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The First Epistle to TIMOTHY
4: 1 - 5: 4.
pp. 1 - 5
Having dealt with the mystery (secret) of godliness, which was Christ Jesus manifest
in the flesh, culminating with His being received up into glory, the Apostle Paul now
comes to the opposing elements under the domination of Satan. We should always be
prepared for the fact that wherever Christ as the Truth is proclaimed, the enemy will
contest every inch of the way. Thus chapter 4: begins:
"But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith,
giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, through the hypocrisy of men that
speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and
commanding to abstain from meats, which God created to be received with thanksgiving
by them that believe and know the truth" (I Tim. 4: 1-3, R.V.).
This ministry of the Spirit is emphasized by the word rhetos `expressly' or `in specific
terms'. The phrase `in later times' is not parallel with `in the last days' of II Tim. 3: 1.
It suggests a more imminent time, subsequent to the Apostle's day. "Fall away",
apostesontai gives us the word `apostasy', and this is brought about by some who give
heed to deceiving spirits or demons and put forward their lying doctrines. These
apostates are hypocrites and liars through which these evil powers find a ready channel.
Doubtless these are the `world rulers of this darkness' to which Paul makes reference in
Eph. 6:, the great spiritual foes of the Body of Christ, under Satan's control. Those who
come under this domination, have consciences that cannot function because they have
been `cauterized' or quenched.
Their false teaching comprises two prohibitions: marriage and certain foods. This is
surely incipient Gnosticism and a form of it had already taken place in the Colossian
church where we have a `neglecting of the body' and a spurious asceticism, which was a
travesty of real holiness. In opposition to this, the Apostle insists that these foods, as well
as marriage, are the gifts of the Creator which should be received in a thankful spirit.
Nothing is to be rejected, for it has been `sanctified through the Word of God and prayer'
(4: 5). This seems to be a clear reference to grace before meals. In his earthly lifetime,
the Saviour blessed food before it was eaten (Mark 6: 41; 14: 22), and we may be sure
this was not an empty formality. Such food is then sanctified, i.e. set apart for the body's
use. Chrysostom said "grace before meat disinfects even what has been offered to idols".
Timothy, in order to be a faithful leader, must bring these things before the notice of
the brethren under his charge:
"If thou put the brethren in mind of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of
Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which thou hast
followed until now" (4: 6, R.V.).