1 Timothy 4:1
Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
IV.

(1) Now the Spirit speaketh expressly.—Rather, But the Spirit. But (de) in very strong contrast to the sublime mystery of Redemption St. Paul has been speaking of as the glorious treasure contained in the Church of which Timothy and his colleagues were ministers: but in spite of that sublime truth which should occupy the thoughts and fill the hearts of Christians, men will busy themselves with other and very different things; with a spurious mock devotion, dreaming that God’s mercy and love were to be purchased by mere abstinence from certain meats, or by an unnatural renunciation of the home and family life. The “words of the Spirit” here allude to a mysterious power, to a divine gift, traces of which occur again and again in the New Testament pages. Among the supernatural signs which were vouchsafed to the first generation of believers, and with very rare exceptions only to the first generation—to men and women, many, if not most, of whom had seen Jesus, and had had personal contact with Him—must be reckoned those mysterious intimations of the will of the Holy Spirit which guided and encouraged the Church of the first days. That intimation came in varied forms: to the Twelve in the form of fiery tongues (Acts 2:1-12); to a more numerous company (Acts 4:31); to Peter on the occasion of the conversion of Cornelius (Acts 10:10-16; Acts 10:19-20); to St. Paul on three occasions in the course of his second missionary journey (Acts 16:6-7; Acts 16:9-10); through the medium of the prophet Agabus (Acts 21:11). St. Paul alludes to many such voices of the Spirit, and heavenly intimations, when speaking to the elders of Miletus (Acts 20:23). One of these special revelations, made to himself, he here quotes.

In the latter times.—All those ages are here referred to which succeed the coming of the Lord. In these Paul lived, and we are still watching the slow and solemn march past of these latter ages. The errors foreseen then, have more or less affected the internal government of the Church during the eighteen hundred years which have passed since St. Paul’s words were written. In no age, perhaps, have they been more ostentatiously thrust forward than in our own.

Some shall depart from the faith.—“By denying what is true, by adding what is false,” says Bengel.

Giving heed to seducing spirits.—This expression must not be watered down by explanations which understand this expression as referring to false teachers. The “seducing spirits” are none other than created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (4) For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be evil powers and spirits subject to Satan, and which are permitted to influence and to work in human hearts. (See Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12—passages in which these spiritual communities of wickedness and their powers over men are again alluded to by St. Paul.)

Doctrines of devils.—Doctrines and thoughts taught by, suggested by, evil spirits. The personality of these unhappy beings is clearly taught by St. Paul. Of their influence in the heathen world and their antagonism to Christ and His followers, see 1Corinthians 10:20-21.

1 Timothy 4:1. Now the Spirit — By calling the Christian Church, in the end of the preceding chapter, the pillar and support of the truth, the apostle taught, that one of the important purposes for which that great spiritual building was reared, was to preserve the knowledge and practice of true religion in the world. Nevertheless, knowing that in after times great corruptions, both in doctrine and practice, would at length take place in the church itself, and that the general reception of these corruptions by professed Christians would be urged as a proof of their being the truths and precepts of God, on pretence that the church is the pillar, &c., of the truth, the apostle, to strip these corruptions of any credit which they might derive from their being received by the multitude, and maintained by persons of the greatest note in the church, judged it necessary in this chapter to foretel the introduction of these corruptions, under the appellation of an apostacy from the faith, and to stigmatize the authors thereof as hypocrites and deceivers. And to give his prediction the greater authority, he informed Timothy that it was revealed to him in a peculiar and express manner. The Spirit, says he, speaketh expressly — As concerning a thing of great moment, and soon to be fulfilled. Some have thought the meaning of the apostle to be, that the Holy Spirit had revealed what follows by Daniel, and some of the other prophets; but, says Macknight, “the things here mentioned are not in Daniel, nor anywhere else in Scripture, not even in the prophecy which the apostle himself formerly delivered concerning the man of sin. I therefore think these words were, for the greater solemnity and certainty, pronounced by the Spirit in the apostle’s hearing, after he had finished the preceding passage.” But the apostle might mean, that the Holy Spirit had revealed this, not only to him, but also to other contemporary prophets.

