SCRIPTURE REFERENCES » 1 Timothy 6:13-16

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:13-16, Keep The Commandment

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 104

“Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind; he makes his messengers winds, his ministers a flaming fire. He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight. The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart. The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers. He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens. Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening. O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it. These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 104, ESV)

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 6:13-16

“I charge you 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, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:13–16, ESV)


Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.



At the conclusion of last Sunday’s sermon I stated that verses 11-12 and verses 13-16 of 1 Timothy 6 belong together. In this section, Paul addresses his co-worker Timothy and exhorts him to be faithful to Christ and to the work of the ministry. The passage is singular in its focus. I have divided the text into two only because it is too rich. There is simply too much here to consume in one sermon. 


The Charge: To Keep The Commandment Unstained And Free From Reproach

You will notice that at the beginning of verse 13 Paul continues to exhort Timothy to faithfulness with the words, “I charge you…” We do not use the word “charge” in this way very often. Here it means to “order”, to “command”, or “to announce what must be done” (LouwNida, 425). Kings and military commanders issue charges. Paul is here saying to Timothy, here is what you must do. The language is strong and serious. 

And what did Paul direct Timothy to do? “I charge you…” — look now at verse 14 — “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach…” (1 Timothy 6:14, ESV). “Keep the commandment” — this was Paul’s charge to Timothy. 

So what did Paul mean when he said, “keep the commandment”? 

This little phrase has puzzled some. You will notice that Paul did not say, keep the commandments, in the plural. If he had said this we might assume that he was referring to the Ten Commandments, or to the two commandments which summarize the Ten: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself. But no, he wrote “keep the commandment”, in the singular. So we must ask, which one?

It might help to know that the word translated as “commandment” can also be translated as “order” or “commission”. And I think that is the sense here — keep the commission, Timothy. Keep the order. So Paul was not merely urging Timothy to keep one particular commandmentthis one or that —  but more generally, to follow through on his commitment to follow Christ and to serve as a minister within Christ’s church. He was to stay true to the Christain faith, to the gospel, and to all of its ethical demands. So, although “commandment” is in the singular it has a collective sense. “Keep the commandment” means, keep the Christian faith. Keep believing upon God and Christ and doing what God requires of you. Follow through on your commitment to Christ and to his church.

You know, when a person hears the gospel, comes under conviction, turns from their sin, and places their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, they are to be baptized. Water baptism is “a sign of [that person’s] fellowship with [Christ], in His death, burial, and resurrection…” You can see how that is symbolized in water baptism, can’t you? The one baptized goes under the water just as Christ went into the grave. They stay there for a moment and then they are raised, just as Christ was raised from the dead. Those who have faith in Christ have fellowship with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection, and baptism is a sign of that. And it is also a sign of being “engrafted into Him”. When we believe upon Christ we are joined to him by the power of the Holy Spirit, and in him we are reconciled to the Father. When we baptize, we baptize in his name — in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Baptism is also a sign “of remissions of sins”. Water washes dirt away. And the waters of baptism signify that the stain of sin has been removed through faith in Christ, because of his shed blood. And lastly, baptism is a sign that the person has given “up himself unto God through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life”. All of that truth is summarized nicely for us in Baptist Catechism 97, which I have been quoting. 

And so there is a great deal of symbolism in baptism. The new birth is symbolized. Union with Christ is symbolized. And so too is the washing away of sins. All of this is received by God’s grace and through faith in Christ alone. Water baptism is the sign of these things. But notice this: not only are the benefits that come to those who have faith in Christ symbolized in baptism. No, the one baptized does also make a profession and commitment. Through the waters of baptism, the person being baptized also says something. They say, I believe. They say, Jesus is my Lord. And they say, having now given myself “up unto God through Jesus Christ, I will live and walk in newness of life.” In the waters of baptism, what God has done for us is through faith in Christ is signified. In other words, the gospel is symbolized there. But in the waters of baptism a profession of faith is also made, along with a commitment to follow after Christ from that day forward.   

