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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 4

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

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Verse 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;

Now - Greek, 'But.' The "mystery of iniquity" here, already working (2 Thessalonians 2:7), stands opposed to the ' "mystery of godliness" (1 Timothy 3:16).

The Spirit - in the prophets, then in the Church (resting on the prophecies of the Old Testament, Daniel 7:25; Daniel 8:23, etc.; Daniel 11:30; as also on those of Jesus, Matthew 24:11-24), and Paul himself, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (with whom accord 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18; Jude 1:18).

Expressly - in plain words. Not enigmatically, as some prophecies.

In the latter times - following upon the times in which he is now writing. Not some remote future: times immediately subsequent, the beginnings of the apostasy being already discernible (Acts 20:29); these are the forerunners of "the last days" (2 Timothy 3:1).

Depart from the faith. The apostasy was to be within the Church, the faithful one becoming the harlot. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (written earlier) the apostasy of the Jews from God (joining the pagan against Christianity) is the ground-work on which the prophecy rises; whereas in the pastoral letters the prophecy is connected with Gnostic errors, the seeds of which were already sown in the Church (Auberlen) (2 Timothy 2:18). Apollonius Tyanaeus, a heretic, came to Ephesus in the lifetime of Timothy. The mediaeval apostasy of Romish and Greek superstition is described here (1 Timothy 4:1-3). The last apostasy, of blasphemy and apotheosis of man, is described, 2 Timothy 3:1-17. The true "fast" looks to the spirit; the mode of expression will vary with persons and circumstances. To fix on one mode as divinely obligatory is a brand of the apostasy (Isaiah 58:4-7; Mark 2:18; Acts 13:2; Acts 14:23; Romans 14:3; Romans 14:17; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Corinthians 7:25-27; 1 Corinthians 8:8).

Giving heed (1 Timothy 1:4 ; Titus 1:14 ) to seducing spirits - working in heretical teachers. 1 John 4:2-3; 1 John 4:6, "the spirit of error," opposed to "the spirit of truth," "the Spirit" which "speaketh" in the true prophets against them.

Doctrines of devils, [ didaskaliais (G1319) daimonioon (G1140)] - 'teachings of (i:e., suggested by; not concerning) demons.' James 3:15, 'wisdom-devilish; 2 Corinthians 11:15.

Verse 2

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

[ En (G1722) hupokrisei (G5272) pseudologoon (G5573)] 'Through (literally, 'in:' the element in which the apostasy has place) hypocrisy of lying speakers:' the means through which "some shall (be led to) depart from the faith" - namely, the feigned sanctity of the seducers (cf. Titus 1:10).

Having [ teen (G3588 ) idian (G2398 ): their own] their conscience seared - i:e., "speaking lies" to others, to seduce them by a show of sanctity, but all the while having their own conscience, etc. Bad consciences have recourse to hypocrisy. As faith and a good conscience are joined (1 Timothy 1:5), so hypocrisy

(i:e., unbelief, Matthew 24:5; Matthew 24:51: cf. Luke 12:46) and a bad conscience. "Seared" (Theodoret) implies extreme insensibility; as cauterizing deadens sensation. Rather [kekauteriasmenon], 'branded' with the consciousness of sins against their better knowledge, like scars burnt in by a branding-iron. Compare Titus 1:15; Titus 3:11, "condemned of himself." As a "seal" marks the elect (2 Timothy 2:19), so 'a brand' the condemned. The image is from branding criminals; consciously-branded slaves of sin.

Verse 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.

