1 Timothy 5

This is a very interesting and important chapter.

1. Paul gives Timothy advice regarding his attitude in dealing in a corrective way with various age groups. Verses 1 and 2

2. Paul then gives him instruction at considerable length regarding widows. Verses 3-16.

3. Then he discusses with him his duty in relation to elders. V. 17-25.

4. Paul continues his exhortation into Ch 6 where he exhorts slaves to be obedient to their masters-believing or unbelieving. Verses 1-2

Rebuke is always a problem. We may so dislike the taste that we may shirk it altogether.

In many cases this neglect has brought sorrow and sometimes shipwreck to those who would have been rebuked.

Furthermore, it is always difficult to reprimand someone graciously. In Timothy’s case it was doubly difficult, he being a young man was to rebuke an older man if the case called for it.

The elder here is not an elder in the church – but an older man.

A rebuke to an older person must be administered as to a respected father, or mother.

When talking to young men we must treat them as brothers.

When dealing with the opposite sex his relationship must be of the highest and purest character.

In verse 3 Paul introduces the subject of caring for widows. “Honor widows that are widows indeed”.

Desolate and alone, with no means of support.

There are two other kinds of widows who do not fall within this definition.

One kind is mentioned before and the other after his description of the genuine widow.

v. 4 The first kind of widow mentioned is she who has children and grandchildren. She is not truly desolate.

It is the duty of these descendants to care for their mothers or grandmothers. “This is good and acceptable before God.”

On the other hand, should those close relatives shirk their responsibility of parental support they are “worse than an unbeliever”. v. 8.

In v. 5, we have the description of a widow who is desolate and alone. She is without children-relatives.

She makes known to God her recurrent needs night and day, in supplications and prayers. In other words her trust is in God.

This is the kind of widow that is the church’s responsibility. See Acts 6.

In v. 6 we have a description of a third kind of widow.

“She lives in pleasure.” Despite her widowhood she lives selfishly – and gaily.

This kind is “dead while she liveth”, in other words, she is alive in the flesh, but is dead spiritually.

v. 7 These principles ought to be taught so that believers will not be guilty of neglect and be found with reproach in this matter.

Instructions concerning the enrollment of widows. V. 9-15

These verses contain the qualifications of those who are “widow indeed”.

1. The must be sixty years old. This does not exclude younger widows who should receive support when necessary. The younger women would be able to partially support themselves and would only need occasional support. Those over sixty too weak to work would receive full support.

2. “Having been the wife of one man.” That is, she has to have lived in a God-honoring marital union

3. “Well reported of for good works”

Five examples of her good works are given:

1. “if she has brought up children”

2. “if she has been hospitable”

3. “if she has washed the saints’ feet”

4. “if she has relieved the afflicted”

5. “if she has diligently followed every good work”

These attributes would be characteristic of her past life.

v. 11-12

These verses describe the conduct of certain young widows who should not be supported by the church.

These “grow wanton”, i.e. they become restive in spirit and cold of heart.

So they marry a pagan man and accept his faith and cast off their “first faith”.

v. 13

Other youthful widows if placed on the list for support would be exposed to the danger of developing dangerous habits.

Idleness – is the teacher of very sin.

They would in their idleness go from house to house and become “tattlers and busy bodies”. They would become “gossips” and “tale bearers”.

v. 14-15

In v. 14 Paul gives a strong directive to young widows.

In v. 15 he gives the justification for it.

Paul here is directing the younger widows to remarry in the Lord, and take up the duties of normal married life.

Bear children – rule the house. The management of household affairs is the particular domain of the women.

This “relationship and rule” gives no cause for scandal or discrediting the Gospel.

v. 15 justifies the firm directive of the previous verse.

For some are already turned aside after Satan.

Evidently there were instances of young widows leaving their “first faith”, bringing reproach on the name of Christ and following after Satan.

V. 16 Quote

This is a unique verse. The word “man” should not be here. It should read “if any woman” Paul here is thinking of a widow who has the means to support herself and have some left over. Lydia for example.

This one is exhorted to support any widows who are widows indeed, especially if they are relatives. So that the church will be relieved in these cases, and so direct their support to the desolate and destitute.

v. 17

A true elder is worth his weight in gold.

There is not a more valuable asset in any assembly.

Those elders “who rule well” should be “counted worthy of double honor”.

Note the function of the elders here.

1. They that “rule well”

2. “Especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine”

The early elders were men who not only “ruled” over the flock.

They were men who knew divine principles and had a good knowledge of the apostles’ doctrine, and who evidently had the gift of teaching.

1 Tim 3:2 The elder must be apt to teach.

1 Thess 5:12 These same two truths are combined.

Know them who labor among you – and are over you in the Lord – and admonish you. Ruling and teaching.

Titus 1:9 The elder has to hold fast the truth – teach sound doctrine – and when necessary defend the faith.

Good elders – i.e. scripturally qualified elders should have the honor or esteem of the local church – “double honor.”

Those who labor and toil to the point of exhaustion richly deserve “double honor”. Not only esteem but an honorarium.

v. 18 is the scriptural authority for supporting financially those who labor in the Word and doctrine. Deuteronomy 25:4

“The ox that treadeth out the corn was not to be muzzled.”

“The laborer is worthy of his reward.”

v. 19

Paul urges caution in receiving an accusation against an elder. Proceedings against him must not be taken unless the accusation can be substantiated by two or three responsible or reliable witnesses.

v. 20 Those who are taken in sin must be publicly rebuked so that all may fear.

This statement is general enough to apply to all who sin – but in particular the context favors the application to elders.

v. 21 This verse teachers that there must not be any partiality.

v. 22 “Lay hands suddenly on no man.”

In the context this refers to the recognizing of elders.

This has not to be done hastily – due consideration must be given to all the facets of the person’s life and doctrine.

To recognize one as an elder who has shady areas in his life is really approving of his sins.

The exhortation – “Be not a partaker of another man’s sin.”

On the contrary, “keep thyself pure.” In doctrine-morals

v. 23

This verse comes in here as a surprise – it does not fit into the context.

The words imply that Timothy was a total abstainer. He was an example.

Paul advises him to take a “little wine” as well as water.

Physicians prescribed a little wine for medicinal purposes.

No sanction for the habit of drinking wine as a beverage can be drawn from these words.

Paul implies that he regarded wine as a medicine for the weak and infirm and not a s a beverage for the strong.

v. 24 Following the parenthetical statement of v. 23, Paul resumes and closes the discussion on elders.

Paul as a master of human nature reminds Timothy that in the recognizing of elders, he must remember that there are two classes of sins, open and hidden.

Some men’s sins are apparent – condemning them.

Other men’s sins are concealed and are only found out after careful examinations.

v. 25 The same principle applies to “good works”.

There are some whose good works are obvious – there are others whose good works are not so easily detected.

In our choosing of men for elders we should consider all of these conditions.