Every job has some sort of job description. These descriptions clarify the roles, responsibilities, and duties of the person in that position. They also guide the individual in how they are to carry out their tasks and fulfill the requirements of their given job. Did you know that the Bible provides a job description for ministers of the Word? In 1 Timothy 4, Paul gives his protégé Timothy a blueprint for how to carry out his responsibilities faithfully as a minister of the Word. Let’s look at how Warren Wiersbe outlines this chapter in Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old and New Testament.

I. A Good Minister: Preaching the Word (4:1-6)

A. The danger (vv. 1-3).

The Ephesian church had been warned already about the coming of false doctrines (Acts 20:29-30). Throughout Paul’s letters, the Spirit speaks “in stated words” (expressly) that the church will see apostasy, a falling away from the true faith (see 2 Thes 2). The word “depart” in the Gk. gives us our English word “apostasy.” He points out to the cause for the apostasy–not the “growing intelligence of scholars” but the satanic influence of demons so that professed believers deny the basic doctrines of the Bible. The problem is not with the head but with the heart!

What are the marks of these false teachers? For one thing, they preach one thing but practice another. They are such hypocrites that they even “brand” their own consciences by their willful disobedience to God’s Word! They read the Word but explain it away through their self-serving lies. Finally, they teach a false piety–namely, asceticism, that is, abstaining from marriage and certain foods. There are some so-called “Christian” groups that have never studied Colossians 2 to discover that bodily disciplines do not automatically advance spiritual life.

B. The answer (vv. 4-6).

“The Word of God and prayer” (v. 5) settle the matter. God, in His Word, has declared that all foods are clean (Gen. 1:29-31; 9:3; Mark 7:14-23; 1 Cor. 10:23-26; Acts 10); and through prayer, the Christian thanks God and dedicates the food to His glory (1 Cor. 10:31). The pastor must teach these things to his people, nourishing them and himself on “healthy” (sound) doctrine. A good minister will feed on the Word that he might be able to feed others.

II. A Godly Minister: Practicing the Word (4:7-12)

Just as “healthy” doctrine will promote spiritual health, so the foolish and silly myths of false teachers will produce spiritual sickness. Spiritual food and spiritual exercise are a happy combination! It is suggested that Timothy was leaning toward asceticism, the disciplining of the body; and that Paul is here teaching him to emphasize spiritual disciplines and exercises more than physical. If some Christians would put as much energy and enthusiasm into spiritual things as they do athletics and body-building, how much stronger they and their churches would be! “Bodily exercise profits for a little time,” Paul admits, “but spiritual exercise–practicing the Word of God–is profitable for this life and the life to come” (v. 8).

The Christian, and especially the pastor, must practice the Word of God and be known for godliness (godlikeness). This may mean carrying burdens and bearing suffering (v. 10), but it is worth it. Even young people can be examples of the faith, as Paul admonishes in v. 12: in word, in behavior (conversation), in love, in spirit (enthusiasm), in faith (faithfulness), and purity.

III. The Growing Minister: Progressing in the Word (4:13-16)

“That your progress [pioneer advance] may be evident to all” (NKJV) is the goal Paul sets in v. 15. A growing pastor will produce a growing church, for a man cannot lead others where he has not been himself. How could Timothy, or any believer, for that matter, make progress in the Christian life?

A. The Word of God.

“Give attendance to reading” (v. 13), that is, the public reading of the Word of God in the assembly. Of course, the Word should be explained and applied. It is not enough just to know the facts of the Word; believers must know the doctrines of the Word.

B. Spiritual gifts.

Every Christian has some spiritual gift (Rom. 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12), and far too often these gifts are neglected instead of exercised by faith. When the elders (presbytery) ordained young Timothy, assisted by Paul (2 Tim. 1:6), God gave Timothy some spiritual gifts to equip him for his ministry. But he had been neglecting these gifts and needed to stir them up in the way that a dying fire has to be stoked. Spiritually speaking, what we do not use, we lose; see Heb. 2:1-3.

C. Dedication.

The original Gk. in v. 15 reads “attend to these things, be in these things.” In other words, give yourself to them completely, with no compromise or distraction. Certainly meditation is a part of this, but Paul’s commands are much broader. The Christian who is listless about spiritual matters will never make progress.

D. Examination.

“Take heed to yourself” comes first. Examine yourself, find out where you are spiritually and where you are going. “The unexamined life is not worth living,” said the ancient philosopher Socrates. It is easy to correct doctrine, but much more challenging to live the doctrine. We will never save others if we lose our own spiritual power.

As you review these verses, you can see that Paul expected Timothy to build the church on the Word–to preach it, teach it, and practice it. The Word was to be his personal food and guide, as well as the food for the church. The pastor who spends time in the Word and in prayer will grow himself and will pastor a growing church.

Get Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old and New Testament

Warren Wiersbe has done every minister of the Word a favor in Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old and New Testament. His outlines on every book and chapter in the Bible help the minister of the Word see the structure of the text and understand the basic meaning of the chapter. Go ahead and get this resource for your Olive Tree Library today!

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