Forbidding to marry - These hypocritical priests pretending that a single life was much more favorable to devotion, and to the perfection of the Christian life. This sentiment was held by the Essenes, a religious sect among the Jews; and we know that it is a favourite opinion among the Romanists, who oblige all their clergy to live a single life by a vow of continency.
To abstain from meats - Both among the heathens, Jews, and Romanists, certain meats were prohibited; Some always, others at particular times. This the apostle informs us was directly contrary to the original design of God; and says that those who know the truth, know this.
Forbidding to marry - That is, “They will depart from the faith through the hypocritical teaching - of those who forbid to marry;” see notes on 1 Timothy 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 commanding to abstain from meats, - The word “meat” in the Scriptures, commonly denotes “food” of all kinds; Matthew 3:4; Matthew 6:25; Matthew 10:10; Matthew 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, Matthew 9:10; Matthew 13:9; Romans 14:15, Romans 14:20; 1 Corinthians 8:8, 1 Corinthians 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.
Which God hath 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 Ecclesiastes 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.