Question 101 of our catechism elaborates on this aspect of baptism and asks, “What is the duty of such who are rightly baptized?” Answer: “It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up themselves to some particular and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” So, when a person is baptized upon profession of faith, they are baptized into Christ, which means that they are also baptized into the church, which is his body, his temple, his bride. And having been baptized into Christ and his church they are to go on walking “in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”

You may be thinking to yourself, why all of this talk about baptism? What does this text have to do with baptism? Well, a lot, I think.  When Paul charged Timothy “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach…” He was urging Timothy to follow through on his commitment to Christ made in the waters of baptism. 

This charge that we find in verse 13 is a reiteration of what was said earlier in verses 11 and 12:  “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11–12, ESV). Some think this refers to Timothy’s ordination to the ministry (and that might also be in view), but it seems more natural to think of Timothy’s baptism. It was in the waters of baptism that Timothy would have “made the good confession” concerning “eternal life” “in the presence of many witnesses.”

So, when Paul says “keep the commandment” he means keep the faith that you professed in the waters of baptism along with its ethical demands. Continue to believe in Christ and do all that God requires of you. And then Paul adds these words: “unstained and free from reproach”. “Unstained” means that Timothy was to maintain moral purity. He was to avoid blemishes on his moral character. And when Paul says, “free from reproach” he means that Timothy must be above criticism. Of course, this means valid criticism, and not invalid criticism. Christ himself was criticized by others. Men hated him and slandered him, but unjustly. The Christian is to be “free from reproach”, meaning above criticism that is valid and justified. 

Brothers and sisters, this charge was delivered originally to Timothy as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. But I hope you would agree that this charge is applicable to you and me and to all who have been baptized into Christ Jesus. All Christians are to “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach…” All must follow through on their profession of faith and their commitment to follow Christ made in the waters of baptism. 

So, to those who have been baptized in Christ Jesus, I ask you, are you keeping the “commandment”? Are you keeping the faith along with its ethical demands? Are you keep it “unstained and free from reproach”?

Think of your baptism. Think of all that was symbolized when you were, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, taken under the water and brought up again. Think of what was signified. There, your union with Christ was signified. There, the washing away of your sins was signified. And there the death of your old self, and the birth of your new self was signified. All of these benefits — union with Christ, the forgiveness of sin, and new birth — came to you, not by the waters of baptism, but by the grace of God and through faith in Christ who lived for you, died for you, rose and ascended for you. But in baptism all of these benefits were signified. Think of your baptism. And then ask, am I walking accordingly? Am I walking now as one united to Christ, washed in his blood, and made alive by the power of the Holy Spirit? And think of your baptism again. This time, do not think about the symbolism but consider the profession of faith that you made there. Consider what it was that you said before God and man. You said I have faith in Christ, Jesus is my Lord, and I will follow him all the days of my life. By being baptized, you made this profession and commitment.  Are you keeping that commitment, friends? That is what Paul is urging when he says, “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach.”

As I have said, this passage applies to all who have professed faith in Christ, but three groups of people came especially to mind.

One, I thought of those who have been baptized who are still young. Perhaps you made a credible profession of faith at the age of 12 or 13 and were baptized, and now you are 16, 17, or 18 years old. You are no longer a child. You are emerging into adulthood and you are preparing for independence. Do not forget your baptism, brothers and sisters. Do not forget the profession and the commitment you made. Do not forget that God’s name was set upon you in the waters of baptism. Remember, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. I speak to those who are young and emerging into adulthood because you will be making some very important decisions in the years to come — decisions that will greatly impact the rest of your life. You must be very careful to “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach.” You will need to decide to follow through on that commitment that you made to Christ as a young person. 

Two, I think of those who have been baptized who are now old. And to you I say, finish strong.

