The last chapter of this epistle does not deviate from the overall theme of the book. Paul has been instructing Timothy about false teachers, apostasy, and how to deal with certain issues in the church.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the church was trouble free? As you know, this is not the case. There is coming a day when all our troubles will cease to exist. This is one of the things that will make heaven so wonderful, but we are not there yet, so problems exist.
In this chapter a few different topics are discussed. It seems that some of the people in Timothy’s church were having problems at work. The word “servant,” in verse one, literally means to be a slave. Over half of the population in Rome at this time was slaves. Many of these people were educated and cultured, but they were slaves none the less. The problem came when these slaves started rebelling against their masters. These men and women were experiencing something in Christ they had never experienced before, freedom. The Bible teaches us that once we are saved Christ sets us free.
Because of this new found freedom, these people decided that they did not have to obey their master, and therefore started to rebel against them. Timothy was to teach them that their salvation, their freedom in Christ, did not change their social responsibility. These men and women were to work as hard as, or harder than they did before they got saved. They were to work especially hard for their master if their master was a believer.
I wish I could say that once you are saved God will provide all your needs, and that you will never have to work another day in your life. If I told you that I would be lying to you. I wish I could believe these, so called, “preachers” who teach that once you are saved all your problems will just go away, but I can’t because that is not what my Bible teaches. So, I will get up and go to work tomorrow because I have bills to pay, and a family to provide for. I will pay my insurance premiums because I might get sick and have to go the doctor. I will even lock my doors when I go to bed because this world is full of people who do not know God like I do.
Paul deals with these false teachers one last time in verses 3-10. In these verses, Paul tells us that there are certain identifying marks of a false teacher. First they will deviate for the doctrines of the Bible. If a man does not preach and teach the truths found in the Bible you better keep an eye on him, or better yet stay away from them. And, by the way, just to lift one verse out of the Bible in order to prove a point is still false teaching.
You will know these men because they will be proud. They will boast about their knowledge and they will always want to argue over small matters. Because of their teaching people will be filled with envy, quarrelling and constant friction.
These men and women will have one motive behind their ministry, and that is to gain from their ministry. They teach and preach for money instead of doing their work to serve the Lord. Paul was always very clear in his letters that a minister of the word of God should be rewarded for their labor. He was also very careful to make a point that a man should not minister just to make money. Paul accepted support from churches as he traveled, but Paul also refused to take money from the church at Corinth. He did not want someone in the city to say that he preached just to make a buck. There are men today who only serve because they are being paid to do so.
In verses 6 & 7 Paul reminds the church that godliness brings contentment, not money. If we depend on material things to give us contentment then we will never be satisfied. When you gain something there will always be something more to gain. Many have counted on material things for contentment and today they are visiting psychiatrists, turning to alcohol and drugs, some are even taking their own lives because what they were counting on let them down.
A millionaire was dying while his heirs waited outside the hospital room. After some time the doctor and the lawyer finally come out of the room, and the heirs eagerly ask, “How much did he leave?” The lawyer replied, “He left everything. He didn’t take anything with him.” We come into this world empty handed and that is exactly how we will leave this world.
Verse 10 is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. So many say that money is the root of all evil, but that is not what the verse says. This verse tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Money is amoral; it is neutral being neither good nor bad. It is a matter of how we use our money and how we act toward material things.
Let me further say that to have money does not mean that you are evil, or wrong. I wish I had more. According to verse 17 – 19 a person who uses their money properly will lay up for themselves treasures in heaven. If God has blessed you financially then here is some advice from these verses:
- Be humble – To have material wealth should cause a person to be humble and thankful to God. It is possible to be rich in this world and poor in the next. Just as it is possible to be poor in this world and rich in the next.
- Trust in God – Money does not mean security. You may find yourself stripped of it all tomorrow, but if you are trusting in God you will make it through. Read the book of Job for further proof.
- Enjoying the blessings – It is not sinful to enjoy what God has blessed you with. If God has given you material blessing then enjoy them.
- Employ the blessings – Do good to others. Give to the missionary, give to the church, share with those in need. If God has blessed you then you should be a blessing to someone else.
Paul closes the epistle with three pieces of advice for Timothy.
Flee (verse 11)
Many believe that if a person runs away from a situation then they are a coward. Sometimes fleeing a situation is an indicator of wisdom, not a lack of courage. Joseph fled from his master’s wife when she tempted him with sin. David fled from Saul who tried to kill him. This word flee does not mean just to run away to be separate yourself from something.
Timothy was to separate himself from these false teachers. Not all fellowship and not all unity are good. There comes a time when the man of God must take a stand on certain things like false doctrine and separate himself from it.
Follow (verse 11)
If all a person did was flee then eventually they would isolate themselves and remove the possibility of growth. Paul tells Timothy to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness.
Fight (verse 12)
This word translated, “fight,” is the word from which we get our English word “agonize.” This word means to be a soldier or an athlete who gives his or her all to win the prize. Paul was a fighter himself and he wanted Timothy to be a fighter as well. The man of God and the people of God must be like Nehemiah who had a trowel in one hand and sword in the other. He must work to build up the church but at the same time be ready to fight for what he believes in.
God help us to take the whole counsel of God’s word to live by. Let us not be like the false teacher and select the verses that suit our likes, but all of God’s word. Let’s show this world that God has made a change in our lives by the lives we live in front of them.