Well, this book has not been short of difficult passages and has highlighted many areas in my Biblical that require more research and further reading. Chapter six is no different, and is perhaps a very difficult read, especially in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.
This chapter begins with a passage directed at slaves to be respectful to their masters. What we need to remember is that this was written during the Roman period, not during the Atlantic Slave Trade, so this context may help shed light on this. Apparently, around 10% of the entire population of the Roman Empire were slaves during the first century; in Italy is was as high as 30-40%. Also, Paul was written within the legal system of the Roman Empire. The Bible, in this passage, was not encouraging slavery, I believe, but just writing about it as an established fact. Remember, that during the first century, Christians were an oppressed minority, and often persecuted. Therefore, their options would have been restricted.
However, of course, the Atlantic Slave Trade did happen, many years later. Many people used passages (possible such as this one) from the Bible to condone it. However, the legacy of the likes William Wilberforce, whose religious convictions led him to fight for the slave trade to be abolished, is still important to remember. Wilberforce’s actions were very much led by his religious convictions. Interestingly, Wilberforce was also one of the founding members of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Church Mission Society. (I’m currently reading one biography of C.T. Studd and one of William Gladstone, but Wilberforce might be the next on my list.)
Next, this book discusses false teaching and the love of money. It talks about how false teachers cause discord and think godliness and serving the Lord is a means to financial gain. However, godliness should come with contentment, and we should be pleased if “we have food and clothing”. It does remind me of C. T. Studd, who gave away his entire inheritance whilst serving in China and seemed very content with his life because he had clothes and food. In fact, his letters home seemed to extol the virtues of the local Chinese food and how suitable the clothes were for the Chinese climate. Later in the chapter, it tells the rich not to put their hope in money. I know I’m often guilty of that. I think I need to do yet further reading on a Godly attitude towards money. (I need to start writing this list down somewhere!)
Lastly, Timothy is charged to fight the good fight and take care of what has been given to him.