In English class, they teach you not to write sentences and thoughts that go on longer than they should or directions that they should not go. They call these “run-on” sentences, or in conversations, you might say that they got off on a tangent. As a parent of a child with some special needs, I often find myself in conversations with my son traveling down a verbal road with no end in sight. The worst is when he comes down in the morning and says, “Dad, can I tell you about my dream?” I know at that moment if I say “Yes,” I have punched my ticket for a roller coaster ride of a dream discussion, and if I say “No,” I have a twinge of guilt for not being the perfect dad! The reality is that he just wants to tell me what he is excited about or what has happened to him. He cannot hold it back, and he cannot cut it short. As I was reading 1 Timothy 6:11-16, I was reminded of these conversations with my son, where the excitement and enthusiasm cannot be contained in short statements, but overflow with much descriptive language. The difference is, Paul has much reason to go off on tangents or write run-on sentences because he is consumed with a passion for God’s glory and the impact that has or should have on the follower of Jesus.
Our section begins with a transition statement in which Paul directs the attention back to Timothy, referred to in vs. 11 as “man of God.” It is fair to say, though, that Paul’s instructions apply to all of us, though in this case they seem directed at his son/pastor. This transition verse first instructs Timothy to “flee these things,” which would refer to, at the very least, to the love of money and the temptation and evil that is found there. We are to flee these things, but the focus of this paragraph is more on the pursuit of God: listing a series of items that seems to parallel the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). While this appears to be the focus of Paul’s intent in this section, he goes off into multiple tangents as he considers the God we serve and our Savior, Jesus Christ. There is a calling on God’s people to pursue God, to pursue righteousness, godliness, etc. There is a calling, especially on ministry leaders, to be above reproach and to keep the commands of God free from reproach. But all of this is grounded and centered around the person and character of God, the person, and character of Jesus. It is in these exhortations that Paul cannot help himself, just as my son cannot help himself: Paul has to talk about the wonder, the majesty, the grace and glory of God. Let’s walk through, briefly, the statements Paul brings into this charge to Timothy.
God gives life to all things. In our relatively informed minds, we acknowledge that God gives life. God is the Creator. God also sustains life by His grace. But the question before us is why does Paul include this in his charge to Timothy? Not only does he mention that God gives life to all things, but this charge is made with a full awareness of the presence of God with them. The effect of this is to elevate the charge that Paul is giving Timothy. It is not just a mentor motivating a mentee. It is a divine appointment to follow after God and lead others in that way. Timothy is reminded that God’s presence is with him, the God who gives and sustains life, who calls and saves His people, giving them eternal life.
Paul takes Timothy back to the cross, to the trials, and to the good confession that Jesus made, not shrinking back in the face of opposition, but holding firm to the truth. It was the example Paul was following and the example to which he is calling Timothy. Anyone who follows Jesus will face persecution, and those who are on the front lines of the battle will face attacks from the enemy.
The appearing of Jesus will happen at the proper time.This is not all there is; the followers of Jesus has a future ahead of them. There are differing views on how and when this appearing will come, but all believe that the day will come when Jesus will appear when the kingdom will be fully realized, and Jesus will reign as the King. Until that day, there is work to do, but the work is done with an eye for that day. In Paul’s charge to Timothy, he is sure to remind him that this ministry, this command is to be kept pure until that day and for that day. There will be and has been a long wait, but it is not an empty waiting. Rather it is a waiting that has a certain future at the end.
Jesus: the blessed, the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of Lord’s, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom has never been seen nor can be seen by man. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. What a wonderful benediction to this book, even as it falls a few verses before the end. It is in this that we see the passion that Paul has for the glory of God. His life, post-conversion, was characterized by bringing people to see the glory of God and calling for a response.
Notice the descriptive terms and the strength these can bring to our walk with God. He is the blessed sovereign, the one who rules and reigns over the universe. He is the King of kings and Lord of Lord’s; He raises up and puts down kings all according to His plan. He rules the rulers and directs their actions. He alone has immortality, bringing us back to the idea mentioned earlier that God is the giver of life because He is the possessor of life. He lives or dwells in unapproachable light. We are brought in our minds back to the time of Moses, where He was not allowed to see His glory, that no one can see God and live. This same God is the one who draws near to us, who chooses to bring us into His kingdom and His presence. Paul ends, then, with a doxology recognizing the honor and eternal dominion of God. It only makes sense, then, for the child of God, for the servant of the Lord, to pursue God, to pursue righteousness, to pursue all the things of God because it is where we alone find hope and strength!