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In the church were Faith and I were saved there were two dear old widows that were so important to the church in its beginnings. They were not as the widows that we are going to look at in this study for they were self sufficient financially, but they certainly illustrate the assistance to the body of Christ that these ladies can be.
Barbara Rice and Nellie Walcott lived in an old two story house with a full basement. They became involved with the Bible study that later developed into our home church. The church met in their home for some time before they built a Christian education wing that also had a meeting room.
When they invited the church into their home, they at some point in time limited themselves to live in a small apartment within the house. The upper floor was often occupied by missionaries on furlough. Ultimately the ladies gave the property to the church.
They were always involved in the church in any way that they could be. They were widows, but not widows indeed as Paul puts it. They had some of the qualifications we will see in the study, but they did not meet the qualification of need. That being said, the church did do many nice things for the ladies anyway.
Then these were the three widows indeed that were in our first church. They were "surviving" on Social Security and welfare. Had they had any further need the church should have been involved. I told them in a church service that I wanted them to let us know if they ever had a need.
Later in life I decided that I was out of line. If the church leadership knows their people properly, they will know when those needs exist and the widows wouldn’t have to ask.
We want to look at GOVERNING FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES in verses one and two, then BLOOD FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES in verses three and four and finally at CHURCH FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES in verses five through seven.
I. CHURCH RELATIONSHIPS
1 Timothy 5:1. Rebuke not an elder, but entreat [him] as a father; [and] the younger men as brethren;
The obvious thought here is whether Paul is speaking about the elders of the church or the older men. If you link the verse to the previous context you would say the elders of the church, but with the following context it would seem obvious that he was speaking of the older men.
The term itself is the term applied to the elders of the church, yet the term is a general one to relate to many aspects. I will just list the many thoughts of the word according to Thayer. "1) elder, of age,1a) the elder of two people 1b) advanced in life, an elder, a senior 1b1) forefathers 2) a term of rank or office 2a) among the Jews 2a1) members of the great council or Sanhedrin (because in early times the rulers of the people, judges, etc., were selected from elderly men) 2a2) of those who in separate cities managed public affairs and administered justice 2b) among the Christians, those who presided over the assemblies (or churches) The NT uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably 2c) the twenty-four members of the heavenly Sanhedrin or court seated on thrones around the throne of God "
It seems that Paul has shifted gears from the organization of the leadership of the church and started to discuss the membership of the church and how Timothy is to relate to them.
What does rebuke mean? What can we say in a dispute or discussion with an older man that would be permissible and not be seen as a rebuke?
Webster views rebuke as "an expression of strong disapproval" Vine suggests, "to strike at"
This is the only New Testament usage of the term. It is related to the term in Revelation 8:12 that is translated "was smitten". The context is speaking of the sun being smitten in one of the cataclysms of the end times.
Literally it means "to strike, or beat with a blow". By further drawing it might indicate a pounding with words.
It would seem that this is a harsh rebuke, one that would cause hurt, I would think. In a discussion or dispute, it would relate to Timothy telling the elder that he is wrong and/or less than intelligent for believing as he does.
I would view it as speaking to an elderly man in a way that causes hurt or pain to the person.
The second part of the admonition seems to me to imply that the elder person had done wrong or had erred in some manner. If you have an older man that has stepped away from the Lord, Paul asks that you draw him back in the loving way that you would try to entreat your own father about an error.
The man is older, probably wiser, and he has seen a thing or two. You need to give him the respect that he deserves.
The terms “entreat” seems to imply this type of action as well. This is the term we saw last study which was translated comfort elsewhere in Scripture. It is the thought of calling along side and comforting, beseeching or exhortation.
This is a term that is the kissing cousin to the term used of the Holy Spirit when He is termed by the Lord the other comforter.
It is used by Paul when he prayed for the removal of the thorn in the flesh. The term is translated "besought" in 2 Corinthians 12:8.
When confronted with a problem with an older man the thought should be of one approaching his own father to encourage him toward proper behavior or life.
This is aimed directly at Timothy and his relation to these different groups of people. It also relates to other leaders and probably by application all believers.
In light of the idea that the secondary purpose of the epistle, to set in order church conduct, it would relate to the elders and their relationships to these groups of people within their church.
If a church elder rebukes an elder man then he should be reprimanded for his action.
I might insert here that in our year 2000 society in America this is a much needed line of thought. Older men are not respected in our country, nor are they seen to have much value at all.
It will take a marked effort for men coming out of seminaries and Bible colleges in our day to relate properly to the older men of their churches and ministries.
In Leviticus there is a long listing of do’s and don’ts and among them is the following admonition. 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."
HONOR the face of the old man placed in the same sentence with FEAR THY GOD! I trust the import of that sinks into some young people in our society.
"[and] the younger men as brethren;" The term brethren can denote brothers (John 1:40 Peter/Andrew being brothers), as well as the general sense of other male believers. (Romans 1:13; Romans 7:1; Romans 7:4; Romans 8:12) There are other uses of the term and is general for any group that are related together by a number of relationships.
I surmise that since this is a long listing of subgroups within the local assembly that the younger men would be the young male believers and Paul would be indicating the thought of treating the younger men of the church as blood brothers.
The thought of rebuking either my father or my brother is a thought that is totally foreign to me. I thought them wrong but never did I state the same to my father, and very seldom to my brother.
The respect of the father would dictate your approach.
The practical application of this is the fact that in many of our churches we are ignoring the wisdom of the older men of the church so that we can go with the more trendy things of life that the younger generation likes.
It isn’t that we should let the old fogies limit the growth of the church, but neither should we grow a church on the trendy and the worldly.
It has crossed my mind that it is the older that have resisted the "contemporary music" fad. It is the younger that have pushed it - because they like it.
Is it possible that God put "elders" in control of Israel - of cities and in this age of churches to help keep out the new and trendy?
1 Timothy 5:2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
The term “elder women” is the same term translated "an elder" in verse one.
Why do you believe that Paul inserted the little phrase "with all purity?”
I take it that the idea of "rebuke not" and "entreat as" are applicable to all of the groups listed.
The idea of rebuking my mother was interesting to me for many times I disagreed, but only a time or two did I challenge her on anything. When I was smaller, it was fear. She would have killed me. She was BIGGG!!!!
The obvious picture here is for the elders to treat the people in their church as their own family. As their dad, their mom, their brother, and their sister.
"IN ALL PURITY" is the obvious application to the normal family life - purity in all relationships. Not only moral purity by purity of communication, action, etc.
The thought of moral purity would completely eliminate many problems within the church. If every elder treated all the people of the church as sisters of his own family, then he would never be out of line with them.
Respect should be extended to all of the family, even when they are weird, strange. Senile, tactless etc.
Robertson takes this to mean women employed by the church, women that are hired for work within the church. I for one don’t see this indicated anywhere, nor do I believe it to be true. I would view this as a general principle of how the church is to operate in relation to the widows within the body.
