Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
Take your personal ministry to the Next Level by helping StudyLight build churches and supporting pastors in Uganda.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 5

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-2


1 Timothy 5:1. Rebuke not an elder.I.e. do not sharply reprimand one advanced in years. The authority of St. Paul was never that of those who “lord it over God’s heritage.”

1 Timothy 5:2. As sisters, with all purity.—With severe chastity of thought and expression.


The Pastor’s Treatment of Old and Young of Both Sexes.

I. Old and young are liable to err.—There are temptations and sins peculiar to all periods of life. The effervescence of youth is liable to degenerate into frivolity. The sedateness of age may breed moroseness or a dangerous self-confidence. Young and old should learn to respect one another. The old should regard the young with hope, with sympathy, with affection, with thankfulness, and not with jealousy. And the young should treat the aged with respect, with reverence, and with cheerful submission to their wise and anxious counsel.

II. Reproof should be administered with due regard to the age and relationship of the persons committing wrong (1 Timothy 5:1-2).—Timothy’s youthfulness and natural timidity might be a barrier to his undertaking the office of reprover, especially in dealing with those older than himself. Hence the apostle exhorts him to fidelity in this duty. Even in rebuking, the aged are to be treated as fathers and mothers, the young as brothers and sisters. We must not forget the reverence due to age, nor must we lose our sympathy with the tastes and hopes of the young; but we must not allow our personal predilections to interfere with dealing faithfully with the manifest errors and sins of all classes.

III. Reproof is a necessary but difficult part of a pastor’s duty.—There is an unspeakable pleasure in study, in preaching, and in social and spiritual fellowship with Christian people; but to rebuke is a hard task, and requires both tact and courage. Everything depends on the method and spirit in which reproof is administered, and we must seek to be fair and just as well as faithful. To rebuke in a sharp and arrogant temper will do more harm than good, and to shirk the duty is a loss to ourselves and a wrong to the offender. There is no part of a minister’s work that requires more caution and tenderness, and about which he needs to pray more earnestly, than in reproving evident sin with candour and fidelity.


1. The minister’s teaching must be adapted to both old and young.

2. He should cultivate a generous sympathy with young life.

3. He must know how to reprove as well as encourage.

Verses 3-16


1 Timothy 5:4. Children or nephews.—R.V. “children or grandchildren.” “Descendants, or more specially, as the context implies, grandchildren—nephews in the original but now antiquated sense of the word” (Ellicott). Shew piety at home.—Another example of St. Paul’s natural religion. Filial piety is what he here enjoins.

1 Timothy 5:5. She that is a widow indeed.—Like old Anna who “departed not from the Temple”—left desolate for a long lifetime.

1 Timothy 5:6. She that liveth in pleasure.—R.V. “giveth herself to pleasure.” The only other use of the word in the New Testament is James 5:5.—an instructive parallel. Dead while she liveth.—As in the vivid thought of the East that which was certain was spoken of as actual, so St. Paul regards a wanton life as an actual death.

1 Timothy 5:8. If any provide not.—If he does not use his judgment to anticipate the needs. For his own, and specially for those of his own house.—This cuts at the root of the improvidence which might originate in the care of the Church, through the deacons, for those who were destitute. A man’s household must be his concern rather than that of the Church or the board of guardians.

1 Timothy 5:9. Let not a widow be taken into the number.—R.V. “Let none be enrolled as a widow.” It has been suggested that they were an order of widows who took the oversight of the younger women. Perhaps they acted as chaperons.

1 Timothy 5:10. Brought up children.—Whether her own children, or others left as orphans, it is not easy to decide. Lodged strangers.—R.V. “used hospitality to.” Not only with the possibility of finding angels (Hebrews 13:2) amongst them, but with the direct assurance that the Lord Himself, in His lowliest servant, was honoured.

1 Timothy 5:11. The younger widows refuse.—“They were not necessarily to be excluded from the alms of the Church, but were only to be held ineligible for the collegium viduarum” (Ellicott).

1 Timothy 5:13. Tattlers also, and busy-bodies.—Like Diotrephes—going about prating against St. John—these babblers give unrestrained licence to their tongues, and permit others no peace from their meddlesomeness.

1 Timothy 5:16. If any man or woman that believeth have widows.—How were the younger widows to be supported then? Let their relatives care for them rather than place them in a position to bring reproach on the community.


Widows and the Early Christian Church.

I. There was a distinction recognised between the different grades of widowhood.—In this paragraph four classes of widows are mentioned.

1. The widow indeed (1 Timothy 5:3; 1 Timothy 5:5). She is desolate, quite alone in the world. She has not only lost her husband, but is without children or any other near relative to provide for her needs. The Church must be to her in place of husband and family, and seek to mitigate as much as possible the oppressive loneliness of her life.

2. The widow with a family. “Children and grandchildren” (1 Timothy 5:4). It is the Christian duty of the members of the family to provide for the wants of the home (1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16). The Church must not burden itself with responsibilities that belong to others, and which they must be taught to discharge.

