1 Timothy 6

Right Working and Teaching

Roman Slavery

Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor (1 Timothy 6:1).

Some slaves of the Roman era were badly treated, including restraint in humiliating and difficult ways like the iron shackles shown here. It is noteworthy that Paul does not qualify his exhortation to honor masters, but here makes it a blanket statement. In contrast to the masters mentioned in the following verse, the masters mentioned here clearly included those who were not believers in Jesus.

Respectful Behavior

Do not let those who have believing masters be disrespectful to them (1 Timothy 6:2).

To be “disrespectful” (Gk. kataphroneō) meant to scorn or to look down on. Paul clearly did not allow equality and freedom in Christ to justify behavior that would have a detrimental effect on the church. One way of showing respect was to bow, as illustrated by this bronze figurine.

Contrary Teaching

If anyone teaches otherwise . . . not according to the teaching of godliness (1 Timothy 6:3).

This 2nd century AD funerary stele, known as the Flavia Sophe Inscription, records a poem that reflects Gnostic beliefs. Gnosticism was considered a deviation from true Christianity from a rather early stage. This stele comes from near the Basilica of Saint Stefano in Rome.

Arrogant Errors

He is conceited and understands nothing (1 Timothy 6:4).

Epicurus was a famous Greek philosopher of the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. Among other things, he taught that death was the end of both the body and the soul; that the gods existed but did not enter into human affairs; and that the senses were the only reliable sources of knowledge about the world. Although there is no hint that Paul specifically had Epicurus in mind, followers of Epicurean philosophy would surely have met his criteria for ignorance of the truth. In fact, Christianity was one of the major influences that brought Epicureanism to an end. This bust of Epicurus is thought to have been based on an original from the 3rd century BC.

Fleeing Unrighteousness

But you, O man of God, flee these things (1 Timothy 6:11).

This mosaic shows the last king of Persia, Darius III, fleeing in his chariot from Alexander the Great. Although this mosaic dates to the late 2nd century BC (125–120 BC), it is thought to be a copy of an earlier, 4th century BC painting by Philoxenos. It comes from the exedra of the House of the Faun at Pompeii. It was photographed in the Naples Archaeological Museum.

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