1 Timothy 4

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Battles and blessings in the ministry


I. A word of warning (a coming apostasy) (verses 1-5).

1. The Satanic source of the apostasy (v. 1, 2).
2. The strange aversion to marriage (v. 3a).
3. The obsession with dietary scruples (v. 3b-5). 

II. A word of encouragement (along 3 lines) (verses 6-11).

1. Faithfulness will bring its own reward (v. 6).
2. Godliness is the greatest gain of all (v. 7-9).
3. We have a living God Who sustains us in all trials (v. 10, 11).

III. A sevenfold word of exhortation (verses 12-16)

1. Don’t be over-timid because of your youth (v. 12a).
2. Be exemplary (in a variety of ways) (v. 12b).
3. Work hard in your calling (v.13). (Recognising the accompanying importance of ‘input’).
4. Neglect not your gift (v. 14) (Your specific God-given ability and your expected contribution in the one body).
5. Meditate and dedicate, and radiate (v. 15)!
6. Watch yourself and your doctrine (note the order!) (v. 16a).
7. Continue in the Way (v. 16b) (This will mean a deepening salvation for yourself and others.)

Key comment

Paul was certainly a true father to son Timothy, ­warning him of coming dangers (verses 1- 5), encouraging him in his heavy responsibilities (verses 6-11), and directing his footsteps the ways of the Lord (verses 12-16).

It is noticeable that the great Apostle deliberately links himself up with such as Timothy when he says in verse ten we labour, we suffer, and we trust. How this must have strengthened young Timothy! Though just a junior, he had some exalted companions in his task, and some experienced fellow-soldiers in his battles. And so do we.

Paul’s description of his God in verse ten climaxes his ministry of encouragement to Timothy. He describes Him as:

1. The Living God; so different from the dead deities of Ephesus, like Diana of the Ephesians (Acts 19:27, 28) and others perpetually surrounding Timothy at that time. It is good to note how many Old Testament servants of Lord delighted in, and spoke of, their living God (see Josh. 3:10; 1 Sam. 17:26, 36; 1 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 3: 14; etc.). And the same God would be the living One to Timothy every day!
2. The Saviour of all men, in the sense of providing for men’s needs: available food, available help, and available salvation!
3. The Saviour of those that believe. To believers, salvation is not only something available, it is something experienced! They have heard the gospel; they have trusted in Christ; and they have been born-again. The living God is certainly their Saviour, and by experience. And there is the progressive salvation, too, the daily beautifying of the character, and concurrent with that, the progressive conscription, and renewing, and redirecting by God, of various human faculties (mind, heart, will) for His own glory. This is what is called elsewhere the ‘saving of the soul’ (see Heb. 10:39; James 1:21; 1 Pet. 1:9).

How wonderful for Paul, and now for Timothy, to have such a living God as their God, be it in the prison at Rome, or amidst the idolatry at Ephesus. Supreme encouragement indeed!

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