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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 4

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-5

The Coming Apostasy

Despite the fact that Jesus had been fully shown to be Lord, the Spirit plainly revealed to Paul a coming apostasy. At some time in the future, Paul said some would abandon or desert the sum of things believed by Christians. Instead, they would addict themselves to the teaching that leads men astray. This doctrine comes from evil spirits through the men who allow themselves to be used as their instruments ( 1Ki_22:20-22 ). The teaching may be called the doctrine of demons in the same sense or it may refer to false teachings about demons. These false teachers would knowingly teach error. A hypocrite is one who plays a role or acts out a part. These false teachers would use their role playing to deceive others and lead them away from the truth. Like a man who builds up a callous through hard work, these teachers would consciously turn themselves away from the truth until they became hardened to it ( 1Ti_4:1-2 ; Eph_4:17-19 ).

Paul said those false teachers would forbid marriage and the eating of meats as a part of their false doctrine. Some had the belief that flesh was evil, which might have led to this erroneous teaching in the late first and early second century. In our own times, others have obviously followed the same course. Yet, God did not disallow marriage or the eating of meats ( Heb_13:4 ; Mar_7:18-19 ). God made marriage because it was not good for man to be alone. He also made meat for man to eat. Any teaching contrary to this is in error ( Gen_2:18-25 ; Gen_9:1-4 ). Man was forbidden to eat the blood of animals with the meat, but not the meat. Everything God created is good if it is used in a manner befitting God's purpose. Of course, all things given by God should be received with thanksgiving and not be considered taboo. All things were made holy by God's word in the creation ( Gen_1:4 ; Gen_1:12 ; Gen_1:17 ; Gen_1:21 ; Gen_1:25 ; Gen_1:31 ). We set it apart for God's service when we give thanks for it ( 1Ti_4:3-5 ).

Verses 6-11

A Good Minister of Jesus Christ

If Timothy presented lessons to the Ephesians that caused them to see the truths already presented, which included instructions on the dangerous false doctrine soon to arise, he would be a good minister. It is appropriate to designate one who teaches the gospel as a minister ( Act_6:4 ; Col_4:7 ). Also, we should observe that such ministers do teach and warn the brethren as well as proclaiming the good news to the lost. Paul and other faithful teachers had brought Timothy up on a diet of the faith and good teaching. Timothy had closely followed what he had learned and was therefore well qualified to teach others ( 1Ti_4:6 ).

Worldly stories created in the mind of man with no foundation in truth should be avoided. Instead, constant training and discipline should be used to lead the young preacher to a more God-like life. Care for the body is good in the short run because it enhances our physical health. In contrast, spiritual exercise intended to mold a life in accord with God's will has the advantage of God's care in this life and an eternal reward in the life to come ( Rom_8:28-39 ). The apostle’s emphasis of godly exercise was trustworthy and should be accepted by all ( 1Ti_4:7-9 ).

The lasting value of godliness moved Paul to work hard like an athlete who is fatigued by a hard workout. Those who strive to be like God have their hope set on that God. In contrast to the false gods whose idols would have been a familiar sight of that day, Paul emphasized the true God is alive. It was God's desire and Jesus' intent to save all men (2:4; Luk_19:10 ), but salvation is particularly for believers. One who truly believes will be obedient ( Mat_7:21-27 ; John 3:16; 36 A. S. V; Heb_5:8-9 ). Using the imagery of an army, Paul instructed Timothy to “command” the things he had set forth. The commander issues a command, and it is passed through the ranks. Thus, the minister is one who passes on the commands of Jesus the commander of the Christian army ( 1Ti_4:10-11 ).

Verses 12-16

Take Heed to Yourself and the Doctrine

Roberts points out that Paul was an aged man by the time he wrote this letter. Also, priests did not begin their work until age 30 and elders were not less than 50 years old. Thus, Timothy, perhaps now between 30 and 40, is still considered a youth. Rather than letting people despise his relatively young age, Timothy was told by Paul to be an example of a true believer in Christ. He would do this in watching the things he said and the way he conducted himself. He was also to be careful to display true love ( Joh_13:34-35 ) and complete trust in God. In general, he was to keep his life free from sin ( 1Ti_4:12 ).

While Paul was in the process of trying to come to Timothy, he instructed the younger evangelist to pay close attention to what was being read, with a special emphasis likely being placed on what was read from the pulpit or in assemblies. Exhortation is encouragement to do the things one has heard the scriptures direct. Teaching is instruction that educates as to the meaning of what has been read. It seems, after reading 2Ti_1:6 , that Paul may have laid his hands on Timothy at the same time the elders did. If so, the gift mentioned here could be miraculous. However, it does not have to be miraculous since Rom_12:3-8 lists some things called gifts which do not have to be miraculously given. In fact, in this context, it appears that Paul is calling the duties Timothy has to fulfill a gift. His work may have been prophesied, like the work of Paul and Barnabas was prophesied ( Act_13:1-3 ). Then the elders' hands would be laid on him to set him apart for the work ( 1Ti_4:13-14 ).

Paul told him to give diligence and apply himself fully to the task that was before him, much like we say certain men live to hunt or fish. When a preacher makes preaching his life, his growth will be evident to all. Timothy was to pay close attention to the way he lived as well as the things he taught. Just as the elders from Ephesus were first to watch out for their own spiritual condition and then the spiritual condition of the flock they oversaw, a good preacher must first see to it that he lives the Christian life before he tells others how to live. By thus watching how he lived and the way he taught, Paul assured Timothy he could save himself and those who heard his teaching ( 1Ti_4:15-16 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/1-timothy-4.html. 2014.
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