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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
1 Timothy 4

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 4

1 Timothy 4:1. πλάνοις] For this, many cursives and Fathers have πλάνης, which, however, is only a correction, perhaps after 1 John 4:6.—1 Timothy 4:2. Instead of the form κεκαυτηριασμένων (Rec. Tisch.), we should probably, after A L א, read κεκαυστηριασμένων (Lachm. smaller ed., Buttm.).

For ἰδίαν συνείδησιν, which is supported by the weightiest authorities, D* has (in Matthaei, E) συνείδησιν ἑαυτῶν.—1 Timothy 4:6. For ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, so many important authorities (A D F G, many cursives, etc.) have χριστοῦ ἰησοῦ, that the latter must be held the right reading.

τῆς καλῆς διδασκαλίας] for which some cursives, etc., have τῇ καλῇ διδασκαλίᾳ, which may have arisen from a belief that these words are co-ordinate with τοῖς λόγοις.

For the Rec. παρηκολούθηκας (Tisch.), Lachm. smaller ed., and Buttm., following A 80, have adopted the gen. ἧς παρηκ., an attraction seldom occurring, but not without examples; see Winer, p. 148 [E. T. p. 204].—1 Timothy 4:8. In א the preposition πρός is wanting before ὀλίγον; possibly πρὸς ὀλίγον may have been formed on the analogy of the πρὸς πάντα.

For the Rec. ἐπαγγελίαν, which is found in the weightiest authorities, and is received by nearly all critics and editors, K א, many cursives have the plural ἐπαγγελίας. This is defended by Matthaei and Rinck as the original reading, but is disputed by Reiche (Comment. crit. I. pp. 389 f.). It is at least possible that the singular found its way into the text as a correction.—1 Timothy 4:10. καὶ κοπιῶμεν, Rec., supported by F G K, most cursives, etc. (Tisch. 7); in A C D א 17, 47, al., Syr. Arr. Copt. Arm. Vulg. etc., καί is wanting, and is therefore omitted by Lachm. Buttm. and Tisch. 8. Its genuineness is very doubtful.

Instead of the Rec. ὀνειδιζόμεθα (supported by D L, most versions, Theodoret, etc., Tisch. 7), A C F G K א, al., have the reading ἀγωνιζόμεθα, which has been adopted by Lachm. Buttm. Tisch. 8. The authorities give a preference to the latter reading, yet it may have arisen from Colossians 1:29. Reiche defends the Rec.; we cannot decide with certainty which is original; see further in the exposition of the verse.—1 Timothy 4:12. Between ἐν ἀγάπῃ and ἐν πίστει the Rec. has ἐν πνεύματι; rightly withdrawn from the text as not genuine by Griesb. Scholz, Lachm. Tisch., following the weightiest authorities (A C D F G 31, 47, 70, 71, al., Syr. utr. Erp. Copt. etc., Clemens, Chrys. etc.); comp. Reiche (Comment. crit. I. p. 392).—1 Timothy 4:15. For ἐν πᾶσιν, Lachm. Buttm. and Tisch. rightly adopted πᾶσιν (without ἐν), after A C D F G א 17, 31, al., Syr. Erp. Copt, etc., Clem. Chrys. etc. It is defended, too, by Reiche as the original reading; ἐν appears to have been inserted from the analogy of Romans 1:19; 1 Corinthians 11:19.


Verse 1

1 Timothy 4:1. In the first five verses of this chapter, Paul speaks of the heretics, directing special attention in 1 Timothy 4:3 to one point in their doctrine.

τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει] The δέ connects this verse with the beginning of 1 Timothy 3:16, and connects it by way of contrast. τὸ πνεῦμα is the Holy Spirit, as the source of prophecy. To explain the expression by οἱ πνευματικοί (Heydenreich) is inaccurate. Paul goes back here to the fundamental basis of all prophecy.

ῥητῶς ( ἅπαξ λεγ.) means: “in express words,” and is used particularly with quotations.(151) Heydenreich is inaccurate in explaining it as equivalent to σαφῶς, φανερῶς; Luther: “distinctly.” The apostle, then, appeals here to a prophecy of the Spirit expressly worded. Such a prophecy of the future apostasy lay before him in many utterances, both of Christ and of others; besides, the Spirit declared them to the apostle himself.

Leo is wrong: animus mihi praesagit.

ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως] We might readily take ὕστεροι καιροί here as equivalent to ἔσχατοι καιροί (comp. 2 Timothy 3:1 : ἔσχαται ἡμέραι; 1 Peter 1:5 : καιρὸς ἔσχατος; 2 Peter 3:3; Judges 4:18; in Ignatius, Ep. ad Ephes. c. xi.: ἔσχατοι καιροί); but we must not overlook the difference between the two expressions. The former points simply to the future, the latter to the last time of the future, immediately preceding the completion of God’s kingdom and the second coming of Christ (so, too, van Oosterzee, Hofmann). It is unsuitable to press καιρός here in the sense of “the fitting time,” and to translate it with Matthies: “in the fitting time hereafter.”

τινες are not the heretics, but those who are led away from the faith by the heretics. The apostasy belonged to the future, but the heresy to the present. Hofmann thinks differently, assigning the heresy also to the future, though the apostle’s expression does not warrant this.(152) We must not, however, with Otto, infer that in the apostle’s time the heretics were still outside the church.

ἀποστήσονται τῆς πίστεως] “This sentence forms the antithesis to what has preceded, 1 Timothy 3:15-16” (Wiesinger); for the expression, comp. Luke 8:13; Hebrews 3:12; Wisdom of Solomon 3:10; 1 Maccabees 1:15, and other passages.

προσέχοντες] comp. 1 Timothy 1:4; the partic. tells how the apostasy is brought about.

πνεύμασι πλάνοις] the πνεύματα πλάνα are in contrast with the πνεῦμα in 1 Timothy 4:1; and the former are as little to be identified with the heretics, as the latter with the prophets (Wolf: spirituales seductores, i.e. doctores seducentes). The πνεύματα are rather the active spiritual powers hidden in the heretics, the tools and servants of the devil. As the truth is one, so also is its principle one: τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας. Error on the other hand is manifold, and is supported by a plurality of spirits, who may, however, be regarded as a unity: τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πλάνης, 1 John 4:6.

