The NASB, and a few other translations, entitle this next section,
A Good Servant of Jesus Christ.
Understand that this letter is addressed to the young Timothy for the purpose of giving him instructions to be an outstanding pastor. Since a pastor is a servant of Jesus Christ, it stands to reason that anyone who longs to be a pastor should get it into their heads that you are giving yourself over to a lifetime of service to the body of believers God puts in your charge, Lord willing. This is one train of thought that I could take; however, there is another.
I do not think this second perception is what Paul is trying to convey, but I could understand a title like this, “A Good Servant of Jesus Christ,” to be oppressive, and religious legalism. If you can’t understand that statement, think about your childhood and how your parent(s) manipulated you into being good and not evil as they espoused the list of reasons why, including, don’t you want Jesus to see you as good. Alright, this was my life as a child, but maybe some of you had parents that laid the same garbage on you.
I choose to accept the first interpretation as correct, primarily based upon the context.
I always have to assume that new readers have just joined us and have no idea what “things” Paul is referring to. I now find Paul saying to Timothy.
“In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.” 1 Timothy 4:6 NASB
The things initiate with 1 Timothy 3:16b and ends with 1 Timothy 4:5.
“He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.” But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 3:16, 4:1-5 NASB)
Paul, as you noticed, stated, “in pointing out these things to the brethren, “ is giving Timothy the framework, upon which the church – which includes us, nourishing words of faith and sound doctrine to follow. I did this previously as I separated these points with bullets, but let’s do it again because it is beneficial to see.
- He was revealed in the flesh.
- Vindicated in the Spirit.
- Seen by angels.
- Proclaimed among the nations.
- Believed on in the world.
- Taken up in glory.
In these last days? (we have been in the last days since Peter preached on the day of Pentecost.)
- Some will turn away from the true faith (NLT).
- They will also be fooled by the false claims of liars whose consciences have lost all feeling. (CEV)
- These liars will forbid people… (Now the verse goes on to speak of foods they cannot eat, or who they can marry. Paul explains that everything God created was good and acceptable if you give thanks.
The first six points establish God in us. Having done that, we establish God in others. The last three points are like a mission briefing, in which you learn that there will be people who will turn from the true faith. These will not only turn, but they will come back and try to teach the demonic filth they have learned.
How bad will it get?
These people are polished and hard to spot. They will try to tell you ridiculous things, such as what you can eat and who you can marry. That seems rather ludicrous, as no one has the right to control us to that degree. But what you don’t seem to perceive is that some form of global governance, which operates above our known government, has us all wearing masks which do nothing to stop a bacterial strain called COVID 19, and these people have excluded us from our churches.
Do you really think that ‘they’ cannot tell you what you can eat and who you can marry?
“People tell silly stories that don’t agree with God’s truth. Don’t follow what these stories teach. But teach yourself to be devoted to God.” 1 Timothy 4:7 (ERV)
Myself, and a few others, used to sit under the teachings of a brother, who was approved by his religious council, to be a bible teacher. I cannot attest to whether he always taught things contradictory to the Bible, but he certainly was during the time I attended. Before you excoriate me for submitting to a false teacher, you need to know that I did withstand him. On several occasions, I did so; on one occasion, he responded with, that’s my opinion, and that is all that matters. I left the group for a while until a friend of mine asked me to come back, with the purpose of challenging the teacher. The Holy Spirit had already pointed out to me the futility of withstanding him, especially since I had no power to terminate his services. I did implore church leadership who could make that decision to at least come, sit, and listen to what this man says, but they did nothing, as he was close friends with many of them. On the plus side, this false teacher gave me much to talk about.
Another aspect of 1 Timothy 4:7, which we seem to shoot right past, is this, “But teach yourself to be devoted to God.” This is the Easy to Read version. The NASB reads like this: “On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” So instead of getting involved in the “silly stories that don’t agree with God’s truth,” Paul tells us to “discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness.”
Discipline is such a simple word, but many will read what Paul says in verse seven and honestly not have a clue what that word discipline is supposed to mean. To many, it means Paul is asking them to do something they have no interest in doing.
Webster’s has multiple definitions for the word discipline.
- To instruct or educate; to inform the mind; to prepare by instructing correct principles and habits; as, to discipline youth for a profession, or for future usefulness.
- To instruct and govern; to teach rules and practice, and accustom to order and subordination, as, to discipline troops or an army.
How many of you instruct, educate, or inform your mind in the things of God?
“for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NASB
The KJ Version puts it this way, “ For bodily exercise profits a little,” so there is some gain, “but godliness is profitable for all things since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
“But godliness is profitable for all things.”
If Paul can make a statement like this, you should be asking, why?
From Adam Clarke’s commentary: “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.”
Godliness, according to Thayer’s dictionary, is reverence and respect. So by inference, reverence and respect are profitable for all things. We are not pushing the faith movement here, so profitability should not be thought of in terms of monetary gain. I will let you in on a little secret here. God is not that concerned with how much money you can horde.
