1 Timothy 4:6
If you put the brothers in remembrance of these things, you shall be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto you have attained.
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(6) If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things.—The “things” of which he was to put the brethren in mind were those practices connected with that foolish, false asceticism alluded to in 1Timothy 4:3-5. Not a few, probably, in that Ephesian flock had been won over by the persuasive words of the false teachers to attribute a peculiar virtue to such practices—practices which, if persevered in, St. Paul well knew would tend to set up for imitation in the Church an unreal, unhealthy standard of life.

Thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ.—A high title to honour, this, “a good minister of Jesus Christ,” and one Timothy would well earn if he would set himself in all earnestness to oppose and discredit the sickly teaching of the Ascetic school.

He would by such opposition, indeed, earn the “title to honour,” for St. Paul well knew how great was the danger of a comparatively young and ardent disciple like Timothy being attracted by such mistaken teachings of perfection. But “the good minister of Jesus Christ” must teach “a life” which may be led by all, not by a select few merely, of the believers on his Master. Asceticism is too often a winning and attractive school of teaching to ministers, as, at a comparatively easy price, they win a great, but at the same time thoroughly unhealthy, power over the souls of men and women who practise these austerities, which tend necessarily to remove them out of the stream of active life.

Nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine.—The Greek present participle rendered here “nourished up in,” marks a continuous and permanent process of self-education. It might be translated “ever training thyself”—a wise and never-to-be-forgotten precept of St. Paul’s, this reminder to his own dear son in the faith, Timothy—and through Timothy to all Christian ministers of every age—never to relax their efforts for self-improvement. The education of the good minister of Jesus Christ is never to be considered finished. He—the teacher of others—must ever be striving himself after a higher and a yet higher knowledge in things spiritual.

Whereunto thou hast attained.—More accurately translated, which thou hast closely followed. In the teaching respecting faith and practice which Timothy, as a disciple, has diligently followed out step by step—in that teaching he is to study to advance yet farther, so as to gain deeper and ever deeper knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom.

1 Timothy 4:6-7. If thou put the brethren in remembrance, &c. — Ταυτα υποτιθεμενος τοις αδελφοις, suggesting these things to the brethren, concerning the lawfulness of all sorts of meats, and concerning the corrupt doctrines and practices which are to arise in the church; thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ — And shalt act as may be expected from one who has been nourished up — From his very childhood; in the words of faith — Words laying a foundation for faith, and the means of producing it in men’s hearts; and good doctrine — True, genuine, gospel doctrine; whereunto — That is, to the knowledge of which, thou hast attained — So η παρηκολουθηκας may be properly translated. See Luke 1:3, where the same verb is rendered, having perfect understanding. It is a just remark of Macknight here, that, “If any prejudices, with respect to the distinction of meats, remained in Timothy’s mind, through the strictness of his education in the Jewish religion, the clear and express manner in which the apostle here asserted the lawfulness of eating all kinds of meats, must have entirely freed him from these pre-possessions.” But refuse profane and old wives’ fables — This, says Dr. Doddridge, “undoubtedly signifies Jewish traditions; and if they were such as those with which the rabbinical writers abound, nothing ever better deserved the name, they being not only the most incredible, but the most insipid and senseless tales anywhere to be met with.” In Bishop Newton’s opinion, however, the apostle intended here to signify, that all the things which the lying teachers would preach, during the above-mentioned apostacy, concerning the worship of angels, abstinence from meats, and the miracles said to be performed by the saints and their relics, in confirmation of the superstitions which they inculcated, are no better than profane and old wives’ fables, told to amuse children. And exercise thyself (the word γυμναζε, so rendered, is used in allusion to the exercises by which the contenders prepared themselves for the combats in the Grecian games) unto godliness — Train thyself up in holiness of heart and life with the utmost vigour and diligence.4:6-10 Outward acts of self-denial profit little. What will it avail us to mortify the body, if we do not mortify sin? No diligence in mere outward things could be of much use. The gain of godliness lies much in the promise; and the promises to godly people relate partly to the life that now is, but especially to the life which is to come: though we lose for Christ, we shall not lose by him. If Christ be thus the Saviour of all men, then much more will he be the Rewarder of those who seek and serve him; he will provide well for those whom he has made new creatures.If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things - Of the truths just stated. They are, therefore, proper subjects to preach upon. It is the duty of the ministry to show to the people of their charge what "is" error and where it may be apprehended, and to caution them to avoid it.

