1 Timothy 4
Vv 1-5: The mystery of 1Ti 3:16 has been revealed for all the
world to believe. This revealed mystery is an affirmation of certain basic,
logical and wholly satisfying truths. It is an intelligible mystery (Luke 8:10;
Rom 11:25) to all those who are not lost (2Co 4:3). But here Paul presents to us
a second "mystery" -- a mystery that has enslaved much of the 'civilized' world.
This mystery is termed (even by its proponents) 'an incomprehensible mystery'.
Its doctrines are in no way logical, but rather they are a concoction of
flesh-pleasing, God-defying theories. Those who question certain points are
branded as 'heretics'. Paul also calls this second mystery the "mystery of
iniquity": "There shall come a falling away first, and that man of sin (shall)
be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all
that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the
temple of God, shewing himself that he is God... For the mystery of iniquity
doth already work... whose coming is after the working of Satan with all the
power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of
unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the
truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them a strong
delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2Th 2:3,4,7,9-11).
How would this apostasy develop? It would grow up gradually in
the early ecclesia. It would gain its impetus from greedy and ambitious worldly
"bishops", who had forgotten (or never learned) the admonitions of Paul (1Ti
"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before
ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into
lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude
1:4; cf 2Pe 2:1).
Greek philosophy and the Gnostic mysteries were embraced by
some leaders in the early ecclesia. There was (and still is) something appealing
about the mysterious. Since many of the converts were of this persuasion before
baptism, they would perhaps bring with them into the ecclesia doctrines other
than the Truth. Another element which led to the adulteration of the Truth was
the teaching of the Judaizers (Acts 15:1; Gal 5:1-3; Rev 2:9). This was warned
against by Paul (Gal 1:6-9; 1Ti 1:4-7). Several years before, when Paul had
spoken personally to the elders of Ephesus, he had told them this: "Also of your
own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples
after them" (Acts 20:30).
The union of the two apostate systems (Greek-Roman paganism
and corrupted Judaism) -- from whence the Catholic system sprang -- was
prophesied in Zec 5: Here the prophet saw a woman sitting within an ephah, a
measuring container used in trade. She was called a "curse" (v 3) and
"wickedness" (v 8) and she originally resided at Jerusalem where ungodly priests
"made merchandise" of religion. But she was lifted up from the earth and carried
to a new dwelling place in Shinar or the land of Babylon (v 11). The woman
represented the Jewish apostasy, with its cold formalism, its "letter of the
law" rather than the spirit. She was the murderer of the Lord, and she resided
in Jerusalem until 70 AD, when the temple was overthrown and the Jews scattered.
But the same spirit of apostasy was carried over into Christianity -- the
evidence of which may be seen throughout Paul's letter to the Galatians and in
Acts 15, where certain Jewish Christians were contending that Gentile converts
must be circumcised and keep the law. This false 'woman' held her children in
bondage to the Law of Moses, which had been done away with in Christ.
It is a great warning for us that such a gruesome apostasy as
that to be seen in the 'Holy Mother Church' should have its beginnings within
the ecclesia! "In the latter times many shall depart from the faith." Hence the
exhortation: "Examine yourselves (to see) whether ye be in the faith" (2Co
THE SPIRIT: Most likely here is equivalent to Jesus
himself. Paul probably has in mind the warnings of Jesus, as in the Olivet
prophecy: "Take heed that no man deceive you... for many shall come in my
name... and shall deceive many... And many false prophets shall arise, and shall
deceive many... and shall show great signs and wonders" (Mat 24:4,5,11,24).
That Jesus is sometimes (after his glorification) referred to
as "the Spirit" may be seen in various references: The messages to the seven
ecclesias in Asia, are sent from the one holding the seven stars in his right
hand (Rev 2:1), having been dead and yet now being alive (v 8), the "Son of God"
(v 18), etc. But those same letters are also described as "what the Spirit saith
unto the ecclesias" (Rev 2:7,11,17,29, etc). And again, Paul refers to the
glorified Jesus as a "quickening (ie life-giving) Spirit" in 1Co
IN LATER TIMES SOME WILL ABANDON THE FAITH: In the
latter times some shall depart from the faith -- that is, "in later days" -- a
phrase that may include the very "last days", but also all the intervening time
In every age since Paul spoke this prophecy, many have
revolted against the one true faith. Perhaps he was merely reciting the prophecy
of Dan 11:35, spoken of the time when the "god of the earth" would come into
power: "And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge,
and to make them white, even to the time of the end."
(In the Bible, "some" may often be read as "many" -- as in
John 6:64,66: " 'There are some of you that believe not'... From that time many
of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."
The very purpose of most of Paul's correspondence was to fight
this tendency to fall away. In 2Th 2:7 (written in 54 AD) Paul had said that the
"mystery of iniquity" was already at work.
But Paul is talking to us today as well, in the very last
times -- the last days of the rule of the nations. It is in this time when
apostasy can be clearly seen not only in the great churches around us, but in
the very body of Christ also, among those who have the true form of godliness,
but who by their actions deny the power thereof (2Ti 3:5).
"When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the
earth?" (Luke 18:8) Will the believers still be living and praying as they
should? Jesus' words from a remote time ring very true today.
"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that
shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved" (Mat 24:11-13). Yes, these
words may have had applications to other ages than our own. But who can deny
their fitness even today?
