1 Timothy Chapter 6: Proper Christian Conduct

Jan 9th, 2010 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Timothy, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Timothy Chapter 6: Proper Christian Conduct

1 Tim. 6:1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.

1 Tim. 6:2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

What is the difference between verses 1 and 2? Verse 1 pertained to Christian servants who had unbelieving masters, and verse 2 applied to Christian servants who were underneath believing masters. In both cases, the masters were to be counted worthy of all honor, and if the master was a believer, a double importance was attached to Paul’s advice. Incidentally, unless freed, these servants, including their children, were bound for life to their master.

If the brotherhood were left to their own feelings and judgment on the subject, the normal thinking, or expectation, would be that the master should free the servant. However, Paul’s wholesome counsel was to the contrary. The Christian was not to seek to be free except under legitimate circumstances. In other words, he was not to feel that being a servant was a form of slavery and injustice. To show disrespect would dishonor the cause of Christianity, for the unbelieving master would blame the religion. Today, generally speaking, Christians feel that the social gospel is of greater importance, and the gospel of explicit instructions is of lesser importance. “Just do what you think is best” is the attitude.

“Let … servants … count their own masters worthy of all honour.” To follow this principle means to abide by the circumstances of the age in which one is living. In Romans 13:7, Paul said, “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” Even though some individuals are not worthy of their title, the Christian is to give deference to the office, being respectful and submissive—except in matters of conscience.

The circumstance of verse 2, where both servant and master are consecrated, is more difficult. On the one hand, a servant should not try to embarrass or shame his Christian master into granting him freedom, using reasoning such as, “If you are a real Christian, you should not hold me in bondage but should give me liberty.” On the other hand, the laws of the land can be used to the advantage of the servant, where possible.

Servants were not to despise their believing masters “because they [the masters] are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit.” Thus another reason for a consecrated master and a consecrated servant to be especially careful is that they were both called of God.

Paul told Timothy, “These things teach [even if they are hard instructions] and exhort [use a little authority].” Paul knew that Timothy would be regarded as too severe, as not loving, but these instructions were the mind of the Lord.

Slavery does not exist in our country today, but where it occurs in other nations, Paul’s advice still applies. For us, his advice can be adapted to the employer-employee relationship. At any rate, the Christian should not get distracted by a social gospel, the promotion of civil rights, etc. To join such causes and dwell on such themes would be disruptive, contentious, and divisive.

To the contrary, wholesome words encourage the pursuit of the gospel and obedience to the words and instructions of Jesus and the apostles. Human reasoning and emotionalism are not to be put in the forefront. One should first go to the Word to see if what one is advocating is according “to the law and to the testimony” (Isa. 8:20). If not, there is no light in that individual, even if he is recognized as being a light-bearer by others.

The Christian employee has to be careful not to bring blame on the truth. For example, to habitually take extra coffee breaks or long lunches to witness to the truth would be using company time and defrauding the employer by interrupting the general flow of business.

1 Tim. 6:3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;

1 Tim. 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,

Those who teach otherwise are “proud, knowing nothing,” even though they appear noble, magnanimous, and humble. They may even have an encyclopedic mind on certain subjects, but the subjects they dwell on should be wholesome. For example, endless genealogies are to be avoided. The word “endless” implies that the topic is a habit of thought, not just a one-time discussion. As an illustration, chronology, whether true or misunderstood, is not a wholesome theme when discussed day after day after day.

On one occasion, which was an exception to the general rule, Paul wrote a special letter to Philemon, a Christian master, requesting him to free a Christian slave, but that circumstance was not incongruous to his advice here because the servant was rendering a higher form of service to Paul. Since the slave had been invaluable to Paul, he asked Philemon to grant the liberty of a leave of absence so that the service could continue. Other servants used the same reasoning, “If I am free, I will be able to serve better,” but they were talkers, not actual doers.

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus made several statements in harmony with the principle of verses 1 and 2. What are some of them?

Comment: “For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always” (Matt. 26:11). In the present age, these inequalities exist.

Comment: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).

There is another way of reasoning too, for Jesus’ statements, made prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, were not as explicit as Paul’s on certain subjects. In every situation, the Christian is to look to Jesus first. The very fact that Jesus was silent—that he did not say, “Servants, break your yokes”—indicates Christians have to tread softly and carefully in this area. Some right in Caesar’s household and Herod’s court became believers. The lesson is that the Christian can serve the Lord where he is—in the situation in which he is called (1 Cor. 7:20).

When Jesus called his apostles, he was training teachers. Except for specific individuals, he did not ask his disciples to leave their businesses and walk all around with him, for some of them had obligations, including marital responsibilities. It is true that he said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me,” but his purpose was to show the principle that we should not let external relationships jeopardize our relationship of following him (Matt. 10:37,38). Jesus demonstrated these truths in some literal cases in order to underscore the principle involved; namely, we are to respect father, mother, etc., but we are to love him more. Little by little, we are to imbibe the principles that Jesus enunciated in his earthly ministry. His life, ministry, and words inculcated wholesome principles that we are to emulate.

“If any man teach otherwise, … he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings.” There could be a discussion on this subject, but the answer is simple and firm. After Paul died, it was logical for other Christians to question Timothy on what the apostle taught. Timothy would have replied, “I would be glad to answer your question, for Paul explicitly wrote and told me the advice I will now give you.” Accordingly, Paul wrote in advance, “Teach and exhort these things” (verse 2). With this letter of authority from Paul, Timothy could speak with strength on the various subjects.

With regard to doctrinal strife, we have to do a lot of soul searching to make sure that the motive is truly to contend for the faith and not to show preeminence in debate above another person or to manifest a loving, magnanimous attitude so that others will like us. A subtle vainglory can enter our teaching, personal words, and conduct if we are not careful. Of course it is proper to dispute on wholesome topics, on matters of fundamental value and worth, but all should be done to the glory of God. Even though a question can be important along certain lines, it is sometimes wiser to refrain from debate unless the issue is fundamental.

Comment: Also, Paul wrote in his second epistle, “Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers…. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes” (2 Tim. 2:14,23).

