Category Archives: 1 TIMOTHY 5

The apostle gives instruction concerning the care of widows, and the respecting of elders.

1 TIMOTHY 5

Survey of the chapter
We come now to the fifth charge to the Ephesians through Timothy. In verses 1 to 20, and then the fifth charge to Timothy personally, from verses 21 to 25. The chapter is about the honour that is due to various believers given their particular claim on that honour, whether it be simply as fellow-believers, or as needy widows, or as elders in the assembly. 

Structure of the chapter

(a) Verses 1,2 Honour shown in relationships.
(b) Verses 3-16 Honour shown in provision.
(c) Verses 17-20 Honour shown to diligent elders.
(d) Verses 21-25 Fifth charge to Timothy.


THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY CHAPTER 5, VERSES 1 AND 2:

5:1  Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

5:2  The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

The fifth charge to the assembly at Ephesus through Timothy.
(a)    Verses 1,2        Honour in relationships.

5:1  Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

Rebuke not an elder- in the context this simply means an old man, for three reasons:
(i)    Some elders are to be rebuked , verse 20. 
(ii)    The expression “elder women” of verse 2 is the male form of “elder man”, which would means that if we omit “elder” we could have female elders.  But this would contradict the injunction “I suffer not a woman to teach”, for elders are to teach.
(iii)    The elders here are contrasted with young men.
Believers, whether male or female, should treat elderly believers with respect for their perseverance and their vulnerability.  God required Israelites to “rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord”, Leviticus 19:32.  Now the apostle is enjoining it upon those who know God’s grace.  The word rebuke has a certain forcefulness about it, having its origin in the word meaning to pound, or to smite.
But intreat him as a father- a believer is bound to honour the natural father and mother.  It is the first commandment of the law that has a promise attached to it, as the apostle points out in Ephesians 6:1-3.  The principle behind the command of the law is carried over to the present age, for we are to fulfil the righteous requirement of the law, even though we are not under it as to our relationship with God, which is secured by Christ, and not by law-keeping, Romans 8:4. 
The ideal attitude that one should have to one’s own natural father should be the normal attitude we have to older believing men.   Of course, this will be easy if older believing men are fatherly in their attitude in return.  But if this is not the case, then another Scripture should be borne in mind which says, “Being defamed, we intreat”, 1 Corinthians 4:13.  To intreat, both in that passage, and here in 1 Timothy 5, means to exhort or to implore, which displays a completely different attitude to the rebuke we are warned against.
And the younger men as brethren- not merely as friends, but those linked by a common life in the family of God.  It is a pity when young believers only interact with one another on a natural level, engaging in social activities no different to the world.  Youth is the time to seize opportunities to serve the Lord, using God-given energy to further His interests.

5:2  The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

The elder women as mothers- in Romans 16:13 the apostle describes Rufus’ mother as his mother, indicating that she had acted as a mother would towards him, at some time.  His response was no doubt one of treating her as he would his own mother.
The younger as sisters, with all purity- Ephesus was dedicated to the goddess of love, and the whole atmosphere of the place would be permeated by lustful thoughts and behaviour, much like the world of today.  Believing young men should only have pure thoughts about young women in general, and believing women in particular.  Normally, natural brothers and sisters react to one another free of sexual undertones, and this should be how the young men behave towards sisters in the Lord.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY CHAPTER 5, VERSES 3 to 16:

5:3  Honour widows that are widows indeed.

5:4  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.

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

5:6  But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

5:7  And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.

5:8  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.

5:9  Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.

5:10  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.

5:11  But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

5:12  Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.

5:13  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.

5:14  I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

5:15  For some are already turned aside after Satan.

5:16  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.

(b)    Verses 3-16        Honour in provision.
5:3-5   ‘Widows indeed’ to be honoured.

5:3  Honour widows that are widows indeed.

Honour widows that are widows indeed- what a “widow indeed” is will be defined in verse 5.  The word for “widow” has the idea of loss, being connected with word chasm; there is now a gap in her life.  This means that her means of support is gone.
The word “honour” has the meaning of “a valuation by which a price is fixed”.  The assembly must make a spiritual assessment of the value of the widow, and give her that in terms of honour.  There is more required than just respect and concern, however.  This honour should involve financial help if necessary.  We should not make the Welfare State an excuse for not helping the poor, especially poor widows.

5:4  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.

