Prediction of a Coming Departure from the
Faith: Timothy's Duty as to It: General
Directions to Him.
The "mystery of iniquity" here alluded to, and
already working (2Th 2:7),
stands opposed to the "mystery of godliness" just mentioned (1Ti 3:16).
1. Now—Greek, "But." In contrast
to the "mystery of godliness."
the Spirit—speaking by the prophets in
the Church (whose prophecies rested on those of the Old Testament,
Da 7:25; 8:23, &c.; 11:30, as also on those of Jesus in the New
Testament, Mt 24:11-24), and also by Paul himself, 2Th 2:3 (with whom accord 2Pe
3:3; 1Jo 2:18; Jude 18).
expressly—"in plain words." This shows
that he refers to prophecies of the Spirit then lying before him.
in the latter times—in the times
following upon the times in which he is now writing. Not some
remote future, but times immediately subsequent, the beginnings
of the apostasy being already discernible (Ac 20:29): these are the forerunners of "the
last days" (2Ti 3:1).
depart from the faith—The apostasy was
to be within the Church, the faithful one becoming the harlot. In 2Th 2:3 (written earlier), the apostasy of
the Jews from God (joining the heathen against Christianity) is the
groundwork on which the prophecy rises; whereas here, in the Pastoral
Epistles, the prophecy is connected with Gnostic errors, the seeds of
which had already been sown in the Church [Auberlen] (2Ti 2:18). Apollonius Tyanæus, a heretic,
came to Ephesus in the lifetime of Timothy.
giving heed—(1Ti 1:4; Tit
seducing spirits—working in the
heretical teachers. 1Jo 4:2, 3, 6, "the spirit of error," opposed to "the
spirit of truth," "the Spirit" which "speaketh" in the true prophets
doctrines of devils—literally
"teachings of (that is suggested by) demons." Jas 3:15, "wisdom … devilish"; 2Co 11:15, "Satan's ministers."
2. Rather translate, "Through (literally,
'in'; the element in which the apostasy has place) the
hypocrisy of lying speakers"; this expresses the means through
which "some shall (be led to) depart from the faith," namely, the
reigned sanctity of the seducers (compare "deceivers," Tit 1:10).
having their conscience
seared—Greek, "having their own conscience,"
&c., that is, not only "speaking lies" to others, but also
having their own conscience seared. Professing to lead others to
holiness, their own conscience is all the while defiled. Bad
consciences always have recourse to hypocrisy. As faith and a
good conscience are joined (1Ti 1:5); so hypocrisy (that is,
unbelief, Mt 24:5, 51; compare Lu 12:46) and a bad conscience here. Theodoret explains like English
Version, "seared," as implying their extreme insensibility;
the effect of cauterizing being to deaden sensation. The Greek,
however, primarily means "branded" with the consciousness of crimes
committed against their better knowledge and conscience, like so many
scars burnt in by a branding iron: Compare Tit 1:15;
3:11, "condemned of himself."
They are conscious of the brand within, and yet with a hypocritical
show of sanctity, they strive to seduce others. As "a seal" is used in
a good sense (2Ti 2:19), so
"a brand" in a bad sense. The image is taken from the branding of
3. Sensuality leads to false spiritualism.
Their own inward impurity is reflected in their eyes in the world
without them, and hence their asceticism (Tit 1:14, 15) [Wiesinger]. By a spurious spiritualism (2Ti 2:18), which made moral perfection consist in
abstinence from outward things, they pretended to attain to a higher
perfection. Mt 19:10-12 (compare 1Co 7:8, 26, 38) gave a seeming handle to their
"forbidding marriage" (contrast 1Ti 5:14); and the Old Testament distinction as
to clean and unclean, gave a pretext for teaching to "abstain from
meats" (compare Col 2:16, 17, 20-23). As these Judaizing Gnostics combined
the harlot or apostate Old Testament Church with the beast (Re 17:3), or Gnostic spiritualizing
anti-Christianity, so Rome's Judaizing elements (1Ti 4:3) shall ultimately be combined with the
open worldly-wise anti-Christianity of the false prophet or beast
(1Ti 6:20, 21; Col 2:8; 1Jo 4:1-3; Re
13:12-15). Austerity gained
for them a show of sanctity while preaching false doctrine (Col 2:23). Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 4.29]
quotes from Irenæus [1.28] a
statement that Saturninus, Marcion, and the Encratites preached
abstinence from marriage and animal meats. Paul prophetically warns
against such notions, the seeds of which already were being sown (1Ti
6:20; 2Ti 2:17, 18).
to be received—Greek, "to be
of them—literally, (created and
designed) "for them," Though all (even the unbelieving,
104:14; Mt 5:45) are
partakers in these foods created by God, "they which believe" alone
fulfil God's design in creation by partaking of them with
thanksgiving; as opposed to those who abstain from them, or
in partaking of them, do not do so with thanksgiving. The
unbelieving have not the designed use of such foods by reason of their
"conscience being defiled" (Tit 1:15).
The children of God alone "inherit the earth"; for obedience is the
necessary qualification (as it was in the original grant of the earth
to Adam), which they alone possess.
and know the truth—explanatory and
defining who are "they which believe." Translate as Greek, "and
have full knowledge of the truth" (see on Php
1:9). Thus he contradicts the assumption of superior
knowledge and higher moral perfection, put forward by the
heretics, on the ground of their abstinence from marriage and meats.
"The truth" stands in opposition to their "lies" (1Ti 4:2).
4, 5. Translate as Greek, "Because"
(expressing a reason resting on an objective fact; or, as here,
a Scripture quotation)—"For" (a reason resting on something
subjective in the writer's mind).
every creature … good—(Ge
1:31; Ro 14:14, 20). A
refutation by anticipation of the Gnostic opposition to creation: the
seeds of which were now lurking latently in the Church. Judaism (Ac 10:11-16; 1Co 10:25, 26) was the starting-point of the error as
to meats: Oriental Gnosis added new elements. The old Gnostic heresy is
now almost extinct; but its remains in the celibacy of Rome's
priesthood, and in its fasts from animal meats, enjoined under the
penalty of mortal sin, remain.
if … with thanksgiving—Meats,
though pure in themselves, become impure by being received with an
unthankful mind (Ro 14:6; Tit 1:15).
5. sanctified—"hallowed"; set apart as
holy for the use of believing men: separated from "the creature," which
is under the bondage of vanity and corruption (Ro 8:19, &c.). Just as in the Lord's Supper,
the thanksgiving prayer sanctifies the elements, separating them from
their naturally alien position in relation to the spiritual world, and
transferring them to their true relation to the new life. So in
every use of the creature, thanksgiving prayer has the same
effect, and ought always to be used (1Co 10:30, 31).
by the word of God and prayer—that is,
"by means of intercessory prayer" (so the
Greek)—that is, consecratory prayer in behalf of
"the creature" or food—that prayer mainly consisting of "the word
of God." The Apostolic Constitutions [7.49], give this ancient
grace, almost wholly consisting of Scripture, "Blessed art thou, O
Lord, who feedest me from my youth, who givest food to all flesh: Fill
our hearts with joy and gladness, that we, having all sufficiency, may
abound unto every good work in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom
glory, honour, and might, be to thee for ever. Amen." In the case of
inspired men, "the word of God" would refer to their inspired
prayers (1Ki 17:1);
but as Paul speaks in general, including uninspired men's thanksgiving
for meals, the "word of God" more probably refers to the
Scripture words used in thanksgiving prayers.
6. If thou put … in
remembrance—rather as Greek, "If thou suggest
to (bring under the notice of) the brethren," &c.
these things—namely, the truths stated
4:4, 5, in opposition to the
errors foretold, 1Ti 4:1-3.
nourished up—The Greek is
present, not past: "continually being nourished
in" (2Ti 1:5; 3:14, 15).
the words of faith—rather, "the words
of the faith" (compare 1Ti 4:12).
good doctrine—"the good
teaching." Explanatory of "the faith," in opposition to the
"teachings of demons" (English Version, "doctrines of devils,"
1Ti 4:1) which Timothy was to counteract.
Compare "sound doctrine" (1Ti 1:10; 6:3; Tit 1:9; 2:1).
whereunto thou hast attained—"the
course of which thou hast followed"; hast followed
along by tracing its course and accompanying it [Alford]. Thou hast begun to follow up [Bengel]. The same Greek occurs, "thou hast
fully known" (2Ti 3:10),
"having had perfect understanding" (Lu 1:3). It is an undesigned coincidence that
the Greek verb is used only by Paul and Paul's companion,
7. refuse—reject, avoid, have nothing
to do with (2Ti 2:23; Tit 3:10).
old wives' fables—anile myths (1Ti
1:4, 9; Tit 1:14). They are
"profane," because leading away from "godliness" or "piety" (1Ti 1:4-7; 6:20; 2Ti 2:16; Tit 1:1, 2).
exercise thyself—literally, "exercise
thyself" as one undergoing training in a gymnasium. Let thy
self-discipline be not in ascetical exercises as the false teachers
8; compare 2Ti
2:22, 23; Heb 5:14; 12:11),
but with a view to godliness or "piety" (1Ti 6:11, 12).
