I Timothy 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;” The Spirit saith expressly (rJhtw~v – rhaetos –
expressly; in stated terms; specified); only here in the New Testament, and
very rare in classical Greek. But the adjective rJhto>v - – rhaetos in the sense of
something “laid down,” “definite.... expressly mentioned,” is common. It was,
doubtless, on account of these prophetic warnings of a falling away from the faith,
that the apostle gave the preceding heads of Christian doctrine in such a terse and
tangible form, and laid such a solemn charge upon Timothy. (For examples of these
prophetic utterances, see Acts 11:28; 13:2; 20:23; 21:11; I Corinthians 12:8;
14:30, 32) Shall depart from the faith (ajposthsontai – apostaesontai –
Shall be withdrawing). So Paul says (II Thessalonians 2:3) that the day of Christ will
not be, “except the falling away (hJ ajpostasi>a – hae apostasia - apostasy )
come first” (compare Hebrews 3:12). The faith; objective (see ch.3:9 and 16, note).
This “falling away” is to take place ejn uJste>roiv kairoi~v - en husterois kairois –
In the latter times. The adjective u[sterov – husteros – latter; later; subsequent –
is only found here in the New Testament. But in the Septuagint (e.g. I Chronicles 29:29;
Jeremiah 50:19; 27:17, Septuagint), u[sterov means “the last,” as opposed to “the first.”
And so the adverb u[steron - husteron -always means last in the New Testament
(see Matthew 4:2 “afterward”; 21:37; 26:60; or more fully u[steron pa>nten –
husteron panten – last of all – 22:27). Here, therefore, ejn uJsteroiv kairoi~v ––
en husterois kairois – in the latter times – is equivalent to ejn tai~v ejsca>taiv
hJme>raiv - en tais eschatais haemerais – the last days - (Acts 2:17) and
ejn ejsca>taiv hJme>raiv–– en eschatais haemrais – in last days
(II Timothy 3:1; compare James 5:3; I Peter 1:5; II Peter 3:3; Jude 1:18). It
should be observed that in all these passages there is no article. Giving heed
(prose>contev– prosechontes) ; as in v.13; in ch.1:4; Titus 1:14; Acts 8:6,
and elsewhere. Seducing spirits (pneu>masi pla>noiv - pneumasi planois).
Such were the “lying spirits” who deceived (hjpa>thsan – aepataesan ) Ahab to his
destruction (I Kings 22:22). Pla>nov – planos -seducing, is not elsewhere found in
the New Testament as an adjective (see Matthew 27:63; II Corinthians 6:8; II John 1:7,
in all which places, however, it is almost an adjective). The idea is “causing to
wander,” or “go astray.” John warns his people against such deceiving
spirits (I John 4:1-6). He calls them generically pneu>ma th~v pla>nhv – pneuma taes
planaes - “the spirit of error.” Doctrines of devils; i.e. teachings suggested by
devils. (Darwinism, Marxism, Freudism. Humanism, etc. - I really consider it
ignorant, deceptive, and hypocritical, that evolution, which has more religious
implications than science, is fully funded in American schools that are hell bent on
excluding anything religious - CY – 2013) So the unbelieving Jews suggested that
John the Baptist had a devil (Luke 7:33), and that our Lord Himself had a devil
(John 7:20; 8:48, 52; 10:20).
2“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a
hot iron;” This is the most obvious way of construing this passage, where
yeudo>logwn - pseudologon – lies; false expressions - must agree with
daimoni>wn – daimonion – demons; devils – of the last verse. But
then the clause, “having their conscience seared with a hot iron,” does not
suit “devils.” It is therefore, perhaps, best to translate the clause as the
Revised Version does, and to explain, with Bishop Ellicott, that the preposition ejn –
en – in - which precedes uJpokri>sei – hupokrisei – hypocrisy - defines the
instrument by which they were led to give heed to seducing spirits, viz. the
hypocritical pretences of the men who spake lies, and whose consciences were
seared. If yeudolo>gwn agrees with daimoni>wn, we must conceive that Paul
passes insensibly from “the devils” to the false teachers who spake as they
taught them. In the Gospels, the speech of the devils, and of those possessed
by devils, is often interchanged, as e.g. Luke 4:33-34, 41; Mark 1:23-24.
Men that speak lies (yeudolo>gw); only found here in the New Testament,
but occasionally in classical Greek. Seared. (kekauthriasme>nwn –
kekautaeriansmenon – seared; branded); (where we get the modern word
cauterize – CY – 2013); here only in the New Testament, but used in
Greek medical and other writers for “to brand,” or “cauterize;” kauth>r –
kautaer and kauth>rion – kautaerion - a branding-iron. The application
of the image is somewhat uncertain. If the idea is that of “a brand,” a mark
burnt in upon the forehead of a slave or criminal, then the meaning is that these
men have their own infamy stamped upon their own consciences. It is
not patent only to others, but to themselves also. But if the metaphor is from the
cauterizing a wound, as the Authorized Version takes it, then the idea is that these
men’s consciences are become as insensible to the touch as the skin that has been
cauterized is. The metaphor, in this case, is somewhat similar to that of
pwro>w – poroo – to make hard; callous - pw>rwsiv – porosis – a
hardening; a covering as with a hard stone; metaphorically uses as of
dulled spiritual perception; a hardening of the heart. (Mark 3:5; 6:52;
John 12:40, etc.). The latter interpretation seems to suit the general context best,
and the medical use of the term, which Paul might have learnt from Luke. The
emphasis of th~v ijdi>av - taes idias -“their own conscience,” implies that
they were not merely deceivers of others, but were self-deceived.
A Predicted Apostasy in the Christian Church (vs. 1-2)
In opposition to this exhibition of the mystery of godliness, the apostle
places the prediction of a serious apostasy (falling away) from the faith.
· THE APOSTASY IS A SUBJECT OF EXPRESS PREDICTION.
“But the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in after times some shall
depart from the faith.” It may seem strange that apostasy should be thought
of so soon after the foundation of Christianity, but the Church is fully forewarned
of the coming danger. It was foretold, not obscurely, but expressly, in the
prophecies by Daniel (Daniel 7:25; 8:23), of our Lord (Matthew 24:4, 11),
and of the apostle himself (II Thessalonians 2.:1-12; Acts 20:29-30;
Colossians 2.). But he here alludes more specifically to a development of
error in the future, the germs of which he discerns in the present.
· THE TIME OF ITS APPEARANCE. “In after times.” The words
signify any period subsequent to the age in which the apostle lived, for he
saw in the apostasy of the present the beginning of a still more serious
apostasy in the future. The mystery of iniquity had already begun to
work (II Thessalonians 2:7). But it would project its evil shadow far
forward into the dispensation, in many various forms.
· THE EXTENT OF THE APOSTASY. “Some shall depart from the
Ø Some, not all. Not the whole visible Church, but a considerable part
of it. Thus an
assurance is given that the true
shall not be extinguished.
Ø The apostasy is from the doctrine of faith — though it be the
mystery of godliness — not the grace of faith, which, being of an
incorruptible origin, cannot be lost. Christ is the Author and Finisher
of faith (Hebrews 12:2). The elect cannot be finally deceived. The
doctrine of faith was to be corrupted by “denying what was true,
by adding what was false.”
· THE REASON OR PROCESS OF THE APOSTASY. “Giving heed
to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” The prime movers were not
false teachers, but unseen agents in the spirit-world.
Ø Man does not stand isolated in this world. If he is not influenced
by the Holy Spirit, he is influenced by the spirits of delusion, who are
the emissaries of Satan. If we are not possessed by the truth, error will
make an easy conquest of us. Often the heart that is made empty by
skepticism is the most ready to welcome superstition.
