1 Timothy 4 Commentary


1 Timothy 4:1  But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

KJV 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

  • the Spirit John 16:13; Acts 13:2; 28:25; 1 Cor 12:11; 1 John 2:18; Rev 2:7,11,17,29; Rev 3:6,13,22
  • expressly Ezekiel 1:3
  • the latter Nu 24:14; Deut 4:30; 32:29; Isaiah 2:2; Jer 48:47; 49:39; Ezekiel 38:16; Daniel 10:14; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:1; 2 Ti 3:1-9; 1 Pe 1:20; 2 Pe 3:3; Jude 1:4,18
  • depart Daniel 11:35; Mt 24:5-12; 2 Th 2:3; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:4
  • seducing Genesis 3:3-5,13; 1 Kings 22:22,23; 2 Chr 18:19-22; 2 Cor 11:3,13-15; 2 Th 2:9-12; 2 Timothy 3:13; 2 Pet 2:1; Rev 9:2-11; 13:14; 16:14; 18:2,23; Rev 19:20; 20:2,3,8,10 
  • and doctrines Da 11:35-38; 1 Cor 8:5,6; 10:20; Col 2:18; Acts 17:18; Rev 9:20; *Gr:

1 Timothy 4:2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,

KJV 1 Timothy 4:2  Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

lies 1 Kings 13:18; 22:22; Isaiah 9:15; Jer 5:21; 23:14,32; Daniel 8:23-25; Mt 7:15; Mt 24:24; Acts 20:30; Romans 16:18; Eph 4:14; 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Pet 2:1-3; Rev 16:14
their Romans 1:28; Eph 4:19

1 Timothy 4:3  men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.

KJV 1 Timothy 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

  • Forbidding Daniel 11:37; 1 Cor 7:28,36-39; Hebrews 13:4
  • to abstain Romans 14:3,17; 1 Cor 8:8; Col 2:20-23; Hebrews 13:9
  • which Genesis 1:29,30; 9:3; Ecclesiastes 5:18; Acts 10:13-15; 1 Cor 6:13
  • with 1 Ti 4:4; 1 Samuel 9:13; Mt 14:19; 15:36; Luke 24:30; John 6:23; Acts 27:35; Romans 14:6; 1 Cor 10:30,31; Col 3:17
  • believe 1 Ti 2:4; John 8:31,32; 2 Th 2:13,14

1 Timothy 4:4  For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;

KJV 1 Timothy 4:4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

  • every Genesis 1:31; Deuteronomy 32:4
  • and Acts 11:7-9; 15:20,21,29; 21:25; Romans 14:14,20; 1 Cor 10:23,25

1 Timothy 4:5  for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

KJV 1 Timothy 4:5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

  • it 1 Ti 4:3; Luke 11:41; 1 Cor 7:14; Titus 1:15
  • the Luke 4:4

1 Timothy 4:6  In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

KJV 1 Timothy 4:6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.

  • thou put Acts 20:31,35; Romans 15:15; 1 Cor 4:17; 2 Timothy 1:6; 2:14; 2 Pet 1:12-15; 3:1,2; Jude 1:5
  • a good Mt 13:52; 1 Cor 4:1,2; 2 Cor 3:6; 6:4; Eph 6:21; Col 4:7; 1 Th 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:15
  • nourished Jer 15:16; Eph 4:15,16; Col 2:19; 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 1 Pet 2:2
  • good doctrine 1:10; 4:16; 6:3; Ps 19:7; *marg:; Proverbs 4:2; John 7:16,17; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 2:1,7-10; 2 John 1:9
  • thou hast Philippians 3:16; 2 Timothy 3:14

1 Timothy 4:7  But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;

KJV 1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

Refuse 1 Ti 1:4; 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16,23; 4:4; Titus 1:14; 3:9
exercise 1 Ti 1:4; 2:10; 3:16; 6:11; Acts 24:16; 2 Timothy 3:12; Titus 2:12; Hebrews 5:14; 2 Pet 1:5-8

Click here for in depth exposition of 1 Timothy 4:7. 

1 Timothy 4:8  for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

KJV 1 Timothy 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

  • bodily 1 Samuel 15:22; Ps 50:7-15; Isaiah 1:11-16; 58:3-5; Jer 6:20; Amos 5:21-24; 1 Cor 8:8; Col 2:21-23; Hebrews 13:9
  • little or, for a little time. Hebrews 9:9,10
  • godliness 1 Ti 6:6; Job 22:2; Titus 3:8
  • having Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Job 5:19-26; Ps 37:3,4,16-19,29; 84:11; 91:10-16; Ps 112:1-3; 128:1-6; 145:19; Pr 3:16-18; Eccl 8:12; Isaiah 3:10; 32:17,18; Isaiah 33:16; 65:13,14; Mt 5:3-12; 6:33; 19:29; Mark 10:19,20; Luke 12:31; Luke 12:32; Romans 8:28; 1 Cor 3:22; 2 Pet 1:3,4; 1 John 2:25; Rev 3:12,21

Click here for in depth exposition of 1 Timothy 4:8. 

1 Timothy 4:9  It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance.

KJV 1 Timothy 4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

  • 1 Ti 1:15

Click here for in depth exposition of 1 Timothy 4:9. 

1 Timothy 4:10  For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.​​​​

KJV 1 Timothy 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

  • therefore 1 Cor 4:9-13; 2 Cor 4:8-10; 6:3-10; 11:23-27; 2 Timothy 2:9,10; 3:10-12; Hebrews 11:26; 13:13; 1 Pet 4:14,15
  • because 1 Ti 6:17; Ps 37:40; 52:8; 84:12; 118:8; Isaiah 12:2; 50:10; Jer 17:7; Daniel 3:28; Nahum 1:7; Mt 27:43; Romans 15:12,13; 1 Pet 1:21
  • the living 3:15
  • the saviour 1 Ti 2:4,6; Ps 36:6; 107:2,6-43; Isaiah 45:21,22; John 1:29; 3:15-17; 1 John 2:2; 4:14
  • specially John 5:24; 1 John 5:10-13

Click here for in depth exposition of 1 Timothy 4:10. 

