“Tupos” “Example”

By Paul K. Williams

“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:12, NASB).

Tupos, the Greek word translated “example,” is an interesting word. Liddell & Scott define it: a blow; the mark of a blow, the impress of a seal, the stamp of a coin, a print mark of any kind; tupoistibou the prints or tracks of footsteps.

This pictures an interesting process. An engraver wishes to leave the impression of something, let’s say the outline of a horse, in clay. The artisan fashions the “type” (one meaning of tupos) in metal and fixes it on the end of a piece of wood. He positions the engraving over the unhardened clay and hits the wood a sharp blow. When he takes away the metal, he finds an impression of the horse in the clay. This is an “example.”

If the clay is without flaw and of the right consistency, and if nothing causes the type to slide when it is hit, the outline of the horse will be very good. It will be almost a perfect likeness of the type.

Paul commands Timothy to be the example. Christ is theone who presses down the type, while the word of God is the form which makes the impression on his heart. If he allows his heart to be soft and open to the impression of the word, the result will be an almost perfect replication of what a Christian should be  an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. Timothy will be an example of what Christ intends to form in us all.

By being such an example, Timothy will show to others what they also can and should be. They can look at him and see Christ. Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Every Christian should be a tupos. But if we harden ourselves, the word of God will not impress itself on us and change us as it should. If we slide around and do not allow the word of God to be applied exactly as it should be, we will not be a good example. It is up to us to be open to what God’s word says and allow it to shape our lives in every respect. Then we will be examples in speech, con-duct, love, faith, and purity to those who believe.

Guardian of Truth XL: No. 15, p. 9
August 1, 1996