Category Archives: 1 TIMOTHY 4

The apostle Paul gives his fourth charge to the believers in Ephesus, and his fourth charge to Timothy himself.

1 TIMOTHY 4

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER

(a) Verses 1-5 Fourth charge to the Ephesians
Warning about the doctrines of demons.
(b) Verses 6-16 Fourth charge to Timothy.
Exhortation about exercise unto godliness.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY CHAPTER 6, VERSES 1 TO 5:

4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

(a) Verses 1-5 Fourth charge to the Ephesians
This passage contains a solemn warning against demon-influences. Asia Minor was a hot-bed of mystic thought and Satan was very active promoting his evil teachings. We must not think that believers are untoucheable by these things, for the apostle was concerned about the Corinthians believers, lest as Satan had beguiled Eve in his subtlety, so their minds should be corrupted too, 2 Corinthians 11:3. Satan always seeks to counterfeit and confuse.
So it is that after the declaration of the person of Christ as God manifest in the flesh in 3:16, there now comes the warning against influences which will try to deny that truth in some way. We could say that after truths about Christ comes doctrines that will result in antichrist, for he will deny the Father and the Son, 1 John 2:22. Having told us of the mystery of godliness, the apostle warns against the mystery of iniquity which “doth already work”, 2 Thessalonians 2:7. The apostle John warned against antichrist’s who were already operating in his day, so the Ephesians, and ourselves, need to take note and be warned. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Since the assembly at Ephesus is the house of God, the Father of the house will ensure that His house is kept secure from the attacks of the enemy.

4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly- that is, the Spirit speaks out-spokenly, in view of the great danger. The Spirit of truth combats devilish error. We should be sensitive to the Spirit’s concern about these matters, and not be lulled into a false sense of security.
That in the latter times- this is the period after the apostles were gone. John, the last of the apostles to die, wrote, “even now are there many antichrists, whereby we know it is the last time”, 1 John 2:18. It has been the last time for two thousand years, because God has been long-suffering. He counts not time as we do, 2 Peter 3:8-9.
Some shall depart from the faith- false professors will openly deny what they once claimed to believe. It is not simply that they are backsliders, who do not live according to the light they have. These are men who have never been enlightened, but claimed to hold to the Christian faith, but then show themselves false by their behaviour and their teaching. They are apostate, and the epistles of 2 Peter and Jude describe them. The Lord warned about Judas so that the disciples would be prepared, John 13:19. They might have thought that someone like Judas could not apostatise, but sadly, he did, and there have been many others like him. We should not be deceived.
By “the faith” the apostle means the whole body of Christian doctrine “once delivered to the saints”, and for which we should “earnestly contend”, Jude 3. We need to know it to defend it. We are to be able to “give an answer to him that asketh”, 2 Peter 3:15. In order to protect ourselves from error, we need to know, not the error, but the truth. The apostle exhorted the believers at Rome to be “wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil”, Romans 16:19. In other words, to be so versed in the truths of the faith, that when error is presented to us we simply say “No”!
Giving heed to seducing spirits- these apostates are open to the lies of the Devil, for “he is a liar, and the father of it”, John 8:44. Because these people are not believers, they have a mind which readily accepts error, and rejects the truth. The natural heart of man is attracted to falsehood, and has been since Eve listened to the tempter in Eden. Spirit-beings are able to suggest things to unbelievers, and thus lead them astray. The apostle John warned young believers about those who would lead them astray, (seduce), and the remedy for this is the Holy Spirit, who teaches our hearts the truth, 1 John 2:27.
And doctrines of devils- that which the seducing spirits instil into the minds of those who have rejected Christianity, and have laid themselves open to listen to the doctrines that devils believe. We need to be careful what we listen to, especially with so much available today that is openly hostile to Christian things.

4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

Speaking lies in hypocrisy- they lie whilst pretending to speak truth. Their motives are evil, but their manner may be pleasing.
Having their conscience seared with a hot iron- instead of the sensitive conscience of a believer, all sensitivity to error is gone. The hot iron of hellish doctrine has rendered their minds unresponsive to truth.