3. The widow living in pleasure. Gay, frivolous, and even worse (1 Timothy 5:6; 1 Timothy 5:11-15). Her young, passionate nature must be restrained, and be warned not to bring discredit and disgrace upon herself and the Church. 4. The enrolled widow (1 Timothy 5:9-10). She must be sixty years of age, have had only one husband, have had experience in the bringing up of children, and be well known as devoted to good works. She is a widow indeed, and something more. She has an office in the Church with definite functions to discharge, and the Church is responsible for her support.

II. Discretion and tact were necessary in dealing with the different classes of widows.—Timothy was young, and was exhorted so to behave himself that his moral integrity should command respect in spite of his youth. Respect must be shown towards age and moral worth (1 Timothy 5:3), and discretion exercised in dealing with the young and wanton (1 Timothy 5:6-7). There is a shrewd insight into human nature in one of the rules imposed by Wesley on his early preachers: “Converse sparingly with women, especially with young women.” “Care must be taken not to encourage either a rigour not likely to be maintained, or opportunities of idleness certain to lead to mischief. Help is to be generously afforded to the destitute, but the resources of the Church must be jealously guarded. They must not be wasted on the unworthy, or on those who have other means of help. And, so far as possible, the independence of those who are relieved must be protected by employing them in the service of the Church” (1 Timothy 5:3-16) (Plummer).

III. The principle of self-help and independence in the Christian family is recognised and strongly enforced (1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16).—The Church is not to be regarded as a permanent board of relief constituted for the administration of indiscriminate charity. It does not and should not free any of its members from responsibilities by undertaking for them in mistaken charity the duties they ought to discharge and are capable of discharging themselves. Christianity teaches the gospel of work, not as an end in itself, but as a means of securing support and independence, and of freely ministering to the good of others. No one should be encouraged to attach himself or herself to the Church for the sake of personal maintenance. The Church must keep her needy members, but all who can work should be stimulated to honest and diligent industry.


1. The young minister must be circumspect in his behaviour towards women.

2. The Church should shelter and help its deserving widows.

3. The Church should encourage work and a spirit of independence.


1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16. Family Responsibilities.

I. Parents and children should mutually contribute to the family support.

II. The help of children afforded to their parents is a just requital of parental toil and affection.

III. The neglect of self-evident family duties is utterly alien to the spirit and teaching of Christianity (1 Timothy 5:8).

1 Timothy 5:4. The Christian Home

I. Is the sphere for exercising practical religion.—“Learn first to show piety at home.”

II. Recognises the righteous claims of the widowed mother to affection and support.—“If any widow have children or grandchildren, let them … requite their parents.”

III. Enjoys the Divine approval.—“For that is good and acceptable before God.”

Piety at Home.

I. The home must be safe.

II. Make it attractive.

III. Make it instructive.

IV. Make the home a preparation for life.

V. Make the home a preparation for heaven.

VI. Keep the home near heaven.J. Hamilton.

1 Timothy 5:8. Consistency of Benevolence with providing for our own.

I. Whenever the conduct proposed is physically impossible, it cannot be our duty.

II. Wherever this conduct would frustrate the great end of benevolence by lessening human happiness, it cannot be our duty.

1. If the interests and duties of mankind were all thrown into a common stock, there would be little or no good done to any.

2. The division of human industry should be voluntary.

3. By the institution of families preparation is effectually made for the preservation, support, and education of children.

4. All the duties of man respect especially the objects he best knows, those to which he can most frequently and effectually extend his beneficence.—Dwight.

1 Timothy 5:11-15. Young Widowhood

I. Has its special perils.

1. In rebelling against the claims of Christ (1 Timothy 5:11-12).

2. In degenerating into habits of idleness and mischievous gossip (1 Timothy 5:13).

II. Has its safeguards in the duties and responsibilities of domestic life.

Verses 17-25


1 Timothy 5:17. Counted worthy of double honour.—If the honour is remuneration, this double honour, denoting competent reward as well as respect, is like Costard’s “gardon, better than remuneration.”

1 Timothy 5:19. Receive not an accusation.—Their position would render them liable to be accused, and they must be guarded from slander.

1 Timothy 5:21. The elect angels.—Who kept their own estate (Jude 1:6).

1 Timothy 5:22. Lays hands suddenly on no man.—The usual explanation, of the imposition of hands in ordination, is rejected by Ellicott in favour of the assumption that it was in absolution of penitents. It would seem better to leave the admonition more general, as a warning against precipitancy.

1 Timothy 5:23. Drink no longer water.—Timothy had evidently carried his abstemiousness beyond the limits of prudence.

1 Timothy 5:24. Going before … follow after.—In either case they come to judgment, as heralds and apparitors, or as an inevitable testimony crying after them.

1 Timothy 5:25. The good works of some are manifest beforehand.—R.V. “there are good works that are evident.” As in the case of sins, so in the case of good works—they must eventually be manifest, perhaps to the astonishment of those by whom they were wrought.