1 Tim. 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

Continuing the thoughts of verses 3 and 4 about disputings, Paul used strong language, calling them “perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness.” He likened the disputings to having a carnal (instead of a spiritual) attitude. In verses 4 and 5, Paul put the nouns in the plural—questions, strifes of words, railings, evil surmisings, and perverse disputings—showing that he was talking about other matters that were damaging to the truth, in addition to the servant-master relationship. Not only were exponents of such teachings carnal-minded and “destitute of the truth,” but they imagined that their desire for “gain” in winning an argument was godliness. If one’s main goal was to contend for and win the argument, he might think he had gained godliness, whereas the opposite was true. Generally speaking, piety is calm, peaceable, and easy to be entreated, not raucous or disputatious. The time to dispute is the exception, not the general rule.

Notice how Paul concluded verse 5: “From such withdraw thyself.” He was saying to avoid close fellowship with such individuals. If Timothy withdrew himself, certainly those whom he advised were to do likewise if they wanted to obey the wholesome words and counsel of the Master through the Apostle Paul. The lesson for us is that there is a time when we should set an example by our behavior. By condoning and empathizing with a wrong situation, we become culpable to a certain extent.

Just winning an argument in itself is not necessarily gain. Sometimes every dispute is viewed as a part of defending the truth, but much depends on what is being discussed. The importance of the subject matter has to be weighed. With important, fundamental doctrines, we should contend for the faith, and certainly we can help to clarify an issue in connection with Christian service, but we should not argue for the sake of an argument. Contending for the faith is not trying to impose our line of thinking on others. Instead we should try to answer questions that are posed. We should not attempt to make everyone toe the line as we see it, in essence making a credo of faith above what is taught in Scripture and establishing a list of criteria, doctrinal and otherwise, for being a proper Christian. We can be strong on a lot of points, but we should not judge another Christian on whether or not he accepts those points. For example, subjects such as the smiting of the image, the reign, and the binding of Satan are all important, but they should not be the basis of our fellowship in Christ and our relationship as new creatures. Rather, they are developments of understanding of the Lord’s Word. All truths are important and do have a bearing on our lives, so we have to consider each case as it comes to us. Certainly we can have reasonings as to why we believe a particular doctrine or teaching, for a Christian is to be armed with understanding and be able to give a reason for his faith and beliefs, as well as the details of that faith.

Q: How would one withdraw himself from those who are argumentative or from those who are disputatious and quarrelsome by nature?

A: Such an atmosphere is not conducive to spirituality and godliness. Therefore, when someone manifests a disputatious spirit or disposition, it may be better to seek fellowship elsewhere than to remain in an atmosphere of continual suspicion, rivalry, and evil surmisings. If a physical separation is embarrassing or difficult, we could at least frown or shake our head in dissent. Just as we may nod our head or indicate approval with our face in certain situations, so we can indicate disapproval and thus not be counted in with the general thinking of something that is not conducive to godliness or wholesome words.

Q: Should we still shake the party’s hand and be congenial?

A: We should show reserve as a form of rebuke, and others should be able to see this reserve. Back there the reserve was more meaningful in that there was more of a backing with several brethren believing the same way. As we get nearer and nearer the end of the age, those in the Lord’s family who are of the Little Flock will become less and less numerous, for the Little Flock in the flesh is decreasing. Thus, as time goes on, it will become more difficult to inflict a meaningful rebuke from the practical standpoint of its having a visual benefit that can be seen by others, yet we still have to obey that counsel because of the principle which is involved. Paul simply said, “From such withdraw thyself,” so we should manifest a reserve toward such.

Teachers, who are influential in these matters, incur the greater responsibility because they are the exponents of these disputings. Those who are in their fellowship through marriage or other circumstances and thus are hearing the disputings may not be quite as responsible, but they should withdraw as best they can in their situation. To duel back and forth with the Word of God is a wrong spirit.

1 Tim. 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

Of course verse 6 is profitable when isolated and considered separately, but the context in which the statement was made is interesting, namely, the withdrawal from a situation that is perverse and not conducive to spirituality. There are times when we have to show disapproval, and to do so correctly—that is, to know what God likes and what He frowns on—we have to be familiar with His Word. To be able to discern between good and evil is a mark of maturity (Heb. 5:14). The bottom line of success is to make our calling and election sure. Few find the narrow way, and even fewer end up as part of the Bride class.

Verse 6 applies to the servant-master relationship, as well as to other situations, for one is to be content in his circumstance as long as it does not violate conscience. Stated another way, one who is engaged in menial or lowly service should be content with his circumstance because he can serve the Lord equally well whether he is a servant or a master. To realize this contentment keeps one from a fretful spirit in an employment situation or other circumstance of life. “Great gain” is being relieved of anxieties along these lines, for the cares of this life can be a snare.

Q: Instead of “contentment,” the Diaglott has “competency”—“But piety with a competency is great gain.” What is the signification of that translation?

A: “Maturity” is indicated. “Godliness with maturity is great gain.” Such individuals are competent and skilled. Not only can they give a reason for their faith, but they know the Lord’s thinking on these matters. A Christian should pursue the quest for Godlikeness. The more intense the hunger and the desire of one’s heart in this direction, the more competent he becomes. In contrast, those who are carnal-minded win the argument but lose the crown.

If given a wrong twist, the reasoning of verse 6 can be counterproductive. For instance, some will say, “Jesus is mine, and I am quite satisfied.” They are satisfied with what they have already attained and do not want to progress in understanding. That type of contentment is not “great gain.” We should not reach a point where we feel very comfortable with our sphere of development, for we are pilgrims and strangers journeying toward the goal of the heavenly Promised Land.

Thus there are two extremes: (1) being disputatious and argumentative and (2) having a false love that permits no serious disputing and study on deep subjects. Those who go to the latter extreme tend to ignore subjects like prophecy and chronology because they regard them as conjectural and disruptive, saying that everyone has his own view.

1 Tim. 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

Certainly verse 7 is tied in to some extent with verse 6. Godliness with contentment being great gain can be considered in a twofold manner. The preceding verses emphasize wholesome doctrine, but there is also a relationship to practical living. As already shown, the winning of arguments is not to be considered great gain, but we can apply this principle to other areas as well—to the winning, or accumulation, of money, wealth, goods, fame, property, popularity, knowledge, and power. To gain such things in the present evil world, one must compromise, so we should not join the crowd, get too involved in business, pursue unnecessary education, etc. Our main goal is Christ, the hope of our calling.

