The way this argument progresses is intriguing. He starts by mentioning those who were apostatizing, preaching a false gospel, and rejecting what Christ had given the church in the gospel, yet he ends up speaking about contentment.
His thought is this: Those who argue against the doctrines of God and against the church are essentially discontent. They are at the initial stages of presumptuousness, or they may have already become fully presumptuous. They try to use their "godliness" to get some sort of advantage or gain for themselves. The motives on the surface may seem to be that they are trying to be godly, but underneath, the real motive is to get something for themselves.
We should not think of this "gain" as only money or goods. It could be respect, or favor with somebody. It could be notoriety or having people think that one is smart. It could be having authority of some kind - ordination or having a group of followers. It could be many things. What it comes down to is presumptuousness, because the person who does these things is reaching beyond his place.
God put the person in the body at a specific point, to do a certain job, and when he starts doing the types of things that Paul mentions - arguing against the doctrine, for instance - he is taking a job that he has not been given. Paul says the real gain comes when we behave in a godly manner and reckon that what we have is sufficient for us.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Paul says, "Leave!" His concern is for those who will be confronted with false doctrines. He urges them to come "to wholesome words" (verse 3). Wholesome literally means "healthy," words that produce health. In the context of food one would say "health food." Paul says, "Eat the good food, not the junk!" The same applies spiritually: Mentally, a Christian needs to eat healthy words that will produce spiritual health.
Then he describes false teachers: They are conceited, have an unnatural craving for debate, and argue incessantly about words. They are theorists who waste time in futile academic disputes or exercises in semantics. God instructs that these characteristics are not a sign of good spiritual health. Out of this kind of thinking come envy, abusive speech, evil suspicions, constant friction, and a warped idea that godliness is a means of financial gain (verses 4-5).
John W. Ritenbaugh
Guard the Truth!
Paul's repeated emphasis on sound doctrine implies that the body of teaching in the church is more than just a gospel about Christ. It is the gospel of Christ—what He taught and lived in His own life, and what He expects us to follow as well. His doctrine is "the pattern of sound words," the body of truth, once for all delivered to the saints. God inspired the writers of the New Testament to warn us that His church must have a solid foundation in the truth of Christ to defend and contend for the faith because of the constant bombardment of false doctrines.
Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: Doctrine
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 1 Timothy 6:3:
2 Corinthians 11:3
2 Corinthians 12:11-13