DECEIVING SPIRITS: "Deceitful", in the sense of
vacillating from side to side. In 1Jo 4:1, "spirits" is the term used of
teachers: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they
are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
These men with their false doctrines wander from place to
place. They creep stealthily into a group; they travel wherever itching ears are
ready to receive their words.
These same teachers were described by Jude at approximately
the same time, as recalling memories of Cain, Balaam and Korah.
Furthermore he says: "These are spots in your feast of
charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they
are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without
fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out
their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness
for ever" (Jude 1:11-13). Certainly a warning to those in Paul's and Jude's
time, but no less a warning to us today!
THINGS TAUGHT BY DEMONS: Or "doctrines ABOUT demons".
But some (as NIV) translate "things taught by demons", thus making it virtually
equivalent to the preceding "seducing spirits". There is no difficulty in
accepting such a translation when it is recognized that "demons" are in reality
men who are possessed -- by the "demons" of mental illness and delusion. In a
very real sense, men who imagine and teach the existence of disembodied spirits
may become that which they worship -- demonizing and seducing "spirits" who
corrupt others. It was said of the false gods in David's day, that "they that
make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them" (Psa
In NT language, those persons who are insane or in some such
way afflicted are said to be possessed by demons, or even to be themselves
demoniacs. Their "wisdom" is not from above, but is earthly, sensual, and
"demoniac" (Jam 3:15). The leaders of Catholicism, and their deluded followers,
have become insane in their opposition to God's truth. (Witness the terrible
atrocities of their inquisitions and scourges through the Middle Ages). The Pope
and his top-level advisers are mad in their desire for authority over the world.
The Pope expounds his ludicrous theories, and his priests run to and fro to
"demonize" their subjects with their "power and signs and lying wonders". And a
Protestant Christendom, which once at least made a show of opposing Popery, now
moves closer and closer toward reconciliation and cooperation with the power in
the Vatican. The "harlot daughters", once estranged, are now returning to their
infamous Mother. Paul foresaw this demoniac madness which the Wicked One
manifests, a madness which will deceive many, until it realizes its abrupt end
in the destruction of the brightness of Christ's coming (2Th 2:8).
Paul may also have in mind the supposed disembodied spirits so
commonly worshiped by the apostasy (Rev 9:20). It was the renowned pagan
philosopher Plato who said, "All demons are an intermediate order between gods
and mortals." The deification of heroes and emperors by the polytheistic Greeks
and Romans was encountered by Paul (see Acts 17:18 -- where the strange "gods"
-- AV -- is actually this very word "demons"!), and it was the worship of such
that he described as "...sacrificing to", "having fellowship with", "drinking
the cup of... demons" (1Co 10:20,21). This worship of "demon-idols" was carried
over intact into Roman Catholicism. Hundreds of "saints" -- some pagan, some
Catholic, some who never even existed -- have been "canonized" by the Pope and
his Cardinals. These "saints", just like the ancient gods and goddesses, are
assumed to be mediators and benefactors for their constituents, on a retail
basis. (This is a direct violation of the Scriptural doctrine that there is only
one mediator, the man Christ Jesus -- 2:5). Untold millions in revenue have
found their way into the purses of the Church, as its priests buy and sell the
souls of men (Rev 18), as garments and bones purported to have been those of the
great "saints" are foisted upon their subjects, and "lying miracles" are
heralded as witnesses to the truth of Catholicism.
Thus men claiming to be Christian do not worship God through
His Son Jesus, but they prostrate themselves before the Virgin Mary, 'Mother of
God', St Joseph, St Francis and all the other 'saints' "in a voluntary humility
and worshipping of angels" (Col 2:18). "But in his estate shall he honor the God
of forces" (Dan 11:38). JT translates this as "gods of fortifications", and he
connects this with the "demons" of Catholicism in the following extract:
"Chrysostom, in his homily on the martyrs of Egypt, says: 'The bodies of those
saints fortify the city more effectually for us than impregnable walls of
adamant; and like towering rocks placed around on every side, repel not only the
assaults of enemies that are visible, but the insidious stratagems also of
invisible demons, and counteract and defeat every artifice of the devil as a
strong man overturns the toys of children.' The Greeks and Latins made the most
of these wonderful martyrs. Believing in ghosts, or disembodied human spirits,
they proclaimed the translation of their shades to heaven to act as mediators
and intercessors with the Virgin and her Son; but kept their bones and dust in
church-shrines to protect, defend, or guard them from all enemies, demons, and
other evils to which the flesh is subject. Speaking of these times of intense
superstition, Gibbon says: 'The Christians of the seventh century had insensibly
relapsed into a semblance of paganism; their public and private vows were
addressed to the relics and images that disgraced the temples of the east; the
throne of the Almighty was darkened by a cloud of martyrs, saints, and angels,
the objects of popular veneration; and the Collyridian heretics, who flourished
in the fruitful soil of Arabia, invested the Virgin Mary with the name and
honours of a goddess' " (Expos of Daniel 62).
HYPOCRITICAL LIARS: See 1Ti 1:20n.
The purpose of The Great Apostasy is to seduce others by a
show of sanctity -- as did the Pharisees (Mat 15:1-14; Mat 23). "A mouth
speaking great things" (Dan 7:8; 11:36).
