Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.1 Timothy 4:14 NIV
What Timothy’s specific gift was is not clear from this passage. Nor is it clear what the significance is of the way it was given through prophecy and the laying on of the elders hands. Gifts are elsewhere described as being given by God. So it may be that this is describing more of a confirmation or ordination, a setting aside for service, rather than the actual gift giving itself.
But whatever the significance of the rest of the verse, Paul’s instruction to Timothy is applicable to all of us. “Do not neglect your gift.” According to 1 Corinthians 12:7, each of us within the body of Christ have been gifted. We have been equipped to serve some role within the body.
Many neglect their gift, assuming that because they can’t preach, teach, or sing, that they are not gifted. But the body is much more than a passive collection of people being entertained by speakers and musicians. It is a living organism with many working parts necessary for its health and success as a body. And each of us has a God given role to fill within that body.
If you fail to exercise your gift, then you are hurting the body, and yourself as a member of that body. The body is built up as each part does it’s work (Eph. 4:16). So don’t neglect your gift. Discover it if needed. And find a way to incorporate your gift(s) within the life of the body. If God has given it to you, it is for a reason. And the body needs it.
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1 Timothy 4
Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.
New American Standard Version
Jump to: Adam Clarke CommentaryBridgeway Bible CommentaryCoffman Commentaries on the BibleAlbert Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleCalvin's Commentary on the BibleChuck Smith Bible CommentaryExpository Notes of Dr. Thomas ConstableExpository Notes of Dr. Thomas ConstableJohn Gill's Exposition of the Whole BibleMatthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Church; Commandments; Elder; Hand; Meditation; Minister, Christian; Miracles; Timothy; Thompson Chain Reference - Cultivate Gifts; Gifts; Hands; Imposition of Hands; Laying on of Hands; Ministers; Ordination; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Hands, the; Miraculous Gifts of the Holy Spirit;
Adam Clarke Commentary
Verse 14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee — The word χαρισμα here must refer to the gifts and graces of the DivineSpirit, which Timothy received when set apart to the work of an evangelist by the imposition of St. Paul's hands, 2 Timothy 1:6, and by that of the presbytery or eldership; for it most evidently appears, from this verse and that above quoted, that he received this double imposition, not probably at different times, but on one and the same occasion. These very gifts and graces might be improved; and we have reason to believe, if not improved, would be withdrawn by the great Head of the Church.
Given thee by prophecy — It has already been conjectured (see the preface, and see the note on Clarke "1 Timothy 1:18") that there had been some remarkable prediction relative to the future destiny and usefulness of Timothy. And probably it was in consequence of this that he was set apart to the office of evangelist and bishop in the Church at Ephesus. When apostles laid their hands on men, they ordinarily received the Holy Spirit with this imposition. This may be what the apostle calls to the remembrance of Timothy, and tells him not to neglect what he had received, nor the purpose for which he had received it.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-timothy-4.html. 1832.
Bridgeway Bible Commentary
Dealing with the false teachers (4:6-16)
Paul makes it clear to Timothy that good teachers do not waste time arguing about silly stories, but concentrate on teaching positive Christian doctrine. This is the best answer to those who teach nonsense. By thinking and talking about the great truths of the Christian faith, teachers will build themselves up as well. They must not forget, however, to train themselves with the self-discipline that leads to spiritual fitness and lasting blessings (6-8). True servants of God persevere in all aspects of their work, whether in teaching others or in training themselves. They are assured that this will lead them to a fuller enjoyment of the salvation that God has given them (9-10).
Some older ones in the church may not be pleased to hear the younger man Timothy giving them instruction and perhaps correcting them. This is all the more reason why Timothy must make sure that he is blameless in his speech, conduct, love and faith (11-12).
God had given Timothy ability as a preacher and teacher. The elders of Timothy’s home church, as well as Paul, had publicly acknowledged this by the ceremony of laying their hands on him when he first went out with Paul in the service of God (13-14; cf. 2 Timothy 1:6; Acts 16:2). Nevertheless, Timothy must work hard to develop the gift God has given him. As a result of this combination of divine gift and human diligence, both God’s servant and those among whom he works will enjoy salvation in its fulness (15-16).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/1-timothy-4.html. 2005.
Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
What was this gift, and where did Timothy get it? Lenski answers thus:
God gave (it) not by a miraculous gift from heaven, but "by means of prophecy," by a communication of the word to him, and did that under the tutelage of one of the most capable prophets this word ever had, namely, Paul himself.
The gift may also be identified with Timothy's ability, as Paul's assistant, to found and establish churches in the truth. From 2 Timothy 1:6, it is clear that Paul himself was present and participated in the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, the same being the occasion when Timothy was set aside unto the attainment of this gift, an attainment which was prophesied at the time. As to what prophet may have spoken it, Silas, who was also a prophet, was Paul's companion at the time; and either he or Paul could have made the prophecy which was so gloriously fulfilled in Timothy. If on the first tour, Barnabas could have uttered it.
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-timothy-4.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
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, 2 Corinthians 1:11; a gift or quality of the mind, 1 Corinthians 7:7; gifts of Christian knowledge or consolation, Romans 1:11; 1 Corinthians 1:7; redemption or salvation through Christ, Romans 5:15-16; Romans 6:23; Romans 11:29; the miraculous endowments conferred by the Holy Spirit, Romans 12:6; 1Co 12:4, 1 Corinthians 12:9,1 Corinthians 12:28, 1 Corinthians 12:30-31, and the special gift or endowment for the work of the ministry, 1Ti 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Peter 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; 2 Timothy 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; 2 Timothy 1:6. He who was so much more aged (Philemon 1:9; compare 2 Timothy 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 1 Timothy 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 Matthew 19:15; Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40; Luke 12:13; Leviticus 8:14; Numbers 27:23; Acts 28:8; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:17; Acts 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 - Luke 22:66, where it is rendered “elders;” and Acts 22:5, where it is rendered “estate of the elders.” It properly means an “assembly of aged men; council of elders.” In Luke 22:66, and Acts 22:5, it refers to the Jewish “sanhedrin;” see the notes on Matthew 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.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-timothy-4.html. 1870.
Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee The Apostle exhorts Timothy to employ, for the edification of the Church, that grace with which he was endued. God does not wish that talents — which he has bestowed on any one, that they may bring gain — should either be lost, or be hidden in the earth without advantage. (Matthew 25:18.) 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,” (80) 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.”
(80) “ Pour l’assemblee des prestres, c’est a dire, des pasteurs et anciens de l’Eglise.” — “For the assembly of presbyters, that is, of the pastors and elders of the Church.”
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Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-timothy-4.html. 1840-57.
Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils ( 1 Timothy 4:1 );
Here Paul speaks of a departure from the faith. There are some who claim that such a thing is an impossibility. But "the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times there would be some who would depart from the faith." Jesus in speaking of His return said, "When the Son of man returns, will he find faith on the earth?" ( Luke 18:8 ) A question. He also told His disciples that because of the iniquity of the earth abounding, the love of many will wax cold. And so it means that living in the last days is going to be living under a great-pressured situation. We are finding that to be true.
The opportunity of fulfilling a person's fantasies for sin are all around. You can indulge yourself now in just about any type of a sinful fantasy that you may desire. Read the personal columns in your Santa Ana Register. Any kind of a experience that a person may desire is available for a price. Pornography, the openness of our society, the breakdown of the moral values, has opened a door of opportunity for anyone to just indulge themselves in their flesh.
Jesus said "because the iniquity of the earth shall abound, the love of many will wax cold." The Spirit speaks expressly of the latter days that many will be departing from the faith." It is not easy to live the Christian life in this world in which we live today that is so totally given over to the flesh. You cannot look at any of the media without being exposed in some way or other to the things of the flesh. It's not easy to live a Christian life now. These last days it is going to be harder. To keep the faith, it is going to take a positive commitment. As Daniel, you're going to have to determine in your heart that you're not going to defile yourself with the opportunities in the world around you. But that you're going to live completely and totally for God a life of godlikeness and you cannot do it without the power of the Spirit.
So the Spirit speaks expressly of the last days. It's going to be tough. Many will "depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits." And how much seduction is in the world today! Seductive spirits are in the world today. I mean it's there, it's all around you. The seductive spirits. And "to doctrines of devils." And I'll tell you, in our society today men are espousing the doctrines of devils, telling you that any kind of life is acceptable to God. The Lord said, "because they did not want to believe the truth, God turned them over to believe a lie" ( 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 ). And men would believe a lie rather than the truth.
And I have found this so true today. You take any kind of a screwy heresy and it can spread all over the world in six months. If you want to become popular, just dream up some new heresy for the church. Oh how I wish to God that they would be more careful in the things that they allow to be proclaimed. I wish they would just stick to the Word of God. People are so reticent to receive the truth but so ready to receive a lie, a heresy.
People are so ready to believe that California is going to get wiped out during the Olympics in an earthquake. How many people have called all worried, you know. Oh my. This earthquake's going to come. I have lived through at least ten of these visions and it hasn't come yet. Now I'll tell you what's going to happen. I'll make my own predictions now. When the Olympics are over and the earthquake did not hit, they are then going to start taking credit that their prayers kept it from happening. I mean, there's no way they're going to loose. They fasted and they prayed and they saved California.
How look how that thing in just a couple of weeks time has swept through the whole community. Our switchboard has been swamped this week with this nonsense. Hey, if you want to predict that there's going to be an earthquake in California, man, there's nothing to that. Of course there's going to be. I mean, this is earthquake country. We're surrounded by faults. But I predict that we won't have a major earthquake during the Olympics.
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron ( 1 Timothy 4:2 );
I really wonder how these evangelists and all can really sleep at night with all of the gimmicks that they pull. "Speaking lies in hypocrisy." I don't know if you've been cursed to be on their mailing list or not. But we keep a file and the things that they can dream up to extract money from people. And you wonder, How can they do that? In the name of God, how can they tell such outlandish lies? The only answer is "their conscience has to be seared with a hot iron." They have no conscience. For them to live in palatial mansions, do the things they do and then get up and say, Friends, we need your money.
Our tour guide in Israel gets after me. He said, "You don't know how to operate a tour." He said, "Tour leaders with famous names never travel with the people on a tour. They don't travel on the jets with the people, they fly over in their own private jets. And they don't get on the buses with the people, they get in private limos and they'll meet the people twice during the tour and then fly home in their jets." He said, "You travel all around with the people. He said, You never make deals with the tourist shops and all." And he said, "You just don't know how to operate a tour." He said, "Now you ought to come and watch some of these fellows at work."
The conscience is seared with a hot iron. How in the name of God can they do these things? Except their conscience is just seared with a hot iron. Now in some of these last day weird things, there are those who will be,
Forbidding to marry ( 1 Timothy 4:3 ),
Of course, marriage is becoming almost a thing of the past. It's, "Move in with me." And there are so many just move-in relationships without marriage. That's the thing of the day.