Three, I think of those who have been baptized who are not here, nor are they present in any other rightly ordered church. How they will hear this, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps they will stumble across this teaching online, or perhaps some of you will recommend it to them. But to those who have been baptized upon profession of faith who are not joined to a true church, I say, you are not keeping “the commandment unstained and free from reproach.” To be baptized into Christ involves being baptized into his church, which is the household of God, his flock, and his temple. Do not miss this simple observation, baptism, which marks the beginning of the Christian life, and the Lord’s Supper, which signifies continuing in the Christian life, are ordinances that Christ has given to the church. They are to be administered by the elders of the church and in the presence of the church. They are not for individuals living in isolation, nor are they ordinances of the family. No, they are ordinances of the church. They signify our collective union with Christ, and with one another.  Do not believe the lie that you may walk with Christ alone when it is within your power to join yourself to an orderly and visible church. Do not forsake the assembly, brothers and sisters. The Christian life is not to be lived in isolation. If you have believed the lie that a Christian may walk alone if they so choose, it is time to repent. Find a church where the gospel is faithfully proclaimed and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are administered and join yourself to that church. If you are willingly walking alone, this is not true and biblical Christianity that you are practicing. You have gone astray. You have wandered from Christ and his fold. 

It should be clear to all that I am not here thinking of those who are providentially hindered from joining themselves to a true church of Jesus Christ. There are places in the world where no such churches exist. And there are some who are truly hindered from coming into the Lord’s house due to illness, or some other thing. I am not thinking of these situations, but of those who have professed faith in Christ who willingly, and for no good reason, neglect the fellowship. 

Our culture is filled with many such people. In some respects, the churches are to blame. The gospel that has been preached in this land over the past 50 years or more has been watered down and highly individualistic. Sinners have been urged to walk the aisle and say a prayer to repent, but the Bible says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38, ESV). And even in those churches where baptism is administered as a sign of faith and repentance, many divorce it from membership in the local church. Those baptized wander off never to be seen again. This is not right, brothers and sisters. It is no wonder why many are confused. It is no wonder that many think of their faith in this highly individualistic way. 

But there are also many who know better. They know that they should be joined to a local church, but for one reason or another, they neglect the fellowship. And I suspect that this trend will only grow. In the years to come Christians will be tempted — perhaps even pressured — to neglect the fellowship, all in the name of love and safety.   

“What is the duty of such who are rightly baptized?” Our catechism is right to summarize the teaching of scripture, saying, “It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to give up themselves to some particular and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” 


The Duration: Until The Appearing Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

“Keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach”, Paul says. And for how long? Answer: “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time…” 

Notice that Paul did not claim to know when Christ would return. One thing he did know for sure is that it would be “at the proper time”. At just the right time, Christ will appear. No one knows the hour. But God knows. And we are not to concern ourselves with speculations concerning the day or the hour. That knowledge belongs to God. It is not for us. So what are we to concern ourselves with? We are to concern ourselves with the charge! We are to be faithful to keep the command! We are to persevere in the faith and do all that God requires of us. This was true for Timothy, and it is true for you and for me. Until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ — that is to say, until he returns to raise the dead, to judge, and to usher in the new heavens and earth, bringing his people safely home — we are to be faithful.

Let me make this one point of application: This we are to do in good times and in bad, in times of plenty and in times of want, in times of freedom and in times of persecution.

Good times — times of prosperity and freedom — are particularly dangerous for the people of God. For it is in the good times that God’s people are tempted to love the world and the things of this world instead of God and the things of God. It is in the good times that men and women grow comfortable and complacent. It is in the good times that Christians are prone to forget that this is not our home. Good times — times of prosperity and freedom — bring certain temptations and dangers to God’s people.

And bad times are also dangerous. For we know that many do shrink back from following Christ when doing so costs them the pleasures of this world. 

Perhaps the most dangerous times are those times of transition wherein the church goes from being favored to despised, or from despised to favored within the culture. The change can be very disorienting if the people of God are not prepared. 

