1 Timothy Chapter 4
1 Tim. 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;
1 Tim. 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
1 Tim. 4:3 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.
Combining the Revised Standard and the King James versions, we read verse 1 as follows: “Now the [Holy] Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, [even] giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” In this context, the term “later times” refers particularly to Papacy’s heyday, and not to the end of the Gospel Age, for Papacy forbid its clergy to marry and commanded abstaining from meat on Fridays. In contradistinction, the end of the age is referred to in the next epistle—“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. 3:1).
With regard to “forbidding to marry,” Roman Catholicism has taught that celibacy applies only to the clergy and not to the communicants, the congregation. That teaching is one of the “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” Not only is it false, but all of the valid instructions in the New Testament apply to all Christians. The average person attending the nominal Church is not sufficiently knowledgeable in the Scriptures to be able to detect erroneous teaching. In addition, the false concept has been widely taught that there is a distinction between the clergy and the laity, that they are separate classes. To the contrary, the Bible teaches that marriage or abstaining from marriage is completely voluntary with all Christians (Heb. 13:4). If one chooses not to marry in order to devote energy and attention fully to doing God’s will with singleness of purpose, so much the better, but the requirement is not mandatory for any. Not only was Paul suggesting that after his decease, a lot of strange things would occur, but he was saying that when the doctrine would come forth forbidding one to marry, it would be a mark of identity of the Antichrist. The rule would be the product of a wrong spirit. A seducing, demoniac spirit would give this unnatural application of Scripture.
Verse 2, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron,” reads as follows in the RSV: “Through the pretensions of liars [false representations] whose consciences are seared.” Another translation has, “Speaking falsehoods with a straight face.” An example of a falsehood spoken in this fashion is that from the pope on down in the Roman Catholic Church, marriage of the clergy was forbidden by papal bulls.
In the book Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, the author, Chiniquy, a former priest, showed that the clergy professed celibacy but were not celibate in practice. Also, wine and alcoholic beverages were liberally consumed, to the point of drunkenness, by many of the clergy, yet the communicants were supposed to confess such sins and do penance. Chiniquy’s conscience was very troubled by the hypocrisy of the priests who preached temperance and even total abstinence of alcohol but consumed alcohol themselves and even got inebriated.
The Roman Catholic Church has claimed that the office of pope is equivalent or superior to Christ and the Bible. While Jesus was on earth, his teachings and sayings were mandatory, but later on, the Catholic hierarchy felt that, as representatives of Christ, they had liberty to make changes and additions to the Bible. The pope was given titles that belong to Christ, such as “The Lion of the Tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5). Pope Leo XIII had this title boldly emblazoned on his papal arms, asserting that he fulfilled that office. Some titles even put the pope on a par with Almighty God. Statements made ex cathedra, that is, as official pronouncements, were to be equated with God’s own proclamations in Holy Writ. How presumptuous to claim such authority! If the common people had had access to the Scriptures in their own language, many would have opposed such practices and teachings, which were obnoxious in God’s sight.
Another mark of identification of the Antichrist system was the command “to abstain from meats.” For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church forbid the clergy and the communicants to eat meat on Fridays and permitted only fish, yet the Apostle Paul forewarned that this doctrine of demons would be promulgated by the false Church. In recent times, this mandate was relaxed and, to all effects, abolished by the great majority of the membership. During the First World War, the rule was eased because soldiers needed meat for strength in their survival kits.
What did Paul say about eating meat? “God hath created [meat] to be received with
thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
How do those who speak lies in hypocrisy have “their conscience seared with a hot iron”?
Originally, the clergy realized their statements were false, but repeatedly violating conscience led to a hardened condition. Because they allowed that thinking to continue, what was at first stated tentatively, and perhaps put forth as suggestions, progressed into adamant commands and statements of fact. The reasoning could have been along the following lines.
The clergy took Jesus’ statement where he was speaking to the apostles on a certain matter and said their decision would be binding on earth and in heaven if two of them agreed. “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 18:18,19). Even though the Scriptures say that there are only 12 apostles and that any others who claim apostleship are false, the popes have considered themselves apostles (Rev. 2:2; 12:1; 21:14; 2 Cor. 11:13). These texts negate the concept of apostolic succession. In fact, the doctrine of apostolic succession is damaging, for it encourages others to make ironclad rules above and in violation of what Scripture teaches.
