1 Timothy 4:11 - 5:4
little hope of that man’s being useful to save others, that
minds not his own salvation; and therefore the apostle puts them
in this order, "thyself," and then, "them that hear thee."
- Robert Traill, 1642-1716
The matter is a difficult one: a young man, appointed in
authority over those much older.
How does the Christian conduct himself in such
takes pains to reveal that to Timothy, in advice which has
remained pertinent ever since.
no one look down…
Prescribe and teach these things. Let no one look down on your
youthfulness, but rather
in speech, conduct, love, faith and
purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. Until I
come, give attention to the public
reading of Scripture, to
exhortation and teaching.
(1Ti 4:11-13 NASB)
Command and teach
(Most translations have the 11th verse read “Command
and Teach.”) Let us
begin by recognizing an important fact:
“command” and “teach” are simply examples of the use of
authority. To command is
to use the moral authority of God;
the wise minister does not use his own opinions for
command; rather, he uses the Word of God as his basis.
As such, when it is necessary to command, the glory goes
to God – and so should the words of complaint.
Therefore it is necessary that the one in command be
thoroughly prepared to show that what the Scripture commands is
what he is repeating.
Teaching, on the other hand, involves the use of true knowledge
as authority. We
take our doctor’s prescriptions seriously because we presume he
knows which medication to prescribe.
But there is one thing we may notice about teaching the
Word – if you don’t practice what you preach, no one listens.
Physician, heal thyself.
So it is that Paul now tells Timothy to both know the word and
be known for walking in it.
The interior of the matter is simply this.
If you live the devotional life – the life of prayer,
reading the Scriptures and meditating upon them – you will find
it to be thus:
It is exemplary – you become the example of what you want
your followers to be.
It is profitable – for the Lord rewards those who take him
It is also necessary, as you will not fool many for very
Let’s take a look at the “for instance” items given us here:
There is your speech.
Nothing is so telling as what a man says when he is upset.
People listen very carefully to a preacher’s temper.
The word Paul uses here is
Conduct, or behavior – people will watch a preacher’s
actions. Often this
is to the point of being on public display.
How many eyes would be interested in where Billy
Graham is right now?
Love – the word is
agape – is expected of the leaders of the church.
Faith: if the
preacher isn’t sure, how can he expect his listeners to be?
Purity: this word is
often translated “chastity” as well.
Any preacher who has a sweet young thing on the side
(and that is easy to do, these days) is not going to be
effective in pronouncing right and wrong.
These are the internal signs of a practicing Christian.
But there are external ones as well.
All this will lead to the external signs of one who carries the
authority of God.
Most translators make this public Scripture reading, given
the context. It
certainly would not be meant to deny private reading as
well. Public reading
makes sense; if your
authority is based upon what God says, you should honor His
Word in public.
If you’re going to read it, you should preach and teach it
too. The verb used
here for this is
paraklesis, meaning to come along side, as is spoken of
the Holy Spirit.
And there is teaching – we are to command and teach.
Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed
on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands
by the presbytery. Take pains with these things; be
absorbed in them, so that
your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to
yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as
you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for
those who hear you.
(1Ti 4:14-16 NASB)
Much commentary has been written about this passage, most of
which depends upon your view of spiritual gifts.
In what follows, we attempt to give the most general of
meaning to it. This
should not be interpreted as affirming or denying any particular
view. The Spirit
goes where He wills, and seeks no permission from me.
First, let us begin by acknowledging what such gifts are:
they are gifts from God.
As such, they carry with them the responsibility of using
them; otherwise, they will be considered rejected and then
withdrawn. These gifts are given by the Holy Spirit, which often
(as here) involves the miraculous – in Paul’s case, prophecy.
We are not sure what this particular gift was, but do
recall that teaching is one such.
One other thing:
this gift was transmitted by the laying on of hands.
The Spirit works through the church.
It is a symbolic confirmation that the church and the
Spirit agree in giving this gift.
(This is the source of the idea of Apostolic Succession).
