John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 4:7 - 4:7

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 4:7 - 4:7

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7Exercise thyself to godliness (74) After having instructed him as to doctrine, what it ought to be, he now also admonishes him what kind of example he ought to give to others. He says, that he ought to be employed in “” for, when he says, Exercise thyself, he means that this is his proper occupation, his labor, his chief care. As if he had said, “ is no reason why you should weary yourself to no purpose about other matters; you will do that which is of the highest importance, if you devote yourself, with all your zeal, and with all your ability, to godliness alone.” By the word godliness, he means the spiritual worship of God which consists in purity of conscience; which is still more evident from what follows, when it is contrasted with bodily exercise.

(74) “ who wishes to be faithfully employed in the service of God must not only avoid, as Paul says, the lies and superstitions that tend to poison souls; but he must avoid profane fables, that is, subtleties that cannot edify, and that contain no instruction which is good for the salvation of souls. Here is a passage that well deserves to be considered; for we see that it was a part of the corruptions which came into the world, and which, even at the present day, prevail in Popery. True, there will be doctrines in the highest degree absurd, and errors most foolish and debasing. We know that idolatry is as gross and flagrant among them as it ever was among the heathens, that the whole worship of God is corrupted, and, in short, that there is nothing which is not spurious. Such errors ought to be held in abhorrence by us; but there is an evil which is still more concealed, and which is unknown to the common people. For although the doctrine of the Papists were not false as it really is, though it were not perverse; yet it is “” as Paul calls it here. And why? They have questions which they debate, about things in which there is no profit. Were a man to know all the questions that are debated in the schools of theology of Popery, there would be nothing but wind. Yet they give themselves the greatest trouble about these matters, and can never succeed; for they put forward questions that cannot be answered but by divination; and though a man should wish to search out the secrets of God, about which nothing is said in the Holy Scripture, does he not plunge into an abyss? Now the Papists have had that pride and audacity, to wish to inquire into those matters which ought to be unknown to us. And thus it was that God withdrew his truth, when the world so corrupted it.” — Fr. Ser.