1 Timothy Chapter Four
I. Content of the Chapter
The Knowledge and Practice of God’s Workers to the True and False Godliness
I. God’s workers should guard against “false” godliness (v.1-5):
A. The source of false godliness------deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (v.1).
B. The teachers of false godliness------speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron (v.2).
C. The teachings of false godliness------forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods (v.3a).
D. The countermeasures to false godliness (v.3b-6a):
1. every creature of God is good;
2. foods become sanctified if they are received with thanksgiving by those who know the truth;
3. you should instruct the brethren in these things.
II. God’s workers should exercise themselves toward “true” godliness (v.6b-11):
A. Be nourished and taught in the words of faith and of the good doctrine (v.6b).
B. Reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness (v.7a).
C. Exercise yourself toward godliness and godliness is profitable for all things (v.7b-9).
D. To this end we both labor and suffer reproach and the living God will perfect us (v.10).
E. Also command and teach believers to exercise themselves toward godliness (v.11).
III. The keys that God’s workers exercise themselves toward “true” godliness (v.12-16):
A. Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (v.12).
B. Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine (v.13).
C. Do not neglect the gift that was given to you (v.14).
D. Meditate on these things and give yourself entirely to them (v.15).
E. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine (v.16a).
F. Continue in them (v.16b).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
1Tim. 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,”
YLT: “And the Spirit expressly speaketh, that in latter times shall certain fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and teachings of demons,”
Meaning of Words: “faith”: the way of faith; “deceiving”: seducing, luring, roving; “doctrines”: instructions, teachings.
Literal Meaning: there is the word “but” in the beginning of this verse in the original and it shows that the following words in v.1-5 are contrary to the mystery of godliness above (3:16) and therefore this passage discusses the false godliness.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that” the definite article “the” before “Spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit (See 2Cor. 5:5). The whole sentence means that God gives men the clear and verified revelation through the moving of the Holy Spirit (See 2Pet. 1:21).
“In latter times some will depart from the faith” “in latter times” refers to the time after the Holy Spirit had spoken instead of “the last days” (See 2Tim. 3:1). And therefore when Paul wrote this epistle, the prophecy in 4:1-5 had come true and the heresy of Gnosticism had appeared in the church (See Col. 2:20-23). “Depart from the faith” Paul had declared the similar words again and again (See Acts. 20:30; 2Thess. 2:3).
“Giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” according to the context, “spirits” refer to evil spirits and they are hostile to the Holy Spirit. The plural word “spirits” refers to all devils under the leadership of Satan instead Satan the devil. “Doctrines of demons” is in opposition to sound doctrine.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Holy Spirit guides men into all truth (John. 16:13) but the evil spirits seduce men into departing from the faith.
2) Only when believers obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14) and do not quench the Spirit (1Thess. 5:19) will they be kept from the artifices of evil spirits.
3) Deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons are the two main means of heresies: deceiving spirits stress on mixing truth with falsehood and speciousness (See v.2) and doctrines of demons stress on unreasonableness and reconditeness (See Rev. 2:24).
4) Evil spirits and demons seldom attack believers directly or declare that the truth of the Bible is wrong and their ways are seducing, luring, persuading, deceiving, enticing, charming, deluding, attracting and appearing as light and truth.
5) Doctrines of demons center on men’s selves. The more men pursue doctrines of demons, the prouder men will be made and they will be full of themselves and finally depart from the true God.
6) Actually there is one faith------neither is there salvation in any other (Acts. 4:12) and all that make men become indifferent to and turn away from the pursuit of the Lord are heresies.
7) Departing from the faith is before one’s being deceived by spirits and listening to doctrines of demons. The best way for believers to resist heresies is making no bones about holding fast to the truth.
8) “Giving heed to” implies that one has spent much time in listening to others talk about strange teachings. If we do not want to be deceived, we’d better not give heed to them.
9) Not only God wants to gain men for His use but also Satan wants to possess men for its enslavement. Whether we are used by God or become tools of Satan depends on ourselves and what we intend to do determines our use before God.
10) The threat that the church faces is not from outside but from inside. Believers should pay attention to this and beware that men preach the wrong doctrines and teachings.
11) All heresies are from evil spirits and demons. If Christians want to resist their artifices, we must put on the whole amour of God (Eph. 6:11-17).