Note this phrase: “since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
Also for the life to come?
Never forget, this godliness is a discipline in the Word, and Jesus is the Word. Everything will function based upon the Word and the guidelines outlined in the Word.
1 Timothy 4:9 AMP, This saying is reliable and worthy of complete acceptance by everybody.
This verse points both backward to verses seven and eight and forwards to verse ten.
1 Timothy 4:10 GW Certainly, we work hard and struggle to live a godly life because we place our confidence in the living God. He is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
In the “God’s Word” translation, we see the phrase work hard; this is the Greek word kopiaō and means to grow weary, tired, to the point of exhaustion.
To be honest, this life can wear you out but add to it home quarantine and mandatory face masks, and you have an exhausting situation.
The other word that catches my attention is what the GW translation calls struggle. The NASB calls it striving. The Greek tells us that it is the word agōnizomai. Again I turn to Thayer, who says,
- To contend with adversaries, fight.
- Metaphorically to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers.
- To endeavor with strenuous zeal.
This life we live in Christ can be all those things, especially if the religious zealots are turning against you as well.
1 Timothy 4:11 NASB Prescribe and teach these things.
The NLT says it in a more determined manner.
Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. (1 Timothy 4:11 NLT)
Like I said earlier, what are the things Paul is referring to?
All of this:
- He was revealed in the flesh.
- Vindicated in the Spirit.
- Seen by angels.
- Proclaimed among the nations.
- Believed on in the world.
- Taken up in glory.
In the last days! (we have been in the last days since Peter preached on the day of Pentecost,)
- Some will turn away from the true faith (NLT).
- They will also be fooled by the false claims of liars whose consciences have lost all feeling. (CEV.) These liars will forbid people… (The verse goes on to say that, these fools will tell you what you can and cannot eat; and, they will tell you who you can marry. Many cults have practiced this for years now. Sounds a bit cult-like, doesn’t it?) Paul goes on to explain that everything God created was good and acceptable if you give thanks.
1 Timothy 4:12 NASB Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.
I might add, let no one look down on your old age either.
How do we make an impression?
Eugene Peterson’s Message is quite clear.
Teach believers with your life: (As the NASB puts it, be an example of what a believer looks like.)
by word, (This is talking about your speech. What are you allowing, uncontrolled, out of your mouth?)
by demeanor, (This is referring to your behavior, or how you carry yourself.)
by love, (Ask yourself, how does love demonstrate itself? Much of the time, love looks like the Samaritan who dressed the wounds of the Jew, put the wounded man on his donkey, and took the wounded Jew to the Inn and paid for the man’s room and board until he recovered. In other words, he showed kindness.)
by faith, (Keep in mind, that you are demonstrating what this life in Christ looks like, and sometimes we use words. What do we do for the rest of the time? Live out this faith life; this concept should be especially important in light of this Man-made COVID pandemic. In case you hadn’t noticed, the fear tactic has worked on most. What is our commission? Lay hands on the sick, in Jesus’ Name, and they shall recover.
by integrity. (Most of us have worked with non-religious people, but even if they claimed to be religious, you couldn’t tell. It seems integrity is a lost art. Let’s change that!)
1 Timothy 4:13 NASB Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
Hold up here for a minute. These words, “Until I come, give attention to…” seems to have gone by the wayside.
As I begin to break this sentence down, I am slapped in the face by the words, “until I come.” As many combative Christians have pointed out, we have been looking for Him to come for over two-thousand-years. Therefore we are merely wasting our time as we watch for His coming.
Do I really think that not just Paul, but God Himself, is directing us to, as the Message puts it,
“Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching.” (1Timothy 4:13 MSG)
Yes, I am quite convinced that He expects us to do just that.
But what if I don’t?
Then you will lose your motivation, perception, and attachment to the Word. At that point, the longing for the things of the world will overwhelm you, and those things will become your idols.
On a personal level, I was rebuked and told not to study eschatology. In other words, I was told by one of my pastors to do just the opposite of Paul’s directive to Timothy and not give attention to the scriptures about eschatology. The reasons for this unreasonable demand were associated with his deeply entrenched belief that no one can understand the Revelation or Daniel’s prophecies. This pastor also told me, you eschatology teachers are argumentative and overpowering. (I began to realize that the pastor, who had never heard me speaking on eschatology, had just put me into a distorted subset that he held in his mind.)
If you knew me and the damage I sustained as a child, you would never say that I was contentious. Considering that speakers like Charlie Kirk and Candice Owens have to deal with illogical, screaming responses, they often come across as argumentative and overpowering as they try to undo some of these twisted mindsets. If given a platform to teach, I have learned that I don’t have to take a dominating vocal stance, but solely deliver information. I happen to think that changing vocal tones and being animated tends to hold the audience’s attention as it engages.
Having covered what we do until He comes, there is this.
“Give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.”
