Monday, 8 January 2018
Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13
Paul’s words, “Till I come,” give the hope of the apostle that he would, in fact, be coming to Ephesus at some point. He has already said once, in verse 3:14, that this was his intent. However, due to his absence, there was a need for doctrine to be established and maintained, and there was the need for Timothy to be the one to ensure that it was properly laid out for the people. And so Paul gives him three specific exhortations to ensure things would operate properly. The first is that he was to “give attention to reading.”
The public reading of Scripture was something practiced in synagogue, and that then carried over to the church. In Luke 4, it is recorded that Jesus read openly from the book of Isaiah “as His custom was.” In other words, there was a public reading of the Scriptures which was followed with words of explanation or instruction. This is then repeated in Acts 13. The Scriptures were read, and then Paul stood to speak. In 2 Corinthians 3:14, Paul mentions this same practice as well. Now he explicitly instructs Timothy to carry on this practice. Thus it shows us that it is something which is expected in all churches. The Scriptures are to be read, and then they are to be explained.
Next he says, “to exhortation.” The Greek word gives the sense of “holy urging.” It “is used of the Lord directly motivating and inspiring believers to carry out His plan, delivering His particular message to someone else” (HELPS Word Studies). In context, it can refer to exhortation, warning, encouraging, and comforting. A modern “life-application” sermon might be used for exhortation.
And finally Paul notes, “for doctrine.” The Greek signifies instruction and teaching. It is properly applied teaching which then extends to necessary lifestyle modifications.
These things Paul specifically instructs Timothy to do. They are intended for the soundness of the church, and for the well-being of the congregants. To be deficient in any area, will then lead to a congregation which is not sound, and which can be easily swayed merely by a change in leadership. And how many times does this come to pass! One pastor moves out, and another moves in and changes the core doctrines of the church while the congregants stew in an unholy broth. This occurs because there was not the application of reading, exhortation, and doctrine all along.
Life application: The Bible is the word of God. Unless it is read and taught constantly and properly, there will be a sad void in the soundness of a congregation. Within a single changeover of leadership, the people can go from adherence to God’s word, to accepting perversion and false teachings. History has shown this to be true time and time again. Beware! Stand on the word! Follow the sound path of Scripture! Pursue Christ!
Lord, Your word is like a treasure chest filled with the greatest of riches. But treasure is absolutely worthless if it is at the bottom of the ocean, buried in an unknown location, or even sitting in a room with us – if the lock is still on the box. How many Bibles are lost in a pile of other books, covered in ages of dust, or simply carried to and from church, but never opened? All of the treasure… uselessly wasted for lack of initiative – on the part of church leaders, on the part of God’s people, on the account of seeking other riches in landfills of garbage. How we waste the true riches! Change our hearts, and open our minds to the radiant glory which issues forth from Your superior word. Please effect this change in us. Amen.