1 Timothy Chapter 4: Departures From the Faith, Practicing Holy Living

Jan 9th, 2010 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Timothy, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Timothy Chapter 4: Departures From the Faith, Practicing Holy Living

1 Tim. 4:1 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;

1 Tim. 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

1 Tim. 4:3 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.

Combining the Revised Standard and the King James versions, we read verse 1 as follows: “Now the [Holy] Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, [even] giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” In this context, the term “later times” refers particularly to Papacy’s heyday, and not to the end of the Gospel Age, for Papacy forbid its clergy to marry and commanded abstaining from meat on Fridays. In contradistinction, the end of the age is referred to in the next epistle—“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. 3:1).

With regard to “forbidding to marry,” Roman Catholicism has taught that celibacy applies only to the clergy and not to the communicants, the congregation. That teaching is one of the “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” Not only is it false, but all of the valid instructions in the New Testament apply to all Christians. The average person attending the nominal Church is not sufficiently knowledgeable in the Scriptures to be able to detect erroneous teaching. In addition, the false concept has been widely taught that there is a distinction between the clergy and the laity, that they are separate classes. To the contrary, the Bible teaches that marriage or abstaining from marriage is completely voluntary with all Christians (Heb. 13:4). If one chooses not to marry in order to devote energy and attention fully to doing God’s will with singleness of purpose, so much the better, but the requirement is not mandatory for any. Not only was Paul suggesting that after his decease, a lot of strange things would occur, but he was saying that when the doctrine would come forth forbidding one to marry, it would be a mark of identity of the Antichrist. The rule would be the product of a wrong spirit. A seducing, demoniac spirit would give this unnatural application of Scripture.

Verse 2, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron,” reads as follows in the RSV: “Through the pretensions of liars [false representations] whose consciences are seared.” Another translation has, “Speaking falsehoods with a straight face.” An example of a falsehood spoken in this fashion is that from the pope on down in the Roman Catholic Church, marriage of the clergy was forbidden by papal bulls.

Comment: In the book Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, the author, Chiniquy, a former priest, showed that the clergy professed celibacy but were not celibate in practice. Also, wine and alcoholic beverages were liberally consumed, to the point of drunkenness, by many of the clergy, yet the communicants were supposed to confess such sins and do penance. Chiniquy’s conscience was very troubled by the hypocrisy of the priests who preached temperance and even total abstinence of alcohol but consumed alcohol themselves and even got inebriated.

Reply: Sometimes the priests even drank the sacramental wine, which was purchased for the purpose of Holy Communion.

The Roman Catholic Church has claimed that the office of pope is equivalent or superior to Christ and the Bible. While Jesus was on earth, his teachings and sayings were mandatory, but later on, the Catholic hierarchy felt that, as representatives of Christ, they had liberty to make changes and additions to the Bible. The pope was given titles that belong to Christ, such as “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5). Pope Leo XIII had this title boldly emblazoned on his papal arms, asserting that he fulfilled that office. Some titles even put the pope on a par with Almighty God. Statements made ex cathedra, that is, as official pronouncements, were to be equated with God’s own proclamations in Holy Writ. How presumptuous to claim such authority! If the common people had had access to the Scriptures in their own language, many would have opposed such practices and teachings, which were obnoxious in God’s sight.

Another mark of identification of the Antichrist system was the command “to abstain from meats.” For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church forbid the clergy and the communicants to eat meat on Fridays and permitted only fish, yet the Apostle Paul forewarned that this doctrine of demons would be promulgated by the false Church. In recent times, this mandate was relaxed and, to all effects, abolished by the great majority of the membership. During the First World War, the rule was eased because soldiers needed meat for strength in their survival kits.

What did Paul say about eating meat? “God hath created [meat] to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

How do those who speak lies in hypocrisy have “their conscience seared with a hot iron”?

Originally, the clergy realized their statements were false, but repeatedly violating conscience led to a hardened condition. Because they allowed that thinking to continue, what was at first stated tentatively, and perhaps put forth as suggestions, progressed into adamant commands and statements of fact. The reasoning could have been along the following lines.

