Lesson 9: "Be A Good Minister of Jesus Christ" (I Timothy 4:6)
I Timothy 4:6-16
Paul's Letters To Preachers. Welcome to lesson tt9. In our last lesson, we covered down through I-Tim. 4:6 and in this lesson we would like to clear off the rest of ch. four. Let's read this section the first thing. In v.6, Paul told Timothy that if he would put the brethren in remembrance of "these things", i.e. that which was covered in the previous verses, he would be a "good minister." However, in this section, it starts "BUT" so-and-so (v.7), the thought is now do this also. We're going to re-read v.6 and read the rest of the chapter. Are you ready? Beginning in I-Tim. 4:6-16, let's read!
"If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou and example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."
Alright, this is about as direct a personal message (or personal admonition) as you could find from Paul to Timothy. Most of this book deals with problems at Ephesus. However, in this section, Paul is speaking of Timothy's conduct. Of course, even that is associated with the Ephesians. Do this Timothy! First off, "refuse profane and old wives' fables." Now, what are "old wives' fables?" A fable is a legend or a myth. Probably, stories that have no basis of fact, i.e. superstitions. Timothy! Make sure what you teach and consent to is documented in scripture. There's a great lesson here for us. You see, it's simply a. note of caution. Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent. If practiced, this would eliminate a lot of error in the denominational world around us today. Not only that, it would allow more time for focusing on the gospel as such, something that IS BADLY needed. Now, whether the subject of "exercise" (in v.7-8) was associated with some old wives' tale or just why Paul mentioned it, I'm not sure. It IS INTIMATED further along that Timothy did have a health problem; but, whether this is connected or why Paul brought it in, I don't know. The apostle says in effect: physical exercise is good; but, the real exercise YOU MUST NOT MISS, Timothy!, is godly exercise...i.e. that which will save your soul and not just your physical body. Godliness is an exercise that "is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (v.8). God created this earth and set into motion all the physical laws that sustain it. The Christian life (a pure Christian life), is more in line with (and more attuned to) those laws than any other lifestyle. Thus, to exercise godliness, i.e. to follow the rules that our Creator has laid down, not only can save your soul; but, it holds the greatest promise for a good life even in this present time. Notice, it is not argued, this is the easiest way. To the contrary (v.9), the apostle articulates another of his "faithful saying[s]," worthy of all acceptation. What is Paul's cliche? Here it is: Timothy!, "we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God..." Nevertheless, this is still the right way. He said (v.11): "These things command and teach." This is the way it should be done; even if, we are forced to labor and suffer a little, Bro. Timothy.
How old was Timothy? My calculations would put him in the high thirties (or fortish bracket). That is not a young man, to me. Possibly Timothy looked younger than his true age, some people are fortunate enough to keep their hair and fit in that category. I'm trying to prep you for v.12. Paul said to this preacher: "Let no man despise thy youth." I guess most of us (US older codgers), think of anybody younger than us as too young. It's easy to take that attitude in listening to preachers, isn't it? I was a Christian before he was born! Have you heard that? But, age doesn't necessarily make us better. Hopefully, we get a little wiser; but, sometimes we even think that in conceit. What's Paul's advice? Timothy, be an example! "Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." BE AN EXAMPLE! None of us are too young (or too old) to be a good example, are we? We can be an example to other believers! Old or young. We can be an example in word, what we say. We can be an example in conversation, what we say to and about others. We can be an example in charity, i.e. we can be genuinely concerned about the welfare of others. We can be an example in spirit or attitude. We can be an example in faith, show others that we really believe in Jesus. "Let your light so shine," Jesus said (Matt. 5:16). Someone has said, that doesn't mean: that you try to blind everyone else with your light; but, you need to keep it burning. And finally, Paul said: be an example in purity. Jesus said, "blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (Matt. 5:8). So, Paul is saying to Timothy, in effect, don't be intimidated, if some of the older brethren are more experienced; just be an example! This thought in v.12 may be connected to the thought in v.13 more than we are able to see at first. Paul said: Timothy, "till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine." First of all, Paul planned to come to Timothy at Ephesus "shortly," he said (back in 3:14). "But if I tarry long" (v.15), here are some things Paul wants Timothy to give priority. (#1) "Give attendance to reading." Now, when I read this, my first thought was that Paul was telling Timothy to keep-up on his own personal daily Bible reading and other necessary studies to preaching. However, some of the commentaries gave me a different insight. "To give attendance to reading" they believe means public reading, i.e. reading to the brethren. You know, that back then scrolls (or copies) of the books of the Bible, the O.T. and that part of the N.T. that existed, were hard to come by. So, Timothy read publicly, to the church and possibly other places as a form of outreach or personal work, we would say. Then, (#2), to give attendance (or attention) to exhortation would HAVE TO BE public or at least semi-public. The word "exhortation" means to encourage others, like Barnabas did it. So, Paul was encouraging Timothy to encourage others. Do I detect a little tang of "great commission" flavor here? Then finally (#3), give attention to doctrine, i.e. the rules we are to live by, this is very important.