Abstaining from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth ( 1 Timothy 4:3 ).
A lot of the cult things and occult things get into vegetarianism. But Paul tells us these things meat is to
be received with thanksgiving ( 1 Timothy 4:4 ):
For the meat is sanctified by the word of God and prayer ( 1 Timothy 4:5 ).
So pray over your meal and eat it.
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained ( 1 Timothy 4:6 ).
So remind the brethren of these things, Paul said, writing to Timothy. If you do, then you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ as you nourish them in the words of faith, sound, good doctrine.
But refuse the profane and old wives' fables, but exercise thyself rather to godliness ( 1 Timothy 4:7 ).
Now you can waste a lot of time in earthquake scares, reading a lot of the junk that's published. Better to exercise yourself unto godliness.
Bodily exercise profits a little [or for a little] ( 1 Timothy 4:8 ):
Doesn't really forbid it. It's good, got a little profit to it. But more profitable is.
godliness it's profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come ( 1 Timothy 4:8 ).
Years ago when I really made my choice between Medicine and as a career and the ministry as a career, as the Lord was dealing with me and speaking to my heart concerning the ministry, He pointed out to me that by going into medicine, by becoming a medical doctor, by ministering to people's physical needs, I could help people but at the best, it would only be temporal. So they're strong and healthy and live for a hundred years. But if I would go into the ministry and minister to the spirit of man, healing the spirit, bringing spiritual healing, that I would be involved in something that would benefit them eternally. And He more or less put it up to me, How do you want to benefit man? In the temporary way or in an eternal way? And when He put it to me that way, I had no choice.
Now Paul is saying the same thing about exercise. Physical exercise has temporal benefits. But godliness has eternal benefits. Now we are living in a day of you know it's sort of a craze, this physical exercise. Jogging, aerobic exercises. The other night my wife and I were eating at a restaurant, we looked across the street we saw all these heads bouncing up and down and all. And man, the whole time we were eating they were bouncing. I did admire them. And I didn't eat desert. But this bit of physical fitness, it's a craze, it's swept America. And that's alright. Paul's not really coming down on it. I mean, bodily exercise has some value. Toning up yourself and all, there's nothing wrong with that. But godliness, exercising yourself in godliness, hey, that you will reap eternal dividends.
Let me tell you what, I used to be about the most physical fit person around. In time, it will get all of you. I mean, you may you know go for it for a time, sure it's great. But ultimately, what was it, the guy that did all the writing on everything you want to know about running, how about that? Died of a heart attack while he was jogging. Mister Fix. Better watch out for that jogging, it's dangerous to your health you know, it will wipe you out.
There are things that have temporal values, there are things that have eternal value and a man who is wise will engage in those things of eternal value. He will choose the eternal over the temporal, if you're really wise. There are things that can bring you temporal gain. There are things that can bring you eternal gain. The man who is wise would choose the eternal over the temporal. So Paul is telling Timothy the same. Bodily exercise it profits. Timothy was a younger man, probably keeping in shape. It's fine. But hey, don't neglect the godliness, spiritual exercise. Now again,
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation ( 1 Timothy 4:9 ).
It's again Paul uses this phrase. It's a true saying, and it's worthy that all should accept it. And that is that the spiritual is superior to the physical or the material. That it is better to exercise yourself in spiritual matters than in physical matters. One has only temporary value; the other is of life now and also that which is to come, the eternal. And because of this declaration, Paul said, the superiority of the spiritual over the physical, which is the opposite of the worldly view.
Therefore we labour and we suffer reproach ( 1 Timothy 4:10 ),
The world reproaches us. They take an opposite view of this completely. The time in church to them is a waste of time.
because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe ( 1 Timothy 4:10 ).
Jesus died for the sins of the world. But only those who believe receive the forgiveness of sins. Jesus died to redeem the world, but He will only take His treasure out of it. And so He died and is the Saviour of all men, but specifically those who believe. He provided salvation for all men, but not all have received it.
These things [Paul said, you should] command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth ( 1 Timothy 4:11-12 );
How old was Timothy? Well, he had been with Paul now traveling as a companion for fifteen years. Assuming that he was fifteen years old when he started out with Paul, and that's probably a little young, but let's say that he was only fifteen, he's at least thirty years old now. So he's not just a kid. When Paul said, "Let no man despise your youth," you shouldn't be thinking of some fifteen, sixteen-year-old kid. Timothy is probably thirty or more at this particular point. But when the elders were not really considered elders until they became fifty, there was that tendency to look down upon a younger man as lacking in the wisdom that comes from age and maturity. So "let no man despise your youth,"
but instead be an example of the believer, in the word, in your manner of life, in love, in the spirit, in faith, and in purity ( 1 Timothy 4:12 ).
Set the example, Timothy. Now what Paul writes to Timothy is good for all of us. We should be examples of what a Christian is. Paul said to the Corinthians, "You are living epistles, known and read of all men" ( 2 Corinthians 3:2 ). As a Christian, the world is watching you. Be an example of the believer, not unto the believer but of the believer. What a believer should be. This is how a believer should live. This is how a believer should act and react. Be the example of a believer, in your words. The word "conversation" there is an old English word that it is just doesn't mean in you know in your conversing with each other, but in your manner of living, your total manner of living. Let it be as becomes godliness and Christianity. "In your love, the agape, in the spirit, in faith, in purity."
Now till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine ( 1 Timothy 4:13 ).
So these are the three things that were done in the early church. The reading of the Scriptures. It was a very prominent and common practice in the early church when the Christians gathered together to read the Scriptures. These letters that Paul sent to the churches were to be read to the churches. So he tells Timothy, "Give attendance to the reading of the Scriptures." There's value in just the reading of the word of God. But then also the exhortation. As you are then prompting people to act upon the word. "To be doers of the word, and not hearers only" ( James 1:22 ). Now trust in the Lord. Now give thanks to God. And so the exhorting of the people and then also to the doctrine.
And neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery ( 1 Timothy 4:14 ).
So Paul here is mentioning how that when Timothy had hands laid upon him by the presbyturos, by the elders, they laid hands on Timothy and a prophecy came forth and in the prophecy, Timothy's ministry was declared, directed. And now Paul tells him, don't neglect that gift that was given to you by the word of prophecy when the elders laid hands on you.
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that your profiting may appear to all. Take heed to yourself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you will both save yourself, and those that hear you ( 1 Timothy 4:15-16 ).
Interesting. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them: for in doing this you not only save yourself, but you save others. It is important that we are reaching out. Important for our own continuance that we go on and that we're pressing on and that we're reaching out. There's really no place for stagnation.
This is something that I think that we all ought to really carefully examine our own hearts. The Bible says, "Now let a man judge himself. For if we will judge ourselves, we will not be judged of God" ( 1 Corinthians 11:28 , 1 Corinthians 11:31 ). And I think that we should all examine our own hearts and our own present relationship to Jesus Christ. And as I examine my present relationship to Jesus Christ tonight, is there a time in my walk with the Lord that I was more fervent than I am tonight? Is there a time when I was more excited about the things of Jesus than I am tonight? Is there a time when I was more diligent in my serving the Lord than I am tonight? And if in the examining of your heart, your present relationship and your past experiences, if tonight you do not have a deeper, richer, more enthusiastic relationship with the Lord, then you are in a backslidden state.
If at any time in your walk with God, your relationship to Him was more richer, more committed than it is tonight, then you are in a backslidden state and you should be very careful about that. The Spirit speaks expressly concerning the last days. That because the iniquity of the world will abound, the love of many is going to wax cold. Are you one of those in which the love is waxing cold? And it should cause us very serious consideration.
Jesus said to the church of Ephesus, "I have this against you, because you have left your first love. Now repent, do thy first works over; or else I will remove the candlestick out of his place" ( Revelation 2:4-5 ).
There is a story told of a man who was lost in a blizzard. And as he was just blindly walking through the snow, blinded by the blizzard, he was becoming tired and weary until he just stumbled and fell and he just felt, I'll lie here for a little while. I just don't have the strength to go on. But as he was lying there, he came to the realization that what caused him to stumble was a body that was lying there being buried in the snow. And so realizing that there was another person there, he picked him up, felt that the pulse was still there, picked him up and started trudging through the snow, carrying now this other person with a superhuman effort and within fifteen feet, he came to the door of a cabin where he was saved. But he came to a very interesting discovery. And that is, in saving this other person, he in reality saved himself.
That's what Paul is saying to Timothy. "Take heed to yourself and to your doctrine, continuing in them for in saving others, you really save yourself." You see, you cannot minister unto others without being ministered to by the Lord. I've often said the best way to learn is to teach because you have to study so much more in order to be able to give out that in teaching a subject, you really learn the subject thoroughly. And the best way to learn is to teach. The best way to develop is to give. To give out. "Take heed to yourself and to your doctrine." Continue in them for in saving others, in reaching out to others, you'll find that it will be your own salvation. It will be your own enrichment. It will be to your own blessing, strengthening in the things of the Lord.
Father, as Your Holy Spirit has again tonight caused us to look in the mirror, to see the truth, to face the reality of what we are, help us, Lord, not to be so foolish as to just go away and forget what we saw. But Lord, I pray tonight that there might be within our heart that renewed commitment to the things of the Lord. Things of the Spirit. Lord, we know that we are in the last days. Many have departed from the faith. Have been caught up with these seducing spirits, following after the flesh, turning away from the things of God. Being drawn into the things of the world. God, help us in these days to be like You. God, give to us a renewed experience in the Spirit that we might walk in the Spirit and live in the Spirit and be led of the Spirit. A new sense, Lord, of spiritual values. The examination of our priorities, our energies going into those things that are going to fail and those things that are going to crumble and those things that are going to be reduced to ashes while we neglect the eternal. Physically fit but spiritually bankrupt. God, may that not be our case. Renew our hearts in the things of the Spirit, our walk and life with Thee. In Jesus' name, Father, Amen.
May the Lord be with you to guide and direct you this week in the path of righteousness for His name's sake. May you be empowered by the Holy Spirit that you might be blameless, walking in love, walking in the things of the Spirit. A witness to the world around. An example of what the believer ought to be. Bringing glory unto God through your commitment to Jesus Christ. God help you in these last days to stand strong. Stand firm. Giving heed to things of the Spirit, the doctrine, saving others, saving yourself. In Jesus' name. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/1-timothy-4.html. 2014.
Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
A. The leader’s personal life and public ministry 4:6-16
Having reminded Timothy that the apostasy he was witnessing in Ephesus was not unexpected but prophesied (1 Timothy 4:1-5), the apostle next clarified Timothy’s responsibility in dealing with it (cf. ch. 1). Paul wrote these positive directions to enable Timothy to overcome the influences of the ascetic apostates that threatened the church at Ephesus. He also wrote to remind him of the importance of his personal life and public ministry, so he would not fall into the same errors.
"Just as a skillful coach will often return to the basics of the sport to pull the team or a player out of a slump, Paul returns to the basics to keep this church on track." [Note: Towner, 1-2 Timothy . . ., p. 105.]
The apostle selected three essential spiritual priorities, out of many that he could have chosen, in 1 Timothy 4:6-10.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-timothy-4.html. 2012.
Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
Timothy needed further encouragement to keep using the abilities God had given him to serve the Lord. Timothy had received ordination for service to God by the laying on of Paul’s (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6) and some elders’ hands. When that happened a prophet who was present received a revelation from God that Timothy would serve Christ in a particular way. Another possibility is that these were two separate episodes in Timothy’s life. [Note: Towner, The Letters . . ., p. 325.] Paul called on Timothy here to remember that event, or those events, and the responsibility that was his in view of that special revelation (cf. 1 Timothy 1:18-19). The "presbytery" means a group of elders. The procedure described in this verse has, along with other similar instances of this practice described in Scripture, served as a pattern for the formal ordination (setting apart) of people for ministry.
"The nature of succession in the ministry was certainly present [when Paul wrote], but it was regarded as primarily a succession of teaching or tradition rather than as an ’apostolic succession’ of ordination reaching back to the apostles." [Note: Hanson, p. 37.]
"The Bible never speaks of a corresponding group identity for deacons. The notion of deacons functioning as a ’board’ is never mentioned in the Bible." [Note: Litfin, p. 741.]
This does not imply, of course, that such a group is wrong.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-timothy-4.html. 2012.
John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
Neglect not the gift that is in thee,.... And in order to enforce this exhortation on Timothy, the apostle adds,
which was given thee by prophecy; that is, it was prophesied of before hand, by some of the prophets in the church, that a very extraordinary gift should be bestowed upon this young man, which would make him a very useful person in the church of God; see 1 Timothy 1:18 and since it was now given, he ought not therefore to neglect it: or it was given him, as some read it, with prophecy, that he should use it, and it should be of great advantage to many souls; or, together with this gift of preaching, he had also a gift of foretelling things to come; or it may be, the words may be better rendered, "for prophecy": that is, for preaching, for prophesying is frequently used for preaching; see 1 Corinthians 13:2 and then the sense is, that this gift was given him to qualify him for the interpreting of the Scriptures, the explaining of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and for the preaching of the Gospel; and therefore he should not neglect it, but use it for this purpose: and he adds, that it was given him
with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery; or "of the eldership", or elders. So γερουσια, "eldership", is used by the Septuagint on Exodus 3:16 for the elders of Israel. Now of these elders Paul was one, 2 Timothy 1:6 nor is it unusual to call the apostles elders; see 1 Peter 5:1. Who joined with the apostle, in the imposition of hands on Timothy, is not certain; I should think only apostles, since here was a gift of the Holy Ghost came along with it; and it was only through the laying on of the hands of the apostles that the Holy Ghost was given. Philip, an evangelist, laid not hands on the believing Samaritans; but Peter and John, apostles, were sent down from Jerusalem to Samaria to do it, whereby many received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, fitting them to take the care of those new converts, and to spread the Gospel further in those parts, Acts 8:5. And since gifts have ceased being conveyed this way, the rite of laying on of hands in ordinations seems useless, and of no avail. The apostle in calling those that joined with him, in putting hands on Timothy, the "presbytery or eldership", may have some reference to זקני העדה, "the elders of the congregation", which laid hands on the bullock for a sin offering, Leviticus 4:15 by whom some understand the great sanhedrim m; others n, not all the elders, but some particular persons, in number three; and so the ordination of a Rabbi was by three o; hence we read of סמיכה בזקינים, "imposition of hands by the elders" p.
m Bartenora in Misn. Menachot, c. 9. sect. 3. n Siphri in Maimon. in Misn. ib. c. 9. sect. 7. o Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 3. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. p T. Hieros. Horayot, fol. 46. 2.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-timothy-4.html. 1999.
Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
|Exhortation to Godliness; Exhortation to Ministerial Duties.||64.|
6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. 7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. 10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. 11 These things command and teach. 12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
The apostle would have Timothy to instil into the minds of Christians such sentiments as might prevent their being seduced by the judaizing teachers. Observe, Those are good ministers of Jesus Christ who are diligent in their work; not that study to advance new notions, but that put the brethren in remembrance of those things which they have received and heard. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you knew them,2 Peter 1:12. And elsewhere, I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance,2 Peter 3:1. And, says the apostle Jude, I will therefore put you in remembrance,Jude 1:5. You see that the apostles and apostolical men reckoned it a main part of their work to put their hearers in remembrance; for we are apt to forget, and slow to learn and remember, the things of God.--Nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. Observe, 1. Even ministers themselves have need to be growing and increasing in the knowledge of Christ and his doctrine: they must be nourished up in the words of faith. 2. The best way for ministers to grow in knowledge and faith is to put the brethren in remembrance; while we teach others, we teach ourselves. 3. Those whom ministers teach are brethren, and are to be treated like brethren; for ministers are not lords of God's heritage.
I. Godliness is here pressed upon him and others: Refuse profane and old wives' sayings,1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:8, The Jewish traditions, which some people fill their heads with, have nothing to do with them. But exercise thyself rather unto godliness; that is, mind practical religion. Those who would be godly must exercise themselves unto godliness; it requires a constant exercise. The reason is taken from the fain of godliness; bodily exercise profits little, or for a little time. Abstinence from meats and marriage, and the like, though they pass for acts of mortification and self-denial, yet profit little, they turn to little account. What will it avail us to mortify the body if we do not mortify sin? Observe, 1. There is a great deal to be got by godliness; it will be of use to us in the whole of our life, for it has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 2. The gain of godliness lies much in the promise: and the promises made to godly people relate to the life that now is, but especially they relate to the life that is to come. Under the Old Testament the promises were mostly of temporal blessings, but under the New Testament of spiritual and eternal blessings. If godly people have but little of the good things of the life that now is, yet it shall be made up to them in the good things of the life that is to come. 3. There were profane and old wives' fables in the days of the apostles; and Timothy, though an excellent man, was not above such a word of advice, Refuse profane, c. 4. It is not enough that we refuse profane and old wives' fables, but we must exercise ourselves to godliness we must not only cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well (Isaiah 1:16; Isaiah 1:17), and we must make a practice of exercising ourselves to godliness. And, 5. Those who are truly godly shall not be losers at last, whatever becomes of those who content themselves with bodily exercise, for godliness has the promise, c.
II. The encouragement which we have to proceed in the ways of godliness, and to exercise ourselves to it, notwithstanding the difficulties and discouragements that we meet with in it. He had said (1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Timothy 4:8) that it is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life which now is. But the question is, Will the profit balance the loss? For, if it will not, it is not profit. Yes, we are sure it will. Here is another of Paul's faithful sayings, worthy of all acceptation--that all our labours and losses in the service of God and the work of religion will be abundantly recompensed, so that though we lose for Christ we shall not lose by him. Therefore we labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God,1 Timothy 4:10; 1 Timothy 4:10. Observe,
1. Godly people must labour and expect reproach; they must do well, and yet expect at the same time to suffer ill: toil and trouble are to be expected by us in this world, not only as men, but as saints.
2. Those who labour and suffer reproach in the service of God and the work of religion may depend upon the living God that they shall not lose by it. Let this encourage them, We trust in the living God. The consideration of this, that the God who has undertaken to be our pay-master is the living God, who does himself live for ever and is the fountain of life to all who serve him, should encourage us in all our services and in all our sufferings for him, especially considering that he is the Saviour of all men. (1.) By his providences he protects the persons, and prolongs the lives, of the children of men. (2.) He has a general good-will to the eternal salvation of all men thus far that he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He desires not the death of sinners; he is thus far the Saviour of all men that none are left in the same desperate condition that fallen angels are in. Now, if he be thus the Saviour of all men, we may hence infer that much more he will be the rewarder of those who seek and serve him; if he has such a good-will for all his creatures, much more will he provide well for those who are new creatures, who are born again. He is the Saviour of all men, but especially of those that believe; and the salvation he has in store for those that believe is sufficient to recompense them for all their services and sufferings. Here we see, [1.] The life of a Christian is a life of labour and suffering: We labour and suffer. [2.] The best we can expect to suffer in the present life is reproach for our well-doing, for our work of faith and labour of love. [3.] True Christians trust in the living God; for cursed is the man that trusts in man, or in any but the living God; and those that trust in him shall never be ashamed. Trust in him at all times. [4.] God is the general Saviour of all men, as he has put them into a salvable state; but he is in a particular manner the Saviour of true believers; there is then a general and a special redemption.
III. He concludes the chapter with an exhortation to Timothy,
1. To command and teach these things that he had now been teaching him. "Command them to exercise themselves unto godliness, teach them the profit of it, and that if they serve God they serve one who will be sure to bear them out."
2. To conduct himself with that gravity and prudence which might gain him respect, notwithstanding his youth: "Let no man despise thy youth; that is, give no man an occasion to despise thy youth." Men's youth will not be despised if they do not by youthful vanities and follies make themselves despicable; and this men may do who are old, who may therefore thank themselves if they be despised.
3. To confirm his doctrine by a good example: Be thou an example of the believers, c. Observe, Those who teach by their doctrine must teach by their live, else they pull down with one hand what they build up with the other: they must be examples both in word and conversation. Their discourse must be edifying, and this will be a good example: their conversation must be strict, and this will be a good example: they must be examples in charity, or love to God and all good men, examples in spirit, that is, in spiritual-mindedness, in spiritual worship,--in faith, that is, in the profession of Christian faith,--and in purity or chastity.