Reading is the Greek word anágnōsis and covers the act of reading. Neither Strong’s nor Thayer’s say anything about the public reading of scriptures, and the NASB has italicized the word public to denote that it was added for clarity.
The mere act of writing this note brings something to my mind. The Torah scrolls were rare, few, and expensive; therefore, only the rich would have them, or you would find them in the synagogues; and, even then, only designated persons could touch them. To this day, they use a pointer and NEVER put their greasy fingers on the scrolls.
So how then do I define “the public reading of scriptures”?
The Word Study Dictionary states, “to know certainly and hence to read, particularly the Scriptures.“
For me, to use the terminology, hence to read, associates this statement with a considerable presumption, and that would be that every believer had a Bible. Keep in mind that what we are reading were the origins of this Bible we read.
This is just a presumption, but I cannot imagine that there were special requests in the synagogue. You accepted what you received. A logical assumption would be that there were at least a couple of prescribed readings and a verse by verse teaching on a book at a time.
This added phrase public reading puts Paul’s readers back in the synagogues, where they could pay attention to what is being read. Because we turned this Bible of ours into a Gentile book, we also turned the early believers into Gentiles, when they were undoubtedly Jewish, in most cases. I point this out because there are so many challenges to our Gentile understanding as we read Paul’s letters, and they only make sense if you look at them from a Jewish perspective. An example can be found in 1 Corinthians 10:16, where Paul says,
“is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (NASB)
1 Corinthians 10:16, is speaking of the communion and how we partake of the body of Christ. The keyword here is “partake,” as seen in the idea of sharing. But Paul does not end the conversation here, as he turns to a relational topic when he speaks of others’ altars.
“Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:18-20 NASB)
By addressing Israel, he immediately creates a visual, in the Jew’s mind, about the Holy altars within the temple. Now, not everyone gets to partake of the leftover roast, as that is for the priests and, in a sense, a part of their payment. But the Jew can see the relationship, as the priests then are partakers in the Holy Sacrifice.
One could, incorrectly say, but aren’t the priests then partaking of something offered to an idol?
Paul responds to this assertion by saying, “No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.” My goodness, I could apply this to many facets of my life. We have churches aligning themselves with BLM Inc. because they think that will keep the revelers from burning their church down. When in reality, the churches have made themselves partakers in demonic worship by partaking in their altar. As a reminder, by their admission, BLM Inc. leadership starts their day by calling on the spirits of dead people to guide them.
1 Timothy 4:14 NET. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you have, given to you and confirmed by prophetic words when the elders laid hands on you.
If you are not familiar with church speak, I will try to explain.
But in accordance with the measure of Christ’s gift, His favor has been bestowed upon each one of us. Concerning this, the Scripture says: “He led a host of captives, when He went up on high, and granted gifts to men.” (Ephesians 4:7-8 Williams)
So, Christ’s gift is life; however, included in that life are His gifts. As this verse correctly states, one or several of those gifts have been bestowed upon you if you are a follower of Christ. We pick up on the fact that some of those giftings have to do with church leadership through Paul’s writing. Take a look at Ephesians 4.
Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers so that his people would learn to serve, and his body would grow strong. (Ephesians 4:11-12 CEV)
As you might have noticed, some giftings are imparted, or at least acknowledged.
1 Timothy 4:14 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.
Never get the idea that this is an exclusive club, as much of what happens to people like Timothy, happen in the background, just as they will with you.
As Paul finishes out this fourth chapter, he is still delivering sound wisdom.
1 Timothy 4:15 Moffatt NT (15) Attend to these duties, let them absorb you, so that all men may note your progress.
If you are new in the Lord, you may not as yet see your mission as one of duties. This is not an oppressive statement. My grand-kids see dish washing as a horrid chore to be avoided at all costs. The problem with attitude is that a day will come when you no longer have a usable clean plate or a clean cup from which to drink. That dilemma alone demonstrates a necessity for duties. We had to move chairs multiple times within the church each week, as we accommodated a large Recovery group, weddings, and then back to the church arrangement. I knew a man, who had been a school principal, a school teacher, and a forestry firefighter, but in his retirement, he saw a need to move chairs at church and gladly performed that task. Because I knew this man, I can tell you that it was a joy to be around him. If you act like my friend Alan, people will see Jesus in you, and they will note how much you have advanced.
And finally, perhaps one of the most important motivations.
1 Timothy 4:16 NLT
Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching.
Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation
and the salvation of those who hear you.
We live in grace, and yes, I am very much aware of that, but grace does not give you the freedom to act foolishly intentionally. I can tell you from experience that acting the fool has consequences, and consequences often have legal repercussions. Locally, one of our worship leaders came to know this Jesus while he was in prison. So there is always hope.
This word foolish covers a wide variety of actions. Read the book of James, particularly chapter one, and here is why.
James 1:25 NLT But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
Note these words, the perfect law that sets you free. You see, the law guides you, and Christ, we are told, came to fulfill the law, NOT do away with it. As a believer, it is NOW written upon your heart, and, if you allow it, it will guide you.