WHOSE CONSCIENCES HAVE BEEN SEARED AS WITH A HOT IRON:
"Seared" means "branded" (RV; RSV), marked in the forehead (Rev 14:9; 17:5). The
metaphor is from the practice of branding slaves and criminals, the latter on
the brow. A Scriptural comparison would be the mark God placed upon Cain (Gen
4:15). Those deluded by the Catholic superstition "brand" themselves with the
sign of the cross, the mark of the beast. They brand themselves as "slaves",
slaves of their masters Sin and the ecclesiastical Sin-Power, whom they serve
even unto death (Rom 6:16,21). And, like Cain, they are thus marked by God as
criminals in His sight.
The word "seared" is translated also as "cauterized" implying
a self-inflicted insensibility and callousness. The followers of the apostasy
are cauterized with a hot iron in their foreheads or minds. They are willingly
ignorant (2Pe 3:5), having given themselves over wholeheartedly to their deluded
state: "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God
through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work
all uncleanness with greediness" (Eph 4:18, 19).
God only goes so far with such people. If they continue in
their course of willful sin, He will at last leave them completely (2Th 2:11;
Even in the Truth we may fall to such a degree that our
consciences, no longer guided by the Word of God, cannot any more turn us from
wrongdoing. Let this consideration spur us on! Each individual must never cease
to examine himself, his motives, and his actions. And he must act as a watchman,
that those around him do not fall prey to the blindness of heart that leads to a
seared conscience and willful sin.
THEY FORBID PEOPLE TO MARRY: By their pretended piety
in forbidding to marry, the priests of Rome try to win support for their absurd
doctrines. The language here presupposes a power strong enough in its full
maturity to enforce its peculiar doctrines upon others, as the Catholic
hierarchy does to its clergy. Merely to teach and practise celibacy, as have
done a number of exotic minorities, is not enough to provide a fulfillment of
this prophecy. "Forbid" is a strong word and implies commanded and enforced
celibacy rather than chosen celibacy. Only the Catholic Church has effectively
Such a state of forced celibacy is so unnatural for most,
negating as it does the benefits of home and family influence (1Ti 3:2,12).
These often act as softening agents upon those who would otherwise be
self-centered and narrow-minded. The Levitical priests were never prohibited
Perhaps Paul's recommendations to some (who could receive it)
in 1Co 7 ("Seek not a wife", and "It is good to abide even as I") have been
misused in forcing celibacy upon all the Catholic clergy. But it is more likely
that this false doctrine had its beginning among the small Jewish sect of
Essenes which flourished in this time.
In Dan 11:36,37, the prophet speaks of the king who shall
arise, exalting himself above every god, and disregarding the desire of women.
And so he continues and prospers "until the indignation of God is
AND ORDER THEM TO ABSTAIN FROM CERTAIN FOODS:
Commanding to abstain from meats was a common practice in the Catholic Church
for centuries. Recently the hierarchy has begun to "modernize" their rules ever
so slightly in anticipation of appealing to the Protestant "daughters". "Let no
man judge you in meat or drink" (Col 2:16).
This no doubt had its beginnings with the Judaizers, who tried
to enforce the law regarding the abstinence from "certain" meats. There were
also different sects in Paul's day whose ascetic behavior called for abstinence
WHICH GOD CREATED TO BE RECEIVED WITH THANKSGIVING: He
is "the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (1Ti 6:17).
Although many receive God's blessing without ever acknowledging Him, it is not
His desire that they do so. And in the future Kingdom there will be sustained
and unanimous thanksgiving to Yahweh -- for all men will believe and know the
Truth, "from the least to the greatest". But for now we alone render true Godly
THOSE WHO BELIEVE AND WHO KNOW THE TRUTH: Those who
have "full (complete, accurate) knowledge" (epi-gnosis). Not just the incomplete
partial "gnosis" of the Gnostics. Such people as these should not, because of
their marriage and eating of meats, feel inferior to the ascetic hypocrites (v
8). "For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace
and joy" (Rom 14:17).
EVERYTHING GOD CREATED IS GOOD: Everything that God
created He called "very good" (Gen 1:31; cp Gen 9:3). As Paul tells the Romans,
"There is nothing unclean of itself... All things indeed are pure" (Rom
14:14,20). "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled
and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled"
AND NOTHING TO BE REJECTED: The word "rejected"
literally means "to be thrown away". This is what Peter learned so dramatically,
when he saw a certain vessel descending from heaven with all manner of animals
therein. He was commanded by God to kill and eat, but he protested, only to be
rebuked: "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common". And Peter was able
to say, "God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean"
(Acts 10:9-16,28). Our Lord also says, "There is nothing from without a man,
that entering into him can defile him" (Mark 7:15). In this very matter of
eating, again Paul has said that dietary differences among people are of no
consequence: "For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is
weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let
not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him" (Rom
All things given by God for our nourishment should be put to
their intended use. The good gifts of God are to be put to good use, "for the
earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof (1Co 10:26). In 1Co 8; 9 Paul
explains that certain of these good gifts were put to evil use in idolatrous
sacrifices. And he leaves us the principle, that some things are to be refused,
if only for the reason that their use might cause scrupulous brethren to
stumble. (Such verses as in Rom 14 must not be used to justify abusive, impure
practices like smoking and drinking. The context of the various passages here
indicates that Paul is speaking of food, items to be used for nourishment).
Finally, in this simple truth, that not a creature is to be
refused, we see by type the great promise that God is no respecter of persons,
that God will refuse no man. Men are creatures of God; all have the chance to
become acceptable to Him -- if they are cleansed and continually sanctified by
the Word of God: "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto
you" (John 15:3; cp Psa 119:9).
