Join us as we study through 1 Timothy verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

Inductive Bible Study on 1 Timothy 4:1-8 – Discussion Questions and Teaching Guide

Discussion Questions

  • Is Paul referring to inspiration of Scripture or something else in 4:1?
  • When is the later times? Are we in it now? Was Paul in it then? Why is it called later or end?
  • What are deceitful spirits? What are doctrines of demons? What does this tell us about false teachers?
  • What are some examples of these false teachings in this passage?
  • Why are these teachings harmful?
  • What lesson can you learn from verses 4-5?
  • How can we be “constantly nourished” on the words of faith?
  • Why is it important to receive constant nourishment rather than sporadic nourishment?
  • What are worldly fables? Can you share an example?
  • Why does Paul say these are fit only for old women?
  • In what areas does a godly person need to discipline himself?
  • How can we become more disciplined spiritually?
  • Name one area that you think you need to be more discipline in for the purpose of godliness?
  • What comparison can we see between bodily discipline and spiritual discipline? Does one help the other?

Cross-References

2 Timothy 3:1-7 – The peril of the last days.

2 Peter 3:3-4 – Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

1 John 2:18 – Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

1 Corinthians 10:23-33 – All foods are good and to be enjoyed.

Genesis 2:18 – The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Romans 14:6 – Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 10:17 – Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-12 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

1 Peter 2:2-3 – Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

2 Peter 1:16 – For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

2 Timothy 4:4 – And will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Teaching Points

1. The Spirit explicitly says – It seems that the Holy Spirit gave this divine revelation to Paul. Paul was not the only New Testament writer to receive this warning from the Spirit. Peter and John also talk about this. Paul has received this warning from the Spirit and wants to make sure that Timothy understands how important this is. It is not a vague possibility. It is a certainty. Some people will fall away from the faith. That is why it is important for church leaders like Timothy to understand this so that they can protect their flock from these types of dangers.

2. Some will fall away – This is also a certainty. It doesn’t say that some will “maybe” fall away. They will. There will be people who appear to be believers who then decide to leave the faith. For those of us who have been believers for a long time, we have almost certainly witnessed this first hand.

1 John 2:19 – They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

These are not real believers who fall away (John 10:27-30). But they appeared to be. From the outside they looked like real believers. Worldly ideas and influences turned them away, and could turn them away because they did not have an actual root. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit in their heart to protect them from these things.

To ensure we don’t fall away we should make sure that we are really saved!

Here is a list that we can use to do a spiritual checkup on ourselves:

7 Conditions that do not prove or disprove genuine saving faith:

  • Visible morality
  • Intellectual knowledge
  • Religious involvement
  • Active ministry
  • Conviction of sin
  • The feeling of assurance
  • A time of decision

9 conditions that prove genuine saving faith:

  • Love for God
  • Repentance from sin
  • Genuine humility
  • Devotion to God’s glory
  • Continual prayer
  • Selfless love
  • Separation from the world
  • Spiritual growth
  • Obedience

What is the most important question you will ever ask in your life? I think it is three simple words, “Am I saved?” The answer to this question will define where you spend eternity. So to ensure we don’t fall away we need to make sure we are really saved. And we must not deceive ourselves. Going to church every Sunday or singing in the choir do not guarantee our salvation or that we will not fall away.

When we see other people close to us, family, friends, or mentors, who fall away from God it is a sad thing. We must vigilant that we don’t drift from God. It normally happens step by step, not all at once. And we need to be alert to pray for and encourage other brothers and sisters as well.

3. Deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons – This verse makes it clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood. Satan and his minions are actively seeking to attack believers. Many different methods are used. There are many deceitful spirits in the world today. Media, movies, and popular culture teach many ideas that are contrary to God’s truth. Some of these include:

  • Look out for number one. You are most important.
  • Tolerance is the most important virtue. We must tolerate everyone’s views because there is no absolute truth.
  • Spend your life seeking after pleasure and money. These are the things that satisfy.
  • As long as you don’t hurt anyone, what you do is your own business and it doesn’t matter.

The list goes on and on. Anything that is contrary to God’s Word, could be considered a “doctrine of demons.”

4. Verse 2 – These teachers are called hypocrites. Statements that sound nice on the surface are in fact lies. Proponents of these ideas say that they want to help you, but in fact do not. It reminds us of Satan’s very first temptation to Eve. He pretended that he had her best interests at heart. And he made statements that sounded nice on the surface like “you will be like God.” But he was being deceitful, a hypocrite who was only trying to push forward his own evil plan against God.

Application: We must train ourselves to be discerning. Do not believe any statement or any speaker just because it sounds nice. As John says, “test the spirits.” Compare whatever you hear to Scripture like the Bereans in Acts 17:11. The more you build up your knowledge of Scripture, the easier it will be for you to see through these lies.

