Understanding Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1 – Part 2

Preface

It will be hard for some (maybe many) to understand the point of view presented in this part series. As a reminder, I am sharing what I have understood from God’s point of view. As much as I have understood it, I share God’s point of view to the best of my ability. It is important to realize that over the course of multiple generations deception can set in progressively and subtly. We have a prime example of this in the Old Testament. Those in Israel progressively went astray over the course of multiple generations. They went so astray that even when God sent prophets to speak to them they could not hear God’s appeal to them. In earlier years of my life, it always seemed strange to me that the people of Old Testament Israel could go so far away from how God had instructed them. In truth, they had become blinded and deafened over time to God’s point of view across multiple generations.

I believe the same is true now.

Apostasy in the Church (Continued)

1 Now the Spirit explicitly says that in the last times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

1 Timothy 4:1 (LEB)

This verse is one of the key verses in the Bible that addresses “departing” or “falling away” from the faith. The religious term for this is apostasy. In the previous post, I have already covered some about these seducing/deceitful spirits and the teachings/doctrines of demons.

Answer for More “Open Questions”

I still had two “open questions” remaining.

  • the Spirit explicitly says – huh? where does the Spirit say anything about this the subject of this verse?
  • departing/falling away from the faith – what does this really look like from God’s point of view?

In this post, I will address the next question where the Spirit explicitly says

Huh? The Spirit Explicitly Says…

For me, this part of the verse about the Holy Spirit explicitly speaking was very curious to me. It had piqued my curiosity for a long time. I spent time thinking about all the logical possibilities this phrase could mean. I came down to two possibilities:

  • The Holy Spirit spoke directly to Paul or others near him about this matter and it was a revelation which is being referred to in this verse.
  • The other possibility is that this is recorded in the Old Testament in type, shadow, pattern or figure

This second possibility may not seem “logical”, but once you understand Paul and how he was able to write a large portion of the New Testament then it becomes logical. Paul understood things by revelation from God based in large part of his knowledge of the Old Testament. Here are two relevant passages to understand Paul’s approach to his writings and understanding what God has spoken.

1 And I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all to Moses were baptized in the cloud, and in the sea; 3 and all the same spiritual food did eat, 4 and all the same spiritual drink did drink, for they were drinking of a spiritual rock following them, and the rock was the Christ; 5 but in the most of them God was not well pleased, for they were strewn in the wilderness. 6 And those things became types of us, for our not passionately desiring evil things, as also these did desire.

1 Corinthians 10:1–6 (YLT)

(Note: I have used Young’s Literal Version here because it make it clear that the children of Israel were “types of us”. A literal version is a more direct translation from Greek to English. It is harder to read and the flow can be a bit clunky, but it is closer to the original language.)

In this passage, we see how Paul understood the children of Israel living out their deliverance from Egypt and wandering in the wilderness as “types” of us. He mapped children of Israel’s experience directly to the experience of a christian who received salvation, has been baptized, been fed spiritual food and drank spiritual drink.

  • Click here to read more about Types, Shadows, Patterns and Figures in the Bible

11 For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man that is in him? Thus also no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 things which we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.

1 Corinthians 2:11–13 (LEB)

In this passage, we see how Paul perceived the way that the “things of God” were to be understood by believers. They are not understood based on logical reasoning the same way that most people think of it in this day and age. They are understood “spiritually” by means of the Spirit of God. This is not an easy thing to explain. You have to have a relationship with God through building a conversation with God. You have to learn how to hear the voice of the God and to follow Him in your life. This is how you begin to perceive and understand “spiritual” things. It is not illogical. It just requires getting to know God for who He is and coming into direct contact with the Spirit of God in a direct relationship with Him.

The Confluence of Years of Various Studies

As I mentioned in the first part of this topic (Understanding Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1 – Part 1), I had a moment as I received the first few answers to my questions that felt like I had been in a dark room and someone suddenly turn on the light. Using this word picture, there were several things in the room to explore. Over the next few days and weeks more things dawned on me and dots connected with other things I had previously studied.

At one stage before I began to understand 1 Timothy 4:1, I had been very interested in 1 Corinthians 10 because it was pointing to the children of Israel while they wandered in the wilderness as “types of us”. They were Old Testament pictures of what we are like as believers in our “wilderness” journey with God. This led me down a tangential path of study where I decided to review every stage of the children of Israel’s journey through the wilderness from leaving Egypt to entering the Promised Land.

Children of Israel Wandering in the Wilderness (Going to the Promised Land)

I learned many things from this study including the fact that 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 is really just an analytical summary by Paul of the children of Israel’s journey in the wilderness so that he can communicate an exhortation to the readers not to repeat their mistakes.