The teaching that if one is a good Christian, he will prosper is wrong. The Apostle James reproved the practice of always giving the best seat to a rich person who came into the ecclesia.

In fact, if a poorer person was already sitting in that seat, he was asked to move to the back of the room. Thus not only was honor shown to the wealthy, but they were being given more and more honor. This wrong practice, which occurred even in apostolic days, has occurred throughout the history of the Church. A natural inclination, which must be fought, is to regard with more respect one who comes into the truth having a position of honor, academic degrees, and/or a title. In God’s sight, a person without worldly honors may be far more noble. From another standpoint, if we understand the matter correctly, Paul could see that a Nicolaitan spirit would develop more and more after his decease (Rev. 2:6,15). Teachers who were hard-liners in certain areas were being rewarded with great numbers of fellowship and increasing honor, distinction, and recognition, so that not too long afterwards the doctrine of Papacy developed. The seeds of Papacy started when prominent elders in cities such as Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem received honor in proportion as they championed certain wrong doctrines. Probably many of those doctrines were seemingly correct. For example, the elders could champion the doctrine of freedom for slaves. Many brethren wanted to work for and support those elders because the doctrines would benefit them personally. The suggestion is that such elders were getting followers and money. For that reason, Paul said, “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you” (1 Cor. 4:8).

1 Tim. 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

The thought of godliness with contentment is brought up again in verse 8. Having food and clothing, we are to be content as regards the natural man, but we should not be content with our spiritual development. To win the spiritual race requires time, effort, thought, and energy.

Christians should not aspire to positions of leadership and affluence in the world or in a worldly church, a church that has a carnal attitude. We are to be content with our daily bread and the necessities of life and not aspire for further gain, influence, power, and wealth. Those who have earthly mortgages (dependents) and responsibilities are to provide things decent, needful, and honest in the sight of men (2 Cor. 8:21).

1 Tim. 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

1 Tim. 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

1 Tim. 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.

Christians should acquire the fruits of the Holy Spirit, not worldly gain. The acquisition of a Christlike character, and not a position in the affairs of either the world or the Church, should be sought. It is permissible for a brother to aspire to the office of a bishop or elder, but he should realize that the office incurs great responsibility. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19). If a more important commandment is broken and taught to others, the individual will not even get into the Kingdom of heaven. The Lord is watching to see how carefully we consider doctrine and how much studying we do. Being imperfect, all elders will make mistakes, but the Lord appreciates those who prayerfully, carefully, and earnestly try to understand His Word and then try to speak from that standpoint. Those who are careless in speaking from the platform about what the Scriptures teach and its principles and manufacture ideas and theories not originating in the Word will pay a penalty. If breaking and teaching the least of God’s commandments brings one down to the bottom of the ladder in the Little Flock, then breaking and teaching anything more important will eliminate one from the Little Flock.

Paul was saying that those who championed the practice of disputings, railings, doting about certain questions, etc., might be rapidly advanced to a condition of honor in the Church, for they would be considered stalwarts of the truth. However, the question should be asked, What truth are they stalwarts of? It takes a lifetime to know how to rightly divide some truths lest we be misguided.

“But they that will be rich fall into … many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil.” The desire to be rich and influential is not just a matter of not making one’s calling and election sure, for it may result in Second Death. Paul said plainly that those who are immersed in the pursuit of wealth and influence will drown in “destruction and perdition.” In other words, they will not even be part of the Great Company class.

We can empathize with the fact that a lot of pressure is brought to bear on those in the truth who are wealthy. Some brethren have considerable means, and we should esteem those who are faithful in trying to concentrate their thinking and energies on helping to forward the truth.

Since it is hard for people of means to gain the Kingdom, we should appreciate such individuals who spend time, effort, energy, and money in connection with the truth. All of the consecrated have to make decisions in life, but usually those who have a lot of money become more absorbed in business and income. Knowing the many temptations that they encounter through the uniqueness of their position, we should appreciate their efforts and not judge them too harshly as long as we see them going in the right direction. Of the consecrated who are wealthy, more will end up in Second Death, proportionately speaking. Therefore, we should be sympathetic if we see that they are trying to do the right thing.

Comment: The Pastor added the comment that those who desire to be rich will lose life— whether or not they succeed. The heart attitude is what matters.

Reply: Yes, the Diaglott indicates that it is the hunger for riches rather than the attainment. The love of money, and not necessarily its acquisition, is the root of much evil. Such individuals are seduced from the truth so that they go into destruction and perdition. “Which while some coveted after, they have erred [been seduced—KJV margin] from the faith.” One can be poor yet fall into this snare by aspiring to be rich.

How could some be seduced from the truth? They might think, “If I make more money, I will be able to do more for the truth.” However, that is not what happens. In getting immersed in worldly ideas and the acquisition of riches, the person wants more and more and more—until he dies in his worldly pursuits.

Those who are retrieved from the pursuit of riches have “pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” The pathway back from such a condition is thorny and difficult. For example, a family that is accustomed to high living may resist. To buck the stream may also involve employees. Taking a radical stand usually causes others to suffer as well. Thus it is very hard to go against the current, but Paul’s advice is, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” These qualities are far more valuable, for striving for wealth and influence can lead to death and oblivion, whereas all kinds of meaningful prizes and blessings await the faithful Christian. The blessings, which lay up treasures in heaven, include “righteousness, godliness [Godlikeness], faith, love, patience, [and] meekness.” Being with Jesus is the true riches.

Paul said to withdraw ourselves from a group atmosphere of contentions and disputings. In addition, we are to flee from the love of money because the gain of material things is such a seductive type of attraction. Even the person who is very consecrated initially can be seduced.

1 Tim. 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

1 Tim. 6:13 I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;

While this epistle is of benefit to all Christians, when it was originally written toward the end of the Apostle Paul’s life, it was directed to Timothy for his instruction. With the words “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life,” Paul was saying that the promises of the future are far more important than gain down here. He also pointed out that Timothy was to profess “a good profession before many witnesses” and compared it to Jesus’ “good confession” before Pontius Pilate.