But if any widow have children of nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home- the Lord Jesus condemned the practice of His day whereby instead of the rulers encouraging the support of parents as the law required, they demanded a gift for the temple instead.  Mark 7:6-13 gives the details of His condemnation.  The elders said, “If a man shall say to his mother or father, ‘It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free’.  And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; making the word of God of no effect by your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye”.  This in fact was spurious piety in connection with the temple, but the apostle here is enjoining piety at home.  The best thing the children can do for their parents is to reflect their godliness in their own lives.  This, to spiritual parents, will be the best recompense for all that they have put into bringing up their children. 
And to requite their parents- this means to “give back a recompense”.  The first recompense is to live a godly life, the second is to provide for the needs of the parents, if necessary.  There should be gratitude on the part of the children for the sacrifices their parents have made whilst they were bringing them up.  Notice that to provide for an aged and widowed mother is to requite the parents, for it is gratitude for what the mother and the father did in earlier years.
For this is good and acceptable before God- the behaviour highlighted by the Lord Jesus might have been good and acceptable to the Jewish hierarchy, but it was neither good or acceptable to God.  It did the parents no good, and it meant the disapproval of God.  The expression “Before God” reminds us of the solemn truth that He is watching.  As Hagar said, “Thou God seest me”, Genesis 16:13.

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

Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate- not having children to comfort and help her.
Trusteth in God- accepts her situation as from Him, and relies on Him to meet her need.
And continueth in supplications- expresses her need to Him.
And prayers night and day- she does not mope and bemoan her situation, nor does she neglect to pray for others constantly.  We see an example of this in Anna, of whom we read, “she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day”, Luke 2:37.

5:6   Widow who is disqualified.
5:6  But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

But she that liveth for pleasure- the “widow indeed” lives for prayer.
Is dead while she liveth- like the prodigal in the far country, of whom his father said, “this my son was dead”.  The apostle warned the believers at Rome that “if ye live after the flesh ye shall die”.  In other words, all the while they live like the prodigal did, they will be practically dead, and there will be a gap in their spiritual life.  The widow spoken of here is not living for Christ, but for pleasure.  As such, she disqualifies herself from the provision for her needs.  God does not want the resources He gives to His people wasted.

5:7   Widows’ children, and the assembly, charged.

5:7  And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.

And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless- the assembly is to ensure that these commands are obeyed, so that censure by God is avoided.  This warning shows how important these practical matters are to God.

5:8   Widows’ children warned.

5:8  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.

But if any provide not for his own- failure of children in this matter is serious; they will not be blameless.  To provide means to see a need and meet it.  The children should be alert, so that the need is met as soon as it arises.
And specially for those of his own house- “his own” would include servants, if he had them.  His own house means his immediate family, especially widowed mothers; such have a special claim on his care.
He hath denied the faith- the body of Christian doctrine is not a collection of disjointed ideas.  It is integrated.  To deny one article of the faith is to be a faith-breaker, just as to break one law is to be a law-breaker, James 2:10. 
And is worse than an infidel- many unbelievers, who have no time for God, nevertheless care lovingly for their parents.  The believer has a greater responsibility in this matter, for the grace of God has taught Him, Titus 2:11,12, and the example of God as the “God of the widow and the fatherless”, should move him to action.

5:9,10   ‘Widow indeed’ described:

5:9  Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.

Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old- so a ‘widow indeed’ must be aged sixty or over.  Assembly resources are to be distributed with care and discernment.  The expression “the number” would show that this matter was to be administered methodically, with a recognised list of people eligible for help. 
Having been the wife of one man- as we saw in connection with an elder, (see 3:2), this means that at any one time, there must have been only one person in her life.  She must have been a “one-man wife”, as an elder must be “one-woman man”.

5:10  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.

Well reported of for good works- she will use well and wisely what the assembly provides, and the world will have no cause to criticise her in the way she uses the resources the assembly gives her.  She will be enabled to continue her good works if she is freed from care and poverty. 
If she have brought up children- perhaps the children referred to here are not saved, and do not provide.  Verses 4 and 16 require believing children to provide.  The upbringing of children is a costly matter, and she will not have had opportunity to save for her old age because of this.
If she have lodged strangers- she is to be marked by largeness of heart to all, not just relatives.  This shows a level of commitment and love beyond the ordinary, and shows that provision for her needs is justified.
If she have washed the saints feet- she is spiritual enough to refresh believers on their pilgrimage.  This is a figurative expression, and is in the spirit of what the Lord Jesus taught in the Upper Room when He washed the disciples’ feet.  It was on one level an act of humility, but on another level involved the adjustment of the life of others.  To wash someone’s feet in this sense is to do what Aquila and Priscilla did with Apollos.  They “took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly”, Acts 18:26.  This was a very valuable ministry, and had great benefit, both for Apollos personally, and those he taught subsequently.  This widow had been Priscilla-like, and still was, and deserved to be helped, for she made a valuable contribution to Christian testimony.
If she have relieved the afflicted- she will not wallow in self-pity now if she has done this before she was widowed. 
If she have diligently followed every good work- in verse 10 the word good means good in nature, as opposed to evil.  In this verse the word good means good in effect, as opposed to harmful.  Such a woman deserves to be given resources so that she may have resources available enabling her to continue in her good works.

