“These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:11-12).
The concept of “youth” in the New Testament era often served to identify those who had not yet reached forty years of age. Since Timothy was still within this category at the time of this letter from Paul the Apostle, he may have found it difficult to interact with older men and women in an authoritative manner.
Perhaps there were some who were dismissive of Timothy in view of his relative youth or he may have been reluctant to assert himself with older individuals. Either possibility would serve to explain Paul’s forceful directive within this passage.
However, Paul did not simply advise Timothy to assert himself and leave it at that. He also addressed the things Timothy needed to affirm and how he should affirm them. First, let’s consider Paul’s initial directive: “Command and teach these things” (RSV). So what did Paul mean in issuing these instructions?
Well, “these things” undoubtedly comprised the subjects that Paul has already addressed within this letter. Those would include…
- “…command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith” (1 Timothy 1:3-4 NIV).
- “…I ask that requests, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving be made for all people. Pray for kings and everyone who is in authority so that we can live a quiet and peaceful life in complete godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2 CEB).
- “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5 ESV).
- “And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do… I do not let women teach men or have authority over them” (1 Timothy 2:9-10, 12 NLT).
- “A congregation leader must be above reproach, he must be faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, orderly, hospitable and able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2 CJB).
We’ll begin our look at how Timothy was instructed to command and teach these doctrines next.