The clergy took Jesus’ statement where he was speaking to the apostles on a certain matter and said their decision would be binding on earth and in heaven if two of them agreed. “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 18:18,19). Even though the Scriptures say that there are only 12 apostles and that any others who claim apostleship are false, the popes have considered themselves apostles (Rev. 2:2; 12:1; 21:14; 2 Cor. 11:13). These texts negate the concept of apostolic succession. In fact, the doctrine of apostolic succession is damaging, for it encourages others to make ironclad rules above and in violation of what Scripture teaches.

If popes (or others) could reason that they were successors to the 12 apostles, that premise automatically put them on a par with the Twelve, and their reasoning on certain subjects was equated (in their minds) with the writings of the New Testament. Perhaps in the beginning, it was merely suggested that the teachings of the various church councils on which the majority of the membership agreed should be considered the will of God. After a while, it was concluded that the head of the church was more important than the church body, and the pope began to blasphemously assume prerogatives that were not his. Jesus, who was perfect, asked, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matt. 19:17). Titles and names were taken such as Innocent, Pius, and Holy Father to show how holy(?) the popes were, yet even Jesus would not accept such a statement about himself. Instead he deferred the individual’s worship to God in heaven. On one occasion, the people of Lystra likened Paul and Barnabas to gods and would have done sacrifice to them, but Paul and Barnabas made the people stop immediately, saying, “We also are men of like passions with you” (Acts 14:11-18).

Nor would Peter accept worship (Acts 10:26). The Episcopal and other churches also err in advocating apostolic succession, assuming the prerogative of the 12 apostles. In his advice in verses 1-3, Paul was warning Christians what to watch out for.

The term “having their conscience seared” implies that originally such individuals suspected their actions were wrong, but through repetition, their consciences gradually got seared, or hardened, so that after a while, they began to confidently teach these untruths with a straight face. Repeatedly going contrary to and violating conscience becomes a way of life.

Two other Scriptures also speak about habitually violating conscience. Paul referred to unconsecrated Gentiles as “being past feeling [for they] have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Eph. 4:19). The same apostle said, “And even as they [the Gentiles] did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Rom. 1:28).

Comment: Another way of searing the conscience is to teach that one is never to question the authority or teaching of a superior. For example, if a priest’s conscience troubles him, he is not supposed to question his bishop. If he obeys that command, then little by little his conscience is damaged.

Reply: Except for God, Jesus, and the apostles, a chain of command is improper in religious matters. We should not blindly obey but, instead, should render obedience only if one speaks in harmony with the Word. A chain of command is proper in the business world but not in the Church. Stated another way, the worldly philosophy of having a chain of command should not be carried over into the religious realm and incorporated into the spiritual things of God.

Incidentally, the Roman Catholic hierarchy is afraid to make certain changes because to do so might fracture the whole organism of the church. If one change is made, it might lead to more changes, and then the thought of being “the church” would be held in question.

In going into darkness along the lines of the flesh, doctrine, or another area, one who has a habit of wrong thinking eventually sears his conscience. For example, a person knows he is speaking with vulgarities or obscenities, yet he has no compunction. From another perspective, a brother should not be too hasty in making public statements, for it is difficult to retract what has been taught for years. Honest teaching, even if wrong, is one thing, but to realize there are contradictions and yet continue to teach error is dangerous. A true teacher will admit that he once taught one way but now sees the matter another way.

Even though verses 1-3 apply especially to Papacy’s long 1,260-year period of power, Paul seems to have been hinting that the end of the age would be a time of great doctrinal seduction. Revelation 16:14 reads, “For they are the spirits [doctrines] of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” “Seducing spirits” are false doctrines that originate with or emanate from intelligent beings, human or spirit. Jesus said, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24). Therefore, we can think of the “latter times” as being subsequent to Paul, that is, as occurring during the remaining six stages of the Church.