Why did Paul call attention to Timothy’s profession before many witnesses? What bearing does that profession have on fighting the good fight of faith? Many Christians are influenced by “leaders” in the faith—that is, by those they recognize as being especially led of the Lord— and they look to those leaders for instruction and help. If the leaders should falter, it would have some bearing on brethren underneath their influence. For several years, Timothy had been an example to many, not only when he was with Paul but also when Paul left him behind to help various ecclesias in their walk and with instruction. Therefore, it was appropriate for Paul to admonish Timothy to continue the good fight and to keep up the good work, for many were aware of his words and deeds. Not only did Timothy have a responsibility with regard to his own personal walk, but he influenced the walk of others by his behavior. Thus Paul was saying, “On behalf of yourself and on behalf of others, keep up the good fight of faith.”

Why did Paul now strictly charge, or commission, Timothy (1) “in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things,” and (2) “before Christ Jesus”? On behalf of the Father, the Son, and Paul himself, who was a representative of both, Timothy was solemnly charged with the responsibility to fight the good fight of faith and be an example of the believer to the believer.

Paul thus faithfully discharged his responsibility. Of course when he and Timothy were together, Paul, as an apostle, had more responsibility and took a more aggressive or leading role, but now, with his departure only a few years off, he was encouraging Timothy as well as charging him with this responsibility.

Q: Does the statement “God … quickeneth all things” mean that He is the One who makes the decision as to whether or not a person gets life?

A: Yes. God occupies the unique position of being both the Creator and the Separator of those who do not get life.

Why did Paul call attention to the fact that he commissioned Timothy in the sight of God and Jesus Christ and then allude to Jesus’ witnessing a good confession before Pilate? What does Jesus’ confrontation with Pilate have to do with fighting the good fight of faith?

When before Pilate, Jesus spoke relatively little. He was quiet in connection with the charges that were laid against him and did not try to defend himself. In his confession before Pilate, we usually think of his simple reply, “Thou sayest [Yes],” to the question “Are you the King of the Jews?” However, before we try to analyze verse 13, we will review Jesus’ conversation before Pilate, noting what Jesus did and did not say.

From the Gospel of Matthew:

“And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.

“And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.

“Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?

“And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.

“Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.

“And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.

“Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

“For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

“When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

“But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.

“The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.

“Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

“And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

“Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.

“Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” (Matt. 27:11-26)

Jesus admitted that he was the King of the Jews but nothing else, even though Pilate asked questions and made observations. Pilate brought up the annual custom of a prisoner release, and although the people wanted Barabbas, Pilate repeatedly tried to persuade them to ask for Jesus, for he saw that they were predisposed to request Barabbas. Pilate wanted to get Jesus freed from at least the extreme penalty of crucifixion, but the people were persistent.

Meanwhile, Pilate observed that with all the accusations, Jesus was silent as far as defending himself against the false charges. His silence was in fulfillment of prophecy: “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7).

From the Gospel of Mark:

“And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.

“And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.

“And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.

“And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.

“But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.

“Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.

“And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.

“And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.

“But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.

“But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.

“And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?

“And they cried out again, Crucify him.

“Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.

“And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” (Mark 15:1-15)

The Mark account shows that Pilate even tried to prod Jesus to respond to the false charges, asking, “Answerest thou nothing?” but Jesus was silent. Barabbas was one of a group of insurrectionists, perhaps the ringleader. The rest of the account is similar to Matthew. About three times Pilate tried to get Jesus released. Jesus witnessed very little audibly.

From the Gospel of Luke:

“And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate.

“And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.

“And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it.

“Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.

“And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.

“When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean.

“And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.

“And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.

“Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing.

“And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him.

“And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.

“And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.

“And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,

“Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:

“No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.

“I will therefore chastise him, and release him.

“(For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:

“(Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)

“Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.

“But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

“And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.

“And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

“And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

“And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.” (Luke 23:1-25)

As recorded in Luke, Jesus said no more than he did in Matthew and Mark, admitting only that he was the King of the Jews. However, a little more information is provided about Pilate. Not only did Pilate send Jesus to Herod, but the chief priests and their guards went along with Jesus, as shown by Pilate’s statement “I sent you to him.” Pilate really put forth an effort to free Jesus from their intent to put him to death, but the chief priests vociferously replied in effect, “No! He is guilty and should die.” Luke states that Barabbas was a seditionist, meaning he was trying to overthrow the Roman yoke—the very charge Jesus was falsely accused of.

Jesus was charged with being a troublemaker and jeopardizing the Roman authority. What hypocrisy for the chief priests to lay such a false charge against Jesus when Barabbas, who was released, was notorious for his insurrectionist activities! Luke adds the fact that Barabbas was a murderer.

From the Gospel of John:

“Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

“Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?

“They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.

“Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:

“That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

“Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

“Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?

“Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?

“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

“Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

“Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

“But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

“Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.

“And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,

“And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.

“Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.

“Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!

“When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.

“The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.

“When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;

“And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.

“Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?

“Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

“And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.

“When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.

“And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

“But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

“Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.” (John 18:28–19:16)

The Gospel of John provides a lot more detail, showing even more emphatically that Pilate made a strenuous effort to release Jesus. Also, more of his conversation with Jesus is revealed.

When Pilate asked, “Art thou a king then?” Jesus replied, “Thou sayest that I am a king.” In other words, Jesus did not merely say, “Yes, I am,” but made a very strong statement, saying “yes” three times: “[1] Thou sayest [2] that I am [3] a king.” John’s Gospel brings out Jesus’ boldness and unwavering statement, which was more than just an admission, as might be assumed from the accounts in the other Gospels. Jesus answered simply but emphatically.

Jesus had two experiences with Pilate. In the first experience, Pilate asked Jesus, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” and Jesus answered, “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” Jesus was saying, “Are you personally asking me, or are you just repeating the charges laid against me that I am falsely claiming to be the King of the Jews? What is your motivation? Is your question personal, or are you asking in a perfunctory manner to try to extract a statement from me with regard to the charges?” By responding with the words “Am I a Jew?” Pilate probably had the desire to satisfy his own curiosity with regard to what he had heard about Jesus, but he evaded Jesus’ question, not wanting to get involved in the details of Jewish arguments on religion. Jesus was pressing home Pilate’s responsibility as an individual so that in the final analysis, when the historical facts surrounding the Crucifixion are brought to light in the Kingdom Age, he will have no excuse. It is true that Pilate was pressured by the chief priests, but in connection with this question, Jesus gave him opportunity to entirely refuse permission for the Crucifixion.