That in the latter, or after times — As the phrase εν υστεροις καιροις may be translated, because it denotes future times, without marking whether they are near or remote. Or if, as Mede thinks, Daniel’s four monarchies are referred to, as it was under the Roman that the God of heaven set up the kingdom of his Son, the latter, or after times here intended, may be the last part of the duration of the Roman empire. Some shall depart — Or rather, shall apostatize, from the faith — The apostle had predicted the same thing before, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, where see the notes. There the character of the teachers who were to introduce the apostacy is described; but in this epistle the erroneous opinions and corrupt practices which constituted the apostacy are foretold. And as the apostle hath introduced this prophecy immediately after his account of the mystery of godliness, is it not probable that his design in so doing was to give the faithful an opportunity of comparing this mystery of iniquity with the mystery of godliness, that they might be more sensible of the pernicious nature of it? It may be proper to observe, that it is not every error or heresy that is an apostacy from the faith. It is a revolt in the principal and essential articles, as when we worship God by an image or representation, or when we worship other beings besides God, and pray unto other mediators besides the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. It is the very essence of Christian worship, to worship the one true God through the one true Christ; and to worship any other God or any other Mediator, is apostacy and rebellion against God and Christ. It is, as St. Paul says, (Colossians 2:19,) not holding the head, but depending upon other heads; it is, as St. Peter expresses it, denying the Lord that bought us, and serving other lords; and the denial of such an essential part may as properly be called apostacy, as if we were to renounce the whole Christian faith and worship. It is renouncing them in effect, and not regarding God as God, or Christ as Christ. Such is the nature of apostacy from the faith, and it is implied that this apostacy should be general, and infect great numbers. For though it be said only some shall apostatize, yet by some in this place many are understood, which is the case also in many other passages of the Scriptures, as Bishop Newton has fully proved. Giving heed to seducing spirits — Who inspire false teachers; or to men that persuade others to believe them by the pretence of some inspiration or revelation of the Holy Spirit, and thereby cause people to err from the true faith of the gospel. The apostle means those gross frauds by which the corrupt teachers, in the dark ages, would enforce their erroneous doctrines and superstitious practices on the ignorant multitudes, under the notion of revelations from God, or from angels, or departed saints. In the same sense St. John is to be understood, when he says, (1 John 4:1,) Believe not every spirit, every pretender to inspiration, but try the spirits whether they be of God. And to doctrines of devils — Or rather, doctrines concerning demons. The word διαμονια, translated demons, was used by the Greeks to denote a kind of beings of a middle nature between God and man. They gave the same name also to the souls of some departed men, who they thought were exalted to the state and honour of demons for their virtue. The former sort they called superior demons, and supposed them to have the nature and office which we ascribe to angels. The latter they termed inferior demons. These were of the same character with the Romish saints. And both sorts were worshipped as mediators. When therefore the Spirit of God foretold, that in after times many would give heed to deceiving spirits, and to doctrines concerning demons, he foretold that, on the authority of feigned revelations, many in the church would receive the doctrine concerning the worship of angels and saints, and the praying souls out of purgatory; and called it the doctrine of demons, because it was in reality the same with the ancient heathenish worship of demons, as mediators between the gods and men. Thus the sin for which many are represented as being punished, (Revelation 9:20,) is said to be their worshipping, τα δαιμονια, demons, that is, angels and saints; not devils, as our translators have rendered the word, for in no period of the church have devils been worshipped by Christians.4:1-5 The Holy Spirit, both in the Old and the New Testament, spoke of a general turning from the faith of Christ, and the pure worship of God. This should come during the Christian dispensation, for those are called the latter days. False teachers forbid as evil what God has allowed, and command as a duty what he has left indifferent. We find exercise for watchfulness and self-denial, in attending to the requirements of God's law, without being tasked to imaginary duties, which reject what he has allowed. But nothing justifies an intemperate or improper use of things; and nothing will be good to us, unless we seek by prayer for the Lord's blessing upon it.Now the Spirit - Evidently the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of inspiration. It is not quite certain, from this passage, whether the apostle means to say that this was a revelation "then" made to him, or whether it was a well-understood thing as taught by the Holy Spirit. He himself elsewhere refers to this same prophecy, and John also more than once mentions it; compare 2 Thessalonians 2; 1 John 2:18; Revelation 20:1-15. From 2 Thessalonians 2:5, it would seem that this was a truth which had before been communicated to the apostle Paul, and that he had dwelt on it when he preached the gospel in Thessalonica. There is no improbability, however, in the supposition that so important a subject was communicated directly by the Holy Spirit to others of the apostles.

Speaketh expressly - In express words, ῥητῶς rētōs. It was not by mere hints, and symbols, and shadowy images of the future; it was in an open and plain manner - in so many words. The object of this statement seems to be to call the attention of Timothy to it in an emphatic manner, and to show the importance of attending to it.

That in the latter times - Under the last dispensation, during which the affairs of the world would close; see the notes on Hebrews 1:2. It does not mean that this would occur "just before" the end of the world, but that it would take place during "that last dispensation," and that the end of the world would not happen until this should take place; see the notes on 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

Some shall depart from the faith - The Greek word here - ἀποστήσονται apostēsontai - is that from which we have derived the word "apostatize," and would be properly so rendered here. The meaning is, that they would "apostatize" from the belief of the truths of the gospel. It does not mean that, as individuals, they would have been true Christians; but that there would be a departure from the great doctrines which constitute the Christian faith. The ways in which they would do this are immediately specified, showing what the apostle meant here by departing from the faith. They would give heed to seducing spirits, to the doctrines of devils, etc. The use of the word "some," here τινες tines - does not imply that the number would be small. The meaning is, that "certain persons" would thus depart, or that "there would be" an apostasy of the kind here mentioned, in the last days. From the parallel passage in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, it would seem that this was to be an extensive apostasy.

