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1 Timothy 6:2

ESV Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these things.
NIV Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves. These are the things you are to teach and insist on.
NASB Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brothers or sisters, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.
CSB Let those who have believing masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brothers, but serve them even better, since those who benefit from their service are believers and dearly loved. Teach and encourage these things.
NLT If the masters are believers, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. Those slaves should work all the harder because their efforts are helping other believers who are well loved. Teach these things, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them.
KJV And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.

What does 1 Timothy 6:2 mean?

The prior verse gave general instructions to Christian slaves about their attitude toward masters. For the most part, in that culture, slaves would have been under the command of a non-Christian. Here, Paul provides specific instructions for Christian slaves who had a Christian for a master. Paul explicitly rejects the idea of trying to take advantage of a master's Christian faith, or their potential kindness simply because they are a Christian. Instead, such servants should choose to "serve all the better." Those with a Christian master were to serve even better or work harder.

The reason Paul makes this bold claim is given in the final phrase of the verse. Not only does this benefit the reputation of Christ and the Christian faith, it also has a direct benefit to a brother (or sister) in Christ. A Christian master is not just an employer or boss, but also part of our family in Christ. Christian slaves were to show love to their fellow believer, even in the role of a slave master. This can be extremely difficult to understand in our modern mindset. It was probably tough to fully accept in Paul's era, as well. However, Christians are spiritual family who are to care for one another unconditionally. All Christians are included in the Bible's teachings to love one another, and the command even applies to Christian slaves in relation to masters.

The New Testament's approach to slavery is subtle, but has proven to be the most effective way to eliminate the harsh "chattel slavery" so often feared. The Bible appeals to the inherent equality of all people (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11), calls on Christian slave owners to do the right thing in freeing their servants (Philemon 1:8–16), and commands slaves to influence others through good character, not revolution (1 Timothy 6:1; Romans 13:1). This attitude would lay the groundwork for the abolitionist movement in later centuries.

The ending phrase of this verse, commanding Timothy to teach certain things, is better interpreted as the beginning of the next section. There, Paul will return to the theme of how Timothy is to handle false teachers and their message.
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