II. BLOOD FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES
1 Timothy 5:3. Honour widows that are widows indeed.
Honor widows. The question comes to mind - if I am to honor widows that are widows indeed, then are there widows that I don’t have to honor? NO!
Honor, I think has more to it than just simple honor or respect. We will see this as we go along.
The term translated honor here is also used in Ephesians 6:2 of honoring your father and mother so the picture Paul is painting continues with the idea of respect.
Is it possible that the respect that you show to people in some cases, should result in material giving as well? Indeed, giving of material things is a sign of honor in a way. When we give a present to someone it is in honor of some special day or it may at times be for just showing that you honor their friendship.
Before we move on, I would like to draw your attention to something that is somewhat foreign to our own society. In our society the widow is not held in high esteem unless she has money and you might get some. This is true in some churches. The attention given to widows often is to keep on their good side in case the church is in the will.
The widow is usually totally ignored by society, indeed all too often by her own family. In the Old Testament the widow was one of those subgroups of the Israelite nation that God had a special place for. He wanted the widows and the orphans cared for. It seems from the many times that it is mentioned that these two groups were very close to God.
I will just list a few references for you to study on your own along this line. A concordance will also help if you want to go further. Psalms 68:5; Psalms 146:9; Proverbs 15:25; Exodus 22:22; Job 31:16; Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 14:29. (James 1:27 mentions that pure religion is visiting the widows and orphans.)
The common ground between the widow and orphan is that they both have lost the man in their life as well as their provider. Indeed, that is what this text in I Tim. is all about - taking care of the widows.
I would like to list the requirements listed in this text for a "widow indeed".
1. one that has lost her husband in 1 Timothy 5:5.
2. one who trusteth in God (a believer) 1 Timothy 5:5
3. one who continues in supplication and prayers night and day 1 Timothy 5:5 - a Godly woman that is known for her walk with the Lord.
4. one who liveth not in pleasure 1 Timothy 5:6 - if she is out at the mall every day buying clothes etc. then she is not qualified. She should not be married to the pleasures of this life. She should be committed to living a right and proper life.
5. one who is blameless 1 Timothy 5:7 - yes this is the same word that is used of the elder of the church in chapter three. Their life should be such that no one can lay hold of them with accusations.
6. one who is over 60 1 Timothy 5:9 - I assume that the limit is set because one younger could probably take care of herself.
In our society with medical help etc. as it is there are many sixty year old women that should probably be supporting themselves for awhile. Life expectancy was not very high in Paul’s day. If a woman can’t support herself then the church should help.
7. one who was wife of only one man 1 Timothy 5:9 - if she has outlived two husbands, then she will probably have plenty of family if not money to take care of herself.
This may also relate to the idea that if she has had more than one husband that she is more serious about men rather than being serious about the Lord.
8. one who is well reported of because of her good works 1 Timothy 5:10 - she is to have a good reputation around the community. It might be that the good works could be continued as she can for the church.
This seems to shift to a list of the good works that are mentioned above. It isn’t that she must have done all of these, but that she is the type of woman that has done these good works and is known for them.
a. one who has brought up children 1 Timothy 5:10 - that person deserves some help. They have done a good size job in life already!
b. one who has lodged strangers
c. one who has washed the saints feet
d. one who has relieved the afflicted
e. one who has diligently followed every good work 10
9. one who has no one to help support them 16
This indicates that a woman that can support herself or has family that can support her should not be on the widows list.
However, anyone filling this list of qualifications should seek and find help from her local assembly.
Yes, we have Social Security and welfare and all those other programs, yet they do not always keep the older women going. IF there is a need then the church should meet it if the woman is a widow indeed.
We should note that "Poverty is not dishonorable in itself, but only when it comes from idleness, intemperance, extravagance, and folly." Plutarch
Some have suggested that this should be a group of widows that are gathered together to work in the church. The sixty-year limit in Paul’s days would have made the women pretty old for much work at all.
The thought of a group for work is not widely held. It would not be wrong to involve the widows as they have ability if they desire to, but it should not be involvement because the church is helping them. The church isn’t to be in the employment business. It should be to serve the Lord.
The thought of taking care of widows is not new in Timothy’s time, but was around even in the early part of Acts.
Acts 6:1 mentions, "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration."
The first deacons arose from the need to care for the widows of the early church.
I have always thrilled with churches that get behind their people to care for them.
When living in Nebraska we attended a small Bible church. I had surgery with no insurance and Faith was making very little at her job. The church rallied behind us and saw us through the bad times. They were truly God’s provision for our needs at that time.
This is something that we should do for more than just the widows. If we have people that fall into problems, then we should help. If they dive into the problems because they decide not to work then you have another story 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.
"piety" is translated worship in Acts 17:23. The Englishman’s concordance states that the literal translation of the word in the Timothy text would be, "to care piously for their own house."
"Requite" is translated shalt perform, shall reward, will pay, shall render, yielded, to give and others. It seems to have the idea of children giving back, as in giving back what they have been given in their lives with their family.
In short the Godly thing to do if you have a widow in your family that is in the need of help, is take her in and show her the proper hospitality and care for her as she cared for you.
This concept is not widely held in our own society. We tend to say to our old folks, "get lost." This is not to say that care homes etc. are wrong for they are not. In many cases the people need the care that only a care home can offer.
If on the other hand the widow is not in need of that care, but is not able to be in her own surroundings then your place may well be the place where she belongs.
Those dear old mothers took care of us when we needed help, and we should in turn help them when they are in need of help.
III. CHURCH FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES
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.
What is the link to the term desolate, and the "trusteth in God" that Paul mentions?
The thought here seems that she is trusting God for her continued needs. The widow that cast in her mites might well relate to this section. She gave all that she had and placed herself on the Lord for her provision.
It isn’t just a, "Well Lord I’ve blown all that my husband left me and now it’s up to you." It is a conscious reliance on the Lord for needs and this is backed by her prayers for the same. She is entreating her God for the things that He has promised to give to her. Matthew 6:33
"Night and day" prayer. What a prayer partner! We need some like this woman! Not that they pray twenty-four hours a day, but praying through out the day.
The term desolate according to Thayer "to make single or solitary - leave alone, forsake." This is a woman that is without recourse other than to God for her needs.
1 Timothy 5:6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
The dead refers to her spiritual condition. She is living in this world for the pleasures that it can give and she is not responsive to God nor to things of the Lord, thus she is not worthy of help from the church.
The church should not ignore this group of widows for they do need the Lord and need to be reached with the Gospel. If, on the other hand, they are carnal Christian women, then they need to be rebuked for their sins, BUT AS MOTHERS and sisters.
1 Timothy 5:7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
The things above are to be given to the church as a charge for their knowledge of their responsibility. The blameless refers to them being widows INDEED and not cheating God and the church.
This is true of the church as well. The church needs to know that they are responsible for the widows or they might be blamed for not taking care of them. In Acts six the problem was that some of the widows were not being ministered to and it led to hard feelings and charges.