Giving heed to seducing spirits - Rather than to the Spirit of God. It would be a part of their system to yield to those spirits that led astray. The spirits here referred to are any that cause to err, and the most obvious and natural construction is to refer it to the agency of fallen spirits. Though it "may" apply to false teachers, yet, if so, it is rather to them as under the influence of evil spirits. This may be applied, so far as the phraseology is concerned, to "any" false teaching; but it is evident that the apostle had a specific apostasy in view - some great "system" that would greatly corrupt the Christian faith; and the words here should be interpreted with reference to that. It is true that people in all ages are prone to give heed to seducing spirits; but the thing referred to here is some grand apostasy, in which the characteristics would be manifested, and the doctrines held, which the apostle proceeds immediately to specify; compare 1 John 4:1.

And doctrines of devils - Greek, "Teachings of demons - διδασκαλίαις δαιμωνίων didaskaliais daimōniōn. This may either mean teachings "respecting" demons, or teachings "by" demons. The particular sense must be determined by the connection. Ambiguity of this kind in the construction of words, where one is in the genitive case, is not uncommon; compare John 15:9-10; John 21:15. Instances of the construction where the genitive denotes the "object," and should be translated "concerning," occur in Matthew 9:25; "The gospel of the kingdom," i. e., concerning the kingdom; Matthew 10:1; "Power of unclean spirits," i. e., over or concerning unclean spirits; so, also, Acts 4:9; Romans 16:15; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Ephesians 3:1; Revelation 2:13. Instances of construction where the genitive denotes the "agent," occur in the following places: Luke 1:69, "A horn of salvation," i. e., a horn which produces or causes salvation; John 6:28; Romans 3:22; 2 Corinthians 4:10; Ephesians 4:18; Colossians 2:11. Whether the phrase here means that, in the apostasy, they would give heed to doctrines "respecting" demons, or to doctrines which demons "taught," cannot, it seems to me, be determined with certainty. If the previous phrase, however, means that they would embrace doctrines taught by evil spirits, it can hardly be supposed that the apostle would immediately repeat the same idea in another form; and then the sense would be, that one characteristic of the time referred to would be the prevalent teaching "respecting" demons. They would "give heed to," or embrace, some special views respecting demons. The word here rendered "devils" is δαιμονία daimonia - "demons." This word, among the Greeks, denoted the following things:

(1) A god or goddess, spoken of the pagan gods; compare in New Testament, Acts 17:18.

(2) a divine being, where no particular one was specified, the agent or author of good or evil fortune; of death, fate, etc. In this sense it is often used in Homer.

(3) the souls of people of the golden age, which dwelt unobserved upon the earth to regard the actions of men, and to defend them - tutelary divinities, or geniuses - like that which Socrates regarded as his constant attendant. Xen. Mem. 4. 8. 1. 5; Apol. Soc. 4. See "Passow."

(4) to this may be added the common use in the New Testament, where the word denotes a demon in the Jewish sense - a bad spirit, subject to Satan, and under his control; one of the host of fallen angels - commonly, but not very properly rendered "devil" or "devils." These spirits were supposed to wander in desolate places, Matthew 12:43; compare Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14; or they dwell in the air, Ephesians 2:2. They were regarded as hostile to mankind, John 8:44; as able to utter pagan oracles, Acts 16:17; as lurking in the idols of the pagan, 1 Corinthians 10:20; Revelation 9:20. They are spoken of as the authors of evil, James 2:19; compare Ephesians 6:12, and as having the power of taking "possession" of a person, of producing diseases, or of causing mania, as in the case of the demoniacs, Luke 4:33; Luke 8:27; Matthew 17:18; Mark 7:29-30; and often elsewhere. The doctrine, therefore, which the apostle predicted would prevail, might, "so far as the word used is concerned," be either of the following:

(1) Accordance with the prevalent notions of the pagan respecting false gods; or a falling into idolatry similar to that taught in the Grecian mythology. It can hardly be supposed, however, that he designed to say that the common notions of the pagan would prevail in the Christian church, or that the worship of the pagan gods "as such" would be set up there.

(2) an accordance with the Jewish views respecting demoniacal possessions and the power of exorcising them. If this view should extensively prevail in the Christian church, it would be in accordance with the language of the prediction.

(3) accordance with the prevalent pagan notions respecting the departed spirits of the good and the great, who were exalted to the rank of demi-gods, and who, though invisible, were supposed still to exert an important influence in favor of mankind. To these beings, the pagan rendered extraordinary homage. They regarded them as demi-gods. They supposed that they took a deep interest in human affairs. They invoked their aid. They set apart days in honor of them. They offered sacrifices, and performed rites and ceremonies to propitiate their favor. They were regarded as a sort of mediators or intercessors between man and the superior divinities. If these things are found anywhere in the Christian church, they may be regarded as a fulfillment of this prediction, for they were not of a nature to be foreseen by any human sagacity. Now it so happens, that they are in fact found in the Papal communion, and in a way that corresponds fairly to the meaning of the phrase, as it would have been understood in the time of the apostle.

