Online Bible Commentary
False Teaching in the Church
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (NKJV)
The letter of 1 Timothy is part of what is known as the Pastoral Epistles. The other two Pastoral Epistles are 2 Timothy and Titus.
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter about AD 63 to Timothy who was ministering at the church in Ephesus. Paul has recently been released from two years of house arrest in Rome.
It is thought that Paul wrote this letter from Philippi, in Macedonia, after dropping Timothy off at Ephesus on the way (1 Timothy1:3). Other possible places of writing are Spain or Hierapolis, Greece.
This letter is a personal letter from one minister to another. Ministers typically relate differently to other ministers than they would to others. Therefore, this letter is different than Paul’s previous letters to churches.
It is also different in that Paul switched scribes, amamuensis’, for the Pastoral Epistles. It is believed that Timothy was Paul’s amanuensis for the previously written Prison Epistles. However, with Timothy being dispatched to Ephesus a new amanuensis was needed.
It appears that Luke was Paul’s amanuensis for the Pastoral Epistles, thus a change in writing styles. Doctor Luke’s style of writing is more classical Greek than that of previous amanuensis’.
In Timothy 2 Paul mentions that Luke is the only one with him at that time (2 Timothy 4:11). Luke was likely his amanuensis.
Paul had dispatched Timothy to Ephesus in order to combat false teaching in the church at Ephesus. In this passage Paul elaborates on the nature of the false teaching.
He begins by writing “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times”, referring to the Holy Spirit’s testimony to himself, regarding the “latter times” (v.1a). The term “latter times” refers to the end times, the church age in general.
The church age began in the first century and will continue until Christ returns for His people and the church is raptured to Heaven.
They were in the church age then, and we still are today. False teachers were prevalent in the church then, and they still are today.
Paul continues “some will depart from the faith” (v. 1b). He is referring to those in the church who have followed the teaching of the false teachers, causing them to abandon the Gospel.
They now believe a different gospel than the Gospel of Christ. They have been misled by the false teachers.
Next, Paul writes “giving heed to deceiving spirits” (v. 1c). Paul describes the false teachers as “deceiving spirits”.
Paul continues “and doctrines of demons” (v. 1d). They are not teaching doctrines of Christ. They are teaching “doctrines of demons.”
We all have our own special demons to fight. Satan sends his demons to our areas of weakness. It may be a bad habit, pride, a sexual weakness, a desire to be popular in the world, or any other area of vulnerability or addiction.
In Christ we are free of bondage. But Satan wants us to be in bondage, his bondage.
In that way he can control us and pull us away from the Lord. The closer we get to the Lord, the more intense the effort becomes to pull us away. As Christians, we have the power to resist demons. In this case, the false teachers gave into their demons, purposely teaching false doctrine to satisfy their own personal agendas.
Next, Paul writes “speaking lies in hypocrisy” (v. 2a). These false teachers are defined as hypocritical liars.
They are liars, following the master liar, Satan. They are also hypocritical, not even following their own teachings.
Paul continues “having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (v. 2b). Their “consciences” have been “seared”.
The word translated “seared” comes from the Greek word “kauteriazo”, from which we get our word “cauterize”. Their good consciences that they received from the Lord have been hijacked by evil, and that evil has been cauterized, sealed within.
Paul writes “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (v. 3) Here he gives two examples of their false teaching. These false teachings are Gnostic teachings, claiming that all physical appetites are evil.
Paul continues “For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (vv. 4-5).
Here, Paul denies these false teachings by writing that they all were created by God and, therefore, they are good and should be received with thanksgiving. He writes this is true because these teachings have been “consecrated” by the word of God, the gospel, and prayer.
Biblical marriage, the union of one man and one woman, is ordained by God for procreation, for satisfaction of emotional and physical appetites and for protection against sexual sin.
Consuming all foods is also Biblical. God has given us food, plant and animal, to satisfy physical appetites and to sustain physical needs.
In conclusion, teaching false doctrine has been a part of the church from the beginning. The only thing that has changed is the nature of the false teaching.
It is even present in Protestant churches today. Most of it is to accommodate social issues, specifically the elevation of women above men instead of equality and the homosexual agenda.
While this false teaching tickles the ears of those loyal to these movements, it is not consistent with Biblical doctrine. Even though some may disagree with the teachings of the Bible, they are not permitted to change those teachings to suit their own personal agendas.
This is called false teaching and is condemned as sin. It is a sin that causes great damage to God’s children by deceiving them.
Paul called these people “deceiving spirits” and “liars”. Those of us who teach the Bible must do so in good conscience, never allowing our personal agendas to alter the sacred word of God.