4. He charges him to study hard: Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine, to meditation upon these things,1 Timothy 4:13; 1 Timothy 4:13. Though Timothy had extraordinary gifts, yet he must use ordinary means. Or it may be meant of the public reading of the scriptures; he must read and exhort, that is, read and expound, read and press what he read upon them; he must expound it both by way of exhortation and by way of doctrine; he must teach them both what to do and what to believe. Observe, (1.) Ministers must teach and command the things that they are themselves taught and commanded to do; they must teach people to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded, Matthew 28:20. (2.) The best way for ministers to avoid being despised is to teach and practise the things that are given them in charge. No wonder if ministers are despised who do not teach these things, or who, instead of being examples of good to believers, act directly contrary to the doctrines they preach; for ministers are to be ensamples of their flock. (3.) Those ministers that are the best accomplished for their work must yet mind their studies, that they may be improving in knowledge; and they must mind also their work; they are to give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
5. He charges him to beware of negligence: Neglect not the gift that is in thee,1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 4:14. The gifts of God will wither if they be neglected. It may be understood either of the office to which he was advanced, or of his qualifications for that office; if of the former, it was ordination in an ordinary way; if of the latter, it was extraordinary. It seems to be the former, for it was by laying on of hands, c. Here see the scripture-way of ordination: it was by the laying on of hands, and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Observe, Timothy was ordained by men in office. It was an extraordinary gift that we read of elsewhere as being conferred on him by the laying on of Paul's hands, but he was invested in the office of the ministry by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (1.) We may note, The office of the ministry is a gift, it is the gift of Christ when he ascended on high, he received gifts for men, and he gave some apostles, and some pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:8; Ephesians 4:11), and this was a very kind gift to his church. (2.) Ministers ought not to neglect the gift bestowed upon them, whether by gift we are here to understand the office of the ministry or the qualifications for the office; neither the one nor the other must be neglected. (3.) Though there was a prophecy in the case of Timothy (the gift was given by prophecy), yet this was accompanied by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, that is, a number of presbyters; the office was conveyed to him this way; and I should think here is a sufficient warrant for ordination by presbyters, since it does not appear that Paul was concerned in Timothy's ordination. It is true, extraordinary gifts were conferred on him by the laying on of the apostle's hands (2 Timothy 1:6), but, if he was concerned in his ordination, the presbytery was not excluded, for that is particularly mentioned, whence it seems pretty evident that the presbytery have the inherent power of ordination.
6. Having this work committed to him, he must give himself wholly to it: "Be wholly in those things, that thy profiting may appear." He was a wise knowing man, and yet must still be profiting, and make it appear that he improved in knowledge. Observe, (1.) Ministers are to be much in meditation. They are to consider beforehand how and what they must speak. They are to meditate on the great trust committed to them, on the worth and value of immortal souls, and on the account they must give at the last. (2.) Ministers must be wholly in these things, they must mind these things as their principal work and business: Give thyself wholly to them. (3.) By this means their profiting will appear in all things, as well a to all persons; this is the way for them to profit in knowledge and grace, and also to profit others.
7. He presses it upon him to be very cautious: "Take heed to thyself and to the doctrine, consider what thou preachest; continue in them, in the truths that thou hast received; and this will be the way to save thyself, and those that hear thee." Observe, (1.) Ministers are engaged in saving work, which makes it a good work. (2.) The care of ministers should be in the first place to save themselves: "Save thyself in the first place, so shalt thou be instrumental to save those that hear thee." (3.) Ministers in preaching should aim at the salvation of those that hear them, next to the salvation of their own souls. (4.) The best way to answer both these ends is to take heed to ourselves, &c.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Timothy 4:14". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/1-timothy-4.html. 1706.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Meyer's NT Commentary1 Timothy 4:14. Μὴ ἀμέλει τοῦ ἐν σοὶ χαρίσματος] Timothy is not to let the χάρισμαlie unused; he is to apply it diligently and faithfully to the purpose for which it was imparted to him. This exhortation does not imply blame, nor does that given in 2 Timothy 1:6.
The word χάρισμαmay be applied to every gift of God bestowed on man by God’s χάρις. In the N. T. it denotes both generally the new spiritual life wrought in the believer by the Holy Spirit, and also specially every faculty imparted for special Christian work (ἱκανότης, comp. 2 Corinthians 3:5). Here, where he is speaking of Timothy’s official work, it can only mean the faculty given him for the office (not simply “the gift of teaching,” as Hofmann thinks), in regard both to the κυβέρνησιςand specially to the παράκλησιςand διδασκαλία(not, however, as Chrysostom explains it, the διδασκαλίαitself). It is not to be taken as denoting the office itself; the ἐν σοίis against this, and nowhere in the N. T. has the word this meaning.
Ὃ ἘΔΌΘΗ ΣΟΙ] not as Heinrichs says: a me, Apostolo, but, as a matter of course, by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4).
διὰ προφητείας μετὰ ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν τοῦ πρεσβυτερίου] διάis here “by means of,” so that the ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕΊΑis to be regarded as the means through which the ΧΆΡΙΣΜΑwas given to Timothy (by the Holy Spirit). It is arbitrary to weaken this, the proper meaning of the preposition, as Beza does when he explains it: per prophetiam i. e. ita jubente per os prophetarum spiritu sancto; and as Otto also does, when he finds here the thought that the ordination was occasionedby the προφητεία. Though Hofmann in his Schriftbeweis(II. 2, pp. 278 f.) had explained it: “The word of prophecy pointed out Timothy as the one to be appointed the apostle’s colleague,” he now says: “διὰ προφητείαςdoes not mean by means ofprophecy, but in consequence ofprophecies.” This latter explanation, however, agrees with the one which he disputes, since the expression “in consequence of” gives not merely the relation of time, but also the relation of cause. We must reject even the qualification of the meaning which Matthies demands: “The fundamental meaning of the preposition διά, which may be shortly defined as means, may be so modified in many cases as to give the manner in which something is done, or the intermediating form under which something comes into life.” We must reject this, because, as de Wette rightly remarks, there would otherwise be no indication of a relation of cause. Besides, such passages as Acts 8:17-18; Acts 9:17; Acts 19:6, 2 Timothy 1:6, prove that we must keep by the proper meaning of ΔΙΆ. The ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕΊΑis mentioned as the means, but in close connection with ἘΠΊΘΕΣΙς ΤῶΝ ΧΕΙΡῶΝ. ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕΊΑ(1 Timothy 1:18) is not equivalent to “foretelling,” but is more generally the word proceeding immediately from the Holy Spirit—whether the word of promise, or of exhortation, or of prayer. This word was spoken at the time (ΜΕΤΆ) when the presbytery laid their hands on Timothy and appointed him to his ministry. ΜΕΤᾺ ἘΠΙΘΈΣΕΩς Τ. Χ.is to be taken in close connection with ΔΙᾺ ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕΊΑς; the laying on of hands is to be regarded as part of the means; comp. 2 Timothy 1:6. Otto wrongly says: “The laying on of hands is not a coefficient of the ordination, but an act connected with the ceremony of ordination; the ΧΆΡΙΣΜΑwas imparted to Timothy along withthe laying on of hands, not by means ofthe laying on of hands.” Wherein, then, did the ceremony of ordination consist? It is curious that Hofmann, influenced by 2 Timothy 1:6, says regarding μετά, that “it was of course the apostle’sbusiness to impart the gift to Timothy by laying on of hands,” but then grants that “the presbytery of Timothy’s home-church took part in the laying on of hands,” without telling us what then signified the presbytery’s laying on of hands. The hands were imposed by the presbytery, but Paul does not say who uttered the προφητεία. Leo remarks: “adfuerunt fortassis, quum manus imponebantur Timotheo, prophetae Christiani, qui praesagiebant faustissima quaevis, et dignum eum fore dicebant ecclesiae doctorem” (similarly Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, and others). It is, however, most probable to assume that they who uttered the ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕΊΑwere the same as they who laid their hands on Timothy, so that we cannot think here of prophets, in the narrower sense of the word, as present at the ordination.
The ἘΠΊΘΕΣΙς ΤῶΝ ΧΕΙΡῶΝis well known as a symbolic action of the early Christians; it was the symbol and means not only of imparting the Holy Spirit in general (Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6; Hebrews 6:2), but also of bestowing the inward equipment for a special Christian ministry (Acts 6:6; Acts 13:3; comp. also Acts 14:23). By the presbytery, we must understand the college of presbyters belonging to the church in which the hands were imposed. What church this was, we are not told. Ecclesiastical tradition, followed by Mack, makes it the church at Ephesus; Matthies, Leo, de Wette, Wiesinger, and others think it more probable that the ordination took place at Lystra, where Paul assumed Timothy as his companion, and that the ordination was held for this very purpose. To this latter view we must object, that there is no passage in the N. T. to prove that the reception into the number of the colleagues of the apostles was made with such a solemn ceremony. It is more natural to suppose that such a reception took a freer form, and that a regular ordination was only held after a more independent position had been assigned to the colleague, a position not merely of carrying out certain instructions, but of representing the apostle in a more complete way, viz. in a particular church, such as Timothy now held. Perhaps, therefore, this ordination of Timothy had taken place when Paul on his departure for Macedonia left Timothy behind him in Ephesus as his substitute (1 Timothy 1:3); still it is also possible that it had been done on some earlier occasion.
It is strange that in 2 Timothy 1:6the laying on of hands is mentioned only as the act of the apostle. Paul might certainly be speaking there of some other occasion than here, for the consecration by laying on of hands might be imparted on different occasions to the same man. It is more probable, however, that he is speaking of the same occasion in both passages, and “that Paul imposed hands along with the elders, but as the first” (de Wette).
It is further to be remarked that the word πρεσβυτέριονoccurs elsewhere in the N. T. only as a name for the Jewish Sanhedrim (Luke 22:66; Acts 22:5), and that it is used here only of the college of the Christian presbyters of a church.
 Otto grants, indeed, that χάρισμαnever stands exactly for office, but thinks that χάρισμαmay be used, as a predicateof the idea, office, which is certainly right. Otto, however, does not wish to take χάρισμαhere as the office generally speaking, but (distinguishing in the office—(1) the rights of office; (2) the occupations of office) as the rights of office:“A position of power working out from within.” To ἐνhe assigns the meaning “resting upon some one;” but, whatever Otto may say against it, the ἀναζωπυρεῖν(2 Timothy 1:6) does not accord with that idea. So long as any one holds the office, the rights of officeremain to him undiminished; for these lie not in the person, but in the office, in the person only as holding the office. For such a meaning of ἐν, Otto has produced some passages from classic Greek, but none from the N. T.
 Beza goes still farther wrong when he continues: “Potest tamen etiam sic accipi, ut idem valeat εἰς προφητείαν, i. e. ad prophetandum; vel ἐν προφητείᾳ, ita ut quod sit hoc donum exprimat apostolus.”
 De Wette rightly: “The προφ. is only named as a part of the whole act of consecration by which the χαρ. was imparted, and the preposition διάis not to be referred in strictness only to προφ., but also to the next words.”
 Bengel is wrong: “Constr. prophetiam presbyterii, nam manus imposuit Paulus Timotheo; impositio manus proprie fit per unam personam et quidem digniorem; prophetia vero fiebat etiam per aequales, per plures.”
 So also Hofmann, in whose opinion the “precedent” here alluded to (which, however, he is not willing to recognise as an ordination) must have taken place in Timothy’s “home-church.”
