“Tactics for Life and Ministry from First Timothy”

 

A Bible Study of 1 Timothy

 

Tactical Preparations for Latter Days Life and Ministry - 1 Timothy 4

 

In His Olivet Discourse on Latter Days End Times events the one thing Jesus emphasized and repented throughout His message was "Take heed that no one deceives you" (cf. Matthew 24:3-5, 23-25; Mark 13:5-6, 22-23; Luke 21:8-9, 34-36). According to Jesus the latter times leading up to His return are going to be filled with a spirit of deception.

 

Paul frequently spoke of the "latter times." He exhorted the Roman church to wake up out of any lethargy they had allowed themselves to slip into (Romans 13:11-14). He told the Corinthians that everyone would face judgment and Christians would stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9-11). Paul also warned the Corinthians to beware of being deceived by the devil into departing "from the simplicity that is in Christ" and lured into following "another Jesus whom we have not preached, a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted" (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). In his letter to the Thessalonians, which was composed of young Christians only a month old in the Lord, he ended each chapter with an exhortation to be ready and watchful for the End Times (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19-20; 3:12-13; 4:16-18; 5:23-24). In his second letter to the relatively young in the Lord Thessalonians he is inspired to write about the circumstances of the Tribulation. Paul had the latter times and return of Jesus and culmination of all things on his mind and in his heart. That sense of the return of Jesus and latter times was from the Lord and a part of what made Paul great and able to endure great hardship.

 

James exhorted his readers to "be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord" (James 5:7-8). The Apostle Peter wrote of the End Times and that there would be those who are skeptical of prophecy (2 Peter 3:1-18). The Apostle John said "it is the last hour" and "Antichrist is coming" (1 John 2:18). He warned there would be a spirit of antichrist and deception in the latter days and we would have to rely on the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:18-23; and 4:1-6). He warned against being deceived by false teachers and antichrist spirited people (2 John 7).

 

John also was inspired to write the most detailed book of the Bible on the End Times, Revelation. In Revelation John is inspired to record letters from Jesus to churches which include Jesus' words to the compromising Pergamos church, the corrupt Thyatira church, the dead Sardis church and the lukewarm Laodicean church. All of these shortcomings in the churches are linked to being deceived and diverted from God's truth in some way. About 27% of the Bible speaks of prophecy. A large proportion of this prophetic material speaks of the latter times and a large part of the material on the latter times warns against being deceived.

 

A lot more could be referenced to show the emphasis on preparing for the latter days by particularly guarding against being deceived. Suffice it to say that when Paul writes to his young protégé Pastor Timothy it's not surprising he includes chapter dealing with preparation for the "latter times" by stating "Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith." Throughout the New Testament unbelievers are warned to get right with God by repenting of their sin and receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord by faith. Believers are exhorted to walk in the Spirit by faith growing in their relationship with Jesus and becoming better prepared for His return. This is especially important for a shepherd of the hope of Jesus to be well schooled in.

 

This fourth chapter of 1 Timothy can be divided into three parts: The Expressed Conditions of the Latter Days - 4:1-5; The Exercise  Priority for Latter Days - 4:6-11; and The Effective Example for the Latter Days. Let's dig in.

 

The Expressed Conditions of the Latter Days

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

The word of God is always relevant. It has something to say to every generation. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will be no means pass away" (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). Keep in mind that while God used human instruments to write out His word, He is the Author of His Word. And God as Author is eternal; unlimited by time. Therefore it is said of God's word, "Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89). And when we look at passages such as we find in 1 Timothy we can be sure that it holds great relevance and value for us because when we look at what Jesus and His word says about the latter times we see that the predicted conditions of the latter days and the conditions of our days are very similar. We may be living in the latter days. Personally, I believe we are! What are the conditions of the latter times? Let's dissect and investigate what Paul says and see how it relates to us.

Now the Spirit expressly says

What Paul is about to share with Timothy (and us through the inspired word) is not something he concocted or dreamed up, it is something the Spirit "expressly" says. "Expressly" (Greek rhetos) is a word that means specifically, clearly, explicitly. It's as though Paul begins by saying, "Now the Spirit specifically, clearly, explicitly says this; there is no doubt about it." What Paul is about to share is not something based on speculation or human thinking alone. What Paul is going to state is from the Holy Spirit; from the heart of God.

