The Agora
Godliness with Contentment - 1 Timothy

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VII. Personal Conduct (4:6-5:2)

Chapter 4 also deals with the contrast between self-imposed rules of physical self-denial and obsession with physical exercise, and true spiritual exercise and development of the whole man unto godliness through study of and obedience to the Scriptures. It is by these means, Paul implies, that the incipient apostasy in vv 1-5 will be arrested, collectively and individually.

It is easy to get these things out of proportion, to be obsessed with physical well-being to the neglect of the infinitely more vital spiritual growth and development and well-being. Physical health, no matter how well attended to, inevitably passes. Soon the grave claims the best-kept of mortal bodies. But spiritual health, diligently pursued, is doubly profitable. It will teach us wisdom and gain us divine care for the present existence, and can be good for eternity.

Each of the two sections under this heading begins with a reminder to Timothy, that he be diligent to present these exhortations to others in the ecclesia: "Put the brethren in remembrance of these things" (v 6), and "These things command and teach" (v 11). Can we do any less? Can we realize the importance of these commands and then choose not to present them to our brethren?

A. 4:6-10: Godliness, Trust In God

It cannot be stressed too often, what godliness meant to Paul. Possessing a statement of faith, with a list of doctrines to be accepted does not in itself make one godly. Godliness was not the mere ability to quote page after page of Scripture. True, these things are important in their place. But true godliness is something far beyond this. It is found in a humble and careful adherence to the principles of 1Ti 3. True godliness is a matter of conduct or practical "theology" -- at least it was for Paul. And it should be for us. The importance of good works is the oft-recurrent theme of this whole letter. Our manner of life should reflect our spiritual development. The word must be in the mind, but it must be used, it must direct every action. The word must live in us and we must live in the word.

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 has attained.

Put the brethren in remembrance of these things -- this was Timothy's duty as an elder and a watchman: to offer the advice he had received from Paul (and which Paul had received from Christ) publicly and privately to outline the proper duties and proper character of brothers and sisters, and to warn them of the coming apostasy and the threat it posed. Nothing has ever been achieved by turning a blind eye to potential problems in the ecclesia.

Minister really means "deacon", and it is translated as "servant" in the Diaglott. While the word may indicate an ecclesial office (1Ti 3:8), it is still used in the general sense of a servant.

The verb nourished up (Greek ektrepho) is the present participle: it should be rendered "being nourished up". Timothy is being exhorted to continually partake of the nourishment of God's word, both the milk and the meat which become a steady, well-rounded diet of spiritual food. Only if he does this day by day will he continue to be a worthwhile servant:

"Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of; knowing of whom thou has learned them; and that from a child thou has known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2Ti 3:14-17).
The words of faith and of good doctrine (in short, the Scriptures!) are the essential nutrients for the health and development of the spiritual man. Without it, he will waste away. If the words are distorted or contaminated, at best they will cause spiritual indigestion, and at worst "food poisoning".

In the words of faith is better translated as "In the words of the faith; the words in which true faith finds expression:

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope" (Rom 15:4).

Of good doctrine refers to those Godly teachings as found in vv 13,16. Sound instruction in righteousness.

The phrase whereunto thou [Timothy] has attained has the idea of that which you have "closely followed" (Diaglott) -- and are still following. Compare the AV margin in 2Ti 3:10. The KJV is misleading here. We must never think we have attained to all the knowledge that we need. The same word which is used here is found also in Mark 16:17: "And these things shall follow them that believe". We can never feel we have completely achieved a living knowledge of the Truth, but we must tirelessly strive toward that goal.

But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

Profane does not mean vulgar, in the modern sense of profanity. It means instead having nothing whatsoever to do with God, being wholly ungodly and unclean (1Ti 1:19; 6:20), as the "profane" Esau (Heb 12:16). Old wives' fables refers to those inconsequential prattlings which are all too common to a certain class of elderly and idle women. (It is a further sorrow that such a preoccupation with such things is not even there confined, but seems to be the pleasure and hobby of many of both sexes and all ages.)

Paul is referring in this verse especially to the ungodly and profitless doctrines as in vv 1-3, some of which arose out of Jewish rabbinical speculations. He is also referring to the myths and fabricated "mysteries" of the secret pagan societies which flourished in Egypt and the Middle East (see 1Ti 1:4n).

