1 Timothy Chapter 3:8-13; 4:6-16 Antique Commentary Quotes

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

8. the deacons] There is no article; for ‘deacons’ in the accusative we must supply from verse 2 the remainder of the construction ‘it is right that deacons be.’ This elliptical abruptness is among the characteristics of the style of these Epistles. See Introduction, p. 31. The title ‘deacons’ is only used in this special sense here and Php_1:1. But the title ‘deaconess’ is given to Phœbe, Rom_16:1. In other passages such as Rom_13:4; 1Ti_4:6; 1Pe_4:10 the word still retains the general sense explained on 3:1. Both in Php_1:1 and Rom_14:1 we may trace a fitness in the mention from the office of almoner, the original function assigned to the deacons, Act_6:1. In writing to the Philippians St Paul, as Bp Lightfoot points out, mentions the officers, since the contributions were probably sent to him in their name as well as of the Church generally. In commending Phœbe to the Roman Church he speaks of her as ‘a succourer of many and of mine own self.’ Though the duties were now enlarged, St Paul still lays stress here on fitness for their first charge; they of all men must be ‘not greedy of filthy lucre.’ He had not mentioned this in speaking of the presbyters; though in Tit_1:7 he does.

grave] Considering the emphasis laid on purity of life and bearing in the case of the presbyters ‘pure,’ ‘orderly,’ we see in this epithet the corresponding qualification of ‘seemly morals and propriety,’ cf. 2:2,

not doubletongued] Or, better, not talebearers. The word is used here only in N.T. Xen. de Equestri, viii. 2, uses the noun of repeating gossip. Polycarp has this very rare word, ad Phil. c. v., of the deacons. Bp Ellicott attributes the interpretation of Theodoret ‘saying one thing to one and another to another’ to Theodore; who has however a singular explanation of his own, ‘non bilingues’; ‘si enim deferunt illa quae mandantur a presbyteris sive viris sive mulieribus ad quos et mittuntur, iustum est eos sincero arbitrio sicut convenit implere quae sibi mandantur quae per eos mandantes audiunt.’

not given to much wine] The word for ‘given’ is used five times by St Paul in these Epistles, and nowhere else by him except in Act_20:28 to the elders of Ephesus, ‘take heed to yourselves.’ Lit. ‘giving heed.’

Pulpit Commentary


Deacons in like manner must for likewise must the deacons, A.V. Grave (σεμνούς); in Php_4:8 rendered “honest” in the A.V., and “honourable” in the R.V., and “venerable” in the margin. None of the words are satisfactory, but “honest” in the sense of honnete, i.e. “respectable,” “becoming the dignity of a man,” comes nearest to the meaning of σεμνός. Ἄνηρ σεμνός is a man who inspires respect by his conduct and deportment. It occurs again in Php_4:11 and in Tit_2:2. Double-tongued (διλόγους); only here in the New Testament, or indeed anywhere. The verb διλογεῖν and the noun διλογία are found in Xenophon and Diodorus Siculus, but in a different sense—”to repeat,” “repetition.” Here δίλογος is used in the sense of δίγλωσσος (Pro_11:13; Ecclus. 28:13), “a slanderer,” “a false-tongued man,” who, as Theophylact (ap. Schleusner) well explains it, thinks one thing and says another, and says different things to different people. The caution here given is of incalculable importance to young curates. They must not allow themselves to be either receptacles or vehicles of scandal and detraction. Their speech to rich and poor alike must be perfectly sincere and ingenuous. Not given to much wine. The effect of the best sermon may be undone, and more than undone, if the preacher sinks into the pot-companion of his hearers. He at once ceases to be σεμνός, to inspire respect (comp. Tit_2:3 where the additional idea, most true, of the slavery of drunkards, is introduced).

Greedy of filthy lucre (αἰσχροκερδεῖς); only here and in Tit_2:3 (T.R.) and Tit_1:7. The adverb αἰσχροκερδῶς occurs in 1Pe_5:2, and is one of many points of resemblance between the pastoral Epistles and 1 Peter. Balsam, Gehazi, and Judas Iscariot are the three prominent examples of professed servants of God being lovers of filthy lucre. Achan (Jos_7:21) is another (see 1Ti_6:10). When lucre is the price for doing wrong, it is “filthy.” When lucre is sought on occasions where none is due, it is “filthy;” and when the desire of even just gains is excessive, it ceases to be clean.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 3:8

Likewise must the deacons – On the meaning of the word “deacons,” see the notes on Phi_1:1. On their appointment, see the notes, Act_6:1. The word here evidently denotes those who had charge of the temporal affairs of the church, the poor, etc. No qualifications are mentioned, implying that they were to be preachers of the gospel. In most respects, except in regard to preaching, their qualifications were to be the same as those of the “bishops.”

Be grave – Serious, sober-minded men. In Act_6:3, it is said that they should be men “of honest report.” On the meaning of the word “grave,” see the notes on 1Ti_3:4. They should be men who by their serious deportment will inspire respect.

Not double-tongued – The word here used δίλογος dilogos – does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means, properly, uttering the same thing twice (from δίς dis and λέγω legō), and then deceitful, or speaking one thing and meaning another. They should be men who can be relied on for the exact truth of what they say, and for the exact fulfillment of their promises.

Not given to much wine – see 1Ti_3:3. The word “much” is added here to what is said 1Ti_3:2 of the qualification of a bishop. It is not affirmed that it would be proper for the deacon, anymore than the bishop, to indulge in the use of wine in small quantities, but it “is” affirmed that a man who is much given to the use of wine ought not, on any consideration, to be a deacon. It may be remarked here, that this qualification was everywhere regarded as necessary for a minister of religion. Even the pagan priests, on entering a temple, did not drink wine. “Bloomfield.” The use of wine, and of strong drinks of all kinds, was absolutely prohibited to the Jewish ministers of every rank when they were about to engage in the service of God; Lev_10:9. Why should it then be anymore proper for a Christian minister to drink wine than for a Jewish or a pagan priest? Shall a minister of the gospel be less holy than they? Shall he have a feebler sense of the purity of his vocation? Shall he be less careful lest he expose himself to the possibility of conducting the services of religion in an irreverent and silly manner? Shall he venture to approach the altar of God under the influence of intoxicating drinks, when a sense of propriety restrained the pagan priest, and a solemn statue of Yahweh restrained the Jewish priest from doing it?

Not greedy of filthy lucre – notes, 1Ti_3:3. The special reason why this qualification was important in the deacon was, that he would be entrusted with the funds of the church, and might be tempted to appropriate them to his own use instead of the charitable purposes for which they were designed; see this illustrated in the case of Judas, Joh_12:6.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 3:9

9Holding the mystery of faith As if he had said, “Holding the pure doctrine of religion, and that from the heart, with a sincere fear of God;” or, “Being well instructed in the faith, so as not to be ignorant of anything which it is necessary for Christians to know.” He gives to the sum of Christian doctrine the honorable appellation of a mystery; as indeed God, through the gospel, reveals to men on earth a wisdom which angels in heaven behold with admiration, and, therefore, we need not wonder if it exceed human capacity.

Let us therefore remember that it ought to be embraced with the deepest reverence; and because we could never, by our own strength, ascend to such a height, let us humbly entreat God to impart it to us by the Spirit of revelation. On the other hand, when we see wicked men either ridicule those doctrines or have no relish for them, let us acknowledge that it is owing to the grace of God that those things which have been hidden from others are in our hearts, and before our eyes, as Moses says, (Deu_30:11.)

Thus he wishes that deacons should be well instructed in “the mystery of faith;” because, although they do not hold the office of teaching, yet it would be exceedingly absurd to hold a public office in the Church, while they were ill informed in the Christian faith, more especially since they must frequently be laid under the necessity of administering advice and consolation, if they do not choose to neglect their duties. It is added, in a pure conscience, which extends to the whole life, but chiefly that they may know how to obey God.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim 3:9. the mystery of the faith] Apparently repeated again verse 16 as ‘the mystery of godliness.’ The word ‘mystery’ is significant. Coming from the Greek, ‘to close the mouth,’ and so ‘to initiate,’ it was originally used of the secret rites of Eleusis in Attica, into which each year the youth of Athens were initiated at the annual celebrations. Thence by the process so loved by St Paul of consecrating old words to higher use it becomes the pregnant expression of the truth, ‘latet in vetere novum testamentum, vetus in novo patet.’ It is a truth once hidden but now revealed, a truth which may be apprehended though not comprehended. So the Atonement is a mystery, 1Co_2:1, 1Co_2:2, 1Co_2:7, the Catholicity of the Church is a mystery, Eph_3:3, Eph_3:4, Eph_3:9; the Incarnation is a mystery, 1Ti_3:16. In St Paul’s final thought of revelation in this chapter the ‘secret now told’ embraces the whole of God’s saving love, in one or other of its aspects, here as the ‘creed of creeds,’ in verse 16 as the ‘work of works,’ here the life of Christ, there ‘the life in Christ’ We are familiar with a somewhat similar use of ‘mystery’ in the ‘mystery plays’; and compare the word ‘mystery’ in the Prayer-Book Communion Office as the equivalent of ‘Sacrament,’—the union of the outward and visible sign and the inward and spiritual grace, the living spirit through the lifeless matter—‘the dignity of that holy mystery’; ‘He hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries’; ‘have duly received these holy mysteries.’ See further, Appendix, G.

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 3:9

The mystery of the faith (τὸ μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως)

The phrase N.T.o. In the Gospels only, mystery or mysteries of the kingdom of God or of heaven. In Paul, mystery or mysteries of God, of his will, of Christ, of the gospel, of iniquity, the mystery kept secret or hidden away. Several times without qualification, the mystery or mysteries. See on 2Th_2:7. The mystery of the faith is the subject – matter of the faith; the truth which is its basis, which was kept hidden from the world until revealed at the appointed time, and which is a secret to ordinary eyes, but is made known by divine revelation. Comp. Rom_16:25; Eph_3:9; Col_1:26; 1Co_2:7. For the faith see on Gal_1:23, and comp. Introduction to these Epistles, VI.

