And exercise thyself rather unto godliness.--Instead of these weary profitless efforts--the painful, useless asceticism on the one hand, and the endless and barren Rabbinic studies of the Law on the other--Timothy, as a good minister of Jesus Christ, was to bestow all his pains and labour to promote an active, healthy, practical piety among the congregation of believers, as we have seen in 1 Timothy 4:6, in the words, "ever training thyself." To lead such a life required ceaseless pains and efforts, for true godliness is ever a progressive state. Surely exercising himself unto godliness would be a task hard enough to satisfy the most ardent, the most enthusiastic soul! The "godliness," or "piety," here alluded to, as the end toward which Timothy was to direct all his efforts, was that practical piety which influences for good, which leavens with a holy leaven all classes of society, all life, of the slave as well as of the patrician.
And exercise thyself rather unto godliness; either to the doctrines which are according to godliness, and tend to godly edification, which the above fables did not, study these, meditate on them, digest them, and deliver them to others; or to a godly life and conversation, exercise thyself, to have a conscience void of offence to God and men; or to internal religion, inward godliness, the exercise of the graces of faith, hope, love, fear, reverence, humility, &c. or rather to the spiritual worship of God, according to his will, not in a formal, cold, and customary way, but with the heart, in truth and sincerity, in faith, and with fervency and purity.