 Otto, in accordance with his whole view, places Timothy’s ordination in the last period of Paul’s three years at Ephesus. The reasons by which he seeks to establish this period as the one most exactly corresponding in Timothy’s life, are anything but sufficient.
Expositor's Greek Testament1 Timothy 4:14. μὴ ἀμέλει: J. H. Moulton (Grammar, vol. i. p. 122 sqq.), distinguishes (a) μήwith the pres. imperat, “Do not go on doing so and so,” e.g., 1 Timothy 5:22-23, from (b) μήwith the aor. subjunctive, “Do not begin to do it” (1 Timothy 5:1; 2 Timothy 1:8). In this case, μὴ ἀμέλειis equivalent to πάντοτε μελέτα. Timothy’s χάρισμαlay in his commission to rule and in his powers as a preacher. The χάρισμαwas given by God; in this particular case the formal and solemn assumption of its use was accompanied by the indication of prophecy addressed to the ear, and by the laying on of hands addressed to the eye. See Acts 13:1-3.
Winer-Moulton notes, p. 471, that the instrument, as such, is never expressed by μετάin good prose. Here, with, amid imposition of hands(conjointly with the act of imposition). μετάis here equivalent to διάin the sense given above, i.e., of accompanying circumstances.
2 Timothy 1:6is usually reconciled with this passage by saying that the body of presbyters was associated with St. Paul in the laying on of hands. But there is no reason to suppose that the same transaction is referred to in both places. Here the charismata refer to preaching and teaching; but in 2 Tim., to the administrative duties committed to Timothy, as it is reasonable to suppose, by St. Paul alone, when he appointed him his representative. Note that διάis used of St. Paul’s imposition of hands (2 Timothy 1:6), μετάof that of the presbyters, here. This suggests that it was the imposition of hands by St. Paul that was the instrument used by God in the communication of the charisma to Timothy.
πρεσβυτέριον: elsewhere in N.T. (Luke 22:66; Acts 22:5) means the Jewish Sanhedrin; but Ignatius uses the term, as here, to indicate the presbyters in a local Church (Trall. 7, 13; Philadelph. 7, etc.).
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges14. the gift that is in thee] The connexion here and round the parallel 1 Timothy 4 :2 Timothy 1:6implies a gift for ruling and teaching, distinct from the gift conferred through ‘the laying on’ of St Paul’s hands at Ephesus, Acts 19:6, the extraordinary gifts of speaking with tongues, &c., from the Holy Spirit; gifts still imparted at this time, as we learn from 1 Peter 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 Timothy 1:18: and the preposition rendered ‘by’ in A.V. and R.V. should have the same force as it has in Galatians 3:19, ‘the law ordained through (A.V. ‘by’) angels,’—a force seen from the synonymous phrase Acts 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 2 Timothy 2:2, and see note. See Introduction, p. 58.
the presbytery] The word occurs in Luke 22:66for the body of rulers of the synagogue; and again in Acts 22:5, side by side with the use of the word ‘presbyters’ in connexion with the Christian community, Acts 11:30; Acts 15:2; Acts 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, mustinclude St Paul himself as the chief ruler.
Bengel's Gnomen1 Timothy 4:14. Μὴ ἀμέλει, do not neglect) They neglect, who do not exercise the gift, and who think that they cannot fall away.—χαρίσματος, the gift) 2 Timothy 1:6.—διὰ προφητείας μετὰ ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν τοῦ πρεσβυτερίου, by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands[viz. by prophecy] of the presbytery) Construe the prophecy of the presbytery. For Paul laid his hands on Timothy, 2 Timothy 1:6; i.e.the presbytery consisted of Paul himself (comp. 2 John 1:1; 1 Peter 5:1) and Silas, or others also. Many Latin copies have presbyteri, “of the presbyter.” The imposition of the hand is properly done by one person, and that, too, a person more dignified. But prophecy was also exercised by equals, viz. by more than one, who, while Paul was laying his hands on Timothy, were offering congratulations, and augured every good thing; perhaps even in the absence of Timothy. This is an energetic young man, they said; God will do much good by him.
Pulpit CommentaryVerse 14.- The gift(χάρισμα). The verb χαρίζομαιmeans "togive anything freely," gratuitously, of mere good will, without any payment or return (Luke 7:42; Acts 27:24; Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 2:12, etc.). Hence χάρισμαcame to be especially applied to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are preeminently "free gifts" (see Acts 8:20). It is so applied in Romans 1:11; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 12:4, 9, 28, 30, 31; 1 Peter 4:10. Here, then, as in the similar passage, 2 Timothy 1:6, the "gift"spoken of is the special grace given by the Holy Ghost to those who are separated for "theoffice 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 Matthew 22:5the persons invited to the feast made light of it, and went away to other things which they cared mere about. In Hebrews 2:3, τηλικαύτης ἀμελήσαντεςσωτηρίας, and Hebrews 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 2 Timothy 1:6seems 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 cf. Which was given thee by prophecy.This seems to be explained by Acts 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 "layingon of hands" by the elders of the Church. If St. Paul refers, as he appears to do, to the same occasion in 2 Timothy 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(τοῦπρεσβυτερίου). The word is borrowed from the Jewish nomenclature (see Luke 22:6; Acts22:5). In a slightly different sense for "the office of a presbyter," Sus., 5:50 (Cod. Alex.). 1 Timothy 4:14
Vincent's Word StudiesNeglect (ἀμέλει)
Rare in N.T. Only Matthew 22:5; Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 8:9.
The gift that is in thee (τοῦ ἐν σοὶ χαρίσματος)
Comp. 2 Timothy 1:6. Χάρισμα gift is a distinctively Pauline word, being found only three times outside of Paul's Epistles, and olxx, oClass. See on Romans 1:11. That is in thee, comp. τῆς ἐν σοὶ πίστεως the faith that is in thee, 2 Timothy 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 1 Timothy 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 (Acts 13:9, Acts 13:3); so that the case of Timothy has an analogue in that of Paul himself. Ἑπίθεσις laying on, imposition, also Acts 8:18; 2 Timothy 1:6; Hebrews 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 (Leviticus 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 (Genesis 48:14); upon one appointed to a position of authority, as Joshua (Numbers 27:18-23); upon the sick or dead in token of miraculous power to heal or to restore to life (2 Kings 4:34). So Christ (Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40). In the primitive Christian church the laying on of hands signified the imparting of the Holy Spirit to the newly-baptized (Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6; comp. Hebrews 6:2). Hands were laid upon the seven (Acts 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 Luke 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 Acts 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 2 Timothy 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.
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1 Timothy 4:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]
1 Timothy 4:14, NIV: "Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you."
1 Timothy 4:14, ESV: "Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you."
1 Timothy 4:14, KJV: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery."
1 Timothy 4:14, NASB: "Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was granted to you through words of prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders."
1 Timothy 4:14, NLT: "Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you."
1 Timothy 4:14, CSB: "Don't neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders."
14 4 commentary timothy 1
1 Timothy 4:14
Neglect not the gift that is in thee
And in order to enforce this exhortation on Timothy, the apostle adds, which was given thee by prophecy;
that is, it was prophesied of before hand, by some of the prophets in the church, that a very extraordinary gift should be bestowed upon this young man, which would make him a very useful person in the church of God; see ( 1 Timothy 1:18 ) and since it was now given, he ought not therefore to neglect it: or it was given him, as some read it, with prophecy, that he should use it, and it should be of great advantage to many souls; or, together with this gift of preaching, he had also a gift of foretelling things to come; or it may be, the words may be better rendered, "for prophecy": that is, for preaching, for prophesying is frequently used for preaching; see ( 1 Corinthians 13:2 ) ( 1 Corinthians 14:11 Corinthians 14:31 Corinthians 14:31 ) and then the sense is, that this gift was given him to qualify him for the interpreting of the Scriptures, the explaining of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and for the preaching of the Gospel; and therefore he should not neglect it, but use it for this purpose: and he adds, that it was given him with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery;
or "of the eldership", or elders. So (gerousia) , "eldership", is used by the Septuagint on ( Exodus 3:16Exodus 3:18 ) for the elders of Israel. Now of these elders Paul was one, ( 2 Timothy 1:6 ) nor is it unusual to call the apostles elders; see ( 1 Peter 5:1 ) ( 2 John 1:1 ) ( 3 John 1:1 ) . Who joined with the apostle, in the imposition of hands on Timothy, is not certain; I should think only apostles, since here was a gift of the Holy Ghost came along with it; and it was only through the laying on of the hands of the apostles that the Holy Ghost was given. Philip, an evangelist, laid not hands on the believing Samaritans; but Peter and John, apostles, were sent down from Jerusalem to Samaria to do it, whereby many received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, fitting them to take the care of those new converts, and to spread the Gospel further in those parts, ( Acts 8:5Acts 8:12Acts 8:14Acts 8:17Acts 8:18 ) . And since gifts have ceased being conveyed this way, the rite of laying on of hands in ordinations seems useless, and of no avail. The apostle in calling those that joined with him, in putting hands on Timothy, the "presbytery or eldership", may have some reference to (hdeh ynqz) , "the elders of the congregation", which laid hands on the bullock for a sin offering, ( Leviticus 4:15 ) by whom some understand the great sanhedrim F13; others F14, not all the elders, but some particular persons, in number three; and so the ordination of a Rabbi was by three F15; hence we read of (Mynyqzb hkymo) , "imposition of hands by the elders" F16.
1 Timothy 4 – God’s Man of Truth and Integrity
A. False doctrine in the end times.
1. (1) A warning from the Holy Spirit.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.
a. Now the Spirit expressly says: Paul especially marked this as a revelation from the Holy Spirit; either as a spontaneous word given as he wrote or quoting from a previous prophecy. Paul knew certain dangers would mark the latter times.
· The danger of apostasy (some will depart).
· The danger of deception (deceiving spirits).