These πνεύματα are called πλάνα, because they seduce man from the truth to falsehood; comp. 2 John 1 Timothy 4:7.

καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων] δαιμονίων is not the objective (Heydenreich: “doctrines regarding demons, a characteristic of Essene-gnostic heretics who spoke so much of the higher world of spirits, of aeons,” etc.), but the subjective genitive (Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Winer, p. 176 [E. T. p. 233]). The δαιμόνια are the source of the doctrines which are opposed to the truth, of the σωφία δαιμονιώδης (James 3:15); comp. Colossians 2:22. It is wrong to suppose that the δαιμόνια are the heretics themselves. As with πνεῦμα in 1 Timothy 4:1, Paul goes back here to the inner grounds; the διδασκαλίαι proceeding from these form the opposite of the διδασκαλία τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν θεοῦ.(153)

(151) [Huther must mean that ῥητῶς is ἅπαξ λεγ. in the N. T.; for it is found in Sext. Empir. adv. Log. i. 8: ξενοφῶν ῥητῶς φησίν; also in Strabo, i. p. 4 B, and Polybius, ii. 23. 5.—TR.]


Verse 2

1 Timothy 4:2. ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων] Leo: “errarunt sine dubio, qui genitivos, qui sequuntur, ψευδολόγων, κεκαυτηριασμένων, κωλυόντων, lege appositionis, junctos esse dicebant cum voc. δαιμονίων;” but we must also reject Leo’s opinion, that ἐν ὑποκρ. ψευδ. was added to the previous statement as a second characteristic of the heretics, meaning: eadem simulantes, quae simulare solent homines ψευδολόγοι, etc.; ψευδολ., κεκαυτηρ., κωλυόντων denote the heretics themselves, and not those whom they imitated. To regard the genitive ψευδολόγων as dependent on διδασκαλίαις, and ἐν ὑποκρίσει as defining more precisely the substantive following it (Estius: doctrinis, inquam, hominum in hypocrisi loquentium mendacium), would make a double difficulty of construction. Nor can Luther’s translation be defended: “by means of such as are speakers of lies in hypocrisy.” ἐν ὑποκρίσει is either to be taken with ἀποστήσονται (so Bengel: Constr. cum deficient; hypocrisis ea, quae est falsiloquorum, illos auferet; τινες aliqui, illi, sunt seducti; falsiloqui, seductores; falsiloquorum, genitivus, unice pendet ab hypocrisi), or, still better, with προσέχοντες (Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Plitt). The objection of Matthies, which agrees with Leo’s explanation, that in that case we should have had instead of ἐν either διά or ἕνεκα with the article, is contradicted by the usage of the N. T. In the N. T. ἐν is not seldom used with the instrument, and in regard to the article there prevails a greater freedom of use than in classic Greek. Hofmann strangely combines δαιμονίων ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων into one idea, explaining δαιμονίων to be an adjective with ψευδολόγων, and ἐν ὑποκρίσει also as a qualification of ψευδολόγων in the sense of “hypocritical.”(154)

The hypocrisy of the heretics consisted in giving themselves, in obedience to a false spiritualism (see 1 Timothy 4:3), the appearance of a spiritually-inspired life.

The word ψευδολόγοι, (“liars,” Luther) occurs only here in the N. T. In sense it is equivalent to ψευδοδιδάσκαλος, 2 Peter 2:1, and ψευδοπροφήτης, 1 John 4:1 (comp. ματαιολόγοι, Titus 1:10).

κεκαυτηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν] On the grammatical structure, comp. 1 Timothy 6:5 ( διεφθαρμένοι ἄνθρωποι τὸν νοῦν; the more precise definition is not infrequently added in the accusative, see Winer, p. 215 [E. T. p. 287]), “branded as to their conscience” (Wahl: κεκαυτηριασμένην ἔχοντες τὴν ἰδ. συνείδησιν).

It is to be noted that the καυτηριάζειν (cauterio notare) was not only done on slaves “ut facilius possent discerni” (Leo), but was also a form of punishment for, marking criminals as such (comp. Meyer on Galatians 6:17). As these bore the brand on their forehead,—that is the figurative expression,—so do the heretics bear it on their conscience, i.e. they bear in their conscience the knowledge of their guilt. Theophylact rightly: ἐπεὶ συνίσασιν ἑαυτοῖς ἀκαθαρσίαν πολλήν, διὰ τοῦτο τὸ συνειδὸς αὐτῶν ἀνεξαλείπτους ἔχει τοὺς καυτῆρας τοῦ ῥυπαροῦ βίου. Theodoret (followed by Heumann) wrongly understands the apostle’s expression to denote moral deadness: νέκρωσις καὶ ἀποβολὴ πάσης αἰσθήσεως, ἐσχάτη ἀναλγησία· γὰρ τοῦ καυτῆρος τόπος νεκρωθεὶς τὴν πρότεραν αἴσθησιν ἀποβάλλει. The apostle does not blame the heretics for having a conscience completely blunted, but for acting against their conscience; comp. Titus 3:11 : αὐτοκατάκριτος.

On ἰδίαν, de Wette remarks that it is not emphatic here; but it is not improbable that the apostle had some such side-thought in mind as Bengel suggests: dum alios tamen urgent (so, too, Wiesinger).


Verse 3

1 Timothy 4:3. Further description of the heretics.

κωλυόντων γαμεῖν] Since even the Essenes and Therapeutae made abstinence from marriage a necessary condition of a holy life, there is no ground whatever for supposing that this description proves the heretics to have been followers of the later Christian gnostics (especially of Marcion, according to Baur).

