Paul assured Timothy, the young pastor of the church at Ephesus, that not everyone would receive the gospel and the sound doctrine he was to “teach and urge” (v.2). He could expect some people to oppose him and to teach false doctrines that would contradict what he was preaching (v.3). Paul gave some insight as to why these false teachers would persist in spreading their unfounded, untrue, unscriptural beliefs. Some of them were so prideful and full of themselves that there was no room for the truth in them (v.4). Others had “an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels” — they found an evil enjoyment in fighting about ideas, causing friction, and stirring up trouble (v.4-5). Still others thought they could profit financially from the novelty of their particular brand of heresy.
Paul told Timothy to run from these troublemakers and their weird ideas, and instead, to pursue the things of God (v.11). Timothy was to be a warrior of truth, “fighting the good fight of faith” to defend the gospel and to keep it from becoming polluted with error (v.12-14). He was to think of himself as a steward and guardian of a precious treasure (v.20). The young preacher’s reward for keeping the gospel message pure would be the glorious return of Christ, the author, the hero, and the Savior of the gospel. At that time, Timothy would be able to stand with the souls he had won to faith, and together they would greet Jesus, “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (v.15-16).
This chapter also includes some practical instruction for two groups of believers in the church who were united spiritually in Christ but divided socially: slaves and wealthy people. There were millions of slaves in the Roman Empire, and the gospel must have been particularly appealing to them. When a slave was saved, he or she may have been tempted to apply their freedom in Christ to their social status and rebel against their masters. Until they could achieve their freedom, Paul advised that they “serve all the better”, allowing their attitude and their Christlikeness to be a witness for the Lord (v.1-2).
As for wealthy people, Paul reminded them to not fall in love with their money or to be ruined by greed (v.9-10). As the saying goes, “Money is a wonderful servant, but a horrible master.” The secret of contentment is not to get “just a little more”, but to thank God for what you have and to realize that money is earthly and temporary. You can’t take it with you (v.7), and wherever you are going, you won’t need it! Verses 17-19 contain some of the most practical advice in the Bible for wealthy believers. Don’t be haughty, Paul warned. Don’t trust in money, but trust in God. Use your wealth to do good for the glory of God and the advance of the gospel. By doing that you can build an eternal portfolio that will never decrease in value!