Give attendance to reading - Timothy could easily comprehend the apostle's meaning; but at present this is not so easy. What books does the apostle mean? The books of the Old Testament were probably what he intended; these testified of Jesus, and by these he could either convince or confound the Jews. But, whether was the reading of these to be public or private? Probably both. It was customary to read the law and the prophets in the synagogue, and doubtless in the assemblies of the Christians; after which there was generally an exhortation founded upon the subject of the prophecy. Hence the apostle says: Give attendance to reading, to Exhortation, to Doctrine. Timothy was therefore to be diligent in reading the sacred writings at home, that he might be the better qualified to read and expound them in the public assemblies to the Christians, and to others who came to these public meetings.
As to other books, there were not many at that time that could be of much use to a Christian minister. In those days the great business of the preacher was to bring forward the grand facts of Christianity, to prove these, and to show that all had happened according to the prediction of the prophets; and from these to show the work of God in the heart, and the evidence of that work in a holy life.
At present the truth of God is not only to be proclaimed, but defended; and many customs or manners, and forms of speech, which are to us obsolete, must be explained from the writings of the ancients, and particularly from the works of those who lived about the same times, or nearest to them, and in the same or contiguous countries. This will require the knowledge of those languages in which those works have been composed, the chief of which are Hebrew and Greek, the languages in which the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments have been originally written.
Latin is certainly of the next consequence; a language in which some of the most early comments have been written; and it is worth the trouble of being learned, were it only for the sake of the works of St. Jerome, who translated and wrote a commentary on the whole of the Scriptures; though in many respects it is both erroneous and superficial.
Arabic and Syriac may be added with great advantage: the latter being in effect the language in which Christ and his apostles spoke and preached in Judea; and the former being radically the same with the Hebrew, and preserving many of the roots of that language, the derivatives of which often occur in the Hebrew Bible, but the roots never.
The works of various scholars prove of how much consequence even the writings of heathen authors, chiefly those of Greece and Italy, are to the illustration of the sacred writings. And he who is best acquainted with the sacred records will avail himself of such helps, with gratitude both to God and man. Though so many languages and so much reading are not absolutely necessary to form a minister of the Gospel, (for there are many eminent ministers who have not such advantages), yet they are helps of the first magnitude to those who have them and know how to use them.
Till I come; - notes, 1 Timothy 3:14-15.
Give attendance to reading - The word here used may refer either to public or to private reading; see Acts 13:15; 2 Corinthians 3:14; compare Esdr. 9:48. The more obvious interpretation here is to refer it to private reading, or to a careful perusal of those books which would qualify him for his public work. The then written portions of the sacred volume - the Old Testament - are doubtless specially intended here, but there is no reason to doubt that there were included also such other books as would be useful, to which Timothy might have access. Even those were then few in number, but Paul evidently meant that Timothy should, as far as practicable, become acquainted with them. The apostle himself, on more than one occasion, showed that he had some acquaintance with the classic writings of Greece; Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12.
To exhortation - see the notes on Romans 12:8.
To doctrine - To teaching - for so the word means; compare notes on Romans 12:7.
The Lord requires His servants to be energetic. It is not pleasing to Him to see them listless and indolent. They profess to have the evidence that God has especially selected them to teach the people the way to life; yet frequently their conversation is not profitable, and they show that they have not the burden of the work upon them. Their own souls are not energized by the mighty truths which they present to others. Some preach these truths, of such weighty importance, in so listless a manner that they cannot affect the people. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Men whom God has called must be trained to put forth effort, to work earnestly and with untiring zeal for Him, to pull souls out of the fire. When ministers feel the power of the truth in their own souls, thrilling their own being, then will they possess power to affect hearts, and show that they firmly believe the truths they preach to others. They should keep before the mind the worth of souls, and the matchless depths of a Saviour's love. This will awaken the soul so that with David they may say: “My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned.” 2T 504.1
Paul exhorted Timothy: “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. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” What a weight of importance is here attached to the Christian life of the minister of God! What a necessity for his faithful study of the word, that he himself may be sanctified by the truth and may be qualified to teach others. 2T 504.2
Brethren, you are required to exemplify the truth in your life. But those who think that they have a work to do to teach others the truth are not all converted, and sanctified by the truth. Some have erroneous ideas of what constitutes a Christian and of the means through which a firm religious experience is obtained; much less do they understand the qualifications that God requires His ministers to possess. These men are unsanctified. They have occasionally a flight of feeling, which gives them the impression that they are indeed children of God. This dependence upon impressions is one of the special deceptions of Satan. Those who are thus exercised make their religion a matter of circumstance. Firm principle is wanting. None are living Christians unless they have a daily experience in the things of God and daily practice self-denial, cheerfully bearing the cross and following Christ. Every living Christian will advance daily in the divine life. As he advances toward perfection, he experiences a conversion to God every day; and this conversion is not completed until he attains to perfection of Christian character, a full preparation for the finishing touch of immortality. 2T 505.1Read in context »
