1 Timothy 4:8
For bodily exercise profits little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) For bodily exercise profiteth little.—More accurately rendered, bodily exercise is profitable for little. St. Paul here, no doubt, was thinking of those bodily austerities alluded to in 1Timothy 4:3. The stern repression of all human passions and desires, the abstinence from all compliance with the natural impulses of the flesh—such an unnatural warfare, such an exercise, such a training of the body, no doubt in many cases would lead, in many cases certainly has led, the individual to a higher spiritual state. Such a total surrender for the one who so exercises himself is, no doubt, in a certain sense, “profitable.” But then it must be remembered that this kind of victory over the flesh, in very many instances, leads to an unnatural state of mind; for the rigid ascetic has removed himself from the platform on which ordinary men and women move. His thoughts have ceased to be their thoughts, his ways are no longer their ways. For practical everyday life such an influence, always limited, is at times positively harmful, as its tendency is to depreciate that home-life and family-life, to raise and elevate which is the true object of Christian teaching. Still, the Apostle, while remembering, and in his teaching ever carrying out, the spirit of the Lord’s solemn prayer to the Father, “I pray, not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil,” refrains from an entire condemnation of a life which received, on more than one occasion, from the lips of the Sinless One a guarded commendation (Matthew 17:21; Matthew 19:12).

St. Paul, in his divinely-taught wisdom, recognises that such an austere and severe example and life, though by no means the ideal life of a Christian teacher, yet in the great world workshop of the Master might receive a blessing as “profitable for little.”

But godliness is profitable unto all things.—Better, for all things. But while this “bodily exorcise,” this austere subduing of the flesh, can only weigh with a narrow and circumscribed group, St. Paul points out that the influence of “godliness is world-wide;” a godliness, not merely an inward holiness, but an operative, active piety, which, springing from an intense love for Christ, manifests itself in love for His creatures. This godliness transfigures, and illumines with its divine radiance all busy, active life—every condition, every rank, all ages. That surely is what the good minister of Jesus Christ must aim at!

Having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.—For this godliness, which may and ought to enter into all states, all ages of life, promises the greatest happiness to those who struggle after it. It promises “life”—that is, the highest blessedness which the creature can enjoy in this world—as well as the rich prospect of the endless life with God in the world to come; whereas a false asceticism crushes out all the joy and gladness of this present life, and is an unreal preparation for that which is future.

1 Timothy 4:8. For bodily exercise profiteth little — That is, say Estius, Whitby, Doddridge, and some others, the exercises about which many are so solicitous, and in the pursuit of which they go through so many fatigues, namely, in preparing for and attending the public games, are but of little use, the best rewards of them being of a very transient and fading nature. Or by bodily exercise may be understood rather the mortifications which the Jewish fables were framed to recommend, and the austerities and labours of the Essenes and Pythagoreans, according to the rules and institutions of their sects: to which we may add, All the diligence that can be used in mere external duties, however laboriously and punctually performed, and with whatever degree of self-denial and punctuality, even although commanded of God, can be of little use to any man, separated from the devotion of the heart; and all inventions and observances merely human, must be still more useless and vain. The apostle, however, may be understood in a yet different sense. He had said in the preceding verse, Exercise thyself unto godliness; including in that term all the graces and virtues of the Christian life. He then adds, η γαρ σωματικη γυμνασια προς ολιγον εστιν ωφελιμος; literally, for bodily exercise profiteth a little; that is, the exercise of the body is of some use, increasing its health and strength; but godliness — In all its branches, namely, true, substantial, and practical godliness, the worship and service of God, by both the inward and outward man, the heart and life; is profitable for all things — Benefits a man in every respect; is useful to him in things temporal as well as spiritual, in his domestic and civil, as well as religious affairs and in all his relations and connections in the present world; having the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come — Christ having assured us that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, things necessary shall be added unto us, Matthew 6:33. And moreover, that as he gives grace and glory, he will withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly, Psalm 84:11. It is true these, and such like promises, do not ascertain to all who live in a godly manner, health, and wealth, and reputation; but they assure us that true piety and virtue have a natural tendency to promote our happiness even in this world, and indeed do promote it, not only in being attended with peace of mind, a conscience void of offence, a well-grounded and lively hope of future felicity, and communion with God, which is heaven begun on earth; but with protection in dangers, succour in temptations, support and comfort in troubles, with an assurance that all things which God may permit to happen to us, even poverty, reproach, affliction, and death, shall work together for our good.4:6-10 Outward acts of self-denial profit little. What will it avail us to mortify the body, if we do not mortify sin? No diligence in mere outward things could be of much use. The gain of godliness lies much in the promise; and the promises to godly people relate partly to the life that now is, but especially to the life which is to come: though we lose for Christ, we shall not lose by him. If Christ be thus the Saviour of all men, then much more will he be the Rewarder of those who seek and serve him; he will provide well for those whom he has made new creatures.For bodily exercise profiteth little - Margin, "for a little time." The Greek will admit of either interpretation, and what is here affirmed is true in either sense. The bodily exercise to which the apostle refers is of little advantage compared with that piety which he recommended Timothy to cultivate, and whatever advantage could be derived from it, would be but of short duration. "Bodily exercise" here refers, doubtless, to the mortifications of the body by abstinence and penance which the ancient devotees, and particularly the Essenes, made so important as a part of their religion. The apostle does not mean to say that bodily exercise is in itself improper, or that no advantage can be derived from it in the preservation of health, but he refers to it solely as a means of religion; as supposed to promote holiness of heart and of life. By these bodily austerities it was supposed that the corrupt passions would be subdued, the wanderings of an unholy fancy lettered down, and the soul brought into conformity to God. In opposition to this supposition, the apostle has here stated a great principle which experience has shown to be universally correct, that such austerities do little to promote holiness, but much to promote superstition. There must be a deeper work on the soul than any which can be accomplished by the mere mortification of the body; see the notes on Colossians 2:23, and compare 1 Corinthians 9:25-27.

But godliness - Piety or religion.

Is profitable unto all things - In every respect. There is not an interest of man, in reference to this life, or to the life to come, which it would not promote. It is favorable to health of body, by promoting temperance, industry, and frugality; to clearness and vigor of intellect, by giving just views of truth, and of the relative value of objects; to peace of conscience, by leading to the faithful performance of duty; to prosperity in business, by making a man sober, honest, prudent, and industrious; to a good name, by leading a man to pursue such a course of life as shall deserve it; and to comfort in trial, calmness in death, and immortal peace beyond the grave. Religion injures no one. It does not destroy health; it does not enfeeble the intellect; it does not disturb the conscience; it does not pander to raging and consuming passions; it does not diminish the honor of a good name; it furnishes no subject of bitter reflection on a bed of death.

It makes no one the poorer; it prompts to no crime; it engenders no disease. If a man should do that which would most certainly make him happy, he would be decidedly and conscientiously religious; and though piety promises no earthly possessions directly as its reward, and secures no immunity from sickness, bereavement, and death, yet there is nothing which so certainly secures a steady growth of prosperity in a community as the virtues which it engenders and sustains, and there is nothing else that will certainly meet the ills to which man is subject. I have no doubt that it is the real conviction of every man, that if he ever becomes certainly "happy," he will be a Christian; and I presume that it is the honest belief of every one that the true and consistent Christian is the most happy of people. And yet, with this conviction, people seek everything else rather than religion, and in the pursuit of baubles, which they know cannot confer happiness, they defer religion - the only certain source of happiness at any time - to the last period of life, or reject it altogether.

Having promise of the life that now is - That is, it furnishes the promise of whatever is really necessary for us in this life. The promises of the Scriptures on this subject are abundant, and there is probably not a lack of our nature for which there might not be found a specific promise in the Bible; compare Psalm 23:1; Psalm 84:11; Philippians 4:19. Religion promises us needful food and raiment, Matthew 6:25-33; Isaiah 33:16; comfort in affliction, Deuteronomy 33:27; Job 5:19; Psalm 46:1-11; Hebrews 13:5; support in old age and death, Isaiah 46:4; Psalm 23:4; compare Isaiah 43:2; and a good reputation, an honored name when we are dead; Psalm 37:1-6. There is nothing which man really "needs" in this life, which is not promised by religion; and if the inquiry were made, it would be surprising to many, even with our imperfect religion, how literally these promises are fulfilled. David, near the close of a long life, was able to bear this remarkable testimony on this subject: "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread;" Psalm 37:25. And now, of the beggars that come to our doors, to how few of them can we give a cup of cold water, feeling that we are giving it to a disciple! How rare is it that a true Christian becomes a beggar! Of the inmates of our alms-houses, how very few give any evidence that they have religion! They have been brought there by vice, not by religion. True piety sends none to the alms-house; it would have saved the great mass of those who are there from ever needing the charity of their fellow-men.

