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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

1 Timothy 4

Verses 1-16

1 Timothy 4:2

It is not the suffering, and mutilation, and death of man's body that most needs to be diminished it is the mutilation and death of his soul. Not the Red Cross is needed, but the simple Cross of Christ to destroy falsehood and deception.

Tolstoy (preface to Sevastopol).

References. IV. 3. Expositor (7th Series), vol. vi. p. 177. IV. 6. Ibid. (5th Series), vol. i. p. 337. IV. 7. W. J. Hocking, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 187. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Timothy, p. 361. IV. 7, 8. C. J. Ridgeway, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi p. 403.

The Promise of the Life Which Is to Come

1 Timothy 4:8

St. Paul assumes that there is a life to come; and he asserts that, of this life, godliness has the 'promise'. In other words, men live after they die; and the life after death depends upon the life before death. No living man is in a position to say that, when we die, we have done with the life that now is, and that there is no life of any sort to come. And be it borne in mind that the life which is to come is not starting anew; it is simply going on. It is not a second life begun; it is the first life continued. There is a life which is to come; that life is bound to come; and of it, godliness has the promise.

I. This promise is twofold; and in two places we read it (1) In the letter of Holy Scripture, Romans 2:7 : 'To them who by patient continuance in welldoing, seek for glory and honour and immortality,' God will give 'eternal life'. In plain words, God has made eternal life to follow loving obedience. (2) We read the promise, not only in the letter of Holy Scripture, but in the spirit of vital godliness. Evangelical religion is an earnest and pledge of the blessedness of the life which is to come, because it actually consists in that life already begun in the soul of the true believer. To a good man there is, strictly speaking, only one life. I hold it fatal to any worthy standard of Christian living to think of death as a miracle, and to think that dying will work some marvellous change in ourselves that is, in our nature. Death is but a circumstance. Life in the better land will be present Christian experience developed, broadened, matured; and at the same time purged of certain incidents which now are apt to disturb our peace and mar our joy.

II. Of the 'life which is to come,' godliness has the 'promise'. But I beg you to see to it that your godliness has these five marks: (1) Godliness personal, not hereditary. (2) Godliness possessed, not simply desired. (3) Godliness vital, not formal. (4) Godliness evangelical, not ritualistic. (5) Godliness kept as well as got.

Joseph Busk: A Memorial, p. 163.

References. IV. 8. T. Stephens, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liv. p. 151. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi. No. 946. James Baldwin Brown, The Divine Life in Man, p. 167. R. F. Horton, This Do, p. 133. IV. 8, 9. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi. No. 937. IV. 10. Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 175. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No. 2964. John Watson, The Inspiration of Our Faith, p. 203.

Influence: Is It Good Or Is It Bad?

1 Timothy 4:12

Our subject is 'Influence: Is it good or bad?' It must be the one or the other, and for a text I cannot choose a better than the words I have just read, taken from the First Epistle to Timothy, which is appointed for our Second Lesson at Evening during one of the days of the past week.

I. Example Tells. In one sense we are alone. We are individuals, we personally live, we personally die, and we must personally appear in the judgment of God. Every man shall give account of himself before God. But in another sense we are not alone. We are not and we cannot be alone. No man liveth to himself. He must influence those who are about him by speech, by conduct, by the whole tenor of his life. Supposing you tell lies; some one hears and and knows. Supposing you talk against religion and sneer at sacred things, and disparage Christ's Church and Sacrament and Bible-reading and devotion, cognisance is taken of what you say. Live for the world, for its pleasures and lusts, for self, some one is influenced. Children watch you and copy your ways and speeches.

II. If Influence be for Good there must be Certain Characteristics.

(a) There must be a holy disposition. The heart within must be right with God, or else the external conduct will be unsatisfactory.

(b) You must also have peace of mind, that peace which God gives, that legacy, that grand legacy, that Christ the Prince of Peace left to His followers in all ages.

(c) There must also be absolute integrity. Wrong principles and deviation from anything that is right essentially is detrimental.

(d) There must also be likeness to Christ. Men must be able to take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus.

