Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
PREDICTION OF A
DEPARTURE FROM THE
DUTY AS TO
The "mystery of iniquity" here alluded to, and already working
stands opposed to the "mystery of godliness" just mentioned
1. Now--Greek, "But." In contrast to the "mystery of godliness."
the Spirit--speaking by the prophets in the Church (whose prophecies
rested on those of the Old Testament,
Da 7:25; 8:23,
as also on those of Jesus in the New Testament,
and also by Paul himself,
(with whom accord
expressly--"in plain words." This shows that he refers to prophecies
of the Spirit then lying before him.
in the latter times--in the times following upon the times in
which he is now writing. Not some remote future, but times
immediately subsequent, the beginnings of the apostasy being
these are the forerunners of "the last days"
depart from the faith--The apostasy was to be within the Church, the
faithful one becoming the harlot. In
(written earlier), the apostasy of the Jews from God (joining the
heathen against Christianity) is the groundwork on which the prophecy
rises; whereas here, in the Pastoral Epistles, the prophecy is
connected with Gnostic errors, the seeds of which had already been sown
in the Church [AUBERLEN]
Apollonius Tyanæus, a heretic, came to Ephesus in the lifetime of
seducing spirits--working in the heretical teachers.
1Jo 4:2, 3, 6,
"the spirit of error," opposed to "the spirit of truth," "the Spirit"
which "speaketh" in the true prophets against them.
doctrines of devils--literally "teachings of (that is suggested by)
"wisdom . . . devilish";
2. Rather translate, "Through (literally, 'in'; the element
in which the apostasy has place) the hypocrisy of lying speakers";
this expresses the means through which "some shall (be led to)
depart from the faith," namely, the reigned sanctity of the seducers
having their conscience seared--Greek, "having their
own conscience," &c., that is, not only "speaking lies" to
others, but also having their own conscience seared.
Professing to lead others to holiness, their own conscience is
all the while defiled. Bad consciences always have recourse to
hypocrisy. As faith and a good conscience are joined
so hypocrisy (that is, unbelief,
Mt 24:5, 51;
and a bad conscience here. THEODORET
explains like English Version, "seared," as implying their
extreme insensibility; the effect of cauterizing being to deaden
sensation. The Greek, however, primarily means "branded" with
the consciousness of crimes committed against their better knowledge
and conscience, like so many scars burnt in by a branding iron: Compare
Tit 1:15; 3:11,
"condemned of himself." They are conscious of the brand within, and yet
with a hypocritical show of sanctity, they strive to seduce others. As
"a seal" is used in a good sense
so "a brand" in a bad sense. The image is taken from the branding of
3. Sensuality leads to false spiritualism. Their own inward
impurity is reflected in their eyes in the world without them, and
hence their asceticism
(Tit 1:14, 15)
[WIESINGER]. By a spurious spiritualism
which made moral perfection consist in abstinence from outward things,
they pretended to attain to a higher perfection.
1Co 7:8, 26, 38)
gave a seeming handle to their "forbidding marriage" (contrast
and the Old Testament distinction as to clean and unclean, gave a
pretext for teaching to "abstain from meats" (compare
Col 2:16, 17, 20-23).
As these Judaizing Gnostics combined the harlot or apostate Old
Testament Church with the beast
or Gnostic spiritualizing anti-Christianity, so Rome's Judaizing
shall ultimately be combined with the open worldly-wise
anti-Christianity of the false prophet or beast
(1Ti 6:20, 21;
Austerity gained for them a show of sanctity while preaching false
EUSEBIUS [Ecclesiastical History, 4.29]
quotes from IRENÆUS [1.28] a statement that
Saturninus, Marcion, and the Encratites preached abstinence from
marriage and animal meats. Paul prophetically warns against such
notions, the seeds of which already were being sown
2Ti 2:17, 18).
to be received--Greek, "to be partaken of."
