A PRESCRIPTION FOR
(1Ti 6:2; 2Ti 4:2; Titus 2:15; 3:8)
What is Timothy to
do? To prescribe and teach the truths about godliness, which stand in
marked contrast both to the unscriptural prohibitions and practices of
asceticism mentioned in the early part of 1Timothy 4 and the the
“old wives’ tales”.
from para = side + aggello =announce,
tell, declare) is literally to hand on an announcement from one to the
side of another or to pass along a message from one to another. It is easy
to under how it evolved to be used especially for the order given by a
military commander and passed along the line by his subordinates. It
demands obedience from an inferior to the order passed on from the
superior. It is a call to obedience by one in authority. It is like giving
a mandate, which is an authoritative command. It means to charge by way of
proclaiming. It means to to request with a command or charge implied. It
designates a command the execution of which is virtually taken for
refers to the action of directing a person or group of persons with
authority, in the sense of instructing, commanding. In other words a
person in authority is commanding or giving instructions. When preceded by
the negative (me) it meant to "forbid".
paraggello means to make an announcement about something that must be
done - give an order, a charge, a command or an instruction.
was used in the military indicating an order from an officer to those
under his command, with the implication that order called for unhesitating
and unqualified obedience. Soldiers were bound to obey the command of
was used in secular Greek as a legal term, as for example an official
court summons, the equivalent of a modern subpoena, which to disregard
made a person liable to severe punishment and bound by the court’s orders
was used in medicine to describe the doctor’s prescription or instruction
to the patient. The patient was bound to follow the doctor’s instruction
if he wanted to get well!
It is notable that
every use of paraggello included the idea of binding a person to
make the proper response to an instruction. Thus the soldier was bound to
obey the orders of his superior. A person involved in a legal matter was
bound by the court’s orders. A patient was bound to follow his doctor’s
understanding, one can began to better appreciate Paul's concentrated use
of paraggello in his first epistle to Timothy who apparently was pastor of
the church at Ephesus.
writes that paraggello is...
A strong word, often of military
orders. Aristotle uses it of a physician: to prescribe...Originally to
pass on or transmit; hence, as a military term, of passing a watchword or
command; and so generally to command.
(command) and teach are in the
In other words, Paul is saying that the things just taught in 1Ti 4:6-10
are to be regularly prescribed and taught to those under Timothy.
used in the NAS 30 times (Matt 10:5; 15:35; Mark 6:8; 8:6; 16:8;
Luke 5:14; 8:29, 56; 9:21; Acts 1:4; 4:18; 5:28, 40; 10:42; 15:5; 16:18,
23; 17:30; 23:22, 30; 1Cor 7:10; 11:17; 1Thess 4:11; 2Thess 3:4, 6, 10,
12; 1Tim 1:3; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17)
and in the
15 times for military orders, for summons to an assembly, for official
proclamations (Josh 6:7; 1 Sam 10:17; 15:4; 23:8; 1 Ki 12:6; 15:22;
2 Chr 36:22; Ezra 1:1; Jer 46:14; 50:29; 51:27; Dan 2:18; 3:4).
translates paraggello as: Prescribe, 2; charge, 1; command, 4;
commanded, 4; commanding, 1; direct, 1; directed, 2; gave, 1; give
instructions, 1; give...order, 1; giving...instruction, 1; instruct, 2;
instructed, 3; instructing, 3; ordered, 3.
paraggello to direct a leper (Luke 5:14), to command an evil spirit
(Luke 8:29), to order Jairus and his wife (Luke 8:56), and to charge
His disciples (Luke 9:21). The officers of the Sanhedrim used the term
when they commanded Peter and John “not to speak or teach at all in the
name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18), as did some of the believing Pharisees in
Jerusalem who insisted that it was necessary “to direct (Christians) to
observe the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). Paul used the term frequently of
his own commands as an apostle (1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:4, 6,
The Greek noun
and its corresponding verb paraggello appear six times in the book
of 1Timothy, translated as either “Charge” or “commandment.”
1Ti 1:3 As I urged you upon my
departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may
instruct (command -
paraggelia) certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
things (especially the "regulations" regarding widows and their families)
as well, so that they may be above reproach.
1Ti 6:13 I charge (paraggelia)
you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ
Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate
imperative) those who
are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on
the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all
things to enjoy.
In addition to the
verb, Paul also uses the noun form, paraggelia, writing...
