First and Second Timothy and Titus are called the Pastoral Epistles because of the guidance they give to ministers, and in today’s passage Paul once again lays upon Timothy, the young pastor sent to Ephesus, some instructions that pertain specifically to his task. But again, the principles given in this letter apply to all of us, because while not all of us may be ordained preachers or teachers, we all have the opportunity to give instruction through teaching our children, counseling our friends, and so on.
Paul has thus far reminded Timothy of the right use of the Law (1 Tim. 1:8–11), the necessity to stand for truth (vv. 18–20), the proper way to pray (2:1–7), the role of women in the church (vv. 8–15), the qualifications of church officers (3:1–13), the summary of the gospel (vv. 14–16), and the goodness of food and marriage (4:1–5). These are the things that the apostle wants Timothy to pass on to the brothers in today’s passage (v. 6). Note how Paul links the quality of Timothy’s service to his teaching: “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus.” We rightfully deduce from this statement that if Timothy does not pass these truths on to others, he will not be a good servant. Pastors, elders, and teachers do not receive instruction only for their own knowledge and use; rather, they are instructed that they might train up others in the faith. The light of truth we have in Jesus cannot be put under a basket but must be held high for all to see (Matt. 5:14–16). No one is a good servant of Jesus who does not pass on what he knows about Him to others.
In putting the teachings of Christ and His apostles before others we are “being trained in the words of faith and of the good doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6). Matthew Henry comments that “the best way for ministers to grow in knowledge and faith is to remind the brothers; while we teach others, we teach ourselves.” Conveying the truth of Jesus to others does not only build them up; it builds us up as well. It is a well known maxim that you do not begin to deeply grasp something until you teach it, and teaching others, formally or informally, is an excellent way to become well-established in the truths of Scripture.
What do you talk about when you are with other believers? Catching them up on the current events of your life is important, but you can be sure that you are being a good servant of Jesus when you discuss with them the things you are learning from Scripture. What about your conversations with non-Christians? Do you look for ways to proclaim the good news, even if only briefly? Let us pray that we would take advantage of any such opportunities the Lord gives us.