The use of such a method is very old; we remember that
the High Priest laid his hands on the scapegoat so as to lay the
sins of the people upon it.
devoted – and it will show.
It is a fact: if you
are devoted to the Lord, it will show in every aspect of your
life. But what does
it mean to be “devoted?”
We might suggest these three items:
“Take pains” – go the extra mile.
As one co-worker put it to me once, “Ah, now this is
your “10” subject.”
Devotion is seen in the extra mile.
“Be absorbed” – let the world know that your first priority
is Jesus Christ. (And
the only way to let them know that is to make sure that He
is your first
Don’t show off about this.
You don’t need to.
It will show.
To everyone but a Baptist, this passage is quite clear.
Doing such things ensures your own salvation and that of
those who follow you.
The Baptist interpretation you must seek elsewhere.
The matter is relatively simple.
Do you remember the parable of the sower and the soils?
The seed that fell on rocky grounds died for lack of
persistence. So –
don’t rest on your laurels;
keep at it.
Pay close attention to what you are doing; don’t put it on
– keep up the good work you’ve started.
If you do, Satan cannot shake you, for you will be about
your Father’s business.
And those who are your listeners will know what a
blessing you are.
Leadership is best done from in front.
Dealing with Young and Old
Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but
rather appeal to
him as a father,
to the younger men as
brothers, the older women as mothers,
and the younger women as
sisters, in all purity. Honor widows who are widows indeed; but
if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first
learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to
make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the
sight of God.
(1Ti 5:1-4 NASB)
art of rebuke
The object of rebuke is a change in the rebuked.
Therefore, consider the wisdom of the approach Paul gives
It is done in
accordance with the customs of the times.
Older men were greatly honored then; therefore the
rebuke continued that honor, treating him as a father.
It is done in the
authority of Christ.
There are three people in that conversation.
It is done with
That way, no one second guesses your reason for speaking –
nor fears abuse of your authority.
We might suspect that rebuke delivered “man to man” would be
handled in a macho style.
There is no trace of that.
We are to rebuke the aged with respect (the word “appeal”
in the Greek is paraklesis
And for the younger men?
We are treat them as if they were our brothers.
Make it clear that your concern is for the salvation and
welfare of the one being rebuked.
Which, by the way, carries with it the idea that you may
have to pay a price to do this.
The world may be crying for blood while you are speaking
in the love of God.
Man to woman is similar, with one addition:
it must be absolutely clear that you have no hidden,
If the preacher is a man of devotion it is to be expected that
the congregation will follow that leadership.
We have here an example of such leadership.
It concerns the matter of widows (of which we will have
more to say in the next lesson).
We begin with a couple of observations which are more relevant
to their time than to ours.
This is an era where the church provides what we today would
categorize as welfare.
When Julian the Apostate took power, he complained
bitterly that the Christians not only took care of their own
poor – but the rest of society as well.
Taking care of widows was a high duty of the church.
As a result, there were those who would take advantage of
this duty. There were
women whose families should be taking care of them, so that
the church might focus on those who were really in need.
Now, think of the problem this gives to Timothy.
These widows, and their families, are going to be older
Timothy needs to exhort their families to care for them – and
that is going to cost them money.
That is a delicate task, given that the family could
always argue that old Mrs. So-and-So is in the church’s care;
why not our Aunt Priscilla?
But see how Paul would have Timothy handle it:
The man who brings God’s exhortation, in God’s method,
will achieve God’s results.
This exhortation comes from one who is known to be deeply
knowledgeable in the Scriptures, a man of deep and frequent
prayer. You might get
an argument from a lesser man.
Timothy needs only speak the truth to be believed.
They know he speaks what God commands.
This exhortation comes from one who speaks in meekness and
gentleness. Fire and
brimstone have no use here;
it is the quiet counsel out of site of the world.
This makes it much easier to accept.
This exhortation concerns what God has determined to be
acceptable. Those who
are slack in this will have no problem dealing with Timothy
– they will have a problem dealing with the Living God.