And of that which is to come - Eternal life. And it is the only thing that "promises" such a life. Infidelity makes no "promise" of future happiness. Its business is to take away all the comforts which religion gives, and to leave people to go to a dark eternity with no promise or hope of eternal joy. Vice "promises" pleasures in the present life, but only to disappoint its votaries here; it makes no promise of happiness in the future world. There is nothing that furnishes any certain "promises" of happiness hereafter, in this world or the next, but religion. God makes no promise of such happiness to beauty, birth, or blood; to the possession of honors or wealth; to great attainments in science and learning, or to the graces of external accomplishment. All these, whatever flattering hopes of happiness they may hold out here, have no assurance of future eternal bliss. It is not by such things that God graduates the rewards of heaven, and it is only "piety" or "true religion" that furnishes any assurance of happiness in the world to come.

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, Ac 13:3; 1Co 7:5, 7; 9:26, 27 (though in its degenerate form, asceticism, dwelling solely on what is outward, 1Ti 4:3, is not only not profitable but injurious). Timothy seems to have had a leaning to such outward self-discipline (compare 1Ti 5:23). 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" (1Ti 4:7), 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 (2Ti 1:1). 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 eternal hereafter (Mt 6:33; Mr 10:29, 30). "Now in this time" (Ps 84:11; 112:1-10; Ro 8:28; 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 here (1Ti 6:6; 2Pe 1:3). Compare Solomon's prayer and the answer (1Ki 3:7-13).

For bodily exercise profiteth little; bodily discipline, lying in abstaining from certain meats, keeping set fasts, watchings, lying upon the ground, going barefoot, wearing sackcloth or haircloth, abstaining from wine or marriage, is of little advantage, the mind and soul of man is not bettered by them: the apostle doth not altogether despise these things, some of which may be useful (moderately used) to make us more fit for prayer, especially upon solemn occasions; but these are not things wherein religion is to be put, and alone they are of no avail.

But godliness is profitable unto all things; but godliness, which lieth in the true worship and service of God, out of a true principle of the fear of God and faith in him; or (more generally) holiness of life in obedience to God’s commandments, is of universal advantage;

having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come; not from any meritoriousness in it, but from the free grace of God, which hath annexed to it not only the promises of health, peace, and prosperity, and all good things while we live here upon the earth, but also the promises of salvation and eternal happiness when this life shall be determined. For bodily exercise profiteth little,.... Meaning not the exercise of the body in the Olympic games, as by running, wrestling, &c. which profited but little, for the obtaining of a corruptible crown at most; though since a word is used here, and in the preceding verse, borrowed from thence, there may be an allusion to it: much less exercise of the body for health or recreation, as riding, walking, playing at any innocent diversion; which profits but for a little time, as the Syriac and Arabic versions read; and the latter renders the phrase "bodily recreation": nor is the exercise of the body in the proper employment of trade and business, to which a man is called, and which profits for the support of life for a little while, intended; nor any methods made use of for the mortification of the body, and the keeping of it under, as watchings, fastings, lying on the ground, scourging, &c. but rather mere formal external worship, as opposed to godliness, or spiritual worship. There ought to be an exercise of the body, or a presenting of that in religious worship before God; there should be an outward attendance on the word and ordinances; but then, without internal godliness, this will be of little advantage: it is indeed showing an outward regard to public worship, and may be a means of keeping persons out of bad company, and from doing evil things; but if this is trusted to, and depended on, it will be of no avail to everlasting life; see Luke 13:26

but godliness is profitable unto all things; to the health of the body, and the welfare of the soul; to the things of this life, and of that which is to come; to themselves and others, though not to God, or in a way of merit:

having promise of the life that now is; of the continuance of it, of length of days, of living long in the earth, and of enjoying all necessary temporal good things, the mercies of life; for God has promised to his spiritual worshippers, to them that fear him, and walk uprightly, that their days shall be prolonged, that they shall want no good thing, nor will he withhold any from them that is for their good, that is proper and convenient for them:

and of that which is to come; even of eternal life; not that eternal life is received or procured hereby; for it is the free gift of God, and is not by any works of men, for otherwise it would not be by promise; for its being by promise shows it to be of grace: there is nothing more or less in it than this, that God promises glory to his own grace; for internal godliness, which animates and maintains spiritual worship, is of God, is of his own grace, and every part of it is a free gift of his, as faith, hope, love, fear, &c.

