The Meaning of 1 Timothy 4:12 Explained

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.

YLT: let no one despise thy youth, but a pattern become thou of those believing in word, in behaviour, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity;

Darby: Let no one despise thy youth, but be a model of the believers, in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

ASV: Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity.

What does 1 Timothy 4:12 Mean?

Verse Meaning

The Greek word translated "youthfulness" described people up to40 years of age. [1] As a comparatively young man Timothy may have felt reluctant to instruct the elders in the Ephesian congregation, who were probably older than he. [2] Most people regarded older people with great respect in his culture. Paul promised that no one in the church would discredit his teaching ministry if he backed it up with a godly lifestyle. In his words as well as by his actions, by his love for people and his trust in God, and by his moral cleanness he should provide an example of godliness. Purity includes sexual purity and integrity of heart.
"It is the first duty of a minister to display in his own life that which he wishes his people to be." [3]

Context Summary

1 Timothy 4:9-16 - "take Heed To Thyself"
In all Christian service we must set our hope on the living God. Nothing counts apart from God. Prayer implies that all our gifts and efforts cover only a small part of our efficiency. There are infinite resources in God, which He is waiting to employ in human affairs, and of which we fail to make use. The Christian worker, therefore, must not only labor and strive, but must hope in the living God, whose saving grace is at the disposal of our faith. The faith exercised by the average man results in obtaining only natural things; the supernatural is secured by the faith of those who have made profounder discoveries of God, and can therefore make demands on His resources, which are hidden from the princes of this world.
In order to succeed, we must give ourselves wholly to our work for God. In answer to prayer great gifts had been communicated to Timothy, but he had to give heed to them, use them, and stir up the slumbering embers of the fire, kindled at his ordination. It is worthy of notice that the Apostle's injunctions do not include a single allusion to priestly or sacramental service, but urge to boldness of character, 1 Timothy 4:12; diligent study, 1 Timothy 4:13; rigorous orthodoxy, 1 Timothy 4:16; and the daily self-watch of the soul, 1 Timothy 4:16. Take to heart the blessed assurance of the closing sentence of the chapter. [source]

Chapter Summary: 1 Timothy 4

1  He foretells that in the latter times there shall be a departure from the faith
6  And to the end that Timothy might not fail in doing his duty, he furnishes him with various precepts

Greek Commentary for 1 Timothy 4:12

Despise [καταπρονειτω]
Imperative active third singular of καταπρονεω — kataphroneō old verb, to think down on, to despise (Romans 2:4). [source]
Thy youth [σου της νεοτητος]
Genitive case of old word (from νεος — neos) as in Mark 10:20. Be thou (γινου — ginou). Present middle imperative of γινομαι — ginomai “Keep on becoming thou.” An ensample Old word from τυπτω — tuptō a type. Pauline use of the word (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Philemon 3:17; Titus 2:7). To them that believe (των πιστων — tōn pistōn). Objective genitive. In word In conversation as well as in public speech. In manner of life (εν αναστροπηι — en anastrophēi). “In bearing” (Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 4:22). In purity Old word from αγνευω — hagneuō Sinlessness of life. Used of a Nazirite (Numbers 6:2, Numbers 6:21). Only here and 1 Timothy 5:2 in N.T. [source]
Be thou [γινου]
Present middle imperative of γινομαι — ginomai “Keep on becoming thou.” [source]
An ensample [τυπος]
Old word from τυπτω — tuptō a type. Pauline use of the word (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Philemon 3:17; Titus 2:7). To them that believe (των πιστων — tōn pistōn). Objective genitive. In word In conversation as well as in public speech. In manner of life (εν αναστροπηι — en anastrophēi). “In bearing” (Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 4:22). In purity Old word from αγνευω — hagneuō Sinlessness of life. Used of a Nazirite (Numbers 6:2, Numbers 6:21). Only here and 1 Timothy 5:2 in N.T. [source]
To them that believe [των πιστων]
Objective genitive. [source]
In word [εν λογωι]
In conversation as well as in public speech. In manner of life (εν αναστροπηι — en anastrophēi). “In bearing” (Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 4:22). In purity Old word from αγνευω — hagneuō Sinlessness of life. Used of a Nazirite (Numbers 6:2, Numbers 6:21). Only here and 1 Timothy 5:2 in N.T. [source]
In manner of life [εν αναστροπηι]
“In bearing” (Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 4:22). [source]
In purity [εν αγνειαι]
Old word from αγνευω — hagneuō Sinlessness of life. Used of a Nazirite (Numbers 6:2, Numbers 6:21). Only here and 1 Timothy 5:2 in N.T. [source]
Youth [νεότητος]
oP. See Luke 18:21. Acts 26:4. See Introduction, VII. Timothy was probably from 38 to 40 years old at this time. [source]
In word [ἐν λόγῳ]
Including teaching and verbal intercourse of every kind. [source]
Conversation [ἀναστροφῇ]
Comp. Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 4:22; James 3:13. A favorite word with Peter. See on 1 Peter 1:15. [source]
In spirit []
Omit. [source]
Purity [ἁγνίᾳ]
Only here and 1 Timothy 5:2. Ἁγνός pure 1 Timothy 5:22; Titus 2:5. In Paul, 2 Corinthians 8:11; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Philemon 4:8. Also in James, Peter, and 1John. Ἁγνότης purity 2 Corinthians 6:6; 2 Corinthians 11:3. olxx, oClass. Ἁγνός always with a moral sense; not limited to sins of the flesh, but covering purity in motives as well as in acts. In 1 John 3:3, of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, of virgin purity. In James 3:17, as a characteristic of heavenly wisdom. Ἁγνῶς purely(Philemon 1:17), of preaching the gospel with unmixed motives. The verb ἁγνίζειν topurify, which in lxx is used only of ceremonial purification, has that meaning in four of the seven instances in N.T. (John 11:55; Acts 21:24, Acts 21:26; Acts 24:18). In the others (James 4:8; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:3) it is used of purifying the heart and soul. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for 1 Timothy 4:12

