Click here to join the effort!
Do not rebuke an older man. Because Timothy, as an evangelist (see note on Ephesians 4:11), would have the duty of “rebuking error and correcting faults (2 Timothy 3:16-17),” Paul tells how this is to be done. The wise leader must treat the people as individuals. Each age and condition needs separate treatment, and Paul divides them into four groups. Since the church is a family, it cannot be run like the army! With all purity. There must not be any hint of scandal. As a young man, Timothy must be especially careful.
Show respect for widows. We can identify four types of widows in what Paul writes here. (1) The true widow (1 Timothy 5:5); (2) The widow with children or grandchildren (1 Timothy 5:4); (3) The widow who gives herself to pleasure (1 Timothy 5:6); (4) The listed widow (1 Timothy 5:9). Widows were helpless in the harsh world of the first century. The church quickly showed a sense of responsibility toward their welfare (see Acts 6:1-6 and notes).
Children or grandchildren. In normal family relationships, it is the Lord’s will that children and grandchildren take care of their parents and grandparents. See 1 Timothy 5:8.
Who is a true widow. She has no children or close relatives at all. See Anna (Luke 2:36-37 and notes).
Who gives herself to pleasure. Being cut loose from her husband by his death, she is living an unholy life. This means she is spiritually dead, so long as she continues to live this way. It would be the responsibility of the church leaders (who might work through the listed widows) to work to reclaim this spiritually dead widow. See Galatians 6:1.
Give them this command. Especially the things said in 1 Timothy 5:4.
But if someone. The Christian faith includes the law of love! Even unbelievers take care of their own families. [Note that the Essenes were not allowed to help their relatives without special permission from their leaders. But they could help anyone else they pleased. See also the strange custom in Matthew 15:3-6 and notes.]
Do not add. A listed widow meets certain qualifications; is supported directly by the church; and is in a sense the female counterpart of the church leader. She is primarily a teacher, in contrast to the female church helper (1 Timothy 3:11 and note). More than sixty years old. This is a special requirement, only for a listed widow. If she is under sixty, 1 Timothy 5:14 applies. Married only once. She must have been a married woman (see note on 1 Timothy 3:2). She could not have been a prostitute or a concubine.
Have a reputation. Her past life demonstrates her character and faith. Who brought up her children well. Either her natural children, or foster children. This demonstrates her ability. Received strangers. Shown her attitude and love by helping those made homeless through persecution. Washed the feet. This shows humility and a willingness to serve others. Paul surely is thinking of John 13:5-15. To all kinds of good works. This sums it all up. She is one who has practiced what she claimed to be.
But do not include. A younger widow, one under age sixty, must not be made a listed widow. See 1 Timothy 5:9. Remember Paul is speaking about those who want to be included in the list of specially privileged church-widows. It is implied that those on the list made a special promise to remain a widow and spend all their time serving Christ. Not everyone would be happy and satisfied doing this, and so Paul specifically forbids the younger widows from being considered for this service.
Breaking their first promise. Not because they get married, but because after having made a promise to devote themselves to this teaching mission, they “go back on their promise” by leaving it to get married.
They also learn. They do not have the maturity required for this teaching mission of going from house to house. For those who have the strength (gift, 1 Corinthians 7:7) to live unmarried in order to give their time and energy to the direct service of God, it is better not to marry again. But there is no special blessedness in the fact of being unmarried, especially if the motive for remaining unmarried is a selfish one (such as: to avoid having to take care of a home and family, and to have lots of leisure time for personal pleasure). For this reason, Paul specifies that such widows must be at least sixty years old (1 Timothy 5:9).
That the younger widows get married. None are to be placed on this list but the aged. There are to be no young nuns. It will be better if the widows under sixty years old get married again. No chance of speaking evil of us. Compare 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:16.
For some. This certainly speaks of something worse than a second marriage, and clearly points to such things as mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:13.
But if any woman. This shows that what Paul said in 1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:7-8 applies to women as well as to men. [In this section on widows, Paul has been speaking specifically about widows who are listed widows, who are teachers supported out of the church treasury. Certainly the church can help other widows who are unable to help themselves because of sickness, etc. But only certain ones can be made listed widows.]
The elders. This is another name for a church leader. See note on 1 Timothy 3:1. Double pay = generous support. At preaching and teaching. Some church leaders (and some church helpers) were also evangelists.
For the scripture says. See note on 1 Corinthians 9:9. Paul also quotes Luke 10:7 and calls it scripture. Peter includes Paul’s writing in the term scripture (2 Peter 3:16).
Unless it is brought. As an evangelist, Timothy might be forced to hear accusations against an elder (church leader) who would be older than himself. This is in harmony with 1 Corinthians 6:5. But he is to ignore such things unless two or three reliable witnesses bring this accusation. (This is to prevent soreheads and troublemakers from making false charges.)
Rebuke publicly. “Those who are found guilty of sin, by the word of reliable witnesses, you are to rebuke in public as a warning to the others, so they may be afraid to commit similar sins.” This does not conflict with 1 Timothy 5:1, because it is not treating him harshly, but bringing the thing out into the open. Compare Galatians 6:1.
I solemnly call upon you. This is a solemn obligation which Paul places on Timothy. He must not “play favorites,” but impartially deal with the matters mentioned in this Letter. Some think this implies that Paul was afraid Timothy would be too mild in dealing quickly with the problems which would come up in church life. Paul’s many references to angels show that he firmly believed in the ministry of angels (Hebrews 1:14).
To lay hands on. No one should be appointed to serve, until he (or she) has been thoroughly examined. A ceremony of “laying on hands” was used to identify those appointed for special service. Compare 1 Timothy 4:14 : Acts 13:3. [The congregation did the choosing. See Acts 6:2-3 and notes.]
But take a little wine. Probably the false teachers prohibited the light wines that were then used. Compare notes on 1 Timothy 4:3; Colossians 2:16; John 2:10. This gives some indication of Timothy’s state of health. The Expositor’s Greek Testament has Paul saying: “I do not mean you to practice a rigid asceticism; on the contrary, I think that you are likely to injure your health by your complete abstinence from wine; so, be no longer a water-drinker, etc.” Johnson says the water of that region is not good, and he spent a fearfully sick day at Ephesus in 1889 because of the water there.
An plain to see. This refers back to 1 Timothy 5:22. Since keeping an unfit man in a place of service makes the one who appoints him responsible, in a sense, Timothy may have been very afraid he might make a mistake in such things. “In the case of some, it will be such an “open and shut case,” that you will have no doubts about it. Their sins will clearly disqualify them. With others, their sins are hidden, and only time will reveal them. For this reason, don’t be in any hurry to appoint people.”
In the same way. “The good deeds of some will be so plain that you will not need to examine them very closely. Their reputations declare what they are. And even the good deeds that are not so plain will come out in time.”
These files are public domain.
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28