1Timothy 4 - Outline of 1Timothy (Book Notes menu page)
1. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly,
that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,
giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, [and commanding] to abstain from meats,
which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving
of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God [is] good, and nothing to be refused,
if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
6. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things,
thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ,
nourished up in the words of
[the] faith and of [the] good doctrine,
whereunto thou hast attained.
It is the Holy Spirit who affirms the Truth and who reveals future things to God's people (Joh 16:13).
Therefore, we are admonished to "hear what the Spirit sayeth unto the churches" (eg., Rev 2:7, repeated to each of the 7 churches in Rev ch.2-3).
     The Holy Spirit, who has made known 'the mystery of godliness' (1Tim 3:16), has also revealed the rejection of God's way of salvation, by 'some' who profess to be 'the church' which is charged with proclaiming and maintaining the Truth (3:15).
...in the latter times...-
     [In the NT, similar phrases differ somewhat in meaning or emphasis, as determined by the context.]
'The latter times' {GK=husteros kairos, lit., later season (v.1)} and 'the last days' {GK=eschatois humerois, lit., final days (2Tim 3:1} are almost synonymous terms, both referring to the Church Age, between the ascension of Christ and His return for His own, at the Rapture of the Church, prior to the Tribulation period.
     However, 'the latter times' focus on an extended season which would immediately follow the apostolic period (ie., the early portion of the Church Age). As Paul wrote, that season was rapidly approaching (v.1). By the time John wrote, that season had already come (1Joh 2:18; cp. Jude 1:18). Certain characteristics of that season continue to the present time (2The 2:7). Passages dealing with 'the last days' typically focus on characteristics of the closing portion of the Church Age.
     In 1Pet 1:5-7, 'the last time' refers to the coming of Christ to receive His own unto Himself. In 1Pet 1:20 (read v.18-21), 'these last times' refers to the Age of Grace (the Church Age), during which God's previously hidden plan of salvation (by means of Christ's death and resurrection) has been made known for all who will believe.
     [Note: Do not confuse the above NT terms with similar sounding terms in the OT: 'the latter days' (sometimes translated 'the last days' in the KJV) refers to 'the Day of the LORD' which includes 'the Time of Jacob's Trouble (the Tribulation period), the judgment of the nations, and the Millennial Kingdom (eg., Isa 2:2,12). This is also the sense of 'the last days' in James 5:3,4-8.]
...some shall depart from the faith...-
During the period of time between the apostles and the return of Christ, the church would be afflicted with apostasy. A person cannot 'depart' {GK=aphistemi, stand off, draw away} from the faith, unless he had once professed to believe it.
...giving heed to seducing {lit., wandering} spirits, and doctrines of devils {demons}...
Apostasy begins with turning from God's Word to give attention to incompatible ideas, placed in one's mind by demonic spirits, who are in rebellion against God. Although apostates previously professed the faith, they never possessed Christ. For had they been truly born again, God's Spirit would have given them immunity to demonic deception (1Joh 2:18-20; 3:8,9).
...speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared...-
Having turned from the truth, these apostate church leaders speak falsehood, while pretending to speak for God. Although they know what the Bible says, they are comfortable as they teach in contradiction to God's Word. (How important it is to maintain a pure conscience regarding the faith once delivered to the saints. 1Tim 3:9)
...forbidding to marry... commanding to abstain from meats...-
Paul did not foresee all of the many false teachings that have arisen. But these two errors were already rising, in his day. Ignoring God's provision of true holiness through regeneration by Grace and sanctification by the Spirit (1Cor 6:11), the apostate church would require celibacy of priests, monks and nuns, as though sinners can make themselves holy through self-denial. Of course, this is contrary to God's purpose in creation, and for His people (see 1Tim 3:2; Heb 13:4).
     Likewise, abstention from meat, or from certain meats on certain days, though promoted by the apostate church, had no spiritual benefit (as Jesus Himself taught, Mat 15:11; Col 2:20-23; Heb 13:9).
...which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth...
True believers, who have a thorough understanding of God's Word, understand that the things which God created (including the marriage relationship and all kinds of food) were designed for our good. They are 'sanctified' {ie., set apart, made holy} as we thank Him for His gracious provision, and as we pray asking Him to use these gifts to equip us for His service.