{12} For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

(12) Godliness consists in spiritual exercise, and not in outward strictness of life, which though it is something to be esteemed, if it is used correctly, yet it is in no way comparable with godliness. For it profits not in and of itself, but through the benefit of another; but godliness has the promise both of the present life, and of that which is to come.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Timothy 4:8. The reason for the previous exhortation is given by contrasting the σωματικὴ γυμνασία with the γυμνασία πρὸς εὐσέβειαν.

ἡ γὰρ σωματικὴ γυμνασία πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμος] Regarding the meaning of σωματ. γυμν., there are two opinions which need no refutation: the one is that it means the ceremonial law (Braun, Selecta sacra, i. 10, § 156); the other is that of Chrysostom, who understands by it disputation with the heretics.[159] It is a question whether Paul makes use of the word with or without reference to the heretics. Many expositors (of the older, Ambrosius, Thomas; of the more recent, Calvin, Grotius; also Heydenreich, Leo, Matthies) adopt the former view, and explain the σωματικὴ γυμνασία to mean the practice prevailing among the heretics of abstaining from marriage and from certain meats. The connection of ideas is against this view, since in the words immediately preceding he was not speaking of rules of abstinence, but of the myths of the heretics; the sense is also against it, for Paul could not possible say of the heretics’ mode of life, which before he had called devilish, that it was πρὸς ὀλίγον ὠφέλιμος κ.τ.λ. Wiesinger thinks the apostle had in mind, not that degenerate form of asceticism which was to appear in the future, as he described in 1 Timothy 4:3, but “the phenomena of the present,” viz. an asceticism to which even Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23) had some inclination. But since, in Wiesinger’s opinion, even this asceticism is to be regarded as an error, we cannot well refer to it the words πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμος.

Hofmann understands the σωματικὴ γυμνασία to be a discipline such as the apostle practised on himself in abstaining from things permitted; not, however, as if the self-denial were anything in itself, but only lest he should be hindered by the needs of the body from attaining the goal. For this Hofmann quotes 1 Corinthians 9:27. But the discipline which Paul practised on himself was by no means a purely bodily one; it was rather a γυμνασία πρὸς εὐσέβειαν, since the faithful fulfilment of official duty formed part of the εὐσέβεια. The expression is therefore to be explained simply from itself, and we must understand by it the exercise of the body in general, as Theodoret, Pelagius, Wolf, and others (of those more recent, Mack, de Wette, and van Oosterzee) have rightly explained it.

The reason why Paul here speaks of bodily exercise is contained in the previous exhortation: γύμναζε σὲ πρὸς εὐσέβειαν. This he wishes to make emphatic by contrasting with it the γυμνάζειν practised so carefully among the Greeks, though only πρὸς ὀλίγον ὠφέλιμον. The connection of ideas is by no means, as de Wette thinks, a mere “lexical allusion,” nor is the idea itself superfluous.

πρὸς ὀλίγον is in Jam 4:14 used of time: “for a short time.” In this sense many have taken it here; but the contrasted πρὸς πάντα is against this. It is inaccurate also to regard, as Heumann does, πρὸς ὀλίγον as equivalent to ὀλίγῳ (Luther: “of little use”); it means “for little.” Paul does not mean to say that the σωμ. γυμνασία is of no use, but that its use extends to little, only to some relations of the present, earthly life.[160] It is different with that to which Timothy is exhorted: Ἡ ΔῈ ΕὐΣΈΒΕΙΑ ΠΡῸς ΠΆΝΤΑ ὨΦΈΛΙΜΌς ἘΣΤΙΝ] A more exact contrast would have been presented by Ἡ ΔῈ ΓΥΜΝΑΣΊΑ Ἡ ΠΡῸς ΕὐΣΈΒΕΙΑΝ; but Paul could here speak at once of the use of ΕὐΣΈΒΕΙΑ in order to strengthen the previous exhortation. ΠΡῸς ΠΆΝΤΑ is here opposed to ΠΡῸς ὈΛΊΓΟΝ. The general reference thus given must not be arbitrarily limited. There is nothing, no active occupation, no condition, no human relation, on which the ΕὐΣΈΒΕΙΑ does not exercise an influence for good.

