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1Timothy 4 (web)

4:1 But the Spirit says expressly 4:2 through the hypocrisy of men who speak lies,
branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron;
4:3 forbidding marriage and commanding to abstain from foods 4:6 If you instruct the brothers of these things, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which you have followed.
4:7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables. Exercise yourself toward godliness. 4:11 Command and teach these things.
4:12 Let no man despise your youth; but be an example to those who believe,
  • in word,
  • in your way of life,
  • in love, in spirit,
  • in faith, and
  • in purity.
  • 4:13 Until I come,
    4:14 Don't neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy,
    with the laying on of the hands of the elders.
    4:15 Be diligent in these things. Give yourself wholly to them,
    that your progress may be revealed to all.
    4:16 Pay attention to yourself, and to your teaching. Continue in these things,
    for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

    Discussion Questions

    vs 1 Xref 2Pet 2:1-3

    Though you may be familiar with the names of some cults, do you know what they believe that deviates from Biblical Christianity?

    What other ideas have you heard, perhaps even in the Chrisitian community, that you feel deviate from Biblical Christianity?

    What do think attracts people to such false ideas?

    What motivates the teachers to propogate such false ideas?

    vs 7 What is an "old wive's tale" and why is it called such?

    vs 7,8 How does one "train himself" to be godly?

    vs 12 A person's physical age is not necessarily an indication of his level of spiritual maturity. Nor should physical age be a factor in submission to a legitimate authority figure, as Timothy. However, it is legitimate to treat people different based on their age as 1Tim 5:1,2 will indicate.

    In each of the areas listed in this verse, what may be particular examples of what Paul had in mind?

    vs 13 Do you feel you are sufficiently devoted to reading, learning and perhaps teaching the Bible?
    How might you become more devoted?


    vs 1-10 Part of a minister's responsibility is not just teaching the truth, but pointing out lies and false teachings. Much of the content the New Testament letters are devoted to dispelling cults and false ideas that had arisen in the Christian community. One such idea is that Christians should abstain from eating certain foods. We can see that even James, the Lord's brother, who Paul says (perhaps sarcastically) was reputed to be a pillar of the church (of Jerusalem? Gal 2:9) advocated and even commanded Gentile Christians to abstain from certain foods. (Acts 15:13-20)

    In Galatians Paul dealt with the cult of "the circumcision" - which apparently originated from the church of Jerusalem. In which the Gentiles were required to follow the ritualistic laws of Moses in order to become Christians. Even the Apostle Peter was influenced by that cult and Paul rebuked him. (Gal 2:11-21)

    Cults not only arose out from the Jewish "nominal-Christians", like "the circumcision", but also from the Gentile Nominal-Chistians who attempted to syncretize greek philosphy with Christianity. Paul often had to deal with Epicureanism and Asceticism. "Forbidding to marry", for example, would be characteristic of an ascetic philosphy that believed that one could reach a higher spiritual state by extreme self-denial and austerity. And whereas this may be partially true, involuntarily restricting the freedom of other Christians in those areas in which God has given then freedom (such as the right to marry), puts oneself in the place of God. "Docetism", which John dealt with in 1John, came out of asceticism and which believed that Jesus did not have a physical body, because they associated "physical" with "evil".

    vs 10 God is potentially the savior of all men, but effectively only for those who believe.

    vs 16 "Doctrine"= what we believe, "Life"=how we apply it. The Christian should not be satisfied with just having the right answers. He must apply what he says he believes. And even if he applies the Word today, he must persist in applying it every day for the rest of his life.

    Additional Comments


    1Tim 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons

    By "latter times" he was referring to days since the New Covenant was in effect - namely from Acts 2 to the present. Thus Paul was writing in the "latter times". John also refers to this same thing saying, "Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us." 1John 2:18

    People depart from the faith by deciding to follow the teachings of deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. Most recently is the media's obsession with the "Gospel of Judas", a gnostic gospel rejected as heresy by the early Christians. The reason why some believe that gospel, which has little basis in actual historic facts, is simply because they prefer what it says over that of the other gospels. There have been many such deceitful teachings both then and now. In fact they serve a useful purpose in purging false Christians out of the Christian community.

    A Seared Conscience

    1Tim 4:2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron

    One characteristic of false teachings is that they are not logically consistent, and thus if by nothing else they can be identified by their very hypocrisy. Most false teachings are so obviously so that you would think one would have to be an idiot to be deceived by them. In fact there is some truth to that in that Paul writes, "although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened."Rom 1:21 "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind." Rom 1:28 The rejection of the truth has consequences to one's mind and conscience. Such people become spiritually stupid and their conscience corrupt.