1 Timothy 4:11  Prescribe and teach these things.

KJV 1 Timothy 4:11 These things command and teach.

  • 1 Ti 6:2; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:15; 3:8

Click here for in depth exposition of 1 Timothy 4:11. 

1 Timothy 4:12  Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

 KJV 1 Timothy 4:12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

  • no Mt 18:10; 1 Cor 16:10,11; 2 Timothy 2:7,15,22
  • be thou 1 Cor 11:1; 1 Th 1:6; 2:10; 2 Th 3:7-9; Titus 2:7; 1 Pet 5:3
  • in word 2 Cor 6:4-17; Philippians 4:8; 2 Timothy 2:22; James 3:13,17; 2 Pet 1:5-8

Click here for in depth exposition of 1 Timothy 4:12. 

Hiebert - “The rendering of the King James, an example of believers is better.”

Calvin - “Thus we learn how foolish and ridiculous it is for people to complain that they receive no honour, when in fact there is nothing about them that is worth honouring, but rather they expose themselves to contempt by their ignorance, the example of their impure lives, their lightmindedness and other faults. The only way to win respect is by outstanding virtues which will protect us against contempt.”

1 Timothy 4:13  Until I come, give attention to the [public] reading [of Scripture], to exhortation and teaching.   

KJV 1 Timothy 4:13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

  • I come 1 Ti 3:14,15
  • to reading Deut 17:19(Kings of Israel were to read it); Joshua 1:8; Ps 1:2,3; 119:97-104; Prs 2:4,5; Mt 13:51,52; John 5:39; Acts 6:4; 17:11; 2 Ti 2:15-17
  • to exhortation Romans 12:8; 1 Cor 14:3; Titus 2:15
  • to teaching 1 Ti 4:6,16; 1 Cor 14:6,26; 2 Ti 4:2


Click here for more exposition of 1 Timothy 4:13. 

Martyn Lloyd-Jones “The work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.” Lawson comments that "Because the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of the living God, the call to proclaim the Word is the highest calling known to mankind."

Hendriksen commented, “A minister should strive to effect a proper balance [among] the reading of Scripture, exhorting, and teaching. Some never exhort. Others never teach. And the reading of Scripture is prone to be regarded merely as a necessary preface to what the preacher himself is going to say!” (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, New Testament Commentary Grand Rapids: Baker, 1957)

Until I come give attention -This is not a suggestion but a command in the present imperative calling for this to be Timothy's continual duty. At least the phrase until I come would have given Timothy a sense of "help is on the way!" Or the "calvary is coming to the rescue!" There are 3 aspects of ministry that demand Timothy's continual attention. And as an aside recall that almost all of the imperatives in the NT are a call (or should be a call) not to seek to fulfill the command in one's own natural strength but to jettison self-reliance and rely wholly on the Holy Spirit's enabling power. See discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands (or "How to Keep All 1642 Commandments in the New Testament!") 

Lawson says "Timothy was “to apply himself” or “devote himself” with undivided allegiance to this foundational ministry of biblical preaching and teaching....He was to preach when it was convenient as well as when it was inconvenient (“in season and out of season”)....Before he gave attention to anything, he must devote himself to preaching. This same vigil is absolutely necessary for all ministers today. Men of God are to give themselves fully to their preaching. Nothing less will suffice." (Famine in the Land)

Gardiner Spring stated, “The great object of every minister of the Gospel ought to be to give the services of the pulpit the pre-eminence over every other department of ministerial labor

Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Ministering the Word was not something Timothy was to do after he had done other things; it was to be the most important thing he did."

Guzik - He must give attention to these things in both his private life and in his public ministry.

Give attention (4337)(prosecho  from pros = before, toward + echo = hold) means literally to hold to, toward or before. Originally it was followed by the word "the mind" (nous) but at times "the mind" was omitted but still the idea of "the mind" was implied. To apply one’s self to. To attach one’s self to. Prosecho means to moor a ship, to tie it up. Prosecho was also used to mean “to remain on course” which would certainly be Paul's intent for Timothy. Don't veer off course! 

Prosecho is used 5 times in the pastoral epistles - 1 Tim. 1:4; 1 Tim. 3:8; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Tim. 4:13; Titus 1:14

Figuratively prosecho has the idea is to hold one's mind before then to take heed, to pay attention, to give heed, be in a state of alert, to watch out for or to be on guard. The word implies the giving one’s consent, as well as one’s attention. When used in this manner prosecho always warns of some type of danger (usually spiritual danger but occasionally physical)! Prosecho is not a call simply to notice or sense something, but to be on guard against it because it is so harmful (eg, the danger of practicing your righteousness for others to see, the danger of false prophets, false teachers and false teaching, the danger of the Pharisees and Sadducees). The idea is to turn one’s mind or attention to a thing by being on one’s guard against it.

Lawson - Public reading of Scripture in the corporate gathering of the church’s worship, a practice dating back to the time of Ezra when he read the Scriptures in the revival at the Water Gate in Jerusalem (Neh. 8:1–8). This practice was eventually incorporated in the worship service of the ancient Jewish synagogue (Luke 4:16–17; 2 Cor. 3:14). With the birth of the church, this Old Testament practice of publicly reading the Scriptures was adopted by the early believers in their New Testament worship. (Ibid)

Calvin observed that Paul “places reading before doctrine and exhortation; for, undoubtedly, the Scripture is the fountain of all wisdom, from which pastors must draw all that they place before their flock.”

Compare Paul's requests in 

Col 4:16 When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.

