November 11, 2011

Saturday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 149, 2 Kings 5:20, 1 Tim. 6:12
Evening - Ps. 19, 46, Eccles. 5:1-7, Mt. 21:33

Commentary
1Timothy 6:12-21

Paul has reminded and encouraged Timothy to flee the things of unGodliness and follow after the things of God (6:11). These words convey a picture of running away from unGodliness, and running after Godliness. It is important to note that the things to be run from, and the things to be pursued are not just actions, they are character traits. Thus, Timothy, and we through him, is reminded that a major part of the Christian life is the reformation of personal character. It is being changed in who and what we are. To pursue the things of Godliness means to cultivate them and to work at making them a part of us. This is not easy. Paul compares it to a fight, a battle (6:12, see also 1 Tim. 1:8). And the enemy is within us. The enemy is our own desire to please ourselves at the expense of others and to the neglect of God. John Chrysostom, in his Homilies on Timothy, XVIII, calls our desires, "passions," and says power and wealth in this world, even to the extent of ruling over nations, is nothing if we do not have rule over our own passions.
"For of what advantage, tell me, is it to reign over nations of our fellow-men, and to be the slaves of our own passions? Or what are we the worse for having no one under our rule if we are superior to the tyranny of the passions? That indeed is Freedom, that is Rule, that is Royalty and Sovereignty. The contrary is slavery, though a man be invested with countless diadems. For when a multitude of masters sway him from within, the love of money, the love of pleasure, and anger and other passions, what avails his diadem? The tyranny of those passions is more severe, when not even his crown has power to deliver him from their subjection."
The good fight also includes contending for the faith, standing firm for Christ against the darkness. The entire Christian life is a battle against the forces of evil, both outside of and within our own hearts. Thus, Paul urges Timothy to "lay hold on eternal life" (6:12). He is to hold fast to Christ and the salvation given to him by the sacrifice of the Lord. This is not a once for all thing, it is a lifelong process and it is part of fighting the good fight. Timothy has professed Christ. He has made the decision to trust Christ as Lord and Saviour. Now he must continue to lay hold of Christ throughout his life, for it is those who persevere to the end who are truly saved. Paul refers here to what he calls walking in newness of life (Rom. 6:4), and what John calls walking in the light (1 Jn. 1:7). Each of these verses refers to a continuous action. Walk and continue to walk. Keep on laying hold of the eternal life you laid hold of in your profession of Christ.
Christ Himself is the ground of our faith, and the hope of His appearing, both in His word and Spirit, and in His Second Coming, is what keeps us laying hold of Him. It is also the ground of Timothy's charge, and his reason for continuously keeping it. Verses 14-16 show the glory of Christ.
Paul gives a final exhortation about the rich ((6:17-19), and ends with a heartfelt plea that Timothy will "keep that which is committed to thy trust." What has been committed to his trust? The Gospel and the ministry of reconciliation, the care of souls and churches, the shepherding of the shepherds, the responsibility to pass on the faith pure and undiluted, and to continue to fight the good fight. It is everything Paul has placed into Timothy's care in this epistle.

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