1 Timothy 5. 17 to 25
W. E. Vine, Bath
Verse 17. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, —the word presbuteroi, "elders," is the same as that in Acts 20. 17, where Paul, having sent for them from this very church, speaks of them as "bishops" (v. 28. R.V., "overseers," A.V,); cp. Tit. 1. 7. There is therefore no ground for regarding the elders now mentioned as in a different category, as if the bishops (always more than one in each church or assembly in the N.T.; see notes on 3. 1, 2) formed a distinct company from the elders.
In 3. 5 their duty is mentioned as that of 'taking care.' of the church of God; here the word is proistemi, lit. to stand before, hence to attend to, to lead, to be over (see 1 Thess. 5. 12). There is no idea here or elsewhere of governmental authority or domination. Nor again is there any intimation of a distinction between those who ride and those who do nut. There is stress on the word "well," which marks those who ride well as the subject of the present exhortation, in contrast to those who might act in a perfunctory manner.
The special meaning of "honour" is made clear in verse 18 and here bears the sense of ' honorarium,' or remuneration. The maintenance of widows has just been under consideration, and the subject of material assistance is still in view. The word "double" is not to be taken in a numerical sense, it here signifies 'ample' or 'special.'
especially those who labour in the word and in teaching - the word kopiao conveys the sense of toil (the meaning of the corresponding noun kope), whether physical, as in Matt. 6. 28; 1 Cor. 4. 12, or otherwise; here of oral ministry among the saints. There ware elders who did not preach. On the other hand there were elders who were gifted to minister instruction from the Scriptures; the phrase "in the word" suggests the ministry of preaching (see 2 Tim. 4. 2), whether the gospel, e.g. Acts 15. 7; Eph. 1. 13; cp. 2 Cor. 5. 19; or Scripture in general, e.g. "the word of truth" 1 Cor. 6. 7; "teaching" suggests instruction from the Scriptures, the unfolding of the Word of God. Faithful ministry in either respect is no light matter; it involves the spending of much time in prayerful and thoughtful meditation in the Scriptures, and thus ascertaining the mind of Cod revealed therein. The feet are to be shod with "the preparation" of the gospel of peace. It involves the presentation of oneself to be "approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the ward of truth" (2 Tim. 2. 15). Anything of a merely mechanical or routine nature, or the handling of Scripture as more theology, is utterly incompatible with the "labour" here mentioned, and renders such ministry fruitless.
Verse 18. For the Scripture saith, Thou shall: not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his hire. — The first of those quotations is from Deut. 25. 4; it is quoted also in 1 Cor. 9. 9 with a similar application. With regard to the second, if the phrase "the Scripture saith" covers this as well as the preceding one, the Apostle is quoting from Luke 10. 7; which would suggest, what is no doubt the case, that Luke's Gospel was already written. In this case also the Apostle recognizes Luke's Gospel as part of the God-breathed Scriptures. That Gospel had probably been in circulation for a Jew years. The point is interesting in view of Luke's association with him. If the words "the Scripture saith" apply only to the quotation from Deuteronomy, Paul's quotation would be that of a common proverb, which had been quoted by the Lard. The Conner supposition seems the more likely.
Verse 19. Against an elder receive not an accusation, except at the mouth of two or three witnesses. — this injuntion is derived primarily from Deut. 17. 6 and 19. 15. For the principle, see also John 8. 17; 2 Cor. 13. 1; Heb. 10. 28. The cases in these references are of a purely judicial character. The exhortation to Timothy is of a wider scope and might include matters simply requiring admonition. The very activities of elders and the responsibilities devolving upon them expose them to grave moral dangers. Again, the more faithful an elder was in the matter of convicting gainsayers (Tit. 1. 9), the more exposed would he be to slander and calumny as a result of envy. Whilst these circumstances might apply to others than elders, special care would be required in the case of such.
Verse 20. Thorn that sin reprove in the sight of all, — the verb rendered "that sin" is in the present participle, and signifies persistent sinning. Some understood this verse to refer to elders as just mentioned. Such a close sequence is not necessarily indicated. The exhortations in the whole passage pass from one subject to another without a very close connection. The purpose expressed in the next clause is against such a limitation. Nor, again, is there evidence of an allusion simply to false teaching or errors of doctrine, as if the elders who laboured in the world and in teaching were particularly signalized. The injunction would seem to have a general application.
The verb rendered "reprove" (A.V. "rebuke") signifies a reproof that tends to carry conviction, Cp. John 3. 20; 1 Cor. 14. 24; Eph. 5. 11, 13; 2 Tim. 4. 2; Tit. 1. 9, 13; 2. 15.
The reproof was to be administered "before all," i.e. all the church. This would not be a case of the extreme measure of excommunication, though disregard of the reproof might lead to it.
that the rest also may be fn fear — i.e., that the other members of the assembly, under the preventive power of the reproof, might be saved from acting in the same way. Cp. Deut. 13. 11.