In our later life - after both our parents were gone, we came in contact with an old woman that was a member at a church where I was interim pastor. As we talked with her and became friends with her I was taken with the importance of this passage. This woman was self sustaining financially and was quite active for her age, but as her health diminished she needed some assistance and later a care home.
The reason I bring this up is that her lost family was right there to take care of her. They knew their responsibility even though they weren’t Christians.
Had she not had that type of family it would have been the church’s kindness and responsibility to fill in for her in her time of need.
Common sense demands this care of an aged woman, yet God felt he had to tell us this via the apostle Paul - He tends to know how Christians degenerate toward one another.
There is a sense in which we should be open to assisting widows on a personal basis as well - help as you can when you can.
Before we move on, the term nephew currently relates to the son of a brother or sister, however in the English language in the past it related closely to grandchildren or any family member according to Barnes.
Barclay mentions along this same line of thought "It was Greek law from the time of Solon that sons and daughters were, not only morally, but also legally bound to support their parents. Anyone who refused that duty lost his civil rights. Aeschines, the Athenian orator, says in one of his speeches: "And whom did our lawgiver (Solon) condemn to silence in the Assembly of the people? And where does he make this clear? ’Let there be,’ he says, ’a scrutiny of public speakers, in case there be any speaker in the Assembly of the people who is a striker of his father or mother, or who neglects to maintain them or to give them a home."’ Demosthenes says: "I regard the man who neglects his parents as unbelieving in and hateful to the gods, as well as to men." Philo, writing of the commandment to honour parents, says: "When old storks become unable to fly, they remain in their nests and are fed by their children, who go to endless exertions to provide their food because of their piety." To Philo it was clear that even the animal creation acknowledged its obligations to aged parents, and how much more must men? Aristotle in the Nichomachean Ethics lays it down: "It would be thought in the matter of food we should help our parents before all others, since we owe our nourishment to them, and it is more honourable to help in this respect the authors of our being, even before ourselves." As Aristotle saw it, a man must himself starve before he would see his parents starve. Plato in The Laws has the same conviction of the debt that is owed parents: "Next comes the honour of loving parents, to whom, as is meet, we have to pay the first and greatest and oldest of debts, considering that all which a man has belongs to those who gave him birth and brought him up, and that he must do all that he can to minister to them; first, in his property; secondly, in his person; and thirdly, in his soul; paying the debts due to them for their care and travail which they bestowed upon him of old in the days of his infancy, and which he is now able to pay back to them, when they are old and in the extremity of their need." Barcley, William; THE LETTERS TO TIMOTHY TITUS, AND PHILEMON; Philadelphia; Westminster; 1975; PP. 106-7
My how things have changed! Let’s get back to what is right and give our elders honor and respect!
Years ago our home church pastor found that he had a spot on his lung and the doctors determined that he should have surgery. One of his sons was a nurse in a Large medial complex in the next state, so the pastor went there for the surgery.
The day came for the operation and all went well. The pastor was in recovery, then moved into a room - all seemed quite normal. Within hours he was in serious difficulty. Something had gone wrong with the lung they had operated on. Ultimately the decision was made to remove the lung to save his life. He had been very healthy so operating on one lung would not be a great difficulty for him.
The lung was removed and again he was removed from recovery and was doing well. As before, he suddenly took a serious turn for the worse. The doctors could not reverse his course and he died.
The doctors were in utter shock but nothing could be done.
In the days ahead the church knew that they needed to move on, but they wanted very seriously to assist their former pastor’s widow. She was not sixty, and she had another son and a daughter both of which could have taken care of her, but the church determined they had a responsibility to the widow.
The church, after much discussion and prayer gave her some options concerning her living accommodations.
They told her that if she wanted to stay in town that she could have title to the parsonage. If she wanted to move out of town, that she could live in the parsonage or they would rent her a place until she was comfortable in making the move.
If she wanted to move immediately they were going to move her.
She opted to stay and take the parsonage.
Again, the church was not obligated to do this, but they wanted to and it was a great show of their love and concern for her.
The church needed a custodian and secretary at the time so she took on those responsibilities to assist in her own livelyhood.
This church had to have been a great testimony to the lost people in the community.
The church was not required to assist, but the wanted to assist. This ought to be any church’s guide to their relationship to their widows.
I might interject here that I am not advocating the welfare program, nor the presence of widows on welfare roles. The government offers these alternatives so if someone takes advantage of them when in need I see nothing intrinsically wrong with it - emphasis on someone that has a NEED!
I might also add that if the church was doing its part there would be no need for a widow to be on welfare. I trust that we might see more churches doing more of what they ought.
Social security on the other hand is something that we as citizens are required to contribute too, so we ought to gain from our contribution.
We will be looking at the SERIOUSNESS OF SUPPORT in verse eight, CRITERIA OF SUPPORT in verses nine and ten, UNWORTHY OF SUPPORT in eleven through fifteen, and NEED OF SUPPORT in verse sixteen.
I. SERIOUSNESS OF WIDOW SUPPORT
1 Timothy 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Whom is Paul speaking of in verse eight? The church, the individual, the widow or someone else?
When we moved to Denver to attend Bible college, we settled in a little Bible church for a church home. One of the first of many trials that confronted me took place in that church. One night for Sunday evening service we broke up into little groups. I was placed with two older men. We went down into the basement and one of the men turned to this verse and began to expound.
At the time we had no money, had barely gotten ourselves moved into an apartment, had no money for school, and a brand-new job. We were in a world of hurt financially but current on our bills and an income that would cover our needs.
Now back to the inquisition. I don’t know that this was planned, but I felt that my being assigned to these two men and their picking this particular verse was a little fishy, especially considering his choice of words to indicate but not state that he was speaking of me.
At any rate the man made me feel that I was an infidel and that I was totally corrupt because I wasn’t caring for my family properly. I read the verse over and over and could not see where he could use it in my case - I was convinced that it was speaking of widows and widows only.
For days I felt like a total failure and kept going back to the verse. Finally the Lord gave me a peace that this was indeed, speaking of widows only. This was at a time in my life when I had no formal or church teaching in the Word. It may well be one of the reasons I am so staunch on literal interpretation.
Poverty or being poor is not being unspiritual, but not taking care of widows is!
Some suggest the Church:
a. The context is the church caring for widows.
b. The last time individuals were in view is in verse four.
c. Whom is the book written to? Timothy. Paul is setting some principles to function by. The elders might well be in view in verse eight.
d. This verse seems to relate directly to the thought of verse seven and the blameless state of the church.
Others suggest the individual:
a. The term "anyone" is the key. If Paul were speaking of the elders there would be better terminology to draw the reader’s attention to the church leadership.
b. The individual is the one that is to care for the widow according to verse four.
c. 1 Timothy 5:16 is very specific that the individual is in view in this whole concept. The individual should do it if possible, if not then the church should take over.
The primary emphasis is on the individual caring for his own family and widows so that the church is not burdened with that financial supply.
There is a secondary emphasis to the church itself by application. We are family and if we have family in need that is not being cared for, then we are in error.
