1 Timothy 4:9-16

9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

The truth of this doctrine none need doubt, and every man has it in his power to put this to the proof. See on chapter 1:15.

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.

[For therefore we both labor] This verse was necessary to explain what he had before said; and here he shows that his meaning was not that the followers of God should enjoy worldly prosperity and exemption from natural evils; for, said he, it is because we exercise ourselves to godliness that we have both labor and reproach, and we have these because we trust in the living God: but we still have mental happiness and all that is necessary for our passage through life; for in the midst of persecutions and afflictions we have the peace of God that passeth knowledge, and all our crosses and sufferings have so sanctified us that we consider them in the number of our blessings.

[Who is the savior of all men] Who has provided salvation for the whole human race, and has freely offered it to them in his word and by his Spirit.

[Specially of those that believe] What God intends for ALL, he actually gives to them that believe in Christ, who died for the sins of the world, and tasted death for every man. As all have been purchased by his blood, so all may believe; and consequently, all may be saved. Those that perish, perish through their own fault.

11 These things command and teach.

Let it be the sum and substance of thy preaching, that true religion is profitable for both worlds; that vice destroys both body and soul; that Christ tasted death for every man; and that he saves to the uttermost all them that believe in his name.

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.

[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.

[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. 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 awful account must such have to give to the Head of the Church when he appears!

[In word] In doctrine; teach nothing but the truth of God, because nothing but that will save souls.

[In conversation] 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] In love to God and man; show that this is the principle and motive of all thy conduct.

[In spirit] In the manner and disposition in which thou doest 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.

[In faith] In fidelity; Fidelity consists in honestly keeping, preserving, and delivering up when it is required, whatever is entrusted 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] 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.

13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

It was customary to read the law and the prophets in the synagogue, and doubtless, in the assemblies of the Christians; after which there was generally an exhortation founded upon the subject of the prophecy. Timothy was therefore to be diligent in reading the sacred writings at home that he might be better qualified to read and expound them in the public assemblies to the Christians and to others who came to these public meetings.

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 not the gift that is in thee] The gifts and graces of the Divine Spirit which Timothy received when set apart to the work of an evangelist by the imposition of the apostle's hands and by that of the presbytery or eldership. These very gifts might be improved, and we have reason to believe, if not improved, would be withdrawn by the great Head of the Church.

[Given thee by prophecy] It has already been conjectured that there had been some remarkable prediction relative to the future destiny and usefulness of Timothy. And probably it was in consequence of this that he was set apart to the office of evangelist and bishop in the church at Ephesus.

15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.

[Meditate upon these things] Revolve them frequently in thy mind; consider deeply their nature and importance; get them deeply fastened in thy heart and let all thy conduct flow from this inward feeling and conviction. Let the nature, reasons and motives of thy ministry be ever in the view of thy heart and conscience.

[Give thyself wholly to them] Occupy thyself wholly with them; make them not only thy chief but thy sole concern. Thou art called to save thy own soul and the souls of them that hear thee; and God has given thee the divine gifts for this and no other purpose. To this let all thy reading and study be directed; this is thy great business and thou must perform it as the servant and steward of the Lord.

[That thy profiting may appear to all.] By being made a universal blessing; convincing and converting sinners and building up the Church of God in its most holy faith.

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.

See that the life of God remains and the work of God prospers in thine own soul. Take heed to thy doctrine that the matter be pure and orthodox: that thou teach nothing for truth but that which God has revealed.

This should be thy continual study. Without this, the divine influence shall recede from thy heart and the divine gift from thy intellect: and, like Samson shorn of his strength, thou wilt soon become as another man, as any common man; thy power will depart from thee and thou shalt not be able to persuade.

Historical information drawn from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 09/12/2008

Copyright (C) 1999,2008 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved