1 Timothy 4.1-5 – Weigh, Test, Take

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Paul here gives Timothy a warning of the kinds of false teaching that will sadly come into the church. This kind of stuff is, also sadly, still present in our twenty-first century Christianity, and is therefore something we need to be ready to identify and take a stand against.

The deceitful spirits and teaching of demons comes in many shapes and forms, but Paul here says that they generally come through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared…False teaching then comes from those with an agenda, their conscience having being seared to the truth, they seek to exploit you for their own gain (more on that in chapter 6). Their lifestyle will not match their words, there will be a big disconnect between words and works in those whose conscience has been seared. 

Often this will result in you being told that you must adhere to their personal brand of legalism; reject this, don’t do that, do this (vv.2-3). They don’t understand that the heart of the matter of Godly living is a matter of the heart (vv.4-5, Acts 10.9-16, Genesis 9.3 cf. 1 Corinthians 8), and that by legalistically instructing others on what to do and not do rather than simply show them to Jesus, they have become a modern-day Pharisee.

Friends, do not be caught out by false teachers with an agenda. Weigh everything you hear against the full counsel of the Word of God (Acts 17.11), test everything to see if it exalts the Lord Jesus (1 John 4.1-3), and thereby take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.

1 Timothy 3.16 – Basics of Belief

Have you ever stopped to think about what makes you a Christian, or why you are a Christian? 

Maybe it was a personal experience with Jesus so powerful that you are wholly convinced.

Maybe it is the nature of the Word of God written for us; complete, sufficient, illuminating, instructive, inspired.

At the core of both, or of anything we could give as a reason for why we believe, is the person and work of Jesus.

16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

These six things are the basics of our belief. Jesus was;

…manifested in the flesh – John 1.14

…vindicated by the Spirit – Matthew 3.16, Romans 8.11a

…seen by angels – Luke 2.8-14

…proclaimed among the nations – Luke 24.27, Colossians 1.28

…believed on in the world – John 3.16

…taken up in glory – Acts 1.8-11

The key to the character needed by the believer (1 Timothy 3.1-13), is being in a personal relationship with this Jesus (v.16 above). The basics of our belief are found in a personal relationship with Jesus.

Take a moment today and think – why do I believe, and am I in this relationship?

1 Timothy 3.14-15 – Clarity of Scripture

Careful and proper Bible reading seems to be, sadly, not the normal way of reading the Bible for most people. There either seems to be the idea that we must sensationalize and emotionalize it so as to provoke an emotional response (a danger which D.Martin Lloyd-Jones warns against), or we need to inject ourselves into the text to be the original readers/recipients, or else that the whole thing is unknowable and therefore, you know, what’s the point? More often than not, the real people writing the text of Scripture, inspired by the Holy Spirit, will make plain and simple their intention.

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

We said that this letter was from Paul to Timothy with instructions on how to lead the church. We’ve seen the importance of prayer, the importance of right teaching, the Gospel to be proclaimed, and the character of those to be appointed to help lead. Today, Paul is as clear as can be that he hopes to visit, but, if he is delayed, this letter is for Timothy to know how people ought to behave in the household of God

Passages about the character of leaders, the interaction between men and women, the high standards for handling the Word and the teaching of the church all folds into this purpose, so people know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth

There are some deep and wonderful truths in the Word that we could talk about until the Lord returns or calls us home. There are passages that were so specific to specific peoples at specific times, but, if we read the Word carefully and properly, considering context and purpose, we will see that there is more often than not a strikingly clear purpose statement within each book of the Bible.

Today, look at passages like 1 Timothy 3.14-15, Hebrews 8.1-2, 2 Timothy 4.1-2, John 20.30-31, Luke 1.1-4, Romans 1.15, and 1 Corinthians 1.10-11, and see and marvel at the clarity of Scripture. It is as plain and as simple as we need it to be at the points we need it to be. Charles Hodge called it a ‘plain book’. It is plain and understandable when we approach it carefully and properly.

Read it today and see how it speaks to you!

1 Timothy 3.7 – An Elder in Character

We continue then with Paul’s letter to Timothy. Today Paul, the church planter, writes to Timothy, the church leader, with instructions on how this fledgling fellowship should be led and supported. Within the structure of the letter, within the who-is-writing-to-who-about-what we begin to see God’s model for church leadership.

Today in 1 Timothy 3.7, the character of the men needed to help Timothy lead spiritually. Does that mean that if you’re not appointed to serve as an Elder you should never focus on these character qualities? Absolutely not!

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

There will never be a church in the world where every single man who demonstrates these character qualities is actively serving as an Elder, because, in theory every man, and woman for that matter, should be working to display these qualities in their everyday life.


Being appointed to serve as an Elder should be seen as separate from simply being an Elder in character, something we all must do.


The character needed (an overseer MUST be…) is far more important than the actual structure within which these traits are deployed. It’s better to have a church full of Elder-like people than have only a handful, for sure. 

We see, then, that in this passage it all comes down to character, not gifting or ability.

We are all called to serve God (Hebrews 9.14), we are all uniquely gifted (1 Corinthians 12), but the character of a mature and maturing believer is something we should all aspire to regardless of age, gender, gifting, appointment, calling, or service. 

Today then, let us be believers who are outwardly demonstrating our growing maturity in the Lord by the character we display, let us all work towards being Elders in character.

1 Timothy 2.15 – The Childbirth

This is one of those verses that people use, again, to say all sorts of things. Let us first read it and see what comes to mind. 

Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

First, it’s difficult and dangerous to interpret stand-alone verses, especially those that begin with words like yet, or so, or therefore.

So then, she will be saved through childbearing – sounds like ladies are only saved if they give birth. Does that line up with everything or anything else we read in the Word, that ladies have to bear children to be saved? If we back up a verse to v.14 we see that the she should really, given sensible reading, be Eve. We read …the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be…Normal sensible reading would say that she is Eve then. But then Paul seems to open it up and say if they continue…Eve was only one, so they cannot be Eve, so we have something particular to Eve that then affects all ladies?

Back in Genesis 3.15 Eve was told that from her family line One would come who would right the wrongs of Eden, who would trample sin and death and the devil, and restore humanity’s broken relationship with God. This, I’d suggest, is the she will be saved

Interestingly, in the Greek text, there is a definite article, the, before childbirth. So, translating literally word-for-word would render this,

Yet she will be saved through the childbirth – if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self control.

The idea seems then, that rather than blame Eve for sin entering the world, rather than pin the fall onto all of womankind, we are be thankful and grateful that it is through the ladies in our life that we are all brought into the world, and it was through a lady, Mary, that our Lord and Saviour came into the world. 

David Guzik summarises this well, he writes, 

Probably, the idea here is that even though the “woman race” did something bad in the garden by being deceived and falling into transgression, the “woman race” also did something far greater, in being used by God to bring the saving Messiah into the world…Don’t blame women for the fall of the human race; the Bible doesn’t. Instead, thank women for bringing the Messiah to us.

Without the ladies in our lives none of us would be here, and the Word become flesh wouldn’t have miraculously come to earth in the way He did, and it would be impossible for us to say, with confidence, that we are all saved through the childbirth.

1 Timothy 2.11-15 – What This Does and Doesn’t Mean

This is one of those passages in the Bible that people get so wrong. Detaching verses from context is not right and true handling of the Word of God (verse numbers were not added until around the 16th Century, and they certainly aren’t inspired). So, what does this passage mean?

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Maybe you have heard this passage taught to say that women should never speak in church, full stop. That’s wrong. Take that chit-chat outside Eve, only Steve can talk in church…

But, think of the context; the whole letter is instructing Timothy on how to run this church as the leader, chapter two is about, predominantly, prayer. So, can v.11 be detached from both of these things and used against women speaking at all in church? No, it cant.

Quietly and with all submissiveness carries our thoughts back to v.2 wherein we read that the church and the believers are to live a quiet and peaceful life, dignified and Godly in every way. Throw in the culture of the day where some say that women and men never worshipped together, but now they can, so the women may talk to her husband across the room and ask him questions as to what it going on, and we begin to see that learn quietly doesn’t mean that women can never speak in church. That would be inconsistent with what Paul writes to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11.5.


The consistent and orthodox interpretation is that not permitting a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man is referring to when the assembled church gathers together, it is a male’s job to deliver the Word of God in an expositional sermon, the message, the Word, or however you refer to that part of a worship service. 


Other than that particular point of the service, other than the overall ‘who is in charge on earth in this church’, we see throughout Scripture that women have an equally important role in the worship of God to that of their male counterparts. Ladies lead worship, ladies lead prayer ministries, ladies lead children and youth ministries, ladies lead home groups/small groups, simply, ladies lead in churches. Having the ultimate earthly authority in the structure of the church be male takes nothing away from the value and leadership contributions of women, as we said yesterday, different roles for different people. 

So, ladies, yes, pray in church, talk whilst you are at church. Teach a home group, lead a Bible study, serve in Kids Church, lead us in worship, read our Scripture, pray aloud.

But also, everyone, read the Bible in context, don’t detach single verses from a paragraph, or a chapter, or a book, or even a section of the Bible, and things make much more sense.

1 Timothy 2.8-10 – Hands and Hair

It stands as truth that men and women are different. Different appearance, generally different interests, different strengths, different weaknesses. Different, yet complementary. Different, yet equally loved. So, when we come to passages like this in the Bible where either gender are exhorted and instructed we must not think that this communicates value or worth, simply instructions that are right for the different people.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

Today we see something for both men and women to do in the assembled church (the context of the letter, remember?).

Men are to lead the church in prayer. Men are not the only people in church that should pray, or pray publicly, but the men should lead the church in prayer. The fact that this should be done without quarrelling carries the meaning of praying without doubt, so, the men should steadfastly lead the church in prayer without doubting. Guys, do you do that in your church? Do you lead in prayer? Praying for the church would be a great start.

Ladies, as the men are covering themselves and the church in prayer, you should also pray, for sure. In addition to this covering, Paul writes that ladies should be adorned in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works. Quite a lot for the ladies there, isn’t there. 

Essentially it comes down to this – dress modestly for the location you are in. You wouldn’t go to church in a Muslim majority country wearing your yoga pants and a vest, that would be inappropriate. You wouldn’t wear your most formal of dresses and hats to a church service on the beach. Simply, dress modestly and appropriately for the location you are in. 

Men are called here to lead the church in prayer, to cover themselves and the church in prayer.

Ladies here are called to cover themselves appropriately.

Different, but of equal value in the eyes of our Lord.

Above all these things, as an assembled and gathered church we are to put on love (Colossians 3.14), and we are to cover ourselves in Christ (Galatians 3.26-27).

His righteousness covers us, His blood covers us, and His love covers us.