Sensuality leads to false spiritualism. Their own inward impurity they attribute to the world without; hence, their asceticism (Titus 1:14-15) (Wiesinger). By a spurious spiritualism (2 Timothy 2:18), which made moral perfection consist in abstinence from outward things, they pretended to reach a higher perfection. Matthew 19:10-12, cf. 1 Corinthians 7:8; 1 Corinthians 7:26; 1 Corinthians 7:38, gave a seeming handle to their "forbidding marriage" (contrast 1 Timothy 5:14): the Old Testament distinction as to clean and unclean, gave a pretext for teaching to "abstain from meats" (cf. Colossians 2:16-17; Colossians 2:20-23). As these Judaizing Gnostics combined the harlot, or apostate Old Testament church, with the beast (Revelation 17:3), or spiritualizing anti-Christianity, so Rome's Judaizing elements (1 Timothy 4:3) shall ultimately be combined with the worldly-wise anti-Christianity of the false prophet or beast (1 Timothy 6:20-21; 1 John 4:1-3; Revelation 13:12-15). Austerity gained for them a show of sanctity while preaching false doctrine (Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:23). The Essences and Thetapeutoe already practiced false asceticism. Long afterward, Eusebius ('Ecclesiastical History,' 4: 29) quotes Irenaeus (1: 8), stating that Saturninus, Marcion, and the Encratites, preached abstinence from marriage and animal meats. Paul prophetically warns against notions the seeds of which already were sown (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:17-18).

To be received, [ eis (G1519) metaleempsin (G3336)] - 'to be partaken of.'

Of them - rather, (created) 'for them,' etc. Though all (even the unbelieving, Psalms 104:14; Matthew 5:45) partake of these foods, 'they which believe' alone fulfill God's design in creation by partaking of them with thanksgiving; as opposed to those who abstain from, or in partaking of them, do not do so with thanksgiving. The unbelieving have not the designed use of such foods by their 'conscience being defiled' (Titus 1:15). The children of God alone "inherit the earth;" for obedience is the necessary qualification (as in the original grant of the earth to Adam).

And know. Defining who are 'they which believe.' [ Epegnookosi (G1921), 'And have full knowledge of the truth' (note, Philippians 1:9).] Thus, he contradicts the assumption of superior knowledge and perfection put forward by the heretics on the ground of abstinence from marriage and meats. "The truth" is contrasted with their "lies" (1 Timothy 4:2).

Verses 4-5

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

[ Hoti (G3754) ... gar (G1063)] 'Because' (a reason resting on the objective fact which Scripture alleges) - "For" (a reason resting on something subjective in the writer's mind).

Every creature of God is good (Genesis 1:31; Romans 14:14; Romans 14:20) - a refutation, by anticipation, of the Gnostic opposition to creation: the seeds were now lurking in the Church. Judaism (Acts 10:11-16; 1 Corinthians 10:25-26) was the starting-point of the error as to meats; Oriental Guests added new elements. The Gnostic heresy is now extinct: its remains in the celibacy of Rome's priesthood, and its fasts from animal meats, enjoined under the penalty of mortal sin, remain.

If it be received with thanksgiving. Meats, pure in themselves, become impure by being received with an unthankful mind (Romans 14:6).

Verse 5. Sanctified - hallowed: set apart as holy for the use of believing men. By saying grace, separated from "the creature," which is under the bondage of corruption, (Romans 8:19, etc.) As in the Lord's supper the thanksgiving prayer sanctifies the elements, separating them from their naturally alien relation to the spiritual world, and transferring them to their true relation to the new life, so in every use of the creature, thanksgiving prayer has the same effect (1 Corinthians 10:25-26; 1 Corinthians 10:30-31). Or, hallowed from legal, or ascetical supposed, uncleanness.

By the word of God and prayer, [ dia (G1223) enteuxeoos (G1783)] - 'through consecratory prayer' in its behalf, mainly consisting of "the Word of God." The 'Apostolic Constitutions' 7: 49, give this ancient grace, almost wholly consisting of Scripture, 'Blessed art thou, O Lord, who feedest me from my youth, who givest food to all flesh: Fill our hearts with joy and gladness, that we, having all sufficiency, may abound unto every good work in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom glory, honour, and might be to thee forever. Amen.'

Verse 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 faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

If thou put the brethren in remembrance, [ hupotithemenos (G5294)] - 'If thou suggest to (bring under the notice of) the brethren,' etc.

These things namely the truths stated in 1 Timothy 4:4-5 in opposition to the errors foretold 1 Timothy 4:13 These things - namely, the truths stated in 1 Timothy 4:4-5, in opposition to the errors foretold, 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

Minister - `servant.'

Nourished up. The present [ entrefomenos (G1789)], 'continually being nourished in' (2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:14-15).