8. profiteth little—Greek,
"profiteth to (but) a small extent." Paul does not deny that fasting
and abstinence from conjugal intercourse for a time, with a view to
reaching the inward man through the outward, do profit somewhat, Ac 13:3; 1Co 7:5, 7; 9:26, 27 (though in its degenerate form,
asceticism, dwelling solely on what is outward, 1Ti 4:3, is not only not profitable but
injurious). Timothy seems to have had a leaning to such outward
self-discipline (compare 1Ti 5:23).
Paul, therefore, while not disapproving of this in its due proportion
and place, shows the vast superiority of godliness or
piety, as being profitable not merely "to a small
extent," but unto all things; for, having its seat within, it
extends thence to the whole outward life of a man. Not unto one portion
only of his being, but to every portion of it, bodily and spiritual,
temporal and eternal [Alford]. "He who
has piety (which is 'profitable unto all things') wants
nothing needed to his well-being, even though he be without those helps
which, 'to a small extent,' bodily exercise furnishes" [Calvin]. "Piety," which is the
end for which thou art to "exercise thyself" (1Ti 4:7), is the essential thing: the means are
having promise, &c.—Translate as
Greek, "Having promise of life, that which now is, and that
which is to come." "Life" in its truest and best sense now and
hereafter (2Ti 1:1).
Length of life now so far as it is really good for the believer; life
in its truest enjoyments and employments now, and life blessed and
eternal hereafter (Mt 6:33; Mr 10:29, 30). "Now in this time" (Ps 84:11; 112:1-10; Ro 8:28; 1Co 3:21, 22, "all things are yours
… the world, life … things present, things to come").
Christianity, which seems to aim only at our happiness hereafter,
effectually promotes it here (1Ti 6:6; 2Pe 1:3). Compare Solomon's prayer and the
answer (1Ki 3:7-13).
9. (1Ti 1:15). This verse (Greek), "faithful
is the saying, " &c. confirms the assertion as to the "promise"
attached to "godliness," 1Ti 4:8, and
forms a prefatory introduction to 1Ti 4:10, which is joined to 1Ti 4:9 by "For." So 2Ti 2:11. Godly men seem to suffer loss as to
this life: Paul hereby refutes the notion [Bengel]. "God is the Saviour specially of
those that believe" (1Ti 4:10),
both as to "the life that now is," and also as to "the life which is to
10. therefore—Greek, "with a view
to this." The reason why "we both ('both' is omitted in the
oldest manuscripts) labor (endure hardship) and suffer reproach (some
oldest manuscripts read 'strive') is because we have rested, and
do rest our hope, on the living (and therefore, life-giving,
1Ti 4:8) God."
Saviour—even in this life (1Ti 4:8).
specially of those that believe—Their
"labor and reproach" are not inconsistent with their having from the
living God, their Saviour, even the present life (Mr 10:30, "a hundred fold now in this time
… with persecutions"), much more the life to come. If God is in a
sense "Saviour" of unbelievers (1Ti 2:4, that is, is willing to be so
everlastingly, and is temporally here their
Preserver and Benefactor), much more of believers. He is
the Saviour of all men potentially (1Ti 1:15); of believers alone
11. These truths, to the exclusion of those
useless and even injurious teachings (1Ti 4:1-8), while weighing well thyself, charge
also upon others.
12. Let no man despise thy youth—Act so
as to be respected in spite of thy youth (1Co 16:11;
Tit 2:15); compare "youthful"
as to Timothy (2Ti 2:22). He
was but a mere youth when he joined Paul (Ac 16:1-3). Eleven years had elapsed since then to
the time subsequent to Paul's first imprisonment. He was, therefore,
still young; especially in comparison with Paul, whose place he was
filling; also in relation to elderly presbyters whom he should "entreat
as a father" (1Ti 5:1), and
generally in respect to his duties in rebuking, exhorting, and
ordaining (1Ti 3:1),
which ordinarily accord best with an elderly person (1Ti 5:19).
be thou an example—Greek,
"become a pattern" (Tit 2:7); the
true way of making men not to despise (slight, or disregard) thy
in word—in all that thou sayest in
public and private.
conversation—that is, "behavior" the
Old English sense of the word.
in charity … faith—the two
cardinal principles of the Christian (Ga 5:6). The oldest manuscripts omit, "in
in purity—simplicity of holy motive
followed out in consistency of holy action [Alford] (1Ti 5:22; 2Co 6:6; Jas
3:17; 4:8; 1Pe 1:22).