Verse 21. I charge thee — diamariuromai, a strengthened form of marturomai, to testify, denotes to testify earnestly, to charge solemnly. It is found elsewhere in 1 Thess. 4. 6; 2 Tim. 2, 14 and 4. 1.
in the sight of God, and Christ Jesus, and the elect angels, — this solemn appeal shows the extreme importance and gravity of the charge, and this can be realized when we remember that each assembly is set as God's witness in a world of spiritual darkness. The appeal is first "in the sight of God," the Judge of all "who with respect of persons judgeth according to each man's work"; next in the sight of Christ Jesus (the order Christ Jesus, as in the R.V., is in accordance with the most authentic mss.), who "walketh in the midst of the assemblies as lampstands, Rev. chapters 2 and 3, and before whose judgment-seat the saints are to be made manifest 2 Cor. 5. 10; thirdly, in the sight of the elect angels, who fell not when their former fellows apostatized under Satan's rebellion, and who both act as ministering spirits on behalf of God's children, Heb. 1. 14, and who are interested spectators in the circumstances and conditions of (he people of God, Eph. 3. 10; cp. 1 Pet. 1. 12.
that thou observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality. — The verb phullasso, rendered "observe," primarily means to guard, to keep watch over; prokrima, prejudice, denotes prejudging and here refers to the preference for one person, another being put aside by unfavourable judgment due to partiality. The word is used here only in the N.T., as also is the word proklisis, partiality, which lit, denotes inclination or a leaning towards, as the result of bias. These things refer to the injunctions just laid down with regard both to elders and to the various members of tile assembly. No case was to be judged without the strictest examination of facts. There must be judgment but not prejudgment; there must be righteous dealing without fear or favour.
Verse 22. Lay hands hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure, — this would seem to have reference to the ciders or overseers, as mentioned in chapter 3, and the preceding part of chapter 5. No one was to receive public recognition who did not prove first that he had been Divinely qualified. To lay hands on a man who had not given evidence of being called of God to the ministry in which he was endeavouring to take part, and so to give such a. man a place in the church testimony, would involve partaking of his sins, if cither he proved to be one holding false doctrine or was found to be guilty of moral obliquity. To lay hands on a man, whether actually or virtually, is to identify oneself with him in the service in which he presumes to engage, and should he prove to be a moral or doctrinal delinquent the one responsible for his recognition would thereby be partaker of his sin, and would brine; the church into disrepute, This seems to be the meaning rather than as some suggest, that of the laying on of hands upon reconciled offenders when restored to fellowship.
A newcomer from some other assembly from which he may have been commanded as a believer, may exhibit an undue readiness to take a public part in ministering the Word of God. The injunction given in this verse is a sufficient warning to elder brethren to avoid encouraging such unless satisfactory assurance has been given from the place or places whence he has come that he is one who has been, approved of God in such ministry; or until there has been sufficient acquaintance with him as to his manner of life and knowledge of the Scriptures to avoid the necessity of exercising godly and impartial restraint.
It is with a view to refraining from partaking with other men's sins, as mentioned above, that the Apostle gives Timothy the injunction "keep thyself pure," though the command should be taken as applying to every phase and condition of the life. To maintain all manner of holy living and godliness requires ceaseless watchfulness, together with diligent and constant prayerfulness.
Verse 23. Be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities, - it seems best to regard this verse as somewhat parenthetic. It certainly gives evidence of the tender consideration given by the senior missionary for his younger follow-worker's physical welfare. The exacting character of Timothy's labours and the heavy responsibilities devolving upon him, with all the antecedent trials and perils in his missionary activities, no doubt had a prejudicial effect upon his health (there is no evidence that Timothy was constitutionally a weakling previous to his cull to such work). He had evidently confined himself to the use of water for drinking, perhaps with thy godly desire to set an example against the evils of intoxication prevalent in Ephesus (a hint of which is given in 3. 3 and 3. 8). Obviously the Apostle's exhortation deals with the use of wine as a medicine and is not of wine as a beverage on the part of believers. The servant of God should, however, guard against the weakening of his bodily power through extreme asceticism. No miracle can be expected if the Divinely-provided use of means is neglected.
Verse 24. Some men's sins are evident, going before unto judgment; and some men also they follow after. - these and the following statements are given as generalizations; yet they are evidently nut unconnected with verse 22. If Timothy was to avoid being partaker of other men's sins by not laying hands on any man hastily, he would not be without guidance regarding it. There would be no difficulty in the case of those whose sins were evident and undisguised; with such their sins proclaim beforehand the retribution destined to come upon them. The word prodelos lit. denotes 'manifested before' (the prefix probably has the significance here of publicity rather than time); it is used elsewhere in Heb. 7. 14. For the word pfoago. lit. to lead forth or before, see 1. 18. In other eases their sins do not become manifest all at once. They are concealed from the view of others, though they pursue the delinquents to their inevitable judgments their sin will find them out at last, but it does not proclaim it beforehand. Hence (as in connection with verse 22) the need of waiting so that men may prove themselves.
Verse 25. In like manner also there are good works that are evident; and such as are otherwise cannot be hid. — the word for "good" is kolas, noble, goodly, honourable (see, e.g., Tit. 2. 14; 3. 8). Some kinds of good works are conspicuous (prodelos, as in verse 24), and there are those which, though not evident, cannot remain hidden. It is the humble unostentatious man whose works eventually will inevitably reveal his character and will make room for him. The man who comes with plenty of high-sounding talk and makes himself immediately prominent does not thereby manifest himself as one who stands in the counsels of God, and whose inner life is possessed of the quiet but effective power that come from constant communion with God. It has been suggested that there is a reference here to the Lord's saying in Matt. 5. 14-16. See also John 3. 21. and cp. Matt. 10. 26.