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Bible Commentaries

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books
1 Timothy 5

 

 

Verse 1-2

Relating to Christians like Family

Lipscomb says Paul, "admonishes Timothy not to rebuke or speak harshly to the aged men; but, if they commit wrong instead of reproving them in a censorious manner, entreat kindly or beseech them to turn from the wrong as a son would his father." Younger men that did wrong were to be approached in love as one would approach his brother (1 Timothy 5:1).

The church is a family, so older women who sinned were to be approached with the love and respect one would show his mother. Also, the younger women should be given the loving concern one would give his sister. No impure thought should be in mind when a preacher admonishes younger sisters (1 Timothy 5:2).


Verses 3-7

Various Types of Widows

True widows were not to be embarrassed because the church refused to provide for their physical needs and left them in poverty. They should be shown respect and given the temporal relief they need. As will be seen, widows in deed were those who did not have children or close relatives who should provide for them. Children and grandchildren should be taught the proper love and care for their widowed mothers and grandmothers. By providing for needy mothers, children are repaying, in part, the years of loving care given to them while they were helpless children unable to face the world alone (1 Timothy 5:3-4).

The widow indeed is the one who has no relatives to support her and is in need. She has set her hope on God and turns to him regularly in prayer. In contrast to the widow worthy of the church’s support, Paul described a widow who gave herself to the pursuit of worldly pleasures. Such a widow would be trying to support a physical body which housed a spiritual corpse. The apostle wanted all these teachings presented to the church so there would be no avenue for reproach to be brought upon God"s people (1 Timothy 5:5-7).


Verses 8-16

Providing for Christian Widows

Children and grandchildren who did not care for their widowed mothers or other close relatives who might even have lived in their own houses denied the faith. In fact, they were worse than unbelievers because they did not show honor for God by properly honoring their parents. Any Christian can and should be cared for if they are truly in need (Galatians 6:10). However, Paul had in mind a list of widows who should be cared for by the church on a regular basis until their death. To be on this list, a widow had to be at least 60 years old and have been faithful to God"s marriage law. She might have been previously widowed and remarried, but she could not have lived with more than one husband at a time. She should have been known for her good works, such as, her rearing of children, receiving guests into her home and giving them lodging (Acts 16:15), washing the feet of weary saints at the end of a hard day"s travel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving water to the thirsty, visiting those sick and in prison and generally being involved in good works (1 Timothy 5:8-10).

The meaning of 1 Timothy 5:11 is somewhat difficult to ascertain. However, it surely does not mean it is wrong for a widow younger than 60 to remarry, as coming verses will clearly indicate. It may be that widows enrolled to be permanently cared for by the church made a pledge to work for the Lord. Paul was concerned the desires of younger widows might eventually rage out of control, which is the meaning of the word “wanton.” Their embarrassment over being on the permanent role and a desire to get married might lead them to marry a pagan and be disloyal to their confession of Christ and submitting to him in baptism (compare 1 Corinthians 7:39).

Younger widows would almost certainly still have the energy to care for a home and family. If the church put them on constant support, they would have a tendency to become lazy, wander from house to house, carry idle stories that were destructive either because they were false or because they only served to tear down the character of others and look into things of others that were none of their business. So, the apostle said it was better for the younger widows to marry a Christian man, bear children and care for a household in general. While a man goes about the daily business of earning a living, a woman is directing the affairs at home. Thus, she is said to rule because she is in control of the things that go on there. Of course, she would still love her husband and be subject to him, but someone has to make decisions at home. Thus, she would stay busy doing a good work and give no opportunity to Satan by involving herself in the things described as being brought on by idleness (1 Timothy 5:12-14).

Apparently they had already seen some fall prey to the ways of the devil and bring reproach upon the church. Perhaps the directions of verse 8 would have, by themselves, allowed some women to feel they had no obligation toward their widowed mothers and grandmothers. Just in case, Paul went on to plainly state that the Christian woman has the same obligation as the man in Christ (1 Timothy 5:15-16).


Verses 17-22

Giving Proper Honor to Elders

Elders rule, or direct the affairs of the church, under the chief shepherd, Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:1-5). They should not be forced to earn their living as well. Any elder who did a good job in tending the flock would be worthy of double honor and especially those who also were involved in preaching and teaching the word. Remember, we saw in 1 Timothy 5:3 that the word “honor” suggests respect and temporal relief. Paul goes on to cite Deuteronomy 25:4 to prove elders should receive pay. The same verse was used by Paul in reference to a preacher"s right to be supported in the preaching of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:1-14). Clearly, it could be said elders are worthy of financial support when they labor as overseers of the flock (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

Anyone in a position of leadership is subject to criticism. Paul made it plain that the man of God is not to listen to those who would accuse an elder of sinful actions, unless the incident can be confirmed by two or three witnesses. Actually, this is the respect which is due any brother (Matthew 18:15-17) and it is certainly due an elder. When a leader is found in sin, he must be rebuked just like any other member. Rebuking a leader shows that all are equal under Christ and should cause all Christians to fear violating God"s will. Paul solemnly charged Timothy in the presence of God, Christ and the faithful angels who serve God.

Remember, some angels were involved in rebellion (Jude 1:6; 2 Peter 2:4). Other references make it clear that angels observe things going on in the church and with Christians (Luke 15:10; Hebrews 1:14; 1 Corinthians 4:9). Since God is no respecter of persons, anyone who is hearing charges against one of His people should also be unbiased (Acts 10:34). The man of God cannot afford to favor someone just because they are good friends or are part of the same clique. In fact, he should not become a part of a clique for that very reason (1 Timothy 5:19-21).

One can lay hands on a man because he is accused (Acts 4:3). This could be a reference to accusations against an elder, in which case, the latter part of the verse would go on to require Timothy to go ahead and rebuke those who had been fully proved to be in sin. However, the laying on of hands may also refer to the appointment of elders (compare Acts 13:3; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6). It was certainly the job of an evangelist to appoint elders in every church (Titus 1:5).

If this is the meaning here, the last part of the verse would indicate the process of selecting elders should be carefully carried out. Timothy would not want to have been a part of placing a man in the office of a bishop who was wicked when such could have been known if the time to check things out had have been allowed (1 Timothy 5:22).


Verses 23-25

Further Instructions Concerning Proper Christian Conduct

There can be no doubt that Timothy refrained from drinking any wine, because of what the apostle wrote to him in 1 Timothy 5:23. Paul urged him not to go to the extreme of refusing wine as a medicine when he was sick. Apparently, in an effort to keep himself pure, as Paul enjoined, Timothy had drunk water only (R.S.V.). However, Paul permitted the use of wine as a medicine for stomach trouble.

Some men"s sins are quite evident because they openly participate in them. Others sin quietly so that it is very hard to ascertain the type of character they really have. Similarly, the good works of some men are seen by all around them. When one does involve himself in wickedness, even secretively, it will be seen in time (1 Timothy 5:24-25).

 


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Bibliography Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/1-timothy-5.html. 2014.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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