1 Timothy 4

The Text (from the NASB):

4:1   But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 4:2   by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 4:3   {men} who forbid marriage {and advocate} abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4:4   For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 4:5   for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. 4:6   In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, {constantly} nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 4:7   But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 4:8   for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and {also} for the {life} to come. 4:9   It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. 4:10   For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 4:11   Prescribe and teach these things. 4:12   Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but {rather} in speech, conduct, love, faith {and} purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. 4:13   Until I come, give attention to the {public} reading {of Scripture,} to exhortation and teaching. 4:14   Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery. 4:15   Take pains with these things; be {absorbed} in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. 4:16   Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.

Things to look for in chapter 4

  1. Watch for evidence that Paul especially has in view gnostic teachings as he talks about men who will fall away from the faith.


  1. Was Paul concerned only about the influence of those who were never truly Christians, or was he also concerned about some who would be Christians but might become enamored of gnostic teachings?
  2. What was the primary means Paul encouraged Timothy to use in confronting the challenge of gnostic influence? See especially 4:11 and 4:13.
  3. Does Paul identify some gnostic teachers by name? (see, for example, 2 Tim. 2:17.)
  4. Thinking about Paul's emphasis throughout the letters wherein he confronts gnosticism, would you say he primarily focuses on identifying gnostic teachers by name and itemizing their false teachings, or would you say he primarily focuses on presenting truth?
  5. In our efforts today, is it right and proper to identify those people and organizations that propagate false doctrine?
  6. FOR DISCUSSION: In our efforts today, what sort of balance should we strike between teaching what the Bible says and identifying those who teach error?
  7. FOR DISCUSSION: Does false doctrine usually produce immoral behavior, or is immoral behavior usually the reason false doctrine arises?
  8. Consider 4:12 and 4:15. Is it important for a minister of the gospel to establish himself in the eyes of those whom he endeavors to teach? If so, how so? What should he avoid as he endeavors to have influence among his hearers? (2 Cor. 4:5, 2 Tim. 2:24-25, Rom. 12:3)
  9. In 4:13-15, what did Paul say that Timothy should especially "take pains" to do?
  10. FOR DISCUSSION: The Greek word for elder is πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros). This word used to refer simply to older men (1 Tim. 5:1) just as the feminine form was used to refer to older women (1 Tim. 5:2). But it was also used to refer to those older men who were leaders in the churches (Acts 14:23, cf. 1 Pt. 5:1). The presbytery is the plurality of elders. What was the role of the presbytery in Timothy's spiritual gift?