1Tim. 4:2 “speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,”
YLT: “in hypocrisy speaking lies, being seared in their own conscience,”
Meaning of Words: “seared with a hot iron”: branded, seared with scars, being seared and becoming insensitive.
Literal Meaning: “speaking lies in hypocrisy” “speaking lies” refer to those who preach heresies and they are of the devil because it is the fathers of liars (John. 8:44). “Hypocrisy” indicates that their teachings are specious. This sentence shows that doctrines of demons (See v.1) are preached among children of God and delude them by those who spoke lies in hypocrisy.
“Having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” this sentence has two different explanations: 1) their conscience has been seared and become insensitive; 2) their conscience has been branded and belongs to Satan (note: in ancient times, slaves and animal were branded with hot irons to show their belonging). At all events, their conscience has lost the ability of discerning right and wrong.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The feature of heresies: the teachings are specious, false, slick and hypocritical which make men hard to see the hypocrisy.
2) If men speak lies and still regard themselves as justified, their conscience will become insensitive as times passes and they will be accustomed to hypocrisy.
3) Lies and hypocrisy could only deceive men for a short while and they will be exposed finally. However, what’s terrible is that when men lose their conscience (Rom. 2:15), they will take things as they are and regard the wrong as the right.
4) When one’s conscience becomes insensitive and cannot discern right and wrong, he will be branded with a mark and fully belong to Satan.
5) Believers should not give room to the devil (Eph. 4:27), lest we be possessed or controlled by it and the consequences would be unimaginable.
6) Those who serve the Lord in the church must have a pure conscience to hold the mystery of the faith (See 3:9). When something is wrong with our conscience, our faith will go bankrupt (See 1:19).
1Tim. 4:3 “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”
YLT: “forbidding to marry -- to abstain from meats that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those believing and acknowledging the truth,”
Meaning of Words: “truth”: genuineness.
Literal Meaning: “forbidding to marry” marriage is ordained by God (Gen. 2:18) and therefore everyone should honor marriage (Heb. 13:4). Only those who have received the special gifts from God are able to not marry (Matt. 19:10-11). The teachings of regarding marriage as dirty and forbidding men to marry not only disobey the will of God but also violate the nature of men and therefore they are doctrines of demons (See v.1).
“And commanding to abstain from foods” it does not refer to the normal fasting of Saints before God (See Matt. 6:16-18; Acts. 13:2-3) but a certain kind of foods and here it specially refers to meats. Though God only gave men vegetables for their food in the begging of His creation (Gen. 1:29), after men’s fall, God also allowed men to eat meats (Gen. 9:3). It shows that without shedding of blood there is no remission (Heb. 9:22). Through commanding to abstain from meats, the deceiving spirits attempt to make men deny the salvation of the Lord Jesus and merely rely on their practice of moral things to be acceptable to God and solve the problems of life.
“Which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” this sentence shows God’s intention to foods: 1) foods are created by God for men; 2) God’s intention is to let men receive foods with thanksgiving; 3) only those who believe and know the truth------Christians------understand God’s such intention.
Apparently, foods are gained by men’s works but actually they are given by God: 1) God is the source of foods because He created foods for men. 2) God gives men the ability (physical strength and intelligence) to gain foods. 3) God gives us the appetite and the normal function of digestion to enjoy foods. 4) God makes foods be the help to our bodies. And therefore we should receive foods with thanksgiving.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The aim of forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from foods is to pursue holiness. Doctrines of demons may not seem to be evil and they are hidden under the kind appearance in order to fool men.
2) Panton said that forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from foods make men develop the power of soul. However, the principle of the Bible is asking Christians to deny the life of soul to find the life of the Spirit (Matt. 16:25).
3) In order to damage the aim that God has ordained men to achieve through marriage (See Gen. 1:28), the devil makes men despise the system of marriage and even has developed a serious of doctrines and teachings that forbid men to marry.
4) In the common religious ideas, men always think that restraining themselves in marriage and foods would make them show the surpassing piety and therefore they did not hesitate to violate men’s physiological needs to advocate forbidding men to marry and commanding to abstain from meats.
5) The hidden motives for religious self-cultivation and self-torture are to show that they are unusual and through these men’s ideas of seeking difference are stirred up and their pessimism and transcendence are pandered to.
6) Appetite and the sexual desire are created by God. We do not commit sins as long as we satisfy the physical desires under normal conditions.