     Paul warned against false doctrine, but he could not foresee its depths. Not long after the apostolic era, the rising hierarchical church invented numerous unbiblical falsehoods, which became embedded in the dogma of the Roman church, including:
  • the immaculate conception of Mary -
    While the Bible teaches that Mary was highly favored, it does not teach that she was born sinless. In fact, she knew she was not, for she rejoiced in "God my Saviour" (Luk 1:46,47), and she brought the offering prescribed by Moses for her purification (Luk 2:21-24).
  • the assumption of Mary into heaven -
    The R.C.C. teaches that Mary did not die, but ascended directly into heaven, where she reigns as Queen of Heaven, and where she receives prayer as the Mediatrix for the faithful. But there is no hint of these ideas in the Bible, which declares that there is but one Mediator between God and man (1Tim 2:5).
  • the purging of sins through suffering in Purgatory -
    The Bible makes no mention of a place like purgatory, nor does it suggest that human suffering, or the purchase of 'indulgences' can merit forgiveness of sins. Rather, the Bible is clear that Christ died for our sins, the just for the unjust (1Pet 3:18), that He completed the work of salvation (Joh 19:30; Heb 10:11,12), and that He by Himself purged the sins of those who trust in Him (Heb 1:3).
These (and other) errors, which were hidden in the future as Paul wrote, but which entered the church in the historic past (from our perspective), will persist until Christ returns to judge the apostate church (which is also called: 'mystery Babylon,' Rev 17:1-6).
...If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things,
thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ... (v.6)
In contrast to those who pretend to represent God while teaching falsehood, a good minister {GK=diakonos, servant} of Christ will put a good foundation under his fellow believers, enabling them to discern and avoid falsehood, as he nourishes them, in 'the faith,' from God's Word, with 'the good' {ie., healthy, sound} doctrine'... the same doctrine which he himself 'hath attained' {ie., has followed, and continues to follow; eg., 2Tim 3:14}.
7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables,
and exercise thyself [rather] unto godliness.
8 For bodily exercise profiteth little:
but godliness is profitable unto all things,
having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
9 This [is] a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach,
because we trust in the living God,
who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
...refuse {ie., avoid} profane {ie., common, unholy} old wives {ie., 'old womanish'} fables {ie., myths, fictions}...
The servant of God must not be distracted by the many imaginary ideas circulated by people with no understanding of God's Word (1Tim 1:4; 2Tim 4:3,4; Titus 1:14). Their confused theories and their prescriptions for life improvement, will absorb the listener's time and energy while producing no benefit.
...exercise thyself rather unto godliness...- 1Tim 6:20
The word 'exercise' {GK=gumnasia, training} is an athletic term which implies concentrated and focused effort toward a goal. Timothy was reading this letter in Ephesus, where a large stadium occasionally hosted the Olympic games. The culture was obsessed with physical strength and endurance. As an athlete prepares for a race, the servant of God must give his full attention to the goal of 'godliness.' The spiritual athlete will feed on God's Word and grow strong through adversity (Heb 5:13,14; Heb 12:11).
...bodily exercise profiteth little {or, 'a little while'}:
but godliness is profitable unto all... the life that now is and of that which is to come.
Paul is not denegrating physical exercise. Paul could not have walked thousands of miles in the course of his ministry, unless he had been physically fit. His point is that the benefit of physical exercise is temporary, since our bodies will soon weaken and die. But those who pursue godliness will not only benefit in this life, but also eternally. Eternal life is the gift of God, to those who believe in Christ. It is not something to be won by human effort (Rom 6:23). Yet, a person, who possesses that gift, should live today 'with eternity's values in view' (Col 3:1-6; 1Tim 6:11,12).
...this is a faithful saying...
There is some disagreement as to whether the intended faithful saying is v.8 or v.10. Both verses are true. Verse 8 describes the benefit of spiritual exercise. Verse 10 identifies the true motivation for straining toward the goal... the reason to 'labor' {ie., toil unto exhaustion} and 'suffer reproach' {ie., receive ridicule and hatred from the ungodly}, which is...
...because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
We strain to serve God, because we know and trust Him. He is my Savior, because I have placed my trust in Him. Because He is the world's only Savior, we labor to make Him known to others, in the hope that they also might believe. For only those who believe in Him are saved, though His sacrifice is sufficient to save all (2Cor 5:14,15; 1Tim 2:6; 1Joh 2:2; 4:14; 5:10-13).