There is, "first," the worship of the virgin and of the saints, or the extraordinary honors rendered to them - corresponding almost entirely with the reverence paid by the pagan to the spirits of heroes or to demi-gods. The saints are supposed to have extraordinary power with God, and their aid is implored as intercessors. The virgin Mary is invoked as "the mother of God," and as having power still to command her Son. The Papists do not, indeed, offer the same homage to the saints which they do to God, but they ask their aid; they offer prayer to them. The following extracts from the catechism of Dr. James Butler, approved and recommended by Dr. Kenrick, "Bishop of Philadelphia," expresses the general views of Roman Catholics on this subject. "Question: How do Catholics distinguish between the honor they give to God, and the honor they give to the saints, when they pray to God and the saints?

continued...

CHAPTER 4

1Ti 4:1-16. Prediction of a Coming Departure from the Faith: Timothy's Duty as to It: General Directions to Him.

The "mystery of iniquity" here alluded to, and already working (2Th 2:7), stands opposed to the "mystery of godliness" just mentioned (1Ti 3:16).

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, &c.; 11:30, as also on those of Jesus in the New Testament, Mt 24:11-24), and also by Paul himself, 2Th 2:3 (with whom accord 2Pe 3:3; 1Jo 2:18; Jude 18).

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 already discernible (Ac 20:29): these are the forerunners of "the last days" (2Ti 3:1).

depart from the faith—The apostasy was to be within the Church, the faithful one becoming the harlot. In 2Th 2:3 (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] (2Ti 2:18). Apollonius Tyanæus, a heretic, came to Ephesus in the lifetime of Timothy.

giving heed—(1Ti 1:4; Tit 1:14).

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) demons." Jas 3:15, "wisdom … devilish"; 2Co 11:15, "Satan's ministers."1 Timothy 4:1-5 Paul foretelleth and describeth a great apostacy to

happen in the latter times.

1 Timothy 4:6-11 He directeth Timothy what doctrines to teach,

1 Timothy 4:12-16 and by what rules to regulate his conduct, so as to

save both himself and his hearers.

It was usual with the prophets, when they declared the oracles of God, to assert in the beginning of their revelations, that the Lord hath spoken, Isaiah 1:2 Jeremiah 1:2 Joel 1:1. The apostle in the same manner, in the beginning of his prediction of things future, declares

the Spirit speaketh expressly, that is, either clearly revealed it to me, as Acts 10:19, and Acts 13:2, thus expressly is opposed to obscurely; for sometimes the revelations given to the prophets were under shadows and figures in divers manners, but the Spirit discovered in a most intelligible manner what seducers should come in the church, &c.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly; either hath inwardly revealed it to my Spirit, as Acts 10:19 13:2, or, (which is more probable), because the verb is in the present tense, legei, it saith it in the written word, which must be in the Old Testament, for the New was not at this time written: but then the question is, where the Holy Ghost hath expressly in the Old Testament spoken of the apostacy of the latter times. Our famous Mede answers, in Daniel 11:1-45, where from Daniel 11:30 is a plain prophecy of the Roman empire, and Daniel 11:35-39, of antichrist, where it is said: Some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, & c.; and he speaks of a king, that shall do according to his will, and shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods.—Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god, but magnify himself above all. Where that learned man thinks is an excellent description of the Roman empire, their various victories, successes, declinations, and mutations, and amongst other things, Daniel 11:36, that they should cast off their old pagan idolatry, and after that make a defection from the Christian faith, and not regard marriage, (called there the desire of women), nor indeed truly regard any god. This the apostle saith should be in the latter times. The last times (saith the afore-mentioned famous author) are the times of Christ’s kingdom, which began in the time of the Roman empire; during which time this Epistle was written, where the apostle speaking of time yet to come, the

latter times by him mentioned must needs be the latter part of the last times, which he saith began in the ruin of the Roman empire, upon which followed the revealing of antichrist, that wicked one, mentioned 2 Thessalonians 2:7. Concerning these times, the Spirit said expressly,

that some should in them depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits; by which some understand the devils themselves; others, false teachers, or false doctrines, which are afterwards mentioned, called doctrines of devils, by which some understand doctrines suggested by devils, or published by the cunning and art of devils. But others think that by doctrines of devils here are not to be understood doctrines so published, but doctrines concerning devils; and that the meaning is, that in the last times the pagan doctrine concerning demons should be restored. The pagan demons were an inferior sort of gods, a kind of middle beings between their highest gods and men, whose office was to be advocates and mediators between men and the highest gods, because they judged it was not lawful for men to come to the highest gods immediately; these they worshipped by images, even as the papists at this day make use of and worship angels and saints. See more fully what Mr. Mede saith upon this argument in his own book, and in Mr. Pool’s Latin Synopsis upon this text; and what he saith seems very probably the sense of this text, especially considering the two doctrines mentioned 1 Timothy 4:3.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly,.... The prophecy hereafter mentioned was not an human conjecture, but, as all true prophecy, it came from the Spirit of God, who spoke or delivered it; either in the prophets of the Old Testament, who, as they spoke of the Gospel dispensation, so of the defection that should be in it; and particularly of antichrist, and of the apostasy through him, which is what is here intended, especially in Daniel's prophecies, under the names of the little horn, and vile person, Daniel 7:1 and Daniel 11:1, or in the Lord Jesus Christ, who foretold that false prophets would arise and deceive many; or in some of the prophets in the Christian church, such as Agabus, and others, who might in so many words foretell this thing; or rather in the apostle himself, at this time, since this prophecy was delivered not in dark sayings, in an enigmatical way, in an obscure manner, as prophecies generally were, but in plain language, and easy to be understood, and wanted no interpreter to unriddle it; and seeing that it is nowhere to be found in so many express words elsewhere: and moreover, the apostle does not say the Spirit "hath spoken", but the Spirit "speaketh"; then, at the time of the writing of these words, in and by him. The prediction follows,

