This responsible use of wealth promises tremendous benefits. Paul first draws on Jesus' similar teaching in Matthew 6:20. But he goes a step further to incorporate into Jesus' teaching the actual use of material wealth in the process of "storing up treasure in heaven." For the continuation of the Greek sentence in verse 19 links the "laying up of treasure" immediately to generosity and willingness to share. Rather than evidence that Paul was more moderate than Jesus in this matter, we probably see instead Paul's practical application of the earlier principle.
When rich believers share, what they actually lay up (as if it were a treasure) is a firm foundation for the coming age. The building metaphor with the time reference communicates an important truth. Responsible living in this life is a necessary building block or stepping-stone to the coming age. For the rich, responsible use of wealth (sharing, giving) is evidence of genuine faith. In this way they "work out their salvation" in this age. This practical evidence of new life provides unshakable certainty that one's future hope is secure. Thus it becomes possible for them to take hold of the life that is truly life, which is the same possibility held out to Timothy (the faithful minister, the faithful believer) in 6:12. It is true of each that responsible behavior is closely tied to realization of the Christian hope of eternal life. In the case of wealthy Christians, by exchanging temporary material wealth for spiritual wealth, they may exchange this fleeting life for eternal life.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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