After giving instructions about the proper conduct of believers in the church, Paul now returns to the specific task which Timothy was left in Ephesus to carry out—combat false teachings. As the Holy Spirit has revealed, false prophets and apostates have indeed risen up to spread false doctrines. Paul warns Timothy about this danger and charges him to counter false doctrines with sound doctrine and godly conduct.
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“Youth” (4:12): Timothy was probably in his mid-30s or younger, and in that day, such an influential position was not usually held by a man so young. For this reason, perhaps his leadership had been called into question.” [ref]
- False teachers and deceptive teachings (4:1-5)
- Instructing the Believers with Good Doctrine (4:6-11)
- Setting An Example of Godliness (4:12-16)
Record the words or phrases in verses 6-16 that convey the diligence that a minister of God ought to have.Hide Answer
Carefully followed (6), exercise (7), labor (10), give attention (13), do not neglect (14), meditate on these things (15), give yourself entirely to them (15), progress (15), take heed (16), continue in them (16).
What has the Holy Spirit prophesied concerning the latter times?Hide Answer
Some will depart from the faith (1). This does not refer to unbelievers who simply reject the truth that they hear. Rather, this points to people who were once believers that will listen to false teachers, commit apostasy, deny the truth and depart from the faith.
The false teachers will speak lies in hypocrisy. That is, they will spread false teachings from deceiving spirits even though they know that what they teach is false. This is because their conscience is already numbed (seared with a hot iron). This is a direct contrast with Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to have a good conscience and sincere faith (1:5).
What are some of the false teachings propounded by these hypocritical liars?Hide Answer
1. Forbidding to marry.
2. Commanding to abstain from foods.
Are you aware of any such false teachings today?
What should be the correct teachings concerning marriage and foods?Hide Answer
Marriage is instituted by God (Mt 19:4-6) and therefore should not be forbidden. However, this has to be between one man and one woman in the Lord (1Cor 7:39)
All foods can be eaten except for blood, strangled animals and food offered to idols (Acts 15:28-29; Acts 10:9-16)
What does Paul mean by “every creature… is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (4-5)?Hide Answer
The false teachers taught that certain foods were defiled in themselves. But these verses teach that all creatures are made holy by the word of God and prayer. When God created the things of this world, He saw that everything he had made was good (Gen 1:10,12,18,21,25). Nothing in God’s creation is unclean of itself (Rom 14:14). As long as we partake of our food without violating God’s word (such as offering the food to idols, indulging in gluttony, deliberately taking in harmful substances, etc), and as long as we receive the food with thanksgiving, our eating is under the blessings of God.
What specific measures should Timothy take to counter the works of the false teachers?Hide Answer
1. Instruct, command, and teach the believers the sound doctrine (6,11,13)
2. Reject these false teachings (7). This suggests a proactive stance of refuting the false teachings, although some may choose to ignore false teachings, others may seek a compromise, and still others may appreciate the novelty of such new teachings (Jude 3; 1Pet 3:15)
3. Exercise himself towards godliness, which is profitable for all things (7-8).
What contrasts do you see between the minister of Jesus Christ (6) and the preacher of false doctrines (1-2)?Hide Answer
1. The false teacher has departed from the faith and teaches the doctrine of demons. But the minister of Jesus Christ is nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine.
2. The false teacher speaks lies in hypocrisy. He is a hypocrite because he teaches others to deny themselves through abstinence but he does not even practice true holiness in his own life (cf. Mt 23:1-4; Col 2:20-23). The minister of Jesus Christ, on the contrary, carefully follows the good doctrine.
How should you exercise yourself toward godliness?Hide Answer
Exercise in godliness is analogous to athletic training. Just as an athlete needs to know his weakness and avoid mistakes, the man of God has to cleanse himself and shun youthful lusts (2Tim 2:21-22). Just as an athlete needs to perfect his skills and stay fit through constant practice, the man of God needs to always put God’s word into practice and pursue godly conduct so that he can become more acquainted with God’s word and be strong (Heb 3:14).
In what ways can exercise in godliness profit you?Hide Answer
Godliness is profitable in this life, giving us wisdom, helping us develop a good character, guarding us against pitfalls, and enabling us to minister to others’ needs. Ultimately, godliness brings salvation (cf. 16) because it nourishes our faith in Jesus Christ.
What are the goal and the basis of Paul’s labor and suffering?Hide Answer
Paul labors and suffers reproach in order to train himself in godliness and instruct the sound doctrine to the believers (6-8). The basis of his labor and suffering is his trust in God the Savior (10). Because he truly believes in God and His salvation, Paul makes every effort to teach and live out the good doctrine.
How do you understand the words, “God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe”?Hide Answer
God is the Savior of all men because He loves the world and gave His Son to the world as a ransom for all men (2:6; Jn 3:16; 1Jn 2:1-2). But, although God makes salvation available to all, not all believe on the Son of God to receive this salvation. Only those who believe Jesus Christ are actually saved. Thus, God is especially the Savior of those who believe.
How should Timothy conduct himself so that he will not be despised of his youth? Explain the answer and apply it to your own life.Hide Answer
He should be an example to believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (12). This suggests that Timothy should work on every aspect of his spiritual nurture. That is, in word (things he says), in conduct (things he does), in love (his treatment of others), in spirit (his attitude and inner strength), in faith (his unwavering belief in God’s love, justice and might), in purity (his holiness and clear separation from the patterns of the world).
What work does Paul encourage Timothy to give attention to?Hide Answer
Reading of the Scriptures, exhortation, and teaching of doctrines (13). Learning and teaching God’s word should be the primary concern. This task must not be neglected in the midst of busy church activities, especially when false teachers are seeking to infiltrate the church.
Explain how verse 14 fits into the context of this paragraph.Hide Answer
Through the laying on of hands, Timothy has received from God the ability and the charge to wage the good warfare for the truth (1:18; cf. 2Tim 1:6; 4:1-2). Paul reminds Timothy not to neglect this most important mission by failing to exercise the gift he has been entrusted with. This reminder simply reinforces the exhortations throughout the passage to be attentive and diligent.
Have you neglected the gift that is in you? What should you do with your gift?
What two aspects must Timothy take heed to and continue in? Why?Hide Answer
Timothy must take heed to himself (i.e. his heart, thoughts, and conduct) and to the doctrine (i.e. his teachings). He must defend the sound doctrine and actively teach it to the believers. At the same time, he must watch his own life carefully to make sure that he practices what he preaches. Giving in to false doctrines or failing to live by the sound doctrine can lead to a minister’s own downfall as well as make others stumble. Only if he preaches and continues in the doctrine can he save himself and those who hear him (16).