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Love of Money August 28, 2013

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Timothy 6:3-10.

Summary: Paul begins by condemning empty and irreligious teachers who are carried away by foolish curiosity and despise anything helpful and substantial – they are full of folly and they know nothing. They spread their disease around by engaging in contentious disputes about words that result in anger and strong disagreements. Indeed, they measure Christianity by how much profit they can derive from it.

Paul then asserts that the godly always have sufficient possessions, which brings complete blessedness. Believers should only strive for the necessities of life, since the desire for possessions is evil. Anyone who has the accumulation of wealth as his main aim in life gives himself over to the devil. Paul concludes by stating that countless evils spring from covetousness – including apostasy, which leads to those who are beyond all hope being plagued by the dreadful anguish of their consciences.

Thoughts: In verses 3-5, Paul condemns those false teachers in Ephesus who preached for financial gain. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 4:

…but rather the kind of question dealt with in the schools of the Sorbonne, which displayed intellectual ability. There one question led to another, and there was no end of them, everybody indulging his vanity in seeking to know more than he should, ending up in infinite quarrels. Just as in hot weather thick clouds cannot be dispersed except by thunder, so these thorny questions are bound to cause disputes.

Now I learned about Calvin’s disputes with the theologians of the Sorbonne when writing a previous post. I do wonder if the theologians of the Sorbonne were aware of Calvin’s commentary on 1 Timothy; if so, how did they respond to it? Were these teachers of the Sorbonne motivated by intellectual “vanity” and the desire to display their knowledge, or did they genuinely seek a deeper understanding of God’s Word? Which passages of Scripture did these theologians of the Sorbonne study intensely? I assume that Calvin’s dispute with these teachers of the Sorbonne was not resolved during his lifetime – yet I hope to meet them in the next life and learn more about their “infinite quarrels.”

In verse 10, Paul notes that some of those believers who suffered from the sin of greed ended up falling away from their faith. Calvin drives home this point:

People who suffer from this disease gradually degenerate until they completely renounce their faith.

In some sense, this verse highlights Paul’s overriding concern in this letter: the Gospel must be effectively preached in order to save as many of its hearers as possible. Anything that hindered – or even reversed – the progress of the Gospel must be nipped in the bud, and Paul knew that the sin of greed was a major stumbling block for at least some believers. Paul must have been deeply frustrated as he wrote this verse, as it is probable that he and Timothy had initially converted at least some of these apostates; watching greed ruin their good work for God’s kingdom must have been heartbreaking. Hopefully these apostates had the opportunity to hear Paul’s teaching on this point and repent of their sins.

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