by Mike Ratliff
ἕως ἔρχομαι πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. (1 Timothy 4:13 NA27)
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (a personal translation of 1 Timothy 4:13 from the NA27 Greek text)
As the passage above (1 Timothy 4:13) makes clear, to the Apostle Paul the centrality of preaching in Christian ministry was critical. He knew that the fruit of that was the working of the Holy Spirit in the Body of Christ producing godliness. However, its neglect produces its own fruit. I am not exaggerating when I state that most ministries today are built on entertainment, personality, crowd-gathering events, gimmicks, programs, and any thing entrepreneurs can come up with to draw people together that simply appeal to the flesh. However, that was not nor has it ever been the Biblical model of a Christian ministry.
The words “devote yourself” in my translation of 1 Timothy 4:13 above are of the verb πρόσεχε, which is the Present tense, Indicative mood, Active voice form of προσέχω or prosechō, which was a nautical term for holding a ship in a direction, to sail onward. It gives us the idea “to hold on one’s course.” Paul gave Timothy the proper course to hold. What was it? Was it to try to build his church using pragmatism or by fleshly means or according to the wisdom of this world? Of course not! No, it was not entertainment or meeting people’s “felt needs.” His course was to be to the Word of God alone. The fruit of devotion to this proper course would produce godly fruit that God would bless. The fruit of devotion to pragmatism, the ways of the flesh, and the wisdom of this world will only produce religious, spiritually dead people.
Paul used a form of προσέχω in Titus 1:14 as well.
μὴ προσέχοντες Ἰουδαϊκοῖς μύθοις καὶ ἐντολαῖς ἀνθρώπων ἀποστρεφομένων τὴν ἀλήθειαν. (Titus 1:14 NA27)
Do not devote yourself to Jewish myths and commandments of men turning away from the truth. (a personal translation of Titus 1:14 from the NA27 Greek text)
Here προσέχοντες, a Present, Active, Participle of προσέχω is negated by μὴ or mē, which expresses an absolute denial. Paul is telling Pastor Titus to not give any devotion at all to these Jewish fables and commandments of men. Why? These “Jewish Fables” were a mixture of extra-biblical Jewish traditions and pagan myths. The “commandments of men” were simply man-made teachings. Paul told Titus that he was not to set his course according to those things, but according to God’s Word.
Take these two commands together my brethren and what do we have? If our Christian leaders would devote themselves to what is commanded here and refuse to be devoted to what the world wants and what is trendy and what is fleshly, et cetera, then they would set their course on “reading,” exhortation, and doctrine, and this would produce godly fruit amongst us as the Holy Spirit would work through that. Of course, even though there are some who do this, most do not and we are witnessing the fruit of that.
Stand firm my brethren devoting yourselves to the reading of God’s Word, sitting under the teaching of godly men, and the learning of God’s good doctrines. Do all you can to avoid those who are devoted to the ways of the flesh and the perpetuation of the counterfeit church.
Soli Deo Gloira!