Let no one despise you for your youth but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. ~ 1 Timothy 4:12
There are two ways that a young person could read Paul’s words to Timothy.
First, it could be read, “don’t let anyone despise you because you are young, you are equal with your elders in spiritual matters”.
Secondly, It could be read as Paul intended it, “don’t let anyone despise your youth, and this is the way to accomplish that: be an example of true Christianity in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
There is a vast difference in these two approaches.
Being an example to the believers of true Christianity includes obeying everything which Paul told Timothy in this epistle. Not long after Paul tells Timothy to be an example, Paul says the following:
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. ~ 1 Timothy 5:1
If young people in their late teens and early to mid 20’s want to be respected as mature believers, they must learn how to relate with respect to their elders in the faith, and how to conduct themselves with all purity towards their their contemporaries.
When you are 18, 21, 25 years old, etc., you can have a lot of zeal, but no matter how much zeal you have, you still lack the life experience of those who have been walking with Christ for 25, 30, 40 years or more.
Many of those who are you elders have lived through the “zeal” you experience in your youth, and while zeal is a good thing to have, it won’t carry you for the long haul. When you are young, there are simply some things you do not know because you have not lived it yet. There is absolutely no substitute for life experience.
Next April, I will mark 40 years as a Christian in my life. I don’t have all wisdom or knowledge, but I have stumbled over a few things in those 40 years.
When I see a young Christian person who is respectful towards their elders, I see maturity and a young person who is on the right path.
If you are a young Christian and you do not properly respect your elders, you are going to struggle in your Christian faith.
You are not required to agree with everything an older Christian believes (being an elder does not mean they’ve got it all right) but you do need to have a respectful disposition towards those who have been in the faith much longer than you.
Paul did not instruct Timothy to not allow anyone to despise his youth by taking charge even over the old folks. Instead, Paul instructed Timothy to show the proper respect towards his elders as part of his being an example of the believers.
Not allowing anyone to despise your youth is not a stand alone statement. It is a statement that is qualified by how you live as an example, and one of the components of being a godly example is how you treat your elders, and conduct yourself towards your peers.


In John 8 Jesus informed the religious Jewish leaders opposing him that they were not Abraham’s children (v.39-40). Jesus also told them that they were the children of the devil (v.44). In Acts 13, Paul rebuked a Jewish false prophet who was a sorcerer, calling him a child of the devil and an enemy of all righteousness (v.10).
The words of Jesus, and the words of Paul would be condemned as anti-semetic by some of today’s Christian leaders, who are hush-hush about the atheism, sodomy, pedophilia, state funded abortions, etc., within the modern society of Israel.
Many of the things that modern Israel promotes were the very things which angered God towards Israel in scripture, and for which they were repeatedly judged. It’s quite interesting that America is often viewed as being under the condemnation of God’s judgement for these very things, while many Christians give Israel a pass because of their end time theology.
In scripture, being of Jewish descent does not profit the Jew if his heart is not right with God. Paul says, “He is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”. ~ Romans 2:28-29
In Romans 9 Paul says, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” (v.6-8)
Paul makes this statement in context to the promises of God which were given to the true Israel (the remnant of true Israelites from the heart) within Israel.
Jesus did not come to save national Israel from the Romans. Jesus came to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Not everyone within national Israel was God’s sheep. We know this because of Jesus’s own words to the Jews in John 10.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. ~ John 10:14-16
Later in chapter 10 we read the following:
Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not my sheep, as I said unto you. ~ John 10:24-26
Jesus plainly tells these Jews that they are not his sheep. The “lost sheep of Israel” does not refer to all Jews or all Israelites. It refers to those within Israel, whose hearts were towards God in truth – the Israel within Israel.
When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”(John 14:6). He did not say this within the context of pagan religions (though applicable there). Jesus was not speaking to outsiders regarding their pagan religions. Instead, he was speaking to his Jewish disciples within the context of Israel’s covenants.
Though the words of Jesus are true in view of other religions, that which he says in John 14:6 was contextually stated within the Jewish narrative.
Many believe Jesus is the only way to the Father in contrast to other religions like Hinduism, Islam, Mormonism, etc. However, when it comes to modern day Israel, many Western Christians have adopted a belief that modern day Israel has a relational covenant with God exclusive of Christ. This is prevalent within the “end time” teachings of many but it is error being inconsistent with the Biblical narrative.