By Kevin Rutherford
The apostle Paul personally trained Timothy to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 16:1-5). He chose Timothy because of what he saw in the character of Timothy. Not everyone should be trained to be a preacher of the Word of God. Only those with the right character need to be prepared for preaching. Timothy had a good reputation among Christians before Paul trained him to be a preacher. The Bible says Timothy was “well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium (Acts 16:2).” Paul also knew Timothy to be a man of “genuine faith (2 Timothy 1:5).” Not every man should be encouraged to preach. In fact, some should be discouraged from doing so.
Once Timothy’s apprenticeship and training with the apostle Paul was completed, Paul sent him out to work. Yet even then Paul wrote letters to continue to educate, edify, and encourage Timothy. Paul puts it this way, “I write to you so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).” Looking to those letters helps us to understand what Gospel preaching really is about. Sadly, too many members of the Lord’s church have not studied the word of God enough to know what preaching is about, including some who are preachers.
Timothy has been told by Paul to stay in Ephesus and work with the church there for a while. This is a church with an eldership (Acts 20), and yet it is a church that still needs a strong preacher to work with them and strengthen them (1 Timothy 1:3). Let’s see what we can learn about preaching from what Paul said.
1. Paul tells Timothy he needs to do is “charge some that they teach no other doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3-11).”
a. The truth must be preached.
b. The truth must be preached and practiced from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith.
2. Paul shows Timothy the importance of being grateful and giving glory to God (1 Timothy 1:12-17).
a. Paul was thankful for the blessings of salvation and preaching.
b. Paul understood the grace of God was exceedingly abundant toward him.
c. Paul gave God all of the glory for this.
3. Paul tells Timothy to go to war (1 Timothy 1:18-20).
a. He is to wage the good warfare, which is the spiritual war waged with Word of God as the Sword of the Spirit.
b. He must fight the spiritual war with faith and a good conscience.
4. Paul encourages Timothy to pray (1 Timothy 2:1-7).
a. Preachers must be men of prayer who think in terms of praying for all people.
b. Preachers work and pray for all people with the understanding God desires all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
5. Paul instructs Timothy in the qualifications of elders and deacons (1Timothy 3:1-13).
a. Preachers must preach these qualifications and encourage the application of them.
b. Unqualified elders and deacons will hinder the preacher’s work and hold back the church as whole.
6. Paul encourages Timothy instruct the brethren concerning those who depart from the faith having given head to the deceptive doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-11).
a. Some speak these lies with hypocrisy and sear their consciences.
b. Preachers must avoid doing this, but they must also warn the brethren about such if they are to be a good minister.
7. Timothy is told by Paul how to conduct himself so that is not looked down upon for his youth (1 Timothy 4:12-16).
a. Preachers must be examples in word, conduct, love, spirit, faith and purity.
b. Preachers must give attention to reading, exhortation, and doctrine.
c. Preachers must take heed to themselves.
8. Paul tells Timothy how to treat the members appropriately (1 Timothy 5:1-25).
a. Exhort older men as fathers, and younger men as brothers.
b. Exhort older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters.
c. Honor widows that are widows indeed.
d. Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.
e. Rebuke elders who are sinning.
9. Paul warns Timothy of those who preach the wrong things and who preach for the wrong reasons (1 Timothy 6).
a. Run from covetousness and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
b. Guard what is committed to your trust.
- Kevin V. Rutherford, formerly of Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC (Currently an instructor at Memphis School of Preaching in Memphis, TN). The congregation may be contacted through their website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/