1Timothy 4:12-16

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 26, 2000


When Paul met Timothy, we think that Timothy must have been somewhere around the age of 15 or 16.  It’s not been 11 years since that time, making Timothy around 26 or 27 years old.  That may not seem too young, but keep in mind that Paul has put Timothy in charge of one of the largest churches in the world at that time, the church at Ephesus.

:12 Let no man despise thy youth;

youthneotes – youth, youthful age

despisekataphroneo – to contemn, despise, disdain, think little or nothing of


God uses youth

We might like to think that God can only use older, more mature people, but the truth is that God will often use those who are young, inexperienced, and immature.
The Israelites were up against the Philistines.  The Israelites were, as always, vastly outnumbered and out gunned.  Jonathan may not have been all that young, perhaps in his thirties or so, but the fact of the matter was that it was his dad, Saul, who was king.  You would think that it would be Saul who would be at the head of all of Israel’s battles in those days.  But it was Jonathan that came up with the brilliant idea …
(1 Sam 14:6-7 KJV)  And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. {7} And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.

There was a kind of recklessness about Jonathan’s faith.  He believed that God could do just about anything.  And he was still naïve enough to live his life according to what he believed. Jonathan actually believed that he and his armor bearer could take on the entire Philistine army.

As the story progresses, Jonathan and his armor bearer set up a kind of test to decide whether or not it was really God’s will for them to take on the Philistines, and sure enough, they took on the entire army.  Confusion broke out among the Philistines and as they fled, the Israelites had a great victory that day, all because a son named Jonathan was willing to step out and trust God.
You know the story.  The Israelites and the Philistines had been at war when a champion of the Philistines stepped out and challenged the Israelites to a little one-on-one.  Whoever won the one-on-one would win the war.  The only thing was, this guy was 9 ½ feet tall!  Meanwhile, young David had been sent by his father out to the battlefield to check on his older brothers …
(1 Sam 17:20-51 KJV)  And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle. {21} For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. {22} And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren. {23} And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them. {24} And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid. {25} And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel. {26} And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

Keep in mind, David was considered too young to be a warrior.  He is perhaps 13 to 16 years old.

{27} And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him. {28} And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.

This is an example of someone “despising” David’s “youth”.

{29} And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause? {30} And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner. {31} And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him.

Keep in mind, Saul knows David.  He is Saul’s personal musician.

{32} And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine. {33} And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. {34} And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: {35} And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. {36} Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. {37} David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.

I love David’s faith.  He had no trouble believing that His God was bigger than the enemy.

{38} And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. {39} And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. {40} And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine. {41} And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. {42} And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance.

Again, someone despising David’s youth.

{43} And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. {44} And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. {45} Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. {46} This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. {47} And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands. {48} And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. {49} And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. {50} So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. {51} Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.

How did Israel win a great battle that day?  How did a huge enemy like Goliath fall that day?

Because a young man named David dared to believe that his God could do anything.  And he was willing to RUN to meet the challenge.

The boy and his lunch
You may be thinking, “But I’m not a brave warrior like Jonathan or David”.  I’ve got news for you, God wants to use you.
(John 6:1-14 KJV)  After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. {2} And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. {3} And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. {4} And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. {5} When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? {6} And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. {7} Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. {8} One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, {9} There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? {10} And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. {11} And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. {12} When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. {13} Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. {14} Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

Five thousand were fed that day because of several things that came together:  Jesus was there, and a young man was willing to give up his lunch.

This is often the picture in my head as I come to church.  It is my prayer that God will take the little that I have to offer on Sunday mornings, and that He’ll bless it and feed all of you with it.

You may not feel like you could ever be a Jonathan or a David.  But God has given you something.  It may not seem like much, but it’s something.

Are you willing to give what little you have to the Lord and see what He’ll do with it?  Actually, David didn’t have much either, only five little stones and a lot of faith in God.

God can use you.  He wants to use you.  Give Him what little you have and see what He’ll do.

:12  but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

exampletupos – the mark of a stroke or blow, print; a figure formed by a blow or impression; of a figure or image; an example; in the technical sense, the pattern in conformity to which a thing must be made; an example to be imitated

Paul is saying to Timothy that he is the stamp that is to leave an impression on those around him.  As he presses against the people in his church, he will leave an impression.


Set the example

We can feel at times that we have reasons why we shouldn’t be used by the Lord.  Sometimes it’s like Timothy, that we think that we’re too young or not mature enough in the Lord. Don’t hide behind excuses.  Go out and set the example.
You don’t have to be old to set an example.  I am learning all the time from people much younger than myself.

wordlogos – word

This probably refers to Timothy’s ministry of teaching at Ephesus.  He is to set the example in what he talks about.

conversationanastrophe – manner of life, conduct, behaviour, deportment

Not only was Timothy an example in what he says, but also in what he does.  People are watching you.

charityagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

spiritpneuma – spirit.  This word is not in some of the manuscripts (as in NIV, NAS).

