1 Timothy 4
Vincent's Word Studies
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;
Now (δὲ)

Better but, since there is a contrast with the preceding confession of the norm of faith.

Expressly (ῥητῶς)

N.T.o. olxx. In express words.

In the latter times (ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς)

The phrase only here. For καιρός particular season or juncture, see on Matthew 12:1; see on Acts 1:7. Not the same as ἐν ἐσχάταις in the last days, 2 Timothy 3:1, which denotes the period closing the present aeon, and immediately preceding the parousia; while this signifies merely a time that is future to the writer. There is not the intense sense of the nearness of Christ's coming which characterises Paul. The writer does not think of his present as "the latter days."

Some (τινες)

Not, as 1 Timothy 1:3, the heretical teachers, but those whom they mislead.

Shall depart from the faith (ἀποστήσονται τῆς πίστεως)

The phrase only here. The verb in Paul only 2 Corinthians 12:8. Quite frequent in Luke and Acts. The kindred noun τασία (Acts 21:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) is almost literally transcribed in our apostasy.

Seducing (πλάνοις)

Primarily, wandering, roving. Ὁ πλάνος a vagabond, hence deceiver or seducer. See 2 John 1:7, and comp. ὁ πλανῶν the deceiver, used of Satan, Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:10; τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πλάνης the spirit of error, 1 John 4:6. Once in Paul, 2 Corinthians 6:8, and in lxx, Job 19:4; Jeremiah 23:32. Evil spirits animating the false teachers are meant.

Doctrines of devils (διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων)

Better, teachings of demons. Comp. James 3:15. Διδασκαλία teaching often in Pastorals. A few times in Paul. See on 1 Timothy 1:10. Δαιμόνιον demon only here in Pastorals. Very frequent in Luke: in Paul only 1 Corinthians 10:20, 1 Corinthians 10:21. Teachings proceeding from or inspired by demons. The working of these evil spirits is here specially concerned with striking at the true teaching which underlies godliness. It is impossible to say what particular form of false teaching is alluded to.

Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy (ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων)

Wrong. Rend., through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies. Ὑποκρίσις hypocrisy once in Paul, Galatians 2:13, see note. See also on Matthew 23:13. The phrase ἐν ὑποκρίσει only here. Ψευδολόγος speaking lies, N.T.o. olxx. Rare in Class.

Having their conscience seared with a hot iron (ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων)

Better, branded in their own conscience. With a hot iron is superfluous. The verb N.T.o. olxx, oClass. The metaphor is from the practice of branding slaves or criminals, the latter on the brow. These deceivers are not acting under delusion, but deliberately, and against their conscience. They wear the form of godliness, and contradict their profession by their crooked conduct (2 Timothy 3:5). The brand is not on their brow, but on their conscience. Comp. Titus 1:15; Titus 3:11.

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.
Forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats (κωλυόντων γαμεῖν, ἀπέχεσθαι βρωμάτων)

Κωλύειν, properly to hinder or check. Ἁπέχεσθαι to hold one's self off. In Paul, 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Plm 1:15. Commanding is not expressed, but is implied in forbidding; "Bidding not to marry and (bidding) to abstain from meats." The ascetic tendencies indicated by these prohibitions developed earlier than these Epistles among the Essenes, an ascetic Jewish brotherhood on the shores of the Dead Sea, who repudiated marriage except as a necessity for preserving the race, and allowed it only under protest and under stringent regulations. They also abstained strictly from wine and animal food. This sect was in existence in the lifetime of our Lord. Strong traces of its influence appear in the heresy assailed in Paul's Epistle to the Colossians. The Christian body received large accessions from it after the destruction of Jerusalem (70 a.d.). The prohibitions above named were imposed by the later Gnosticism of the second century.

Hath created (ἔκτισεν)

A common Pauline word. Only here in the Pastorals.

To be received (εἰς μετάλημψιν)

Lit. for participation. N.T. olxx. It occurs in Plato and Aristotle.

Of them which believe and know the truth (τοῖς πιστοῖς καὶ ἐπεγνωκόσι τὴν ἀλήθειαν)

The dative depends on created for participation, and should be rendered; "for them which believe," etc., marking those for whom the food was created. The A.V. misses this by the rendering to be received of (by). Πιστοῖς and ἐπεγκνωκόσι do not denote two classes, but one. Those who believe are described as those who have full knowledge of the truth.

