What does 1 Timothy 1:4 mean?
ESV: nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
NIV: or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God's work--which is by faith.
NASB: nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to useless speculation rather than advance the plan of God, which is by faith, so I urge you now.
CSB: or to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies. These promote empty speculations rather than God's plan, which operates by faith.
NLT: Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.
KJV: Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.
NKJV: nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has specifically asked Timothy to remain in Ephesus in order to combat inaccurate doctrines. Two serious problems with the false teachers in Ephesus are myths and genealogies.

In this context, "myths" are traditions not found in the Scriptures, which add to or contradict biblical teaching. Not all traditions are bad, but those which conflict with God's Word certainly are. Discussing these myths is one thing, but far worse is to be devoted to them.

The idea of genealogies connects with Pharisaical tradition. Jewish religious leaders prided themselves on having a family heritage connected to Abraham or some other important Jewish forefather. Genealogies are important in Scripture, but are not part of making a person more holy in the eyes of God. In Christ, Jews and Gentiles who believed became one family based on the work of Jesus rather than works of the law. This was why Paul could write he was, "a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (1 Timothy 2:7).

Peter had dealt with the controversy of Gentiles coming to faith in Christ much earlier (Acts 10). In Acts 15, approximately AD 50, the Jerusalem church and its leaders decided not to impose the Jewish laws upon Gentile Christians, urging them to follow a few areas of practice while acknowledging the importance of the Torah.
Verse Context:
First Timothy 1:3–11 explains the difference between a correct application of the law versus an ''illegal'' use of it. Paul's point is that the law is meant to make us aware of our sin, not to drive us into legalism. The false teachers of Ephesus are bickering over the law and missing the point. This is driven by their desire for prestige, even though they lack knowledge. Paul gives a list of sins parallel to the Ten Commandments showing how the law is meant to convict such people of sin as a means to explain the gospel of Christ.
Chapter Summary:
Paul introduces himself and emphasizes the positive relationship he has with Timothy. The specific mission Timothy has in Ephesus is to oppose false teaching. Some of the Ephesians have rejected the importance of conscience and attempt to teach without having the required knowledge. As a result, they bicker over pointless issues and misuse the law given by God. Paul recognizes his own need for forgiveness and salvation, and encourages Timothy with a reminder that they share a common savior.
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of 1 Timothy frames the situation Paul is concerned about. In particular, he is worried about the false teachers plaguing the Ephesian church. These men are misusing the law, teaching false doctrines, and rejecting the importance of a clear conscience. Paul points out his own past sins and need for forgiveness, however. By anchoring his arguments in truth and in humility, Paul sets up the importance of the letter's instructions. These are not merely suggestions, they are vital strategies Timothy needs to understand.
Book Summary:
First Timothy is one of Paul's three ''Pastoral Epistles.'' Paul's other letters, such as Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, are meant for a broader audience. First Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are written to specific people whom Paul is advising on how to best lead their local churches. These three letters present a close look at the form and function of church leadership. First Timothy, like 2 Timothy and Titus, is less formal and systematic, and more personal. This gives great insight into the way pastors, deacons, and elders ought to prioritize their time and energy.
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