I would like to make a few observations about this text and the misuse of it by many through the years.
1. This text speaks of taking care of widows after the fact of the death of their husband. It also speaks of her remaining family caring for her.
2. It is not speaking to the husband that does not supply his wife, before the fact of his death with a house, two cars and $200,000 in life insurance.
The husband is to provide for his wife while they are together, but there is no indication that there is a Scriptural requirement for him to provide for her after he is gone.
It is nice if he can provide for her widowhood needs before he leaves, but in many cases this is an impossibility. We know of people that have never made enough too much more than feed themselves and the man has died. That man isn’t worse than an infidel. His family is worse than an infidel if they don’t care for her.
3. The Lord Himself had the responsibility of his widowed mother. Tradition and logic tell us that Joseph probably died much before the crucifixion. Christ did not have an insurance policy on himself with a double indemnity clause in case of crucifixion.
He did not provide for Mary other than asking John to watch out for her.
Was He worse than an infidel? No, never, but this would be the practical application if 1 Timothy 5:8 were speaking of providing before you leave this life for the women in your life.
I am not speaking against insurance, cars and houses based on this text, but want you to understand that God does not require us to work our lives to provide for times that MIGHT happen.
My father was told when he was twenty-one that he would not live ten years more. He went ahead and married and had children. He made all his plans on what he had been told. He put all the insurance on my mother - none on himself. She died quite a few years before he did - planning doesn’t always work out the way you want.
There are many ministers and missionaries of past generations and present generations that are in serious trouble if this verse speaks of providing insurance.
I have heard several over the years really downgrade anyone that hasn’t set their spouse up financially.
The real proof of the pudding of my thought is the fact that the time of Paul was before the time of life insurance and IRA’s. The best they could do was bury it in the backyard.
You might note that the text is in a present tense and not looking back at the man that pulled the dumb stunt of passing over.
The man that does not care for a widow is denying the faith in that he is not doing what Paul has stated that he should and he is not doing that which the unsaved do by nature. The natural thing to do is to care for your own.
Indeed, it is an indication of the coldness of the believers Timothy was working with for Paul to have to mention the subject.
The thought of “deny” the faith is a perfect tense which is something that was completed in the past. There may be more to this denial than most commentators suggest. Most feel that he is simply not living up to what the faith would have him do.
I would suggest that inaction is openly showing what the persons’ internal relationship to God is. NONBELIEVER may well be the case.
II. CRITERIA OF WIDOW SUPPORT
1 Timothy 5:9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
"Taken into the number" would indicate that this was an actual listing of the widows that had need and that they were literally ministered to via the church funds and/or the peoples material possessions.
Wesley held that this was a taking into the number of deaconesses. He did not indicate what this thought was based on. I would view it simply as a listing of folks in need of help.
"Having been the wife of one man" would be similar to the elders’ qualification of a one woman man - this is a one man woman! She may have had more than one marriage, though any new marriage was only after she had been widowed from the previous.
The proof that Paul is not limiting this to one husband is seen in 1 Timothy 5:4 where he tells the younger widows to remarry. If he were telling them to remarry and they then couldn’t be added to the list in later years, Paul would have been very unfair to the younger.
Barnes would disagree with me, but his only proof to the contrary is the fact that widows that did not remarry after their first husband died where held with respect as seen in Luke 2:36-37 "She was a widow of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years." I am not sure that this is proof enough to limit the passage in this manner.
1 Timothy 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
We have covered these in the previous study, but I would make a comment or two concerning the washing of feet.
Washing of feet was a custom and courtesy of the culture of the day. The roads were not blacktopped and people did not have LTD’s to drive to different locations, so when a person arrived to visit or maybe come to your home for a gathering of the church the dust would be heavy on the foot.
A foot washing would have been something offered to any guest coming into a home. This is not a proof text for foot washing, though the attitude of servant hood is certainly an application we can derive from this text.
I have read literature from the Brethren church - those that believe in foot washing as an ordinance and they do not use this passage in their presentation. Indeed, the only passage they suggest is that of the Lord when He washed the apostles feet. (They do mention this text as an example of it being done in their conclusion.)
III. UNWORTHY OF WIDOW SUPPORT
Now, we need to insert a disclaimer before we move onto the next section. This is Paul speaking, this is his doctrine, these are thoughts from HIS mind - I am not responsible for what he says.
1 Timothy 5:11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
This is not a prohibition of helping a widowed woman under sixty, but it is a prohibition of putting her on the list for permanent help.
Any woman that has not worked and looses her husband might need help to get onto her feet, but the help should be viewed by her and the church as only temporary.
The thought of the text in other translations has the idea of when they have healed from their loss they will begin to have desires toward the opposite sex and that they will probably marry and not need the help of the church.
In my mind the younger woman might make a commitment to the Lord and to serve Him, but as the healing process goes along, she might find that she desires to remarry.
1 Timothy 5:12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
The reading of these verses in the King James Version is very negative and degrading to the younger widow.
The NASB may help us to understand what Paul is saying. "But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge."1 Timothy 5:11-12
The thought seems to be that the younger widows of the day were in the habit of pledging to remain unmarried for the remainder of life, but that Paul knew that many wouldn’t keep that pledge and Paul would desire that they go ahead and remarry.
The condemnation would not be spiritual in any way unless they had made a vow to the Lord in the thought of the Old Testament, in which case there might be a loss of reward.
There is also the thought that she might receive condemnation from either the church people or the unsaved.
Burkitt feels this to be a matter of salvation: "waxing wanton against Christ, would marry; that is, growing weary of the church’s service, and despairing of marriage in the church, would revolt from the faith, and marry some infidel out of the church.
"Having damnation; that is, committing a sin worthy of damnation, and bringing themselves into a damnable condition. Because they renounced their first faith, which they made profession of when they were baptized, turning apostates to please their infidel husbands, which the apostle calls a turning after Satan, verse 15, to the great scandal of Christianity."
I think this is a radical interpretation and not based on a good reading of the passage.
1 Timothy 5:13 And withal they learn [to be] idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
If they don’t get married and settle down they will just get into trouble. Let’s list that trouble that is mentioned:
"Be idle" would be the natural thing to arise - no husband to care for - time on their hands would be the ultimate result.
"Wandering house to house" Being idle, what else is there to do in a day without television, stereos, movie theaters, malls, cars, and all those goodies.
"Tattlers" - I saw a note on a Baptist church bulletin board years ago that there is no better machine for picking up dirt than the telephone. Now Paul did not know of the telephone so I think he just knew women of his own day.
I assume that the tattling would be on one another and anyone else that had the misfortune to come into range.
One of the possible translations of this term is babbling, which kind of says it all.
"Busybodies" One commentary suggested not only is there the thought of being involved in useless activities, but also neglecting useful activities - neglecting is kind of the result of the former.
The thought of false doctrine might come into the picture, though Paul does not list it specifically, and women tend to lead one another astray if they begin to talk about things of this sort.