that in the latter times some should depart from the faith; that is, from the doctrine of faith, notwithstanding it is indisputably the great mystery of godliness, as it is called in the latter part of the preceding chapter; for from the true grace of faith there can be no final and total apostasy, such as is here designed; for that can never be lost. It is of an incorruptible nature, and therefore more precious than gold that perishes; Christ is the author and finisher of it; his prevalent mediation is concerned for it; it is a gift of special grace, and is without repentance; it springs from electing grace, and is secured by it; and between that and salvation there is an inseparable connection; it may indeed decline, be very low, and lie dormant, as to its acts and exercise, but not be lost: there is a temporary faith, and a persuasion of truth, or a mere assent to it, which may be departed from, but not that faith which works by love: here it intends a profession of faith, which being made, should be dropped by some; or rather the doctrine of faith, which some would embrace, and then err concerning, or entirely quit, and wholly apostatize from. And they are said to be some, and these many, as they are elsewhere represented, though not all; for the elect cannot be finally and totally deceived; the foundation of election stands sure amidst the greatest apostasy; and there are always a few names that are not defiled with corrupt principles and practices; Christ always had some witnesses for the truth in the darkest times: and now this defection was to be "in the latter times"; either of the apostolic age, which John, the last of the apostles, lived to see; and therefore he calls it the last time, or hour, in which were many antichrists, 1 John 2:18. And indeed in the Apostle Paul's time the mystery of iniquity began to work, which brought on this general defection; though here it has regard to some later times under the Gospel dispensation; to the time when the man of sin, and the son of perdition, was revealed, and when all the world wondered after the beast: and indeed, such will be the degeneracy in the last days of all, that when the son of man comes, as the grace, so the doctrine of faith will be scarcely to be found in the world: the means by which this apostasy will obtain and prevail will be through men's

giving heed to seducing spirits; either to doctrines which are of a deceiving nature; or to men who profess to have the Spirit of God, and have not, but are evil men and seducers, deceiving, and being deceived; that lie in wait to deceive, and handle the word of God deceitfully; and by attending on the ministry of such persons, through hearing them, and conversing with them, the defection was to begin and spread; and therefore such should be carefully avoided, and their ministry shunned; nor should they be received, nor bid God speed.

And doctrines of devils; such as are devised by devils, as all damnable doctrines be; and all lying ones, for the devil is the father of them; and as are all the false doctrines introduced by antichrist, for his coming was after the working of Satan; and particularly those doctrines of his concerning worshipping of angels, and saints departed, may be called the doctrines of devils, or of "demons"; being much the same with the demon worship among the Heathens, of which the devil was the inventor: unless by doctrines of devils should be meant the doctrines of men, who for their cunning and sophistry, for their lies and hypocrisy, for their malice, and murdering of the souls of men, are comparable to devils.

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

(1) He contrasts that true doctrine, with false opinions, which he foretells that certain ones who shall fall away from God and his religion, will bring in by the suggestion of Satan, and so that a great number will give ear to them.

(a) From the true doctrine of God.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Timothy 4:1. In the first five verses of this chapter, Paul speaks of the heretics, directing special attention in 1 Timothy 4:3 to one point in their doctrine.

τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει] The δέ connects this verse with the beginning of 1 Timothy 3:16, and connects it by way of contrast. Τὸ πνεῦμα is the Holy Spirit, as the source of prophecy. To explain the expression by οἱ πνευματικοί (Heydenreich) is inaccurate. Paul goes back here to the fundamental basis of all prophecy.

ῥητῶς (ἅπαξ λεγ.) means: “in express words,” and is used particularly with quotations.[151] Heydenreich is inaccurate in explaining it as equivalent to σαφῶς, φανερῶς; Luther: “distinctly.” The apostle, then, appeals here to a prophecy of the Spirit expressly worded. Such a prophecy of the future apostasy lay before him in many utterances, both of Christ and of others; besides, the Spirit declared them to the apostle himself.

Leo is wrong: animus mihi praesagit.

ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως] We might readily take ὕστεροι καιροί here as equivalent to ἔσχατοι καιροί (comp. 2 Timothy 3:1 : ἔσχαται ἡμέραι; 1 Peter 1:5 : καιρὸς ἔσχατος; 2 Peter 3:3; Jdg 4:18; in Ignatius, Ep. ad Ephes. c. xi.: ἔσχατοι καιροί); but we must not overlook the difference between the two expressions. The former points simply to the future, the latter to the last time of the future, immediately preceding the completion of God’s kingdom and the second coming of Christ (so, too, van Oosterzee, Hofmann). It is unsuitable to press καιρός here in the sense of “the fitting time,” and to translate it with Matthies: “in the fitting time hereafter.”

