Saturday of Week 24 of Ordinary Time – First Reading

Commentary on 1 Timothy 6:13-16

Today we have our last reading from this letter. It is an appeal for Timothy to consecrate his life totally to God and Jesus Christ, in the way that Jesus proclaimed his messianic mission before Pilate. Truly, a model for us to follow. The reading is actually an immediate continuation from yesterday’s reading.

As the Letter comes to an end, Timothy is once more reminded by Paul:

…to keep the commandment without spot or blame…

Paul makes his statement solemnly:

In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession…

It was in the presence of Pilate that Jesus declared his royal messiahship-kingship and his office as revealer of Truth. He said to Pilate:

My kingdom does not belong to this world…Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice. (John 18:36-37)

The mention of Pontius Pilate, as a public official, lends strength to the official tone of the witness. This is an example for Christians to follow, whether making a profession of faith at our Baptism or when faced with persecution. It is easy to make professions of faith in private.

In the last part of the reading, Paul’s charge to Timothy is presented as a doxology in praise of Christ, the Christ of the Second Coming. It may be inspired by a liturgical hymn and consists of scriptural phrases transposed into Hellenic language, the themes being that God is the only object of worship and no one may claim to fully understand the mystery that is God. Timothy is to:

…keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which he will bring about at the right time—
he who is the blessed and only Sovereign,
the King of kings and Lord of lords.
It is he alone who has immortality
and dwells in unapproachable light,
whom no one has ever seen or can see;
to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

“…at the right time…” – just as Jesus’ first coming occurred at the precise time God wanted (see Gal 4:4), so also his Second Coming will be at God’s appointed time.

Those who know their Handel will remember the Hallelujah chorus which sings majestically of the “King of kings and Lord of lords”. This phrase also appears in Revelation 19:16.

The phrase “…no one has ever seen or can see…” echos the statement in John’s Gospel (1:18):

No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, himself God, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

Let us today also renew our total commitment to the King of kings and Lord of lords and work for the day when we will be invited to live with him in that now unapproachable light. We could do worse than follow some of the advice that Paul gives to Timothy in this Letter, especially if we have any pastoral responsibilities in our community.

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