What does 1 Timothy 4:5 mean?
ESV: for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
NIV: because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
NASB: for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
CSB: since it is sanctified by the word of God and by prayer.
NLT: For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.
KJV: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
NKJV: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
Verse Commentary:
Here, Paul repeats the main theme of the last two verses. Nothing God created is evil, in and of itself. Various false teachers, particularly those adhering to Gnosticism, were teaching that physical matter was sinful. As a result, these people discouraged both marriage and the eating of certain foods. Paul's response appeals to God's role as the Creator (1 Timothy 4:3–4). In fact, everything God created has some good purpose. Nothing given to us by God is meant to be rejected out-of-hand. Rather, we should be thankful for the opportunity to use His creation in a positive way.

Here, Paul extends this teaching even further. The physical creations of this world all have some positive use, but even more so, those things used in a thankful, prayerful, biblical way become "holy"! The food we eat, the materials we build with, the blessing of sexuality within a marriage—everything God gave us in this world can be more than just "good." It can be holy and used for His glory, when used as He intended.
Verse Context:
First Timothy 4:1–5 transitions Paul's letter towards a discussion of false teachings. In this passage, Paul is especially concerned with teachers who encourage a practice known as asceticism. This is the rejection of worldly comforts in an effort to become more spiritual. In Paul's day, groups such as the Gnostics taught that sexuality and food were physical, and therefore corrupted. On the contrary, as Paul explains, everything God created can be more than just ''good.'' It can actually be ''holy,'' when used as God intended.
Chapter Summary:
First Timothy 4 provides an important perspective in advance of Paul's upcoming instructions. After giving Timothy details on how to choose church leaders, and the proper conduct of church members, this chapter is mostly focused on Timothy's own personal spiritual choices. In particular, Paul instructs him to be diligent, faithful, and prepared. The stakes are high—both for Timothy and those he is called to lead. This chapter emphasizes the importance of good spiritual practice, which is key when considering Paul's advice in the passages both before and after these words.
Chapter Context:
First Timothy chapter 4 serves as a bridge from Paul's introduction into the later part of his letter. Prior chapters indicated the qualifications for church leaders, and some instructions on the proper way for church members to conduct themselves. Here, in chapter 4, Paul reminds Timothy not to be swayed by the false teachings of others. This combination of encouragement and warning sets the stage for the rest of Paul's message. The final two chapters will provide a means for Timothy to identify and avoid errors in his spiritual life.
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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