ἀπέχεσθαι βρωμάτων] similar construction in 1 Timothy 2:12; 1 Corinthians 14:34; the infinitive is dependent on the κελευόντων implied in κωλυόντων (= κελευόντων μή); see Winer, p. 578 [E. T. p. 777]; Buttmann, p. 343. Isidor of Pelusium unnecessarily corrects ἀπέχεσθαι into ἀντέχεσθαι. In the Epistle to the Romans (chap. 14) the apostle speaks of weak brethren’s anxiety in regard to the enjoyment of many meats, and the heretics combated in the Epistle to the Colossians are distinctly described as forbidding the enjoyment of certain meats; but neither here nor in these passages is it said what kinds of meat were forbidden, nor why (comp. also Titus 1:14-15). It is, however, not improbable—if we follow the analogy of later gnostics—that animal food, and perhaps also wine (Colossians 2:6 : ἐν βρώσει ἐν πόσει), are specially meant. There is no indication that the prohibition was founded on gnostic dualism (van Oosterzee); it is more probable that the false asceticism of the heretics was connected with the Mosaic distinction between clean and unclean (comp. Titus 1:15); so also Wiesinger.(155)

In the Epistle to the Colossians (Colossians 2:22) the apostle indicates the perversity of such a prohibition in a brief relative clause; and so also here.

θεὸς ἔκτισεν εἰς μετάληψιν κ. τ. λ.] Different answers have been given to the question why only the second, and not also the first error is refuted. It may have been that the heretics did not make abstinence from marriage, as they made abstinence from certain meats, a command laid on all. It may have been, too, “that the prohibition to marry stood in manifest contradiction with the divine order of creation, whereas the prohibition of certain meats might appear less objectionable because of its analogy with the prohibition in the law of Moses” (Hofmann). Besides, the apostle has already indicated in 1 Timothy 2:15 the opposition of the gospel to this prohibition to marry.

The word μετάληψις occurs only here, though in Acts 27:33 we find μεταλαβεῖν τροφῆς.

The apostle does not content himself with saying that God made food to be enjoyed, but he shows at the same time how God meant it to be enjoyed, viz.: μετὰ εὐχαριστίας (comp. on this 1 Corinthians 10:31). He then limits the general thought by a special reference to believers: τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ ἐπεγνωκόσι τὴν ἀλήθειαν, as those in whom the purpose of creation is fulfilled, solis filiis suis Deus totum mundum et quicquid in mundo est destinavit, qua ratione etiam vocantur mundi heredes (Calvin). The apostle’s thought is distorted by adding “also” before τοῖς πιστοῖς, as is done by some expositors.

Heydenreich rightly says that the words are equivalent to ἵνα οἱ πιστοὶ καὶ οἱ ἐπεγνωκότες τὴν ἀληθ. μεταλαβῶσιν αὐτῶν μετὰ εὐχαριστίας. Hofmann unjustifiably takes exception to this, and—in spite of ὅτι beginning a new sentence—seeks to connect τοῖς πιστοῖς not with what goes before, but with what follows (!). The added words: τοῖς πιστοῖς κ. τ. λ., show most clearly the perverse conduct of the heretics in forbidding the enjoyment, and to believers of all people. πιστοί are “believers,” and not “those convinced that enjoyment is permitted to them;” ἐπεγν. τ. ἀλήθ. also does not denote a special class of the πιστῶν: “the Christians who have come to the true gnosis” (as Heydenreich thinks probable), but the πιστοί themselves, as those who, in contrast to the heretics, have recognised the truth, i.e. the divine truth. καί is epexegetical; comp. 1 Timothy 2:4.


Verse 4

1 Timothy 4:4. ὅτι πᾶν κτίσμα θεοῦ καλόν] This verse gives the ground of the preceding thought, which Hofmann denies. Bengel wrongly takes it to be in apposition to ἀλήθειαν.

κτίσμα, which does not occur elsewhere in Paul, means here of course the creatures of God destined for nourishment. On the principle here expressed, comp. Romans 14:14 : οὐδὲν κοινὸν διʼ αὐτοῦ, and Romans 4:20 : πάντα καθαρά; Acts 10:15 : θεὸς ἐκαθάρισε, σὺ μὴ κοίνου.

καὶ οὐδὲν ἀπόβλητον] comp. Iliad, iii. 65: οὔτοι ἀπόβλητʼ ἐστὶ θεῶν ἐρικυδέα δῶρα; and the scholiast’s remark: ἀπόβλητα· ἀποβολῆς ἄξια· τὰ ὑπὸ θεῶν, φησὶ, διδόμενα δῶρα οὐκ ἔστι μὲν ἀρνήσασθαι. Here the thought stands in contrast with the idea of defilement caused by partaking of certain meats. Going back to the μετὰ εὐχαριστίας in 1 Timothy 4:3, the apostle defines it more precisely, though not by mentioning an accessory point merely: μετὰ εὐχαριστίας λαμβανόμενον (Ephesians 5:20 : εὐχαριστοῦντες πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων), because God wishes His gifts to be enjoyed with thankful heart, and the purpose of creation is therefore fulfilled only by him who partakes with thankfulness.


Verse 5

1 Timothy 4:5 serves to elucidate the thought expressed in 1 Timothy 4:4, that every meat taken with thanksgiving is good, and not to be rejected.

ἁγιάζεται γὰρ διὰ λόγου θεοῦ καὶ ἐντεύξεως] ἁγιάζειν is not “declare to be clean and permissible,” but “make something holy.” In itself the meat is not something holy, for, as a purely material thing, it can be called neither holy nor unholy (so also van Oosterzee). It is less suitable to say, with Wiesinger, that “the κτίσις being burdened with a curse, is subject to ματαιότης and the δουλεία τῆς φθορᾶς;” but it is made holy for those who enjoy it by the λόγος θεοῦ. Wahl and Leo take θεοῦ to be the objective genitive, and interpret it as “oratio ad Deum facta,” which makes the expression synonymous with ἔντευξις following it; but λόγος θεοῦ never occurs in this sense. Other expositors have supposed that reference is made to some particular passage of the Scriptures, either to Genesis 1:31 or Acts 10:15; but de Wette rightly remarks that the words in that case go quite beyond 1 Timothy 4:4, and touch on the question whether certain meats are clean or unclean. For the same reason, λόγος θεοῦ cannot mean generally “the expressions of the divine doctrine, the principles of Christianity” (Heydenreich). Since the expression points back to μετὰ εὐχαριστίας in 1 Timothy 4:4, and is closely connected with ἔντευξις, it can only mean the word of God occurring in the prayer of thanksgiving (de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee), either in this sense, that the word of thanks itself is called the Word of God, inasmuch as it is the expression of God’s indwelling Spirit, or because the prayer is supposed to consist of the words of Scripture.(156)

Regarding ἔντευξις, see 1 Timothy 2:1.