The word translated as exercise thyself implies strenuous, agonizing exertion, another of Paul's references to the vigorous athletic life of the Greek. One of Paul's favorite figures of the believer's life is that of the athlete straining every muscle to attain a goal and to achieve a prize.

Exercise thyself rather unto godliness means to exert yourself to attain the right state of heart and mind, a consistent aim in life. The Greek ideal was the development of the whole man. Even though their ideal of the perfect man was quite different from Paul's, still the underlying concept was the same. The believer should subordinate everything else to his one desire, the development of the whole spiritual man through study and obedience.

"Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole man" (Ecc 12:13).
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 exercise is from the Greek "gymnasia". By this term Paul means more than physical effort. He means the coordination of body and mind, in consistent and tireless training and effort, to master some skill. The pianist or dancer or athlete practises continually, striving always toward perfection, but never quite achieving it. Another type of such bodily "exercise" is the adherence to strict rules of diet, such as fasting (Luke 18:12: "I fast twice in the week"), which Paul mentions in v 3, or the other ascetic tendencies to self-denial which characterized both Jewish and Greek thinkers in that time: going barefoot, wearing sackcloth, abstaining from marriage and meat.

Bodily exercise profiteth little -- or "for a few things" -- in contrast to the all things for which godliness is profitable. Or, as the margin indicates, "for a little time only": Physical health lasts only a few years, and a skill lasts hardly longer. They are but man's feeble efforts and they are bounded by his own inherent limitations -- sickness and death. If man does not appeal to one greater than himself, he cannot rise above what he is by nature. If he places confidence in his own strength, to deny himself this or that, he may have removed temptation, but he is no better for it -- if he has not replaced these items with positive, godly thoughts and works. He is like water, running down, seeking its own lowest level. He is like the man who has rid his house of one foul occupant only to see seven unclean spirits fill the void. Without God in his life, nothing can profit him very much.

But godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. What can we add more than this! Godliness in this present life brings to the disciple of Christ a sense of spiritual "peace"; a feeling of oneness, unity, inseparableness with God; well-being and consolation even in the midst of trials.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you" (Mat 6:33).
Such a person gains "peace" and contentment now, even as he looks expectantly toward that greater "rest" of the Kingdom.

To have peace with God makes all possible worries harmless and out-of-place. This is godliness with contentment (1Ti 6:6). It can only come with complete, undivided dedication to one goal of life. Peace is not freedom from external strife. It is freedom from internal strife, because our minds are full of love and "Perfect love casteth out fear... he that feareth is not made perfect in love" (1Jo 4:18). Jesus, even in the anguish and anticipation of his terrible sufferings, was still able to say:

"Peace I leave with you... In the world ye shall have tribulation; but in me ye shall have peace... Let not your hearts be troubled" (John 14:27).
The godly person, just as Christ, has already "overcome the world".

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

The phrase this is a faithful saying refers back to v.8 (see notes, 1:15).

For commentary on the phrase and worthy of all acceptation -- "reception" (Diaglott) see notes, 1:15.

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.

The faithful saying, in essence, is that godliness is profitable, a thing to be desired. Therefore (to this end, or with a view to achieving this godliness), we will labor and suffer reproach:

"Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Heb 12:11).
Note the progression of thought here. In v.7 Paul tells Timothy "Exercise thyself". But then he next includes himself with Timothy and all the brethren: "we labor", as fellows, teammates striving together, helping one another toward the same objective. In the same way Paul speaks of "Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlaborer in the gospel of Christ" (1Th 3:2).

The word labour -- Greek kopiao -- suggests strenuous toil, and is used by Paul in Phi 2:16 to describe athletic fatigue. Thus he continues the "exercise" metaphor of vv 7,8.

The translation suffer reproach [KJV] is based on the reading oneidizometha, which according to most modern scholars is incorrect. The alternative manuscript reading agonizometha has much more support, and accords better with the context: "Agonize" is from the root agon -- an athletic context. Thus, following this alternative, RSV, NIV, and others have "strive".

We trust is better translated as "We have set our hope upon...": "Hope" is elpis (1Ti 1:1n).

The phrase the living God is stressed throughout. Our God is a living God; words very appropriate to an ecclesia whose members formerly worshipped lifeless idols, as in Ephesus. Throughout his letter to that ecclesia the apostle Paul emphasizes the unlimited power at our disposal in the living God of Israel, man's only Saviour.

