1 Timothy 4 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Timothy 4)

Verse 1

[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

But the Spirit saith — By St. Paul himself to the Thessalonians, and probably by other contemporary prophets.

Expressly — As concerning a thing of great moment, and soon to be fulfilled.

That in the latter times — These extend from our Lord's ascension till his coming to judgment.

Some — Yea, many, and by degrees the far greater part.

Will depart from the faith — The doctrine once delivered to the saints.

Giving heed to seducing spirits — Who inspire false prophets.

Verse 2

[2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

These will depart from the faith, by the hypocrisy of them that speak lies, having their own consciences as senseless and unfeeling as flesh that is seared with an hot iron.

Verse 3

[3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

Forbidding priests, monks, and nuns to marry, and commanding all men to abstain from such and such meats at such and such times.

Which God hath created to be received by them that know the truth — That all meats are now clean.

With thanksgiving — Which supposes a pure conscience.

Verse 5

[5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

It is sanctified by the word of God — Creating all, and giving it to man for food.

And by prayer — The children of God are to pray for the sanctification of all the creatures which they use. And not only the Christians, but even the Jews, yea, the very heathens used to consecrate their table by prayer.

Verse 7

[7] But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

Like those who were to contend in the Grecian games, exercise thyself unto godliness - Train thyself up in holiness of heart and life, with the utmost labour, vigour, and diligence.

Verse 8

[8] For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

Bodily exercise profiteth a little — Increases the health and strength of the body.

Verse 10

[10] For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

Therefore — Animated by this promise.

We both labour and suffer reproach — We regard neither pleasure, ease, nor honour.

Because we trust — For this very thing the world will hate us.

In the living God — Who will give us the life he has promised.

Who is the Saviour of all men — Preserving them in this life, and willing to save them eternally.

But especially — In a more eminent manner.

Of them that believe — And so are saved everlastingly.

Verse 12

[12] Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Let no one have reason to despise thee for thy youth. To prevent this, Be a pattern in word - Public and private.

In spirit — In your whole temper.

In faith — When this is placed in the midst of several other Christian graces, it generally means a particular branch of it; fidelity or faithfulness.

Verse 13

[13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Give thyself to reading — Both publicly and privately. Enthusiasts, observe this! Expect no end without the means.

Verse 14

[14] Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

Neglect not — They neglect it who do not exercise it to the full.

The gift — Of feeding the flock, of power, and love, and sobriety.

Which was given thee by prophecy — By immediate direction from God.

By the laying on of my hands2 Timothy 1:6; while the elders joined also in the solemnity. This presbytery probably consisted of some others, together with Paul and Silas.

Verse 15

[15] Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

Meditate — The Bible makes no distinction between this and to contemplate, whatever others do. True meditation is no other than faith, hope, love, joy, melted down together, as it were, by the fire of God's Holy Spirit; and offered up to God in secret. He that is wholly in these, will be little in worldly company, in other studies, in collecting books, medals, or butterflies: wherein many pastors drone away so considerable a part of their lives.

Verse 16

[16] Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Continue in them — In all the preceding advices.