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
Creature (κτίσμα)

Not in Paul. See James 1:18; Revelation 5:13; Revelation 8:9. A created thing. For κτίσις creation or creature, frequent in Paul, see on Romans 8:19; see on 2 Corinthians 5:17; see on Colossians 1:15. Κτίσμα in lxx, Wisd. 9:2; 13:5; 14:11; Sir. 38:34; 3 Macc. 5:11.

Refused (ἀπὸβλητον)

Lit. thrown away. N.T.o. In ecclesiastical writings, excommunicated. On the whole verse, comp. Acts 10:15; Romans 11:15; 1 Corinthians 10:25, 1 Corinthians 10:26, 1 Corinthians 10:30, 1 Corinthians 10:31.

For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
It is sanctified (ἁγιάζεται)

Not declared holy, but made holy. The declaration confirms the last clause of 1 Timothy 4:4. Thanksgiving to God has a sanctifying effect. The food in itself has no moral quality (Romans 14:14), but acquires a holy quality by its consecration to God; by being acknowledged as God's gift, and partaken of as nourishing the life for God's service. Comp. Paul's treatment of the unbelieving husband and the believing wife, 1 Corinthians 7:14.

By the word of God (διὰ λογοῦ θεοῦ)

That is, by the word of God as used in the prayer. Scripture is not called "the Word of God." The Word of God includes much more than Scripture: but Scripture contains the Word of God, and the thanksgiving at table was in the words of Scripture. See Psalm 145:15,Psalm 145:16. The custom of grace at meat appears 1 Samuel 9:13. Christ blessed the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:19; Matthew 15:36): Paul on the ship gave thanks for the meal which the seamen ate (Acts 27:35). Ἑντεύξεως prayer, see on 1 Timothy 2:1.

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.
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things (ταῦτα ὑποτιθέμενος τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς)

The verb only here and Romans 16:4. Lit. to put under; so almost without exception in lxx. See, for instance, Genesis 28:18; Genesis 47:29; Exodus 17:12. So Romans 16:4. Hence, metaphorically, to suggest, which is, literally, to carry or lay under. Ταῦτα these things are those mentioned 1 Timothy 4:4, 1 Timothy 4:5. In the Pastorals it is only here that ἀδελφοί brethren means the members of the church to whose superintendent the letter is addressed. In 2 Timothy 4:21, they are the Christians of the church from which the letter comes; in 1 Timothy 6:2, Christians in general; and in 1 Timothy 5:1, without any ecclesiastical sense.

Minister of Jesus Christ (διάκονος Χριστοῦ Ἱησοῦ)

Rendering Christ himself a service by setting himself against ascetic errors. For διάκονος minister see on 1 Timothy 3:8. Here in the general sense of servant, without any official meaning. Paul's more usual phrase is servant of God: servant (διάκονος) of Christ twice, and διάκονος Ἱησοῦ Χριστοῦ not at all. Paul uses δοῦλος bond-servant with Jesus Christ. See 2 Corinthians 11:23; Colossians 1:7; and comp. Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1.

Nourished up (ἐντρεφόμενος)

Better, nourishing thyself. N.T.o. olxx. The participle indicates the means by which Timothy may become a good minister. Comp. Hebrews 5:12-14.

In the words of faith

The words in which the faith - the contents of belief - finds expression. Comp. 1 Timothy 6:3; 2 Timothy 1:13. The phrase only here. Paul has τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως the word of the faith, Romans 10:8.

Whereunto thou hast attained (ᾗ παρηκολούθηκας)

Wrong. Rend., which thou hast closely followed. Comp. 2 Timothy 3:10. The verb means, primarily, to follow beside, to attend closely. In this literal sense not in N.T. To attend to or follow up, as a disease. So Plato, Rep. 406 B, παρακολουθῶν τῷ νοσήματι θανασίμῳ perpetually tending a mortal disease. To follow up a history or a succession of incidents, as Luke 1:3. oP. The writer means that Timothy, as a disciple, has closely attended to his course of Christian instruction.