In addition to saying, “Am I a Jew?” Pilate added, “Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?” He answered a question with a question—how shrewd! He did not want to answer Jesus’ question, and seeing he was on the defensive, he tried to change the defensive to the offensive and thus take the leading role. Pilate said in effect, “Your own nation and the chief priests have brought a charge against you. What have you done? Why are you here?” He gave Jesus an opportunity to explain the situation privately.

Jesus replied in effect that his Kingdom was spiritual, not earthly. “My Kingdom is not of this world [arrangement, Greek kosmos]. I have followers and could have instructed them to fight, but I did not because my Kingdom is spiritual. If I had wanted earthly power, I would not have been delivered to you.” Thus Jesus answered the charge by saying he had no desire to be an insurrectionist and overthrow the government. And like himself, his followers believed in a spiritual Kingdom. He then added, “Now is my kingdom not from hence.” In other words, while Jesus’ Kingdom is spiritual, it will eventually be an earthly Kingdom in the sense of exercising prerogatives of authority down here—but not at the time of his First Advent.

Not understanding about this type of Kingdom, Pilate asked Jesus a second time, “Art thou a King then?” Jesus answered, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born [that is, to be a King], and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” In this private discussion with Pilate, Jesus was saying that he had no desire to interfere with Roman authority and that the charges against him were false. Thus Jesus was giving Pilate a personal opportunity to believe and to resist the Jewish religious leaders. He expressed the same principle with Judas, “That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27). In other words, “Whatever you are going to do, make that decision now.”

It is more favorable for a person to make a decision right away when he is emotionally moved to see a matter in its proper light, whereas to delay just diffuses the clarity and sharp distinction of the principle. Jesus was giving Pilate the opportunity to see the matter clearly, and there was a momentary effect, for Pilate asked, “What is truth?” but then he broke off the conversation, for it was getting a little too personal for him. The conversation was somewhat over his head, but he sensed that Jesus really was innocent. Jesus’ sincerity and definiteness of purpose (“for this cause came I into the world”) did not conflict with Pilate’s role as governor of Judea.

However, he was afraid to get too involved in this spiritual matter for fear he would be moved to make a decision that could jeopardize his political role. Recognizing that a decision would cost him something, Pilate ended the discussion.

Nevertheless, being even more convinced of Jesus’ innocence after their personal discussion, Pilate went out to the Jews again and said, “I find in him no fault at all.” Then he said, “But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” Notice that Pilate did not give the Jews a choice of who to release, for Barabbas was not even mentioned. However, the rabble chanted in unison, “Not this man, but Barabbas.” They were determined to have Barabbas released and Jesus crucified.

Pilate had Jesus scourged and then returned to present him before the multitude, saying, “Behold the man!” Even after the terrible scourging and having a crown of thorns thrust on his head, Jesus had such great nobility of bearing and serenity of appearance that Pilate was moved to utter that expression. In fact, he marveled that despite the hatred, enmity, and jealousy of his enemies, Jesus kept his composure and had complete control of his emotions.

Godliness, patience, and meekness, plus his natural genteelness, were traits that Pilate noticed. If Jesus were a King, certainly his bearing would match that title.

Pilate tried again to have Jesus released, hoping that the bloodletting and the shameful public treatment would soften the multitude—but instead they were hardened and even more determined that he should be crucified. Their reply was, “We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”

Earlier the religious leaders had said, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death,” but that statement was not true (John 18:31). What they meant was that at the time of the Feast of Passover, they did not want to defile themselves by directly handling the guilty(?) party. In fact, they would not even enter the Judgment Hall proper for that reason, and the dialogue with Pilate was done from a distance with loud voices and shouting back and forth. For Pilate to say, “Behold the man!” he had to go out and lean over a balustrade from an upper chamber and address the multitude below.

When Pilate heard the Jews say that Jesus “made himself the Son of God,” he was “the more afraid.” The statement “the Son of God” might not in itself have affected Pilate that way because, after all, it was a religious claim. However, he could see where this conversation might lead because the emperor, the Caesar, was supposed to be the son of God. Just as in Egypt, Ra was the spiritual god, so the Caesar was considered the son of God and, in fact, had that title. Pilate was frightened because if Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, his claim conflicted with that of the Caesar. Short as it was, Jesus’ previous conversation had such an effect that Pilate went against his political instinct for a while.

Now Pilate went again into the Judgment Hall and asked Jesus, “Whence art thou?” Jesus did not answer. Then Pilate said, “Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” Jesus replied, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above [that is, except God’s providence permitted my death].” Although his words were strong, Jesus was not publicly defending himself against the false charges but was simply stating a fact. Privately he said enough for Pilate to see through the charges, but before the multitude, he did not try to persuade the Jews or the priests of his innocence. Jesus could have remained quiet, but to tell Pilate, the Gentile governor, that he could have no power unless God permitted it showed Jesus’ strength of character.

Notice how Jesus finished his statement: “Therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” In other words, “Pilate, you are not exonerated, but the Jewish religious leaders have more guilt than you do.” Jesus spoke with such strength and intensity of mind and purpose that Pilate was thoroughly convinced he was no ordinary Jew.

“And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him.” Pilate tried harder and harder to free Jesus, but the multitude became more and more adamant in their demands for crucifixion. The matter was coming to a head, as both sides were very intractable.

Then the Jews cried out, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” What strong words! Earlier Pilate had sensed that the Jews were leading up to this reasoning, and now he was really frightened. What hypocrisy for the Jews to say this when the Roman yoke was so galling to them!

Then Pilate “brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement,” and said, “Behold your King!” Evidently, he was still hoping the people would have a change of heart, but what did they do? They shouted, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him.” Pilate said, “Shall I crucify your King?” and the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then Pilate delivered Jesus to be crucified, and Jesus was led away.