"The exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power" (Eph 1:19).

"To him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph 3:20).
Our hope is in a God who keeps His promises.

He is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe. God is the Preserver (Diag.) of all men, for a time, by His spirit (Acts 17:25,28). Especially is this preservation true of the saints: "All things work together for good... " (Rom 8:28,31). "The eye of the LORD is upon them that fear Him... to keep them alive in famine" (Psa 33:18,19). God provides us with a "sufficiency" in all things which we truly need (1Ti 6:6; 2Co 9:8).

God is the Saviour (to everlasting life in Christ) of not just one race or one family, but of all men. That is, God offers salvation to the Gentiles along with the Jews, in short, to all men who will listen and come. And He is not willing that any should perish (1Ti 2:4; 2Pe 3:9; Lam 3:33; Eze 18:32; 33:11). God's great power of which we have been speaking is most evident in the gospel, "Which is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe" (Rom 1:16). Christ is a redeemer for all men prospectively, but really only for those who truly believe in him (1Ti 2:6n).

B. 4:11-5:2: Be An Example

In 1Ti 3 Paul carefully outlined to Timothy the requirements of a serving brother: to be blameless, vigilant, sober, experienced, patient. In 1Ti 4:1-5 he spoke of an apostasy which was even then working, and which would grow in strength as the years passed. Paul is telling Timothy and us that the days ahead will not be easy ones. They will be times to try even the best-prepared of men, with the main troubles coming from within. And there is only one way to combat the errors that arise. We must remain well-informed in the Word, and we must each one take heed to himself, that he is following the apostle's teachings of godliness so that he will not lead others astray.

These things command and teach.

These things take us back to the previous section. They include the refusal of ungodly fables and speculations and the following after sound words of faith and godliness. They include a trusting in God despite adversity. These things Paul both commands and teaches. Paul commands it as the only behavior pleasing to God, for our God is a jealous God, and unwilling that we share our devotion with others. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Paul teaches it as a father to his "own son in the faith" (1Ti 1:2), lovingly imploring him to follow these Divine precepts, for his own good. God's standards are not harsh and restrictive in their keeping, but instead they bring "great gain" even in this life. We can achieve personal growth in character as a result of following God's instructions. He does not restrict us from those things which bring us true benefit. He withholds nothing from those He loves. The 'restrictions' only upset the man of the flesh, who can expect harshness when he stands before the Supreme Judge if he ignores these 'restrictions'. Children do not often know what is truly best for them. The spiritual chain of command is put into action. Paul enjoins Timothy to command or charge the "followers" of Christ to follow those principles which he and Paul have been commanded to follow. As an example, Timothy must live his faith and thereby teach others.

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.

For more details on the phrase let no man despise thy youth compare the similar passage in 1Co 16:11. It seems, from all accounts, that Timothy was a relatively young man (the Greek "neotes", however, is said to indicate any age up to forty), although he possessed the qualifications for a leader. But like Robert Roberts many years later, he must have discovered that some older men envied his ability and position, were taken aback by his zeal, and therefore were always ready to condemn him for any little mistake. He had to be doubly careful in whatever he did so that his 'enemies' would have no occasion to criticize him. He would also have to develop an insensitivity to their constant badgering and heckling.

Also, as Paul mentioned previously (1Ti 3:6,7), the young are subject to pride in a large degree. Timothy is warned to carefully steer clear of all vain pretensions and ambitions, common to the young in authority.

The phrase be thou an example of the believers is an exhortation to be a type or pattern, for the believers to follow. Paul, who labored so much among the unbelievers, was an "example" for them (1Ti 1:16) -- in that he had once walked contrary to God, but had been forgiven of his sins done in ignorance, and had completely reversed his course of life. Timothy, who worked among the believers, should be their example, in the ways of godliness which Paul explains in the next few verses.

James says, "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man" (James 3:2). This is one of the most difficult areas in which to be wholly consistent to our calling. Our tongue can slip, it seems, before we have an opportunity to consider the effect of what we say. For this reason we should all be "slow to speak". The Scriptures give much detailed instruction regarding this essential bridling of the tongue. Let us all search our hearts to see whether by failure to properly use and control this member we are making our religion vain. The Scriptures refer to a dozen or more different uses of the tongue in which we betray our professed faith: lying, evil-speaking, backbiting, talebearing, foolish talking, talking too much, talking proudly, contention, answering in anger, flattery, murmuring, complaining and giving lip-service.