ἘΠΑΓΓΕΛΊΑΝ ἜΧΟΥΣΑ ΖΩῆς Τῆς ΝῦΝ ΚΑῚ Τῆς ΜΕΛΛΟΎΣΗς] This participial clause gives a reason for the words immediately preceding, and confirms them. De Wette, and following him Wiesinger, explain (by appealing to passages such as Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 4:40; Matthew 6:33; Ephesians 6:2, and others) ΖΩῊ Ἡ ΝῦΝ as equivalent to “a long and happy life.” But ΖΩΉ with Ἡ ΝῦΝ cannot have a meaning different from that which it has with Ἡ ΜΕΛΛΟῦΣΑ. It is incorrect also to understand by ΖΩΉ “eternal life, life in the full and true sense of the word” (Hofmann),[161] for it is arbitrary to maintain that Τῆς ΝῦΝ ΚΑῚ Τῆς ΜΕΛΛΟΎΣΗς was added to ΖΩῆς only as an after-thought. This contrast forbids us to understand ΖΩΉ as anything else than simply “life;” ΖΩῊ Ἡ ΝῦΝ is the present, ΖΩῊ Ἡ ΜΕΛΛΟῦΣΑ is the future life which follows the earthly. The genitive is to be taken as a more remote objective genitive,—“promise for the present and the future life” (so, too, van Oosterzee and Plitt). The thing promised is not indeed named, but it can be easily supplied.

[159] Chrysost. μηδὲ εἰς γυμνασίαν ποτὲ καταθὲς σεαυτὸν, διαλεγόμενος πρὸς ἐκείνους· οὐ γάρ ἐστι πρὸς τοὺς διεστραμμένους μαχόμενον ὀνῆσαι τί ποτέ.

[160] If ὀλίγον (without πρός), the reading of א, is correct, then the meaning is that which Luther has expressed. Still ὀλίγον might be taken also as a milder expression for the absolute negation: of little use, i.e. properly speaking, of no use, viz. for the calling of a Christian. But even this view does not justify the interpretation of γυμνασία which we have rejected above.

[161] It is clear that ζωή is not the “blessed life” (Matthies), since εὐσέβεια itself denotes the blessed life.1 Timothy 4:8. σωματικὴ γυμνασία: The parallel cited by Lightfoot (Philippians, p. 290) from Seneca (Ep. Mor. xv. 2, 5) renders it almost certain that the primary reference is to gymnastic exercises (as Chrys., etc., take it); but there is as certainly in σωματικὴ γυμνασία a connotation of ascetic practices as the outward expression of the theories underlying the fables of 1 Timothy 4:7. παραιτοῦ elsewhere in the Pastorals is followed by reasons why the particular thing or person should be avoided. The teaching is identical with that in Colossians 2:23. St. Paul makes his case all the stronger by conceding that an asceticism which terminates in the body is of some use. The contrast then is not so much between bodily exercise, commonly so called, and piety, as between piety (which includes a discipline of the body) and an absurd and profane theosophy of which discipline of the body was the chief or only practical expression.

πρὸς ὀλίγον: to a slight extent; as contrasted with πρὸς πάντα. πρὸς ὀλίγον means for a little while in Jam 4:14. This notion is included in the other. The R.V., for a little is ambiguous; perhaps intentionally so. In view of the genuine asceticism of St. Paul himself, not to mention other examples, it is unreasonable to think him inconsistent in making this concession.