Here are a few key facts I learned from this study:

  1. They had about 40 stops in their wilderness journey from leaving Egypt until they entered the Promised Land
  2. There was a repeated pattern in their problem situations (Note: these problems did not happen at every stop)
    • Some or many were tempted by their own desires (for food, for power, etc.)
    • God became upset with them and began to implement punishment for their wrong doing
    • Moses appeals to God on their behalf
    • God provided a way to evade the consequences of the punishment
    • All but one of these situations came from people who were part of the children of Israel
  3. They had some battles against foes and were victorious
  4. The last stop before entering the Promised Land had some unique characteristics
    • It involved an enemy, but there was no physical battle
    • It involved temptation, but not from people who were part of the children of Israel. The temptation came from someone on the outside of them (i.e. their enemy).

The Last Stop on Their Journey to the Promised Land

It was the last item, the last stop of the children of Israel before they entered the Promised Land that came back to my memory around the time I was beginning to understand this verse. I remembered the unique characteristics about the last stop and I remembered what happened. Here is a brief review of Old Testament scripture from Numbers 21-25 that portrays relevant context and what happened at the last stop.

Numbers 21:21-32
  1. Children of Israel move towards the Promised Land and encounter some enemies who come out to fight against them.
  2. Israel completely defeated both of these enemies.
Numbers 22:1-24:25
  1. Moab is the next territory that the children of Israel will go through to the Promised Land
  2. The children of Israel move to their last stop (Shittim) across the Jordan from Jericho
  3. Balak is the leader of Moab and knows Israel is coming and he is afraid of Israel
  4. Balak repeatedly seeks out a prophet of God, Balaam, for council on how to defeat Israel
  5. Balaam repeatedly tells Balak that he cannot curse Israel (i.e. Balaam cannot help Balak)
  6. Balaam and Balak depart ways and Balak does not have a strategy that will defeat Israel

This brings us to what happened at the last stop before the Promised Land.

1 When Israel dwelled in Shittim, the people began to prostitute themselves with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and worshiped their gods. 3 So Israel was joined together to Baal Peor, and Yahweh became angry with Israel.

Numbers 25:1–3 (LEB)

Please notice that this point in time is the “latter times” in the journey of the children of Israel heading for the Promised Land. Let’s remember the connection Paul makes between Church age christians and the Old Testament children of Israel. In 1 Corinthians 10:6, Paul says the Old Testament children of Israel are “types” of Church age christians. According to theologians, each “type” in the Old Testament needs to have a matching “anti-type” in the New Testament. In most cases, Biblical typology points at characters in the Old Testament whose “anti-type” in the New Testament is Jesus Christ.

  • Click here to read more about Types, Shadows, Patterns and Figures in the Bible

I will make a jump here in my presentation which some may not think is correct. Through years of study and interaction with God, I have come to believe that the children of Israel collectively in their journey through the wilderness are a foreshadowing of the Church in the New Testament age traveling through the course of time towards the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. I am specifically referring to a “foreshadowing” (not a Biblical type). Foreshadowing is not an exact science and the representation can be “shadowy”. I cannot prove this connection in a manner that will satisfy everyone. So, I will simply say that you should test what I am sharing to the best of your ability and also consider again what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2.

11 For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man that is in him? Thus also no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, in order that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 things which we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.

1 Corinthians 2:11–13 (LEB)

From the Daughters of Moab: Seduction, Immorality & Unhealthy Food

Number 25:1-3 we find Balak’s solution. As the enemy of God’s people, Balak understood from the council of Balaam that he could not defeat Israel. Instead he chose a different strategy. He seduced them. Here is the proof.

1 When Israel dwelled in Shittim, the people began to prostitute themselves with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and worshiped their gods. 3 So Israel was joined together to Baal Peor, and Yahweh became angry with Israel.

Numbers 25:1–3 (LEB)

These three verses in Numbers 25 are referenced in other places in the Bible in a way that makes it very clear that the daughters of Moab were the agents of Balak.

…teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat food sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality.

Revelation 2:14b (LEB)

5 O my people, remember what Balak the king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you might know the righteous acts of Yahweh.

Micah 6:5 (LEB)

The Spirit Does Expressly Speak

Once I remembered this in it’s context, I understood. The Spirit spoke expressly through the Old Testament scripture. Here are the key points/mapping that I believe represents the Holy Spirit’s express speaking.

