A Man of God Is Known by What He Flees From
But flee from these things, you man of God; (6:11a)
The adversative sense of de (but), coupled with the use of the personal pronoun su (you), sharply contrasts Timothy with the false teachers. They are money’s men, he is God’s man; they are sin’s men, he is righteousness’s man; they are the world’s men, he is heaven’s man. Although left untranslated by the nasb, the Greek text uses the interjection ō (“O”). The use of that interjection with the vocative case is rare in the New Testament, indicating the intensity of Paul’s appeal.
A man of God realizes there are certain things to be avoided at all cost. Flee is from pheugō, from which our English word “fugitive” derives. God’s man must flee from sexual sin (1 Cor. 6:18), idolatry (1 Cor. 10:14), and “youthful lusts” (2 Tim. 2:22). The present tense of the verb indicates the man of God is to constantly flee from these things. The direct antecedent of these things is the evils associated with loving money in vv. 9–10.
That is the cardinal sin of false teachers, who pervert the truth for personal gain. From Balaam, who sold himself to the highest bidder, through the greedy false prophets of Israel, to Judas and Demas in the New Testament, the hallmark of false teachers is greed.
Paul carefully avoided any appearance of loving money. In his farewell address to the Ephesian elders, he reminded them,
I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33–35)
To the Thessalonians he wrote, “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thess. 2:9). He reminded the Corinthians of his right to financial support, but then waived it so no one would question his motives (1 Cor. 9:1–15).
Although they may call themselves ministers of the gospel, those in it for the money are not God’s men. They have prostituted the call of God for personal gain. Those who put a price on their ministry devalue it in God’s sight to zero.
A Man of God Is Known by What He Follows After
and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. (6:11b)
As fast as the man of God runs from the corrupting love of money he runs toward spiritual virtue. A man of God not only flees from sin, but also is to continually pursue holiness. The form here is parallel to 2 Timothy 2:22, where Paul commands Timothy not only to “flee from youthful lusts,” but also to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.” If he stops, what is behind him (sin) will catch him, and he will miss his goal of holiness. In verse 11, Paul lists six virtues that every man of God must pursue to deserve that privileged title.
The first two are general virtues, one having to do with external behavior, the other with the internal attitude and motive. Righteousness translates the familiar New Testament term dikaiosunē. It means to do what is right, in relation to both God and man. The righteousness Paul describes here is not Christ’s righteousness imputed to us at salvation, but holiness of life. God’s man is known for doing what is right. His is a lifestyle marked by obedience to God’s commands.
The internal counterpart to righteousness is godliness. While righteousness looks to the outward behavior, godliness has to do with the attitudes and motives. Right behavior flows from right motives. Eusebeia (godliness), a familiar term in the Pastorals (appearing ten times), refers to reverence for God flowing out of a worshiping heart. It could be translated “God-likeness.” Godly people “offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28). They will one day receive praise from the Lord Himself (1 Cor. 4:1–5).
Those two virtues are central to a godly minister’s power and usefulness. They form an essential part of what Spurgeon called “the minister’s self-watch” (C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, vol. 1 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980]). The Puritan Richard Baxter had much to say on that topic, devoting an entire section of his classic work The Reformed Pastor to it. He warned, “Many a tailor goes in rags, that maketh costly clothes for others; and many a cook scarcely licks his fingers, when he hath dressed for others the most costly dishes” (The Reformed Pastor [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1979], 54).
Paul knew well the importance of the minister’s watch over himself. In Acts 20:28 he exhorted the leaders of the Ephesian church to “be on guard for yourselves.” In 1 Timothy 4:16, he commanded Timothy to “pay close attention to [himself].” Knowing his own sinfulness (cf. Rom. 7:14–25; 1 Tim. 1:12–15), Paul strenuously disciplined himself. To the Corinthians he wrote,
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:24–27)
The Puritan John Flavel pointedly observed, “Brethren, it is easier to declaim against a thousand sins of others, than to mortify one sin in ourselves” (cited in I. D. E. Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977], 191).
John Owen added, “A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more” (cited in Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury, 192).
The nineteenth-century English pastor Charles Bridges wrote,
For if we should study the Bible more as Ministers than as Christians—more to find matter for the instruction of our people, than food for the nourishment of our own souls, we neglect then to place ourselves at the feet of our Divine Teacher, our communion with Him is cut off, and we become mere formalists in our sacred profession.… We cannot live by feeding others; or heal ourselves by the mere employment of healing our people; and therefore by this course of official service, our familiarity with the awful realities of death and eternity may be rather like that of the grave-digger, the physician, and the soldier, than the man of God, viewing eternity with deep seriousness and concern and bringing to his people the profitable fruit of his contemplations. It has well been remarked—that ‘when once a man begins to view religion not as of personal, but merely of professional importance, he has an obstacle in his course, with which a private Christian is unacquainted.’ It is indeed difficult to determine, whether our familiar intercourse with the things of God is more our temptation or our advantage. (The Christian Ministry [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1980], 163)
The apostle next names the dominant internal virtues: faith and love. Faith is simply confident trust in God for everything. It involves loyalty to the Lord and unwavering confidence in His power, purpose, plan, provision, and promise. Faith is the atmosphere in which the man of God exists. He trusts God to keep and fulfill His Word.