In our own day we have groups for support of most any problem that you have faced. They get together and begin talking of their experiences and miseries and woes and problems and depressions to the point that everyone comes away feeling good, or so they say. In light of this text I rather question the validity of these get-togethers.
In short, they won’t turn out to be the Godly saintly widows that the 60-year-olds will.
The church will be hindered if they have this type of person on the list to be helped.
I DIDN’T SAY A WORD! NOT ONE SINGLE SOLITARY WORD DID I SAY ABOUT THE TRUTH OR THE FALSEHOOD OF THE UPCOMING STATEMENTS OF PAUL!
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.
1 Timothy 5:15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
Here we have the crux of what Paul was getting at. If you keep them out of trouble then they will not be an occasion for gossip and charges from without the church.
Paul mentions that some have already followed this route and this is enough. The indications are that they have not only just been a problem, but that they have fallen into sin in some manner.
The sin may well relate to the woman of verse six that is in pleasure and that is spiritually dead.
I had to wonder as I studied this text if the old adage - "Keep them barefoot and pregnant" came from Paul’s line of thinking.
I don’t say any of this to slight women, nor do I believe that slight was in the mind of Paul.
The place for the woman is in the home doing what she is naturally talented at. Raising kids and keeping her husband happy.
She was not meant to work and support the family, she was meant to raise and care for it. Again, I am not saying women can’t or shouldn’t work if the need arises.
IIII. THE CRITERIA OF WIDOW SUPPORT
1 Timothy 5:16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
Again, we see the thought that we have expressed throughout.
Paul wants those that can to support their widows and if that is not possible then the church should do so.
1. Some might suggest that this comes out of the old Judaism and that since we are in the church that we aren’t bound by it.
Wrong! Paul related this truth to Timothy, his personal representative to share with the church leaders. It was in the context of the local church. It is for us today.
2. It is our responsibility to care for the widows. There is no other interpretation available.
a. If she really qualifies as a widow indeed, we should, as a church, get involved in her welfare.
b. We have social security today and it is from the government that God placed us under so we naturally should encourage the widow to use that money first. Then as she NEEDED, we should as a church assist her.
We aren’t talking the Ritz and trips to Hawaii here folks; we are talking of helping her get along with her NEEDS.
3. I believe that every church should literally have a list of widows that they care for if there are any that are a part of their church!
We might consider one more item that relates to our discussion. We ought not support the widows because Paul told us to support the widows. He was evidently reminding the folks at Ephesus of their responsibility to the widows.
Our love for one another should ultimately move us to love one another materially if there is a need, especially in the case of the widows, that have no one to give them assistance - Love one another was the Lord’s command, and this extends to all believers, but I would say especially to those that have a greater need.
Besides that it is the natural thing to do!
I think a church that is creative could do a lot for the widows today. Just visiting them would be a great asset. Clean Their house - do yard work, do repairs if they are unable - just be useful to them.
Set up a meals on wheels program with volunteers if you have enough widows. Help them get to appointments and doctors.
It is not only our natural and Biblical responsibility but it ought to be a privilege to help one of God’s children in need.
"A Christian leader told of a group of laymen who came to see him one day for some advice. They wanted to know of a diplomatic way to get rid of their pastor. The man, sensing that they were not being fair, gave them some suggestions:”
"1. Look your pastor straight in the eye while he is preaching and say amen once in a while. He’ll preach himself to death.
"2. Pat him on the back and tell him his good points. Before you know it, he’ll work himself to death.
"3. Rededicate your own life to Christ and ask your minister for a job to do. He’ll die of heart failure.
"4. Get the church to unite in prayer for him. Soon he’ll become so effective that a larger church will take him off your hands." (From the November 10, 1995 Daily Bread)
Concerning church elders and our relationship to them we will be looking at PAY EM in verses seventeen and eighteen, TRUST EM in verses nineteen and twenty, and EQUAL EM in verse twenty one.
I. PAY EM
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 Thessalonians 5:12-13 mention a similar line of thought. "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. [And] be at peace among yourselves. "
The term "rule" is a little misleading in our society. It has the thought of being boss and I fear many of our independent Baptist brethren have taken this word at its general usage and have created unto themselves dictatorships.
The term actually has the thought of leading. The man that leadeth the congregation well is worthy.
The term is translated "over" in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 which we just looked at.
The term is the same that is used of the elder ruling his own house well.
Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14 both use the term in the phrase "maintain good works" which would indicate maintaining that which is desired. In light of an elder it would be one that maintains the direction of the church, that is assuming the church has some direction - many today are in maintenance mode - maintain the status quo - never mind what the Lord might want.
Stedman mentions of the thought in a sermon, "One who leads is not necessarily a boss. He does not drive people, he leads them. He goes before and sets the pace and the direction; whether people follow or not depends entirely upon how much respect he has built in their eyes by his personal character, his abilities, and his gifts. An elder is a man who is able to command the respect of others and get them to follow him in the directions the Lord has set."
What can we learn from Paul’s use of the plural term elders in this verse?
We can see that the plural term shows that more than one elder can teach and preach - not just one person. We also see that there more than one elder in the church to lead the membership.
I would like to take some time and consider this thought of honor and double honor. This is one of the texts full time pastors drag out anytime anyone asks them about being paid for their ministry.
I frequent a board that is run by a man that feels he is owed a good living if not a living equal to the richer of his church. He sells his sermons on the internet, and he offers Christian software on his site, but at a higher price than the source dealers sell it for. I’m not sure that is Biblical honor.
Anyway the thought of honor most likely relates to both respect and material support, but I would like to see if we can really - Biblically justify the thought of full time paid pastors.
Though we are not going to take time to delve into the respect/honor issue, it is just as important if not more so than the material.
Some would go back to the Levites and their being supported by the giving to the Lord. The one major problem with this is that there is no priesthood today as there was in the Old Testament. We all - every believer - are priests, so if you want to use the Levites as a proof text you will have to pay each and everyone in the church equally. However, this is part of the basis for giving to elders. We will see this shortly.
We might mention that the early elders of the church recorded in the book of Acts were not graduates of Jerusalem Baptist seminary, they were common people of the church that met the criteria to be elders. There is no indication what so ever that they were paid.
Paul himself took gifts from those that wished to share with him, but he did not have a retainer from a local church. He, indeed, went back to his tent making abilities to support himself when in need.
There is indication in II John that the early church preachers were not paid, but relied on the kindness of believers. Verse ten mentions "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house neither bid him God speed." Many believe that some preachers moved from town to town preaching and were dependent on believers for room and board.
One problem that paid pastors never address is the Spiritual gifts. Each and every believer has at least one spiritual gift. Now, the shepherd is to be a teacher - or literally to have the spiritual gift of teaching. Why should a person with one gift be paid full time and not all the others? Not overly logical.
We do have before us one main text which we need to consider.
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.
We have two illustrations. The ox that treadeth should not be muzzled, or he should be allowed his feed - now this offers nothing more in my mind than to allow the elder to be given that which will cover his physical needs. Deuteronomy 25:4 mentions, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn."