BECAUSE IT IS CONSECRATED BY THE WORD OF GOD AND
PRAYER: Anything to be used by the saints, whether food or clothing, is
something special to the godly, who recognize that all things come from God. He
has promised to provide us all things necessary if we only seek first His
Kingdom. No doubt He takes precautions to see that these things come our way, so
that we may have all sufficiency in food and raiment, which leads to that
"godliness with contentment" (see 1Ti 6:6,8).
"I have been young, and now am old: yet have I not seen the
righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psa 37:25). "The eyes of all
wait upon Thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season... The Lord
preserveth all them that love him" (Psa 145:15,20).
The custom of rendering thanks to the Father, at mealtimes
especially, finds many precedents in Scripture. Among others, we have the
following: Samuel in the feast -- 1Sa 9:13; Jesus in feeding the multitudes --
Mat 14:19; 15:36; in the memorial feast -- Luke 22:19, etc; after his death and
resurrection -- Luke 24:30; Paul on the ship, in the presence of aliens -- Acts
Paul also makes the corresponding point that nothing is good,
unless we use it with praise and thanksgiving to Him from Whom all blessings
flow (Rom 14:6). Whatsoever is not done in faith is sin. The use of any comfort
or convenience or privilege which we have is sin, unless we can recognize and
acknowledge God's hand in providing it.
1Ti 4:6--1Ti 5:2: 1Ti 4 also deals with the contrast between
self-imposed rules of physical self-denial and obsession with physical exercise,
and true spiritual exercise and development of the whole man unto godliness
through study of and obedience to the Scriptures. It is by these means, Paul
implies, that the incipient apostasy in vv 1-5 will be arrested, collectively
It is easy to get these things out of proportion, to be
obsessed with physical well-being to the neglect of the infinitely more vital
spiritual growth and development and well-being. Physical health, no matter how
well attended to, inevitably passes. Soon the grave claims the best-kept of
mortal bodies. But spiritual health, diligently pursued, is doubly profitable.
It will teach us wisdom and gain us divine care for the present existence, and
can be good for eternity.
Each of the two sections under this heading begins with a
reminder to Timothy, that he be diligent to present these exhortations to others
in the ecclesia: "Put the brethren in remembrance of these things" (v 6), and
"These things command and teach" (v 11). Can we do any less? Can we realize the
importance of these commands and then choose not to present them to our
Vv 6-10: Godliness and trust in God: It cannot be stressed too
often, what godliness meant to Paul. Possessing a statement of faith, with a
list of doctrines to be accepted does not in itself make one godly. Godliness
was not the mere ability to quote page after page of Scripture. True, these
things are important in their place. But true godliness is something far beyond
this. It is found in a humble and careful adherence to the principles of 1Ti 3.
True godliness is a matter of conduct or practical "theology" -- at least it was
for Paul. And it should be for us. The importance of good works is the
oft-recurrent theme of this whole letter. Our manner of life should reflect our
spiritual development. The word must be in the mind, but it must be used, it
must direct every action. The word must live in us and we must live in the
V 6: POINT THESE THINGS OUT TO THE BROTHERS: This was
Timothy's duty as an elder and a watchman: to offer the advice he had received
from Paul (and which Paul had received from Christ) publicly and privately to
outline the proper duties and proper character of brothers and sisters, and to
warn them of the coming apostasy and the threat it posed. Nothing has ever been
achieved by turning a blind eye to potential problems in the ecclesia.
MINISTER: This really means "deacon", and it is
translated as "servant" in the Diaglott. While the word may indicate an
ecclesial office (1Ti 3:8), it is still used in the general sense of a
BROUGHT UP: Gr "ektrepho": the present participle: it
should be rendered "being nourished up". Timothy is being exhorted to
continually partake of the nourishment of God's word, both the milk and the meat
which become a steady, well-rounded diet of spiritual food. Only if he does this
day by day will he continue to be a worthwhile servant: "Continue thou in the
things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of; knowing of whom thou
has learned them; and that from a child thou has known the holy scriptures,
which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus
Christ. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that
the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2Ti
THE TRUTHS OF THE FAITH AND OF THE GOOD TEACHING THAT YOU
HAVE FOLLOWED: In short, the Scriptures! -- the essential nutrients for the
health and development of the spiritual man. Without it, he will waste away. If
the words are distorted or contaminated, at best they will cause spiritual
indigestion, and at worst "food poisoning": "For whatsoever things were written
aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of
the scriptures might have hope" (Rom 15:4).
"The good teaching" refers to those Godly teachings as found
in vv 13,16. Sound instruction in righteousness.
THAT YOU HAVE FOLLOWED: And are still following. The
KJV is misleading here. We must never think we have "attained" to all the
knowledge that we need. The same word which is used here is found also in Mark
16:17: "And these things shall follow them that believe." We can never feel we
have completely achieved a living knowledge of the Truth, but we must tirelessly
strive toward that goal.
GODLESS: "Profane" (as in KJV) does not mean vulgar, in
the modem sense of profanity. It means instead having nothing whatsoever to do
with God, being wholly ungodly and unclean (1Ti 1:19; 6:20), as the "profane"
Esau (Heb 12:16).
