on 1-timothy 4 :12
Let no man despise thy youth - Act with all the gravity and decorum which become thy situation in the Church. As thou art in the place of an elder, act as an elder. Boyish playfulness ill becomes a minister of the Gospel, whatever his age may be. Concerning Timothy's age see the conclusion of the preface to this epistle.
Be thou an example of the believers - It is natural for the flock to follow the shepherd; if he go wrong, they will go wrong also.
"Himself a wanderer from the narrow way,
His silly sheep, no wonder if they stray."
Though, according to the just judgement of God, they who die in their sins have their blood on their own head; yet, if they have either gone into sin or continued in it through the watchman's fault, their blood will God require at his hand. How many have endeavored to excuse their transgressions by alleging, in vindication of their conduct, "Our minister does so, and he is more wise and learned than we." What an awful account must such have to give to the Head of the Church when he appears!
In word - Εν λογῳ· In doctrine; teach nothing but the truth of God, because nothing but that will save souls.
In conversation - Εν αναστροφῃ· In the whole of thy conduct in every department which thou fillest in all thy domestic as well as public relations, behave thyself well.
In charity - Εν αγαπῃ· In love to God and man; show that this is the principle and motive of all thy conduct.
In spirit - Εν πνευματι· In the manner and disposition in which thou dost all things. How often is a holy or charitable work done in an unholy, uncharitable, and peevish spirit! To the doer, such work is unfruitful.
These words are wanting in ACDFG, and several others; both the Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Vulgate, and Itala, and many of the fathers. Griesbach leaves them out of the text. They have in all probability been added by a later hand.
In faith - Εν πιστει· This word πιστις is probably taken here for fidelity, a sense which it often bears in the New Testament. It cannot mean doctrine, for that has been referred to before. Be faithful to thy trust, to thy flock, to thy domestics, to the public, to thy God. Fidelity consists in honestly keeping, preserving, and delivering up when required, whatever is intrusted to our care; as also in improving whatever is delivered in trust for that purpose. Lose nothing that God gives, and improve every gift that he bestows.
In purity - Εν ἁγνεια· Chastity of body and mind; a direction peculiarly necessary for a young minister, who has more temptations to break its rules than perhaps any other person. "Converse sparingly with women, and especially with young women," was the advice of a very holy and experienced minister of Christ.
on 1-timothy 4 :12
Let no man despise thy youth - That is, do not act in such a manner that any shall despise you on account of your youth. Act as becomes a minister of the gospel in all things, and in such a way that people will respect you as such, though you are young. It is clear from this that Timothy was then a young man, but his exact age there is no means of determining. It is implied here:
(1) that there was danger that, by the levity and indiscretion to which youth are so much exposed, the ministry might be regarded with contempt; and,
(2) that it was possible that his deportment should be so grave, serious, and every way appropriate, that the ministry would not be blamed, but honored. The "way" in which Timothy was to live so that the ministry would not be despised on account of his youth, the apostle proceeds immediately to specify.
But be thou an example of the believers - One of the constant duties of a minister of the gospel, no matter what his age. A minister should so live, that if all his people should closely follow his example, their salvation would be secure, and they would make the highest possible attainments in piety. On the meaning of the word rendered "example," see the notes on Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:7.
In word - In "speech," that is, your manner of conversation. This does not refer to his "public teaching" - in which he could not probably be an "example" to them - but to his usual and familiar conversation.
In conversation - In general deportment. See this word explained in the notes on Philippians 1:27.
In charity - Love to the brethren, and to all; see notes on 1 Corinthians 13.
In spirit - In the government of your passions, and in a mild, meek, forgiving disposition.
In faith - At all times, and in all trials show to believers by your example, how they ought to maintain unshaken confidence in God.
In purity - In chasteness of life; see 1 Timothy 5:2. There should be nothing in your contact with the other sex that would give rise to scandal. The papists, with great impropriety, understand this as enjoining celibacy - as if there could be no "purity" in that holy relation which God appointed in Eden, and which he has declared to "be honorable in all" Hebrews 13:4, and which he has made so essential to the wellbeing of mankind. If the apostle had wished to produce the highest possible degree of corruption in the church, he would have enjoined the celibacy of the clergy and the celibacy of an indefinite number of nuns and monks. There are no other institutions on the earth which have done so much to corrupt the chastity of the race, as those which have grown out of the doctrine that celibacy is more honorable than marriage.
on 1-timothy 4 :12
4:12 Let no one have reason to despise thee for thy youth. To prevent this, Be a pattern in word - Public and private. In spirit - In your whole temper. In faith - When this is placed in the midst of several other Christian graces, it generally means a particular branch of it; fidelity or faithfulness.