In a pure conscience (ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει)

Comp. 2Ti_1:3, 2Ti_1:5, 19. Const. with holding. The emphasis of the passage is on these words. They express conscientious purity and sincerity in contrast with those who are described as branded in their own conscience, and thus causing their followers to fall away from the faith (1Ti_4:1, 1Ti_4:2). The passage illustrates the peculiar treatment of “faith” in these Epistles, in emphasizing its ethical aspect and its ethical environment. This is not contrary to Paul’s teaching, nor does it go to the extent of substituting morals for faith as the condition of salvation and eternal life. See 2Ti_1:9; 2Ti_2:1; Tit_3:5. Nonetheless, there is a strong and habitual emphasis on good works (see 1Ti_2:10; 1Ti_5:10; 1Ti_6:18; 2Ti_2:21; 2Ti_3:17; Tit_1:16; Tit_2:7, Tit_2:14; Tit_3:1, Tit_3:8, Tit_3:14), and faith is placed in a series of practical duties (see 1Ti_1:5, 1Ti_1:14; 1Ti_2:15; 1Ti_4:12; 2Ti_1:13; 1Ti_1:19; 1Ti_2:7; 1Ti_3:9; 1Ti_6:11; 2Ti_2:22; 2Ti_3:10). “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience” is a significant association of faith with ethics. As Weiss puts it: “It is as if the pure conscience were the vessel in which the mystery of the faith is preserved.” The idea is sound and valuable. A merely intellectual attitude toward the mystery which, in every age, attaches to the faith, will result in doubt, questioning, and wordy strife (see 1Ti_6:4; 2Ti_2:23; Tit_3:9), sometimes in moral laxity, sometimes in despair. Loyalty and duty to God are compatible with more or less ignorance concerning the mystery. An intellect, however powerful and active, joined with an impure conscience, cannot solve but only aggravates the mystery; whereas a pure and loyal conscience, and a frank acceptance of imposed duty along with mystery, puts one in the best attitude for attaining whatever solution is possible. See Joh_7:17.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 3:10

10And let those be first tried He wishes that they who are chosen should not be unknown, but that their integrity should be ascertained, like that of the bishops. And hence it is evident, that they are called blameless who are not stained by any marked vice. Besides, this trial is not for a single hour, but consists in long experience. In a word, when deacons are to be ordained, the choice must not fall at random, and without selection, on any that come to hand, but those men are to be chosen who are approved by their past life in such a manner that, after what may be called full inquiry, they are ascertained to be well qualified.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 3:10

And let these also first be proved – That is, tried or tested in regard to the things which were the proper qualifications for the office. This does not mean that they were to be employed as “preachers,” but that they were to undergo a proper trial in regard to their fitness for the office which they were to fill. They were not to be put into it without any opportunity of knowing what they were. It should be ascertained that they were grave, serious, temperate, trustworthy men; men who were sound in the faith, and who would not dishonor the office. It is not said here that there should be a “formal” trial, as if they were candidates for this office; but the meaning is, that they should have had an opportunity of making their character known, and should have gained such respect for their piety, and their other qualifications, that there would be reason to believe that they would perform the functions of the office well. Thus, in Act_6:3, when deacons were first appointed, the church was directed to “look out seven men of honest report,” who might be appointed to the office.

Then let them use the office of a deacon – Let them be appointed to this office, and fulfil its duties.

Being found blameless – If nothing can be alleged against their character see the notes on 1Ti_3:2.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim 3:11. Even so must their wives be grave] The R.V. translates literally Women in like manner must be grave, i.e. women deacons, favouring the general view of the earliest commentators, as Chrysostom and Theod. Mops.,’ mulieres quae diaconis officium implere statuuntur,’ and the latest, as Bps Wordsworth and Ellicott. Fairbairn gives well the reasons; ‘the mode of expression “likewise” apparently marking a transition to another class (as at v. 8, 2:9; Tit_2:3, Tit_2:6); also the absence of the article or the pronoun to connect the women with the men spoken of before; the mention only of qualifications for deacon work, while nothing is said of those more directly bearing on domestic duties.’

slanderers] The word is only used in these Epistles, here and Tit_2:3 of women; in 2Ti_3:3 of men. It corresponds to the ‘double-tongued’ above. Theod. Mops. Lat. gives ‘accusatrices,’ and this shews well the identity of the word with that for the great ‘accuser,’ the devil (diabolus).

faithful in all things] That is, in all the duties of a deaconess.

Jameson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 3:11

their wives — rather, “the women,” that is, the deaconesses. For there is no reason that special rules should be laid down as to the wives of the deacons, and not also as to the wives of the bishops or overseers. Moreover, if the wives of the deacons were meant, there seems no reason for the omission of “their” (not in the Greek). Also the Greek for “even so” (the same as for “likewise,” 1Ti_3:8, and “in like manner,” 1Ti_2:9), denotes a transition to another class of persons. Further, there were doubtless deaconesses at Ephesus, such as Phoebe was at Cenchrea (Rom_16:1, “servant,” Greek, “deaconess”), yet no mention is made of them in this Epistle if not here; whereas, supposing them to be meant here, the third chapter embraces in due proportion all the persons in the service of the Church. Naturally after specifying the qualifications of the deacon, Paul passes to those of the kindred office, the deaconess. “Grave” occurs in the case of both. “Not slanderers” here, answers to “not double-tongued” in the deacons; so “not false accusers” (Tit_2:3). “Sober” here answers to “not given to much wine,” in the case of the deacons (1Ti_3:8). Thus it appears he requires the same qualifications in female deacons as in deacons, only with such modifications as the difference of sex suggested. Pliny, in his celebrated letter to Trajan, calls them “female ministers.”

faithful in all things — of life as well as faith. Trustworthy in respect to the alms committed to them and their other functions, answering to “not greedy of filthy lucre,” 1Ti_3:8, in the case of the deacons.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 3:12

Let the deacons be Since he mentioned wives, he lays down the same injunction about deacons as he had formerly down about bishops; namely, that each of them — satisfied within having but one wife — shall set an example of a chaste and honorable father of a family, and shall keep his children and his whole house under holy discipline. And this refutes the error of those who understand this passage as referring to domestic servants.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 3:13

13. For they who have served well Owing to a practice which came into use one or two centuries after the death of the apostles, of choosing presbyters from the order of deacons, this passage has been commonly interpreted as describing elevation to a higher rank, as if the Apostle called to the honor of being presbyters those who had faithfully discharged the office of a deacon. For my own part, though I do not deny that the order of deacons might sometimes be the nursery out of which presbyters were taken, yet I take Paul’s words as meaning, more simply, that they who have discharged this ministry in a proper manner are worthy of no small honor; because it is not a mean employment, but a highly honorable office. Now by this expression he intimates how much it is for the advantage of the Church to have this office discharged by choice men; because the holy discharge of it procures esteem and reverence.

How absurd is it for Papists to maintain that, in making deacons, they do what Paul enjoins! First, why do they make deacons but to carry the cup in a procession, and to feed the eyes of the ignorant with I know not what ridiculous exhibitions? Besides, they do not even observe this; for not a single deacon has been made, during the last five hundred years, except that, after taking this step, he may immediately rise to the priesthood. What impudence is it, to boast of elevating to a higher rank those who have ministered well, when they confer their priesthood on none but those who have never touched a single part of the former office!

And much liberty in the faith. With good reason does he add this; for there is nothing that tends so much to produce liberty as a good conscience and a life free from crime and reproach; as, on the contrary, timidity must be the lot of those who have a bad conscience. And if they sometimes make a valiant boast of liberty, yet it is not uniform and constant, nor has it any weight. For this reason he describes also the kind of liberty. “In the faith,” says he, which is in Christ; that is, that they may serve — Christ with greater boldness; as, on the other hand, they who have acted basely in the discharge of their office may be said to have their mouth shut and their hands tied, and are unfit for doing good; because no reliance — no authority is given to them.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim 3:13.

purchase to themselves a good degree] The word for ‘degree’ occurs only here in N.T., having been used in LXX. for a ‘step’ or ‘threshold,’ e.g. 1Sa_5:5, ‘the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod.’ It may be compared with 6:19, ‘a good foundation,’ and may, from the drift of that phrase, be interpreted so as to combine something of all the three most general explanations, (a) a better degree or post, promotion to the priesthood; (b) esteem and regard from the Church for good service; (c) honour and promotion from God in the final day of reckoning. In 6:19 the right use of wealth by the wealthy is the best basis for the whole of the life ‘which is life indeed’ to be gradually built up on, in the days yet to come on earth, and the unending day after: no spiritual life can be sound that is not built in and upon the faithful doing of our duty in that state of life to which it may please God to call us. An illustration of the metaphor may be taken from the building of Smeaton’s Eddystone Lighthouse and all lighthouses of the kind since. ‘All the lower courses of stone were joggled and morticed into the rock, hewn for that purpose into a series of six steplike courses. The lower portion of the building was solid throughout, and from its peculiar dovetailing practically but one stone with the rock upon which it was raised.’ So we may translate here with R.V. they that have served well as deacons gain to themselves a good standing, and interpret ‘good standing’ not to mean a higher post but good solid work done by them as deacons, leading (a) to ‘boldness of speech in the faith,’ the acceptable performance of functions such as St Stephen and St Philip, though deacons, were privileged to perform. We then gain a force for ‘to themselves’ in accordance with (b), adopting Theodore’s comment ‘though second in rank to presbyters, they will themselves have an esteem second to none,’ and (we may add) real ‘freedom in speaking’ too, from the consciousness of their people’s sympathy and support. Finally the life now is part only of the whole life; and ‘life is the use of the gifts of God according to the will of God’; hence good deacon’s work now is the basis (c) for a joyous expectation of the Master’s smile of approval, ‘ye have done it unto Me,’ a joyous acceptance of His seal of approval, ‘Be thou ruler over many things.’

the faith which is in Christ Jesus] Here, like ‘the faith of the Gospel’ in Php_1:27; Gal_3:23 (see Bp Lightfoot), objective; the doctrine and scheme of ‘Christianity.’ Compare Jam_2:1, ‘the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ’; Jud_1:3, ‘the faith once for all delivered unto the saints.’

