Introductory Note to Chapter 4
The third chapter states the doctrine of the faith; the fourth speaks of the departure from it, under the instigation of evil spirits acting through human agents (vv. 1-5). In view of this Timothy needed to give particular heed both to himself and to his teaching, bearing in mind how the Lord had called him and qualified him (or his difficult task (vv. 6-16).
Verse 1. But the Spirit saith expressly, – the Apostle does not say by what means the predictions given by the Holy Spirit came to him. Some think that he had obtained them from fellow-Apostles who had companied with the Lord in the days of His flesh, and had listened to His teaching, or that his knowledge of the Old. Testament had provided him with what he was now declaring. Neither of these ideas is satisfactory. That the Apostle did not rely upon human testimony is clear from the first and second chapters of Galatians. That he received communications direct from the Lord is evident from 1 Cor. 11. 23, 1 Thess. 4. 15 and other passages. We may gather, therefore, that what lie was about to say he had received by direct Divine communication.
that in later times – strictly, in times future to that in, which the Epistle was written. The phrase, however, seems to cover the whole period of this age. The word rendered “times” (kairos) denotes seasons, i.e., periods characterized by some spiritual or moral feature, as distinct from chronos, which marks a period as to its length. In 2 Tim. 3. 1 the phrase “the last days looks, not through the whole of the present era, but to the last part of it, when iniquity will have reached its height.
some shall fall away from the faith, – corresponding to this verb aphistemi, to depart, or fall away, is the noun apostasia, whence our English word “apostasy.” This is defined in Josh, 22. 23 as a “turning away from following Jehovah,” and in Heb. 3. 12 as “falling away from the living God,” as Israel did in the wilderness. Acts 7. 39-41, “The faith” is the sum, or body, of Christian doctrine. Departure from it had already begun in the Apostle’s time, but the special errors here referred to arose shortly afterward and were; prolific in their effects, leading to a general defection from the Scriptures of Truth.
giving heed to seducing spirits – for the word rendered “giving heed.” see Note on 1. 4. The statement looks behind the physical human agents to the invisible powers of darkness, which, acting under Satan, assiduously endeavour to lead1 astray the children of God and to keep unbelievers in the bonds of evil doctrine.
and doctrines of devils, – the word rendered “devil” is daimonia, demons, and should always be so rendered; it is not a diminutive of daiman, a demon, but is the neuter of the adjective daimonios, pertaining fee a demon. There is only one Devil, There are hosts of his spiritual agents, part of whose evil doing is to disseminate errors among men and to seek to seduce believers.
Verse 2. through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, – the word “hypocrisy” is derived from the Greek stage. It was a custom for Greek and Homan actors to speak in large masks with mechanical devices for augmenting His force of the voice; hence it became used metaphorically of a dissembler. Believers are to be free from all that sort at thing, Jas, 3, 17.
The phrase “of men that speak lies” represents the one word pseudologos, an adjective literally signifying “false speaking”; it occurs here only in the Greek Bible. Such men are agents through whom demons exercise their influence.
branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron; – the word translated “branded” signifies to burn in with a branding iron (that is to say, the word in the best texts; a variant reading, slightly different, signifies to mark by branding, an act not quite so severe as that indicated by the word represented in the R.V.). The men referred to are void of moral sensitiveness. If the reference, however, is to the penal branding of criminals or to the branding of slaves, it would mark these hypocrites as conscious of their own guilt, both, in their own evil living and in smelting to lead others into a similar course.
Verse 3. forbidding to marry, – two Jewish sects, the Essenes and Therapeute, were already advocating abstinence from marriage as meritorious, and the warning would perhaps be especially against their doctrines. The Apostle makes dear that such teaching was antagonistic to the ordinance of God. These earlier sects were the precursors of the monastic system of Christendom. In the first period of the 4th century, the insistence of the celibacy of the clergy in the Romish system was put forward tentatively; ere long it became rigidly enforced. Whilst the Apostle’s prediction has a wider scope than this particular form of celibacy, it is not without a bearing upon it.
What an individual believer may decide for himself is quite a different matter (Matt, 19. 12, 3rd sentence).
The verb holuo more usually signifies to hinder or restrain. Certain cults, such as that of Spiritism, advocate the abandonment of the marriage bond, an indication of the lawlessness of the last days.
and commanding to abstain from meats, – what has been mentioned above as to the teaching of various Beets, religious systems and cults, holds good in respect of the imposition of this restriction. The cults increased in number, and Chrysostom (in the latter part of the 4th century) speaks in this connection of the Manicheans, the Encratites and the Marcionites, all of which advocated this and other forms of asceticism.
which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth, – this is the first of three reasons given for resisting the errors just mentioned: (1) God’s purpose, (2) His beneficence, (3) His benediction.