Pilate had no way out but to render a decision to override the Jewish religious leaders—and that was a decision he would not make. With regard to his own personal responsibility, he should have ended the matter by saying, “No, Jesus is not going to be crucified.” Instead he did everything but say no because he did not want to risk his political future. Of course Divine Providence foresaw that the multitude, the nation, and the chief priests would override Pilate’s personal feelings. Pilate was not willing to risk his political future by pronouncing a judgment that favored Jesus. However, we believe that he subsequently suffered retribution that will help alleviate, to a large extent, his judgment in the Kingdom Age. Very shortly after the Crucifixion, he was sent into exile—the very disapproval he had wanted to avoid.

Comment: When Pilate comes out of the grave in the Kingdom Age, he will be a powerful witness to the Jews, especially to those of that era.

Reply: Yes. The centurion who said, “Truly this was the Son of God,” will also be a strong witness, as well as Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and the Apostle John (Matt. 27:54). How marvelous it will be to see films of what actually happened at the time of the Crucifixion—with all the attendant circumstances and private conversations, let alone the words and conduct of Jesus! In the future, when men are created perfect on other planets, they will not have to experience what Adam and his race went through. Reading about what one should and should not do is not nearly as powerful as seeing history as it occurred—the real thing.

Now we return to verse 13, to Paul’s charge to Timothy: “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession.” As we have just seen, Jesus’ “good confession” before Pilate was remarkable.

In verse 12, Paul told Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith, [and] lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou … hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” If we combine verses 12-14, Paul was instructing Timothy as follows: “You should realize that you have a responsibility of faithfulness because of your past profession, and now you should witness a good confession such as Jesus did before Pontius Pilate. Keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul was telling Timothy to be like Jesus, who was faithful to the end of his course.

But in what sense did Jesus witness “a good confession” to Pilate? By using this illustration, Paul fully realized Timothy’s role in the Church. He was not that well liked by the brethren at large, for he did not have the personality or background they desired. However, Paul both liked and appreciated Timothy, whom he felt had all the qualities that were necessary. Paul was telling Timothy to think of Jesus in the situation before Pilate. He fearlessly professed to be a King when all of the others said his claim was false. Through the chief priests, the nation brought Jesus before Pilate for trial and execution, so everything seemed to give the lie to Jesus. If he truly was a King, as he professed to be, would he have allowed himself to submit to such an experience where he would be tried, humiliated, and crucified? Wouldn’t he have had enough spunk to get up and defend himself instead of being negative, not answering the charges, and meekly submitting? He told Pilate privately, “My Kingdom is not of this world. Otherwise, my servants would fight. My Kingdom is spiritual, and my followers are spiritual.” Outwardly, however, it appeared that the ground was cut underneath Jesus. All of his statements about being the Son of God and the King of Israel seemed to be false, and his basis for making such assertions appeared weak. He had no friends, no supporters—he was alone—yet he had to take a stand before the nation of Israel, the priests, and Pilate. From this weak base and being all alone, he took a strong stand and did not waver because of his faith. Jesus said to Pilate, “You could not have any power at all except it were given to you from above.” He mentioned, “To this end was I born.” He had a purpose and fulfilled it, and he did not waver. Even though he meekly submitted and did not try to answer the false charges, he was positive in his inner convictions.

Timothy was not well received by the brethren because of his personality and humble disposition. The Greeks liked showmanship, oratory, and education, as well as composure and dignity. Evidently, Timothy did not have that type of disposition. Paul was saying to Timothy, “Just as Jesus meekly submitted to all the abuses against his person, so you should do the same and unwaveringly do the work that I set out in the Church.” Paul was summing up all of his advice in this epistle: “Do not worry about what others are saying about you. Avoid myths that are not based on God’s Word. Others delight in such things, but do not enter into the wranglings and misunderstandings. Follow godliness, righteousness, and truth, and defend the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Be positive and do not waver!”

Now we understand why Paul told Timothy to witness a good confession as Jesus did before Pilate. Paul slanted the illustration to Timothy in a very personalized way.

1 Tim. 6:14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:

1 Tim. 6:15 Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

1 Tim. 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

To “keep this commandment without spot”—to be blameless—is the hard part. Timothy was to keep the commandment without spot or rebuke until the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will show that God is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings,” the only One who has immortality. In God’s due time, Jesus will demonstrate who is the only Potentate. The glory and honor will be given to God, “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see.” To Almighty God “be honour and power everlasting.” Amen!

We recognize that the Pastor is usually quoted as applying verse 16 to Jesus, the thought being that Jesus has immortality and the Father is excepted. However, that is not what verse 16 is saying. In some places, the Pastor applied verse 16 to God.

What are some reasons why verse 16 refers to God?

1. The title “the King of kings” applies to the Heavenly Father, whereas Jesus is “[a] King of kings” (Rev. 17:14; 19:16). God is “the King of kings, and Lord of lords” in the highest sense.

2. God dwells “in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen [at any time], nor can see” (compare John 1:18). Verse 16 suggests not a new condition of dwelling in that light but One whose home is that light. God Himself is the Father of the light that no man can approach unto, and He has been dwelling there for eternity. Only God has the capability and the prerogative of transmitting immortality to any other being. While immortality is given to Jesus and the Church, they cannot, in turn, give immortality to anyone else. God alone has that role; He is the Author of life, particularly of immortality.

Comment: Verse 13 helps to show that God is the subject in verses 14-16. Paul said, “I give thee [Timothy] charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things….” God quickens, or makes alive, and “immortality” is making alive in the highest sense.

Comment: Another reason why God is the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality” is that it seems unlikely Jesus would call such attention to himself. Since he characteristically honored the Father, he would give the highest honor to the Father here too.

Reply: Yes, it would seem that the glory and honor of verses 15 and 16 pertain to the Father’s own personal prerogative of immortality. Only the Father has this particular honor and position. Even though others will partake of immortality, He alone can transmit it.

If Jesus does not have immortality at this time, the question would be, When will he receive it?

We believe the Father will give immortality to Jesus as a wedding present. God will give immortality to both Jesus and the Church at that time. Immortality will make all the difference in the world between this particular house of sons and other sons of God. The Church will be kings and priests in the highest sense of the word, with Jesus being a “King of kings,” whereas God is the King eternal.

