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Bible Commentaries

Trapp's Complete Commentary

1 Timothy 4

Verse 1

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;

Ver. 1. Speaketh expressly ] Verbis non disertis solum, sed et exertis. Abroad and aloud, that it may be heard all the Church over, ρητως .

Some shall depart from the faith ] As did the ancient heretics the Papists (in whom all the old heretics seem to have fled and hid themselves), and the present prodigious sectaries with their opinionum portenta, our modern Antitrinitarians, Ariaus, Anti-scripturists, Anabaptists, &c.

Doctrine of devils ] Vented by Satan’s emissaries and instruments. About the time of Pope Hildebrand, letters were dispersed up and down, that were said to be sent from hell; wherein the devil gives great thanks to the Popish clergy for the great multitudes of souls that by their seductions came thronging to hell more than ever in any age before. (Mat. Paris, Hist. A. D. 1072.) Nicolas Orum, an Oxford doctor, is said to have written those letters. He preached also at Rome, before the pope and his cardinals; discovering and condemning their errors, and foretelling their destruction.

Verse 2

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

Ver. 2. Speaking lies in hypocrisy ] It was grown to a common proverb, "A friar, a liar." One of them undertook to show a feather of the wing of the angel Gabriel. The pope, to honour and encourage Tyrone the rebel, sent him (but who will believe it?) a plume of Phoenix’s feathers. The poor people are persuaded to believe that the thunder of the pope’s excommunication hath so blasted the English heretics, that their faces are grown all black and ugly as devils; their eyes and looks ghastly, their breaths noisome and pestilent, that they are grown barbarous, and eat children, blaspheme God and all his saints.

Having their consciences seared ] There is more hope of a sore, than of a seared, conscience, a dead and dedolent disposition, Ephesians 4:17-49.4.20 , a heart that hath contracted a kind of hoof.

Verse 3

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.

Ver. 3. Forbidding to marry ] Papists forbid some to marry at any time, as the clergy; all, at some times, and that not as a precept of convenience, but necessity and holiness. In Anselm’s time, cursed sodomitry and adultery passed free without punishment, where godly matrimony could find no mercy. The cardinal of Cremona, after his stout replying in the Council of London against the married estate of priests, was shamefully taken the night following with a notable harlot. They hold that it is far better for a priest to keep many whores than to have a wife. This, say they, is the heresy of the Nicolaitans.

To abstain from meats ] As the Papists superstitiously do upon certain days, when to eat an egg is punished with imprisonment. (Schol. in Epist. ad Episc. Basil.) Qui autem totam diem Dominicam vacat temulentiae, scortis, et aleae, audit bellus homo, saith Erasmus: But he that spends the whole Lord’s day in drinking, dicing, and drabbing, is let go for a good fellow.

Which God hath created ] He made the grass before he made the beasts, and the beasts before man, that all might have food convenient for them.

Verse 4

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

Ver. 4. If it be received with thanksgiving ] While we taste the sweetness of the Creator in the creature, and are stirred up thereby to praise his name. Doves at every grain they pick look upwards, as giving thanks. The elephant is said to turn up towards heaven the first sprig or branch that he feedeth on, &c. Birds chirp and sing to their Maker.

Verse 5

5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Ver. 5. By the word ] Of permission, Acts 10:15 , and of promise, a new right purchased by Christ, &c.

And prayer ] For his leave and blessing, that "staff of bread," &c. This is to eat to the Lord Romans 14:6 ; to imitate Christ, Matthew 26:26-40.26.30 ; Paul,Acts 27:35; Acts 27:35 ; Samuel, 1 Samuel 9:13 .

Verse 6

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.

Ver. 6. Nourished up in the words ] Such are fittest to be made ministers as have been well bred, and inured to the reading of the Scriptures; as have sucked in holy learning together with their mother’s milk. Quintilian adviseth that the child that is intended for an orator, should from two or three years old be accustomed to hear and babble out good language, the best words and best pronounced. Quanto id in Theologo futuro expetendum curandumque magis, &c.? saith Amama; how much more needeth such care and pains be taken with the child that is dedicated to the ministry, that he may become (as Quintilian saith an orator should be) vir bonus dicendi peritus, a good man and well able to deliver himself in good terms. I have known some (saith Peach) for their judgment in arts and tongues very sufficient; yet to have heard their discourse (so defective were they in their own tongue) you would have thought you had heard Loy talking to his pigs, or Johannes de Indagine declaiming in the praise of wild geese. Of Matthew Doringus, a Popish commentator, Steuchus (a Papist too) saith truly, that he is not worthy to be named ob universam V. T. scripturam foedissima barbarie conspurcatam, for defiling all the Old Testament with his base barbarisms, as the harpies did the good meat they seized on.

a Gr. and Lat. Myth. A fabulous monster, rapacious and filthy, having a woman’s face and body and a bird’s wings and claws, and supposed to act as a minister of divine vengeance. A type of eagle. ŒD

Verse 7

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

Ver. 7. But refuse ] Gr. παραιτου , make a fair excuse. Shift them off, set them by, say thou art not at leisure to attend to them, hast no time to lose upon them. Poteras has horas non perdidisse, said Pliny to his nephew, You might have found you somewhat else to do.

Exercise thyself ] Lay aside thine upper garments, as runners and wrestlers use to do, and bestir thee lustily, γυμναζε , Te nudum exerce. See Hebrews 12:1 .

Verse 8

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.

Ver. 8. For bodily exercise profiteth little ] Somewhat it doth (if rightly used) toward the strengthening of the body, preserving of the health, subduing of the flesh.

