Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, by Witness Lee


In verse 13 Paul goes on to say, “I charge you before God, Who gives life to all things, and Christ Jesus, Who witnessed before Pontius Pilate the good confession.” Here Paul describes God as the One who gives life to all things. This indicates that we must focus our attention on life. Every aspect of our Christian walk must be something to which God can give life.

Paul’s concept in verse 13 is that God gives life and that when Christ was on earth, He lived the eternal life. He lived by the very God who gives life to all things. Then at the end of His journey on earth, He stood before Pontius Pilate and made a good confession. The Lord’s confession before Pilate was related to His living by the divine life. Now we can understand why Paul charges Timothy before God and before Christ Jesus. He charges Timothy before God because God gives life to all things, and he charges him before Christ Jesus because He lived the eternal life and confessed it before Pontius Pilate. Therefore, Paul indicates that Timothy must be such a person; that is, he must be a man of God. Christ was truly a man of God, living righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and meekness. Now Paul charges Timothy to be the same kind of person, a man of God living by the divine life.

In verse 14 Paul continues, “That you keep the commandment spotless, without reproach, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The commandment must refer to the charge in verses 11 and 12. The word appearing refers to the Lord’s second coming. Paul charges Timothy to live the life of a man of God until the coming of the Lord Jesus. Then the Lord could speak well of Timothy as one who lived on earth as the continuation of Himself. I hope that at the time of the Lord’s appearing, He will be able to say to us, “Faithful child, you have been part of My continuation. I lived on earth as a man of God. You were My continuation because you also lived the life of a man of God. You did not live by the natural life, but you lived by the eternal life.”

In verses 15 and 16 Paul goes on to say, “Which in its own times He will show, the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of those who reign as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, Who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, Whom no man has seen nor can see, to Whom be honor and eternal might. Amen.” The relative pronoun “which” refers to “appearing” in verse 14. The personal pronoun “He” in verse 15 refers to God the Father, according to Acts 1:7. Although the Father dwells in unapproachable light, we not only can approach Him in Christ, but we also can have fellowship with Him. We can approach the Father because we are no longer in darkness. He is in the light, and we are in the light also (1 John 1:5, 7).


In a very real sense, 1 Timothy concludes with 6:16. However, in verses 17 through 19 Paul gives an additional charge to the rich. Verse 17 says, “Charge those who are rich in the present age not to be high-minded, nor to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God Who affords us all things richly for our enjoyment.” This word may be regarded as a supplement to 6:7-10.

The rich are often a source of trouble to the church. However, many Christian leaders today like to have rich people in their congregations. But we should not have any preference for the rich. The poor may burden the church somewhat, but they do not damage the church or ruin it. Rich people damage God’s economy much more than do the poor. The New Testament even says that those who are poor, either spiritually or materially, are blessed (Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20). Because Paul deals with God’s dispensation concerning the church, he cannot avoid speaking about the problems of rich people. He charges them not to be high-minded, nor to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches.

In their fund-raising activities, many Christian leaders give glory to those rich people who donate large sums of money. But they often neglect those who give only a small amount. The leading ones in the churches and the co-workers should not have this appreciation of rich people. Brother Nee even had the practice of not spending time with the wealthy. He preferred to be invited to the home of a poor brother. In this matter Brother Nee’s attitude no doubt was right.

Verses 18 and 19 continue, “To do good, to be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying away for themselves as a treasure a good foundation for the future, that they may lay hold on that which is really life.” Doing good here refers to the ready distribution of material things to the needy and the willing communication with such needs. To be rich in good works is to be rich according to God’s pleasure (Eph. 2:10), not only in material things. The expression “a good foundation for the future” refers to the next age (compared with the present age in verse 17), the kingdom age, when the overcoming saints will enjoy the Lord’s reward. For this we all need to lay a good foundation in the present age as a treasure for us to enjoy in the future. Those who are rich in this age should use their riches in such a way that they lay away as a treasure a good foundation for the future.

In verse 19 Paul charges Timothy to encourage the rich to “lay hold on that which is really life.” This life is the eternal life referred to in verse 12. Material riches are for the human natural life in this age, which is temporal and hence not real. If we do good with material things, we accomplish something for the real life, laying away a treasure for our enjoyment in the eternal life in the next age. This requires us to lay hold on God’s eternal life, which is the real life. Otherwise, we shall lay hold on our human natural life in laying away a treasure of material riches for a life in this age, a life that is not real. We should care for the eternal life rather than for the natural life.

Both verse 12 and verse 19 stress the eternal life of God. This indicates that the divine life is the vital and crucial factor in our Christian life.


Verses 20 and 21 say, “O Timothy, guard the deposit, turning away from profane, vain babblings and oppositions of what is falsely called knowledge, which some professing have misaimed concerning the faith.” The deposit was that which was committed to Timothy and entrusted to him: the healthy words which he received from Paul not only for himself, but also for others. By “what is falsely called knowledge” Paul means the teachings of the false teachers, teachings which were called knowledge (probably referring to Gnostic knowledge). This false knowledge replaced the genuine knowledge of the healthy word of God which was entrusted to Timothy. Those who profess what is falsely called knowledge have misaimed concerning the faith. Concerning the objective contents of our belief, they have missed the mark, as in shooting. They have misaimed concerning God’s New Testament economy. After giving this further word, Paul concludes by saying, “Grace be with you.”

(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)