As he often does in his writings, Paul couples love with faith (cf. 1 Thess. 3:6; 5:8; 1 Tim. 1:14; 2 Tim. 1:13). Agapē (love) is the love of volition and choice. It is unrestricted and unrestrained, encompassing love for God, other believers, and non-Christians. The man of God understands the significance of our Lord’s words in Matthew 22:37–39: “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” Because he is a lover of God, the man of God loves those whom He loves (cf. 1 John 4:7–21). The love of God, “poured out within [his heart] through the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5) flows out of him to others (cf. 2 Cor. 6:11–13; 12:15; Phil. 2:25ff.; Col. 1:27–28; 4:12).
Paul then mentions two external virtues, perseverance and gentleness. Perseverance translates hupomonē, which means “to remain under.” It does not describe a passive, fatalistic resignation, but a victorious, triumphant, unswerving loyalty to the Lord in the midst of trials (cf. James 1:2–4). It is the perseverance of the martyr, who will lay down his life if necessary for the cause of Christ. Paul and most of the other apostles would exhibit that supreme measure of perseverance. Perseverance enables the man of God to stick with the task, no matter what the cost.
Gentleness translates praupathia, which means kindness or meekness, and appears only here in the New Testament. Although consumed with the greatest of causes, the man of God recognizes that in himself he makes no contribution to its success, and is marked by considerate humility. His is the attitude expressed by John Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress:
He that is down needs fear no fall,
He that is low no pride;
He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
11 After his final denunciation of the false teachers, Paul turns to his final charge to Timothy (cf. the same pattern in 1:3–7; 4:1–16). In short,Timothy is to be everything the heretics are not. Addressing him directly, Paul pleads with his son in the faith, negatively, to “flee from all this” (i.e., the vices enumerated in vv. 3–10) and, positively, to “pursue” the Christian virtues of “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
The direct address “but you” was used by Jesus in relation to his disciples (or would-be disciples; Mt 6:6, 17; Lk 9:60). Paul frequently uses the phrase rhetorically in his other letters (Ro 2:17; 11:17; 14:10) as well as in the PE (2 Ti 3:10, 14; 4:5; Tit 2:1; see also Jas 4:12). The fact that the expression occurs toward the end of the present letter and three times in the closing chapters of 2 Timothy underscores the intensity and urgency with which the apostle pleads with his trusted delegate.
The designation “man of God” (cf. 2 Ti 3:17) refers in the OT to Moses (Dt 33:1; Jos 14:6; Ezr 3:2; cf. 1 Esd 5:49), Samuel (1 Sa 9:6–10), David (2 Ch 8:14; Neh 12:24, 36), Elijah (1 Ki 17:18, 24; 2 Ki 1:9–13), and Elisha (2 Ki 4:9, 16, 22, 40; 8:3; 13:19) as well as to other servants of God. For Paul to use such a lofty expression highlights the solemn responsibility placed on Timothy and the venerable tradition in which he stands.
Paul’s commands for Timothy to “flee” (pheugō, GK 5771) and “pursue” (diōkō, GK 1503) underscore the intensity with which his apostolic delegate is to fulfill his calling. Both are strong verbs, indicating that Timothy is to be active in both directions,taking flight from the vices of the heretics and continuing to pursue Christian virtues. The NT enjoins all people to “flee from the coming wrath” (Mt 3:7; 23:33; 24:16), indicating the serious attitude we ought to take toward the destructive and eternal consequences of sin. Paul urges the Corinthians to “flee from sexual immorality” and “from idolatry” (1 Co 6:18; 10:14) and to pursue “the way of love” (14:1). In 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul pleads with Timothy to “flee the evil desires of youth” and to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.”
“This” (tauta; lit., “these things”) refers back to the vices mentioned in the previous section (vv. 3–10), especially false doctrine and greed (contra Mounce, 353). In comparison with 2 Timothy 2:22, here there is an added reference to “godliness,” “endurance,” and “gentleness,” while no mention is made of “peace”; “righteousness,” “faith,”and “love” are common to both lists. These six positive characteristics contrast with the five negative results associated with the false teachers in vv. 4–5.Where the false teachers are characterized by “envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction,” Timothy is to pursue “righteousness [dikaiosynē, GK 1466; cf. 2 Ti 2:22; 3:16; 4:8], godliness [eusebeia, GK 2354; 2:2; 3:16; 4:7–8; 6:3, 5–6; 2 Ti 3:5], faith [pistis, GK 4411; cf. 1:4–5, 14, 19; 4:12], love [agapē, GK 27; cf. 1:5, 14; 2:15; 4:12], endurance [hypomonē, GK 5705; 2 Ti 3:10; Tit 2:2] and gentleness [praupathia, GK 4557; only here in the NT; cf. 2 Ti 2:25; Philo, Abraham 213].”