The second phrase mentions the laborer is worthy of his reward. This illustration brings us to the proof that the elder may be paid, indeed, should be paid. The worker is due his hire.
Some believe that the Gospel of Luke was already in existence and that Paul was quoting Luke in this verse (Luke 10:7). Others believe that Paul was just mentioning a phrase that the Lord had used in His ministry.
1 Corinthians 9:9-14 is also a text which gives some value to the thought of a paid pastor, however I feel that it is a far cry from what we see in the church today. " 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? 10 Or saith he [it] altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, [this] is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, [is it] a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12 If others be partakers of [this] power over you, [are] not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live [of the things] of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel."
If you have an elder that is spending great time in the ministry then the church is obligated to assist him to keep his families needs met.
Some references that might be of help in further study of this idea are: Matthew 10:9-10 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for [your] journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. This is the context of the sending out of the apostles and probably has no direct relation to church leaders, though there may be some application. Lu. 10.7-8 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. 8 And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: Again this is not directly applicable to us, but there is application for us. Deuteronomy 24:15; Leviticus 19:13.
The next question is this - is it wrong to have a paid pastor? Not necessarily provable, but there also may be reason not to want one. These questions are asked only to stir your thinking about what God really wants in the church.
a. Is the man that looks to the people for his security always willing to preach the Word freely and openly as he sees it?
b. Is the paid pastor a hindrance to the involvement of the congregation?
c. Is the paid pastor truly free to consider openly before the Lord God’s leading to another ministry?
d. Is the paid pastor relying on the Lord for his subsistence?
This honor is the same as in the case of caring for the widow. It is not only the honor due a person in a position of leadership but it is quite possibly material assistance as in the case of the widows.
This is not a basis verse for the thought of a full time pastor. The full time pastor comes to us out of a society that is lazy and too affluent. We have the money to pay him and we are too lazy to do the work ourselves so we JUST MUST HAVE A PAID PASTOR!
I would encourage you to get that thinking out of your mind. We are functioning under that system but it is not necessarily "Thus saith the Lord!" We need to get back to the idea of elders from the assembly doing the work of the Lord and not relying on a full time man to care for our every need.
It is of interest to me that Paul placed this thought of honor to the elder in the context of the widow that is assisted in her NEEDS by the church because she has no other choice.
The honor due the elder should be something to assist him to get along because he is doing so much in the church that he can’t work enough to supply the families need.
If we were to get back to the idea of several elders sharing in the work of the shepherding, we would have several men that had jobs that would maybe/maybe not need a supplement to that job to keep the family going.
Paul’s context wasn’t the idea of everyone needs a house, car, two TV’s, five stereos, a washer and dryer plus multiple other items.
He was speaking to a people, many of which may well have been slaves that had little need other than food shelter and clothes.
ENOUGH SAID PROBABLY IF NOT TOO MUCH.
Burkitt mentions that some in his day took this passage to mean the elders of the family not the elders of the church. I personally don’t think the passage lends itself to that interpretation, though there might be some good areas of application for the family if one were to consider this line of thought as a sidelight to that of the elders of the church.
II. TRUST EM
1 Timothy 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
This is really an application of Matthew 18:15 ff and the principle that the person in sin is to be confronted individually first then by taking two or three with you.
Paul is simply stating that the elder has the same right in this aspect as any other believer.
If an elder is accused of something then there had better be two eye witnesses to it that are reliable.
OTHERWISE DON’T ACCEPT IT! (Some other refs for your future study: Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1; Hebrews 10:28.)
I mentioned in an earlier study a pastor that had been accused of making obscene phone calls to a woman in his church. I also mentioned that he ultimately had to leave that church. He was incorrectly accused, and he was incorrectly held accountable. There was only one woman making the accusation and no witnesses, thus he should never have been accused publicly by the woman nor should the supposed offense ever been brought up in any gathering of the church or the church leadership.
1 Timothy 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
If you have an elder that has erred then he should be rebuked publicly before the assembly so that others will fear the same if they fall into error.
I personally believe that some of the television preachers that have fallen into moral problems should have been confronted publicly on the stations where they ministered. The people they were in contact with needed to know of the improper actions and that the actions were not being taken lightly.
So, who says fear shouldn’t be part of the spiritual life. It would seem that Paul wanted the people to fear incorrect activity!
III. EQUAL EM
And I don’t mean give them Equal sweetener for their coffee when they come to visit with you.
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.
Oh foooeeeyy! Paul is no fun!
He wants us to treat everyone the same and not play favorites!
I assume the "observe these things refers to the widows and the elders. Both groups should be treated equally and without favorites. One widow should not be treated differently more than the other nor should one elder be rebuked and another receives no rebuke.
This may well go back even further to the thought of treating all of the subgroups of this chapter without partiality.
Paul seems to be somewhat serious when he states, "I charge [thee] before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring...."
He means business. Why? Partiality in a church is a natural trouble maker!
I would like to consider the reason that some of the writers of Scripture use multiple Persons of the Trinity when speaking of God - one God as we all know the Bible teaches.
Why did Paul say "before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ" when speaking in this text? Why did John, in Revelation 11:15, say "of our Lord, and of his Christ?"
Of course we know that the Holy Spirit is moving the authors in what they record, but the use of two members of the Trinity is of interest to me. Also, why not all three members of the Trinity?
Some possible reasons:
1. When name dropping is used, why use only one, especially when you know three very IMPORTANT people. I don’t think that Paul was name dropping, but when he charges, he wanted to make the point as clearly as possible - he was serious and he had good backing in what he said.
2. There is the possibility that he was charging them before their God, the author of their salvation, as well as their savior and head of the church Jesus Christ.
Then comes a further question, why does Paul charge the folks before the elect angels? What do angels have to do with saints living a proper life?
1. Hebrews 12:1 may give some help. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, "
We aren’t told specifically that this cloud of witnesses includes the elect angels, but that is a distinct possibility. I would suggest that the cloud of witnesses includes the entire heavenly court, but it Almighty God, the beasts of the throne, the angelic host and the departed saints.
2. 1 Peter 1:11-12 "11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 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."
It would seem from this passage that the angels are very interested in the goings on between God and man especially in the area of salvation. I suspect it is similar to our interest in what they are like and what that time of decision was like when Satan rebelled.
Hebrews 1:14 "ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of salvation," shows clearly that the angels minister to the believer in some manner thus it shouldn’t surprise us that they are witnesses of church/believer activities.
And then there is a further question. Why did Paul use the term "elect" in relation to angels? Are angels elected as humans are elected? If so are they also predestined etc.? If they were elect, were the fallen angels not elect? Wow, look at all the false doctrines we could build on this one verse if we determined to do so.
No, I don’t think that they are predestined, but Paul is clear that they are elect - just what that means we need to consider further.
The term elect appears as elect, but also is translated “chosen,” thus indicating that the angels were chosen in some manner or some of the angels were chosen. It is the same term that is used of believers being elect.
