youth Refers to a man up to 35 years of age. Timothy was probably 30–35 years old. Paul urges him not to allow others to make his age a point of criticism. His gifting validates his authority, not his age (v. 14).
an example for the believers Paul was an example to all believers (1 Cor 11:1; Phil 3:17), and Timothy must be also (see Phil 2:20–22).
in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity This list of virtues describes true godliness.
public reading Scripture was read publicly in part because of low literacy rates; estimates suggest that only one percent of the population in the region surrounding Ephesus could read. But public reading was also a tradition in religious education (see Acts 13:15; 2 Cor 3:14). Paul advised the Thessalonian believers to read his letter aloud for the benefit of the church community (1 Thess 5:27).
exhortation The word paraklesis means “encouragement” or “exhortation.” It typically refers to encouragement which helps a person take the right course of action. In his letter to the Romans, Paul listed “exhortation” as a spiritual gift which benefits the church community (Rom 12:8). It can also refer to encouragement in the sense of comforting or lifting someone’s spirits (2 Cor 1:4).
the laying on of hands A gesture used to symbolize the impartation of power. Paul does not regard this as his special power (compare Acts 8:18–20); rather, he recognizes that God empowers and equips believers for ministry (Acts 1:8; Eph 4:11–12). God uses this act, and others, to do so.
council of elders Other leaders approved Timothy’s commission.
you will save Timothy does not save people, but as a minister, he participates in God’s saving work. Paul spoke of himself in the same way (Rom 11:14; 1 Cor 9:22)