1 Timothy 4


‘The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.’ 1 Timothy 4:1-3

The Holy Spirit had moved inspired men, 1 Peter 1:20-21 / 1 Peter 2:1-2, to foretell the ‘abandoning of the faith’ mentioned here by Paul, 2 Thessalonians 2:5 / 1 John 2:18 / Revelation 20:1-15, however it’s not certain, whether Paul means to say that this was a revelation ‘then’ made to him, or whether it was a well-understood thing as taught by the Holy Spirit.

Some believe this ‘abandoning of the faith’ is a reference to Jesus’ prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24:23-24. Others believe this ‘abandoning of the faith’ is a reference to Paul’s warning to the Ephesians elders, Acts 20:23-30. Still others, believe this ‘abandoning of the faith’ is a reference to Paul’s warnings over in 2 Thessalonians 12:1-12.

Please note the words, ‘the faith’, this isn’t referring to people abandoning their ‘belief’ in God, rather they are abandoning God’s Word, Acts 6:7 / Acts 4:22 / Colossians 1:23 / 1 Timothy 1:19 / Jude 1:3.

The abandoning of the faith will take place in ‘later times’, Hebrews 1:2, that is, sometime after Paul had written these words to Timothy, Acts 20:29 / 2 Thessalonians 2:3 / 2 Timothy 3:1. In the context of the letter, this falling away will take place sometime during the first century church.

It’s during this time that many will not only abandon their faith, and be led astray, 1 Timothy 4:13 / 1 John 4:1-3 / Revelation 16:14 / Romans 16:17-18, but also ‘follow deceitful spirits’. These spirits are working in and through the false teachers, 1 John 4:2 / 1 John 4:3 / 1 John 4:6, as they teach error instead of truth, 1 Kings 22:22.

It’s during this time that many will not only abandon their faith, and be led astray, ‘follow deceitful spirits’ but also they will follow ‘things taught by demons.’ James 3:15 / 2 Corinthians 11:15.

Coffman, in his commentary says the following.

‘Most scholars accept ‘doctrines of demons’ in this passage subjectively, that is, doctrines taught by demons (through men); but there is a very possible interpretation which construes this as meaning ‘doctrines regarding demons’, and, as every Roman emperor upon his death became a demon to be prayed to, the historical church herself finally began offering prayers ‘to’ its dead saints, which most certainly fulfils the definition of ‘doctrines of demons’ understood objectively.’

The false teaching was done ‘through hypocritical liars’, in other words, they were sheep in wolves clothing, they were false teachers within the church, Matthew 7:15-20 / Acts 20:29-20.

Their consciences had been seared with a hot iron, in other words, they would teach one thing but live contrary to what they taught. Paul is referring to the ancient practice of branding a criminal on the forehead with a distinguishing mark. Here though, it wasn’t their forehead that was branded with a hot iron, but their conscience instead.

Paul gives two examples of the false teachers teaching, ‘they forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods.’ As with most false teaching, at first glance, it sounds right as there are elements of truth within it.

The Scriptures do speak of the benefits of being single, 1 Corinthians 7:25-35, and the Scriptures do speak of fasting, Matthew 6:16-17 / Matthew 9:14-15, and abstaining from certain foods, Acts 15:20.

The problem with what they were teaching was they were implying that a person couldn’t be saved unless they practiced these things, Ephesians 2:8. They taught that Christians could be justified in God’s eyes, and they would be more holy if you didn’t marry, and if you didn’t eat certain foods, Philippians 3:9.

‘For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.’ 1 Timothy 4:4-5

All food created by God is good and He produces the food to that we can sustain our lives in our bodies, Mark 7:18-19 / Acts 10:9-16 / James 1:17. No food is to be ‘rejected’, which means we’re not restricted in our diets.

Notice that our food is ‘consecrated by the word of God’, in other words the reason for food is revealed through His Word. The food is ‘consecrated’, that is set apart for our benefit, Genesis 1:29-30 / Genesis 9:3 / Psalm 104:14.

It’s through prayer that we give thanks to God and we must always give thanks to the One who provides our food, Deuteronomy 8:7-10 / Matthew 14:19 / Matthew 15:36 / Matthew 26:26-27 / Luke 22:17-18 / Acts 27:35.

‘If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.’ 1 Timothy 4:6

Paul wants Timothy to be a ‘good minister’ and to do so he would have to inform the brethren about these false teachers, who would cause many to abandon their faith, 1 Timothy 4:1-3. The reason for telling the brethren now is so that when it did happen, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to them.

Timothy now had the responsibility as an evangelist to build up the church and guard the church against any kind of false teaching which would come from within, Acts 20:32 / 2 Timothy 3:13 / 1 Peter 2:2 / Revelation 16:14.

Timothy had been taught ‘the truths of the faith’, notice again, the text says, ‘the faith’, that is God’s Word, 1 Timothy 4:1 / Acts 6:7 / Acts 4:22 / Colossians 1:23 / 1 Timothy 1:19 / Jude 1:3, and he was to continue to teach other the ‘good teaching’, he has received.

‘Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.’ 1 Timothy 4:7-8

Paul tells Timothy to have nothing to do with ‘godless myths’ and ‘old wives’ tales’, 1 Timothy 1:6, in other words, he wasn’t to waste his time discussing them, 2 Timothy 2:16 / Titus 1:14. He should focus his time on teaching God’s Word, not people’s thoughts and theories, 2 Timothy 4:4 / Titus 3:9-11.