Verse 6

1 Timothy 4:6. After describing the heretics, the apostle turns again to Timothy, exhorting him, in the first place, with special regard to the matters last under discussion, and then more generally in regard to the duties of his office.

ταῦτα ὑποτιθέμενος τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς] ταῦτα does not, as Heydenreich supposes, pass over all intermediate matter and go back to the christological doctrines expressed in 1 Timothy 3:16. It is more correct, with Hofmann, to refer it to the whole section from 1 Timothy 3:16 to 1 Timothy 4:5 (so Chrysostom); but possibly also Paul had in view only the prohibitions of the heretics (Wiesinger; van Oosterzee doubtfully).

ὑποτίθεσθαι (the middle only here, the act. in Romans 16:4), properly: “put under the hand or foot,” may also mean “instruct” (Josephus, Antiq. i. 14), as much as “advise” or “command” (Josephus, Bell. Jud. ii. 8. 7); here it stands more in the latter sense; Luther: “point out.”

Hofmann wrongly explains it as equivalent to “take as a theme,” and—against the natural structure of the sentence—connects it with what follows, though in this way it becomes tolerably superfluous.

καλὸς ἔσῃ διάκονος χριστοῦ ἰησοῦ] Paul here uses διάκονος, inasmuch as Timothy was formally appointed to serve in the work of Christ; it has the same meaning as “so wilt thou well occupy the office committed to thee ( διακονία, 2 Timothy 4:5).” To this is attached the participial clause: ἐντρεφόμενος τοῖς λόγοις τῆς πίστεως κ. τ. λ.] The present participle does not stand for the perfect participle, but brings out how Timothy is to behave at all times, in order to fulfil his commission as a καλὸς διάκονος . χρ. It declares that he is to be one who makes the words of faith his nourishment. It is inaccurate, therefore, to translate ἐντρεφόμενος by innutritus (Bengel(157)), or “reared” (Luther). As to the meaning of the word ἐντρέφεσθαι (in N. T. a ἅπαξ λεγ.), see Philo, Leg. ad Caj.: ἐνετράφης τοῖς ἱεροῖς γράμμασιν, and Plato, Leg. vii. 798a: οἷς γὰρ ἂν ἐντραφῶσι νόμοις.

The λόγοι τῆς πίστεως are the words in which faith expresses itself. The added words: καὶ τῆς καλῆς διδασκαλίας (see 1 Timothy 1:10), make the contrast with the heretics more decided, and the further clause: ( ἧς) παρηκολούθηκας, shows that Timothy had hitherto been faithful to pure doctrine. This latter perfect stands in apt contrast with the present participle ἐντρεφόμενος. The original meaning of the verb: “follow near any one,” furnishes naturally for the present context the meaning: “which thou hast faithfully followed, to which thou hast remained faithful.” The translation; “according to which thou hast formed thyself,” is inaccurate; the word occurs in the N. T. only here and in 2 Timothy 3:10, as well as in Luke 1:3 and Mark 16:17.


Verse 7

1 Timothy 4:7. The exhortation to Timothy in the previous verse, that he should continue faithful to sound doctrine, is followed by an injunction to keep from heresy.

τοὺς δὲ βεβήλους καὶ γραώδεις μύθους παραιτοῦ] παραιτοῦ· τὴν τελείαν ἀποφυγὴν αἰνίττεται, Chrysostom; “have nothing to do with.” Here, as in 1 Timothy 1:4, the apostle calls the heresies μῦθοι, in reference to the fictions they contained; but at the same time he describes them more precisely by the adjectives βέβηλοι and γραώδεις. On the former, comp. 1 Timothy 1:9 (Luther: “unspiritual”). It is in contrast with ὅσιος, and would be manifestly too strong, if the μῦθοι were only “things which bear no moral fruit,” which “have an innocent aspect,” and only “possibly lead to apostasy” (against Wiesinger).(158) γραώδης (occurring only here) is equivalent to “old-wifish” (Luther), i.e. antiquated; comp. 2 Timothy 2:23. Otto regards “the μῦθοι γραώδεις on the formal side as myths, such as are told to children by old fathers;” but the passages quoted by him from Plato (Republic, i. 350 E ii. 377 C, and 378 D) do not support his opinion. These merely say that nurses, mothers, and more generally old wives, are to tell myths to the children, from which we can infer neither that γραώδεις refers merely to the form of the story, nor that Paul had any thought of a reference to children.

The apostle’s exhortation does not touch so much on Timothy’s teaching as on his own personal conduct; but correctness of conduct is all the more necessary that it is a condition of the right fulfilment of his διακονία.

γύμναζε δὲ σεαυτὸν πρὸς εὐσέβειαν] After telling Timothy what he is not to do, viz. that he is not to give himself up to the ΄ύθοις βεβηλοῖς, he tells him now what—in contrast to these things—he is to do. The δέ indicates not only the transition to a new thought (Hofmann), but also the contrast to what has preceded. The figurative expression γυ΄νάζειν is used also in classic Greek of every straining exercise. This meaning is to be maintained here; Theodoret: γυ΄νασίας ἄρα χρεία καὶ πόνων διηνεκῶν· γὰρ γυ΄ναζό΄ενος καὶ ἀγῶνος ΄ὴ ὄντος ἀγωνίζεται ἱδρῶτος ἄχρι.

πρός indicat finem, ad quem illa γυ΄νασία vergat (Leo); this goal is εὐσέβεια, i.e. Christian piety rooted in faith. Comp. on this verse, 2 Timothy 2:22-23.


Verse 8

1 Timothy 4:8. The reason for the previous exhortation is given by contrasting the σωματικὴ γυμνασία with the γυμνασία πρὸς εὐσέβειαν.