1Ti 1:5 But the goal of our
instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a
1Ti 1:18 This command I entrust
to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made
concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight
tauta kai didaske. (2SPAM):
[word study]) means to hold discourse with others in order to instruct
them. To deliver didactic discourse. To instruct or tell someone
what to do. To provide instruction in a formal or informal setting with
the highest possible development of the pupil as the goal. In secular
Greek didasko had little religious use, and conveyed a strong intellectual
and authoritative bearing.
to teach a student in such a way that the will of the student becomes
conformed to the teaching taught. So the teacher teaches in such a way
that as the student is taught, he now changes his mind saying in essence
''I won't do it this way, but I will do it this way bc I've learned this
doctrine or this teaching.'' Doctrine determines direction of our
behavior, conformed to world or to God?
As noted above teach
is in the the
which is a command calling for this to be young Timothy's persistent
pattern of pastoring! And remember dear preacher or teacher of the Word of
Truth and Life, what God commands, He also enables. We need to relinquish
self reliance and to continually rely on and avail ourselves of the
Spirit's enabling power in teaching just as Jesus instructed for
witnessing when He declared to His little flock of followers...
you shall receive power (dunamis
= ability to accomplish the task, in context supernatural ability) when
the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in
Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of
the earth. (Acts 1:8, cp Zech 4:6)
in 91v - Mt 4:23; 5:2, 19; 7:29; 9:35; 11:1; 13:54; 15:9; 21:23; 22:16;
26:55; 28:15, 20; Mark 1:21f; 2:13; 4:1f; 6:2, 6, 30, 34; 7:7; 8:31; 9:31;
10:1; 11:17; 12:14, 35; 14:49; Luke 4:15, 31; 5:3, 17; 6:6; 11:1; 12:12;
13:10, 22, 26; 19:47; 20:1, 21; 21:37; 23:5; John 6:59; 7:14, 28, 35; 8:2,
20, 28; 9:34; 14:26; 18:20; Acts 1:1; 4:2, 18; 5:21, 25, 28, 42; 11:26;
15:1, 35; 18:11, 25; 20:20; 21:21, 28; 28:31; Rom 2:21; 12:7; 1 Cor 4:17;
11:14; Gal 1:12; Eph 4:21; Col 1:28; 2:7; 3:16; 2 Thess 2:15; 1 Tim 2:12;
4:11; 6:2; 2 Tim 2:2; Titus 1:11; Heb 5:12; 8:11; 1 John 2:27; Rev 2:14,
20. NAS = instructed(2), preaches(1), taught(13), teach(33), teaches(5),
(tauta) means "this", which serves as a reference to the
thing (or person) which is
comparatively near at hand in the discourse.
encounter phrases like "these things", pause and ponder, taking
time to interrogate the text (See
interrogate with the 5W/H'S).
For example, one can always ask the simple question "What
things?" Then observe
for the answer, which is
usually relatively easy to discern. As you carry out this simple practice
inductive Bible study,
you are in effect learning the spiritually profitable discipline (See Ps
on the Scriptures.
In this discourse "these
things" refers to the "things" he has just taught Timothy about
the great present and eternal profit of godliness. Implicit in Paul's "orders" are the ideas for Timothy to make
sure he presents the truth clearly. Make sure it's the pure word you heard
from the Commander. Make sure you give it out to those under your charge.
In a military battle the lives of soldiers are at stake and depend on the
training and insight of their commander. Believers are no less in a war,
and even worse our enemy is often not visible! Our Commander has given
orders which ultimately will result in victory. We need to carefully read
and heed the prescription for victory.
Cole (his sermons are highly recommended) has the following message...
As I watched the 10K runners in the
recent Olympics, I sat on my couch thinking, “It sure would be fun to run
like those guys do!” And then, to my surprise, an ad came on where the
announcer asked, “Would you like to run like these athletes do? This
miraculous, proven new pill will enable you to run like a champion! Just
take one pill daily and within 30 days, you will run the 10 K in under 30
minutes. Only $50 for 30 pills!” If I were dumb enough to fall for such an
ad, I would deserve to lose my $50! We all know that there is no
effortless, easy way to becoming a champion runner. To make the Olympics,
those runners have spent countless hours disciplining themselves for the
goal of winning the gold. Any promise of some miraculous way to do what
they do apart from years of training and hard work would clearly be bogus.
Yet as Christians we fall prey to
hucksters who pitch their spiritual snake-oil, guaranteed to solve all our
problems: “Attend this conference and your life will be forever changed.”