Ø It is possible for evil spirits to influence the human mind.
o Satan could tempt David to number the people (I Chronicles
21:1). As the father of lies, the suggestion of error would be a
congenial work. The coming of the man of sin is to be after
the working of Satan.
o There is a sacrifice to devils, a communion with devils, a cup of
devils, a table of devils (I Corinthians 10:20-21). There is a
spiritual wickedness in high places capable of compassing
great destruction by error. (Ephesians 6:12)
o The apostle teaches the personality of such evil spirits.
o There is no more difficulty in understanding their communication
of thought to man, than in understanding the communication of
thought from one evil man to another. An evil man can
communicate evil by a glance of his eye. But if the Spirit of God
can, without the intervention of the senses, influence the minds
of believers, it is easy to understand that seducing spirits can
have access to the centers of thought and feeling without any
· THE CHARACTER OF THE FALSE TEACHERS UNDER SUCH
EVIL INSPIRATION. “In the hypocrisy of speakers of lies, being
branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron.”
Ø They assumed a mask of holiness which they did not possess,
with the view of giving better currency to their lies. Their assumed
sanctity would throw the unwary off their guard, and lead to the
confounding of truth with error. The lies they taught were that holiness
was to be attained through abstinence from marriage and particular
kinds of food.
Ø They were essentially corrupt, for their conscience had become so
seared through transgression that they had lost the true distinctions
between right and wrong, error and truth. They were incapable of
relishing the “mystery of godliness,” and therefore devoted
themselves to the arts of religious seduction in the interests of an
essentially unspiritual asceticism.
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.” Forbidding to marry. This is mentioned as showing itself first
among the Essenes and Therapeutic by
stated by Clem. Alex., ‘Strom.,’ 3:6; Irenaeus, “Haer.,” 1:22, etc. (quoted
by Ellicott). See other quotations in Pole’s Synopsis. Commanding to
abstain from meats; brwma>twn - bromaton – meats; foods – (I Corinthians 8:8;
Hebrews 9:10; compare brw>sei – brosei – meat; food - Colossians 2:16; Romans
14:17). The word “commanding” has to be supplied from the preceding
kwluo>ntwn – koluonton – forbidding; commanding not. Some of the sects
prohibited the use of animal food. A trace of this asceticism in regard to food is
found in Colossians 2:16, 21, 23. Ga>mou uJperoyi>a par aujtoi~v - - gamou
huperopsia par autois - they despise marriage; Essai>wn oujdei<v a]getai
gunai~ka – essaion oudeis agetai gunaika “None of the Essenes marry” (Philo,
— “A people without a single woman, for they renounce marriage” (Plin., ‘Nat. Hist.,’
5:15). As regards their food, Bishop Lightfoot says, “The Essene drank no
wine; he did not touch animal food. His meal consisted of a piece of bread,
and a single mess of vegetables” (‘Introd.,’ p. 86). Professor Burton (in
Kitto’s ‘Cyclopaedia,’ art. “Gnosticism’) says of the later Gnostics that,
from their principle of the utter malignity of matter, and the elevating
nature of gnw~siv - gnosis – knowledge - two very opposite results ensued —
one that many Gnostics led very profligate lives; the other that many
practiced great austerities in order to mortify the body and its sensual
appetites (p. 770). Some of our modern Encratites, in their language
concerning the use of wine and beer, approach Gnosticism very closely.
(Without trying to be judgmental, I sometimes wonder about our modern
vegetarians; pet lovers, etc. [I like both vegetables and pets] – CY – 2013)
To be received (eijv meta>lhyin – eis metalaepsin – to be received;
in partaking of); a classical word, but only found here in the New Testament,
not used by the Septuagint. With thanksgiving. Observe the identity of thought
with Romans 14:6. These passages, together with our Lord’s action at the Last
Supper (Luke 22:17, 19), at the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Ibid. ch.9:16),
and Paul’s on board ship (Acts 27:35), are conclusive as to the Christian duty of
giving thanks, commonly called “saying grace” at meals. The truth (see ch.3:15;
John 18:37; Ephesians 4:21).
4 “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it
be received with thanksgiving:” Nothing is to be refused. Every
creature of God is good (and on that account not to be rejected) if it is
received with thanksgiving in a very good and edifying sense. Creature
(kti>sma – ktisma). The form commonly used by Paul is kti>siv – ktisis –
creation - (Romans 8:20-22; II Corinthians 5:17). But kti>sma stands by
the side of kti>siv, like brw~ma – broma – meat; food - by the side of
brw~siv– brosis eating - o[rama – horama – sight - by the side of
o[rasiv – horasis – vision - po>ma poma – drink - by the side of po>siv - posis –
drinking - and many more. The form kti>sma is found in James 1:18; and twice
in Revelation. Good (kalo>n – kalon); with reference to Genesis 1:10, 12, etc.
To be refused (ajpo>blhton - apoblaeton); only here in the New Testament,
but found in classical Greek, and not uncommon in the Septuagint and other Greek
versions, for that which is “unclean,” or “abominable.” If it be received with
thanksgiving. This clearly refers to “every creature of God,” and is the
condition on which it is good in relation to the receiver. Nothing can be clearer
or more certain than that the apostle is not arguing against the Manichean doctrine
of the evil of matter, or the works of the Demiurge, but against Jewish scruples
about meats. “Every creature of God,” he says, “is good” — words which
would have no force if the creatures in question were not admitted to be
the works of God, but thought to be the works of the Demiurge. But
applied to the Jewish scruples, the words are perfectly relevant. Every
creature of God is good, and on no account to be treated as common or
unclean (Acts 10:15, 28), provided only that it be received with thanksgiving.
5 “For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” It is sanctified by the
Word of God. Considerable difference of opinion prevails among commentators
as to the precise meaning of this verse, especially of the phrase, “the Word of
God.” Some refer to Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, etc.; others to (Ibid. v.29; 9:4, as
containing the original grant of meats for the use of man; others to
the scriptural phrases embodied in the words of the ejnteu>xiv - enteuxis –
prayer; pleading; intercession - the prayer of thanksgiving. Another possible
reference would be to the Word of God recorded in Acts 10:13, 15, 28, by which
that which had previously been unclean was now made clean or holy; or, lastly,
it might mean “the blessing of God” given in answer to the “prayer” on each
occasion, which suits well the present tense, aJgia>zeti – hagiazetai– sanctified.
Prayer (ejnteuxiv; see ch.2:1, note).
The Practical Features of the Apostasy (vs. 3-5)
The apostle does not enumerate the doctrinal errors of the apostates, but
touches upon two practical characteristics which would fall under general
· THERE WAS A PROHIBITION OR RESTRAINT UPON
MARRIAGE. “Forbidding to marry.”
Ø It developed inside the Latin and
of the clergy and the religious orders.
Ø It was a tendency wholly opposed to Scripture teaching.
o It forbade what Scripture allowed: “Marriage is honorable
in all” (Hebrews 13:4).
o It forbade the marriage of ministers, while Old Testament
priests and New Testament ministers were to be “husbands of
one wife” (ch.3:2). “Have we not power to lead about a
wife, a sister?” (I Corinthians 9:5). Several of the apostles
made use of this power: “As well as other apostles.... and
o The reason why the apostle says so little here concerning the
restriction on marriage, and so much on that respecting meats,
is probably because the one was so manifestly opposed to the
whole plan of creation, that the common sense of men would
reject it as unnatural and wrong. Perhaps, also, the one
tendency had not assumed so definite a form as the other. The
very liberty allowed under the gospel to abstain from marriage
was not grounded on the idea of the superior holiness of celibacy
or virginity, but on its affording in special circumstances greater
opportunities and freedom for spiritual work (I Corinthians
· THERE WAS A PROHIBITION OR RESTRAINT UPON THE USE
OF CERTAIN KINDS OF FOOD. “And commanding to abstain from
meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving by
them who believe and know the truth.”
Ø It was contrary to God’s design in creation.
o All food was from the hand of the Maker; nothing was therefore to
be accounted common or unclean under the gospel.
o All food was good. “For every creature of God is good, and
nothing to be refused.” It was not, therefore, for man to place
restrictions upon what God had given with such a liberal hand for
his use. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”
(Psalm 24:1; I Corinthians 10:26)
Ø The conditions under which the true design of God in creation is
o The food was for all creatures; but “believers and those who
have known the truth” had a covenant right to it, and the true
end of creation was only fully satisfied in them.
o The right manner of receiving the food provided. “If it be
received with thanksgiving;” for it is sanctified by the
Word of God and prayer (vs. 4-5). This implies:
§ that food is to be gratefully received as God’s gift;
§ that our thanksgiving is presented on the objective side by
the Word of God, and on the subjective side by prayer.