7) Christians should neither give way to their carnal desires nor abstain from desires. We Christians should not accept all teachings that are against this principle.
8) The principle of Christians’ walking is believing and knowing the truth and enjoying every creature of God with thanksgiving.
9) Believing the truth makes us become children of God so that we could partake in every spiritual blessing and knowing the truth makes us know the will of God so that we could make progress in the spiritual life.
1Tim. 4:4 “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving;”
YLT: “because every creature of God good, and nothing to be rejected, with thanksgiving being received,”
Meaning of Words: “good”: fine, kind, perfect.
Literal Meaning: “For every creature of God is good” here “every creature of God” refers to foods that could be enjoyed by men. “Good” indicates that they are profitable to men.
“And nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving” this sentence has two meanings: 1) nothing is to be refused if we receive it with thanksgiving. 2) If we receive foods without thanksgiving, we are indeed ungrateful to God’s goodwill in creating foods for men and therefore we won’t receive God’s blessing.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) All things under the sun are created by God and belong to Him and therefore they are good. Moreover, a sense of need in us is of God and given by Him. And therefore all things profit us as long as we receive them with thanksgiving.
2) Thanksgiving is the first step to recover the relationship between God and men. Because God gives men grace and the grace won’t be practical if men do not thank Him. And once men thank Him, grace will come to them and they will receive grace continually.
3) Thanksgiving is the channel to make grace overflowing and thanksgiving broadens one’s capacity to receive grace.
1Tim. 4:5 “for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
YLT: “for it is sanctified through the word of God and intercession.”
Meaning of Words: “it is sanctified”: make holy, be holy to God.
Literal Meaning: “the word of God” Bible exegetes had several different opinions concerning it: 1) it refers to the words God had said that “God saw that it was good” when He created all things (Gen. 1:12, 21, 25); 2) it refers to the words in the Bible used for thanksgiving (e.g. Ps. 23); 3) it refers to the truth that sanctify men------the word of God (John. 17:17).
“And prayer” refers to the prayer that we thank God for the foods we enjoy and ask Him to sanctify the foods.
“For it is sanctified by…” indicates that the above-mentioned two elements make the foods be holy to God so that those who receive them could be nourished to live for Him. By the will of God all things were created (Rev. 4:11). However, because of the fall of Adam all things were made subject to vanity (Rom. 8:20) and lost their position that they belonged to God for His use. Now “the word of God” tells us that all creatures are given to those who believe and know the truth by the redemption of Jesus Christ (See v.3). If we, according to the word of God, receive all foods with thanksgiving and prayer, the foods will be sanctified by the word of God and our thanksgiving and prayer and belong to God for His use------they are used by God to feed us who belong to God and live for Him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The word of God is of great help to our prayers and supplications: we could not only know how to pray by the word of God but also quote the word of God in our prayers in order to strengthen the effect of our prayers.
2) “The word of God and prayer” are the way by which we understand the will of God. Only when we understand the will of God will our actions be acceptable to God.
1Tim. 4:6 “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”
YLT: “These things placing before the brethren, thou shalt be a good ministrant of Jesus Christ, being nourished by the words of the faith, and of the good teaching, which thou didst follow after,”
Meaning of Words: “instruct”: place underneath, put in remembrance, suggest; “good”: fair, kind, perfect; “minister”: bondman, messenger; “the good doctrine”: good instruction, good teaching; “nourished”: cultivate, nurture, bring up.
Literal Meaning: “If you instruct the brethren in these things” “these things” refers to Paul’s teachings in v.1-5.
“You will be a good minister of Jesus Christ” In the original “minster” is the same with “deacon” in 3:8. However, the word here refers to the minister in the broad sense, i.e. all workers who serve the Lord. And the word in 3:8 refers to the deacon in the narrow sense, i.e. deacons in the church.
“Nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” “the words of faith” refers to the truth of the gospel that one believes. “The good doctrine which you have carefully followed” indicates that Timothy always kept the teachings that Paul had given him. “Nourished” shows that the words that Timothy used to teach others were the clear proof that he had been instructed in the words of faith and of the good doctrine.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) It is “instruct” instead of “command”, showing that the Lord’s workers must be gentle and humble when teaching believers.
2) “Instruct” also shows that these things are known by believers and they do not take notice of them usually. And therefore we are responsible for instructing and exhorting each other.