γὰρ σωματικὴ γυμνασία πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμος] Regarding the meaning of σωματ. γυμν., there are two opinions which need no refutation: the one is that it means the ceremonial law (Braun, Selecta sacra, i. 10, § 156); the other is that of Chrysostom, who understands by it disputation with the heretics.(159) It is a question whether Paul makes use of the word with or without reference to the heretics. Many expositors (of the older, Ambrosius, Thomas; of the more recent, Calvin, Grotius; also Heydenreich, Leo, Matthies) adopt the former view, and explain the σωματικὴ γυμνασία to mean the practice prevailing among the heretics of abstaining from marriage and from certain meats. The connection of ideas is against this view, since in the words immediately preceding he was not speaking of rules of abstinence, but of the myths of the heretics; the sense is also against it, for Paul could not possible say of the heretics’ mode of life, which before he had called devilish, that it was πρὸς ὀλίγον ὠφέλιμος κ. τ. λ. Wiesinger thinks the apostle had in mind, not that degenerate form of asceticism which was to appear in the future, as he described in 1 Timothy 4:3, but “the phenomena of the present,” viz. an asceticism to which even Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23) had some inclination. But since, in Wiesinger’s opinion, even this asceticism is to be regarded as an error, we cannot well refer to it the words πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμος.

Hofmann understands the σωματικὴ γυμνασία to be a discipline such as the apostle practised on himself in abstaining from things permitted; not, however, as if the self-denial were anything in itself, but only lest he should be hindered by the needs of the body from attaining the goal. For this Hofmann quotes 1 Corinthians 9:27. But the discipline which Paul practised on himself was by no means a purely bodily one; it was rather a γυμνασία πρὸς εὐσέβειαν, since the faithful fulfilment of official duty formed part of the εὐσέβεια. The expression is therefore to be explained simply from itself, and we must understand by it the exercise of the body in general, as Theodoret, Pelagius, Wolf, and others (of those more recent, Mack, de Wette, and van Oosterzee) have rightly explained it.

The reason why Paul here speaks of bodily exercise is contained in the previous exhortation: γύμναζε σὲ πρὸς εὐσέβειαν. This he wishes to make emphatic by contrasting with it the γυμνάζειν practised so carefully among the Greeks, though only πρὸς ὀλίγον ὠφέλιμον. The connection of ideas is by no means, as de Wette thinks, a mere “lexical allusion,” nor is the idea itself superfluous.

πρὸς ὀλίγον is in James 4:14 used of time: “for a short time.” In this sense many have taken it here; but the contrasted πρὸς πάντα is against this. It is inaccurate also to regard, as Heumann does, πρὸς ὀλίγον as equivalent to ὀλίγῳ (Luther: “of little use”); it means “for little.” Paul does not mean to say that the σωμ. γυμνασία is of no use, but that its use extends to little, only to some relations of the present, earthly life.(160) It is different with that to which Timothy is exhorted: δὲ εὐσέβεια πρὸς πάντα ὠφέλι΄ός ἐστιν] A more exact contrast would have been presented by δὲ γυ΄νασία πρὸς εὐσέβειαν; but Paul could here speak at once of the use of εὐσέβεια in order to strengthen the previous exhortation. πρὸς πάντα is here opposed to πρὸς ὀλίγον. The general reference thus given must not be arbitrarily limited. There is nothing, no active occupation, no condition, no human relation, on which the εὐσέβεια does not exercise an influence for good.

ἐπαγγελίαν ἔχουσα ζωῆς τῆς νῦν καὶ τῆς ΄ελλούσης] This participial clause gives a reason for the words immediately preceding, and confirms them. De Wette, and following him Wiesinger, explain (by appealing to passages such as Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 4:40; Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 6:2, and others) ζωὴ νῦν as equivalent to “a long and happy life.” But ζωή with νῦν cannot have a meaning different from that which it has with ΄ελλοῦσα. It is incorrect also to understand by ζωή “eternal life, life in the full and true sense of the word” (Hofmann),(161) for it is arbitrary to maintain that τῆς νῦν καὶ τῆς ΄ελλούσης was added to ζωῆς only as an after-thought. This contrast forbids us to understand ζωή as anything else than simply “life;” ζωὴ νῦν is the present, ζωὴ ΄ελλοῦσα is the future life which follows the earthly. The genitive is to be taken as a more remote objective genitive,—“promise for the present and the future life” (so, too, van Oosterzee and Plitt). The thing promised is not indeed named, but it can be easily supplied.


Verse 9

1 Timothy 4:9 serves to strengthen the expression immediately preceding (not the thought in 1 Timothy 3:16, against Heinrichs), whereas in 1 Timothy 1:15 (comp. also 1 Timothy 3:1) the same words refer to what follows. The γάρ in 1 Timothy 4:10 prevents us from connecting them with what comes next. It is no less unsuitable to refer them, as Hofmann does, to the ὅτι following, and to regard εἰς τοῦτο … as a parenthesis. This connection is opposed not only by the harshness of the construction, but also by the consideration that, as a matter of fact, the conduct of the Christian, viz. ἠλπικέναι κ. τ. λ., needed for Timothy no such confirmation as is given in these words.(162)


Verse 10

1 Timothy 4:10. εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ κοπιῶμεν καὶ ὀνειδιζόμεθα κ. τ. λ.] The particle γάρ shows that this verse is to serve as a reason or confirmation of the preceding thought that godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of this and the future life. εἰς τοῦτο is by expositors either referred directly to this thought (de Wette, van Oosterzee), or is joined with the ὅτι following (Wiesinger); in the latter case the ἠλπίκαμεν points only to the thought in 1 Timothy 4:8. The former construction deserves the preference, not only because it is more natural to refer the τοῦτο to the thought of 1 Timothy 4:8 so purposely confirmed by 1 Timothy 4:9; and also because εἰς τοῦτο cannot be taken as equivalent to διὰ τοῦτο (by which Theodoret paraphrases it), id circo (Beza). εἰς always points to a goal (and not to the reason of something). ἠλπικέναι, however, as an already existing condition, cannot be regarded as the goal to which the κοπιᾶν is directed; hence Luther’s translation: “to this end we labour also … that we … have hoped,” cannot be justified. The meaning therefore is: In regard to this, that godliness has promise, viz. in order that this promise may be fulfilled in us, we labour.