If we look only superficially at this, we may feel that we never offend in words. But if we look more deeply, remembering how the law of God searches down into the dark and sometimes unsuspected roots of our innermost thoughts and motives, we shall realize that all these warnings are matters of real concern for each of us. Let us all carefully consider the words of the Psalmist: "I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress" (Psa 17:3). See also the comments in 1Ti 5:13.

The words in conversation may seem to be synonymous with "in word", but in reality it complements it. "Conversation" is correctly translated as "manner of life" in the RV The original Greek word refers to behavior. "In word" has to do with our speech, and "in conversation" has to do with all our other activities, that may make impressions upon others.

Charity (Greek agape) is the truest love, a self-sacrificing love toward others (so translated in RV). It is perhaps best explained in 1Pe 1:22:

"Seeing ye have purified your lives in obeying the truth (at baptism) unto unfeigned love ("phileo" -- companionship, closeness -- the first step) of the brethren, see that ye also love (agape -- true, divine, complete love) one another with a pure heart fervently".

The true love of the brethren is reached through successive stages. It is not something that one immediately feels, but it is a feeling which must continually grow greater and greater in our hearts, until there is no room for hate and envy and strife.

Most versions omit the phrase in spirit. It has very slight support from the manuscripts.

In faith means show that your faith is real. Do not give lip-service to an ideal, while making your personal decisions on another basis. Be consistent, live by your faith -- that others may see what it really means to you.

Purification is a process of attainment and it involves certain, specific, successive steps. We never attain perfect purity, but we make a constant effort: "Everyone that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1Jo 3:3). "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded" (James 4:8). The Law and the relation of the priests to the service of the tabernacle stress ceremonial purity and cleanliness. We are the antitype, "the holy priesthood", the fulfillment of the priestly ideal. It is our duty to purify our hearts and minds (1Pe 1:2; 1Jo 3:3).

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

The introductory words till I come indicated [as stated before, 1Ti 3:14,15], that Paul hoped to return to Ephesus to inspect the progress of Timothy and the ecclesias and to straighten out any problems that might have arisen. But this phrase till I come calls to mind the coming of Christ also, for it is so often used otherwise in that sense. Paul was a bishop or an overseer of the brotherhood. In his travels he might make visits to the various ecclesias. Jesus, in his first advent, was typical of the Levitical priests who came to inspect questionable dwellings. If the building were unclean the priest would decree that it be destroyed (Lev 14:44,45). This is exactly what Jesus did. He came to inspect the Jewish "ecclesia" and nation, and he found the temple and its worship filthy before God. Therefore, he decreed its removal along with the destruction of Jerusalem:

"They shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (Luke 19:44).
(Visitation is from the same word in the Greek as "overseer").

And in the same way, when Christ comes again to the earth, it will be as a bishop or "overseer" to inspect his people, (In 1Pe 2:25 "bishop" is the same word as "visitation"). He will then judge them, punish the wicked, and reward the faithful. And his judgement will be upon the basis of how well we have followed his directions, as recorded here.

The words give attendance are better translated as "give attention and time" or "devote yourself (NIV). Notice the great stress which this phrase places upon what follows. Not just "Do these things", but "Give your complete, undivided attention to them. Do them with all your heart, mind, and soul".

For Timothy the reading would be the Old Testament Scriptures which he had known from a child (2Ti 3:14-17). Doubly so for us, the Old Testament and the New are both necessary, both equally important, both requiring careful and prayerful study both confirming and completing one another.

Paul seems to be referring especially to the public reading of the Scriptures before an assembly. The same word is used in Acts 13:15, where the Scriptures were formally read in the synagogue following a regular pattern. It was in such a situation that Jesus himself "stood up to read" (Luke 4:16). The reading aloud would be either accompanied or followed by explanatory comments after the example of Ezra and the priests:

"So they read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading" (Neh 8:8).
Public reading, along with exposition and exhortation, still provides the framework of our ecclesial meetings, as well it should. The brother who is called upon to read must remember that his duty is just as important as that of the presiding brother or exhorting brother or praying brother. He is the translator, so to speak, of God's Word. He should convey its meaning respectfully, carefully and coherently. His responsibility is to do more than just give a half-hearted, unthinking recitation of words. But good reading goes beyond mere technical proficiency. The quality of the voice is not the primary concern; neither are proper pronunciation and correct pauses the only things that count. What matters most is that he read with his heart words that are for him living and vital! How refreshing it was once to hear a brother interrupt his public reading of a chapter to make a helpful comment upon the text! Clearly he understood his purpose. He was not just 'reading'. He was going beyond the cold formality. He was "giving attention to reading"!