    The conscience being seared as with a hot iron makes it insensitive, thereby rendering it useless. Such people don't feel guilty for what they should feel guilty for. They lose the ability to distinguish right and wrong. And as the conscience is also the seat of the intuition, one's intuition is corrupted such that they lose the ability to properly infer things, or as Jesus would say, they don't have ears to hear. In this way the corruption of one's conscience renders a person spiritually stupid in that it destroys one's ability to intuit properly.

    Forbidding Marriage

    1Tim 4:3  forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

    Many false teachings can be characterized as forbidding things things of which we have freedom in Christ, or allowing things of which we are forbidden in Christ. That is, many false teachings fall into the categories of either legalism or licentiousness. Both deviate from the path - falling either to the right or to the left of it.

    Marriage is optional in the Christian life. One has the freedom to marry or to stay single. But one does not have the freedom to commit adultery or fornication. As an example of the violation of the principle of freedom, take Catholicism. Catholicism restricts the freedom to marry. To serve as a priest in the church one must be single. But then again there are Protestant sects that equally guilty of violating this principle of freedom. For seemingly in reaction against Catholicism there are Christians who reckon singleness with contempt. In fact even in the times of the Protestant reformation there is at least one example where Calvinists had a man put to death, one of the charges being that he was single for too long. But even today single people are often treated as second class citizens in the church. For there are churches which don't allow unmarried Christians to serve in positions of leadership simply because they are unmarried. (Just like Catholicism) To forbid marriage or forbid singleness among Christians is an example of a doctrine of demons.

    Another doctrine of demons is the placing of restrictions upon the foods one eats - of which we were given freedom in Christ. Yes, God had given restrictions to Jews under the law of Moses, but freedom was given under Christ. God lifted the ban on forbidden foods in Acts 10, as it is written, "What God has cleansed you must not call common." Acts 10:14 Thus as Paul says, "the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." Rom 14:17 Does your fellowship group make the kingdom of God a matter of eating and drinking?

    Rom 14:6 "He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks."

    All Food Lawful

    1Tim 4:4 "For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;"

    "Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the LORD'S, and all its fullness."" 1Cor 10:25,26

    However I perhaps must remind Americans that Paul is not condoning gluttony. "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame——who set their mind on earthly things." Php 3:18,19 And while, "all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify." 1Cor 10:23

    But while one should not allow what is forbidden - namely gluttony, so also one should not forbid what is allowed - namely the eating of meats, for example. For even today there are animal activists among the Christian community, who preach the doctrine of demons that to eat animals is sinful.

    But while Paul does teach that one can set restrictions upon one's own diet, it is forbidden for Christians to judge another with respect to the variety of one's diet. (1Cor 10)

    Sanctified Food

    1Tim 4:5  for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer

    The word of God sanctifies food in that as you can see from places like Rom 14:6,17; 1Cor 10; Acts 10;14, the Word of God explicitly gives us freedom with respect the varieties of foods one can chose to eat. Secondly it is sanctified in prayers of thanksgiving.

    For "if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks?" 1Cor 10:30 And "He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks." Rom 14:6 Thus eating actually becomes an area of service to God in that we glorify God for his provision and he is glorified in our enjoyment of it as we attribute such enjoyment back to God.

    In fact even despite the restrictions placed on foods under the Law, much of the Law had to do with celebrating God's graciousness through feasting. Even the Tithe was eaten:

    Deut 14:23-26 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away),  then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.

    Nourished in Good Teachings

    1Tim 4:6   If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

    Now you would think he would say "nourishing" - active voice. But instead he says "nourished" - passive voice. A good minister is not simply one who nourishes others, but rather one who is also himself nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine. Before you nourish others, you must allow yourselves to be nourished and to carefully follow the words of faith and of good doctrine. Then you will be prepared for effective ministry.

    Reject Old Wives' Fables

    1Tim 4:7  But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

    What he has in mind is things along the line of superstitions - baseless myths. In contrast to such is the Word of God with its solid foundation in truth. And not to digress too much on this controversial point, but it is interesting that he mentions "old wives fables". This would seem to lend support to my take on 1Tim 2:14 that one reason he didn't allow women to take on authoritative roles of teaching in the church because of their being prone to being deceived.

    Superstitious or otherwise myth-based theology and practice is not uncommon in the Christian community. Always interesting to see how Christians react when they open up a fortune cookie. And remember what Paul said in chapter 1. "Nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith." 1Tim 1:4 Godliness is based upon what the Bible clearly says, and not upon some highly speculative ideas.

    In light of what the Bible clearly commands, who has time for highly speculative ideas?

    Godliness Profitable

    1Tim 4:8  For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

    While everyone knows that there is benefit in physical exercise and eating right, the flesh is generally opposed to such things, being naturally lazy and pleaure seeking, and as such it requires discipline to carry these out.

