Training – 1 Timothy Chapter 4
The Last days (vs 1 – 6)
Paul is warning Timothy about what it will look like in the latter times. What is the Spirit saying? What was Timothy to look out for?
There will be those in the church who will depart from the faith. They will throw away their confidence in the Word of God, and believe the lies of the devil. They succumb to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. When they speak, they speak from unbelief, and what they say is a product of their own minds. They speak lies in hypocrisy, because their lives do not line up with their words. Their consciences are ineffective, seared with a hot iron by the lies of the devil. They manage to get themselves into places of influence, and then start trying to control the lives of others by making arbitrary rules, which do not line up with the principles laid down in scripture. God had ordained marriage from the beginning of time, and provided food for us to eat. The food that we eat will be sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. Timothy is to combat error with the truth of the Word of God, and if he instructs the brothers he will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished, not just with the food which God supplies, but with the words of faith and good doctrine.
Silly Myths (vs 7 – 11)
There seemed to be some teaching around which laid great emphasis on physical fitness and exercise. This may have come from the influence of Greek culture. These teachings were just silly myths. Bodily exercise is profitable for our physical health, but far more profitable is godliness – it is profitable in every way as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. Paul then emphasises this by saying in verse 9, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.”
Instructions for Timothy (vs 12 – 16)
Timothy was a young man, but obviously spiritually mature. These instructions were meant by Paul to be an encouragement to him, when he would probably have to face many difficult decisions, criticism and harassment as he took on these responsibilities as a leader in the church.
“Let no one despise your youth.” Paul is telling Timothy to speak boldly the word that God has given him, and not to fear older people who might not accept this word. He was to be an example to them in word, conduct, love, and in spirit, faith and purity. Quite a challenge!
“Give attention to reading, exhortation and doctrine.” From his reading (of the scriptures and other articles written by the apostles that would later be likely to be included in the New Testament canon) Timothy would learn doctrine and receive revelation which he could share in the church. It was important that he did not give them stagnant food, so sharing the revelation that God gave him through the scriptures was important.
“Do not neglect the gift given to you.” Timothy had received a spiritual gift when he was prayed for by the eldership, and he had to use that gift, practice it, to give glory to God and edify the church.
“Meditate on these things.” He had to think about these things, chew them over with a prayerful attitude, consistently, so that the change in him, his spiritual growth, would be evident to all.
“Take heed to yourself.” Paul really lays this on thick. This is not a game or a television show! This is serious! If Timothy did this, it would result in salvation for him and those who hear him.
Today we are in the latter days – at least we are much nearer than Timothy was in the late first century. And we note that the warnings given to Timothy by Paul are very relevant for us today. We must be alert to false teachers who twist scriptures to their own benefit, and who practise things and teach things which come from the wrong source. They are those whose words do not match up with their own lives. We are to reject silly myths and controlling behaviour, and test everything with the Word of God. We are to build each other up, and use the gifts, especially the spiritual gifts, which God has given us. We must meditate on these things.