· The danger of false teaching (doctrines of demons).
i. It has been more than 1900 years since Paul wrote to Timothy about the latter times, but he did not misunderstand his time or our own. History is not, and has not, been rushing towards a distant brink that would end this current order; even in apostolic times, history had reached that brink – and has run parallel to it since. As it turns out, the latter times describe a broad era, not a couple of years.
b. Some will depart from the faith: Because of the danger of the latter times, if Timothy were to remain a faithful minister to God’s people, he must keep a dead reckoning on the truth – the faith. If this were lost, not much else really mattered.
i. “A man may hold all the truths of Christianity, and yet render them of none effect by holding other doctrines which counteract their influence; or he may apostatize by denying some essential doctrine, though he bring in nothing heterodox.” (Clarke)
ii. A June 1997 article in U.S. News and World Report described a Virginia pastor who “Would rather preach on ‘Bosnia, justice, or world peace’ than on Bible stories or personal salvation.” This is an example of a man who departed from the faith and followed his own direction.
c. The faith: This doesn’t mean losing the ability to believe, but losing the content of what Christians should believe. It describes the essential teachings of the Christian faith. When some… depart from the faith, they are abandoning the essential teachings of Christianity.
i. The Bible uses the phrase “the faith” in this way many places: Acts 6:7 and 14:22, Colossians 1:23, 1 Timothy 1:19, and Jude 1:3.
d. Deceiving spirits: This refers to demonic spirits (angelic beings who have rebelled against God), who seek to deceive men and women and to entice them away from the truth.
i. Some lies are so powerful that they have an evident spiritual dynamic behind them. These are lies crafted and promoted by deceiving spirits.
e. Doctrines of demons: This speaks of the specific teachings of these deceiving spirits. Demons are theology majors, and have systems of doctrine.
i. We find the first demonic doctrine in Genesis 3. There Satan, speaking through a serpent, taught Eve: You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God (Genesis 3:4-5). Since then, every demonic doctrine has found its way back to this root: the idea that we can be gods, and operate independently from God.
ii. “Many MSS. and the chief of the fathers have… spirits of deceit; which is much more emphatic than the common reading. Deception has her spirits, emissaries of every kind, which she employs to darken the hearts and destroy the souls of men. Pretenders to inspiration, and false teachers of every kind, belong to this class.” (Clarke)
f. Deceiving spirits… doctrines of demons: These have been around since man first walked the Garden of Eden. But we should expect that more and more people in the church would depart from the faith in the latter times and accept these false teachings.
i. It is hard to say if there is more false teaching today, or if it is merely a case of modern technology being able to spread the lie better. But the old saying is certainly true today: a lie travels at top speed while the truth goes on foot – and more people within the church are following these doctrines of demons.
2. (2-3) The nature of their departure from the faith and embrace of the doctrines of demons.
Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
a. Speaking lies in hypocrisy: This describes those who depart from the faith. This certainly points to the ones who willingly embrace falsehood to justify their sin or pride; but it also refers to those who claim to teach the Bible, while just using it to support their own ideas or agendas.
b. Having their own conscience seared: Their conscience, which at one time would have convicted them of their departure from the truth, now doesn’t reply at all. It is as if the nerve endings of their conscience have been burnt over and are dead to feeling.
i. Paul here refers to the ancient practice of branding a criminal on the forehead with a distinguishing mark. For these, it was not their forehead that was branded with a hot iron, but their conscience instead.
ii. “They bear the marks of their hypocrisy as evidently and as indelibly in their conscience in the sight of God, as those who have been cauterized for their crimes do in their bodies in the sight of men.” (Clarke)
iii. Paul knew what it was to have a dead, burned conscience. Before he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he felt completely justified in his persecution of Christians and hatred of Jesus. He could feel justified because his conscience was seared and needed a wake-up call – which the Lord graciously provided.
c. Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods: This describes the legalistic teaching of those who have departed from the faith. They taught that it was by following this list of man-made rules that one was justified in God’s sight – that you would be more holy to God if you didn’t marry, and if you did not eat certain foods.
i. There have always been those in the church who regard themselves as more spiritual than God Himself, and have a stricter set of rules for living than God does.
ii. In the early centuries of the church, there were monks who went out to desolate desert places to show how spiritual they were by torturing themselves. One never ate cooked food. Another stood all night leaning on a sharp rock so that it was impossible for him to sleep. Another neglected his own body and allowed it to become so dirty that bugs dropped dead from his body. They did this because they thought it would win favor with God and show everyone how spiritual they were.
iii. We often think that if we sacrifice something for God (such as the right to marry or to eat certain foods), then He owes us something. This is legalism at its worst; trying to manipulate God into giving us something. The idea is that we can make God indebted to us, make Him our servant and make ourselves His master. In this we fulfill the original doctrine of demons – that we should be gods.
iv. Countless millions through the centuries have sought to sacrifice something, and make God owe them blessing, or forgiveness, or mercy, or whatever. That is the religion of self-flagellation; it is not the relationship with Jesus Christ described in the New Testament: being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).
v. “The controversy is not about flesh or fish, or about black or ashen colours, or about Wednesday or Friday, but about the mad superstitions of men who wish to obtain God’s favour by such trifles and by contriving a carnal worship, invent for themselves an idol in God’s place.” (Calvin)
vi. Forbidding to marry: “They hold that it is far better for a priest to keep many whores than to have a wife.” (Trapp)
3. (4-5) A refutation of the legalism that marks those who have departed from the faith.
For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
a. For every creature of God is good: Regarding what we eat, we can eat all things. We receive things rightly when we receive them with thanksgiving, with an abiding sense of gratitude towards God. We receive the blessings of food, shelter, and comfort as gifts, and not as rights.
b. Nothing is to be refused: We are not limited by any kind of diet; what we eat does not make us more righteous before God (though what we eat may affect our health).
i. This issue was settled once for all when God spoke to Peter in Acts 10:9-16.
ii. “Both among the pagans, Jews, and Romanists, certain meats were prohibited; some always, others at particular times. This the apostle informs us was directly contrary to the original design of God; and says that those who know the truth, know this.” (Clarke)
c. It is sanctified by the word of God and prayer: Paul here has in mind prayer before a meal. Notice that the emphasis is not on asking God to bless the food; but on thanking God for the blessing of providing food to eat.
i. The word of God sanctifies food in the sense that God gave two general commands to mankind to eat the good things of the earth.
· And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.” (Genesis 1:29)
· Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. (Genesis 9:3)
ii. It is good and proper for us to pray before eating a meal but it should not be done in a ritualistic, superstitious way. Nor should it be done to show others how spiritual we are – which is imitating the prayer practices of the Pharisees (Matthew 6:5).
B. Instruction in ministry for Timothy.
1. (6) How to tell you are fulfilling your call.
If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.
a. If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ: Notice that the pastor’s job is primarily instruction of the brethren. If the minister does not instruct the brethren in these things, then he isn’t really a good minister of Jesus Christ.
i. It is also important to say that instruction should be understood in a broad sense, not only as classroom-style teaching or Sunday preaching. Jesus instructed His disciples, but with His presence, His life, and His practice as well as with His words.
b. Nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed: But, if Timothy will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, he himself must remain anchored in God’s word, carefully following the good doctrine.
2. (7-10) Keeping your priorities straight.
But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
a. Reject profane and old wives’ fables: The priority must be on God’s Word, not on the words of man. Paul cautioned Timothy to keep focused on the Word, not on things that come from man. The greatest effort must be put into God’s Word, not man’s word.
b. Reject profane and old wives’ fables: This is the negative aspect of the command. In the positive aspect, the priority must be kept on eternal things, not temporal things.
c. Exercise yourself toward godliness: Ancient Greek and Roman culture put a high value on physical exercise. Paul tells Timothy that the same work and commitment that others put towards physical exercise should be put toward the pursuit of godliness.
i. “Here is an intentional paradox. Timothy is to meet the spurious asceticism of the heretics by exercising himself in the practical piety of the Christian life.” (White)
ii. The word godliness comes from the old English word Godlikeness; it means to have the character and attitude of God. This was a worthy goal, much more worthy that the potential attainments of physical exercise.
iii. Bodily exercise profits a little in that it has some value. Or, the idea can be translated bodily exercise is good for a while, while exercising unto godliness is good for all eternity.
iv. Spiritual development and physical development share some similarities. With each, growth only comes with exertion and proper feeding.
d. Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is: Paul here explains the value of godliness, both in the present sense and its eternal sense. Godliness makes the life that now is better, and we should not hesitate to believe it and to tell people this.
i. Though godliness does not make this life the most comfortable, or richest, or most pleasurable, or easiest in the life that now is, it undeniably makes it the best, the most contented, and the most fulfilling life one can live in this world.
ii. “I assure you, and there are thousands of my brethren who can affirm the same, that after having tried the ways of sin, we infinitely prefer the ways of righteousness for their own pleasure’s sake even here, and we would not change with ungodly men even if we had to die like dogs. With all the sorrow and care which Christian life is supposed to bring, we would prefer it to any other form of life beneath the stars.” (Spurgeon)
e. And of that which is to come: At the same time, godliness is the only guarantee of a profitable life which is to come. There are many pleasures or achievements in this world that do not even pretend to offer anything for the life which is to come.
i. Only godliness is the path to eternal life and happiness.
· Sin and vice offer nothing for the life to come.
· Genealogies and pedigrees offer nothing for the life to come.
· Worldly success and wealth offer nothing for the life to come.
· Personal fame or beauty offer nothing for the life to come.
· Achievements in learning or the arts offer nothing for the life to come.
ii. “Vice dares not say, it never has had the effrontery yet to say, ‘Do evil and live in sin, and eternal life will come out of it.’ No, the theater at its door does not proffer you eternal life, it invites you to the pit. The house of evil communications, the drunkard’s bottle, the gathering-place of scorners, the chamber of the strange woman – none of these has yet dared to advertise a promise of eternal life as among the boons that may tempt its votaries. At best sin gives you but bubbles, and feeds you upon air. The pleasure vanishes, and the misery is left.” (Spurgeon)
f. We trust in the living God: This is to be the great motto of the Christian life. Even as David challenged Goliath in the name of the living God (1 Samuel 17:26 and 36), so our trust in the living God empowers us to accomplish great things for His glory.
i. “But our God, in whom we trust, is a God with a great, warm, loving heart, a thinking God, an active God, a working, personal God, who comes into the midst, of this world, and does not leave it to go on by itself. Although he is a stranger in the world, even as his people also are strangers and foreigners by reason of the revolt that men have made against their liege Lord and Sovereign, yet it is still his world, and he is still in it.” (Spurgeon)
g. The Savior of all men: This emphasizes the idea that the priority must be kept on the message of Jesus Christ. It isn’t that all men are saved in a Universalist sense; but that there is only one Savior for all men. It isn’t as if Christians have one Savior and others might have another savior.
i. But notice Paul’s point: especially of those who believe. Jesus’ work is adequate to save all, but only effective in saving those who come to Him by faith.
ii. “What God intends for ALL, he actually gives to them that believe in Christ, who died for the sins of the world [1 John 2:2], and tasted death for every man [Hebrews 2:9]. As all have been purchased by his blood so all may believe; and consequently all may be saved. Those that perish, perish through their own fault.” (Clarke)
3. (11-16) Personal instructions.
