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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 5

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-16

How to Set in Order the Widows - Paul first tells Timothy the qualifications of true widows and their duties, which is the lowest office of the church, for they give themselves to prayer night and day (1 Timothy 5:17-25). He will also address the issue of elderly men and women in a local congregation.

1 Timothy 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

1 Timothy 5:1 “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father” Comments - Do not reprimand or rebuke your elder. A young minister is to treat his elders in the church with honor and consideration, showing them respect as a father or as a mother (verse 2). My Greek professor in Seminary, who was elderly, wisely told his class of young Bible students to treat his elder church members as fathers and mothers, to show them respect.

Note other passages on this subject:

Leviticus 19:32, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.”

Proverbs 20:29, “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.”

Proverbs 23:22, “Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.”

King Solomon honored his mother, Bathsheba:

1 Kings 2:19, “Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right hand.”

1 Timothy 5:2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

1 Timothy 5:2 “the younger as sisters, with all purity” Comments - 1 Timothy 5:2 can serve as guidelines for Christian dating. When Christian men date a Christian lady, they are to treat them as sisters. No one shows excessive physical affection towards a sibling. Instead, they give them a simply hug or a kiss on the cheek.

1 Timothy 5:1-2 Comments - The Church Serves as an Extended Family Unit To Mould and Shape our Character - One of the great things about joining a local church is the fact that we can develop healthy relationships with “fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters” in the Lord. If we grew up in a dysfunctional home, if we had a father or mother that did not take the time to love us, a local church is the institution that God has ordained for these Christians to develop proper relationships. It is in church that God will give us a loving father or mother, a genuine brother or sister. It is this church environment that has helped me so much in learning good social behavior.

1 Timothy 5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.

1 Timothy 5:4 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.

1 Timothy 5:4 “nephews” In the Greek, literally, “descendents,” but specifically grandchildren.

1 Timothy 5:4 “to requite” - Literally, “to return or give a recompense or return.”

1 Timothy 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

1 Timothy 5:5 “and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day” Comments - Cindy Jacobs, president and cofounder of Generals of Intercession, says that she once asked the Lord why we have to pray night and day, and why can we not just pray in the daytime and sleep at night. The Lord said to her, “because the devil never rests.” She said that God made the night and called it good, but the devil has taken over the night. [120] That is when the drug deals happen, when the prostitutes come out and all kinds of evils take place. God originally made the night a good thing. For example, one good thing about the night is that it is a time of quietness and prayer and meditation on the activities of the day.

[120] Cindy Jacobs, Praise the Lord (Santa Ana, California: Trinity Broadcasting Network), television program.

1 Timothy 5:5 Comments - The widow is a person who can have much time to herself and not be burdened with the busy responsibilities of her youth, such as being a good wife and mother. Note:

1 Corinthians 7:32, “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:”

Anna the prophetess is an illustration of this verse:

Luke 2:36-38, “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

Note that a righteous person has a powerful prayer life.

James 5:16, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Success is not according to physical strength, but by the power of God:

Zechariah 4:6 “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”

Polycarp (A.D. 69 to 155), in his epistle to the Philippians, exhorts the widows to continually in prayer, calling them the “altars of God.”

“Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil; knowing that they are the altars of God, that He clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any one of the secret things of the heart.” ( The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 4:0) [121]

[121] Polycarp, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (electronic edition), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004).

1 Timothy 5:4-5 Comments Distinction Between Widows - Paul gives a lengthy description in 1 Timothy 5:4-16 on how to honour widows. For widows who are not desolate, the responsibility of their care is to their descendents, primarily the closest of kin. For widows who are desolate, the church is responsible.

1 Timothy 5:6 Comments - The Scriptures say that it is sinful for an older lady, a widow, not to devote herself to prayer and fasting.

1 Timothy 5:11 Comments - After committing themselves to the church, these younger widows feel that they want to get married again and therefore, they will neglect the duties of constant prayer and fasting, to which they had committed themselves. The next verse says that they cast off their first faith.

