1 Timothy 4:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Timothy 4:12, NIV: "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."

1 Timothy 4:12, ESV: "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."

1 Timothy 4:12, KJV: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."

1 Timothy 4:12, NASB: "Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."

1 Timothy 4:12, NLT: "Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity."

1 Timothy 4:12, CSB: "Don't let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity."

What does 1 Timothy 4:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This important verse has often been quoted to youth ministries and young leaders. Though Timothy was likely in his early 30s when this letter was written, the words apply to any church leader, regardless of age. Timothy was not to let anyone look down on him because of his age. For all of human history, there has been a tendency for older generations to dismiss younger teachers, simply because they are young. In order to counter this, the influence of a young leader should come through his example. In this particular context, the "example" is that given to other Christians, not for unbelievers. Though both are important (Matthew 5:17), Paul is focusing on leadership within the church in this verse.

Paul gives five specific areas in which Timothy is to serve as an example. First is his words. Second his actions, which should reflect an example of godliness. Third, his love was to be an example (1 Timothy 1:5, 14; 2:15). Fourth, Timothy was to be an example in faith. This is similar to 1 Timothy 1:5 where Paul said, "The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." Fifth, Timothy's example was to include his "purity," both physically in his behavior around young women (1 Timothy 5:2) and in his spirituality (1 Timothy 5:22).