9. Fidelis sermo, dignusque qui modis onmibus approbetur.
10. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.
10. Nam in hoc et laboramus, et probris afficimur, quod spem fixam habemus in Deo vivente, qui servator est omnium hominum, maxime fidelium.
6. Exhibiting these things to the brethren. By this expression he exhorts Timothy to mention those things frequently; and he afterwards repeats this a second and a third time; for they are things of such a nature as it is proper to call frequently to remembrance. And we ought to make the contrast which is implied; for the doctrine which he commends is here contrasted by him not with false or wicked doctrines, but with useless trifles which do not edify. He wishes that those trifles may be entirely buried in forgetfulness, when he enjoins Timothy to be earnest in exhibiting other things.
Thou shalt be a good minister. Men frequently aim at something else than to approve themselves to Christ; and consequently many are desirous of being applauded for genius, eloquence, and profound knowledge. And that is the very reason why they pay less attention to necessary things, which do not tend to procure the admiration of the common people. But Paul enjoins Timothy to be satisfied with this alone, to be a faithful minister of Christ. And certainly we ought to look on this as a far more honorable title than to be a thousand times called seraphic and subtle doctors. Let us, therefore, remember, that as it is the highest honor of a godly pastor to be reckoned a good servant of Christ, so he ought to aim at nothing else during his whole ministry; for whoever has any other object in view, will have it in his power to obtain applause from men, but will not please God. Accordingly, that we may not be deprived of so great a blessing, let us learn to seek nothing else, and to account nothing so valuable, and to treat everything as worthless in comparison of this single object.
Nourished. The Greek word ejntrefo>menov being a participle in the Middle Voice, might also have been translated in an active signification, nourishing; but as there is no noun governed by the verb, I think that this would be ratter a forced construction; and, therefore, I prefer to take it in a passive sense, as confirming the preceding exhortation by the education of Timothy. As if he had said, “As thou hast been, from thy infancy, properly instructed in the faith, and, so to speak, hast sucked along with the milk sound doctrine, and hast made continual progress in it hitherto, endeavor, by faithful ministration, to prove that thou art such.” This meaning agrees also with the composition of the word ejntrefo>menov.
In the words of faith and of good doctrine. Faith is here taken for the sum of Christian doctrine; and what he immediately adds, about good doctrine, is for the sake of explanation; fa71 for he means, that all other doctrines, how plausible so ever they may be, are not at all profitable.
Which thou hast followed. This clause denotes; perseverance; for many who, from their childhood, had purely learned Christ, afterwards degenerate in process of time; and the Apostle says, that Timothy was very unlike these persons.
7. Exercise thyself to godliness. fa72 After having instructed him as to doctrine, what it ought to be, he now also admonishes him what kind of example he ought to give to others. He says, that he ought to be employed in “godliness;” for, when he says, Exercise thyself, he means that this is his proper occupation, his labor, his chief care. As if he had said, “There is no reason why you should weary yourself to no purpose about other matters; you will do that which is of the highest importance, if you devote yourself, with all your zeal, and with all your ability, to godliness alone.” By the word godliness, he means the spiritual worship of God which consists in purity of conscience; which is still more evident from what follows, when it is contrasted with bodily exercise.
8. For bodily exercise is of little profit. By the exercise “of the body,” he does not mean that which lies in: hunting, or in the race-course, or in wrestling, or in digging, or in the mechanical occupations; but he gives that name to all the outward actions that are undertaken, for the sake of religion, such as watchings, long fasts, lying on the earth, and such like. Yet he does not here censure the superstitious observance of those things; otherwise he would totally condemn them, as he does in the Epistle to the Colossians, (<510221>Colossians 2:21,) but at present he only speaks slightingly of them, and says that they are of little advantage. So, then though the heart be altogether upright, and the object proper, yet, in outward actions, Paul finds nothing that he can value highly.
This is a very necessary warning; for the world will always lean to the side of wishing to worship God by outward services; which is an exceedingly dangerous imagination. But — to say nothing about the wicked opinion of merit — our nature always disposes us strongly to attribute more than we ought to austerity of life; as if it were no ordinary portion of Christian holiness. A clearer view of this cannot be adduced, than the fact, that, shortly after the publication of this command, the whole world was ravished with immoderate admiration of the empty form of bodily exercises. Hence arose the order of monks and nuns, and nearly all the most excellent discipline of the ancient Church, or, at least, that part of it which was most highly esteemed by the common people. If the ancient monks had not dreamed that there was some indescribably divine or angelical perfection in their austere manner of living, they would never have pursued it with so much ardor. In like manner, if pastors had not attached undue value to the ceremonies which were then observed for the mortification of the flesh, they would never have been so rigid in exacting them.: And what does Paul say on the other hand? That, when any one shall have labored much and long in those exercises, the profit will be small and inconsiderable; for they are nothing but the rudiments of childish discipline.