Τινες are not the heretics, but those who are led away from the faith by the heretics. The apostasy belonged to the future, but the heresy to the present. Hofmann thinks differently, assigning the heresy also to the future, though the apostle’s expression does not warrant this.[152] We must not, however, with Otto, infer that in the apostle’s time the heretics were still outside the church.

ἀποστήσονται τῆς πίστεως] “This sentence forms the antithesis to what has preceded, 1 Timothy 3:15-16” (Wiesinger); for the expression, comp. Luke 8:13; Hebrews 3:12; Wis 3:10; 1Ma 1:15, and other passages.

προσέχοντες] comp. 1 Timothy 1:4; the partic. tells how the apostasy is brought about.

πνεύμασι πλάνοις] the πνεύματα πλάνα are in contrast with the πνεῦμα in 1 Timothy 4:1; and the former are as little to be identified with the heretics, as the latter with the prophets (Wolf: spirituales seductores, i.e. doctores seducentes). The πνεύματα are rather the active spiritual powers hidden in the heretics, the tools and servants of the devil. As the truth is one, so also is its principle one: τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας. Error on the other hand is manifold, and is supported by a plurality of spirits, who may, however, be regarded as a unity: τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πλάνης, 1 John 4:6.

These πνεύματα are called πλάνα, because they seduce man from the truth to falsehood; comp. 2 John 1 Timothy 4:7.

καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων] δαιμονίων is not the objective (Heydenreich: “doctrines regarding demons, a characteristic of Essene-gnostic heretics who spoke so much of the higher world of spirits, of aeons,” etc.), but the subjective genitive (Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Winer, p. 176 [E. T. p. 233]). The δαιμόνια are the source of the doctrines which are opposed to the truth, of the σωφία δαιμονιώδης (Jam 3:15); comp. Colossians 2:22. It is wrong to suppose that the δαιμόνια are the heretics themselves. As with πνεῦμα in 1 Timothy 4:1, Paul goes back here to the inner grounds; the διδασκαλίαι proceeding from these form the opposite of the διδασκαλία ἡ τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Θεοῦ.[153]

[151] [Huther must mean that ῥητῶς is ἅπαξ λεγ. in the N. T.; for it is found in Sext. Empir. adv. Log. i. 8: ὁ Ξενοφῶν ῥητῶς φησίν; also in Strabo, i. p. 4 B, and Polybius, ii. 23. 5.—TR.]

[152] Plitt is not wrong in observing that “the errors now described by the author were no longer matters purely of the future; they were already appearing.”

[153] The expression δαιμόνια occurs often in the synoptic Gospels; in John only in the singular. Paul has it only here and in 1 Corinthians 10. Otto uses this last fact as a proof that the two epistles were contemporaneous, but he is wrong; the reference is different in the two cases; in the passage of 1 Cor. it is not the “gnostic” heresy that is spoken of.1 Timothy 4:1-5. Over against the future triumph of the truth, assured to us by the finished work of Christ, we must set the opposition, grievous at present, of the Spirit of error. His attacks have been foreseen by the Spirit of holiness. They are just now expressed in a false spirituality which condemns God’s good creatures of marriage and food.1–5. False Teachers mar the Truth of the Incarnate Redeemer

1. Now the Spirit speaketh] The connexion is this. The teachers and ministers of the Church must hold her central doctrine. It stands strong and firm—a rock pillar; ‘Christ the Son of the living God,’ (1) incarnate, (2) redeemer of the world. But there will be, notwithstanding, false teachers, evil heresies, subverting this great mystery of Godliness. See Bp Wordsworth’s note. ‘For example, forbidding to marry is heresy, since by His incarnation the Son of God has married our Nature, has espoused to Himself a Church and so has sanctified marriage. Ephesians 5:23-32. Commanding to abstain from meats is heresy, since if (as is implied in the command) the flesh was created by the evil principle, and was therefore unclean, God could not have taken human flesh and united it for ever to the Godhead: and it is heresy too, since Christ, the second Adam, recovered for us the free use of all the creatures of God and recovered for them their original benediction.’

‘The Spirit,’ as very frequently, put alone for ‘the Holy Spirit’; where ‘the Spirit saith expressly’ and distinctly that these heresies will arise, is not clear. The words of our Lord (Matthew 26:11), of the prophets in various Christian Churches, of St Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:3) are referred to. But it may be best to take the passage here as itself the new and more explicit utterance by the Spirit in St Paul of what is coming; in a manner similar to St Paul’s statement at Miletus of what would befall himself and the Church at Ephesus, ‘the Holy Ghost testifieth unto me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me … I know that … from among your ownselves shall men arise speaking perverse things.’ Acts 20:23; Acts 20:29.

expressly] The Greek word is postclassical and occurs here only in N.T. As applied to the operation of the Spirit it is very remarkable as implying more than illumination or influences—direct communication understood to be such by the recipient.

