4:1 A Falling Away Predicted
SUMMARY OF I TIMOTHY 4:
An Apostasy in Latter Times. Some of the Marks of That Apostasy. Directions to Timothy in View of This. The Preacher to Be an Example. To Take Heed to Himself.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly. In revelations made to Paul and other inspired men. See 2Th 2:3.
In the latter times. In future times. How far away is not indicated.
Some shall depart from the faith. There shall be an apostasy. Compare 2Th 2:3. Some of the marks of this apostasy are now given.
Giving heed to seducing spirits. The apostle seems to recognize a preternatural element which speaks by false prophets, in false utterances which claims to be from God. These seducing spirits might work through hierarchs, who claimed to speak for God, or through councils which claimed to make infallible utterances.
Doctrines of demons. Doctrines suggested by demons. The Greek daimonion, demon, not devil, always refers in the New Testament to an evil spirit.
4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy. Rather, Through the hypocrisy of men, speaking lies (Revised Version).
Having their conscience seared. The liars just mentioned. The sensitiveness of their consciences is destroyed by the brand of the devil.
4:3 Forbidding to marry. Not long after Paul's time the superior holiness of the unmarried life began to be preached in the church, and this resulted at last in monasticism and a celibate clergy.
[Commanding] to abstain from meats. The ascetic practices which began to grow up in the church a little later extended to foods. To eat the least palatable food which would sustain life was counted a virtue. These ascetics generally forbade animal food, and some lived only on bread and water. These practices are still found among certain orders of the Latin and Eastern churches.
Which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving. The foods which God hath created are for use, to be eaten thankfully by those who
believe and know the truth, instead of having their minds darkened by delusions.
4:4 For every creature of God [is] good. Everything God had created is good and has its proper use.
And nothing to be refused. Hence, it is not to be refused as sinful. This applies to what God has created. He did not create one drop of alcohol.
4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. The food we eat is made holy when we offer thanks to God for it and pray his blessing upon it. This passage shows that the early saints were always wont to offer thanks before eating.
4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things. Impress upon them what has just been written.
Thou shalt be a good minister. Thus shall Timothy well discharge his office, and prove himself a faithful minister.
4:7 Refuse profane and old wives' fables. The foolish myths and legends of the heathen, and also the marvelous additions which Jewish rabbis had made to the Old Testament. Reject all these.
Exercise thyself [rather] unto godliness. Train thyself to a godly life, as a gymnast trains himself to bodily exercise.
4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little. The Greeks gave great attention to bodily training. At Ephesus, where Timothy was, may still be seen the remains of the stadium where the athletes displayed their skill. Let Christians display the same assiduity in training for godliness.
Godliness is profitable in all things. Godly training makes men happier, more prosperous, more healthy here, and in addition it prepares them for the life to come. The way to reach heaven is not either to starve or to exercise the body.
4:9 This [is] a faithful saying. A trustworthy saying. See 1Ti 4:8.
4:10 For therefore. On account of the eternal life which godliness insures.
We labour and suffer reproach. Compare 2Co 11:21-27.
4:11 These things. Especially what has been embraced in 1Ti 4:8-10.
4:12 Let no man despise thy youth. The remainder of the chapter is personal. Timothy was much younger than Paul, much younger than most of the presbyters, but he must have been fully thirty-five years old. He was converted about A.D. 46 and was then a young man, quite young, according to the ideas of that age, to be over presbyters. In A.D. 51, Paul had taken him away from home (Ac 16:1-3). I suppose that he must have been twenty at that time. If so, he was from thirty-five to thirty-eight years old at this time.
Be thou an example of the believers. So should every preacher be, and in all the characteristics which follow.
4:13 Give attendance to reading. To the reading of the Scriptures to the people. In that age, when printed books were unknown, the knowledge of the Scriptures had to be communicated in this way.
To doctrine. To instruction.
4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee. The allusion is to special spiritual gifts given to him to fit him for the duties of an evangelist. These were given, and were essential, in that first age.
Which was given thee by prophecy. As the Spirit at Antioch said to the prophets, Separate for me Paul and Barnabas (Ac 13:2), I suppose a revelation was given that Timothy was to be set apart, and that he would be spiritually endowed for his work.
With the laying on of the hands by the presbytery. He was ordained in the usual way, and at the ordination the Spirit conferred upon him new gifts. It must be borne in mind that the ancient evangelists had no New Testament to guide them, and hence needed special qualifications.
4:15 Meditate upon these things. Rather, Let these things be thy special care.
Give thyself wholly to them. The preacher must be heart and soul in his work in order to succeed.
4:16 Take heed unto thyself. This is the special duty of every minister. Let him watch himself first of all.
And unto the doctrine. Take heed what you teach.