Thus the custom of grace before and after meat is
grounded in a Divine command.
A Grateful Heart (v. 4)
“If it be received with thanksgiving.” We are always to be conscious of
dependence, or else our very blessings turn to curses. We become full, and
we deny God. There is a prosperity without God which makes men proud
and hard. Men lose the consciousness of the transitoriness of earthly good
(“for we brought nothing into this world and it is certain that we
can carry nothing out.” (ch. 6:7; Job 1:21), and of their entire dependence
upon God. We are, therefore, to live in an atmosphere of gratitude. We are
not to receive mercies as though we had a right to them, but always, as Paul says,
“Be ye thankful.”
· THINK OF THE THOUGHT MANIFESTED IN THESE GIFTS,
Every student of nature becomes surprised that beauty is born out of such
strange elements, and that there should be such harmony of forces that,
taken alone, would be terribly destructive. God’s thoughts are, toward us,
precious thoughts, spoken in all ages by holy men, and symbolized in the
world of nature. God has thought out all that is needful for our life.
(“What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have
not done in it? (Isaiah 5:4) He has stored the earth, interlaced it with
rich metallic veins, filled it with limestone and coal, that all might be ready
for his child. (And like food, mentioned above, today, there are those
spiritual heathens who would ban the searching for resources which
would greatly benefit mankind - for example, coal, which they say pollutes –
all the while having NO UNDERSTANDING “that morally, they are
POLLUTING THE EARTH at a much more rapid clip which is
bringing destruction upon the earth; a la – THE END OF TIME
AND THE CONSUMATION OF THE AGE – SO TO THE
GREEN MOVEMENT and THE GLOBAL WARMING CROWD –
see Revelation 11:18 – CY – 2013) And in grace we see how God
promised a Savior, and, when his Son came into the world,
“all things are now ready.” (Luke 14:17)
· THINK OF THE FORBEARANCE THAT CONTINUES THEM.
Men have abused God’s mercies. If men destroy the nobleman’s shrubs, he
closes his grounds. If men deface the pictures, the galleries are no longer
free. And yet God bears with all the sin and frailty of man; and from
generation to generation this is the thought that should move man most —
not only the forgiveness, BUT THE FOREBEARANCE OF GOD!
· THINK OF THE PLEASURES RECEIVED FROM THEM. What
Million-fold ministrations of pleasure there are! What has not nature been to
you, and love, and thought, and home! There is no more wonderful
contemplation than the varied pleasures of heart and mind. (I was
sitting at a magazine rack this very day looking at some very beautiful
pictures of God’s Creation – CY – March 11, 2013)
· THINK OF THE UNCREATIVE POWER OF MAN. We cannot
create an atom:
Ø we can only readjust and combine.
Ø the artist cannot create his colors; he can only mix them.
Ø the physician cannot create his remedies; he can only find them.
Ø the builder cannot create his stones, he can only quarry them.
Ø the child can gather the flower; but a whole universe of men
Ø cannot give it life again.
Let every creation of God be received with thanksgiving.
Creation Sanctified (v. 5)
“For it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.” Here, then, is an
exquisite harmony. We have been talking of creation, and now we come to
consider the Word of God. And these creative things are to be “sanctified
by the Word of God and prayer.” Men can talk with God. His fellowship is
a test of all our pleasures and companionships and associations — “Would
the Bible be out of place here?” It is never out of place in nature’s gardens
and groves. The best descriptions of nature are in the Bible. It is never out
of place in pure festivities. It records the marriage supper, and the music
and the dance when the prodigal came home. It is never out of place in
children’s joys; for it gives the picture of a glad and happy childhood. The
prophet says, “The streets of the city shall be full of girls and boys
playing” (Zechariah 8:5); and Christ took up little children in His arms, and
blessed them. It is never out of place in pure human love; for that is poetized in
one entire book of the Bible. It is not out of place in the earnest pursuit of secular
things (The purpose of Christianity is to sanctify the secular – C. H. Spurgeon);
for the proverbs appeal to personal endeavor, and to the right enjoyment of
riches and honor. The Bible sanctifies life from the cradle to the grave, and any
social economy apart from the Word of God is only a paper defense against tyranny
and wrong. “And prayer.” For we may speak to God. The neutral face of nature is
ghastly without Him. “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth” (I Samuel 3:10).
Can I ask God to be there at all? Can I ask Him to aid me in my work? Can I ask
Him to comfort me if I fail? Can I ask Him to quicken my powers and enlarge my
opportunities? Can I ask Him to sanctify my associations? These are vital questions;
for nothing is sanctified without him, and everything is “sanctified by the Word of
God and prayer.”
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.” If thou put the brethren
in remembrance of these things (pau~ta uJpotiqe>menov toi~v ajdelfoi~v –
paunta hupotithemenos tois adelphois – if thou put the brethren in remembrance);
if thou suggest these things to the brethren, lay them down as principles upon
which their conduct is to be based; or, enjoin them. It only occurs
in this metaphorical sense here in the New Testament, but is very common
in classical Greek, and not infrequent in the Septuagint. It has often the
meaning of “to advise” or” counsel.” Of course, “hypothesis,” the assumed
basis from which you start, is the same root. The brethren (toi~v ajdelfoi~v –
tois adelphois). The distinctive name for the members of Christ’s Church,
throughout the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. The whole body is
called hJ ajdelfo>thv – hae adelphotaes - the brotherhood (I Peter 2:17; 5:9).
A good minister (dia>konov – diakonos). The application of this term to
Timothy, like that of ejpi>skopov – episkotpos - to presbyters (ch.3:2), is an
indication of the early date of the Epistle, before the distinctive names of
the Church officers had quite hardened down into a technical meaning.
Nourished (ajntrefo>menov – antrephomenos); here only in the New
Testament, and not used in the Septuagint; but in classical Greek not
uncommon in the sense of “brought up in,” “trained in from childhood.”
In Latin, innutritus. The phrase,“nourished in the words of the faith,” etc.,
explains the kalo<v dia>konov - kalos diakonos – good minister, and shows
what a man must be to deserve the appellation — one, viz., who
is nourished in the words of the faith, etc. The good doctrine, etc. In
opposition to the “doctrines of devils” in v. 1. The different epithets of
this true Christian doctrine are hJ kalh> – hae kalae – the good; ideal –
(as here); uJgiai>nousa – hugiainousa – sound - (ch.1:10; Titus 1:9; 2:1);
hJ kat eujsebei>an didaskali>a – hae kat eusebeian didaskalia – and
according to godly teaching - (ch.6:3); and in Ibid. v.1 we have simply
hdidaskali>a – hae didaskalia – the teaching - without any epithet.
In like manner, hJ pi>stiv hJ, ajlhqei>a hJ eujsebei>a – hae pistis,
hae alaetheia, hae eusebeia – the faith, the truth, the godliness -
severally denote the Christian religion. Whereunto thou has
attained. (h+| parhkolouqh>kav - hae paraekolouthaekas - which thou
hast followed until now). This is a rather more faithful rendering than that of
the Authorized Version; it is, literally, which thou hast kept close to, either
for the purpose of imitating it, or, as II Timothy 3:10, for the purpose of
observing it. Or, to put it differently, in one case so as to teach it
identically, and in the other so as to know it perfectly. In this last aspect it
is also used in Luke 1:3. The classical use is “to follow closely any
one’s steps,” or “the course of events,” when used literally; or,
metaphorically, “to follow with one’s thoughts,” “to understand.”
7 “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather
unto godliness.” The two imperatives paraitou~ – paraitou – refuse and
gu>mnaze – gumnaze – be ye exercising - connect and contrast the
thoughts in the two clauses of the verse, as the Authorized Version indicates
by the insertion of “rather.” Profane (bebh>louv – bebaelous); ch.1:9, note)
Old wives’ (gra>wdeiv – graodeis – crones; old womanish); only here in the
New Testament; not used in Septuagint; rare in classical Greek. Exercise thyself
(gu>mnaze seuto>n – gumnaze seuton) unto godliness. The verb gumna>zein –
gumnazein occurs in the New Testament only in this place, twice in the Epistle
to the Hebrews (5:14; 12:11), and once in II Peter (2:14). It is common in
classical Greek. The metaphor is drawn from training for gymnastic exercises.