in the latter times] Perhaps as R.V. in later times, as distinguishing this phrase from ‘the last days,’ 2 Timothy 3:1. So Huther, ‘The former points simply to the future, the latter to the last time of the future.’ But the distinction must not be too much pressed: the ‘later times’ predicted here are surely the ‘last hour’ spoken of by St John (1 John 2:18) some 25 years later, if, as Bp Westcott says of the date of that letter, ‘this may be fixed with reasonable likelihood in the last decade of the first century.’ He adds on 1 John 2:18, ‘the last days are found in each of the seasons of fierce trial which precede the several comings of Christ. The phrase marks a period of critical change.’

shall depart from the faith] R.V. fall away, as the parent of a word afterwards used still more definitely, ‘apostate.’ ‘The faith’ objectively as above.

seducing spirits] Here opposed to ‘the Spirit,’ as in 1 John 4:6, giving the history of what is here prophecy, we have the cognate substantive: the adjective ‘deceiving’ or ‘deceiver’ occurs Matthew 27:63, ‘that deceiver said,’ and 2 Corinthians 4:8, but is used in 2 John 1:7, evidently with reference to the same heresy as here. The substantive has been rendered by A.V. sometimes ‘deceit,’ sometimes ‘error;’ by R.V. always ‘error.’ These deceiving spirits, as Bp Ellicott says, are the spiritual emissaries of Satan which work in their hearts; cf. Ephesians 6:12. See 1 John 4:3, where the proof of a spirit being ‘not of God’ is the failure to confess the Incarnation. ‘The many false spirits represent one personal power of falsehood, the prince of the world (John 12:31), the devil, whose “children” the wicked are (1 John 3:10). The many false prophets stand in a relation towards the Spirit like that which the “many Antichrists” occupy towards Christ. Through them evil spiritual powers find expression.’ Westcott.

doctrines of devils] The last sentence seems an exact paraphrase of this clause, the instructions given by the evil spirits to the false teachers used by them as ‘their organs through whom to speak.’ ‘Devils’ or ‘demons’ is clearly thus a subjective genitive. The word ‘demon’ in general classical usage signified intermediate beings, the messengers of the Gods to men. The notion of evil demons was due to the later influences of the East, and in LXX. the word is generally used of the heathen idols, Psalm 95:3; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:19-20; but Josephus employs it always of evil spirits, Bell. Jud. vii. 6, § 3. Cf. Acts 19:12-13, James 2:19. From the N.T. we gather certainly that the demons are agents of Satan in his work of evil, probably that they must be the same as ‘the angels of the devil,’ Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:7; Revelation 12:9, ‘the principalities and powers’ against whom we ‘wrestle.’ See Bp Barry, Dict. Bib.1 Timothy 4:1. Δὲ, [now] but) The antithesis is between ἑδραίωμα, the ground, ch. 1 Timothy 3:15, and ἀποστήσονται, shall depart or fall away; as also between “the mystery of godliness,” and “the mystery of iniquity,” of which the apostle speaks here by description, and by name at 2 Thessalonians 2:7.—ῥητῶς) expressly, as of a thing of great importance, which will speedily come to pass, in a set form of words.—λέγει, speaketh) by the prophets in the time of Paul, or by Paul himself, who also was a prophet; hence he says, “This know,” 2 Timothy 3:1.—ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς, in the last times) Paul shows that these times, following after the ascension of the Lord, ch. 1 Timothy 3:16, were then already in existence, inasmuch as he uses a present remedy for the then existing evil, 1 Timothy 4:5-6; comp. 2 Timothy 3:1, et seqq. ὑστέρος is used comparatively (latter), for ὕστατος expresses a different idea (the last times of all).—ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως, some shall depart, or fall away, from the faith) Comp. 2 Timothy 2:18; shall depart, viz. by denying what is true and adding what is false.—τινἑς) some, i.e. many, and gradually more; Romans 3:3, note.[28] Their names are not mentioned. There are not wanting those who suspect the person meant to be Apollonius Tyanæus, who came to Ephesus in the lifetime of Timothy. They do not deserve well at the hands of the truth, who too much extenuate the heretical doctrines of the first century.—τῆς πίστεως, from the faith) which in all its exactness maintains Divine revelation, 1 Timothy 4:6, [and of which the foundation was a little ago described (1 Timothy 3:15-16).—V. g.]—πνεύμασι πλάνοις καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, seducing spirits and doctrines of demons) Seducing spirits are those who speak by false prophets, and are called spirits, not only in respect of their own nature, but because they inspire[29] (with their deceit) these false prophets; therefore the word spirits is parallel to doctrines [not to demons]. Δαιμονίων, of demons, is the genitive of the cause (the source from which the doctrines flow). Δαιμόνιν is often taken in a good sense by the Greeks; for example, by the Athenians, Acts 17:18 : but with the LXX. interpreters and the apostles, it always denotes evil spirits.

[28] Some, for many. An Euphemism. And moreover unbelievers, though they be many, are spoken of as some, indefinitely, because they are not much taken into account.—ED.

