But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.1 Timothy 6:11-12 ASV
The fact that a Christian has been called of God and is equipped for service by the gift of the Holy Spirit does not eliminate the necessity for strenuous effort.
A Christian must:
(1 Timothy 6:11). One of the best influences is a pair of heels.
To flee is not enough, being only negative; the positive counterpart of flight is following the Lord.
(1 Timothy 6:12). Whatever metaphor Paul had in mind, whether athletic or military, one phase of Christian living is certainly that of … ACTIVE RESISTANCE TO EVIL.
The imagery of a fight is not that of a mere boxing match, or of any other particular contest such as marked the Olympian games, but rather to the entire course of life, which Paul surely regarded as “the grand fight,” the same being not a contest looking merely to the defeat of others but of triumphing over every obstacle that stood between him and the crown of life.
That such a contest involved struggling against enemies, and even struggling with himself, is, of course, inherent.
(1 Timothy 6:12). Salvation is freely offered, but it must be grasped. This is a term which means “take hold once for all.”
Excavations at Pompeii found the body of a soldier buried alive because no one came to relieve him at his post of duty. A similar faithful endurance to death is indicated by this.
The six virtues enumerated in this verse contrast with the six vices in 1 Timothy 6:4,5, but that we cannot arrange them in pairs of opposites.
“O man of God”
The force of this is very great.
It means the person worshipping and serving God, as contrasted with the money-lovers just denounced.
That is, flee from the pursuit of money; turn away from it; put it out of sight. The love of money in ministers of religion does more to discredit it in the eyes of ordinary people than would indulgence in many grosser sins.
The military metaphor was a favorite of Paul’s; putting on the whole armor of God, enduring hardness as a good soldier, and many other references are made to it in his epistles.
“Lay hold on the life eternal”
But was not Timothy already saved?
Indeed he was, but the New Testament makes it starkly clear that fidelity on the part of Christians is also required of them if they really hope to enter heaven at last.
Whereunto thou wast also called
All men are called in the sense of being objects of God’s invitation to receive eternal life; but, as so frequently in the New Testament, “a call” means one answered and responded to; and so it was with Timothy.
The time of his conversion is clearly in mind here, as the immediate reference to “the good confession” proves.
And didst confess the good confession
In the primitive church, the baptism of an individual was a matter in which the church generally took an interest and part … This explains the “many witnesses” of Timothy’s good confession.
This seems to point clearly to his baptism. The good confession in view here is that of Christ himself confessing himself the Son of God (Mark 14:62), which is analogous to the baptismal confession of Acts 8:37 (KJV and ASV margin).
THE GOOD CONFESSION
Why is this called the good confession twice in a single short paragraph?
- It is the good confession because Christ made it, under oath (Mark 14:62), the same being the legal charge upon which our Lord was condemned to be crucified (John 19:7). Christ made it and died for making it, in order that men might make it and live.
- It is the good confession because God himself made it three times, speaking out of heaven in broad open daylight, namely, (1) at the baptism of Christ (Matthew 3:17), (2) at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:5), and (3) when the Greeks came to see Jesus (John 12:28).
- It is the good confession because all men, evil and righteous alike, shall at last make the good confession (Philippians 2:11). Since all must make it EVENTUALLY, why not make it in this life and be saved?
- It is “unto salvation,” as also clearly appears in this verse (Romans 10:10). It is a vital part of the plan of salvation.
- Christ himself will confess those who make it, that occasion being, in all probability, the time when the redeemed have their names written in the book of life.
- It has been made by the saints of all ages. Nathaniel made it (John 1:49), Peter made it (Matthew 16:16), Timothy made it (1 Timothy 6:12), Nicodemus made it (John 3:2), Thomas made it (John 20:28), Judas who betrayed him made it (Matthew 27:4), the judge who tried him made it (Matthew 27:24), Pilate’s wife made it (Matthew 27:19), the centurion in charge of his execution made it (Matthew 27:54), and the greater thief on the cross confessed him (Luke 23:42).
- The same is true of the angels, and of demons. The night he was born, the angels of heaven said, “Behold there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11); and the demons said, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God?” (Mark 5:7). Heaven, earth and hell all have one word of Jesus Christ, “He is the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, the Son of God Most High.”
- The good confession is “good” because it is a summary of all Christian doctrine. Everything depends upon this, the rock of our salvation. It is the profoundest fact revealed in Scripture, and yet, paradoxically, it is easily understood. Like the mighty ocean, it has shallows where a child may play, and great deeps that have never been fathomed.