We attend and come away on a spiritual high that lasts for a while, but
the glow wears off. “Have this spiritual experience and you will live on a
new spiritual high.” We try it for a while, but then disillusionment sets
in. Read this book, or try this method, and you will never struggle again.
But none of these panaceas deliver what they claim. What’s our problem?
We’re looking for an easy, quick way to get where we can only go by
disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness. We’re shopping
for an effortless way to get what the Bible clearly states comes only
through hard work and struggle. There is no way to godliness except
through discipline. In my 24 years of pastoral experience, I have
found that, more than any other quality, self-discipline will have the
greatest influence on whether you do well spiritually or not. Invariably,
defeated Christians are undisciplined Christians.
I know, you didn’t want to hear that!
We live in a society that offers a quick fix to every problem. Whether
it’s “a miraculous new program to lose weight,” or “a proven, effortless
way to learn a foreign language,” we’re suckers. We’ll pay hard-earned
cash for the promise of easy answers to tough problems. But mark it well:
You will not make it spiritually if you do not become disciplined.
That’s the message Paul is giving to
his younger co-worker, Timothy, in 1 Timothy 4:6-10. Maybe you’re
thinking, “I’d like to be disciplined, but I try for a while and then fall
back to my old ways. What’s the key to becoming disciplined?” The key to
discipline is motivation. Why do those Olympic athletes drive themselves
relentlessly for years? They’re motivated to win a gold medal. The late
Dallas Cowboys coach, Tom Landry, put it, “The job of a football coach is
to make men do what they don’t want to do in order to achieve what they’ve
always wanted to be” (cited by Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for
the Christian Life [NavPress], p. 18). The key to being a disciplined
Christian is to be a motivated Christian.
What is it that should motivate us to
discipline ourselves for godliness? It’s that eternal issues are at stake.
Because eternal issues are at stake, we must discipline ourselves for the
purpose of godliness. 1. Eternal issues are at stake. Souls live forever.
Eternity is the issue. Nothing could be more important! Paul mentions
three eternal issues that will motivate us to discipline ourselves for
A. The fact of eternity itself should
motivate us to discipline ourselves for godliness (1Ti 4:8).
Paul is not despising bodily exercise.
Rather, he is making a comparison between bodily exercise and spiritual
exercise. It’s fine to discipline your physical body; it will help you for
a few years. But it’s far better to discipline yourself spiritually,
because it will put you in good stead not only in this life, but also in
the life to come. This means that we ought to work much harder at
than we do at our games! Do you?
The great evangelist, George Whitefield, once told of seeing some
criminals riding in a cart on their way to the gallows. They were arguing
like a bunch of kids going on a trip about who should sit on the right
hand of the cart. Here were men condemned to die in a few hours, but their
focus was on who got the best seat on the way to the execution!
But isn’t that exactly like everyone
who is living for this life rather than for eternity? You see people in
our beauty-obsessed culture who are health nuts. They eat all the proper
foods. They take vitamins and minerals. They work out to keep in shape.
But the fact is, they’re going to die. All their efforts may extend their
lives a few years, if they don’t get cancer or die in a car crash or some
other way. But they’re foolish because they’re living as if this life is
all there is and as if they can extend their lives indefinitely.
One of the reasons we’re so spiritually
flabby is that we’re caught up with the temporal. We tend to think that we
and others will live forever. But we won’t. The Puritan preacher, Richard
Baxter, used to say,
“I preach as though I might never
preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”
The Bible is clear that as members of
the fallen human race, we’re all in that cart, on the way to the gallows.
We’d better be preparing for what lies beyond. Because eternity is a fact,
we should discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness.
B. The fact of the living God should
motivate us to discipline ourselves for godliness (1Ti 4:10).
“We have fixed our hope on the
That is, God is real. He is the God
who is there, to use Francis Schaeffer’s term. He is not the
projection of our minds. He created the universe and all that is in it.
Because He is the living God, we can live each day in communion with Him.
If that’s not true, we’re wasting our time. If there is no eternity with
the living God, then eat, drink, and be merry, because tomorrow you die
(1Co 15:32). But if it’s true that God is living, and we have fixed our
hope on Him, then it should motivate us to discipline ourselves for
C. The fact of salvation should
motivate us to discipline ourselves for godliness (1Ti 4:10).
“God is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”
What does Paul mean? He does not mean
that all people will be saved. If that were so, then why did Paul pour out
his life for the gospel? Paul clearly taught that Christ is returning to
take His people to be with Him, but also to mete out judgment to those who
have not obeyed the gospel (2Th 1:8, 9). Not all will be saved.