1 Th 5:27  I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren. 

NET Note comments that "The public reading of scripture refers to reading the scripture out loud in the church services. In a context where many were illiterate and few could afford private copies of scripture, such public reading was especially important. "

The Old Testament was regularly read in synagogue worship, Luke recording "After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.” (Acts 13:15+)

To the [public] reading of [Scripture] (320)(anagnosis from ana = again + gnosis = knowledge) is related to anaginosko which means to know certainly and hence to read. There are only 3 uses in the NT and 2 refer to the reading of the OT in a Jewish context = Acts 13:15 and 2 Co. 3:14 = "the reading of the old covenant". The third use here in  1 Ti 4:13  refers to reading of the Scripture in the context of the Church.  There is one related word (anaginosko) used in the Septuagint of Neh 8:8 "They read (Lxx = anaginosko) from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading" which God used to bring about revival (Neh 8:1-18). In 1 Ti 4:1 it is used in a negative sense to describe those who are "paying attention to deceitful spirits." (cf similar negative use in 1 Ti 1:4 = "to myths and endless genealogies.") Devotion to the public reading of Scripture would serve to combat these paying attention to deceitful spirits, myths and endless genealogies.

Peter tells us "we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts." (2 Pe 1:19)

Prosecho in the NT - 

Matt. 6:1; Matt. 7:15; Matt. 10:17; Matt. 16:6; Matt. 16:11; Matt. 16:12; Lk. 12:1; Lk. 17:3; Lk. 20:46; Lk. 21:34; Acts 5:35; Acts 8:6; Acts 8:10; Acts 8:11; Acts 16:14; Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 1:4; 1 Tim. 3:8; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Tim. 4:13; Titus 1:14; Heb. 2:1; Heb. 7:13; 2 Pet. 1:19

Steven Lawson writes that "the ultimate goal of Bible exposition is changed lives. Preaching must do more than simply inform the mind; it must grip the heart and challenge the will. The entire person—mind, emotion, and will—must be impacted. Thus, exposition is not merely for the transmitting of information; it is for the effecting of transformation. It presses for a decision and calls for a verdict." (Famine in the Land)

R. W. Dale writes of Jonathan Edwards’ preaching, “In the elaborate doctrinal part of Jonathan Edwards’ sermons, the great preacher was only getting his guns into position; but in his applications, he opened fire on the enemy. There are too many of us, I am afraid, who take so much time getting our guns into position that we have to finish without firing a shot.”

Marshall writes, “Timothy is to summon his hearers, to respond to the Scripture that has been read. Whether he does so in exhortation or in comfort will depend on the message of the passage, but common to these two senses is the noted encouragement” (The Pastoral Epistles, 208).

John Stott - It was taken for granted from the beginning that Christian preaching would be expository preaching, that is, that all Christian instruction and exhortation would be drawn out of the passage which had been read. We note, however, that the public reading of Scripture came first, identifying the authority. What followed was exposition and application, whether in the form of doctrinal instruction or of moral appeal, or both. Timothy’s own authority was thus seen to be secondary, both to the Scripture and to the apostle. All Christian teachers occupy the same subordinate position as Timothy did. They will be wise, therefore, especially if they are young, to demonstrate both their submission to the authority of Scripture and their conscientious integrity in expounding it, so that their teaching is seen to be not theirs but the word of God.(Message of 1 Timothy)

Exhortation ((3874)(paraklesis from parakaléo = beseech <> para = side of, alongside, beside + kaleo = call) refers to calling to one's side or one's aid which can be for the purpose of providing solace, comfort, consolation, exhortation, encouragement. The primary sense in the NT is to urge someone to take some action, especially some ethical course of action. Even when it is translated exhortation as here it always has at the root the idea of enabling a person to meet some difficult situation with confidence and with gallantry.

Earle comments that exhortation “is an important part of every pastor’s duties. He must not only read the Word of God to his people, but also exhort them to obey it.” (1,2 Timothy, Titus)

MacArthur wrote, “Exhortation challenges people to apply the truths they have been taught. It warns people to obey in light of the blessing to come to them if they do, and the judgment if they do not. Exhortation may take the form of rebuke, warning, counsel, or comfort, but always involves a binding of the conscience.” (1 Timothy)

Paraklesis - 28v - appeal(1), comfort(13), consolation(1), encouragement(6), exhortation(7), urging(1).

Lk. 2:25; Lk. 6:24; Acts 4:36; Acts 9:31; Acts 13:15; Acts 15:31; Ro 12:8; Ro 15:4; Ro 15:5; 1 Co. 14:3; 2 Co. 1:3; 2 Co. 1:4; 2 Co. 1:5; 2 Co. 1:6; 2 Co. 1:7; 2 Co. 7:4; 2 Co. 7:7; 2 Co. 7:13; 2 Co. 8:4; 2 Co. 8:17; Phil. 2:1; 1 Thess. 2:3; 2 Thess. 2:16; 1 Tim. 4:13; Phlm. 1:7; Heb. 6:18; Heb. 12:5; Heb. 13:22

Teaching is more literally "the teaching."  The text is explained, giving meaning to the text which has been read publically. 

Lawson - True expository preaching is always doctrinal preaching. While “exhortation” is more application-oriented, “teaching” is more doctrine-oriented. The former deals with the building up of lives; the latter focuses on the establishing of sound doctrine....Diligent study is entirely necessary if the true meaning of the biblical text is to be conveyed. (cf 2 Ti 2:15)(Ibid)

Thomas Lea writes “Teaching makes an appeal to the intellect and informs listeners about the truths of the Christian faith." (1, 2 Timothy, Titus)

Philip Ryken - The systematic exposition of Scripture remains the most effective means for the conversion of sinners and the confirmation of the saints. It is the most effective means because it is God’s chosen means. Indeed, it must be doubted whether worship which does not preserve a central place for preaching and teaching the Bible is proper Christian worship at all. (REC - 1 Timothy)

Teaching (instruction, doctrine) (1319)(didaskalia from didasko from dáo = to know or teach) is either the act of teaching or the thing taught and in this use denotes doctrine or what is taught.