With the Rec. καὶ κοπιῶμεν καὶ ὀνειδιζόμεθα, καὶκαί is either equivalent to “both … and,” or the first καί is equivalent to “yea also,” and the second καί is simply “and.” In the former case the two ideas κοπιᾶν and ὀνειδίζεσθαι are more widely separated; in the latter, they are more closely connected. The second view seems to be more natural. There is very weighty authority for the reading: κοπιῶμεν καὶ ἀγωνιζόμεθα, which also gives a thoroughly appropriate meaning; but still the Rec., for which, too, almost all expositors (de Wette, Wiesinger, Reiche, van Oosterzee, Hofmann, and others) have decided, might be preferred. The change of ὀνειδιζόμεθα into ἀγωνιζόμεθα may be easily explained from the following facts, that in Colossians 1:29 κοπιᾶν is joined with ἀγωνίζεσθαι, that ὀνειδίζειν does not occur elsewhere in Paul (except at Romans 15:3 in an O. T. quotation), that the passive ὀνειδιζόμεθα does not seem suitable, whereas ἀγωνιζόμεθα agrees well with the figure in 1 Timothy 4:8. On the other hand, the change of ἀγωνιζόμεθα into ὀνειδιζόμεθα is scarcely explicable. The plural κοπιῶμεν is not to be limited to the apostle, or to him and Timothy; it expresses the general Christian consciousness. The verb, often joined with another verb which has in it the idea of active exertion (1 Corinthians 4:12; Ephesians 4:28; Colossians 1:29), does not denote simple labour, but labour with trouble and suffering: “to toil and moil” (Heydenreich); καὶ ὀνειδιζόμεθα again points to the reproach which the Christian bears from the world. ὀνειδιζόμεθα is a “concise expression for we endure to be slandered” (Wiesinger).

ὅτι ἠλπίκαμεν ἐπὶ θεῷ ζῶντι] If εἰς τοῦτο refers to what precedes, ὅτι is equivalent to “because;” the meaning in that case is: in regard to the promise given to εὐσέβεια, we take trouble and reproach upon ourselves, because we have set our hope on the living God, and are certain, therefore, that that promise does not remain unfulfilled. ὅτι refers to both the preceding verbs, and does not merely stand “in close connection with the latter,” as van Oosterzee without reason thinks. The perfect ἠλπίκαμεν as here: 1 Corinthians 15:19; 2 Corinthians 1:10.

God is here called the living God, inasmuch as He fulfils what He has promised.

ἐλπίζειν is construed with ἐπί and the dative, because the living God is regarded as the ground on which the hope rests. The construction is only found here at 1 Timothy 6:17, and at Romans 15:12 in an O. T. quotation. Elsewhere ἐλπίζειν is construed with ἐν, or εἰς, or ἐπί and the accusative.

The relative clause ὅς ἐστι σωτὴρ πάντων ἀνθρώπων, μάλιστα πιστῶν serves as a seal of the hope grounded in God. Since God is the σωτήρ, this hope, too, cannot be vain; de Wette is wrong, therefore, in asserting that this clause is “out of all keeping.”

The first words are explained by 1 Timothy 2:4 : ὃς πάντας ἀνθρώπους θέλει σωθῆναι. By μάλιστα πιστῶν it is indicated that the will of God unto salvation is realized only in the case of believers. ΄άλιστα does not stand here “unsuitably” (de Wette); it rather gives suitable expression to the thought that God is and continues to be the σωτήρ for all, whether they desire σωτηρία or not; but in the proper and special sense the σωτηρία is only for believers who really desire it.


Verse 11

1 Timothy 4:11. παράγγελλε ταῦτα καὶ δίδασκε] Timothy is to proclaim to the community that which Paul has enjoined to him. ταῦτα refers not only to what is in 1 Timothy 4:10 (according to Hofmann: “to God’s living power and willingness to help”), but to everything that has been said previously in regard to εὐσέβεια. The two verbs παραγγέλλειν and διδάσκειν tell how he is to proclaim these things. They are not distinguished from each other as referring, the one to private, the other to public instruction, nor as expressing, the one, generally public proclamation, the other, more especially exact instruction, explanation, information (Matthies); but παραγγέλλειν, which in the N. T. has constantly the sense of “command,” indicates that Timothy is to hold up these things ( ταῦτα) to the community as the standard of their conduct.


Verse 12

1 Timothy 4:12. From this verse on to the end of the chapter, Paul instructs Timothy how he is to behave towards the community that his παραγγέλλειν καὶ διδάσκειν (1 Timothy 4:11) may not be in vain.

μηδείς σου τῆς νεότητος καταφρονείτω] σου is dependent on τῆς νεότητος, which is the object of καταφρον. Wahl, on the contrary (followed by Leo and Matthies), construes σου directly with καταφρ., and takes τῆς νεότ. as a genitive defining the substantive more precisely (= μηδεὶς διὰ τὴν νεότητα καταφρονήσῃ σου, Chrysostom), so that καταφρ. here (like κατηγορεῖν) would be connected with a double genitive (comp. Buttmann, p. 143). This construction, however, is more forced than the former, and καταφρ. occurs nowhere else with it.

According to the form of the sentence, the command is directed to the community, but in sense to Timothy. Timothy is not to permit the authority entrusted to him as representative of the apostle, to be limited on account of his youth: “permit no one to despise thy youth.” The ἀλλά, however, attached to this injunction shows that he is to effect this especially by his Christian conduct; most expositors find here only this last thought.

That he may retain respect, he is to make himself an example to all: ἀλλὰ τύπος γίνου τῶν πιστῶν. A comma is not unsuitably placed after πιστῶν, giving the clause greater independence, and making the qualifications that follow: ἐν λόγῳ κ. τ. λ., more emphatic. On the exhortation τύπος γίνου, comp. besides Titus 2:7; Philippians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Peter 5:3. γίνου does not mean “become,” as if Timothy had not been so hitherto, but “be.” The next five words: ἐν λόγῳ κ. τ. λ., tell wherein Timothy is to be an example to believers. We cannot but observe that there is a certain order in the succession of the words. First we have ἐν λόγῳ and ἐν ἀναστροφῇ. λόγος includes every kind of speaking (not merely doctrine), i.e. teaching, exhorting, warning, comforting, etc., both in public assemblies and in private intercourse. ἀναστροφή is the life as embodied in deeds. Word and life are the two forms of revealing the inner hidden disposition. To this inner life we are directed by the next words: ἐν ἀγάπῃ, ἐν πίστει, which denote the powers that give motion to the Christian life. The last word: ἐν ἁγνείᾳ, gives, finally, the nature of the life that is rooted in faith and love. The word does not denote here specially chastity in the relation of sex, but generally “purity of moral behaviour” (Hofmann); comp. ἁγνός, 1 Timothy 5:22; 2 Corinthians 7:11; James 3:17; ἁγνότης, 2 Corinthians 6:6; ἁγνίζειν, James 4:8; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:3.


Verse 13

1 Timothy 4:13. ἕως ἔρχομαι] comp. 1 Timothy 3:14. De Wette says in explanation: “so long as thou in my absence dost preside over the church at Ephesus.” This does not agree with the circumstances, inasmuch as Timothy had not been installed as the regular superintendent of the church. That was an office held more by presbyters.

πρόσεχε (1 Timothy 1:4, 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 4:1): “curam et studium nava;” de Wette: “wait.”

τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ] Bengel rightly says: “lectioni Scripturae sacrae in ecclesia; huic adjunguntur duo praecipua genera, adhortatio, quae ad agendum et doctrina, quae ad cognoscendum pertinet.”

ἀνάγνωσις in Acts 13:15, 2 Corinthians 3:14, is used of the reading of the law and the prophets in the synagogue; this custom was continued in Christian congregations.

The two expressions παράκλησις and διδασκαλία are found elsewhere in connection with one another (Romans 12:7-8; comp. also παράγγελλε καὶ δίδασκε above). Chrysostom is wrong in his explanation: παράκλησις· πρὸς ἀλλήλους, διδασκαλία· πρὸς πάντας. With as little ground do others understand by διδασκ. private instruction, and by παράκλ. public preaching; or also by the former, instruction for catechumens, and by the latter, instruction for the church.(163)


Verse 14

1 Timothy 4:14. ΄ὴ ἀμέλει τοῦ ἐν σοὶ χαρίσματος] Timothy is not to let the χάρισμα lie unused; he is to apply it diligently and faithfully to the purpose for which it was imparted to him. This exhortation does not imply blame, nor does that given in 2 Timothy 1:6.

The word χάρισμα may be applied to every gift of God bestowed on man by God’s χάρις. In the N. T. it denotes both generally the new spiritual life wrought in the believer by the Holy Spirit, and also specially every faculty imparted for special Christian work ( ἱκανότης, comp. 2 Corinthians 3:5). Here, where he is speaking of Timothy’s official work, it can only mean the faculty given him for the office (not simply “the gift of teaching,” as Hofmann thinks), in regard both to the κυβέρνησις and specially to the παράκλησις and διδασκαλία (not, however, as Chrysostom explains it, the διδασκαλία itself). It is not to be taken as denoting the office itself; the ἐν σοί is against this, and nowhere in the N. T. has the word this meaning.(164)

ἐδόθη σοι] not as Heinrichs says: a me, Apostolo, but, as a matter of course, by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4).

διὰ προφητείας μετὰ ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν τοῦ πρεσβυτερίου] διά is here “by means of,” so that the προφητεία is to be regarded as the means through which the χάρισ΄α was given to Timothy (by the Holy Spirit). It is arbitrary to weaken this, the proper meaning of the preposition, as Beza does when he explains it: per prophetiam i. e. ita jubente per os prophetarum spiritu sancto;(165) and as Otto also does, when he finds here the thought that the ordination was occasioned by the προφητεία. Though Hofmann in his Schriftbeweis (II. 2, pp. 278 f.) had explained it: “The word of prophecy pointed out Timothy as the one to be appointed the apostle’s colleague,” he now says: “ διὰ προφητείας does not mean by means of prophecy, but in consequence of prophecies.” This latter explanation, however, agrees with the one which he disputes, since the expression “in consequence of” gives not merely the relation of time, but also the relation of cause. We must reject even the qualification of the meaning which Matthies demands: “The fundamental meaning of the preposition διά, which may be shortly defined as means, may be so modified in many cases as to give the manner in which something is done, or the intermediating form under which something comes into life.” We must reject this, because, as de Wette rightly remarks, there would otherwise be no indication of a relation of cause. Besides, such passages as Acts 8:17-18; Acts 9:17; Acts 19:6, 2 Timothy 1:6, prove that we must keep by the proper meaning of διά. The προφητεία is mentioned as the means, but in close connection with ἐπίθεσις τῶν χειρῶν. προφητεία (1 Timothy 1:18) is not equivalent to “foretelling,” but is more generally the word proceeding immediately from the Holy Spirit—whether the word of promise, or of exhortation, or of prayer. This word was spoken at the time ( ΄ετά) when the presbytery laid their hands on Timothy and appointed him to his ministry. ΄ετὰ ἐπιθέσεως τ. χ. is to be taken in close connection with διὰ προφητείας; the laying on of hands is to be regarded as part of the means; comp. 2 Timothy 1:6.(166) Otto wrongly says: “The laying on of hands is not a coefficient of the ordination, but an act connected with the ceremony of ordination; the χάρισ΄α was imparted to Timothy along with the laying on of hands, not by means of the laying on of hands.” Wherein, then, did the ceremony of ordination consist? It is curious that Hofmann, influenced by 2 Timothy 1:6, says regarding μετά, that “it was of course the apostle’s business to impart the gift to Timothy by laying on of hands,” but then grants that “the presbytery of Timothy’s home-church took part in the laying on of hands,” without telling us what then signified the presbytery’s laying on of hands. The hands were imposed by the presbytery, but Paul does not say who uttered the προφητεία. Leo remarks: “adfuerunt fortassis, quum manus imponebantur Timotheo, prophetae Christiani, qui praesagiebant faustissima quaevis, et dignum eum fore dicebant ecclesiae doctorem” (similarly Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, and others). It is, however, most probable to assume that they who uttered the προφητεία were the same as they who laid their hands on Timothy,(167) so that we cannot think here of prophets, in the narrower sense of the word, as present at the ordination.

