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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY - Chapter 5 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Let the elders that rule well. Gr. presbuteroi, Presbyters. The apostle had given full instructions respecting bishops, 1 Ti 3:1-7; deacons, 1 Ti 3:8-13; widows, 1 Ti 5:3-16; and he here proceeds to describe the duty of the church towards those who sustain the office of elder. The word used—elder or presbyter—properly refers to age, and is then used to denote the officers of the church, probably because the aged were at first intrusted with the administration of the affairs of the church. The word was in familiar use among the Jews to denote the body of men that presided in the synagogue. See Barnes "Mt 15:2"; See Barnes "Ac 11:30"; See Barnes "Ac 15:2".

 

That rule well. Presiding well, or well managing the spiritual interests of the church. The word rendered rule -proestwtev — is from a verb meaning to be over; to preside over; to have the care of. The word is used with reference to bishops, Tit 1:5,7; to an apostle, 1 Pe 5:1; and is such a word as would apply to any officers to whom the management and government of the church was intrusted. On the general subject of the rulers in the church, See Barnes "1 Co 12:28".

It is probable that not precisely the same organization was pursued in every place where a church was established; and where there was a Jewish synagogue, the Christian church would be formed substantially after that model, and in such a church there would be a bench of presiding elders. See, on this subject, Whately's "Kingdom of Christ delineated," pp.84-86. The language here seems to have been taken from such an Organization. On the Jewish synagogue, See Barnes "Mt 4:23".

 

Be counted worthy of double honour. Of double respect; that is, of a high degree of respect; of a degree of respect becoming their age and office. Comp. 1 Th 5:12,13. From the quotation which is made in 1 Ti 5:18, in relation to this subject, it would seem probable that the apostle had some reference also to their support, or to what was necessary for their maintenance. There is no improbability in supposing that all the officers of the church, of whatever grade or rank, may have had some compensation, corresponding to the amount of time which their office required them to devote to the service of the church. Nothing would be more reasonable than that, if their duties in the church interfered with their regular employments in their secular calling, their brethren should contribute to their support. See Barnes "1 Co 9:1, and following.

Especially they who labour in word and doctrine. In preaching and instructing the people. From this it is clear that, while there were "elders" who laboured "in the word and doctrine," that is, in preaching, there were also those who did not labour "in the word and doctrine," but who were nevertheless appointed to rule in the church. Whether, however, they were regarded as a separate and distinct class of officers, does not appear from this passage. It may have been that there was a bench of elders to whom the general management of the church was confided, and that a part of them were engaged in preaching; a part may have performed the office of "teachers" See Barnes "Ro 12:7"; See Barnes "1 Co 12:28"

and a part may have been employed in managing other concerns of the church, and yet all were regarded as the proestwtev presbuteroi—or "elders presiding over the church." It cannot, I think, be certainly concluded from this passage, that the ruling elders who did not teach or preach were regarded as a separate class or order of permanent officers in the church. There seems to have been a bench of elders selected on account of age, piety, prudence, and wisdom, to whom was intrusted the whole business of the instruction and government of the church, and they performed the various parts of the duty as they had ability. Those among them who "laboured in the word and doctrine," and who gave up all their time to the business of their office, would be worthy of special respect, and of a higher compensation.

{a} "elders" 1 Th 5:12,13

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