“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created 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.” (Reference: 1 Timothy 4:1-5 )
Let me first say that the writer of 1 Timothy is not prophetic in the way you would think – that is, he is not foreseeing things in our time, or even in the time of the historic Anabaptists. At least . . . that is what conventional thinking would say. I have to wonder though – was the writer of 1 Timothy seeing a time when the Catholic church would be narrow and strict?
That is what the historic Anabaptist took this as. The editors said of these verses, “These verses were cited often as biblical proof positive that clerical celibacy and legislated fasts were not from God.” Veit Geyenburger who escaped after six years’ imprisonment in Salzburg is said to have had conversation and debate with his accusers. The Martyrs Mirror, which is where much of these writings come from, reports, “Among other things the brother also said to them: “The Spirit says plainly what you are; for Paul writes: ‘That in the latter times some shall depart from the faith . . . forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving.’” 1 Tim. 4:1-3.”
Pieter van Olman (or van Werwijck) who was put to death at Ghent, Belgium in 1552 also had conversation and debate with his accusers. He is reported to have said, “I then said: “Your doctrine is the doctrine of the devil; for all that is done and observed, is contrary to the truth, as Paul says (1 Tim. 4:1, 3): That in the latter times some shall depart from the faith . . . Now I see that you teach this; for you forbid to marry, and command to abstain from meats.” Then they bade me go away.”
Who is to say then that the writer of 1 Timothy (and 2 Timothy also, in addition to other letters/epistles) did not have a vision of generations and eras to come? And should we find it coincidental that the same thing is happening around us now? That groups are forbidding certain people to marry, and that certain foods are to be avoided? Or is it more a function of human nature, that some people will always want to control the activities of life of others?
When each person should look to God for their own selves and align themselves to God’s guidance, is it inevitable that other people or groups will try to control what is done according to their own unGod-like agenda? The writer of 1 Timothy must have thought it would be so. And I would not dismiss his foresight. Would that we had the courage of Geyenburger or van Olman (van Wewijck) to stand up to the deceivers and liars who try to forbid what God has created and we receive with thanksgiving. Selah!