1 Timothy 4:7-16 (KJV)

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4:7-9 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

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.

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

There is a compelling contrast between verse 1 Timothy 4:6 and verse 7. This is because one calls the believer to remember words of “good faith” and “sound doctrine” and the latter calls the believer to refuse the opposite, which is: Profane and old wives’ fables. 

This is a practical model for Christians considering godly truth versus speculation. We are to practice “R&R.”

Remember the good and refuse the bad.

This practice will sustain a pure consciousness and build up a character geared toward godliness. 

Sharing in godliness is first only possible with Christ’s indwelling (Romans 8:9). When Christ’s Spirit indwells and you are nourished in His truth, you are aligning yourself with God’s mind and intentions for the Body. 

Moving forward, Paul does not discount the benefit of exercise. He endorses clear benefit to it as bodily control is powerful for sustaining a longevity of a ministerial role (1 Corinthians 9:27; 3 John 1:2). However, this alignment with godliness encompasses a larger span of profit.  

Most importantly, it gives a full life in Christ in our mortal body and godly truth is the bridge unto the next life as well (1 Timothy 2:4). God dispenses grace on both sides of eternity. 

Paul affirming the truth and validity of this saying should empower the Christian to live into godliness all the more. This is the second of Paul’s “faithful sayings” throughout the Pauline epistles. The first was found in 1 Timothy 1:15, the second found here, the third cited in 2 Timothy 2:11, and finally Titus 3:8

4:10-11 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

These things command and teach.

Godly labor is a component of Christian life. In fact, we are God’s workmanship created unto good works and ordained to walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). Whether a Christian does them or not, they will be heavily scrutinized by a godless culture.

If someone were to ask why, the answer is simply that we trust “in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men.” The answer for Christian persecution is in the Scriptures, if only the Body was to take the Word as it says.

Verse 10 is also a reasonable defense against Calvin’s view of limited atonement which suggests that salvation is not for all but only for the elect. This verse alone could be an efficient dismantling of that component of Calvin’s “5 Points.”

Continuing on, true godliness is entirely counter-culture and we are commanded to hold firm and teach these words offered by the apostle Paul. Do not assimilate to culture instead hold fast to the faithful word and oppose an amalgamation of godliness and ungodliness (Titus 1:9). 

To give in would be a gratification of the flesh which we are called out of. 

4:12-14 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

The main focus of 1 Timothy 4:12 is often disregarded. The purpose is not to debate the age of Timothy and whether or not he is qualified to lead a church of the Ephesian size. 

Purposefully, Paul makes this statement to refute the popular belief that wise men could look down to Timothy’s leadership because age was (and still is) attributed to wisdom. It is possible that Timothy was nearly 30 years old by this point in an age that considered someone youthful up to the age of 40 (According to Irenaeus). 

Youthfulness in this era of history revolved around the age that a man would be able to serve within a military role.

Timothy’s authority could be evident in his example, teachings to believers, and by how he loved them. Godliness can be nourished despite age and a Godly calling unto truth should be pursued. 

Due to the instructional nature of this letter, Paul is investing into Timothy’s leadership over the Ephesian church. Until Paul could come unto the Ephesian church, he is encouraging and promoting the teaching role to Timothy. 

The very phrase “give attendance to” instills reading, exhortation, and doctrine as the primary focus and practical purpose of Timothy’s ministry. Likewise, promotion of the Gospel and the aspects surrounding it should be ours. 

This verse calls Timothy’s attention away from secondary matters and back to a defense of Scripture, whereas false doctrine was creeping into the church. 

Reading has hundreds of academic purposes but on top of these sits the eternal benefits of reading Scripture. Hope is an amazing component that can be derived from a thorough delve into the Scriptures (Romans 15:4). 

Also, correction to the direction of godliness is an invaluable purpose of Scripture that Paul often emphasized (2 Timothy 3:16). 

Exhortation is a call or urging to do something. Often, the art of preaching is characterized by exhortation. Scripture is illustrated to an audience to receive a verdict and action by a particular group of people. 

Preaching is not the only action that urges an individual to something. Scripture through the discerning power of the Holy Spirit is completely apt to exhort an individual itself (Hebrews 4:12). Sound Biblical preaching will bring people into a place of intentional exhortation and edification. 

To what we read and exhort is doctrine. Doctrine is a set of beliefs within Scripture. Although a set of beliefs may be found in Scripture, if it is not rightly divided it will naturally become unsound or unhealthy to the believer. It will be contrary to what nourishes (8). 

Doctrine can be misused as Scripture indicates and history reinforces. Timothy was commanded to teach and exhort “no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). Any other doctrine than the one entrusted to him is false and nothing has changed these many years later. 

4:15-16 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

1 Timothy 4:15 indicates a shift in Paul’s letter to Timothy. Paul has urged Timothy to remain firm in the doctrine that Paul has instilled in him. Now he is given some affirmation to Timothy in this calling before he lays out additional instructions that need to be addressed.

The first affirming remark that he makes it to “meditate” upon these things. Christian meditation is not the same as meditation for consciousness as some religions and spiritual leaders indicate. 

Christian meditation requires the believer to fill their mind with the things of God and to dwell on them (Philippians 4:8-9). Pagan meditation requires the emptying of the mind. Paul is exhorting Timothy to meditate upon the Biblical teaching given prior in the letter and abide by them. This is what it means to continue

The profit that can be ascertained from meditation spiritually and practically the power of the Gospel and the eternal prize and hope of salvation to Heaven (Romans 1:16; Romans 6:23). 

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