In the Bible, there are several references to teachings of demons, which are described as false or deceitful teachings that lead people away from the truth of God. For example, in 1 Timothy 4:1, the Apostle Paul warns that “the Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
These teachings of demons are often associated with false doctrine, idolatry, and the worship of false gods. They can also refer to any teaching or belief that is contrary to the teachings of the Bible and the truth of God. In that sense, the teachings of demons are considered dangerous and harmful as they lead people away from the truth and salvation in Jesus Christ.
Christians are called to be discerning, to test the spirits and teachings they come across, and to hold fast to the truth of God’s word. In 1 John 4:1, it says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
In summary, the teachings of demons refer to false and deceitful teachings that are contrary to the truth of the Bible and lead people away from the faith. Christians are called to be discerning and to test the spirits and teachings they come across in order to hold fast to the truth of God’s word.
1 Timothy 4:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
But the Spirit – Evidently the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of inspiration. It is not quite certain, from this passage, whether the apostle means to say that this was a revelation “then” made to him, or whether it was a well-understood thing as taught by the Holy Spirit. He himself elsewhere refers to this same prophecy, and John also more than once mentions it; compare 2 Thess. 2 …; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 20:1-15. From 2 Thess. 2:5, it would seem that this was a truth which had before been communicated to the apostle Paul and that he had dwelt on it when he preached the gospel in Thessalonica. There is no improbability, however, in the supposition that so important a subject was communicated directly by the Holy Spirit to others of the apostles.
Explicitly says – In express words, ῥητῶς rētōs. It was not by mere hints, and symbols, and shadowy images of the future; it was in an open and plain manner – in so many words. The object of this statement seems to be to call the attention of Timothy to it in an emphatic manner and to show the importance of attending to it.
That in the later times – Under the last dispensation, during which the affairs of the world would close. It does not mean that this would occur “just before” the end of the world, but that it would take place during “that last dispensation,” and that the end of the world would not happen until this should take place; see 2 Thess. 2:3.
Some will fall away from the faith – The Greek word here – ἀποστήσονται apostēsontai – is that from which we have derived the word “apostatize,” and would be properly so rendered here. The meaning is, that they would “apostatize” from the belief of the truths of the gospel. It does not mean that, as individuals, they would have been true Christians; but that there would be a departure from the great doctrines which constitute the Christian faith. The ways in which they would do this are immediately specified, showing what the apostle meant here by departing from the faith. They would give heed to seducing spirits, to the doctrines of devils, etc. The use of the word “some,” here τινες tines – does not imply that the number would be small. The meaning is, that “certain persons” would thus depart, or that “there would be” an apostasy of the kind here mentioned, in the last days. From the parallel passage in 2 Thess. 2:3, it would seem that this was to be an extensive apostasy.
Paying attention to deceitful spirits – Rather than to the Spirit of God. It would be a part of their system to yield to those spirits that led astray. The spirits here referred to are any that cause to err, and the most obvious and natural construction is to refer it to the agency of fallen spirits. Though it “may” apply to false teachers, yet, if so, it is rather to them as under the influence of evil spirits. This may be applied, so far as the phraseology is concerned, to “any” false teaching, but it is evident that the apostle had a specific apostasy in view – some great “system” that would greatly corrupt the Christian faith; and the words here should be interpreted with reference to that. It is true that people in all ages are prone to give heed to seducing spirits; but the thing referred to here is some grand apostasy, in which the characteristics would be manifested, and the doctrines held, which the apostle proceeds immediately to specify; compare 1 John 4:1.
