I recently received a question about 1 Timothy 4:1-5, and I decided to make a video about this one, because I think it is one that many people are confused about.
This was the question I received. “Some people at my church say that 1 Timothy 4:1-5 is referring to Torah Keepers. How do you understand it?”
Lets start off by reading the verses in question to see what the Bible actually says,
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
I am not sure how people can twist the Scriptures so much that they will claim that teaching Torah is a doctrine of demons. Paul starts out by saying that they are, “giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”. Are the people at your church saying that the Torah of Yahweh is “doctrines of demons”? If so, they are claiming that Yahweh is a demon, since He is the one who gave us those commandments.
Do demons want us to obey the Torah? No! They want us to disobey and break the Laws and commandments of Yahweh.
Paul continues this line of thinking by saying that they are, “speaking lies in hypocrisy”. Is it hypocrisy to teach and obey the commandments in the Torah? No! Hypocrisy means that you teach one thing and do something else. One example of hypocrisy is when Christians teach that we need to keep the 10 Commandments, yet they do not keep the Sabbath. It is also hypocrisy to say that homosexuality is an abomination, if you claim that it is ok to eat pig and crab, because the Bible says those things are also an abomination.
Adding more emphasis to this, Paul says, these people have “their own conscience seared with a hot iron”. If your conscience is seared, that means you are no longer even letting your conscience direct your behavior. A seared conscience no longer convicts you of sin.
So, to review, Paul is basically saying that they are following demons who trick people into believing lies that cause hypocrisy, and their conscience is seared so they are not convicted about their own sins. Now, keep that in mind as we continue to read the rest of his argument.
He explains that they are, “forbidding to marry”. I don’t know if there were sects that forbid marriage in Paul’s day or not. It is very likely that this was the case. The only sect in the church today that I am aware of that forbids marriage is the Catholic church, which has pushed celibacy on the clergy since its foundation. Was Paul talking about this Catholic doctrine? Its hard to say for sure, but it does fit the description.
Paul also makes some interesting statements about food, saying that they are, “commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving”. Which foods did God create to be received with thanksgiving? I can assure you that Paul is not talking about pork and crab. In Leviticus 11, God gave us instructions about which animals were given for food, and which ones are not for food.
If you would like more details about what animals were created to be food, please see my video titled, “Should we eat pig?”, and if you would like to know if Yeshua declared all foods clean, please watch my teaching titled, “Did Jesus declare all foods clean in Mark 7”
Again, Paul is referring to the foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving. This means he is referring to the clean animals that God said are food. Paul is not talking about rat, dog, pig, or vulture, he is talking about the animals that God designed to be food.
Verses 4-5 can be confusing if you do not pay careful attention to what Paul is saying.
“For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
What animals are “sanctified by the word of God”? This is another reference to the clean animals that God set apart to be food. Sanctified means that it is set apart. If all animals are food, then none of them are set apart. The fact that he mentions that they are “sanctified by the word of God” means that he is acknowledging and referencing the animals that the Bible says are clean to eat.
Is pork “sanctified by the word of God”? No.
Is rat “sanctified by the word of God”? No.
Are crab and shrimp “sanctified by the word of God”? No.
Is cockroach “sanctified by the word of God”? No.
Those creatures were not created to be food. Those are scavengers and garbage collectors. Their bodies are full of toxins and parasites. Pig and rat are very similar in their diet and lifestyle. They both eat rotting garbage, sewage, dead things, and even their own young.
Likewise, crab, shrimp, and cockroaches are also very similar in their diet and lifestyle. They are all bottom feeders. They scavenge and eat scum and rotting things. Shrimp are basically the cockroaches of the ocean.
God did not intend these creatures to be eaten by humans. They are wonderful creatures, and serve a great purpose in keeping the earth clean, but they are not sanctified by the word of God to be food.
Therefore, Paul is not telling us to violate the commandments in the Torah. He is telling us to eat the things that God created for food, and receive them with thanksgiving, because they have been sanctified by the word of God.
So, why would some people refuse to eat certain things? Paul is addressing a situation where people are rejecting food that God says is clean. We know that in other places, Paul addresses the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols. We also know that Jews refused to eat food that was prepared by Gentiles. Is it possible that Paul might have been speaking to one of those issues here as well? Maybe.
It is unclear exactly what issue Paul is addressing here, but the things that he says make it very clear that he is not telling us to eat unclean things.
Now, lets do a quick review and summary.
- Is the Torah of Yahweh a “doctrine of demons”? – No! And if you say it is, then you are accusing Yahweh of being a demon. It is actually a doctrine of demons to teach that the Law is abolished, because demons don’t want us to obey the Law.
- Are the commandment of Yahweh “lies and hypocrisy”? – No! It only becomes hypocrisy when you tell people to obey some of them but not all of them. Satan is called the “father of lies”, and he does not want us to obey Yahweh’s commandments. He will tell all sorts of lies to get people to commit hypocrisy. 1 John 2:4 says, “He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” If we claim to know God, but do not keep His commandments, then we are liars and hypocrites.
- Are all animals sanctified by the word of God to be food? – No! To be sanctified means to be set apart. If all animals are food, then none of them are set apart.