Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 TIMOTHY - Chapter 4

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1 Timothy 4

Supplemental Commentary:

III.  AGAINST FALSE DOCTRINE  3, 14 -- 4, 16 (continued)

4, 1-5:  Lying Teachers.  The multiplying of these teachers and their influence was manifestly a source of scandal to sincere believers, which St. Paul undertakes to remove by recalling that the appearance of false teachers had been foretold by the Holy Spirit.

1.  Seemingly some early Christian prophet, whom we cannot identify, spoke by the Holy Spirit the express words that St. Paul cites here.    2.  Fugitive slaves and criminals were often branded with a hot iron on the forehead to identify them as such.  The false teachers bear a like mark of infamy in their conscience.    5.  The word of God may be His creative word, but more probably it refer to the words of inspired Scripture pronounced as prayers over food before meals.  The same forbidding of food is referred to in Col. 2, 21 f.  The prohibition of marriage is rather Phrygian and Asiatic than Jewish.  Mutilation was held in honor by the priests of Cybele in Phrygia and by those of Diana-Artemis even at Ephesus.  Behind all these prohibitions and all this mystical asceticism revealed in the Pastorals and in the Epistles of the Captivity, there are tendencies, if not a fixed doctrine, that are decidedly dualistic.  Already apparent in the Essenes, dualism is found in Philo and a little later is prominent in Neo-Platonism.  Hence it is not surprising to meet the error in Asia Minor, even at the period when the Pastoral Epistles were written.

4, 6-10:  Piety and False Asceticism.    8.  Corporal discipline or asceticism is the ensemble of the prohibitions imposed by the Ephesian teachers.  Piety or the worship of God is the Christian life, as St. Paul conceives and imposes it in the moral part of his Epistles.    9.  The saying is to be found in 8 where are set forth the opposite conceptions of Christian salvation, in terms reminiscent of the Epistles of the Captivity.

4, 11-16:  Zeal in His Office.  Timothy is to give himself entirely to his commission.  This passage gives the impression, already referred to, that in the Apostle's opinion Timothy's attitude lacks definiteness and decision.


Confraternity Bible:

Lying Teachers  1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in after times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of devils, 2* speaking lies hypocritically, and having their conscience branded.  3* They will forbid marriage, and will enjoin abstinence from foods, which God has created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by the faithful and by those who know the truth.  4* For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected that is accepted with thanksgiving.  5* For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Piety and False Asceticism  6 By recommending these things to the brethren, thou wilt be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished with the words of faith and of the good doctrine to which thou hast attained.  7 But avoid foolish fables and old wives' tales and train thyself in godliness.  8 For bodily training is of little profit, while godliness is profitable in all respects, since it has the promise of the present life as well as of that which is to come.  9 This saying is true and worthy of entire acceptance; 10 for we work and are reviled for this reason, that we hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.

Zeal in His Office  11 Command and teach these things.  12* Let no man despise thy youth, but be thou an example to the faithful in speech, in conduct, in charity, in faith, in chastity.  13 Until I come, be diligent in reading, in exhortation and in teaching.  14* Do not neglect the grace that is in thee, granted to thee by reason of prophecy with the laying on of hands of the presbyterate.  15 Meditate on these things, give thyself entirely to them, that thy progress may be manifest to all.  16 Take heed to thyself and to thy teaching, be earnest in them.  For in so doing thou wilt save both thyself and those who hear thee.
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2: Fugitive slaves and criminals were often branded on the forehead.

3-5: St. Paul condemns abstinence when it is the result of the false principle that matter is bad because produced by the evil spirit.  From right motives of self-denial and mortification, and as commanded by the Church, the practice of fast and abstinence is good.

12: Thy youth: St. Timothy would be about thirty-five years old at this time.

14: Presbyterate: i.e., the priesthood.