As regards the whole passage, it seems that there were current among the Jews
at this time many “fables” (ch.1:4; II Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14; II Peter 1:16),
childish legends and doctrines, some of them directed especially to enforcing
certain rules about eating and drinking, and other “bodily exercises,” which
Paul utterly discountenances, and contrasts with that “good doctrine”
which he directs Timothy continually to teach. This would account,
naturally, for the introduction of the phrase, gu>mnaze seauto>n –
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.” Bodily exercise. Exercise which only affects the body, such as
those rules which the Jewish ascetics enforced. Gumnasi>a - gumnasia –
exercise - only occurs here in the New Testament, and not at all in the
Septuagint, but is not uncommon in classical Greek. Another form is
gu>mnasiv – gumnasis, and gumna>sion – gumnasion is the place where
such gu>mnasiv takes place. Profiteth little; margin, for little, which is the
best rendering, Pro<v ojli>gon – pros oligon – profiteth little; toward few
things - may mean either “for a little while” or “for a little”(better, “for little”),
but cannot mean both. The contrast with pro<v pa>nta – pros panta – all
things; toward all things - determines its meaning here to be “for little.”
Promise of the life. The genitive here is the genitive of the thing promised,
as in Acts 2:33; Galatians 3:14; II Timothy 1:1. And the thing promised is
“the life that now is,” meaning, of course, its enjoyment in peace and happiness
(compare Psalm 34:12, where qe>lwn zwh>n
is parallel to ajgapw~n hJme>rav... ajgaqa>v – agapon haemeras …agathas –
loving [to see] good days); and “that which is to come,” viz. eternal life). There
is no occasion to strain after greater grammatical precision. There is no
contradiction between this statement of the happiness of a godly life and Paul’s
statement in I Corinthians 15:19. Another possible way of construing
the words is “Having the promise of life, both the present and the future.”
The Advantage of True Godliness (v. 8)
The apostle gives a reason for his exhortation to godliness.
· THE SUPERIORITY OF GODLINESS TO ANY MERE BODILY
EXERCISE. “For bodily exercise profiteth to a small extent.”
Ø The allusion here is not to the ascetic discipline already noticed,
o Though it might apply to the more developed austerities of later
times — flagellations, pilgrimages, and weary vigils — it cannot
fairly apply to the disuse of marriage and of certain kinds of food.
There is no bodily exercise implied in such a quiescent habit or
aspect of life.
o It is impossible to think that the apostle should even concede that
such austerity was profitable to the smallest extent, for he is
opposed to the whole idea of it.
o Besides, this was not the immediate subject in hand, which was
the excellence of true piety.
Ø The allusion is to the gymnastic training which occupied so much
of the time and energy of the Greek youth. It was profitable for the
healthful development of bodily life, but by its very nature it was both
temporal and temporary in its results and its rewards.
· THE GROUND OF THE SUPERIORITY OF GODLINESS. “But
godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life
that now is, and of that which is to come.” It has the profit and the
promise of a double life.
Ø It has the profit and the promise of this present life.
o There is the promise of length of days. “The wicked live
not half their days.” (Psalm 55:23)
o There is the prophetic promise that they “shall inherit the
earth.” (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5)
o There is the profit:
§ of a good name,
§ of riches and honor; for they will want no good thing.
o Godliness is profitable for all things included in the
scheme of a holy life.
Ø It has the profit and the promise of the life to come.
o This does not signify that it merits eternal life, but that it is
essentially connected with it in the Divine scheme of
o Thus godliness is “great gain” for the whole life of man in
the next life. It involves the highest blessedness of man.
o Happy is the man whose future is provided for as well as
· CORROBORATION OF THE APOSTLE’S ASSERTION
RESPECTING GODLINESS. “Faithful is the saying, and worthy
of all acceptation.” (v. 9) It was a truth of universal acceptance among
Christian people, because, in spite of all the drawbacks of a persecuting time,
it had been happily realized in their checkered experience
Religious Recompense (v. 8)
“Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now
is.” It is a fair charge against mediaevalism, that it left out of sight the
Christianization of this present life, and became only another-worldism.
The host carried to the dying was everything; the elevation of the earthly
life was nothing. Marshes might remain undrained, habitations unimproved,
knowledge be imprisoned, science be garroted, and this earth neglected,
provided the people became true sons of the Church and possessed the
priestly passports to eternity! The religious nature (and there is that in
every man) was perverted. Man became the subject-power of those who, in
the name of God, darkened the moral sense, and degraded human nature
under the pretence of saving it. The gospel has always had the promise of
the life that now is; it saves men from selfishness and sin, as well as from
· THE LIFE THAT NOW IS WAS CREATED BY GOD. Human life
and human history are not accidents. God created us, and not we
ourselves. Better to be born and to die in the same hour, than to live on
through weary years, if human life has not a heavenly purpose in it. GOD
THOUGHT OUT THIS WORLD! God designed us to use it; and when
we mourn over sin and ignorance and darkness, we rejoice that Christ came
to put away sin, and to bring in an everlasting righteousness. Nature
is ours, with all her mountains and seas, her pastures and flocks, the silvery
thread of her rivers, and the Gothic arches of her forests, richly to enjoy.
Christ came to claim humanity, to redeem humanity. The broken harp he
will restring and set to divinest music. We will not put sepia into all the
pictures of earth’s to-morrow; for “the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough places plain: and the glory of the Lord be revealed,
and all flesh see it together.” (Isaiah 40:5)
· THE LIFE THAT NOW IS TO BE MOLDED BY GOSPEL
INFLUENCES. We read that Paul “persuaded and turned away much
people” (Acts 19:26). If the gospel has the promise, we must help in the
fulfillment of the promise. When we see wrongs, we must try to remedy them.
When God gives us the remedy, we must take care to point to THE
GREAT PHYSICIAN ALONE! We need not be afraid. The gospel is
unique; it stands alone. IT HAS DONE MORE FOR THIS SIN-
STRICKEN WORLD than any words of man can tell. And Christ
still lives on, and His Spirit is one of restraint in men, even when it is
not a salvation. If caricature could have crushed Christianity, it would have
been silenced long ago. The life that now is was MOLDED BY THE
GOSPEL so that men who were once darkness had light in the Lord.
Humanity breathed again; slavery felt its grasp grow weaker; polygamy
became a cruelty and a shame; and as we look at its beneficent progress,
and see orphanages and homes and refuges rising up on every hand
(of course this was in the days prior to abortion-on-demand – CY –
2013), we have abundant evidence that the gospel is promise of the life
that now is. Suicide, that had been the euthanasia of
is now resurrected in the
satiety of its pleasures, and to whom death was a relief from its ennui, gave
place to a race who found new hope and new joy in the pursuit and
pleasures of the life that now is, UNDER THE LORDSHIP OF
The Great Beyond (v. 8)
“And of that which is to come.” It is not too much to say that the gospel
alone, in this age, is the witness to IMMORTALITY — a witness preserved in
o it is taught by Christ’s words;
o illustrated in Christ’s life; and
o attested by Christ’s resurrection.
Outside the gospel we have materialism, which denies it; agnosticism, which says
it does not know about it; and the modern school who use the word “immortality,”
but mean immortality of influence, or a life which has on earth its permanent
pervasive power after we are gone: just as the oak is immortal which sends on,
from acorn to acorn, its being. Before Christ came:
o Immortality had its place as an instinct. The philosophers
o It had its place as an imagination. The poets made dreams out
o It had its place as an ancient revelation.
The Hebrews had knowledge of it. But secularism, in the fashionable
AND IMMORTALITY to light by the gospel. It is this light in which the
gospel is bathed; the perspective behind all its picture-teachings; the consolation of
apostles, confessors, and martyrs. But Paul links it with the life that now is,
because he would not let the doctrine of immortality become basely used,
it was in
to the oppressed, the poor, the serf, the miserable, “Never mind, Ormuzd
will make it right hereafter!” Not so says Paul. Religion has its rectitude’s
and its rewards here as well. The gospel has the promise of THE LIFE
THAT NOW IS and of THAT WHICH IS TO COME!