    Godliness is also a matter of exercise - and the benefits being much greater than physical exercise. But again the flesh resists such exercise and as such one much make an intentional effort and plan to discipline oneself unto godliness.

    And as we can see from the context, the actual discipline unto godliness requires diligent application-oriented study of the Bible.

    The promise of godliness is not just for the life to come, but even in this life one benefits from godly living.

    A Faithful Saying

    1Tim 4:9  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.

    The saying he is referring to here is verse 8. There are many places where he refers to "faithful sayings". As such it seems a principle that as he's living the Christian life he's keeping faithful sayings in mind as general guiding principles.
    Now just to mention other "faithful sayings" in his writings:

    1Tim 1:15 "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief."

    1Tim 3:1 "This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work"

    2Tim 2:10-13 "I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself."

    Titus 3:5-8 "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying"

    Savior to All

    1Tim 4:10  For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

    This sounds much like 2Tim 2:10 "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

    And while God is potentially the Savior of all, He is actually the Savior of the believers. In a similar vein it is written, "He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." 1John 2:2

    What was the end reason as to why Paul labored and suffered reproach? It was people's salvation. People obtaining eternal salvation is partly a function of how willing you are to labor and suffer reproach. I think many end up never being saved partly because we're too lazy or too afraid of suffering reproach to reach them.

    Command and Teach

    1Tim 4:11  These things command and teach.

    We notice he doesn't says "These things SUGGEST and teach", but rather "COMMAND and teach". Rare today to hear preachers who give commands. Yet much of the Bible, and even this verse itself, contains not suggestions but rather commands.

    Submission is one aspect of the regenerate nature. But submission is not exercised unless it is given a command. Yes there are those who resent being given commands. But that is generally because of pride. Commands are for the humble.

    Thus consider as a Christian are you prepared to receive commands, and as a matured Christian are you prepared to give them?

    Be an Example

    1Tim 4:12  Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

    In the previous verse Paul had commanded Timothy not just to teach but also to command. As Timothy was young, those older than him may have had difficulty with their own pride to receive commands. But Christian humility allows one to learn from those younger than oneself.

    While ministering Christians are to be examples in word, they are not to be examples in word only. The Christian should not say, "Do what I say, not what I do". Rather his life and doctrine should be consistent. Consider the areas Paul mentions here in which we are to be examples besides in word:

    Consider what areas you need to improve.

    Attention to Scripture

    1Tim 4:13  Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

    More explicitly, these are:

    We all need to regularly listen to what the Bible actually says - not just commentary, not just exposition. But explanation and declaration of applications in combination with hearing the Word, generally leads to greater edification than simply only the hearing of the Word.

    Consider Ezra's time:

    "Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law." Neh 8:2,3

    But also they fulfilled the two other points Paul made here. First in terms of explanation: "Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading." Neh 8:7,8

    And in terms of application: "Now on the second day the heads of the fathers' houses of all the people, with the priests and Levites, were gathered to Ezra the scribe, in order to understand the words of the Law. And they found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month" Neh 8:13,14 ... and they so they reestablished the feast of tabernacles, and continued to do so even unto New Testament times.

    Consider what you have recently heard from the Bible, understood, and applied.

    Utilize Your Gift

    1Tim 4:14  Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.

    Paul mentions a similar thing in 2Tim 1:5-7 "I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

    What I suspect he means is that a ministerial gift was conferred upon Timothy when Paul had called and authorized him - in the symbolism of the laying on of hands - to the particular ministry he was now involved in. Paul is encouraging him to nurture and apply his spiritual gift in that role.

    Is there a spiritual gift you have which you are neglecting to apply?

    Meditation Leads to Progress

    1Tim 4:15  Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.

    Are you measurably progressing in the Christian life?

    How can we attain measurable progress in the Christian life? Surprisingly it's often largely a function of thinking about it. Application without Meditation can often lead to Misapplications and thus Negation of Edification. But Meditation without Reservation results in Applications which lead to Edification.

    Furthermore to keep you from being ineffective or unproductive you may also seek to develop additional qualities of which Peter alludes to saying, "if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2Peter 1:8

    Keep Alert to Behavior and Doctrine

    1Tim 4:16  Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

    Once we're on the right track in terms of our lifestyle and beliefs, then another step is to persevere in them. Perseverance is one of the character qualities Peter mentioned in 2Peter 1:5-8 of which he said would prevent us from being ineffective or unproductive in our Christian life.

    Also Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine."John 8:31 In fact "Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God." 2John 1:9

    Therefore Hebrews says, "You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 'For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." Heb 10:36-39

    The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

    Sep 12,2020