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 3:13

purchase to themselves a good degree — literally, “are acquiring … a … step.” Understood by many as “a higher step,” that is, promotion to the higher office of presbyter. But ambition of rising seems hardly the motive to faithfulness which the apostle would urge; besides, it would require the comparative, “a better degree.” Then the past aorist participle, “they that used the office of deacon well,” implies that the present verb, “are acquiring to themselves boldness,” is the result of the completed action of using the diaconate well. Also, Paul would not probably hold out to every deacon the prospect of promotion to the presbytery in reward of his service. The idea of moving upwards in Church offices was as yet unknown (compare Rom_12:7, etc.; 1Co_12:4-11). Moreover, there seems little connection between reference to a higher Church rank and the words “great boldness.” Therefore, what those who have faithfully discharged the diaconate acquire for themselves is “a good standing-place” [Alford] (a well-grounded hope of salvation) against the day of judgment, 1Ti_6:19; 1Co_3:13, 1Co_3:14 (the figurative meaning of “degree” or “step,” being the degree of worth which one has obtained in the eye of God [Wiesinger]); and boldness (resting on that standing-place”), as well for preaching and admonishing others now (Eph_6:19; a firm standing forth for the truth against error), as also especially in relation to God their coming Judge, before whom they may be boldly confident (Act_24:16; 1Jo_2:28; 1Jo_3:21; 1Jo_4:17; Heb_4:16).

in the faith — rather as Greek, “in faith,” that is, boldness resting on their own faith.

which is in Christ Jesus — resting in Christ Jesus.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 3:13

For they that have used the office of a deacon well – Margin, “ministered.” The Greek word is the same as deacon, meaning ministering, or serving in this office. The sense would be well expressed by the phrase, “deaconizing well.” The “word” implies nothing as to the exact nature of the office.

Purchase to themselves – Procure for themselves; see this word explained in the notes on Act_20:28.

A good degree – The word here used (βαθμός bathmos) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, “a step,” as of a stair; and the fair meaning is that of going up higher, or taking an additional step of dignity, honor, or standing. So far as the “word” is concerned, it may mean either an advance in office, in dignity, in respectability, or in influence. It cannot certainly be inferred that the apostle referred to a higher grade of “office;” for all that the word essentially conveys is, that, by exercising this office well, a deacon would secure additional respectability and influence in the church. Still, it is possible that those who had performed the duties of this office well were appointed to be preachers. They may have shown so much piety, prudence, good sense, and ability to preside over the church, that it was judged proper that they should be advanced to the office of bishops or pastors of the churches. Such a course would not be unnatural. This is, however, far from teaching that the office of a deacon is a subordinate office, “with a view” to an ascent to a higher grade.

And great boldness in the faith – The word here rendered “boldness” properly refers to boldness “in speaking;” see it explained in the Act_4:13 note; 2Co_3:12 note; Phi_1:20 note. But the word is commonly used to denote boldness of any kind – openness, frankness, confidence, assurance; Joh_8:13, Joh_8:26; Mar_8:32; 2Co_7:4. As it is here connected with “faith” – “boldness in the faith” – it means, evidently, not so much public speaking, as a manly and independent exercise of faith in Christ. The sense is, that by the faithful performance of the duties of the office of a deacon, and by the kind of experience which a man would have in that office, he would establish a character of firmness in the faith, which would show that he was a decided Christian. This passage, therefore, cannot be fairly used to prove that the deacon was “a preacher,” or that he belonged to a grade of ministerial office from which he was regularly to rise to that of a presbyter.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 4:6

6Exhibiting these things to the brethren By this expression he exhorts Timothy to mention those things frequently; and he afterwards repeats this a second and a third time; for they are things of such a nature as it is proper to call frequently to remembrance. And we ought to make the contrast which is implied; for the doctrine which he commends is here contrasted by him not with false or wicked doctrines, but with useless trifles which do not edify. He wishes that those trifles may be entirely buried in forgetfulness, when he enjoins Timothy to be earnest in exhibiting other things.

Thou shalt be a good minister Men frequently aim at something else than to approve themselves to Christ; and consequently many are desirous of being applauded for genius, eloquence, and profound knowledge. And that is the very reason why they pay less attention to necessary things, which do not tend to procure the admiration of the common people. But Paul enjoins Timothy to be satisfied with this alone, to be a faithful minister of Christ. And certainly we ought to look on this as a far more honorable title than to be a thousand times called seraphic and subtle doctors. Let us, therefore, remember, that as it is the highest honor of a godly pastor to be reckoned a good servant of Christ, so he ought to aim at nothing else during his whole ministry; for whoever has any other object in view, will have it in his power to obtain applause from men, but will not please God. Accordingly, that we may not be deprived of so great a blessing, let us learn to seek nothing else, and to account nothing so valuable, and to treat everything as worthless in comparison of this single object.

Nourished The Greek word ἐντρεφόμενος being a participle in the Middle Voice, might also have been translated in an active signification, nourishing; but as there is no noun governed by the verb, I think that this would be rather a forced construction; and, therefore, I prefer to take it in a passive sense, as confirming the preceding exhortation by the education of Timothy. As if he had said, “As thou hast been, from thy infancy, properly instructed in the faith, and, so to speak, hast sucked along with the milk sound doctrine, and hast made continual progress in it hitherto, endeavor, by faithful ministration, to prove that thou art such.” This meaning agrees also with the composition of the wordἐντρεφόμενος

In the words of faith and of good doctrine. Faith is here taken for the sum of Christian doctrine; and what he immediately adds, about good doctrine, is for the sake of explanation; for he means, that all other doctrines, how plausible so ever they may be, are not at all profitable.

Which thou hast followed This clause denotes perseverance; for many who, from their childhood, had purely learned Christ, afterwards degenerate in process of time; and the Apostle says, that Timothy was very unlike these persons.

Pulpit Commentary


Mind for remembrance, A.V.; Christ Jesus for Jesus Christ, A.V. and T.R.; nourished for nourished up, A.V.; the faith for faith, A.V.; the good for good, A.V.; which thou hast followed until now for whereunto thou hast attained, A.V. If thou put the brethren in mind of these things (παῦτα ὑποτιθέμενος τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς); if thou suggest these things to the brethren, lay them down as principles upon which their conduct is to be based; or, enjoin them (Liddell and Scott). It only occurs in this metaphorical sense here in the New Testament, but is very common in classical Greek, and not infrequent in the LXX. It has often the meaning of “to advise” or” counsel.” Of course, “hypothesis,” the assumed basis from which you start, is the same root.

The brethren (τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς). The distinctive name for the members of Christ’s Church, throughout the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. The whole body is called ἡ ἀδελφότης “the brotherhood” (1Pe_2:17; 1Pe_5:9).

A good minister (διάκονος). The application of this term to Timothy, like that of ἐπίσκοπος to presbyters (1Ti_3:2), is an indication of the early date of the Epistle, before the distinctive names of the Church officers had quite hardened down into a technical meaning.

Nourished (ἀντρεφόμενος); here only in the New Testament, and not used in the LXX.; but in classical Greek not uncommon in the sense of “brought up in,” “trained in from childhood.” In Latin, innutritus. The phrase, “nourished in the words of the faith,” etc., explains the καλὸς διάκονος, and shows what a man must be to deserve the appellation—one, viz., who is nourished in the words of the faith, etc. The faith; here again objective, as in verse 6 (see note). The good doctrine, etc. In opposition to the “doctrines of devils” in verse 1.

The different epithets of this true Christian doctrine are ἡ καλή (as here); ὑγιαίνουσα (1Ti_1:10; Tit_1:9; Tit_2:1); ἡ κατ ̓ εὐσεβείαν διδασκαλία (1Ti_6:3); and in 1Ti_6:1-21. I we have simply ηδιδασκαλία, without any epithet. In like manner, ἡ πίστις ἡ, ἀληθεία ἡ εὐσεβεία, severally denote the Christian religion. Which thou hast followed until now (ᾖ παρηκολουθήκας). This is a rather more faithful rendering than that of the A.V.; it is, literally, which thou hast kept close to, either for the purpose of imitating it, or, as 2Ti_3:10, for the purpose of observing it. Or, to put it differently, in one case so as to teach it identically, and in the other so as to know it perfectly. In this last aspect it is also used in Luk_1:3. The classical use is “to follow closely any one’s steps,” or “the course of events,” when used literally; or, metaphorically, “to follow with one’s thoughts,” “to understand.”

