1 Timothy 4:3
“They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.”
Explanation and Commentary of 1 Timothy 4:3
There were some elements of the Church in the first century that split off and ceased to be the Church. It’s hard to know the exact details. There were Judaizers who believed all the Gentile Christians should be converting to Judaism. There were the Gnostics who added all manner of mystical elements and denied major aspects of the true faith, and here Paul is talking about some who taught that people should not marry since Christ was presumably returning soon and that they should add a law of food restrictions.
But Paul, defender of the true faith, would not have any cheapening of the Gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ. We are saved by faith in Jesus and his work on the cross. The “work” that is required of us is only to believe, repent, and put our faith in his finished work. To add requirements such as these is to deny the Gospel and to fall out of step with it (Gal 2:14).
Both marriage and singleness are viable routes for the believer. Each man or woman must live as God leads. As for food, Peter’s experience in Joppa (Acts 10) shows that anything God has created can be eaten with thanksgiving. Ours is to “believe and know the truth,” and then to walk in freedom. In our current day, there is an obsession with diets, and many of them take the characteristics of a religion with their own creed, code, and cult following. We have to be careful not to add any religion to the Gospel. Jesus came that we would be set free from sin, but also from religion.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of 1 Timothy 4:3
#1 “They forbid people…”
Church leadership is a great and terrible honor and responsibility (Ja 3:1). Jesus told his disciples that they should serve, rather than lording over their own followers. Church leadership must point the way to Christ.
#2 “…to marry…”
Forced celibacy is an ill-conceived concept, and the elements of the Church that have adopted it have paid a high price for the error.
#3 “… and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received…”
God told Peter to call nothing unclean that he had made. The primary purpose was to make room for the Gentiles in the Church, but secondarily, he declared all foods clean (Acts 10).
#4 “…with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.”
If anything sanctifies our food, it is our thankfulness. Believing and knowing the truth clears the conscience to enjoy what God has given.
Bible Study on 1 Timothy 4:3
Expert Overview of 1 Timothy
Biblical Translations of 1 Timothy 4:3
They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth.
They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth.
Who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
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.
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.