Bodily exercise profits little? (An explanation of 1 Timothy 4:8)

Bodily exercise profits little? (An explanation of 1 Timothy 4:8)

I Timothy 4:8 KJV
[8] For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

The conjunction “for” at the beginning of the sentence shows verse 8 cannot stand on its own. A discussion had started in the antecedents texts. Now, you must understand that the Scriptures were not written in chapters and verses originally. Chapters and verses were added by translators in the 14th century. The Geneva Bible in 1560 was the first to use chapters, verses and the italicization of words were added too. The contextual rule is one of the rules of Bible Hermeneutics. We shall be applying the same here.

We shall be paying close attention to the antecedents texts to understand Paul’s flow of thought in his letter to Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:1-8
[1]Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

The Spirit “speaking expressly” would be prophecy given by the Spirit to the Church. Prophecy carries edification, exhortation and comfort. (see 1 Cor. 14: 3)

In this prophecy, Paul warns that in the latter times some would “depart from THE FAITH giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

To “depart from the faith” does not imply a loss of salvation. “The faith” refers to an established set of doctrines, beliefs and practices held by a certain set of people (in context, believers in Christ). To “depart from the faith” is therefore DESCRIPTIVE . It means to give heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, to abandon sound doctrine. “Seducing spirits” in this context does not refer to clothes as many have taught. The seduction is done via words! Via teaching!

Jesus Christ was called a seducer. Certainly, this was not as a result of indecent dressing:

Matthew 27:63
[63]Saying, Sir, we remember that that DECEIVER SAID, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.

The word “deceiver” in this text is the same word Paul by the Spirit used in 1Timothy 4:1.

It is the Greek word “planos.” It means an imposter or misleader. The misleading is done via words!

That said!

Let us see verse 2

1 Timothy 4:2
[2]Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

This again describes how the seducing spirits works. They speak lies! This is done in HYPOCRISY! That is, the one speaking lies might even sandwich lies with some truth to make the one being deceived believe what they are saying! Their conscience is also seared with hot iron!

When someone’s conscience is seared with a hot iron he/she does not think of the aftermath effect of the one being deceived. The mind is made up to pervert the truth.

The phrase “seared with a hot iron” is translated from the Greek word “kautēriazō.” It means to render someone insensitive.

1 Timothy 4:3-4
[3]Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
[4]For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

This teaching also forbids folks from getting married.

The word “forbidding” here was translated from the Greek word “kōluō.” It means to suffer not, to forbid, to prevent.

Same word was used by Matthew in his Gospel account in Matthew 19:14.

Matthew 19:14
[14]But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and FORBID them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

And Mark also in

Mark 9:38-39
[38]And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we FORBAD him, because he followeth not us.
[39]But Jesus said, FORBID him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

Back to 1Timothy 4.

This seducers stop people from getting married. The even dictate what one should eat and what one should not eat!

That is strange!

All creatures were created by God and are good for eating. The all here must be in context!. Don’t eat what you don’t like. Paul was simply saying eat what works for you. God has no issue with that!

Paul admonishes Timothy to put the brethren in remembrance of what he has said so far.

1 Timothy 4:6
[6]If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

This would be done via TEACHING!

See verse 7 which would lead us to 8.

Pay attention to details here.

1 Timothy 4:7
[7]But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

The word “refuse” was translated from the Greek word “paraiteomai.” It means to shun, reject.

Paul was saying to Timothy; REJECT and SHUN profane and old wives’ fables!

The phrase “old wives” was translated from the Greek word “graōdēs.” It means something that is silly. It does not profit. It is irrelevant!

The word “fables” was translated from the Greek word “muthos.” It means a tale, that is, fiction( a myth)

The Apostle Paul used the word “muthos” 4 times in his letters. The word is found thrice in his letters to Timothy and once to Titus:

1 Timothy 1:4
[4]Neither give heed to FABLES and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

Some were giving heed to fables at Ephesus already.

1 Timothy 1:3
[3]As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

Those “fables” only minister questions! They don’t edify!