Exhortation is the practical application of Scriptural precepts, including appeal, entreaty, example, and encouragement. We should not use the word or the power of exhortation to adamantly pursue our own theories (1:4-7), but to nourish ourselves and others in the simple teachings of godliness. Timothy was to accept and give exhortation, being a responsible deacon, guiding and provoking his brethren in love to do those necessary things.

The word doctrine is rendered "teaching" by the RV, RSV, and NIV Again the doctrine referred to is the apostles' doctrine, the teachings of Christ (Acts 2:42). The stress is upon the practising of good works.

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

Timothy probably received some special Holy Spirit gift, which was to be used for the upbuilding or edification of the believers. See especially 1Ti 1:2n. Timothy would have received his gift from the apostle Paul (1Ti 1:10; 2Ti 1:6) who transmitted it according to the prophecy or instruction he received from God.

The presbytery simply means "elders". Paul must have given Timothy his authority and power in some special ceremony of ordination (Acts 14:23; 16:4), though we take pains to keep as far as possible from any comparison with the unenlightened rituals of the apostate churches. Only the apostles had the power to invest others with the Holy Spirit in any of its manifestations. We may then view the apostles as the "elders" of the entire body, who through their representative, Paul, selected and transferred ecclesial authority to Timothy (2Ti 1:6).

The imposition of hands is both traditionally and Scripturally the means of transference or transmission. The Jew laid his hand upon the sacrifice to transfer his guilt to the animal (as in Lev 1:4). The patriarchs thereby transmitted God's hereditary blessings (as in Gen 48:14), as Moses did God's authority to Joshua (Num 27:18-23). The laying on of hands by the apostles and others healed the infirmities and even gave life to the dead (2Ki 4:34; Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40).

In a secondary sense, this phrase may refer to the laying on of hands by the Ephesian elders, in voluntary selection (1Ti 5:22) of Timothy as their leader. In this understanding, they would merely be acknowledging Timothy's authority, already received from Paul and the other apostles. Perhaps this was needed for the benefit of the members of the Ecclesia who might not readily have accepted Timothy's credentials. This Ephesian "presbytery", though some may have possessed Spirit gifts themselves, would have not been able to transmit such power to others, not being apostles.

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

Meditate is one of those colorless English words which very improperly gives the sense of the original. The RV and NIV rendering is much better: "Be diligent", indicating an active, inquiring mind -- a comprehensive understanding of applied knowledge. The modern word "meditation" conjures up the picture of passive theorizing or of mentally wandering in a cloudy atmosphere of "devotion". But a quick reference to a reliable concordance soon sets this idea right by revealing that the Bible words translated "meditate" all have to do with speech and talking! So true meditation is a literal talking, either to God or to one another: Exhort one another... (Heb 10:25). "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another" (Mal 3:16).                

Give thyself wholly to them means 'Love God and serve Him with all your heart and all your energy' (Mat 22:37). Nothing less than the fullest effort is expected. God is not pleased with a part-time, lukewarm devotion (Rev 3:15). Be absorbed completely in your service to God. We get the same idea in the phrase, "Walk in God". Live your life wholly encircled, clothed by the Spirit-Word of God's Truth. Walk in light, as children of the light. "Be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long" (Pro 23:17).

We promise to become living sacrifices -- daily putting to death the tendencies of the flesh. Regardless of the time that we enter the vineyard, we must labor and never relax -- until the end of the day.

Timothy's profiting [progress (RV, RSV, NIV), the same word as "furtherance" (of the gospel) in Phi 1:12,25] was to appear to all. As others could see Timothy as a living example of the gospel he professed, they might be encouraged to try harder themselves. "Let your light shine before men" (Mat 5:16) means more than just for the conversion of aliens. "Let your light shine" also before the brethren, to strengthen and help them. Both Timothy's personal benefit from the study of the Truth and his growth in the Truth were examples for others.

