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1 Timothy 4:11-16

11. These things command and teach.

11. Praecipe haec et doce.

12. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in sermon, in conversations, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

12. Nemo tuam juventutem despiciat; sed esto exemplar fidelium, in sermone, in conversatione, in caritate, in spiritu, in fide, in castitate.

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

13. Donec venio, attende lectioni, exhortationi, doctrinae.

14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

14. Ne donum, quod in te est, negligas, quod tibi datum est per prophetiam cum impositione manuum presbyterii.

15. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

15. Haec cura, in his esto; ut profectus tuus in omnibus manifestus fiat.

16. 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.

16. Attende tibi ipsi et doctrinae, permane in his; hoc enim si feceris, et te ipsum servabis, et eos qui te audiunt.

11 Instruct and teach these things He means that the doctrine is of such a kind, that men ought not to be weary of it, though they heard it every day. There are, no doubt, other things to be taught; but there is emphasis in the demonstrative these; for it means that they are not things of small importance, of which it is enough to take a passing and brief notice; but, on the contrary, that they deserve to be repeated every day, because they cannot be too much inculcated. A prudent pastor ought, therefore, to consider what things are chiefly necessary, that he may dwell on them. Nor is there reason to dread that it shall become wearisome; for whosoever is of God will gladly hear frequently those things which need to be so often uttered.

12 Let no man despise thy youth He says this, both in regard to others, and to Timothy himself. As to others, he does not wish that the age of Timothy should prevent him from obtaining that reverence which he deserves, provided that, in other respects, he conduct himself as becomes a minister of Christ. And, at the same time, he instructs Timothy to supply by gravity of demeanor what is wanting in his age. As if he had said, “Take care that, by gravity of demeanor, thou procure for thyself so great reverence, that thy youthful age, which, in other respects lays one open to contempt, may take nothing from thy authority.” Hence we learn that Timothy was still young, though he held a place of distinguished excellence among many pastors; and that it is a grievous mistake to estimate by the number of years how much is due to a person.

But be an example of the believers 7878     “Be very careful to lead a holy and blameless life. Let it be your care to set a good example to those who are to be taught by you, of sobriety, temperance, justice, and a due government of the tongue. Let it not be said that you preach what you will not practice; for you may be sure, that perverse sinners who will not hear good advice will endeavor to countenance themselves in sin by a bad example, Examples sometimes do good, where precepts are of very little force. He is a wise and happy instructor, who can say with sincerity, in some degree, after the Apostle, when he addresses himself in a solemn way to his hearers: ‘those things which you have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.’ Such serious religion is what every one that dispenses the bread of life must practice.” — Abraham, Taylor. He next informs him what are the true ornaments; not external marks, such as the crosier, the ring, the cloak, and such like trifles, or children’s rattles; but soundness of doctrine and holiness of life. When he says, by speech and conversation, the meaning is the same as if he had said, “by words and actions,” and therefore by the whole life.

Those which follow are parts of a godly conversation — charity, spirit faith, chastity. By the word spirit, I understand ardor of zeal for God, if it be not thought better to interpret it more generally, to which I have no objection. Chastity is not merely contrasted with uncleanness, but denotes purity of the whole life. Hence we learn, that they act a foolish and absurd part, who complain that no honor is paid to them, while they have nothing about them that is worthy of applause, but, on the contrary, expose themselves to contempt, both by their ignorance, and by a detestable example of life, or by levity or other abominations. The only way of procuring reverence is, by excellent virtues, to guard ourselves against contempt.

13 Attend to reading He knew Timothy’s diligence, and yet he recommends to him diligent reading of the Scriptures. How shall pastors teach others if they be not eager to learn? And if so great a man is advised to study to make progress from day to day, how much more do we need such an advice? Woe then to the slothfulness of those who do not peruse the oracles of the Holy Spirit by day and night, 7979     Our author may have had in his eye the advice of the poet: —
   “Vos exemplaria Graeca
Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna
.”

   “Peruse the Grecian models night and day.”

   It has always been a prominent feature in the character of a good man, that “his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” — (Psalm 1:2.) How much more may we reasonably expect that the servant of Christ, who speaks to the people in the name of his Master, and whose office it is to “shew them that which is written in the Scripture of truth,” (Daniel 10:21,) shall devoutly and laboriously read the oracles of God! — Ed.
in order to learn from them how to discharge their office!

Till I come This reference to the time gives additional weight to the exhortation; for, while Paul hoped that he would come soon, yet he was unwilling, meanwhile, that Timothy should remain unemployed even for a short time; how much more ought we to look forward diligently to our whole life!

To exhortation, to doctrine Lest it should be thought that careless reading was enough, he, at the same time, shews that it must be explained with a view to usefulness when he enjoins him to give earnest attention “to doctrine and exhortation;” as if he enjoined him to learn in order to communicate to others. It is proper, also, to attend to this order, that he places reading before doctrine and exhortation; for, undoubtedly, the Scripture is the fountain of all wisdom, from which pastors must draw all that they place before their flock.

14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee The Apostle exhorts Timothy to employ, for the edification of the Church, that grace with which he was endued. God does not wish that talents — which he has bestowed on any one, that they may bring gain — should either be lost, or be hidden in the earth without advantage. (Matthew 25:18, 25.) To neglect a gift is carelessly to keep it unemployed through slothfulness, so that, having contracted rust it is worn away without yielding any profit. Let each of us, therefore, consider what gift he possesses, that he may diligently apply it to use.

He says that grace was given to him by prophecy. How was this? It was because, as we have already said, the Holy Spirit marked out Timothy by revelation, that he might be admitted into the rank of pastors; for he had not only been chosen by the judgment of men, in the ordinary way, but had previously been named by the Spirit.