Reference. IV. 12. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 382.

1 Timothy 4:13

Bishop King of Lincoln wrote in his paper on Clerical Study: 'It is because in all true knowledge we draw near to God that reading and study have such an alluring and refreshing pleasure. This exercise of the mind in the discovery of the truth has its own alluring delights, and reward; but we, with the light of Christian revelation, can see more clearly what the cause of that high pleasure is, it is the drawing near of the mind to God; the knowing more of His ways that we may know Him more, and knowing Him more that we may love Him more; for so our minds and hearts will be at rest.

'It is this which made Lord Acton in his inaugural lecture say: "I hope that even this narrow and disedifying section of history [ i.e. modern history] will aid you to see that the action of Christ, Who is risen, upon mankind, whom He redeemed, fails not, but increases".'

The Love and Wisdom of God, pp. 347, 348.

Reference. IV. 13. F. J. A. Hort, Village Sermons in Outline, p. 78.

The Charisma ( An Ordination Sermon )

1 Timothy 4:14

The history of the Church of God in the past and her existence today attest that she possesses a Divine presence and is instinct with the life of her risen Lord. Nations have risen and flourished, have decayed, fallen, and disappeared, but the Church has remained. 'Every power has touched it, every science has scrutinised it, every blasphemy has cursed it,' but the gates of hell have never prevailed against the Church because her Lord who was dead is alive for evermore. She saw the last days of the Roman Empire; she stood at its grave, and bestowed upon it a parting blessing. She stood at the cradle of the English nation, fostered its infancy and youth, and has preceded every national advance as the pillar of fire before the host of Israel. Her forms have changed, her appearance is altered, but her nature has ever been the same. Her creed is what it was in the days of the Apostles.

I. 'Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the world.' This all-important truth is the secret of the perpetuity of the Church's life, and lies at the very foundation of the solemn service of this morning. The Great High Priest still walks amidst the golden candlesticks. Today the children of Christ and members of His kingdom take up the strains of the hymns of victory of the ancient Church: ' Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat '. Whatever may be our qualification, natural or acquired, one thing is absolutely essential to make a man an efficient minister of Christ it is that earnestness of purpose, that persistent and single-hearted energy, which can only be described as life, and which can only be communicated by the 'Lord and Giver of Life' Himself. It is in the combined manifestation of Divine and human authority that we are enabled to 'serve God with one spirit in the Gospel of His Son'.

In such an hour as this I would, with God's help, give you comfort. Your hearts must not be cast down today, but lifted up to the Lord with the holy joy and with the ardent courage of soldiers of the cross, who are to receive from the hands of your Prince in heaven, through His deputed agent, the golden spurs of knightly service, and that which no earthly prince can give the strength to wear the armour which He Himself supplies to meet those special conflicts which lie before you.

II. I have chosen my text because in it St Paul distinctly states that in Ordination a gift is bestowed which meets this sense of need which doubtless you are keenly feeling at this present time. 'Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.' The Apostle says that the gift came to Timothy through the concurrent means of prophecy and of the laying on of hands. I cannot enter into any question of Church government I would simply remind you that in his second Epistle to Timothy St. Paul writes, 'Stir up the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands'. Today, in the words of the Rubric, 'The Bishop with the priests present shall lay their hands upon every one that receiveth the order of priesthood'. As certainly as, in answer to the prayer of faith in the rite of Confirmation, the candidate, in the laying on of hands, in the words of the catechism of the Eastern Church, 'receives the gift of the Holy Ghost for growth and strength in the spiritual life,' so certainly does the candidate for Ordination, who is Divinely called, receive the power of the Holy Ghost in the laying on of hands. The word χάρισμα , which occurs fourteen times in the Pauline Epistles and nowhere else in the New Testament, excepting 1 Peter 4:10 , always means an endowment, or gift of grace, bestowed by the Holy Spirit for some special ministration or official service. In the text before us the call of the Spirit was through prophecy, i.e. through inspired preachers, who declared the Spirit's will to invest Timothy with the χάρισμα for the work. The laying on of hands was the act which formed, with the prophecy, 'an appropriation of the Spirit in prayer, through the instrumentality of others, for a definite object'.