OLD WIVES' TALES: Those inconsequential prattlings
which are all too common to a certain class of elderly and idle women. (It is a
further sorrow that such a preoccupation with such things is not even there
confined, but seems to be the pleasure and hobby of many of both sexes and all
In this verse, Paul is referring especially to the ungodly and
profitless doctrines as in vv 1-3, some of which arose out of Jewish rabbinical
speculations. He is also referring to the myths and fabricated "mysteries" of
the secret pagan societies which flourished in Egypt and the Middle East (see
TRAIN: Strenuous, agonizing exertion, another of Paul's
references to the vigorous athletic life of the Greek. One of Paul's favorite
figures of the believer's life is that of the athlete straining every muscle to
attain a goal and to achieve a prize. See Lesson,
Olympics -- ancient, modern, and "Christian".
TRAIN YOURSELF TO BE GODLY: Exert yourself to attain
the right state of heart and mind, a consistent aim in life. The Greek ideal was
the development of the whole man. Even though their ideal of the perfect man was
quite different from Paul's, still the underlying concept was the same. The
believer should subordinate everything else to his one desire, the development
of the whole spiritual man through study and obedience. "Fear God, and keep his
commandments: for this is the whole man" (Ecc 12:13).
PHYSICAL TRAINING: From the Greek "gymnasia". By this
term Paul means more than physical effort. He means the coordination of body and
mind, in consistent and tireless training and effort, to master some skill. The
pianist or dancer or athlete practices continually, striving always toward
perfection, but never quite achieving it. Another type of such bodily "exercise"
is the adherence to strict rules of diet, such as fasting (Luke 18:12: "I fast
twice in the week"), which Paul mentions in v 3, or the other ascetic tendencies
to self-denial which characterized both Jewish and Greek thinkers in that time:
going barefoot, wearing sackcloth, abstaining from marriage and meat.
IS OF SOME VALUE: "Bodily exercise profiteth little"
(KJV) -- or "for a few things" -- in contrast to the all things for which
godliness is profitable. Or, as the KJV mg indicates, "for a little time only":
Physical health lasts only a few years, and a skill lasts hardly longer. They
are but man's feeble efforts and they are bounded by his own inherent
limitations -- sickness and death. If man does not appeal to one greater than
himself, he cannot rise above what he is by nature. If he places confidence in
his own strength, to deny himself this or that, he may have removed temptation,
but he is no better for it -- if he has not replaced these items with positive,
godly thoughts and works. He is like water, running down, seeking its own lowest
level. He is like the man who has rid his house of one foul occupant only to see
seven unclean spirits fill the void. Without God in his life, nothing can profit
him very much.
BUT GODLINESS HAS VALUE FOR ALL THINGS, HOLDING PROMISE FOR
BOTH THE PRESENT LIFE AND THE LIFE TO COME: What can we add more than this!
Godliness in this present life brings to the disciple of Christ a sense of
spiritual "peace"; a feeling of oneness, or unity with God; well-being and
consolation even in the midst of trials. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and
his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mat 6:33).
Such a person gains "peace" and contentment now, even as he
looks expectantly toward that greater "rest" of the Kingdom.
To have peace with God makes all possible worries harmless and
out-of-place. This is godliness with contentment (1Ti 6:6). It can only come
with complete, undivided dedication to one goal of life. Peace is not freedom
from external strife. It is freedom from internal strife, because our minds are
full of love and "Perfect love casteth out fear... he that feareth is not made
perfect in love" (1Jo 4:18). Jesus, even in the anguish and anticipation of his
terrible sufferings, was still able to say: "Peace I leave with you... In the
world ye shall have tribulation; but in me ye shall have peace... Let not your
hearts be troubled" (John 14:27). The godly person, just as Christ, has already
"overcome the world" (John 16:33).
HOLDING PROMISE FOR BOTH THE PRESENT LIFE AND THE LIFE TO
COME: "And what is the promise? That we shall have plenty? No; perhaps that
would be a curse. That we shall always be well off? No; perhaps that would blind
our weak eyes to the wretchedness of our present lot, and dim the glory that is
to be revealed. It is a promise that we shall not be left forsaken; and this
means a great deal. It means that come prosperity or come trouble, come plenty
or come poverty, come health or come sickness, come honour or come reproach,
come the couch of ease or the bed of thorns, come weal or come woe -- come what
may, if we are called according to His purpose (which will be evinced by our
obedience of His commandments in all things), He will be at the helm, to make
all things work together for our ultimate good [Rom 8:28]" (SC 60).
See Lesson, Sayings of faith in Pastorals.
The faithful saying (v 9), in essence, is that godliness is
profitable, a thing to be desired.
AND FOR THIS WE LABOR AND STRIVE: "Now no chastening
for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it
yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised
thereby" (Heb 12:11).
Note the progression of thought here. In v 7 Paul tells
Timothy "Exercise thyself". But then he next includes himself with Timothy and
all the brethren: "we labor", as fellows, teammates striving together, helping
one another toward the same objective. In the same way Paul speaks of
"Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlaborer in the
gospel of Christ" (1Th 3:2).
LABOR: The word suggests strenuous toil, and is used by
Paul in Phi 2:16 to describe athletic fatigue. Thus he continues the "exercise"
metaphor of vv 7,8.
AGONIZE: The translation "suffer reproach" [KJV] is
based on the reading "oneidizometha", which according to most modem scholars is
incorrect. The alternative manuscript reading "agonizometha" has much more
support, and accords better with the context: "Agonize" is from the root "agon"
-- an athletic context. Thus, following this alternative, RSV, NIV, and others
WE HAVE PUT OUR HOPE: "Hope" is "elpis" (1Ti
THE LIVING GOD: This phrase is stressed throughout. Our
God is a living God; words very appropriate to an ecclesia whose members
formerly worshipped lifeless idols, as in Ephesus. Throughout his letter to that
ecclesia the apostle Paul emphasizes the unlimited power at our disposal in the
living God of Israel, man's only Saviour: "The exceeding greatness of his power
to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power" (Eph 1:19).