In sum, Timothy—along with every man and woman of God—is to be fueled by a strong desire to put as great a distance as possible between himself and evil, avoiding ungodly associations of any kind, and to do everything in his power to act out righteousness, faith, love, and other Christian virtues. All believers are to love and do what is right (or, as Jesus put it, “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Mt 5:6); cultivate godly character; trust God in all things; live a life of loving others, including friends and foes alike; and display both endurance and gentleness, especially in dealing with persistent opposition in the church.
11 As the restatement of commission begins, Paul turns first to the matter of Timothy’s holiness—separating him distinctively from the errorists. He establishes this distinctiveness in three ways. First, he employs (for the first time in these letters to coworkers; 2 Tim 3:10, 14; 4:5; Titus 2:1) the abrupt “but you” transition; as used here this is a polemical-rhetorical device designed to emphasize a break with, and to create distance from, the opponents.
Second, Paul distinguishes Timothy in the appeal, “[O] man of God.” This title exceeds the rhetorical personalizing function of the similar phrase, “o (hu)man” (Rom 2:1, 3, 20; etc.) by virtue of the addition of the genitive qualifier “of God” that places Timothy into the category of the numerous OT servants of God who were so designated. Equally, the presence of the emotive vocative marker of personal address, “O” (cf. 6:20; Gal 3:1; etc.), distinguishes this title from the similar general reference to “the one who belongs to God” as used in 2 Tim 3:17. The title underwent some development in Philo, who used it to identify a qualitatively different sort of person whose life, patterned in some sense after Moses’, is marked by a profound devotion to God. As applied to Timothy, both servanthood (and holy lineage) and devotion to God (a superior quality of godliness) combine in this final address. Paul sets Timothy apart not from all other leaders but from those whose lifestyle demonstrates a false claim to authority.
Third, the traditional “flee/pursue” formula (2 Tim 2:22) draws an emphatic line between behavior that has been denounced (“all this” in reference to the preceding discussion 6:3–10) and behavior that is to be embraced. The two verbs (“flee, pursue”) were stock items in Greek ethical teaching, and were sometimes juxtaposed as here.
Consequently, the transition Paul has made in his discourse is not just one of topic. Rather, in these three ways he shifts from a set of values and aspirations that he has evaluated and rejected to an approved measurement of holiness. He has also set Timothy’s character and calling apart from the opponents. And he urges Timothy to separate consciously from the things they do and seek, and to “pursue” the authentic virtues of godliness they lack.
The remainder of v. 11 fills out what is meant by the pursuit command in a series of six virtues. Virtue lists, such as this one (2 Tim 2:22–25; 3:10), were a typical feature of Hellenistic ethical teaching that allowed the cardinal virtues to be packaged and presented neatly and concisely. The use of this device by Paul and other NT writers (sometimes alongside a contrasting list of vices) shows indebtedness to the literary and pedagogical fashions of the day.10 Christian virtue lists also functioned to package neatly the (cardinal) qualities characteristic of authentic Christianity. No single list is exhaustive, and each also intended to call to mind the whole network of behavioral qualities that constitute a life lived in response to God’s covenant. The contents of the lists vary but the “faith/love” pair often forms a noticeable core (see on 1:14), and the Christianizing of a secular device is evident from this critical anchor. Likewise the organization of items in the lists follows no discernible pattern, though in the letters to Timothy there is some preference for the first three terms (see also 2 Tim 2:22), and the “faith/love” pair resonates even more widely. Although there is some distance in between, this list of virtues forms the polemical counterpart to the shorter vice list of 6:4 that helps put distance between the life Timothy is to pursue and that way chosen by the opponents.
“Righteousness” in Paul’s various discussions can be a rather loaded term. In some contexts (e.g. Rom 9:30; 10:3; Gal 5:5; etc.; 2 Tim 4:8), against the law-court background of the OT, it is the resulting status that accompanies the verdict of acquittal handed down by God to those who have placed their faith in Christ. Here, however, it is one way of describing the whole of ethical and observable life. It means moral “uprightness” in the sense of a life lived in accordance with God’s law (2 Tim 2:22; 3:16; Acts 10:35; Phil 1:11). This is not to diminish the theological orientation of “righteous” living, but only to place the accent on the behavior that belief in God is meant to produce.