The words of faith - Greek, ' ... of the faith (cf. 1 Timothy 4:13).

Good doctrine - `the good teaching.' Explanatory of 'the faith:' opposed to the 'teachings of demons' (1 Timothy 4:1), which Timothy was to counteract. Compare "sound doctrine," 1 Timothy 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1.

Whereunto thou hast attained - `which thou hast closely followed up as a disciple:' traced diligently out. The same Greek, "thou hast fully known," 2 Timothy 3:10; "having had perfect understanding," Luke 1:3. It is an undesigned coincidence that it is used only by Paul and Paul's companion, Luke.

Verse 7

But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

Refuse - have nothing to do with (2 Timothy 2:22-23; Titus 3:10).

(The) old wives' fables - which are so current (Titus 1:14): "profane" because leading away from "godliness," true worship and piety (1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 1:7-9; 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16; Titus 1:1-2).

Exercise thyself, [ gumnaze (G1128)] - strenuous exertion, as of one training in a gymnasium. Contrast 2 Peter 2:14. Let thy self-discipline be not in ascetical exercises, as the false teachers (1 Timothy 4:3; 1 Timothy 4:8: cf. Hebrews 5:14; Hebrews 12:11), but with a view to godliness (1 Timothy 6:11-12). Christianity is a discipline as well as a dogma.

Verse 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.

(But) little, [ pros (G4314) oligon (G3641)] - 'profiteth to (but) a small extent.' Paul admits that fasting and abstinence from conjugal sexual intercourse for a time, so as to reach the inward man through the outward, do profit slightly (Acts 13:3; 1 Corinthians 7:5; 1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Corinthians 9:26-27); but asceticism, dwelling solely on the outward, 1 Timothy 4:3, is injurious (Colossians 2:23). Timothy seems to have leant to outward self-discipline (cf. 1 Timothy 5:23). Paul, while not disapproving of this insubordinate proportion, shows the superiority of godliness, as profitable not merely 'to a small extent,' but "unto all things;" for, having its seat within, it extends thence to the whole outward man for time and eternity (1 Corinthians 8:8). 'He who has piety (which is "profitable unto all things") wants nothing needful to his well-being, though he be without those helps which, "to a small extent," bodily exercise furnishes' (Calvin). 'Piety,' the end whereunto "exercise thyself" (1 Timothy 4:7), is the essential thing: the means are secondary. Paul unrestrictedly condemns asceticism (1 Timothy 4:3-5): how then can he say here, 'it is profitable to some little extent:' hence, De Wette and Estius explain, literally, bodily exercise. Paul often digresses at a word. So here [ gumnaze (G1128)], "exercise thyself" spiritually (1 Timothy 4:7), may suggest allusion to the temporary use of bodily exercise, in order to bring out the all-embracing excellence of spiritual exercise unto godliness.

Having promise ... - `having (as it has) promise of life-that which now is, and that which is to come:' "life" in its truest sense (2 Timothy 1:1). Length of life so far as is good for the believer; life in its truest enjoyments and employments now, and life blessed and eternal hereafter (Psalms 84:11; Psalms 112:1-10; Matthew 6:33; Mark 10:29-30; Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 3:21-22). Christianity, while mainly securing our happiness hereafter, promotes it also here (1 Timothy 6:6; 2 Peter 1:3). So it embraces the Old Covenant promises of temporal blessings, with the everlasting ones of the New Covenant. Compare Solomon's prayer and the answer (1 Kings 3:7-13).

Verse 9

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

These 'faithful sayings' (1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:1; 2 Timothy 2:11) are samples of the prophesyings or inspired utterances of the apostolic Church: 1 Timothy 4:1 refers to them: they here take the place of Old Testament quotations in the other letter. This verse confirms 1 Timothy 4:8, and introduces 1 Timothy 4:10, which is joined to 1 Timothy 4:9 by "for." So 2 Timothy 2:11. Godly men seem to lose in this life; but "God, is the Saviour specially of those that believe" (1 Timothy 4:10), both as to "the life that now is," and as to 'the life to come' (1 Timothy 4:8). Mark 10:30 combines and harmonizes 1 Timothy 4:9 with 2 Timothy 3:12: "an hundredfold now in this time ... with persecutions" (Proverbs 11:4). Mingled blessedness here; unmingled blessedness hereafter.

