1Timothy 5 - Outline of 1Timothy (Book Notes menu page)
V. Practical Concerns of a Good Minister (5:1- 6:21)
1. Humility in Correction, (vs.1,2)
1. Rebuke not an elder, but intreat [him] as a father;
[and] the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
Rebuke {Gk=epiplesso, strike, beat, chide, upbraid} not...
...but intreat {GK=parakaleo, call to one's side, exhort, beseech, comfort, encourage}...
A shepherd of God's flock has the responsibility of correcting those who are wayward in the conduct of their lives, or in the content of their doctrine. When the error is a private matter, it should be dealt with privately, and with gentle instruction in the way of godliness (Gal 6:1).
     The Lord's servant is to humbly intreat, from an attitude of sincere love and respect for a fellow member of God's family (...fathers... brothers... mothers... sisters...).
...an elder...- In the context of v.1-2, this word refers to older men in general, not to the office of 'elder.'
Later in the chapter (v.19-21), Paul gives instructions for handling accusations of wrong doing by a man who holds an office as an elder in the church. A public rebuke may be warranted, when a church leader has sinned, or where a private individual refuses correction and/or his sin becomes openly known (Mat 18:15-17; eg. 1Cor 5:1-5).
...The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
A man must be especially careful when ministering to a young attractive woman (2Tim 2:22). Some matters may be handled best by asking the older women to instruct the younger directly (Titus 2:3-5). Otherwise, a minister would be wise to ask a 'mother' to accompany him as he counsels his 'sister' in the Lord (1The 5:22).
2. Care of Widows (v.3-16)
  1. Widows Indeed (v.3-8)
    1. Identified & Evaluated (v. 3-10).
    2. Relieved by Family first, then by Church (v. 4,8,16)
  2. Other Widows (v. 11-16)
3. Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews,
let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents:
for that is good and acceptable before God.
Honour {GK=timao, estimate, fix the value, venerate}... widows indeed {GK=ontos, truly, in reality}...-
The care of widows was the issue which prompted the appointment of the first Deacons (Acts 6:1-5). In the first century AD, there were no social safety nets, such as Social Security (in the U.S.A.). It was not uncommon that a woman, whose husband had died, was left without an income, and without a means of earning one. The church family has a responsibility to bear one another's burdens, which includes caring for the needy among them. However, those who are able to provide for themselves, are responsible to do so, and ought not to be freeloaders (Gal 6:2,5; 2The 3:10-12).
     The Greek word for 'honor' implies a testing or evaluation of the one under consideration for the honor of financial assistance (an honorarium) from the local church. Local churches are often approached by people seeking aid. While the emotional appeal may be strong, the leadership would be wise to check the facts behind the claimed need. Paul suggests several points or questions for evaluating a widow's need.
First point of evaluation: Does she have family?
'If a widow have children or nephews {Gk=ekgonon, descendants, grandchildren}, let them first show piety {ie., reverence, godliness} at home...' (cp. Mat 15:4-6; Jam 1:27)
   The family has the first responsibility.
   If she has children or grandchildren, why are they not assisting her?
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God,
and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house,
he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Second point of evaluation: Is she desolate {GK=monoo, alone, solitary}?
The godly woman, who finds herself alone without any family, naturally turns to her heavenly Father. Her 'trust' {GK=elpizo, hope, confidence} is in God. Therefore, as she presents her need to Him, her heart stays close to Him, in an attititude of prayerful dependence.
     In contrast, there may be an ungodly widow, who, now free from the constraints of marriage, seeks the attentions of ungodly men. By her manner of life, she testifies that she is spiritually dead, having never truly trusted in Christ (2Cor 5:14,15; Eph 2:1-5). Therefore, she is not worthy of support from the local church.
...these things give in charge, that they may be blameless {ie., unrebukeable, irreproachable}.
Timothy was to strongly declare, to the local church ('they'), (1) the necessity of evaluating and discerning the truly needy who were worthy of church support, and also (2) the responsibility of individual believers to care for their own family members.
...if any provide not for his own... he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel {GK=apistos, unbeliever}.
The true believer, intensely aware of God's provision for his own need, demonstrates his faith in caring for the needs of others (Eph 4:32; 1Pet 4:10). Therefore, in refusing to provide for one's own family, a man (like the ungodly widow) gives evidence that he is an unbeliever.