Nourished up in the words of faith - That is, you will be then "a good minister of Jesus Christ, as becomes one who has been nourished up in the words of faith, or trained up in the doctrines of religion." The apostle evidently designs to remind Timothy of the manner in which he had been trained, and to show him how he might act in accordance with that. From one who had been thus educated, it was reasonable to expect that he would be a faithful and exemplary minister of the gospel.

Whereunto thou hast attained - The word used here means, properly, to accompany side by side; to follow closely; to follow out, trace, or examine. It is rendered "shall follow," in Matthew 16:17; "having had understanding," in Luke 1:3; and "hast fully known," in 2 Timothy 3:10. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The meaning here seems to be, that Timothy had followed out the doctrines in which he had been trained to their legitimate results; he had accurately seen and understood their bearing, as leading him to embrace the Christian religion. His early training in the Scriptures of the Old Testament 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15, he had now fully carried out, by embracing the Lord Jesus as the Messiah, and by evincing the proper results of the early teaching which he had received in connection with that religion. If he now followed the directions of the apostle, he would be a minister of the Lord Jesus, worthy of the attainments in religious knowledge which he had made, and of the expectations which had been formed of him. No young man should, by neglect, indolence, or folly, disappoint the reasonable expectations of his friends. Their cherished hopes are a proper ground of appeal to him, and it may be properly demanded of every one that he shall carry out to their legitimate results all the principles of his early training, and that he shall be in his profession all that his early advantages make it reasonable to "expect" that he will be.

6. If thou put … in remembrance—rather as Greek, "If thou suggest to (bring under the notice of) the brethren," &c.

these things—namely, the truths stated in 1Ti 4:4, 5, in opposition to the errors foretold, 1Ti 4:1-3.


nourished up—The Greek is present, not past: "continually being nourished in" (2Ti 1:5; 3:14, 15).

the words of faith—rather, "the words of the faith" (compare 1Ti 4:12).

good doctrine—"the good teaching." Explanatory of "the faith," in opposition to the "teachings of demons" (English Version, "doctrines of devils," 1Ti 4:1) which Timothy was to counteract. Compare "sound doctrine" (1Ti 1:10; 6:3; Tit 1:9; 2:1).

whereunto thou hast attained—"the course of which thou hast followed"; hast followed along by tracing its course and accompanying it [Alford]. Thou hast begun to follow up [Bengel]. The same Greek occurs, "thou hast fully known" (2Ti 3:10), "having had perfect understanding" (Lu 1:3). It is an undesigned coincidence that the Greek verb is used only by Paul and Paul's companion, Luke.

If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things; if by thy preaching publicly, and by thy more private instructions of Christians at Ephesus, thou teachest them these things.

Thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ; thou shalt faithfully discharge the office of him who is a servant of Jesus Christ, not of men merely. The ministers of the gospel are in the first place ministers or servants to Christ. Secondarily, ministers (that is, servants) of the church; as a nobleman’s servant employed to distribute wages or meat to inferior servants, is a minister to those to whom he so distributeth food or wages, but in the first place a servant to his lord.

Nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine; such a minister of the gospel ought to be one bred up in the true faith, and persevering in it.

Whereunto thou hast attained; whereto thou art not a stranger, only I would have thee go on and persevere in it. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things,.... Either of all the main and principal things already mentioned in the preceding chapters; as that the end of the commandment is love; that Christ's coming into the world to save the chief of sinners is a faithful saying, and worthy of acceptation; that prayers should be made for all sorts of men, for the reasons given; and that there is salvation for men and women through the incarnate Son of God; that such and such are the qualifications of elders and deacons; and that the incarnation of Christ is, without controversy, the great mystery of godliness: or of the things which are particularly hinted at in the prophecy delivered in the beginning of this chapter; as that there should be a falling off from the doctrine of faith in the latter days; that this should come to pass through attending to erroneous spirits, and doctrines of "demons", and through the lies of hypocritical, hardened, and infamous men; whose particular dogmas, by which they might be known, would be, to forbid marriage to certain persons, which is of divine institution and honourable, and to order an abstinence from meats at certain times, contrary to the will and providence of God. These the apostle would have Timothy propose, and subject to consideration, and from time to time refresh the memories of the saints with, who are apt, through negligence and inattention, and the weakness of the natural faculty, to be forgetful hearers of the word; that whenever such persons should arise, they might be on their guard against them. It is one part of the business of Gospel ministers to put the churches in mind of what they have received and known, and are established in. By "the brethren" are meant the members of the church at Ephesus; whom the apostle accounted as brethren, being of the same family and household, and would have Timothy reckon and use as such, and not as subjects and servants, to be lorded over.

Thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ; a minister of Jesus Christ is one of his making, qualifying, calling, and sending; and who makes Christ, the doctrines respecting his person and offices, his grace, righteousness, and salvation, the subject of his ministry; and he is a good one, who, besides having a good work of grace wrought in him, has good gifts and abilities from Christ, and who makes a good use of them, and freely and fully imparts them for the good of others; and being employed in a good work, he abides in it, and nothing can deter or remove him from it; and such an one was Timothy, and so would it be manifest by doing what the apostle hints unto him; as well as he would appear to be

nourished up in the words of faith, and of good doctrine: by which are meant the truths of the Gospel, called the words of faith, because they are things to be believed, hold forth the object of faith, Christ, and are the means by which faith comes, and is increased: and good doctrine, being the doctrine of the Scriptures, and of Christ, and of his apostles, and according to godliness; and contain good things, which make for the glory of the grace of God, and the comfort and welfare of immortal souls. These are of a nourishing nature; they are the wholesome and salutary words of Christ; they have in them milk for babes, and meat for strong men; by which both grow and thrive, when error eats as does a canker. So Philo the Jew (k) speaks of the soul, being "nourished with sciences", and not with food and drink, which the body needs; and a little after he says, you see the food of the soul what it is, it is the continual word of God. Now Timothy, by discharging his work aright, would show to the brethren, that as he had been nourished and trained up, first under his religious parents, and then under the Apostle Paul; so he still continued in the same truths, and to live and feed upon them, and to be nourished by them: or the words may be rendered actively,

nourishing; that is, either himself, as the Syriac version renders it, or others; for though all nourishment comes from Christ the head, yet it is ministered by joints and bands to the members; it is conveyed by the means of the word and ordinances, ministered by the preachers of the Gospel, who feed the church with knowledge, and with understanding; and none but those who are nourished themselves are fit to be the nourishers of others; and such an one was this evangelist: for it follows,

whereunto thou hast attained; he had arrived to a considerable degree of knowledge of Gospel truths, and was still pursuing and following on to know more of them, and was exhorted to continue in them, knowing of whom he had learned them. All this is said by way of encouragement to him to do as the apostle directs.

(k) Allegor. l. 2. p. 90, 92.

{9} If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast {f} attained.

(9) The conclusion with an exhortation to Timothy, to propound these things diligently to the churches, which he had gotten from the apostle even as though he were being fed.

(f) Never departing from it in the least.

1 Timothy 4:6. After describing the heretics, the apostle turns again to Timothy, exhorting him, in the first place, with special regard to the matters last under discussion, and then more generally in regard to the duties of his office.

ταῦτα ὑποτιθέμενος τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς] ταῦτα does not, as Heydenreich supposes, pass over all intermediate matter and go back to the christological doctrines expressed in 1 Timothy 3:16. It is more correct, with Hofmann, to refer it to the whole section from 1 Timothy 3:16 to 1 Timothy 4:5 (so Chrysostom); but possibly also Paul had in view only the prohibitions of the heretics (Wiesinger; van Oosterzee doubtfully).

ὑποτίθεσθαι (the middle only here, the act. in Romans 16:4), properly: “put under the hand or foot,” may also mean “instruct” (Josephus, Antiq. i. 14), as much as “advise” or “command” (Josephus, Bell. Jud. ii. 8. 7); here it stands more in the latter sense; Luther: “point out.”

Hofmann wrongly explains it as equivalent to “take as a theme,” and—against the natural structure of the sentence—connects it with what follows, though in this way it becomes tolerably superfluous.

καλὸς ἔσῃ διάκονος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ] Paul here uses διάκονος, inasmuch as Timothy was formally appointed to serve in the work of Christ; it has the same meaning as “so wilt thou well occupy the office committed to thee (διακονία, 2 Timothy 4:5).” To this is attached the participial clause: ἐντρεφόμενος τοῖς λόγοις τῆς πίστεως κ.τ.λ.] The present participle does not stand for the perfect participle, but brings out how Timothy is to behave at all times, in order to fulfil his commission as a καλὸς διάκονος Ἰ. Χρ. It declares that he is to be one who makes the words of faith his nourishment. It is inaccurate, therefore, to translate ἐντρεφόμενος by innutritus (Bengel[157]), or “reared” (Luther). As to the meaning of the word ἐντρέφεσθαι (in N. T. a ἅπαξ λεγ.), see Philo, Leg. ad Caj.: ἐνετράφης τοῖς ἱεροῖς γράμμασιν, and Plato, Leg. vii. 798a: οἷς γὰρ ἂν ἐντραφῶσι νόμοις.

