The Pulpit Commentary

1 Timothy 4:12 (1 Timothy 4:12)

An ensample to them that believe for an example of the believers , A.V.; manner of fife for conversation , A.V.; love for charity , A.V.; R.T. omits in spirit , A.V. and T.R. Let no man despise thy youth . The construction of the sentence is manifestly that adopted in the A.V. and followed in the R.V. Timothy would certainly be under forty years at this time, and might be not above thirty-five. Either age would be decidedly early for so responsible an office—one in which he would have many elders ( πρεσβύτεροι ) under him ( 1 Timothy 5:1 , 1 Timothy 5:17 , 1 Timothy 5:19 ). An ensample ( τύπος ); properly the original "pattern" or "model" after which anything is made or fashioned; hence a "pattern" or "example." It is used in the same sense as here in Philippians 3:17 ; I These. Philippians 1:7 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:9 ; Titus 2:7 ; 1 Peter 5:3 . Them that believe. The R.V. has apparently so translated τῶν πιστῶν in order to assimilate it with the πιστῶν in 1 Peter 5:10 . But οἱ πιστοί are simply "believers," or "Christians"—"the flock," as St. Peter has it, and had better be so rendered. Timothy is exhorted to make it impossible for any one to question his authority on the score of his youth by being a model of the Christian graces required in believers. In word. Specially in his teaching. The exhortation to Titus ( Titus 2:1 , Titus 2:7 , etc.) is very similar, "Speak thou the things which befit the sound doctrine. In all things showing thyself an ensample of good works; in thy doctrine showing uncorrupt-ness, gravity, sound speech ( λόγον ὑγιῆ )" etc. (comp. too 1 Timothy 5:17 ; 2 Timothy 1:13 ). Manner of life ( ἀναστροφῇ ; see 1 Timothy 3:15 , note). Purity ( ἁγνείᾳ ); elsewhere in the New Testament only in 1 Timothy 5:2 , where it has the same special sense (compare ἀγνός , 2 Corinthians 11:2 ; 1 Timothy 5:22 ; Titus 2:5 ; 1 Peter 3:2 ).

- The Pulpit Commentary

1 Timothy 4:1-16 (1 Timothy 4:1-16)

The history of the Christian Church is the history of the sowing of tares as well as of the sowing of good grain; and it describes the work of seducing spirits as well as that of the Spirit of God. The work of heresy is not merely the denial of true doctrine, but it is the invention and propagation of a multitude of false doctrines. Nor, again, are the false doctrines so invented and promulgated, on the face of them, necessarily ungodly doctrines. On the contrary, they often assume to themselves to be holier, stricter, more heavenly doctrines, than those of the Church of God. The Church of God is not holy enough for these spirit-taught separatists; the precepts of Jesus Christ do not attain a standard high enough for their exalted aspirations; the apostles do but grovel in the dust of commonplace piety, while these self-sent teachers soar to the heights of the true knowledge of the Infinite. But not only does Church history record the rise, in a lamentable succession, of the various troublers of the spiritual Israel, the men who have done more to hinder God's work on earth than all the persecutors and atheists put together have accomplished—the Cerinthuses, and Marcions, and Montanuses, and Manicheuses, and Socinuses, and countless other sectaries of later times—but the spirit of prophecy revealed beforehand for the Church's warning that so it should be. The Holy Ghost, in no obscure or doubtful words, made it known to the Church that there would be apostasies many and grievous from the faith once delivered to the saints, that the leaders of those apostasies would be seducing spirits—spirits of antichrist, as St. John has it—and that some of them at least would put on the hypocritical appearance of greater holiness, for the purpose of the better deceiving the hearts of the simple. Thus while Christ taught by his apostle that "marriage is honorable in all," these forbade to marry; while the Word of God declared that "every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving," these commanded "to abstain from meats," saying, "Touch not, taste not, handle not." The Word of God teaches that God gives us richly all things to enjoy; these enjoined every kind of austerity to the body—"bodily exercises" which profited little. The Word of God bids us approach bodily to the throne of grace through the mediation of Jesus Christ; these would keep men back from God, and substitute, in the name of humility, the worship of angels. And that these pernicious doctrines were not confined to the first ages of the Church, the history of the Church too sadly teaches. The most opposite forms of heresy which have in all ages distracted the Church have always had this in common, that, pretending to improve upon the sound, sober, and wise teaching of the Word of God, they have corrupted and forsaken it. Enforced celibacy for pure-minded chastity; artificial rules of abstinence for habitual temperance and self-restraint; groveling saint and image worship for direct communion with the living God; self-righteous separation from the world for holy living in the world; bruising the body for mortifying the soul; pretentious rejection of wealth for self-denying use of it; leaving the state of life in which God has placed a man, instead of adorning the gospel in it; making those things to be sins which God has not made sins, and those things to be virtues which God has not made virtues;—these have ever been the characteristics of those "doctrines of devils," the purpose of which is to turn the simple away from the truth. "The good minister of Jesus Christ" must hold his course boldly and straightforwardly in the teeth of all such false doctrine. He must not parley with the teachers of heresy, nor mix the wine of the gospel with the water of falsehood. He knows that the Word of God is purer, and holier, and wiser, and higher, than all the subtleties of human invention, and will stand in its glory when they are all swept away into nothingness. And, knowing this, he must give himself wholly to teaching the truth, whether men will hear or whether they will forbear, being fully assured that in so doing he will both save himself and them that hear him.

- The Pulpit Commentary