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old,
having been the wife of one man,
10 Well reported of for good works;
if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers,
(Acts 16:14,15)
if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted,
if she have diligently followed every good work.
...taken into the number...-
This phrase, which translates one word {GK=katalego, to set down a list, to register, to enroll}, refers to the list of widows approved to receive support from the church.
Third point of evaluation: How old is she?
Sixty years of age is somewhat arbitrary, but at that age, she is unlikely to seek a husband or to find employment.
Fourth point of evaluation: What is her history? Did she live to serve the Lord and His people?
  • having been the wife of one man...-
    As 'a one man woman' she was faithful to her husband. This should not be construed to exclude a woman who was twice widowed (in light of the instructions in v.14).
       Because this qualification is similar to that required of elders and deacons (1Tim 3:2,12), some see v.9-10 as qualifications to be 'listed' as female elders and deaconesses, rather than as qualifications of widows worthy of assistance. However, these verses are in the middle of a section which begins and ends with the repeated admonition concerning the responsibility of family members to care for their widows (v.3-16). All believers, not only elders and deacons, should maintain an irreproachable testimony. Thus, only godly widows should receive support from the church, lest the name of Christ be reproached.
  • well reported of for good works...-
    Verse 10 gives examples of 'good works.' Not all women will accomplish the whole list (eg., not all women have children). Most of the examples are self-explanatory. The 'washing of the saints feet' may refer to hospitality (the welcoming of guests who have been traveling; eg., Gen 18:4), or to any humble service for fellow believers (Joh 13:3-16).
11 But the younger widows refuse:
for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn [to be] idle, wandering about from house to house;
and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies,
speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house,
give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
Younger widows were not to be supported by the church because...
  • Youthful sexual desire might cause some widows to marry outside the faith (v.11,12).
    It would not be wrong for them to remarry. In fact, Paul encouraged marriage of Christian widows to believing men (v.14; 1Cor 7:39). However, finding few eligible Christian men, a young widow might choose to set aside her faith in Christ, in order to marry an unbeliever. A Christian who renounces Christ brings judgment upon him/herself (Heb 6:4-6) and undermines the veracity of the Gospel message which he/she previously professed to believe.
  • Freedom from employment promotes idleness, which promotes gossip and foolish speculations.
    Rather than being supported by the church, a young widow should be able to support herself with gainful employment. A profitable use of her time will strengthen her testimony for the Lord.
  • Employment as a Christian wife and mother, brings honor to God (Titus 2:4,5).
...for some are already turned aside after Satan.
Paul's counsel regarding younger widows, was informed by experience, as he knew of a few widows who had turned away from Christ to marry unbelievers.
16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them,
and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
Paul closes this section, regarding the care of widows, by emphasizing the responsibility of believers to care for their own needy family members. This will free the church's resources to meet the needs of those who truly have no one else to help them.
3. Care of Elders (vs. 17-25)
  1. Compensation for Labors (vs. 17-18)
  2. Correction of Errors (vs. 19-25)
    1. Caution re: Accusations (v.19)
    2. Caution re: Impartiality (vs. 20-21).
    3. Caution re: Participation in error (v. 22)
    4. Counsel re: Physical Health (v.23)
    5. Comfort re: Hidden Things (vs. 24-25)
17. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour,
especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.
And, The labourer [is] worthy of his reward.
Compensation of elders (church officers) for their labors.
As in v.3, the word 'honor' implies an evaluation of worth. It is proper to pay church workers. To support this concept, Paul quotes from Deu 25:4 and Luk 10:7. However, the 'hire' of different laborers will differ according to the difficulty and significance of their work. Paul says the teaching of God's Word is of double value.
     Yet, Paul himself served at his own expense (1The 2:9; 2The 3:8). An elder should serve out of love for Christ and His church, not for financial gain (1Tim 3:3; 1Pet 5:2). Of course, if a local congregation provides full or partial financial support for an elder, they will enable him to devote more time to the work of the ministry.
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation,
but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
21 I charge [thee] before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels,
that thou observe these things
without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
an accusation... against an elder -
Elders are not immune to sin. Neither are they immune to false accusations.
