What does 1 Timothy 6:2 mean?
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.
NKJV: And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
First Timothy 6:1–2 gives a brief note of instruction to Christians who find themselves in the role of a slave, or bondservant. Paul's command is that these men and women serve with integrity and respect. This is to prevent others from associating the name of Christ with bad behavior. Other passages of the Bible, such as Paul's letter to Philemon, show how slavery is meant to be overcome with Christ-like attitudes, rather than open revolution.
Chapter Summary:
This chapter completes Paul's highly practical instructions to his friend and student, Timothy. The major focus of this passage is proper Christian conduct, and the avoidance of evil. Paul gives several character flaws common in those who teach false doctrine. He also provides a stark warning about the dangers of greed and materialism. Those who become obsessed with wealth open themselves to virtually any other sin one can imagine. Timothy is given a clear mandate to uphold his faith and testimony, along with Paul's blessings and encouragement.
Chapter Context:
The book of 1 Timothy is full of very practical advice, from Timothy's mentor, the apostle Paul. Chapter 6 rounds out the instructions given in the first five chapters. Building on the ideas laid down earlier in the letter, Paul reminds Timothy of the importance of godly living and avoiding the snares of evil and temptation. This chapter provides a strong encouragement for Timothy to apply the wisdom of this letter, both in his personal life and in the churches he is leading.
Book Summary:
First Timothy is one of Paul's three ''Pastoral Epistles.'' Paul's other letters, such as Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, are meant for a broader audience. First Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are written to specific people whom Paul is advising on how to best lead their local churches. These three letters present a close look at the form and function of church leadership. First Timothy, like 2 Timothy and Titus, is less formal and systematic, and more personal. This gives great insight into the way pastors, deacons, and elders ought to prioritize their time and energy.
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