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim:1:7. refuse profane and old wives’ fables] This clause Westcott and Hort connect by a comma with the preceding rather than the following sentence. Surely to connect so closely the future ‘thou shalt be’ and the imperative ‘refuse’ is an unnecessary awkwardness; R.V. taking the same general view of the connexion gives the colon before and the full stop after the clause. It is of less consequence as the subject is continuous either way. If the article with ‘fables’ points back to the ‘doctrines of devils’ and the ‘lies’ of vv. 1, 2, yet the ‘godliness’ and the ‘hope in the living God who is the Saviour of all men’ point back also to the ‘truth’ and the ‘mystery’ of 3:15, 16.

refuse] Another of the characteristic words of these Epistles; used as here 2Ti_2:23, and of refusing persons, 1Ti_5:11; Tit_3:10. In all the other passages of N. T. it has the earlier sense of deprecor, ‘beg off,’ ‘decline;’ Luk_14:18, ‘with one consent began to beg off;’ Act_25:11, ‘If I have committed anything worthy of death I do not beg off from death;’ Heb_12:19 ‘they that heard begged off from any word more being spoken.’

profane] As opposed to the godliness of 3:16, and characteristic of the phraseology of these Epistles; cf. note on 1:9. As ‘godliness’ is seen to be more and more bound up with a reverent grasp of true doctrine, so the self-willed fancies of heretical teaching are ‘profane’ as ignoring or denying the present working of the living God.

old wives’ fables] For the justification of this epithet see Introd. p. 49; cf. also Appendix, B. The article, the order of the words, and the present tense, have their proper force by rendering the whole sentence, But those profane and old wives’ fables refuse steadily.

and exercise thyself rather] R.V. omits ‘rather’ of A.V., connecting with what follows. The conjunction itself admits of being taken either as a stronger contrast with preceding, ‘and … rather,’ or as a weaker, taking up a somewhat new point following, ‘and moreover.’ The ‘exercising’ is taken by most commentators to contain an implied rebuke of the corporeal austerities for religion’s sake taught by one school of the earliest Gnostics. But the word has a definitely recognised metaphorical meaning by this time. Cf. the use in 2Pe_2:14, ‘a heart trained in covetousness’; Heb_5:14, ‘by reason of use have their senses trained to discern’; Heb_12:11, ‘them that have been trained by chastening.’ And St Paul’s use of strong nervous words of command to brace up his younger comrade should make us lay more stress on this word of vigorous metaphor, and less perhaps on godliness; ‘do more than acquiesce in correct doctrine and godly dispositions; pursue a vigorous course of training; practise well and widely how to teach both Christian truth and Christian life.’ So Theod. Mops. Lat. interprets ‘exercitationem’ as ‘diligentiam doctrinae,’ … ‘ut alios cum omni diligentia ista instruat.’ See Appendix, K.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 4:7

But refuse – That is, refuse to pay attention to them, or reject them. Do not consider them of sufficient importance to occupy your time.

Profane – The word here used does not mean that the fables here referred to were blasphemous or impious in their character, but that they had not the character of true religion; 2Ti_2:16.And old wives’ – Old women’s stories; or such as old women held to be important. The word is used here, as it is often with us, in the sense of silly.

Fables – Fictions, or stories that were not founded on fact. The pagan religion abounded with fictions of this kind, and the Jewish teachers were also remarkable for the number of such fables which they had introduced into their system. It is probable that the apostle referred here particularly to the Jewish fables, and the counsel which he gives to Timothy is, to have nothing to do with them.

And exercise thyself rather unto godliness – Rather than attempt to understand those fables. Do not occupy your time and attention with them, but rather cultivate piety, and seek to become more holy.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 4:8

8For bodily exercise is of little profit. By the exercise “of the body,” he does not mean that which lies in hunting, or in the race-course, or in wrestling, or in digging, or in the mechanical occupations; but he gives that name to all the outward actions that are undertaken, for the sake of religion, such as watchings, long fasts, lying on the earth, and such like. Yet he does not here censure the superstitious observance of those things; otherwise he would totally condemn them, as he does in the Epistle to the Colossians, (Col_2:21,) but at present he only speaks slightingly of them, and says that they are of little advantage. So, then though the heart be altogether upright, and the object proper, yet, in outward actions, Paul finds nothing that he can value highly.

This is a very necessary warning; for the world will always lean to the side of wishing to worship God by outward services; which is an exceedingly dangerous imagination. But — to say nothing about the wicked opinion of merit — our nature always disposes us strongly to attribute more than we ought to austerity of life; as if it were no ordinary portion of Christian holiness. A clearer view of this cannot be adduced, than the fact, that, shortly after the publication of this command, the whole world was ravished with immoderate admiration of the empty form of bodily exercises. Hence arose the order of monks and nuns, and nearly all the most excellent discipline of the ancient Church, or, at least, that part of it which was most highly esteemed by the common people. If the ancient monks had not dreamed that there was some indescribably divine or angelical perfection in their austere manner of living, they would never have pursued it with so much ardor. In like manner, if pastors had not attached undue value to the ceremonies which were then observed for the mortification of the flesh, they would never have been so rigid in exacting them. And what does Paul say on the other hand? That, when any one shall have labored much and long in those exercises, the profit will be small and inconsiderable; for they are nothing but the rudiments of childish discipline.

But godliness is profitable for all things That is, he who has godliness wants nothing, though he has not those little aids; for godliness alone is able to conduct a man to complete perfection. It is the beginning, the middle, and the end, of Christian life; and, therefore, where that is entire, nothing is imperfect. Christ did not lead so austere a manner of life as John the Baptist; was he, therefore, any whit inferior? Let the meaning be thus summed up. “We ought to apply ourselves altogether to piety alone; because when we have once attained it, God asks nothing more from us; and we ought to give attention to bodily exercises in such a manner as not to hinder or retard the practice of godliness.”

Which hath the promises It is a very great consolation, that God does not wish the godly to be in want of anything; for, having made our perfection to consist in godliness, he now makes it the perfection of all happiness. As it is the beginning of happiness in this life, so he likewise extends to it the promise of divine grace, which alone makes us happy, and without which we are very miserable; for God testifies that, even in this life, he will be our Father.

But let us remember to distinguish between the good things of the present and of the future life; for God bestows kindness on us in this world, in order that he may give us only a taste of his goodness, and by such a taste may allure us to the desire of heavenly benefits, that in them we may find satisfaction. The consequence is, that the good things of the present life are not only mingled with very many afflictions, but, we may almost say, overwhelmed by them; for it is not expedient for us to have abundance in this world, lest we should indulge in luxury. Again, lest any one should found on this passage the merits of works, we ought to keep in mind what we have already said, that godliness includes not only a good conscience toward men, and the fear of God, but likewise faith and calling upon him.

Cambridge Bible

1 Tim 4:8. bodily exercise profiteth little] Rather, with R.V., bodily exercise is profitable for a little. The Latin of Theod. Mops. gives the straightforward and natural account: ‘corporalis exercitatio ad modicum est utilis’ (so Vulgate ‘ad modicum’): ‘qui enim in agone sunt corporali et ad hoc seipsos exercent usque in praesentem uitam, inde solent habere solatium; nam pietatis agon et istius exercitatio ex multis partibus nobis magnum praebet iumentum promittens nobis in ruturo saeculo magna praebere; nam secundum praesentem uitam conferre nobis non minima potest.’ St Paul, after choosing the strong metaphorical word to enforce the need for a zealous, painstaking ministry, dwells on the metaphor according to his habit. For his fondness for this metaphor see Howson, Metaphors of St Paul. Cf. Appendix, K.

godliness is profitable] The ‘pietatis agon’ affects for good, as Alford puts it, ‘not one portion only of a mans being, but every portion of it, bodily and spiritual, temporal and eternal.’

promise of the life] Lit. ‘promise of life, that which is life now, and that which will be.’ Bp Ellicott and Dr Alford, both after hesitation, interpret ‘spiritual happiness and holiness, the highest blessedness of the creature;’ but Alford wrongly alters the ‘promise’ into the ‘blessedness promised’ instead of giving ‘life’ its full and proper meaning. Cf. Mar_10:30 and the extract quoted by Dr Maclear from Lange’s Life of Christ, iii. 459, ‘The Christian gains back again already in this world in the higher form of real spiritual essence whatever in the physical and symbolical form of his life he has forfeited; houses enough in the entertainment afforded him by his spiritual associates who receive him; brothers and sisters, in the highest sense of the term; mothers who bless and tend the life of his soul; children of his spirit; lands, of his activity, of his higher enjoyment of nature, of his delights; and all this ever purer, ever richer, as an unfolding of that eternal inheritance of which it is said “All things are yours,” in spite of whatever persecutions of the world which dim the glory of these things.’ See also Bp Westcott’s additional note on 1Jn_5:20, where he quotes St Paul’s phrase, ‘the life which is life indeed.’ Observe by the way how there this life needs ‘to be grasped and laid hold of,’ as here it is promised to spiritual training and contest. Compare also Eph_4:18, ‘the life of God.’

Both ‘the life now’ and ‘the life to come’ are clearly parts of ‘eternal life.’ Bp Westcott’s concluding paragraph is worthy of St Paul in its realisation of what ‘the promise’ is and its incitement to the necessary ‘training.’

‘If now we endeavour to bring together the different traits of “the eternal life,” we see that it is a life which with all its fulness and all its potencies is now; a life which extends beyond the limits of the individual, and preserves, completes, crowns individuality by placing the part in connexion with the whole: a life which satisfies while it quickens aspiration: a life which is seen, as we regard it patiently, to be capable of conquering, reconciling, uniting the rebellious discordant broken elements of being on which we look and which we bear about with us; a life which gives unity to the constituent parts and to the complex whole, which brings together heaven and earth, which offers the sum of existence in one thought. As we reach forth to grasp it, the revelation of God is seen to have been unfolded in its parts in Creation; and the parts are seen to have been brought together again by the Incarnation.’

Note the direct bearing of the last sentence on St Paul’s doctrine here from 3:15 to 4:10.

Expositor’s Greek Testament

1 Timothy 4:8

1Ti_4:8. σωματικὴ γυμνασία: The parallel cited by Lightfoot (Philippians, p. 290) from Seneca (Ep. Mor. xv. 2, 5) renders it almost certain that the primary reference is to gymnastic exercises (as Chrys., etc., take it); but there is as certainly in σωματικὴ γυμνασία a connotation of ascetic practices as the outward expression of the theories underlying the fables of 1Ti_4:7. παραιτοῦ elsewhere in the Pastorals is followed by reasons why the particular thing or person should be avoided. The teaching is identical with that in Col_2:23. St. Paul makes his case all the stronger by conceding that an asceticism which terminates in the body is of some use. The contrast then is not so much between bodily exercise, commonly so called, and piety, as between piety (which includes a discipline of the body) and an absurd and profane theosophy of which discipline of the body was the chief or only practical expression.