Didaskalia - 21v - Note concentration in the pastoral epistles! Dear pastor please teach doctrine! (Be warned - Heb 13:17)

Matt. 15:9; Mk. 7:7; Rom. 12:7; Rom. 15:4; Eph. 4:14; Col. 2:22; 1 Tim. 1:10; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 Tim. 4:6; 1 Tim. 4:13; 1 Tim. 4:16; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Tim. 6:1; 1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 3:10; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 4:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1; Titus 2:7; Titus 2:10

Steven Lawson gives an illustration of John Calvin's "giving attention" to Biblical preaching - One noted expositor who “gave attention” to biblical preaching was the monumental reformer of Geneva, John Calvin. His passionate commitment to Word-centered, text-driven preaching remains second to none. For twenty-three years (1541–1564), this Swiss pastor carefully expounded God’s Word to his congregation. Calvin preached from the New Testament twice each Sunday, and every other week he expounded portions of the Old Testament each weekday evening. Before this long period of extended ministry, Calvin had been missing from his pulpit ministry, banished on Easter Day 1538 by the Geneva city council. Yet upon his return from a three-year exile, Calvin entered his Geneva church (in September 1541) triumphant and resumed his exposition exactly where he had stopped three years earlier—on the next verse. Later, Calvin became seriously ill in the first week of October 1558 and did not return to the pulpit until Monday, June 12, 1559—an absence of eight months. But when he resumed his ministry, he commenced again at the very next verse in the Book of Isaiah. He was consumed with a passion for expository preaching. In fact, Calvin was so devoted to preaching through books in the Bible that his expositional series often took several years to complete. For example, his weekly preaching through the Book of Acts took over four years. He then preached 46 sermons on 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 186 sermons on 1 and 2 Corinthians, 86 sermons on the Pastoral Epistles, 43 sermons on Galatians, and 48 sermons on Ephesians. In his latter years he began preaching a harmony of the Gospels in the spring of 1559 and continued to do so until he died five years later, on May 27, 1564. During this same time he preached 159 sermons on Job, 200 on Deuteronomy, 353 on Isaiah, 123 on Genesis, along with other expositions as well. John Calvin’s meaty sermons were of such substance that his expositions eventually became the basis of his luminous commentaries. Through his pulpit preaching, he produced commentaries on twenty-three Old Testament books (including ten of the twelve Minor Prophets books), a harmony of the Gospels, Acts, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus. The great majority of this vast, rich legacy flowed out of his faithful expository preaching. Is biblical preaching relevant? When one considers that Calvin’s expository preaching dramatically influenced two continents—both religiously and culturally—the answer must be affirmative. What could possibly be more relevant than the life-changing power of preaching God’s Word? The famed Genevan Reformer towers over the centuries as an example worth emulating in the passionate pursuit of biblical exposition. (Famine in the Land - Recommended Read for Pastors) 

1 Timothy 4:14  Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery

KJV 1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

  • Neglect Mt 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-26; Romans 12:6-8; 1 Th 5:19; 2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Pet 4:9-11
  • which 1:18
  • with 1 Ti 5:22; Acts 6:6; 8:17; 13:3; 19:6; 2 Ti 1:6


Lawson - In essence, Paul challenged this young preacher, “No matter what difficulty is being thrown at you, keep on preaching!”...Regardless of what might prompt a moment of weakness, Timothy was exhorted to endure faithfully in his preaching. Every preacher today must exhibit such unwavering resolve to preach the Word, no matter what may oppose him. The commitment must be constant and intentional.  (Ibid)

MacArthur writes, “Each believer’s gift is a God-designed blend of spiritual capacities, which acts as a channel through which the Spirit of God ministers to others. Timothy’s gift included evangelism, preaching, teaching, and leadership." (Ibid)

Guzik makes an interesting (convicting) point - This shows that there was definitely the possibility that gifts and abilities in him could be wasted for eternity. As with the parable of the talents, we should not bury what abilities God has given. (Ed: I know a man who knew in his 30's he was called to preach and refused the call and he was miserable when I met him in his 60's. Dear reader, I plead with you do not waste this one life God gives you as you cannot imagine the glorious reward you will receive for effectively, actively, intentionally using your spiritual gift or gifts - remember everyone has at least ONE.)

Alan Redpath observed that a Christian might have a saved soul but a wasted life—but no follower of Jesus should ever be content with such a place.

John Trapp -  “God’s gifts groan under our disuse or misuse.”

Related Resource:

Do not neglect  (272)(ameleo from "a" = without + melo = to care for, to show concern, forethought or interest) means literally without care and thus showing no concern. Paul is commanding Timothy to stop being (or don't start present imperative with a negative) careless, unconcerned about or caring nothing about his spiritual gift.

In his second letter Paul wrote "For this reason ("What reason?" see 2 Ti 1:5) I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands." In other words, fan the flame (so to speak), stirring up your gift to new life, exciting fresh activity. The picture is the remains of a fire, the ember that by which the fire is kindled anew or lit up as when blown on by bellows. 

Kent Hughes writes, “Paul charges Timothy to remember that electric moment in the past, somewhere with Paul in his travels when the man knelt, and Paul and the local elders fixed their hands on him, intoning prophecies and prayers about his giftedness and future ministry.” (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus)

Guzik -  Gift is charismatos in the ancient Greek of the New Testament, and it refers to the varying spiritual gifts given to Timothy and to all believers.

H A Ironside - “It is evident that the elders of the church at Lystra and Derbe had met together with the apostle Paul when Timothy was about to launch out into full-time service and had laid their hands on him, commending him to God in prayer.” 