Now, . pick up on v.14; Paul said: Timothy "neglect not the gift that is in thee." O.K., what "gift" did Timothy have, Paul? My answer is: I don't know. You and I can only guess! But, of course, Timothy understood what Paul said. What was a "gift?" Well, this has reference to "spiritual gifts" as that word is used in I-Cor. 12:Iff and as are discussed in the next two chapters (I-Cor. ch. 13-14 and other places). Nine spiritual gifts are enumerated in I Cor. 12:8-9-10, if you are looking for an example. Spiritual gifts were given and existed in the days before revelation was complete, i.e. before the N.T. was completed. After that time, spiritual gifts were done away (I-Cor. 13:10). In the days of Paul, before the N.T. was completed, some were given these special miraculous helps in teaching and in carrying on the work of the church. Timothy had some spiritual gift, it is evident from the context (here in v.14). The H.S. did not elaborate; thus, I assume WE have no need to know. The word "prophecy" as used here is always associated with spiritual gifts, i.e. information that was derived from or came through spiritual gifts. We know that a gift was under the control of the person so endowed (this is said in I-Cor. 14:32). Paul told Timothy, don't neglect it. Use it! These gifts were given by the laying on of the apostle's hands. Paul was an apostle and Timothy's gift came by the laying on of Paul's hands (I glean this from II-Tim. 1:6). Since the word "presbytery" is used here in v.14, (that word means "eldership" if you remember), some have concluded that elderships could also pass on spiritual gifts. But, that's probably an assumption. However, it would appear from this verse (v.14) that Timothy received his spiritual gift by the laying on of Paul's hands at the same time an eldership (someplace) had laid hand on Timothy (also), for what reason I know not. It's possible, Paul was part of that eldership, this is not clear. Peter was an elder we learn (in I-Pet. 5:1). This is my wild guess; but, probably what is said here in v.14 is a reference back to Lystra (going back to Acts 16:2-3) when Timothy was circumcised and selected to travel with Paul. It should be noted; however, Timothy was an evangelist (this is said in II-Tim. 4:5). And, although the term "evangelist" does not occur in Paul's writing to Titus, it is clear that Titus was doing exactly the same thing as Timothy. They were (here) being personally coached by an apostle in addition to any spiritual gifts. These men taught both Christians and non-Christians. They were instructed to ordain elders and they were to teach even the elders. Paul instructed Timothy how to conduct himself with respect to elders (down in 5:17-20), we'll get to that. Timothy was called a minister up in v.6, his duty was to preach (II-Tim. 4:2) and, please note, he was working with the Ephesian congregation which had elders. The reason I mention this is that some commonly known as our "mutual edification brethren," have a theory that a congregation with elders cannot support a "located preacher" (their term for), to work with that congregation. In other words, their theory is (my understanding) that elders and others of that congregation must do the teaching, i.e. mutually edify each other. They argue that evangelists, ministers and preachers are to work ONLY with unorganized congregations, i.e. churches yet without elders. They disdain the idea of an eldership hiring a located preacher. However, contrary to that theory, Timothy, called an evangelist, a minister and a preacher was working with the Ephesian congregation that had elders. Timothy was full time. Paul said, "give thyself wholly" to it (v.15). So, I do not buy that theory.
In v.15-16, Paul exhorts this young preacher on, i.e. keep on keeping on, just in case Paul didn't get to Ephesus as soon as he hoped. Timothy, "meditate upon these things..." i.e. Paul is saying, consider and reflect upon this, "These things" (v.15) includes: laboring and suffering reproach, trusting in the living God (v.10), exercising thyself unto godliness and refusing "old wives' fables" (v.7) and the other things this apostle wrote in this section. "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed [i.e. pay attention] unto thyself; and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." Does doctrine have any thing to do with salvation? V.I6 says it does. It is required of preachers and everyone else. Please notice Paul's phrase "save thyself." Perhaps you will remember that Peter used this phrase on Pentecost, "save yourselves!" (Acts 2:40). Paul said: "in doing this [Timothy!] thou shalt both SAVE THYSELF, and them that hear thee." Faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17) and salvation comes through faith. The H.S. wanted us to hear these things also. They apply to us, just as they applied to Timothy.
In the moments we have left, let's get prepared for our next lesson, i.e. lesson # 10, which begins in chapter five. We are going to try to cover the first 21 verses of ch. 5 in that lesson. In this section, the apostle discusses Timothy's responsibility to some of the social classes or social groups that made up the church at Ephesus, i.e. the older men, the younger men, the older women, the younger women, family responsibilities, widows of different ages and finally Timothy's responsibility to the congregational overseers known as elders. Let's read the verses here and then we'll be ready to discuss quickly (in lesson #10). If you are ready, let's read. Beginning in I-Tim. 5:1, we'll read 21 verses. Please read with me!
"Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. Honor widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give non occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan. If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing in partiality." O.K., you might want to re-read that a couple more times on your own. Some of the things in this section commonly cause problems in congregations even today. We'll pick up here in our next lesson. Until then, have a good day.