The phrase rendered “to be received” occurs here only in the Greek Bible; lit., it is “for reception” (eis, unto or for: metalepsis, a reception). The use of this noun instead of a verb serves to emphasize the act of receiving (contrast the verb in verse 4).
God’s provision for all men (cp. Acts 14. 17 and Rom. 2. 4) is not here in view; the subject is confined to the attitude of believers in His Word, and no one has a right to enjoin or enforce religious abstinence upon them. Their partaking of food should never be unaccompanied by the uplifting of the heart in thanksgiving to God.
Verse 4. For every creature of God is good, – this gives the second reason for resisting the imposition of the restrictions mentioned (see preceding Note).
The word ktisma, “creature” (or “creation,” A.V. marg.), is used here only in Paul’s writings; it occurs also in Jas. 1. 18, Rev. 5. 13 and 8. 9; it means a created thing; ktisis is the usual word; ktisma especially marks the creature as the concrete thing, the product of a creative act; ktisis often has this meaning, but primarily stresses the creative act in its process, e.g., Rom. 1. 20 and Gal. 6. 15. Ktisma is probably used here to lay stress on the creature as being the handiwork of God.
The word kales, “good” signifies the absolute worth of a thing: agathos denotes what is beneficial (see Note in verse 6) and, whilst the food which God provides is beneficial, yet the word kalos here has the same significance as in Gen. 1. 31 (where the Septuagint has this word).
The restrictions in the ceremonial code of the Law were given to Israel not simply for their material benefit, but to enforce their moral separation to God as His earthly people.
and nothing is to be rejected,’ – for the believer nothing which tan rightly be made use of as food is to be accounted as unclean (see, e.g., Mark 7. IS and Rom. 14. 14). The commandments issued by the errorists against whom the Apostle is speaking were a slur – upon God’s character, and a hindrance to the full enjoyment of the effects of the believers’ relation to Him.
The word apobletos, “rejected” (A.V., “refused”) is used here only in the Greek Bible, It consists of apo, from or away, and ballo, to cast or throw.
The K.V. takes the word rendered “nothing” as the subject of the verb “is” understood.
if it be received with thanksgiving: – The Lord invariably gave thanks before giving food to others, e.g., Matt. 15. 36; Mark 8. 6; John 6. 11, 23, where the repetition marks it with special emphasis; cp. Luke 22. 19; 1 Cor. 11. 24. That it was the invariable practice of believers to do so for their food, as received from God, is clear from Acts 27. 35; Rom. 14, 6; 1 Cor. 10, 30, and here in 1 Tim. 4. 4, S it is laid down as the will of God and as conditional for His blessing. Let no believer ever Tail to do so in public or private, and let not the thanksgiving be a mere repetition of customary words, or a formal thing degenerating into lip-service, but let it be the outpouring of the heart in deep gratitude to the Giver.
for this introduces the third reason for resisting the errors specified.
Verse 5. it is sanctified it is set apart for the use of believers for His glory; hagiazo signifies to consecrate, to make holy, to set apart to God (cp. 2 Tim. 2. 21); here the present tense indicates a continued and recurring sanctification,
through the Word of God and prayer the former may indicate that God has pronounced it clean, the latter that prayer is to be offered for His blessing upon it. It seems to have been a custom among the Jews and early believers to quote come portion of Scripture in their prayers on the occasion of taking food, and the reference may be to this. An example occurs in the Apostolical Constitutions (a collection of ecclesiastical regulations falsely supposed to have been drawn up by the Apostles), where the following thanksgiving and prayer are mentioned; “Blessed be Thou, O Lord, Who hast fed me from my youth. Who givest food to all flesh. Fill our hearts with joy and gladness, that, having always all sufficiency, we may abound unto all good works, in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Introductory Note to Verses 6-16
While giving admonition to others concerning the things which bad been mentioned, Timothy himself was now exhorted to fulfil in his own life the practical piety which the truths of the faith are designed to effect. The exercise of godliness would reap its own benefit in this life and its reward hereafter (verses 6-8). The discharge 0/ his duty in ministering to, and caring for, the saints would need courage, backed up by a godly example in character and conduct (verses 11, 12). Three particulars of his oral ministry receive special notice, the public reading of the Scripture, exhortation, and teaching. This required diligence and devotedness, with resulting manifest progress (verses 13-15). By constantly taking heed to himself and his teaching he would save both himself and his hearers (verse 16),
Verse 6. If thou put the brethren in mind of these things, the word adelphoi, brethren, is here used of believers without distinction of sex, as, e.g., in Acts I. 15; Rom. 1. 13; 1 Thess. 1.4; it is the usual description and mode of address in the N.T. (in which the word ‘sisters’ is never used of believers except in 1 Tim. 5. 2). To address a company of men and women in Christ as ‘ brethren’ is therefore in accordance with the Scriptures.