of them--literally, (created and designed) "for them," Though
all (even the unbelieving,
are partakers in these foods created by God, "they which believe" alone
fulfil God's design in creation by partaking of them with
thanksgiving; as opposed to those who abstain from them, or
in partaking of them, do not do so with thanksgiving. The
unbelieving have not the designed use of such foods by reason of their
"conscience being defiled"
The children of God alone "inherit the earth"; for obedience is the
necessary qualification (as it was in the original grant of the earth
to Adam), which they alone possess.
and know the truth--explanatory and defining who are "they which
believe." Translate as Greek, "and have full knowledge of
the truth" (see on
Thus he contradicts the assumption of superior knowledge and
higher moral perfection, put forward by the heretics, on the ground of
their abstinence from marriage and meats. "The truth" stands in
opposition to their "lies"
4, 5. Translate as Greek, "Because" (expressing a reason resting
on an objective fact; or, as here, a Scripture quotation)--"For"
(a reason resting on something subjective in the writer's mind).
every creature . . . good--
Ro 14:14, 20).
A refutation by anticipation of the Gnostic opposition to creation: the
seeds of which were now lurking latently in the Church. Judaism
1Co 10:25, 26)
was the starting-point of the error as to meats: Oriental Gnosis added
new elements. The old Gnostic heresy is now almost extinct; but its
remains in the celibacy of Rome's priesthood, and in its fasts from
animal meats, enjoined under the penalty of mortal sin, remain.
if . . . with thanksgiving--Meats, though pure in
themselves, become impure by being received with an unthankful mind
5. sanctified--"hallowed"; set apart as holy for the use of believing
men: separated from "the creature," which is under
the bondage of vanity and corruption
&c.). Just as in the Lord's Supper, the thanksgiving prayer sanctifies
the elements, separating them from their naturally alien position in
relation to the spiritual world, and transferring them to their true
relation to the new life. So in every use of the creature,
thanksgiving prayer has the same effect, and ought always to be used
(1Co 10:30, 31).
by the word of God and prayer--that is, "by means of
intercessory prayer" (so the Greek)--that is,
consecratory prayer in behalf
of "the creature" or food--that prayer mainly consisting of "the word of
God." The Apostolic Constitutions [7.49], give this ancient grace,
almost wholly consisting of Scripture, "Blessed art thou, O Lord, who
feedest me from my youth, who givest food to all flesh: Fill our hearts
with joy and gladness, that we, having all sufficiency, may abound unto
every good work in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom glory, honour,
and might, be to thee for ever. Amen." In the case of inspired men, "the
word of God" would refer to their inspired prayers
but as Paul speaks in general, including uninspired men's thanksgiving
for meals, the "word of God" more probably refers to the
Scripture words used in thanksgiving prayers.
6. If thou put . . . in remembrance--rather as Greek, "If thou
suggest to (bring under the notice of) the brethren," &c.
these things--namely, the truths stated in
1Ti 4:4, 5,
in opposition to the errors foretold,
nourished up--The Greek is present, not
past: "continually being nourished in"
(2Ti 1:5; 3:14, 15).
the words of faith--rather, "the words of the faith" (compare
good doctrine--"the good teaching." Explanatory of "the
faith," in opposition to the "teachings of demons" (English
Version, "doctrines of devils,"
which Timothy was to counteract. Compare "sound doctrine"
(1Ti 1:10; 6:3;
Tit 1:9; 2:1).
whereunto thou hast attained--"the course of which thou hast
followed"; hast followed along by tracing its course and
accompanying it [ALFORD]. Thou hast begun to follow up
same Greek occurs, "thou hast fully known"
"having had perfect understanding"
It is an undesigned coincidence that the Greek verb is used only
by Paul and Paul's companion, Luke.
7. refuse--reject, avoid, have nothing to do with
old wives' fables--anile myths
(1Ti 1:4, 9;
They are "profane," because leading away from "godliness" or "piety"
(1Ti 1:4-7; 6:20;
Tit 1:1, 2).
exercise thyself--literally, "exercise thyself" as one undergoing
training in a gymnasium. Let thy self-discipline be not in ascetical
exercises as the false teachers
(1Ti 4:3, 8;
2Ti 2:22, 23;
Heb 5:14; 12:11),
but with a view to godliness or "piety"
(1Ti 6:11, 12).
