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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary for Schools and Colleges

1 Timothy 4

Verses 1-99

Ch. 4. Apostolic Government in regard to Doctrine

1 5 . False Teachers mar the Truth of the Incarnate Redeemer

1 . Now the Spirit speaketh ] The connexion is this. The teachers and ministers of the Church must hold her central doctrine. It stands strong and firm a rock pillar; ‘Christ the Son of the living God,’ (1) incarnate, (2) redeemer of the world. But there will be, notwithstanding, false teachers, evil heresies, subverting this great mystery of Godliness. See Bp Wordsworth’s note. ‘For example, forbidding to marry is heresy, since by His incarnation the Son of God has married our Nature, has espoused to Himself a Church and so has sanctified marriage. Ephesians 5:23-32 . Commanding to abstain from meats is heresy, since if (as is implied in the command) the flesh was created by the evil principle , and was therefore unclean, God could not have taken human flesh and united it for ever to the Godhead: and it is heresy too, since Christ, the second Adam, recovered for us the free use of all the creatures of God and recovered for them their original benediction.’

‘The Spirit,’ as very frequently, put alone for ‘the Holy Spirit’; where ‘the Spirit saith expressly’ and distinctly that these heresies will arise, is not clear. The words of our Lord (Matthew 26:11 ), of the prophets in various Christian Churches, of St Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3 ) are referred to. But it may be best to take the passage here as itself the new and more explicit utterance by the Spirit in St Paul of what is coming; in a manner similar to St Paul’s statement at Miletus of what would befall himself and the Church at Ephesus, ‘the Holy Ghost testifieth unto me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me … I know that … from among your ownselves shall men arise speaking perverse things.’ Acts 20:23 , Acts 20:29 .

expressly ] The Greek word is postclassical and occurs here only in N.T. As applied to the operation of the Spirit it is very remarkable as implying more than illumination or influences direct communication understood to be such by the recipient.

in the latter times ] Perhaps as R.V. in later times , as distinguishing this phrase from ‘the last days,’ 2 Timothy 3:1 . So Huther, ‘The former points simply to the future, the latter to the last time of the future.’ But the distinction must not be too much pressed: the ‘later times’ predicted here are surely the ‘last hour’ spoken of by St John (1 John 2:18 ) some 25 years later, if, as Bp Westcott says of the date of that letter, ‘this may be fixed with reasonable likelihood in the last decade of the first century.’ He adds on 2:18, ‘the last days are found in each of the seasons of fierce trial which precede the several comings of Christ. The phrase marks a period of critical change.’

shall depart from the faith ] R.V. fall away , as the parent of a word afterwards used still more definitely, ‘apostate.’ ‘The faith’ objectively as above.

seducing spirits ] Here opposed to ‘the Spirit,’ as in 1 John 4:6 , giving the history of what is here prophecy, we have the cognate substantive: the adjective ‘deceiving’ or ‘deceiver’ occurs Matthew 27:63 , ‘that deceiver said,’ and 2 Corinthians 4:8 , but is used in 2 John 1:7 , evidently with reference to the same heresy as here. The substantive has been rendered by A.V. sometimes ‘deceit,’ sometimes ‘error;’ by R.V. always ‘error.’ These deceiving spirits, as Bp Ellicott says, are the spiritual emissaries of Satan which work in their hearts; cf. Ephesians 6:12 . See 1 John 4:3 , where the proof of a spirit being ‘not of God’ is the failure to confess the Incarnation. ‘The many false spirits represent one personal power of falsehood, the prince of the world (John 12:31 ), the devil, whose “children” the wicked are (1 John 3:10 ). The many false prophets stand in a relation towards the Spirit like that which the “many Antichrists” occupy towards Christ. Through them evil spiritual powers find expression .’ Westcott.

doctrines of devils ] The last sentence seems an exact paraphrase of this clause, the instructions given by the evil spirits to the false teachers used by them as ‘their organs through whom to speak.’ ‘Devils’ or ‘demons’ is clearly thus a subjective genitive. The word ‘demon’ in general classical usage signified intermediate beings, the messengers of the Gods to men. The notion of evil demons was due to the later influences of the East, and in LXX. the word is generally used of the heathen idols, Psalms 95:3 ; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:19 , 1 Corinthians 10:20 ; but Josephus employs it always of evil spirits, Bell. Jud . vii. 6, § 3. Cf. Acts 19:12 , Acts 19:13 , James 2:19 . From the N.T. we gather certainly that the demons are agents of Satan in his work of evil, probably that they must be the same as ‘the angels of the devil,’ Matthew 25:41 ; Revelation 12:7 , Revelation 12:9 , ‘the principalities and powers’ against whom we ‘wrestle.’ See Bp Barry, Dict. Bib .