III. ' Neglect not the gift.' In the verses before the text St. Paul writes to Timothy, 'Be thou an example of believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine,' and thus 'neglect not the gift'. The life which God gives, spiritual as well as physical, is dependent upon human effort, and the employment of the means which He Himself supplies. Be 'wholly in these things'. 'Give heed to thyself and the teaching' to the culture of thine own spiritual life, and of the function and duties of religious instruction. 'Continue in them.' Habitual, not fitful and spasmodic service will meet with reward. 'In doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee.' What does the Apostle mean? The traveller who stands on the shore of the Dead Sea near the mouth of the Jordan wonders why this inland lake should be so salt that no animal life can exist in it, as he looks upon the volume of sweet water which is ever entering in. He has the chief answer to the enigma in the fact that this sea receives but never gives. It has no outlet. Let a river flow into a lake whose waters flow out, and not only does it irrigate and fertilise the barren lands beyond, but the lake itself is enlivened and purified. 'Neglect not the gift that is in thee.'

J. W. Bardsley, Many Mansions, p. 118.

Reference. IV. 14. Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 396.

The Man and the Teacher

1 Timothy 4:16

There is an intimate relation between the preacher's 'self' and his 'teaching'. This relation is of two kinds: (a) The preacher's 'self' largely determines the force and influence of his teaching. (b) It largely determines the contents of his faith. It is clear that, if our message be one of infinite importance and it is then in virtue of that message the person of the true preacher becomes of very great importance also, and such a one must not lightly esteem the significance of his own life.

I. Let me enumerate the moral qualities which appear to me fundamentally necessary to give force to our preaching. (1) The first is, Manliness. This general idea of manliness may be summed up in four qualities: (a) Sincerity. Preachers have great temptations to become actors, imitators, and copyists. But, depend upon it, if God has singled you out to be a prophet, He has given you an individuality of your own, which you should strenuously preserve. As sincere men, too, we should have a horror of cant, whether new or old. (6) Manliness includes Generosity. Meanness is execrable in a preacher. His heart should be large, his sympathies wide and warm. (c) You may think it strange that I should include Humility in the qualities of manliness. Yet humility is both strong and lovable; pride and arrogance are both unlovable and weak. (d) Further, the Fearlessness which is an attribute of complete Manliness, gives unquestionably great force to the utterances of the preacher. (2) The Christian preacher should earnestly cultivate personal holiness. If we would fire the world, our spiritual life must burn brightly.

II. Yet, notwithstanding this great influence of the 'self upon the 'teaching,' the injunction, 'Take heed to yourself needs to be supplemented with 'Take heed to your teaching'. (1) Without entering into the controversy concerning the nature of inspiration, there are certain facts that must be absolutely final for the Christian preacher. 'Jesus is God incarnate, and the Expiator of sin.' For him that denies these truths Christianity ceases to be. (2) Need I put in a plea for the diligent study of the Bible, for an agony of wrestling with its great truths? (3) Don't, for the sake of God and men, lower the holy standard of the kingdom of God. Our message will have power in proportion as our own power is renewed; it will inspire others in proportion as it inspires us.

John Thomas, Myrtle Street Pulpit, vol. II. p. 169.

References. IV. 16. C. G. Finney, Penny Pulpit, No. 1578, p. 13. J. Caird, Sermons, p. 301. V. 1, 2. R. F. Horton, Christian World, Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 392. V. 4. J. Stalker, ibid. vol. liv. p. 275. T. Sadler, Sermons for Children, p. 69. V. 6. J. Bolton, Selected Sermons (2nd Series), p. 68. Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 205; ibid. vol. ii. p. 424. V. 8. Ibid. (5th Series), vol. i. p. 144. V. 17. Ibid. vol. iv. p. 378. V. 18. Ibid. (4th Series), vol. ii. pp. 71, 76; ibid. vol. iii. p. 305. V. 20. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 205. V. 21. H. D. M. Spence, Voices and Silences, p. 127.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.