Instead he was to train himself to be godly, that is, to have a godly character. Notice Paul uses the benefits of physical training as a metaphor of spiritual training, 1 Corinthians 8:8 / 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Physical training is of some value, but spiritual training in ‘godliness’, is good for the here and now and for eternity.

If we want to have strong physical muscles, we must work out and eat healthily, and if we want to have strong spiritual muscles, we must out spiritually on a strong diet of God’s Word, Matthew 6:11 / 1 Corinthians 3:2 / Hebrews 5:13-14 / 2 Peter 3:18.

When we grow in our understanding of God’s Word, the less chance there will be of getting tossed all over the place by every wind of false teaching which comes along, Ephesians 4:11-16.

‘This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labour and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, and especially of those who believe.’ 1 Timothy 4:9-10

The ‘trustworthy saying’ is in relation to what Paul has just written, when we focus our attention of God’s Word, we enjoy the benefits of God not only of this life but also the life to come, John 10:10.

Paul says the reason he labours so hard and strives so hard is because of the hope he has in the living God, 1 Samuel 17:26 / 1 Samuel 17:36 / Psalm 36:6 / Mark 12:26-27.

Notice that Paul says that the living God is the Saviour of all people, 1 John 2:2 / Hebrews 2:9. He’s not teaching that all people will be saved in the spiritual and eternal sense, Matthew 25:41 / Matthew 25:46 / Revelation 20:11-15.

So, the word, ‘especially’ must mean that all people enjoy God’s salvation in some way like those who believe enjoy His salvation. In other words, Jesus’ work is adequate to save all, but only effective in saving those who come to Him by faith, Matthew 28:19-20 / Mark 16:15-16 / Romans 8:1.

‘Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.’ 1 Timothy 4:11-12

Paul commands Timothy not to preach the speculative opinions and theories of men, 1 Timothy 1:3-4, but he was simply to preach God’s Word. Remember the authority to command anyone to do anything comes from God’s Word not any man, Mark 7:1-9 / 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

It’s very easy to be intimidated when your around older people, especially when your young. He was probably between thirty and forty years old at this point in time, but no one really knows. What we do know is that Paul wants him to be so godly, that no one could look down on him.

He’s reminding Timothy that the authority of what he says wasn’t in him as a man, the authority that was in him was from God. Because Timothy was young, he was vulnerable to the errors of youth which often brings justified criticism of those who are older.

The older Christians within our congregations mustn’t look down on the younger Christians just because they are young. There may be times when the younger Christians amongst us have some deep truths to share with us, Psalm 8:2 / Matthew 21:16.

Paul really wants to encourage Timothy, 2 Timothy 1:6, and he tells him to be ‘an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.’

It’s so important for preachers and teachers to practice what they preach, their lifestyles must reflect what they proclaim, Philippians 3:17 / Titus 2:7 / 1 Peter 5:3.

Paul is encouraging Timothy to show an example in his speech, that is, his manner of conversation 2 Timothy 1:13 / Titus 2:1, his conduct, 1 Timothy 3:15 / Ephesians 4:22 / Philippians 1:27 / Philippians 3:20, in his love towards others, 1 Timothy 1:5 / 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, his faith, 2 Timothy 1:5 / Titus 2:10, and in purity, 1 Timothy 5:2 / 1 Timothy 5:22 / Galatians 5:19-20.

‘Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.’ 1 Timothy 4:13-14

Until Paul arrived, 1 Timothy 3:14-15, Timothy was to devote himself to the public reading of the Scripture, Acts 13:15 / 2 Corinthians 3:14. The purpose for the reading was to continually remind the church that they must listen directly to what God says through preaching and teaching, Hebrews 3:13 / Hebrews 10:24-25.

Timothy was warned to not neglect the gift that God has given him. God gave Timothy supernatural gifts, and he should trust that God will do great things through him. This shows that there was definitely the possibility that gifts and abilities in him could be wasted for eternity, Matthew 25:18.

The miraculous gifts were given through the laying on of the apostle’s hands, Acts 8:18 / Romans 1:11. Paul also mentions that the elders laid their hands on him, Acts 13:1-3, which means they approved and recognised the work Timothy was going to be doing. Apparently, whilst the elders were publicly approving Timothy, the apostle Paul bestowed a miraculous gift at the same time, 2 Timothy 1:6.

‘Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.’ 1 Timothy 4:15-16

Timothy was to be diligent and focus totally on God’s Word, 2 Timothy 2:4. He was to devote his life wholly to this work, he was to have no other purpose for living. His time, attention, talents, were to be absorbed in the proper duties of the work.

He was to do this in order that everyone would see his progress. In other words, if a man really makes progress, it will be seen and appreciated by others but if he doesn’t, that will be seen by his hearers.

Timothy was also warned to watch his life, that is, if he’s careful what he teaches, he will save both himself and those he teaches, 1 Timothy 1:19. He is also warned to watch his doctrine closely, that is, he should hold onto and teach only the truth, 1 Corinthians 4:6.

The point is simply this, every preacher and teacher of God’s Word must watch how they live and watch what they teach because anyone can fall from grace either by how we life or what we teach, Acts 20:28 / 1 Corinthians 10:12 / Colossians 3:14 / 2 Timothy 4:10.

Go To 1 Timothy 5


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

John 3:16