2 . speaking lies in hypocrisy ] Rather, as R.V. through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies , that is, the ‘false prophets,’ ‘many of whom,’ we read, by the time of the writing of 1 John 4:1 , ‘are gone out into the world’ as the scene of their activity; cf. Westcott’s note there. ‘The words point, as it appears, to the great outbreak of the Gentile pseudo-Christianity which is vaguely spoken of as Gnosticism, the endeavour to separate the ideas of the Faith from the facts of the historic Redemption.’

having their conscience seared ] Lit. branded as to their own conscience , grown callous in their own case as flesh would with the branding of hot iron: the word is found nowhere else in N.T. Individually conscious of their own responsibility, they were like branded slaves who knew their guilt.

3 . forbidding to marry ] See on verse 1 and Introduction, pp. 46, 48, 50, 51. From the verb ‘forbidding’ must be supplied by the rule called zeugma (Winer, § 661 e), the positive ‘bidding’ with the infinitive ‘to abstain from meats.’ ‘Meats’ is to be understood in its older sense ‘food for eating,’ though abstinence from animal food was the distinctive rule of the developed Gnostic systems, such as that of the Encratites or Purists under Tatian.

to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know ] The comma of A.V. (Parallel N.T.) after ‘believe’ (though inserted to prevent its being understood to mean ‘believe the truth’) has been omitted by R.V., apparently because there is only one article for the two clauses, and therefore they describe the same people under slightly different aspects: while the insertion might seem to make a higher class among those that believe, viz. those that know the truth fully, and to give the privilege of thus partaking to it only.

The word for ‘know’ is most exactly have come to full knowledge of , and implies that full experience of God’s will and ways which is open to all who have become ‘adherents of the faith,’ ‘faithful.’ Cf. note on 3:4.

4 . every creature of God is good ] Creation in all its parts is meant, everything made by God; for this use of the word ‘creature’ from Lat. creatura compare the Communion Office in the Prayer-Book, ‘receiving these Thy creatures of bread and wine.’ All God’s workmanship ‘is good, and was so pronounced by God Himself at the moment of creation.’ Fairbairn.

‘We read in Genesis 8:21 , “I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake;” and the Psalms always speak of this earth and of all created things as if there was no curse at all on them; saying that “all things serve God, and continue as they were at the beginning;” and that “He has given them a law which cannot be broken;” and in the face of those words let who will talk of the earth being cursed, I will not; and you shall not if I can help it.’ Kingsley, Good News of God , p. 35.

‘Oh the yearning when one sees a beautiful thing to make someone else see it too! Surely it is of Heaven!… Every creature of God is good if it be sanctified with prayer and thanksgiving! This to me is the master truth of Christianity! I cannot make people see it, but it seems to me that it was to redeem man and the earth that Christ was made man and used the earth.’ Kingsley, Letters , Abr. ed., 1. p. 72.

nothing to be refused ] The form of the Greek favours the making this a separate sentence as R.V., nothing is to be rejected .

5 . for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer ] Rather, through . The ‘word of God’ is most commonly in N.T. ‘the gospel’ generally, Acts 4:31 , 1 Corinthians 14:36 , Colossians 1:25 , 1 Thessalonians 2:2 , 1 Thessalonians 2:8 , 1 Thessalonians 2:9 , 1 Thessalonians 2:13 , Revelation 20:4 ; sometimes more pointedly ‘the word which God speaks through His messengers or immediately in the heart of each man, Hebrews 4:12 , 1 Peter 1:23 , Titus 1:3 ; sometimes still more specifically, the very Son of God Himself, the Word incarnate, John 1:1 , 1 John 1:1 , Revelation 19:13 . But it is also the record of God’s will and truth as declared by the Old Testament lawgivers and prophets, Mark 7:13 , Romans 9:6 . And so with Huther, Ellicott, Conybeare, Lightfoot and Alford, we understand it here of O.T. declarations of God’s creating and sustaining goodness incorporated in the ‘invocation.’ We take it to imply that the thanksgiving was commonly made in some Scriptural words, such as those quoted from a primitive grace before meat ( Apostolical Constitutions , vii. 49), which begins ‘Blessed art thou, O Lord, Who nurturest me from my youth up, Who givest food to all flesh.’ Compare the Latin Version of Psalms 145:15 :