1 Timothy 5:12 Comments - The reason for their judgment is the “casting off of their first faith.”

1 Timothy 5:13 Comments - I had to deal with a situation in my marriage in which my wife began to meet with a group of ladies on a weekly basis. At first, everything seemed innocent and beneficial to a lady’s need for friendship and fellowship. After a while, I began to feel that we were losing our intimacy, and we were not as close to one another as before. These ladies were telling each other about particular husbands or wives that were unfaithful; thus, causing doubt to arise in the hearts of all the ladies about their own husbands. As one point, I addressed the issues surrounding such weekly gatherings, and asked her to stop. She faithfully did so. Afterwards, I noticed her intimacy increasing.

1 Timothy 5:14 “give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” Comments Thee phrase “give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” literally means, “to the adversary for the reason of a reproach.” The devil is the accuser to the brethren. Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan, the accuser of the brethren, spends day and night accusing Christians of their faults. We find in Romans 8:33-34 a description of how Jesus Christ stands at the right hand of the Father to intercede for those whom Satan has accused.

Romans 8:33-34, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

Paul also warned Timothy about the adversary’s opportunities to speak reproachfully against those with sin in the lives.

1 Timothy 5:14, “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

This tells us that when we sin, we must be quick to confess our sins so that Jesus Christ is given the authority to intercede in our behalf to the Father. We also have the story in Job 1-2 of how Satan stood before God and accused Job of being unrighteous in his heart. The Lord said, “…and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause.” (Job 2:3) Thus, we see that Satan’s accusations have the potential to move God against us. Job cried out for a redeemer to plead for his innocence, but there was none (Job 9:33).

Job 9:33, “Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.”

Verses 1-25

The Role of Additional Members of the Congregation: Emphasis on the Body Yielding to a Godly Lifestyle In 1 Timothy 5:1 to 1 Timothy 6:19 Paul teaches Timothy how to set in order and minister to the rest of the members of his congregation, those who do not qualify as bishops and deacons. Paul focuses upon the different age groups, the old and the young, to those holding different church offices, from the widows to the teachers, and to different social classes, the rich and the poor. Paul first deals with those who hold secondary church offices, which are the widows who dedicate themselves to prayer (1 Timothy 5:1-16), and the elders (1 Timothy 5:17-25). He then deals with the laity by focusing on the poor and the rich classes (1 Timothy 6:1-19). Thus, we see Paul addressing these groups of people in the order of honour they are bestowed by a society. Genuine widows are given the greatest honor, even in churches today, followed by church elders, then the poor, with the last being given to the rich.

Paul then teaches Timothy how to set in order and minister to the rest of the members of his congregation, those who will not qualify as bishops and deacons. Paul focuses upon the different age groups, the old and the young, to those holding different church offices, from the widows to the teachers, and to different social classes, the rich and the poor. Paul first deals with those who hold church offices, which are the widows who dedicate themselves to prayer (1 Timothy 5:1-16), and the elders (1 Timothy 5:17-25). He then deals with the laity by focusing on the poor and the rich classes (1 Timothy 6:1-19). Thus, we see Paul addressing these groups of people in the order of honour they are bestowed by a society. Genuine widows are given the greatest honor, even in churches today, followed by church elders, then the poor, with the last being given to the rich.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. How to Set In Order the Widows 1 Timothy 5:1-16

2. How to Set In Order the Elders 1 Timothy 5:17-25

3. Paul Addresses Slavery and Wealth 1 Timothy 6:1-19

Verses 17-25

How to Set in Order the Elders In 1 Timothy 5:17-25 Paul deals with the duties and discipline of church elders, which is the highest and noblest office in the church, for they labour in the word and doctrine. Paul teaches Timothy how to deal with disciple and rewards for church leaders.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Rewarding Elders 1 Timothy 5:17-18

