Monday, 1 January 2018
If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. 1 Timothy 4:6
The words “If you instruct the brethren in these things,” is referring to that which was just stated by Paul in verses 1-5, but specifically the details provided in verses 3-5. There is sound doctrine concerning what foods are acceptable, and there is bondage in teaching anything else concerning dietary restrictions. Timothy was being warned against any such teaching which stood contrary to that which the Bible proclaims. Ascetics, with their brand of dietary restrictions, and Judaizers with theirs, both had the same end goal. When you control the diet of an individual, you have a means of controlling him. The same is true with imposed vegetarianism as well.
In teaching what is proper, and in teaching what is improper, concerning these things, Paul tells Timothy that, “you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ.” Who could desire a more noble title than that which Paul names here! But it is only to be obtained through right doctrine. Thus any teaching which is contrary to what is said concerning the imposition of unscriptural dietary restrictions means that the teacher is not a good minister of Jesus Christ. Think of how many sects and cults are immediately excluded because of Paul’s words here! Any minister who imposes dietary restrictions beyond what Scripture allows is, by default, a crummy minister.
But in teaching right doctrine, the minister will be “nourished.” The verb here is a present participle, “being nourished.” It signifies, “to be trained up” or “to be educated in.” Paul is making a distinction between being improperly nourished by foods, and being properly nourished by spiritual truth. Being a present participle, it indicates a process which is continuous and permanent. Timothy (and thus all ministers) are to be constantly training themselves, and they are to stand fast on their training. And this training is to be “in the words of faith.”
There is actually an article in front of “faith” in the Greek. It reads, “in the words of the faith.” It is speaking specifically of right teaching (the contents of belief) of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. In addition to this, he is to be nourished in “the good doctrine.” This is used almost synonymously with “the faith.” Paul implores Timothy to never stop training himself in sound and proper doctrine. To let down his guard would eventually lead to falling away from that, and towards that which is improper. For the minister of Christ today, our doctrine is to come from Scripture, and it is to be taken in the proper context of what is being said concerning New Covenant theology in relation to Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Covenant.
Paul finishes his thought to Timothy with the words, “which you have carefully followed.” The words are well translated. Timothy had carefully followed the faith and the good doctrine thus far. He was being commended for this, and was being implored by Paul to continue to follow these things always. In doing this, he would not stray away from what is right, sound, and proper.
Life application: Just because a minister is a minister, it does not mean that he cannot get derailed from the sound tracks of right doctrine. The minister of Jesus Christ is to constantly be aware of the devil’s tricks, stand firm on the truth of the word, and never allow himself to be misguided. Reading and studying the word, remaining in close prayer with God concerning right doctrine, and being faithful to the word once delivered to the saints, are necessary steps for the minister of the Lord at all times.
Lord God, we pray that our ministers of the faith are kept safe from being derailed from right and proper doctrine. Give them the desire to continuously study Your word, to remain in close contact with You concerning their doctrine, and to be kept safe from those who have poor doctrine and evil intent towards the truth. Be with them and protect them as they defend the truth of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Amen.