1 Timothy 4:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Timothy 4:3, NIV: 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.

1 Timothy 4:3, ESV: who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

1 Timothy 4:3, KJV: 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.

1 Timothy 4:3, NASB: who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.

1 Timothy 4:3, NLT: 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.

1 Timothy 4:3, CSB: They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods that God created to be received with gratitude by those who believe and know the truth.

What does 1 Timothy 4:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul mentions two specific points in which the false teachers of his day were mistaken. These are both consistent with the heresy of Gnosticism. Gnostics believe that all physical matter is evil; therefore, the human body, all forms of sexuality, and pleasant food were labelled as evil. As a result, the Gnostics rejected marriage and taught people not to eat certain foods.

While Paul was unmarried (1 Corinthians 9:5–6), Christianity has never prohibited marriage. Nor has it upheld celibacy as a "holier" approach than married sexuality. This ascetic practice was a false teaching arising from those at Ephesus who held to early versions of Gnostic teachings (Colossians 2:20–23).

A focus on Jewish law would have promoted kosher dietary restrictions upon Gentile Christians, even though the early church had rejected this (Acts 15). According to Paul, the physical things God created for our benefit should not be rejected. Paul's reference here is not to the early church, but goes all the way back to God's creation in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. No food is to be rejected out-of-hand (1 Timothy 4:4), but should be embraced with a grateful attitude. The ability to thank God for good things, instead of rejecting them, is credited to those with correct understanding of God's Word and His will.