Oculi omnium in Te sperant, Domine ,

Et Tu das escam illis in tempore .

The word for ‘prayer’ here is the same as that rendered ‘intercessions’ in 2:1, where the meaning is discussed. Here perhaps it is chosen as more directly expressing the recognition of God’s particular providence; each recipient of ‘daily bread,’ after reciting the very words of God speaking to him and giving him every good gift, is to speak in his turn face to face with God and pray with thankful heart for blessings to others, ‘ Our Father, give us our daily bread.’ The whole life of a Christian (and therefore everything of which he partakes) is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.

The bearing of this passage on the social and religious question of total abstinence from alcoholic drink is seen in the following note of Fairbairn; all the better because he is evidently not thinking specially of that particular form of abstinence:

‘Scripture indeed does not deny that a person may occasionally abstain from certain meats or from marriage, with advantage to his own spiritual life or the good of the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:16 , Matthew 6:17 , Matthew 6:17 :21, Matthew 6:19 :12; 1 Corinthians 7:32-37 ). But in such cases the alternative is not put as between a relatively pure and perfect state by the one course, and an impure or defective one by the other; but the one is presented merely as affording opportunities or helps for prosecuting more freely and unreservedly the work of faith than can well be done in the other. If temporary fasting should dispose and enable one to fight more successfully against the lusts of the flesh, or if by abstaining from marriage one could in particular spheres of labour, or in certain conjunctures of the Church’s history, more effectually serve the interests of the Gospel than otherwise, then the higher principles of that Gospel, the nobler ends of a Christian calling, will undoubtedly justify the restraint or the sacrifice. But to do this is only to subordinate a less to a greater good: it creates no factitious distinctions in respect to the allowable or forbidden, holy or unholy, in the ordinary relationship and circumstances of life; and calls for a rejection of the natural good in these only when it may be conducive as means to a definite spiritual end.’

6 16 . Timothy’s own hold of right doctrine and right discipline

6 . in remembrance ] R.V. has in mind , the Greek not so strongly implying a re-presentation of these points as a ‘representation’ in our modern sense; Chrysostom, ‘as one giving counsel let him present these things.’

these things] Taking up verse 15 of ch. 3 which introduced the statement following (3:15 4:5) of the faith and the good doctrine . Observe the articles in this latter clause.

Jesus Christ ] Again with mss. transpose, Christ Jesus .

nourished ] Compare the Prayer-Book Collect for 2nd Sun. in Advent, ‘Grant that we may in such wise hear (all Holy Scriptures), read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest .’ Alford, ‘to grow up amongst or be trained in,’ comparing Eur. Phoen . 368, ‘the gymnasia, in which I was brought up.’

whereunto thou hast attained ] Rather, which thou hast always closely followed : ‘hast always’ rendering the idea of the perfect, the settled permanent state, better than ‘until now’ of the R.V.; ‘closely’ rendering the preposition in the compound verb as in the preface of St Luke’s Gospel, 1:3, ‘having traced the course;’ cf. 2 Timothy 3:10 .

7 . refuse profane and old wives’ fables ] This clause Westcott and Hort connect by a comma with the preceding rather than the following sentence. Surely to connect so closely the future ‘thou shalt be’ and the imperative ‘refuse’ is an unnecessary awkwardness; R.V. taking the same general view of the connexion gives the colon before and the full stop after the clause. It is of less consequence as the subject is continuous either way. If the article with ‘fables’ points back to the ‘doctrines of devils’ and the ‘lies’ of vv . 1, 2, yet the ‘godliness’ and the ‘hope in the living God who is the Saviour of all men ’ point back also to the ‘truth’ and the ‘mystery’ of 3:15, 16.