1 Timothy 4:1Numbers 25:1-3Notes / Mapping
“Later / latter times”Last stop on the way to the Promised LandThis is how I understood the mapping from what Paul wrote and the Old Testament scripture.
“Departing from the (true) faith”“the people began to prostitute themselves”The people came into a intimate relationship with the wrong parties which was a departure from what God prescribed.
“devoting themselves to deceitful / seducing spirits”“prostitute themselves with the daughters of Moab. And they invited the people to the meat/sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and worshipped their gods.”This is an Old Testament picture of being devoted oneself to seducing spirits.
“deceitful / seducing spirits”“daughters of Moab”Revelation 2:14 makes it clear that king Balak placed a stumbling block before the Israelites which came through his agents (the daughters of Moab). The daughters of Moab were the agents of seduction. They were attractive to the Israelites.
adhering to “teachings / doctrines of demons”eating “meat/sacrifices of their gods” OR
eating meat/sacrifices to idols
*Read the next section to understand the connection between these items in 1 Timothy 4:1 and Numbers 25:1-3

Parallels of Doctrines of Demons with Meat Sacrificed to Idols

The equivalence between “adhering to the doctrines of demons” and “partaking of meat sacrificed to idols” is the most complex mapping (or equivalence) presented here. We have to back up and look at a larger picture related to “food” to make the connection and establish the Biblical validity of the connection. We have to consider how the Bible portrays some key things related to nourishment (food):

  • Physical food and spiritual food
  • Healthy partaking of food versus unhealthy partaking of food

If you want to know the details, please read on. If you are satisfied with a simpler explanation, then here it is. In the Bible, God parallels the physical partaking of the right kind of food with spiritual partaking of food. Spiritual food is for our spiritual nourishment and growth. There is healthy spiritual food and unhealthy spiritual food. Healthy spiritual food comes from God who gives it daily from heaven. We have to go out and gather it (“give us this day our daily bread”). Unhealthy spiritual food comes from another source than God. It can be offered from other spiritual sources (demons) on behalf of the Enemy of God. It can even be based on the Word of God, but it is delivered in a twisted (deceptive) form. If we partake of this spiritual food it can lead us astray from the “true” faith.

This healthy spiritual food is shown to be a partaking of the true spiritual food from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word (logos) of God become flesh. Jesus instructs the disciples to eat His flesh and drink His blood. We cannot fully understand this in our minds. It has to be received in faith and with the understanding that the partaking of the right kind of spiritual food we can grow and mature in the Lord. The key points are:

  • It comes from God and is requested on a daily basis. It is given freely by God to each who request it.
  • It can be offered by other sources that connect with our wants/interests to know more about God or to have special experiences of God that come from our desires and wants. God does not satisfy all of our desires and wants for knowledge or spiritual experience. He feeds us a healthy diet according to a good, good father’s point of view.

In summary, I do not speak from scientific logic and reason. I speak from experience, revelation and instruction from the Lord over the course of my life. I am not asking you to trust me. Each of us is instructed not to despise the speaking of truth, but to test it and keep that which is good. Test what I am saying. Talk directly to the Lord and ask Him to instruct you in this matter.

Now, for the details, I will walk through the Biblical foundations for what is shared here.

The Manna from Heaven and Jesus as the True Manna

First we need to see the connection between the physical food that God provided to the children of Israel and the equivalence to spiritual food that Jesus explains.

4 And Yahweh said to Moses, “Look, I am going to rain down for you bread from the heavens, and the people will go out and gather enough for the day on its day; in that way I will test them: Will they go according to my law or not?

Exodus 16:4 (LEB)

This was physical food which Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 10 also represented spiritual food for the Israelites. It is important to note that the word for law here is “torah” in the Hebrew which means God’s instruction holistically. It is not just a set of written rules to be applied apart from relating to Him.

3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.

6 Now these things happened as examples for us (literally, types of us), so that we should not be desirers of evil things, just as those also desired them,

1 Corinthians 10:3–4,6 (LEB)

In the New Testament, Jesus picks up and maps this forward into the New Testament/Church age.

31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ 32 Then Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, Moses did not give you bread from heaven, but my Father is giving you the true bread from heaven! 33 For the bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never be hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty again.

John 6:31–33, 35 (LEB)

This is the same spiritual food that Jesus calls the true bread from heaven. This brings us to one of the difficult passages in the Bible that must be understood to apply to spiritual realities.

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that someone may eat from it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats from this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

53 Then Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in yourselves! 54 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood resides in me and I in him.