And doctrines of demons – Greek, “Teachings of demons – διδασκαλίαις δαιμωνίων didaskaliais daimōniōn. This may either mean teachings “respecting” demons, or teachings “by” demons. The particular sense must be determined by the connection. The ambiguity of this kind in the construction of words, where one is in the genitive case, is not uncommon; compare John 15:9-10; 21:15. Instances of the construction where the genitive denotes the “object,” and should be translated “concerning,” occur in Matt. 9:25; “The gospel of the kingdom,” i. e., concerning the kingdom; Matt. 10:1; “Power of unclean spirits,” i. e., over or concerning unclean spirits; so, also, Acts 4:9; Rom. 16:15; 2 Cor. 1:5; Eph. 3:1; Rev. 2:13. Instances of construction where the genitive denotes the “agent,” occur in the following places: Luke 1:69, “A horn of salvation,” i. e., a horn which produces or causes salvation; John 6:28; Rom. 3:22; 2 Cor. 4:10; Eph. 4:18; Col. 2:11. Whether the phrase here means that, in the apostasy, they would give heed to doctrines “respecting” demons, or to doctrines which demons “taught,” cannot, it seems to me, be determined with certainty. If the previous phrase, however, means that they would embrace doctrines taught by evil spirits, it can hardly be supposed that the apostle would immediately repeat the same idea in another form; and then the sense would be, that one characteristic of the time referred to would be the prevalent teaching “respecting” demons. They would “give heed to,” or embrace, some special views respecting demons. The word here rendered “devils” is δαιμονία daimonia – “demons.” This word, among the Greeks, denoted the following things:
(1) A god or goddess, spoken of the pagan gods; compare in the New Testament, Acts 17:18.
(2) A divine being, where no particular one was specified, the agent or author of good or evil fortune; of death, fate, etc. In this sense it is often used in Homer.
(3) The souls of people of the golden age, which dwelt unobserved upon the earth to regard the actions of men, and to defend them – tutelary divinities, or geniuses – like that which Socrates regarded as his constant attendant.
(4) To this may be added the common use in the New Testament, where the word denotes a demon in the Jewish sense – a bad spirit, subject to Satan, and under his control; one of the host of fallen angels – commonly, but not very properly rendered “devil” or “devils.” These spirits were supposed to wander in desolate places, Matt. 12:43; compare Isa. 13:21; 34:14; or they dwell in the air, Eph. 2:2. They were regarded as hostile to mankind, John 8:44; as able to utter pagan oracles, Acts 16:17; as lurking in the idols of the pagan, 1 Cor. 10:20; Rev. 9:20. They are spoken of as the authors of evil, James 2:19; compare Eph. 6:12, and as having the power of taking “possession” of a person, of producing diseases, or of causing mania, as in the case of the demoniacs, Luke 4:33; 8:27; Matt. 17:18; Mark 7:29-30; and often elsewhere. The doctrine, therefore, which the apostle predicted would prevail, might, “so far as the word used is concerned,” be either of the following:
(1) Accordance with the prevalent notions of the pagan respecting false gods; or a falling into idolatry similar to that taught in the Grecian mythology. It can hardly be supposed, however, that he designed to say that the common notions of the pagan would prevail in the Christian church, or that the worship of the pagan gods “as such” would be set up there.
(2) An accordance with the Jewish views respecting demoniacal possessions and the power of exorcising them. If this view should extensively prevail in the Christian church, it would be in accordance with the language of the prediction.
(3) Accordance with the prevalent pagan notions respecting the departed spirits of the good and the great, who was exalted to the rank of demi-gods, and who, though invisible, were supposed still to exert an important influence in favor of mankind. To these beings, the pagan rendered extraordinary homage. They regarded them as demi-gods. They supposed that they took a deep interest in human affairs. They invoked their aid. They set apart days in honor of them. They offered sacrifices and performed rites and ceremonies to propitiate their favor. They were regarded as a sort of mediators or intercessors between man and the superior divinities. If these things are found anywhere in the Christian church, they may be regarded as a fulfillment of this prediction, for they were not of a nature to be foreseen by any human sagacity. Now it so happens, that they are in fact found in the Papal communion, and in a way that corresponds fairly to the meaning of the phrase, as it would have been understood in the time of the apostle.
