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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
1 Timothy 5

 

 

Verse 1

1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

Ver. 1. Rebuke not an elder] Lash him not with the scourge of the tongue, as a puny boy, μη επιληξης. Ne plagam inflixeris. Jerk him not as the pope did Henry IV of France in the person of his ambassador, or as the bishops and their shavelings did Henry II of England till the blood followed. This is not civil usage for an elder.


Verse 2

2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

Ver. 2. With all purity] Not with some only, but "with all purity," for fear of the worst, εν παση αγνεια: and lest any impure motion therewhile creep into the heart unawares. The souls of ministers should be purer than the sunbeams, saith Chrysostom. They are by their office the lights of the world: let no snuff abide in them, they are fullones animarum, fullers of men’s souls, to make and keep them white; let them take heed of a smutch. Turpe est doctori, &c. Nihil turpius est Peripatetico claudo. It is a shame for a teacher to be found faulty.


Verse 3

3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.

Ver. 3. Honour widows indeed] That is, such as are widows not by divorce, but by the death of their husbands, and loss of their children; such as was Naomi. Honour them, that is, take them into the college of widows, to be maintained at the Church’s charge. In this sense ministers are to have double honour, {see 1 Timothy 5:17} which is therefore so termed, because they testified thereby the virtues of those so sustained.


Verse 4

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.

Ver. 4. Let them learn first to show] Such any one is in truth, as he is at home, Psalms 101:2. The hypocrite’s virtues (as that of the Sarmatians) run all outward. Something he seems abroad, but follow him home, and you shall soon see what he is: follow stage players into their attiring house where they disrobe themselves, and then it will appear they are vile varlets. {a} Like unto this apostolic precept, was that of Chile, one of the wise men of Greece, της αυτου οικιας καλως προστατειν to govern honestly a man’s own family. (Laert. in Vita.)

And to requite their parents] {See Trapp on "Matthew 15:4"} The storks feed their dams when old; though the young kites expel their dams, and with their bills and wings beat them out of their nest. Boughs bend toward their root, &c.

{a} A man or lad acting as an attendant or servant; a menial, a groom. Now arch. ŒD


Verse 5

5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

Ver. 5. Trusteth in God] Whereas while she had a husband and children, she trusted overmuch in them. The αιμαρροουσα sought not to our Saviour till all her money was gone. Zephaniah 3:12, they are an afflicted poor people, therefore they trust in the name of the Lord. When the apostle saith of the widow indeed, that she is desolate, he seemeth to allude to the Greek word for a widow, which comes of a verb that signifies to be desolate and deprived, χηρα α χηρω, desolor, destituo. So the Latin vidua a viduando, widow from breaved of her husband, and the Hebrew almanah of alam, to be dumb; because death having cut off her head, she hath none to speak for her.

And continueth in supplications, &c.] As Anna the prophetess did, Luke 2:36-38. A noble woman of Savoy, mother to John Galeaz, duke of Milan, after her husband’s decease, caused a coin to be made, upon the one side whereof she drew these words, Sola facta, solum Deum sequor, Being left alone, I follow God alone.


Verse 6

6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

Ver. 6. Is dead while she liveth] Cum careat pura mente, cadaver agit. Pamphilius in Terence saith the like of a light housewife. Sane hercle homo voluptati obsequens fuit dum vixit. St Paul’s Greek cannot well be rendered but by Terence’s Latin, and Terence’s Latin cannot well be put into other Greek.

But she that liveth in pleasure] Gr. σπαταλωσα. The delicate dame, such as were those wanton daughters of Sion, those mincing minions mentioned Isaiah 3:16-26, as also those of Tyre and Sidon, those of Phoenicia, so called from the Syriac phinneck, delicate: the Greeks call them τρυφεροι, such as lie melting in sensual delights and sinful pleasures, in the froth whereof groweth that worm that never dieth, James 5:5. I have read of a gallant addicted to uncleanness, who at last meeting with a beautiful dame, and having enjoyed his fleshly desires of her, found her in the morning to be the dead body of one that he had formerly sinned with, which had been acted by the devil all night, and left dead again in the morning. Sure he had but ψυχρον παραγκαλισμα, a cold armful of her at length (as Lycophron saith of an evil wife), and if God had given grace, it might have brought him to better courses; but where that is wanting, no warning will serve turn. Jeroboam had as great a miracle wrought before him in the drying up of his hand, as St Paul at his conversion, yet was he not wrought upon, because the Spirit did not set it on. Besides, grace is seated in the powers of nature. Now carnal sins disable nature, and so set men in a greater distance from grace, as taking away the heart, Hosea 4:11.


Verse 7

7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.

Ver. 7. And these things give in charge] Often inculcate and set on with a great deal of vehemence, that religion suffer not.


Verse 8

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.

Ver. 8. But if any provide not] That they may have Gaius’s prosperity, Mentem sanam in corpore sano: though the apostle’s meaning here is chiefly as touching bodily nourishment and outward accommodations.