refuse ] Another of the characteristic words of these Epistles; used as here 2 Timothy 2:23 , and of refusing persons, 1 Timothy 5:11 ; Titus 3:10 . In all the other passages of N. T. it has the earlier sense of deprecor , ‘beg off,’ ‘decline;’ Luke 14:18 , ‘with one consent began to beg off;’ Acts 25:11 , ‘If I have committed anything worthy of death I do not beg off from death;’ Hebrews 12:19 ‘they that heard begged off from any word more being spoken.’

profane ] As opposed to the godliness of 3:16, and characteristic of the phraseology of these Epistles; cf. note on 1:9. As ‘godliness’ is seen to be more and more bound up with a reverent grasp of true doctrine, so the self-willed fancies of heretical teaching are ‘profane’ as ignoring or denying the present working of the living God.

old wives’ fables ] For the justification of this epithet see Introd. p. 49; cf. also Appendix, B. The article, the order of the words, and the present tense, have their proper force by rendering the whole sentence, But those profane and old wives’ fables refuse steadily .

and exercise thyself rather] R.V. omits ‘rather’ of A.V., connecting with what follows. The conjunction itself admits of being taken either as a stronger contrast with preceding, ‘and … rather,’ or as a weaker, taking up a somewhat new point following, ‘and moreover.’ The ‘exercising’ is taken by most commentators to contain an implied rebuke of the corporeal austerities for religion’s sake taught by one school of the earliest Gnostics. But the word has a definitely recognised metaphorical meaning by this time. Cf. the use in 2 Peter 2:14 , ‘a heart trained in covetousness’; Hebrews 5:14 , ‘by reason of use have their senses trained to discern’; Hebrews 12:11 , ‘them that have been trained by chastening.’ And St Paul’s use of strong nervous words of command to brace up his younger comrade should make us lay more stress on this word of vigorous metaphor, and less perhaps on godliness; ‘do more than acquiesce in correct doctrine and godly dispositions; pursue a vigorous course of training; practise well and widely how to teach both Christian truth and Christian life.’ So Theod. Mops. Lat. interprets ‘exercitationem’ as ‘diligentiam doctrinae,’ … ‘ut alios cum omni diligentia ista instruat.’ See Appendix, K.

8 . bodily exercise profiteth little ] Rather, with R.V., bodily exercise is profitable for a little . The Latin of Theod. Mops. gives the straightforward and natural account: ‘corporalis exercitatio ad modicum est utilis’ (so Vulgate ‘ad modicum’): ‘qui enim in agone sunt corporali et ad hoc seipsos exercent usque in praesentem uitam, inde solent habere solatium; nam pietatis agon et istius exercitatio ex multis partibus nobis magnum praebet iumentum promittens nobis in ruturo saeculo magna praebere; nam secundum praesentem uitam conferre nobis non minima potest.’ St Paul, after choosing the strong metaphorical word to enforce the need for a zealous, painstaking ministry, dwells on the metaphor according to his habit. For his fondness for this metaphor see Howson, Metaphors of St Paul . Cf. Appendix, K.

godliness is profitable ] The ‘pietatis agon’ affects for good, as Alford puts it, ‘not one portion only of a mans being, but every portion of it, bodily and spiritual, temporal and eternal.’

promise of the life ] Lit. ‘promise of life, that which is life now, and that which will be.’ Bp Ellicott and Dr Alford, both after hesitation, interpret ‘spiritual happiness and holiness, the highest blessedness of the creature;’ but Alford wrongly alters the ‘promise’ into the ‘blessedness promised’ instead of giving ‘life’ its full and proper meaning. Cf. Mark 10:30 and the extract quoted by Dr Maclear from Lange’s Life of Christ , iii. 459, ‘The Christian gains back again already in this world in the higher form of real spiritual essence whatever in the physical and symbolical form of his life he has forfeited; houses enough in the entertainment afforded him by his spiritual associates who receive him; brothers and sisters, in the highest sense of the term; mothers who bless and tend the life of his soul; children of his spirit; lands, of his activity, of his higher enjoyment of nature, of his delights; and all this ever purer, ever richer, as an unfolding of that eternal inheritance of which it is said “All things are yours,” in spite of whatever persecutions of the world which dim the glory of these things.’ See also Bp Westcott’s additional note on 1 John 5:20 , where he quotes St Paul’s phrase, ‘the life which is life indeed.’ Observe by the way how there this life needs ‘ to be grasped and laid hold of ,’ as here it is promised to spiritual training and contest . Compare also Ephesians 4:18 , ‘the life of God.’