8. profiteth little--Greek, "profiteth to (but) a small extent."
Paul does not deny that fasting and abstinence from conjugal intercourse
for a time, with a view to reaching the inward man through the outward,
do profit somewhat,
1Co 7:5, 7; 9:26, 27
(though in its degenerate form, asceticism, dwelling solely on what is
is not only not profitable but injurious). Timothy seems to have had a
leaning to such outward self-discipline (compare
Paul, therefore, while not disapproving of this in its due proportion
and place, shows the vast superiority of godliness or
piety, as being profitable not merely "to a small
extent," but unto all things; for, having its seat within, it
extends thence to the whole outward life of a man. Not unto one portion
only of his being, but to every portion of it, bodily and spiritual,
temporal and eternal [ALFORD]. "He who has
piety (which is 'profitable unto all things') wants
nothing needed to his well-being, even though he be without those helps
which, 'to a small extent,' bodily exercise furnishes" [CALVIN]. "Piety," which is the end for
which thou art to "exercise thyself"
is the essential thing: the means are secondary.
having promise, &c.--Translate as Greek, "Having promise
of life, that which now is, and that which is to come." "Life" in its
truest and best sense now and hereafter
Length of life now so far as it is really good for the believer; life
in its truest enjoyments and employments now, and life blessed and
Mr 10:29, 30).
"Now in this time"
(Ps 84:11; 112:1-10;
1Co 3:21, 22,
"all things are yours . . . the world, life
. . . things present, things to come"). Christianity, which
seems to aim only at our happiness hereafter, effectually promotes it
Compare Solomon's prayer and the answer
This verse (Greek), "faithful is the saying, " &c. confirms the
assertion as to the "promise" attached to "godliness,"
and forms a prefatory introduction to
which is joined to
by "For." So
Godly men seem to suffer loss as to this life: Paul hereby refutes the
notion [BENGEL]. "God is the Saviour
specially of those that believe"
both as to "the life that now is," and also as to "the life which is to
10. therefore--Greek, "with a view to this." The
reason why "we both ('both' is omitted in the oldest manuscripts)
labor (endure hardship) and suffer reproach (some oldest manuscripts
read 'strive') is because we have rested, and do rest our hope,
on the living (and therefore, life-giving,
Saviour--even in this life
specially of those that believe--Their "labor and reproach" are
not inconsistent with their having from the living God, their Saviour,
even the present life
"a hundred fold now in this time . . . with persecutions"),
much more the life to come. If God is in a sense "Saviour" of
that is, is willing to be so everlastingly, and is
temporally here their Preserver and Benefactor), much
more of believers. He is the Saviour of all men potentially
of believers alone effectually.
11. These truths, to the exclusion of those useless and even
while weighing well thyself, charge also upon others.
12. Let no man despise thy youth--Act so as to be respected in spite
of thy youth
compare "youthful" as to Timothy
He was but a mere youth when he joined Paul
Eleven years had elapsed since then to the time subsequent to Paul's
first imprisonment. He was, therefore, still young; especially in
comparison with Paul, whose place he was filling; also in relation to
elderly presbyters whom he should "entreat as a father"
and generally in respect to his duties in rebuking, exhorting, and
which ordinarily accord best with an elderly person
be thou an example--Greek, "become a pattern"
the true way of making men not to despise (slight, or disregard) thy
in word--in all that thou sayest in public and private.
conversation--that is, "behavior" the Old English sense of the
in charity . . . faith--the two cardinal principles of
The oldest manuscripts omit, "in spirit."
in purity--simplicity of holy motive followed out in consistency of
holy action [ALFORD]
Jas 3:17; 4:8;
13. Till I come--when Timothy's commission would be superseded for
the time by the presence of the apostle himself
(1Ti 1:3; 3:14).
reading--especially in the public congregation. The practice of
reading Scripture was transferred from the Jewish synagogue to the
Ac 13:15; 15:21;
The New Testament Gospel and Epistles being recognized as inspired by
those who had the gift of discerning spirits, were from the
first, according as they were written, read along with the Old
Testament in the Church
(1Th 5:21, 27;
Apology, 1.67]. I think that while public reading is the
prominent thought, the Spirit intended also to teach that Scripture
reading in private should be "the fountain of all wisdom from which
pastors ought to draw whatever they bring before their flock" [ALFORD].
exhortation--addressed to the feelings and will with a view to the
regulation of the conduct.
doctrine--Greek (ministerial), "teaching" or
instruction. Addressed to the understanding, so as to impart
Ro 12:7, 8).
