11But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you confessed the good confession before many witnesses. 13I charge you before the God Who gives life to all things and Christ Jesus, Who in His testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14to keep the commandment spotless and above reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which He will reveal at the proper time, the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, 16Who alone has immortality, Who dwells in unapproachable light, Whom no man has seen nor is able to see—to Him be honor and eternal might, amen. 17To the rich in this present age: charge them to not be arrogant, neither to put hope in the uncertainty of riches, but in God, Who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. 18They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, willing to share, 19storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may indeed take hold of life. 20O Timothy: guard what is entrusted to you, avoid the godless foolish talk and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,” 21for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.
Paul closes out his first letter to Timothy by contrasting his destiny with that of the opponents he’d just mentioned in the section before. The man of God is to run away from greed and pride and instead chase after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness. A word about these last two: in our commitment-wary culture, steadfastness is a dying trait. When the going gets tough, we leave. When our marriages get tough, we divorce. When our emotions cool, we bail. When the newness wears off, we’re nowhere to be found. To be steadfast is a spiritual quality, and we should rediscover it. Moreover, the Greek word for “gentleness” is only used in this one place in the entire New Testament. It is a cognate that combines “gentle” with “pain,” perhaps implying gentleness in the face of suffering. Our Lord was gentle in the face of severe and unfair pain, and was steadfast in His commitment. We are called to emulate this model. The daily walk of faith is a spiritual fight—a struggle—to which we are called. The moment we were justified before Christ is our “spiritual birthday” of sorts, but it’s only the first in a long series of moments in which we must march uphill in steadfastness. Paul invokes Jesus’ model of behavior before Pilate, and most expositors recognize this as creedal language—that is, Paul is reminding Timothy of his doctrinal commitments and their significance. He includes this doxology regarding the nature and character of God Almighty. Next, Paul turns to face the rich people in the Ephesian church. Note that he doesn’t condemn them for being rich; Rather, he mentions worldly wealth as the provision of God that was designed for our enjoyment (6.18). It’s ok to enjoy material blessing. But the rich (and that would include just about everyone in America) should place no hope in riches but in God—and they should be generous, willing to share, and wholly given over to their steadfast commitment to the gospel. Paul also abjures Timothy to not get mixed up in the abhorrent practice of confusing real knowledge with fake knowledge, which is contradictory and unhelpful.
This last section contains great advice for anyone, but especially ministers. Run away from greed and pride, and run toward steadfastness and gentleness, for Christ set that example already. Be prepared to deal with adversity and pain with gentleness and faith. Be prepared for the long haul of the faith—not just the emotional highs of it. Remain committed to sound doctrine and the practice of living for the welfare of others. Know the difference between true knowledge and the world’s definition of knowledge. So are you steadfastly committed to the faith today? Your relationships? Can you face your adversity with gentleness and confidence in your Provider? This is our challenge as believers today.