These opening words of Paul also depict for us the nature of the inspiration of the New Testament. Paul wasn't offering his own human opinions, he was simply passing on what the Holy Spirit expressly and clearly said to Him as an inspired instrument of God. The Holy Spirit breathed these words into and through Paul to the pages of the Bible (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Because of this we should pay close attention and apply all that is said in God's word.

that in latter times some will depart from the faith,

"Latter times" refers to the times leading up to the culmination of earthly existence as we know it, the return of Jesus, establishment of His kingdom on earth and eventual transition to life in eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth (cf. Revelation 20-22).

The words "will depart from" (Greek apostesontai from aphistemi) means cause to revolt, mislead, lead away, withdraw from, abstain from, depart, desert, fall away. [1] This is a word that speaks of apostasy of a willful move away from and rejection of "the faith." This is something people will choose to do.

"The faith" refers to that which has been taught by Paul and all of the inspired New Testament writers (Hebrews 10:17). Generally, "the faith" would consist of the "doctrine" or teaching Paul has already mentioned to Timothy (1:3; 3:10). He will contrast such "doctrine" with the "doctrine of demons he mentions later in this verse.

But particularly "The faith" points to this scriptural teaching as it reveals the way to a faith relationship with God. It implies holding to the Gospel of God's gracious provision in Jesus Christ. It implies accepting this gospel by faith. And it implies an ongoing continuing life of faith with God through the Spirit as long as one is alive or until Christ's return. This is summed up in Paul's words, "For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:17).

No doubt in the latter times there will be a rebellion against and rejection of the truth of God's word. That is exactly what we see today as parts of the body of Christ either shy away from or outright reject stated truth of God's word that they feel is intolerant, offensive or out of sync with the trends and "likes" of the world. The world's mantra of tolerance and inclusion at the expense of truth and righteousness is being adopted into what is called the church today. However, as we saw at the end of the previous chapter the church as defined and as accepted by God as His church needs to be "the pillar and ground of truth" (1 Timothy 3:15). When the church departs from "the faith" it ceases to be His church.


giving heed to deceiving spirits

"Giving heed to" (Greek prosecho) describes an ongoing (Present tense verb) paying attention to, following, devotion to, interest in something. To give heed to something implies a change in attention. It implies a change of focus. It implies a change of devotion. Here it means people turn away from their devotion to "the faith" and instead devote themselves to "deceiving spirits."

"Deceiving" spirits (Greek planos) are spiritual entities that are misleading, imposters, counterfeits, deceiving. The nature of the devil is to deceive and lie until he can get people to die (John 8:43-44). The "spirits" (Greek pneumaasin) are entities from a spiritual dimension. Pneuma simply means breath or wind. Context determines whether or not pneuma refers to the Holy Spirit or spirits/demons. This chapter begins with a reference to "the Spirit" or Holy Spirit. The article to (i.e. The) indicates we are referring to the Holy Spirit. But "deceiving spirits" is referring to demonic entities; agents of the devil.

These "spirits" are unseen to us. They are able to influence people from their unseen advantageous position. Stealth is always an advantage in war. From their hidden condition they are able to whisper evil sinful thoughts and ideas to people and introduce as well as induce people to ungodly paths. The unsaved are totally vulnerable to such deceptions and attacks. The person who lives in sin and is uncommitted to Jesus, the unsaved, are under the influence of Satan and his demons (Eph. 2:1-4) who works to keep them blinded and in the dark separated from the truth of God and His salvation (2 Cor. 4:4). But the child of God indwelled by the Holy Spirit is able to discern the deceptions of the demonic by the exposing work of the Spirit in them. The Holy Spirit helps the believer to discern deception. This is the anointing of knowing spoken of by John (cf. 1 John 2:20, 26-27).

and doctrines of demons,

"Doctrines" (Greek didaskalia) are simply teachings or instructions. People will decide to turn away from "the faith" and in so doing they will actually be turning to teachings authored and supported by "demons." Whatever teaching you believe in needs to be based on God's Holy Word. Whenever we venture outside the parameters of God's word we make ourselves vulnerable to "doctrines of demons." Remember, demons, like their leader Satan, are by nature deceivers. What they use to lure people away from "the faith" may appear logical, reasonable, even truthful, but fit very well could be the first step in departing from the faith and truth of God. Beware!