The λόγοι τῆς πίστεως are the words in which faith expresses itself. The added words: καὶ τῆς καλῆς διδασκαλίας (see 1 Timothy 1:10), make the contrast with the heretics more decided, and the further clause: (ἧς) παρηκολούθηκας, shows that Timothy had hitherto been faithful to pure doctrine. This latter perfect stands in apt contrast with the present participle ἐντρεφόμενος. The original meaning of the verb: “follow near any one,” furnishes naturally for the present context the meaning: “which thou hast faithfully followed, to which thou hast remained faithful.” The translation; “according to which thou hast formed thyself,” is inaccurate; the word occurs in the N. T. only here and in 2 Timothy 3:10, as well as in Luke 1:3 and Mark 16:17.

[157] Bengel, however, did not overlook the signification of the present altogether, since he explains thus: Praesens cum respectu praeteriti, innutritus; nutrimentum perpetuum. Chrysostom remarks τὸ διηνεκὲς τῆς εἰς τὰ τοιαῦτα προσοχῆς δηλῶν. Winer says: “ἐντρεφόμενος shows that the λόγοι τῆς πίστεως are to Timothy a permanent means of nourishment and culture.”1 Timothy 4:6-10. The spread of these mischievous notions among the brethren is most effectively discouraged by a demonstration in the person of the minister himself of the positive teaching of the Gospel as to practical life. We are assured, and declare our confidence by our lives, that Christianity differs essentially from theosophy in that it has respect to the eternal future, as well as to the passing present.6–16. Timothy’s own hold of right doctrine and right discipline

6. in remembrance] R.V. has in mind, the Greek not so strongly implying a re-presentation of these points as a ‘representation’ in our modern sense; Chrysostom, ‘as one giving counsel let him present these things.’

these things] Taking up 1 Timothy 4:15 of ch. 3 which introduced the statement following (1 Timothy 3:15 to 1 Timothy 4:5) of the faith and the good doctrine. Observe the articles in this latter clause.

Jesus Christ] Again with mss. transpose, Christ Jesus.

nourished] Compare the Prayer-Book Collect for 2nd Sun. in Advent, ‘Grant that we may in such wise hear (all Holy Scriptures), read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.’ Alford, ‘to grow up amongst or be trained in,’ comparing Eur. Phoen. 368, ‘the gymnasia, in which I was brought up.’