But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
Shun (παραιτοῦ)

Comp. 1 Timothy 5:11; 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:10. oP. The primary meaning is to ask as a favor (Mark 15:6; Hebrews 12:19). Mostly in this sense in lxx, as 1 Samuel 20:6, 1 Samuel 20:28. To deprecate; to prevent the consequences of an act by protesting against and disavowing it, as 3 Macc. 6:27. To beg off, get excused, as Luke 14:18, Luke 14:19; 4 Macc. 11:2. To decline, refuse, avoid, as here, Acts 25:11; Hebrews 12:25.


See on 1 Timothy 1:9, and comp. 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16; Hebrews 12:16.

Old wives' (γραωδεις)

N.T.o. olxx. From γραῦς an old woman, and εἶδος form.

Fables (μύθους)

See on 1 Timothy 1:4, and comp. 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14; 2 Peter 1:16.

Exercise (γύμναζε)

oP. Only here in Pastorals. Hebrews 5:14; Hebrews 12:11; 2 Peter 2:14. From γυμνός naked. In Class. Of training naked in gymnastic exercises; also, metaphorically, of training for or practicing an art or profession.

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.
Bodily exercise (ἡ σωματικὴ γυμνασία)

With γυμνασία comp. γύμναζε, 1 Timothy 4:7. N.T.o. Σωματικός bodily only here and Luke 3:22. olxx. The adverb σωματικῶς bodily-wise, Colossians 2:9. The words are to be taken in their literal sense as referring to physical training in the palaestra - boxing, racing, etc. Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Some, however, find in them an allusion to current ascetic practices; against which is the statement that such exercise is profitable, though only for a little.

Profiteth little (πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμος)

Lit. is profitable for a little. The phrase πρὸς ὀλίγον only here and James 5:14. In the latter passage it means for a little while. Comp. Hebrews 12:10, πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας for a few days. According to some, this is the meaning here; but against this is the antithesis πρὸς πάντα unto all things. The meaning is rather, the use of the athlete's training extends to only a few things. Ὡφέλιμος useful or profitable, only in Pastorals. Comp. 2 Timothy 3:16; Titus 3:8. olxx.

Godliness (εὐσέβεια)

See on 1 Timothy 2:2, and Introduction, VI.

Having promise (ἐπαγγελίαν ἔχουσα)

The exact phrase only here. Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 7:6. The participle is explanatory, since it has promise. For ἐπαγγελία promise see on Acts 1:4.

The life that now is (ζωῆς τῆς νῦν)

According to the strict Greek idiom, life the now. This idiom and the following, τῆς μελλούσης N.T.o. The phrase ὁ νῦν αἰών the present aeon, 1 Timothy 6:17; 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:12. Ὁ αἰών οὗτος this aeon, a few times in the Gospels, often in Paul, nowhere else. We have ὁ αἰών ὁ μέλλων the aeon which is to be, and ὁ αἰών ὁ ἐρχόμενος or ἐπερχόμενος the aeon which is coming on, in the Gospels, once in Paul (Ephesians 2:7), and in Hebrews once, μέλλων αἰών without the article. Ἑν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ in this time, of the present as contrasted with the future life, Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30. Ὁ νυν καιρός the now time, in the same relation, Romans 8:18. For ζωὴ life see on John 1:4. The force of the genitive with ἐπαγγελία promise may be expressed by for. Godliness involves a promise for this life and for the next; but for this life as it reflects the heavenly life, is shaped and controlled by it, and bears its impress. Godliness has promise for the present life because it has promise for the life which is to come. Only the life which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:1) is life indeed, 1 Timothy 6:19. Comp. 1 Peter 3:10; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
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.
Therefore (εἰς τοῦτο)

More correctly, to this end; or with a view to this.

We labor and strive (κοπιῶμεν καὶ ἀγωνιζόμεθα)

Both Pauline words. See on Colossians 1:29, where the two are found together as here. Also on κόπου labor, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, and κοπιῶντας, and laboring 1 Thessalonians 5:12. Comp. 1 Timothy 5:17, and 2 Timothy 2:6. Both words denote strenuous and painful effort. The καὶ; has an ascensive force: "we labor, yea struggle."

