A Question I Was Asked:

'Can You Explain 1 Timothy 4:14?'

"What does the inspired apostle Paul mean when he exhorts Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:14 to '...neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy ...' What gift is not to be neglected? How was this gift given to Timothy by prophecy? What does prophecy mean here?"

My Reply:

Your question asks about 1 Timothy 4:14.

'Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.' (1 Timothy 4:14, NIV).

The allusion here is to special spiritual gifts given to Timothy in order to fit him for the duties of an evangelist. Obviously, these were very essential in that first apostolic age.

We should note that the Spirit at Antioch said to the prophets, 'Separate for me Paul and Barnabas' (Acts 13:2); so a similar revelation was probably also received that Timothy should be set apart, and that he would be spiritually empowered for his work.

Regarding the 'laying on of hands,' again, Timothy was ordained in the usual way for the apostolic age, and, at that ordination, the Spirit conferred upon him new gifts. It must be borne in mind that the ancient evangelists had no New Testament to guide them, and hence needed special qualifications. The first century evangelists and apostles were, for example, empowered to have a ministry of the miraculous. See What are the 'Signs of an Apostle'? It might also be helpful to review Are There Prophets in the Church Today?

I hope that this answer helps.

Robin A. Brace, 2007.