1 Timothy 6:17-21
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God…
I. WARNING TO THE RICH. "Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not high-minded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy." The apostle's fear of worldliness in the Church still possesses him. He does not now regard those who wish to be rich, but those who are rich. He at once reminds them of the relative value of their riches, as extending only to this present world. He warns them against the danger of being high-minded, i.e. lifted up above others under a sense of their importance on account of their riches. He warns them also against the kindred danger, which separates, not so much from men as from God, viz. their setting their hope on their riches. "Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered again, and said unto them, "Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God? The difficulty of the rich is that they are tempted to set their hope on their riches. One reason for their not doing so, is that their hope should not be set on an uncertainty such as riches is. The true Object of our hope is God, who is of a liberal disposition. He giveth us not merely the necessaries of life, but he giveth us richly all things. In his disposition we have a better guarantee for our not wanting, than in clutching to any riches. He giveth us things to enjoy, not to draw us away from our fellow-men, not to draw us away from himself, but to enjoy as his gifts, through which he would tell us of the kindness of his heart.
II. THE RIGHT COURSE FOR THEM. "That they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate." They were to seek to promote the happiness of others. As they were rich, they had it in their power, above others, to do beautiful actions. They were to be free in making distribution of what they had. They were to be ready to admit others to share with them. In a word, they were to counteract worldly habits of mind by cultivating habits of benevolence. There is the duty of giving the Lord the first fruits of our substance, a proportion of our income; there is here inculcated the cultivation of the disposition toward others that is to go along with that.
III. ADVANTAGE OF THE RIGHT COURSE. "Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed." What they took from their plenty and gave for others they were not to lose, but were to have it as a treasure laid up for them. "Their estates will not die with them, but they will have joy and comfort of them in the other world, and have cause to bless God for them to all eternity" (Beveridge). The treasure is thought of as a good foundation, by resting on which they would lay hold on the life which was life indeed. The time is coming when this world will be taken away from beneath our feet. What have we sent before us into the next world, so as to keep us from sinking in the new condition of things, to bear us up so that we shall not earn, but receive, from Christ's hand and through Christ's merit, the life indeed? The answer here is - what we have denied ourselves, what we have unselfishly sacrificed for others.
IV. CONCLUDING EARNEST ADDRESS TO TIMOTHY.
1. What he was to keep. "O Timothy, guard that which is committed unto thee." The deposit is the doctrine delivered to Timothy to preach, as opposed to what follows. "We have an exclamation alike of foreknowledge and of fondness. For he foresaw future errors, which he mourned over beforehand. What does he mean by guarding the deposit? Guard it, says he, on account of thieves, on account of enemies who while men sleep may sow tares amidst the good seed. What is the deposit? It is that which was entrusted to thee, not found by thee; which thou hast received, not invented; a matter, not of genius, but of teaching; not of private usurpation, but of public tradition; a matter brought to thee, not put forth by thee; in which thou oughtest to be, not an enlarger, but a guardian; not an originator, but a disciple; not leading, but following. Keep, saith he, the deposit; preserve intact and inviolate the talent of the catholic faith. What has been entrusted to thee, let the same remain with thee; let that same be handed down by thee. Gold thou hast received, gold return. I should be sorry thou shouldst substitute ought else. I should be sorry that for gold thou shouldst substitute lead, impudently, or brass, fraudulently. I do not want the mere appearance of gold, but its actual reality. Not that there is to be no progress in religion, in Christ's Church. Let there be so by all means, and the greatest progress; but, then, let it be real progress, not a change of faith. Let the intelligence of the whole Church and its individual members increase exceedingly, provided it be only on its own head, the doctrine being still the same."
2. What he was to avoid. "Turning away from the profane babblings and oppositions of the knowledge which is falsely so called; which some professing have erred concerning the faith." The errors are called profane babblings, similarly to the characterization of them in 1 Timothy 1:6 and 1 Timothy 4:7. They are also called oppositions of a falsely named gnosis, i.e. to the true gnosis in the gospel. There were some defections on account of Gnostic tendencies even in the apostle's day; and it was very much the design of this letter to warn his pupil against them.
V. BENEDICTION. "Grace be with you." It seems better to regard the benediction for Timothy alone. He has been so busy in laying down ecclesiastical rules for the direction of Timothy as superintendent, that he has no space left for personal references, but closes abruptly with the briefest form of benediction. - R.F.
Parallel VersesKJV: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
WEB: Charge those who are rich in this present world that they not be haughty, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on the living God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy;