1 Timothy 4:13
13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
This is the apostle Paul’s exhortation to Timothy concerning how he should fulfil his pastoral duty, as the apostle would be away from the church at Ephesus for a while. This exhortation defines the main tasks of anyone who enters the pastoral ministry of the church. The Greek verb translated as “give attendance” is a present active imperative; hence it issues to all the ministers a continuing command. The duties delineated in this exhortation ought to become every pastor’s way of life.
In Greek, the word for “give attendance” (proséchō) is often used as a nautical term to refer to controlling a ship to sail towards a definite direction. Paul’s emphasis here is that Timothy should see to it that his ministry in the church is heading towards the fulfilment of the tasks mentioned hereafter. Every pastor must prepare himself to effectively carry out the Scriptural duties outlined here.
The first duty of a pastor that is mentioned here is “reading”. It could mean either private or public reading of the Scriptures. The private reading of the Scriptures is of great necessity in preparing oneself for the next two duties of “exhortation” and “doctrine”. This duty is necessary for one to be thoroughly furnished for the work of a pastor to which one is called. Scripture is the fount of all wisdom and spiritual knowledge that a pastor ought to have in carrying out his pastoral duties. Though Timothy had known the Scriptures from a child and had been trained up in them, he still needed to give diligent attention to the reading of them. The continual careful reading of the Scriptures is of utmost importance to a pastor’s faithful and effective ministering of God’s Word in the church. He must also ensure that the Scriptures are read in the public gathering of the church, for everyone’s edification.
The pastor’s next two duties of “exhortation” and “doctrine” (or teaching) refer to the public expounding of Scripture to the advantage of believers. “Exhortation” (paráklēsis) is the act of encouraging, comforting and also admonishing from the Word of God. “Doctrine” denotes the teaching and instructing of the church from God’s Word. His duty is thus to disseminate and explain the Scriptures to edify the believers, defend the truth against all opponents, and refute errors and heresies contrary to them. To these duties, every minister of the Word should give his unreserved attention.