Verse 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.

Therefore, [ eis (G1519) touto (G5124)] - 'with a view to this.' The reason why 'we both ("both" is omitted in 'Aleph (') A C Delta f, Vulgate) labour (amidst hardship) and suffer reproach (so C Delta G f g, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A read [agonizometha] (cf. Colossians 1:29) "strive"), is because we have rested, and do rest our hope [elpikamen epi], on the living (and therefore life-giving 1 Timothy 4:8) God.' [Ellicott, 'Elpizo, like pisteuoo (G4100), with en (G1722), expresses hope laid up in Christ: with eis (G1519), directed to Christ: with epi (G1909), leaning on, as upon a foundation: epi with accusative, mental direction with a view to reliance.']

Specially of those that believe. Their "labour and reproach" are not inconsistent with having from the living Specially of those that believe. Their "labour and reproach" are not inconsistent with having from the living God, their Saviour, even the present life, much more the life to come. If God is a "Saviour" even of unbelievers (1 Timothy 2:4; 1 Timothy 1:1-20:e., is willing to be so everlastingly, and is temporally here their Preserver and Benefactor), much more of believers. So His people are to benefit all, but "specially" the brethren (Galatians 6:10). He who is the living, is also the loving God. He is the Saviour of all sufficiently and potentially (1 Timothy 1:15); of believers alone efficiently and effectually.

Verse 11

These things command and teach.

These truths, to the exclusion of those useless and even injurious teachings (1 Timothy 4:1-8), while weighing well thyself, charge also upon others.

Verse 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.

Let no man despise thy youth - Act so as to be respected in spite of thy youth (1 Corinthians 16:11; Titus 2:15): cf. "youthful," 2 Timothy 2:22: thy gravity maketh up for thy juvenility. He was but a mere youth when he joined Paul (Acts 16:1-3). Eleven years had elapsed since. Now, after Paul's first imprisonment, he was still young (about thirty-five probably), especially in comparison with Paul (whose place he was filling), and with elderly presbyters, whom he should "entreat as a father" (1 Timothy 5:1); and in respect to rebuking, exhorting, and ordaining (1 Timothy 3:1), which ordinarily accord best with an elderly person (1 Timothy 5:19).

Be thou an example, [ tupos (G5179) ginou (G1096)] - 'become a pattern' (Titus 2:7): the true way of making men not to despise thy youth.

In word - in all thou sayest in public and private.

Conversation, [ anastrophee (G391)] - 'behaviour:' the Old English sense.

In charity ... faith - the two cardinal motives of the Christian (Galatians 5:6). 'Aleph (') A C Delta G f g, Vulgate, omit "in spirit:" perhaps interpolated from 2 Corinthians 6:6.

In purity - outwardly manifested (1 Timothy 5:22; 2 Corinthians 6:6; James 3:17; James 4:8; 1 Peter 1:22).

Verse 13

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Till I come - when Timothy's commission would be superseded by the presence of the apostle (1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 3:14).

Reading, [ anagnoosei (G320)] - especially in the public congregation. The reading of Scripture was transferred from the Jewish synagogue to the Christian church (Luke 4:16-20; Acts 13:15; Acts 15:21; 2 Corinthians 3:14). The gospels and letters being recognized as inspired by those who had the gift of discerning spirits, were from the first, according as they were written, read with the Old Testament in the church (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; Colossians 4:16) (Justin Martyr, 'Apology,' 1: 67). Probably the Spirit intended also to teach that the pastor's Scripture reading in general should be the fountain of all "exhortation" and "doctrine."

Exhortation - addressed to the feelings and will, with a view to the conduct.

Doctrine - (ministerial) 'teaching.' The three answer respectively to expository, experimental, and doctrinal preaching. Addressed to the understanding, to impart knowledge (1 Timothy 6:2; Romans 12:7-8). Whether in public or private, exhortation and instruction should be based on Scripture.

Verse 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.