ἐπαγγελίαν ἔχουσα ζωῆς; If we take ἐπαγγελία to signify the thing promised (as in Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4; Acts 13:32), rather than a promise, we can give an appropriate force to the rest of the sentence. A consistent Christian walk possesses, does not forfeit, that which this life promises; in a very real sense “it makes the best of both worlds”. ἔχω will then have its usual meaning; and ζωῆς is the genitive of possession, as in Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4 (ἐπ. τοῦ πατρός). It is not the genitive of apposition, piety promises life. That which is given by life to Christians is the best thing that life has to give. Von Soden compares πάντα ὑμῶν, 1 Corinthians 3:21 sq. Bacon’s saying “Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; Adversity is the blessing of the New” is only half a truth. If religion does not make us happy in this life, we have needlessly missed our inheritance (see Matthew 6:33; Mark 10:30). On the other hand, though piety does bring happiness in this life, the exercise of it deliberately with that end in view is impious; as Whately said, “Honesty is the best policy, but the man who is honest for that reason is not honest”.8. bodily exercise profiteth little] Rather, with R.V., bodily exercise is profitable for a little. The Latin of Theod. Mops. gives the straightforward and natural account: ‘corporalis exercitatio ad modicum est utilis’ (so Vulgate ‘ad modicum’): ‘qui enim in agone sunt corporali et ad hoc seipsos exercent usque in praesentem uitam, inde solent habere solatium; nam pietatis agon et istius exercitatio ex multis partibus nobis magnum praebet iumentum promittens nobis in ruturo saeculo magna praebere; nam secundum praesentem uitam conferre nobis non minima potest.’ St Paul, after choosing the strong metaphorical word to enforce the need for a zealous, painstaking ministry, dwells on the metaphor according to his habit. For his fondness for this metaphor see Howson, Metaphors of St Paul. Cf. Appendix, K.

godliness is profitable] The ‘pietatis agon’ affects for good, as Alford puts it, ‘not one portion only of a mans being, but every portion of it, bodily and spiritual, temporal and eternal.’

promise of the life] Lit. ‘promise of life, that which is life now, and that which will be.’ Bp Ellicott and Dr Alford, both after hesitation, interpret ‘spiritual happiness and holiness, the highest blessedness of the creature;’ but Alford wrongly alters the ‘promise’ into the ‘blessedness promised’ instead of giving ‘life’ its full and proper meaning. Cf. Mark 10:30 and the extract quoted by Dr Maclear from Lange’s Life of Christ, iii. 459, ‘The Christian gains back again already in this world in the higher form of real spiritual essence whatever in the physical and symbolical form of his life he has forfeited; houses enough in the entertainment afforded him by his spiritual associates who receive him; brothers and sisters, in the highest sense of the term; mothers who bless and tend the life of his soul; children of his spirit; lands, of his activity, of his higher enjoyment of nature, of his delights; and all this ever purer, ever richer, as an unfolding of that eternal inheritance of which it is said “All things are yours,” in spite of whatever persecutions of the world which dim the glory of these things.’ See also Bp Westcott’s additional note on 1 John 5:20, where he quotes St Paul’s phrase, ‘the life which is life indeed.’ Observe by the way how there this life needs ‘to be grasped and laid hold of,’ as here it is promised to spiritual training and contest. Compare also Ephesians 4:18, ‘the life of God.’

Both ‘the life now’ and ‘the life to come’ are clearly parts of ‘eternal life.’ Bp Westcott’s concluding paragraph is worthy of St Paul in its realisation of what ‘the promise’ is and its incitement to the necessary ‘training.’

‘If now we endeavour to bring together the different traits of “the eternal life,” we see that it is a life which with all its fulness and all its potencies is now; a life which extends beyond the limits of the individual, and preserves, completes, crowns individuality by placing the part in connexion with the whole: a life which satisfies while it quickens aspiration: a life which is seen, as we regard it patiently, to be capable of conquering, reconciling, uniting the rebellious discordant broken elements of being on which we look and which we bear about with us; a life which gives unity to the constituent parts and to the complex whole, which brings together heaven and earth, which offers the sum of existence in one thought. As we reach forth to grasp it, the revelation of God is seen to have been unfolded in its parts in Creation; and the parts are seen to have been brought together again by the Incarnation.’

