I Timothy

I Timothy 5:17-25 Honour The Elders, And Exercise Good Judgment.

Elders are called to rule, and some labour full time “in the word and doctrine” (v. 17). Being worthy of “double honor” refers to “the honor of the position as well as financial remuneration (v. 18).” (NGSB p. 1914) Paul appeals to two scriptural references to support this point. The first in reference to an ox is also referred to in I Corinthians 9:7-9 (Dt. 25:4). The second reference is more direct-“The laborer is worthy of his wages” (v. 18b Cf. Lev. 19:13; Dt. 24:15; Mt. 10:10; Lk. 10:7; I Cor. 9:14). Paul also comes to the defense of the reputation of elders. Paul does not set down a rule only for elders. It is a basic Christian principle that an accusation is not to be received about anyone “except from two or three witnesses” (v. 19). This was a principle which Jesus reiterated from the law (Mt. 18:16 Cf. Dt. 17:6; 19:15).

Some sinned in thinking that this principle didn’t need to be applied with respect to elders, probably because they were being confronted about their sin. One cannot preach and teach the word without at some point exposing sin, especially if one follows Paul’s injunction and exposes those publicly sinning. Those sinning publicly need to be publicly rebuked, “that the rest also may fear” (v. 20). This was not to be done in haste. This is the point of having the need for witnesses. We should also not show partiality (Dt. 1:17). So the elders were also not above the law, nor anyone else who might have a unique place in the church. Church government must be exercised without prejudice. To this end Paul appeals to his own witnesses in this charge-“before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels” (v. 21).

Given the immense responsibility that accompanies the eldership, Paul instructs Timothy to not be hasty in laying on hands, an expression which refers to an ordination to the office, just as it was done with respect to Timothy (v. 22 Cf. 4:14). The point is Timothy needed to keep himself pure (Cf. II Jn. 10-11). Paul was also concerned about Timothy’s health, and keeping himself pure obviously did not mean abstaining from alcoholic beverages like wine (v. 23). “Some men’s sins are clearly evident,” and hence what Paul has just pointed out concerning a public confrontation for those who sin publically (v. 24). However, for some people their sin is less public but will nevertheless still come to judgment. In the same way some people’s good works are public, and for some they will be revealed later (v. 25).

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