"Demons" (Greek daimonion) is an interesting word. One commentary states of it:

            The etymology of this word is uncertain; possibly daiomai, “rip, split, tear apart”    underlies it. In Greek philosophy daimon would then be “one who devours,” that is, the   spirit of death that separates the body from the soul. Whatever the case, the term conveys     the same animistic views characteristic of heathen religion everywhere: the spirits of the          dead are able to “possess” or “take over” human or animal bodies.[2]

Demonic sources of doctrines are aimed at ripping up people spiritually. They want to tear people apart from God and His truth. They want to devour people. These demonic teachings are similar to that which has been seen throughout history in pagan religions. Such religious practices are characterized by immorality and debauchery and darkness of varying degrees. Anything and everything that can oppose and serve as an alternative to God's truth are the ambition of the doctrines of demons.

speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron,

"Speaking lies" (Greek pseudologos) means they speak lies, speak untruth or half-truths. These are people who willfully speak things they know are not true. "Hypocrisy" (Greek hupokrisis) is pretense, insincerity, or hypocrisy. A hypocrite is someone who says one thing but does not themselves follow it in practice. They teach people to do things that they themselves aren't willing or committed to do (e.g. Matthew 23; Romans 2).

The "conscience" (Greek suneidesis) is the place of knowledge of right and wrong. The conscience of those teaching lies in hypocrisy are "seared with a hot iron" (Greek kauteridzo) refers to the branding, searing, burning that desensitizes and deadens the nerves. In other words, the people teaching lies in hypocrisy have no problem and think there's nothing wrong with whether or not what they teach is a lie or something they themselves don't live out. Those who are given over to demonic doctrinal teaching have no regrets or any misgivings about doing so. They are likely just out to make a profit off of those they are deceiving. They themselves have taken on the nature of the demons whose doctrines they teach.

forbidding to marry,

Marriage and the connected family will be particular targets of the doctrines of demons. We see this today with the acceptance of same-sex marriage. Some may think this is an acceptance of marriage not a forbidding of marriage. Some might say it is the Christian who wants to forbid marriage to those of same-sex unions. But the reality is that as the definition of marriage is broadened beyond God's definition to accept unions other than between one man and one woman and beyond, to define marriage to accept any and all (which is the direction the world is going) is to in reality dissipate and degrade marriage to nothingness.

Satan and his demons want to destroy the covenant of marriage because it is a picture of the relationship of Christ to the church (Ephesians 5:21-33). If they can desecrate marriage so that such a holy picture is dismissed as irrelevant they will have deadened the world a little bit more to the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.

Family flows out of marriage; or at least it should. In our world today we marriage has frequently become an afterthought to cohabitation and starting a family. The cart is now normally put before the horse. So in desecrating the covenant of marriage Satan is in reality disrupting and destroying family. Family is essential to the order and structure of society. Without family societal chaos results. And chaos and anarchy is exactly the environment best suited for the devil and his minions.

and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

Diets, dietary restrictions against certain foods are a part of the latter days deception. A short viewing of  television and surfing the web reveals a preoccupation with foods, diets, infomercials about food, diets, tools to prepare foods and a proliferation of food related products. It would appear the world is consumed with food more than consuming food. It would appear food has taken the place of the eternal importance of "the faith."

Some might argue that processed foods are a creation of humanity and a departure from "foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving." And there is significant truth in that. Some who hold to vegetarianism do so because of the way beefs and chickens are filled with steroids and other processed nutritional additives. And there is truth in that as well. I would only caution that here Paul says, "nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving." Those who are strict with their diet should not look down on those who are not and vice versa. Diet and what we do and do not eat can become a great time consuming and expensive distraction. Such views can become obsessions that divert our attention from "the faith." Watch out for this.

Paul says the important thing is to receive your food and be thankful to God for it. Then he substantiates this statement by saying, "for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." One commentary explains, "The "word of God" is 'divinely inspired utterance' and primarily refers to the Scriptures. Genesis 1:31 states that everything God made "was very good." Genesis 9:3 points out that God has given mankind both meat and plant life for sustenance."[3] When we eat we should express our thanks to God for what is set before us and eat on with a thankful heart. Let your Spirit guided conscience be your guide (cf. Romans 14).

The Exercise Priority for Latter Days

If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.

Paul points out the end product that Timothy can look forward to, the purpose and reason he should follow Paul's advice. "If you instruct the brethren in these things," Timothy will fulfill his mission of being "a good minister of Jesus Christ." "Instruct" (Greek hupotithemi) means literally laying before, to make known, to place under one's feet as a foundation.  