It could be talking about the things of the Holy Spirit, or it could be talking about the “human spirit”, as in Timothy’s “attitude”.

faithpistis – conviction of the truth of anything, belief; fidelity, faithfulness

Paul might be talking about Timothy’s ability to trust God.  He also might be talking about Timothy’s faithfulness, his ability to have others count on him without letting them down.

purityhagneia – purity, sinlessness of life

Sometimes we let others set the standards for us.  We allow ourselves to do certain things that we feel uncomfortable with because “others are doing it”.  When you are the example, you are the one setting the standard.


In his tape “Preparing for Adolescence”, Dr. Dobson tells a story about peer pressure that goes something like this:
Suppose you are about 14 years old, and you are in that crazy time of life when you are searching to find out who you are and what you want to be like.  You get a call from some of the older guys at school who want to know if you want to hang out with them.  Of course you say, “Sure”.  This is the opportunity of a lifetime.  As you climb into the car, you get the seat in the back left hand corner behind the driver.  You’re a little nervous as the car is driving down the street, hoping that you’ll fit in with these older, “cooler” guys.  There you are cruising down the street when boy who is driving pulls a bottle out of his pocket and takes a little red pill out and pops it into his mouth.  He passes the bottle to the boy on his right, who takes a pill out and pops it into his mouth.  As he passes the bottle to his right, you begin to realize what’s happening.  They’re taking drugs, speed.  You know it’s wrong, but these are the big boys.  You begin to get a little nervous as the bottle is passed to the boy in the back seat opposite you.  As each guy gives in and takes a pill, the pressure builds on you.  The next boy seems a little nervous, but the other guys tease him and tell him not to be a big baby.  The boy pops a pill into his mouth and passes it to the boy sitting in the center seat in the back, the one next to you.  As the boy starts to open the bottle, you begin to wonder how you’re going to handle this.  What are you going to say?  Would it really hurt that much if you just gave in this one time?  You’ll probably never have to do it again.  But what you don’t know is that once you’ve crossed the line the first time, it gets easier and easier to cross it each time you are tempted.  What will you do?  The bottle is handed to you and everyone is watching …

Will you be the example, or will you be the one imprinted?


Joseph had been sold as a slave to Egypt by his brothers when he was seventeen.
(Gen 39:1-12 KJV)  And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. {2} And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. {3} And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. {4} And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. {5} And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. {6} And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. {7} And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.

Keep in mind that Joseph is at the most in his early twenties.  And like any young man, his hormones are probably raging.  And with Potiphar being such a wealthy, important man, chances are that he’s probably got a young, good looking wife.

{8} But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; {9} There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? {10} And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.

The temptation was there day after day.

{11} And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. {12} And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

He did what was right.  He set an example of purity.  He fled.

Did God reward Joseph for doing the right thing?

As the story progresses, things get worse for Joseph.  Potiphar’s wife lies about Joseph and he is thrown into prison.  And left there for several years.

But as Joseph stayed faithful to God, the time came when he would interpret a dream for Pharaoh and wind up as the second most powerful man in the world in his day.  God would use Joseph to preserve his entire family.

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

What Paul is doing is giving Timothy a refresher on what is important in his ministry to the church at Ephesus.  What should be going on in the church services?

give attendance toprosecho – to bring to, bring near; to bring a ship to land, and simply to touch at, put in; to turn the mind to, attend to be attentive; to attend to one’s self, i.e. to give heed to one’s self

readinganagnosis – knowing; a knowing again, owning; reading.  NAS has “public reading”, the idea of the public reading of Scripture.

exhortationparaklesis – a calling near; , summons, (esp. for help); importation, supplication, entreaty; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment

This is taking the ideas in Scripture and encouraging people to go out and do them.  It’s moving people to action.

doctrinedidaskalia – teaching, instruction; that which is taught, doctrine

This involves the explanation of the Scriptures, getting the people connected to what the meaning of Scripture is.

These three things are what we see as important at Calvary Chapel.  We read the Scripture, try to draw out the understanding of the Scripture, and then try to encourage to action to follow the principles in the Scripture.

: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.

neglectameleo (“not” + “care about”) – to be careless of, to neglect

the giftcharisma – a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own; the gift of divine grace; a “working of grace”; a spiritual gift.

by prophecypropheteia – (better, “through prophecy”) – prophecy; a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events

laying onepithesis – a laying on, imposition; The imposition of hands was a sacred rite transmitted by the Jews to the Christians, and employed in praying for another, or in conferring upon him divine blessings, especially bodily health, or the Holy Spirit (at the administration of baptism and the inauguration to their office of the teachers and ministers of the church).

presbyterypresbuterion – body of elders, presbytery, senate, council; of the elders of any body (assembly) of Christians

Some would look at this as some sort of “ordination” for Timothy.  It’s probably more just looking back to a time when Timothy was prayed for, he received certain spiritual gifts, and there was accompanying prophetic words that would speak of Timothy’s ministry.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are often given through the laying on of hands, and often through the laying on of hands by the elders.

