1 Timothy 4
The word Gnostic comes from the Greek word ‘gnosis’, which means knowledge. The word is used by historians to describe a school of thought. Gnosticism arose from a group of evil workers who claimed to have higher light, special spiritual knowledge, or “secret wisdom”. This movement began in the days of the apostles, and continued into the 5th century. Before John died the seeds of Gnosticism had been sown; perhaps even before Paul's death (1 Tim. 6:20). John’s epistles are written to defend against the inroads of Gnosticism (2 John 1:7,9). Peter warns of their false teaching, and Jude warns of its moral effect on the Christian testimony. Gnosticism is responsible for not just one heresy, but seven or eight. What is it? In this mystical system, the spiritual world was good, and material world was evil. They rejected the incarnation, because it connects the human with the divine. The Gnostics would try to separate “Jesus” from “Christ”, by making Christ an emanation (a shining out from a source) from God that never truly became flesh, or else was united to a mere man named Jesus at his baptism, but returned to God before Jesus’ death on the cross. In doing so, this evil system annulled the incarnation, the atonement, and the resurrection. The doctrine of the New Testament anticipates this irreverent and wicked system of doctrine by stating the simple truth of Christ's Person and work. Church fathers who defended against Gnosticism were Ignatius of Antioch ('Seven Epistles'), and Irenaeus of Lyons ('Against Heresies').Read more…
Understanding the Times (4:1-5)
- Individuals fall away (“antichrists”), teaching lies (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 1 John 2:18; 4:3; Jude 1:18). This began in the latter days of the apostle Paul (Acts 20:29-30). This developed into gnosticism, then other heresies.
- Widespread false profession, blatant denial of the Lordship of Christ (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 4:3; 2 Pet. 3:3). Most likely this state of things came to be in the era of Constantine. It developed into the Roman system, and then into dead Protestantism.
- Full apostasy under the man of sin, the “Antichrist” (2 Thess. 2:3-12). This will take place after the rapture, and it will culminate in the middle of Daniel’s seventieth week.
Sound Doctrine and Walk (4:6-16)
- Error lays hold of the exception (for even error cannot subsist without a scrap or show of truth) and converts the exception into a human rule. – Kelly, W. The First Epistle to Timothy.
- The mischief here set out is not the wider and later evil of 2 Tim. 3:1-9, when Christendom would be but men professing the Lord’s name, a form of piety with the denial of its power, no better than heathen in reality (cp. Rom. 1:28-32), though with the semblance and the responsibility of God’s final revelation of grace and truth in Christ. Still less is it the frightful apostacy of 2 Thess. 2:3-12, which is to close the age before the Lord Jesus be revealed in judgment from heaven to introduce the new age and the kingdom of God to be manifested in power and blessing universally over the earth. – Kelly, W. The First Epistle to Timothy.
- The adjoining terms give conclusive proof that the “reading” was not personal study but rather the public recitation of scripture for general instruction, since the “exhortation” and the “teaching” must refer to others. – Kelly, W. The First Epistle to Timothy.
- The case of Timothy is, no doubt, peculiar. He was designated by prophecy to a certain very peculiar work — that of guarding doctrine. And the apostle and the presbyters laid their hands upon him, by which a spiritual gift was communicated to him which he did not possess before. It is evident that there is no man now living who has been similarly endowed and called to such a work. — Kelly, William. Notes on Galatians.
- Salvation often as here means safeguarding all through this life. – Kelly, W. The First Epistle to Timothy.