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1 Timothy 4 - False Teaching

INTRODUCTION: In this chapter the apostle Paul reveals some changes that will begin to affect the church as men fall away from the faith and employ practices that are not consistent with scripture. He advises Timothy about the course to follow for maintaining sound doctrine in his teaching, and integrity in his own conduct.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the World English Bible.


1Timothy 4 "1 But the Spirit says expressly that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 through the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron; 3 forbidding marriage and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with thanksgiving. 5 For it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer."

COMMENTS: Paul opened this chapter with some warnings that he received explicitly from the Holy Spirit, and therefore there was certainty that the matters of concern would develop. These warnings written for Timothy as a church overseer have continued to apply as many church bodies have seriously strayed from the truth from that time even unto the present. Some leaders are able to develop a following as they speak of the Bible but do not have a sincere faith in the true and living God. There pretense so maligns the truth that their own conscience becomes seared and is then ineffectual to guide them. They actually propagate doctrines that are representative of demons, not of the Lord. Paul lists the forbidding of marriage as one of the errors that will be taught. That prohibition is not anywhere in the law of the Old Testament, nor is it a teaching of Christ. Paul also states that another error is to require Abstinence from certain foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth from the Lord. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and he knew Christ had made it unnecessary for Gentiles to follow all of the strict laws established for the Jews. But even as a Jew, he had a new freedom from many dietary restrictions through the teaching of Christ.

The Lord had also made Peter aware that Gentiles did not need to become Jews in order to become Christians. A vision helped to prepare Peter to accept Cornelius and other Gentiles into the faith. Acts 10 "7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier of those who waited on him continually. 8 Having explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. 9 Now on the next day as they were on their journey, and got close to the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray at about noon. 10 He became hungry and desired to eat, but while they were preparing, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and a certain container descending to him, like a great sheet let down by four corners on the earth, 12 in which were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the sky. 13 A voice came to him, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat!" 14 But Peter said, "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." 15 A voice came to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean." 16 This was done three times, and immediately the vessel was received up into heaven." What God has cleansed, even the souls of men, will no longer be called unclean.

In his second letter, Peter reminded his readers that long before Christ came there were false prophets among the people. His warning was much like that of Paul, as he said that false teachers will also come into the assemblies and try to lead away many. 2 Peter 2 "1 But false prophets also arose among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. 2 Many will follow their immoral ways, and as a result, the way of the truth will be maligned." There is final destruction awaiting those who claim to teach as Christians, but lead many astray from the way of truth in Christ Jesus, and bring public reproach to his name.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about false apostles who are servants of Satan, following in his example as Satan falsely appears to be an angel of light, while contradicting God's truth. This fact requires close examination for true doctrine from those who claim to teach in the name of Jesus, but are not his servants. 2 Corinthians 11 "13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as Christ's apostles. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is no great thing therefore if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works." Paul agrees with Peter that there will be a final judgment for the deception of such people.


1Timothy 4 "6 If you instruct the brothers of these things, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished in the words of the faith, and of the good doctrine which you have followed. 7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables. Exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise has some value, but godliness has value in all things, having the promise of the life which is now, and of that which is to come. 9 This saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end we both labour and suffer reproach, because we have set our trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things."

COMMENTS: Paul said it is good to instruct others in the church about the distortions that can come into the assembly if the nourishment of faith from the Word of God is not the true doctrine closely followed for teaching and preaching. Paul cautions Timothy to keep secular fables from becoming mixed in with the teaching of the sound doctrine of scripture. Instead, as a servant of God, it is important to employ practices that strengthen and develop preaching and teaching ability that will build a better foundation for Godliness for those hearing God's Word. Paul makes the comparison that exercise of the body has value, but exercise to develop Godliness has value in all things for the present, and for the life that is to come. Paul said that both he and Timothy worked toward developing Godliness and were willing to suffer reproach because they knew that their trust was firmly fixed in the living God, who is the Savior of all who believe in him. These things are essential to command and teach to those in the assembly of believers so their trust would be in God their Savior.


1Timothy 4 "12 Let no man despise your youth; but be an example to those who believe, in word, in your way of life, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. 13 Until I come, pay attention to reading, to exhortation, and to teaching. 14 Don't neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the elders. 15 Be diligent in these things. Give yourself wholly to them, that your progress may be revealed to all. 16 Pay attention to yourself, and to your teaching. Continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."

COMMENTS: Paul told Timothy that he must not be intimidated by any who may speak against him because of his young age. He could refute such distractions by being an example to believers through his words, his way of life, in love, in spirit, in faith, and in purity. Paul had said near the end of chapter three that he planned to return to Ephesus. So Paul instructed Timothy to keep his attention to reading, encouragement, and preaching until he was able to return. Paul encouraged Timothy to diligently keep in regular practice the gift that was given to him through prophecy with the laying on of hands of the elders. Full dedication to these things would be a demonstration to everyone of his progress. Timothy should stay clearly defined in his own conduct and in his doctrine. These things are the elements of the assurance of salvation for Timothy and for those who would hear him. Paul gave clarity to this process in his second letter to Timothy. 2 Timothy 1 "9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Good News."


I believe that the writings of the apostle Paul are inspired by you Lord as are all of the scriptures, making absolutely reliable the warnings and instructions that he has given. The nature of man is just as susceptible now to give rise to false teachers as it was from the first giving of the law by Moses, and the rebellion within our hearts still allows us to be taken in by their distortion of the truth. Thank you Lord for providing the spread of your written word all around the world in many languages, and for the guidance of your Holy Spirit to lead your servants into your truth. May I personally apply the advice that Paul gave to Timothy to continue reading the Word of God, and to cultivate life practices that will be indicative of your presence within me. Help me to avoid any inappropriate and harmful mixture of secular fables with the purity of scripture. I want to be nourished by the words of faith so I will use sound doctrine to exercise myself toward Godliness for the present and for the life to come. I have fixed my trust in you Lord because you are the true and living God who alone has provided the gift of salvation for my soul. Praise to the living God, amen!

Published 7 June 2013