Exegetical and Hermeneutical Commentary of 1 Timothy 4:12 – Bible Commentary

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.

12. in conversation ] in behavior; the verb occurs above 1Ti 3:15; see note. It is a special favorite of St Peter’s, noun and verb occurring 10 times in his short Epistles of him. The five words describe five stages, from the most defined external to the most defined internal characteristics speech, behaviour, love, faith, purity; sees it as it were belonging equally to the inner and the outer self, and combining all. ‘The greatest is love.’ Yet the special emphasis is on ‘purity,’ the word itself occurring only here and in 1Ti 5:2though another form of the word is used in the similar catalogue, 2Co 6:6. The same connection of ‘youth’ and ‘purity’ is in St Paul’s mind in 2Ti 2:22, ‘flee also youthful lusts.’ Timothy, at 36 years, was young compared with St Paul and the presbyters. See Intro. pp. 56 sq. Cf. also the use of the Latin iuvenis, for military service up to 40 years; eg Liv. Yo. 43.

in charity, in spirit, in faith ]There is not enough more. authority for ‘in spirit’; it is curious that A reads ‘in spirit’ instead of ‘in faith’ in 1Ti 2:7. The phrase, most common in St Paul’s earlier Epistles, has left his latest language from him.

Source: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Let no man despise thy youth – That is, do not act in such a manner that any shall despise you on account of your youth. Act as it becomes a minister of the gospel in all things, and in such a way that people will respect you as such, though you are young. It is clear from this that Timothy was then a young man, but his exact age there is no means of determining. It is implied here:

(1) That there was danger that, by the levity and indiscretion to which youth are so much exposed, the ministry might be regarded with contempt; and,

(2) That it was possible that his sport should be so grave, serious, and every way appropriate, that the ministry would not be blamed, but honored. The way in which Timothy was to live so that the ministry would not be despised on account of his youth from him, the apostle proceeds immediately to specify.

But be thou an example of the believers – One of the constant duties of a minister of the gospel, no matter what his age. A minister should so live, that if all his people should closely follow his example, their salvation would be secure, and they would make the highest possible attainments in piety. On the meaning of the word rendered example, see the notes on Phi 3:17; 1Th 1:7.

In word – In speech, that is, your manner of conversation. This does not refer to his public teaching of him – in which he could not probably be an example to them – but to his usual and familiar conversation of him.

In conversation – In general sport. See this word explained in the notes on Phi 1:27.

In charity – Love to the brethren, and to all; see notes on 1 Cor. 13.

In spirit – In the government of your passions, and in a mild, meek, forgiving disposition.

In faith – At all times, and in all trials show to believers by your example, how they ought to maintain unshaken confidence in God.

In purity – In chasteness of life; see 1Ti 5:2. There should be nothing in your contact with the other sex that would give rise to scandal. The papists, with great impropriety, understand this as enjoining celibacy – as if there could be no purity in that holy relation which God appointed in Eden, and which he has declared to be honorable in all Hebrews 13:4, and which he has made so essential to the wellbeing of mankind. If the apostle had wished to produce the highest possible degree of corruption in the church, he would have joined the celibacy of the clergy and the celibacy of an indefinite number of nuns and monks. There are no other institutions on the earth which have done so much to corrupt the chastity of the race, as those which have grown out of the doctrine that celibacy is more honorable than marriage.

Source: Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Verse 12. 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 he may be. Concerning Timothy’s age see the conclusion of the preface to this epistle.

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.

“Himself a wanderer from the narrow way,

His silly sheep, no wonder if they stray.”

Though, according to the just judgment 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 from him. 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 an awful account must such have to give to the Head of the Church when he appears!

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

Inconversation]. 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 your conduct.

Inspirit]. In the manner and disposition in which you dost 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.

These words are wanting in ACDFG, and several others; both the Syriac, Erpen’s Arabic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala, and many of the fathers. Griesbach leaves them out of the text. They have in all probability been added by a later hand.

