v1-2 - This chapter opens with an appeal to those under the 'yoke' of slavery, recognizing the burden they're under. Surprisingly, however, Paul doesn't rile them up to protest for their freedom.
Rather, salves are commanded to respect their masters, especially the masters who are members of the church, so that the gospel message of the church will not be compromised.
It seems odd to us that Paul would not more aggressively advocate for the freedom of slaves in Roman society.
The fact that he doesn't is certainly not a back handed endorsement of slavery, but rather a reminder that a person's socio-economic conditions in this world are of little lasting importance.
We live in a society that wants to categorize everyone into either oppressors or oppressed.
This may seem beneficial to the oppressed until it becomes clear that this constant evaluation shreds every ounce of unity between people.
Instead, the Bible announces that Christians find their dignity and self worth in their citizenship in the Kingdom of God, in which all people belong equally to Jesus Christ, regardless of their current station in life (and for the record, the Bible does encourage Christians to improve their lot in this life when possible (Philemon & 1 Corinthians 7:21).
v3-5 - Paul reminds Pastor Timothy not to put up with people who will not agree with sound doctrine.
v6-10 - This passage gives the much needed context to properly understand v1-2.
God wants you not to just blindly obey Him, but He wants you to be content, which is better than being happy (a condition based solely on temporary circumstances).
If you have the basic necessities in life, be content and do not fall into the trap of constantly wanting more.
Having more than others is not wrong, but constantly wanting more than you have is the root of all evil (v10).
With this understanding, we can see that even the poorest slave has an equal (or maybe even better) chance of achieving contentment in life than does the richest aristocrat, which is why Paul gave the advice he did in v1-2.
v11-19 - Anytime you read the words "But you..." in the Bible, be sure to pay attention, because the instruction that follows will be critical for you to understand, especially as culture descends around you.
Flee the empty pursuit of worldly gain and pursue godliness;
Fight (contend) for the faith;
Take hold of eternal life right now - don't wait till you die!
Don't put your hope in the things you have;
Put your hope in God, because He "richly provides you with everything for your enjoyment!"
Do good, and as you do so you are investing in treasure in heaven, and "take hold of the life that is truly life (v19)."
v20-21 - Paul signs off to Timothy with one last piece of advice:
Turn away from the "godless chatter" (literally 'worthless empty sounds') that the world is constantly shouting at you.
It's fake news that causes some to depart from the faith. Beware!
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle.
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Paul mentions something to Timothy about water and wine in this chapter. What is it? (See verse 23.)
How would you explain to someone that it's not selfish for the church to only be concerned with the needy in their own congregations?
Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Father God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see (v15-16)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the strength needed to fight the good fight of the faith and to take hold of the eternal life to which you've been called (v12).
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: