1 Timothy Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern

chapter 4
1. The Spirit expressly states that in the acharit-hayamim some people will apostatize from the faith by paying attention to deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
The Holy Spirit expressly states in a prophecy, possibly that of Ac 20:28-31, which Sha'u! specifically directed to the believers in Ephesus, where Timothy was.

In the acharit-hayamim. The End Times are already here (1С 10:11N). So we need not say that people will apostatize from the faith only in the future (as at 2 Th 2:3) — they arc doing it already.

What kinds of deceiving spirits and things taught by demons are they paying attention to? (On the reality of demons, see Mt 4:24N.) For the moment, confining ourselves only to religions, we may note:

(1) Eastern religions (and Western adaptations thereof), with their sub-biblical, impersonal concept of God and their tendency to depreciate the importance of human history and thus of human life.

(2) The older sub-Christian culls, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Christian Science and Unitarianism, all of which present an inadequate picture of Yeshua the Messiah.

(3) Non-Messianic Judaism, insofar as it denies the divine origin of the New Covenant and the Messiahship of Yeshua and stands in the way of Jews who affirm them.

(4) Secularism, humanism, atheism and agnosticism.
(5) Liberal Christianity, which, though using the Bible, denies fundamental biblical truths, and, most insidiously of all,

(6) Religion which passes itself off as affirming the Bible but in practice proves itself otherwise by its deeds.

Outside the realm of what should be called religion we see people turning to:
(7) Drugs, drink, illicit sex, pursuit of riches (see 6:7) and other self-centered activities.
(8) Various ideological movements without overt religious content that can capture a person as religion does; politics and environmentalism can function in this way, though they need not do so.

(9) The occult, including astrology, parapsychology, kabbalah (the occult tradition within Judaism).

Why do people turn to these substitutes for the truth and fail to see the Good News as good? Here are some of the most common reasons, along with the remedies:

(1) Having a false conception of God, of Yeshua and of what the Bible says. Often people who have never read the Bible as adults or have never read the New Testament have very strong opinions anyway. The solution is to read the Bible openmindedly, praying that God will reveal what is true.

(2) Being engaged in sin which one refuses to give up. The solution is to get one's priorities straight. Is it more important to continue the sin and go to eternal destruction, or to turn to God for forgiveness and receive assurance of everlasting life?

(3) Fear, for example, of being rejected by one's friends and community if one professes faith in Yeshua, or of poverty, or of having to live a "life that isn't fun." The remedy is to trust that God is in control and will open a life more fulfilling than one could ever have dreamed of, even if aspects of these fears prove well-grounded. Everything works for the good of those who trust God (Ro 8:28). 

2. Such teachings come from the hypocrisy of liars whose own consciences have been burned, as if with a red-hot branding iron.
Such demonic teachings come from the hypocrisy of liars. The devil uses human means. These false teachers are referred to at Ac 20:28-31; 2 Th 2:6; 2 Ke 3:l-3a&N; 1 Yn 2:18-23,4:1-6; 2 Yn 7.

Consciences, like every other component of human nature, can be ruined. Kleptomaniacs and pathological liars are examples of people whose consciences don't function properly. Do those who habitually cheat on their taxes, or make under-the-table payments for favors, have seared consciences? Yes, if they have no awareness of the wrongness of what they are doing, or if they are convinced that they are an exception to the rule. But "let him who is without sin cast the first stone." We must examine the sensitivity of our own consciences, so that we may "go and sin no more" (Yn 8:8, II, KJV). 

3. They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods which God created to be eaten with thanksgiving by those who have come to trust and to know the truth.
They forbid marriage and require abstinence from various foods. Sha'ul favors self-discipline for the sake of the Kingdom of God (1С 9:24-27), but not asceticism. His own attitude toward marriage (1С 7:1-40) and eating (Ro 14:5-6.14-17,20; 1C8:8,13; 10:23-11:1; Co 2:16-23) is eminently sensible, avoiding both self-indulgence and self-denial. He evaluates these behaviors in terms of how they affect others and how they express commitment to Yeshua the Messiah. Abstinence from foods does not mean observing kashrut, although the false teachers probably did incorporate elements of the Jewish dietary laws into their ascetic practices. See Ro 14:1N. Also compare Genesis 9:3-4. 

