Tuesday, July 31, 2012


BUT THE (Holy) Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach
2 Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared (cauterized),
3 Who forbid people to marry and [teach them] to abstain from [certain kinds of] foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and have (an increasingly clear) knowledge of the truth.
4 For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be thrown away or refused if it is received with thanksgiving.
5 For it is hallowed and consecrated by the Word of God and by prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5).

False Asceticism (4:1-5)

1 Paul now gives instructions to Timothy on a variety of subjects, beginning with the matter of ascetic teachings (vv.1-5).
   The Holy Spirit explicitly says that in latter times some people will "abandon" the faith, i.e., become apostate. Instead of being led by the Holy Spirit, these apostates give their attention to deceiving spirits and the teaching of "demons" (i.e., evil spirits who are led by the devil). The expression "in latter times" is not as strong as the phrase "in the last days" (2 Tim 3:1); the conditions that Paul is discussing here evidently took place during his lifetime.

2 The apostle uses strong language in describing the teachers of the false doctrines he is about to mention. He declares that they are "hypocritical liars"; this implies that they know better, but they have deliberately forsaken the faith and teach falsehood. They are people whose consciences :have been seared as with a hot iron," so that they have become unfeeling about their willful wrongdoings.

3 Paul now mentions two of their false teachings: forbidding marriage and ordering people :to abstain from certain foods." This ascetic emphasis crept into the church in the first century and was widely felt in the second century under the influences of Gnosticism. The Gnostics taught that all matter is evil and that only spirit is good; thus all physical pleasure is sin.
    What these false teachers forgot is that marriage is an institution that God established as the normal thing in human society (see Genesis 2:24). The idea of abstaining from certain foods goes back, of course, to the Mosaic law. But Christ has freed us from the Law (Galatians 5:1-6), so that we are no longer under its restrictions regarding certain kinds of food, "which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth." Only those whose faith is weak avoid eating meat and restrict themselves to a vegetable diet (Romans 14:1-2). In spite of this, some still advocate and practice vegetarianism in the name of Christianity. Paul deals much more severely with this heresy in 1 Timothy than he did in Romans. Evidently the false teaching of asceticism was spreading in the church and the apostle struck out forcefully against it as a negation of our freedom in Christ.

4-5 The simple fact is that "everything God created is good" (echoing a statement made six times in Genesis 1 [Gen 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31]). It is true that vegetarianism may have prevailed before the Flood (cf. Gen 2:9, 16), but God clearly told Noah that animals could also be eaten as food (Gen 9:3).
      Paul then declares that "nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving." This underscores the importance of "offering thanks" always before we eat, and this is reinforced by v.5: "because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." Food thus becomes "holy" to the eaters-not that they are inherently unclean, but some people's scruples or unthankfulness might make them unclean to them. "The word of God" suggests the use of Scripture phrases when saying a prayer at the table.
[NIV BIBLE COMMENTARY Volume 2: New Testament].



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