If popes (or others) could reason that they were successors to the 12 apostles, that premise automatically put them on a par with the Twelve, and their reasoning on certain subjects was equated (in their minds) with the writings of the New Testament. Perhaps in the beginning, it was merely suggested that the teachings of the various church councils on which the majority of the membership agreed should be considered the will of God. After a while, it was concluded that the head of the church was more important than the church body, and the pope began to blasphemously assume prerogatives that were not his. Jesus, who was perfect, asked, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matt. 19:17). Titles and names were taken such as Innocent, Pius, and Holy Father to show how holy(?) the popes were, yet even Jesus would not accept such a statement about himself. Instead he deferred the individual’s worship to God in heaven. On one occasion, the people of Lystra likened Paul and Barnabas to gods and would have done sacrifice to them, but Paul and Barnabas made the people stop immediately, saying, “We also are men of like passions with you” (Acts 14:11-18).
Nor would Peter accept worship (Acts 10:26). The Episcopal and other churches also err in advocating apostolic succession, assuming the prerogative of the 12 apostles. In his advice in verses 1-3, Paul was warning Christians what to watch out for.
The term “having their conscience seared” implies that originally such individuals suspected their actions were wrong, but through repetition, their consciences gradually got seared, or hardened, so that after a while, they began to confidently teach these untruths with a straight face. Repeatedly going contrary to and violating conscience becomes a way of life.
Two other Scriptures also speak about habitually violating conscience. Paul referred to unconsecrated Gentiles as “being past feeling [for they] have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Eph. 4:19). The same apostle said, “And even as they [the Gentiles] did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Rom. 1:28).
Another way of searing the conscience is to teach that one is never to question the authority or teaching of a superior. For example, if a priest’s conscience troubles him, he is not supposed to question his bishop. If he obeys that command, then little by little his conscience is damaged.
Except for God, Jesus, and the apostles, a chain of command is improper in religious matters. We should not blindly obey but, instead, should render obedience only if one speaks in harmony with the Word. A chain of command is proper in the business world but not in the Church. Stated another way, the worldly philosophy of having a chain of command should not be carried over into the religious realm and incorporated into the spiritual things of God.
Even though verses 1-3 apply especially to Papacy’s long 1,260-year period of power, Paul seems to have been hinting that the end of the age would be a time of great doctrinal seduction. Revelation 16:14 reads, “For they are the spirits [doctrines] of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” “Seducing spirits” are false doctrines that originate with or emanate from intelligent beings, human or spirit. Jesus said, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24). Therefore, we can think of the “latter times” as being subsequent to Paul, that is, as occurring during the remaining six stages of the Church.
Based on his statement that Satan will use “all power and signs and lying wonders, ... with all deceivableness of unrighteousness” at the end of the age, we can say that the time of Satan’s greatest seduction will occur in the near future (2 Thess. 2:9,10). Satan will exhibit a great energetic operation during the Lord’s Second Presence.
Thus the Holy Spirit used wording out of Paul’s mouth and pen that not only was constructive to the Church down through the Gospel Age but also will apply to the final members at the end of the age. In other words, God has been instructing His people throughout the Gospel Age with necessary information that is pertinent to the end times (plural).
In verse 1, Paul said that some would depart from the faith, yet many down through history have been deceived by “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.” Therefore, verse 1 seems to be hinting that at the end of the age, some in the inner circle of the true Church will depart from the faith.
Universal salvation is an example of a seducing doctrine. This teaching appeals to the flesh, for it asserts that there will be no failures. Doctrines of devils include hellfire, which mars the character of God.
1 Tim. 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
1 Tim. 4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
God created animals for the purpose of food. Consequently, in the Christian dispensation, we may eat them if they are received with prayer and thanksgiving. The primary reason for prohibiting certain meats under the Law was to teach spiritual lessons; the sanitary aspect was secondary (1 Cor. 10:11). Without refrigeration and adequate preparation, many “unclean” meats can cause deadly food poisoning or diseases such as trichinosis. Today our health laws prevent many of these problems. If properly inspected and handled, pork (and other unclean meats) are highly nutritious.
Food is sanctified by (1) the Word of God and (2) prayer, but what is the distinction? The Bible gives us the liberty to eat meat, but God expects us to ask a blessing and give thanks.