What Paul has shared with Timothy is foundational and should be laid before "the brethren" he oversees. The product or spiritual fruit of laying out these foundational words to his flock is twofold. First, "the brethren" will be "nourished in the words of faith and of good doctrine which you have carefully followed." This is a ministry objective and would glorify God in the spiritual fruitfulness that would be produced in those Timothy instructed. Secondly, by laying these foundational teachings before the brethren "you [Timothy] will be a good minister of Jesus Christ."  This is the standard for those seeking to be "a good minister of Jesus Christ." This is a healthy exhortation from Paul that all of us should take to heart in our day. If Pastors or servants of the Lord want to be "a good minister of Jesus Christ" then what the Spirit has shared through Paul in the preceding five verses should be passed on to the flock of God.

To summarize the delectable meal cooked by "a good minister of Jesus Christ" that will spiritually nourish his flock, such a meal will include:

1.      A warning and reminder that the Spirit says in the latter times some will willfully depart from "the faith" (4:1a).

2.      A warning and reminder that the Spirit says we need to stick with "the faith" which is revealed in the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

3.      A warning and reminder that that the Spirit says in the latter times some will willfully give heed to the doctrines of demons pushed by deceiving spirits (4:1b)

4.      A warning and reminder that the Spirit says to watch out for those who lie not basing their teaching on God's word (4:2a).

5.      A warning and reminder that the Spirit says to watch out for hypocrites who teach one thing but live another and think nothing of their inconsistencies (4:2b).

6.      A warning and reminder that the Spirit says to watch out for efforts to undermine marriage and the family (4:3a).

7.      A warning and reminder that the Spirit says to beware being more concerned with the kind of physical food you eat than being thankful for having food to eat (4:3b-5).

But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.

There are things we need to "reject" if we are to be prepared for the latter days. "Reject" (Greek paraiteomai) means to reject, refuse, avoid. The things we are to reject and avoid are "profane" (Greek bebelos) or worldly rooted, common, things unsanctified by being based on God's word. Paul also speaks of "old wives fables" ("fables" - Greek muthos) or stories, myths, legends, fictitious things not based on God's word. Such "fables" were concocted by "old wives" who sat around doing nothing but coming up with stories based on their own imaginations rather than God's word. There are a lot of theories about the end times floating around on the internet and various discussion circles in the world. It's easy to get caught up in them. Some are worth our attention. Others are not. We need to be discerning. We need to "exercise yourself toward godliness."

"Exercise" (Greek gumnadzo) means to exercise, train, do that which prepares one to compete. We get the English word gymnasium from this Greek word. The history of this word is:

            This verb is related to the term gumnos (1125), “naked,” or “not covered.” It is used in      secular Greek literature to refer to an athlete training in the nude, as was done in the         Greek games, and to refer to training in general. New Testament usage is both positive          and negative in connotation, referring to those who by continual practice had trained    themselves to a particular way of life (1 Timothy 4:7; Hebrews 5:14; 12:11; 2 Peter             2:14).[4]

Rather than getting caught up in unscriptural sound ficticious legends and myths we should train ourselves "toward godliness" (Greek pros eusebian) or toward the things that make you more godly in your character and more mindful and closer to God. Rather than getting caught up in ungodly empty and fictitious prefabrications we should seek to train ourselves to walk closer with God.

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

There is benefit to physical bodily exercise, BUT IT SHOULD NEVER BE A PRIORITY OVER ANYTHING YOU MIGHT DO TO CULTIVATE YOUR WALK WITH GOD. This is so important in our age of self benefit. Our world and some in the church are consumed and addicted to the way they look and feel. Nearly every other commercial on television and online are in some way related to a person's physical condition. And if you are going to maintain a healthy physical condition it does require a certain amount of regular working out or exercise.

Physical exercise is beneficial because physical health, mental health and spiritual health are all related. If you are sick physically it is going to affect your thinking and may hinder your stamina to train spiritually, e.g. to fear and study God's word and pray and serve Him. But there is something very wrong and out of kilter for the one who can get up at sunrise to run or workout and train but has little to no time to meet with God and study His word and pray. That situation is one where priorities are out of alignment with Paul's stated scriptural priorities in this verse. Beware of this! It is very easy to be lured away from exercises to godliness by physical exercise.