These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
a. These things command: This has the note of authority. Timothy was not to enter the pulpit with speculations and opinions and theories of men. He was to fearlessly proclaim God’s Word as a command and not give into the fear of man.
b. Let no one despise your youth: Because Timothy was young, he was vulnerable to the errors of youth which bring the often justified criticism of those older. To address this, Paul called him to live a life that was so godly that no one could despise his youth.
i. The word youth in the ancient Greek was “Used of grown-up military age, extending to the 40th year” (Lock, cited in Earle). It seems that Timothy was about 30 years old at this time; but Paul was around 70, and youth is a relative thing.
ii. “St. Paul shows Timothy ‘a more excellent way’ than self-assertion for the keeping up of his dignity: Give no one any ground by any fault of character for despising thy youth.” (White)
c. Be an example to the believers: The King James Version has be thou an example of the believers. Some believe this is a more accurate translation, with the idea being that Timothy was to be the best representation possible of the Christian community.
i. “The rendering of the King James, an example of believers is better.” (Hiebert)
ii. This meant that Timothy, and every godly servant of God, should be an example:
· In what they say (word).
· In what they do (conduct).
· In their love.
· In their attitude (spirit).
· In their faith (in the sense of faithfulness).
· In their purity.
iii. These are the criteria by which to assess a pastor. If he is smart, if he is funny, if he is cool, if he dresses well, if he is popular, or if he is any number of other things matter little. You must look for a pastor who is an example in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
iv. “Thus we learn how foolish and ridiculous it is for people to complain that they receive no honour, when in fact there is nothing about them that is worth honouring, but rather they expose themselves to contempt by their ignorance, the example of their impure lives, their lightmindedness and other faults. The only way to win respect is by outstanding virtues which will protect us against contempt.” (Calvin)
d. Reading… exhortation… doctrine: These are the things that Timothy must give attention to. Each of these things are centered on God’s Word. He must give attention to these things in both his private life and in his public ministry.
e. Do not neglect the gift that is in you: Timothy was warned to not neglect the gift that God has given. This shows that there was definitely the possibility that gifts and abilities in him could be wasted for eternity. As with the parable of the talents, we should not bury what abilities God has given.
i. Gift is charismatos in the ancient Greek of the New Testament, and it refers to the varying spiritual gifts given to Timothy and to all believers. Do not neglect the gift has the idea that God gave Timothy supernatural gifts, and he should trust that God will do great things through him – learning to flow with the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit.
ii. “God’s gifts groan under our disuse or misuse.” (Trapp)
f. With the laying on of hands: Paul may have in mind Timothy’s ordination service, when church leaders laid hands on him and recognized God’s call on his life to ministry. This was an event apparently accompanied by prophecy.
i. “It is evident that the elders of the church at Lystra and Derbe had met together with the apostle Paul when Timothy was about to launch out into full-time service and had laid their hands on him, commending him to God in prayer.” (Ironside)
g. Meditate on these things: Paul called Timothy to meditation on God’s Word and the work of God in his life. This is not emptying our minds (the goal of Eastern meditation), but filling our minds with God’s Word and truth.
h. Give yourself entirely to them: Timothy was encouraged to give it his all, to put forth a maximum effort, and by doing so, his progress would be evident to all. Often, progress is not evident because we do not give ourselves entirely to the pursuit of God and His will.
i. Often we fall short of all we can be for God because we are passive in our Christian life; we simply do not give ourselves entirely. Jesus warned against this passive attitude in the parable of the talents, where the servant who did nothing was severely rebuked.
ii. Paul could say, in 1 Corinthians 15:10: But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Paul knew spiritual growth didn’t just happen; it is the gift of God, but bestowed on those who actively pursue it.
iii. As Alan Redpath observed that a Christian might have a saved soul but a wasted life – but no follower of Jesus should ever be content with such a place.
iv. At the same time, we are careful to remember that giving our entire effort never earns the blessing or favor of God. Our hard work and heart work never puts God in the place where He owes us something. We give our entire effort out of gratitude and in honor to the God who has already done so much for us.
i. Take heed: Timothy, and every pastor, must examine constantly the two great areas of concern – one’s life and one’s doctrine. Failing to do this would mean danger for both Timothy himself and for those in his congregation.
i. Without giving heed to his life, Timothy might suffer shipwreck (as in 1 Timothy 1:19). Without giving heed to his doctrine, Timothy might lead others astray or leave them short of God’s salvation.
ii. Those who hear Timothy as a pastor should be hearing doctrine. Timothy’s primary call was not to entertain, amuse, or even help with practical things – it was to present Biblical doctrine, and to give heed to that doctrine.
j. Save both yourself and those who hear you: The benefit from taking heed to one’s life and doctrine is remarkable. It is an assurance to the servant of God that they will also be saved, and many of those who hear them. Taken in the opposite, we see that the cost of failing to take heed to one’s life and doctrine is high. The one who fails to take heed should feel no great assurance for either their own life or the lives of those who hear them.
i. “And just as the unfaithfulness or negligence of a pastor is fatal to the Church, so it is right for its salvation to be ascribed to his faithfulness and diligence. It is indeed true that it is God alone who saves and not even the smallest part of His glory can rightly be transferred to men. But God’s glory is in no way diminished by His using the labour of men in bestowing salvation.” (Calvin)
ii. “What a high honour is this to faithful ministers, that they should be styled saviours in a sense!” (Trapp)
iii. “For just as the salvation of his flock is a pastor’s crown, so all that perish will be required at the hand of careless pastors.” (Calvin)
iv. “Years ago Hamburgh was nearly half of it burned down, and among the incidents that happened, there was this one. A large house had connected with it a yard in which there was a great black dog, and this black dog in the middle of the night barked and howled most furiously. It was only by his barking that the family were awakened just in time to escape from the flames, and their lives were spared; but the poor dog was chained to his kennel, and though he barked and thus saved the lives of others, he was burned himself. Oh! Do not you who work for God in this church perish in that fashion. Do not permit your sins to enchain you, so that while you warn others you become lost yourselves.” (Spurgeon)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
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Do Not Neglect Your Spiritual Gift
Ever since the new year rolled around, I have been pondering one verse of Scripture and thinking about its implications for life and ministry, and what it would mean if we started to take it seriously. That verse is 1 Timothy 4:14. Here it is in several different versions:
“Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you” (ESV). This version is clear and easy to understand and accurately reflects the Greek text.
The Amplified Bible offers this expanded version: “Do not neglect the gift which is in you, [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit] by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you [at your ordination].”
Eugene Peterson gives us a typically colorful paraphrase: “And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use” (The Message).
Before we look at this verse, we ought to add another one to the mix. “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6 ESV). Other versions exhort Timothy to “keep ablaze” the gift of God that is in him.
During my growing-up years, I attended many services that ended with a four-fold invitation:
1) For salvation
2) For church membership
3) For rededication
4) For fulltime Christian service
Whether for good or for ill, it is a sign of the times that many Christians under the age of 40 have never heard an invitation like that. I have been thinking lately about the fourth part of the invitation—the call to “surrender” for fulltime Christian service. That was the word that was used. You “surrendered” your life to serve the Lord as a pastor or as a missionary or in some other area of Christian ministry. During my college years, I remember that invitation being given very often. Once when a missionary in a distant land had died in a tragic accident, a friend of mine went forward at the invitation, saying that he wanted to take his place in the Lord’s service. That was at least 34 years ago, and my friend serves as a pastor today. I don’t really know if my friend intended by going forward to say that he was going to be a missionary, and it doesn’t really matter. When you are in your late teens and early 20s, you “try on” various dreams to see which one fits you. Sometimes you end up wearing a dream that doesn’t really fit at all. Along that line, I recall hearing James Dobson quote a certain man who became a dentist but was unhappy with his career choice. “Why should an 18-year-old kid get to decide I was going to spend the rest of my life looking inside someone’s mouth?” Well, it’s a good question for which I don’t have any answer except to say that every day 18-year-old kids make decisions that impact what middle-aged men and women spend their days doing.
The Call to the Ministry
In another generation we heard a lot about the “call to the ministry.” Today for various reasons, that term has fallen out of favor. For one thing, we like to emphasize that every Christian is called to serve the Lord. No one can deny that fact. Christ calls all of us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him (Luke 9:23). It is not a mistake to say that all Christians are “called to the ministry.” Second, we live in a culture that blurs the lines of authority and stresses the democracy of the body of Christ. We’re all equal, or so we’re told. Again, the true spiritual equality in the body of Christ cannot be denied (Galatians 3:28). Some of this—a lot of it, perhaps—is a reaction again pastors who acted as if their position gave them a place of superiority over their own congregations, who lorded it over their own people. I read about one well-known pastor who when challenged about his leadership replied by saying, “Touch not the Lord’s anointed.” That view, if taken literally, puts the pastor beyond all criticism, and creates the possibility—indeed, the probability—that something bad is about to happen. Lord Acton was right when he remarked that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
And there is a third reason why the call to ministry is not preached much these days. It has to do with the pressure put on young people to have a certain sort of experience that unfortunately does not seem to last over time. I’m thinking of young people who under a certain kind of emotional influence (not wrong in itself) come forward, raise their hands, sign a card, throw stick in the fire, or make some other public decision to spend their lives in fulltime Christian service. But it doesn’t always work out. Either they forget about it or they change their minds or they enter the ministry with disastrous results, which makes it easy to conclude that either they were never called to the ministry or that the whole system itself needs to be junked.
Finally, we live in a materialistic, me-first age where the heroes of today are athletes, rock stars and other media celebrities. I was struck by a recent survey showing that most Americans had never heard of any of the leaders of evangelical Christianity, with the obvious exception of Billy Graham. The vast majority don’t know who Rick Warren is, though he has sold millions of books. But well over 90% recognize Britney Spears. Ours is a pop culture, media-driven generation. We live with very short memories. Everyone knows about Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell and their media-induced spat, but if anyone reads this sermon in five years (or five months), that reference will escape them entirely.
Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.
That’s our world, and welcome to it. I’m not complaining at all. Far from it. I would rather live now than a hundred years ago. What a great time to be alive. We have technology that allows us to minister to the world with the press of a button. I can hit Send and this sermon goes to the Internet where anyone with a computer can read it.
And there is a true spiritual hunger in this generation, especially among those under 30. I confess that I am very impressed with two generations—the one above us and (speaking as a Baby Boomer) the one below us. I see in the quickly-departing Greatest Generation commitment, perseverance and a set of values that have stood the test of time. And in the younger generation I sense a passion for God that sometimes scares me because it challenges my own comfortable brand of Christianity. We Baby Boomers weren’t happy with the church, but when we took over, we became as traditional in our own way as the generation that came before. Plus it seems that we were very impressed with size, glitz, packaging, image and appearance. Yes, that’s a broad generalization, but it seems true from where I sit. I see in the twentysomething generation a gritty determination and a desire to serve the Lord with a passion that approaches ferocity. They don’t reject the Christian faith, but they want the real thing, not some ginned-up flashy substitute.