With the laying on of the hands of the presbytery He says that it was conferred “with the laying on of hands;” by which he means, that, along with the ministry, he was also adorned with the necessary gifts. It was the custom and ordinary practice of the Apostles to ordain ministers “by the laying on of hands.” As to this ceremony, and its origin and meaning, I have formerly given a brief explanation of them, and the rest may be learned from the Institutes (Book 4: chap. 3.)

They who think that presbytery is here used as a collective noun, for “the college of presbyters or elders,” 8080     “Pour l’assemblee des prestres, c’est a dire, des pasteurs et anciens de l’Eglise.” — “For the assembly of presbyters, that is, of the pastors and elders of the Church.” are, I think, correct in their opinion; although, after weighing the whole matter, I acknowledge that a different meaning is not inapplicable, that is, that presbytery or eldership — is the name of an office. He put the ceremony for the very act of ordination; and therefore the meaning is, that Timothy — having been called to the ministry by the voice of the prophets, and having afterwards been solemnly ordained was, at the same time, endued with the grace of the Holy Spirit for the discharge of his office. Hence we infer that it was not a useless ceremony, because God by his Spirit, accomplished that consecration which men expressed symbolically “by the laying on of hands.”

15 Take heed to these things 8181     “Ταῦτα μελέτα, meaning, ‘Exercise thyself in these things, make them thy perpetual care and study;’ both this and the next phrase, (ἐν τούτοις ἴσθι,) being, in the best writers, used of diligent attention.” Bloomfield. The greater the difficulty in faithfully discharging the ministry of the Church, so much the more ought a pastor to apply himself earnestly, and with his whole might; and that not only for a short time, but with unfailing perseverance. 8282     “Mais perseverant jusqu’au bout.” — “But persevering till the end.” Paul therefore reminds Timothy that this work leaves no room for indolence, or for slackening his labors, but demands the utmost industry and constant application.

That thy profiting may be manifest By adding these words, he means, that he ought to labor to this purpose, that by his agency the edification of the Church may be more and more advanced, and that corresponding results may be visible; for it is not the work of a single day, and therefore he should strive to make daily progress. Some refer this to Timothy, that he may profit more and more; but I choose rather to interpret it as referring to the effect of his ministry.

The Greek words, ἐν πᾶσιν, may either be translated, to all men, or, in all things. There will thus be a twofold meaning; either, “that all may see the progress which springs from his labors”, or, “that in all respects, or in every possible way, (which is the same thing,) they may be visible.” I prefer the latter view.

16 Give heed to thyself, and to the doctrine There are two things of which a good pastor should be careful; to be diligent in teaching, and to keep himself pure. 8383     “Et de se garder pur de tous vices.” — “And to keep himself pure from all vices.” It is not enough if he frame his life to all that is good and commendable, and guard against giving a bad example, if he do not likewise add to a holy life continual diligence in teaching; and, on the other hand, doctrine will be of little avail, if there be not a corresponding goodness and holiness of life. With good reason, therefore, does Paul urge Timothy to “give heed,” both to himself personally, and to doctrine, for the general advantage of the Church. On the other hand, he commends his constancy, that he may never grow weary; for there are many things that frequently happen, which may lead us aside from the right course, if we do not set our foot firmly to resist.

If thou shalt do these things, thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee It is no ordinary spur to excite the thoughtfulness of pastors, when they learn that their own salvation, as well as that of the people, depends on the industry and perseverance with which they devote themselves to their office. And as doctrine, which solidly edifies, is commonly attended by little display, Paul says that he ought to consider what is profitable. As if he had said, “Let men who are desirous of glory be fed by their ambition, let them applaud themselves for their ingenuity; to you, let it be enough to devote yourself to your own salvation and that of the people.”

Now, this exhortation applies to the whole body of the Church, that they, may not take offense at the simplicity which both quickens souls and preserves them in health. Nor ought they to think it strange that Paul ascribes to Timothy the work of saving the Church; for, certainly, all that is gained to God is saved, and it is by the preaching of the gospel that we are gathered to Christ. And as the unfaithfulness or carelessness of the pastor is ruinous to the Church, so the cause of salvation is justly ascribed to his faithfulness and diligence. True, it is God alone that saves; and not even the smallest portion of his glory can lawfully be bestowed on men. But God parts with no portion of his glory when he employs the agency of men for bestowing salvation.

Our salvation is, therefore, the gift of God alone, because from him alone it proceeds, and by his power alone it is performed; and therefore, to him alone, as the author, it must be ascribed. But the ministry of men is not on that account excluded, nor does all this interfere with the salutary tendency of that government on which, as Paul shews, the prosperity of the Church depends. (Ephesians 4:11.) Moreover, this is altogether the work of God, because it is he who forms good pastors, and guides them by his Spirit, and blesses their labor, that it may not be ineffectual.

If thus a good pastor is the salvation of his hearers, let bad and careless men know that their destruction must be ascribed to those who have the charge of them; for, as the salvation of the flock is the crown of the pastor, so from careless pastors all that perishes will be required. Again, a pastor is said to save himself, when, by faithfully discharging the office committed to him, he serves his calling; not only because he avoids that terrible vengeance which the Lord threatens by Ezekiel, — “His blood will I require at thy hand,” (Ezekiel 33:8,) but because it is customary to speak of believers as performing their salvation when they walk and persevere 8484     “Quand is cheminent et perseverent.” in the course of their salvation. Of this mode of expression we have spoken in our exposition of the Epistle to the Philippians, (Philippians 2:12.)


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