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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

1 Timothy 5

Verses 1-25

1 Timothy 5:24

Prof. Richard Moulton quotes this text in his exposition of 'The Merchant of Venice'. He says that 'the story contains a double Nemesis, attaching to the Jew himself and to his victim. The two moreover represent the different conceptions of Nemesis in the ancient and modern world: Antonio's excess of moral confidence suffers a nemesis of reaction in his humiliation, and Shylock's sin of judicial murder finds a nemesis of retribution in his ruin by process of law. The nemesis, it will be observed, is not merely twofold, but double in the way that a double flower is distinct from two flowers; it is a nemesis on a nemesis; the nemesis which visits Antonio's fault is the crime for which Shylock suffers his nemesis. Again, in that which gives artistic character to the reaction and the retribution the two nemeses differ. Let St. Paul put the difference for us. "Some men's sins are evident, going before unto judgment; and some they follow after." So in cases like that of Shylock the nemesis is interesting from its very obviousness and the impatience with which we look for it; in the case of Antonio the nemesis is striking for the very opposite reason, that he of all men seemed most secure against it'

Richard Moulton, Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist, pp. 46, 47.

References. V. 24. J. Baines, Sermons, p. 15. J. C. M. Bellew, Sermons, vol. iii. p. 96.

1 Timothy 5:24-25

Most editors take these verses, in connection with what precedes, as a reminder to Timothy that human character is not easy to read, and that the outward life of men requires careful scrutiny before it is passed or rejected by any one who has to make appointments or administer affairs within the society. Men are not always what they seem. They may be either worse or better than a superficial reading of their actions might suggest.

Wohlenberg, in his edition of the Epistles (Zahn's Kommentar zum Neuem Testament, XIII. pp. 187 f .) ingeniously proposes on the other hand to connect these verses with the following injunction to Christian slaves (6:1, 2): 'Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and of His doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren.' The connection is as follows, according to Wohlenberg: 'Slaves occupy a position in which their misdeeds become quickly known and receive immediate punishment, whereas their good actions are usually allowed to pass unnoticed. On the other hand, when their masters sin, the wrongdoing gets hushed up and palliated, while any praiseworthy action on the part of masters is at once made public and honoured, thanks to their conspicuous position.'

This exegesis makes the Apostle side with the slaves rather than with their masters, or at least dwell more on the faults of the latter. The former must not bring discredit on the Gospel by impertinence or laziness, nor must they presume on the kindness of such masters as happen to be Christians themselves, by insubordination. Let them not fear that their own virtues will go for nothing. And let them not imagine that their masters' injustice and cruelty will escape the judgment of God.

With the general sentiment we may compare Mr. Yorke's method (in Shirley, ch. iv.), when he got vexed with successful evil in this world. He 'believed fully that there was such a thing as judgment to come. If it were otherwise, it would be difficult to imagine how all the scoundrels who seemed triumphant in this world, who broke innocent hearts with impunity, abused unmerited privileges, were a scandal to honourable callings, took the bread out of the mouths of the poor, browbeat the humble, and truckled meanly to the rich and proud were to be properly paid off, in such coin as they had earned. But,' he added, 'whenever he got low-spirited about such like goings-on and their seeming success in this mucky lump of a planet, he just reached down t'owd book' (pointing to a great Bible in the bookcase), 'opened it like at a chance, and he was sure to light of a verse blazing wi' a blue brimstone glow that set all straight. He knew,' he said, 'where some folk was bound for, just as weel as if an angel wi' great white wings had come in ower t' door-stone and told him.'

James Moffatt.

References. V. 24, 25. Expositor (7th Series), vol. v. p. 566. VI. l. Ibid. (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 398. VI. 2. J. S. Boone, Sermons, p. 1. VI. 3. Expositor (6th Series), vol. xi. p. 45.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/1-timothy-5.html. 1910.