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Leadership #16 - 1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 4:6-16

Teaching Moments

1. 1 Timothy, of course, is addressed to Timothy as an evangelist in the church at Ephesus (cf. 2 Timothy 4:5). Paul left him in Ephesus to function as an evangelist (1 Timothy 1:3). This is a church that already has elders and is looking to add more (as a result, Paul instructs Timothy concerning the selection of elders in 1 Timothy 3:1-7). So, we have a situation where Paul writes to an evangelist about elders, about the evangelist's task, and their relationship with one another. This week we will study the work of an evangelist. Next week we will study the relationship between elders and evangelists (1 Timothy 5:17-22).

2. Paul has spent several chapters providing Timothy with guidelines of one sort or another. In chapter 1 it was about the false teachers and the basic message of the gospel. In chapter 2 it was about prayer and worship. In chapter 3 it was about elders and deacons. In chapter 4:1-6 it is about the dangers ahead. In chapter 4:6-16 it is about the focus of Timothy's work as an evangelist.

3. The text, I think, has two primary foci. First, Timothy must model godliness and train himself in that task. Verses 7-10, 12 focus on the personal life of the evangelist. Second, Timonty must teach and guide the church. Verses 6, 11, 13-15 reflect this task. Verse 16 is a summary verse about life and teaching. The evangelist must be concerned about both.

4. About life....The evangelist (Paul uses the term diakonos [servant, minister] in v. 6) must be involve in spiritual training. He must have a rigor about his spiritual training that is analogous to the rigor of physical training. Paul clearly points us to which is more valuable. It is valuable both in terms of eternity and the present life.

5. Part of this training is his role as a model for other believers. He is an example.

6. Timothy must not let his youthfulness deter his importance or undermine his responsibilities as an evangelist. We do not know how young Timothy was, but we must estimate that he was in his high 20s or low 30s. [If he was a adolescent (maybe 14-18) when Paul met him on his second missionary journey in Acts 16 around 51 A.D., then by 64-65 A.D., he would be around 28-32.]

7. Timothy's youthfulness was a problem due to the presence of shepherds who have been Christians longer than Timothy perhaps, and certainly of more mature age. It was a danger that they would ignore him or underestimate him. Timothy should give them an excuse for such (e.g., by moral failure), and he should press his standing in the community as teacher (he has been trained by Paul, and he is able to train others, as Paul calls him to do in 2 Timothy 2:2). Shepherds must respect the training that Timothy has despite his youth, and the congregation must respect the task he has been given.

8. The task he has been given is to instruct (v. 6), teach and command (v. 11). I believe this is the "gift" that Timothy has. He is gifted for teaching (v. 14). Note that the gift is not prophecy, but that it was given by prophecy. I don't think this means that it was foretold that he would have a gift, but that he was ordained to this task (the gfit of teaching) by the prophetic ministry. In other words, he was ordained as an evangelist through a prophetic oracle at his installation as evangelist.

9. It is important to note the relationship between shepherds and evangelist here. The "council of elders" (or, eldership) is a body of shepherds that acts as a body. This body lays their hands on Timothy as an act of ordination--he is ordained to a specific task. He is ordained to teach and guide the congregation as an evangelist. I presume Paul means this particular body of elders in Ephesus, but he may even be thinking about some earlier act like at Lystra on the second missionary journey where there were elders as well (Acts 16:1-4). In either event, shepherds invest Timothy with his evangelistic duties in accordance with how God has gifted him..

10. His task is to teach. He must persevere in this task for his own sake as well as the sake of the congregation. He is to be diligent and give himself to this task wholly. I think this involves not only his spiritual training, the dedication of his life, but also the support of the body. The body must support its teachers so they can give themselves wholly to this task.

11. The evangelist has a corporate responsibility for the church. He must guide and teach it. Consequently, he must focus on Scripture rather than fables (vv. 7, 13). This is a function he carries out in cooperation and harmony with the shpeherds who have appointed him to the task.

Discussion Questions

1. What are some of the action words in this text? What must the evangelist do? [like, teach, instruct, command, read Scripture publicly, set an example; persevere; be diligent...]

2. By what "authority" does the evangelist do this? What grounds the appropriateness of his task? [Think, for example, of his giftedness, his relationship with the shepherds, his training (as in v. 6), and his moral character.]

3. Why does the evangelist do this? What is his purpose? What is his goal? [save himself and others; so everyone may progress in v. 16; so that prepared for eternity by proper training.]

4. What is the relationship between the church and the evangelist in this text?

5. What is the relationship between the shepherds and the evangelist in this text?

6. Why does Paul emphasize spiritual training here? What is important about that for Timothy? What does Paul mean by training to be godly?

7. What kind of spiritual training program would you design? What would it involve? What would spiritual training mean for you?

8. What kind of spiritual training do you expect evangelists and shepherds to model for the church?


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