To those who handle sacred things comes the solemn injunction, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” [Isaiah 52:11.] Of all men, those who have been trusted and honored by the Lord, those who have been given special service to perform, should be circumspect in word and deed. They should be men of devotion, who, by works of righteousness and pure, true words, can lift their fellow-men to a higher level; men who are not unsettled by every passing temptation; men of firm, earnest purpose, whose highest aim is to gather souls to Christ. GW 124.1
Satan's special temptations are directed against the ministry. He knows that ministers are but human, possessing no grace or holiness of their own; that the treasures of the gospel have been placed in earthen vessels, which divine power alone can make vessels unto honor. He knows that God has ordained ministers to be a powerful means for the salvation of souls, and that they can be successful in their work only as they allow the eternal Father to rule their lives. Therefore he tries with all his ingenuity to lead them into sin, knowing that their office makes sin in them more exceeding sinful; for in committing sin, they make themselves ministers of evil. GW 124.2Read in context »
In order to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth, laborers must have a varied experience. This will be best acquired in extended labor in new fields, in different localities, where they will come in contact with all classes of people and all varieties of minds, and where various kinds of labor will be required to meet the wants of many and varied minds. This drives the true laborer to God and the Bible for light, strength, and knowledge, that he may be fully qualified to meet the wants of the people. He should heed the exhortation given to Timothy: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his Lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?” Wisdom is needed to discern the most appropriate subject for the occasion. 2T 642.1
Brother D has not been growing up into a successful workman. He has become dwarfed. His mind has been narrowed down, and his spiritual strength has been waning. He should now be a successful laborer, a thorough workman. Instead of giving himself wholly to the work, he has been serving tables. Paul exhorted Timothy: “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” 2T 642.2
Brother D is active and willing to do, willing to bear burdens that are not connected with his calling; and he has had his mind and time too much engrossed in temporal things. Some ministers maintain a certain dignity not in accordance with the life of Christ, and are unwilling to make themselves useful by engaging in physical labor, as occasion may require, to lighten the burdens of those whose hospitalities they share, and to relieve them of care. Physical exercise would prove a blessing to them, rather than an injury. In helping others they would advantage themselves. But some go to the other extreme. When their time and strength are all required in the work and cause of God, they are willing to engage in labor and become servants of all, even in temporal things; and they really rob God of the service He requires of them. Thus trivial matters take up precious time which should be devoted to the interests of God's cause. 2T 643.1Read in context »
There are many in Iowa who are tearing down rather than building up, casting unbelief and darkness rather than light; and the cause of God is languishing when it should be flourishing. Ministers should dare to be true. Paul wrote to Timothy: “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.” “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” The word and will of God are expressed in the Scriptures by inspired penmen. We should bind them as frontlets between our eyes and walk according to their precepts; then we shall walk safely. Every chapter and every verse is a communication of God to man. In studying the word, the soul that hungers and thirsts for righteousness will be impressed by the divine utterances. Skepticism can have no power over a soul that with humility searches the Scriptures. 4T 449.1Read in context »
The days will come when the righteous will be stirred to zeal for God because of the abounding iniquity. None but divine power can stay the arrogance of Satan united with evil men; but in the hour of the church's greatest danger most fervent prayer will be offered in her behalf by the faithful remnant, and God will hear and answer at the very time when the guilt of the transgressor has reached its height. He will “avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them.” They will be jealous for the honor of God. They will be zealous in prayer, and their faith will grow strong. 5T 524.1
There is too little zeal among the students. They should make more earnest efforts. It requires much study to know how to study. Each student must cultivate the habit of industry. He should see that no second-class work comes forth from his hand. He should take to himself the words Paul addressed to Timothy: “Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” 5T 524.2
The duty of old and young must be set forth in simple, positive language because our lot is cast in perilous times when it seems that truth must be overborne by falsehood and satanic delusions. In the time of testing and trial the shield of Omnipotence will be spread over those whom God has made the depositaries of His law. When legislators shall abjure the principles of Protestantism, so as to give countenance and the right hand of fellowship to Romanism, then God will interpose in a special manner in behalf of His own honor and the salvation of His people. 5T 525.1Read in context »