I Timothy Brief Study Notes

Chapter Four

Verses 1-3: “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; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 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.”  The Spirit [Holy Spirit] spoke distinctly warning of apostasy.  The words of the New Testament came from the Lord, to the Spirit, to inspired men, and then finally to us (Matthew 10:19-20, John 16:13, Acts 2:4, I Corinthians 2:9-13, II Timothy 3:16-17, and II Peter 1:20-21).  The latter times Paul spoke of in verse 1 are a parallel to what Paul said in II Timothy 3:1.  The last days are clearly defined as the New Testament dispensation (Hebrews 1:1-2).  When we talk about someone departing from the faith, we are talking about the one “system of faith” (Ephesians 4:5 and Jude 3).  These individuals will walk away from the truth God has set forth to evil doctrines.  Such is why we are to “try the spirits” (I John 4:1).

The result of their departure from the truth into their “new found faith” is that they are speaking lies resulting in a fake doctrine and fake way of life.  The fact that their “conscience” is seared shows that they are acting against what they know is right.  These false teachers are not being fooled into believing and teaching error, they have chosen to do so.  False teachers are aware of what they are doing and they employ tactics to accomplish their work (II Peter 2:1-3).  One who teaches error, but is truly ignorant, would not be hard to convert (Acts 18:24-28).  One who has made the choice will not honestly seek or listen to reasoning from the scriptures.

Paul spent the first two verses warning of false teachers, now he gets explicit.  He will expose some of the doctrines taught by these individuals.  They will teach against and bind against things God has already approved.  One example cited is marriage.  Marriage was ordained by God in the beginning of the existence of man (Genesis 2:20-25).  Marriage is approved of in the New Testament as well (Matthew 19:4-5 and I Corinthians 7:1-2).  Paul uses marriage to explain the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:22-32).  Even the Apostles were permitted to be married (Matthew 8:14).

Not only will these false teachers forbid marriage, Paul says they will also forbid eating meats.  The only time it would be wrong to eat meats is if it caused our weaker brethren to stumble, otherwise it is a liberty (I Corinthians 8:8-13 cf. Romans 14).  Paul concludes that these things we given to us from God to be received with thanksgiving.

Verses 4-5: “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” There is to be no distinction on what kinds of creatures we can and cannot eat.  It is all good for us.  We must receive these things with thanksgiving (I Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17).  These meats are set aside and useful to us because God has said so.  We ought to offer prayer and be thankful for these things (Matthew 14:19).

Verse 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.”  Continually reminding and warning brethren is a good thing.  Paul did so in Ephesus (Acts 20:28-31).  Paul taught Timothy to continue in warning and if he did so he would be a good minister.  The word minister here is not a title, but simply puts for the meaning of a servant and would be the same as saying “a good servant of Jesus Christ”.  If Timothy does these things it will show that he has been properly brought up in the faith and taught good doctrine.

Verse 7: “But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.”  Paul instructed Timothy to refuse ungodly stories that were commonly passed down through the older women.  The only thing Timothy needs to focus on is the word of God and sticking to it.  He instructed Timothy to exercise godliness instead of falling into listening to these old wives’ stories.

Verses 8-9: “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.  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.”  Our physical activities profit us here and now, but our exercising of spiritual wisdom unto godliness will profit us now and when the Lord returns to judge us based upon our deeds (II Corinthians 5:10 and Revelation 2:10).  Paul concludes by adding that this is a faithful saying and worthy of all to accept.

Verses 10-11: “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.  These things command and teach.”   Paul says “therefore” meaning “to this end” we both labor and suffer reproach.  Keeping what we learned in verses 8-9 that godliness is profitable unto all things, we see that for godliness we suffer reproach (Matthew 5:10-12 and II Timothy 3:10-12).  Our trust in the living God helps bring us through those things we face as we know all things work together for good for us (Romans 8:28).  Paul then says to Timothy that he must teach these things.  That is a good lesson for us.  We should not only receive these things, but also teach them.

Verse 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.”  Paul tells Timothy here not to allow anyone to look down on his youth.  He can avoid having others look down on his youth by being a good example of godly people through his speech (Colossians 3:8), his conduct (Matthew 5:14-16), his love (John 13:34-35; 14:15), his control of passions (I Corinthians 9:27), his faith (James 2:14-26), and his abstaining from sin (I Thessalonians 5:22).

Verse 13: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”  All preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must spend much time in study (John 5:39).  A Gospel Preacher must not only prepare, but keep his faith of which he can only do through the word of God (Romans 10:17).  To exhort is to fulfill what Paul will later tell Timothy again (II Timothy 4:2).  To exhort is encourage.  Finally, Timothy must give attention to doctrine.  If one is to preach truth he must learn and abide in truth less he fall out of fellowship with God and brethren (I John 1:7 and II John 9-11).

Verse 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.”  The gift of preaching was given to Timothy, which was prophesied of, and has been endorsed by the laying on of hands of the elders.  One clear thing is that this gift is not a spiritual gift.  Timothy was given the gift of the Holy Spirit through the hands of the Apostle Paul (II Timothy 1:6).  Therefore, we can confidently conclude that the laying of hands here is the elders appointing Timothy to be a Gospel Preacher which was prophesied aforetime.

Verse 15: “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.” Timothy is told to carefully ponder these things written to him and to fully commit.  One who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:57-62).  In so doing, Timothy’s progress will be shown to all.

Verse 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.”  An ever important fact is made that all teachers must think about.  A good teacher will focus on what they are teaching for their own good and others as well.  A teacher can never begin to be overconfident for that is the time in which they will fall (I Corinthians 10:12).

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