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What the Bible says about Timothy

1 Timothy 4:11 - 1 Timothy 4:16

11 Command and teach these things.

12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Read more from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the New Testament

The Character of Timothy’s Public Ministry (4:1116)

Young pastors everywhere have taken encouragement from 4:1112. In both the Roman and the Greek world, social and political leadership belonged to older men. The Latin word senate comes from senex, “old, senior.” At Athens and other Hellenic cities like Ephesus, there was a semiofficial body of elders, the Gerousia (from Gk., geron, “old man”), which played an important role in politics, religion, and society. Elders played a key role in the church also, and we read about “the elders” of Ephesus in Acts 20:17.

In this ancient climate, one can appreciate Timothy’s delicate position as a leader in the church. He is told to “command and teach these things,” even to people who were senior to him in age. This might lead to pride, but the guard against this is found at the end of 4:12: The young pastor is to execute his office in an exemplary fashion with love and purity. To minister like this from the heart will naturally foster humility. A teacher is a servant.

AN OLDER MAN Roman statue of an older man.

1 Timothy 4:12

12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

Read more from NKJV Study Bible

4:12 Youth was a term applied to men until they were 40. Timothy might have been between 35 and 40 years old at this time. The antidote for his youth was his life. He was to set an example in six areas: (1) in word, meaning conversation; (2) in conduct, or behavior; (3) in love, which is the love of God; (4) in spirit, the attitude or power of the Holy Spirit; (5) in faith, meaning trust in God; and (6) in purity, both in sexual matters and in thoughts (5:2). These godly elements are not only for the young, but should be desired and practiced by all. These qualities should be developed early in a Christian’s life.

2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Read more from Expositors Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition): New Testament

7 There are two ways of interpreting this verse. One is to assume that we have here three figures of speech: the first military, the second athletic, the third religious. But the three clauses of the verse may all be taken as related to athletics. The verb translated "fought" can have a military meaning (cf. Jn 18:36), but it can just as clearly relate to athletics (1Co 9:25). All in all, it seems more natural to understand Paul as speaking in the athletic sense in all of them (cf. especially 1Ti 6:12). If so, then we can paraphrase the verse like this: "I have competed well in the athletic contest [of life], I have finished the race, I have kept the rules"—not "fouled out" and so been disqualified from winning.