Both ‘the life now’ and ‘the life to come’ are clearly parts of ‘eternal life.’ Bp Westcott’s concluding paragraph is worthy of St Paul in its realisation of what ‘the promise’ is and its incitement to the necessary ‘training.’

‘If now we endeavour to bring together the different traits of “the eternal life,” we see that it is a life which with all its fulness and all its potencies is now ; a life which extends beyond the limits of the individual, and preserves, completes, crowns individuality by placing the part in connexion with the whole: a life which satisfies while it quickens aspiration: a life which is seen, as we regard it patiently, to be capable of conquering, reconciling, uniting the rebellious discordant broken elements of being on which we look and which we bear about with us; a life which gives unity to the constituent parts and to the complex whole, which brings together heaven and earth, which offers the sum of existence in one thought. As we reach forth to grasp it, the revelation of God is seen to have been unfolded in its parts in Creation; and the parts are seen to have been brought together again by the Incarnation.’

Note the direct bearing of the last sentence on St Paul’s doctrine here from 3:15 to 4:10.

9 . This is a faithful saying ] R.V. again, Faithful is the saying , following the Greek construction. But ‘It is a faithful saying,’ is equally correct according to English idiom. The A.V. and R.V. end the verse with a full stop, leaving us apparently little liberty to make verse 10 the ‘faithful saying.’ On the other hand A.V. (Parallel N.T.) gives a colon; and Drs Westcott and Hort alter the colon into a comma, as Conybeare gives it, Faithful is the saying and worthy of all acceptance, ‘ For to this end we endure labour &c .’ Bp Ellicott’s objection to this, that the ‘for’ must be the Apostle’s and not part of the quotation, is set aside by the undoubted quotation from Aratus made by St Paul on Mars’ hill, Acts 17:28 , ‘For we are also his offspring:’ see the beginning of his Phaenomena :

‘We need him all,

For we are e’en his offspring.’

10 . therefore we both labour ] In view of this , namely, our hope fixed on the fulness of the blessing of life from the living God, a present and a future salvation, ‘goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men, creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life,’ enjoyed to the full only by the faithful, and above all ‘the redemption of the world, the means of grace, and the hope of glory’ realised with ‘a due sense of the inestimable love’ only by the faithful; in view of such a glorifying of our being, of all being, any amount of ‘toil and moil,’ any strain of keenest contest is worth while. We may render the whole ‘faithful saying’ thus:

‘Right well for such a wage and prize

We toil, we wrestle on

Till hope’s far goal be won,

Love’s full salvation, Life that lies

In God the Living One

For each created son

Full Life, where Faith to Love replies.’

we both labour and suffer reproach ] The balance of ms. authority is for the omission of ‘both’ and the substitution of ‘strive,’ ‘wrestle,’ for ‘suffer reproach.’ The internal appropriateness which has been thought to require the latter seems altogether from the foregoing paraphrase to suit the change: a superficial adaptation of this passage to the somewhat similar ‘faithful saying’ of 2 Timothy 2:11 , 2 Timothy 2:12 may have caused the reading ‘suffer reproach.’ But the tone here and in Ep. to Titus is ‘work,’ the buoyant tone of one who has been set free to ‘labour in the Lord:’ in 2 Tim. the deeper shade of ‘suffering’ has settled on the prison cell. Accordingly in his peroration in ch. 6:12 St Paul takes up the word and metaphor, ‘Fight the good fight of the faith;’ while in 2 Timothy 4:7 he looks back from the prison cell on his own strife as finished, ‘I have fought the good fight.’ The metaphor had long been a favourite with him, e.g. 1 Corinthians 9:25 , where the word is translated in full by R.V., ‘Every man that striveth in the games is temperate in all things.’ See Appendix, E, and K.

we trust ] More correctly ‘we have hoped and still hope’ the ‘larger hope,’ that God is

‘love indeed

And love Creation’s final law.’

The perfect expresses a ‘Hope that never lost her youth.’ The aorist has less ms. authority.

the Saviour of all men ] In a lower sense; (1) for the body, in the supply of a present earthly care, and in the blessing of all earth’s good gifts, through His living love, the curse being removed through Christ’s coming; (2) for the soul, in the supply of the light of Christ to the conscience, such that where revelation has not come, the soul can still live, if it will, the life of God here through Christ unrecognised and hereafter through Christ revealed. ‘I am the light of the world,’ John 8:12 ; ‘That was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world,’ John 1:9 .

specially of those that believe ] In a higher sense; (1) through the Christian’s quickened enjoyment of all earth’s beauties and happinesses, and the transmuting of earthly losses into gains; (2) through the Christian’s response of Faith to Love. ‘That life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me,’ Galatians 2:20 ; ‘He that followeth Me shall not walk in the darkness but shall have the light of life,’ John 8:12 . In both cases it is a present salvation that is chiefly in view, both of body and of soul; but in both cases the life that now is, of body and of soul, is only part of the whole life of which the living God is Saviour.

See Lange’s and Bp Westcott’s notes above. This one last word ‘the faithful,’ ‘baptized believers,’ ‘holders of the Christian faith,’ gathers up the great mystery of Creation, Incarnation, Redemption, From 3:15 to 4:11, and sets the great revelation of God in Christ the living Saviour against the ‘lies’ and ‘fables’ of men and devils.

‘Strong Son of God, immortal Love,

Whom we that have not seen Thy Face

By faith and faith alone embrace,

Believing where we cannot prove,

Thine are these orbs of light and shade,

Thou madest Life in man and brute.’

The more usual interpretation of the verse may be given in Bp Woodford’s words: ‘God is the Saviour of all, because He willeth the salvation of all and delivered up His Son for us all (Romans 8:32 ). He is in a more complete sense the Saviour of His faithful, because in them His gracious will takes effect through the cooperation of their own freewill with His divine will.’ For extracts from Bp Barrow’s famous sermons on the text, and for Prof. Birks’s view of the passage giving a special aspect of the ‘larger hope,’ see Appendix, F.

11 . These things command and teach ] The link between the paragraphs. ‘Lay down against all comers the true Gospel; shew no boyish shrinking; on every side of conduct and character command imitation.’

12 . in conversation ] In behaviour ; the verb occurs above 3:15; see note. It is an especial favourite of St Peter’s, noun and verb occurring 10 times in his short Epistles. The five words describe five stages, from the most defined external to the most defined internal characteristics speech, behaviour, love, faith, purity; love as it were belonging equally to the inner and the outer self, and combining all. ‘The greatest is love.’ Yet the special emphasis is on ‘purity,’ the word itself occurring only here and in 5:2, though another form of the word is used in the similar catalogue, 2 Corinthians 6:6 . The same connexion of ‘youth’ and ‘purity’ is in St Paul’s mind in 2 Timothy 2:22 , ‘flee also youthful lusts.’ Timothy, at 36 years, was young compared with St Paul and the presbyters. See Introd. pp. 56 sqq. Cf. also the use of the Latin iuvenis , for military service up to 40 years; e.g. Liv. i. 43.

in charity, in spirit, in faith ] There is no sufficient ms. authority for ‘in spirit’; it is curious that A reads ‘in spirit’ instead of ‘in faith’ in 2:7. The phrase, most common in St Paul’s earlier Epistles, has left his latest language.

13 . Till I come ] The present indic, (instead of future indic. or aorist subjunctive) is found Luke 19:13 , ‘trade ye herewith till I come;’ John 21:22 , ‘if I will that he tarry till I come.’ The right reading in the former passage, dative of relative with preposition (instead of conjunction), shews how the usage has come; ‘during the time in which I am on my way,’ ‘whilst I am a-coming.’

to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine ] The ‘public reading’ as in the other two places where the noun occurs, Acts 13:15 , ‘after the reading of the law;’ 2 Corinthians 3:14 ‘at the reading of the old covenant;’ and similarly ‘public exhortation’ as in the same verse of the Acts, 13:15, ‘if ye have any word of exhortation,’ cf. also Acts 15:31 , Acts 15:32 ; and similarly public teaching,’ A.V. ‘doctrine’ in its old sense; cf. Romans 12:7 , Romans 12:8 , where ‘teaching’ and ‘exhorting’ are joined; ‘he that teacheth, to his teaching, or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting;’ the three parts of the public ‘ministry of the Word,’ reading, expounding, enforcing. The Bishop’s charge in the Ordering of Priests in our Prayer-Book clearly quotes the verse in this sense, ‘ with doctrine and exhortation taken out of the Holy Scriptures ; and with a life agreeable to the same.’