4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

Forbidding to marry- this goes beyond thinking lightly of marriage. This is an attack upon God’s creatorial order. In Noah’s day, as the Lord Jesus described it, they were marrying, but when He described the men of Sodom, He made no mention of marriage, Luke 17:26-30. He also said, “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man shall be revealed”, Luke 17:30. So we may well expect the same conditions to prevail in our day. It may well be that governments will forbid people to formally marry, and will only allow co-habiting.
And commanding to abstain from meats- occult practitioners are usually vegetarian. They say that eating meat involves taking in that which interferes with contact with the spirits. Is this why meat was allowed after the flood, so that occult activity was subdued? Genesis 9:3.
Which God hath created- hence these commands are an attack on His laws as Creator. If God created animals that could be used as food, then He must have anticipated that there would be a need. Man was given the green herb to eat before the flood.
To be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth- so believers may eat meat, not just with a thankful heart, but also after a prayer of thanks, which shows we are on the side of the Creator. We should not take food for granted, or waste it. “Believe” is the general word showing that those who give thanks are believers, “know the truth” refers to the specific truth about meats the apostle is setting forth. Strictly speaking, unbelievers have forfeited their rights to everything, food included, but God graciously continues to provide for them, “filling their hearts with food and gladness”, as Paul told the idol-worshippers at Lystra, Acts 14:17.

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

For every creature of God is good- again a reference to creation, which even though it was cursed when man sinned, (for a fallen Adam could not be head over an unfallen creation), still had the ability to feed men. Since the fall, some plants have been made poisonous, but not meat.
And nothing to be refused- so the believer has a totally different attitude to meat as compared to those who command to abstain.
If it be received with thanksgiving- we forfeit our right to the food if we are not thankful. We should make it our habitual practice to give thanks to God for our food before eating it. By this we not only re-affirm our belief in a faithful and beneficent Creator, but we distance ourselves from the world, which, writes the apostle, is unthankful, Romans 1:21.

4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

For it is sanctified by the word of God- the terms of God’s covenant with the earth sanctioned the eating of meat, Genesis 9:3. But flesh with blood in it was banned. So the word of God to man in His covenant with Noah seta apart meat as being for the use of man.
And by prayer- the prayer of thanksgiving before meals, is our word to God in response to His word to man in His covenant. By giving thanks we acknowledge that God has provided it for our need.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY CHAPTER 6, VERSES 6 TO 16:

4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
4:11 These things command and teach.
4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

(b) Verses 6-16 Fourth charge to Timothy.

Having warned of those who command to abstain from physical meats, and encouraged the giving of thanks for food on the part of believers, the apostle now charges Timothy about spiritual food and spiritual exercise.

4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things- there is need for the constant repetition of the basic truths of the New Testament. We should resist the temptation to always be occupied with our favourite theme, to the neglect of the whole range of Christian truth.
Thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ- He is the one who is served, for He is the Son over God’s house, Hebrews 3:6, and allots the tasks He wishes the deacons to perform for Him in the house of God, to His Father’s glory. The word minister is diaconas, which gives us the word deacon, which is simply one of the words for servant. So the test for deacons is whether they remind believers of the truth, not whether they are popular. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets”, Luke 6:26.
Nourished up in the words of faith and sound doctrine- having been himself instructed in the truth of the Christian faith, Timothy’s soul was nourished and fortified for his task of teaching others. As the Lord Jesus said to the Devil, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God”, Matthew 4:4. If Christ was fortified by the word of God as He resisted the Evil One, so should we be.
Words of faith are words that encourage, confirm, and deepen faith, with the emphasis on the effect. Words of sound doctrine are words which build strong spiritual constitutions. The apostle John knew that the young men were strong because “the word of God abideth in you”, 1 John 2:14.
Whereunto thou hast attained- the word is literally “to go alongside of”. Timothy had taken gone up to the truth and made his stand alongside of it, as one stands alongside a friend. It is only because he has done this that he can be a help to others.

4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

But refuse profane and old wives’ fables- profane is the opposite to spiritual; old wives’ is opposite to sensible; tales is opposite to substantial. Elizabeth and Anna were old, and they were or had been wives, but they certainly did not tell old wives’ tales, for in the case of Elizabeth, she spoke of the unborn Christ as her Lord, Luke 1:43, and Anna “spake of Him” also, Luke 2:38.
Superstition, such as old wives’ tales are, if received and believed, leads to more sinister things. It is the Devil’s way of introducing to demon doctrines.
And exercise thyself rather unto godliness- a godly person is by definition concerned about pleasing God, and fearing to displease Him. He will not be helped by the empty babblings of men. Christianity is not mere theory, but consists of principle, and then practice. Timothy should cultivate the constant use of spiritual faculties that are well-versed in the truths of the faith.

