Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Verse 12 (1 Timothy 4:12)

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

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

"Himself a wanderer from the narrow way,

His silly sheep, no wonder if they stray."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible