1 Timothy 4:1-5
In Later Times
Paul now returns to the false teachers in Ephesus whom he discussed in 1:3-11. These were turning from the grace of Jesus Christ to vain discussions about the law, genealogies, and even myths. The Apostle now brings in other even more pernicious lies these heretics were espousing to the detriment of the church. Falsehood always breeds more falsehood; lies always breed more lies; sin always breeds more sin deeper and deeper into a hellish chasm.
Paul begins, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times….” “Expressly” catches our attention. In other words, this is something which is explicitly told us by the Spirit; there is no doubt. “Later times” in the New Testament refers to all of time since the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21; Hebrews 1:2). Thus, Paul is speaking primarily of the false teachers in Ephesus; however, as we too live in these “later times” and “last days,” we must also heed these words as spoken directly to us by the Holy Spirit. Paul’s next words tell us from whence these false teachers come and the origin of their teaching. They come from the church, which is the meaning of “will depart from the faith.” We are told that in the end times there shall be a “falling away” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV). It is sad that these come out of the true faith, but 1 John 2:19 reminds us that they were never of us in the first place. And what is the source of this false teaching? Deceitful spirits and demons. False teaching is always of demonic origin. And those who give themselves to it and remain therein eventually are so deceived that their consciences are “seared” or “branded” with Satan’s insignia.
And what is their false teaching in this particular instance? Forbidding marriage and certain foods. Similar heresies were taught in the churches at Rome (14:13-23) and Corinth (1 Corinthians 7:1-5). In this passage, Paul specifically deals with food (he will deal with marriage in 5:9-16) and declares that since our Lord’s coming, all foods are now declared clean as they are received with thanksgiving to God by believers who know from whom such gifts come (Mark 7:19). Truly, the Mosaic law did divide foods into clean and unclean so that people under the old covenant would thereby understand that they were separated unto a holy God. But since Christ’s atoning death has cleansed sin from the heart, such laws are rendered needless and so pass away. This takes us back to the beginning of the letter: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1:5).