Those five, non-complicated words comprise the entire message of 1 Timothy 4:11 in the English Bible. Paul gave that charge with the authority he possessed as an apostle of the Christ (1 Timothy 1:1). It originally was spoken directly to Timothy, to whom this epistle was penned (1:2).
It is obvious that the contents of this letter were intended to reach a much wider reading/listening audience than just Timothy. We say this because Paul’s tells Timothy to “instruct the brethren in these things,” and by so doing he would show himself to be a good servant (4:6). Again, we read that Timothy was charged, “Teach and exhort these things” (6:2). The Lord wanted other saints to hear and heed the message in Paul’s letter to Timothy. It was not a secret message which had meaning only in Timothy’s life.
Back to 1 Timothy 4:11 – “These things command and teach.” “These things” points to the matters about which Paul was writing. Timothy, an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:2,5), needed to be committed to sticking with “the Book.” God’s preachers are those whose message constantly is founded in a “thus says the Lord.” Lost people and the faithful of God need to hear what the mighty God says in His mighty word. Please! We have heard enough opinions, quotes from your former instructors, and citations from the internet. Sir, what we need is the Bible. Give it to us!
There is a maddening scenario that is becoming “the norm” in some local churches. The saints are starving for book, chapter, and verse lessons. The lessons preached and taught contain little meat, and the membership is growing weaker and less knowledgeable. In response to the church’s inability to handle strong, Bible-filled lessons, the teacher/ preacher lowers his expectations and feels compelled to presents his lessons on a lower level, challenging no one, including himself, to grow. This truth cannot be denied: the membership of the church stays weaker as the sermons and classes remain weak.
“These things command and teach” – “Command” has a strong sound to it, does it not? A gospel preacher is neither the Savior nor Final Judge, but God wants him to teach His word with authority. “Command” is from the Greek word “παραγγέλλω /paraggellō ,” meaning “to transmit a message along from one to another, to declare, announce; to command, order, charge” [Thayer, word no. 3853 via e-Sword]. It is the same Greek word that is used in Acts 17:30 – God “commands” all men to repent; it also is used in 1 Timothy 6:17 – there it is “charge” those who are rich in this world’s goods. Brother preacher, you need to speak with authority. Do not be timid. Do not apologize for declaring God’s whole counsel. Tell us what God’s word says, and if we manifest a rebellious spirit, then rebuke us with all authority (Titus 1:13; 2:15). God will hold you accountable if you fail to do so!
“These things command and teach” – “Teach” is from the Greek word “διδάσκω/didaskō,” which means “to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses; to be a teacher; to discharge the office of a teacher, conduct one’s self as a teacher” [Thayer, word no. 1321 via e-Sword]. Teacher, take your task seriously.
In order for a teacher to be most effective, what are some things that he will need? Obviously, he has to acquire knowledge of God’s word. In any realm of life, we are unable to teach to others that which we personally do not know. A teacher can acquire knowledge by his own independent study, or he can get it by learning from others in an organized manner, but he must put a premium on knowledge.
A teacher needs to hone his communication skills in order to be the most effective tool in God’s hand as possible. Teaching is not about what some call “the gift of gab.” It is about being able to speak with clarity and accuracy, doing so in such a way that people can understand what is said and see the need to implement the Lord’s instructions in their lives.
A teacher’s personal conduct is another important factor. Look at what we see in 1 Timothy 4 – the instruction is to “command and teach” (4:8), then the instruction is to “be an example” (4:12), and finally the teacher is charged to “take heed to yourself and to the doctrine” (4:16). People do not want to listen to one whom they know fails to show a pattern of good works in his own life (Titus 2:7).
Another big item for any teacher is his attitude.
Does he come across as one who genuinely cares about the souls of those who sit at his feet? Does he show kindness in dealing with others, even those who may not like him? Does he manifest humility in his daily life and when he is presenting his lessons?
We thank God for the faithful declarers of God’s word among us. Let every teacher do his teaching “heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). Teachers and preachers, prepare well, pray about it, and present your lessons with fervor!
— Roger D. Campbell