John 6:48–51, 53-56 (LEB)

This was difficult for Jesus’ audience to digest 🙂 Without adding a lot more explanation, I believe the key to understanding this communication from Jesus as much as it is necessary is communicated at the beginning of the book of John.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

14 And the Word became flesh and took up residence among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1, 14 (LEB)

Partaking of Healthy Spiritual Food

We won’t be able to digest these passage much more with our scientifically oriented minds. We have to accept that Jesus is the true manna as He said. He is the true nourishment from heaven given to us by God our Father. He is the very Word of God become flesh. There is a partaking of Jesus that is represented by partaking of the Word of God that is healthy spiritual food in relationship to Him. This is not the same as a typical bible study you may have participated it. It is also not some strange mystical experience of the senses. It is a simple, straightforward intake of the Word of God as He serves it.

Personally, I have come to understand that partaking of the Word of God in real fellowship with Him is the partaking of Jesus that is described in these passages. I think it goes beyond a mental exercise. It is something of spiritual nourishment (food) that is sustenance to our spiritual beings. In this same part of John 6, Jesus indicates something along these lines.

63 The Spirit is the one who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.

John 6:63 (LEB)

In summary, we are just like the Israelites and the same instruction applies to us as did to them.

4 And Yahweh said to Moses, “Look, I am going to rain down for you bread from the heavens, and the people will go out and gather enough for the day on its day; in that way I will test them: Will they go according to my law or not?

Exodus 16:4 (LEB)

We need the daily manna/bread from heaven and we are to go out and gather it. So, when Jesus teaches us how to pray (Matthew 6:11 – Give us today our daily bread), He is talking about more than just physical food. It is both physical and spiritual food. He is referring to our responsibility to go out and gather the true daily manna/bread. It is not partaking of the Word of God apart from God. He serves (rains down the manna from Heaven) and we are to gather and partake. I believe the Lord’s prayer shows us that this partaking in a healthy way includes relating to God in the process. He serves it. We partake of what He serves.

Partaking of Unhealthy Spiritual Food

There is another kind of partaking of spiritual food. The Bible shows us this in type and picture in the Old Testament and it is spoken about in the new testament. When I speak about food, I am speaking, in part, about the knowledge of spiritual things as presented by spiritual communication. The Old Testament talks about “divination” which is the process of acquiring spiritual knowledge from sources beyond the physical, materialistic realm. It is acquiring knowledge through spiritual sources. Divination is classified as a sin, but it is important to know that we do receive true spiritual knowledge from God and this is not divination. Some of the instances of divination in the Old Testament included interaction with “mediums”. These are people who were practicing divination in an unhealthy fashion. Here are a few key “ingredients” of unhealthy spiritual food.

  • The source is wrong. The giver of the food is not God, but rather seducing spirits (i.e. demons).
    • Paul refers to part of this in 1 Corinthians 10:20-22. He does not address the seducing aspect, but that believers can come into participation of the worship of demons.
  • The substance is wrong. It may come from the Bible, but it is “twisted” in a subtle way which leads to unhealthy understanding and behavior (i.e. practices).
  • The process of “gathering the food” is wrong. It is sought out of a desire “to be like God knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5) and the gathering is not from the supply that God has given.

(Note: I would like to be clear. We can deceive ourselves in our own understanding without any bad sources. We can go astray in the same way. In this posting, I am focusing more on the unhealthy spiritual food/knowledge that comes from bad sources).

God freely gives spiritual knowledge to us (1 Cor 2:12), but He does not give ALL knowledge to us. He gives each of us what is healthy and good for our development. He gives it little by little, day by day. It is given as part of cultivating a relationship with Him. It is not given for us to “know good and evil” as the focus. Additionally, sometimes God “reveals” truths to us from the spiritual food He has been giving us little by little, day by day.

Alternatively, we can be desirous in our approach to gaining spiritual knowledge and experience which can position us to knowingly OR unknowingly seeking to grow spiritually. The Enemy of God knows that the end of his time is near and he cannot stop the progress towards the millennial reign of Christ. He has changed his strategy from trying to fight this progress. He is actively working with his demons to seduce christians away from the faith. For now, this strategy is working.

One More Answer about The Holy Spirit Predicting Apostasy

This left one last question.

  • departing/falling away from the faith – what does this really look like from God’s point of view?

In various ways, I have already addressed this issue in the first two posts of this series. However, there are a few fundamental items that are worth emphasizing to help understand:

  • A “true” faith that is being departed/fallen away from by believers in the latter times.
  • A form of faith that is not “true” and which Paul indicates believers can participate in which is unhealthy.

I believe it will surprise some to find out that departing from the faith can be very subtle.

I will continue to address the last question in my next post: Understanding Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1 – Part 3

Posted in A. Layman, Blog Entry

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