· THEN LIFE IS CONTINUOUS; THERE IS NO BREAK.
Death is not a dividing power. It is a dark arch through which the
river flows. If a pure river, then he which is holy shall be holy still.
(Revelation 22;11). If a fetid river, then he which is filthy shall be
filthy still. (Ibid.). This is life eternal — TO KNOW CHRIST and,
having Him, we have glory and immortality. The insect does not die when it
changes its garment from the grub to the winged being, when it exchanges
earth for air. Nor do we die. We are unclothed that we may be clothed
upon with our house which is from heaven. (II Corinthians 5:2). The body
sheds itself often. At seventy we have had ten bodies (at 69 ½ I can relate
to that – CY – 2013); but the mind, the heart, the conscience, the memory,
have a consciously unbroken continuity. We never shed them!
The road is seen today from the child’s first step; the river flows through
town and city, but it is the same river. We feel this; it is the mystery of
personality; it is the symbol of continuity. Through all the years we have
had one being, and through the dark arch of death it flows on into the life
that is to come. (I recommend Thomas Cole’s The Voyage of Life –
CY – 2013)
· THEN LIFE IS A PROPHECY. There is no difficulty here. As the
child is the prophecy of the man, so the man is the prophecy of the
immortal. In a mirror, and that mirror himself, man may read the future
world. His tastes, desires, pursuits, pleasures, all globe themselves in the
microcosm of his heart. He need consult no augurs about future destiny.
Here are the mystic pages: “He that believeth on the Son hath life”
(John 3:36); its form, shape, color, quality. Christ has changed the nature,
and made it GOD-LIKE AND DIVINE! The Christian life may be shady,
imperfect, and stained with evil; but it is a God-like thing; its pity, purity,
righteousness, holiness, are attested. Perfect it, and you have heaven.
(“But my God shall perfect that which concerneth me” (Psalm 138:8).
It were well for men to think, not only of what is, but of WHAT IS
TO COME! Even bad men hope to alter. Men think a sudden change
at last may come; a turn of the helm just as the vessel nears the rapids
may cause it to glide into the river of life. But life here is a prophecy.
It is the earnest of the inheritance of reward or shame — the life that is to
come, with its advent hour so quiet, so sure, so solemn; COMING
BUT ONCE, but coming to ALL. We thank God for the great
sky of immortality above us, and for THE REST THAT REMAINETH
FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD! (Hebrews 9:4)
9 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.” (see ch.1:15, note).
Here, however, the pisto<v lo>gov – pistos logos – faithful saying - is that which
precedes, viz. that “godliness is profitable for all things,” etc., which we
thus learn was a proverbial saying.
10 “For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust
in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those
that believe.” Therefore. To this end; or, with this in view. He
thus justifies his assertion that the saying he had quoted is a faithful one, by
showing that the promise and all that it contained was the ground of all his
labors and those of his fellow-laborers in the gospel. Labor. (ajgwnizo>meqa –
agonizometha – strive - ojneidizo>meqa – oneidizometha - suffer reproach; we
are being reproached);; but the reading is doubtful. The sense conveysw
something more than mere labor — the bitter reproaches and persecutions which
he endured (II Timothy 3:11; I Corinthians 4:9-13; II Corinthians 11:23-27); and
all because of his firm trust IN THE PROMISES OF THE LIVING GOD!
We trust in the living God. hjlpi>kamen ejpi< Qew~|zw~nti – haelpikamen epi
Theozonti - we trust in the living God; we rely on the living God. In ch.5:5 we
have h]lpiken ejpi< Qeo>n – haelpiken epi Theou – trusteth in God; relies on the
God - with no appreciable difference of sense. Specially of them that believe;
and therefore we who believe HAVE SPECIAL CAUSE TO HOPE IN HIM,
AND TO TRUST HIS PROMISES!
Apostolic Endurance (v.10)
“We suffer reproach.” This is hard to bear, even when it is not deserved.
All who have broken old ties of Church or home know its power. Men ever
brand with heresy that which conflicts with their own opinions. Against
Paul men brought false charges. We must not surround the gospel then
with the glory associated with it now. We put the nimbus on the heads of
the saints and martyrs; their enemies crowned them with shame.
· THERE WAS THE CONSCIOUS LOSS OF ALL THAT THE
WORLD HOLDS DEAR. A good name and a fair fame, how
precious these are to us all! But if we move daily in an atmosphere of
suspicion and false accusation, how full of misery the outward lot becomes!
It is a proof of how precious Christ was to Paul, that he counts all things but
offal that he may win Christ. Reproach itself became a source of joy when
he felt that it was endured for the Master’s cause. “If ye be reproached
for the Name of Christ, happy are ye.” (I Peter 4:14)
· IT WAS A SURE PROOF OF THE REALITY OF THEIR
RELIGION. “Because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil,”
said Christ, “therefore they have hated me” (John 7:7). The Master
was reproached as a blasphemer, a wine-bibber, a seditionist, a friend
of publicans and sinners. It was a testimony to His earnest character that
Paul suffered reproach. Wolves do not worry a painted sheep, and the
world does not persecute a mere professor. In every age of religious
earnestness reproach has had to be endured. The Covenanters of
in their wilderness-worship, when they spread the white communion cloth
on the yet whiter snow; the Puritans in their hidden assemblies; and
missionaries like Carey, satirized by the reviews! Even now it is not an
easy thing to be a Christian; but we find in the gospel that which no
secular inspiration can give — THE POWER TO LIVE IN THE
FACE OF AN ANTAGONISTIC WORLD.
Sustaining Motive (v. 10)
“Because we trust in the living God.” One remarkable fact in the history of
Paul was that nothing damped his ardor. It was not so with such men as
Luther, who seemed to feel at last that all is vain. There were no outward
forces to sustain the life of the new Church. Well may the ancient words be
used in contrasting the cause of Mohammed with that of the gospel: “Some
trust in chariots, and some in horses, BUT WE TRUST IN THE
NAME OF THE LORD, OUR GOD.”
· “IN THE LIVING GOD.” The tendency of Judaism was to leave God in
the past! The age of inspiration had passed, the prophetic roll had closed,
and the Jews became scribes and traditionists. They had a codex of finished
Law, and gathered up the opinions of the rabbis upon the minutest matters
of ceremonial and duty. Paul preached a God who was then baptizing men
with fire — a Holy Spirit that was working in the hearts of the faithful.
· “THE LIVING GOD” BECAUSE THE GOSPEL SHOWED ALL
THE MARKS OF LIFE. It embodied Divine power, it manifested a living
purpose. It had an echo in the conscience and heart of men. God, who in
times past had spoken to the fathers by the prophets, had in these last days
spoken unto them by his Son. God was manifest in the flesh (Hebrews 1:1-2;
ch. 3:16). The Spirit had descended after Christ’s ascension, and Pentecost
had already taken its place in history.
· “THE LIVING GOD” HAD SHOWN THAT HE COULD TAKE
CARE OF HIS SERVANTS. He had opened ways for them; He had
touched the hearts of men. As they preached, the message had been
accompanied with POWER FROM ON HIGH and Paul in his
imprisonment had received grace according to his day.
· “THE LIVING GOD” WHO WOULD CONTINUE HIS WORK IF
HIS SERVANTS DIED. Empires might fall; dynasties might change; the
ancient Jewish Church might fulfill its day; but THE LIVING GOD had
designed a new heaven and a new earth, wherein righteousness
should dwell; and thus his apostles trusted, not in an arm of flesh, but
in A LIVING GOD!
The Universal Redeemer (v. 10)
“Who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe.” Paul had no
limited atonement to preach, but that CHRIST DIED FOR ALL and was the
propitiation for the sins of the whole world (Romans 3:23-25). There was
no court of the Gentiles; for all alike — Jew and Greek — were included under
sin that THAT THE GRACE OF GOD MIGHT APPEAR TO ALL MEN!
In Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew, bond nor free; all are one in the
provision; ALL NEED IT; ALL MUST HAVE IT! (Galatians 3:28; Colossians
3:11; “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
· HE IS THE SAVIOR SPECIALLY OF THEM THAT BELIEVE; for
unless faith looks up and lays hold on Christ, the virtue will not come out
of Him, either of forgiveness or life. It matters not that the lifeboat is
provided for all in the sinking ship, unless men will leap into the lifeboat. It
matters not that the electric cord conveys the current, unless men adjust it
to their wants and bring it to their house!
· AND THIS SALVATION IS MADE MANIFEST IN EVERY AGE.
In that age:
Ø it stayed suicide,
Ø it raised hospitals,
Ø it emancipated Ephesians and Corinthians from lust,
Ø it uplifted women,
Ø it purified law, and
Ø it created brotherhood between Samaritan, Gentile, and Jew.
In the early centuries we see it at work in the varied peoples that united
in its worship, whilst the bishops of the Church were African, Greek,
Roman, and Armenian. It saved men in the catacombs from despair,
and constrained them to write on their epitaphs words that breathed
of hope; and IT CONTINUES TO SAVE!
It enlarges the
Christ; it breaks up the heptarchy of evil in the heart, as province after
province becomes loyal to God; and it redeems body, soul, and spirit.
“Beside me there is no Savior” (Isaiah 43:11) is as true today as
ever. The love of beauty often ends in mere sensuous aestheticism. The
seeking after righteousness often leaves the upas tree of the heart with its
deadly leaves within. New ideals of social economy find man’s selfishness
supreme in every new adjustment of law. Selfishness never has been slain,
SAVE AT THE CROSS OF JESUS! But this gospel saves them that
believe today. Men too often prefer costly ritual and formal ceremonial; but
a new heart means a new life, and the gospel saves them that believe.
11 “These things command and teach.” Command (para>ggelle - paraggele –
command; be you charging – see ch.1:3, note; 5:7; 6:13, 17). It is used very
frequently in the Gospels of our Lord’s commands to the apostles and others,
and by Paul of his own apostolic directions to the Churches (I Thessalonians 4:11;
II Thessalonians 3:4, 6, etc.).
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.” Let no man despise thy youth (compare I Corinthians 16:11;
Titus 2:15). The construction of the sentence is manifestly that adopted in
the Authorized Version and followed in the Revised Version. Timothy would
certainly be under forty years at this time, and might be not above thirty-five.
Either age would be decidedly early for so responsible an office — one in which
he would have many elders (presbu>teroi - presbuteroi) under him (ch. 5:1, 17,19).
An ensample (tu>pov – tupos example; model; type); properly the original “pattern”
or “model” after which anything is made or fashioned; hence a “pattern” or
“example.” It is used in the same sense as here in Philippians 3:17; I Thessalonians
1:7; II Thessalonians 3:9; Titus 2:7; I Peter. 5:3. Of the believers.. oiJ
pistoi> – oi piston - are simply “believers,” or “Christians” — “the flock,” as
Peter has it, and had better be so rendered. Timothy is exhorted to make it
impossible for any one to question his authority on the score of his youth
by being a model of the Christian graces required in believers. In word.
Specially in his teaching. The exhortation to Titus (2:1, 7) is very
similar, “Speak thou the things which befit the sound doctrine. In all things
showing thyself an ensample of good works; in thy doctrine showing
uncorruptness, gravity, sound speech (lo>gon uJgih~ – logou hugiae)” etc.
(compare too ch. 5:17; II Timothy 1:13). Conversation - (ajnastrofh~ –
anastrophae conversation; Manner of life - see ch. 3:15, note). Purity
(aJgnei>a| - – hagneia); elsewhere in the New Testament only in ch.5:2,
where it has the same special sense (compare ajgno>v – hagnos – pure;
chaste - II Corinthians 11:2; ch.5:22; Titus 2:5; I Peter 3:2).
13 “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.”
Till I come (ch.1:3; 3:14).
public reading of the Scriptures (the Lessons, as we should say). This we know
was the practice in the synagogue (Luke 4:16; Acts 13:27; 15:21; II Corinthians
3:15). We see the beginning of reading the New Testament in the Christian
assemblies in Ephesians 3:4; and Colossians 4:16; and generally in the fact of
Epistles being addressed by the apostles to Churches. The ajnagnw>sthv –
anagnostaes – reading - the reader, lector, was a regular order in the third and
fourth centuries. Exhortation (th~| paraklh>sei – tae paraklaesei – exhortation;
entreaty); see Acts 4:36, where Barnabas’s name is interpreted as meaning “Son
of exhortation” (Revised Version), and 13:15; compare Romans 12:7 (where, as
here, para>klhsiv – paraklaesis – exhortation and didaskali>a - didaskalia –
doctrine; teaching - are coupled together); I Thessalonians 2:3, etc. Teaching
(didaskali>a); almost always rendered “doctrine” in the Authorized Version.
But here, where the act of teaching (like the act of reading, the act of exhorting,
in the two preceding clauses) is intended, “teaching” is perhaps the best word
according to our modern usage. As regards the difference between didaskali>a
and para>klhsiv, the former would express “doctrinal teaching,” whether of
dogma or of precept, the latter entreaties to believe the one and practice the
other (see Acts 11:23 and 14:22 for good examples of pra>klhsiv).
The Duties of Timothy’s Public Ministry (v. 13)
The apostle urges him to the diligent exercise of his calling. “Till I come give
attention to the reading, the exhortation, the teaching.”
the Church. The Old Testament Scriptures, and probably part of the New
Testament, would thus be read at such meeting of the saints. This reading
was necessary because
Ø the Scriptures were the sources of all religious knowledge;
Ø the test or standard of doctrine by which opinions were to be
Ø the means of sanctification (John 17:17);
Ø the spring of Christian hope and comfort (Romans 15:13).
· THE EXHORTATION. This refers to public ministry. Timothy was
practically to enforce the duties of Christian life out of the Scriptures.
Thus full provision would be made for building up the saints in their most
holy faith, and in all the graces and virtues of a holy life.
14 “Negllect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by
prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.”
The gift (ca>risma – charisma - gift). The verb cari>zomai – charizomai –
“to give anything freely,” gratuitously, of mere good will, without any payment
or return (Luke 7:42; Acts 27:24; Romans 8:32; I Corinthians 2:12, etc.). Hence
ca>risma came to be especially applied to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are
preeminently “free gifts” (see Acts 8:20). It is so applied in Romans 1:11; 12:6;
I Corinthians 1:7; 12:4, 9, 28, 30-31; I Peter 4:10. Here, then, as in the
similar passage, II Timothy 1:6, the “gift” spoken of is the special
grace given by the Holy Ghost to those who are separated for “the office
and work of a priest in the
(Ordering of Priests). This gift Paul bids him not neglect (mh< ajme>lei –
mae amelei). The word contains the idea of contemptuous neglect — neglect
as of an unimportant thing. In Matthew 22:5 the persons invited to the feast
made light of it, and went away to other things which they cared more
about. In Hebrews 2:3, thlikau>thv ajmelh>santev swthri>av - taelikautaes
amelaesantes sotaerias – neglect so great salvation and 8:9, imply a contemptuous
disregard. So here Timothy is reminded that in his ordination he received a great
ca>risma, and that he must value it duly, and use it diligently. It must not be let
lie slumbering and smoldering, but must be stirred up into a flame. The lesson
here and in II Timothy 1:6 seems to be that we must look back to our ordination,
and to the spiritual grace given in it, as things not exhausted. The grace is there,
but it must not be lightly thought of. Which was given thee by prophecy. This
seems to be explained by Acts 13:1-3, where Barnabas and Saul were
separated for their work by the laying on of the hands apparently of the
prophets and teachers, at the express command of the Holy Ghost,
speaking doubtless by the mouth of one of the prophets. Timothy, it
appears, was designated for his work by a like command of the Holy
Ghost, speaking by one of the Church prophets, and received his
commission by a like “laying on of hands” by the elders of the Church. If
Paul refers, as he appears to do, to the same occasion in II Timothy
1:6, then it appears that he laid his hands on Timothy, together with the
presbyters, as is done by the bishop in the ordination of priests. The
presbytery (tou~presbuteri>ou) – tou presbuteriou – presbytery; eldership.
