4:1 the Spirit speaketh. All of Paul’s canonical epistles were subconsciously being guarded and guided by the Holy Spirit, but certain truths could not be obtained by ordinary study, research and experience. These special truths required express revelation by the Holy Spirit.
4:1 depart from the faith. The “latter times” are evidently not exactly the same as “the last days” (e.g., II Timothy 3:1), although both referred to a time yet future from when Paul was writing. Possibly it suggests a longer period than the last days, and many Protestant expositors have applied the prophecy to the church of the Middle Ages, when the clergy were forbidden to marry and all members were commanded to abstain from meats on certain days (I Timothy 4:3). It seems, however, that the terms as prophesied apply more generally than these specific restrictions suggest. See note on I Timothy 4:3.
4:1 doctrines of devils. “Devils” should read “demons.” These deceiving spirits, serving their prince, the Devil, are the invisible forces behind the latter-day departure from the faith. Their ultimate aim is to bring men and women to follow Lucifer, or Satan, but they must do this by devious, rather than open, means.