1 Timothy 4:15  Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.

KJV 1 Timothy 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

  • Take pains Joshua 1:8; Ps 1:2; 19:14; 49:3; 63:6; 77:12; 104:34; 105:5; 119:15,23,48; Ps 119:97,99,148; 143:5
  • give Acts 6:4; 1 Cor 16:15; 2 Cor 4:14; 8:5; Titus 2:14
  • that 1 Ti 4:6; Mt 5:16; Philippians 2:15,16


Take pains (meditate, devise) (3191)(meletao (from melete = care, meditation, which is from mélō = to be of interest, to concern oneself) means to continue to perform certain activities with care (root word = melete = care) and concern and thus to practice, to continue to do, to cultivate. It means to give careful thought to (to think about, to meditate upon) which is the primary sense in 1 Ti 4:15. Meletao is used 34x in the Septuagint compared to only 2 times in the NT and often conveys the idea of to meditate (or to delight in) the Word of God (or some synonym) or upon God Himself (Ps 63:6). The derivative in Lk 21:14 promeletáō (4304) means to premeditate.

Take pains is a command in the present imperative calling for this to be Timothy's lifestyle. See discussion of the Need for the Holy Spirit to obey NT commands (or "How to Keep All 1642 Commandments in the New Testament!") 

Guzik - Paul called Timothy to meditation on God’s Word and the work of God in his life. This is not emptying our minds (the goal of Eastern meditation), but filling our minds with God’s Word.

Swindoll points out that "there's no more effective means of spiritual leadership than a growing minister. Paul urged Timothy to show himself an example (1 Ti 4:12) and to let his progress be evident to all (1 Ti 4:15). When a pastor or other Christian minister becomes steeped in biblical truth and grows in wisdom and godliness, people notice. Authenticity is observed and respected. Eventually, people begin to believe they can experience the same transformation. Keep growing in your walk. As you grow older, grow deeper." (Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament Commentary - 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus)

Warren Wiersbe has a good word - As good ministers, we preach the Word; as godly ministers, we practice the Word; as growing ministers, we progress in the Word. (Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Faithful - 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon). (Ed: I would add As faithful ministers we persevere holding fast to the word).

Progress (4297)(prokope from prokopto = to cut forward [a way], advance from pró =before or forward + kópto = cut, strike, impel) describes not merely moving ahead but doing so against obstacles. Prokope refers to an explorer or an advance team hacking a path through dense trees and underbrush for the marching army to follow. Resistance is inherent to that sort of progress. The progress goes forward through obstacles, dangers, and distractions (cf false teaching at Ephesus - 1 Ti 4:1). The idea of prokope is blazing a trail before a marching army. 

1 Timothy 4:16  Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. 

KJV 1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

NLT  1 Timothy 4:16 Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. 

  • Pay close attention 1 Chronicles 28:10; 2 Chronicles 19:6; Mark 13:9; Luke 21:34; Acts 20:28; 1 Cor 3:10,11; Col 4:17; 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:7,15; Hebrews 12:15; 2 John 1:8
  • to your teaching 1 Ti 4:6; 1:3; Romans 16:17; Eph 4:14; Titus 2:7; Hebrews 13:9; 2 John 1:9
  • Persevere Acts 6:4; 26:22; Romans 2:7; 2 Timothy 3:14; Titus 1:9
  • You will ensure Ezekiel 3:19-21; 33:7-9; Acts 20:26,27; 1 Cor 9:27
  • Both for yourself and for those who hear you Isaiah 55:11; Jer 23:22; Romans 10:10-14; 11:14; 1 Cor 9:22; 1 Th 2:16,19,20; 2 Timothy 2:10; Philemon 1:19; James 5:20


Closely scrutinize your private life that it might authenticate your public ministry. 

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching - This is good advice not just for Timothy and for all pastors, but for all saints. It reminds me that we need to watch over our own heart because out of our mouths comes that which fills our heart. We need to be prepared for as Paul says in 2 Ti 2:21+ "Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work."

As Solomon advised "Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life." (Pr 4:23+)

Be on guard (prosecho in the present imperative) for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28+)

Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away (ekklino in the  present imperative) from them.(Romans 16:17+)

Pay close attention (1907)(epecho from epí = upon + écho = have, hold) means literally have or hold upon. To hold fast. To hold firmly to (hold firmly to a particular belief)  To give attention to, then to hold one's mind toward. 

Note the command is a present imperative which calls for us to depend on the Holy Spirit to obey the command

Teaching (doctrine) (1319)(didaskalia from didasko from dáo = to know or teach) is either the act of teaching or the thing taught and in this use denotes doctrine or what is taught.

The term doctrine in Scripture "is broader than a simple reference to information passed on from one person to another or from one generation to the next. Christianity is a religion founded on a message of good news rooted in the significance of the life of Jesus Christ. In Scripture, then, doctrine refers to the entire body of essential theological truths that define and describe that message (1Ti 1:10; 4:16; 6:3; Titus 1:9). The message includes historical facts, such as those regarding the events of the life of Jesus Christ (1Cor 11:23). But it is deeper than biographical facts alone. As J. Gresham Machen pointed out years ago, Jesus’ death is an integral historical fact but it is not doctrine. Jesus’ death for sins (1Cor 15:3) is doctrine. (Sound) Doctrine, then, is scriptural teaching on theological truths." (parenthesis added) (Elwell, W. A., & Elwell, W. A. The Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - online - an excellent resource)


Persevere in these things - This begs the question "What things?" Paying attention to his own soul and to his teaching. 

Persevere (remain, stay, tarry) (also in the present imperative) (1961)(epimeno from epí = upon, in or at + meno = abide, endure, continue, stay or remain > epí intensifies the meaning and so this word is a strengthened form of meno and gives the force of adherence to and persistence in what is referred to) means literally to tarry, to stay at or with, to abide in, to continue in.