As far as Paul is concerned bodily exercise profits "a little" (Greek oligos) or a short time, a small amount, a little bit. Exercising toward godliness on the other hand is "is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." A healthy godliness is "profitable" (Greek ophelimos) is useful, and beneficial "for all things." When you are healthy in a godly way there is a trickledown effect in every area of your life. If you are godly you will feel better physically, think better psychologically and be strong spiritually for whatever comes your way. Plus being in good godly health prepares you for eternal life with the Lord. You may have pumped up Pecs and bulging biceps now, you may have strong thighs and can squat press 400 pounds now, but when you meet Jesus will you know Him, will you be familiar and excited to build on your relationship with Him?

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.

The statement that physical exercise is worth a little where healthy godliness has eternal worth is a "faithful saying" (Greek pistos) or saying that is full of faith, reliable, credible, trustworthy, dripping and oozing with faith saying. It's a statement that is "worthy" (Greek axios) or fit, deserving, good and worthy of  "all acceptance" (Greek apodoche) or is good and approved for everyone. In other words that training to be godly is more beneficial than merely training for physical health is a sure fire trustworthy and reliable truth. You can count on it.

10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 11 These things command and teach.

Paul punctuates his statement on how to exercise to prepare for the latter times by refer to his own example of how he and Timothy live their lives. He says "we both" which draws Timothy next to him as though he were putting his arm around the shoulder of Timothy as he says these words. They both "labor" (Greek kopiao) or continuously (Present tense verb) labor, become weary, work hard, fatigue, work to exhaustion pointing out to people and emphasizing the need to train up to be godly in preparation for the times that lay ahead. Paul and Timothy are the ultimate spiritual trainers who work to exhaustion to help people be in good godly health.

But more than their exertion to train Paul and Timothy "suffer reproach" for what they do. "Suffer" (Greek agonidzomai) means agonize, contend, strive and this they did continually (due to the Present Tense verbal form). "Reproach" (Greek oneidizo) means scold, reproach , revile and this they did continually (due to the Present Tense verbal form). These trainers seeking to help people to be more godly and grow in their faith strained to the max and did so while being continually scolded, reviled and reproached for their efforts. Paul said it was agonizing labor.

How was Paul and Timothy able to sustain such arduous labor? How could they stay the course in spite of such opposition? How could they keep training and training others to godliness? Paul's simple yet profound basis and sustaining truth was, "because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." They trusted in Jesus. The word "trust" (Greek elpikamen from elpidzo) means hope for, trust in, expect. It is faith for the future; faith for a good outcome. They loved the "living God." God was alive for them. They weren't a part of a dead religion or dead religious system. They had a relationship with a living God who was always there for them. They lived for Jesus. They knew Jesus and wanted to make Him known. It was the faith found in the faith Paul mentioned earlier that sustained them and enabled them to press on.

And so Paul simply but profoundly comments to Timothy - "These things command and teach." "Command" (Greek parengello) is a military term to command, give orders, instruct. "Teach" (Greek didasko) means to instruct and explain. Paul tells Timothy that what he has laid out for him here about the priority of training for godliness is something he needs, as the leader of the church, to command and explain clearly to his troops in the church.

The Effective Example for the Latter Days

12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

Paul begins the final paragraph in this chapter about the effective example of one's life for the latter days by exhorting Timothy to not allow anyone to "despise" (Greek kataphroneo) or think against based on his "youth" (Greek neotes) or his relative youthfulness to those around him. Paul is particularly speaking to Timothy who is a pastor. And Paul states, age alone should not be the basis for discrimination in ministry whether it is toward youthfulness or agedness. Age and the experience that comes with it is important and should be taken into consideration. But discrimination only because of age is shortsighted and unspiritual. It is not based on scripture.

What does matter and is most important is one's "example" (Greek tupos) or pattern, model, example, form, figure, presentation like a statue. Speaking against someone simply because of age is very superficial. The measure of a man is the way they live their life. And that godly example is described by Paul as having six areas of measure.

First, a pastor, leader or person of Christ should be measured "in word." "Word" (Greek logos) can mean words spoken, subject matter, statements, messages, or proclamation. This would include the way a person speaks in terms of whether or not they use foul language or speak in an edifying way (e.g. Eph. 4:29). And it would include whether or not a person is a man or woman of God's word. The first and foremost measure of a minister or man is whether they are a man of the word of God. Everyone is first and foremost measured by their words and the word of God they speak and share.   