John 20:25 We have seen the Lord [εωρακαμεν τον κυριον]
The very language in the plural that Mary Magdalene had used (John 20:18) when no one believed her. Except I shall see Negative condition of third class with εαν — ean and second aorist active subjunctive and so as to βαλω — balō (from βαλλω — ballō) “and put.” The print The mark or stamp made by the nails, here the original idea. Various terms as in Acts 7:44; 1 Timothy 4:12. Finally our “type” as in Romans 5:14. Clearly the disciples had told Thomas that they had seen the τυπον — tupon of the nails in his hands and the spear in his side. I will not believe Strong refusal with ου μη — ou mē (doubtful negative) and first aorist active subjunctive (or future indicative). [source]
Acts 16:1 Timothy [Τιμοτεος]
Apparently a native of Lystra (“there,” εκει — ekei), his Hebrew mother named Eunice and grandmother Lois (2 Timothy 1:5) and his Greek father‘s name not known. He may have been a proselyte, but not necessarily so as Timothy was taught the Scriptures by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 3:15), and, if a proselyte, he would have had Timothy circumcised. It is idle to ask if Paul came on purpose to get Timothy to take Mark‘s place. Probably Timothy was about eighteen years of age, a convert of Paul‘s former visit a few years before (1 Timothy 1:2) and still young twelve years later (1 Timothy 4:12). Paul loved him devotedly (1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 5:23; 2 Timothy 3:15; Philemon 2:19.). It is a glorious discovery to find a real young preacher for Christ‘s work. [source]
Romans 2:15 Written in their hearts [γραπτον εν ταις καρδιαις αυτων]
Verbal adjective of γραπω — graphō to write. When their conduct corresponds on any point with the Mosaic law they practise the unwritten law in their hearts. Their conscience bearing witness therewith (συνμαρτυρουσης αυτων της συνειδησεως — sunmarturousēs autōn tēs suneidēseōs). On conscience (συνειδησις — suneidēsis) see note on 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 10:25.; 2 Corinthians 1:12. Genitive absolute here with present active participle συνμαρτυρουσης — sunmarturousēs as in Romans 9:1. The word συνειδησις — suneidēsis means Corinthians-knowledge by the side of the original consciousness of the act. This second knowledge is personified as confronting the first (Sanday and Headlam). The Stoics used the word a great deal and Paul has it twenty times. It is not in the O.T., but first in this sense in Wisdom 17:10. All men have this faculty of passing judgment on their actions. It can be over-scrupulous (1 Corinthians 10:25) or “seared” by abuse (1 Timothy 4:12). It acts according to the light it has. Their thoughts one with another accusing or also excusing them Genitive absolute again showing the alternative action of the conscience, now accusing, now excusing. Paul does not say that a heathen‘s conscience always commends everything that he thinks, says, or does. In order for one to be set right with God by his own life he must always act in accord with his conscience and never have its disapproval. That, of course, is impossible else Christ died for naught (Galatians 2:21). Jesus alone lived a sinless life. For one to be saved without Christ he must also live a sinless life. [source]
Romans 2:15 Their conscience bearing witness therewith [συνμαρτυρουσης αυτων της συνειδησεως]
On conscience The Stoics used the word a great deal and Paul has it twenty times. It is not in the O.T., but first in this sense in Wisdom 17:10. All men have this faculty of passing judgment on their actions. It can be over-scrupulous (1 Corinthians 10:25) or “seared” by abuse (1 Timothy 4:12). It acts according to the light it has. [source]
1 Corinthians 10:6 Examples [τύποι]
See on 1 Peter 5:3. The word may mean either an example, as 1 Timothy 4:12, or a type of a fact or of a spiritual truth. Hebrews 9:24; Romans 5:14. [source]
1 Corinthians 10:6 Were our examples [τυποι ημων εγενητησαν]
More exactly, examples for us (objective genitive ημων — hēmōn not subjective genitive, of us). The word τυποι — tupoi (our types) comes from τυπτω — tuptō to strike, and meant originally the mark of a blow as the print of the nails (John 20:25), then a figure formed by a blow like images of the gods (Acts 7:43), then an example to be imitated (1 Peter 5:3; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9), or to be avoided as here, and finally a type in a doctrinal sense (Romans 5:14; Hebrews 9:24). [source]
1 Timothy 3:9 In a pure conscience [ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει]