And that brings me back to the question of the call to the ministry, a noble phrase not heard very much these days. Here is part of what Martyn Lloyd-Jones says about it:
(P)reaching is never something that a man decides to do. What happens rather is that he becomes conscious of a “call.” This whole question of the call is not an easy matter; and all ministers have struggled with it because it is so vitally important to us. (Preachers and Preaching, p. 104).
He goes on to list several marks of the call to the ministry, by which he means the call to be a preacher:
1) A growing inner awareness
2) Confirmation by wise spiritual leaders
3) A burden to preach to others
4) A sense of constraint
I pause at #4 because this is a topic that many writers discuss. “It means that you have the feeling that you can do nothing else.” Lloyd-Jones quotes Spurgeon as saying, “If you can do anything else, do it. If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry.” A sense of God’s calling produces in you such an overwhelming desire that you will never be happy doing anything else. A man who is called to preach won’t be happy serving as president of the United States. Paul said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16) and Jeremiah said that the word of the Lord was like a burning fire inside him (Jeremiah 20:9).
Then Lloyd-Jones adds a fifth characteristic:
5) A sense of unworthiness
Here he means diffidence, a healthy (as opposed to morbid) sense that you are not equal to the task of bringing God’s Word to the congregation. True ministers will often feel weak, hesitant and fearful. Who wouldn’t? It is an awesome thing to stand between heaven and hell, warning men and women and pointing them to the only path that leads to heaven. Who among us is equal to such a thing? Lloyd-Jones call so far as to say that “the greater the preacher the more hesitant he is to preach” (p. 107) and offers George Whitefield as an example. Oddly enough, if a man feels that he can preach, he probably shouldn’t. If he feels like he can’t, he probably can.
Lloyd-Jones goes on to emphasize the importance the church plays in discerning the call to the ministry. He points out that in Acts 6, the early Jerusalem believers chose leaders who were well-known for their godliness. The same is true when you come to 1 Timothy 3 which lists several qualifications that demand observation by others:
Manages his own household well
Having his children under control
Not a new convert
A good reputation among outsiders
Actually all of the qualifications require someone else to validate them. No one who reads that list, if he is honest with himself, will think, “I can do this.” I have never forgotten the day when the church in Oak Park chose its first board of elders under the new constitution. One of the men they chose was John Sergey, who was in his 70s at the time and had served as a missionary to Russia through radio broadcasts and a preaching ministry for over 50 years. Simply put, he was then and is now one of the godliest men I have ever known. When he prayed on Sunday morning, he brought us into the very presence of God. I know of no man I respect more than John Sergey. But when we talked about the qualifications for leadership in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, I recall him saying, “I don’t measure up. I see too many areas of my life that are lacking.” But that qualified him even more in my judgment. It is the job of the church to validate its spiritual leaders. No man calls himself into the ministry or into local church leadership. A self-called man and a God-called man are two different people. They may superficially be alike, but the differences go to the core. One man thinks he is qualifies so he calls himself. The other man feels unworthy but responds to God’s call, which is confirmed by the church.
Hard Times in Ephesus
At this point we see the vital importance of Paul’s word to Timothy:
“Do not neglect your gift.”
“Stir up your gift.”
The gift evidently was a divine enablement, a calling if you will, to do the work of the ministry. If you read all of 1 & 2 Timothy, you can see clearly that he faced a daunting challenge in Ephesus. First of all, he was a young man who evidently felt somewhat intimidated by his surroundings. And some of the leaders in Ephesus had fallen prey to serious false doctrine. It also seems that he was of a sensitive temperament, easily prone to discouragement and to feeling overwhelmed by the opposition he faced. In 1 Timothy 4:11-16 Paul offers a six-fold answer that serves as a good model for ministry in the 21st-century:
Teach the truth (v. 11).
Set a godly example (v. 12).
Preach the Word (v. 13).
Don’t forget your calling (v. 14).
Stay focused (v. 15).
Stay faithful (v. 16).
All of those things are important, but they all depend on the command in verse 14. If Timothy forgets his calling, he will never find the strength to face unrelenting opposition in Ephesus. External pressure and internal doubts will combine to finally cause him to give up. Those of us who have served in the local church understand how real this is.Churches are only beautiful at a distance. Inside the church, behind closed doors, there are problems everywhere. A man who forgets his calling will not last very long. Pastors like to joke that the ministry would be wonderful if it weren’t for the people. That’s true, but without the people, there would be no ministry at all.
So Paul encourages Timothy to remember these things:
1) Godly men laid their hands on you.
2) They believed in you.
3) They saw God at work in your life.
4) They foresaw God doing great things through you.
5) They prayed for God’s blessing upon you.
6) God answered by granting divine enablement.
7) Therefore, you have everything you need to succeed in God’s eyes.
8) But you must not neglect your gift.
9) You must stir up that gift until it is blazing.
The surrounding verses suggest how this might be done. We might simply say that Timothy will find confidence as he uses the gift he has been given.
Walk in purity and you will be pure.
Be an example and others will follow.
Preach and you will learn how to preach.
Be strong and you will be made strong.
Sometimes you have to “man up” and do what you don’t want to do, even when you don’t feel like doing it, and especially when you feel unable to do it. In those moments, you simply must not trust your feelings.
Remember Your Ordination
Your feelings are not always a reliable indicator of God’s calling. Feelings matter, but feelings can also lead us in the wrong direction. That’s why Paul doesn’t say, “Remember when you felt called to the ministry” because that memory alone would not sustain him in hard times. Memory fades over time and it can play tricks on you. What he does say is, “Remember when we laid hands on you and prayed for you. Something happened that day. God imparted a divine empowerment to your life. Don’t forget that.”
I am sometimes asked if I have been called to the ministry. Not long ago I was asked that question by a young man who seemed surprised when I answered yes. I told him the following story. Shortly after my junior year of high school, I came to saving faith in Jesus Christ. That moment of faith is etched forever on my mind. Over the next year, my senior year in high school, I went through the usual ups and downs of a student trying to match my faith and my life. A month after I graduated from high school, I spent many nights wondering what I should do with my life. Late at night, after everyone else had gone to bed, I paced around my bedroom, thinking, wondering, praying, pondering. One night during that month of June, I went to sleep, still thinking of all these things. I recall waking up in the middle of the night with a strong sense that God was calling me into the ministry. I remember saying, “Lord, if you want me to, I’ll be a preacher.” Then I went back to sleep. The next morning I remembered what happened and the experience was very real in my mind. I never walked an aisle and “made a decision” to enter fulltime Christian ministry. I have not told that story very often simply because I do not wish to make my experience the standard for anyone else. It is my story, not a pattern for others. God deals with each of us individually, and he is amazingly creative in the ways he speaks to us.
At the same time other people encouraged me to consider going to a Christian college and then on to seminary to prepare to serve the Lord. Two weeks after I graduated from Dallas Seminary, I was ordained into the gospel ministry by the elders of Midlothian Bible Church in Midlothian, Texas. They put me through a grueling exam, which I passed by the grace of God, and one bright Sunday afternoon, the church had a picnic and presented us with a “money tree” (with dollar bills tied to the limbs) to help us prepare for our move to Downey, California where I would soon become the pastor of Redeemer Covenant Church. Then those good, godly men gathered round us and prayed over us, commending us to the grace of God. They gave me an ordination certificate which each man signed:
And there were several others also. I confess that I didn’t feel anything as they prayed for me, but I don’t know if Timothy felt anything either, and it doesn’t really matter. Laying on of hands is one of the oldest biblical traditions. By laying on of hands, the men were saying, “We love you. We support you. We believe in you. We ask God to bless you. And we send you out with our endorsement, our support and our blessing.”
This is the ultimate argument for some form of ordained ministry. It preserves the church from self-called leaders, and it gives qualified men the confidence of knowing that when they go out to serve the Lord, the church of Jesus Christ goes with them. And if we believe in the power of united prayer, we may also believe that the Lord himself stands with the church to bless those whom the church sets apart for service (cf. Matthew 18:20).
My ordination happened thirty years ago. Some of those men are now in heaven, and most of them I have only seen once or twice since then. But having been ordained by them, I am still ordained by them today.
Ordained All Over Again
Last month when we were in Chicago, I had the unique experience of going to a home meeting hosted by our son Josh and his wife Leah. They not only opened their home to us, Josh introduced us and when the meeting was concluded, he asked those assembled (most of them in their 20s) to gather around Marlene and me and lay hands on us, committing us and our ministry to the Lord in prayer. Then he closed with a prayer that was powerful, personal and deeply moving. I felt ordained all over again.
Two days later we had a similar experience at another home meeting. At the end everyone present came around Marlene and me, laid their hands on us and prayed fervently to the Lord. One particular sentence stuck in my mind. “Lord, please help Pastor Ray and Marlene know how much confidence we have in them.” I do not have words to say how encouraging that was to me. And God answered that prayer with a new infusion of hope and strength from heaven.
Should this surprise us? No, not at all. This is how the body of Christ is supposed to function. In these stressful, exciting, challenging days of the early 21st-century, when the world is changing so fast that no one can keep up with it, when Islam and militant secularism are on the march, and when “this world with devils filled should threaten to undo us,” what will keep us going and how will we find the strength to get up every day and go forth into the world, carrying with us the Good News of Jesus, with words of hope and healing, with words of rebuke and exhortation, with a heart full of love and a burning desire to see men and women come to life through the gospel of Jesus Christ, how in the world will we find the strength to do it if not by the call of God and the gift of God and the memory of God’s people who long ago stood with us and commissioned us to serve the Lord Jesus and who stand with us today?
That’s a long sentence, isn’t it?
But it says all that is in my heart, and I think it captures something of what Paul had in mind when he told Timothy, “Do not neglect the gift of God that is in you.”
Let me offer a few closing thoughts in light of all of this.
1) We need to recover the importance of the call to the ministry.
2) We need to challenge all Christians to use their gifts and talents for the service of the Kingdom.
3) We should expect God to answer our prayers by calling more and more of our people to fulltime service for Christ.
4) We would do well to uphold the importance of the prayers of godly elders.
5) We must strive for church environments where Christians can be encouraged to use their gifts.
6) We must continually encourage those who serve the Lord because without our encouragement, they may give in under pressure.
7) Finally, let us not forget to pray with each other and for each other for it is by prayer that the church advances in the world.
I close with this word to those who may feel a bit like Timothy. If for some reason, you feel unqualified and unworthy, if you struggle with a deep sense of inadequacy, I am happy to say that you are an excellent candidate to be used greatly by the Lord. Take Paul’s advice to heart. Remember those who have prayed for you. Remember that the Holy Spirit indwells you. Remember God’s call. Then rise up, go forth and serve the Lord. Do not neglect your spiritual gift. This is the word of the Lord. Amen.