereby to judge of the goodness or badness of the other.
4. To excite ourselves from thence to do what in us lies towards removing this scandal from the Christian faith at large, and from that particular church of Christ to which we belong; both by living ourselves as becomes our holy religion; and by influencing others, as we have ability and opportunity, to live as we do; that so both we and they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things (Titus 2:10).
(Bp. Simpson.)Edward Garrett.)
Links1 Timothy 6:1 NIV
1 Timothy 6:1 NLT
1 Timothy 6:1 ESV
1 Timothy 6:1 NASB
1 Timothy 6:1 KJV
1 Timothy 6:1 Bible Apps
1 Timothy 6:1 Parallel
1 Timothy 6:1 Biblia Paralela
1 Timothy 6:1 Chinese Bible
1 Timothy 6:1 French Bible
1 Timothy 6:1 German Bible
1 Timothy 6:1 Commentaries