Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1 Timothy 6

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Instructions for the Church (cont.) (v. 1-2)

If you are a slave, regard your master as worthy of honor so you won't reflect poorly on God or his teachings. If your master is also a believer, don't treat him with disrespect, but serve all the better since the benefits of your work go toward a brother.

Wow, so not only is this pro-slavery, it says if you are a slave you should be a good slave so as to not reflect poorly on God.

bibleexplained defends this by saying that Jesus wasn't here to change the social order. Wasn't Jesus all about changing the social order? What about all of the "the last shall be first and first shall be last"? What about rich people not being able to get into heaven? It also says that being a slave could give you access a pagan master more easily and help you convert them. This seems a pretty weak excuse to me.

David Guzik adds that slavery isn't being condoned, but just that being a good worker reflects well on God and being a poor worker reflects poorly on God. I don't know where he could possibly be getting that from the bible, it seems obvious to me that it is simply rationalization. To justify the Christian slave with a Christian master, he tries to draw parallels to workers of today who have Christian bosses, saying that Christian workers shouldn't expect special treatment just because their boss is Christian. This to me is a huge dodge, slavery is not the same as a job.

False Teachers and True Contentment (v. 3-10)

If anyone teaches doctrines that don't agree with Jesus Christ, the is conceited, understands nothing, has a craving for controversy and quarrels which produce envy, dissension, slander, and evil suspicions. He is depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, he thinks godliness is a means of gain.

Another one of these lists, and again, the point here is to demonize people who disagree with them. And yes, I do think that godliness is a means of gains, just look at the Vatican.

David Guzik "He warned Timothy against those who seemed to treat the Word of God more as a plaything instead of as a precious gift." He's basically talking about doing what I'm doing right? I'm reading the bible and actually analyzing it, not starting by assuming it is perfect. I can understand why it would want to defend against this type of thing, the bible is full of problems.

As to "godliness is a means of gain" Guzik says "This is another characteristic of those who misuse God’s truth." I stand by my Vatican comment.

We only need food and clothing to be content, seeking more can plunge people into ruin and destruction, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, many have fallen away from the faith because of it.

There is a point to be made here, greed is bad and produces bad consequences when taken to extreme. But the acquisition of wealth can produce good things too. The desire to get rich could cause someone to find a more efficient way to do something, producing benefit for everyone while getting that person rich. On the other hand manipulating the system to get yourself rich while taking wealth from others is clearly bad for society. It's just not adequate to say seeking wealth is bad. 

Fight the Good Fight of Faith (v. 11-21)

Paul tells Timothy to flee the bad things previously mentioned and focus on good things "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness".

Another list, and as usual faith is shoved in there along with other things that are actually good qualities.

hmm, v 16 says Jesus is the only one who has immortality, I thought everyone could be granted eternal life. Confusing.

[edit--I don't usually add much later, but this stuck in my brain this morning and I came back to look at it more] This commentary says that Jesus is the only one able to give immortality. He is the source, we can also get immortality as long as it is from Jesus. The point seems to be that immortality cannot be reached by other means. I suppose this makes sense well enough, especially since this explanation seems to fit well within everything else I'm reading, and my naive reading seems to go contrary to it.

Approach the rich and tell them not to be arrogant and set their hopes on uncertain riches, but instead to focus on God. Be rich in works and share your wealth, so you will have riches in heaven.

It's funny that it calls impossible to verify riches that we have never seen before in heaven as certain, and early riches that we can see uncertain.

Avoid irreverent babble and contradictions and what is falsely called knowledge, professing it can swerve from the faith.

I agree, knowledge can swerve people from the faith. For people who claim that science and the bible can coexist, it sure seems hostile to knowledge.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


6:9 Greed can be dangerous (oversimplification, but good rule of thumb)

"But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction."

6:11 love steadfastness and gentleness are virtues

"But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness"

6:18 The rich (and presumably everyone else) should be generous

"They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share"


6:1 Slaves should work hard to reflect well on God

"Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled

6:3-4 Demonizing other religions

"If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions"

6:11 Faith is a virtue

"But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness"

6:20 Anti-intellectual

"O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called "knowledge,"


  1. Well done Haus. Sorry I haven't commented much recently, I have been away. I mentioned to you before that I find Timothy to be particularly vile. I am curious to know if your more careful reading of it has vindicated my position.

    Today's post certainly does with the whole slavery thing, anti-religious freedom stuff, and anti-intellectualism.

    1. Certainly don't worry about not commenting, I get busy miss posts too, and it's virtually impossible to catch up, I usually just mark all as read and start fresh :)

      Timothy does seem to be pretty bad, but I'm not sure how much worse it really is than the rest of the bible. Sure, it has slavery, but so did colossians for example. I guess perhaps it is more concentrated in this book.

      It's funny that you mention this, I've been thinking a lot lately about the idea we hear somewhat often, that the bible might not be truly from God, but there is a bunch of good stuff in it. I can only assume that this idea originates from people who haven't read the bible, because there is a ton of bad shit in there, and the good stuff is usually packaged with bad stuff or requires some qualifications or fine tuning that don't exist in the text itself.

  2. Slavery thing. Just awful. I've never heard a convincing argument in favor of the verses. The way you describe it, he seems to be saying two different things. I've also heard these arguments a lot. First the guy says, "Well, he wasn't here to change social order." So, probably the most basic human right of a human being not to have to be owned by another human being, is not addressed by God? What's up with that? Especially if he's not coming back for over 2000+ years. That's not love! But then he argues, "well, Paul just means that you should work hard." Couldn't this have been addressed in another way? "Be sure to work hard" or "Do not lack in your labor or toils"? Why the slavery? That's a pretty explicit word and idea.

    The next section also feels like a "don't listen to people who disagree with us (the church denomination you are following)." Very divisive and controlling. I think any denomination could use this verse to justify telling their followers that they are right and shouldn't listen to those with similar but different beliefs.

    1. I feel like whenever I try to say things like "if that was the message why wouldn't God have just said X instead" they always just come back with "do you think you're smarter than God?" It's yet another defense mechanism built into the religion to shut down conversation, but this seems to be a common one I've come across. I guess as always, the hope is that the message got into their brain a bit and will come back to them later or something (that's basically what happened to me).

  3. I forgot to add something. I noticed I have a note from another bible verse regarding money. Ecclesiastes 10:19. "Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything." For some reason, that old Wu-Tang Clan song C.R.E.A.M. pops in my head whenever I read that verse. God I feel old. >_<

    1. Wu-Tang is awesome :)

      That verse is great, "money answers everything". Also, look at the next verse, it says not to curse the rich, even in your thoughts. Big book of multiple choice indeed.


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