Sunday, 18 February 2018
I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 1 Timothy 6:13
Based on his words just given in the previous two verses, Paul now urges (or charges, as the word also signifies) “in the sight of God.” This is similar to the charge he gave in verse 5:21. Timothy is being reminded that everything which occurs, including Paul’s charge, is in the presence of God. He is there, He is watching, and Timothy is to remember this. He is to take to heart the words of instruction, and apply them steadfastly to his life and doctrine.
He then adds in a special thought concerning God. It is He “who gives life to all things.” God isn’t just a being who watches as things unfold, and who may direct things to happen as he sees fit, like a chess master. Rather, God is the Creator, and He is the Sustainer of all things. No matter what happens in this stream of time, God is there tending to the beings He created. For those who are in Christ, nothing can separate us from His eternal promises. Therefore, Timothy has no reason to fret over the awesome charges he has been given. He is simply to be obedient to them, and God will direct according to His wisdom.
Paul next adds in a second witness to his charge by saying, “and before Christ Jesus.” Jesus was named in the charge of verse 5:21 as well. Paul is not making a distinction between God and Christ Jesus by saying this, but rather is calling on the name of Christ Jesus as the Mediator between God and Man, and the One who is the example for man to God, and of God to man. As this is “in the sight of” Christ Jesus, it is an obvious reference to His omniscience and omnipresence. One cannot actually call a witness before a being which is not present, and who does not have knowledge of the witness.
From there, Paul says that it is “Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate.” There are two major views on what this actually means. The first is that He suffered under Pilate. He was a faithful witness to the truth of God, making His confession through the Cross of Calvary. In this confession is seen the love of the Father through His sacrifice. In this witness, there is found emulation in each faithful believer who is willing to follow Him even unto death. Revelation 1:5 gives this sense –
“…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.”
The second view is that the witness was before Pilate. He had spoken to the leaders of Israel, claiming that He was the Messiah, the Son of God (John 19:7). They then explained this to Pilate who then interrogated Him further. Christ Jesus made the good confession which is then the “warrant for the truthfulness of Timothy’s confession” (Vincent’s Word Studies).
What is probably the case is that Paul is referring to the entire sum of what occurred. Both His words and His actions became a united confession “before Pontius Pilate.”
It is of note that the mentioning of Pontius Pilate here is similar to many other early Christian writings where the crucifixion is connected to him. For this reason, it is assumed that Paul’s words are a part of a liturgical confession of early Christian believers.
Life application: As a Christian, are you willing to stand on the truth of Christ’s words and deeds as your own charge, and as your own confession? To what point will you follow through with this? Even to death itself? We have been given the example in Christ. Are we willing to follow that example as it was given if called upon to do so? Let us determine now that no matter what we are faced with, we will confess Christ unfailingly.
Lord God, were does our faith stand? Most of us have never been tested in it, but if we are someday faced with confessing Christ or giving up our life, will we be willing to follow His example even to death itself? He made the good confession, and so grant us the fortitude to also make the good confession of our faith if called upon to do so. May we never shy back from our faith and trust in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.