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What does it mean that everything created by God is good (1 Timothy 4:4)?

everything created by God is good

The apostle Paul was Timothy’s pastoral mentor (1 Timothy 1:2). He wrote letters to Timothy to help guide him in ministry and, specifically, to deal with false teachers undermining the church in Ephesus. Paul’s emphasis in 1 Timothy 4 was maintaining the truth of God’s Word. False teachers were propagating a legalistic religious system that forbade marriage and forced people “to abstain from certain foods” to earn God’s approval (1 Timothy 4:3). Paul countered this false doctrine with the truth—that God created marriage, and food is “to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (verses 3–5).

The false teachers in Ephesus were blending Eastern asceticism with Jewish dietary laws, creating a works-based approach to righteousness. They believed that holiness could only be achieved through abstinence. Paul had confronted similar false teachings in Colossians 2:8–23 and Romans 14:13–23. His affirmation in 1 Timothy 4:4 that “everything created by God is good” takes readers back to the creation account in Genesis 1, where God saw His creative works and seven times declared them to be good. The word translated in 1 Timothy 4:4 as “good” (kalon in the original Greek) means “having desirable or positive qualities, especially those suitable for a specified thing.” This definition implies that everything created by God has a purpose or function and is beneficial for fulfilling the intent for which He designed it.

The false teachers asserted that a life of singleness—of abstinence from sex—was a more spiritual path than marriage. However, Paul endorsed marriage, informing Timothy that church leaders should cultivate a godly marriage (1 Timothy 3:2, 12). God Himself ordained marriage, saying, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18; see also Genesis 2:24). Jesus sanctioned marriage as part of God’s plan for humanity (Matthew 19:1–9), but He also considered singleness a gift and calling. Some people are gifted by God to remain single, while others are called to marry (Matthew 19:10–12; see also 1 Corinthians 7:7, 9; Jeremiah 16:2; 1 Timothy 5:11–14).

Paul also told Timothy, “Everything created by God is good,” to counter the false teacher’s insistence on rejecting or abstaining from certain foods. Paul taught the Corinthians, “It’s true that we can’t win God’s approval by what we eat. We don’t lose anything if we don’t eat it, and we don’t gain anything if we do” (1 Corinthians 8:8, NLT). He told the Romans, “I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat” (Romans 14:14, NLT). Jesus affirmed that “nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them” (Mark 7:18). What defiles a person is what is on the inside—the condition of a person’s heart.

Legalism contradicts the gospel and only deals with external matters. No one can be made holy or righteous in God’s sight through abstinence or by obeying manufactured rules and laws (Romans 3:20; 9:31–32; Galatians 3:10–11). Only the touch of God on a person’s heart can purify him and make him right with God (Psalm 51:1–10; Romans 10:10). Only through faith in Jesus Christ and the forgiveness and cleansing offered through the sacrifice of His body on the cross can we be made holy (John 17:19; Ephesians 5:25–27; Romans 3:28; Hebrews 13:12).

Along with many other gifts, God created sexual fulfillment within marriage, and He gives us food to enjoy (Song of Solomon 4:3–15; 1 Corinthians 7:4–5; Ecclesiastes 3:13). Scripture attests to these truths. God’s Word and our grateful prayers consecrate everything created by God as good and suitable for His purposes. We must not reject these things but receive “every good and perfect gift from above” (James 1:17) with thankfulness and prayer.

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What does it mean that everything created by God is good (1 Timothy 4:4)?
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This page last updated: May 6, 2024