Paul also said, “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Rom. 14:14).
We should respect a person who abstains because of conscience. Until his conscience is educated and realigned with the New Testament teachings, it is better not to interfere with the development of that individual. However, we should not tolerate abstaining from meat as a teaching in the Church.
Q: Is literally “every” creature of God good for food?
A: In Scripture, the words “all” and “every” are often used in a broad sense. In verse 4, the word “every” is qualified, for we would not want to eat some things, even though they were permitted under the Law. What we eat depends on where we live and what we are accustomed to having in our daily diets. Verse 4 is saying that what was forbidden under the Law for food is permissible for the Christian to eat, for we are under a different arrangement.
David Guzik Commentary:
3. (1Ti_4:4-5) A refutation of the legalism that marks those who have departed from the faith.
For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
a. For every creature of God is good: Regarding what we eat, we can eat all things. We receive things rightly when we receive them with thanksgiving, with an abiding sense of gratitude towards God. We receive the blessings of food, shelter, and comfort as gifts, and not as rights.
b. Nothing is to be refused: We are not limited by any kind of diet; what we eat does not make us more righteous before God (though what we eat may affect our health).
i. This issue was settled once for all when God spoke to Peter in Act_10:9-16.
ii. “Both among the pagans, Jews, and Romanists, certain meats were prohibited; some always, others at particular times. This the apostle informs us was directly contrary to the original design of God; and says that those who know the truth, know this.” (Clarke)
c. It is sanctified by the word of God and prayer: Paul here has in mind prayer before a meal. Notice that the emphasis is not on asking God to bless the food; but on thanking God for the blessing of providing food to eat.
i. The word of God sanctifies food in the sense that God gave two general commands to mankind to eat the good things of the earth.
• And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” (Gen_1:29)
• Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. (Gen_9:3)
ii. It is good and proper for us to pray before eating a meal but it should not be done in a ritualistic, superstitious way. Nor should it be done to show others how spiritual we are - which is imitating the prayer practices of the Pharisees (Mat_6:5).
1 Tim. 4:6 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.
Paul was saying that Timothy would be a good minister if he continued to give the advice in this epistle. Hence it is profitable to discuss these matters. When these subjects are neglected, man’s thinking creeps in and replaces God’s thinking. It is the duty of the ministry to show to the people of their congregation what “is” error and where it may be apprehended, and to caution them to avoid it.
This whole epistle pertains to sound doctrine, and conduct is frequently discussed. Containing oneself and committing more fully to the Lord brings more honor. As one tries to learn more and obey more, if he is faithful unto death, he gets a greater reward.
1 Tim. 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
But refuse - That is, refuse to pay attention to them, or reject them. Do not consider them of sufficient importance to occupy your time.
Profane - The word here used does not mean that the fables here referred to were blasphemous or impious in their character, but that they had not the character of true religion; 2Ti_2:16.
And old wives’ - Old women’s stories; or such as old women held to be important. The word is used here, as it is often with us, in the sense of silly.
Fables - Fictions, or stories that were not founded on fact. The pagan religion abounded with fictions of this kind, and the Jewish teachers were also remarkable for the number of such fables which they had introduced into their system. It is probable that the apostle referred here particularly to the Jewish fables, and the counsel which he gives to Timothy is, to have nothing to do with them.
And exercise thyself rather unto godliness - Rather than attempt to understand those fables. Do not occupy your time and attention with them, but rather cultivate piety, and seek to become more holy.
But refuse profane and old wives’ fables - This seems to refer particularly to the Jews, whose Talmudical writings are stuffed with the most ridiculous and profane fables that ever disgraced the human intellect. It may with equal propriety be applied to the legends of the Romish Church. Let any man read the Aurea Legenda, and he will find of profane and old wives’ fables what may stand, with considerable propriety, column for column with the Talmud. See Joseline’s Life of St. Patrick for miracles, without rhyme or reason, abundantly more numerous and more stupendous than all the necessary ones wrought by Jesus Christ and his apostles. This is enough to persuade a man that the Spirit of God had these very corruptions and this corrupt Church particularly in view.