He calls those teachings “vain jangling”

1 Timothy 1:6
[6]From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;

They desire to teach the Law not having understanding of it!

1 Timothy 1:7
[7]Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

Paul used the word “muthos” (fables) in his second letter to Timothy.

2 Timothy 4:4
[4]And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto FABLES.

This ones have itching eyes. They want to also hear something deep and new. They do selective learning and listening.

2 Timothy 4:3
[3]For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

They don’t want to learn “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

In Titus 1:14 Paul also uses the word to another Pastor.

Titus 1:14
[14]Not giving heed to Jewish FABLES, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.

One Jewish fable is that the devil is God’s right hand man. They do things together. They believe God uses the devil to do His dirty jobs.

(Pastor Josh Banks explains this in his teaching “Theodicy” exhaustively!)

This is a Jewish fable!

Another Jewish fable is the believe that the Messiah would redeem them (Israel) from physical Government and oppression from the Romans. The Disciples even asked Jesus a question in that regard (see Acts 1:6).

From the evidences we have seen so far, it suffices to say profane and old wives’ fables are myths, commandments of men, and instructions of men that oppose sound doctrine. It also puts the recipients of the same in bondage!

Paul warned against this. He instructed the saints at Galatia to stand fast in liberty.

Galatians 5:1
[1] Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

In the b part of verse 7 (1 Timothy 4), the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy “to exercise himself unto godliness.”

The word “godliness” was used 10 times by Paul.

1Timothy – 8 times.
2Timothy – 1 time.
Titus – 1 time.

It was translated from the Greek word “eusebia.” It is a compound word derived from two other Greek words: (“eu”) (which means “well”) and “sebomai” (which means “to devout.”) So “eusebia” means to do that what is well; pleasing to God.

Let’s see how Paul used it.

1 Timothy 2:2
[2]For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all GODLINESS and honesty.

1 Timothy 3:16
[16]And without controversy great is the mystery of GODLINESS: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

1 Timothy 4:7-8
[7]But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto GODLINESS.
[8]For bodily exercise profiteth little: but GODLINESS is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

1 Timothy 6:3,6,11
[3]If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to GODLINESS;
[6]But GODLINESS with contentment is great gain.
[11]But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, GODLINESS, faith, love, patience, meekness.

Titus 1:1
[1]Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after GODLINESS;

So the Apostle Paul says Timothy is to exercise himself in the knowledge of God in Christ; in how he conducts his life.

Let’s see verse 8.

1 Timothy 4:8
[8]For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

The word “profiteth” was translated from the Greek word “ōphelimos.” It means “beneficial, useful.”

“Bodily exercise” (“sómatikos gumnasia” in the Greek) would be in reference to the practices and instructions which do not bless; those outward shows/exercises of holiness done with the body (in vs. 3). It is not sports nor gymnastics, but the Jewish fables, the commandments of men, the Law and its ordinances. They profited A LITTLE.

The word “little” was translated from the Greek word “oligos.” It means “of little use or insignificant benefit.”

So bodily exercises (religious acts of legalism done asides the Gospel) have insignificant benefit. They do not bring growth. They are merely activities without growth. The writer of Hebrews calls them “dead works” (see Hebrews 6:1).

“…But godliness profitable in all things.”

Godliness (the right way the Gospel prescribes to serve God) benefits a man in every respect; is useful to him in things temporal as well as spiritual, in his religious affairs and in all his relations and connections to the present world and that which is to come!

So contextually “bodily exercise” refers to wrong legalistic practices born out of false doctrines, instructions and commandments of men and fables made to take away the truth who is Christ.

Colossians 2:16-23 (NKJV)
16 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. 20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the COMMANDMENTS AND DOCTRINES OF MEN? 23 These things indeed have AN APPEARANCE OF WISDOM in self-imposed religion, false humility, and NEGLECT OF THE BODY, but are of NO VALUE against the indulgence of the flesh.

© Josh Banks Ministries. 2020


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