Comp. 2 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:5, 19. Const. with holding. The emphasis of the passage is on these words. They express conscientious purity and sincerity in contrast with those who are described as branded in their own conscience, and thus causing their followers to fall away from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1, 1 Timothy 4:2). The passage illustrates the peculiar treatment of “faith” in these Epistles, in emphasizing its ethical aspect and its ethical environment. This is not contrary to Paul's teaching, nor does it go to the extent of substituting morals for faith as the condition of salvation and eternal life. See 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:1; Titus 3:5. Nonetheless, there is a strong and habitual emphasis on good works (see 1 Timothy 2:10; 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Timothy 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 1:16; Titus 2:7, Titus 2:14; Titus 3:1, Titus 3:8, Titus 3:14), and faith is placed in a series of practical duties (see 1 Timothy 1:5, 1 Timothy 1:14; 1 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 2:7; 1 Timothy 3:9; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22; 2 Timothy 3:10). “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience” is a significant association of faith with ethics. As Weiss puts it: “It is as if the pure conscience were the vessel in which the mystery of the faith is preserved.” The idea is sound and valuable. A merely intellectual attitude toward the mystery which, in every age, attaches to the faith, will result in doubt, questioning, and wordy strife (see 1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9), sometimes in moral laxity, sometimes in despair. Loyalty and duty to God are compatible with more or less ignorance concerning the mystery. An intellect, however powerful and active, joined with an impure conscience, cannot solve but only aggravates the mystery; whereas a pure and loyal conscience, and a frank acceptance of imposed duty along with mystery, puts one in the best attitude for attaining whatever solution is possible. See John 7:17. [source]
1 Timothy 1:10 The sound doctrine [τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ διδασκαλίᾳ]
A phrase peculiar to the Pastorals. Ὑγιαίνειν tobe in good health, Luke 5:31; Luke 7:10; 3 John 1:2. oP. Quite frequent in lxx, and invariably in the literal sense. Often in salutations or dismissals. See 9:19; 2Samuel href="/desk/?q=2sa+14:8&sr=1">2 Samuel 14:8; Exodus 4:18. In the Pastorals, the verb, which occurs eight times, is six times associated with διδασκαλία teachingor λόγοι wordsand twice with ἐν τῇ πίστει or τῇ πίστει inthe faith. The sound teaching (comp. διδαχή teaching 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9) which is thus commended is Paul's, who teaches in Christ's name and by his authority (2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Timothy 2:8). In all the three letters it is called ἀλη.θεια or ἡ ἀλήθεια thetruth, the knowledge ( ἐπίγνωσις ) of which is bound up with salvation. See 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25; 2 Timothy 3:7; Titus 1:1. As truth it is sound or healthful. It is the object of faith. To be sound in the faith is, practically, to follow ( παρακολουθεῖν ) sound teaching or the truth. The subjective characteristic of Christians is εὐσέβεια or θεοσέβεια godlinessor piety (1 Timothy 2:2, 1 Timothy 2:10; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:7, 1 Timothy 4:8; 1 Timothy 6:6, 1 Timothy 6:11); and the teaching and knowledge of the truth are represented as κατ ' εὐσέβειαν accordingto godliness (1 Timothy 6:3; Titus 1:1). Comp. εὐσεβεῖν toshow piety, 1 Timothy 5:4. εὐσεβῶς ζῇν to live godly, 2 Timothy 3:12; Titus 2:12; and βίον διάγειν ἐν πάσῃ εὐσεβείᾳ tolead a life in all godliness, 1 Timothy 2:2. The contents of this sound teaching which is according to godliness are not theoretical or dogmatic truth, but Christian ethics, with faith and love. See 1 Timothy 1:14; 1 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:12; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 3:10; Titus 2:2. Ἁλήθεια truthis used of moral things, rather than in the high religious sense of Paul. Comp., for instance, Romans 3:7; Romans 9:1; 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Corinthians 11:10; Galatians 2:5; Ephesians 4:21, Ephesians 4:24; and 2 Timothy 2:25, 2 Timothy 2:26; 2 Timothy 3:7(comp. 2 Timothy 3:1-9); 2 Timothy 4:3, 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:12(comp. Titus 1:11, Titus 1:15); Titus 2:4(comp. Titus 2:1, Titus 2:3); Titus 3:1. Whoever grasps the truth has faith (2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 2:18; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:3f.). That the ethical character of faith is emphasized, appears from the numerous expressions regarding the false teachers, as 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Timothy 5:8, 1 Timothy 5:12; 1 Timothy 6:10, 1 Timothy 6:21. There is a tendency to objectify faith, regarding it as something believed rather than as the act of believing. See 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Timothy 6:10, 1 Timothy 6:21; Titus 1:4. In comparing the ideal of righteousness (1 Timothy 1:9) with that of Paul, note that it is not denied that Christ is the source of true righteousness; but according to Paul, the man who is not under the law is the man who lives by faith in Christ. Paul emphasizes this. It is faith in Christ which sets one free from the law. Here, the man for whom the law is not made (1 Timothy 1:9) is the man who is ethically conformed to the norm of sound teaching. The two conceptions do not exclude each other: the sound teaching is according to the gospel (1 Timothy 1:11), but the point of emphasis is shifted.| [source]
