I Timothy

I Timothy 4:12-16 An Example Of Progress In Doctrine and Life.

Maturity does not always walk in lock step with age. Timothy was young for one in the ministry, but this did not stop Paul from encouraging him to be “an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (v. 12 Cf. Phil. 3:17; I Pet. 5:3). This is not to suggest that Timothy was a teenager. He was probably in his thirties, which would have made him younger than most of the elders he was called to lead. In any case, it is important that a minister be a good example of the faith in speech and conduct. A good minister must be loving but also pure. Too often the culture defines these as in conflict. However, if our conduct is not pure it is not loving. These were instructions which Paul gave in his absence. This situation helps us understand what Paul regarded as the essentials of a church’s activity-“to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (v. 13).

Clearly, from this context, the gift which Paul wanted Timothy to exercise was that of teaching and preaching. It was a gift which came from the Spirit, the knowledge of which came by prophetic revelation, “with the laying on of the hands of the eldership” (v. 14). This expands on the charge which Paul had given Timothy earlier (1:18). None of us have arrived at perfection. What should be evident to all is progress. Paul wanted Timothy to attend to both the exercise of the teaching-preaching ministry and to the spiritual discipline of meditation. “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine” (v. 16a). One’s personal life and doctrine should not be contradictory, they should both be progressing forward. Sanctification involves both doctrine and life (Cf. Titus 2:7). A good minister must be as concerned about his own condition as he is of those he leads to truly lead.

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