We trust in (ἠλπίκαμεν ἐπὶ)

Better, have set our hope on. The verb with ἐπὶ in Pastorals, in Paul, Romans 15:12, a citation, and in 1 Peter 1:13.

These things command and teach.
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.
Youth (νεότητος)

oP. See Luke 18:21. Acts 26:4. See Introduction, VII. Timothy was probably from 38 to 40 years old at this time.

In word (ἐν λόγῳ)

Including teaching and verbal intercourse of every kind.

Conversation (ἀναστροφῇ)

Comp. Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 4:22; James 3:13. A favorite word with Peter. See on 1 Peter 1:15.

In spirit


Purity (ἁγνίᾳ)

Only here and 1 Timothy 5:2. Ἁγνός pure, 1 Timothy 5:22; Titus 2:5. In Paul, 2 Corinthians 8:11; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Philippians 4:8. Also in James, Peter, and 1 John. #x391;̔γνότης purity, 2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Corinthians 11:3. olxx, oClass. Ἁγνός always with a moral sense; not limited to sins of the flesh, but covering purity in motives as well as in acts. In 1 John 3:3, of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, of virgin purity. In James 3:17, as a characteristic of heavenly wisdom. Ἁγνῶς purely (Philippians 1:17), of preaching the gospel with unmixed motives. The verb ἁγνίζειν to purify, which in lxx is used only of ceremonial purification, has that meaning in four of the seven instances in N.T. (John 11:55; Acts 21:24, Acts 21:26; Acts 24:18). In the others (James 4:8; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:3) it is used of purifying the heart and soul.

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
To reading (ἀναγνώσει)

Three times in N.T. See Acts 13:15; 2 Corinthians 3:14. The verb ἀναγινώσκειν usually of public reading. See on Luke 4:16. So in lxx. In post-classical Greek, sometimes of reading aloud with comments. See Epictetus, Diss. 3, 23, 20. Dr. Hatch says: "It is probable that this practice of reading with comments... may account for the coordination of 'reading' with 'exhortation' and 'teaching' in 1 Timothy 4:13."

Exhortation (τῇ παρακλήσει)

Often in Paul. See on consolation, Luke 6:24, see on comfort, Acts 9:31, and see on comforter, John 14:16.

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Neglect (ἀμέλει)

Rare in N.T. Only Matthew 22:5; Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 8:9.

The gift that is in thee (τοῦ ἐν σοὶ χαρίσματος)

Comp. 2 Timothy 1:6. Χάρισμα gift is a distinctively Pauline word, being found only three times outside of Paul's Epistles, and olxx, oClass. See on Romans 1:11. That is in thee, comp. τῆς ἐν σοὶ πίστεως the faith that is in thee, 2 Timothy 1:5. The meaning is the special inward endowment which qualified Timothy for exhortation and teaching, and which was directly imparted by the Holy Spirit.

By prophecy (διὰ προφητείας)

See on 1 Timothy 1:18. Προφητείας genitive, not accusative. The meaning is by the medium of prophecy. The reference is to prophetic intimation given to Paul concerning the selection of Timothy for the ministerial office. These prophecies were given by the Holy Spirit who bestowed the "gift", so that the gift itself and the prophecy concurred in attesting the candidate for ordination.

With the laying on of the hands (μετὰ ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν)

Μετὰ implies that the prophetic intimations were in some way repeated or emphasized in connection with the ceremony of ordination. We note the association of prophecy with ordination in the setting apart of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:9, Acts 13:3); so that the case of Timothy has an analogue in that of Paul himself. Ἑπίθεσις laying on, imposition, also Acts 8:18; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 6:2, in each case with of hands. "The custom," says Lange, "is as old as the race." The Biblical custom rests on the conception of the hand as the organ of mediation and transference. The priest laid his hand on the head of the bullock or goat (Leviticus 1:4) to show that the guilt of the people was transferred. The hand was laid on the head of a son, to indicate the transmission of the hereditary blessing (Genesis 48:14); upon one appointed to a position of authority, as Joshua (Numbers 27:18-23); upon the sick or dead in token of miraculous power to heal or to restore to life (2 Kings 4:34). So Christ (Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40). In the primitive Christian church the laying on of hands signified the imparting of the Holy Spirit to the newly-baptized (Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6; comp. Hebrews 6:2). Hands were laid upon the seven (Acts 6:6). But the form of consecration in ordination varied. No one mode has been universal in the church, and no authoritative written formula exists. In the Alexandrian and Abyssinian churches it was by breathing: in the Eastern church generally, by lifting up the hands in benediction: in the Armenian church, by touching the dead hand of the predecessor: in the early Celtic church, by the transmission of relics or pastoral staff: in the Latin church, by touching the head.