Exercise thyself rather unto godliness - To understand this expression it is necessary to know that the apostle alludes here to the gymnastic exercises among the Greeks, which were intended as a preparation for, their contests at the public games. They did this in order to obtain a corruptible or fading crown, i. e, a chaplet of leaves, which was the reward of those who conquered in those games; Timothy was to exercise himself unto godliness, that he might be prepared for the kingdom of heaven, and there receive a crown that fadeth not away.
1 Tim. 4:8 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.
Notice how carefully Paul chose his words. He did not say that bodily exercise does not profit at all, for bodily exercise does profit—but little compared to true godliness. Godliness is helpful even in natural matters. For instance, God’s Word gives health to the flesh and to the bones, even to the marrow of the bones. “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh” (Prov. 4:20-22). “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches” (Psa. 63:5,6). To a certain extent, we would probably be less healthy both naturally and spiritually without some bodily exercise.
Those gymnastic exercises, so highly esteemed among the Greeks, are but little worth; they are but of short duration; they refer only to this life, and to the applause of men: but godliness has the promise of this life, and the life to come; it is profitable for all things; and for both time and eternity.
The Revised Standard uses the term “bodily training” instead of “bodily exercise.” The term “bodily exercise [or training]” includes diet and other matters that pertain to health and life, as well as actual physical exercise. It includes anything related to mental and physical health. Nevertheless, physical exercise was a besetting sin with the Greeks in some respects because of the high priority put on physical capabilities. They reasoned that a healthy body means a healthy mind. Although there is some truth to this statement, the danger was in devoting too many hours of the day to physical exercise, to pursuing bodily exercise as a habit, that is, in an abnormal fashion. An example would be trying to build muscles for months and years. Bodily exercise with moderation is acceptable, whereas fastidious exercising that includes time, money, and thinking is a distraction for the Christian.
“Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” In the present life and in the future life, practical blessings and benefits come from following the instructions in God’s Word. In the present life, it is a blessing both to know and to endeavor to do the will of God. In the future life, the benefits will be beyond comparison (Rom. 8:18; 1 John 3:2). “Godliness” is piety, reverence, sobriety, and seriousness in doing God’s will. Thus godliness pertains to the development of the new creature.
Q: What is the meaning of the phrase “having promise” of the present life?
A: As Christians, we have made a consecration and thus are in a different position from others of the same age who are not consecrated. The fact we are in God’s family and have promises of better things to come if we are faithful involves the present life. The thought is “having [the] promise of the life.” People in the world do bodily exercise, follow diets, and are fanatics on various subjects to prolong their life and increase their intellect. In contrast, we should consider the development of the new creature as supreme. Therefore, having made a commitment to do God’s will, we have this “promise”—and the responsibility that goes with it
1 Tim. 4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
In other words, “This saying [that godliness is profitable] is faithful and worthy of full acceptance.” The exercise of piety is a sound, profitable doctrine worthy of being accepted by all. Verse 9 sums up what Paul said previously and leads up to verse 10, which sums up what he was personally striving for—true godliness.
1 Tim. 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.
If a philosophy is followed that overemphasizes physical exercise, diet, etc., it can become selfish and lead to pride in progress and things achieved. For instance, one will see his muscles grow or his physique become more attractive. In contrast, Paul was looking for success, development, and progress to the degree that he suffered and labored for truth and righteousness. To suffer and labor in spiritual matters is far more profitable than these other ventures, which have only a little profit.
Why did Paul add, “because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe [the brethren]”? What about those who do not believe during the present life? God has a concern for the welfare of not only Christians but also all mankind. Contrary to the teaching of the most of Christianity, He has made an arrangement whereby those who do not make a consecration (dedication to follow Christ) now are not lost but will have a future opportunity.
But why, in connection with the instruction he was giving, did Paul bring up the fact that God loves the brethren and the world? Basically, man wants life, and the object of good health, physical exercise, and diet is to live a better, longer, and more joyful life. Without hope of a future life—if the present were the only life—one would want to make the most of the present life. Whether or not man exercises to try to prolong this life, God will give the opportunity of life to all in due time. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3,4). All will come to a knowledge of the truth and have the opportunity to get life, for God desires that all will be saved, but what each individual does with that opportunity in the future is his own personal responsibility. In other words, sooner or later everyone will get the opportunity for life, so in the final analysis, physical exercise in the present life availeth little. However, the way to really get life—that is, in the abundant sense—is to become a follower of Jesus in the present life and to be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10).