πρὸς ὀλίγον: to a slight extent; as contrasted with πρὸς πάντα. πρὸς ὀλίγον means for a little while in Jam_4:14. This notion is included in the other. The R.V., for a little is ambiguous; perhaps intentionally so. In view of the genuine asceticism of St. Paul himself, not to mention other examples, it is unreasonable to think him inconsistent in making this concession.

ἐπαγγελίαν ἔχουσα ζωῆς; If we take ἐπαγγελία to signify the thing promised (as in Luk_24:49, Act_1:4; Act_13:32), rather than a promise, we can give an appropriate force to the rest of the sentence. A consistent Christian walk possesses, does not forfeit, that which this life promises; in a very real sense “it makes the best of both worlds”. ἔχω will then have its usual meaning; and ζωῆς is the genitive of possession, as in Luk_24:49, Act_1:4 (ἐπ. τοῦ πατρός). It is not the genitive of apposition, piety promises life. That which is given by life to Christians is the best thing that life has to give. Von Soden compares πάντα ὑμῶν, 1Co_3:21 sq. Bacon’s saying “Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; Adversity is the blessing of the New” is only half a truth. If religion does not make us happy in this life, we have needlessly missed our inheritance (see Mat_6:33; Mar_10:30). On the other hand, though piety does bring happiness in this life, the exercise of it deliberately with that end in view is impious; as Whately said, “Honesty is the best policy, but the man who is honest for that reason is not honest”.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 4:10

10For in this we both labor and suffer reproaches This is an anticipation by which he solves that question, “Are not believers the most miserable of all men, because they are oppressed by tribulations of every kind?” In order to show, therefore, that their condition must not be judged from outward appearance, he distinguishes them from others, first in the cause, and next in the result. Hence it follows, that they lose nothing of the promises which he has mentioned, when they are tried by adversity. The sum is, that believers are not miserable in afflictions, because a good conscience supports them, and a blessed and joyful end awaits them.

Now, since the happiness of the present life consists chiefly of two parts, honor and conveniences, he contrasts them within two evils, toils and reproach, meaning by the former words, inconveniences and annoyances of every kind, such as poverty, cold, nakedness, hunger, banishments, spoliations, imprisonments, scourgings, and other persecutions.

We have hope fixed on the living God This consolation refers to the cause; for so far are we from being miserable, when we suffer on account of righteousness, that it is rather a just ground of thanksgiving. Besides, our afflictions are accompanied by hope in the living God, and, what is more, hope may be regarded as the foundation; but it never maketh ashamed, (Rom_5:5,) and therefore everything that happens to the godly ought to be reckoned a gain.

Who is the Savior This is the second consolation, though it depends on the former; for the deliverance of which he speaks may be viewed as the fruit of hope. To make this more clear, it ought to be understood that this is an argument drawn from the less to the greater; for the word σωτὴρ is here a general term, and denotes one who defends and preserves. He means that the kindness of God extends to all men. And if there is no man who does not feel the goodness of God towards him, and who is not a partaker of it, how much more shall it be experienced by the godly, who hope in him? Will he not take peculiar care in them? Will he not more freely pour out his bounty on them? In a word, will he not, in every respect, keep them safe to the end?

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim 4:10. therefore we both labour] In view of this, namely, our hope fixed on the fulness of the blessing of life from the living God, a present and a future salvation, ‘goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men, creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life,’ enjoyed to the full only by the faithful, and above all ‘the redemption of the world, the means of grace, and the hope of glory’ realised with ‘a due sense of the inestimable love’ only by the faithful; in view of such a glorifying of our being, of all being, any amount of ‘toil and moil,’ any strain of keenest contest is worth while. We may render the whole ‘faithful saying’ thus:

‘Right well for such a wage and prize

We toil, we wrestle on

Till hope’s far goal be won,

Love’s full salvation, Life that lies

In God the Living One

For each created son—

Full Life, where Faith to Love replies.’

we both labour and suffer reproach] The balance of ms. authority is for the omission of ‘both’ and the substitution of ‘strive,’ ‘wrestle,’ for ‘suffer reproach.’ The internal appropriateness which has been thought to require the latter seems altogether from the foregoing paraphrase to suit the change: a superficial adaptation of this passage to the somewhat similar ‘faithful saying’ of 2Ti_2:11, 2Ti_2:12 may have caused the reading ‘suffer reproach.’ But the tone here and in Ep. to Titus is ‘work,’—the buoyant tone of one who has been set free to ‘labour in the Lord:’ in 2 Tim. the deeper shade of ‘suffering’ has settled on the prison cell. Accordingly in his peroration in ch. 6:12 St Paul takes up the word and metaphor, ‘Fight the good fight of the faith;’ while in 2Ti_4:7 he looks back from the prison cell on his own strife as finished, ‘I have fought the good fight.’ The metaphor had long been a favourite with him, e.g. 1Co_9:25, where the word is translated in full by R.V., ‘Every man that striveth in the games is temperate in all things.’ See Appendix, E, and K.

we trust] More correctly ‘we have hoped and still hope’ the ‘larger hope,’ that God is

‘love indeed

And love Creation’s final law.’

The perfect expresses a ‘Hope that never lost her youth.’ The aorist has less ms. authority.

the Saviour of all men] In a lower sense;

(1) for the body, in the supply of a present earthly care, and in the blessing of all earth’s good gifts, through His living love, the curse being removed through Christ’s coming;

(2) for the soul, in the supply of the light of Christ to the conscience, such that where revelation has not come, the soul can still live, if it will, the life of God here through Christ unrecognised and hereafter through Christ revealed. ‘I am the light of the world,’ Joh_8:12; ‘That was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world,’ Joh_1:9.

specially of those that believe] In a higher sense; (1) through the Christian’s quickened enjoyment of all earth’s beauties and happinesses, and the transmuting of earthly losses into gains; (2) through the Christian’s response of Faith to Love. ‘That life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me,’ Gal_2:20; ‘He that followeth Me shall not walk in the darkness but shall have the light of life,’ Joh_8:12. In both cases it is a present salvation that is chiefly in view, both of body and of soul; but in both cases the life that now is, of body and of soul, is only part of the whole life of which the living God is Saviour.

See Lange’s and Bp Westcott’s notes above. This one last word ‘the faithful,’ ‘baptized believers,’ ‘holders of the Christian faith,’ gathers up the great mystery of Creation, Incarnation, Redemption, From 3:15 to 4:11, and sets the great revelation of God in Christ the living Saviour against the ‘lies’ and ‘fables’ of men and devils.

‘Strong Son of God, immortal Love,

Whom we that have not seen Thy Face

By faith and faith alone embrace,

Believing where we cannot prove,—

Thine are these orbs of light and shade,

Thou madest Life in man and brute.’

The more usual interpretation of the verse may be given in Bp Woodford’s words: ‘God is the Saviour of all, because He willeth the salvation of all and delivered up His Son for us all (Rom_8:32). He is in a more complete sense the Saviour of His faithful, because in them His gracious will takes effect through the cooperation of their own freewill with His divine will.’

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 4:10

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach – In making this truth known, that all might be saved, or that salvation was offered to all. The “labor” was chiefly experienced in carrying this intelligence abroad among the Gentiles; the “reproach” arose chiefly from the Jews for doing it.

Because we trust in the living God – This does not mean, as our translation would seem to imply, that he labored and suffered “because” he confided in God, or that this was the “reason” of his sufferings, but rather that this trust in the living God was his “support” in these labors and trials. “We labor and suffer reproach, for we have hope in God. Through him we look for salvation. We believe that he has made this known to people, and believing this, we labor earnestly to make it known, even though it be attended with reproaches.” The sentiment is, that the belief that God has revealed a plan of salvation for all people, and invites all people to be saved, will make his friends willing to “labor” to make this known, though it be attended with reproaches.

Who is the Saviour of all men – This must be understood as denoting that he is the Saviour of all people in some sense which differs from what is immediately affirmed – “especially of those that believe.” There is something pertaining to “them” in regard to salvation which does not pertain to “all men.” It cannot mean that he brings all people to heaven, “especially” those who believe – for this would be nonsense. And if he brings all people actually to heaven, how can it be “especially” true that he does this in regard to those who believe? Does it mean that he saves others “without” believing? But this would be contrary to the uniform doctrine of the Scriptures; see Mar_16:16. When, therefore, it is said that he “is the Saviour of ‘all’ people, ‘especially’ of those who believe,” it must mean that there is a sense in which it is true that he may be called the Saviour of all people, while, at the same time, it is “actually” true that those only are saved who believe. This may be true in two respects:

(1) As he is the “Preserver” of people Job_7:20, for in this sense he may be said to “save” them from famine, and war, and peril – keeping them from day to day; compare Psa_107:28;

(2) As he has “provided” salvation for all people. He is thus their Saviour – and may be called the common Saviour of all; that is, he has confined the offer of salvation to no one class of people; he has not limited the atonement to one division of the human race; and he actually saves all who are willing to be saved by him.

(See supplementary note on 2Co_5:21. This passage however is not regarded a proof text now on the extent of the atonement, as the fair rendering of σωτήρ sōtēr is “Preserver.” Dr. Wardlaw has accordingly excluded it in his recent work.)