4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

For bodily exercise profiteth little- compared to spiritual exercise, physical exercise is insignificant. We need to look after our bodies, for they are the temple of the Holy Spirit; but that does not mean pamper them. Paul is not saying that physical exercise is not useful, for we can be sure that Dr Luke, his companion, would assure him that it was. So it is not that bodily exercise is useless, but its effects are limited to the well-being of the body. Spiritual exercise is vital to the soul.
But godliness is profitable unto all things- it affects every part of us, mind, soul, and body included.
Having promise of the life that now is- godly people are happier, and generally healthier.
And of that which is to come- the more godly we are now, the more we shall be fitted to enjoy heaven. All believers will be perfectly joyful in heaven, but some will have greater capacity for joy.

4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation- the teaching of verse 8 is reliable advice, and worthy of serious and wholehearted consideration and acceptance by believers. But that acceptance should be followed by action.

4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach- the “for” links back to the previous verse, but the “therefore” has to do with the “because” of the next phrase. Paul trusts, therefore he labours. He does not suffer reproach for accepting the truth, but because he labours to promote it in the hearts of others.
Labour involves spiritual exercise, and also physical and mental effort. The godly exercise Paul has been advocating tones the spiritual muscles to work hard for God. Because the truth is not accepted by the natural mind, those who promote it will inevitably be rejected and ridiculed.
Because we trust in the Living God- this is the reason the apostle was enabled to labour and suffer hardship, because God is the Living God, and He can be relied on to energetically care for His people, both physically and spiritually.
Who is the Saviour of all men- that is, as Creator He provides and preserves all in His providential goodness. He “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust”, Matthew 5:45. As Paul told the men of Lystra, He is “The living God…and gave us rain from heaven, filling our hearts with food and gladness”, Acts 14:15,17. He gives “life and breath and all things”, Acts 17:25. Some, alas, forfeit His care by their folly. Such should not blame God but themselves.
Specially of those that believe- because they live lives in harmony with His laws, believers gain more of the benefit of God’s kind provision. God has special love for His people, and cares for them as they seek to give their lives up to His interests.

4:11 These things command and teach.

These things command and teach- so these things cannot be matters of little importance if the apostle needs to command them. They need to be taught as well, so that believers understand why the command is given from God.
The apostle now gives Timothy what we might think of as an eight-point spiritual exercise plan, giving eight rules for spiritual prosperity.

4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

First rule:
Let no man despise thy youth- Timothy would be about 35 years old at this point. He had a difficult task to perform on behalf of the apostle, sometimes involving the rebuke of elders. He needs to have moral authority. Age does not give that authority, but spirituality does. Believers should learn to accept the truth whoever is the mouthpiece.

Second rule:
But be thou an example of the believers- Timothy must not rely on the fact that he was sent by the apostle. He must be a good representative of the gospel in his conduct, living out what he taught. Of course, Christ is the supreme example, and the unsaved should not be allowed to make an excuse out of the faults of believers, for “Christ is all”, Colossians 3:11.
Timothy should be a sample of what an ideal believer is like. Six things are listed, (six is the number of man), covering every department of life. He was to work out the teaching that the apostle had given as found in the epistle to the Ephesians. In this way he would be a living example of the teaching of the apostle to the believers in the assembly at Ephesus.
In word- what he said, especially as he taught the truth to them. “Let no corrupt communication come out of thy mouth…but that which is good to the use of edifying”, Ephesians 4:29.
In conversation- how he lived amongst them. Conversation is not just speech, but actions and attitudes too. “Put off concerning the former conversation the old man…put on the new man”, Ephesians 4:22,24. The actions and attitudes that are like Adam’s are to be replaced by actions and attitudes that are like Christ’s.
In charity- his attitude as he responded to them. Walk in love, Ephesians 5:2.
In spirit- how he worshipfully responded to God, who is a Spirit, John 4:24. Because Timothy had the Spirit of God within, he was able to respond to God with true worship. “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess: but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…giving thanks for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”, Ephesians 5:18,19,20.
In faith- how he trustfully responded to circumstances. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith”, Ephesians 3:17. He should react in faith as Christ did.
In purity- how he lived a holy life, pure in morals and doctrine. “But fornication, and all uncleanness, let it not be once named among you”, Ephesians 5:3.