“Godliness” (see 2:2 Excursus), the second term, is broader still. As throughout these letters to coworkers, it characterizes the whole of Christian existence as the combination of faith in God and the observable ethical response to his covenant.
The next three terms, “faith, love, endurance,” form a traditional triad that summarizes Christian existence. “Faith” and “love,” perhaps the essential pair, effectively interpret the concept of “godliness.” “Faith” in this context could mean faithfulness (i.e. to the gospel or the truth) or the ongoing act of believing (see 1:2 note). “Love” (see on 1:5) is the active outworking of belief in sacrificial service to others. But earlier expressions of the “faith-love” combination show how it attracted other important virtues to itself. “Faith, hope, love” appear together in 1 Thess 5:8 and as a distinct triad in 1 Cor 13:3; in the 1 Thess 1:3, we can already see how room was made to add virtues such as “endurance” (Rev 2:19). This term also occurs with faith and love in the lists of 2 Tim 3:10 and Titus 2:2. It expresses the determination and perseverance that is needed to support faith and love in the face of adversity, which in all three settings has the conflict with opponents in view (cf. Rev 2:2–3).
Closing the list is the rare term “gentleness.” Its place in the list (as with its synonym in 2 Tim 2:25) is to describe the attitude necessary to engage those in opposition in a way that will facilitate their repentance and reconciliation.
Thus Timothy is to pursue a life that, in contradiction to the rebelliousness and factiousness of the opponents, exhibits genuine godliness and compassion for those in error. If Paul seems to be preoccupied with ethical matters, the slippage in the behavior of some of the church’s former leaders explains the concern. In any case, what should not be lost on us is the fact that Paul does not isolate elements of human conduct from matters of ministry, but rather seeks to integrate belief and behavior into a holistic pattern of existence. It is not accidental that he began this restatement of Timothy’s commission from an ethical perspective: the starting point for ministry is a manner of life that is visibly different from that patterned after the values of the world, which keeps faith and love/conduct bound tightly together.
6:11. But you, O man of God, flee these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, gentleness.
In a manner consistent with the rest of Scripture, Paul instructs Timothy both as to what he is to avoid and what he is to do (cf., e.g., the Ten Commandments). The interjection, ‘O’, carries a sense of urgency and intensity. These are not trifling matters. The address, ‘man of God’, furthermore, could be a reference to Timothy as a leader, reflecting a common use of the phrase in the Septuagint. But the expression can also refer to any believer. Here it probably addresses Timothy as a leader whose life is to be an example for all believers.11
A life that is pleasing to God means, first of all, that one must ‘flee’ from certain things. The Christian must be active in his avoidance of ungodliness. ‘These things’, in this context, include the love of money, but probably also the false teaching and the other associated vices (6:3–5). Christians must be well acquainted with the dangers and the deceptions of sin, not flirting with it, but running from it.
However, Paul also instructs Timothy as to what he is to run after, or ‘pursue’. First, he lists ‘righteousness’, or conduct and character that are in accordance with God’s law (cf. Rom. 8:4). The second characteristic is ‘godliness’, a term for Christian piety that Paul has already used in 2:2 and 4:7. Thirdly, he tells Timothy to pursue ‘faith’, here meaning ‘trust’ or ‘utter dependence on God’. Fourthly, as elsewhere, Paul links faith with ‘love’, the chief of Christian virtues, which has as its object both God and man. Fifthly, Timothy is to pursue ‘perseverance’ in the faith, actively training himself to hold fast and not turn away. Sixthly, Paul lists ‘gentleness’, an important quality for all believers, but especially for ministers in their treatment, and even correction, of others (cf. 2 Tim. 2:23–26).
As George Knight points out, it is possible that Paul has grouped these six virtues deliberately in three pairs. The first two are general descriptions of proper Christian conduct and character; the second two are the central Christian virtues; and the final pair describe the proper response to opposition and hostility. But more importantly, we are justified in seeing all six of these virtues as gifts from God. Righteousness (Phil. 1:11), faith (Phil. 1:29) and perseverance (John 6:37–39) are explicitly described as such elsewhere in Scripture. Yet that does not preclude the believer’s active pursuit of them. We work because of what God has done, is doing and will do.