1 Tim. 4:11 These things command and teach.
The “things” Timothy was to “command and teach” were all that Paul had discussed thus far in this epistle. He personally gave these instructions and admonitions so that Timothy could, in turn, instruct those who came under his influence.
1 Tim. 4:12 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.
No one was to despise, or look down on, Timothy’s “youth.” Our curiosity is aroused as to how old Timothy was at the time this epistle was written, but the reference was not necessarily to his chronological age. By this time, he had been associated with the Apostle Paul for about 20 years, so he was probably at least in his forties (Clarke suggests he was at the least 32). The point is that some criticized Timothy for not being on the scene as an eyewitness of Jesus “from the beginning,” that is, during his earthly ministry (John 15:27; 1 John 1:1). Others tended to think less of Timothy as an authority because they had been on hand from Pentecost, and therefore, they felt it was inappropriate for him to give them counsel. In addition, the Greeks believed that one had to be quite elderly in order to be considered a teacher. However, Paul had great confidence in Timothy and did not want him either to be intimidated by the old-timers or to become discouraged, especially after the apostle’s death. Paul not only recognized Timothy’s talents but wanted him to employ the special talent given to him by the Lord, of which we do not know the specifics.
With regard to ourselves, if older brothers speak the truth, we should be deferential and respectful because of their age, even if we have more knowledge. However, if they are cantankerous and aggressive in teaching unprofitable doctrines, they have to be met with strength according to the circumstances.
“Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” What are the distinctions in these categories? Timothy was to be an example in his familiarity with and knowledge of the doctrinal teaching in the Word, in his conduct or behavior, and in his love, that is, in his interest in and concern for the spiritual welfare of the brethren. He was also to be an example “in spirit”—he was to have zeal and enthusiasm and not be perfunctory in words or deeds. In other words, he was to exercise a leadership capacity.
How would Timothy be an example “in faith”? If a severe trial came on the Church or on individual brethren, he was to be confident that somehow the situation would be overruled to work out for good for the new creature. He was to encourage the brethren to hold on and be steadfast. To look only at the gloomy side of a trial would just further depress and discourage the individual, so Paul wanted Timothy to be a constructive help to the brethren involved. Thus Timothy was to show trust and confidence that the Lord was capable and willing to help His people and that whatever the situation, it would sooner or later work out for good.
What is the difference between “in purity” and “in conduct”? Purity referred to Timothy’s personal life, which might not be observed by or manifested to others. He was to have personal integrity and purity in every category—in doctrinal teaching; in outward behavior; in his disposition toward and interest in others; in the zeal, enthusiasm, and power of his instruction; in faith, having confidence and trust in the Lord’s overruling in all matters; and in his inward personal life.
1 Tim. 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
The clause “Till I come” shows that Paul intended to go to Timothy. Since Paul had been in prison in Rome because of his religion, either he had just been released from house arrest, or his release was imminent. According to tradition, he was subsequently apprehended a second time and finally executed by sword. (As a Roman citizen, he could not be crucified.) Timothy was to keep “reading,” that is, to continue searching the Word daily in personal study.
In addition, he was to “exhort,” to expound on what he learned, and he was to attend to “doctrine,” or teaching. What is “doctrine”? Doctrine is based on a series of precepts, for example, the Ransom, the condition of the dead, and the resurrection. Doctrine is something on which one comes to a conclusion and wants to hold fast. A person does not keep studying a doctrine to see if it is true but has already ascertained the truthfulness of the teaching, so that it becomes a guiding structure of belief. Doctrine is usually based on a series of Scriptures that blend together to give an overall lesson on a certain subject. Incidentally, exhortations may be controversial in that some may not accept or agree with the warning. Those who are in teaching positions have more responsibility along the lines of admonition.
A further thought is included in the term “reading,” as used here by the Apostle Paul. Timothy was to take a leading role and not merely be a member of the congregation with someone else doing the leading. The fact that there was no Bible in those days made a big difference in connection with this advice. Even so, Paul’s advice to Timothy is profitable to us today, for we can draw lessons and extract principles.
In summary, Paul was telling Timothy to give attendance to (1) doing personal study, (2) using the fruits of personal study to benefit others by instructing and warning them, and (3) teaching and holding fast to cardinal doctrines and principles of truth.
