Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Timothy 6:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He is proud - Τετυφωται· He is blown up, or inflated with a vain opinion of his own knowledge; whereas his knowledge is foolishness, for he knows nothing.

Doting about questions - He is sick, distempered, about these questions relative to the Mosaic law and the traditions of the elders; for it is most evident that the apostle has the Judaizing teachers in view, who were ever, in questions of theology, straining out a gnat, and swallowing a camel.

Strifes of words - Λογομαχιας· Logomachies ; verbal contentions; splitting hairs; producing Hillel against Shammai, and Shammai against Hillel, relative to the particular mode in which the punctilios of some rites should be performed. In this sort of sublime nonsense the works of the Jewish rabbins abound.

Whereof cometh envy, strife, etc. - How little good have religious disputes ever done to mankind, or to the cause of truth! Most controversialists have succeeded in getting their own tempers soured, and in irritating their opponents. Indeed, truth seems rarely to be the object of their pursuit; they labor to accredit their own party by abusing and defaming others; from generals they often descend to particulars; and then personal abuse is the order of the day. Is it not strange that Christians either cannot or will not see this? Cannot any man support his own opinions, and give his own views of the religion of Christ, without abusing and calumniating his neighbor? I know not whether such controversialists should not be deemed disturbers of the public peace, and come under the notice of the civil magistrate. Should not all Christians know that the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of the Lord?

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

He is proud - That is, he is lifted up with his fancied superior acquaintance with the nature of religion. The Greek verb means, properly, “to smoke, to fume;” and then to be inflated, to “be conceited, etc.” The idea is, that he has no proper knowledge of the nature of the gospel, and yet he values himself on a fancied superior acquaintance with its principles.

Knowing nothing - Margin, “a fool.” That is, that he does not understand the nature of religion as he supposes he does. His views in regard to the relation of masters and servants, and to the bearing of religion on that relation, show that he does not understand the genius of Christianity. The apostle expresses this in strong language; by saying that he knows nothing; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 8:2.

But doting - Margin, “sick.” The Greek word - νοσέω noseō- means properly to be sick; then to languish, to pine after. The meaning here is, that such persons had a sickly or morbid desire for debates of this kind. They had not a sound and healthy state of mind on the subject of religion. They were like a sickly man, who has no desire for solid and healthful food, but for that which will gratify a diseased appetite. They desired not sound doctrine, but controversies about unimportant and unsubstantial matters - things that bore the same relation to important doctrines which the things that a sick man pines after do to substantial food.

Questions and strifes of words - The Jews abounded much in disputes of this sort, and it would seem probable that the persons here referred to were Jewish teachers; compare 1 Timothy 1:6-7 notes, and Acts 18:15 note.

Whereof cometh envy - The only fruit of which is to produce envy. That is, the appearance of superior knowledge; the boast of being profoundly acquainted with religion, and the show of an ability for subtle argumentation, would produce in a certain class envy. Envy is uneasiness, pain, mortification, or discontent, excited by another‘s prosperity, or by his superior knowledge or possessions; see the notes on Romans 1:29.

Strife - Or contentions with those who will not readily yield to their opinions.

Railings - Harsh and abusive language toward those who will not concede a point - a common effect of disputes, and more commonly of disputes about small and unimportant matters, than of these which are of magnitude. Such railings often attend disputes that arise out of nice and subtle distinctions.

Evil surmisings - Suspicions that they are led to hold their views, not by the love of the truth, but from sordid or worldly motives. Such suspicions are very apt to attend an angry debate of any kind. It might be expected especially to exist on such a question as the apostle refers to here - the relation of a master and a slave. It is always very hard to do justice to the motives of one who seems to us to be living in sin, or to believe it to be possible that he acts from right motives.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Christians were not to suppose that religious knowledge, or Christian privileges, gave them any right to despise heathen masters, or to disobey lawful commands, or to expose their faults to others. And such as enjoyed the privilege of living with believing masters, were not to withhold due respect and reverence, because they were equal in respect to religious privileges, but were to serve with double diligence and cheerfulness, because of their faith in Christ, and as partakers of his free salvation. We are not to consent to any words as wholesome, except the words of our Lord Jesus Christ; to these we must give unfeigned consent. Commonly those are most proud who know least; for they do not know themselves. Hence come envy, strife, railings, evil-surmisings, disputes that are all subtlety, and of no solidity, between men of corrupt and carnal minds, ignorant of the truth and its sanctifying power, and seeking their worldly advantage.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 540-1

By this parable Christ would teach His disciples not to judge or value men by their wealth or by the honors which they received of others. Such was the course pursued by the Pharisees, who, while possessing both riches and worldly honor, were valueless in the sight of God and, more than this, were despised and rejected of Him, cast out from His sight as disgusting to Him because there was no moral worth or soundness in them. They were corrupt, sinful, and abominable in His sight. The poor man, despised by his fellow mortals and disgusting to their sight, was valuable in the sight of God because he possessed moral soundness and worth, thus qualifying him to be introduced into the society of refined, holy angels and to be an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. 1T 540.1

In Paul's charge to Timothy he warns him of a class who will not consent to wholesome words and who place a wrong estimate on riches. He says: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” 1T 540.2

Paul in this letter to Timothy would impress upon his mind the necessity of giving such instruction as should remove the deception which so easily steals upon the rich, that because of their riches they are superior to those who are in poverty, that because of their ability to acquire they are superior in wisdom and judgment—in short, that gain is godliness. Here is a fearful deception. How few heed the charge which Paul commissioned Timothy to make to the rich! How many flatter themselves that their acquisitiveness is godliness! Paul declares, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Although rich persons may devote their whole lives to the one object of getting riches, yet as they brought nothing into the world, they can carry nothing out. They must die and leave that which cost them so much labor to obtain. They staked their all, their eternal interest, to obtain this property, and have lost both worlds. 1T 541.1

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Ellen G. White
Lift Him Up, 216.5

Evil surmising and evil speaking will be put away. You will talk and we will not be thinking of ourselves and what others are doing, but what God and Jesus are doing.... What are they doing? They are cleansing the sanctuary.... We should be with Him in this work and be cleansing the sanctuary of our souls of all unrighteousness, that our names may be written in the Lamb's book of life, that our sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. It is the most solemn work that was ever given to mortals. LHU 216.5

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Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 172.2

Surrounded by a Wall Not Easily Broken Down—Every Christian home should have rules; and parents should, in their words and in their deportment toward each other, give to the children a precious living example of what they desire them to be. Purity in speech and true Christian courtesy should be constantly practiced. Let there be no encouragement of sin, no evil surmising or evil speaking. 1MCP 172.2

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 235.5

When you feel an angry spirit arising, take firm hold of Jesus Christ by faith. Utter no word. Danger lies in the utterance of a single word when you are angry, for a volley of passionate utterances will follow.... The man who gives way to folly in speaking passionate words, bears false witness; for he is never just. He exaggerates every defect he thinks he sees; he is too blind and unreasonable to be convinced of his madness. He transgresses the commandments of God, and his imagination is perverted by the inspiration of Satan. He knows not what he is doing. Blind and deaf, he permits Satan to take the helm and guide him wherever he pleases. The door is then thrown open to malice, to envy, and to evil surmisings, and the poor victim is borne helplessly on.... But there is hope while the hours of probation linger, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.... OHC 235.5

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