Thirsting for human applause- Friday, 24th week in ordinary time- 1 Timothy 6: 2c-12

Thirsting for human applause- Friday, 24th week in ordinary time- 1 Timothy 6: 2c-12

The first letter to Timothy is winding down. It was necessitated by false teachers in the community, who disturbed the faith of the new converts to Christianity. Now the author of the pastorals wants to expose the motivation of these false teachers and he does so by depicting them as ‘sophists’. Sophists were itinerant professional teachers and intellectuals who frequented Athens and other Greek cities in the second half of the fifth century B.C.E.

The Church too had wandering prophets whose very way of life gave them a certain prestige. The Church’s teachers were unlike the heathens whose sophists or wise men made it their business to sell philosophy. They claimed a fee to teach people and to argue cleverly, while still others gave demonstrations of public speaking. They advertised and gave personal invitations to their display of knowledge. Their thirst was for applause.

With this as a background the writer of the pastoral, exposes the characteristics of the false teachers who disturbed the early church; he calls them conceited. Their motivation was to please rather than to present the truth. Their concern is with abstruse speculations. In the philosophical tradition, episteme is the highest form of knowledge, the knowledge of truth, of which the false teacher has none. Such was the knowledge of truth that even Pilate was prompted to ask, “What is truth”.

But what drove this industry of sophists was also the love of money. Make no mistake, the Bible does not condemn money but condemns the love of money. The sophists teach a so called piety to acquire monetary benefits, for money is their god.

Timothy and his community are to be examples to these sophists. The writer of the pastorals reminds Timothy that he is ‘a man of God’, an Old Testament title applied to prophets. But the writer of the pastorals is also appealing to the leader of the Church in every era, for where money exists, there false teachers abound!

It is not without cause that many people are scandalized by Christian leaders across the board. Tele-evangelists like Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Billy Graham will be turning in their graves, thinking of how satan used an instrument of evangelization to become an instrument of sin. Preachers for gain and profit abound and so do their scandals! What’s worse is when they sell a watered down prosperity gospel, pandering to the itchy ears of their congregations.

But while we nitpick and are horrified by modern day Church-sophists we should also look inward. Often there is a Christianity that is more concerned with argument than with life. There are those who often become disturbers of the peace because their only goal is to create hypothetical problems within the community. 

It is not what Christianity preaches that causes the scandal, it is in the way we live it!

Fr Warner D’Souza

With help from theJBC

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One thought on “Thirsting for human applause- Friday, 24th week in ordinary time- 1 Timothy 6: 2c-12”

  • Some time as a lay person it’s so difficult to identify the truthful ones from the applauded ones. The words ring through my ear which says ” do what they tell you, but not what they do”. Holy Spirit is the best gift to identify and discern between the truth and applauded.


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