1 Tim. 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
By saying, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee,” Paul was encouraging Timothy to be faithful to the prophetic utterances in regard to his ministry. The gift that was in Timothy was manifested at the time the presbytery, or the elders, laid their hands on him after praying. The occasion was when Timothy was to be sent out on a missionary tour and some of the elders wished him Godspeed. Timothy had gotten a certain gift earlier, but it was not outwardly discernible until that time. In other words, the commission that had been given to him previously came out on that occasion. Apparently also, a prophetic utterance was given by someone else in a public manner with regard to Timothy and his future.
As an illustration, when Paul was converted, the Lord instructed Ananias to go to him with the message that Paul was going to be greatly used in promulgating the truth. Just as Ananias was given information regarding Paul, so with Timothy, a prophetic utterance came forth from an individual in the group. Knowing about the prophecy, Paul was now telling Timothy to be sure he fulfilled that role. Similarly, all his life Paul looked back to his experience on the way to Damascus as his commission to preach the gospel. Just as the motivating power in his life was to be faithful to that vision, so he was encouraging Timothy to be faithful to the prophetic utterance concerning what he would be and do.
(CEV) Use the gift you were given when the prophets spoke and the group of church leaders blessed you by placing their hands on you.
(ERV) Remember to use the gift you have, which was given to you through a prophecy when the group of elders laid their hands on you.
(GW) Don't neglect the gift which you received through prophecy when the spiritual leaders placed their hands on you to ordain you.
(YLT) be not careless of the gift in thee, that was given thee through prophecy, with laying on of the hands of the eldership;
In other words, the original endowment to Timothy was a commission or a charge. The gift in Timothy, which revealed that he was accepted of God, was of a higher capacity than, say, speaking in an unknown tongue. We would like to know more about Timothy’s mysterious gift, but the Scriptures do not provide the specifics. It seems to be the gift of great teaching ability.
The apostles Jude and John were still alive at this time, which was approximately AD 64. Whether any of the others were living, we do not know except for Paul, who died in AD 66, and Peter, who deceased in AD 64 or 66.
1 Tim. 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that the profiting may appear to all.
(ESV) Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
(ERV) Continue to do these things. Give your life to doing them. Then everyone can see that your work is progressing.
(GW) Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress.
Paul was telling Timothy to meditate on the advice just given (verses 12-14). “Give thyself wholly to them; that the profiting may appear to all.” Paul was saying, “Give yourself wholly to the others so that they will recognize your development and progress.” Timothy’s gift was not immediately discernible, but to those who watched and listened, his great wisdom and understanding were apparent. Unfortunately, many are impressed by one who has a superficial understanding because of his appearance, voice, command of the language, station in life, etc., and accordingly give him more recognition than one who has tenfold more understanding and capability. Paul was urging Timothy to be a little more aggressive so that others would realize his ability and thus be benefited.
1 Tim. 4:16 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.
To a certain extent, Paul was repeating what he had said to Timothy in verses 12 and 13. Now he summarized his instruction and admonitions in two categories. (1) “Take heed to yourself in conduct, purity, love, faith, etc.” (2) “Take heed to the doctrine—to the Word, to the teaching.” In doing these two things, Timothy would save both himself and those who heard, or responded, to his teaching.
(BBE) Give attention to yourself and your teaching. Go on in these things; for in doing so you will get salvation for yourself and for those who give hearing to you.
(WNT) Be on your guard as to yourself and your teaching. Persevere in these things; for by doing this you will make certain your own salvation and that of your hearers.
Timothy was already a consecrated believer, why is Paul telling that by following and living these guidelines Timothy would save himself—was he not already saved?
What is Timothy and others being “saved from”?
Barnes: It is equivalent to saying, that an unfaithful minister of the gospel cannot be saved; one who faithfully performs all the duties of that office with a right spirit, will be.
This chapter starts out with the prophecy of ones departing from the faith and following false doctrines and such. Paul is saying to Timothy by immersing himself in the Word and living a serious life, devoted to God, that he would not fall into the trap that those who are not doing those things do—that is falling away (because they were not wholly attentive to God on a daily basis). Salvation is not instantaneous, but an endurance race as Paul puts it elsewhere.
2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Jesus says: Rev 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Mat 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.