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Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 5

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

1Ti 5:1. The word rebuke occurs twice in this chapter, but they are from Greek words with very different meanings, so that no real disagreement exists between them. In this verse it is from EPIPLESSO and Thayer defines it, "to chastise with words, to chide, upbraid, rebuke." The word elder is always from the same Greek word, but it does not always mean an official elder; it may even refer to a woman, as it does in the next verse. The connection will have to be considered each time in discovering which sense of the word is to be applied. Since Paul mentions both men and women, and those of different ages, we know he means the older men, and that it would not be right for a young evangelist to chide an older man. That does not mean he should overlook what he conscientiously believes is wrong in the life of older men. Nb, he may show his disapproval, but should do it with such language as is befitting a young man when entreating an older one. On the same principle he should show an attitude toward the younger men that recognizes their equality in years.

Verse 2

1Ti 5:2. The elder women were to be given the consideration proper for their age, on the same principle as that expressed for the elder men in the preceding verse. Timothy was a young man, hence it was especially appropriate to mention the subject of purity or chastity in his conduct toward the younger women in the congregation.

Verse 3

1Ti 5:3. It would not be right to show dishonor to anyone of any age or either sex, to use the word in its ordinary sense, hence the term is used with some special meaning in this passage. The verses following through 16 indicate the meaning of it as Paul uses it, namely, to give them the honor of being supported out of the funds of the church. (See Act 6:1-2.) The bestowal of temporal needs is spoken of as an "honor" in Act 28:10, and it has that meaning in our verse. Some commentators say that the widows were appointed by the church to teach the younger women In the principles of the Christian faith, and were given this financial support to care for them as they discharged their work. I am not in possession of the history on this matter, but am not disposed to doubt It. We may be certain that Paul is not writing of incidental misfortune or distress that Is to be cared for, because the scripture teaches that any person in distress, whether young or old, and whether women or men or whatever their social situation, if necessity calls for it, the church must come to their relief. But in such cases there would not be required such a train of qualifications as is described in this chapter. But to place a widow in the permanent appointment as teacher of other women, to be supported out of the funds of the church, would call for these items as to her worthiness as a teacher, and the genuineness of her personal needs. Widows indeed, then, means those who are actually unable to furnish their own living while giving their time to this ministry of teaching. Moffat renders this verse as follows: "Widows in real need must be supported from the funds."

Verse 4

1Ti 5:4. The original word for nephews Includes descendants In general, so that the phrase children or nephews means children or other descendants. het them, learn first denotes that these descendants should learn that the duty of supporting the widows is first upon their shoulders. Show piety means to manifest proper respect concerning their rightful obli gation toward the parents, which means near ancestors. To requite denotes the performance of that service that is needed for these relatives. Such service is what God desires and hence it will be acceptable to Him.

Verse 5

1Ti 5:5. Widows indeed is the same as in verse 3 as to her actual condition of need, but her worthiness to receive it is also considered in this verse. She is desolate because her husband is dead and she Is lonely. However, if she is a worthy disciple and puts her trust in God, she will spend her time in prayer to God, and not in the frivolous pleasures of the world. It would certainly be a good work to lift the burden of her living needs from her, and give her the valuable employment of teaching the young women. This would not only relieve her of the strain of temporal necessities, but it would give her the spiritual joy of associating with her younger sisters, as well as be a benediction to them.

Verse 6

1Ti 5:6. This verse is a specific instance of one's being dead and alive at the same time. It means she is living in sin and hence is alive to pleasure. But that knid of life separates her from the favor of God which causes her to be "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1).

Verse 7

1Ti 5:7. Give in charge means to insist gravely upon the rules described, lest the cause of Christ be blamed for corruptions in the membership.

Verse 8

1Ti 5:8. His own, and especially, etc. A man might have a widowed mother or sister or aunt, living alone and desolate; or they might be residing within the group that he calls his own household. In either case it is his duty to see that their needs are taken care of so that the church will not be charged. Denied the faith. The faith is the system of righteousness under Christ, a part of the obligations of which is to care for the worthy poor. To refuse doing this duty is equivalent to backsliding from the religion he professes to practice. Worse than an infidel because this man makes no profession of believing in the teaching of Jesus, and hence Is not committing any inconsistency when he refuses to observe these obligations in his conduct of life.