The word is borrowed from the Jewish nomenclature (see Luke 22:6;
Spiritual Negligence (v. 14)
“Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” This is a counsel specially for Timothy
as a teacher; but it applies to us all.
beings. A lake, unless the living waters flow through it, is stagnant and
dangerous. The world of youth and beauty is a world of life. The sun parts
with its beams. The ocean exhales its moisture. The tree yields its fruit. The
air passes through the lungs. The river makes music of progress as it passes
to the sea. Here in nature there is no arresting hand, no force of self-restraint,
no self-hood. God has “set in order” the courses of the rivers, and
made a path for the light; and they obey His will. Man can say “No” to
God’s moral ordinations — not, of course, without harm and penalty;
But he can, and too often he does:
Ø pervert the gift, and turn it to disloyal uses; and at other times
Ø he neglects it — he lays up the talent in a napkin. (Luke 19:20).
He turns selfish, and mars the use of his gift by misuse and by personal
Ease and indulgence. The world is no better for his birth. The Church
finds him A SELFISH EPICURE at THE BANQUET OF GOD’S
Ø THE GIFT VARIES. It is, however, somewhere within us. There are
forces of life hidden in the soul, gracious gifts of help and healing; but man
neglects them. Sometimes he undervalues them with a perilous modesty,
which forgets that the weakest vessel can hold some water; the simplest
speech be eloquent for its Lord; the slender time be rich with opportunities.
God has not made a mistake in our creation. There are gifts of service,
gifts of sympathy, gifts of prayer, which, if envy were angelic, angels might
envy. Neglect not thy gift. It will be required of thee again. It needs not age
to ripen it and make it ready. “Let no man despise thy youth; be thou an
example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit,
in faith, in purity” (v. 12). “Be great in act as you have been in thought,”
says Shakespeare. This is our danger — neglect. We know what it means in
education, which has its now; in the dwelling, which, however well
furnished, soon becomes unhealthy and unlovely through disuse and dust;
in exercise, which, neglected, imperils muscle and blood and nerve. So in
religion we are to be active and earnest, not resting on the couch of
personal comfort, or merely enjoying, from the observatory of revelation,
the vision of the heavenly shores.
The Duty of Improving the Divine Gifts of Exhortation and Teaching (v.14)
“Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee through
prophecy, with laying on of the hands of the presbytery.”
Ø It is not mere intellectual equipment, nor the mere possession
of Divine grace, but the gift, which qualified Timothy for
preaching the gospel. “For the work of an evangelist”
(II Timothy 4:5). It was a gift:
o of interpreting the Scriptures,
o of dispensing the mysteries of grace with edification,
o of bringing forth things new and old out of the good treasure
of a holy heart informed with truth.
Ø It was a gift conferred by means of prophecy. The Holy Spirit
had, by one or more of the prophets, declared His will to confer
this gift upon Timothy. The prophecy was the Divine assurance
as to Timothy’s qualifications. “Neglect not the gift that is
Ø The response to this Divine act is signified by the action of the
presbytery in formally designating him to his special ministerial
“Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” There were several reasons to
enforce this duty.
Ø The prophetic declaration accompanied by the concurrence of the
whole body of presbyters would fill his mind with a sense of his high
privilege and great responsibility in the possession of such a gift.
Ø The exercise of a gift is the only method of preventing its
complete lapse. The disuse of a limb causes it to atrophy.
All faculties must be kept bright and vivid by constant exercise.
Ø Our Lord, by the parable of the talents, teaches us the sin
and danger of hiding our talent uselessly in the ground.
15 “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy
profiting may appear to all.” (au~ta mele>ta - - auta meleta ). Give all your
attention and care and study to these things. It is just the contrary to mh< ajme>lei –
mae amelei – neglect not - in v. 14. The verb meleta>w – meletao, besides this
passage, occurs in its classical sense of “premeditating” or “getting up a
speech,” in Mark 13:11 (where, however, the reading is doubtful), and
again in Acts 4:25, in the sense of “premeditating” certain actions. A
kindred use in classical Greek is “to practice” or “exercise” an art, as
rhetoric, dancing, shooting with a bow, and the like. It is very common in
the Septuagint, in the sense of “meditating,” practicing in the thoughts. Give
thyself wholly to them (ejn tou>toiv i]sqi – en toutois isthi); literally, be in
these things; i.e. be wholly and always occupied with them. (Proverbs 23. 17).
thy profiting (hJ prokoph> – hae prokopae - Thy progress ). Progress, advance,
or growth, is the idea of prokoph>. It is used twice in Philippians 1:12, 25.
The use of the verb proko>ptw for “to advance,” “make progress,” is still
more common (Luke 2:52; Romans 13:12; Galatians 1:14; II Timothy 2:16;
3:9, 14). It is used equally of progress in good or evil. To all. The R.T. reads
pa~sin – pasin for ejn pa~sin – en pasin in the Textus Receptus., which may be
rendered either “to [or, ‘among’] all persons” or “in all things.”
Mental Absorption (v. 15)
“Meditate upon these things.” They need and will bear meditation. Divine
truths are too awful and august m their deep significance to be exhausted
by superficial notice. They need to be focused to the eye, and studied in all
their central depth and beauty.
It requires the silent study that we may enjoy “the harvest of a quiet eye,” and
see deeply into the “wondrous things” of the Divine Law (Psalm 119:18).
Meditate; for thus only will you understand your real self, and so know better
the adaptation of the gospel to your need and your sin.
These require on our part time and insight. This is the fault of our age — it
does not meditate. (Too much time required for television, entertainment,
video games, etc. – CY – 2013). It is superficially critical; apt to fly off at
some tangent of mental difficulty; and is so impatient with the key that it
injures the lock. We cannot think well in a hurry, any more than we
can work well in a hurry. Many of the worst human mistakes of life we
should avoid IF WE MEDITATED MORE!
“Evil is wrought by want of thought,
As well as want of heart.”
Our prayers would be wider in scope and richer in feeling if we meditated
more; and our judgment would not be so hard about the dealings of God
with us if we meditated on “the way the fathers trod,” and the Divine
revelation of our need of discipline. Meditate, and then the cross will stand
out in its august significance; the heart will feel that it needs a Savior
as well as a Teacher; and instead of feeling that you know all about that
wondrous mystery of Divine provision, you will pray that you, like Paul,
may “know the love of Christ,” which passeth knowledge and “filled with
all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19). “Meditate on these things.”
They are pluralized; for they are many. The gospel facts and the gospel doctrines
constitute a wide range of subjects affecting alike our temporal and ETERNAL
The Observation of Others (v. 15)
“That thy profiting may appear to all.” The Christian teachings are not like
Eleusinian Mysteries; they are revelations to be lived out in THE BROAD
DAYLIGHT OF HISTORY! A religion that ends in meditation makes the mystic
a religion that confines itself to solitudes — makes the ascetic, who shuts
himself out from the world.
or, in other words, is no mere emotionalism that may coexist with lax
character and feeble morality. Too often this has been the case, and the
Church has been apt to palliate the sins of the fraudulent trader or the
bankrupt trustee, if, though he has wronged others and brought whole
families to beggary and ruin, he has still preserved his spiritual emotions,
his seraphic rhapsodies of expression, and his fervent interest in missionary
come to the touchstone of action and character. It must energize the
conscience, quicken the passive virtues of humility and submission, and
brace the will for the stern obedience of the soldier and the faithful
obligations of the steward.
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.”
Take heed (e]pece) – epeche – give heed; attend; as in Acts 3:5 (see too
Luke 14:7). The doctrine. – hae didaskalia – The Authorized Version, the
doctrine, is the better rendering though the difference of meaning is very slight.