Rules for Church Government

I. The diligent and faithful minister should be highly esteemed and generously maintained (1 Timothy 5:17-18).—It is in vain to expect spiritual profit from a minister we do not respect. As a public man he is exposed to much criticism—criticism that is often thoughtless, shallow, and unfair; and all such criticism tends to lower his influence with the indifferent and unspiritual. To get the highest good from the pastor the people must love and esteem him; and where this spirit obtains his maintenance will be just and generous, and cheerfully rendered. He devotes his life, his powers, his all, to his work, first for the love of his Master, and then for the spiritual salvation of his people. If he ministers faithfully in holy things, he is entitled to honour and becoming support in temporal things.

II. The character and reputation of a minister should be jealously guarded (1 Timothy 5:19).—There are some people who gloat with undisguised satisfaction as they eagerly listen to the most flippant scurrilities disparaging a minister of the gospel. His very office is an offence to them, and his fidelity a constant rebuke to their inconsistencies and follies. A Church that runs down its minister degrades itself. If there is real cause for complaint, the accusation should be cautiously and tenderly made, and should be treated and sifted with the utmost gravity and justice. A minister’s character is his shield: if that is lost, he is undone.

III. Care should be scrupulously exercised in selecting men for the Christian ministry.—“Lay hands suddenly [hastily] on no man” (1 Timothy 5:22). A man is not fit for the Christian ministry because he thinks he is. He must possess not only grace—every Christian must do that—but also gifts that demonstrate his suitability for the office. Even then it should be evident by the fruits of his labours that he is Divinely called to the work. He must also have the opportunity of scholastic and spiritual training, and be severely tested by inquiry and repeated examinations. Few young men realise the difficulties and trials of the ministerial vocation. Dr. Raleigh, at the height of his popularity, speaking to one of his deacons on this subject, said: “They come here and see the place crowded; they hear me preach, and it all seems easy and natural; and straightway they get a desire to do the same. Ah! they little know what it has cost me to attain to this!”

IV. Sin everywhere should be faithfully and fearlessly denounced.

1. As a warning to others. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).

2. To avoid the suspicions of personal connivance. “Neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22).

3. Sin and virtue will sooner or later be made evident (1 Timothy 5:24-25).

V. Zeal to serve the Church does not justify indifference to bodily health (1 Timothy 5:23).—Many practise this advice to Timothy who do not suffer from Timothy’s complaint. The tendency of the young pastor was to asceticism, and his excessive abstinence, adopted from conscientious motives, was undermining his already delicate constitution. There were few by whom the advice to take a little wine for medicinal purposes could be so safely followed as by Timothy. His high-toned temperance was his safeguard. There is no encouragement to the wine-bibber in this cautious advice. The health of the minister is an important factor in the effective discharge of his physically exacting duties. There was common sense in the reply of Robert Hall to the question as to what is the best preparation for preaching when he said, “A good night’s rest.” The success of the sermon depends upon the preacher’s state of health. It is a sacred duty to cherish and strengthen the body, that it may be a more vigorous servant and instrument of the mind.

VI. Rules for Church government should be applied with strict impartiality. (1 Timothy 5:21).—There should not be less care in maintaining Church order and discipline than in the methodical management of a large business, or in civic government, or in the administration of justice in courts of law. Church courts should be patterns of justice and equity. It is easier to observe than to enforce discipline.


1. Church organisation is the outgrowth of Church life.

2. To govern well the minister must himself respect and obey the law.

3. Discipline and doctrine are essential in promoting vigorous Church life and progress.


1 Timothy 5:17-22. Ministerial Life

I. Should be relieved from pecuniary burdens (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

II. Should be guarded from vexatious charges, but its sins fearlessly rebuked (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

III. Should be distinguished by impartiality (1 Timothy 5:21).

IV. Should not be entered upon without careful preparation (1 Timothy 5:22).

1 Timothy 5:24-25. Bad and Good Men.

I. Bad men and their actions.

1. The openly wicked. Their character is patent to all observers. Their sins are gross and flagrant.

2. The secretly wicked. They have a false character, different at home and abroad, in their family and among their boon companions, in the Church and in the world. They are sometimes unmasked during their lives. They shall appear in their true colours before the judgment-seat.

II. Good men and their actions.

1. The unmistakably good. They are acknowledged as Christians by all who know them. Comparatively rare. High style of excellence. A boon to have been intimately acquainted with a single specimen.

2. The questionably good. Their excellence is concealed by their humble position, or their meagre attainments, or their constitutional diffidence and reserve. Gradually it becomes known in a larger or more limited circle here. They shall “shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”


1. Let us be cautious in our judgments of our fellow-men.

2. Let us act with habitual reference to the judgment-seat.

3. Let us be resolved not to leave behind us a doubtful reputation.—G. Brooks.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/1-timothy-5.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
Ads FreeProfile