by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5 Lincolnton, NC July 10, 2005
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 for it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.
Textual Notes:There are no textual differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in 4:4-5.
I. Paul's Sweeping Declaration.
A. "Every creature of God (is) good..." is not as broad as it seems.
1. It seems to have no qualifications.
2. But there is a built-in contextual qualification: "creatures used for food by people in the context of peoples' relationship with God".
a. Paul is not addressing whether some "creature" that is known to be poisonous to humans is "good for food".
b. Paul is addressing whether any creatures that are known to be eaten by people are not "good for food".
c. The larger issue is Paul's rejection of the notion that what a person eats has some bearing on his "spirituality".
B. "...nothing (is) to be refused..." actually identifies Paul's true interest.
1. There will always be a "reason" for "refusing" some form of food.
2. This context involves the demons' use of "refusing food" in their deception of men in the latter days.
3. The demons are not interested in "food"; they are interested in deceiving people into the mindset of "superiority". It is pride that God withstands; it is, therefore, pride that the demons wish to generate.
C. "...if it be received with thanksgiving" is instructive as a repetitive issue (first inserted into this discussion in 4:3).
1. Any time a theme is repeated twice in as many verses, we can be sure that it is there to be thoughtfully considered.
2. In the larger context, what is the implication of "thanksgiving" in respect to "deception"?
a. Thanksgiving, at its roots, is the fundamental responsibility of every "creature".
1) Romans 1:21 puts "thanksgiving" in direct contrast with "not glorifying God as God".
2) Romans 14:6 puts "thanksgiving" directly into the issue in 1 Timothy 4 -- "eating not and giving thanks" or "eating and giving thanks". It is the "giving of thanks" that makes the action "legitimate".
3) Colossians 3:17, in its very broad overview of the activities of the believer, makes two requirements: that we do things in the name of Jesus while giving thanks.
4) Luke 18:11 cautions us regarding the "giving of thanks" when it is used as a tool of self-exaltation (here "deception" and "thankgiving" are intertwined). 1 Corinthians 14:17 is also just such a cautionary text. Even the giving of thanks is evil if it proceeds forth from an arrogant heart.
b. Thanksgiving, as the fundamental responsibility of every creature, is fundamentally a true recognition of God's goodness and wisdom.
1) Romans 8:28 tells us of the absolute sovereignty of God over every circumstance of life so that every believer can be absolutely assured that every detail of experience is going to, in the final analysis, yield good for those who love God.
2) Given this fact, what is there where thanksgiving cannot abide?
a) This does not mean that we are to settle into a non-contradictory mode of behavior in respect to sin. We are to strive "lawfully" against sin and its inroads; but, having so given it our best shot under the Spirit, we are to retain such a high view of God's sovereign goodness in wisdom that we are thankful as a rule of life.
b) Even under rejection, Jesus gave thanks: Luke 10:21.
II. Paul's Justification.
A. The food is "sanctifiable".
B. The "sanctification" is through both the Word of God and Prayer.
1. Jesus, as the Ultimate Word, Himself declared foods clean.
2. In respect to "prayer", there is an echo here of 1 Timothy 2:1. The word involved is a rare word to the New Testament used only by Paul in this letter to Timothy. Its sense, as given by Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, seems to be more a matter of "an incidental occasion of conversation in which less than crucial issues are discussed". The point seems to be that we are to take all of our life-issues to God; not just the ones we are immersed in, but also the ones that only lightly touch us. Thus, the "sanctifying" prayer is not a "big deal", but it is a part of the process.