I am no prophet. I do not know what the future holds. But I do suspect that we are living in such a time as this. The church in this land has historically been held in high esteem, but I do believe that it will be more difficult to follow Christ in this place in the decades to come. Those who call themselves Christians but are willing to abandon the substance of the Christian faith — that is, sound doctrine and right practice — will not have such a hard time. But those with eyes to see can easily perceive that the Christian faith — that is, the true and biblical faith — is rapidly coming into disfavor in the broader culture. 

Are you ready for that, brothers and sisters? Now, I may be wrong. I pray that I am. The days ahead of us might in fact be all bright and sunny. But even if they are, it is good for me to ask you, are you prepared for dark days. It is always good to be prepared for the evil day. 

Is your faith strong? Do you have a true love for the right things — God and the things of God? Is your hope in the right place — in God, in Christ, and in the promises of his word? And where is your treasure? Where are the things that you most value and take pleasure in? Are they here on earth where moth and rust destroy? If they are, you will not fare well in the faith when the loss of those pleasures are threatened? But if your treasures are in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal, then you will be able to truly say, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, ESV).

You know, I hesitate to even speak in this way knowing that some of you are plagued by worry and fear. By no means do I wish to aggravate that. Instead, it is my objective to stir up within you a true and sincere love for God and strong faith in him. As one of your pastors, I do feel responsible to prepare you for difficult days. My calling is to “proclaim [Christ], warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28, ESV). I do wish to present you to Christ pure and mature. And I would be remiss if I did not ask you, have you really counted the cost? Have you forsaken the world? Are you willing to suffer for his name sake?

When we read Paul’s charge to Timothy “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” we should not forget that this was a dangerous calling for Timothy, for other ministers of the gospel, and for those to whom they ministered in the early days of the church. And neither should we forget that this calling is a dangerous calling for many of our brothers and sisters who live around the world to this present day. 


The Witnesses: God, Who Gives Life, And Christ, Who Made The Good Confession

So Paul’s charge to Timothy was “to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach”. The duration was “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ”. And notice, thirdly, the witness. Paul called two to witness the charge. They are God and Jesus Christ. What he says about these two is very significant, I think.

Verse 13: “I charge you 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, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (1 Timothy 6:13–14, ESV).

Why did Paul emphasize these things? Of all the things he could have said about God and Christ, why did he remind Timothy that God “gives life to all things”, and that Christ “made the good confession” “in his testimony before Pontius Pilate”? Surely there is a reason. 

The reason is this: both of these truths are a great comfort and encouragement to the one facing the threat of persecution. Do not forget all that Paul had suffered on account of testimony for Christ. He had suffered greatly, and would eventually be martyred. And do not forget that most of the other apostles would also suffer greatly for their testimony. Timothy knew this. He saw first hand how dangerous it was to be a Christian, and particularly a leader within the church. And so when Paul charged him to “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach”, he called “God, who gives life to all things”, and “Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession” as witnesses.

It is as if Paul said, Timothy be faithful and do not fear knowing that it is your God and mine who gives life. Man may kill the body, but God will keep you and give you life, body and soul, for all eternity. Our God is the “God who gives life to all things”. 

And connected to this, he reminds Timothy of the good confession that Jesus made in front of Pontious Pilate. You will remember that it was Pilate that had the power (humanly speaking) to either have Jesus crucified or to set him free. And when Jesus stood before him he did not shrink back from his calling but made the good confession. He confessed that he was the King, and the Son of God. He was faithful to the truth. And because he was faithful, he was crucified. But God raised him up. And that is the point, isn’t it?  

Paul charged Timothy in the presence of “God, who gives life to all things” and “Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession” so that Timothy might take courage and comfort in them. He was to hope in God who gives life, and in Christ whom God raised from the dead. Stated negatively, if we do not truly believe that God will give us eternal life through faith in Christ who died and rose for us, then we will not likely persevere in the face of persecution. 

