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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY - Chapter 5 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Lay hands suddenly on no man. Some have understood this of laying on hands to heal the sick (Koppe;) others of the laying on of hands to absolve penitents; but the obvious meaning is to refer it to ordination. It was usual to lay the hands on the heads of those who were ordained to a sacred office, or appointed to perform an important duty. See Barnes "1 Ti 4:14".

Comp. Ac 6:6; 8:17. The idea here is, that TimotHy should not be hasty in an act so important as that of introducing men to the ministry, he should take time to give them a fair trial of their piety; he should have satisfactory evidence of their qualifications, he should not at once introduce a man to the ministry because he gave evidence of piety, or because he burned with an ardent zeal, or because he thought himself qualified for the work. It is clear from this that the apostle regarded Timothy as having the right to ordain to the ministry; but not that he was to ordain alone, or as a prelate. The injunction would be entirely proper on the supposition that others were to be associated with him in the act of ordaining. It is just such as a Presbyterian father in the ministry would give in a charge to his son now; it is in fact just the charge which is now given by Presbyterians and Congregationalists to those who are set apart to the sacred office, in reference to ordaining others.

Neither be partakers of other men's sins. This is evidently to be interpreted in connection with the injunction "to lay hands suddenly on no man." The meaning in this connection, is, that Timothy was not to become a participant in the sins of another by introducing him to the sacred office. He was not to invest one with a holy office who was a wicked man or a heretic, for this would be to sanction his wickedness and error. If we ordain a man to the office of the ministry who is known to be living in sin, or to cherish dangerous error, we become the patrons of the sin and of the heresy. We lend to it the sanction of our approbation; and give to it whatever currency it may acquire from the reputation which we may have, or which it may acquire from the influence of the sacred office of the ministry. Hence the importance of caution in investing any one with the ministerial office. But while Paul meant, doubtless, that this should be applied particularly to ordination to the ministry, he has given it a general character. In no way are we to participate in the sins of other men. We are not to be engaged with them in doing wrong; we are not to patronize them in a wicked business; we are not to be known as their companions or friends; and we are not to partake of their unlawful gains. We are not to loan money, or a boat, or a horse, or a pistol, or a bowie-knife for an unlawful business; we are not to furnish capital for the slave trade, or for manufacturing intoxicating drinks, or for an enterprise that contemplates the violation of the Sabbath.

Keep thyself pure. Particularly in regard to participation in the sins of others; generally, in all things—in heart, in word, in conduct.

{f} "Lay hands suddenly" Ac 13:3 {g} "partaker of other" 2 Jo 1:11

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