Charles Swindoll writes that "The key to successful ministry, in a word, is perseverance. In fact, perseverance IS ministry success; the only way to fail in ministry is to back off and give up. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that perseverance is also the minister's greatest challenge. Discouragement seemingly comes from nowhere to knock us flat. Criticism makes us wonder why we should stay at it. Laziness promises the work will be easier tomorrow. Greed looks for greener grass in another occupation. Idealism wearily wrestles with futility. Hope barely staves off fatigue. Determination eventually overcomes doubt. But if the minister isn't seeing results or receiving encouragement from the congregation, then resignation will likely follow. Faithful expositors need few things to keep them going . . . but encouragement is one of them....(and) there's no better proof of an authentic ministry than perseverance. Ministers don't succeed in ministry because of brains, talent, charisma, or interpersonal skills. Ministers succeed by hanging tough through difficult seasons—so expect difficult seasons. Ministers persevere through disappointment—so hang tough. Successful ministers don't let dirty politics get the best of them. They refuse to quit when people criticize or run after false teaching. Success for the minister is faithfully carrying out the duties of ministry, day in and day out, in season and out of season, year after year, regardless of the results." (Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus)

For (gar) - Term of explanation. This forces you to ask what is Paul explaining? And this time the answer is fairly clear cut. Paul gives what in essence is a promise (conditioned on his obedience to the preceding commands). 

You will ensure salvation - NET translates it "you will save both yourself and those who listen to you." 

As you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you - Paul is not implying Timothy would or could earn his salvation by paying close attention and persevering but that he would assure an abundant entrance into paradise. Peter writes "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent (aorist imperative - Do it now! Don't delay! It is urgent!) to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for (Term of explanation) in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. (2 Peter 1:10-11+)

Believers all participate in the Three Tenses of Salvation - (1) past - justification, (2) present - sanctification and (3) future - glorification. Timothy has been saved and there is nothing he can add to his past tense salvation (justification). But he is now being sanctified, daily, progressively set apart from the world and unto God, progressively being transformed into the image of God's Son (2 Cor 3:18+) and it is this phase of his "salvation" that he is exhorted to "ensure." And so for example Paul wrote "work out your salvation in fear and trembling" (Php 2:12+), which describes Timothy's and every believer's charge to obey - work out! But praise God, Paul adds a small preposition following this command -- "for." The "for" serves as a term of explanation, and explains how Timothy and all of us will even be enabled to work out our salvation. And so what is the explanation? Paul explains you can work it out, because of what God works in (so to speak). He says "for it is God in you (the indwelling Spirit Who is continually energizing or) "working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Php 2:13NLT+).

John writes "Watch (blepo in the present imperative) yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward (cf 2 Cor 5:10+, Rev 22:12+)." (2 John 1:8)

Your Walk And Your Work For Christ 
1 Timothy 4:11-16
by Pastor Steven Cole
April 24, 1994

William Carey, often called the father of modern missions, was a shoe cobbler by trade before he went to India. He kept a map of India in his shop, stopping every so often to study and pray over it. Sometimes, because of his preaching ministry, his shoe business suffered. One day a friend admonished him for neglecting his business. “Neglecting my business?” said Carey, looking at him intently. “My business is to extend the kingdom of God. I only cobble shoes to pay expenses.”

No matter what your occupation, every Christian should have Carey’s mentality: “My real business is to extend God’s kingdom; I just work to pay expenses.” In other words, every Christian is in the ministry. Eph 4:11-12 states that God gave to the church apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service (ministry), to the building up of the body of Christ.” My job is to equip you to do the work of the ministry. If you are a saint (= “holy one,” true of every believer) then you’re in the ministry! Some may be supported so that they work full-time in their ministry. But every Christian, like William Carey, should see their main business as serving God.

Since that is the clear teaching of the New Testament, it ought to be of great concern to every Christian to know how to fulfill the ministry God has entrusted to him or her. It seems as if there are droves who are either burning out on ministry because they are exhausted, or bombing out of ministry because of moral failure. Timothy’s danger was that he would just fade out of the ministry because his timid personality had a tendency to want to avoid conflict. The fact is, you can’t preach God’s truth without confronting error and offending some people. So Timothy was in danger of neglecting his ministry (1Ti 4:14).

Some of you are not involved in any kind of ministry for the Lord. Maybe you burned out, bombed out, or just faded out. Frankly, ministry is battle, and who likes war? The tendency of the flesh is to let someone else do it, especially if it’s a hassle. Maybe you justify your lack of involvement by thinking, “I’m not all that gifted anyway.” But remember, in the parable of the talents, it was the guy with only one who buried it and was rebuked by his master because he didn’t use it to further the master’s interests. If you know Christ as Savior, you’re called to serve Him in some capacity. In our text, Paul gives us a basic lesson of Christian service that will enable us to fulfill our God-given ministries:

Your walk with Christ is the necessary basis for your work for Christ.

“Pay close attention to yourself [your walk] and to your teaching [your work]” (1Ti 4:16). It’s the same principle Paul imparted to the Ephesian elders when he said, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock” (Ac 20:28). First, your walk; then, your work. Your work for the Lord must always be the overflow of your walk with the Lord. I define ministry as being full of Jesus Christ and slopping over onto others. That means that your ministry will be backed by a life of integrity; you are imparting to others what you have because you walk in reality with Christ. If we all would learn this simple but profound principle, that our walk with Christ is the necessary basis for our work for Christ, we would avoid burning out, bombing out, and fading out in the work He has given us to do.

1. Pay attention to your walk with Christ.

One reason the church is often short of workers is that so many who attend church are not walking in daily reality with the living Lord. They have fallen into the American self-centered way of life. They attend church because it meets some of their personal needs. If it fails to meet their needs, they either shop around for another church that does meet their needs or they stop going altogether. They are living for self and using God and the church to help self be more fulfilled. Sometimes volunteering to serve in the church helps meet a need to feel useful, so they sign up. But even their service has a self-focus. They do it because it meets their needs.