Specially of those that believe – This is evidently designed to limit the previous remark. If it had been left there, it might have been inferred that he would “actually save” all people. But the apostle held no such doctrine, and he here teaches that salvation is “actually” limited to those who believe. This is the speciality or the uniqueness in the salvation of those who actually reach heaven, that they are “believers;” see the notes on Mar_16:16. All people, therefore, do not enter heaven, unless all people have faith. But is this so? What evidence is there that the great mass of mankind die believing on the Son of God?

John Calvin

1 Timothy 4:11

11Instruct 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.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 4:11

These things command and teach – As important doctrines, and as embracing the sum of the Christian system. It follows from this, that a minister of the gospel is solemnly bound to teach that there is a sense in which God is the Saviour of all people. He is just as much bound to teach this, as he is that only those will be saved who believe. It is a glorious truth – and it is a thing for which a man should unceasingly give thanks to God that he may go and proclaim that He has provided salvation for all, and is willing that all should come and live.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 4:12

12Let 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 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.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim 4:12. in conversation] In behaviour; the verb occurs above 3:15; see note. It is an especial favourite of St Peter’s, noun and verb occurring 10 times in his short Epistles. The five words describe five stages, from the most defined external to the most defined internal characteristics—speech, behaviour, love, faith, purity; love as it were belonging equally to the inner and the outer self, and combining all. ‘The greatest is love.’ Yet the special emphasis is on ‘purity,’ the word itself occurring only here and in 5:2, though another form of the word is used in the similar catalogue, 2Co_6:6. The same connexion of ‘youth’ and ‘purity’ is in St Paul’s mind in 2Ti_2:22, ‘flee also youthful lusts.’ Timothy, at 36 years, was young compared with St Paul and the presbyters. See Introd. pp. 56 sqq. Cf. also the use of the Latin iuvenis, for military service up to 40 years; e.g. Liv. i. 43.

in charity, in spirit, in faith] There is no sufficient ms. authority for ‘in spirit’; it is curious that A reads ‘in spirit’ instead of ‘in faith’ in 2:7. The phrase, most common in St Paul’s earlier Epistles, has left his latest language.

Adam Clarke

1 Timothy 4:12

Let no man despise thy youth – Act with all the gravity and decorum which become thy situation in the Church. As thou art in the place of an elder, act as an elder. Boyish playfulness ill becomes a minister of the Gospel, whatever his age may be. Concerning Timothy’s age see the conclusion of the preface to this epistle.

Be thou an example of the believers – It is natural for the flock to follow the shepherd; if he go wrong, they will go wrong also.

“Himself a wanderer from the narrow way,

His silly sheep, no wonder if they stray.”

Though, according to the just judgement of God, they who die in their sins have their blood on their own head; yet, if they have either gone into sin or continued in it through the watchman’s fault, their blood will God require at his hand. How many have endeavored to excuse their transgressions by alleging, in vindication of their conduct, “Our minister does so, and he is more wise and learned than we.” What an awful account must such have to give to the Head of the Church when he appears!

In word – Εν λογῳ· In doctrine; teach nothing but the truth of God, because nothing but that will save souls.

In conversation – Εν αναστροφῃ· In the whole of thy conduct in every department which thou fillest in all thy domestic as well as public relations, behave thyself well.

In charity – Εν αγαπῃ· In love to God and man; show that this is the principle and motive of all thy conduct.

In spirit – Εν πνευματι· In the manner and disposition in which thou dost all things. How often is a holy or charitable work done in an unholy, uncharitable, and peevish spirit! To the doer, such work is unfruitful.

These words are wanting in ACDFG, and several others; both the Syriac, Erpen’s Arabic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala, and many of the fathers. Griesbach leaves them out of the text. They have in all probability been added by a later hand.

In faith – Εν πιστει· This word πιστις is probably taken here for fidelity, a sense which it often bears in the New Testament. It cannot mean doctrine, for that has been referred to before. Be faithful to thy trust, to thy flock, to thy domestics, to the public, to thy God. Fidelity consists in honestly keeping, preserving, and delivering up when required, whatever is intrusted to our care; as also in improving whatever is delivered in trust for that purpose. Lose nothing that God gives, and improve every gift that he bestows.

In purity – Εν ἁγνεια· Chastity of body and mind; a direction peculiarly necessary for a young minister, who has more temptations to break its rules than perhaps any other person. “Converse sparingly with women, and especially with young women,” was the advice of a very holy and experienced minister of Christ.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 4:12

Let no man despise thy youth – That is, do not act in such a manner that any shall despise you on account of your youth. Act as becomes a minister of the gospel in all things, and in such a way that people will respect you as such, though you are young. It is clear from this that Timothy was then a young man, but his exact age there is no means of determining. It is implied here:

(1) That there was danger that, by the levity and indiscretion to which youth are so much exposed, the ministry might be regarded with contempt; and,

(2) That it was possible that his deportment should be so grave, serious, and every way appropriate, that the ministry would not be blamed, but honored. The “way” in which Timothy was to live so that the ministry would not be despised on account of his youth, the apostle proceeds immediately to specify.

But be thou an example of the believers – One of the constant duties of a minister of the gospel, no matter what his age. A minister should so live, that if all his people should closely follow his example, their salvation would be secure, and they would make the highest possible attainments in piety. On the meaning of the word rendered “example,” see the notes on Phi_3:17; 1Th_1:7.

In word – In “speech,” that is, your manner of conversation. This does not refer to his “public teaching” – in which he could not probably be an “example” to them – but to his usual and familiar conversation.

In conversation – In general deportment. See this word explained in the notes on Phi_1:27.

In charity – Love to the brethren, and to all; see notes on 1 Cor. 13.

In spirit – In the government of your passions, and in a mild, meek, forgiving disposition.

In faith – At all times, and in all trials show to believers by your example, how they ought to maintain unshaken confidence in God.

In purity – In chasteness of life; see 1Ti_5:2. There should be nothing in your contact with the other sex that would give rise to scandal. The papists, with great impropriety, understand this as enjoining celibacy – as if there could be no “purity” in that holy relation which God appointed in Eden, and which he has declared to “be honorable in all” Heb_13:4, and which he has made so essential to the wellbeing of mankind. If the apostle had wished to produce the highest possible degree of corruption in the church, he would have enjoined the celibacy of the clergy and the celibacy of an indefinite number of nuns and monks. There are no other institutions on the earth which have done so much to corrupt the chastity of the race, as those which have grown out of the doctrine that celibacy is more honorable than marriage.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 4:13

13Attend 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, 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.

Pulpit Commentary


Heed for attendance, A.V.; teaching for doctrine, A.V. Till I come (1Ti_3:14; 1Ti_1:3).

Reading (τῇ ἀναγνώσει). The public reading of the Scriptures (the Lessons, as we should say). This we know was the practice in the synagogue (Luk_4:16, etc.; Act_13:27; Act_15:21; 2Co_3:15). We see the beginning of reading the New Testament in the Christian assemblies in Eph_3:4; and Col_4:16; and generally in the fact of Epistles being addressed by the apostles to Churches. The ἀναγνώστης, the reader, lector, was a regular order in the third and fourth centuries. The Grace is being revived in our day.

Exhortation (τῇ παρακλήσει); see Act_4:36, where Barnabas’s name is interpreted as meaning “Son of exhortation” (R.V.), and Act_13:15; comp. Rom_12:7 (where, as here, παράκλησις and διδασκαλία are coupled together); 1Th_2:3, etc. Teaching (διδασκαλία); almost always rendered “doctrine” in the A.V. But here, where the act of teaching (like the act of reading, the act of exhorting, in the two preceding clauses) is intended, “teaching” is perhaps the best word according to our modern usage. As regards the difference between διδασκαλία and παράκλησις, the former would express “doctrinal teaching,” whether of dogma or of precept, the latter entreaties to believe the one and practice the other (see Act_11:23 and Act_14:22 for good examples of πράκλησις).

John Calvin

1 Timothy 4:14

14Neglect 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. (Mat_25:18.) 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,” 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.”

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim 4:14. the gift that is in thee] The connexion here and round the parallel verse 2Ti_1:6 implies a gift for ruling and teaching, distinct from the gift conferred through ‘the laying on’ of St Paul’s hands at Ephesus, Act_19:6, the extraordinary gifts of speaking with tongues, &c., from the Holy Spirit; gifts still imparted at this time, as we learn from 1Pe_4:10, ‘according as each hath received a gift;’ and continued (with change of outward manifestation) uninterruptedly since, as the ‘grace of Confirmation or Laying on of Hands.’ The gift here is connected with ‘prophecy,’ and ‘the laying on of the hands of the presbyters,’ and follows immediately upon the public ‘ministry of the word.’ The ‘prophecy’ will naturally be the same as ‘the prophecies which went before,’ 1:18: and the preposition rendered ‘by’ in A.V. and R.V. should have the same force as it has in Gal_3:19, ‘the law ordained through (A.V. ‘by’) angels,’—a force seen from the synonymous phrase Act_7:53, ‘who received the law, as it was ordained by angels,’ lit. ‘unto ordinances of angels’. As angels were the ministrants and attendants of the Great Lawgiver, so the surrounding ratifying witnesses of the bestowal on Timothy of the ‘Grace of Orders’ were the ‘prophecies,’ ‘going before,’ and ‘attending,’ ‘heralds and pursuivants.’ Compare the use in 2Ti_2:2, and see note. See Introduction, p. 58.

the presbytery] The word occurs in Luk_22:66 for the body of rulers of the synagogue; and again in Act_22:5, side by side with the use of the word ‘presbyters’ in connexion with the Christian community, Act_11:30, Act_15:2, Act_21:18. In the synagogue it included the ‘chief priest’ as we see from both the passages above; so surely its earliest Christian use here, drawn from that older use still living side by side, must include St Paul himself as the chief ruler.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 4:14

