Neglect not the gift that is in thee
What qualifies men for the work of the ministry is a gift from God: it is not of nature, nor is it mere natural abilities and capacity; nor is it any thing acquired, it is not human learning, or the knowledge of languages, arts, and sciences; nor is it special saving grace; for a man may have all these, and yet not be apt to teach, or fit for the ministry; but it is a peculiar and distinct gift, it is a gift of interpreting the Scriptures, and of dispensing the mysteries of grace to the edification of others; which, when it meets in a man with all the rest before mentioned, makes him very considerable: and this gift is in a man; it is a treasure put into earthen vessels, a good treasure in the heart, out of which a good minister of Christ brings forth many good things, things new and old, both for the delight and profit of men: and this gift is by no means to be neglected; this talent should not be hid in the earth, or wrapped up in a napkin; it should not lie dormant and useless, but should be stirred up, cultivated, and improved, as it may by reading, meditation, and prayer. And in order to enforce this exhortation on Timothy, the apostle adds, which was given thee by prophecy;
that is, it was prophesied of before hand, by some of the prophets in the church, that a very extraordinary gift should be bestowed upon this young man, which would make him a very useful person in the church of God; see ( 1 Timothy 1:18 ) and since it was now given, he ought not therefore to neglect it: or it was given him, as some read it, with prophecy, that he should use it, and it should be of great advantage to many souls; or, together with this gift of preaching, he had also a gift of foretelling things to come; or it may be, the words may be better rendered, "for prophecy": that is, for preaching, for prophesying is frequently used for preaching; see ( 1 Corinthians 13:2 ) ( 1 Corinthians 14:1 1 Corinthians 14:3 1 Corinthians 14:31 ) and then the sense is, that this gift was given him to qualify him for the interpreting of the Scriptures, the explaining of the prophecies of the Old Testament, and for the preaching of the Gospel; and therefore he should not neglect it, but use it for this purpose: and he adds, that it was given him with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery;
or "of the eldership", or elders. So (gerousia) , "eldership", is used by the Septuagint on ( Exodus 3:16 Exodus 3:18 ) for the elders of Israel. Now of these elders Paul was one, ( 2 Timothy 1:6 ) nor is it unusual to call the apostles elders; see ( 1 Peter 5:1 ) ( 2 John 1:1 ) ( 3 John 1:1 ) . Who joined with the apostle, in the imposition of hands on Timothy, is not certain; I should think only apostles, since here was a gift of the Holy Ghost came along with it; and it was only through the laying on of the hands of the apostles that the Holy Ghost was given. Philip, an evangelist, laid not hands on the believing Samaritans; but Peter and John, apostles, were sent down from Jerusalem to Samaria to do it, whereby many received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, fitting them to take the care of those new converts, and to spread the Gospel further in those parts, ( Acts 8:5 Acts 8:12 Acts 8:14 Acts 8:17 Acts 8:18 ) . And since gifts have ceased being conveyed this way, the rite of laying on of hands in ordinations seems useless, and of no avail. The apostle in calling those that joined with him, in putting hands on Timothy, the "presbytery or eldership", may have some reference to (hdeh ynqz) , "the elders of the congregation", which laid hands on the bullock for a sin offering, ( Leviticus 4:15 ) by whom some understand the great sanhedrim F13; others F14, not all the elders, but some particular persons, in number three; and so the ordination of a Rabbi was by three F15; hence we read of (Mynyqzb hkymo) , "imposition of hands by the elders" F16.
F13 Bartenora in Misn. Menachot, c. 9. sect. 3.
F14 Siphri in Maimon. in Misn. ib. c. 9. sect. 7.
F15 Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 3. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.
F16 T. Hieros. Horayot, fol. 46. 2.