Based on his statement that Satan will use “all power and signs and lying wonders, … with all deceivableness of unrighteousness” at the end of the age, we can say that the time of Satan’s greatest seduction will occur in the near future (2 Thess. 2:9,10). Satan will exhibit a great energetic operation during the Lord’s Second Presence.

Thus the Holy Spirit used wording out of Paul’s mouth and pen that not only was constructive to the Church down through the Gospel Age but also will apply to the feet members at the end of the age. In other words, God has been instructing His people throughout the Gospel Age with necessary information that is pertinent to the end times (plural).

In verse 1, Paul said that some would depart from the faith, yet many down through history have been deceived by “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” Therefore, verse 1 seems to be hinting that at the end of the age, some in the inner circle of the true Church will depart from the faith.

Comment: Universal salvation is an example of a seducing doctrine. This teaching appeals to the flesh, for it asserts that there will be no failures. Doctrines of devils include hellfire, which mars the character of God.

1 Tim. 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

1 Tim. 4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

God created animals for the purpose of food. Consequently, in the Christian dispensation, we may eat them if they are received with prayer and thanksgiving. The primary reason for prohibiting certain meats under the Law was to teach spiritual lessons; the sanitary aspect was secondary (1 Cor. 10:11). Without refrigeration and adequate preparation, many “unclean” meats can cause deadly food poisoning or diseases such as trichinosis. Today our health laws prevent many of these problems. If properly inspected and handled, pork (and other unclean meats) are highly nutritious.

Food is sanctified by (1) the Word of God and (2) prayer, but what is the distinction? The Bible gives us the liberty to eat meat, but God expects us to ask a blessing and give thanks.

Comment: Paul also said, “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Rom. 14:14).

Reply: Yes, we should respect a person who abstains because of conscience. Until his conscience is educated and realigned with the New Testament teachings, it is better not to interfere with the development of that individual. However, we should not tolerate abstaining from meat as a teaching in the Church.

Q: Is literally “every” creature of God good for food?

A: In Scripture, the words “all” and “every” are often used in a broad sense. In verse 4, the word “every” is qualified, for we would not want to eat some things, even though they were permitted under the Law. What we eat depends on where we live and what we are accustomed to having in our daily diets. Verse 4 is saying that what was forbidden under the Law for food is permissible for the Christian to eat, for we are under a different arrangement.

1 Tim. 4:6 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.

Paul was saying that Timothy would be a good minister if he continued to give the advice in this epistle. Hence it is profitable to discuss these matters. When these subjects are neglected, man’s thinking creeps in and replaces God’s thinking.

This whole epistle pertains to sound doctrine, and conduct is frequently discussed. Containing oneself and committing more fully to the Lord brings more honor. Accordingly, the fact that Paul did not marry and was faithful will earn him a higher position. As one tries to learn more and obey more, if he is faithful unto death, he gets a greater reward.

1 Tim. 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

In this context, “profane” means “nonreligious.” As an illustration, Solomon’s Temple was built according to specific measurements, but outside the Temple structure itself was a courtyard, an area that was not, strictly speaking, considered holy. That area, which extended for a number of cubits around the Temple, was “profane,” for it was on a different level. In other words, there was to be a civil aspect and a religious aspect. To mix things that apply in worldly matters with things that pertain to religious matters can be dangerous. Any mixing has to be done very carefully in order not to violate scriptural principles. At times, the Apostle Paul properly mixed natural logic and spiritual wisdom. For example, he asked, “Doth not even nature [common sense] itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” (1 Cor. 11:14). For the mixture to be permissible, natural logic must not conflict with God’s logic. If the two are harmonious, with no contradictions, natural and spiritual reasoning can be mixed. (Compare Ezekiel 22:26; 42:20; 44:23; 48:15.)

The term “old wives’ fables” is rendered “silly myths” in the Revised Standard. The literal Greek has the thought of “mature women’s fables.” Paul was saying, “Have nothing to do with nonreligious and silly myths and fables.” Generally speaking, the Christian is not to mix worldly thinking with spiritual thinking. Natural logic is to be used only if it does not contradict spiritual thinking.