2. Discipline for Elders 1 Timothy 5:19-20

3. Fulfill Office Without Partiality 1 Timothy 5:21-22

4. Insertion for Paul’s Health 1 Timothy 5:23

5. Closing Statement 1 Timothy 5:24-25

1 Timothy 5:17-18 Rewarding Elders - Honor those who lead well.

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

1 Timothy 5:17 “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour” Comments - Note a similar passage from Ignatius (A.D. 35-107), bishop of Antioch:

“It is becoming, therefore, that ye also should be obedient to your bishop, and contradict him in nothing; for it is a fearful thing to contradict any such person. For no one does [by such conduct] deceive him that is visible, but does [in reality] seek to mock Him that is invisible, who, however, cannot be mocked by any one. And every such act has respect not to man, but to God. For God says to Samuel, “They have not mocked thee, but Me.” And Moses declares, “For their murmuring is not against us, but against the Lord God.” No one of those has, [in fact,] remained unpunished, who rose up against their superiors. For Dathan and Abiram did not speak against the law, but against Moses, and were cast down alive into Hades. Korah also, and the two hundred and fifty who conspired with him against Aaron, were destroyed by fire. Absalom, again, who had slain his brother, became suspended on a tree, and had his evil-designing heart thrust through with darts. In like manner was Abeddadan beheaded for the same reason. Uzziah, when he presumed to oppose the priests and the priesthood, was smitten with leprosy. Saul also was dishonoured, because he did not wait for Samuel the high priest. It behoves you, therefore, also to reverence your superiors.” ( The Epistle Of Ignatius To The Magnesians Shorter And Longer Versions 3) [122]

[122] Ignatius, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (electronic edition), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004).

1 Timothy 5:17 Illustration:

Joshua 19:49-50, “When they had made an end of dividing the land for inheritance by their coasts, the children of Israel gave an inheritance to Joshua the son of Nun among them: According to the word of the LORD they gave him the city which he asked, even Timnathserah in mount Ephraim: and he built the city, and dwelt therein.”

1 Timothy 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

1 Timothy 5:18 Comments - The New Testament church, because of its Jewish heritage, immediately incorporated the Old Testament Scriptures into its daily worship, but these new believers quickly realized that some of the Old Testament teachings, such as the Law of Moses, must now be interpreted in light of the New Covenant. We see this challenge taking place at the first council of Jerusalem in Acts 15:0.

Acts 15:1-2, “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.”

In addition to the recognition of the Old Testament, the apostles realized that they had been given the authority to reveal the new covenant with as high authority as they held the Jewish Old Testament. According to 2 Corinthians 3:1-11, they were appointed ministers of this new covenant.

The major requirement for all of the New Testament writings to be considered “divinely inspired Scripture” was apostolic authority. These twenty seven books had to have been either written by one of the twelve apostles, or either been imposed by these apostles upon the churches as an “instrument” of the Church, to be read and obeyed by all. Thus, we see the Gospels and Paul’s epistles being read in gatherings alongside the Old Testament Scriptures, and being elevated to equal authority as other sacred Scripture.

Therefore, Paul’s qualifications as a minister of the new covenant was elevated to a level higher than others due to the fact that God had given him the calling of writing much of the New Testament. Paul realized that his writings were on an equal level of authority as the Old Testament Scriptures.

Therefore, Paul held the authority to speak on the level of authority that Christ Jesus spoke while on this earth. For example, in this verse, written in the 60’s, we see him quoting from the book of Deuteronomy and from the words of the Lord, which are later recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In this passage, Paul gives both equal authority.

Deuteronomy 25:4, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.”

Luke 10:7, “And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.”

Scripture References - Note similar Scriptures that indicate how the New Testament writings became elevated by apostolic authority to become equal to the Old Testament Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 14:37, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 3:6, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Colossians 4:16, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”

1 Thessalonians 4:2, “For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:27, “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.”

2 Thessalonians 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”

1 Peter 1:12, “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

2 Peter 3:16, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.”

1 Timothy 5:19-20 Discipline for Elders - Do not listen to a bunch of gossip by individuals about them, but only if two or three witnesses verify the truth. Then charge them of their sin before all, so others may fear.

