An Exegesis of I Timothy 4:6–16 -- By: Marvin L. Reid

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 09:1 (Fall 1991)
Article: An Exegesis of I Timothy 4:6–16
Author: Marvin L. Reid


An Exegesis of I Timothy 4:6–16

Marvin L. Reid

Professor of Greek and New Testament
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

One of the most deeply embedded concepts within the New Testament is the I notion that pastoral leadership functions as “ministry” or “service.” While the semantic field from which this rubric emerged originally referred to table service in secular Greek, its various cognates in certain strata of the New Testament were employed to designate specific tasks within the Christian community.1 The basis for this meaning lies in the speech and conduct of Jesus’ life in that he understood his ministry as one of servanthood.2 The development of this tradition is represented in the earliest eucharistic celebrations of the Palestinian churches where the interpretation of Jesus’ ministry and self-sacrifice as service probably originated.3

Within the Pauline communities, the formulation of pastoral leadership as “ministry” and “service” continued, as illustrated in Paul’s comprehensive designation of the ministries in the Church as service in 1 Cor. 12:5.4 As a substitute for his apostolic presence,5 the Apostle Paul, in fact, created the “Christian pastoral letter” with his paraenetic style of instructing, exhorting, charging, commanding, and consoling.6 This epistolary genre7 is especially apparent in the Pastoral Epistles. For this reason these letters offer a point of departure for an exegetical discussion of “Styles of Pastoral Leadership.”

More specifically, 1 Tim. 4:6 generally characterizes pastoral care as “ministry” and “service,” and in the following statements, some poignant and instructive admonitions are presented. The purpose of this study is to explore the injunctions in 1 Tim. 4:6–16 in light of the chosen theme of this journal. The approach is primarily exegetical with particular attention given to the historical, social, and theological issues of the pericope. Our discussion begins with a consideration of 1 Tim. 4:6–10.8

1 Tim. 4:6–10

The directives given in this passage include principles which should govern effectiv...

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