Second, a pastor, leader or person of Christ should be measured "in conduct." "Conduct"(Greek anastrophe) refers to manner of living, behavior, lifestyle. We are measured by our Christ likeness (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6). Are we living a godly lifestyle characterized by living within the parameters of God's word? A person is measured by the degree to which they personally apply the word of God in their life. Is a person only a hearer of the word or are they also a faithful doer of God's word in their life? (cf. James 1;21-25).

Third, a pastor, leader or person of Christ should be measured "in love." "Love" (Greek agape) refers to the sacrificial Christ like love that His disciples are to be known by (John 13:34-35). Such love is a product of being born again by the Spirit (Romans 5:5). Such love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit in a life (Galatians 5:22-24). The greatest measure of a person is the love of Christ in them. The standard of living for God's people is not only to speak and live the truth of God, it is to speak and live that truth in the love of the Spirit (e.g. Ephesians 4:15).

Fourth, a pastor, leader or person of Christ should be measured "in spirit." "Spirit" (Greek pneuma) refers here to whether or not a person is living in the Spirit. Do they have a spirit of the Spirit. Are they living in their own strength; the flesh or are they living in the power of the Holy Spirit (e.g. Zechariah 4:6; Romans 8). If we live or try to minister in our own strength the result is frustration, futility and failure. It is only through the empowering of the Holy Spirit that we can effectively serve Him (Acts 1:8 and its fulfillment in the book of Acts).

Fifth, a pastor, leader or person of Christ should be measured "in faith." "Faith" (Greek pistis) would include whether or not a person has put their faith in Jesus as Savior and whether or not they are walking with Jesus by faith in life (e.g. 2 Cor. 5:7). Timothy would need to be a man of faith, someone who trusted in Jesus when difficulties arose. He would have to be one who exhorted others to live by faith and set the example for them in how that is panned out in life.

Sixth, a pastor, leader or person of Christ should be measured "in purity." "Purity" (Greek hadneia) means literally sinlessness of life, purity. Timothy needed to be a good of example of someone who sought to live a holy life not one of indulging in the things of the world or sinful practices. He was to live unstained from the world and sin as much as he could do so in the power of the Spirit. His ambition and lifestyle would need to set the example in pursuing holiness and refraining from sin and worldliness.

These are the six aspects of an exemplary lifestyle and what should be the measure of one in ministry and really in life. If those in and out of ministry sought to set the example in these six areas the church and the world would be better for it.

13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

Paul's instruction to Timothy is to "give attention to" (Greek prosecho) or focus on, devote yourself to, follow three things as a minister of God. The first thing is "reading" (Greek anagnosis) which would refer to Timothy's own personal reading as well as perhaps the reading of the word of God in the congregation publically. The word implies a love for reading. In 1 Timothy 3 and the qualification of an bishop as one "able to teach" (3:2) Paul's words to Timothy to be devoted to reading hear emphasizes the importance of one called to ministry being one willing to and even learning a love for reading. There is just no way of getting around the necessity of reading for the one called to pastor the flock of God. Read God's word for yourself and with an eye to share it with others. But read!

The second thing Paul exhorts Timothy to be devoted and give attention to is "exhortation" (Greek paraklesis) which is encouragement, exhortation, comforting others. Timothy as a good minister of God should be one known for and devoted to encouraging people. Do you encourage those around you or do you tear them down with criticism? Those who represent God should be known as encouragers. And they should be known as those who will exhort or encourage people not only to continue but to aspire to be all God would have them to be. Are you only concerned about how you are doing, or do you encourage others to grow in their faith?

The third focus Paul says Timothy should have is in "doctrine" (Greek didaskalia) which refers to instruction, teaching, it would include Timothy's efforts to be a good teacher and to be able to teach the word of God to the flock of God. Timothy was to invest in knowing the truth of doctrine in God's word as well as being able to apply and share with others in life.

14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.

Paul reminded Timothy that accompanying his calling was God's gifting. God's callings are always accompanied by His enablings. If God calls you to a task He will equip and empower you to do the task. If you are frustrated and unable to do certain things it is likely evidence that you have misread the calling of God.