Verse 9

1Ti 5:9. Taken into the number means to be placed with the widows who were to be supported out of the funds of the church. Under threescore years old. These widows were to be placed on the permanent list of dependents of the church. It was supposed that they were lonely and in the declining years of life. Some line needed to be drawn to show when they had reached that period, and no mere human judgment could have been certain when that was. Hence the apostle, writing by inspiration, directed it to be set at this age. Having been the wife of one man. In the case of an elder (chapter 3:2), it was shown that the verb "be" was used purely in the present tense, and that the requirement was merely to show he must be a married man at the time of his appointment. There is an apparent similarity in the language of the case of widows, yet the circumstances are different. A person can be a man without being married, while one cannot be a widow who has not been married. Hence the requirement in this case means to restrict the number of times she has been married, which is once. The Lord did not limit the number of times a woman might be married (if lawfully; 1Co 7:39), hence the restriction in this case was not because of moral considerations. The matter was one of inspired judgment, very much on the same principle as the age limit. If a widow was sixty years old and had been satisfied with one marriage, it would indicate a control over her nature that is not the most usual. Such a person, coupled with the list of good points in life to be mentioned next, would be a "safe risk" to be put on the permanent support and employment of the church.

Verse 10

1Ti 5:10. Well reported of for good works. It should be noted that this verse begins and ends with a general statement of good works. It indicates that the items in the body of the verse are classed as good works and not ordinances for the public services of the church. To be well reported of means she has been so generally engaged in doing various good deeds that it has gained her a favorable reputation among the people where she has lived. Brought up children. These may have been her own and also any others who were in need of home care. It was never the Lord's plan for children to be reared in human organizations, but they should be given the influences and joys of the family life. ( See Psa 68:6.) When orphans are kept out of family homes and herded as groups in human institutions, they are deprived of the train ing that can be given only in a private home. Hence when this widow has performed such a service for children, she has done a good work and done it in the Lord's way. Lodged strangers. In the days before she was needy and lonely, she bestowed hospitality upon the wayfarer, including disciples who might have been fleeing from persecution. (See Heb 13:1.) Now she is unable to perform such services, but must herself have her needs provided by others. Washed the saints' feet. This was another good work and not a church ceremonial performance. The subject of feetwashing is treated in detail at Joh 13:5, in the first volume of the New Testament Commentary. Relieved the afflicted. This could be done by nursing the sick, or by extending comfort and sympathy to those in sorrow, etc. Diligently followed. She did not merely perform these good works incidentally or halfheartedly, but gave her best attention to all opportunities for doing good. Now that her age and financial circumstances make it impossible to continue such services, she is entitled to be cared for by the church, if she has no relatives who can do so for her.

Verse 11

1Ti 5:11. Younger widows refuse means not to take them into the list of those who are to be supported by the funds of the church. Begun to wax wanton is all from KATASTRENIAO, which Thayer defines, "to feel the impulses of sexual desire." They will marry. This phrase if taken by _ itself would not state any sin, for it is the Lord's own plan for the lawful gratification of the desire (1Co 7:2). But in the case of these women, they would have been rceived among those who were supposed to be past the ordinary age when marriage would be thought of, and were lonely and ready to give their entire attention to the work of the Lord and dependent on the church.

Verse 12

1Ti 5:12. Having damnation denotes they are worthy of being condemned. Cast off their first faith means they have reversed their former claim of being alone, and ready to be devoted exclusively to the work of the Lord; they have gone contrary to the claim.

Verse 13

1Ti 5:13. It would be a natural outcome for such women who had lost their spirit of devotion, but who were still on the financial support of the church, to cease their activities on behalf of the disciples. Such persons would not be quiet on account of their restless emotions, and would become what are familiarly called gadabouts. Neither might such characters be expected to have much care about their conversation, for they would naturally see things to talk about and thus become tattlers. Such a person would also not be satisfied merely with talking "out of turn," but Paul says they would become busybodies. That is from PERIERGOS which Thayer defines as follows: "Busy about trifles and neglectful of important matters, especially busy about other folks' affairs, a busybody."