13. Till I come—when Timothy's
commission would be superseded for the time by the presence of the
apostle himself (1Ti 1:3; 3:14).
reading—especially in the public
congregation. The practice of reading Scripture was transferred from
the Jewish synagogue to the Christian Church (Lu 4:16-20; Ac 13:15; 15:21; 2Co 3:14). The New Testament Gospel and Epistles
being recognized as inspired by those who had the gift of discerning
spirits, were from the first, according as they were written, read
along with the Old Testament in the Church (1Th 5:21,
27; Col 4:16), [Justin Martyr, Apology, 1.67]. I think that
while public reading is the prominent thought, the Spirit
intended also to teach that Scripture reading in private should be "the
fountain of all wisdom from which pastors ought to draw whatever they
bring before their flock" [Alford].
exhortation—addressed to the feelings
and will with a view to the regulation of the conduct.
"teaching" or instruction. Addressed to the understanding, so as
to impart knowledge (1Ti 6:2; Ro 12:7, 8). Whether in public or private,
exhortation and instruction should be based on
14. Neglect not the gift—by letting it
lie unused. In 2Ti 1:6 the
gift is represented as a spark of the Spirit lying within him,
and sure to smoulder by neglect, the stirring up or keeping in
lively exercise of which depends on the will of him on whom it is
bestowed (Mt 25:18, 25, 27, 28). The charism or spiritual gift,
is that of the Spirit which qualified him for "the work of an
evangelist" (Eph 4:11; 2Ti 4:5), or perhaps the gift of discerning
spirits, specially needed in his function of ordaining, as overseer
given thee—by God (1Co 12:4, 6).
by prophecy—that is, by the Holy
Spirit, at his general ordination, or else consecration, to the special
see of Ephesus, speaking through the prophets God's will to give him
the graces needed to qualify him for his work (1Ti 1:18; Ac
with … laying on of …
hands—So in Joshua's case (Nu 27:18-20; De 34:9). The gift was connected with the
symbolical act of laying on hands. But the Greek "with" implies
that the presbyter's laying on hands was the mere
accompaniment of the conferring of the gift. "By" (2Ti 1:6) implies that Paul's laying on
his hands was the actual instrument of its being conferred.
of the presbytery—In 2Ti 1:6 the apostle mentions only his own
laying on of hands. But there his aim is to remind Timothy specially of
the part he himself took in imparting to him the gift. Here he mentions
the fact, quite consistent with the other, that the neighboring
presbyters took part in the ordination or consecration, he, however,
taking the foremost part. Paul, though having the general oversight of
the elders everywhere, was an elder himself (1Pe 5:1; 2Jo
1). The Jewish council was
composed of the elders of the Church (the presbytery, Lu 22:66; Ac
22:5), and a presiding rabbi;
so the Christian Church was composed of apostles, elders, and a
president (Ac 15:16).
As the president of the synagogue was of the same order as his
presbyters, so the bishop was of the same order as his presbyters. At
the ordination of the president of the synagogue there were always
three presbyters present to lay on hands, so the early Church canons
required three bishops to be present at the consecration of a bishop.
As the president of the synagogue, so the bishop of the Church alone
could ordain, he acting as the representative, and in the name of the
whole presbytery [Vitringa]. So, in the
Anglican Church, the bishop ordains, the presbyters or priests present
joining with him in laying on hands.
"Meditate CAREFULLY upon"
1:2; 119:15; compare "Isaac,"
these things—(1Ti 4:12-14). As food would not nourish
without digestion, which assimilates the food to the substance of the
body, so spiritual food, in order to benefit us, needs to be
appropriated by prayerful meditation.
give thyself wholly to—literally,
"BE in these things"; let them
engross thee wholly; be wholly absorbed in them. Entire
self-dedication, as in other pursuits, so especially in religion,
is the secret of proficiency. There are changes as to all other
studies, fashionable to-day, out of fashion to-morrow; this study alone
is never obsolete, and when made the all-engrossing aim sanctifies all
other studies. The exercise of the ministry threatens the spirit of the
ministry, unless it be sustained within. The minister must be first his
own scholar before he can be another's teacher.
towards perfection in the Christian life, and especially towards the
fullest realization of the ideal of a Christian minister (1Ti 4:12).
may appear to all—not for thy glory,
but for the winning of souls (Mt 5:16).
16. Take heed—Give heed (Ac 3:5).
thyself, and … doctrine—"and
unto thy teaching." The two requisites of a good pastor: His teaching
will be of no avail unless his own life accord with it; and his own
purity of life is not enough unless he be diligent in teaching [Calvin]. This verse is a summary of 1Ti 4:12.
continue in them—(2Ti 3:14).
in doing this—not "by doing
this," as though he could save himself by works.
thou shalt … save thyself, and them that
hear thee—(Eze 33:9; Jas 5:20). In performing faithfully his duty to
others, the minister is promoting his own salvation. Indeed he cannot
"give heed unto the teaching" of others, unless he be at the same time
"giving heed unto himself."