If I have just described you, I say to you in love, you are not living the Christian life. The Christian life is not living for self and using God and the church to meet your needs. The Christian life involves denying yourself daily and living under the lordship of Christ. We are no longer our own; we have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus. We no longer live for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again on our behalf (2Co 5:15). As we live each day with our hope fixed on the living God, He shapes our character in conformity to Christ and then uses our changed lives as a witness of His saving grace so that others come to know Him and grow in Him.

So ministry is not volunteering for Jesus, or doing a job because the pastor or the church needs your help. Ministry is based on dying to self and living to please Jesus. God never calls us primarily to a task. Rather, He calls us to Himself. Before I can do something for God I must be something in relationship with God. I can only impart to others in ministry what I possess from my walk. Therefore, the primary responsibility of every believer is to develop godliness through the daily discipline of a walk with the Lord Jesus.

Timothy was relatively young when Paul wrote this, about 35 (a mere youth from my perspective now!). Some of you think 35 is ancient, but in that culture age was more highly regarded than in ours. Paul wrote, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness” in part for the church, so that they would not shrug off Timothy’s teaching with the excuse that he was too young to know what he was talking about. But Paul also wrote it for Timothy. He’s saying that even if you’re younger in years, you can have a ministry if your message is backed by a godly life.

Paul mentions five areas (the KJV’s “spirit” is based on weak manuscript evidence and should be omitted):

A. Speech

There’s a convicting one, for starters! How’s your speech? Has your tongue been tamed by the power of God’s Spirit? As Jam 3 tells us, the tongue can be an instrument for great evil or great good, depending upon whether it is under the control of the flesh or of the Spirit. Eph 4:29 commands, “Let no unwholesome [lit., rotten] word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” There is no place for name-calling, sarcasm, profanity, ridicule, gossip, blaming, destructive criticism, angry words of threat and revenge, griping, complaining, lying, filthy talk, or dirty jokes.

Instead a godly person will use words to build up others and show them grace: encouragement, praise, appreciation, gratefulness, cheerfulness, understanding, sympathy, testimony, truth, caring correction and warning, and helpful counsel.

So often, even in Christian homes, family members rip into one another with rotten words and never confess their sinful speech and ask forgiveness. Several years ago Marla and I were at a pastoral couples conference. We had just checked into our room when we could hear through the door into the adjoining room a couple exchanging barbed attacks on each other. This was a pastor and his wife, but they sounded like the kind of destructive speech you hear on the worst TV sitcoms! The man was disqualified for ministry because he was not using godly speech toward his wife. Walking with the Lord Jesus means bringing your speech under His lordship and judging yourself when you sin with your words.

B. Conduct (KJV = conversation)

In modern parlance, your lifestyle. This points to your behavior which should testify to your commitment to Jesus Christ. Honesty, integrity, how you spend your time and money, your priorities, your attitude toward possessions, your personal appearance, the way you maintain your home, the way you treat people—all of these factors should add up to show that Christ is Lord of your life.

C. Love

This focuses on your relationships. Biblical love is not a gushy feeling, but rather a self-sacrificing, caring commitment which shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved. Since the highest good for each person is that they glorify God in their lives, love is committed to help each person grow in submission to Christ’s lordship. Paul spells out the qualities of love in 1Co 13. Each of us should frequently evaluate our conduct toward others, especially in our homes, by that list.

D. Faith

This could point to faithfulness or reliability, a fruit of the Spirit. Or, it could point to the faith we are to have toward God. We call ourselves believers, and yet all too often we are not believing believers! We aren’t expecting God to work. We aren’t trusting God with our problems. But in order to carry on any significant ministry, we must be men and women of faith. We have leaned upon God in our own trials and have proved Him to be faithful. So we can ask and trust God to work in the lives of those to whom we minister.

E. Purity

This means moral purity, not just outwardly, but in the thought life. Sexual immorality always begins in the mind. Walking with Christ means taking “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2Co 10:5). As soon as a wrong thought pops into your mind, you confess it and turn from it. You “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Ro 13:14).

A survey of American pastors revealed that 20 percent view pornographic material at least once a month (Leadership [Winter, 1988], p. 24)! And only 64 percent of evangelical seminary students think that watching pornographic movies is morally wrong (David Wells, Christianity Today [1/15/88], p. 25)! Is it any wonder the American church lacks God’s blessing? I believe that a man who yields to viewing pornography at least once a month should not be in leadership until he gains victory. Purity in thought and deed is essential for ministry.

Thus your walk with Christ is the necessary basis of any work you do for Christ. Since the Lord wants every member of His body to function in serving Him, pay attention to your walk. You don’t have to have all these qualities in perfection before you start serving the Lord. But you do need to be growing in each area, bringing every aspect of your life into submission to the lordship of Christ. Then, as you relate to others, you slop over what you have of Christ to them; you are ministering.

But ministry doesn’t happen automatically. It requires attention and work as well:

2. Pay attention to your work for Christ.

“Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching” (1Ti 4:16). Since Timothy’s spiritual gift was in the area of public ministry of the Word, he was to focus on that. Note the importance of the ministry of the Word in the church assembly: reading it (especially in a culture where many slaves would have been illiterate); applying it to life (“exhortation”); and, teaching it (1Ti 4:13). Paul exhorts Timothy not to neglect his gift (1Ti 4:14), to take pains in making progress in it (1Ti 4:15), and to persevere in it (1Ti 4:16), which implies that it won’t be easy or automatic. There is much more that could be said, but I want to point out five things concerning spiritual gifts:

A. God has given every believer at least one gift.

A spiritual gift may be defined as “a God-given ability for service” (Dr. Ryrie). While there are a lot of debatable aspects about spiritual gifts, it’s significant that in each of the four New Testament passages dealing with spiritual gifts, it is stated that each believer has one (Ro 12:3-6; 1Co 12:7; Eph 4:7; 1Pe 4:10). You have not been left out. God has gifted you to serve Him.