3) “A good minister of Jesus Christ” refers to those who keep back nothing that is profitable unto believers, lest they may go on the wrong track (See Acts. 20:20, 27).
4) “A good minister of Jesus Christ” is different from “teacher of the law” who teaches letters and doctrines (See 1:7). The former provides Christ to men and the latter draws men away from Christ.
5) “The good doctrine which you have carefully followed” indicates that he bore a witness of life all the time. God’s servants should not only have sincere service but also have good life and work so that our life will work in concert with our work and we will make balanced progress.
6) Every one who serves the Lord should teach himself before he teaches others. In other words, one should not be ignorant of teaching himself but only teach others.
7) We should pray to the Lord for giving us not only the “tongue” of the instructed, that we should help others with words but also the “ear” of the instructed, that we should hear His words (Is. 50:4) .
8) The benefit of those who serve the Lord is that they are served first because of serving others.
1Tim. 4:7 “But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.”
YLT: “and the profane and old women's fables reject thou, and exercise thyself unto piety,”
Meaning of Words: “reject”: decline, avoid; “profane”: worldly, easy to be seduced, violating the holiness, dirty; “fables”: groundless tales, fantastic talk; “godliness”: goodness, piety, likeness to God; “exercise”: take exercise diligently, practise naked (the Greeks were naked when they exercised), train.
Literal Meaning: “But reject profane and old wives' fables” “profane” refers to words unworthy of Saints (See Eph. 4:3-4), including any speech against the truth of the gospel. “Old wives’ fables” refers to the groundless tales that only the ignorant old women are happy accept and spread.
“And exercise yourself toward godliness” “godliness” is that God is manifested in the flesh (See 3:16) and therefore the true godliness is that “as always, Christ shall be magnified in my body” (Phil. 1:20). “Exercise yourself” means that one puts himself before God and is restrained and controlled in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (See v.12) through God’s great power upon him to show the image of God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) This verse shows that exercising toward godliness is highly related to being restrained in words. Those who speak randomly mustn’t be godly.
2) Men’s words shape their moods and states. If we always talk frivolously, we won’t have room for the truth in our hearts and gradually our character will become frivolous.
3) If a Christian wants to exercises himself in the things of God, he must reject “profane” and “old wives' fables” first.
4) Exercising oneself toward godliness is not making the reverent and godly appearance outwardly by men’s effort but letting himself be fully filled by Christ inwardly and outwardly manifest His glorious image in life naturally.
1Tim. 4:8 “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
YLT: “for the bodily exercise is unto little profit, and the piety is to all things profitable, a promise having of the life that now is, and of that which is coming;”
The Background: the ancient Greeks paid special attention to physical training and the well-established gymnasiums (sports grounds) were built almost in every city for young people to exercise. And many young people exercised themselves with the aim of winning in competitions and obtaining a “crown” as reward. However, it was only a corruptible crown (See 1Cor. 9:24-25).
In addition, at that time Greeks were naked when they exercised in gymnasiums and consequently homosexuality was very common and became an open secret. And therefore the morals were quite corrupt.
Literal Meaning: “For bodily exercise profits a little” “bodily exercise” refers to one’s daily exercises to keep healthy. “Profit” refers to profitable, valuable or helpful. “A little” is in opposition to “all things” in the following sentence and it means that it only profits partially, in a few things.
“But godliness is profitable for all things” “all things” refers to things present and things to come (See Rom. 8:38), i.e. all things in this life and the life to come.
“Having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” “promise of the life that now is” refers to all God’s blessing to those who believe in Him (See Matt. 6:33; John. 16:33; Pill. 4:6-7; 1Pet. 5:8-10). “Promise of that which is to come” refers to God’s commitments to those who love Him (See 2Pet. 1:10-11; 2Tim. 2:12; Rev. 2:7, 17; 21:6-7).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Christians should exercise themselves to keep healthy in their daily life so that we could serve the Lord without any hindrance and bear glorious witness for Him.
2) It is not really that Christians should not take part in sports activities to exercise themselves. However, what’s the most profitable is to be reverent and pious in all things because they profit us in this life and the life to come.
3) The physical health is important without a doubt, however, the spiritual health is much more important. A normal Christian should be strong in the Spirit (Eph. 3:16), prosper in soul and be healthy (3John. 2).
4) The true godly Christians would allow the Holy Spirit to control their life. The good virtues of Christians after they have believed in the Lord are the achievement of the working of the Holy Spirit.