There is, “first,” the worship of the virgin and of the saints, or the extraordinary honors rendered to them – corresponding almost entirely with the reverence paid by the pagan to the spirits of heroes or to demi-gods. The saints are supposed to have extraordinary power with God, and their aid is implored as intercessors. The virgin Mary is invoked as “the mother of God,” and as having power still to command her Son. The Papists do not, indeed, offer the same homage to the saints which they do to God, but they ask their aid; they offer prayer to them. The following extracts from the catechism of Dr. James Butler, approved and recommended by Dr. Kenrick, “Bishop of Philadelphia,” expresses the general views of Roman Catholics on this subject. “Question: How do Catholics distinguish between the honor they give to God and the honor they give to the saints when they pray to God and the saints?
Answer: Of God alone, they beg grace and mercy, and of the saints, they only ask the assistance of their prayers? Question Is it lawful to recommend ourselves to the saints and ask their prayers. Answer: Yes; as it is lawful and a very pious practice to ask the prayers of our fellow-creatures on earth, and to pray for them.” In the “Prayer to be said before mass,” the following language occurs: “In union with the holy church and its minister, and invoking the blessed virgin Mary, Mother of God, and all the angels and saints, we now offer the adorable sacrifice of the mass,” etc. In the General Confession, it is said – “I confess to Almighty God, to the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the saints, that I have sinned exceedingly.” So also, the council of Trent declared, Sess. 25, “Concerning the invocation of the saints,” “that it is good and useful to supplicate them, and to fly to their prayers, power, and aid; but that they who deny that the saints are to be invoked, or who assert that they do not pray for people, or that their invocation of them is idolatry, hold an impious opinion. See also Peter Den’s Moral Theology, translated by the Rev. John F. Berg, pp. 342-356. “Secondly,” in the Papal communion the doctrine of “exorcism” is still held – implying a belief that evil spirits or demons have power over the human frame – a doctrine which comes fairly under the meaning of the phrase here – “the doctrine respecting demons.”
Thus, in Dr. Butler’s Catechism: “Question: What do you mean by exorcism? Answer: The rites and prayers instituted by the church for the casting out devils, or restraining them from hurting persons, disquieting places, or abusing any of God’s creatures to our harm. Question: Has Christ given his church any such power over devils? Answer: Yes, he has; see Matt. 10:1; Mark 3:15; Luke 9:1. And that this power was not to die with the apostles, nor to cease after the apostolic age, we learn from the perpetual practice of the church and the experience of all ages.” The characteristic here referred to by the apostle, therefore, is one that applies precisely to the Roman Catholic communion, and cannot be applied with the same fitness to any other association calling itself Christian on earth. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the Holy Spirit designed to designate that apostate church.
1 Timothy 4:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 by means of the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, whose conscience is seared as with a branding iron,
By means of the hypocrisy – ἐν ὑποκρισει ψευδολόγων en hupokrisei pseudologōn. Or rather, “by, or through the hypocrisy of those speaking lies. So it is rendered by Whitby, Benson, Macknight, and others. Our translators have rendered it as if the word translated “speaking lies” – ψευδολόγων pseudologōn – referred to “demons,” or, “devils,” δαιμονίων daimoniōn – in the previous verse. But there are two objections to this. One is, that then, as Koppe observes, the words would have been inverted – ψευδολόγων ἐν ὑποκρίσει pseudologōn en hupokrisei. The other is, that if that construction is adopted, it must be carried through the sentence, and then all the phrases “speaking lies,” “having their conscience seared,” “forbidding to marry,” etc., must be referred to demons. The preposition ἐν en, “in” may denote “by” or “through,” and is often so used.
If this be the true construction, then it will mean that those who departed from the faith did it “by” or “through” the hypocritical teachings of those who spoke lies, or who knew that they were inculcating falsehoods; of those whose conscience was seared; of those who forbade to marry, etc. The meaning then will be, “In the last days certain persons will depart from the faith of the gospel. This apostasy will essentially consist in their giving heed to spirits that lead to error, and in embracing corrupt and erroneous views on demonology, or in reference to invisible beings between us and God. This they will do through the hypocritical teaching of those who inculcate falsehood; whose consciences are seared,” etc. The series of characteristics, therefore, which follow, are those of the “teachers,” not of “the taught;” of the ministers of the church, not of the great body of the people.