To further show the emphasis, we will review some of the vocabulary Paul used. However, rather than explain certain statements about power, glory, and dominion, we will show where those terms are used in a reverential sense as a sort of salutation or prayer of praise directed to God. The language then becomes very careful, whereas in other places it has several different meanings, both holy and unholy.

The following Scriptures will be considered more or less in sequential order. The selected texts give ultimate praise, and we will see the focus of attention.

Romans 4:20 – “He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” Notice, Abraham gave the glory. He was not talking about having the glory himself but was submitting to the glory of God.

Romans 11:36 – “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Since verses 32-35 show the context to be like a hymn of praise about God’s character, the word “Amen” clearly applies to God. We will try to show that whenever Paul said “Amen,” he applied the term exclusively to Jehovah. However, in the King James Version, “Amen” was arbitrarily inserted or supplied improperly by the translators in almost as many instances as it was actually used in the ancient manuscripts. In such cases, the supplied “Amen” appears in brackets. We will not consider those verses at this time, for why should we investigate that which is not valid?

Romans 16:27 – “To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.” The focus of praise is God. “Amen” is like a double seal of approval. Paul’s expressions of “Amen” (“So be it”) manifest his thinking very deeply.

Notice Paul’s use of the word “only.” Others are wise, but Paul was showing that when we pray, we should go to God, the highest authority, the source of every good and perfect gift. Paul was giving the ultimate praise: “To God [the] only wise…. Amen.” Of course, to offer acceptable praise to God, we have to pray through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Head. In all the texts that we will read, we believe “Amen” applies to God, not to Jesus. And when Paul used the word “glory” as praise, it also applied to God.

Galatians 1:5 – “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Some might dispute the thought that this verse applies to God, but the context seems to indicate that application. “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Gal. 1:3,4); that is, “According to the will of God, even our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The words “for ever and ever” and “Amen” frequently apply to God.

Ephesians 3:21 – “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Notice the word “glory.” If the glory is “by” (or through) Christ Jesus, the pronoun “him” has to refer to the Father, attention being focused upon God Himself. The terms “throughout all ages” and “world without end” are like saying “for ever and ever,” and again “Amen” is used. Paul’s writing gives us a certain mood, or feeling. The word “glory” rarely applies to Jesus in the reverential sense, and when it does, it is not in the context of the highest scale of thinking.

Philippians 1:11 – “Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” The glory and praise are unto God.

Philippians 2:11 – “And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The glory is to God. Paul was not talking about glory, which is quite a different slant of thinking. Verse 11 expresses reverential awe for God.

Philippians 4:20 – “Now unto God and [even] our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Repetitive terms are used, with the focus of attention on God and a double “Amen” emphasis.

Hebrews 13:21 – “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Notice the terms “glory,” “for ever and ever,” and “Amen.” The context, verse 20, proves that God is the subject. Moreover, we are God’s “workmanship” (Eph. 2:10).

1 Timothy 1:17 – “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” The terms repeat: “glory,” “for ever and ever,” and “Amen.” In addition, the words in the beginning of the verse are characteristically used by Paul for the Heavenly Father; namely, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory.”

Many, especially in the nominal system, think verse 17 applies to Jesus. However, we should not fear to attribute this verse to God. In studying the Bible, we should give honest applications, for in the final analysis, who cares what anyone else thinks? We want to do all we can to make our calling and election sure.

Comment: There is also a fear in recognizing God as the sole Creator. Many insist on giving Jesus a role in creation.

Reply: That is true. Because of certain prejudices, we are forced to speak out. God alone is the Creator. And at the time Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, which was around AD 64, only God had immortality.

1 Timothy 6:15,16 – “Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.” We will work backwards. The words “Amen,” “everlasting [comparable to ‘for ever and ever’],” “honour and power,” and “whom no man hath seen, nor can see” are terms that apply to God. Both Jesus and God dwell in the light, but the context refers to Jehovah, who is the Light of the world in the fullest sense, for He is the Creator, the Originator.

The word “only,” used twice, is also significant. To apply these verses to Jesus would diminish the meaning of what is being said, for “only” means “only.

Q: If Jesus did not have immortality in the year AD 64, then is the thought that he still does not have immortality?

A: Yes, that is what we have been saying. He has glory, he looks like the Father, he is of the same substance as the Father, etc., but he does not yet have immortality.

Q: Are divine nature and immortality the same?

A: No, not necessarily. When Adam was created, he was perfect and had human nature, but he did not possess immortality. God could have given Adam immortality, but instead He intentionally made Adam’s life conditional, saying, “You have life, but never eat of this tree, for in the day that you disobey and eat of the fruit, dying thou shalt die.” Immortal life is not conditional but is a possession once one has it. The angels and God have spirit nature—“God is a Spirit” (John 4:24)—but at the time of this writing, He alone had immortality. We can extrapolate beyond Paul’s day to our time and say that Jesus still does not have immortality.

2 Timothy 4:18 – “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” As we have seen, other texts that use the word “Lord” unmistakably refer to Jehovah. Since the terms “for ever and ever” and “Amen” are used here, we can see that verse 18 is talking about God Himself, who will preserve us until His heavenly Kingdom, to which we have been called. Of the texts we have mentioned, only two or three leave a faint possibility that the reference could be to Jesus. But we can say with certainty that the other references with “for ever and ever,” “Amen,” “glory,” etc., are to Jehovah. One might cite Revelation 5:12 to say that “glory” is associated with Jesus as well: “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”

However, that text is a declaration by others about Jesus’ worthiness. Talking about glory or stating glory as a fact is a lot different than mentioning “glory” in a prayer, a summary addendum, or the presentation of a thought in the middle of a chapter.

And there is another point. Acts 3:21 says of Jesus, “Whom the heaven must receive [retain] until the times of restitution of all things,” but in regard to this retention, Paul said, “For the Lord [Jesus] himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel” (1 Thess. 4:16). If Jesus already has immortality, isn’t it strange that he is called an “archangel”?

