Online Bible Commentary
A Sacred Trust
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, 19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge-- 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen. (NKJV)
This passage represents Paul’s closing instructions to Timothy in this letter. The final word in this passage, “you”, is plural and denoted that this letter was to be read by more people than just Timothy.
It was to be read to the church at Ephesus, where Timothy was helping, and, as the other Pauline letters, was likely to be distributed to other first century churches. So the commands from God in this passage apply to all Christians.
The subject of the letter was to fight false teaching in the church. Previously, Paul revealed that the motive for false teachers was to become rich, which he condemned.
Now, Paul addresses those in the church who are already rich. He does not condemn worldly wealth, but he does put it in its proper perspective.
Paul begins this passage by writing “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty” (v. 17a). God commands the wealthy not to be “haughty”, arrogant.
God is the provider of all things. Those who are given worldly riches have no reason to be arrogant. They are not rich through their own efforts, but through the providence of God.
Paul continues “nor to trust in uncertain riches” (v. 17b). The world defines security as having wealth.
But God says otherwise. He warns that wealth is “uncertain” You can lose wealth just as quickly as it was conferred upon you.
Paul writes “in the living God,” (v. 17c). Our only security is to put our trust in God, who is alive and working in our lives.
Paul continues by writing “who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (v. 17d). God richly provides everything we need, and everything He provides is for our enjoyment. Paul is referring here to those false teachers of Gnosticism who claim that we are to deny ourselves worldly pleasures.
Next, Paul writes “Let them do good” (v. 18a). Here, we are commanded to do good with our wealth, not bad.
God provides wealth for a reason. Where God gives much, he expects much.
Paul continues “that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (v. 18b). The reason God has given us wealth is to share with others.
Paul writes “storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (v. 19). When we share our wealth, we are laying up treasure in Heaven.
Since it is the Lord’s primary desire that all should have eternal life, no charity is as important as that of the church and Christian ministry. Our donations to the work of the Lord are the best way that we can lay up treasures in Heaven.
Paul does not expand on what he means by “rich” in this passage. We think of rich as only the super-rich, the Donald Trump types.
The Greek word translated “rich” in this passage means “abundance”. This would probably equate to the middle class and above in America.
In terms of the world, those of us who own homes are considered rich. This passage applies to anyone who has an abundance. God’s measure of what should be given to His work is a tithe, a tenth of our income.
Next, Paul writes "O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust” (v. 20a). Paul turns from spreading the word of God to protecting the integrity of the word of God.
We are to guard what has been entrusted to our care. The literal Greek translation for this passage is “O Timothy, the Deposit guard.”
The “Deposit” was a sacred trust. It was a legal term connoting something which is placed on trust in another man’s keeping to guard.
So, this was more than just asking Timothy to do the work of fighting false teaching while Paul could not be there. This means to guard the sacred truth of the Gospel.
This is the charge for all Christians. We should always guard the truth of the Gospel, which means also pointing out false teaching where we find it.
Paul continues by writing “avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions” (v. 20b). We should avoid false teaching, godless chatter.
The Greek word translated “avoiding” is also translated “run away”. The source of false teaching is Satan, and we should always run from the things of Satan.
Paul writes “of what is falsely called knowledge—” (v. 20c). This false teaching is falsely called knowledge.
Those who teach it will try to convince us that they know better than the traditional teachers. They will claim to be enlightened.
Paul concludes this passage, and this letter, by writing “by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen” (v. 21). In reality, false teachers have not enlightened us but, instead, have strayed from the faith.
The truth of the Gospel is sacred. It is a sacred trust. We have been entrusted to spread the Truth and to protect the Truth.
We can do this through our own efforts or through financially supporting others to do the work for us. There comes a time in the life of every Christian when they need to stop only feeding themselves, and feed others.
We can do this through financially supporting our church, and other Christian ministries. May God bless us on our journey to spiritual maturity.