Timothy was exhorted by Paul not to "neglect" (Greek amelio) or not care for, disregard, neglect the "gift" (Greek charismatos) or spiritual gift that was in him. The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts to believers to serve in the church (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12 and 14). He also gives ministry gifts to those called to ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).  To receive such a gift is not enough, one must cultivate it and tend to it. If you have a spiritual gift of teaching you need to cultivate and work it out in your life and ministry. If you don't use it its likely you will lose it.

The spiritual gifting Timothy had was "given" (Greek edothe Passive tense of didomi) to him. Spiritual gifts are not things or take. Spiritual gifts are given to each person as the Holy Spirit determines (1 Cor. 12:1-11). Spiritual gifts are received by faith and implemented by faith in the empowering of the Holy Spirit.

The means by which Timothy received his spiritual gift was "by prophecy." Prophecy is not only forth telling but also includes speaking edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). We can picture young Timothy being prayed over and someone receiving a prophetic word from the Lord that he was to be a Pastor/Teacher. And such a word would have been administered with words of edification, exhortation and comfort to Timothy. 

Timothy was also one on whom the "laying on of the hands of eldership" was made. The elders would not have laid hands on someone who did not fulfill the qualifications laid out by Paul in this letter. So we can trust Timothy was laid hands upon as a symbol of approval and acceptance in ministry by those who were already in ministry.

Paul reminded Timothy of all this as a way to encourage the young pastor in his calling.

 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.

Paul then says, "meditate" on what he has said to Timothy. "Meditate" (Greek melatao) means to practice, take care of, think about, mediate on. In other words Paul told Timothy to take what he told him to heart and apply them thoughtfully to his life "that your progress may be evident to all." If Timothy did meditate and think about these things and put them into practice his growth and progress in his walk with the Lord would be evident to all. When God is real in your life it can't be hidden. that is an important truth.

16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

 

Again Paul exhorts Timothy to "take heed" (Greek epecho) take hold of, don't let go, retain, apply to life to "yourself and to the doctrine." Timothy should get hold of himself and his walk with the Lord and to his doctrine. For the minister the most important things are their personal spiritual condition and the teaching which they have received and are to pass on to others. There needs to be consistency between what is taught and what is lived in the ministers life.

 

Consistency in the Christian life and ministry is essential. No one should ever put themselves in a position where they need say, "Do as I say not as I do." That is hypocrisy and Paul has already warned against such in the latter times. No, we want to be consistent; we want to practice what we preach. That is so important as one commentary indicates:

            Here is a twofold challenge: "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine." The Greek   for this clause is literally: "Give attention to yourself and to the teaching." No matter how    correct Timothy's doctrine might be, if there was a flaw in his life, his ministry would be      ineffective.

            Donald Guthrie comments: "The danger of neglecting one's own salvation is greater in      the Christian minister than in others, and even the apostle Paul himself could fear lest he             became a castaway after preaching to others (1 Corinthians 9:27). Calvin suggestively           comments that although salvation is God's gift alone, yet human ministry is needed, as is      here implied" (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 14:99). Too often the minister        expends all his energies toward others and neglects his own pursuit of spiritual vitality      and daily communion with God. . . .

            A.M. Stibbs supplies this comment: "Note how the minister not only fulfils his ministry     by what he says (those he serves are described as your hearers), but also necessarily             completes it, or spoils its effectiveness, by how he himself lives" (p. 1173). Often our            character and conduct shout so loudly those listening cannot hear a thing we say. A godly character is a more important possession than great abilities or special talent.[5]

Paul exhorts Timothy to "continue" (Greek epimeno) or persist, persevere, continue in Paul's instructions. "Stay the course and don't give up Timothy!" we can hear Paul say. And if Timothy does this Paul says, "you will save both yourself and those who hear you."  This isn't salvation by works but an exhortation to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" like Paul made to the Philippians who he also reminded "for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).

 

In this chapter we have seen what to expect in the latter times as well as the exercise regimen to follow to be ready for what lays ahead. And lastly we have seen the importance of being and setting a good example; to practice what we preach and teach. Now the question to us is, do we see that the latter days are upon us and if so, are we in good spiritual shape to face what lays ahead; are we setting a good example for all? How you answer that question will go a long way in helping you be prepared not only for the future, but for today.

 

 



[1] Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The - The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma.

 

[2] Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The - The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Delta-Epsilon.

 

[3] Complete Biblical Library Commentary - The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon.

 

[4] Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary, The - The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma.

 

[5] Complete Biblical Library Commentary - The Complete Biblical Library – Galatians-Philemon.