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1 Timothy 4:7

ESV Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;
NIV Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
NASB But stay away from worthless stories that are typical of old women. Rather, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;
CSB But have nothing to do with pointless and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness.
NLT Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.
KJV But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

What does 1 Timothy 4:7 mean?

Verse 6 commanded Timothy to prepare himself, and his church, to defend the truth against false teachings. Here, Paul continues to offer practical advice on how to do this most effectively. Paul has previously referred to "myths," as in 1 Timothy 1:4. These superstitions also include the Gnostic heresies mentioned in verses 1 through 5. There, Paul discussed those who condemned certain foods and marriage. These falsehoods are "irreverent," from the Greek term bebēlous, literally meaning "unholy or profane."

Not only are these errors spiritually false, they are ignorant. Paul calls them graōdeis, which literally means "old woman-ish." In the culture of that day, superstition and gossip were rampant. Today, we refer to a superstitious myth as an "old wives' tale," and this is a similar sense of what Paul is saying here. The claims about God which Timothy needs to avoid are "silly:" unreliable hearsay which does not honor God.

Timothy was told to instead focus his efforts on personal godliness. The phrasing used here specifically refers to teaching and instruction. This training was not simply for knowledge, but rather for godly living. This resembles the words of James 1:22, which commands, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." Learning is always meant to lead to action.
What is the Gospel?
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