B. Your gifts will be recognized and confirmed by the Body.

Normally, believers receive a spiritual gift at conversion. Of course God can bestow other gifts subsequent to salvation as He deems necessary to equip a person for a specific ministry. Apparently God revealed to Paul what Timothy’s ministry was to be. The elders at Timothy’s home church affirmed Paul’s prophecy. So they laid hands on Timothy, prayed for him, and he received the gift of teaching for his task (see 2Ti 1:6).

God does not normally reveal your gift supernaturally. As you grow in Christ and get involved in serving Him, other believers begin to confirm your gift. They will say things like “You’re good at that,” or, “God ministers through you in that area.” I remember even when I was in college and would take a stab at teaching, as unpolished as I was, people would tell me how much it had helped them. If every time you try to teach, you see people squirming in their seats, looking at their watches, and not coming back the next time you’re scheduled, maybe your gift is in another area!

C. Your gifts must be exercised and developed.

Even though Timothy received his gift in a rather dramatic fashion, he had to work at developing it. Note the words Paul uses to exhort Timothy to exercise and develop his gift (1Ti 4:14-16): Don’t neglect it. “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them.” Make evident progress. “Pay close attention.” “Persevere in these things.” In 2Ti 1:6, Paul had to exhort Timothy to kindle afresh his gift. The fire was dying out. The spiritual muscle can atrophy from non-use.

Although spiritual gifts are God-given, they’re not automatic or fully developed. You must make a commitment to fulfill the ministry God has given you: “be absorbed in these things.” It’s a good idea for a new believer (or one who doesn’t know his or her gifts) to try as wide a range of ministry experiences as possible. As you do certain things, you will narrow down your field of interest and ability until you discover your area of gift. Then concentrate primarily on your area of gift, while remembering that every Christian is responsible to serve in most areas. In other words, just because your gift isn’t helps doesn’t mean that you never help others. But you focus in your area of gift. You work hard to develop your ministry skills in that area.

A common mistake many pastors make, especially as a church grows, is neglecting the ministry of the Word. They start doing everything else, or often become more like the manager of a company, and the teaching ministry suffers. But a pastor’s main work is preaching and teaching to equip the rest of the church for their ministries (1Ti 4:13-16).

D. Your gifts, when backed by godliness, should be exercised with confidence in the Lord.

As I emphasized already, giftedness must be accompanied by godliness. But my point here is that when gifts are backed by godliness, they can then be exercised with the quiet confidence that your faith is in God and you’re doing what He wants you to do. So when opposition comes (as it often does), you don’t quit in anger or frustration. You persevere.

Timothy was a timid fellow. Perhaps he was threatened by the older Ephesian elders. Maybe he felt inadequate ministering in the shadow of a man like Paul. Maybe he was afraid of people. Paul says, “Prescribe and teach these things!” (1Ti 4:11). The word “prescribe” means to command. It refers to an order passed down a military chain of command. What Paul is saying is, “Timothy, exercise your gift with confidence and authority, backed up by your godly life!” And, persevere when opposition comes (1Ti 4:16).

Perhaps this especially applies to the gift of teaching. You can’t be a people-pleaser and preach God’s truth. The Bible isn’t God’s handbook of helpful hints for happy living. It gives us God’s sure truth, His commandments for life. It confronts sin and selfishness. God’s spokesman had better not beat around the bush.

Hugh Latimer, who later was martyred by Bloody Mary used to say to himself before he preached at the royal court: “Latimer, Latimer, thou art going to speak before the high and mighty king, Henry VIII, who is able, if he think fit, to take thy life away. Be careful what thou sayest. But Latimer, Latimer, remember thou art also about to speak before the King of kings and Lord of lords. Take heed thou dost not displease Him.”

But it also applies to every spiritual gift when the person is growing in godliness. If you’re walking with Christ, then you have a vital contribution to make to His body. We should never do it with arrogance or confidence in ourselves. But the point is, God wants to use you to impart something of Christ to others. It’s not humility, but rather the sin of being too self-absorbed, if, like Moses when God called him, you refuse to do what God has gifted and called you to do. And you’re not being faithful to Him if you quit at the first sign of difficulty.

E. Remember that eternal issues are at stake in the exercise of your spiritual gift.

“You will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1Ti 4:16). Paul obviously is not talking about being saved by works. We are saved by grace through faith apart from works (Eph 2:8-9). But there is also a future aspect to salvation. Those who are saved will persevere and they will influence others to be saved as well. This may apply more to those with gifts of teaching or evangelism, but it also applies to someone with the gift of helps or giving or showing mercy. As you grow in godliness and exercise your gift faithfully as unto the Lord, He will use you in the eternal salvation of lost people.

You need to remember this especially when opposition comes. Timothy was not in an easy situation in Ephesus, where he had to confront these false teachers. No doubt he was being attacked. It would have been easy to say, “Why bother? Why take this flak? I’m out of here!” But Paul says, “Timothy, remember that eternal issues are at stake! You must persevere in the salvation you have received. Those hearing your message need to be saved and to persevere. So when you’re discouraged, when you’re being attacked, don’t quit! Eternal issues are at stake.


Stan Mikita, a star center for the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, used to get in a lot of fights during games. He stopped one day when his daughter, Meg, who was eight at the time, asked a very grown up question: “How can you score a goal, Daddy, when you’re in the penalty box all the time?”

If I might rephrase the question, How can you work for the Lord if you aren’t walking with the Lord? If you have trusted in Christ, you’re on His team. You’re in the ministry. You are as responsible as I am before God to fulfill your ministry. To do it, pay attention to your walk with Christ; that’s the foundation. And, pay attention to your work for Him. Don’t neglect the gift He has entrusted to you.

Discussion Questions

How would this church be different if every member viewed himself or herself as a minister of Jesus Christ?

How godly does a person need to be to get involved in ministry?

How important is it to know your spiritual gift? What difference does it make?

Why are so many Christians suffering “burnout”? Is it inevitable? How can it be avoided?

Steven J. Cole Sermon Series - – Sermons on 1 Timothy.