Comment: There is a tendency to refer to practices or sayings followed by one’s forebears, such as those of a grandmother or a great grandmother. We should have nothing to do with sayings that are of no value.

Reply: Yes, a number of superstitious or foolish practices were followed even a century ago, especially in regard to the raising of children.

What was the problem in the Apostle Paul’s day? What were “mature women’s fables” at the time of the early Church? Paul wrote this epistle around AD 64. Many Jews had gone to Asia Minor to live, but they returned to Israel on feast days. Hence they had an opportunity to hear the sermons and teachings of Paul and other apostles and disciples or even the thinking of some of the Christian women. Paul was cautioning the hearers not to introduce religious gossip.

For example, “I know so-and-so, and he said such and such.” They were not to weave in false doctrinal teachings. Suppose Paul visited a village and gave a talk, and socializing took place afterward. The people, especially the older, more mature women, were being admonished not to mix idle social conversation with religious doctrines and thus jump to wrong conclusions that would be passed on to young people who came in subsequently. In that way, the women would be introducing doctrinal ideas that were foreign to what the Scriptures teach. Paul was saying, “Be careful with regard to what you hear and accept along these lines.” As part of their nature, the women were more inclined to talk, which was fine as long as the conversation was properly directed. However, if not careful, they were more apt to bring in fables. Paul did not want them to draw unnatural or unscriptural conclusions. For instance, just because Paul did not marry, one should not conclude that Christians were not to marry.

Paul was saying that instead of heeding ungodly rules, giving a false show of religiosity, the Christian is to heed true godliness. One should not say, for example, that celibacy or a particular diet produces godliness. Many falsely equate such rules with godliness, whereas the Lord desires true godliness, not just outward forms. For example, to not marry does not mean one is a better Christian. However, if celibacy is sincerely done for the Lord—if one refrains from marriage in order to wholly devote himself to doing God’s will and to be fully dedicated to Christ’s work—it is spiritually beneficial. The point is that a child of God has the liberty to marry or not to marry, to eat meat or not to eat meat. Following outward formalities very sanctimoniously is a form of godliness but is not true godliness unless it is done in sincerity, without hypocrisy, and out of a pure heart.

1 Tim. 4:8 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.

Notice how carefully Paul chose his words. He did not say that bodily exercise does not profit at all, for bodily exercise does profit—but little compared to true godliness. Godliness is helpful even in natural matters. For instance, God’s Word gives health to the flesh and to the bones, even to the marrow of the bones. “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh” (Prov. 4:20-22). “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches” (Psa. 63:5,6). To a certain extent, we would probably be less healthy both naturally and spiritually without some bodily exercise.

Q: Timothy was in an area with a large Greek influence, and the Greeks placed overmuch importance on physical exercise. Therefore, did Paul give this instruction because the brethren there were still influenced by that thinking?

A: Yes. Almost every large city in Asia Minor had a gymnasium and/or a stadium. A high priority was placed on physical prowess, especially among the Greeks. Timothy was extremely devoted to the Lord, but he had to give advice to others. Earlier Paul said, “If you keep in remembrance what I have said and teach these things to others, you will be a very worthy minister of Jesus Christ.”

Comment: The Revised Standard uses the term “bodily training” instead of “bodily exercise.”

Reply: The term “bodily exercise [or training]” includes diet and other matters that pertain to health and life, as well as actual physical exercise. It includes anything related to mental and physical health. Nevertheless, physical exercise was a besetting sin with the Greeks in some respects because of the high priority put on physical capabilities. They reasoned that a healthy body means a healthy mind. Although there is some truth to this statement, the danger was in devoting too many hours of the day to physical exercise, to pursuing bodily exercise as a habit, that is, in an abnormal fashion. An example would be trying to build muscles for months and years. Bodily exercise with moderation is acceptable, whereas fastidious exercising that includes time, money, and thinking is a distraction for the Christian.

“Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” In the present life and in the future life, practical blessings and benefits come from following the instructions in God’s Word. In the present life, it is a blessing both to know and to endeavor to do the will of God. In the future life, the benefits will be beyond comparison (Rom. 8:18; 1 John 3:2). “Godliness” is piety, reverence, sobriety, and seriousness in doing God’s will. Thus godliness pertains to the development of the new creature.

Q: What is the meaning of the phrase “having promise” of the present life?

A: As Christians, we have made a consecration and thus are in a different position from others of the same age who are not consecrated. The fact we are in God’s family and have promises of better things to come if we are faithful involves the present life. The thought is “having [the] promise of the life.” People in the world do bodily exercise, follow diets, and are fanatics on various subjects to prolong their life and increase their intellect. In contrast, we should consider the development of the new creature as supreme. Therefore, having made a commitment to do God’s will, we have this “promise”—and the responsibility that goes with it

1 Tim. 4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

In other words, “This saying [that godliness is profitable] is faithful and worthy of full acceptance.” The exercise of piety is a sound, profitable doctrine worthy of being accepted by all. Verse 9 sums up what Paul said previously and leads up to verse 10, which sums up what he was personally striving for—true godliness.

1 Tim. 4:10 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.

If a philosophy is followed that overemphasizes physical exercise, diet, etc., it can become selfish and lead to pride in progress and things achieved. For instance, one will see his muscles grow or his physique become more attractive. In contrast, Paul was looking for success, development, and progress to the degree that he suffered and labored for truth and righteousness. To suffer and labor in spiritual matters is far more profitable than these other ventures, which have only a little profit.

Why did Paul add, “because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe [the brethren]”? What about those who do not believe during the present life? God has a concern for the welfare of not only Christians but also all mankind. Contrary to the teaching of the nominal Church, He has made an arrangement whereby those who do not make a consecration now are not lost but will have a future opportunity.

But why, in connection with the instruction he was giving, did Paul bring up the fact that God loves the brethren and the world? Basically, man wants life, and the object of good health, physical exercise, and diet is to live a better, longer, and more joyful life. Without hope of a future life—if the present were the only life—one would want to make the most of the present life. Whether or not man exercises to try to prolong this life, God will give the opportunity of life to all in due time. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3,4). All will come to a knowledge of the truth and have the opportunity to get life, for God desires that all will be saved, but what each individual does with that opportunity in the future is his own personal responsibility. In other words, sooner or later everyone will get the opportunity for life, so in the final analysis, physical exercise in the present life availeth little. However, the way to really get life—that is, in the abundant sense—is to become a follower of Jesus in the present life and to be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10).

1 Tim. 4:11 These things command and teach.

The “things” Timothy was to “command and teach” were all that Paul had discussed thus far in this epistle. He personally gave these instructions and admonitions so that Timothy could, in turn, instruct those who came under his influence.

1 Tim. 4:12 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.

No one was to despise, or look down on, Timothy’s “youth.” Our curiosity is aroused as to how old Timothy was at the time this epistle was written, but the reference was not necessarily to his chronological age. By this time, he had been associated with the Apostle Paul for about 20 years, so he was probably at least in his forties. The point is that some criticized Timothy for not being on the scene as an eyewitness of Jesus “from the beginning,” that is, during his earthly ministry (John 15:27; 1 John 1:1). Others tended to think less of Timothy as an authority because they had been on hand from Pentecost, and therefore, they felt it was inappropriate for him to give them counsel. In addition, the Greeks believed that one had to be quite elderly in order to be considered a teacher. However, Paul had great confidence in Timothy and did not want him either to be intimidated by the old-timers or to become discouraged, especially after the apostle’s death. Paul not only recognized Timothy’s talents but wanted him to employ the special talent given to him by the Lord, of which we do not know the specifics.

With regard to ourselves, if older brothers speak the truth, we should be deferential and respectful because of their age, even if we have more knowledge. However, if they are cantankerous and aggressive in teaching unprofitable doctrines, they have to be met with strength according to the circumstances.

“Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” What are the distinctions in these categories? Timothy was to be an example in his familiarity with and knowledge of the doctrinal teaching in the Word, in his conduct or behavior, and in his love, that is, in his interest in and concern for the spiritual welfare of the brethren. He was also to be an example “in spirit”—he was to have zeal and enthusiasm and not be perfunctory in words or deeds. In other words, he was to exercise a leadership capacity.

How would Timothy be an example “in faith”? If a severe trial came on the Church or on individual brethren, he was to be confident that somehow the situation would be overruled to work out for good for the new creature. He was to encourage the brethren to hold on and be steadfast. To look only at the gloomy side of a trial would just further depress and discourage the individual, so Paul wanted Timothy to be a constructive help to the brethren involved. Thus Timothy was to show trust and confidence that the Lord was capable and willing to help His people and that whatever the situation, it would sooner or later work out for good.

What is the difference between “in purity” and “in conduct”? Purity referred to Timothy’s personal life, which might not be observed by or manifested to others. He was to have personal integrity and purity in every category—in doctrinal teaching; in outward behavior; in his disposition toward and interest in others; in the zeal, enthusiasm, and power of his instruction; in faith, having confidence and trust in the Lord’s overruling in all matters; and in his inward personal life.

1 Tim. 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

The clause “Till I come” shows that Paul intended to go to Timothy. Since Paul had been in prison in Rome because of his religion, either he had just been released from house arrest, or his release was imminent. According to tradition, he was subsequently apprehended a second time and finally executed by sword. (As a Roman citizen, he could not be crucified.)  Timothy was to keep “reading,” that is, to continue searching the Word daily in personal study.

In addition, he was to “exhort,” to expound on what he learned, and he was to attend to “doctrine,” or teaching. What is “doctrine”? Doctrine is based on a series of precepts, for example, the Ransom, the condition of the dead, and the resurrection. Doctrine is something on which one comes to a conclusion and wants to hold fast. A person does not keep studying a doctrine to see if it is true but has already ascertained the truthfulness of the teaching, so that it becomes a guiding structure of belief. Doctrine is usually based on a series of Scriptures that blend together to give an overall lesson on a certain subject. Incidentally, exhortations may be controversial in that some may not accept or agree with the warning. Those who are in teaching positions have more responsibility along the lines of admonition.

A further thought is included in the term “reading,” as used here by the Apostle Paul. Timothy was to take a leading role and not merely be a member of the class with someone else doing the leading. The fact that there was no Bible in those days made a big difference in connection with this advice. Even so, Paul’s advice to Timothy is profitable to us today, for we can draw lessons and extract principles. Paul was telling Timothy not to be so humble that he deferred to others when he really had the ability himself. The Apostle John was of that nature to start with, keeping himself in the background. But we notice that in the Book of Revelation, written at the end of his life when he was in his nineties, the apostle mentioned his name, saying, “I John” (Rev. 1:9; 21:2; 22:8). Earlier he used terminology such as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7,20). Some people by nature defer to others. Incidentally, there was a brother who made a point of always being the last person in the food line at a convention. That was an exercise of humility on his part. Such humility is to one’s credit, as long as the individual does not feel superior in his mind for his conduct.

In summary, Paul was telling Timothy to give attendance to (1) doing personal study, (2) using the fruits of personal study to benefit others by instructing and warning them, and (3) teaching and holding fast to cardinal doctrines and principles of truth.

1 Tim. 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

By saying, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee,” Paul was encouraging Timothy to be faithful to the prophetic utterances in regard to his ministry. The gift that was in Timothy was manifested at the time the presbytery, or the elders, laid their hands on him after praying. The occasion was when Timothy was to be sent out on a missionary tour and some of the elders wished him Godspeed. Timothy had gotten a certain gift earlier, but it was not outwardly discernible until that time. In other words, the commission that had been given to him previously came out on that occasion. Apparently also, a prophetic utterance was given by someone else in a public manner with regard to Timothy and his future.