5:11-13    Widows refused.

5:11  But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

But the younger widows refuse- those below sixty years old.
For when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ- some become obsessed with the desire to re-marry.  Faith in Christ should result in temperance, which is self-control, Galatians 5:22.  Paul does not mean to imply all younger widows are like this, but is warning those who are, and stressing that these should not be provided for.  This will be a caution to those who are not yet widowed, so that their lives may be adjusted, so that that, in the event of them being widowed, they are not disqualified.
They will marry- that is, they will strongly desire to marry.  It is all a question of priorities, for Paul is not against them marrying.  In fact, in verse 14 he will require them to marry.  The point here is that want to marry for marriage sake, so as to relieve their hardship.

5:12  Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.

Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith- judgement awaits them at the Judgement Seat of Christ, for they have declined in the love to Christ which marked them when they first believed.  The loss of their natural partner should have caused them to increase in love to Christ; alas it was not so. Too often wives cast off the principles they held whilst their husband was alive.

5:13  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.

And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house- Christianity encourages industry, so they have not learned laziness from there.  These have learned idleness from the flesh within.  They have time on their hands because they are not engaged in good works.
And not only idle, but tattlers and busy-bodies- a tattler is a babbler, one who engages in idle chatter.  There should be constructive conversation when believers meet, as we have seen in the case of Aquila and Priscilla.
Speaking things they ought not- often, idle chatter degenerates into malicious gossip.  Such persons should not be given resources, for they will misuse them.  The lesson is here for all believers.  The apostle wrote, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”, Ephesians 4:29.

5:14,15    Widows counselled.

5:14  I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house- this will occupy their time usefully.  It will also strengthen the assembly as children are instructed in the Scriptures, and like Timothy himself, are brought to salvation, 2 Timothy 3:14,15.
Give none occasion for the adversary to speak reproachfully- Satan is busy lying about believers; let us not give him material to help him in his destructive work.

5:15  For some are already turned aside after Satan.

For some are already turned aside after Satan- some widows had already been led astray by the Devil, perhaps into immoral practices.  Marriage might have saved this.  As the apostle wrote to the believers at Corinth, (a city full of immorality, as Ephesus was), “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband”, 1 Cor.7:2.

5:16        Widows’ children charged.

5:16  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.

If any man or woman that believeth have widows- those they are responsible for because they are relatives, as stated in verse 4.
Let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged- the saints must have confidence that what they give to the Lord is used wisely and to His glory.  He is not the God of waste, as we see in John 6:12, where the Lord instructed His disciples to gather up the fragments of bread, “that nothing be lost”.  Assembly funds are what the saints have given to the Lord.  They should be distributed according to His mind, as expressed in these verses.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY CHAPTER 5, VERSES 17 to 20:

5:17  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

5:18  For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

5:19  Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

5:20  Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

(c)    Verses 17-20    Honour shown to diligent elders.

5:17  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

Let the elders that rule well- the word “rule” has the idea of “to stand before”, that is to be an example.  Eastern shepherds did not drive their flocks but led them, as is seen in the words of the Good Shepherd Himself, “He goeth before them”, John 10:4.  The  people of God should be able to safely follow where their shepherd leads.
Be counted worthy of double honour- the better the example, greater should be the honour.  There is to be honour for personal qualifications, and in addition, honour for example they give.
Especially they who labour in the word and doctrine- all of the elders should be “apt to teach”, as 3:2 says, but some work at this harder than others, and therefore should be respected the more.  The word used for labour is one which means painstaking work. 

5:18  For the scripture saith, ‘Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn’. And, ‘The labourer is worthy of his reward’.

For the Scripture saith- we are now given the two-fold support for the statement of verse 17, first from the Old Testament, then from the New Testament, which are both called Scripture.  The living voice of God in His word is relevant now, for scripture “saith” in the present.
“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn”- the ox must be allowed to bend down and take a mouthful of corn as it goes round and round on the threshing-floor.  So in the same way, God’s labourers should have some reward now in terms of respect.  The least we can do for those who spend time studying, is to listen to what they say as a result.
And, “The labourer is worthy of his hire”- by hire is meant reward.  This is not justification for having a paid pastor, an idea which has no support whatsoever in scripture.  The notion of clergy and laity, or however the concept is described, is a carry-over from the Old Testament.  Those who are involved in this practice have not grasped the principles of a New Testament church, as set out in the epistles.  This is not to say that all involved in this practice are ungodly, for that is clearly not the case.  It remains true, however, that they have missed the point of the new Testament teaching on this matter.
Those elders who take lesser-paid jobs to give time to teach, should be supported, if necessary.  So the idea of reward can extend to financial help, but only if needed.  Assembly funds should be channelled only where there is need.  The financial support of those who could very well earn their own living is diverting funds away from areas of great need.

