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Summary: Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost September 30, 2001 1Timothy 6: 6-19 Title: “Baptismal promises never lapse or expire.” Year C

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost September 30, 2001 1Timothy 6: 6-19

Title: “Baptismal promises never lapse or expire.”

Chapter six, begins with exhortations to Christian slaves, regarding how to treat their masters verses one and two. It then treats of the Christian attitude toward money in verses three to ten, summing up in verse ten, by saying, “The love of money is the root of all evils.” There is a change of focus in verses eleven to sixteen. The author addresses Timothy directly and charges him to express the virtuous counterparts of the vices condemned in verse four and five, then the author returns to the topic of money, true wealth and its use in verses seventeen to nineteen, only to return to direct address to Timothy in verse twenty, the last verse of this letter.

In verse eleven, but you, man of God: Although the phrase “man of God” occurs only twice in the New Testament, here and at 2Timothy 3: 17, it is used rather frequently in the LXX of Moses, Samuel, David, Elijah, Elisha and lesser known leaders. The term applies to one who is a spiritual leader and an example for others to follow.

Avoid all this: This refers to the errors and sins mentioned in the previous verses, that is verse three to ten. The Greek has “flee,” a bit stronger than “avoid.” It is in counterbalance with “pursue,” its opposite. The author would be imitating Paul who was fond of “put off” and “put on” exhortations, as we find in Ephesians and Colossians.

Righteousness: In the New Testament “righteousness” is both a quality God, in, through and because of Christ, bestows upon a person and the conduct of that person, conduct that is the result of being declared righteousness, not the cause of it.

Devotion: This translates the Greek eusebeia, an important word in the Pastoral Epistles. The rest of the New Testament, except for 2 Peter does not use this word to refer to Christian faith and life. In fact, in this list of six virtues the only one not found in Paul’s lists, none of which are identical, is eusebeia. Moreover, in 2Timothy 2:22 the term is omitted where one would expect to find it sandwiched between “righteousness” and “faith, love” as it is here. Paul would speak of faith and love, but not “piety,” or, as translated here, “devotion”. This was a term used by pagans to signify the respectable life of a good citizen and “god-fearer,” a manner or way of life. Christians were exhorted to be such good citizens that they would be both acceptable to and attractive to their pagan neighbors and townsfolk. Piety is always in danger of being merely external, as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day had shown. Thus, this “virtue” must be surrounded by others if it is to be authentic.

Faith: As terms were used over time they would acquire additional meanings and nuances as a result of both reflection and practical experience. Faith for Paul would mean “trust” in God and Christ. Yet, even he would use the term “faith” for “faithfulness,” as in Romans 3:3 and perhaps in 2 Thessalonians 1:4 and Galatians 5:22. As with the term “righteousness” above it is best to understand it in its fullest sense of both trust in God and fidelity to him.


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