whereunto thou hast attained] Rather, which thou hast always closely followed: ‘hast always’ rendering the idea of the perfect, the settled permanent state, better than ‘until now’ of the R.V.; ‘closely’ rendering the preposition in the compound verb as in the preface of St Luke’s Gospel, 1 Timothy 1:3, ‘having traced the course;’ cf. 2 Timothy 3:10.1 Timothy 4:6. Ὑποτιθέμενος) bringing under the notice, suggesting mildly. Eustathius says, νοεῖν on the one hand implies perceiving at once and spontaneously; ὑποθέσθαι, on the other, to cause to perceive, by admonition.—καλὸς διάκυνος, a good minister) 2 Timothy 2:15. ἐιτρεφόμενος) The present combined with reference to the preterite, nourished up, 2 Timothy 1:5; 2 Timothy 3:15. Continued nourishment.—τῆς πίστεως, of the faith) in thy behalf [for thine own good].—τῆς καλῆς διδασκαλίας, of good doctrine) in behalf of others [for the good of others].—ᾗ παρηκολοὑθηκας) which thou hast commenced (undertaken) to follow up (i.e. in all its details). Concerning this word, see Luke 1:3, note.Verse 6. - Mind for remembrance, A.V.; Christ Jesus for Jesus Christ, A.V. and T.R.; nourished for nourished up, A.V.; the faith for faith, A.V.; the good for good, A.V.; which thou hast followed until now for whereunto thou hast attained, A.V. If thou put the brethren in mind of these things (παῦτα ὑποτιθέμενος τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς); if thou suggest these things to the brethren, lay them down as principles upon which their conduct is to be based; or, enjoin them (Liddell and Scott). It only occurs in this metaphorical sense here in the New Testament, but is very common in classical Greek, and not infrequent in the LXX. It has often the meaning of "to advise" or" counsel." Of course, "hypothesis," the assumed basis from which you start, is the same root. The brethren (τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς). The distinctive name for the members of Christ's Church, throughout the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. The whole body is called ἡ ἀδελφότης "the brotherhood" (1 Peter 2:17; 1 Peter 5:9). A good minister (διάκονος). The application of this term to Timothy, like that of ἐπίσκοπος to presbyters (1 Timothy 3:2), is an indication of the early date of the Epistle, before the distinctive names of the Church officers had quite hardened down into a technical meaning. Nourished (ἀντρεφόμενος); here only in the New Testament, and not used in the LXX.; but in classical Greek not uncommon in the sense of "brought up in," "trained in from childhood." In Latin, innutritus. The phrase, "nourished in the words of the faith," etc., explains the καλὸς διάκονος, and shows what a man must be to deserve the appellation - one, viz., who is nourished in the words of the faith, etc. The faith; here again objective, as in ver. 6 (see note). The good doctrine, etc. In opposition to the "doctrines of devils" in ver. 1. The different epithets of this true Christian doctrine are ἡ καλή (as here); ὑγιαίνουσα (1 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1); ἡ κατ εὐσεβείαν διδασκαλία (1 Timothy 6:3); and in 1 Timothy 6. I we have simply ηδιδασκαλία, without any epithet. In like manner, ἡ πίστις ἡ, ἀληθεία ἡ εὐσεβεία, severally denote the Christian religion. Which thou hast followed until now (η΅ι παρηκολουθήκας). This is a rather more faithful rendering than that of the A.V.; it is, literally, which thou hast kept close to, either for the purpose of imitating it, or, as 2 Timothy 3:10, for the purpose of observing it. Or, to put it differently, in one case so as to teach it identically, and in the other so as to know it perfectly. In this last aspect it is also used in Luke 1:3. The classical use is "to follow closely any one's steps," or "the course of events," when used literally; or, metaphorically, "to follow with one's thoughts," "to understand." If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things (ταῦτα ὑποτιθέμενος τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς)

The verb only here and Romans 16:4. Lit. to put under; so almost without exception in lxx. See, for instance, Genesis 28:18; Genesis 47:29; Exodus 17:12. So Romans 16:4. Hence, metaphorically, to suggest, which is, literally, to carry or lay under. Ταῦτα these things are those mentioned 1 Timothy 4:4, 1 Timothy 4:5. In the Pastorals it is only here that ἀδελφοί brethren means the members of the church to whose superintendent the letter is addressed. In 2 Timothy 4:21, they are the Christians of the church from which the letter comes; in 1 Timothy 6:2, Christians in general; and in 1 Timothy 5:1, without any ecclesiastical sense.

Minister of Jesus Christ (διάκονος Χριστοῦ Ἱησοῦ)

Rendering Christ himself a service by setting himself against ascetic errors. For διάκονος minister see on 1 Timothy 3:8. Here in the general sense of servant, without any official meaning. Paul's more usual phrase is servant of God: servant (διάκονος) of Christ twice, and διάκονος Ἱησοῦ Χριστοῦ not at all. Paul uses δοῦλος bond-servant with Jesus Christ. See 2 Corinthians 11:23; Colossians 1:7; and comp. Romans 1:1; Galatians 1:10; Philippians 1:1.

Nourished up (ἐντρεφόμενος)

Better, nourishing thyself. N.T.o. olxx. The participle indicates the means by which Timothy may become a good minister. Comp. Hebrews 5:12-14.

In the words of faith

The words in which the faith - the contents of belief - finds expression. Comp. 1 Timothy 6:3; 2 Timothy 1:13. The phrase only here. Paul has τὸ ῥῆμα τῆς πίστεως the word of the faith, Romans 10:8.

Whereunto thou hast attained (ᾗ παρηκολούθηκας)

Wrong. Rend., which thou hast closely followed. Comp. 2 Timothy 3:10. The verb means, primarily, to follow beside, to attend closely. In this literal sense not in N.T. To attend to or follow up, as a disease. So Plato, Rep. 406 B, παρακολουθῶν τῷ νοσήματι θανασίμῳ perpetually tending a mortal disease. To follow up a history or a succession of incidents, as Luke 1:3. oP. The writer means that Timothy, as a disciple, has closely attended to his course of Christian instruction.

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