Also available as MP3: A Word From Our Commander – 1 Timothy 4:11-13
It can be intimidating for a timid young man like Timothy to have to “command” the older people that must have been in his congregation, and it can be difficult for older people not to “despise” (v.11) a young pastor when he does. But the people in the Ephesian church that Timothy pastored shouldn’t have despised him, for as Paul said, “Timotheus …worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him” (ICor.16:10,11), and young pastors who are being Pauline today shouldn’t be despised either. If a pastor starts to give his opinions about things, then God’s people should despise him, be he young or old.
Of course, this didn’t mean Timothy could act foolishly, then when people despised his youth, say, “Paul says I’m not to let you despise me!” The way to not let anyone despise your youth is not give anyone reason to despise it. That’s good advice for all young people, not just pastors!
An “example” (v.12) is a pattern (cf. Tit.2:7). What’s a pat-tern? God told Moses how to make the tabernacle but then showed him the “pattern” (Ex.25:1-40) of the tabernacle in heaven (Rev.15:5). He probably said something like, “There, that’s a tabernacle, make it like that.” That’s what Paul did for Timothy and Titus, told them how to edify believers, then told them to show people what a believer should look like by being an example, a pattern.
Paul told Timothy to be an example “in word” because words express who you are. Christ is called “The Word of God” (John 1:1-14) because He expressed who the Father is (Heb.1:1-3). Your words express who you are, but you have an old man and a new man. Don’t let your old man express who you are! Even if your old man wasn’t such a bad person, he wasn’t better than Christ, and Christ expressed the words of His Father rather than His own (John 14:24). You should too, if you want to be an example of a believer “in word.”
Being an example “in conversation” means in your conduct (cf. II Pe.2:4-8). If you’re not being an example of the doctrines you teach, you are tearing down with one hand what you’re trying to build up in people with the other. Being an example in love isn’t possible, for love is a feeling, and feelings can’t be seen, but being an example “in charity” is possible, for charity is love in action.
You should also be an example of the believer “in spirit,” in the spirit of humility, for example (Pr.29:23 cf. 27:2). Being “patient in spirit” is also a good example (Eccl.7:8). Being “fervent in spirit” (Rom.12:11) is also very exemplary behavior. “Fervent” means hot or boiling over, the kind of spirit that made Apollos someone who “taught diligently the things of the Lord” (Acts 18:24,25).
You should also be an example of the believer “in faith.” People can’t see your faith, but they can see your faithfulness, and that’s what the word means here (cf. Rom. 3:3). So be an example of the believer in faithfulness, and “in purity.” That word is only used in ITimothy 5:1,2, where it refers to chastity.
Paul tells Timothy to “give attendance to reading” (v.13), specially the Bible (cf. Deut.17:18,19). You can read the Bible through in 40 hours, by the way. You can easily read it through in a year by reading a little each day, and I recommend this highly!
Paul also told Timothy to give attendance “to exhortation.” Exhortation means to encourage people to do what the Bible says. After the Word was read, Paul was invited to give a word of exhortation (Acts 13:15). If you hear the Word but don’t do it, God doesn’t think much of that (Ezek. 33:30-32), so “be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
Finally, Paul tells Timothy to give attendance “to doctrine.” This is specially important for pastors, who must “preach the word” and “exhort with…doctrine” (II Tim. 4:2). Don’t exhort people to do things with old sayings. Don’t exhort people to do things because they are things your parents taught you to do. Exhort them to do things with Bible doctrine!