There are two main interpretations.
Some say that Paul is using the word “Savior” in a general sense
with regard to the world, in that God gives protection and provision even
to the wicked. But in a special sense He is the Savior of believers, since
He not only gives them temporal blessings, but eternal deliverance from
His judgment. The problem with this view is that it forces on the word
Savior an unusual meaning that does not fit the context.
A better view is that Paul is
countering the false teachers, who said that salvation is an exclusive
thing for those in the inner circle who had secret “knowledge.” Paul is
saying, “No, God wants to save all types of people in every place, from
every walk of life. He has made salvation available for all, but it is
only applied to those who believe in Christ.” The point is, apart from
Christ people are alienated from God, on their way to eternal judgment.
But God will save all who will believe. Since we’re called to proclaim
that good news, the fact of God’s salvation should motivate us to
discipline ourselves for godliness.
So these eternal issues—the fact of
eternity itself; the fact of the living God; and, the fact of
salvation—should motivate us for the hardship of discipline unto
godliness. Then comes the work:
2. We must discipline ourselves for
What is discipline? First I’ll sketch
what it is. Then I’ll show how to implement it.
A. What discipline is:
1) Discipline is an ongoing process,
not a quick fix.
The present imperative verb points to a
process. This means that you can never say, “I’ve arrived!” It’s like
staying in shape physically: You can do it for 25 years, but the day you
quit you start getting flabby. You’ve got to keep at it. So, no matter
where you’re at spiritually, 1Ti 4:7 applies to you. It’s a lifetime
2) Discipline involves hard work.
“We labor and strive.” Strive
is a word used of wrestlers in an athletic contest, giving every ounce of
strength to defeat their opponent. This means that discipline doesn’t come
naturally! It’s not a spiritual gift.
By definition, discipline means acting
against your feelings because you have a higher goal. We’re being
encouraged in our day to live by our feelings. If we violate our feelings,
we might do some sort of psychological damage! But if you’re disciplined,
even though you feel like that piece of chocolate cake, since your goal is
to lose weight, you deny your feelings. Or, you feel like sacking in; but
your goal is to be godly, so you roll out of bed, grab your Bible, and
spend time with the Lord. It’s not easy and it doesn’t always feel good at
Discipline is something in which
both God and you must be involved. “Self-control” is a fruit of the Spirit
(Gal. 5:23- note).
That is, when the Spirit of God controls you, He gives you the ability to
control yourself. Thus God does it, and yet Paul can tell Timothy,
“Discipline yourself.” You have responsibility in the process. The bottom
line is, “Are you willing to
pay the price?” If athletes
put themselves through years of hard work and training to get a silly gold
medal, shouldn’t we be willing to pay the price to be godly?
3) Discipline means discarding
Paul tells Timothy to “have nothing to
do with worldly fables fit only for old women” (1Ti 4:7). Some translate
it “old wives’ tales.” It refers to the stories an old woman might pass on
to her grandchildren.
Paul was ridiculing the “endless myths
and genealogies” of the false teachers (1Ti 1:4). These things may have
been interesting, but they did not contribute toward godliness. The Greek
word for “discipline” is gymnazo, from which we get “gymnasium.” It came
from a word meaning “naked,” because the Greek athletes would strip off
their clothing so as not to be hindered from their purpose of winning
their event. The point is, if we’re going to train ourselves for
godliness, there are hindrances we have to strip off. We have to say no to
things that hinder us from our purpose. Of course that includes all sin;
but also it includes things that may be all right in and of themselves,
but they don’t help you grow toward godliness. It certainly means
controlling the TV set and the amount of time you play computer games!
4) Discipline means keeping your eyes
on the goal.
The goal is fairly clear: “godliness”
(in the Greek) has the nuance of “reverence for God.” It points to a
person who is growing in conformity to God in his character and daily life
because he has fixed his hope on God (1Ti 4:10). He takes God seriously
and recognizes the practical implications in terms of developing a godly
thought life, godly speech, and godly actions. The way we move toward that
goal is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb. 12:2-note)
so that we become more and more like Him, especially as we endure the
trials that God uses to make us more like Him.
5) Discipline means managing your time
in line with your goals.
This point is not directly in the text,
but it’s a logical necessity. An athlete works his schedule around his
goal. He says no to many good activities so that he can say yes to his
daily workout. Annie Dillard has said the obvious,
“How we spend our days is, of course,
how we spend our lives” (Reader’s Digest, [7/92], p. 137).