5:19  Elders protected.

5:19  Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses- here we have two allusions to Old Testament, first from Exodus 22:28, “Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people”, and then Deuteronomy 19:15, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established”.  Elders might be subjected to spiteful treatment because of their decisions, but they are not to be at the mercy of persons who bear a grudge against them, and have no supporting witness for their accusation. 

5:20  Elders rebuked.

5:20  Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Them that sin rebuke before all- this is the procedure if an accusation is supported by witnesses, and is found to be true.  Sinning elders are to be called to account.  They are not to think of themselves as being not liable to correction.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY CHAPTER 5, VERSES 21 to 25:

5:21  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.

5:22  Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

5:23  Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

5:24  Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.

5:25  Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid. 

(d)    Verses 21-25    Fifth charge to Timothy.

5:21  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.

I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels- we see from Revelation 1:20 that the seven churches mentioned there each had an angel, one who represents an individual assembly before God governmentally.  Human administration has its heavenly counterpart, as we see from Daniel 10:13, 20.  If the angel watchers note the conduct of human rulers, as they do, Daniel 4:13,17, then it is no surprise that there are those who represent churches before God, and who note the conduct of those who rule in the assembly.  So a particular angels is chosen, or elected, to represent a particular assembly.  To idea that the reference is to unfallen angels generally does not seem to fit the context.  But if Paul charges Timothy before angels given responsibility for assemblies, then we can see the relevance.
That thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality- God is not a respecter of persons, and He does not modify His dealings, or compromise.  Believers have been made the righteousness of God in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:xxx, so they, too, should be uncompromising in their dealings.  There were those in the apostle’s day who had “the persons of men in admiration for the sake of advantage, xxx, but this is not the Christian way.

5:22  Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

Lay hands suddenly on no man- the laying on of hands was the way of identifying with a person in some way.  Those who are elders should not be hasty to recognise a man as an elder.  If a man is doing elder’s work, then he is an elder, and should be recognised as such.  The elders who are already functioning should neither be too hasty in their judgement, nor allow personal preference to sway them. Timothy’s example would count, for he had responsibility from Paul to point out those who were to be reckoned as elders.  This would not turn them into elders overnight, for a man who is a true elder will show clear signs of being fitted for the task before ever anyone recognises him as such.
Neither be partakers of other men’s sins- if hasty decisions are made in this matter, and the man proves to be unfitted for the task, then Timothy will have associated with one who has sinned in some way.  Of course this is good advice in any context, but here it relates to hastily recognised men who show themselves incompetent.
Keep thyself pure– that is, free from charge of complicity in others’ sins, as just mentioned.   The apostle Paul could make the genuine claim to the elders of Ephesus, that he was “pure from the blood of all men”, Acts 20:26.  The allusion is to the words of God to Ezekiel, that if he did not warn the wicked man about his wickedness, then the wicked man’s blood would be required of Ezekiel, Ezekiel 3:18.

5:23  Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities- see notes on 3:8 with regard to wine-drinking.  The Hebrews believed that the inner organs were the seat of the emotions.  Timothy would need something to steady his nerves when dealing with difficult people.  In Acts 20:29,30 Paul warns of grievous wolves, and others speaking perverse things.  These would place a strain on Timothy, so the advice from the apostle is to use a little wine.  That is, use it for medicinal purposes.  He is not encouraging wine-drinking, but suggesting wine-using.

5:24  Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgement; and some men they follow after.

Some men’s sins are open beforehand- this being the case, they should certainly not be recognised as elders, for their sins are obvious.  No matter how well they may get on with people, if they have some moral flaw, they are disqualified.
Going before to judgement- to recognise these men is to go against the verdict of Christ at the Judgement Seat. 
And some men they follow after- their sins do not become apparent immediately, hence the need for caution, verse 22.

5:25  Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

Likewise the good works of some are manifest beforehand- the reverse is the case.  Such men inspire confidence by the good they have done, and can be confidently recognised as elders.
And they that are otherwise cannot be hid- often the work of an elder is a behind-the-scenes ministry, and a man may be going about doing that work for a while before it is generally noticed.  If patience is exercised, then sooner or later this ministry will become evident, and the assembly may confidently be told of his fitness for the work of an elder.