Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 Timothy 4:3-16

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Forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods - 1 Timothy 4:3

They will forbid to marry and to receive foods. Perhaps, under the influence of a strong philosophical dualism, and cultural values about marriage propagated by the cult of Artemis, these false, would-be teachers of the law touted a form of asceticism that misappropriated the opening chapter of Genesis. It is possible, they were commending their version of resurrected life by returning to a pre-fall garden—a celibate, vegetarian life.

Everything created by God is good. - 1 Timothy 4:4

Everything created by God is good. Paul responds by sounding the refrain of Genesis chapter 1: 'And God saw that it was good' (Gen 1:4, 10, 25, 31). Having already affirmed the importance of marriage and childbearing (2:15; 3:2, 12)—an affirmation he will make again with regard to widows (5:9-10, 14)—Paul focuses his rebuttal from Scripture on their dietary restrictions. We know from Mark 4; Acts 10-11, 15; Rom 14-15; and 1 Cor 8-10 that this was a major practical and theological challenge for the early church. As non-Jews entered the covenant community would they corrupt it with their unclean foods and customs? What is the source of purity? Paul is consistent with the evangelists Mark and Luke in his answers: God purifies all people groups in the same way. Because humans are defiled by what comes out of their hearts and not what goes into their mouths, they must be purified in heart, from the inside out by the Holy Spirit.

Word of God and prayer - 1 Timothy 4:5

the word of God and prayer. Only God can purify us, and consecrate our activities. We engage God by hearing God's word and responding with thanksgiving and obedience. In addition to the refrain from Genesis, that God had made all things 'very good,' Paul may well have in mind 'God's word' to Simon Peter making both food and people 'clean,' a word that was ratified by the Jerusalem conference, and delivered to the churches by Paul, Silas and Timothy (Acts 16:4). He did not need to elaborate this to Timothy, since he helped deliver that word.

Best antidote to False Teaching - 1 Timothy 4:6-16

Paul Reminds Timothy that the Best Antidote to False Teaching is 'Healthy Teaching' and Godly living. Having countered the asceticism of the false teachers, Paul shifts positively and constructively back to the centrality of the Gospel, the nourishment of the Scriptures and the aim and practices of love and godliness as Timothy's most important resources for his service to Christ, including his confrontation with false teachers.

A good servant of Christ Jesus - 1 Timothy 4:6

a good servant of Jesus Christ. As he described earlier in his letter, regarding 'deacons' (see note 3:8-13), Paul uses the same word to describe the standard of 'good service' for Timothy. He or she is able to 'point out these things' to brothers and sisters, not as an academic exercise, but from his or her own 'nourishment in' and practice of 'the truths of the faith.'

Train yourself in godliness - 1 Timothy 4:7

stories loved by old women. See note 1:4. Instead, train yourself in godliness. Both here and in 4:8, Paul has the ascetic teachings on food and marriage in mind. While acknowledging that self-denial in physical training has some value, he has consistently aimed at the value of 'good works,' which also express self-sacrificial love in service to others. See note 2:10.

This message is trustworthy - 1 Timothy 4:9

This message is trustworthy. See notes 1:15 and 3:1.

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