17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.
18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,
19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
this present age (v.17) = lit. “the now age” — (used elsewhere only in 2 Timothy 4:10 and Titus 2:12)
age = aion — All that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale. The subtle, informing spirit of the kosmos or world of men who are living alienated and apart from God. The spirit of the age. — Wuest, page 102
haughty = lit. “to think lofty” — highminded
trust (v.17) = lit. “to have one’s hope set on”
the living (v.17) — not in most manuscripts
gives (v.17) = furnishes, supplies
enjoy (v.17) — the pleasure to be obtained from a thing — here, the things given by God
rich in good works (v.18) — a play on words, compared to financial riches
good works (v.18) = kalos = fair honorable — with emphasis on the giving rather than the receiving (which is agathos = beneficial)
share (v.18) = fellowship, have in common
storing up (v.19) = treasure
good (v.19) = kalos — see v.18 above
the time to come (v.19) — the Judgment Seat of Christ where Christians are rewarded for their works
lay hold (v.19) = seize upon, take possession of
eternal life (v.19) = lit. “the life truly,” “the life indeed” — that which is truly life
I think there is more to this than doing good works in order to get rewards in eternity. I believe Paul uses the term “the life indeed” to indicate that we should be living in light of eternity now, that we should be taking possession of our eternal life now and begin living it now. Eternity is a huge part of it, and it only makes sense in light of the fact that we have eternal life, but that eternal life has already begun. If that makes sense.
Had Timothy been living under the preceding dispensation, when our Lord was on earth, he would have had to tell the rich members of his congregation: “Sell that ye have, and give alms” (Luke 12:33). But in this every epistle the apostle has already indicated that this program has passed from the scene. Indeed, instead of an “all things common” program such as was practiced at Pentecost, he now gives us explicit instructions that are more appropriate to “this present evil age:” But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8).
Thus, earnestly as he has warned both pastor and people not to “will to be rich,” earnestly as he has counseled them against the dangers of “the love of money,” there was still the question of “them that are rich” (v.17). He does not exhort them to sell their holdings and distribute them for the common good. Rather he instructs Timothy to urge them, actually to “charge” them, as to their attitude under their particular circumstances.
- That they “be not highminded.”
- That they “trust not in uncertain riches”
- That they “trust in God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”
- “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to share” — Stam, pages 139-141.