14 . the gift that is in thee ] The connexion here and round the parallel verse 2 Timothy 1:6 implies a gift for ruling and teaching, distinct from the gift conferred through ‘the laying on’ of St Paul’s hands at Ephesus, Acts 19:6 , the extraordinary gifts of speaking with tongues, &c., from the Holy Spirit; gifts still imparted at this time, as we learn from 1 Peter 4:10 , ‘according as each hath received a gift;’ and continued (with change of outward manifestation) uninterruptedly since, as the ‘grace of Confirmation or Laying on of Hands.’ The gift here is connected with ‘ prophecy ,’ and ‘the laying on of the hands of the presbyters ,’ and follows immediately upon the public ‘ministry of the word.’ The ‘prophecy’ will naturally be the same as ‘the prophecies which went before,’ 1:18: and the preposition rendered ‘by’ in A.V. and R.V. should have the same force as it has in Galatians 3:19 , ‘the law ordained through (A.V. ‘by’) angels,’ a force seen from the synonymous phrase Acts 7:53 , ‘who received the law, as it was ordained by angels,’ lit. ‘unto ordinances of angels’. As angels were the ministrants and attendants of the Great Lawgiver, so the surrounding ratifying witnesses of the bestowal on Timothy of the ‘Grace of Orders’ were the ‘prophecies,’ ‘going before,’ and ‘attending,’ ‘heralds and pursuivants.’ Compare the use in 2 Timothy 2:2 , and see note. See Introduction, p. 58.

the presbytery ] The word occurs in Luke 22:66 for the body of rulers of the synagogue; and again in Acts 22:5 , side by side with the use of the word ‘presbyters’ in connexion with the Christian community, Acts 11:30 , Acts 15:2 , Acts 21:18 . In the synagogue it included the ‘chief priest’ as we see from both the passages above; so surely its earliest Christian use here, drawn from that older use still living side by side, must include St Paul himself as the chief ruler.

15 . Meditate upon these things] Rather, to give in our idiom the emphasis of the pronoun in the two clauses, This life, this work, this gift, be diligent in practising, be wholly given up to them . Both phrases are classical and are illustrated by the well-known line of Horace Sat . i. 9, 2, ‘nescio quid meditans nugarum et totus in illis;’ where meditans refers to the poet’s practisings and literary efforts not to mere ‘pensive meditation.’ So in the compound word Luke 21:14 ‘not to meditate beforehand what to answer.’

thy profiting ] Better, with R.V., thy progress , giving to this word its full original force as in ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress .’ The Greek word is a late-formed noun belonging to a classical verb, signifying to advance, as an army would do cutting down trees in the way. Cf. Philippians 1:12 , Philippians 1:25 and Lightfoot. So Luke 2:52 , ‘Jesus increased.’

16 . the doctrine ] Again, thy teaching ; ‘thyself’ sums up verses 12 and 14, ‘thy teaching,’ verse 13, so that the plural continue in them is quite natural. The best punctuation is, with Drs Hort and Westcott, to put only semicolons at the end of v . 15 and in v . 16, shewing that the reference is the same throughout. It is interesting to compare the version of this passage given in the Prayer-Book (the Form for Consecration of Bishops), to be said by the Archbishop on delivering the Bible: ‘Give heed unto reading, exhortation, and doctrine. Think upon the things contained in this Book. Be diligent in them, that the increase coming thereby may be manifest unto all men. Take heed unto thyself, and to doctrine, and be diligent in doing them; for by so doing thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.’

continue in them ] Lit. ‘abide by them,’ ‘cling to them.’ This is the proper force of the compound verb in St Paul. See Romans 6:1 ; Colossians 1:23 ; Philippians 1:24 .

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"Commentary on 1 Timothy 4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/1-timothy-4.html. 1896.