1 Timothy 5:2 The younger as sisters, in all purity [νεωτερας ως αδελπας εν πασηι αγνιαι]
Anarthrous also and comparative form as in 1 Timothy 5:1. See note on 1 Timothy 4:12 for αγνια — hagnia No sort of behavior will so easily make or mar the young preacher as his conduct with young women. [source]
1 Timothy 6:2 Let not despise them [μη καταπρονειτωσαν]
Negative imperative active third plural of καταπρονεω — kataphroneō to think down on. See note on 1 Timothy 4:12. He must not presume on the equality of Christian brotherhood not allowed by the state‘s laws. Some of these Christian slaves might be pastors of churches to which the master belonged. For the difficulty of the Christian master‘s position, see note on 1 Corinthians 7:22; Philemon 1:16. [source]
1 Timothy 4:15 Give thyself wholly to them [εν τουτοις ιστι]
Present imperative second person singular of ειμι — eimi “keep on in these things.” Note five uses of εν — en in 1 Timothy 4:12 and three datives in 1 Timothy 4:14. Plutarch (Pomp. 656 B) says Caesar was εν τουτοις — en toutois (“in these things”). It is like our “up to his ears” in work Koiné{[28928]}š word from προκοπτω — prokoptō to cut forward, to blaze the way, in N.T. only here and Philemon 1:12, Philemon 1:25. Paul‘s concern (purpose, ινα — hina and present subjunctive ηι — ēi of ειμι — eimi) is that Timothy‘s “progress” may be “manifest to all.” It is inspiring to see a young preacher grow for then the church will grow with him. [source]
Titus 2:15 Let no man despise thee [μηδεις σου περιπρονειτω]
Present active imperative in prohibition of περιπρονεω — periphroneō old verb, only here in N.T., to think around (on all sides). Literally, “let no man think around thee” (and so despise thee). In 1 Timothy 4:12 it is καταπρονειτω — kataphroneitō (think down on), a stronger word of scorn, but this one implies the possibility of one making mental circles around one and so “out-thinking” him. The best way for the modern minister to command respect for his “authority” is to do thinking that will deserve it. [source]
Titus 2:14 Despise [περιφρονείτω]
N.T.oOccasionally in Class. From περὶ beyond φρονεῖν tobe minded. To set one's self in thought beyond; hence; contemn, despise. Comp. 1 Timothy 4:12. The exhortation is connected with authority. Titus is to claim respect for his office and for himself as bearing it. [source]
1 John 2:9 His brother [τὸν ἀδελφόν]
His fellow-Christian. The singular, brother, is characteristic of this Epistle. See 1 John 2:10, 1 John 2:11; 1 John 3:10, 1 John 3:15, 1 John 3:17; 1 John 4:20, 1 John 4:21; 1 John 5:16. Christians are called in the New Testament, Christians (Acts 11:26; Acts 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16), mainly by those outside of the Christian circle. Disciples, applied to all followers of Christ (John 2:11; John 6:61) and strictly to the twelve (John 13:5sqq.). In Acts 19:1, to those who had received only John's baptism. Not found in John's Epistles nor in Revelation. Brethren. The first title given to the body of believers after the Ascension (Acts 1:15, where the true reading is ἀδελφῶν brethrenfor μαθητῶν disciples). See Acts 9:30; Acts 10:23; Acts 11:29; 1 Thessalonians 4:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 John 3:14; 3 John 1:5, 3 John 1:10; John 21:23. Peter has ἡ ἀδελφότης thebrotherhood (1 Peter 2:17; 1 Peter 5:9). The believers. Under three forms: The believers ( οἱ πιστοί ; Acts 10:45; 1 Timothy 4:12); they that believe ( οἱ πιστεύοντες ; 1 Peter 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; Ephesians 1:19); they that believed ( οἱ πιστεύσαντες ; Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32; Hebrews 4:3). The saints ( οἱ ἅγιοι ); characteristic of Paul and Revelation. Four times in the Acts (Acts 9:13, Acts 9:32, Acts 9:41; Acts 26:10), and once in Jude (Judges 1:3). Also Hebrews 6:10; Hebrews 13:24. In Paul, 1 Corinthians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 14:33; Ephesians 1:1, Ephesians 1:15, etc. In Revelation 5:8; Revelation 8:3, Revelation 8:4; Revelation 11:18, etc.|Until now ( ἕως ἄρτι )|Though the light has been increasing, and though he may claim that he has been in the light from the first. The phrase occurs in John 2:10; John 5:17; John 16:24; and is used by Paul, 1 Corinthians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 8:7; 1 Corinthians 15:6.| [source]