Peter and John sent to Samaria so they would receive the Holy Spirit –

(Acts 8:14-17 KJV)  Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: {15} Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: {16} (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) {17} Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

The church at Antioch sending out Paul and Barnabas, involving prophetic words, the Holy Spirit speaking –

(Acts 13:1-3 KJV)  Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. {2} As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. {3} And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Paul with the first believers at Ephesus –

(Acts 19:6 KJV)  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.


Receive your gifts

You may not know if you even have any spiritual gifts.  All you need to do is ask.
(Luke 11:9-13 KJV)  And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. {10} For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. {11} If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? {12} Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? {13} If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
You can ask God while laying on your bed at night.  You can ask God while having elders lay hands on you.
Will God give you some amazing supernatural ability every time you ask?  Perhaps not.  That’s really up to God.  Our part is simply to ask.  We will let God do the giving of the gifts as He wants.


Stir up your gifts.

(2 Tim 1:6 KJV)  Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
The word “stir up” speaks of the sparks of a fire that are beginning to die down.  When you “stir up” the embers, the flames come popping back out.
We all have things that make us want to stop using our gifts from time to time.
Sometimes we’ve had people make us believe that these gifts aren’t genuine.

I went to a Bible school that taught me that the gifts had ceased to operate after the apostles died off.  It took me a couple of years after school to actually go back and do my homework and find out that the things I was told were bogus.  Scripture does teach that certain gifts will cease, but they will cease when we no longer need them.  They will cease when Jesus comes back. (1Cor. 13:8).

Sometimes we’ve exercised our gifts, and they’ve led to trouble.

But the Bible says:

(1 Cor 12:7 NIV)  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

Gifts are meant for the good of the church.  Keep trying.  Keep growing.

Don’t neglect your gifts any more.  Stir them up.

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

meditatemeletao – to care for, attend to carefully, practice;  to meditate i.e. to devise, contrive; used of the Greeks of the meditative pondering and the practice of orators and rhetoricians

This is a related, opposite word of that translated “neglect” in the previous verse.  Instead of “not caring” about spiritual gifts, we are to “care for” them.

profitingprokope – progress, advancement

may appearphaneros – apparent, manifest, evident, known; manifest i.e to be plainly recognised or known


Keep growing

God wants us to be growing stronger in our walk with Him, not growing stagnant or weaker.
If you think about it, Timothy has “arrived”.  He’s spent the last 10 years following around Paul, going here for Paul, doing this for Paul.  Now he’s finally got his own ministry.  He’s become a pastor.  He’s arrived.
There is a danger I see happening to people when they get to the place where they think they’ve “arrived” in ministry.  They stop growing.  I’ve heard Pastor Romaine talk about the problem they would have at Calvary Costa Mesa whenever they would hire a new assistant pastor.  They would see a guy growing and serving the Lord, but as soon as they would bring him on staff, he’d slack off. 
Romaine would say that the worst thing you could do to a healthy servant was to hire him.
It doesn’t have to be that way.  God wants us to keep growing.  We aren’t going to “arrive” until the day we see Jesus face to face. 
Look at Pastor Chuck.  A few years back he started talking about retirement, and it will be okay if he does retire.  But instead of seeing him slowing down, I see him continuing to grow.  I’ve heard him talk about how he is so amazed at God’s Word and how he keeps getting new insights as he studies.  He hasn’t arrived.  He still bears fruit.
In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine under glass; it is about 1,000 years old and has but one root which is at least two feet thick.  Some of the branches are 200 feet long. Because of skillful cutting and pruning, the vine produces several tons of grapes each year.
It may be old, but it still grows and still bears fruit.

: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.

take heedepecho – to have or hold upon, apply, to observe, attend to; to give attention to; to hold towards, hold forth, present; to check

doctrinedidaskalia – teaching, instruction; that which is taught, doctrine

continueepimeno – to stay at or with, to tarry still, still to abide, to continue, remain

(1 Tim 4:16 NLT)  Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right, and God will save you and those who hear you.

Paul isn’t saying that Timothy is only going to be saved by being a good pastor.

We are saved by believing in Jesus Christ.  We are saved when we realize that we are sinners, and that our sin is keeping us from coming to know God.  We are saved when we realize that Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  We are saved when we open our heart to Jesus and receive the forgiveness that comes from the cross.

This is the “teaching” that Timothy is supposed to be careful about.

As Timothy stays faithful to the teaching of the gospel, as Timothy himself believes in the gospel, then Timothy will be saved.  But not only will Timothy be saved, but those who are in his church will be able to be saved because they will be hearing the truth.