Neglect not the gift — by letting it lie unused. In 2Ti_1:6 the gift is represented as a spark of the Spirit lying within him, and sure to smolder by neglect, the stirring up or keeping in lively exercise of which depends on the will of him on whom it is bestowed (Mat_25:18, Mat_25:25, Mat_25:27, Mat_25:28). The charism or spiritual gift, is that of the Spirit which qualified him for “the work of an evangelist” (Eph_4:11; 2Ti_4:5), or perhaps the gift of discerning spirits, specially needed in his function of ordaining, as overseer [Bishop Hinds].

given thee — by God (1Co_12:4, 1Co_12:6).

by prophecy — that is, by the Holy Spirit, at his general ordination, or else consecration, to the special see of Ephesus, speaking through the prophets God’s will to give him the graces needed to qualify him for his work (1Ti_1:18; Act_13:1-3).

with … laying on of … hands — So in Joshua’s case (Num_27:18-20; Deu_34:9). The gift was connected with the symbolical act of laying on hands. But the Greek “with” implies that the presbyter’s laying on hands was the mere accompaniment of the conferring of the gift. “By” (2Ti_1:6) implies that Paul’s laying on his hands was the actual instrument of its being conferred.

of the presbytery — In 2Ti_1:6 the apostle mentions only his own laying on of hands. But there his aim is to remind Timothy specially of the part he himself took in imparting to him the gift. Here he mentions the fact, quite consistent with the other, that the neighboring presbyters took part in the ordination or consecration, he, however, taking the foremost part. Paul, though having the general oversight of the elders everywhere, was an elder himself (1Pe_5:1; 2Jo_1:1). The Jewish council was composed of the elders of the Church (the presbytery, Luk_22:66; Act_22:5), and a presiding rabbi; so the Christian Church was composed of apostles, elders, and a president (Act_15:16). As the president of the synagogue was of the same order as his presbyters, so the bishop was of the same order as his presbyters. At the ordination of the president of the synagogue there were always three presbyters present to lay on hands, so the early Church canons required three bishops to be present at the consecration of a bishop. As the president of the synagogue, so the bishop of the Church alone could ordain, he acting as the representative, and in the name of the whole presbytery [Vitringa]. So, in the Anglican Church, the bishop ordains, the presbyters or priests present joining with him in laying on hands.

Pulpit Commentary


gift (χάρισμα). The verb χαρίζομαι means “to give anything freely,” gratuitously, of mere good will, without any payment or return (Luk_7:42; Act_27:24; Rom_8:32; 1Co_2:12, etc.). Hence χάρισμα came to be especially applied to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are preeminently “free gifts” (see Act_8:20). It is so applied in Rom_1:11; Rom_12:6; 1Co_1:7; 1Co_12:4, 1Co_12:9, 1Co_12:28, 1Co_12:30, 1Co_12:31; 1Pe_4:10. Here, then, as in the similar passage, 2Ti_1:6, the “gift” spoken of is the special grace given by the Holy Ghost to those who are separated for “the office and work of a priest in the Church of God by the imposition of hands” (Ordering of Priests).

This gift St. Paul bids him not neglect (μὴ ἀμέλει). The word contains the idea of contemptuous neglect—neglect as of an unimportant thing. In Mat_22:5 the persons invited to the feast made light of it, and went away to other things which they cared mere about. In Heb_2:3, τηλικαύτης ἀμελήσαντες σωτηρίας, and Heb_8:9, imply a contemptuous disregard. So here Timothy is reminded that in his ordination he received a great χάρισμα, and that he must value it duly, and use it diligently. It must not be let lie slumbering and smoldering, but must be stirred up into a flame. The lesson here and in 2Ti_1:6 seems to be that we must look back to our ordination, and to the spiritual grace given in it, as things not exhausted. The grace is there, but it must not be lightly thought of. Which was given thee by prophecy. This seems to be explained by Act_13:1-3, where Barnabas and Saul were separated for their work by the laying on of the hands apparently of the prophets and teachers, at the express command of the Holy Ghost, speaking doubtless by the mouth of one of the prophets. Timothy, it appears, was designated for his work by a like command of the Holy Ghost, speaking by one of the Church prophets, and received his commission by a like “laying on of hands” by the elders of the Church. If St. Paul refers, as he appears to do, to the same occasion in 2Ti_1:6, then it appears that he laid his hands on Timothy, together with the presbyters, as is done by the bishop in the ordination of priests.

The presbytery (τοῦ πρεσβυτερίου). The word is borrowed from the Jewish nomenclature (see Luk_22:6; Act_22:5). In a slightly different sense for “the office of a presbyter,” Sus. 5.50 (Cod. Alex.).

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 4:14

Neglect (ἀμέλει)

Rare in N.T. Only Mat_22:5; Heb_2:3; Heb_8:9.

The gift that is in thee (τοῦ ἐν σοὶ χαρίσματος)

Comp. 2Ti_1:6. Χάρισμα gift is a distinctively Pauline word, being found only three times outside of Paul’s Epistles, and olxx, oClass. See on Rom_1:11. That is in thee, comp. τῆς ἐν σοὶ πίστεως the faith that is in thee, 2Ti_1:5. The meaning is the special inward endowment which qualified Timothy for exhortation and teaching, and which was directly imparted by the Holy Spirit.

By prophecy (διὰ προφητείας)

See on 1Ti_1:18. Προφητείας genitive, not accusative. The meaning is by the medium of prophecy. The reference is to prophetic intimation given to Paul concerning the selection of Timothy for the ministerial office. These prophecies were given by the Holy Spirit who bestowed the “gift”, so that the gift itself and the prophecy concurred in attesting the candidate for ordination.

With the laying on of the hands (μετὰ ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν)

Μετὰ implies that the prophetic intimations were in some way repeated or emphasized in connection with the ceremony of ordination. We note the association of prophecy with ordination in the setting apart of Paul and Barnabas (Act_13:9, Act_13:3); so that the case of Timothy has an analogue in that of Paul himself. Ἑπίθεσις laying on, imposition, also Act_8:18; 2Ti_1:6; Heb_6:2, in each case with of hands. “The custom,” says Lange, “is as old as the race.” The Biblical custom rests on the conception of the hand as the organ of mediation and transference. The priest laid his hand on the head of the bullock or goat (Lev_1:4) to show that the guilt of the people was transferred. The hand was laid on the head of a son, to indicate the transmission of the hereditary blessing (Gen_48:14); upon one appointed to a position of authority, as Joshua (Num_27:18-23); upon the sick or dead in token of miraculous power to heal or to restore to life (2Ki_4:34). So Christ (Mar_6:5; Luk_4:40). In the primitive Christian church the laying on of hands signified the imparting of the Holy Spirit to the newly-baptized (Act_8:17; Act_19:6; comp. Heb_6:2). Hands were laid upon the seven (Act_6:6). But the form of consecration in ordination varied. No one mode has been universal in the church, and no authoritative written formula exists. In the Alexandrian and Abyssinian churches it was by breathing: in the Eastern church generally, by lifting up the hands in benediction: in the Armenian church, by touching the dead hand of the predecessor: in the early Celtic church, by the transmission of relics or pastoral staff: in the Latin church, by touching the head.

Of the presbytery (τοῦ πρεσβυτερίου)

The word is found in Luk_22:66, where it denotes the body of representative elders of the people in the Sanhedrim, as distinguished from the two other constituents of that body – the chief priests and scribes. Similarly Act_22:5. Here of the college or fraternity of Christian elders in the place where Timothy was ordained. The word is frequent in the Epistles of Ignatius. According to this, Timothy was not ordained by a Bishop. Bishop and Presbyter are not identical. In 2Ti_1:6 we read, “by the laying on of my hands.” The inconsistency is usually explained by saying that Paul was associated with the Presbyters in the laying on of hands.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 4:14

Neglect not the gift that is in thee – An important question arises here, to what the word “gift” refers; whether to natural endowment; to office; or to some supposed virtue which had been conferred by ordination – some transmitted influence which made him holy as a minister of religion, and which was to continue to be transmitted by the imposition of apostolic hands. The word which is here used, is rendered “gift” in every place in which it occurs in the New Testament. It is found in the following places, and with the following significations: deliverance from peril, 2Co_1:11; a gift or quality of the mind, 1Co_7:7; gifts of Christian knowledge or consolation, Rom_1:11; 1Co_1:7; redemption or salvation through Christ, Rom_5:15-16; Rom_6:23; Rom_11:29; the miraculous endowments conferred by the Holy Spirit, Rom_12:6; 1Co_12:4, 1Co_12:9,1Co_12:28, 1Co_12:30-31, and the special gift or endowment for the work of the ministry, 1Ti_4:14; 2Ti_1:6; 1Pe_4:10. The “gift” then referred to here was that by which Timothy was qualified for the work of the ministry. It relates to his office and qualifications – to “every thing” that entered into his fitness for the work. It does not refer “exclusively” to any influence that came upon him in virtue of his ordination, or to any new grace that was infused into him by that act, making him either officially or personally more holy than other people, or than he was before – or to any efficacy in the mere act of ordination – but it comprised “the whole train of circumstances” by which he had been qualified for the sacred office and recognized as a minister of religion. All this was regarded as a “gift,” a “benefit,” or a “favor” – χαρισμα charisma – and he was not to neglect or disregard the responsibilities and advantages growing out of it. In regard to the manner in which this gift or favor was bestowed, the following things are specified:

(1) It was the gift of God; 2Ti_1:6. He was to be recognized as its source; and it was not therefore conferred merely by human hands. The call to the ministry, the qualifications for the office, and the whole arrangement by which one is endowed for the work, are primarily to be traced to him as the source.

(2) It was given to Timothy in accordance with certain predictions which had existed in regard to him – the expectations of those who had observed his qualifications for such an office, and who had expressed the hope that he would one day be permitted to serve the Lord in it.