The use of hJ didaskali>a in ch.6:1 and 3, and Titus 2:10 strongly supports
the sense of “doctrine,” i.e. the thing taught (see note on v. 13). Continue in
them” - (ejpi>mene aujtoi~v - epimene autois ); compare Acts 13:43;
Romans 6:1; 11:22-23; Colossians 1:23. It is impossible to give a satisfactory
solution to the question — What does aujtoi~v autois – them - refer to? It seems
to me necessarily to refer to what immediately precedes, viz. seautw~| kai< th~|
didaskali>a - seauto kai tae didaskalia - yourself and the teaching; doctrine -,
and so to refer rather to the sense of the words than to the exact grammar. The
things which he was to “take heed to” were his own conduct and example
(included in seautw~| - yourself) and the doctrine which he preached; and in a
steady continuance in these things — faithful living and faithful teaching — he
would save both himself and his hearers. The application of the words to
the tau~ta – these -of . 15, or to all the things enumerated from v. 12 onwards, or, taken
as a masculine, to the Ephesians, or the hearers, as variously proposed by eminent
commentators seems alike possible.
A Dual Heed (v.16)
“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine.” These two God hath
joined together, and let no man put them asunder. Let not self-hood
become a self-righteousness, which ignores the doctrine that we need
Christ as our Strength and our Savior, and the Holy Spirit as our
Sanctifier. Taking heed to ourselves must not make us daringly self-
confident. Some superficial men think that they can go this warfare on their
own charges. The whole amour of God is needful, and not the mere
equipment of personal judgment and unaided strength. But taking heed to
the doctrine, let us remember that it is not a dead dogma, but that the
Christian verities are spirit and life. We must not be hearers for others or
critics of others, judging one another, and measuring our own virtue by the
shock produced in us at the inconsistencies and failings of others.
FLESH TO DEAL WITH. Knowing what war there still is in our
members. Knowing that this same gospel says, “The spirit indeed is willing,
but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Remembering that the richest lives
have made shipwreck, and the loftiest monuments been the first to be shattered
by the storm. We must remember that the teacher elevated by honor may be
the first to fall. (“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take
heed lest he fall.” - I Corinthians 10:12)
THIS FOR US. We know more of ourselves than any other can know. Our
tastes, our tendencies, our secret desires, our constitutional weaknesses.
We see how the “needle” trembles in the presence of certain loadstones of
evil, and we must therefore look within, and be watchful.
The Life-Endurance (v. 16)
“Continue in them.” There must be perseverance or pressing forward. And
this is the great point. “Ye did run well” applies to many who were first in
the Atalanta race. “That your fruit may remain,” said Christ (John 15:16).
Permanence. This is beautiful. How many actual blossoms never come to fruit
at all! And how much fruit becomes the subject of blight and withering. Young life,
like Timothy’s, is lovely in its enthusiasm; but:
perils of the way! Churches may become corrupt like
shipwreck. Opposition may increase. Enemies may multiply. The work may
grow harder; and the atmosphere in which it is done grow colder.
Continue in them!
vessel with her freshly painted hull, her gay bunting, her trim sails, her
beautiful lines, may float swan-like in the harbor, and then skim the waters
like a thing of life. But she is nobler when, with battered sides, and gaping
bulwarks, and rent sails, and dismantled rigging, she reaches her destined
haven. “Continue in them.” The sword may not be so bright with the
silvery sheen of newness; the helmet may not be so undinted; the apparel
may not be so unstained; but the hero has won the war, fought the good
fight, and finished his course. (II Timothy 4:7)
The Necessity of a Minister Giving His Whole Energies to His Work (vs.15-16)
The apostle here concludes his solemn instructions to his
chosen representative at
MINISTRY. “These things do thou care for: be in them.”
Ø A minister’s heart ought to be anxious about his work. It is this
anxiety that secures the efficiency of work in this world. But the
minister’s concern is:
o full of an inspiring zeal for God’s honor, and
o is sustained by encouraging promises of help from on high.
Ø A minister ought to devote himself exclusively to his work.
“Be in them.” The obstacles to this devotion are:
o the pressure of duties right in themselves, but lying outside the
sphere of the ministry.
progress may appear to all.”
Ø This does not imply that Timothy was to have exclusive regard to
his right standing with the Church. This might be a questionable
Ø It implies that his devotion to his work should be so altogether
conspicuous that it could not but be seen by all.
THE OFFICIAL WORK OF THE MINISTER. “Take heed to thyself
and to the teaching; continue in them: for in so doing thou shalt save
both thyself and them that hear thee.”
Ø The direct object of the minister of the gospel is the salvation
Ø This salvation comes by hearing the gospel. “Faith cometh
by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)
Ø It is the duty of the minister to persevere with a pious insistency
on all the objects of his ministry. “Continue in them.”
Ø Nothing is so well adapted for the salvation of ministers as
their pious labors in behalf of the salvation of others.
Ø There is to be a double service in this ministry. The minister
must first look well to his life, exemplifying the holiness of the gospel
in word and deed (v.12); and then his teaching must be good (v. 6) and
salutary (ch.1:10). Thus he will be the instrument of much good; he
will thus cover the multitude of sins, and save a soul from death
Latter-Day Apostasies (vs. 1-16)
The history of the Christian Church is the history of the sowing of tares as
well as of the sowing of good grain; and it describes the work of seducing
spirits as well as that of the Spirit of God. The work of heresy is not merely
the denial of true doctrine, but it is the invention and propagation of a
multitude of FALSE DOCTRINES. Nor, again, are the false doctrines so
invented and promulgated, on the face of them, necessarily ungodly doctrines.
On the contrary, they often assume to themselves to be holier, stricter, more
heavenly doctrines, than those of the
not holy enough for these spirit-taught separatists; the precepts of Jesus
Christ do not attain a standard high enough for their exalted aspirations;
the apostles do but grovel in the dust of commonplace piety, while these
self-sent teachers soar to the heights of the true knowledge of the Infinite.
But not only does Church history record the rise, in a lamentable
succession, of the various troublers of the spiritual
have done more to hinder God’s work on earth than all the persecutors and
atheists put together have accomplished — the Cerinthuses, and Marcions,
and Montanuses, and Manicheuses, and Socinuses, and countless other
sectaries of later times — but the spirit of prophecy revealed beforehand
for the Church’s warning that so it should be. The Holy Ghost, in no
obscure or doubtful words, made it known to the Church that there would
be apostasies many and grievous from the faith once delivered to the saints,
that the leaders of those apostasies would be seducing spirits — spirits of
antichrist, as John has it — and that some of them at least would put on
the hypocritical appearance of greater holiness, for the purpose of the
better deceiving the hearts of the simple. Thus while Christ taught by His
apostle that “marriage is honorable in all,” (Hebrews 13:4), these forbade
to marry; while the Word of God declared that “every creature of God is
good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (v.4)
these commanded “to abstain from meats,” saying, “Touch not, taste not,
handle not” (Colossians 2:21). The Word of God teaches that God gives
us richly all things to enjoy (ch. 6:17); these enjoined every kind of austerity
to the body — “bodily exercises” which profited little (v.8). The Word of
God bids us approach bodily to the throne of grace through the mediation
of Jesus Christ; these would keep men back from God, and substitute, in the
name of humility, the worship of angels. And that these pernicious doctrines
were not confined to the first ages of the Church, the history of the Church
too sadly teaches. The most opposite forms of heresy which have in all ages
distracted the Church have always had this in common, that, pretending
to improve upon the sound, sober, and wise teaching of the Word of God,
they have corrupted and forsaken it by:
adorning the gospel in it;
those things to be virtues which God has not made virtues;
these have ever been the characteristics of those “doctrines of devils,”
the purpose of which is to turn the simple away from THE TRUTH.
“The good minister of Jesus Christ” must hold his course boldly and
Straight-forwardly in the teeth of all such false doctrine. He must not parley
with the teachers of heresy, nor mix the wine of the gospel with the water
of falsehood. He knows that the Word of God is purer, and holier, and wiser,
and higher, than all the subtleties of human invention, and will stand in its glory
when they are ALL SWEPT AWAY INTO NOTHINGNESS. . And, knowing
this, he must give himself wholly to teaching the truth, whether men will hear or
whether they will forbear (Ezekiel 2:5; 3:11, 26-27), being fully assured that in
so doing he will both save himself and them that hear him.
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