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.

Doctrine should be translated "teachings" again, as in v 13. True doctrine, or true teaching is the basic foundation for everything else. It was not enough for Timothy to tell others to pay attention to this word. He must do it himself as an example first. It is much more effective to lead others by doing rather than just by telling. The ecclesia is a chain, made up of individual links; and a chain must be pulled, not pushed!

For in doing this Timothy would both save himself, and them that hear him. A prophet must warn his fellows or he is held accountable himself (1Ti 3:2; Eze 33:4, 5; James 5:20). He must "declare the whole counsel of God" (1Co 3:10-15), not holding back things for the sake of "peace". And he must take heed to his own warnings first and foremost or he will have no hope of success.

Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren.

The ecclesia is a family (1Jo 2:1,12-14) -- a family that has a closer tie, a sounder reason for unity, than has any natural family: "the bonds of the Truth". A close-knit family is a unit, a body, better able to face trying situations, since they have "the same care one for another" (1Co 12:25).

Just as in 1Ti 3, these next two verses demonstrate the family nature of the ecclesia and consequently the close personal relationships of the Truth. Ecclesial elders should always be aware of this family nature of the ecclesia, showing care and consideration in their dealings with brethren. In this they have Paul's example: "I am become all things to all men" (1Co 9:22).

Rebuke not an elder means 'never censure an old man harshly'. The verb is used in the New Testament only this once. It signifies "to lay blows upon" (figuratively), "to castigate". Here it seems by the context that Paul is speaking of any older brother, for in v 1, Paul is speaking of the different age groups of individuals within the ecclesia. Contrast this with the section beginning with v 17, where the "elders" are those that "bear rule", that is, the leaders of the ecclesia.

For intreat him as a father other versions have 'exhort, beseech, plead with, appeal to, implore'. (Intreat -- parakaleo -- is the same as the word translated "exhort" in 1Ti 2:1.) In these two verses, each believer is to be treated as a family member -- father, brother, mother, or sister. The ecclesia is our real family. We are reminded of Jesus' words:

"Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mat 12:48-50).

The idea is not to build barriers of animosity and resentment, but to admonish with the love you would show to your natural father, only here there is more reason. Timothy was relatively young, and going to an older brother in correction would be enough to alienate that person if not handled properly. This does not remove the duty of correction; yet it is aimed towards temperate action.

Paul exhorts Timothy to treat the younger men as brethren. Of course, they are brethren. But here Paul uses the word in the family sense -- as 'equals'. Though inferior in position, attainments, or knowledge to Timothy, they were still his equals in God's sight and deserving of respect and honor as such.

The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

Elder is the feminine form of "presbyter", used only in this verse. A similar word is found in Tit 2:3. Indeed, the elder sisters may be as "mothers" to the young Timothy (cp Rom 16:13). In Jdg 5:7, Deborah is said to have arisen "a mother in Israel". She assumed this position as a prophetess or teacher when no man was ready to assume this role, but she then wisely stepped aside when Barak arose as a righteous leader. However, she still offered him encouragement and solace for the difficult task he had to perform. Barak trusted her so much that he said, "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go" (Jdg 4:8).

The younger were to be treated as sisters, with all purity or 'with due respect, courtesy, and propriety'. This scarcely needs a further comment. Timothy was to show purity on his own part (1Ti 4:12; 5:22), and all his dealings with the younger women were also to be in the utmost purity of action and intention.

The relationship in the Truth is a close, personal family relationship, that is, it should attain to the mutually affectionate and tender ideal that family relationship should be, though often sadly is not.

Relationship in the Truth is not a cold, impersonal, critical business, nor a mere technical relationship. There must be a deep, personal, living feeling and closeness. If there is the necessary mutual reproof and correction will be gently offered and lovingly accepted. Pointing out where we feel others are wrong is often necessary and often a duty. Done in the right spirit, it is an evidence of love and care. But, it is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, thing to do right in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Fleshly fault-finding comes so easily and naturally to all.

First of all, we should so live all the time and have such a continuous and strong relationship of affection and understanding among us that reproof could be given and received with perfect freedom in the spirit of love. This is an ideal never fully attained but earnestly to be striven for.

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