The word rendered “put… in mind” is hupotithemi, lit. to place under, and might be translated ‘set before,’ i.e. by way of exposition. Elsewhere it is used in Horn. 16. 4, of laying down the neck, i.e. of risking the life.
thou shalt be a good minister of Christ Jesus, diakonos, “minister,” is not hero used in the ecclesiastical sense, it means a servant; it is the word rendered “deacons” in ch. 3. S, where see Note; kalos, good as in ver. 3 (where see Note), describes that which is intrinsically good, that which is well adapted to the purpose intended; in 5. 10, 25, and 6. 18 it describes that which is ethically good, right, noble, honourable; it is to be distinguished from agathos, good in character or constitution and beneficial in effect, as in 1. 5, 19; 2. 10; 5. 10.
nourished in the words of the faith, The A.V. “the words of faith” would seem to mean the words in which faith is expressed, faith being, subjectively, the belief of believers. That the article points on the contrary, to the objective sense, the “body of Christian doctrine,” is confirmed by the next clause. This being so, the mention of “the words,” instead simply “of the faith,” indicates the importance of the very words in which the teaching of the Scripture is expressed.
and of the good doctrine “good” is kalos, as in the former part of the verse. For didaskalia, “doctrine,” see 1. 10 and 4. 1, where, as here, and in 6. 1 and 3, it denotes that which is taught, whereas in 4. 13, 16 (see the R.V.) and 5. 17, it denotes teaching, instruction.
which thou hast followed until now: the A.V., “where onto thou hast attained,” does not give the moaning adequately. The word parakoloutheo, a strengthened form of akoloutheo, to follow, signifies to follow closely. It here suggests that discipleship which both receives the truth and diligently practises it, the great essential in all real spiritual progress and Divinely-owned ministry to others.
Verse 7. but refuse profane and old wives’ fables. The verb paraiteomai, here rendered “refuse,” conveys the thought of having nothing to do with, or of rejecting. The word bebelos, “profane” is used in 1. 9 of persons, here of things; it suggests that which is void of all connection with, or relation to, God. For noun muthos (Eng. myth), “fables,” see 1. 4. The adjective graodles, “old wives,” signifying “old-womanish” (from gratis, an old woman), is used here only in the Greek Bible. The article, which precedes the whole clause in the original, points to the silly stories and myths current at the time which gave rise to trivial teachings; such myths were common in Jewish lore, in the Rabbinical schools, the history of the nation was surrounded by profitless legends. These are to be distinguished from the doctrines of demons (v. 1) which propagated Gnostic errors.
And exercise thyself unto godliness: – the verb gumnazo, (whence Eng. gymnast, etc.) is in the present tense, implying a constant exercise, a spiritual training which must not be discontinued. Godliness, of which the discipline is the motive and aim, involves fellowship with God, which can be cultivated only by constant meditation in the Word of God and by the habit of prayer. Godliness, thus maintained, involves our overcoming every kind of enticement to evil and our living so as to please God.
Verse. 8. for bodily exercise is profitable for a little; this gives a more accurate rendering than the A.V. The preposition pros, preceding “a little,” has the same significance as in the next statement, where it is repeated; there, “for all things” is set in contrast to “for a little” in the present clause. Bodily exercise is profitable so far as pertains to this life, whereas godliness has promise both of this life and of the next. In Jas. 1, 14 the same phrase means “for a little while.” The phrase “bodily exercise” is perhaps to be taken in the most comprehensive way. Some have taken it in the limited sense of gymnastic exercises as in training for the games. While the Apostle uses this illustration in 1 Cor. 9. 25 (“every man that striveth in the games”), he says in the application “but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage” (verse 27); this is something different from mere bodily exercise in the way of physical training. He is certainly not commending the false Jewish asceticism mentioned above in 1 Tim. 4. 3, for that, like the asceticism of the Gnostics, was the product of seducing spirits. In whatever way we treat the body, the disciplinary exercise, whether physical or otherwise, should have as its aim the maintenance of mind and body as the Lord’s instruments, placed at His disposal for His service. The exercise should be regulated both in character and amount with this in view.
but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life, which now is, and of that which is to come, it has promise of this life because it brings the highest present happiness; the one who exercises himself in godliness enjoys communion with God, and goes from strength to strength. He learns to know his God, and this knowledge brings to him the Divine power which has granted him “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. I. 3). His life becomes filled with Christ, and Christ is magnified in his body.
That is how godliness is profitable in this life. For this very reason it is also profitable for the life that is to come. For the believer who so lives here will have the greater capacity to serve the Lord in His eternal Kingdom hereafter. If we only realized this more we should devote ourselves more strenuously to be godly now, making it our highest aim, our great ambition, to be well pleasing to Him. Could we but actually see what is wrapped up in those words “having promise of that (life) which is to come.” we should certainly keep before us the prize of our calling in Christ, and determinedly abandon everything that is inconsistent with His will.
Verse 9. Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation. This refers to what has immediately preceded; by contrast, see 1, 15, where the statement refers to what follows.