With chapter 4 we begin the third main division of the Epistle.
In this section Paul gives Timothy some advice in carrying out the charge committed to him.
The advice relates to his personal work in view of coming apostasy. Ch. 4:1-16.
Then to his official work with various groups within the churches. Ch 5:1 to Ch. 6:2.
His personal work in view of coming apostasy. V. 1-16
After having described the sublime mystery of redemption Ch. 3:16 Paul now warns Timothy of the opposition to the preaching of “the faith” and the apostasy that would follow.
This apostasy was the subject of divine revelation.
It was the Spirit who spoke clearly and explicitly.
He said that in the latter times some shall “fall away from the faith.”
This indicates a deliberate withdrawal from the faith once professed.
In some cases the apostate does not give up his professions of being a Christian, but forsakes the principles of the Christian faith.
The reason for this condition is attributed to seductions by evil spirits.
Paul focuses our attention on the evil spirits rather than on the human teacher.
“Doctrines of demons”—These are doctrines which demons teach through men whom they have seduced.
These demons are evil beings, the agents of Satan, marshaled and commanded by him, engaged in a ceaseless war against the kingdom of God. Compare 2 Thess2; matt 7:21-23.
Paul gives the character of the devils tools.
1. They are hypocrites and liars. These men pretend to be spiritual; they wear a mask of holiness, but behind their façade is a corrupt heart and nature.
2. Their consciences are branded with a hot iron.
From the constant violation of the truth their conscience has been rendered in capable of feeling.
The teaching of the apostates.
In two areas – forbidding to marry – commanding to abstain from foods
Abstinence from marriage was regarded as a means to higher sanctity.
Abstaining from foods was esteemed meritorious and of special value.
In Paul’s day this had its fulfillment in Gnosticism.
Today this fulfillment is in Roman Catholicism – Buddhism.
Paul’s rebuttal against such teaching is found in v. 3b through 5.
In these verses, Paul only mentions food;
But in a wider aspect he includes marriage as well as food.
Every creature of God is good – marriage is ordained of God.
By prayer both food and marriage are sanctified by God.
Having set forth the coming apostasy, Paul now instructs Timothy how to (?) himself and the new local churches against error. v.1-11
He also instructs him regarding his personal conduct. v.12-16.
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ.
The word minister does not refer to an ordained clergyman.
The meaning of the word here is deacon. The work of a deacon.
It means one who serves. The emphasis here is not on status but activity.
v. 6-11 is a picture of an excellent servant – deacon of Jesus Christ.
v. 6 describes his characteristics
v. 7-9 his activities
v. 10 his motivation
v. 11 his duty.
His characteristics as a good deacon
He is characterized by a concern for others. “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things.” V. 1:5
He is to fortify the brethren against apostasy and guard them against danger.
He himself must be “nourished in the words of faith” and “good doctrine”
The servant must know the doctrine of “the faith”.
He must be a man of the book.
He must not become so busy finding food for the flock, that he fails to nourish his own soul.
The activities of a true deacon.
He has to “refuse profane and old wives fables.”
At this early date some people were adding to “the faith”.
Paul characterizes their efforts in disdain as “old wives fables.”
Paul instructs Timothy, who in turn would instruct his fellow deacons to “refuse” to listen or discuss these things.
Instead of wasting time in confuting these errors, the deacon has rather to be concerned about personal godliness or holiness or sanctification.
In this verse he makes a contrast between bodily exercise and godliness.
Bodily exercise profits little … there are benefits.
But godliness, which produces Christ-like-ness which is exercise of the soul, is profitable for the entire well-being of the individual, physical, spiritual, temporal and eternal.
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.”
These words refer to what precedes them.
They constitute the apostolic seal of the superiority of godliness.
The motivation of a good servant or deacon
For to this end we labor-strive. “For therefore we labor”. KJV
In order to gain all that a life of godliness offers, Paul says we labor”
We toil to the point of exhaustion.
We strive, just like the athlete putting in the last ounce of energy to gain the victory. The word “strive” comes from the word “agonize”.
Why did Paul, Timothy, and others “labor and strive”?
Because of the hope and trust they had in the living god.
2 Corinth 4:17
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
God is presented here, as the Savior of al men potentially.
But especially of believers.
The duty of a good servant – deacon.
“These things command and teach”
“These things” refers to all that Paul has said in v. 6-10.
Paul instructs Timothy to authoritatively transmit these doctrines to his hearers in the various churches.
Paul asks Timothy to make his youth respected by being an example to the believers.
His life is to be such as will hush every adverse reaction about his youth.
Every servant of God should have a life which should complement his ministry.
Paul now gives to Timothy six things in which he is to be an example.
The first two is “in manners of life”.
“Word” has reference to his speech. “Conduct” points to his personal life. Relates to his outward life.
The remaining four relate to the inner life
“In love” … love to God and to man. Love should be the motivating power in a believer’s life.
“In faith and purity” … Timothy’s faith in God was to be an example to believers even when tested under all kinds of conditions. Timothy’s purity … not just purity in life outwardly, but purity within of motive and intent.
Timothy’s duties within the church.
“Give attendance to reading” … Give attendance to “the reading”.
The reading of the Scriptures is an important part of the service, and certainly was in the primitive church when the scrolls of the O.T. were scarce and the N.T. as we know it today only existed in fragmentary portions.
Public reading of the Scriptures was encouraged in those days and should be encouraged now.
“The exhortation” refers to the public address that followed the reading of the Word.
Exhortation is intended to appeal to the conscience and will of the hearer and lead to appropriate action.
“The teaching” This refers to the content of the message given, informing and enlightening the intellect of the hearers.