Verse 14

1Ti 5:14. There is no word in the Greek at this verse for women, but there is in verse 11 where the translators give us "widows" for the word CHERA, where we know the apostle is speaking of the same class of persons. Hence we should conclude that In the present verse, Paul means to say for the younger widows to marry, bear children, etc. The restrictions for-widows who may be taken into the number of dependents of the church, clearly describe one who is past the childbearing age. Hence it is consistent that the ones "refused" are expected to be still able to bear children, and the apostle commands them to marry and do so. In so doing they will not only be cured of the frivolous habits described in the preceding verse, but will be doing one of the conditions on which women may be saved. Since childbearing is a condition of salvation for women in general (chapter 2:15), there is no disagreement with that for Paul to make special references to young widows in this verse. His occasion for doing so is the fact that he has been writing on the subject of widows in relation to the funds of the church. Guide the house. We know the Bible does not contradict itself, and it teaches that the husband is to have rule over his wife and the household (1Co 11:3; Ephe-sians 5:22; 1Ti 3:4 1Ti 3:12). The apostle's meaning, then, is that a wife should take charge of the work of her home, exercising discipline over her children and thus being a good homemaker (Tit 2:5), and doing all this subject to the authority of her husband. Such a life will not give the adversaries, enemies of the cause of Christ, any excuse for reproaching her manner of life. Vicious critics may wag their tongues in slanderous remarks in spite of the godly life of such a "mother in Israel," but let it not be truthfully said she gave them room for it.

Verse 15

1Ti 5:15. Some necessarily refers to widows who had unfortunately been employed by the church, and had proved the very things Paul warns against in verse 11. When their fleshly desires became active, they forsook the consecrated work they had espoused, and broke out into the disorderly conduct, proving the mistake that was made by taking in the younger widows. Since Satan is the sponsor of all evil, this backsliding of the young widows is attributed to that great enemy of righteousness.

Verse 16

1Ti 5:16. This verse is virtually a repetition of verses 3 and 8. It concludes Paul's teaching in this chapter about widows.

Verse 17

1Ti 5:17. Elders are the same rulers who are called bishops in other places. The meaning of the three names applied to the rulers over the churches of Christ is explained in detail by "general remarks" before 2 Thessalonians 2. Rule well denotes a lead or management of the flock that is very efficient. Double honor. The first word is from DIPLOOS, and both Thayer and Robinson define it, "twofold, double," and the latter also explains it. "put for any greater relative amount." Then it is not a precise mathematical figure, such as saying that two is double of one, etc. Especially designates one item that entitles this elder to the double honor, and the argument in verse 18 clearly shows that financial support is included in the honor. This is not the only place where temporal support or favors is referred to as an honor. (See the comments at verse 3.) Labor in word and doctrine. This cannot mean merely that they are teachers over the flock, for chapter 3:2 shows that all of the elders must do that. Hence the phrase is bound to mean those elders who give their whole time to "the ministry of the word" (Act 6:4); the next verse confirms this conclusion.

Verse 18

1Ti 5:18. In immediate connection with the preceding instruction about double honor for certain elders, Paul here cites an Old Testament scripture pertaining to the reward of a laborer. Furthermore, in 1Co 9:1-14 the apostle refers to the same passage, then applies it to temporal support for those who preach the Gospel. Hence our verse (together with the preceding one) means that if an elder devotes his entire time to his work as ruler and in teaching the word, he should be "honored" by being financially supported by the funds of the church.

Verse 19

1Ti 5:19. The eldership is very important, and because of its public character of rulership, bringing it into contact with all classes of persons, it is exposed to the suspicions and little jealousies of those who might desire to injure the good name of the men in office. On the other hand, these officials are human and might fall a victim to their own unrighteous ambitions. (See Act 20:30.) As a safeguard, then, both to the eldership and the congregation, Paul directs that at least two witnesses be available before the evangelist may receive (which means to consider) an accusation against an elder. The word before is from the Greek word EPI, which occurs several hundred times in the New Testament, and Thayer uses five pages of his lexicon in defining the word. Among its many renderings in the King James Version, I shall list some as follows: Before 14 times, in 51, on 71, upon 158. It is clear that whether we render the word by "before" or by "upon," the thought is that unless there are at least two witnesses to support an accusation against an elder, the evangelist must not act in the matter.