The apostle meant to say that this grand apostasy would occur under the influence of a hypocritical, hardened, and arbitrary ministry, teaching their own doctrines instead of the divine commands, and forbidding that which God had declared to be lawful. In the clause before us – “speaking lies in hypocrisy” – two things are implied, “first,” that the characteristic of those referred to would be that they would “speak lies;” “second,” that this would be done “hypocritically.” In regard to the first, there can be no doubt among Protestants of its applicability to the papal communion. The entire series of doctrines respecting the authority of the Pope, purgatory, the mass, the invocation of the saints, the veneration of relics, the seven sacraments, the authority of tradition, the doctrine of merit, etc., is regarded as false. Indeed, the system could not be better characterized than by saying that it is a system “speaking lies.” The entire scheme attempts to palm falsehood upon the world, in the place of the simple teaching of the New Testament. The only question is whether this is done “in hypocrisy” or hypocritically. In regard to this, it is not necessary to maintain that there is “no” sincerity among the ministers of that communion or that “all” are hypocritical in their belief and their teaching. The sense is that this is the general characteristic or that this is understood by the leaders or prime movers in that apostasy. In regard to the applicability of this to the ministers of the Papal communion, and the question of whether they teach what they know to be false, we may observe:
(1) That many of them are men of eminent learning, and there can he no reason to doubt that they Know that many of the Catholic legends are false, and many of the doctrines of their faith contrary to the Bible.
(2) Not a few of the things in that communion must be known by them to be false, though not known to be so by the people. Such are all the pretended miracles performed by the relics of the saints; the liquefying of the blood of Januarius, etc.; see the notes on 2Th_2:9. As the working of these tricks depends wholly on the priesthood, they must know that they are “speaking lies in hypocrisy.”
(3) The matter of fact seems to be, that when young men who have been trained in the Catholic Church, first turn their attention to the ministry, they are sincere. They have not yet been made acquainted with the “mysteries of iniquity” in the communion in which they have been trained, and they do not suspect the deceptions that are practiced there. When they pass through their course of study, however, and become acquainted with the arts and devices on which the fabric rests, and with the scandalous lives of many of the clergy, they are shocked to find how corrupt and false the whole system is. But they are now committed. They have devoted their lives to this profession. They are trained now to this system of imposture, and they must continue to practice and perpetuate the fraud, or abandon the church, and subject themselves to all the civil and ecclesiastical disabilities which would now follow if they were to leave and reveal all its frauds and impostures. A gentleman of high authority, and who has had as good an opportunity as any man living to make accurate and extensive observations, stated to me, that this was a common thing in regard to the Catholic clergy in France and Italy. No one can reasonably doubt that the great body of that clergy “must” be apprized that much that is relied on for the support of the system is mere legend, and that the miracles which are pretended to be performed are mere trick and imposture.
Whose conscience is seared as with a branding iron – The allusion here is doubtless to the effect of applying a hot iron to the skin. The cauterized part becomes rigid and hard, and is dead to sensibility. So with the conscience of those referred to. It has the same relation to a conscience that is sensitive and quick in its decisions, that a cauterized part of the body has to a thin, delicate, and sensitive skin. Such a conscience exists in a mind that will practice delusion without concern; that will carry on a vast system of fraud without wincing; that will incarcerate, scourge, or burn the innocent without compassion; and that will practice gross enormities, and indulge in sensual gratifications under the mask of piety. While there are many eminent exceptions to an application of this to the Papal communion, yet this description will apply better to the Roman priesthood in the time of Luther – and in many other periods of the world – than to any other “body of men” that ever lived.
1 Timothy 4:3 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 men who forbid marriage and command to abstain from foods that God created to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who have faith and accurately know the truth.
