John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
on the Whole Bible
Let servants under the yoke - Of heathen masters. Account them worthy of all honour - All the honour due from a servant to a master. Lest the name of God and his doctrine be blasphemed - As it surely will, if they do otherwise.
Verse 2. Let them not despise them - Pay them the less honour or obedience. Because they are brethren - And in that respect on a level with them. They that live in a religious community know the danger of this; and that greater grace is requisite to bear with the faults of a brother, than of an infidel, or man of the world. But rather do them service - Serve them so much the more diligently. Because they are joint partakers of the great benefit - Salvation. These things - Paul, the aged, gives young Timotheus a charge to dwell upon practical holiness. Less experienced teachers are apt to neglect the superstructure, whilst they lay the foundation; but of so great importance did St. Paul see it to enforce obedience to Christ, as well as to preach faith in his blood, that, after strongly urging the life of faith on professors, he even adds another charge for the strict observance of it.
Verse 3. If any teach otherwise - Than strict practical holiness in all Its branches. And consent not to sound words - Literally, healthful words; words that have no taint of falsehood, or tendency to encourage sin. And the doctrine which is after godliness - Exquisitely contrived to answer all the ends, and secure every interest, of real piety.
Verse 4. He is puffed up - Which is the cause of his not consenting to the doctrine which is after inward, practical religion. By this mark we may know them. Knowing nothing - As he ought to know. Sick of questions - Doatinglyy fond of dispute; an evil, but common, disease; especially where practice is forgotten. Such, indeed, contend earnestly for singular phrases, and favourite points of their own. Everything else, however, like the preaching of Christ and his apostles, is all "law," and "bondage," and "carnal reasoning." Strifes of words - Merely verbal controversies. Whereof cometh envy - Of the gifts and success of others. Contention - For the pre-eminence. Such disputants seldom like the prosperity of others, or to be less esteemed themselves. Evil surmisings - It not being their way to think well of those that differ from themselves in opinion.
Verse 5. Supposing that gain is godliness - Thinking the best religion is the getting of money: a far more common case than is usually supposed.
Verse 6. But godliness with content - The inseparable companion of true, vital religion. Is great gain - Brings unspeakable profit in time, as well as eternity.
Verse 7. Neither can we carry anything out - To what purpose, then, do we heap together so many things? O, give me one thing,-a safe and ready passage to my own country!
Verse 8. Covering - That is, raiment and an house to cover us. This is all that a Christian needs, and all that his religion allows him to desire.
Verse 9. They that desire to be rich - To have more than these; for then they would be so far rich; and the very desire banishes content, and exposes them to ruin. Fall-plunge - A sad gradation! Into temptation - Miserable food for the soul! And a snare - Or trap. Dreadful "covering!" And into many foolish and hurtful desires - Which are sown and fed by having more than we need. Then farewell all hope of content! What then remains, but destruction for the body, and perdition for the soul?
Verse 10. Love of money - Commonly called "prudent care" of what a man has. Is the root - The parent of all manner of evils. Which some coveting have erred - Literally, missed the mark. They aimed not at faith, but at something else. And pierced themselves with many sorrows - From a guilty conscience, tormenting passions, desires contrary to reason, religion, and one another. How cruel are worldly men to themselves!
Verse 11. But thou, O man of God - Whatever all the world else do. A man of God is either a prophet, a messenger of God, or a man devoted to God; a man of another world. Flee - As from a serpent, instead of coveting these things. Follow after righteousness - The whole image of God; though sometimes this word is used, not in the general, but in the particular, acceptation, meaning only that single branch of it which is termed justice. Faith - Which is also taken here in the general and full sense; namely, a divine, supernatural sight of God, chiefly in respect of his mercy in Christ. This faith is the foundation of righteousness, the support of godliness, the root of every grace of the Spirit. Love - This St. Paul intermixes with everything that is good: he, as it were, penetrates whatever he treats of with love, the glorious spring of all inward and outward holiness.
Verse 12. Fight the good fight of faith - Not about words. Lay hold on eternal life - Just before thee. Thou hast confessed the good confession - Perhaps at his baptism: so likewise, 1 Timothy 6:13; but with a remarkable variation of the expression. Thou hast confessed the good confession before many witnesses -To which they all assented. He witnessed the good confession; but Pilate did not assent to it.
Verse 13. I charge thee before God, who quickeneth all things -Who hath quickened thee, and will quicken thee at the great day.
Verse 15. Which - Appearing. In his own times - The power, the knowledge, and the revelation of which, remain in his eternal mind.
Verse 16. Who only hath underived, independent immortality. Dwelling in light unapproachable - To the highest angel. Whom no man hath seen, or can see - With bodily eyes. Yet "we shall see him as he is."
Verse 17. What follows seems to be a kind of a postscript. Charge the rich in this world - Rich in such beggarly riches as this world affords. Not to be highminded - O who regards this! Not to think better of themselves for their money, or anything it can purchase. Neither to trust in uncertain riches - Which they may lose in an hour; either for happiness or defence. But in the living God - All the rest is dead clay. Who giveth us - As it were holding them out to us in his hand. All things - Which we have. Richly - Freely, abundantly. To enjoy - As his gift, in him and for him. When we use them thus, we do indeed enjoy all things. Where else is there any notice taken of the rich, in all the apostolic writings, save to denounce woes and vengeance upon them?
Verse 18. To do good - To make this their daily employ, that they may be rich - May abound in all good works. Ready to distribute - Singly to particular persons. Willing to communicate - To join in all public works of charity.
Verse 19. Treasuring up for themselves a good foundation - Of an abundant reward, by the free mercy of God. That they may lay hold on eternal life - This cannot be done by alms-deeds; yet they "come up for a memorial before God," Acts 10:4. And the lack even of this may be the cause why God will withhold grace and salvation from us.
Verse 20. Keep that which is committed to thy trust - The charge I have given thee, 1 Timothy 1:18. Avoid profane empty babblings - How weary of controversy was this acute disputant! And knowledge falsely so called - Most of the ancient heretics were great pretenders to knowledge.