Warning against False Teachers
Beware of False Teachers: 1 Timothy 4:1-5.
Christians must be on guard against Satan’s counterfeits and false teachers. Paul warns that in the last days some will depart from the once for all given faith. This defection was already predicted by Christ and apostles (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29, 30). Christians are warned to stay away from such false teachers. They follow deceptive spirits and teachings of demons. Though false teachers pretend to be religious, they are hypocrites and liars. Their conscience is hardened by suppressing the truth (Romans 1:18). They teach that moral purity is achieved by avoiding marriage and certain food. Christ is the source of godliness. There is nothing unholy about marriage. God himself instituted marriage with blessing (Genesis 2:22-25). A bishop must be the husband of one wife. Forced celibacy is not biblical. God created all things for our enjoyment with thanksgiving. False teachers willfully forget that the source of godliness is Christ. They attempt to replace the gospel of grace with good work. God never intended us to refrain from marriage and food to attain higher holiness. Such teaching may have a connection to the idea of reincarnation that teaches that the human soul may return to live in an animal. The food itself has no moral quality (Romans 14:14). Both marriage and food are given for the preservation of the human race (6:17). All good gifts come from God and should be received with thanksgiving (James 1:17).
Be a Good Servant of Christ: 1 Timothy 4:6-10.
After warning Timothy against false teachers, Paul exhorts him to be a good minister of Jesus Christ. A good servant of God ministers to the spiritual needs of God’s people and warns them against false teachers. A servant of God should rightly divide the Word of God and seek God's approval. He must not watered-down the clear teaching of the Word of God. He should resist and avoid myths and train himself in godliness. Even though Paul opposes abstinence, he is by no means opposed to spiritual discipline for the purpose of godliness (4:7-8). Bodily exercise has benefits for the body. It takes determination and self discipline. Godliness is good for body, spirit and soul. It is good and profitable for the present life and also for the life to come. Godliness is Christ-likeness. It is of eternal value. Legalism is self efforts to gain favor from God. Those who are godly obey God because they love God and want to please Him. Christ’s atoning sacrifice has made provision for the salvation of the world (John 1:29). This does not mean that all will be saved universally. Jesus is the potential Savior of all and actual Savior of those who trust Him. So Paul strives to make Jesus known to all. Pray that the Lord would give you strength to live for him. Christian life is knowing Christ and making known to the unsaved.
Encouragement to Timothy 1 Timothy 4:11-13.
Paul exhorts Timothy who was probably in his late thirties to give attention to sound doctrine. He was comparatively young and probably ministering among elderly believers at Ephesus. Timothy was exhorted to live a godly life to become an example to others. His public ministry and the private life should be Christ centered so that no one would despise him. Paul says "Let your speech be edifying and your conduct be blameless". Paul encourages Timothy to focus on public reading of the scriptures because the copy of the Scripture was available to very few people at that time. He was also encouraged to exhort and teach believers. A servant of God must give attention to sound doctrine because it is the basis of Christian behavior.
Timothy and the Spiritual Gift: 1 Timothy 4: 14-16.
Timothy was entrusted with a spiritual gift. We are not told what that gift was. In light of his ministry in the church, Timothy might be a pastor-teacher. His gift was made known by prophecy (4:14). Spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the church. When gifts are not used, we quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19, 20). The laying of hands was only a symbolic action of acknowledging his gift. When it is evident to the elders that a believer is gifted, he may be used for the edification of the church. When the New Testament was not complete, God's will was made known by prophecy. Paul encouraged Timothy to prove his gift by giving himself fully to the ministry. Paul exhorts Timothy about the importance of his personal life and ministry. A servant of God should give attention to his spiritual growth and remain faithful in the ministry. Then only he can save himself and believers from false teachers. Our ministry should be motivated and empowered by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).