4. For everything created by God is good, and nothing received with thanksgiving needs to be rejected,
5. because the word of God and prayer make it holy.
God created both marriage and foods to be partaken of with thanksgiving. Compare Ro 14:5-6 and the caution at 1С 10:30-31. In Jewish tradition there are blessings said at a wedding ceremony, and grace is both before and after meals. The b 'rakhah before meals (Mt 14:19N) is short; afterwards, on a full stomach, one can be thankful at greater length for what one has just eaten. The first b'rakhah after the meal is:

"Blessed are you, Adonai our God, king of the universe, who feeds the whole world with your goodness, grace, loving-kindness and mercy. You give food to everything that lives, because your loving-kindness endures forever. In your great goodness, we have never lacked food. For your great name's sake, may we never lack it ever, since you nourish, sustain and do good to all and provide food for all the creatures you created. Blessed are you, Adonai, giver of food to all."

The second b'rakhah includes thanks for the productive Land of Israel, the covenant and the Torah. and quotes the Scriptural basis for these blessings, "And you will eat and be satisfied, and you will bless Adonai your God for the good land which he has given you" (Deuteronomy 8:10). Subsequent b'rakhoi include prayers for the restoration of Jerusalem, the return of the Jewish people to the Land, and the coming of the Messiah.

Everything created by God is good, but not everything created by God is food. Therefore, this verse does not abolish the Jewish dietary laws; see Ac 10:11-I9&NN. Ga2:12b&N).

The word of God and prayer make it holy. The means of sanctificalion are various, both in Judaism and in the New Testament. The blessing recited in connection with doing a mitzvah contains the phrase, "our God..., who has sanctified us with your commandments"; the commandments, a subspecies of the word of God, sanctify. See the article, "Kedushah" ("holiness," "sanctification"), in Encyclopedia Judaica, 10:866-875.

"Set them apart for holiness by means of the truth — your word is truth" (Yn 17:17); truth sanctifies.
"The Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave himself up on its behalf, in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion in the mikveh, so to speak" (Ep 5:26); immersion sanctifies.

"Yeshua suffered death outside the gate, in order to make the people holy through his own blood" (MJ 13:12); Yeshua's death for us sanctifies (see also MJ 10:10, 29; 1С 1:2).

"I have... the priestly duty of presenting the Good News of God, so that the Gentiles may be an acceptable offering, made holy by the Ruach HaKodesh" (Ro 15:15-16); the Holy Spirit sanctifies.

"May the God of shatom make you completely holy" (1 Th 5:23) — by whatever means he chooses! 

6. If you present all this to the brothers, you will be serving the Messiah Yeshua well; it will show that you have digested the words of the faith and of the good teaching which you have followed.
7. But refuse godless bubbe-meises, and exercise yourself in godliness.
Bubbe-meises, Yiddish for "grandmother's stories," fables (1:4) told or believed only by silly, superstitious old women. It renders the Greek phrase, "grao deis muthous" ("old-womanish tales"; "muthous" underlies the English word "myths)." 

8. For although physical exercise does have some value, godliness is valuable for everything, since it holds promise both for the present life and for the life to come.
Physical exercise, or "physical self-discipline" (compare v. 3) docs have some value for the body (relevant for Timothy; see 5:23). Some make a religion of physical fitness, through health foods, jogging, sunbathing, saunas, bodybuilding, sports, massage. Care for one's body has an honorable place in Scripture: the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, we are to honor God with our bodies. So we should take normal precautions but avoid neglecting, overindulging or idolizing our bodies. This parallels Jewish teaching on the role of the body. 

9. Here is a statement you can trust, one that fully deserves to be accepted
10. (indeed, it is for this that we toil and strive): we have our hope set on a living God who is the deliverer of all humanity, especially of those who trust.
God is the deliverer (1:1&N) of all humanity (2:4-7, Yn 3:16), especially of those who trust. The word "especially" reminds us that Ro 2:14-15 seems to allow the possibility that some who do not profess faith in Yeshua, perhaps because they do not have cognitive knowledge of the Gospel, may nevertheless be saved; but see the note there for the necessary cautions against using this concept to excuse not accepting Yeshua as the Messiah. 

11. Command these things and teach them.
12. Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth; on the contrary, set the believers an example in your speech, behavior, love, trust and purity.
13. Until I come, pay attention to the public reading of the Scriptures.
14. Do not neglect your gift, which you were given through a prophecy when the body of elders gave you s’mikhah.
Gift. See Ro 12:6-8; 1С 12:4-11, 28-31. On s'mikhah (ordination) see Mt 21:23N. 

15. Be diligent about this work, throw yourself into it, so that your progress may be clear to everyone.
16. Pay attention to yourself and to the teaching, continue in it, for by so doing you will deliver both yourself and those who hear you.
Deeds and teachings, self and others: both matter. 

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