Author: Ron Graham
Verse by verse study of Paul's first letter to Timothy. In this lesson we examine chapter 4 verses 1-6, looking at the falling away and the false teachers.
The expression "later times" (1Timothy 4:1) does not refer to some unique period of special apostasy in our future. If the later times were 2000 years away from when Paul wrote, it would not have much relevance to Timothy and his brethren at Ephesus. When Paul spoke to the elders at Ephesus, he warned of a falling away which they would see in their own time and to which they should be alert (Acts 20:17,28-31).
Of course this has always been true. When a church is established, there is a passion for the truth. In later times, however, there comes a falling away. There have been many departures from the faith followed by restoration, followed again by digressions. There have been many "later times" as against one "proper time" (1Timothy 2:6).
Paul warns of "deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons" (1Timothy 4:1). How do these deceitful and demonic spirits spread their poison? They do so "in the hypocrisy of liars" says Paul (1Timothy 4:2).
There are two things to notice here.
Paul gives us a little window into the kind of doctrines the apostates taught. Perhaps not surprisingly, they are familiar to us today. Two points of error are mentioned...
Timothy was to draw attention to these errors, pointing out to the brethren how these false commandments and teachings differ from sound doctrine in the word of faith. Timothy not only had the right to do this, he had the responsibility, as does any minister in the church.