Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Timothy, Be Continuously Nourished in God's Word (1 Timothy 4:6)

"If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed"
(1 Timothy 4:6, NLT)

All commentary that I read agree that the phrase "if you explain these things to the brothers" is a mild term. Modern King James Version (MKJV) puts it this way, "Having suggested these things to the brothers…” and New King James Version (NKJV) says, "If you instruct the brethren in these things…" Explain, suggest, instruct. I wonder, why Paul did not write to Timothy to ‘command' these things to the brothers? I think, since Timothy was quite a young man, it probably not good for him to exercise authority by giving orders to the believers at Ephesus. He might be resented and rejected by them. Paul counseled a suggestion rather than a command. Paul already does the hard part, Timothy only needs to explain it to them. Paul warned them, Timothy only need to deliver the warning. Paul wrote the letter, Timothy only needs to read it to them. What Paul wants Timothy to explain? Read the previous article or read 1 Timothy 4:1-5:

"The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they've lost their capacity for truth. They will tell you not to get married. They'll tell you not to eat this or that food – perfectly good food God created to be eaten heartily and with thanksgiving by Christians! Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God's Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy"
The Message).

If Timothy explains this, he would be "a worthy servant of Christ Jesus." Paul wanted Timothy to warn the Ephesian-Christians of false teachings and apostasy, and to faithfully teach sound doctrine. H. A. Ironside commented, "The minister of Christ is responsible to bring these things to bear upon the hearts and conscious of the people of God, in order that He may be honored and they may be preserved from the unholy teachings which Satan uses to lead many astray." But you see, the best defense is a good offense. The best antidote to false teaching and apostasy is to know and preach the truth of God. We "know the truth"! (see 1 Timothy 4:3) Even so, as Paul tells Timothy, we must be continuously "nourished" in the truth, namely, God's Word or "the message of faith and the good teaching." Actually, the verb here means "constantly nourishing up." Just as we need daily food to keep us going physically, so it is, as God's people, we need daily spiritual food if we are to remain strong and grow spiritually. Why people are easily "turn away from the true faith" and "follow deceptive spirits and teachings" (1 Timothy 4:1)? Because they have become weak spiritually and failed to continuously nourish in God's Word.

Maybe that's why Paul in his second letter to Timothy reminded him to "work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). If Timothy is faithful in his responsibility to warn others about "these things" (4:6), he will continue in the right path because this is the one which he "has followed" up to now. Great teacher and Bible commentator, Matthew Henry, said this to ministers like Timothy (no excuse, to us too!): "Even ministers themselves have to need to be growing and increasing in the knowledge of Christ and his doctrine: they must be nourished up in the words of faith" [and] "the best way for ministers to grow in knowledge and faith is to put the brethren in remembrance; while we teach others, we teach ourselves." I'm encouraged!

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