1 Timothy 5:20 Comments - God has given the Church the authority to deal with sin. See Matthew 18:15-20 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-7.

1 Timothy 5:20 Illustration:

Galatians 2:11-14, “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all , If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

1 Timothy 5:21-22 Fulfill Office Without Partiality Timothy must be strong in character to not show partiality when implementing Paul’s charges regarding elders.

1 Timothy 5:21 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.

1 Timothy 5:21 Comments - The elect angels are those who did not fall with Satan (2 Peter 2:4).

2 Peter 2:4, “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;”

1 Timothy 5:22 “Lay hands suddenly on no man” Comments - Be careful how you choose and lay hands upon them. They need to be proven faithful. Note:

1 Timothy 3:6, “ Not a novice , lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.”

1 Timothy 3:10, “ And let these also first be proved ; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.”

Illustration - Care was taken in the book of Acts in selecting deacons:

Acts 6:5-6, “And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.”

1 Timothy 5:22 “neither be partaker of other men's sins” - Illustration:

2 John 1:11, “For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

1 Timothy 5:23 Insertion for Paul’s Health - Paul inserts a note for Timothy's sake. In qualifying for these offices of church leadership with strict requirements, Paul speaks of not being given to much wine for the leaders of the church, but use it in moderation (1 Timothy 3:3; 1 Timothy 3:8 and Titus 1:7). For the sake of Timothy’s health, Paul advises him to use a little for medical reasons. It will not be wrong under these circumstances.

1 Timothy 5:23 Word Study on “wine” Strong says the Greek word “wine” “ οἶνος ” ( οἶνος ) (G3631) means, “wine.” BDAG says it means, “wine, normally the fermented juice of the grape.”

Comments - Unless a person served in the office of Church leadership, he does not understand the pressures that can come against a minister. It can be stressful upon a person’s body and affect their physical health. Paul had told Timothy as well as Titus not to allow church leaders to be given to wine, but to use it in moderation (1 Timothy 3:3; 1 Timothy 3:8, Titus 1:7; Titus 2:3).

1 Timothy 3:3, “ Not given to wine , no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;”

1 Timothy 3:8, “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine , not greedy of filthy lucre;”

Titus 1:7, ”For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine , no striker, not given to filthy lucre;”

Titus 2:3, “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;”

Paul tells Timothy in this same epistle to drink a little wine for the sake of his health. Paul also says in this epistle that no food or drink is to be refused if it has been received with thanksgiving and the Word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Thus, Paul is telling the leaders of the church not to indulge in these areas of his life, but to use wisdom and moderation.

1 Timothy 4:4-5, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

A troubled stomach is most often caused by unsanitized food and water. This is a real challenge for missionaries, particularly when their work requires them to do a lot of travel. Paul and Timothy travelled frequently, must have encountered stomach ailments. In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul was simply telling Timothy to avoid the unsanitized water and drink the only safe alternative, which was wine, but in moderation. This is probably something the Lord showed Paul as a practical cure. If wine in moderation will help Timothy in his health, then it can be drunk with God’s blessings. Timothy apparently knew the medical benefits of using wine for his ailment, but he needed Paul’s permission to break the normal rule of abstinence, which Paul gives him in this verse.

1 Timothy 5:24-25 Closing Statement Paul then makes a closing statement about the task given to Timothy. He notes that the sins of some will be known and judged here in this life, but other sins will be hidden until Judgment Day. Likewise, good deeds are obvious in this life, but others will not be known until Judgment Day.

1 Timothy 5:24 Comments - Within the context of 1 Timothy 5:17-22 Paul was instructing Timothy on how to handle church elders. While discussing discipline and selection of elders Paul acknowledges that not all sins are apparent. Some men’s sins become known and are judged in this life, while others remain unknown until the Day of Judgment.

1 Timothy 5:25 Comments - Likewise, some men’s good works are obvious now, while others will not be known until the Day of Judgment.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-timothy-5.html. 2013.
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