1 Timothy 4:6-11

6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.

10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

11 These things command and teach.

instruct (v.6) = lit. “place under,” remind

brethren (v.6) = lit. “from the same womb”

these things (v.6) — those things just taught in verses 1-5

good (v.6 — 2x) = intrinsically good, good in and of itself

minister (v.6) = servant — the same Greek word translated “deacon” in 1 Timothy 3:8

nourished (v.6) = constantly nourishing yourself

words of faith (v.6) = lit. “words of the faith” — doctrine — not just words that express faith

doctrine (v.6) = lit. “the doctrine,” teaching, instruction

carefully followed (v.6) — followed with diligent practice, attended closely

reject (v.7) = refuse, have nothing to do with, shun

profane (v.7) = having no connection or relation to God, secular

fables (v.7) = myths, falsehoods, stories (See 1 Timothy 1:4)

exercise (v.7) — constant exercise, spiritual training

toward (v.7) = with a view to

godliness (v.7) = reverence, respect

profits a little (v.8) — lit. “profits for a little” — in contrast to godliness, which is profitable for all things. — So, bodily exercise is profitable for this life only, but godliness is profitable for this life and that to come.

The words, “bodily exercise,” are found in a parallel passage from Seneca. This renders it almost certain that the primary reference is to gymnastic exercises. The context in which it is found in our Timothy passage refers this bodily exercise to an absurd and profane theosophy of which discipline of the body was the chief or only practical expression. 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 this asceticism spoken of in the context, that absurd and profane theosophy of which the just-mentioned authority speaks. Paul is not referring here to gymnastic exercises as such, and therefore what he says about their value, cannot be inferred from his remarks here. He is referring to ascetic practices which took the form of physical exercise. — Wuest, pages 70-71


[This] is an answer to those who would discipline their followers by forbidding them to marry or commanding them to abstain from food. These restrictions, they say, bring health to the soul, but … it is not by mortification of the body that we grow spiritually, but by the study of the Word, and true godliness. — Stam, page 101

Verse 9 refers back to what was just written.

for (v.10) = unto this — unto the end of achieving godliness

labor (v.10) = toil involving weariness — to the point of exhaustion

and (v.10) — indicates increase — “we labor, yea strive”

suffer reproach (v.10) — some manuscripts have the Greek word that means this, but others have another word that means “strive,” from which we get our word for “agony.” — contending as in public games (See 1 Corinthians 9:24-27) — persevering against opposition

we trust (v.10) = lit. “we have hoped” — the tense indicates a continuing action — faith in the certainty of the fulfillment of God’s promises which is so secure that we realize it as a present truth

Savior of all (v.10) — One could find in this statement the idea that God is the Preserver of the entire human race in the sense of His providential care. But the context, which brings in the idea of faith, seems to indicate that the idea of salvation from sin and the impartation of eternal life is the function here of God as Savior. He is Savior of all men in the sense that our Lord is “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42). He is the actual Savior of those who believe, and the potential Savior of the unbeliever in the sense that He has provided a salvation at the Cross for the sinner, and stands ready to save that sinner when the latter places his faith in the Lord Jesus. — Wuest, page 72


God has made a bona fide offer of salvation to all men, since Christ paid the price for all. Thus we can go to any poor sinner and say to him: “Your sins have been paid for; will you believe this and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior?” … This is an offer, an invitation, and the lot of the unsaved is not changed just because Christ died for them. Rather Christ’s death for the sins of all is the basis for God’s offer of salvation to all. The trespasses of the unsaved are not imputed to them now; they may be saved by simple faith because their sins were imputed to Christ. But if they reject the offer of reconciliation the greater condemnation will be theirs, first for all their sins (Revelation 20:12-13), and also for spurning the offer of salvation, the free gift of God purchased for us at so great a cost by the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:10). — Stam, page 103.

these things (v.11) — regarding godliness vs. asceticism and the need to avoid fables

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