False Asceticism.* 1Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will turn away from the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and demonic instructionsa 2through the hypocrisy of liars with branded consciences. 3They forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.b 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected when received with thanksgiving,c 5for it is made holy by the invocation of God in prayer.*
Counsel to Timothy. 6* If you will give these instructions to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching you have followed. 7Avoid profane and silly myths. Train yourself for devotion,d 8for, while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future.e 9This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance.f 10For this we toil and struggle,* because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the savior of all, especially of those who believe.g
11* Command and teach these things. 12Let no one have contempt for your youth,* but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.h 13Until I arrive, attend to the reading,* exhortation, and teaching. 14Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word* with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate.i 15Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them, so that your progress may be evident to everyone. 16Attend to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in both tasks, for by doing so you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.
* [4:1–5] Doctrinal deviations from the true Christian message within the church have been prophesied, though the origin of the prophecy is not specified (1 Tm 4:1–2); cf. Acts 20:29–30. The letter warns against a false asceticism that prohibits marriage and regards certain foods as forbidden, though they are part of God’s good creation (1 Tm 4:3).
* [4:5] The invocation of God in prayer: literally, “the word of God and petition.” The use of “word of God” without an article in Greek suggests that it refers to the name of God being invoked in blessing rather than to the “word of God” proclaimed to the community.
* [4:10] Struggle: other manuscripts and patristic witnesses read “suffer reproach.”
* [4:12] Youth: some commentators find this reference a sign of pseudepigraphy. Timothy had joined Paul as a missionary already in A.D. 49, some fifteen years before the earliest supposed date of composition.
* [4:13] Reading: the Greek word refers to private or public reading. Here, it probably designates the public reading of scripture in the Christian assembly.
* [4:14] Prophetic word: this may mean the utterance of a Christian prophet designating the candidate or a prayer of blessing accompanying the rite. Imposition of hands: this gesture was used in the Old Testament to signify the transmission of authority from Moses to Joshua (Nm 27:18–23; Dt 34:9). The early Christian community used it as a symbol of installation into an office: the Seven (Acts 6:6) and Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:3). Of the presbyterate: this would mean that each member of the college of presbyters imposed hands and appears to contradict 2 Tm 1:6, in which Paul says that he imposed hands on Timothy. This latter text, however, does not exclude participation by others in the rite. Some prefer to translate “for the presbyterate,” and thus understand it to designate the office into which Timothy was installed rather than the agents who installed him.