Ver. 11.—O man of God. The force of this address is very great. It indicates that the money-lovers just spoken of were not and could not be “men of God,” whatever they might profess; and it leads with singular strength to the opposite direction in which Timothy’s aspirations should point. The treasures which he must covet as “a man of God” were “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” For the phrase, “man of God,” see 2 Tim. 3:17 and 2 Pet. 1:21. In the Old Testament it always applies to a prophet (Deut. 33:1; Judg. 13:6; 1 Sam. 2:27; 1 Kings 12:22; 2 Kings 1:9; Jer. 35:4; and a great many other passages). St. Paul uses the expression with especial reference to Timothy and his holy office, and here, perhaps, in contrast with the τοὺς ἀνθρώπους mentioned in ver. 9. Flee these things. Note the sharp contrast between “the men” of the world, who reach after, and the man of God, who avoids, φιλαργυρία. The expression, “these things,” is a little loose, but seems to apply to the love of money, and the desire to be rich, with all their attendant “foolish and hurtful lusts.” The man of God avoids the perdition and manifold sorrows of the covetous, by avoiding the covetousness which is their root. Follow after (δίωκε); pursue, in direct contrast with φεύγε, flee from, avoid (see 2 Tim. 2:22). Meekness (πρα̈υπαθείαν). This rare word, found in Philo, but nowhere in the New Testament, is the reading of the R.T. (instead of the πρᾳότητα of the T.R.) and accepted by almost all critics on the authority of all the older manuscripts. It has no perceptible difference of meaning from πραότης, meekness or gentleness.
11. But thou, O man of God, flee these things. By calling him man of God he adds weight to the exhortation. If it be thought proper to limit to the preceding verse the injunction which he gives to follow righteousness, piety, faith, patience, this is an instruction which he gives, by contrast, for correcting avarice, by informing him what kind of riches he ought to desire, namely, spiritual riches. Yet this injunction may also be extended to other clauses, that Timothy, withdrawing himself from all vanity, may avoid that (περιεργίαν) vain curiosity which he condemned a little before; for he who is earnestly employed about necessary employments will easily abstain from those which are superfluous. He names, by way of example, some kinds of virtues, under which we may suppose others to be included. Consequently, every person who shall be devoted to the pursuit of “righteousness,” and who shall aim at “piety, faith, charity,” and shall follow patience and gentleness, cannot but abhor avarice and its fruits.
11. The apostle addresses Timothy as a man of God in striking contrast to the previous description of a man of material desire (the opening words But you [sy de] are emphatic). Yet the things which Timothy must flee from must be given a wider connotation than the dangers of wealth. There is probably an extended reference to all the vices mentioned from verse 8 onwards.
The antithesis in the words flee … pursue is in the characteristic manner of Paul. It is repeated exactly in 2 Timothy 2:22. Of the objects of pursuit the first two describe a general religious disposition, righteousness being used in its widest sense of conformity to what is right towards both God and man, and godliness of general piety. This double pursuit is also found in Titus 2:12. The two following virtues, faith and love, are fundamental to Christianity and cardinal in Paul’s teaching. It has been suggested that for Paul faith and love were sufficient to stand alone without needing to be linked with other virtues. But in Galatians 5:22 the same two virtues occur with others in a statement about the fruit of the Spirit.
The concluding virtues, endurance and gentleness, link together two very different qualities. The first has an element of strength, a patient stickability. But the second is softer, a gentleness of feeling, which in itself is a somewhat rarer quality. It is a precious target for the man of God.
The ethical appeal (6:11)
As a man of God, Timothy must both flee from all this (tauta, ‘these things’) and pursue other things. He is to flee the love of money, and all the many evils associated with it (9–10), together with ‘the wayward passions of youth’, and everything else which is incompatible with the wholesome will of God. Instead, he is to pursue six qualities, which seem to be listed in pairs, and which are particularly appropriate as an alternative to covetousness. First, he must pursue righteousness (perhaps here meaning justice and fair dealing with people) and godliness (for God not mammon is the right object of human worship). Next, the man of God must pursue faith and love, a familiar couplet in Paul’s letters. Perhaps in this context he means on the one hand faithfulness or ‘integrity’ (reb) and on the other the love of sacrifice and service which has no room for greed. Then Timothy’s third goal is to be endurance (hypomonē), which is patience in difficult circumstances, and gentleness, which is patience with difficult people.
What is specially noteworthy is that this ethical appeal has both a negative and a positive aspect, which are complementary. Negatively, we are to ‘flee’ from evil, to take ‘constant evasive action’, to run from it as far as we can and as fast as we can. Positively, we are to go in hot pursuit of goodness. This combination occurs frequently in the New Testament, although in different terms. We are to deny ourselves and follow Christ,44 to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and ‘yes’ to godliness and self-control, to take off the old clothing which belonged to our previous life and put on the new which belongs to our Christian life, and here to run away from evil and run after goodness.
Now we human beings are great runners. It is natural for us to run away from anything which threatens us. To run from a real danger is common sense, but to run from issues we dare not face or from responsibilities we dare not shoulder is escapism. Instead, we should concentrate on running away from evil. We also run after many things which attract us—pleasure, promotion, fame, wealth and power. Instead, we should concentrate on the pursuit of holiness.