Specially for those of his own house] Socrates, an infidel, took care of the welfare of his family and allies, as Lipanins testifieth, των οικειων επεμελησε και των εκ του γενους εφροντησε. Bishop Ridley was very kind and natural to his kinsfolk. And the Lord Cromwell, before the time of his apprehension, took such order for his servants, that many of them, especially the younger brethren, which had little else to trust unto, had honestly left for them in their friend’s hands to relieve them, whatsoever should befall him.


Verse 9

9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,

Ver. 9. The wife of one man] As Anna, Luke 2:36. Such are held to be more modest, to whom the thought of death hath been enough to forbid the banns of second marriage.


Verse 10

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.

Ver. 10. Well reported of, &c.] "A good name is better than precious ointment," Ecclesiastes 7:1; and "rather to be chosen than great riches," Proverbs 22:1. Provident we must be to preserve it, learning of the unjust steward by lawful, though he did it by unlawful, means; for our Saviour noted this defect, when he said, "The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light," Luke 16:8.


Verse 11

11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

Ver. 11. To wax wanton] To run away (as pampered palfreys) {a} with the bit between their teeth, and to play the jades, καταστρηνιαζειν.

{a} A saddle horse for ordinary riding as distinguished from a war horse; esp. a small saddle horse for ladies. ŒD


Verse 12

12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.

Ver. 12. Having damnation] Or public reproach, as 1 Timothy 5:14, for their desultory lightness and inconsiderate rashness.

Cast off their first faith] Not that of their baptism (as various of the Indians do that have been baptized by the Spaniards), but their vidual {a} promised chastity and service to the saints.

{a} Of or belonging to, befitting, a widow or widowhood; widowed. ŒD


Verse 13

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.

Ver. 13. They learn to be idle] It is an art soon learned, by doing nothing to do naughtily. Nihil agendo male agere discunt, Idleness is the hour of temptation, and an idle person is the devil’s tennis ball, tossed by him at his pleasure.

Wandering about from house to house] As vagrants, or as pedlars opening their packs, and dropping here a tale and there a tale. A practice flatly forbidden by God, Leviticus 19:16; "Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale bearer." The Hebrew word signifieth a pedlar, רגל whence רגל for a foot. And another Hebrew word used for defaming or slandering, Psalms 15:3, properly noteth a footing or trotting it up and down, prying and spying and carrying tales and rumours, 2 Samuel 19:27. The Greek word also αργεω, and the Latin word arguo, first signifies to be idle, and next to reprehend others. (Beckman de Origin. ling. Lat.) Because they that have little to do at home, will be overly busy abroad, in censuring and slandering others.

And not only idle] The firstborn of idleness is, to do nothing; the next issue that she hath is, to do evil. Otium negotium, Idleness is a kind of business.

But tattlers also] Gr. φλυαροι, triflers; Magno conatu magnas nugas agunt. The Rabbis have a proverb, "That ten kabs of speech descended into the world, and the women took away nine of them."

And busybodies] For "every fool will be meddling," Proverbs 20:3.

Speaking things, &c.] It is a very hard thing well to manage many words: εν πολυλογια πολυμωρια, In multiloquio stultiloquium.


Verse 14

14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

Ver. 14. Give none occasion to the adversary] The devil or his instruments, whose mouths he often borrows to blaspheme and rail with, who also watch as diligently for an occasion to speak evil of profession as a dog doth for a bone; they pry more narrowly into every miscarriage than Laban did into Jacob’s stuff.


Verse 15

15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.

Ver. 15. Turned aside after Satan] Revolted from Christian religion, going out of God’s blessing into the world’s warm sun. These could not choose unto themselves a worse condition.


Verse 16

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.

Ver. 16. Have widows] That are widows indeed, that have neither children nor nephews to relieve them, 1 Timothy 5:3, of whom by the law of nature they may require θρεπτηρια, aliment and assistence.

And let not the church be charged] How then will church robbers answer it, if church chargers be in fault? let them give us a just commentary upon Proverbs 20:25, and remember Cardinal Wolsey, and his sacrilegious instruments; five of whom came to fearful ends, as Scultetus recordeth, and concludeth with this wish, Utinam his et similibus exemplis edocti discant homines res semel Deo consecratas timide attrectare, I would that men would be warned by these examples, and better advise how they meddle with church maintenance, thereby to enrich themselves. (Scultet. Annal.)


Verse 17

17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

Ver. 17. Worthy of double honour] viz. Countenance and maintenance; that they may give themselves continually and cheerfully to preaching and prayer, Acts 6:4. Let them have reverence and recompense.

They who labour] οι κοπιωντες, even to lassitude, as he doth that cleaveth wood, or that toileth in harvest, or that goeth on warfare, 2 Timothy 2:3-4. Preaching is a painful work and enfeebleth a man exceedingly, whence the prophet cries out, "My leanness, my leanness." And our Saviour, at little past 30, was reckoned by the Jews to be toward 50 John 8:57. It is supposed by divines that he had so spent himself in preaching, that he seemed to the Jews to be much older than he was.