5) Christians’ good virtues and godly witness of life before God are the blessing that we receive in this life and they are also the assurance by which we shall receive the eternal blessing in the life to come.
1Tim. 4:9 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.”
YLT: “stedfast the word, and of all acceptation worthy;”
Meaning of Words: “worthy of all acceptance”: of all acceptation worthy.
Literal Meaning: “This is a faithful saying” “This” could refer to “godliness…having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” in v.8 and it also refers to “we trust in the living God…” in v.10.
“And worthy of all acceptance” means it is worthy of our acceptance without reservation.
1Tim. 4:10 “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”
YLT: “for for this we both labour and are reproached, because we hope on the living God, who is Saviour of all men -- especially of those believing.”
Meaning of Words: “labor”: toil, be wearied; “suffer reproach”: contend, competition, race, do one’s most to struggle.
Literal Meaning: “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach” “We” refers to all that do the work of the Lord. “Suffer reproach” indicates that we spare no effort and work diligently according to the spirit of competition and therefore we feel wearied. “To this end” refers to for the promise in v.8.
“Because we trust in the living God” “we trust in” refers to the aim which believers pursue all their life and their reliance. “The living God” He is the aim of our pursuit and the source of our strength.
“Who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” “all men” refers to the world (See 2:4-5). “The Savior of all men” indicates that only Him is able to redeem all men from perdition. “Of those who believe” indicates that only Him is able to redeem believers from the dirtiness of sins and the common customs (i.e. unholiness).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Lord neither promises those who follow Him to live an easy life nor promises us who love Him faithfully to rise in the world. Contrarily, the Lord asks us to work diligently to serve Him and fight difficultly and arduously for Him.
2) Not only the world needs such Savior but also we believers who have been saved need Him because He can not only redeem men from sins (Matt. 1:21) but also redeem us from ourselves (See v.16).
3) He is the Savior of all men, however, He won’t save those who are unwilling to believe in Christ. God is the Savior of believers, however, He won’t help believers who are unwilling to trust in Him.
4) The hope of believers is in the living God because He delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us (2Cor. 1:10).
1Tim. 4:11 “These things command and teach.”
YLT: “Charge these things, and teach;”
Literal Meaning: “These things” obviously includes all the things that Paul mentioned previously.
“Command” in the original is the order in the military, emphasizing that the Lord’s workers have the spiritual authority in guarding the truth.
“And teach” means making men understand the truth and being willing to hold it.
1Tim. 4:12 “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
YLT: “let no one despise thy youth, but a pattern become thou of those believing in word, in behaviour, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity;”
Meaning of Words: “despise”: disesteem; “example”: type, kind, pattern, image.
Literal Meaning: “Let no one despise your youth” at that time “youth” refers to those under the age of forty. Timothy was between thirty and thirty-five probably at that time.
“But…in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” “but” in the original means “becoming continually” “word” one’s words reflect his thinking and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34). Christians should speak truth, which is good to the use of edifying and thanksgiving (Eph. 4:25, 29; 5:4) and should not speak idle talk, lies, corrupt communication and filthiness, foolish talking and jesting that are unworthy of Saints (Matt. 12:36; Eph. 4:25, 29; 5:3-4).
“Conduct” indicates that our conduct should be worthy of the gospel of Christ and the calling with which we were called (Phil. 1:27; Eph. 4:1). And conduct manifests life.
“Love” the starting point of Christians’ behavior should be love, otherwise, the Lord shall be against with us (See 1Thess. 2:7-8; Rev. 2:2-4).
“Faith” without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
“Purity” refers to purity in motives and deeds, without adulteration.
“Be an example to the believers” it shows that the above-mentioned five items are indispensable. “An example to the believers” refers to the pattern worthy of being imitated by believers (See 1Thess. 1:6-7).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) There are always some people judging men according to the flesh in the church and they even despise preachers whom they regarded as inexperienced. And therefore God’s servants should take care in word.
2) The maturity of Christians’ life is shown in the conduct that matches it. One’s any inappropriate conduct could cause others to despise his youth in life.
3) Many young servants of the Lord have vision and zeal, however, they are incautious in word. As a result, their works established by themselves are destroyed by their own words. How unfortunate!
4) Young people are casual in appearance and pay no attention to the minor points of conduct. It is easy for others to be unpleasant to look at them. The Lord’s workers should pay special attention to this, lest others be offended.