[29] The use of spirant in connection with spiritus, cannot be imitated in a translation.—TRANSL.Verse 1. - But for now, A.V.; saith for speaketh, A.V.; later for the latter, A.V.; fall away for depart, A.V. The Spirit saith expressly (ῤητῶς); only here in the New Testament, and very rare in classical Greek. But the adjective ῤητός, in the sense of something "laid down," "definite.... expressly mentioned," is common. It was, doubtless, on account of these prophetic warnings of a falling away from the faith, that the apostle gave the preceding heads of Christian doctrine in such a terse and tangible form, and laid such a solemn charge upon Timothy. (For examples of these prophetic utterances, see Acts 11:28; Acts 13:2; Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11; 1 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Corinthians 14. '30, 32, etc.) Shall fall away (ἀποστησονται). So St. Paul says (2 Thessalonians 2:3) that the day of Christ will not be, "except the falling away (ἡ ἀποστασία) come first" (comp. Hebrews 3:12). The faith; objective (see 1 Timothy 3:9 and 16, note). This "falling away" is to take place ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς; not, as in the R.V., in "later times," but as in the A.V., "the latter times." The adjective ὕστερος is only found here in the New Testament. But in the LXX. (e.g., 1 Chronicles 29:29; Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 27:17, LXX.), ὕστερος means "the last," as opposed to "the first." And so the adverb ὕστερον always in the New Testament (see Matthew 4:2; Matthew 21:37; Matthew 26:60; or more fully ὕστερον πάντεν, 22:27). Here, therefore, ἐν ὑστεροις καιροῖς is equivalent to ἐν ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις (Acts 2:17) and ἐν ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις (2 Timothy 3:1; comp. James 5:3; 1 Peter 1:5; 2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:18). It should be observed that in all these passages there is no article. Giving heed (προσέχοντες); as in ver. 13; in 1 Timothy 1:4; Titus 1:14; Acts 8:6, and elsewhere. Seducing spirits (πνεύμασι πλάνοις). Such were the "lying spirits" who deceived (ἠπάτησαν) Ahab to his destruction (2 Kings 22:22). Πλάνος, seducing, is not elsewhere found in the New Testament as an adjective (see Matthew 27:63; 2 Corinthians 6:8 2John 7, in all which places, however, it is almost an adjective). The idea is "causing to wander," or "go astray." St. John warns his people against such deceiving spirits (John 4:1-6). He calls them generically πνεύμα τῆς πλάνης, "the spirit of error." Doctrines of devils; i.e. teachings suggested by devils. So the unbelieving Jews suggested that John the Baptist had a devil (Luke 7:33), and that our Lord himself had a devil (John 7:20; John 8:48, 52; John 10:19). Now (δὲ)

Better but, since there is a contrast with the preceding confession of the norm of faith.

Expressly (ῥητῶς)

N.T.o. olxx. In express words.

In the latter times (ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς)

The phrase only here. For καιρός particular season or juncture, see on Matthew 12:1; see on Acts 1:7. Not the same as ἐν ἐσχάταις in the last days, 2 Timothy 3:1, which denotes the period closing the present aeon, and immediately preceding the parousia; while this signifies merely a time that is future to the writer. There is not the intense sense of the nearness of Christ's coming which characterises Paul. The writer does not think of his present as "the latter days."

Some (τινες)

Not, as 1 Timothy 1:3, the heretical teachers, but those whom they mislead.

Shall depart from the faith (ἀποστήσονται τῆς πίστεως)

The phrase only here. The verb in Paul only 2 Corinthians 12:8. Quite frequent in Luke and Acts. The kindred noun τασία (Acts 21:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) is almost literally transcribed in our apostasy.

Seducing (πλάνοις)

Primarily, wandering, roving. Ὁ πλάνος a vagabond, hence deceiver or seducer. See 2 John 1:7, and comp. ὁ πλανῶν the deceiver, used of Satan, Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:10; τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς πλάνης the spirit of error, 1 John 4:6. Once in Paul, 2 Corinthians 6:8, and in lxx, Job 19:4; Jeremiah 23:32. Evil spirits animating the false teachers are meant.

Doctrines of devils (διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων)

Better, teachings of demons. Comp. James 3:15. Διδασκαλία teaching often in Pastorals. A few times in Paul. See on 1 Timothy 1:10. Δαιμόνιον demon only here in Pastorals. Very frequent in Luke: in Paul only 1 Corinthians 10:20, 1 Corinthians 10:21. Teachings proceeding from or inspired by demons. The working of these evil spirits is here specially concerned with striking at the true teaching which underlies godliness. It is impossible to say what particular form of false teaching is alluded to.

Links
1 Timothy 4:1 Interlinear
1 Timothy 4:1 Parallel Texts


1 Timothy 4:1 NIV
1 Timothy 4:1 NLT
1 Timothy 4:1 ESV
1 Timothy 4:1 NASB
1 Timothy 4:1 KJV

1 Timothy 4:1 Bible Apps
1 Timothy 4:1 Parallel
1 Timothy 4:1 Biblia Paralela
1 Timothy 4:1 Chinese Bible
1 Timothy 4:1 French Bible
1 Timothy 4:1 German Bible

Bible Hub
1 Timothy 3:16
Top of Page
Top of Page