Note the direct bearing of the last sentence on St Paul’s doctrine here from 1 Timothy 3:15 to 1 Timothy 4:10.1 Timothy 4:8. Ἡ σωματικὴ γυμνασία, bodily exercise) and that, whether violent or pleasant.—πρὸς ὀλίγον, is profitable to but a short extent) viz. its benefit extends only to the private fortune, to one’s reputation, to one’s enjoyment, to the promotion of long life; and therefore it is terminated in this life of the body. Timothy, as a young man, seems to have sometimes used some bodily exercise [ch. 1 Timothy 5:23], which Paul does not so much forbid as not praise. He mixes up a similar admonition, salutary to a young man, with the same argument against profane doctrines, 2 Timothy 2:22.—πρὸς πάντα, unto all things) in the case of body and soul.—ἐπαγγελίαν, promise) on which hope (‘trust’) is brought to bear, 1 Timothy 4:10. Whatever does not serve this purpose is scarcely profitable.—ζωῆς τῆς νῦν, of the life that now is) the advantage of which they who exercise the body seem in other respects to consult.Verse 8. - Is profitable for a little for profiteth little, A.V.; for, for unto, A.V.; which for that, A.V. Bodily exercise. Exercise which only affects the body, such as those rules which the Jewish ascetics enforced. Γυμνασία only occurs here in the New Testament, and not at all in the LXX., but is not uncommon in classical Greek. Another form is γύμνασις, and γυμνάσιον is the place where such γύμνασις takes place. For a little; margin, for little, which is the best rendering, Πρὸς ὀλίγον, as Ellicott well remarks, may mean either "for a little while" or "for a little" (better, "for little"), but cannot mean both. The contrast with πρὸς πάντα determines its meaning here to be "for little," which is exactly the same meaning as the A.V. Promise of the life. The genitive here is the genitive of the thing promised, as in Acts 2:33; Galatians 3:14; 2 Timothy 1:1. And the thing promised is "the life that now is," meaning, of course, its enjoyment in peace and happiness (comp. Psalm 34:12 [33, LXX]., where θέλων ζωήν is parallel to ἀγαπῶν ἡμέρας... ἀγαθάς); and "that which is to come," viz. eternal life). There is no occasion to strain after greater grammatical precision. There is no contradiction between tiffs statement of the happiness of a godly life and St. Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 15:19. Another possible way of construing the words is that of Bishop Ellicott and the 'Speaker's Commentary:' "Having the promise of life, both the present and the future." But in this case we should have had τῆς τε νῦν καὶ κ.τ.λ. Bodily exercise (ἡ σωματικὴ γυμνασία)

With γυμνασία comp. γύμναζε, 1 Timothy 4:7. N.T.o. Σωματικός bodily only here and Luke 3:22. olxx. The adverb σωματικῶς bodily-wise, Colossians 2:9. The words are to be taken in their literal sense as referring to physical training in the palaestra - boxing, racing, etc. Comp. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Some, however, find in them an allusion to current ascetic practices; against which is the statement that such exercise is profitable, though only for a little.

Profiteth little (πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμος)

Lit. is profitable for a little. The phrase πρὸς ὀλίγον only here and James 5:14. In the latter passage it means for a little while. Comp. Hebrews 12:10, πρὸς ὀλίγας ἡμέρας for a few days. According to some, this is the meaning here; but against this is the antithesis πρὸς πάντα unto all things. The meaning is rather, the use of the athlete's training extends to only a few things. Ὡφέλιμος useful or profitable, only in Pastorals. Comp. 2 Timothy 3:16; Titus 3:8. olxx.

Godliness (εὐσέβεια)

See on 1 Timothy 2:2, and Introduction, VI.

Having promise (ἐπαγγελίαν ἔχουσα)

The exact phrase only here. Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 7:6. The participle is explanatory, since it has promise. For ἐπαγγελία promise see on Acts 1:4.

The life that now is (ζωῆς τῆς νῦν)

According to the strict Greek idiom, life the now. This idiom and the following, τῆς μελλούσης N.T.o. The phrase ὁ νῦν αἰών the present aeon, 1 Timothy 6:17; 2 Timothy 4:10; Titus 2:12. Ὁ αἰών οὗτος this aeon, a few times in the Gospels, often in Paul, nowhere else. We have ὁ αἰών ὁ μέλλων the aeon which is to be, and ὁ αἰών ὁ ἐρχόμενος or ἐπερχόμενος the aeon which is coming on, in the Gospels, once in Paul (Ephesians 2:7), and in Hebrews once, μέλλων αἰών without the article. Ἑν τῷ καιρῷ τούτῳ in this time, of the present as contrasted with the future life, Mark 10:30; Luke 18:30. Ὁ νυν καιρός the now time, in the same relation, Romans 8:18. For ζωὴ life see on John 1:4. The force of the genitive with ἐπαγγελία promise may be expressed by for. Godliness involves a promise for this life and for the next; but for this life as it reflects the heavenly life, is shaped and controlled by it, and bears its impress. Godliness has promise for the present life because it has promise for the life which is to come. Only the life which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:1) is life indeed, 1 Timothy 6:19. Comp. 1 Peter 3:10; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.

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