Neglect not the gift - by letting it lie unused.

In thee. In 2 Timothy 1:6 the gift is represented as a spark of the Spirit within him, sure to smoulder by neglect, the stirring up or keeping in lively exercise of which depends on himself (Matthew 25:18; Matthew 25:25; Matthew 25:27-28). The spiritual gift [ charisma (G5486)] is that which qualified him for "the work of an evangelist" (Ephesians 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:5), including perhaps the discerning of spirits, needed in ordaining, as overseer.

Given thee - by God (1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:6).

By prophecy - i:e., by the Holy Spirit, at his ordination, or else consecration to the see of Ephesus; speaking through the prophets God's will to give him the graces to qualify him for his work (1 Timothy 1:18; Acts 13:1-3).

With the laying on of the hands. So in Joshua's case (Numbers 27:18-20; Deuteronomy 34:9). The gift was connected with the symbolical laying on of hands. [ Meta (G3326): the outward sign of an inward impartation of the Spirit (Acts 6:6; Acts 8:17; Acts 9:17; Acts 13:3).] "WITH" implies that the presbyters' laying on bands was the accompaniment of the conferring of the gift. "BY" [ dia (G1223)] (2 Timothy 1:6) implies that Paul's laying on hands was the instrument of its being conferred.

Of the presbytery. 2 Timothy 1:6 mentions only the apostle's laying on of hands. But there his aim is to remind Timothy of the part he took in imparting to Timothy the gift. Here he mentions the fact, consistent with the other, that the neighbouring presbyters joined in the ordination or consecration, he taking the foremost part. Paul, though having the general oversight of the elders everywhere, was an eider himself (1 Peter 5:1; 1 Peter 2:0 John

1). The Jewish council was composed of the elders (the presbytery, Luke 22:66; Acts 22:5) and a presiding Rabbi; so the Christian church was composed of elders and a president (Acts 15:19; Acts 15:23). The apostles were presidents in general. As the president of the synagogue was of the same order as his presbyters, so the bishop was of the same as his presbyters. At the ordination of the president there were always three presbyters present to lay on hands; so the early Church canons required three bishops to be present at the consecration of a bishop. As the president of the synagogue, so the bishop of the church alone could ordain, acting as the representative, in the name of the presbytery (Vitringa). So, in the Anglican church, the bishop ordains, the presbyters present joining with him in laying on hands.

Verse 15

Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

Meditate, [ meleta (G3191)] - 'meditate CAREFULLY upon' (Psalms 1:2; Psalms 119:15: cf. "Isaac," Genesis 24:63).

These things (1 Timothy 4:12-14). As food would not nourish without digestion, which assimilates it to the substance of the body, so spiritual food, to profit us, needs to be appropriated by prayerful meditation.

Give thyself wholly to - literally, 'BE in these things;' be wholly absorbed in them. Entire self-dedication as in other pursuits, is the secret of proficiency. There are changes as to all other studies, fashionable today, out of fashion tomorrow; this alone is never obsolete, and sanctifies all other studies. The exercise of the ministry threatens its spirit, unless it be sustained within.

Profiting, [ prokopee (G4297)] - 'progress' in the Christian life, and especially toward the ideal of a Christian minister (1 Timothy 4:12).

May appear to all - not for thy glory, but for winning souls (Matthew 5:16).

Verse 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.

Take heed [ Epeche (G1907)] 'Give heed' (Acts 3:5); fix attention upon Take heed, [ Epeche (G1907)] - 'Give heed' (Acts 3:5); fix attention upon.

Thyself, and unto the doctrine - and unto thy teaching. The pastor's two requisites: his teaching will not avail, unless his life accord with it; his purity of life is not enough, unless he be diligent in teaching (Calvin). A summary of 1 Timothy 4:12.

Continue in them (2 Timothy 3:14).

In doing this - not 'by,' but 'while doing this.'

Thou shalt both save thyself, and them ... (Ezekiel 33:9; James 5:20.) In seeking the salvation of others, the minister is promoting his own. He cannot 'give heed unto the teaching' of others, unless he 'give heed unto himself.'

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-timothy-4.html. 1871-8.
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