Join us as in this 1 Timothy 4:9-16 Bible study. Our discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

1 Timothy 4:9-16 Inductive Bible Study Guide And Commentary

Discussion Questions

  • What is the statement that deserves full acceptance?
  • In what way is God the savior of all men (including those who don’t believe)?
  • What do we put our hope in God to do?
  • Command and teach what things (verse 11)?
  • What do we learn from verse 12 about Timothy’s age?
  • Can a young person then be leader in the church? Why or why not?
  • How are young people to act in the church?
  • Should a young person use their age as a reason not to serve God? Why or why not?
  • What other examples is there in the Bible of God choosing young people to serve Him in various roles?
  • What attitude was Timothy to have toward the Scriptures? What do we learn about the place of teaching/preaching the Word in church? Why is this so important?
  • What spiritual gift might Paul be referring to?
  • Do you know your spiritual gift? Are you using it?
  • How can one diligently use their gifting? Why might it be important for others to see Timothy’s progress?
  • How could Timothy save himself and his hearers by doing these things?
  • What application can you make from this chapter?
  • How can you diligently use your gift in the church?


Romans 8:24-25 – For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

1 John 3:2-3 – Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

2 Timothy 4:2-3 – Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Acts 2:42 – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

1 Corinthians 12:28-31 – And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Ephesians 4:11-13 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Romans 12:6-8 – We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

2 Timothy 2:15 – Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Paul emphasizes that their hope is in God –

What are you hoping for? People hope for a lot of things. A promotion. A marriage. A house. A fat bank account. Early retirement. If you hope in things in this world there are two possible results.

#1 – You never get it. You don’t receive the promotion. You can’t retire early. And because you set your hope on it and didn’t get it, you are disappointed and unhappy.

#2 You get it. You get what you hope for. But you find that this too cannot satisfy. Your marriage is not as perfect as you hoped. Early retirement leaves you with altogether too much free time. Your house isn’t big enough. So you are disappointed and empty.

From verse 10 we learn that we must fix our hope on God, the living God. He alone can fulfill us. He alone can give us the joy we long for. Like an adopted child waiting for her father to take her home, we wait for our Father. We know that one day we will see Him face to face. We know that one day we will be given a new body and made perfect like Him.

But we see in this verse that this hope does not only effect our future, it effects our now. This hope acts as a purifying force on our lives. This hope helps us to “set our mind on things above and not on things on the earth.” As we do that, temptations in this world lose their power. Our love for the world fades as our hope in God increases. The lure of earthly riches will start to lose its luster. You will find yourself less interested in empty, worldly pursuits.

A child who knows his parent will soon be returning will be more likely to obey his parents’ instructions. Since we know we will face God, it effects our lives today. We want to be ready.

Application: So how can you increase your hope in the Father? Let’s imagine for a moment a parent promises his child they will go to Disney World. The child is excited. So he reads Disney books, watches Disney moves, listens to Disney music, looks over Disney maps, and talks to his friends about Disney. The more he reads about, thinks about, and talks about Disney the more excited he becomes. The more hopeful he is.

If you want to increase your hope in the Father, it is fairly simple. Spend more time reading about Him. Spend more time meditating on Him. Spend more time talking about Him. As you do this your hope will grow. And this in turn will push you back into the Word and prayer as the place where you can get close to Him now.

2. Who is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe – The second part of this statement is easy to understand. Jesus saves believers from their sin. The first part is a little bit harder to understand. In what way is God a Savior to all men?

A. Firstly, he offers Himself as our Savior. Jesus died on the cross for the “world” (John 3:16). Salvation is available to all. Thus He is called a Savior to all, even though some steadfastly refuse that salvation.

B. Secondly, God extends common grace to all men. Common grace includes things like maintaining natural laws, sending rain, causing the sun to rise each day, and giving us life. The Spirit holds back evil. It is God’s plan that saved the free world from Hitler and the Nazis. In Old Testament times He saved the nation of Israel many times, even though that did not guarantee salvation to any individual.

Application: Every person has reason to be thankful to God. His salvation is available to everyone if we will but take it. And even for the unsaved, many aspects of His grace cover them.

3. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young – Youth is not an excuse for laziness or complacency. Throughout Scripture God has often used youth to accomplish His purposes and has often chosen the younger rather than the old. Examples of youth serving God include: David (he was not considered old enough to be a soldier when he slew Goliath), Joseph (he ended up ruling over his older brothers), Daniel (as a youth he stood up to the might of the pagan Babylonian empire, refusing to eat the defiled food), and Jeremiah (he was young, but a bold prophet.)

The old are not always wise. Job’s three friends who rebuked him were older than the fourth (Elihu), but not as wise.

From this passage it would appear that Timothy was young. As he was likely younger than many of the people he was preaching to and leading, he may have felt awkward and self-conscious about this. Paul therefore tells him not to worry about these things, but to live in such a way as to be a good example for all and leave no room for any just criticism. If Timothy’s opponents could only say “’he is too young,” but find no character problem to criticize him for, then their argument was not strong!

Application: One of Satan’s favorite methods to tempt believers is to tell them they should serve God, but only later. A young person may have many excuses for delaying ministry to God. Here are a few examples:

  • I am not experienced enough.
  • No one will listen to me.
  • I need to establish myself with a good social position first before people will respect me.
  • I am busy studying or finding work. I will serve God later when I have more time.
  • In my society, people only listen to elders.

Certainly, we should respect mature, experienced believers. They have hopefully gained wisdom as they have aged. However, this is not a reason to delay serving God. Not serving God because of one’s youth is looking at oneself rather than God’s power.

Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

The gospel is what changes hearts. The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to convict people of sin and lead them to change their behavior. Your age, be it young or old, cannot persuade anyone to believe. It is not about you, or me. We are just to be messengers. We are passing on what God has already said. If we are sharing our own opinions then we have every reason to be shy and self-conscious. Why should anyone listen to our opinions? But if we are accurately passing on God’s message (2 Timothy 2:15), then we have nothing to be ashamed of.

Do not wait to serve God. Serve Him from your youth and then as you get older you will be even more experienced because you will have been learning as you serve Him each step of the way!

4. In speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, set yourself an example of those who believe – Here are a few areas in which a youth should follow God to the extent that he can be a model to other believers.

Which area do you think you need to grow in the most? Why?

5. Devote yourself to the public reading, teaching, and preaching of Scripture – Scripture is our nutrition. It is the food that makes us grow spiritually. A church will not be a growing church unless God’s Word is taught and preached there. Timothy was to devote himself to these things. It takes hard work, time, and energy to prepare Bible study lessons and sermons. But it is necessary. Timothy was not to take a casual attitude toward this important area. It takes commitment.

Take for example leading a Bible study. There may be many times when you are tired or a bit under the weather or had a busy week. You may feel like canceling or just having a fellowship time instead. Of course it is not wrong to do this every now and then. But if you are devoted to the Scripture then you will make time to prepare and try very hard not to cancel.

Many churches these days do not promote spiritual diligence and focus on the Word. Sermons are often watered down and shortened. Videos or special effects may take the place of sound Bible teaching. Perhaps one verse is chosen and then the speaker keeps telling stories or jokes instead of preaching. I believe that these are the types of things Paul wanted Timothy to avoid. Preaching should be the central aspect of a weekly service. Leaders of the church should not water it down.

At the same time, the congregation (each of us) has the responsibility to pay attention and devote themselves to understanding and applying the text. Sometimes when I preach I can see people in the congregation who are sleeping. The preacher starts talking and people tune out, become absent minded, and grab a siesta. These things should not be. Instead devote yourself. Take notes. Write down questions. Talk about what you learned and what you need to obey after the service is over while you are at lunch with your family and friends.

6. Do not neglect your gift – Based on the context, it appears that Timothy’s gift is related to teaching or preaching. At some point a group of elders laid hands on him to perhaps ordain him or send him out. When they did this, the Spirit revealed to them Timothy’s gifting and they told him what it was. Paul reminds him now to keep using it.

A spiritual gift needs to be used regularly. The more you use it the more you will bless others and the more you yourself will grow. Natural talents like playing sports or an instrument can become rusty and deteriorate with lack of use. And spiritual gifts are similar.

What is your spiritual gift? Are you using it?

Application: The best way to discover your spiritual gift is not in seminar or through a survey. It is by volunteering to serve. As you serve, you will be steered in the direction of your giftings. But if you sit around thinking about what your gift is, you may never find out.

7. Watch your life and doctrine closely – Timothy was not to become lax in his spiritual walk. He needed to be alert and vigilant lest the devil get any foothold in his life. Church leaders are not immune to temptation. They have an even bigger target on their backs than most believers do.

8. You will save both yourself and your hearers – A leader will not be effective if he is living in sin or goes astray. Unfortunately many times when a church leader goes astray, many of the flock will follow him. Therefore Timothy needed to be vigilant to stay on the narrow road for his own sake, but also for the sake of those he was leading.

It is a sad day when pastors or elders turn away from God and become a stumbling block. People will then have an excuse to point fingers and claim that believers are hypocrites. It is a bad testimony to the church and to the world.

Lesson Application: What do you need to do this week to obey what you have learned in this passage?

1 Timothy Bible Study Guide – You can get our complete 1 Timothy Bible study as a downloadable E-book or a paperback version from Amazon.

Leave a Comment: Share your observations on this 1 Timothy 4:9-16 Bible study in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you!