(3) It was sanctioned by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. The call of God to the work thus recognized by the church, and the approbation of the Presbytery expressed by setting him apart to the office, should be regarded by Timothy as a part of the “gift” or “benefit” (charisma) which had been conferred on him, and which he was not to neglect.

(4) An additional circumstance which might serve to impress the mind of Timothy with the value of this endowment, and the responsibility of this office, was, that Paul himself had been concerned in his ordination; 2Ti_1:6. He who was so much more aged (Phm_1:9; compare 2Ti_4:6-7); he who had been a father to him, and who had adopted him and treated him as a son had been concerned in his ordination; and this fact imposed a higher obligation to perform aright the functions of an office which had been conferred on him in this manner. We are not to suppose, therefore, that there was any mysterious influence – any “virus” – conveyed by the act of ordination, or that that act imparted any additional degree of holiness. The endowment for the ministry; the previous anticipations and hopes of friends; and the manner in which he had been inducted into the sacred office, should all be regarded as a “benefit” or “favor” of a high order, and as a reason why the gift thus bestowed should not be neglected – and the same things now should make a man who is in the ministry deeply feel the solemn obligations resting on him to cultivate his powers in the highest degree, and to make the most of his talents.

Which was given thee by prophecy – That is, the prophetic declarations and the hopes of pious friends in regard to your future usefulness, have been among the means by which you have been introduced to the ministry, and should be a reason why you should cultivate your powers, and perform faithfully the duties of your office; see the notes on 1Ti_1:18.

With the laying on of the hands of the presbytery – it was common to lay on the hands in imparting a blessing, or in setting apart to any office; see Mat_19:15; Mar_6:5; Luk_4:40; Luk_12:13; Lev_8:14; Num_27:23; Act_28:8; Act_6:6; Act_8:17; Act_13:3. The reference here is undoubtedly to the act by which Timothy was set apart to the office of the ministry. The word rendered “presbytery” – πρεσβυτέριον presbuterion – occurs only in two other places in the New Testament – Luk_22:66, where it is rendered “elders;” and Act_22:5, where it is rendered “estate of the elders.” It properly means an “assembly of aged men; council of elders.” In Luk_22:66, and Act_22:5, it refers to the Jewish “sanhedrin;” see the notes on Mat_5:22. In the passage before us, it cannot refer to that body – for they did not ordain men to the Christian ministry – but to some association, or council, or body of elders of the Christian church. It is clear from the passage:

(1) That there was more than “one person” engaged in this service, and taking part in it when Timothy was ordained, and therefore it could not have been by a “prelate” or “bishop” alone.

(2) That the power conferred, whatever it was, was conferred by the whole body constituting the presbytery – since the apostle says that the “gift” was imparted, not in virtue of any particular power or eminence in anyone individual, but by the “laying on of the hands of the presbytery.”

(3) The statement here is just such a one as would be made now respecting a Presbyterian ordination; it is not one which would be made of an Episcopal ordination. A Presbyterian would choose “these very words” in giving an account of an ordination to the work of the ministry; an Episcopalian “would not.” The former speaks of an ordination by a “presbytery;” the latter of ordination by a “bishop.” The former can use the account of the apostle Paul here as applicable to an ordination, without explanations, comments, new versions or criticisms; the latter cannot. The passage, therefore, is full proof that, in one of the most important ordinations mentioned in the New Testament, it was performed by an association of men, and not by a prelate, and therefore, that this was the primitive mode of ordination. Indeed, there is not a single instance of ordination to an office mentioned in the New Testament which was performed by one man alone. See this passage examined at greater length in my” Enquiry into the organization and government of the apostolic church,” pp. 208-221.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 4:15

15Take heed to these things 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. 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.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 4:15

Meditate — Greek, “Meditate CAREFULLY upon” (Psa_1:2; Psa_119:15; compare “Isaac,” Gen_24:63).

these things — (1Ti_4:12-14). As food would not nourish without digestion, which assimilates the food to the substance of the body, so spiritual food, in order to benefit us, needs to be appropriated by prayerful meditation.

give thyself wholly to — literally, “BE in these things”; let them engross thee wholly; be wholly absorbed in them. Entire self-dedication, as in other pursuits, so especially in religion, is the secret of proficiency. There are changes as to all other studies, fashionable to-day, out of fashion to-morrow; this study alone is never obsolete, and when made the all-engrossing aim sanctifies all other studies. The exercise of the ministry threatens the spirit of the ministry, unless it be sustained within. The minister must be first his own scholar before he can be another’s teacher.

profiting — Greek, “progress” towards perfection in the Christian life, and especially towards the fullest realization of the ideal of a Christian minister (1Ti_4:12).

may appear to all — not for thy glory, but for the winning of souls (Mat_5:16).

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 4:15

Meditate (μελέτα)

Only here and Act_4:25 (citation). Often in Class. and lxx. Most translators reject the A.V. meditate, and substitute be diligent in, or practice, or take care for. Meditate, however, is legitimate, although in Class. the word commonly appears in one of the other senses. The connection between the different meanings is apparent. Exercise or practice applied to the mind becomes thinking or meditation. In lxx it represents seven Hebrew equivalents, and signifies to meditate, talk of, murmur, delight one’s self in, attend to. Often to meditate, Jos_1:8; Psa_1:2; Psa_2:1; Psa_37:12; Psa_72:6; Sir. 6:7. Meditation is a talking within the mind, and issues in speech; hence to speak, as Psa_35:28; Psa_37:30; Isaiah 69:3. Similarly, λόγος signifies both reason and discourse. In Lat. meditari, “to reflect,” is also “to exercise in,” “to practice,” as Virgil, Ecc_1:2. In the Vulg. meditabor is the translation of murmur or mourn in Isa_38:14. The Hebrew הָגָהֽ means to murmur, whisper; hence the inner whispering of the heart; hence to think, meditate, consider, as Psa_63:7; Psa_78:13.

Give thyself wholly to them (ἐν τούτοις ἴσθι)

Lit. be in these things. The phrase N.T.o. The only parallel in lxx is Pro_23:17. The meaning is that he is to throw himself wholly into his ministry. Comp. “totus in illis,” Horace, Sat. i. 9, 2.

Profiting (προκοπὴ)

Better, advance or progress. Only here and Phi_1:12. The verb προκόπτειν in 2Ti_2:16; 2Ti_3:9, 2Ti_3:13. In lxx, see Sir. 51:17; 2 Macc. 8:8. The figure in the word is uncertain, but is supposed to be that of pioneers cutting (κόπτω) a way before (πρὸ) an army, and so furthering its advance. The opposite is ἐγκόπτειν to cut into, throw obstacles in the way, and so hinder. See Gal_5:7; 1Th_2:18; 1Pe_3:7.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 4:16

16Give 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. 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. (Eph_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,” (Eze_33:8,) but because it is customary to speak of believers as performing their salvation when they walk and persevere in the course of their salvation. Of this mode of expression we have spoken in our exposition of the Epistle to the Philippians, (Phi_2:12.)

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 4:16

Take heed unto thyself – This may be understood as relating to everything of a personal nature that would qualify him for his work. It may be applied to personal piety; to health; to manners; to habits of living; to temper; to the ruling purposes; to the contact with others. In relation to personal religion, a minister should take heed:

(1) That he has true piety; and,

(2) That he is advancing in the knowledge and love of God. In relation to morals, he should be upright; to his contact with others, and his personal habits, he should be correct, consistent, and gentlemanly, so as to give needless offence to none. The person of a minister should be neat and cleanly; his manners such as will show the fair influence of religion on his temper and deportment; his style of conversation such as will be an example to the old and the young, and such as will not offend against the proper laws of courtesy and urbanity. There is no religion in a filthy person; in uncouth manners; in an inconvenient and strange form of apparel; in bad grammar, and in slovenly habits – and to be a real gentleman should be as much a matter of conscience with a minister of the gospel as to be a real Christian. Indeed, under the full and fair influence of the gospel, the one always implies the other. Religion refines the manners – it does not corrupt them; it makes one courteous, polite, and kind – it never produces boorish manners, or habits that give offence to the well-bred and the refined.

And unto the doctrine – The kind of teaching which you give, or to your public instructions. The meaning is, that he should hold and teach only the truth. He was to “take heed” to the whole business of public instruction; that is, both to the matter and the manner. The great object was to get as much truth as possible before the minds of his hearers, and in such a way as to produce the deepest impression on them.

Continue in them – That is, in these things which have been specified. He was ever to be found perseveringly engaged in the performance of these duties.

For in doing this thou shalt both save thyself – By holding of the truth, and by the faithful performance of your duties, you will secure the salvation of the soul. We are not to suppose that the apostle meant to teach that this would be the meritorious cause of his salvation, but that these faithful labors would be regarded as an evidence of piety, and would be accepted as such. It is equivalent to saying, that an unfaithful minister of the gospel cannot be saved; one who faithfully performs all the duties of that office with a right spirit, will be.

And them that hear thee – That is, you will be the means of their salvation. It is not necessary to suppose that the apostle meant to teach that he would save all that heard him. The declaration is to be understood in a popular sense, and it is undoubtedly true that a faithful minister will be the means of saving many sinners. This assurance furnishes a ground of encouragement for a minister of the gospel. He may hope for success, and should look for success. He has the promise of God that if he is faithful he shall see the fruit of his labors, and this result of his work is a sufficient reward for all the toils and sacrifices and self-denials of the ministry. If a minister should be the means of saving but one soul from the horrors of eternal suffering and eternal sinning, it would be worth the most self-denying labors of the longest life. Yet what minister of the gospel is there, who is at all faithful to his trust, who is not made the honored instrument of the salvation of many more than one? Few are the devoted ministers of Christ who are not permitted to see evidence even here, that their labor has not been in vain. Let not, then, the faithful preacher be discouraged. A single soul rescued from death will be a gem in his eternal crown brighter by far than ever sparkled on the brow of royalty.


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