There is no particular secret to learn, no formula to recite, no technique to master. The apostle gives us no teaching on ‘holiness and how to attain it’. We are simply to run from evil as we run from danger, and to run after goodness as we run after success. That is, we have to give our mind, time and energy to both flight and pursuit. Once we see evil as the evil it is, we will want to flee from it, and once we see goodness as the good it is, we will want to pursue it.
Ver. 11. But thou, O man of God.—
The man of God:—
- His relations to God are suggested by the title itself, “man of God.” This had formerly been distinctive of a prophet, and especially of Elijah, the great reformer, who so realized the truth underlying it that he began many a message by the favourite formula, “The Lord God of Israel, before whom I stand.” In Ephesus, Timothy had to take up as decided a stand against prevailing evils as Elijah had maintained in the kingdom of Israel; and he too was to find strength and wisdom in the presence of God, whence he might come forth to the people as God’s representative and spokesman. Any devout man may be called a “man of God” if he is—1. Living near God and coming forth to his duties, as Moses came from the mount of communion, reflecting the light of heaven. 2. Representing God is the outcome of communion with Him. Reflection of light can only result from the incidence of light. A mirror shut up in a pitch-dark cellar is not to be distinguished by the eye from a flagstone, but placed in the sunlight it may reflect a whole heaven of beauty. If you would let your light shine before men, you must put yourself in true relation to the Sun of Righteousness. And, again, no one would be called “a man of God” unless he was—3. Seeking God’s ends. It was because Timothy was by profession and in character “God’s man” that the apostle assumes that his course would of necessity be different from that of the worldly—that he would flee the things they loved. Everyone would discredit the assertion of one who said he represented a drapery establishment if, day after day, he was engaged in buying and selling timber or coal, and left all soft goods unregarded.
- His relations to sin are those of unconquerable repugnance. 1. The nature of these sins is exemplified in the words uttered just before by Paul against the love of money, the hurtful lusts of the human heart, and the foolish and evil practices to which these lead. 2. The means of escape from these are twofold. Sometimes we may meet and conquer a temptation, and sometimes we may more wisely flee from it.
III. His relations to virtues. Negative precepts distinguished the Old Dispensation, but the New Dispensation is not content with them. The virtues mentioned here are arranged in pairs. 1. Righteousness and godliness include all conduct towards God: obedience to His law, trust and reverence, devoutness and prayer. 2. Faith and love are the two essentials to such a life, for righteousness is the offspring of faith, and godliness is the offspring of love. 3. Patience and meekness have regard to our dealings with our fellow-men, especially with those who persecute or wrong us, and they are among the most difficult graces to exhibit. (A. Rowland, LL.B.) Are you a man of God?—
- The text speaks of a man.
- The text says that we are not only to be a man, but it tells us what sort of a man; it says—a “man of God.” There are two or three kinds of men. 1. There is the “manor the world.” You hear such a person say, “Well, you know, I am a man of the world.” A “man of the world” is supposed to know everything, but, as a rule, you find that what he knows is everything of indulgence and badness. But does he know how to bear trial when it comes? But the “man of God” feels that duty, principle, righteousness, are of first importance. The “man of the world” puts expediency before him; the “man of God” has principle for his guide. The “man of God” says, “It is not necessary for me to live, but it is necessary that the women and children should get out of danger before me.” The “man of the world” always pushes himself first, because he is a “man of the world”; the “man of God” first lifts up others, because he is a “man of God.” 2. Then there is the “man of business.” All such a man is noted for is that he is a “man of business.” His greatest characteristic is that his head is “screwed on the right way.” The “man of God” seeks first the kingdom of God; the “things” of the world are of secondary importance. The “man of God” is, however, “diligent in business,” but he is not a slave to it. 3. There are also other classes of persons called “men of wealth” and “men of learning.” Being a “man of God” implies a man who has found God—God is in all his thoughts. Is God so hard to find as some of the Churches would have us believe? The “man of God” is one who has not only found God, but obeys His commandments. In the text the “man of God” is called upon to “follow righteousness”; that is, to train himself to act in a right or straight course of conduct. An old writer has pointed out that man has naturally a habit of walking askew. How difficult for a man to walk a hundred yards in a perfectly straight line! It is impossible for him to do so if he shut his eyes. I appeal to your recollection whether you ever saw a straight path across a field; it is always tortuous, in and out. Likewise, the path taken by a man’s heart is not direct and straight by nature. The “man of God” is reliable; he can be trusted with uncounted gold, and his word is as good as his bond. The “man of God” should be godly; that is, like God, unselfish, not seeking exclusively his own good, but the good of all. The “man of God” will practise self-respect, self-control, and self-denial. (W. Birch.)