The term “archangel” signifies one who is over other angels. We have tried to show that at one time, the Logos and Lucifer were the morning stars and that as the two archangels, they had a glory above the other angels; that is, they were higher, or above, the other angels. When Jesus ascended up to heaven after his resurrection, the account tells us that he “ascended up far above all heavens,” meaning merely that the gulf of distinction and honor between Jesus as the Logos, which was a very honored position, is now much wider (Eph. 4:10). However, for the time being, Jesus is still an archangel in regard to personal authority—and he is to sit on the right hand of the Father until God brings things under his feet at the time of the Kingdom (Acts 2:34,35; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3,13; 8:1; 10:12,13; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22). At that time, Jesus will be authorized and permitted to go ahead and establish the Kingdom with power and force, as is so perfectly illustrated by the picture of Joseph. Like Pharaoh with Joseph, God will give His glory to none other—forever (Isa. 42:8). And thank God!—for we need some guarantee from the Emperor of the universe that He is a real Rock of Gibraltar, as it were.

Everything hinges on His power and authority. Therefore, Jesus now has the divine nature but not immortality, which he will be granted as a wedding gift at the marriage. As explained earlier, to have divine nature does not necessarily mean one has immortality.

Comment: An earthly illustration can be used. We elect a President in November, but he does not take office until January of the next year. A period of time elapses before the new President is inaugurated into office with power.

Reply: Yes, there is a difference between the election and the transfer of power and even the official inauguration.

As further proof of Jesus’ role or status now, he is called an “angel”—that is, a messenger— more than 15 times in the Book of Revelation, and the time period is the Gospel Age. For example, “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth” (Rev. 10:1,2). In contrast, God is called a “Spirit,” but never an angel (John 4:24). The idea of being a messenger is quite different from being a King in power and exercising that power. There are other ways of reasoning as well, which we will present on another occasion.

Q: In verse 16, is the clause “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” a reference to the Shekinah light in the Tabernacle?

A: Yes, the clause can be considered that way. The picture of the cherubim with the Shekinah light can be viewed from two perspectives. With regard to God’s four attributes, the light represents Wisdom, the two cherubim are Love and Power, and the lid (or Mercy Seat) of the Ark of the Covenant is the “propitiation” (Greek hilasmos), or Justice (1 John 2:2). Below God is the Mercy Seat, which represents Christ Jesus. Just as Justice is reflected in God’s sending His Son to pay the penalty for man’s sin, so from one perspective, the cover of the rectangular box, the propitiatory lid, represents Jesus as the Head, and the box underneath pictures the Church.

In addition, the Tabernacle itself was a box with an open top. Curtains covered the Tabernacle underneath, which pictured the Church. The second curtain from the top, the covering of rams’ skins dyed red, covered the whole Tabernacle structure, and the cherubim curtain underneath represents the Church underneath Christ.

Q: Does the term “Father of lights” in James 1:17 pertain to the “light which no man can approach unto”?

A: Yes, because “Father” means “Life-giver”; hence God is the “Life-giver of lights,” the source of all light. While the name Pleiades refers to the constellation, and the seven stars represent the Church, etc., the Pleiades gives us the direction of God, who is in the north. Just as a mariner on the sea may look for the North Star to lead him to land or to a destination, for he can extrapolate his location to a certain extent by his angle from that star, so the North Star is used as a guide. The North Star is very pragmatic to those down here on earth, whereas other guides have to be used outside the celestial system. True north is affected by the direction of the Pleiades, but there is a difference between true north and magnetic north.

1 Tim. 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

1 Tim. 6:18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

1 Tim. 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Here Paul was telling Timothy to charge all Christians who were “rich” not to be high-minded or trust in “uncertain riches.” Instead they were to trust in God, do good, be rich in good works, distribute liberally, and be willing to communicate so that they would lay up treasures in heaven (Matt. 19:21). In other words, everything should be done with regard to making one’s own calling and election sure or to helping others do the same. If one has riches, those goods should be distributed for the benefit of the Church and not for self-aggrandizement.

Those who were rich were to lay up heavenly treasures and to distribute their earthly treasures, not holding on to them with miserliness. They were not to seek to acquire more and more and to build themselves up higher and higher. Rather, everything should be sacrificed in connection with the development of the spiritual priesthood. Those who had little of this world’s goods read these admonitions from the standpoint that although they were poor according to the flesh, they could become rich in spiritual things.

Intellect, knowledge, wealth, power, reputation, etc., do not mean anything unless they are harnessed by obedience to God’s instruction. Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).

Comment: To “communicate” means to be ready to hear and fellowship with others. Earlier Paul said that the love of money, being the root of much evil, was causing some to drown (verses 9 and 10). Evidently, there was a struggle in the Church for attainment politically and in the eyes of the brethren. The acquisition of a lot of goods and riches was regarded as God’s favor. As Jews under the Law, they had been taught that material prosperity was an evidence of faithfulness, but it was wrong to apply this philosophy to the Christian walk, for some were reigning before the due time. When Timothy went about giving the proper instruction, he met opposition along these lines. The thought that temporal prosperity indicated God’s favor was quite pervasive at the time Paul wrote this epistle, which was roughly AD 64. Quite a change had taken place in the Church in 30 years, and that attitude had to be counteracted, for some tended to look on trials and poverty as disfavor from God.

1 Tim. 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

1 Tim. 6:21 Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

Earlier Paul admonished Timothy to avoid “profane and old wives’ fables” (1 Tim. 4:7). Now he said to avoid “profane [worldly, nonspiritual] and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” Those who professed either of these “erred concerning the faith.” The “oppositions of science falsely so called” refer to a disturbing doctrine that came into the early Church about this time, when Paul was phasing out. Subsequently, the Apostle John had to deal with and refute this doctrine. Timothy’s ministry took place more or less between the ministries of Paul and John. After Peter and Paul died, Jude and John were the only apostles left, with John being last apostle on the scene.

Comment: The word translated “science” is the Greek gnosis, meaning “knowledge.”

Reply: That belief, called Gnosticism, made a halo out of knowledge. Wisdom and knowledge were especially revered and idolized by the Greeks.

Paul ended his first letter to Timothy like a prayer with the word “Amen.”

(1982 Study with Excerpts from 1999 Study)

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