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


In verses 9 and 10 Paul says, “Slaves are to be subject to their own masters in all things, to be well pleasing, not contradicting, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the teachings of our Savior God in all things.” The slaves here are not servants, but bondslaves bought in the market like oxen and horses. Paul charges them to be subject to their own masters in all things. They had no choice, and there was to be no argument. Moreover, the slaves were not to pilfer. On the contrary, they were to show all good faith. Faith here means fidelity, trustworthiness. In this way they would adorn the teachings of our Savior God. The faithfulness of a bondslave can be the ornament of the teaching of God our Savior. He would even accept adornment from bondslaves!

In 2:5 Paul charges the young women to live in such a way that “the word of God may not be blasphemed.” In 2:10 he speaks positively of adorning the teaching of our Savior God. Our daily living should be a beautiful adornment to the teaching we have received. If we live according to the healthy teaching of the apostles, we shall adorn these teachings by our living. If we have a bright testimony of a living which is Jesusly human, our neighbors will realize that we are genuine Christians. They will confess that our living is the adornment of the teachings we have received in the Lord’s recovery. We should live not only in a way that is different from that of others, but in a way that is higher and more respectable. Others may even desire to follow us, because they have observed the high standard of our daily life. They may seek to learn how they can have such a life themselves.

In 2:10 Paul speaks of “our Savior God.” Our Savior is not only Christ, but God Triune embodied in Christ, as indicated in verse 13. Our Savior God desires not only to save us, but also to teach us the full knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). Hence, there is the teaching of our Savior God, which may be adorned, beautified, by the transformed character of the most vile persons saved by His grace.


Verse 11 begins with the little word for, indicating that what is to follow explains how it is possible for slaves to have a human living according to God’s standard. Verses 11 through 14 give us a remarkable summary of the economy of God’s salvation. The apostle uses this as a reason for his exhortations in verses 1 through 10.

Verse 11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.” The grace of God is actually God Himself in Christ as everything to us for our enjoyment. This grace plays the most important role in the economy of God’s salvation. Grace came through Christ (John 1:17). It was given to us in eternity (2 Tim. 1:9), but was hidden in the Old Testament. It appeared in the New Testament through the first appearing of Christ (2 Tim. 1:10), bringing salvation to all men, both Jews and Gentiles.

The eternal grace of God, the saving grace, was destined in Christ to bring to us His salvation, the complete salvation which includes forgiveness, justification, reconciliation, redemption, regeneration, sanctification, transformation, and conformation. The eternal grace of God was also destined to redeem us back to God, to impart His life to us, and to bring us into an organic union with Him for the fulfillment of His eternal purpose.

In verse 12 Paul says that the grace of God is training us that, “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in the present age.” Worldly lusts are lusts that find their gratification in this world. Ungodliness is the failure to express God; worldly lusts are the expression of our flesh. Both of these should be denied that we may live a God-expressing and flesh-restricting life. To live soberly is to live discreetly, in a way of self-restriction. Soberly is in regard to ourselves; righteously, to others; and godly, to God.

By the grace of God we are being trained to live soberly, righteously, and godly. This requires that we deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Ungodliness is a living which does not express God. We should not have anything to do with the life that fails to express God. Furthermore, we should abandon whatever attracts us to earthly things or draws us to them. Forsaking ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live a life which is sober toward ourselves, righteous toward others, and godly toward God.

(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Chapter 24, by Witness Lee)