Do you believe that God gives life, brothers and sisters? Do you believe that Jesus was raised from the dead by him because he was faithful to the point of death? And do you believe that those in Christ will be raised on the last day to enjoy life eternal in the new heavens and earth? I pray that you do.  It is this hope concerning the resurrection and life in glory that does move God’s people to suffer the loss of all things that they may gain Christ and lay ahold of the eternal life that is found in him. 

You know, I have been reading through the book of Job devotionally. That is a very interesting book. It is also rather complex. Most people know it as a book about suffering, and it is that. Job suffers greatly, and he does persevere, even though his wife and his three friends give him terrible advice. But it is also a book about Jesus. It is about Jesus because Job is a type of Christ. Christ was the true and faithful servant of God who suffered even to the point of death though he deserved it not. And it is also about Christ because Job placed his faith in him. Job believed in the Redeemer and hoped in the resurrection. This is what moved him to faithfully bear up under so much suffering. Perhaps the most famous passage in Job is found in chapter 19 verses 25-27, where Job, after suffering greatly, says,  “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25–27, ESV). Job had everything pleasant in this life stripped away from him, and yet he would not curse God. He would not turn his back on God. Why? His faith was in the Redeemer. His hope was in the life to come. 

Is this true of you? Is your hope in God who gives life? Is your trust in Jesus Christ who made the good confession before Pontius Pilate, was crucified, buried, and on the third day raised. Do you believe that though your flesh be destroyed, those in Christ will be raised at the end of time, will stand upon the earth with their Redeemer, and will, along with Job, see God in your flesh. I pray that you believe it. I pray that you truly believe, so that you might persevere in the dark day, in the day of trouble. 


The Goal: The Glory Of God

We have considered the charge, the duration, and the witnesses. Now let us briefly consider the goal, which is the glory of God. We must “keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach” so that God gets the glory. That is the goal. 

Listen to this marvelous doxology beginning in the middle of verse 15: “he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:15–16, ESV).

The goal of all our obedience is the glory of the Triune God. We wish to see him honored. We wish to see him rule over all things. Indeed he does! He is the blessed and only Sovereign. There is nothing outside of his control. And he is “the King of kings and Lord of lords”. But not all honor him as such. Many do rebel against him and blaspheme his name. But at the judgment, all of this will be set straight. The new heavens and earth will be occupied only by those who have bowed the knee to him through faith in the Redeemer he has provided. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:14–15, ESV).

God is the “blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” and “he alone has immortality”. Others besides God will enjoy immortality. Those in Christ will not be threatened by death. They will live in paradise forever and ever. But no one has immortality in the way that God has immortality. God is immortal because God is life. We live because God has granted us life. But no one or nothing gives God life. He is life. He is immortal. 

And he “dwells in unapproachable light… no one has ever seen or can see” him. Think of that. God has manifested himself to us. He has revealed himself to us so that we might know him truly. But no one has seen him as he is. No one knows God exhaustively. It is impossible for the creature to fully comprehend the Creator. It is impossible for that which is finite to fully grasp that which is infinite. 

Our God is awesome. He is marvelous in ways that words cannot express. We are to live for his glory and honor. We are to seek his dominion over all things. 

Why do you think Paul concludes this section wherein he exhorts Timothy to faithful obedience with this doxology? I think it was to help Timothy, and we along with him, to take his eyes off of the troubles of this present evil age and to set them upon God who is glorious and full of life. Live for that, Timothy! Live for the glory of God, and long to be in his presence for all eternity. Everything in this world is temporary, fading, and given to corruption. Don’t cling to it. Cling to God. Pursue him. Make him your delight, and live for his glory. For he will never fade. In him there is life abundant, and life forevermore. 



Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Timothy 6:13-16, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 6:13-16, Keep The Commandment

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warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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