But godliness is profitable to all things ] The Babylonians are said to make 360 several commodities of the palm tree (Plutarch); but there is a μυριομακαριοτης , a thousand benefits to be got by godliness. Godly persons are said in Latin, Deum colere, to cherish God, because they are sure by sowing to the Spirit to "reap of the Spirit life everlasting," Galatians 6:8 . Besides that, in this world they "shall obtain joy and gladness" (outward and inward comforts), but "sorrow and sighing shall flee away," Isaiah 35:10 .

Verse 9

9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

Ver. 9. This is a faithful saying ] And yet who hath believed our report? The promises are good freehold, and yet little looked after. Godliness hath but cold entertainment, because she lives much upon reversions.

Verse 10

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.

Ver. 10. For therefore ] Because godliness hath so much happiness laid up in the promises,1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Timothy 4:8 , and there is so much certainty of the performance of those promises, therefore we both do and suffer,1 Corinthians 15:58; 1 Corinthians 15:58 . Finis edulcat media. The end sweetens the journey.

Who is the Saviour of all men ] Not of eternal preservation, but of temporal reservation. For every man should die the same day he is born, the wages of death should be paid him presently; but Christ begs wicked men’s lives for a season, saith one. Sin hath hurled confusion over the world, brought a vanity on the creature. And had not Christ undertaken the shattered condition of the world to uphold it, it had fallen about Adam’s ears, saith another divine:

Specially of those that believe ] Who therefore are in a special manner bound to observe and obey him. Among the Romans they that were saved were wont to crown him that saved them, and to honour him as a father all their days. Σεβεται δε τουτον ως πατερα , Polyb. vi. We must also set the crown upon Christ’s head,Song of Solomon 3:11; Song of Solomon 3:11 , and obey this everlasting Father, Isaiah 9:6 .

Verse 11

11 These things command and teach.

Ver. 11. These things command and teach ] Teach the tractable, command the obstinate, lay God’s charge upon all.

Verse 12

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.

Ver. 12. Let no man despise, &c. ] But how should I help it? might he say; the apostle answereth, "Be thou an example to the believers, a pattern of piety;" for holiness hath honour, wisdom maketh the face to shine; natural conscience cannot but stoop to the image of God, wherever and in whomsoever it discerneth it: ου γαρ το νεον ευκαταφρονητον οτας Θεω ανακειμενον η , saith Ignatius (Epist. ad Magnes.) Youth seasoned with the fear Of God is not easily despised.

But be thou an example ] Gr. τυπος , such a thing as maketh the stamp upon the coin. Exemplis sciola hac aetate magis aedificant ministri quam concionibus. Reason indeed should rule, and is therefore placed in the head. But when reason cannot prevail, example will.

Verse 13

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

Ver. 13. Give attendance to reading ] First to reading, and then to exhortation; bringing as a good scribe, out of a good treasure, new and old. Father Latimer, notwithstanding both his years and constant pains in preaching, was at his book most diligently about two of the clock every morning. A rare example.

Verse 14

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.

Ver. 14. Neglect not the gift ] God’s gifts groan under our disuse or misuse; and God hearing gives them the wings of an eagle; so that such may say as once Zedekiah did, "When went the Spirit of the Lord from me to thee?" God dries up the arm and darkens the eye of idle and idol shepherds, Zechariah 11:17 .

With the laying on of the hands ] A custom that came from the Church of the Old Testament,Genesis 8:14; Genesis 8:14 ; Leviticus 1:4 ; Leviticus 3:2 , is laudably used to this day in the ordination of ministers, but foolishly and sinfully abused by the upstart sectarians.

Verse 15

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

Ver. 15. Meditate upon these things ] And so digest them, turn them in succum et sanguinem. Let your heart study a good matter, that your pen may be as the tongue of a ready writer, Psalms 45:1 , and not present crude and rude stuff. When it was objected to Demosthenes that he was no sudden speaker, but came ever to the court after premeditation, he answered, Se si fieri posset, dicturum non tantum scripta sed etiam sculpta; that he would not only write but engrave, if he could, what he was about to utter in public. The same Demosthenes also would have such a one branded for a pernicious man to the commonwealth, who dared propose anything publicly which he had not beforehand seriously pondered. What impudence then is it in a preacher so to do. It was a wise speech of Aristides, who being required by the emperor to speak something propounded ex tempore, answered, Propound today, and I will answer tomorrow; for we are not of those that spit or vomit things, but of those that elaborate them, ου γαρ εσμεν των εμουντων, αλλα των ακριβουντων . Melancthon answered Eccius in like manner, who hit him in the teeth with his slowness in answering arguments. So did Augustine deal by Vincentius Victor, a rash young man, who boldly censured him for his unresolvedness concerning the original of a reasonable soul, and vaunted that he could do it without demurs or delays.

That thy profiting may appear to all ] i.e. That it may appear thy gifts increase daily, by thy good husbandry.

Give thyself wholly to them ] Gr. εν τουτοις ισθι , Be thou in them: totus in hoc sis. It was Mr Perkins’ motto, Verbi minister es, hoc age, Thou art a minister of the word, make it thy whole business.

Verse 16

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.

Ver. 16. Thou shalt both save ] What a high honour is this to faithful ministers, that they should be styled saviours in a sense! So Job 33:24 ; Obadiah 1:21 James 5:20 . Only it must be their care to save themselves as well as their hearers; and that it be not said of them, as once it was of Laertes, the father of Ulysses, that he ordered all things well, but neglected himself. One desired a bad-living preacher to point him out a nearer way to heaven than that he had taught in his sermons; for he went not that way himself.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.