The ἐπίθεσις τῶν χειρῶν is well known as a symbolic action of the early Christians; it was the symbol and means not only of imparting the Holy Spirit in general (Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6; Hebrews 6:2), but also of bestowing the inward equipment for a special Christian ministry (Acts 6:6; Acts 13:3; comp. also Acts 14:23). By the presbytery, we must understand the college of presbyters belonging to the church in which the hands were imposed. What church this was, we are not told. Ecclesiastical tradition, followed by Mack, makes it the church at Ephesus; Matthies, Leo, de Wette, Wiesinger, and others think it more probable that the ordination took place at Lystra, where Paul assumed Timothy as his companion, and that the ordination was held for this very purpose.(168) To this latter view we must object, that there is no passage in the N. T. to prove that the reception into the number of the colleagues of the apostles was made with such a solemn ceremony. It is more natural to suppose that such a reception took a freer form, and that a regular ordination was only held after a more independent position had been assigned to the colleague, a position not merely of carrying out certain instructions, but of representing the apostle in a more complete way, viz. in a particular church, such as Timothy now held. Perhaps, therefore, this ordination of Timothy had taken place when Paul on his departure for Macedonia left Timothy behind him in Ephesus as his substitute (1 Timothy 1:3); still it is also possible that it had been done on some earlier occasion.(169)

It is strange that in 2 Timothy 1:6 the laying on of hands is mentioned only as the act of the apostle. Paul might certainly be speaking there of some other occasion than here, for the consecration by laying on of hands might be imparted on different occasions to the same man. It is more probable, however, that he is speaking of the same occasion in both passages, and “that Paul imposed hands along with the elders, but as the first” (de Wette).

It is further to be remarked that the word πρεσβυτέριον occurs elsewhere in the N. T. only as a name for the Jewish Sanhedrim (Luke 22:66; Acts 22:5), and that it is used here only of the college of the Christian presbyters of a church.


Verse 15

1 Timothy 4:15. In order that Timothy may rightly lay to heart the exhortations just given, Paul continues: ταῦτα μελέτα, ἐν τούτοις ἴσθι] ταῦτα referendum ad omnia ea, quae a 1 Timothy 4:12, usque ad 1 Timothy 4:14, praeceperat Paulus Timotheo, Leo.

μελετᾷν occurs elsewhere in the N. T. only at Mark 13:11 and Acts 4:25, where it means “think, consider, reflect on something,” equivalent to meditari. The more original meaning, however, is “exercere, carry on something with care;” this is to be maintained here, where it is a matter of putting recommendations into practice. De Wette: “let this be thy care.”

ἐν τούτοις ἴσθι] added to strengthen the preceding words; it is equivalent in meaning to the Latin omnis (totus) in hoc sis (Hor. Ep. i. 1, 11, quid verum atque decens curo … et omnis in hoc sum).

ἵνα σου προκοπὴ φανερὰ πᾶσιν] With προκοπή (only elsewhere in Philippians 1:12; Philippians 1:15), “progress,” not “progressiveness” (Hofmann), we may either supply “in filling thy office” (Heydenreich; de Wette: to the perfection of the God-man, 2 Timothy 3:17), or more generally, “in the Christian life.” The purpose of this lay in the fact that Timothy was to be a τύπος τῶν πιστῶν.


Verse 16

1 Timothy 4:16. Cumulat sane h. 1. Paulus adhortationes, unde ejus amorem in Timotheum et in Christianos Timotheo subditos intelligas, Leo.

ἔπεχε σεαυτῷ] “take heed to thyself,” refers to 1 Timothy 4:12; καὶ τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ refers to 1 Timothy 4:13. Heinrichs wrongly combines the two together as an hendiadys (“pro σεαυτῷ ut possis tradere bonam διδασκαλίαν”). On the other hand, however, we must not understand the διδασκαλία to mean the doctrine of others (Heydenreich: take heed, that nothing is neglected in the instruction of Christians by the teachers placed under thy oversight).

ἐπίμενε αὐτοῖς] αὐτοῖς is not masculine, as Grotius and Bengel think, the one understanding it of the Ephesians, the other of the audientes. It is neuter, and as such it is to be referred not only to what immediately preceded (= “in this attention to thyself and to the doctrine”), but, glancing back to τούτοις, ταῦτα in 1 Timothy 4:15 (Wiesinger), it is to be referred also to all the precepts from 1 Timothy 4:12 onward. Hofmann is wrong in connecting τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ with ἐπίμενε, and explaining αὐτοῖς as the dativus commodi; for, on the one hand, no subject precedes to which αὐτοῖς could be referred; and, on the other, there is nothing to show that αὐτοῖς is the dat. commodi.

The exhortations close with words confirming them: τοῦτο γὰρ ποιῶν] “if thou doest this” (regarding the form of the clause, comp. 1 Timothy 4:6); καὶ σεαυτὸν σώσεις καὶ τοὺς ἀκούοντάς σου] Without reason, de Wette thinks that σώσεις has in Timothy’s case a different meaning from that which it has in the case of others; that in his case it is to be understood of the higher (!) σωτηρία, in theirs simply of the σωτηρία. σώζειν means originally “save;” but in the N. T. it has in connection with Christian doctrine not only a negative, but also a positive meaning. Hence we cannot, with Mack, take it here as signifying merely, protecting from heresy and its effects. Luther translates it rightly: “thou shalt make blessed,” etc.—i.e. thou shalt further thine own salvation as well as the salvation of those who hear thee, i.e. of the church assigned to thee.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-timothy-4.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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