The thought crossed my mind that this might relate to the arch angels as opposed to all angels. They are a special level of angels and would have been chosen to that level - logically speaking in my mind. Young translated the terms "choice messengers." This would allow nicely for my thinking.
There is also another possibility. Many believe that the angels that chose to serve God were somewhere before time sealed or guaranteed in their "GOOD" decision - thus prohibiting them from falling at a later time. This is a possibility, though I don’t hold to this thought, nor is there any passage I know of that indicates it. If this is true, one might suggest that this was a choosing or election of some sort.
Burkitt suggests one final possible interpretation to the idea of elect. He mentions that these "elect angels" may be a group of angels selected or chosen by the Lord Himself out of all the angelic host to assist Him in his Headship over the church. These angels may be chosen to minister exclusively to the believers in this age, while other angels were to serve in other capacities in God’s overall plan of the ages.
Some miscellaneous texts relating to angels that might be of use. Luke 9:26 mentions His holy angels. Judges 1:6 mentions those angels that fell, which automatically creates a class that did not fall. 2 Peter 2:4 also mentions the fallen angels. Paul relates again the relationship that exists between angels and man 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 11:10
Now to the final thought of the verse.
Not based on like or dislike.
Not based on rich or poor.
Not based on preacher or non-preacher.
Not based on good looking or bad looking.
Not based on doctrine or bad doctrine - well maybe there is one basis for making exceptions!
This seems to relate to how the congregation treats the elders since elders are the specific context.
We might apply this to relate to not upholding the teaching elder over and above other elders. It might apply to believing one elder over another, or for that matter believing an elder over a member of the congregation - well even vice versa.
I believe that the writer of Hebrews sums up the relationship quite well when he says in 13.7 "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation." And then in verse seventeen he continues "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you."
I do not know what all is involved with "must give account" but I trust that I have followed and remembered those elders that God has placed me under over the years - that they might give good report to the Lord with joy!
One further comment from the Hebrews text - the congregation is to submit to the elder. On one of the boards I visit often the men have been discussing church government as I have been presenting it in this study. One of the points they have brought forth is this thought of submission to the rule - or as we have seen - leadership of the elders. If this does not happen, then the system God set up won’t function - this may be why we have so many systems. People do not want to submit so they devise other systems so they don’t have to submit.
If God has set these men in office then the congregation is obligated to submit to their leadership. No choice - unless the elders are in sin or going a completely different direction than the congregation has set.
In our society each person is an island unto themselves and submits to no one! We were at a restaurant in line waiting. The line was in a hallway wide enough for people to pass and have room between. I was at one side. A young employee of the establishment who seemingly owned the center of the hallway came briskly through and hit my arm because I was in her space.
Congregations must learn they are a body, not individuals, for the church to function correctly.
I interviewed some folks for a job at my place of employment. There were two that caught my interest. One was a middle-aged man that was quite overweight and he had a short pony tail. The other was a young college-aged girl. Both seemed to be interested in the job, both seemed to be qualified, and both seemed to desire to work.
I opted for the young woman for no particular reason other than the last young woman that we had was an excellent employee.
The first weeks were great - she was truly energetic and quick in her work, she was easy to work with, she was a hard worker. This however changed rather quickly. She became lazy, she became quite irregular in her attendance and in general became a very poor employee.
Moral of the story? In the modern work place in America you can’t select your workers as we should do in the church.
Not only that, we in America shouldn’t be choosing our leaders as we choose employees at work.
Paul tells Timothy to lay hands suddenly on no man. Had I been able to observe this young woman in her previous job or possibly in her home life, I most likely would have seen signs of her inappropriateness for the job at work.
As we work in the church, we will be able to tell what type of men we are working with. It may take some time, but our lives become evident to one another, and it is on this reality that we should base our leadership decisions.
In our previous context we studied how the elders were to be treated, now we will look at the basis for Timothy’s choosing of elders.
We will be looking at YOU - BE PURE in verse twenty-two, YOU - BE HEALTHY in verse twenty-three, and YOU - CHOOSE CAREFULLY in verses twenty-four and twenty-five - you meaning Timothy.
1 Timothy 5:22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
Some in the past have suggested the laying on of hands related to laying hands on the sick, however this is a specific context of church leadership and to insert healing into this passage seems very poor interpretation.
Let’s consider the phrase "keep thyself pure." in relation to the believers life. What principles might you come up with to put the phrase into action?
a. Keep - something that I consciously do for myself. It will take commitment on my own part.
b. Thyself - you are your responsibility. You needn’t worry about others, but only yourself. That should make our job much smaller.
c. Pure - holy, set apart, without sin, etc. are all thoughts that run through our minds.
d. This is something that we should do for ourselves as well as for our God and Saviour!
The first phrase is how you avoid the following item of trouble.
Lay hands suddenly does not mean ordination as we know it today, though that may well be an application to the thought of giving church approval to a man too quickly.
I suspect in my own mind that the two phrases concerning hands and sin were linked together in Paul’s mind, but there is application for both in our own day. We ought not approve of men, be they pastors, elders, or deacons too quickly. We need to know these men well.
The second thought is that if you do approve quickly you share in any wrongdoing they are able to unleash on the church.
The application of this might run along the lines of don’t be related close enough to anyone that you become entwined in the sin that is in their life. Partake is a Greek word that is closely related to the word translated fellowship. Don’t be in fellowship with another man’s sin.
We are to remain free of sin and we don’t need to join in the sin of other men, be it directly or indirectly by giving our approval to them. We can get into enough sin on our own.
2 John 1:11 gives a similar admonition in relation to false teaching "for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
I would like to speak of ordination as we have it today. The usual is a man calling pastors from surrounding churches to grill him mercilessly on his doctrine in the afternoon to see if he is qualified and then have an ordination service that evening.
The ordination is set and plans are made for it even before the man has met to see if he is qualified. There just has to be something wrong with that.
Let’s turn to Acts 13:1-3 for a moment. "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid [their] hands on them, they sent [them] away"
We won’t belabor this passage, but note that the Holy Spirit was definitely involved in this process of approving, while also prayer and fasting were involved. This wasn’t the yearly meeting when they had to appoint a few warm bodies to the church board, this was a setting aside and sending of men that the Holy Spirit had set forward within the church to do a job.
Also we see in 1 Timothy 3:10 "And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being [found] blameless."
This verse mentions the thought of proving elders. It would seem that as the church elders see a person that God is working with, they will help in any way that they can to assist him in his growth and knowledge of the Word. Then when the man is ready, kick him out to the mission field or whatever the Lord should lead him into.
He is approved, ordained, whatever you want to call it because you know him to be the man that you would be proud to send out into the Lord’s work.
It is the local church that ordains. It is the local eldership that ordains, not the pastors of other churches. I am not opposed to having a couple pastors in for the final steps for assistance, but the approval should come from the local church and only the local church can really know the man.
Paul mentions that if you lay hands on someone and he has sin problems then you will be a part of that sin. This is when he goes out into other churches to minister you will have been part of the problem that he causes if you give the okay before you know him to be okay.