Men who forbid marriage – That is, “They will depart from the faith through the hypocritical teaching – of those who forbid to marry;” see notes on 1 Tim. 4:2. This does not necessarily mean that they would prohibit marriage altogether, but that it would be a characteristic of their teaching that marriage would “be forbidden,” whether of one class of persons or many. They would “commend” and “enjoin” celibacy and virginity. They would regard such a state, for certain persons, as more holy than the married condition, and would consider it as “so” holy that they would absolutely prohibit those who wished to be most holy from entering into the relation. It is needless to say how accurately this applies to the views of the papacy in regard to the comparative purity and advantages of a state of celibacy, and to their absolute prohibition of the marriage of the clergy. The tenth article of the decree of the Council of Trent, in relation to marriage, will show the general view of the papacy on that subject. “Whosoever shall say that the married state is to be preferred to a state of virginity, or celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or celibacy, than to be joined in marriage; let him be accursed!” Compare Peter Dens’ Moral Theology, pp. 497-500.
And command to abstain from foods that – The word “meat” in the Scriptures, commonly denotes “food” of all kinds; Matt. 3:4; 6:25; 10:10; 15:37. This was the meaning of the word when the translation of the Bible was made. It is now used by us, almost exclusively, to denote animal food. The word here used – βρῶμα brōma – means, properly, whatever is eaten, and may refer to animal flesh, fish, fruit, or vegetables. It is often, however, in the New Testament, employed particularly to denote the flesh of animals; Heb, Matt. 9:10; 13:9; Rom. 14:15, 14:20; 1 Cor. 8:8; 8:13. As it was animal food particularly which was forbidden under the Jewish code, and as the questions on this subject among Christians would relate to the same kinds of prohibition, it is probable that the word has the same limited signification here, and should be taken as meaning the same thing that the word “meat” does with us.
To forbid the use of certain meats, is here described as one of the characteristics of those who would instruct the church in the time of the great apostasy. It is not necessary to suppose that there would be an “entire” prohibition, but only a prohibition of certain kinds, and at certain seasons. That “this” characteristic is found in the papacy more than anywhere else in the Christian world, it is needless to prove. The following questions and answers from Dr. Butler’s Catechism, will show what is the sentiment of Roman Catholics on this subject. “Question: Are there any other commandments besides the Ten Commandments of God? Answer: There are the commandments or precepts of the church, which are chiefly six. Question: What are we obliged to do by the second commandment of the church? Answer: To give part of the year to fast and abstinence. Question: What do you mean by fast-days? Answer: Certain days on which we are allowed but one meal, and “forbidden flesh meat.”
Question: What do you mean by days of abstinence? Answer: Certain days on which we are forbidden to eat flesh meat; but are allowed the usual number of meals. Question: Is it strictly forbidden by the church to eat flesh meat on days of abstinence? Answer: Yes; and to eat flesh meat on any day on which it is forbidden, without necessity and leave of the church, is very sinful.” Could there be a more impressive and striking commentary on what the apostle says here, that “in the latter days some would depart from the faith, under the hypocritical teaching of those who commanded to abstain from meats?” The authority claimed by the papacy to issue “commands” on this subject, may be seen still further by the following extract from the same catechism, showing the gracious permission of the church to the “faithful.” “The abstinence on Saturday is dispensed with, for the faithful throughout the United States, for the space of ten years (from 1833), except when a fast falls on a Saturday. The use of flesh meat is allowed at present by dispensation in the diocess of Philadelphia, on all the Sundays of Lent, except Palm Sunday, and once a day on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday in each week, except the Thursday after Ash Wednesday, and also excepting Holy-week.” Such is the Roman Catholic religion! See also Peter Dens’ Moral Theology, pp. 321-330. It is true that what is said here “might” apply to the Essenes, as Koppe supposes, or to the Judaizing teachers, but it applies more appropriately and fully to the Papal communion than to any other body of men professing Christianity and taken in connection with the other characteristics of the apostasy, there can be no doubt that the reference is to that.