And how we spend our minutes and hours
is how we spend our days. The goal of godliness demands that you spend
time each day alone with God in His Word and prayer. It’s not a question
of having a schedule. You have one! We all have the same number of hours
in our day. We all make time to do what we want to do.
The question is, Is your schedule in
line with your goal of becoming a godly person?
6) Discipline is not opposed to the
grace of God.
Many people resist discipline by
saying, “That’s legalistic!” It can become legalistic if your motive is
wrong. But if your motive is to love and please the God who gave His Son
for you, it’s not legalistic. Grace doesn’t mean sloppy living (1Cor.
Although discipline sounds restrictive,
it is the only way to true freedom. Someone who has disciplined himself to
play the piano or to speak a foreign language is free to do things that I
am restricted from doing. In the verses just prior to this, Paul talks
about enjoying God and then moves on to talk about discipline. They go
hand in hand. The disciplined Christian enjoys God in ways the
undisciplined person cannot.
7) Discipline is not driving
Some people get obsessed with
discipline to the point that they can’t relax or enjoy time off. We need
the balance of Scripture, which teaches that God rested after His labor,
and so should we. He made our bodies to require sleep. We’re not good
stewards if we drive ourselves until we burn out, either physically or
Often our problem is that we mess
around when we’re supposed to be working, so we feel guilty when we try to
relax. A disciplined Christian will work hard when he works and thankfully
take time for rest and recreation when it’s needed. As far as the Lord’s
work goes, it helps me to remember that God is the Savior of the world;
I’m not. By His grace, I can labor and strive for His purpose, but I can
also relax and not worry that somehow His purpose will flounder without
8) Discipline is not being so rigid
that you are insensitive to what God is doing.
This point also comes from the balance
of Scripture, not directly from our text. It’s good to be disciplined for
the purpose of godliness, but you can abuse that good goal by becoming so
rigid that you miss what God is doing. For example, if you’re having your
quiet time and an unsaved friend knocks on your door and wants to talk
about spiritual things, you would be too rigid to send him away so that
you can finish your quiet time. Jesus always did the Father’s will, but He
always had time for people who interrupted Him (Mark 5:21-43).
B. How we implement discipline:
1) By being constantly nourished in the
truths of the faith (1Ti 4:6).
The present tense verb means that we
must continually feed on God’s Word, or “sound doctrine.” Spiritual
warfare involves your mind, and your mind affects your morals. So it’s
crucial that you feed your mind on God’s Word through every means—by
hearing it preached; by reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on
it. God’s Word shows us what God is like and how He wants us to live.
There is no such thing as godliness
apart from constant nourishment from God’s Word of truth.
If you’re not a reader, learn! God saw
fit to record His truth in written form. Almost anyone can learn to read.
That may be a necessary step in disciplining yourself for godliness. Also,
get the Bible on tape and listen to it daily. If you don’t have a regular
time in the Word, set a realistic goal and stick with it. Start out with
15 minutes a day reading the Bible and 5-10 minutes in prayer. When you’re
consistent, you can increase the time. But you need spiritual nourishment
from the Word as much as you need to eat. Also, we implement spiritual
2) By being obedient to the truths of
the faith (1Ti 4:6).
“... which you have been following.”
We aren’t supposed to learn God’s Word
so that we can win doctrinal arguments. It should change our lives. So we
always should come to God’s Word with the prayer, “Lord, show me how this
applies to me, and enable me to obey it!” It may be a wrong attitude or
thought I need to change. Maybe my speech doesn’t honor God. I may need to
change my behavior. The Word often confronts my selfishness.
Remember, the goal of the Christian
life is not instant happiness and fulfillment. It is eternal joy in God,
and that comes through godliness and becoming a good servant of Christ
Jesus (1T 4:6). The way to lasting joy and fulfillment is discipline unto
godliness, which holds promise both for the present life and for the life
to come (1Ti 4:8).
Marla and I both had an Italian
sociology professor in college who used to say, “Class, whenever I feel
like exercising, I go and lie down for two hours until the feeling goes
away.” Many of us can identify with that! Exercise is discipline and
discipline is hard work, and who likes hard work? And yet, like it or not,
discipline is essential for godliness. And godliness is essential because
eternity is certain. There are no shortcuts, no easy, effortless ways to
godliness. But if you have fixed your hope on the living God who is the
Savior, can you do anything less than discipline yourself for the purpose
of godliness (FCF