Of the presbytery (τοῦ πρεσβυτερίου)

The word is found in Luke 22:66, where it denotes the body of representative elders of the people in the Sanhedrim, as distinguished from the two other constituents of that body - the chief priests and scribes. Similarly Acts 22:5. Here of the college or fraternity of Christian elders in the place where Timothy was ordained. The word is frequent in the Epistles of Ignatius. According to this, Timothy was not ordained by a Bishop. Bishop and Presbyter are not identical. In 2 Timothy 1:6 we read, "by the laying on of my hands." The inconsistency is usually explained by saying that Paul was associated with the Presbyters in the laying on of hands.

Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
Meditate (μελέτα)

Only here and Acts 4:25 (citation). Often in Class. and lxx. Most translators reject the A.V. meditate, and substitute be diligent in, or practice, or take care for. Meditate, however, is legitimate, although in Class. the word commonly appears in one of the other senses. The connection between the different meanings is apparent. Exercise or practice applied to the mind becomes thinking or meditation. In lxx it represents seven Hebrew equivalents, and signifies to meditate, talk of, murmur, delight one's self in, attend to. Often to meditate, Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2; Psalm 2:1; Psalm 37:12; Psalm 72:6; Sir. 6:7. Meditation is a talking within the mind, and issues in speech; hence to speak, as Psalm 35:28; Psalm 37:30; Isaiah 69:3. Similarly, λόγος signifies both reason and discourse. In Lat. meditari, "to reflect," is also "to exercise in," "to practice," as Virgil, Ecclesiastes 1:2. In the Vulg. meditabor is the translation of murmur or mourn in Isaiah 38:14. The Hebrew הָגָהֽ means to murmur, whisper; hence the inner whispering of the heart; hence to think, meditate, consider, as Psalm 63:7; Psalm 78:13.

Give thyself wholly to them (ἐν τούτοις ἴσθι)

Lit. be in these things. The phrase N.T.o. The only parallel in lxx is Proverbs 23:17. The meaning is that he is to throw himself wholly into his ministry. Comp. "totus in illis," Horace, Sat. i. 9, 2.

Profiting (προκοπὴ)

Better, advance or progress. Only here and Philippians 1:12. The verb προκόπτειν in 2 Timothy 2:16; 2 Timothy 3:9, 2 Timothy 3:13. In lxx, see Sir. 51:17; 2 Macc. 8:8. The figure in the word is uncertain, but is supposed to be that of pioneers cutting (κόπτω) a way before (πρὸ) an army, and so furthering its advance. The opposite is ἐγκόπτειν to cut into, throw obstacles in the way, and so hinder. See Galatians 5:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Peter 3:7.

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.
Take heed (ἔπεχε)

Only here in Pastorals, and once in Paul, Philippians 2:16. Quite frequent in lxx. Lit. hold upon, fasten thy attention on, as Luke 14:7; Acts 3:5; Acts 19:22. In lxx, in the sense of apply, as Job 18:2; Job 30:26; or forbear, refrain, as 1 Kings 22:6, 1 Kings 22:15. In Philippians 2:16, to hold out or present, a sense which is found only in Class.

Unto thyself and unto the doctrine (σεαυτῷ καὶ τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ)

Better, to thyself and to thy teaching. The order is significant. Personality goes before teaching.

Continue in them (ἐπίμενε αὐτοῖς)

See on Romans 6:1. In lxx only Exodus 12:39. Ἁυτοῖς is neuter, referring to these things, 1 Timothy 4:15. A.V. in them is indefinite and ambiguous. Better, continue in these things.

Vincent's Word Studies, by Marvin R. Vincent [1886].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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