"To him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think"
Our hope is in a God who keeps His promises.
WHO IS THE SAVIOR OF ALL MEN, AND ESPECIALLY OF THOSE WHO
BELIEVE: God is the Preserver (Diag) of all men, for a time, by His spirit
(Acts 17:25,28). Especially is this preservation true of the saints: "All things
work together for good..." (Rom 8:28,31). "The eye of the LORD is upon them that
fear Him... to keep them alive in famine" (Psa 33:18,19). God provides us with a
"sufficiency" in all things which we truly need (1Ti 6:6; 2Co 9:8).
God is the Saviour (to everlasting life in Christ) of not just
one race or one family, but of all men. That is, God offers salvation to the
Gentiles along with the Jews, in short, to all men who will listen and come. And
He is not willing that any should perish (1Ti 2:4; 2Pe 3:9; Lam 3:33; Eze 18:32;
33:11). God's great power of which we have been speaking is most evident in the
gospel, "which is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe" (Rom
1:16). Christ is a redeemer for all men prospectively, but really only for those
who truly believe in him (1Ti 2:6n).
1Ti 4:11--1Ti 5:2: In 1Ti 3 Paul carefully outlined to Timothy
the requirements of a serving brother: to be blameless, vigilant, sober,
experienced, patient. In 1Ti 4:1-5 he spoke of an apostasy which was even then
working, and which would grow in strength as the years passed. Paul is telling
Timothy and us that the days ahead will not be easy ones. They will be times to
try even the best-prepared of men, with the main troubles coming from within.
And there is only one way to combat the errors that arise. We must remain
well-informed in the Word, and we must each one take heed to himself, that he is
following the apostle's teachings of godliness so that he will not lead others
COMMAND: "Parangello": see 1Ti 1:3n.
THESE THINGS: Pointing back to the previous section.
"These things" include the refusal of ungodly fables and speculations and the
following after sound words of faith and godliness. They include a trusting in
God despite adversity. These things Paul both commands and teaches. Paul
commands it as the only behavior pleasing to God, for our God is a jealous God,
and unwilling that we share our devotion with others. "Thou shalt have no other
gods before me." Paul teaches it as a father to his "own son in the faith" (1Ti
1:2), lovingly imploring him to follow these Divine precepts, for his own good.
God's standards are not harsh and restrictive in their keeping, but instead they
bring "great gain" even in this life. We can achieve personal growth in
character as a result of following God's instructions. He does not restrict us
from those things which bring us true benefit. He withholds nothing from those
He loves. The 'restrictions' only upset the man of the flesh, who can expect
harshness when he stands before the Supreme Judge if he ignores these
'restrictions'. Children do not often know what is truly best for them. The
spiritual chain of command is put into action. Paul enjoins Timothy to command
or charge the "followers" of Christ to follow those principles which he and Paul
have been commanded to follow. As an example, Timothy must live his faith and
thereby teach others.
DON'T LET ANYONE LOOK DOWN ON YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE
YOUNG: Cp the similar passage in 1Co 16:11. It seems, from all accounts,
that Timothy was a relatively young man (the Greek "neotes", however, is said to
indicate any age up to forty), although he possessed the qualifications for a
leader. But like RR many years later, he must have discovered that some older
men envied his ability and position, were taken aback by his zeal, and therefore
were always ready to condemn him for any little mistake. He had to be doubly
careful in whatever he did so that his 'enemies' would have no occasion to
criticize him. He would also have to develop an insensitivity to their constant
badgering and heckling.
Also, as Paul mentioned previously (1Ti 3:6,7), the young are
subject to pride in a large degree. Timothy is warned to carefully steer clear
of all vain pretensions and ambitions, common to the young in
SET AN EXAMPLE: An exhortation to be a type or pattern,
for the believers to follow. Paul, who labored so much among the unbelievers,
was an "example" for them (1Ti 1:16) -- in that he had once walked contrary to
God, but had been forgiven of his sins done in ignorance, and had completely
reversed his course of life. Timothy, who worked among the believers, should be
their example, in the ways of godliness which Paul explains in the next few
IN SPEECH: James says, "If any man offend not in word,
the same is a perfect man" (James 3:2). This is one of the most difficult areas
in which to be wholly consistent to our calling. Our tongue can slip, it seems,
before we have an opportunity to consider the effect of what we say. For this
reason we should all be "slow to speak". The Scriptures give much detailed
instruction regarding this essential bridling of the tongue. Let us all search
our hearts to see whether by failure to properly use and control this member we
are making our religion vain. The Scriptures refer to a dozen or more different
uses of the tongue in which we betray our professed faith: lying, evil-speaking,
backbiting, talebearing, foolish talking, talking too much, talking proudly,
contention, answering in anger, flattery, murmuring, complaining and giving
If we look only superficially at this, we may feel that we
never offend in words. But if we look more deeply, remembering how the law of
God searches down into the dark and sometimes unsuspected roots of our innermost
thoughts and motives, we shall realize that all these warnings are matters of
real concern for each of us. Let us all carefully consider the words of the
Psalmist: "I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress" (Psa 17:3). See
also the comments in 1Ti 5:13.