That God created – The articles of food which he has made, and which he has designed for the nourishment of man. The fact that God had “created” them was proof that they were not to be regarded as evil, and that it was not to be considered as a religious duty to abstain from them. All that “God” has made is good in its place, and what is adapted to be food for man is not to be refused or forbidden; compare Eccles. 5:18. There can be no doubt that in the apostasy here referred to, those things would be forbidden, not because they were injurious or hurtful in their nature, but because it might be made a part of a system of religion of self-righteousness and because there might be connected with such a prohibition the belief of special merit.
1 Timothy 4:4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving;
For everything created by God is good – Greek, “all the creatures, or all that God has created” – πᾶν κτίσμα pan ktisma: that is, as he made it; compare Gen. 1:10, Gen. 1:12, Gen. 1:18, Gen. 1:31. It does not mean that every moral agent remains good as long as he is “a creature of God,” but moral agents, human beings and angels, were good as they were made at first; Gen. 1:31. Nor does it mean that all that God has made is good “for every object to which it can be applied.” It is good in its place; good for the purpose for which he made it. But it should not be inferred that a thing which is poisonous in its nature is good for food, “because” it is a creation of God. It is good only in its place, and for the ends for which he intended it. Nor should it be inferred that what God has made is necessarily good “after” it has been perverted by man. As God made it originally, it might have been used without injury.
Apples and peaches were made good, and are still useful and proper as articles of food; rye and Indian-corn are good and are admirably adapted to the support of man and beast, but it does not follow that all that “man” can make of them is necessarily good. He extracts from them a poisonous liquid, and then says that “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused.” But is this a fair use of this passage of Scripture? True, they “are” good – they “are” to be received with gratitude as he made them, and as applied to the uses for which he designed them; but why apply this passage to prove that a deleterious beverage, which “man” has extracted from what God has made, is good also, and good for all the purposes to which it can be applied? As “God” made these things, they are good. As man perverts them, it is no longer proper to call them the “creation of God,” and they may be injurious in the highest degree. This passage, therefore, should not be adduced to vindicate the use of intoxicating drinks. As employed by the apostle, it had no such reference, nor does it contain any “principle” which can properly receive any such application.
And nothing is to be rejected – Nothing that God has made, for the purposes for which he designed it. The necessity of the case the “exigency of the passage” – requires this interpretation. It “cannot” mean that we are not to refuse poison if offered in our food, or that we are never to refuse food that is to us injurious or offensive; nor can it anymore mean that we are to receive “all” that may be offered to us as a beverage. The sense is, that as God made it, and for the purposes for which he designed it, it is not to be held to be evil; or, which is the same thing, it is not to be prohibited as if there were merit in abstaining from it. It is not to be regarded as a religious duty to abstain from food which God has appointed for the support of man.
If it is received with thanksgiving – “we must eat with thanksgiving what God has created. Paul did not refer to a general spirit of gratitude but to the expression of that gratitude in table blessings (notice this practice in Jesus’ life [Mark 6:41; 8:6]). His words suggest that a thankless heart can transform even good food into unacceptable food.” Knute writes, “This statement extends beyond diet, creating a context for understanding life and godliness. The touch of God purifies. In him there is no darkness at all. Everything that comes from God is good. In addition, prayer and Scripture go along with thanksgiving. By these a transformation takes place as a believer acknowledges God as the source of all that is good.”
1 Timothy 4:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
For it is sanctified by means of the word of God – By the authority or permission of God. It would be profane or unholy if he had forbidden it; it is made holy or proper for our use by his permission, and no command of “man” can make it unholy or improper; compare Gen. 1:29; Gen. 9:3.
And prayer – If it is partaken of with prayer. By prayer, we are enabled to receive it with gratitude, and everything that we eat or drink may thus be made a means of grace.
by Albert Barnes
 Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 131.
 Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 204–205.
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