11 These things command and teach.
12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers,
in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Let no man despise thy youth...
Timothy was probably 30-35 years old. [He was probably in his late teens or early twenties when he accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey in 52 AD (Acts 16:1-3). This letter was written about 13 years later.]
     Timothy, as the servant of the Lord, had a responsibility to command {GK=paragello, charge, transmit God's message} and teach God's Word. He should not allow himself to be intimidated by anyone who questioned his authority. His authority, as God's spokesman, did not depend upon his age, but upon God's commission. Therefore, he should answer such a challenge to his authority...
  • by faithfulness as a godly example... (v.12) -
    • in his manner of speaking (eg., Col 4:6)
    • in his way of life (Jam 3:13,17)
    • in love toward the brethren (2Pet 1:5-8)
    • in sincerity of heart and faith (1Tim 1:5)
      Here, 'spirit' {GK=pneuma} probably refers to the human mind and heart.
    • and in purity of thought and relationships (1Tim 5:2; 2Tim 2:22).
  • by faithfulness in the ministry of the Word... - in three aspects (v.13):
    • reading...- The Greek word refers to reading publicly (as in Acts 13:15).
      God's Word was to be read to the people, for their edification (as in Neh 8:8).
    • exhortation... {GK=paraklesis, lit., calling to one's side} -
      The Lord's servant was to make application of the Word for guidance or correction of his hearers in various life situations. Exhortation can be directed privately to individuals, or publicly to the congregation. Titus 2:15
    • doctrine... - The central teachings of the faith must be clearly explained from the Word,
      to enable the people to understand God's truth, so that they might recognize and refuse false doctrine (1Tim 4:1; 2Tim 4:2)
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee,
which was given thee by prophecy,
with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them;
that thy profiting may appear to all.
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them:
for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
Neglect not {ie., do not take lightly} the gift that is in thee...-
A called servant of God cannot afford to be negligent in the Lord's work. One servant may yield to fear or laziness. Another may wrongly think he has not been adequately equipped for the job which God has given him. Every servant will be held accountable for what he has received (Mat 25:14-30; Col 4:17; 2Tim 1:6).
...the gift... which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of... hands... (cp. 1Tim 1:18)
Apparently, when Timothy was chosen to accompany Paul in his missionary work, Paul and the elders at Derbe and Lystra had placed their hands upon Timothy, as they commissioned him to the ministry, with prayer for God to work in and through His servant, and with promises from God's Word, to encourage and admonish him as he entered into the Lord's work. In answer to their prayer, God had gifted Timothy with enablement for the work, by giving him the heart of a Pastor-Teacher (Eph 4:11). But prior to that time, godly men had already recognized that the Lord was preparing this young man for His service (Acts 16:1-3).
     It should be remembered that spiritual gifts are conveyed directly to a man by the Spirit of God, not through the hands of men. Sadly, many men, who have been ordained by men, were never called or prepared by God for His service.
Meditate upon these things... give thyself wholly to them...
The 'prophecies' which the elders spoke over Timothy, have not been recorded. They were not meant for our ears. But Timothy was to be constantly aware that God had called, commissioned, and equipped him, for His work.
     The person who knows he is called of God, should focus his mind and heart upon fulfilling his God given role (2Pet 1:10; cp. Php 2:19-22).
Take heed {ie., give careful attention to}...
  • to thyself...- The servant of God is to prepare himself.
    The servant's heart must be prepared to 'seek' and 'to do' God's Word and will, before he can 'teach' others (cp. Ezr 7:10). The servant must also maintain a good conscience (a heart that is right with God, 1Tim 1:18,19), and a good example (a life that is right before men, v.12,13; Titus 2:7).
  • to the doctrine {or, 'to thy teaching'}...-
    God's servant must correctly understand the truth of Scripture (2Tim 2:15), and must teach it faithfully to others (v.6; 1Tim 1:3).
    The preparation of the teacher's heart and the presentation of sound teaching, should continually characterize the Lord's faithful servant.
in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
In the context of this chapter, the word 'save' {GK=sozo, keep safe, rescue from danger} refers to delivering believers from the dangers of apostasy and ungodliness (v.1-3,6).
     This line also reflects on the accountability before the Lord of all believers, whether in the role of teachers or hearers (eg., Eze 33:7-9; Jer 23:22; Acts 20:26,27; Rom 14:12; Heb 13:17; Jam 5:20).

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