IN LIFE: "In speech" has to do with our words, and "in
life" has to do with all our other activities, that may make impressions upon
IN LOVE: Gr "agape": the truest love, a
self-sacrificing love toward others. It is perhaps best explained in 1Pe 1:22:
"Seeing ye have purified your lives in obeying the truth (at baptism) unto
unfeigned love ("phileo" -- companionship, closeness -- the first step) of the
brethren, see that ye also love (agape -- true, divine, complete love) one
another with a pure heart fervently".
The true love of the brethren is reached through successive
stages. It is not something that one immediately feels, but it is a feeling
which must continually grow greater and greater in our hearts, until there is no
room for hate and envy and strife.
Most versions omit the phrase "in spirit" (KJV). It has very
slight support from the manuscripts.
IN FAITH: Show that your faith is real. Do not give
lip-service to an ideal, while making your personal decisions on another basis.
Be consistent, live by your faith -- that others may see what it really means to
IN PURITY: A process of attainment which involves
certain, specific, successive steps. We never attain perfect purity, but we make
a constant effort: "Everyone that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as he
[Christ!] is pure" (1Jo 3:3). "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.
Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded" (James
4:8). The Law and the relation of the priests to the service of the tabernacle
stress ceremonial purity and cleanliness. We are the antitype, "the holy
priesthood", the fulfillment of the priestly ideal. It is our duty to purify our
hearts and minds (1Pe 1:2; 1Jo 3:3).
UNTIL I COME: The introductory words indicated [as
stated before, 1Ti 3:14,15], that Paul hoped to return to Ephesus to inspect the
progress of Timothy and the ecclesias and to straighten out any problems that
might have arisen. But this phrase "until I come" suggests also the coming of
Christ also, for it is so often used otherwise in that sense. Paul was a bishop
or an overseer of the brotherhood. In his travels he might make visits to the
various ecclesias. Jesus, in his first advent, was typical of the Levitical
priests who came to inspect questionable dwellings. If the building were unclean
the priest would decree that it be destroyed (Lev 14:44,45). This is exactly
what Jesus did. He came to inspect the Jewish "ecclesia" and nation, and he
found the temple and its worship filthy before God. Therefore, he decreed its
removal along with the destruction of Jerusalem: "They shall not leave in thee
one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation"
(Luke 19:44). (Visitation is from the same word in the Greek as "overseer").
And in the same way, when Christ comes again to the earth, it
will be as a bishop or "overseer" to inspect his people, (In 1Pe 2:25 "bishop"
is the same word as "visitation"). He will then judge them, punish the wicked,
and reward the faithful. And his judgment will be upon the basis of how well we
have followed his directions, as recorded here.
DEVOTE YOURSELF: Notice the great stress which this
phrase places upon what follows. Not just "Do these things", but "Give your
complete, undivided attention to them. Do them with all your heart, mind, and
THE PUBLIC READING OF SCRIPTURE: The OT Scriptures
which he had known from a child (2Ti 3:14-17). Doubly so for us, the Old
Testament and the New are both necessary, both equally important, both requiring
careful and prayerful study both confirming and completing one another.
Paul seems to be referring especially to the public reading of
the Scriptures before an assembly. The same word is used in Acts 13:15, where
the Scriptures were formally read in the synagogue following a regular pattern.
It was in such a situation that Jesus himself "stood up to read" (Luke 4:16).
The reading aloud would be either accompanied or followed by explanatory
comments after the example of Ezra and the priests: "So they read in the book of
the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the
reading" (Neh 8:8).
Public reading, along with exposition and exhortation, still
provides the framework of our ecclesial meetings, as well it should. The brother
who is called upon to read must remember that his duty is just as important as
that of the presiding brother or exhorting brother or praying brother. He is the
translator, so to speak, of God's Word. He should convey its meaning
respectfully, carefully and coherently. His responsibility is to do more than
just give a half-hearted, unthinking recitation of words. But good reading goes
beyond mere technical proficiency. The quality of the voice is not the primary
concern; neither are proper pronunciation and correct pauses the only things
that count. What matters most is that he read with his heart words that are for
him living and vital! How refreshing it was once to hear a brother interrupt his
public reading of a chapter to make a helpful comment upon the text! Clearly he
understood his purpose. He was not just 'reading'. He was going beyond the cold
formality. He was "giving attention to reading"!
PREACHING: Exhortation is the practical application of
Scriptural precepts, including appeal, entreaty, example, and encouragement. We
should not use the word or the power of exhortation to adamantly pursue our own
theories (1Ti 1:4-7), but to nourish ourselves and others in the simple
teachings of godliness.
Timothy was to accept and give exhortation, being a
responsible deacon, guiding and provoking his brethren in love to do those
TEACHING: The apostles' doctrine, the teachings of
Christ (Acts 2:42). The stress is upon the practising of good works.
"The word 'doctrine' has the meaning of 'teaching', and we
find, for example, that the RV usually translates the original Greek as
'teaching'. The word is a noun, and can be used in the sense of the act of
teaching or of what is taught. Context is needed to distinguish the two
applications in the Bible. An example of the act of teaching is found in 1Ti
4:13: 'Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine'.
Examples of that which is taught are found twice in Tit 1:9: 'holding to the
faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able both to
exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers' (RV).