What do the individual words in 1 Timothy 4:12 mean?

No one your - youth let despise but a pattern be for the believers in speech conduct love faith purity
Μηδείς σου τῆς νεότητος καταφρονείτω ἀλλὰ τύπος γίνου τῶν πιστῶν ἐν λόγῳ ἀναστροφῇ ἀγάπῃ πίστει ἁγνείᾳ

Μηδείς  No  one 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: μηδείς 
Sense: nobody, no one, nothing.
σου  your 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 2nd Person Singular
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.
τῆς  - 
Parse: Article, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
νεότητος  youth 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: νεότης  
Sense: youth, youthful age.
καταφρονείτω  let  despise 
Parse: Verb, Present Imperative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: καταφρονέω  
Sense: to contemn, despise, disdain, think little or nothing of.
τύπος  a  pattern 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: τυπικῶς 
Sense: the mark of a stroke or blow, print.
τῶν  for  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
πιστῶν  believers 
Parse: Adjective, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: πιστός  
Sense: trusty, faithful.
λόγῳ  speech 
Parse: Noun, Dative Masculine Singular
Root: λόγος  
Sense: of speech.
ἀναστροφῇ  conduct 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀναστροφή  
Sense: manner of life, conduct, behaviour, deportment.
ἀγάπῃ  love 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: ἀγάπη  
Sense: brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.
πίστει  faith 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: πίστις  
Sense: conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it.
ἁγνείᾳ  purity 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Singular
Root: ἁγνεία  
Sense: purity, sinlessness of life.