1 Timothy 4 Commentary

v.3 “This unbiblical asceticism arose out of the mistaken belief that the material world was evil – a central belief of the Gnostic heresy”[1]

v.6 “The first paragraph begins by gathering up what has been said from 2:1 to 4:5 and urging Timothy to point these things out to the brothers.  The brothers, of course, means not the church leaders, but as always in Paul, the church community as a family of brothers and sisters.”[2]

v.7 “[…] Paul refers to the false teaching, but instead of expanding on this he immediately speaks of the way Timothy is to live and to respond to that teaching. The antithesis to becoming involved with these myths and tales is not, in this context, to bring an arsenal of theology against them but to be godly. […] Surely all this does not mean that we are never to combat error point by point with truth […] The mixture of error and ungodliness is adversely compared to the blend of truth and godliness.”[3]

vv.11-12 “To say, don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, is very likely two-edged.  It is first of all a word of encouragement to Timothy, because he was in fact a younger man (thirty to thirty-five)—and perhaps timid (cf. 1 Cor 16:10-11; 2 Tim 1:6ff).  […] But for the same reasons, it is likewise a word to the community, to let them know that, despite his youth, he has Paul’s own authority to command and teach these things (v. 11).

“On the contrary, not only are they not to look down on him because he is young, but they are to ‘look up’ to him.  He is to set (lit., ‘become’) an example for the believers.  That the people of God are to learn Christian ethics by modeling after the apostolic example is a thoroughgoing, and crucial, Pauline concept (see 1 Thess 1:6; 2 Thess 3:7, 9; 1 Cor. 4:6; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; cf. 2 Tim. 1:13).

“The virtues Timothy is to model for them […] stand in contrast to the conduct of the false teachers: in speech (not involved in arguments; cf. this virtue in Col. 3:8; 4:5-6); in life (better, ‘conduct,’ the broad term for behavior and a favorite of 1 Peter); in love, in faith (which the false teachers have abandoned; 1:5-6); and in purity (the real thing, in contrast to their false asceticism; cf. 5:22-23).”[4]

v.14 “What does it mean to neglect one’s gift? (4:14)  Having a God-given gift is not enough.  Through use and service, both talents and spiritual gifts can be developed and made even more effective.  To sidestep opportunities to serve the Lord is to neglect gifts.  They can waste away to nothing if left dormant.”[5]

v.15 “Paul now sums up the concerns of the previous verses: Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them.  The first verb may mean ‘give your mind to’ (cf. KJV, ‘meditate upon’), but it also frequently is used for ‘cultivating’ or ‘practicing,’ the latter thus picking up the athletic metaphor from verses 7-10.

“The purpose for such practice and devotion to these matters is that everyone may see your progress.  The evidence from 2 Timothy 2:16 and 3:9 suggests that progress was one of the slogans of the false teachers, perhaps as a kind of elitist appeal to those who wanted to ‘advance’ into ‘deeper truths’ by engaging in their speculative nonsense […] If so, then this is a bold counterstatement to their kind of progress, which in 2 Timothy 2:16 is ironically labeled ‘progress in ungodliness [asebeia].’  By Timothy’s being a faithful minister of the word of the gospel, the people will be able to see the real thing.”[6]

v.16 “In the context of the Pastoral Letters, with their emphasis on the necessity of the Lord’s servant leading a godly life under the scrutiny of others, this verse can best be interpreted by stating it negatively: ‘If you do not combine godliness with proper doctrine in your life, you will give the lie to your own claim to salvation and be a hindrance to others who seek to be saved.”[7]


[1] The NIV Study Bible, study notes  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985)  1839.

[2] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1988) 102.

[3] Walter L. Liefeld, 1 & 2 Timothy/Titus, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999) 161.

[4] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1988) 106-07.

[5] NIV Quest Study Bible, notes on v. 14 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2003) 1708.

[6] Gordon D. Fee, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1988) 109.

[7] Walter L. Liefeld, 1 & 2 Timothy/Titus, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999) 168-69.

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “1 Timothy 4 Commentary”

  1. […] v.3 “This unbiblical asceticism arose out of the mistaken belief that the material world was evil – a central belief of the Gnostic heresy”[1] […]

Leave a Response