Also available as MP3: Where Do You Find the Words of the Lord Jesus Christ? – 1 Timothy 6:3-5
When we try to convince people the words the Lord spoke on earth were to Israel (Mt.15:24), so we should pay more attention to Paul’s words, people often quote Verse 3 to say that even Paul said to consent to the Lord’s words. But the last 5 words of Verse 2 say, “These things teach and exhort.” So when Paul then says not to teach “otherwise,” he means other than what he taught in that epistle.
You see, if you believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible, you know Paul’s words were the words of the Lord, in all his epistles (IThes.4:2). People sometimes say, “Paul was just a man, so we shouldn’t take his words over the Lord’s,” but Paul says they aren’t despising a man, they are despising God (ITh.4:8), who inspired Paul to write. This is nothing new, the Jews preferred Moses to the Lord (Jo.9:28,29). People are slow to accept a new spokesman from God, prompting the Lord to say Luke 5:39.
But the question is never who spoke God’s words, the question is always who they are spoken to. The Lord spoke to the Jews (Ro.15:8), Paul spoke His words to us Gentiles (Rom.15:16). To teach “otherwise” than Paul was to teach some “other” doctrine (ITim.1:3), and to deny Paul’s words were the Lord’s words is very Corinthian! (IICor.13:2,3).
“Wholesome” words are words that make you whole. The Lord spoke words that made people whole from sickness (Mt.9:22). Today His words through Paul can make us whole from spiritual death when we get saved (Eph.2:1). Then when our spiritual vitality “dies” due to living in sin (Rom.8:13), we don’t need more salvation, we just need more of his wholesome words! That’s what Paul means when he says his doctrine is “according to godliness” (6:3).
Paul’s doctrine can also save us from the ungodliness of false doctrine (II Tim. 2:17,18). It’ll be godly to say the resurrection is past in the Tribulation, but now it is ungodly, so Paul’s doctrine is according to godliness. The only way to be truly godly is to know where you stand in the program of God (II Tim. 2:15).
Saying the resurrection is past takes doctrine from the future and applies it to today, but here Paul is talking about those who took the Law from the past and were applying it to today (ITim.1:7), another dispensational error. Teaching the Law was godly in time past, but not today. It has a form of godliness, but denies grace, the power of godliness (IITim. 3:5). You know he’s talking about the same people because he says to withdraw from both (ITi.6:5; IITi.3:5).
Jews were “proud” of the law (ITim.6:4), and they were the ones teaching the law in Paul’s day (Tit.2:10-14). “Knowing nothing” (v.4) should remind you of I Timothy 1:7. Any time you teach undispensationally it raises questions (v.4 cf.IITim.2:17,18,23). When Paul says the law causes “strifes of words” (6:4) that’s what the law always does (Tit.3:9). When Paul says the Law causes “envy” (6:4), it did in the legalistic Galatians (5:26). “Railings” (6:4) are tauntings that say someone can’t do something (IIChron.32: 17; Mark 15:29), and lawkeepers always say you can’t keep it as well as they can, and rail on you about it (Isa.65:5).
“Perverse” (6:5) comes from “pervert,” something the law does to grace (Gal.1:7). When the Law was part of God’s program, it was taught by men of sound mind, but now by men of “corrupt minds” (6:5cf.Tit. 2:14-16). When Paul says those who teach it are “destitute of the truth,” the Jews felt they were the only ones who had the truth (Gen.24:27) and all other nations were destitute of it. But there’s been a dispensational change. The law was once the truth, but now the Jews desiring to teach it are destitute of the truth.
“Supposing that gain is godliness” is what Paul thought about the things he thought were gain (Phil.3:5-7), that they made him godly. But with these words, Paul is seguing into talking about financial gain, the subject of the rest of this passage. When Jews were godly, they gained that too (Gen.13:2; Deut.8:18). Today they know God isn’t honoring that promise any more, but many Gentiles who think we are spiritual Israel are teaching that in the prosperity movement. The only thing to do with men like that is “withdraw” from them (ITim.6:5).