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1 Timothy 4:2

ESV through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,
NIV Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
NASB by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,
CSB through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.
NLT These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.
KJV Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

What does 1 Timothy 4:2 mean?

Paul's description of false teachers in Ephesus continues from verse 1. Here, he adds the idea that these dangerous voices are not entirely honest. He describes them using the Greek terms hypokrisei and pseudologōn. These are literally "hypocrites and liars." Upcoming verses will detail the restrictions they place on others. At least some of these are points which the false teachers themselves don't actually ascribe to (1 Timothy 1:7). A true "hypocrite" is not one who teaches something they fail to follow, but one who teaches something they don't really believe.

Paul's phrasing about the conscience comes from a single Greek word: kekaustēriasmenōn. This literally means "to be branded with a hot iron," and is often translated simply as "seared." One of the unfortunate side-effects of a deep burn is the destruction of nerves. A person whose body is branded frequently loses sensation in that spot. In the same way, it is possible for a person to be desensitized to their own sin (Ephesians 4:19).

This can become a dramatic moral numbness, as was the case in Nineveh (Jonah 4:11). In that case, God promised judgment, yet relented when the people repented. God offered the same to those in Paul and Timothy's time. In verse 16, Paul will encourage persistence in correct teaching, to avoid the disasters it invites (1 Timothy 4:16).
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