Sometimes in the Bible this meaning is specialised to refer to
a set of teachings which might be repeated on frequent occasions. It is used in
this way when the high priest 'asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his
doctrine' (Joh 18:19); and again when Jesus ascribes his doctrine to his Father:
'My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me. If any man will do His will, he
shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself'
(Joh 7:16,17). We therefore have a precedent for taking the word in this sense,
and for attempting to determine the content of Christ's teaching, his doctrine,
and that of his messengers, the apostles, with respect to what is essential for
eternal life, to be known and to be followed" (SG).
DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR GIFT: Timothy probably received
some special Holy Spirit gift, which was to be used for the upbuilding or
edification of the believers. See esp 1Ti 1:2n. Timothy would have received his
gift from the apostle Paul (1Ti 1:10; 2Ti 1:6) who transmitted it according to
the prophecy or instruction he received from God.
THE BODY OF ELDERS: Paul must have given Timothy his
authority and power in some special ceremony of ordination (Acts 14:23; 16:4),
though we take pains to keep as far as possible from any comparison with the
unenlightened rituals of the apostate churches. Only the apostles had the power
to invest others with the Holy Spirit in any of its manifestations. We may then
view the apostles as the "elders" of the entire body, who through their
representative, Paul, selected and transferred ecclesial authority to Timothy
LAID THEIR HANDS ON YOU: See Lesson,
Laying on of hands. This is both traditionally and Scripturally the means of transference or
transmission. The Jew laid his hand upon the sacrifice to transfer his guilt to
the animal (as in Lev 1:4). The patriarchs thereby transmitted God's hereditary
blessings (as in Gen 48:14), as Moses did God's authority to Joshua (Num
27:18-23). The laying on of hands by the apostles and others healed the
infirmities and even gave life to the dead (2Ki 4:34; Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40).
In a secondary sense, this phrase may refer to the laying on
of hands by the Ephesian elders, in voluntary selection (1Ti 5:22) of Timothy as
their leader. In this understanding, they would merely be acknowledging
Timothy's authority, already received from Paul and the other apostles.
Perhaps this was needed for the benefit of the members of the
Ecclesia who might not readily have accepted Timothy's credentials. This
Ephesian "elders", though some may have possessed Spirit gifts themselves, would
have not been able to transmit such power to others, not being apostles.
Or... since only the apostles had authority to pass on the
gifts of the Holy Spirit, 1Ti 4:14 may seem to be an exception. But 2Ti 1:6,
referring to the same occasion, shows that the apostle Paul took part in that
ceremony. Other elders were included then because Timothy was being sent forth
on a special mission along with Paul.
BE DILIGENT: "Meditate" (as in KJV) is one of those
colorless English words which very improperly gives the sense of the original.
The RV and NIV rendering is much better: "Be diligent", indicating an active,
inquiring mind -- a comprehensive understanding of applied knowledge. The modern
word "meditation" conjures up the picture of passive theorizing or of mentally
wandering in a cloudy atmosphere of "devotion". But a quick reference to a
reliable concordance soon sets this idea right by revealing that the Bible words
translated "meditate" all have to do with speech and talking! So true meditation
is a literal talking, either to God or to one another: Exhort one another...
(Heb 10:25). "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another" (Mal
GIVE YOURSELF WHOLLY TO THEM: This means 'Love God and
serve Him with all your heart and all your energy' (Mat 22:37). Nothing less
than the fullest effort is expected. God is not pleased with a part-time,
lukewarm devotion (Rev 3:15). Be absorbed completely in your service to God. We
get the same idea in the phrase, "Walk in God". Live your life wholly encircled,
clothed by the Spirit-Word of God's Truth. Walk in light, as children of the
light. "Be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long" (Pro 23:17).
We promise to become living sacrifices -- daily putting to
death the tendencies of the flesh. Regardless of the time that we enter the
vineyard, we must labor and never relax -- until the end of the day.
SO THAT EVERYONE MAY SEE YOUR PROGRESS: Timothy's
progress (RV, RSV, NIV) -- the same word as "furtherance" or "advance" (of the
gospel) in Phi 1:12,25 -- was to appear to all. As others could see Timothy as a
living example of the gospel he professed, they might be encouraged to try
harder themselves. "Let your light shine before men" (Mat 5:16) means more than
just for the conversion of aliens. "Let your light shine" also before the
brethren, to strengthen and help them. Both Timothy's personal benefit from the
study of the Truth and his growth in the Truth were examples for
EVERYONE: Or "all men". That is, all kinds (classes, or
races) of men. Examples of "all" prob meaning "without distinction" rather than
"without exception": Joh 1:7,9; 3:26; 5:28; 8:2; 12:32; 13:35; Rom 10:13; 1Ti
2:1,2; 5:20; 6:17; Heb 2:9.
DOCTRINE: "Doctrine" should be translated "teachings"
again, as in v 13. True doctrine, or true teaching is the basic foundation for
everything else. It was not enough for Timothy to tell others to pay attention
to this word. He must do it himself as an example first. It is much more
effective to lead others by doing rather than just by telling. The ecclesia is a
chain, made up of individual links; and a chain must be pulled, not
IF YOU DO, YOU WILL SAVE BOTH YOURSELF AND YOUR HEARERS; A
prophet must warn his fellows or he is held accountable himself (1Ti 3:2; Eze
33:4, 5; Jam 5:20). He must "declare the whole counsel of God" (1Co 3:10-15),
not holding back things for the sake of "peace". And he must take heed to his
own warnings first and foremost or he will have no hope of success.