5) Common ones love those worthy of our love, however, the Lord’s workers should love those unworthy of love. And therefore the “love” (agape) mentioned here is needed instead of the love of men (phileo). Only such love would edify men in the church.
6) Usually the Lord’s workers are more talented than common believers, however, the talented ones always rely on their own abilities and seldom trust in God. However, doing the works of the Lord is not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord (Zech. 4:6).
7) A pure “heart” is before the clean “hands”. If we want to be clean before God and men, we must be pure in our thoughts and intentions first. We should ask God to search and cleanse our hearts and thoughts (Ps. 139:23).
8) Believers’ life should not lay particular stress on some aspects and should be well balanced, for example: it is unsuitable to be gentle in words but lack the boldness to deal with things; it is unsuitable to be good at teaching others but be unable to do what we teach; it is unsuitable to love men invariably but disregard the truth; it is unsuitable to stress on faith merely but walk without moral standards.
1Tim. 4:13 “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
YLT: “till I come, give heed to the reading, to the exhortation, to the teaching;”
Meaning of Words: “give attention to”: give heed to, take care, cautious, serious.
Literal Meaning: “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” “reading” refers to reading the word of God, epistles and teachings of apostle before the public; “exhortation” refers to applying the word of God to the aspect of life; “doctrine” refers to teaching the word of God systematically.
There is a definite article before reading, exhortation and doctrine respectively in the original, showing that these three things are the routines in the gathering of the church at that time. It is surmised by this that in the primary meeting of the church, they read the scriptures loudly, explained them, exhorted the assembly to practice the teachings in the scriptures and taught all the truth systematically.
“Till I come” it does not mean that after Paul had come, Timothy did not need to do these things but that he should be serious and should not be slack before Paul’s coming.
1Tim. 4:14 “Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.”
YLT: “be not careless of the gift in thee, that was given thee through prophecy, with laying on of the hands of the eldership;”
Meaning of Words: “neglect”: make light of, be carless of, incautious.
Literal Meaning: “Do not neglect the gift that is in you” “gift” is not the natural talent but the strong point given by the Holy Spirit to every man to serve the church (1Cor. 12:4-11).
“Which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership” This sentence shows that “gift” is given by the Holy Spirit, however, “prophecy” and “the laying on of the hands” have played an important role in the process of giving. “Prophecy” is declaring the measurements and functions of the gift in the movement of the Holy Spirit. “The laying on of the hands” refers to the union and communication among members. And therefore the laying on of the hands shows that the one who is laid on, standing in the position of the body, receives the passing on of the gift, just as the ointment ran down upon the members of the body from the head (See Ps. 133:2; James. 5:14-15).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If one wants to accomplish the mission of keeping the truth, it is not enough to rely on faithfulness and zeal merely and he has to use the gift given to him well.
2) Since God has given us the gift, He actually entrusted the responsibility to us and therefore we should not neglect it.
3) None of the gifts are for the individual except the kinds of tongues (See 1Cor. 12:4-11, 14:4). And therefore we should not hide the gift privately like public property.
4) Here when Paul mentioned the gift, he especially mentioned “the laying on of the hands” of the elders, showing that the gift is closely related to the church------the gift is for the church and the church also testifies and strengthens the gift.
1Tim. 4:15 “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.”
YLT: “of these things be careful; in these things be, that thy advancement may be manifest in all things;”
Meaning of Words: “meditate”: look after, take care, take heed, revolve in the mind, consider; “give yourself entirely to”: in, throw oneself into, forget oneself in.
Literal Meaning: “Meditate on these things” “these things” refers to the instructions that Paul gave him in this epistle. “Mediate on” refers to taking care of doing them.
“Give yourself entirely to them” compared to “meditating on”, “giving yourself entirely to” goes a step future. It means that one puts himself into them and tries his best to put them into practice without distraction.
“That your progress may be evident to all” “may be evident to all” refers to being manifested before all. In the original “progress” is from the group of forerunners who move forward in cutting down forests and here it is used to imply that one has to remove hindrance to make progress in life.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If we do not want to be despised by others but be esteemed and approved by others, we must grow in grace and in the knowledge (2Pet. 3:18).
2) On one hand progress is natural (Mark. 4:27-28) and on the other, we involved should meditate to it and give ourselves entirely to it, just as crops in the filed need the diligence and concentration of farmers and then there will be a harvest.
1Tim. 4:16 “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
YLT: “take heed to thyself, and to the teaching; remain in them, for this thing doing, both thyself thou shalt save, and those hearing thee.”
Meaning of Words: “take heed to”: pay attention to, keep watch for closely; “continue”: remain, keep, sustain, not lose heart.
Literal Meaning: “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine” “yourself” refers to one’s own words and deeds, i.e. the so-called teaching by personal examples. “The doctrine” refers to the reasons and teachings that one preaches to others, i.e. the so-called verbal instruction. This sentence means that preachers should pay equal attention to preaching by word and by deed and the two must closely meet each other.
“Continue in them” means that we should preserve in doing it and should not lack perseverance.
“For in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” “save yourself” indicates that one himself gains and experiences first. “Save those who hear you” indicates that one is unlikely to become others’ hindrance.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) It is common that the Lord’s workers “say but do not do” (Matt. 23:3). They teach others and do not teach themselves. Such phenomenon is the greatest reason why their works are of no effect.
2) The trouble of common believers is that they are hearers of the word but not doers (James. 1:22-23). It’s no wonder that those who have heard the word for several tens of years are still babes in Christ (1Cor. 3:1).
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Features of Heresies
II. Giving heed to doctrines of demons (v.1c).
III. Deceiving by speaking lies------hypocrisy (v.2a).
IV. Having their own conscience seared with a hot iron (v.2b).
V. Forbidding to marry (v.3a).
VI. Commanding to abstain from foods (v.3b).
Knowing Heresies and Those Who Preach Heresies
I. Heresies are against the truth------“departing from the truth” (v.1a).
II. Heresies are not of the Holy Spirit------“deceiving spirits” (v.1b).
III. Heresies are against doctrines of God------“doctrines of demons” (v.1c).
IV. Those who preach heresies are not of sincerity------“speaking lies in hypocrisy” (v.2a).
V. Those who preach heresies violate their conscience------“having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (v.2b).
VI. Those who preach heresies neither believe nor know the truth------“those who believe and know the truth” (v.3b).
VII. Those who preach heresies do not thank God------“receive with thanksgiving” (v.3b-4a).
VIII. Those who preach heresies neither believe the word of God nor pray------“the word of God and prayer” (v.5).
The Cultivation of Godly Life
I. The false godliness (v.1-5):
A. Men of false godliness (v.1-2).
B. Teachings of false godliness (v.3a).
C. Countermeasures of false godliness (v.3b-5).
II. The true godliness (v.6-11):
A. Men of true godliness (v.6).
B. The exercises toward true godliness (v.7-9).
C. The source of true godliness (v.10).
D. The spreading of true godliness (v.11).
III. How to cultivate true godliness (v.12-16):
A. Cultivation in life (v.12).
B. Cultivation in works (v.13-14).
C. Giving oneself entirely to them and Continue in them (v.15-16).
Believers’ True Knowledge of Foods
II. Every creature of God is good (v.4a).
III. It is sanctified by the word of God and prayer (v.5).
IV. Foods are to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth (v.3c).
V. Nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving (v.4b).
Ways to Deal with Heresies
II. Be nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine (v.6b).
III. Reject profane and old wives' fables (v.7a).
IV. Exercise yourself toward godliness (v.7b).
V. Labor and suffer reproach in the Lord (v.10).
VI. Command and teach believers things concerning heresies (v.11).
How to Exercise Ourselves toward Godliness
II. Reject profane and old wives’ fables (v.7).
III. Labor and suffer reproach in exercises (v.10a).
IV. Trust in the living God and rely on Him our Savior (v.10b).
V. Be a good example in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (v.12).
VI. Use and develop the gift that is given to you (v.14).
VII. Make progress in life (v.15b).
VIII. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine (v.16a).
IX. Meditate on these things, give yourself entirely to them and continue in them (v.15-16).
Exercises of Believers’ Growth
I. Exercises in Spirit (v.6-10).
II. Exercises in life (v.11-13).
III. Exercises in gifts (v.14-16).
Items Which God’s Workers should Pay Attention to
II. Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (v.12b).
III. Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine (v.13).
IV. Do not neglect the gift which was given to you (v.14).
V. Meditate on these things and give yourself entirely to them (v.15).
VI. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine (v.16).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Sharon Ren