Verse 20

1Ti 5:20. Them that sin is often made to apply to the congregation in general. There is teaching elsewhere that indicates the necessity for every person who sins (publicly) to be exposed publicly. But the whole connection in this passage shows Paul means the elders who have been accused to the evangelist and found guilty. Rebuke is the same English word as the one in the first verse, but comes from an entirely different original. It is from ELEGCHO,. and I will quote Thayer's entire definition (the words in italics), including that for our verse and several other passages: "To convict, refute, confute; by conviction to bring to light, to expose; to find fault with, correct; to reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove; to call to account. show one his fault; to chasten, punish." From the various shades of meaning in the word at hand, it is evident that the evangelist in charge is to hear the testimony of the two or more witnesses. If he believes the accusation is true, he should so state it in the hearing of the congregation. What final disposition he makes of the case will depend on the reaction of the elder to the public rebuke. If he refuses to make the adjustment, then he must be "punished" (one part of the definition of the original word) by removal from of ,e, which will conclude the official work of the evangelist in the case. The reason this is to be done before all is that others also may fear. They would be impressed with the seriousness of public exposure of sin, and thereby be induced to watch their own conduct.

Verse 21

1Ti 5:21. I charge thee before God, etc. Timothy was to realize the seriousness of the charge by knowing that Paul was not the only one who was concerned in the matter, and that others would be witnesses of the way he conducted the duties of his work as an evangelist in charge. Elect angels. The first word is from MUM-TOS, and Thayer's general definition is, "picked out, chosen." He offers the following explanation of the phrase in connection with this verse: "Those whom God has chosen out from other created beings to be peculiarly associated with him, and his highest ministers in governing the universe." (See Heb 1:13-14.) Doing nothing by partiality. There might be a temptation to prefer one person or perform one act instead of another under pressure of prejudice. Timothy is charged to be fair and execute his duties unpleasant though they may be, "without fear or favor," regardless of who may be involved in any case coming up.

Verse 22

1Ti 5:22. Lay hands could not refer to the laying on of hands literally for the purpose of conferring a spiritual gift; that required the hands of an apostle (Act 8:14-18 Act 19:5-6). The rest of the verse, which is the opposite of laying hands suddenly, indicates the meaning of the phrase. Paul had just dealt with the disciplining of elders, hence this verse means for Timothy not to be hasty in laying hands of discipline on any man. Neither should he be indifferent or unduly tardy in handling the charge, for that would encourage such a man in his wrong, and the evangelist would thereby become a partaker of other men's sins. By avoiding both extremes, Timothy would keep himself pure as regards the evil at hand.

Verse 23

1Ti 5:23. Travelers through the territory of Ephesus testify to the unwholesomeness of drinking water available there. And this verse directly mentions that Timothy had oft-recurring infirmities, involving a condition of his stomach. It is generally known that wine is a good tonic in ailments of the stomach, satisfying both to the demands of thirst, and soothing to the delicate tissues of this digestive organ. But the amount of wine necessary for such medical and nourishing purposes would not meet the craving of one who wished to drink it as a beverage. Hence Paul tells him to use a little wine, on the same principle he requires elders and deacons to be "not given to much wine" (chapter 3:3, 8; Tit 1:7). Some commentators think this verse is misplaced as to its appearance in the epistle here, since it seems to be an abrupt change of subject. But the evangelist was working under difficult and trying tasks, and it was especially necessary, therefore, for him to take the best care of his body and conserve his strength for the responsibility.

Verse 24

1Ti 5:24. The Englishman's Greek New Testament renders the first clause, "The sins of some men are manifest" [are plainly seen]. Judgment is from KRISIS which Thayer defines, "opinion or decision given concerning anything." Going before denotes that people can form their judgment as to whether the man's conduct is right or wrong before much time passes. Some men they follow after. Their sins are so un-apparent that people will not realize the man's real character for a long time after he has committed them; sometimes not until after he is dead.

Verse 25

1Ti 5:25. This verse has the same meaning as the preceding one, except that it is about the actions of good men instead of evil. A righteous man's good deeds are not always realized at first, but they will become known finally; they cannot always be hid. The truths of these two verses show why an evangelist should not be too hasty in forming his verdict concerning an accused elder.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/1-timothy-5.html. 1952.
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