By E.L. Bevir
1 Timothy 6: 20--New Translation
The last three verses of the first Epistle to Timothy are of great importance. Timothy had to keep the entrusted deposit--the pure and simple revelation of grace in a glorified Christ--and to avoid two snares; snares into which many more have fallen than is usually supposed. The first of these are "profane vain babblings", that is the fruitless discussions (what is vulgarly called "talk") which waste time and demoralise the soul; this is easy to understand. But what are the "oppositions of false-named knowledge"? The expression is a very peculiar one, literally "pseudonymous knowledge"; that is, that which is called (but is not) knowledge. It is really what is called in our time "scientific theology". It would be better surely to translate gnosis "knowledge" here, for it refers evidently to the Gnostics, who pretended to the art of thinking, just as though no one thought but themselves. I shall explain myself, for it is really a very serious question in the present day.
Many in Christendom have been led into speculations, which though not exactly the same as those of the Gnostics in Timothy's time, yet have a strong analogy to that kind of pretentious "knowledge". Alas! I fear that some of the seats of religious learning are as full of fabulous theology as the wild and speculative school of Alexandria in A.D. 60.
Surely the second Epistle to Timothy (for instance, chapter 4: 3-4) will apply to what I say; and the proofs are not wanting. It is no question here of exact mathematical science (such as 2 + 2 = 4), which may be useful for a man to gain his living here on this earth; whatever may happen the relations of space and time will always be the same, I mean that even were the very chemical elements themselves changed, 2 + 2 would always be equal to 4, and all the angles of a plain triangle would equal 180 degrees. No; we have here something far different: that is, the systematical opposition of pretentious knowledge, that would vainly seek out such questions as the origin of good and evil, investigate the invisible powers of darkness, and explain things that are not revealed.
Many in the present day, who smile at Gnostic imposture, are not so far off from the Gnostics as they suppose. Timothy, it will be said, had a special service, a special deposit entrusted to him; and this is true, but the point is that we enjoy all the value of it, and know the full Christian revelation. Our hearts being filled with Christ as He has been revealed to us, knowing the grace of God according to that which Paul confided to Timothy, and the blessed Lord in glory; the heart, I say, being satisfied, we shall not need any false-named knowledge.
The mind follows the heart, and we have full rest and blessing in the true knowledge of God; and having this, there is no need to go to the sources of spurious "knowledge" that abound in the present day. May God fill our hearts with the knowledge of Himself in Christ, so that (instead of missing the mark, verse 21) we may be kept in the truth!
- E. L. B.