What does 1 Timothy 4:14 mean?
ESV: Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.
NIV: Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
NASB: Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was granted to you through words of prophecy with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.
CSB: Don’t neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders.
NLT: Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you.
KJV: Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
NKJV: Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.
Verse Commentary:
Paul followed his commands regarding preaching and teaching with a reference to Timothy's "gift." He mentions this again in 2 Timothy 1:6: "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." This likely took place in Lystra when Paul first planned to take Timothy with him into ministry. Timothy was gifted in leadership and teaching through "prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you." This prayer or ordination event must have been memorable, as Paul twice referred to it to encourage Timothy's leadership based on an event that happened around 15 years earlier.

Interestingly, Paul included himself in this council of elders (2 Timothy 1:6). Timothy would travel with him through Macedonia, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea with Luke and Silas before staying in Berea with Silas (Acts 17:14). Timothy would later be with Silas in Macedonia and then rejoined Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:5) where they also ministered with Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2) and likely ended up in Ephesus where he ministered for a longer period (Acts 18:19–21). Timothy would later go back to Macedonia (Acts 19:21–22) and Troas (Acts 20:4–5) and was later with Paul during his first imprisonment.
Verse Context:
First Timothy 4:11–16 focuses on Timothy's own personal conduct as the leader of a Christian church. Paul emphasizes ideas such as persistence, confidence, and diligence. Of particular importance is that Timothy live out an example for other believers. Among the most powerful counters to false teaching are the positive results spiritual truth can bring. Along with teaching the truth, Timothy must live it. By devoting himself to these principles, Paul reassures Timothy that he can be a powerful positive influence for Christ.
Chapter Summary:
First Timothy 4 provides an important perspective in advance of Paul's upcoming instructions. After giving Timothy details on how to choose church leaders, and the proper conduct of church members, this chapter is mostly focused on Timothy's own personal spiritual choices. In particular, Paul instructs him to be diligent, faithful, and prepared. The stakes are high—both for Timothy and those he is called to lead. This chapter emphasizes the importance of good spiritual practice, which is key when considering Paul's advice in the passages both before and after these words.
Chapter Context:
First Timothy chapter 4 serves as a bridge from Paul's introduction into the later part of his letter. Prior chapters indicated the qualifications for church leaders, and some instructions on the proper way for church members to conduct themselves. Here, in chapter 4, Paul reminds Timothy not to be swayed by the false teachings of others. This combination of encouragement and warning sets the stage for the rest of Paul's message. The final two chapters will provide a means for Timothy to identify and avoid errors in his spiritual life.
Book Summary:
First Timothy is one of Paul's three ''Pastoral Epistles.'' Paul's other letters, such as Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, are meant for a broader audience. First Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are written to specific people whom Paul is advising on how to best lead their local churches. These three letters present a close look at the form and function of church leadership. First Timothy, like 2 Timothy and Titus, is less formal and systematic, and more personal. This gives great insight into the way pastors, deacons, and elders ought to prioritize their time and energy.
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