What does 1 Timothy 4:6 mean?
ESV: If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.
NIV: If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
NASB: In pointing out these things to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the good doctrine which you have been following.
CSB: If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and the good teaching that you have followed.
NLT: If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed.
KJV: 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 attained.
NKJV: If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.
Verse Commentary:
Prior verses began Paul's refutation of the false teachers Timothy was facing. Verses 1 through 5 specifically called out those who condemned marriage and eating certain foods.

Here, Paul focuses more on Timothy's pastoral approach to these heretics. A church leader's primary strategy for combatting false teaching is to keep sound doctrine in the eyes and ears of his congregation (Titus 2:1). And, Timothy was to teach what he was given in this letter to others (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul uses a Greek term here, adelphois, which literally means "of the same womb." This is often translated as "brothers" in English, but it is meant to refer to all members of the Christian family.

Those who seek to promote the truth, and combat error (Titus 1:9), are pursuing the primary goal of a follower of Jesus. The same Greek phrase is used by Jesus in Luke 19:17 when He taught, "Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities." The word "servant" here is from doulos, meaning "slave or bondservant," rather than a volunteer. The purpose of this term is its emphasis on a serious commitment and obligation to serving Christ.

Paul also identifies an aspect of a "good servant" as one who is knowledgeable and experienced in the truths of the Christian faith. In order for a person to know the truth, teach the truth, and defend the truth, they have to have experience with the truth. This means a knowledge of the Scriptures, and an understanding of how they are meant to be lived out. This living out of what we study is a core part of what it means to "follow" the teachings of Christ.
Verse Context:
First Timothy 4:6–10 provides perspective on the right way to lead, as a church elder. Timothy has already been warned about false teachers. In response, he needs to be diligent in learning, living, teaching, and defending the truth. Paul makes a comparison here with physical training. Fitness is good, since it has benefits. But physical fitness is only temporary. Spiritual fitness, then, is much more beneficial, since its effects last forever.
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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