In faith]. This word is probably taken here for fidelity, a sense which it often bears in the New Testament. It cannot mean doctrine, for that has been referred to before. Be faithful to thy trust, to thy flock, to thy domestics, to the public, to thy GOD. Fidelity consists in honestly keeping, preserving, and delivering up when required, whatever is intrusted 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.

Source: Adam Clarke’s Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Let no man despise thy youth; so carry thyself in thy office, as not to give occasion to any to despise thee because thou art but a young man.

But be thou an example of the believers: which thou wilt do if thou so livest as to be a just pattern unto Christians, imitable by them

in word, in thy common and ordinary discourse, (for he speaks not of his being a pattern only to other ministers, but to believers in the generality), not talking frothily or profanely, or idly and impertinently, but seriously and gravely, but things that are good, to the use of edifying, that it may administer grace to the hearers.

Inconversation; and in all thy converse with men behaving thyself justly, and comelily, and gravely.

In charity; performing also to all, all offices of charity and brotherly love.

Inspirit; in zeal, and warmth of spirit, truly inflamed with the love of Christ, and for his glory.

In faith; in a steady confession and profession of the doctrine of the gospel; and

in purity; in all cleanness and holiness of life and conversation. This is the way for the ministers of the gospel not to be despised: let them use what other methods they will, they will find what God said of Hophni and Phinehas will be made good, 1Sa 2:30; Them that honor me I will honour, and they that dismiss me shall be lightly esteemed; nor will any titles, or habits, or severities secure them from that curse, which will cleave to them.

Source: English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

12. Let no man despise thy youthAct as to be respected in spite of thy youth (1Co 16:11;Tit 2:15); compare “youthful” as to Timothy (2Ti 2:22). He was but a mere youth when he joined Paul (Ac16:1-3). Eleven years had elapsed since then to the time subsequent to Paul’s first imprisonment. He was, therefore, still young; especially in comparison with Paul, whose place he was filling; also in relation to elderly presbyters whom he should “entreat as a father” (1Ti5:1), and generally in respect to his duties in rebuking, exhorting, and ordaining (1Ti 3:1), which ordinarily accords best with an elderly person (1Ti5:19).

be thou an exampleGreek,”become a pattern” (Tit2:7); the true way of making men not to despise (slight, ordisregard) thy youth.

in wordin all thatthou sayest in public and private.

conversation that is,”behavior” the Old English sense of the word.

in charity. . . faiththetwo cardinal principles of the Christian (Ga5:6). The oldest manuscripts omitted, “in spirit.”

in purity simplicity of holy motive followed out in consistency of holy action (1Ti 5:22; 2Co 6:6;Jas 3:17; Jas 4:8;1Pe 1:22).

Source: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Let no man dismiss thy youth,…. Timothy was now a young man; some think he was about three and twenty years of age; but he might be older, and yet be so called. Saul is said to be a young man, when he held the clothes of them that stoned Stephen, when he must be at least thirty years of age, some say thirty five; since thirty years after that he styles himself Paul the aged, when he must be sixty years of age and upwards, Ac 7:58. Young men are sometimes honored by God with great gifts, for usefulness both in church and state, as Samuel, David, Solomon, Daniel, and his companions: nor should they be despised on account of their age, when they have gifts suitable to their office, and behave well in it, but, on the contrary, ought to be esteemed for their works’ sake; and such should take care that no man has an opportunity or reason to treat them with contempt on that account: the apostle’s sense is, either that Timothy, being in office, should not suffer any man to use him contemptuously; but exert his power and authority from him, and magnify his office from him, and not allow men to trample upon him, or use him ill, though he was a young man; which sense suits with the preceding words: or rather his meaning is, that he would have him so conduct and behave himself, as he had taught him to behave, in the house and church of God, and so fill up his place and office, and live such an exemplary life and conversation, that there might be no occasion for any to despise his age, or him, on the account of it: and this agrees with what follows,

but be thou an example of the believers; the members of the church, before called brethren, from their relation to one another, and here believers, from their concern with Christ, the object of their faith; a more honorable character cannot be given of men, though treated with great…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.