Following righteousness:—Ignorant though Stewart was of every technicality in trade, he was a man of undeviating truth and uprightness. He was aware that unjustifiable profits were made by shopkeepers, and that they had no conscience whatever about practising deception in order to place a fictitious value upon their goods. All such false ways he utterly abhorred, and he was determined to try his own plan. At all risks, he made up his mind that he would not look for more than ten per cent, profit, and that he would never deceive a buyer as to the prime cost of any article in his store. “Ten per cent, and no lies”—that was Mr. Stewart’s motto for doing business. But it is a curious instance of the repugnance of the trade to carry on business on such terms that the salesman, who could not have suffered in any way by this arrangement, became irritated against his employer, and at the end of a month or so resigned his situation. He declared that he could no longer be a party to sell goods by such rules—that, in fact, Mr. Stewart was giving them away to the public; and, with very significant emphasis, he added, “Before another month is over you will be a bankrupt.” Mr. Stewart’s business, however, gradually enlarged, until, after being in business half a century, his property and stock was worth twenty million pounds, thus proving that “honesty is the best policy. (Memoir of Stewart, the Millionaire.) Patience.—
Patience portrayed:—Among all the graces that adorn the Christian soul, like so many jewels of various colours and lustres, against the day of her espousals to the Lamb of God, there is not one more brilliant than this of patience; not one which brings more glory to God, or contributes so much toward making and keeping peace on earth; not one which renders a man more happy within himself, more agreeable to all about him; insomuch that even they who themselves possess it not, yet are sure to commend it in others.
- In the first place, patience is a virtue common to us with God. Long-suffering is His darling attribute; and what is dear in His sight ought not to be less precious in ours. And how marvellous is His patience who daily pours His blessings on those men who as daily offend, affront, and dishonour Him! Yet God’s blessings are abused to the purposes of luxury and lasciviousness; His truth is denied; His commandments are broken; His Church is persecuted; His ministers are insulted; His Son is crucified afresh; and His own long-suffering is made an argument against His existence—and He is still patient. What is man, then, that he should complain?
- The patience which we so much admire in God shone forth yet more amazingly in the person of his Son Jesus Christ. For was ever patience like that patience which, descending from a throne of glory, bore a long imprisonment in the womb to sanctify sinners, and lay in a stable to bring them to a kingdom.
III. The patience thus practised by Christ is enjoined by His holy gospel, being, indeed, the badge of that gospel and its professors. Is the mind tempted to impatience by the disappointment of its desires and the loss of worldly goods and enjoyments? The Scripture, to eradicate the temptation, is full of precepts enjoining us to contemn the world, and not to set our hearts upon things that pass away, and that cannot satisfy the soul when it is possessed of them. The worldly man is always impatient, because he prefers his body to his soul; the Christian prefers his soul to his body, and therefore knows how to give largely and to lose patiently.
- We find all the saints of God who have been eminent for their faith in Christ to have been as eminent for their patience, without which their faith must have failed in the day of trial; it being not through faith alone, but, as the apostle says, “through faith and patience,” that they “inherited the promises.” Faith begat patience, which, like a dutiful child, proved the support of its parent. Through patience Moses, so often abused and insulted, and only not stoned by a stiffnecked people, still entreated the Lord for them.
- The present state of man renders the practice of this virtue absolutely necessary for him if he would enjoy any happiness here or hereafter. Could we, indeed, live in the world without suffering, then were there no need of patience. “He that endureth to the end shall be saved. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
- The manifold inconveniences of impatience will set this truth off to great advantage. As patience is the attribute of God, impatience had its beginning from Satan. “Through envy of the devil,” saith the wise man, “came death into the world.” And whence proceeds envy but from impatience of beholding the happiness of another? Impatience and malice, therefore, had one father, and they have grown together in his children ever since. (Bp. Horne.)
Meekness:—It is recorded that after Thomas Aquinas had returned to Bologna a stranger came one day to the monastery, and, visiting the prior, asked that one of the brothers might carry a basket for him to the market to make some purchases. “Tell the first brother you see in the cloisters,” said the prior. The brother happened to be Thomas Aquinas, who, at the curt command of the stranger, took up the basket and followed. But he was suffering from lameness, and the arrogant stranger turned round and scolded him for being so slow. The Bolognese, looking on with indignation at the treatment of the revered teacher of the Schools, said to the visitor, “Do you know who it is that you are treating in this way? It is Brother Thomas!” “Brother Thomas!” he exclaimed; and, falling on his knees, begged the saint’s forgiveness. “Nay” said Thomas, “you must forgive me for being so alow!”
6:11 “But flee from these things” Timothy is commanded (PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE, cf. 2 Tim. 2:22) to flee from the things discussed in vv. 3–10. This is in contrast to the things he was to preach and teach (cf. v. 2b), which are listed in 5:1–6:2a.
|“you man of God”
|“O man of God”
|“as someone dedicated to God”
This was an honorific title from the OT which was used of Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, and David. In 2 Tim. 3:16, 17 it is used for all believers equipped by the word of God. The false teachers are not men of God or equipped by the Word of God.
