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    The "mystery of iniquity" here alluded to, and already working (2Th 2:7), stands opposed to the "mystery of godliness" just mentioned (1Ti 3:16).

    1. Now--Greek, "But." In contrast to the "mystery of godliness."
    - the Spirit--speaking by the prophets in the Church (whose prophecies rested on those of the Old Testament, Da 7:25; 8:23, &c.; 11:30, as also on those of Jesus in the New Testament, Mt 24:11-24), and also by Paul himself, 2Th 2:3 (with whom accord 2Pe 3:3; 1Jo 2:18; Jude 18).
    - expressly--"in plain words." This shows that he refers to prophecies of the Spirit then lying before him.
    - in the latter times--in the times following upon the times in which he is now writing. Not some remote future, but times immediately subsequent, the beginnings of the apostasy being already discernible (Ac 20:29): these are the forerunners of "the last days" (2Ti 3:1).
    - depart from the faith--The apostasy was to be within the Church, the faithful one becoming the harlot. In 2Th 2:3 (written earlier), the apostasy of the Jews from God (joining the heathen against Christianity) is the groundwork on which the prophecy rises; whereas here, in the Pastoral Epistles, the prophecy is connected with Gnostic errors, the seeds of which had already been sown in the Church [AUBERLEN] (2Ti 2:18). Apollonius Tyanæus, a heretic, came to Ephesus in the lifetime of Timothy.
    - giving heed-- (1Ti 1:4; Tit 1:14).
    - seducing spirits--working in the heretical teachers. 1Jo 4:2, 3, 6, "the spirit of error," opposed to "the spirit of truth," "the Spirit" which "speaketh" in the true prophets against them.
    - doctrines of devils--literally "teachings of (that is suggested by) demons." Jas 3:15, "wisdom . . . devilish"; 2Co 11:15, "Satan's ministers."

    2. Rather translate, "Through (literally, 'in'; the element in which the apostasy has place) the hypocrisy of lying speakers"; this expresses the means through which "some shall (be led to) depart from the faith," namely, the reigned sanctity of the seducers (compare "deceivers," Tit 1:10).
    - having their conscience seared--Greek, "having their own conscience," &c., that is, not only "speaking lies" to others, but also having their own conscience seared. Professing to lead others to holiness, their own conscience is all the while defiled. Bad consciences always have recourse to hypocrisy. As faith and a good conscience are joined (1Ti 1:5); so hypocrisy (that is, unbelief, Mt 24:5, 51; compare Lu 12:46) and a bad conscience here. THEODORET explains like English Version, "seared," as implying their extreme insensibility; the effect of cauterizing being to deaden sensation. The Greek, however, primarily means "branded" with the consciousness of crimes committed against their better knowledge and conscience, like so many scars burnt in by a branding iron: Compare Tit 1:15; 3:11, "condemned of himself." They are conscious of the brand within, and yet with a hypocritical show of sanctity, they strive to seduce others. As "a seal" is used in a good sense (2Ti 2:19), so "a brand" in a bad sense. The image is taken from the branding of criminals.

    3. Sensuality leads to false spiritualism. Their own inward impurity is reflected in their eyes in the world without them, and hence their asceticism (Tit 1:14, 15) [WIESINGER]. By a spurious spiritualism (2Ti 2:18), which made moral perfection consist in abstinence from outward things, they pretended to attain to a higher perfection. Mt 19:10-12 (compare 1Co 7:8, 26, 38) gave a seeming handle to their "forbidding marriage" (contrast 1Ti 5:14); and the Old Testament distinction as to clean and unclean, gave a pretext for teaching to "abstain from meats" (compare Col 2:16, 17, 20-23). As these Judaizing Gnostics combined the harlot or apostate Old Testament Church with the beast (Re 17:3), or Gnostic spiritualizing anti-Christianity, so Rome's Judaizing elements (1Ti 4:3) shall ultimately be combined with the open worldly-wise anti-Christianity of the false prophet or beast (1Ti 6:20, 21; Col 2:8; 1Jo 4:1-3; Re 13:12-15). Austerity gained for them a show of sanctity while preaching false doctrine (Col 2:23). EUSEBIUS [Ecclesiastical History, 4.29] quotes from IRENÆUS [1.28] a statement that Saturninus, Marcion, and the Encratites preached abstinence from marriage and animal meats. Paul prophetically warns against such notions, the seeds of which already were being sown (1Ti 6:20; 2Ti 2:17, 18).
    - to be received--Greek, "to be partaken of."
    - of them--literally, (created and designed) "for them," Though all (even the unbelieving, Ps 104:14; Mt 5:45) are partakers in these foods created by God, "they which believe" alone fulfil God's design in creation by partaking of them with thanksgiving; as opposed to those who abstain from them, or in partaking of them, do not do so with thanksgiving. The unbelieving have not the designed use of such foods by reason of their "conscience being defiled" (Tit 1:15). The children of God alone "inherit the earth"; for obedience is the necessary qualification (as it was in the original grant of the earth to Adam), which they alone possess.
    - and know the truth--explanatory and defining who are "they which believe." Translate as Greek, "and have full knowledge of the truth" (see on Php 1:9). Thus he contradicts the assumption of superior knowledge and higher moral perfection, put forward by the heretics, on the ground of their abstinence from marriage and meats. "The truth" stands in opposition to their "lies" (1Ti 4:2).

    4, 5. Translate as Greek, "Because" (expressing a reason resting on an objective fact; or, as here, a Scripture quotation)--"For" (a reason resting on something subjective in the writer's mind).
    - every creature . . . good-- (Ge 1:31; Ro 14:14, 20). A refutation by anticipation of the Gnostic opposition to creation: the seeds of which were now lurking latently in the Church. Judaism (Ac 10:11-16; 1Co 10:25, 26) was the starting-point of the error as to meats: Oriental Gnosis added new elements. The old Gnostic heresy is now almost extinct; but its remains in the celibacy of Rome's priesthood, and in its fasts from animal meats, enjoined under the penalty of mortal sin, remain.
    - if . . . with thanksgiving--Meats, though pure in themselves, become impure by being received with an unthankful mind (Ro 14:6; Tit 1:15).

    5. sanctified--"hallowed"; set apart as holy for the use of believing men: separated from "the creature," which is under the bondage of vanity and corruption (Ro 8:19, &c.). Just as in the Lord's Supper, the thanksgiving prayer sanctifies the elements, separating them from their naturally alien position in relation to the spiritual world, and transferring them to their true relation to the new life. So in every use of the creature, thanksgiving prayer has the same effect, and ought always to be used (1Co 10:30, 31).
    - by the word of God and prayer--that is, "by means of intercessory prayer" (so the Greek)--that is, consecratory prayer in behalf of "the creature" or food--that prayer mainly consisting of "the word of God." The Apostolic Constitutions [7.49], give this ancient grace, almost wholly consisting of Scripture, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, who feedest me from my youth, who givest food to all flesh: Fill our hearts with joy and gladness, that we, having all sufficiency, may abound unto every good work in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom glory, honour, and might, be to thee for ever. Amen." In the case of inspired men, "the word of God" would refer to their inspired prayers (1Ki 17:1); but as Paul speaks in general, including uninspired men's thanksgiving for meals, the "word of God" more probably refers to the Scripture words used in thanksgiving prayers.

    6. If thou put . . . in remembrance--rather as Greek, "If thou suggest to (bring under the notice of) the brethren," &c.
    - these things--namely, the truths stated in 1Ti 4:4, 5, in opposition to the errors foretold, 1Ti 4:1-3.
    - minister--"servant."
    - nourished up--The Greek is present, not past: "continually being nourished in" (2Ti 1:5; 3:14, 15).
    - the words of faith--rather, "the words of the faith" (compare 1Ti 4:12).
    - good doctrine--"the good teaching." Explanatory of "the faith," in opposition to the "teachings of demons" (English Version, "doctrines of devils," 1Ti 4:1) which Timothy was to counteract. Compare "sound doctrine" (1Ti 1:10; 6:3; Tit 1:9; 2:1).
    - whereunto thou hast attained--"the course of which thou hast followed"; hast followed along by tracing its course and accompanying it [ALFORD]. Thou hast begun to follow up [BENGEL]. The same Greek occurs, "thou hast fully known" (2Ti 3:10), "having had perfect understanding" (Lu 1:3). It is an undesigned coincidence that the Greek verb is used only by Paul and Paul's companion, Luke.

    7. refuse--reject, avoid, have nothing to do with (2Ti 2:23; Tit 3:10).
    - old wives' fables--anile myths (1Ti 1:4, 9; Tit 1:14). They are "profane," because leading away from "godliness" or "piety" (1Ti 1:4-7; 6:20; 2Ti 2:16; Tit 1:1, 2).
    - exercise thyself--literally, "exercise thyself" as one undergoing training in a gymnasium. Let thy self-discipline be not in ascetical exercises as the false teachers (1Ti 4:3, 8; compare 2Ti 2:22, 23; Heb 5:14; 12:11), but with a view to godliness or "piety" (1Ti 6:11, 12).

    8. profiteth little--Greek, "profiteth to (but) a small extent." Paul does not deny that fasting and abstinence from conjugal intercourse for a time, with a view to reaching the inward man through the outward, do profit somewhat, Ac 13:3; 1Co 7:5, 7; 9:26, 27 (though in its degenerate form, asceticism, dwelling solely on what is outward, 1Ti 4:3, is not only not profitable but injurious). Timothy seems to have had a leaning to such outward self-discipline (compare 1Ti 5:23). Paul, therefore, while not disapproving of this in its due proportion and place, shows the vast superiority of godliness or piety, as being profitable not merely "to a small extent," but unto all things; for, having its seat within, it extends thence to the whole outward life of a man. Not unto one portion only of his being, but to every portion of it, bodily and spiritual, temporal and eternal [ALFORD]. "He who has piety (which is 'profitable unto all things') wants nothing needed to his well-being, even though he be without those helps which, 'to a small extent,' bodily exercise furnishes" [CALVIN]. "Piety," which is the end for which thou art to "exercise thyself" (1Ti 4:7), is the essential thing: the means are secondary.
    - having promise, &c.--Translate as Greek, "Having promise of life, that which now is, and that which is to come." "Life" in its truest and best sense now and hereafter (2Ti 1:1). Length of life now so far as it is really good for the believer; life in its truest enjoyments and employments now, and life blessed and eternal hereafter (Mt 6:33; Mr 10:29, 30). "Now in this time" (Ps 84:11; 112:1-10; Ro 8:28; 1Co 3:21, 22, "all things are yours . . . the world, life . . . things present, things to come"). Christianity, which seems to aim only at our happiness hereafter, effectually promotes it here (1Ti 6:6; 2Pe 1:3). Compare Solomon's prayer and the answer (1Ki 3:7-13).

    9. (1Ti 1:15). This verse (Greek), "faithful is the saying, " &c. confirms the assertion as to the "promise" attached to "godliness," 1Ti 4:8, and forms a prefatory introduction to 1Ti 4:10, which is joined to 1Ti 4:9 by "For." So 2Ti 2:11. Godly men seem to suffer loss as to this life: Paul hereby refutes the notion [B


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