We spent nine months in a church as interim pastor and I don’t really think that those people knew enough about me to say I was okay to send out. They knew of my public ministry, but very little of our private life and life away from their town.
There are some groups that actually attempt to follow ordained men through their ministries to be sure they continue on in the correct path. If for some reason the man steps out of what is wholesome, those that ordained him will call for him to give up his ordination papers. This is a good practice.
Within the local church setup Paul seems to be setting forth, it would be the elders removing an erring elder from office.
Before moving on I would like to consider the thought of Holiness for a moment.
Outwardly we can put on the look of holiness, but underneath is the condition that is in view. What God sees, determines if we are holy or not. Tricking those around us may get us through life feeling good about ourselves, but how good are we going to feel when the Lord lays all our secret sin bare for all to see?
I am a firm believer that the tears that won’t be in heaven are those that will be shed at the judgment seat of the Lamb. I think many believers will cry out about all that they did not do, and all that they did do that was sin.
Holy is a state of mind as well as a state of life. It is keeping yourself from sin, from sinful ways, and from sinful thought. It is setting yourself aside totally for God’s use and pleasure.
The term translated “holy” is almost always the same term. The word is used of God, the term is used of the Holy Spirit, and that should tell us a little bit about the word itself. I doesn’t indicate that we can be kind of holy, nor does it indicate that we can be part time holy!
Holy is the Lord and holy should his people be. 1 Peter 1:16 mentions "Be ye holy ; for I am holy." If we are to be Holy as God is Holy, we ought to be FULL TIMERS IN THE HOLY CAMP! No other option is given.
This is why Christians ought to feel terrible about the lack of holiness. They should realize the hurt that it causes their Father when they walk with the Lord of this world rather than Him.
II. YOU - BE HEALTHY
1 Timothy 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
What can we learn about Paul’s gift of healing in this verse? (In Acts Paul healed people and in Ephesus they carried handkerchiefs that he had touched out into other areas and people were healed. Acts 19:11-12)
Evidently the gift of healing that Paul had in Ephesus earlier was no longer operational when he was writing to Timothy. This is one of the best indicators that the gift of healing is not for today as some believe.
Not only could Paul not heal Timothy, he could not heal himself (thorn in the flesh) nor could he heal Tromphius. (2 Timothy 4:20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick).
This seems to be a parenthetical verse stuck in to give advice to Timothy. However it may not be - we will consider this in a moment.
Wine was used for medicinal purposes in Paul’s day.
Today we spell relief R O L A I D S!
There is no need for me to take wine for my stomach’s sake, indeed it would be very inappropriate to do so in our day when there are medicines that will do better.
It crossed my mind when going over this passage, that Paul may have been addressing a problem in Timothy’s life. I would never be dogmatic, but since the previous verse mentions sin, and the following verses are concerned with sin, that this verse might also relate to wrongdoing on Timothy’s part.
Since we all know the water was not good in those days - in fact still isn’t in much of that area of the world. Thus, the common drink for liquid was wine. Now, for Paul to tell Timothy to no longer drink water but to drink wine, makes me wonder if Timothy was being abstinent about drinking wine to gain liquid for his body’s need.
As I read some commentaries, I found that this was the thought others have seen in the passage.
There is another truth to be gleaned from this text other than what we have seen. Paul suggests an alternative to drinking dirty water - thus there is a valid point: Take care of your health. If there is an alternative that is healthier then it is not wrong to take it as long as Scripture doesn’t forbid it and gain better health.
Matthew 10:23 backs up this thought. "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come." It isn’t wrong to leave a dangerous situation for a safer situation.
III. YOU - CHOOSE CAREFULLY
1 Timothy 5:24-25 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some [men] they follow after. Likewise also the good works [of some] are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
These verses seem to be linked to the thought of laying on of hands quickly.
Sin and good works can come before or after getting to know a person.
If sin appears while you are observing the man then the church should judge him according to church discipline. That sort of man has no business in church leadership.
Barnes mentions of this judgment: "Their character is well understood. There is no need of waiting for the day of judgment to know what they are. Their deeds so precede their own appearance at the judgment-bar, that the record and the verdict can be made up before they arrive there, and there will be scarcely need even of the formality of a trial. The meaning here is, that there could be no doubt about the character of such men, and Timothy should not be accessory to their being introduced into the office of the ministry. "
In others the sin will follow at a later time after you have given your approval.
This seems to be an encouragement to be very careful in okaying men for the ministry.
The good works are usually up front and never hidden so you can usually view their works and know the type of person that they are.
The thought may be here that some sins are just outward and they will be easy to view. Other sin is inward, such as lust, and that sin can go unnoticed for some time before it becomes known and outward.
Numbers 32:23 states, "...be sure your sin will find you out."
Another truth that comes forth is that good works do not go unnoticed.
It was once said of a man, "He always gave freely the milk of kindness but always managed to rattle the bottles."
You don’t have to rattle the bottles to be noticed, just do the good works and people will notice.
I would like to finish this study with three illustrations of men that were less than upright and pure. These three men were leaders in their own right within fundamental Christianity in the early 1990’s. All three had been ordained by various churches and were currently in ministries. These men were all involved in the ministry of training young men and women for the ministry, and all were active in local churches in a teaching/preaching ministry.
One must wonder about other areas of their lives if they so blatantly disregarded right living in this area.
The first man had written a book which was being published by the company I worked for. I picked up a copy as I was making my rounds and read the forward. Within the forward he mentioned that he had picked up much of the information over the years and that he did not know where all of it came from. He apologized for not giving credit to those he had taken from. This man was pastor of one of the largest fundamental churches in the Midwest, yet he had been teaching other men’s materials as his own for years and now was publishing some of it without giving credit - that to most is theft.
The second man was one of my teachers in graduate school. He had given extensive notes to the class and I had been quoting him in my theology. While writing I always attempt to give proper credit for quotes. When I decided to publish the work, I was writing all of the authors and publishers to gain permission to quote.
I wrote to my former professor and asked if it would be okay to use a few quotes from his notes and listed the items quoted.
His reply totally shocked me. He told me that most of his notes were from other men and asked that I not use the quotes. This from a pastor and leader in one of our more conservative fundamental movements.
The third man was president of a Bible college. He had been asked to give some seminars in the school where I taught. The man was well known for his seminars in the Midwest and had presented them many times around the country.
It was the practice of the school to tape all messages so that students could take copies for future reference or send them to family and friends.
Faith was in the office duplicating some of his messages when he walked in. He became very concerned when he found out that we were making copies of the message tapes.
He finally admitted to Faith that the information he had been sharing as his own great wisdom was in fact gleaned from the ministries of other men. He asked that the tapes not leave campus.
I trust that as you walk life’s pathways, that you make a more pointed attempt to keep yourself holier, than these men did.
Outwardly these men were considered Godly men yet in their secret world they were ungodly.
They ought not have been in positions of leadership! Someone laid hands on too quickly.
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany