1 Timothy 6:17-19 forms the conclusion to Paul's letter to the churches in the prosperous city of Ephesus. These verses can be divided in three sections: disposition, anticipation, and participation. Our disposition must be a humble one that does not try to out-think God's plan for our lives or the mission of the church. Our hope is not in the American dream that could disappear overnight. We place our hope in God's unchanging promises and blessings.



Our hope is eternal, not temporal. On this earth, God gives us "all things to enjoy" (verse 17). This includes anything that is quality and not anti-God. We are free to enjoy such things with a heavenly mindset, while never making the eternal expendable. We hope in a very faithful and benevolent God whose goodness keeps us close to Him.


What should we do while awaiting Christ's return? The epistles are full of instructions for believers in the church age, and Paul is specific in these verses. Wealthy people have opportunities to encourage other saints to live for eternal purposes.

The instruction to "do good" in verse 18 is an ongoing command. Doing good is not taking superficial action, but nobly and intentionally doing something that benefits another person in the Body of Christ. Those with material means can help others contribute to the general mission of the church. No one should think there is nothing they can do because they lack material resources.

Being "rich in good works" means to be liberal and overflowing. The mission of the church is exciting and eternal. It's the reason we are here and worth investing in fully! God has blessed us liberally; we show divine reciprocity when we extend that generosity to others.

The words "generous" and "ready to share" mean just what they say: freely being willing to meet needs where they exist. Like the first-century church, we have "all things in common" (Acts 2:44) to pursue the eternal vision God has given the church.

The heart of the true believer desires to underpin the mission of God. Even impoverished believers wanted to participate with the little they had in 2 Corinthians 8:1-4. Leaders make sure all are able to do so in a way that honors God (see 1 Chronicles 29:1-17).

The result of a generous lifestyle in verse 19 flows into the future. The word "foundation" is not very different from grant-making foundations familiar to us today. Just like foundations have strict guidelines and application processes, our use of material resources should have a clear focus. Only souls will be with us in eternity; we cannot take any of our stuff with us past this life.

Ephesus turned out to be a sober example of losing their eternal focus. They were the most visible example to the churches in Asia in the AD 60s when this letter was written. But thirty years later, when Revelation 2:1-7 was written, they had forgotten Paul's instruction and lost their first love. Christ warned them, not that He would close their doors, but that His Spirit would cease working in their midst. We must remain vigilant to make sure every person in the church is contributing to her mission.

Application Points

  • No one should think there is nothing they can do in the church because they lack material resources. Most American Christians in our context have plenty and are able to share with others. How can you help others contribute to the general mission of the church?
  • Why do you do what you do? Is your use of material resources clearly focused on eternal purposes?
  • Wherever God has placed you, there are probably souls who are called to eternal life. Are you looking for them? Are you praying for them?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Colossians 3:1-2, 1 John 2:16-17, Matthew 6:19-21 – Enjoy temporal blessings while keeping an eternal perspective.
  • James 2:1-9 – We must not show impartiality because God is impartial.
  • 1 Timothy 1:18-19, 4:4-5, 5:8, 5:17, 6:12 – Instructions in 1 Timothy about the use of resources.
  • Luke 16:1-15 – Using material resources to make friends for eternity.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Rejoice, the Lord is King"

Rejoice, the Lord is King!
Your Lord and King adore;
Rejoice, give thanks, and sing,
And triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns,
The God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains
He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail,
He rules o’er earth and Heav’n,
The keys of death and hell
Are to our Jesus giv’n;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope!
Jesus the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up
To their eternal home;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!