The Expository Files

Commentary on 1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 4

"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer." (1st Timothy 4:1-5).

1. Paul tells, and warns Timothy that men will fall away from the faith. Brothers and sisters will fall away from the faith. They will be deceived from deceitful spirits, and doctrines, or teachings of demons.

2. A very violent description, their consciences are seared as with a branding iron. This simply comes from liars, and men who know they are liars, they are hypocrites and ignore the truth and by their hypocrisy they lead many away.

3. Forbidding marriage, and abstaining from foods are two examples of these demonic doctrines. It sounds like they were trying to bind where the word of God does not bind. There is nothing inherently wrong with food or marriage when those who know the truth gratefully share it. God created these things a certain way, and they are good things.

4. Everything created by God is good does not mean it is o.k. to abuse the body with drugs, or does not mean that we have the right to indulge ourselves in sinful activities, and materialism. Nothing is to be rejected though. No person should feel that just because they are a Christian means they cannot enjoy things in life. But when you are enjoying different blessings, you need to acknowledge and receive them with gratitude.

5. The good things Paul is talking about are sanctified by the means of the word of God and are good things, But we also set these things apart, when thanking God for them

"In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed upon you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you." (1st Timothy 4:6-16).

6. In pointing out the importance of thankfulness and sanctifying things by the word of God, you are becoming a good servant of Christ. A preacher needs to constantly nourish other people with words of faith, and sound doctrine. Teaching things that help people avoid the many temptations of the flesh, and teaching them to follow all of the teachings of the apostles. It is important not only that Timothy teaches the truth, but also follows the truth. Practice what you preach!

7. Yet another plea to Timothy to avoid worldly fables, that are fit for only old women, instead of wasting time on those fables, Timothy needs to discipline himself according to the purpose of Godliness. Discipline can also be translated as exercise, so Timothy is told to exercise for the purpose of Godliness.

8. Bodily exercise, or discipline does profit a little. It is important to keep our body in good health, but it is of much more value to have godly exercises, because godliness helps us not only in this life, but also in our life to come. Our bodies decay, but our spirit does not. We are only in a temporary body, and one day we will be in a new body. That does not mean we should not care of our present body. But as we do take care of our body, we should not neglect the more important side of who we are in the realm of being like God.

9. This statement is as sure as the statement earlier in Timothy that Christ came to save sinners. Not only did Christ come to save sinners, but we are here to become like God.

10. We labor, and strive to focus on the living God. The purpose of Christianity is to repair a broken relationship with God, on that is why we fix our hope on Him, and realize that He is the One who saves us. Sometimes in recognizing Christ's sacrifice, we forget of the loving Father who gave His only son for us. He saves all men that believe, and have faith like a child.

11. Timothy is to transmit this message and teach these things. The things likely refer to becoming godly, and teaching people the reason for striving. We need to know how to become godly, and we need to be reminded why this is important.

12. Timothy should not be ashamed because he is young, yet that does not mean he should constantly tell people to listen to him. He should not beg for the people to listen to him, he should simply practice what he preaches. He needs to live in a way that shows himself worthy to be listened too. If he shows himself an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, he will not be looked down upon, but would be respected, and his message would be more received.

13. While waiting for Paul to come and help Timothy out in any situation the church might be in, Paul reminds Timothy of what to pay attention too. Reading scripture, exhorting the family, and teaching them.

14. Timothy had a spiritual gift, but he needed to be told not to neglect it. Perhaps he feared that he would appear arrogant or prideful if he used his gift. Paul though urges Timothy not to neglect the gift. Timothy got this gift while the presbytery/group of elders laid their hands on him. This does not men that elders have to ability to impart spiritual gifts. Paul's hands were the reason the gift was in him [2nd Timothy 1:6].

15. Timothy needs to take pains with showing himself as a good example, and be absorbed in his good work. His character should be through and through. That way everyone will know and see his progress.

16. Timothy as everyone needs to pay close attention to himself and to what he is teaching. When he realizes his teachings are right, he needs to persevere in them, remain in them, persist in them, and continue in them. He will ensure salvation for himself, and for all those who hear him when he does. The people who hear do not merely hear, but react to what has been heard.

By Nathan E. Quinn
From Expository Files 8.10; October 2001