Third rule:
4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Till I come, give attention to reading- this would refer to the public reading of Scriptures, a very important part of assembly gatherings. When the people were gathered together in Nehemiah’s day, “they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading”. Paul exhorted the Colossians to read that epistle, and also the one from Laodicea, Colossians 4:16. In those days there was just one copy per assembly, so it was important that it be publicly read for all to hear. There is a special blessing for the one who does this public reading, as Revelation 1:3 makes clear, “blessed is he that readeth”. Those who produced the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible had the public reading of the Scriptures in mind, as well as private reading. Most will admit that it has no equal in this respect. In fact, it has no equal in any respect.

The word of God should be read:
Accurately, for every word is from God. The punctuation should be observed, and the correct length of pause that each kind of punctuation mark represents should be given.
Slowly, but not so slowly as to become dreary.
Intelligently, giving emphasis in the right places.
Soberly, remembering it is not a drama session.
Audibly, so that all with reasonably good hearing may hear easily.
Confidently, not hesitatingly.
All these things will need practice, and it would be a good idea for those who read publicly to practice at home. It goes without saying that regular eye tests will help to prevent mistakes occurring through bad eye-sight.

To exhortation- the saints need to be exhorted and encouraged, for the world is a hostile place, and we can easily become downhearted if we are not regularly reminded of our blessings and our responsibilities.
To doctrine- believers need to be reminded constantly of the truths of the faith. This is needful not only because it glorifies God, but also so that familiarity with the truth will fit us to earnestly contend for the faith, and enable us to give the reason for the hope that is in us to those who ask about Christian things, 1 Peter 3:15.

Fourth rule:
4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

Neglect not the gift that is in thee- every believer has one or more gifts, the manifestation of the indwelling Spirit, 1 Corinthians 12:7. Those gifts are like the abilities the different parts of our bodies have, which work together for the good of the body. The apostle uses the example of the human body when he writes about gifts in 1 Corinthians 12. However, the gifts he lists in that chapter are all withdrawn, so we look to Romans 12:1-8 for the gifts that are available for us today. They are few in number, it is true, but there is plenty of scope for all the brothers and sisters in their respective spheres.
Which was given thee by prophecy- the prophets in the assembly where he was originally, discerned Timothy’s gift, the Holy Spirit spoke though them, indicating that Timothy’s gift was such as needed public recognition, as happened with Paul himself, and Barnabas at Antioch, Acts 13:1,2. It was not that prophets foretold that Timothy would have a gift.
With the laying on of the hands of the presbytery- the elders of the assembly, alerted to the mind of the Spirit by the prophets, were agreed and showed their fellowship. The presbytery is the body of elders in an assembly. See Acts 13:1,2 again.

Fifth rule:
4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

Meditate upon these things- Timothy is to give serious heed to apostolic instruction, and think about the implications. We live in a world of rush and bustle. Time to sit and meditate is not easily available. The true believer overcomes in this situation, and makes time for the contemplation of the things of God.

Sixth rule:
Give thyself wholly unto them; that thy profiting might appear to all- be single-minded about spiritual things in private, and others will benefit publicly, whether saved or unsaved. It should be the exercise of those who are younger to be concerned about the use of their gift, and to order their lives so that time may be given to its development. If other things have to be foregone, then so be it. As the Lord Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness”, Matthew 6:33.

Seventh rule:
4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Take heed unto thyself- the cultivation of personal godliness is the vital basis of an effective ministry of any kind. The service of God cannot be carried out effectively by those who are carnal. Those who are in the public eye because of the particular gift they seek to use, must be careful that their personal lives are in harmony with what they teach and preach. It was the charge levelled against the Pharisees by the Lord Jesus that “they say, and do not”, Matthew 23:3.
And unto the doctrine- this is the basis of everything, both the personal and the public. There is no substitute for a thorough knowledge and understanding of the doctrines of the faith. Note that the apostle is very definite, for he refers to “the” doctrine. To him there was no alternative to Christian truth. As we see from his address before the philosophers of Athens, he was aware of the ideas of men, but he had rejected them in favour of the truth from God found in the Christian gospel. As Jude put it, it is “the faith once delivered”, Jude 3. It is “all the truth” as the Lord Himself said, John 16:13, into which the apostles were guided by the Spirit of truth.

Eighth rule:
Continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt save thyself, and them that hear thee- perseverance in the truth will save Timothy from the pitfalls in the pathway of faith, and enable him to be of help to others, that they might be saved from stumbling too.