Whether in public or private, exhortation and instruction
should be based on Scripture reading.
14. Neglect not the gift--by letting it lie unused. In
the gift is represented as a spark of the Spirit lying within
him, and sure to smoulder by neglect, the stirring up or keeping
in lively exercise of which depends on the will of him on whom it is
(Mt 25:18, 25, 27, 28).
The charism or spiritual gift, is that of the Spirit which
qualified him for "the work of an evangelist"
or perhaps the gift of discerning spirits, specially needed in
his function of ordaining, as overseer [BISHOP
given thee--by God
(1Co 12:4, 6).
by prophecy--that is, by the Holy Spirit, at his general ordination,
or else consecration, to the special see of Ephesus, speaking through
the prophets God's will to give him the graces needed to qualify him for
with . . . laying on of . . . hands--So in Joshua's case
The gift was connected with the symbolical act of laying on hands. But
the Greek "with" implies that the presbyter's laying on
hands was the mere accompaniment of the conferring of the gift.
implies that Paul's laying on his hands was the actual
instrument of its being conferred.
of the presbytery--In
the apostle mentions only his own laying on of hands. But there
his aim is to remind Timothy specially of the part he himself took in
imparting to him the gift. Here he mentions the fact, quite consistent
with the other, that the neighboring presbyters took part in the
ordination or consecration, he, however, taking the foremost part.
Paul, though having the general oversight of the elders everywhere, was
an elder himself
The Jewish council was composed of the elders of the Church (the
and a presiding rabbi; so the Christian Church was composed of
apostles, elders, and a president
As the president of the synagogue was of the same order as his
presbyters, so the bishop was of the same order as his presbyters. At
the ordination of the president of the synagogue there were always
three presbyters present to lay on hands, so the early Church canons
required three bishops to be present at the consecration of a bishop.
As the president of the synagogue, so the bishop of the Church alone
could ordain, he acting as the representative, and in the name of the
whole presbytery [VITRINGA]. So, in the Anglican
Church, the bishop ordains, the presbyters or priests present joining
with him in laying on hands.
15. Meditate--Greek, "Meditate
(Ps 1:2; 119:15;
As food would not nourish without digestion, which assimilates the food
to the substance of the body, so spiritual food, in order to benefit
us, needs to be appropriated by prayerful meditation.
give thyself wholly to--literally,
"BE in these things"; let them
engross thee wholly; be wholly absorbed in them.
Entire self-dedication, as in other pursuits, so especially in
religion, is the secret of proficiency. There are changes as to all
other studies, fashionable to-day, out of fashion to-morrow; this study
alone is never obsolete, and when made the all-engrossing aim sanctifies
all other studies. The exercise of the ministry threatens the spirit of
the ministry, unless it be sustained within. The minister must be first
his own scholar before he can be another's teacher.
profiting--Greek, "progress" towards perfection in the
Christian life, and especially towards the fullest realization of the
ideal of a Christian minister
may appear to all--not for thy glory, but for the winning of souls
16. Take heed--Give heed
thyself, and . . . doctrine--"and unto thy teaching."
The two requisites of a good pastor: His teaching will be of no avail
unless his own life accord with it; and his own purity of life is not
enough unless he be diligent in teaching [CALVIN].
This verse is a summary of
continue in them--
in doing this--not "by doing this," as though he could save
himself by works.
thou shalt . . . save thyself, and them that hear thee--
In performing faithfully his duty to others, the minister is promoting
his own salvation. Indeed he cannot "give heed unto the teaching" of
others, unless he be at the same time "giving heed unto himself."