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1 Timothy 5:1 . Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father. Job’s three princely friends not only mistook his case, but were severe in their reprehensions; and were themselves reprehended of the Lord. Shem and Japhet, on the contrary, covered the error of their father, and obtained a blessing. Noah’s error was solitary, and for the moment, probably ignorant of the power of new wine. It was a spot, but it superseded not his honour as a patriarch, and was only a momentary eclipse of his glory as a prophet. The word “elder” denotes aged members in the church, as well as presbyters in office, who are entitled first of all to private entreaties. Their public character is sacred, and intimately connected with the prosperity of the church.
1 Timothy 5:3-10 . Honour widows who are widows indeed. Some of these were deaconesses, like Phoebe, in the church, whose office corresponded with the matrons of the synagogue. The widow indeed, however poor, trusts in God, and spends her leisure in prayer, and in worship with the church. God has promised bread to such widows. Let her relatives take her home; but if they fail, let the church, after the manner of the synagogue, supply the lack. This favour is conferred on widows who are past the years of labour, which Paul, as a maximum, fixes at sixty. Neither would he admit the widows who had married husband after husband.
1 Timothy 5:17 . Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour. That is, the presbyters; some of whom were in the simple ages employed at their labour, and edified the flock on the sabbath, and at other times. Those who laboured in the word and doctrine, were, it would seem, men wholly devoted to the ministry; but the most aged and holy, and best qualified of these were called bishops. Hence the distinction gradually took place between bishop, presbyter or priest, as the sexton and deacon. The “double honour” is thought to refer to the firstborn who had a double portion assigned them by the law: and the elders of Israel or magistrates are called presbyters in the Septuagint. Double honour may therefore imply reverence and maintenance. As they give their whole labour to the church, the church should give them bread in return.
1 Timothy 5:19 . Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Because an elder is a character known for probity, and because the world aim their darts at the leaders of the flock. An elder also, in the exercise of discipline, has faults to reprehend; and those under censure will put the fairest show on their baser conduct.
1 Timothy 5:21 . I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect or holy angels, that thou observe these things. What charge can be more solemn? Men must be sworn, and in the full and open court of heaven, to do the work of the Lord faithfully, and without partiality. They must be like Levi, who knew not his father or his mother, when the rebels came not to worship at the sound of the trumpet. Ministers are sworn and charged before Jehovah’s presence, for in his presence they must finally be judged.
1 Timothy 5:22 . Lay hands suddenly on no man. Time must be allowed to give proof that candidates for the ministry possess the proper spirit and qualifications for their work.
Neither be partaker of other men’s sins, by ordaining novices, or incompetent persons, for the work of the Lord. A young man once came to bishop Horsley for orders, dressed as a gentleman for the chase. What news, young man, said the bishop, from Newmarket? My lord, said he, I have not been at Newmarket. I came to be ordained. Do you think, said the bishop, that I would ordain a horse-jockey? His ordination was of course postponed.
The ministerial charge is a very serious one; the aged Eli lost his life by being partaker of the sins of his sons. All sinners must, after milder means have failed, be put back from the holy communion, lest we should have no real christian church. In the letters addressed to the seven churches in the province of Asia, all the sins of the flock are laid on the pastors’ shoulders, and nearly the whole tribe of Benjamin was cut off for covering the sins of the sons of Belial. Surely our own sins are enow to make us tremble before the great and awful tribunal.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29