A false accusation against a man whose reputation is irreproachable, may needlessly damage his reputation, and distract him from the work of the church. Therefore, no accusation should be taken seriously, unless it is verified by two or more witnesses. (Deu 19:15; 2Cor 13:1)
...them that sin rebuke before all...-
If, after investigation, the accusation proves to be accurate, the elder is to be rebuked publicly. He is not immune from punishment. Because he holds a public position, his sin is a public matter. It is handled differently than the private sin of a private individual (cp. v.1, where 'elder' refers to 'age,' rather than 'office'). As a church leader's godly life is to be an example, so his punishment (for ungodliness) is a warning for others to take heed to themselves, lest they fall. (eg., Gal 2:11-14; Acts 5:3-5; 1Cor 10:12)
...I charge thee before God... that thou observe these things without preferring...
...doing nothing by partiality. (v.21)
The Lord is the Judge of all. God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ and godly angels are all watching the way church discipline is conducted. We dare not 'prefer' {GK=prokrima, pre-judge} anyone as more likely to be guilty. We dare not show 'partiality' {ie., favoritism} toward one party or the other. (Lev 19:15; Deu 1:17; Jam 3:17).
22 Lay {GK=epitithemi, place, put} hands suddenly {ie., quickly} on no man,
neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.
The appointment of an elder was often made official as existing elders laid their hands on him and prayed (eg. Acts 6:6; 13:3; 2Tim 1:6). The preceding discussion concerning dealing with accusations against an elder, underlines the importance of taking time to prove a man before appointing him to serve (1Tim 3:6,7). Those, who appoint a man who proves unsuitable for service, have a part in the damage which his sins cause.
     In some passages in our English translation, the expression 'laid hands upon' refers to grabbing a person and taking him off to judgment (eg., Mat 26:50; Joh 7:30,44; Acts 4:3). In those passages, the word 'lay' is always translated from other Greek words, which imply a measure of violence (eg., GK=epiballo, cast upon; or krateo, grasp, hold fast). Wherever the sense is for blessing or appointing, the Greek word is always the gentler 'epitithemi' (as here, in v.22). Therefore, the primary application, of v.22, must be as presented in the previous paragraph. Nevertheless, in the context of the discussion about accusations against an elder, it is also true that the presiding elders should not rush to judgment, siding quickly with the accuser, who may have a sinful motivation.
     Timothy, and all church leaders, should endeavor to be completely clean and free from all fleshly thinking, as they investigate any accusations against an elder. Eph 5:11
23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine
for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
This admonition seems strangely out of place, until we consider Timothy's heavy responsibilities in caring for the church, and in dealing with discipline, even against an elder. Timothy's upset stomach may have been caused by stress, rather than by a sickly constitution, as some assume.
     Sadly, many people misuse this verse, to justify recreational use and even abuse of alcoholic beverages. Of course, they are willfully ignorant of what the Bible says about strong drink (eg., Prov 20:1; 23:31,32; 31:4,5)... or the fact that Timothy, as an elder, must not be an abuser of wine (1Tim 3:3).
     Paul was giving a prescription for limited ('a little') medicinal use of wine. In Bible times, oil and wine were used as medicines (eg., the good Samaritan's usage, Luk 10:34). In recent years, medical studies have demonstrated that moderate consumption of wine is medically beneficial to various parts of our bodies, including the establishment of a healthy intestinal microbiome, which was probably just what Timothy needed.
     Paul's suggestion, that Timothy avoid water, is also supported by modern science. Contamination of primitive untreated water sources was common and may have contributed to Timothy's trouble. Wine (grape juice preserved by fermentation), was a readily available safe alternative. In that day, wine generally had a lower alcohol content than today's processed beverages.
24 Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment;
and some [men] they follow after.
25 Likewise also the good works [of some] are manifest beforehand;
and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
Paul may have intended these words to lighten the burden on Timothy's shoulders. After an accusation, against a brother, has been fully investigated, and the elders, to the best of their ability, have determined the truth of the matter, there may still be a lingering cloud of uncertainty. Some men's sins are easily identified and judged. Others may be more subtle, or cloaked in hypocrisy.
     In the process of church discipline, it is possible that a righteous man may suffer an injustice. His selfless service may go entirely unnoticed and unappreciated by the church, which misjudges a situation. Yet, he can rest, knowing that the Lord sees every heart perfectly, and in His time, will judge and reward His servants accordingly (Psa 37:5,6; Mat 6:1-6; Luk 12:1-3). So, Timothy, you also can commit the matter to Him, knowing that He will correct any errors of human judgment, in that day (2Cor 5:10).

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