Verse 18

18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Ver. 18. Thou shalt not muzzle, &c.] {See Trapp on "1 Corinthians 9:9"}

Worthy of his hire] Of his food, Matthew 10:10; of his wages, as here. Hardest labourers have meat and drink and double wages. Among the Athenians, tragedians and comedians were said to labour in teaching the people, εις διδαχην εργαζομενοι, and therefore highly honoured; for this it was also that the ancients laid out so much money upon their theatres. But what was their pains to ours? and are we yet begrudged a livelihood.


Verse 19

19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

Ver. 19. Receive not an accusation] If to be accused were sufficient to make a man guilty, no good minister should be innocent. Praedicare nihil aliud est quam derivare in se furorem totius mundi, saith Luther. Truth hath always a scratched face. Men hate him that reproveth in the gate. Every fool hath a bolt to shoot at a faithful preacher.


Verse 20

20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Ver. 20. Them that sin] i.e. Those presbyters that sin publicly, scandalously, as did Peter, Galatians 2:14, and those who were convicted by two or three witnesses, as 1 Timothy 5:19. Rebuke before all, yet not as if they were whipping boys. {See Trapp on "1 Timothy 5:1"} But if the fault be not known abroad, that rule of our Saviour takes place, Matthew 18:15-16. Constantine the Great was heard to say, "That if he should take a presbyter in the act of adultery, he would cover the matter with his imperial robe, rather than it should come abroad to the scandal of the weak and scorn of the wicked."


Verse 21

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.

Ver. 21. Without preferring one] Or, without precipitation or prejudice. χωρις προκριματος. Omne iudicium a se aufert, qui ad causam praeiudicium affert. A judge must not sit to hear persons, but causes; therefore justice is drawn blindfold.

Doing nothing by partiality] κατα προσκλισιν, by tilting the balance on the one side, as the word signifies. An even hand must be carried between party and party. The contrary whereunto is called by the Greeks ετερομερεια, siding.


Verse 22

22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

Ver. 22. Lay hands suddenly on no man] The best that can come of rashness is repentance. Scipio would not yield that a wise man should ever come in with "had I wist," ουκ ωμην. (Plutarch.) In ordination of ministers all possible care and caution is to be used. Chrysostom thinks that earnestness used by the apostle in the former verse, belongs chiefly to this. Some also make the two last verses a reason of this.

Neither be partaker of other men’s sins] Whom thou shalt rashly ordain, and so thrust upon the people to their and thine infinite disadvantage. "From mine other men’s sins (saith one), good Lord, deliver me." The Athenians had their δοκιμασια, which was a solemn examination of the magistrates, whether fit to govern or no; and of the orators, whether not incontinent, prodigal, unkind to parents, &c.; for if so, they were disprivileged, and not suffered to plead or speak publicly. (Rous’s Archaeol. Attic.)

Keep thyself pure] See 1 Timothy 5:2, and know that sin is a filthy thing, and defileth the soul worse than any jakes (outhouses) can do the body, as our Saviour shows, Matthew 7:23.


Verse 23

23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

Ver. 23. Drink no longer water] Timothy, living among the luxurious Ephesians, was so abstemious that the apostle is fain to prescribe him physic. Hypocrites will be chaste only in the mountains where are no women, and sober in Scythia where are no vines; but Lot was chaste in the midst of Sodom, and Anacharsis temperate among the debauched Athenians. The faithful in the world are like a pearl in a puddle; they lose nothing of their virtue, though amidst the vicious; like heavenly salamanders, they remain unscorched in the fire; like fishes, they retain their freshness in the salt waters.

But use a little wine] Modice, hoc est medice, pro remedio parcius, non pro deliciis redundantius, saith Ambrose; who also somewhere relateth of one Theotimus (a good name but a bad man) that he was so far from taking St Paul’s advice, that having a disease upon his body, and told by the physicians that unless he drank less wine he was like to lose his eyes, Vale lumen amicum, " Farewell, sweet eyesight," said he, choosing rather to lose his sight than his sin; so will many their souls; being like affected to their base lusts, as the panther is said to be to man’s dung, which it exceedingly desireth and maketh after.


Verse 24

24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.

Ver. 24. Some men’s sins] The Judge of the earth keepeth his petty sessions now, letting the law pass upon some few, reserving the rest till the great assizes. Some wicked God punisheth here, lest his providence, but not all, lest his patience and promise of judgment, should be called into question, as Augustine hath observed.


Verse 25

25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

Ver. 25. Cannot be hid] As putrid hypocrisy shall be detected (for the name of the wicked must rot), so wronged innocence shall be cleared, as the eclipsed moon wades out of the shadow, and recovers her splendour.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-timothy-5.html. 1865-1868.

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Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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