As an illustration, when Paul was converted, the Lord instructed Ananias to go to him with the message that Paul was going to be greatly used in promulgating the truth. Just as Ananias was given information regarding Paul, so with Timothy, a prophetic utterance came forth from an individual in the group. Knowing about the prophecy, Paul was now telling Timothy to be sure he fulfilled that role. Similarly, all his life Paul looked back to his experience on the way to Damascus as his commission to preach the gospel. Just as the motivating power in his life was to be faithful to that vision, so he was encouraging Timothy to be faithful to the prophetic utterance concerning what he would be and do.

To repeat, Timothy had a certain gift—like a commission or a charge that he would do such and such—which was not outwardly discernible. When hands were laid on him, someone uttered a prophecy about that gift. Then, as Timothy went from place to place, the prophetic utterance was repeated by others. Not only were the utterances an encouragement to him, but they should have disposed those who heard them of their responsibility to recognize Timothy as a teacher—something they had trouble doing according to their natural disposition. They felt that others were more talented, better speakers, and more dedicated than Timothy, who had been in the truth for only about 20 years. Thus they were more prone to favor the older teachers, whereas they should have realized that Timothy was recognized by the Lord in a special capacity. Prejudice could have blinded them.

Comment: For 2 Timothy 1:6, the Diaglott reads, “For this reason I remind thee to kindle up the free gift of God, which is in thee, through the imposition of my hands.”

Reply: On the first missionary tour, Paul went “to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple [already consecrated] was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him [Timothy] would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1-3). Thus Timothy was already consecrated when Paul met him. Paul may have laid his hands on Timothy at that time, but Timothy had gotten the gift earlier. The fact that Paul wanted Timothy to go with him suggests he noticed something outstanding in him. Moreover, Paul was disappointed that John Mark had deserted him and Barnabas earlier, so subconsciously, Paul would have been looking for a brother to take John Mark’s place (Acts 15:36-40). Timothy was that replacement.

In other words, the original endowment to Timothy was a commission or a charge. The gift in Timothy, which revealed that he was accepted of God, was of a higher capacity than, say, speaking in an unknown tongue. When Paul laid his hands on Timothy, the latter may have gotten a supplemental gift that would help him fulfill his commission. We would like to know more about Timothy’s mysterious gift, but the Scriptures do not provide the specifics. It seems to be the gift of great teaching ability.

The word “prophecy” can have the thought of “public expounding,” but it can also be the ability to see events that are future. An example in the early Church was to foresee a famine coming. Other individuals can sense dangers, errors, and/or deflections along a certain line long before they take center stage. The ability to foresee dangers and thus try to nip them in the bud is a wonderful talent.

The apostles Jude and John were still alive at this time, which was approximately AD 64. Whether any of the others were living, we do not know except for Paul, who died in AD 66, and Peter, who deceased in AD 64 or 66.

1 Tim. 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that the profiting may appear to all.

Paul was telling Timothy to meditate on the advice just given (verses 12-14). “Give thyself wholly to them; that the profiting may appear to all.” Paul was saying, “Give yourself wholly to the others so that they will recognize your development and progress.” Timothy’s gift was not immediately discernible, but to those who watched and listened, his great wisdom and understanding were apparent. Unfortunately, many are impressed by one who has a superficial understanding because of his appearance, voice, command of the language, station in life, etc., and accordingly give him more recognition than one who has tenfold more understanding and capability. Paul was urging Timothy to be a little more aggressive so that others would realize his ability and thus be benefited.

1 Tim. 4:16 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.

To a certain extent, Paul was repeating what he had said to Timothy in verses 12 and 13. Now he summarized his instruction and admonitions in two categories. (1) “Take heed to yourself in conduct, purity, love, faith, etc.” (2) “Take heed to the doctrine—to the Word, to the teaching.” In doing these two things, Timothy would save both himself and those who heard, or responded, to his teaching.

(1982 Study with Excerpts from 1999 Study)

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