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Paul Teaches Timothy about Practical Ministry. 1 Timothy 4:12-16


Paul Teaches Timothy about Practical Ministry.

Text: 1 Timothy 4:12-16

Paul is writing to Timothy about Timothy.  Why would anyone want to criticise Timothy?  There may be two reasons.

  1. His unorthodox method of appointment.  You see Timothy had arrived in Ephesus by an unusual route.  He wasn’t called or appointed by the local congregation.
  2. His youth and apparent inexperience.  Paul had to write 12 Let no man despise thy youth.

So can you imagine the tongues waging when this Timothy fellow arrives at Ephesus with Paul, and the Paul goes away and leaves him in charge? And Timothy was by nature shy and reticent. So Paul speaks very personally to him about… 

1. The Good Example of Biblical Conduct! v12 be an example to the believers

Paul is concerned that Timothy responds to the anticipated criticism of his youth by demonstrating to the believers that he is a good example of the Christian life, the renewed heart. Be an example in:-

  • In word.  The pastor’s conversation should be sweetened with the words and the love of Christ.  When he talks with a person in life distress, he should be able to speak comfort to their soul.  Sometimes he must rebuke the sinner.  His words must be grave and heavy, and loving all at the same time.  The pastor’s CONVERSATION must be Christlike.
  • In conduct.  He is God’s man, and He must behave as such all the time!   There is a motivating force to Christian Conduct and that force is LOVE.  1 John 4:7 This is what God wants from us, – to see us loving God, loving others, our neighbours, the lost, the family of God.
  • In spirit and in faith.   Timothy’s faith must be evident to all.  People should see in the pastor a complete confidence in Christ His Saviour and Master. – a simple trust in Christ, led by the Holy Spirit.
  • In purity.  So immoral was Greek society, that any reference to purity would be taken as a reference to sexual morality.   PRAY FOR MINISTERS.  Pray earnestly that the Lord would keep them from yielding to temptation.

These are the attributes that will show that the Christian leader is real, – being an example in every area of life.

2. The Great Importance of Biblical Content! Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine..

This is the second method of deflecting the criticism that inevitably will come.  Timothy’s PULPIT PRIORITIES are laid out for him, and he must work hard to make sure that what he’s teaching is sound and Biblical.   He must give attention to:-

  1. Reading. The Greek αναγνωσει actually indicates a public reading.  This passage is about Timothy’s Godly example to the local church, – and part of that task is the public reading of the Word of God. This can never be neglected.  In fact the whole structure of our services should focus upon the Word, and be structured around the Word.  Colossians 4:16  Paul’s letters which we have today were being given a special weight.  What do we read in worship?  Just the Bible, nothing extra, no apocryphal literature, no private revelations…
  2. Preaching.  παρακλησει Paul wants Timothy to give attention to exhortation.  Exhortation is just sound biblical exegesis – a sermon.   What we need in the church right now is preachers.  I’m worried by the number of churches who will appoint pastors who have no call to preach or no gifting to do so.  The pastor’s task is to preach the Word.
  3. Theology.  The Greek διδασκαλια simply means teaching.  Timothy’s task is to teach – to catechise.  To teach his people sound biblical truth.  How?  I’m sure that was both publicly and individually.

Now would you notice what the pastor’s task here is; publicly reading the Word, preaching and teaching.  Timothy must keep doing this until Paul returns, when presumably he would then take some of those duties back for himself.

3. The Glad Fulfilment of a Biblical CallNeglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.  Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

Timothy had been called and ordained, and  that been symbolised by the laying on of hands by the presbytery (the elders). See here:-

  1. A gifted ministry.  Timothy had a ‘gift.’
  2. A prophetic mention. 1 Timothy 1:18  
  3. A particular ceremony. 2 Timothy 1:6  Numbers 27:22-23.  Acts 6:6  
  4. A progressive example.  He must MAKE PROGRESS.

4. The Guiding Focus of Biblical Self-ExaminationTake heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Self-examination!  What are we to look for when we examine our lives?   Let’s see…

  1. The life/doctrine balance. The Christian is in a continual mode of self examination – with the Bible as our standard of measurement – always reforming our life and doctrine.
  2. The Perseverance of the Saints.  And we must continue in life and doctrine right to the very end of life.  The one who is truly saved will persevere throughout life, regardless of the tests and trials, for he has a new nature and the gift of faith in God, and one day that person will meet us in Glory.  So for Timothy and his hearers, the life/doctrine balance will continue until their last breath has been drawn.

Christians do wound each other, – sometimes seriously wound each other.  It’s inevitable because we are a group of people who are not yet perfected. Take Paul’s advice to Timothy (where it applies to you) to watch over yourself, be aware of your own spiritual life and conduct and make progress in sanctification, and always be checking that your pastoral teaching and preaching is in accord with sound biblical doctrine, and do so right throughout life, until we meet in glory, where there is no more sin, and we are perfected in His presence.

© Bob McEvoy

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