© “pursue” This is another PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE, an ongoing command. The first (“flee”) is negative, the second (“pursue”) positive. Both are crucial for sound teaching and personal righteousness.
© “righteousness” This must refer to holy living (cf. James 3:13–18), not to imputed (forensic) righteousness as in Romans (cf. chapter 4). See Special Topic at Titus 2:13. Romans 1–8 (a doctrinal summary) speaks of our position in Christ (i.e. justification). The Pastoral Letters (letters against false teaching) speak of our possessing our possession (i.e. sanctification). See Special Topic: Righteousness at Titus 2:12.
This list of Christlike qualities is exactly opposite of the lifestyles of the false teachers. By their fruits you shall know them (cf. Matt. 7).
© “godliness” This is a recurring theme (cf. 3:10; 4:7–8; 6:3, 5–6; 2 Tim. 3:5). Eternal life has observable characteristics. To know God is to be (desire to be) like God (cf. Matt. 5:48).
The Greek word hupomonē has several possible English translations. In A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker say that this word refers to the enduring of toil and suffering (p. 846). Timothy was to face (1) the problems; (2) those who caused the problems; and (3) those affected by the problems with a steadfast endurance. See Special Topic at 4:16.
© “gentleness” Not only was Timothy to endure and persevere, but he was to do so with a faithful, loving, gentle spirit (cf. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:25; Titus 3:3; Gal. 6:1; James 1:21; 3:13, 17; 1 Pet. 2:18; 3:4).
11. Over against the vices which Paul has just condemned (see verses 3–10) stand the virtues which Timothy is urged to cultivate: But you, O man of God, flee away from these things, and run after righteousness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.
Timothy is urged to flee away from such things as wickedness, gold-hunger, error, envy, wrangling, reviling; and to run after, pursue or eagerly seek after (see: N.T.C. on 1 Thess. 5:15; cf. Rom. 12:13; 1 Cor. 14:1; Phil. 3:12) their opposites, namely, righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. This befits him as a “man of God.” In the old dispensation this was a designation of the person who by God had been entrusted with a high office (Moses, Deut. 33:1; Ps. 90:1; David, 2 Chron. 8:14; Elijah, 2 Kings 1:9; the prophets, 1 Sam. 2:27). In the new dispensation, now that every believer is viewed as a partaker of the anointing of the Holy One, and therefore as a prophet, priest, and king (1 John 2:20; cf. 1 Peter 2:9), the description is used with respect to any and every believer, as is clear from 2 Tim. 3:17. And surely, if every Christian is a “man of God,” Timothy, having been placed in a position of great responsibility, is this in a special sense. Now a “man of God” is God’s peculiar possession, his special ambassador. He is, accordingly, the very opposite of the man whose owner is Mammon, whose commands he obeys.
Timothy, then, as a “man of God,” must “run after” righteousness, the state of heart and mind which is in harmony with God’s law, and will lead to godliness, the godly life, truly pious conduct. “Faith, love, and endurance” belong together (Titus 2:2; cf. 2 Tim. 3:10 then 1 Thess. 1:3) just like “faith, love, and hope” (Col. 1:4, 5; cf. “faith, hope, and love,” 1 Cor. 13:13), for endurance is the fruit of hope (1 Thess. 1:3). It is the grace to bear up under adversities; for example, persecution. It amounts to steadfastness no matter what may be the cost, in the full assurance of future victory. (For a word-study of endurance and its synonyms see N.T.C. on 1 Thess. 1:3; 5:14—footnote 108—; 2 Thess. 1:4; 3:5). As to faith, this concept is here used in the subjective sense, active reliance on God and his promises. And love, with Paul, is broad as the ocean, having as its object God in Christ, believers, and in a sense “everyone” (1 Tim. 1:5, 14; 2:15; 4:12; 2 Tim. 1:7, 13; 2:22; 3:10; Titus 2:2; cf. 1 Thess. 3:12). When these virtues are present, gentleness of spirit will certainly result. The word thus translated is found only here in the Greek Bible. Comparison with 2 Tim. 3:10 indicates that it is akin in meaning to longsuffering (patience with respect to persons).
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 260–264). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 555–556). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 407–410). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Barcley, W. B. (2005). A Study Commentary on 1 and 2 Timothy (pp. 195–196). Darlington, England; Webster, NY: Evangelical Press.
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). 1 Timothy (p. 121). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 160–161). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Guthrie, D. (1990). Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 14, p. 129). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Stott, J. R. W. (1996). Guard the truth: the message of 1 Timothy & Titus (pp. 154–155). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: First Timothy (pp. 282–284). New York; Chicago; Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company.
 Utley, R. J. (2000). Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey: I Timothy, Titus, II Timothy (Vol. Volume 9, pp. 83–84). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.
 Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 202–203). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.