5. Men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods – Paul gives a couple of examples of doctrines that sound quite spiritual on the surface. Proponents of these talk about self-denial, committing yourself to God, and being religious. But these things are not what religion is about. People who add many rules to Scripture end up following a man-made religion, mere traditions. A person who follows so many traditions and rules becomes like a Pharisee, relying on his own piety to save him. He thinks that he is spiritual. He thinks that he is better than others because of what he has sacrificed for God.

But in reality, God does not ask everybody to make these sacrifices. Marriage is good and holy, designed and approved by God. Food is created by God for us to enjoy. He gave people permission even to eat meat.

The simple truth is this: following man made rules cannot bring us close to God. Instead it fosters pride and self-reliance.

Of course we can see such ideas prevalent in the world now. The Catholic church has prohibited marriage for nuns and priests. One need only read the news to see what kind of problems and scandals this has created. It attracts many people with unhealthy lifestyles into leadership positions in the church. It is unnatural and unhealthy and does not promote proper family values. Many other religions have similar prohibitions for monks or priests.

Question: Why is it beneficial for many church leaders to be married?

Certainly God does not require all people, or leaders, to get married. It is His will for some believers to remain single and dedicate themselves to a life of serving God. The problem is not when some people make this individual choice. It is when the church or certain teachers “forbid marriage.” They make it into a rule when it is a personal choice.

6. It is sanctified through the word of God and prayer – In other words, Paul is not espousing a loose, carefree style of living. He is not saying, “you can do whatever you want” or “anything goes.” He is saying, “You should have the right attitude and seek to glorify God in all decisions that you make.” Marriage, for example, is very serious. It can be very good and glorify God. It can serve as a picture of Christ and the church. It can be a great benefit for both sides. It can be God’s will for a believer.

But it is not always so. Marriages can also be quite harmful. If you get married to the wrong person, it is worse than not getting married at all. But if you examine the Word of God and pray, then you can make a wise decision about marriage, and have a relationship which will glorify God and edify you and your spouse.

Christians are not to make decisions “willy-nilly.” Instead we prayerfully look at Scripture and seek God’s guidance. When our motivation is pure and we genuinely are seeking the Lord, He will guide us.

Application: Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God!

7. Constantly nourish yourselves with sound doctrine – Feeding ourselves the Word of God is a lifelong necessity. You don’t eat once and its enough. You don’t even eat once a month or once a week and then stop. You need to constantly eat to give yourself energy and keep healthy. Spiritually is the same. Of course this should include daily quiet times of studying the Scriptures, but it is more than this as well. Here are a few ways to creatively nourish yourselves with the food from the Bible:

  • Memorize Scripture. You can make up a song to remember it better.
  • Listen to audio Bible. While you are doing chores in your house, you can play an audio Bible and the words will go into your mind and cycle there.
  • Make use of commute time by listening to Scripture.
  • Skip television one night a week (or more) and listen to a sermon instead.
  • Join mid-week Bible study.

The world constantly bombards us with unhealthy ideas and temptations. It is almost unavoidable. If you do not fight back against these streams of unhealthy input by taking in even more Scripture, then how can you win?

Application: Pick one new, creative way to nourish yourself with Scripture. Share it with the group and set a goal for yourself to do this before next week.

8. Avoid worldly fables – These could refer to superstitions or myths. Basically they are silly things which some people believe who don’t know any better. Paul mentions old women, apparently because they are more prone to believe such things. This is not a knock on old women. Each gender and age group faces its own specific temptations. And it is true that old women would likely be more susceptible to these kinds of things than a recent college graduate.

Question: Can you share an example of a worldly fable?

9. Discipline yourselves for the purpose of godliness – Leading a godly life requires spiritual discipline. You want to read the Bible every day? Not easy. You want to pray a certain amount of time before sleeping at night? Not easy. You want to memorize a book of the Bible? Doesn’t happen by itself. You want to read through some Christian books? You will be tempted to put them down and surf the internet instead. You want to be consistent to join prayer meeting, church, or Bible study. It is easier said than done.

The entire Christian life is a battle. And discipline is one of the most important elements for us. A lazy and undisciplined believer is not likely to grow or win battles against temptation. Our flesh is weak. Many times we will be tempted to take the easy way out and go to sleep or turn on the tube, instead of forcing ourselves engage in the more mentally taxing work of studying Scripture. The Bible is not extremely complicated to read or understand in most places. But it is certainly harder to read than your favorite novel series. The pages don’t turn themselves.

Physical discipline is also hard. Committing to exercise is challenging. But it has its reward. The reward is not nearly as great as spiritual discipline. If physical discipline is therefore valuable, how much more spiritual discipline!

Application: Name one area you want to improve in spiritual discipline this week. Knowing that your flesh is week and it is easy to give up, how can you help ensure that you will meet this goal?

Complete E-book Bible Study Guide – Download our complete study on 1 Timothy for convenient access on any device wherever you go.

Study 1 Timothy 4:9-16

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