General Directions as to How Timothy Should
Deal with Different Classes in the Church.
1. an elder—in age; probably not
an elder in the ministry; these latter are not mentioned till
5:17, "the elders that rule."
2:17, "your old men,"
literally, "elders." Contrasted with "the younger men." As Timothy was
admonished so to conduct himself as to give no man reason to
despise his youth (1Ti 4:12); so here he is told to bear in mind his
youth, and to behave with the modesty which becomes a young man in
relation to his elders.
Rebuke not—literally, "Strike not hard
upon"; Rebuke not sharply: a different word from "rebuke" in
as brethren—and therefore equals; not
lording it over them (1Pe 5:1-3).
2. with all purity—respectful treatment
of the other sex will promote "purity."
3. Honour—by setting on the church roll,
as fit objects of charitable sustenance (1Ti 5:9, 17, 18; Ac 6:1). So "honor" is used for
support with necessaries (Mt 15:4, 6; Ac 28:10).
widows indeed—(1Ti 5:16). Those really desolate; not like those
5:4) having children or
relations answerable for their support, nor like those (in 1Ti 5:6) "who live in pleasure"; but such as,
from their earthly desolation as to friends, are most likely to trust
wholly in God, persevere in continual prayers, and carry out the
religious duties assigned to Church widows (1Ti 5:5). Care for widows was transferred from
the Jewish economy to the Christian (De 14:29; 16:11; 24:17,
4. if any widow have children—not "a
widow indeed," as having children who ought to support her.
nephews—rather, as Greek,
"descendants," or "grandchildren" [Hesychius]. "Nephews" in old English meant
Ecclesiastical Polity, 5.20].
let them—the children and
learn first—ere it falls to the Church
to support them.
to show piety at home—filial piety
towards their widowed mother or grandmother, by giving her sustenance.
Literally, "to show piety towards their own house." "Piety is
applied to the reverential discharge of filial duties; as the parental
relation is the earthly representation of God our heavenly Father's
relation to us. "Their own" stands in opposition to the
Church, in relation to which the widow is comparatively a stranger.
She has a claim on her own children, prior to her claim on the
Church; let them fulfil this prior claim which she has on them, by
sustaining her and not burdening the Church.
"progenitors," that is, their mother or grandmother, as the case may
be. "Let them learn," implies that abuses of this kind had crept into
the Church, widows claiming Church support though they had children or
grandchildren able to support them.
good and—The oldest manuscripts omit.
The words are probably inserted by a transcriber from 1Ti 2:3.
5. widow indeed, and desolate—contrasted
with her who has children or grandchildren to support her (1Ti 5:4).
trusteth in God—perfect tense in
Greek, "hath rested, and doth rest her hope in God." 1Ti 5:5 adds another qualification
in a widow for Church maintenance, besides her being" desolate" or
destitute of children to support her. She must be not one "that liveth
in pleasure" (1Ti 5:6), but
one making God her main hope (the accusative in Greek expresses
that God is the ultimate aim whereto her hope is
directed; whereas, 1Ti 4:10,
dative expresses hope resting on God as her present stay [Wiesinger]), and continuing constantly in
prayers. Her destitution of children and of all ties to earth would
leave her more unencumbered for devoting the rest of her days to God
and the Church (1Co 7:33, 34). Compare also "Anna a widow," who
remained unmarried after her husband's death and "departed not from the
temple, but served God with fastings and prayers day and night" (Lu 2:36,
37). Such a one, Paul
implies, would be the fittest object for the Church's help (1Ti 5:3); for such a one is promoting the
cause of Christ's Church by her prayers for it. "Ardor in prayers flows
from hoping confidence in God" [Leo].
in supplications and
prayers—Greek, "in her supplications and
prayers"; the former signifies asking under a sense of need, the
latter, prayer (see on 1Ti 2:1; Php 4:6).
night and day—another coincidence with
18:7, "cry day and night");
contrast Satan's accusations "day and night" (Re 12:10).
6. she that liveth in pleasure—the
opposite of such a widow as is described in 1Ti 5:5, and therefore one utterly undeserving
of Church charity. The Greek expresses wanton prodigality
and excess [Tittmann]. The root
expresses weaving at a fast rate, and so lavish excess (see on
dead while she liveth—dead in the
Spirit while alive in the flesh (Mt 8:22; Eph 5:14).
7. these things—just now spoken (1Ti 5:5, 6).
that they may be blameless—namely, the
widows supported by the Church.
8. But—reverting to 1Ti 5:4, "If any (a general proposition;
therefore including in its application the widow's children or
grandchildren) provide not for his own (relations in general), and
especially for those of his own house (in particular), he hath
(practically) denied the faith." Faith without love and its works is
dead; "for the subject matter of faith is not mere opinion, but the
grace and truth of God, to which he that believes gives up his spirit,
as he that loves gives up his heart" [Mack]. If in any case a duty of love is plain, it is
in relation to one's own relatives; to fail in so plain an obligation
is a plain proof of want of love, and therefore of want of faith.
"Faith does not set aside natural duties, but strengthens them" [Bengel].
worse than an infidel—because even an
infidel (or unbeliever) is taught by nature to provide for his own
relatives, and generally recognizes the duty; the Christian who does
not so, is worse (Mt 5:46, 47). He has less excuse with his greater
light than the infidel who may break the laws of nature.
9. Translate, "As a widow (that is, of the
ecclesiastical order of widowhood; a kind of female
presbytery), let none be enrolled (in the catalogue) who is less
than sixty years old." These were not deaconesses, who were
chosen at a younger age (forty was the age fixed at the Council of
Chalcedon), and who had virgins (in a later age called widows)
as well as widows among them, but a band of widows set apart, though
not yet formally and finally, to the service of God and the Church.
Traces of such a class appear in Ac 9:41. Dorcas herself was such a one. As it
was expedient (see on 1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6) that the presbyter or bishop should
have been but once married, so also in her case. There is a transition
here to a new subject. The reference here cannot be, as in 1Ti 5:3, to providing Church sustenance
for them. For the restriction to widows above sixty would then be
needless and harsh, since many widows might be in need of help at a
much earlier age; as also the rule that the widow must not have
been twice married, especially since he himself, below (1Ti 5:14) enjoins the younger widows to
marry again; as also that she must have brought up children.
Moreover, 1Ti 5:10
presupposes some competence, at least in past times, and so poor widows
would be excluded, the very class requiring charity. Also, 1Ti 5:11 would then be senseless, for then their
remarrying would be a benefit, not an injury, to the Church, as
relieving it of the burden of their sustenance. Tertullian [On the Veiling of Virgins, 9],
Hermas [Shepherd, 1.2], and Chrysostom [Homily, 31], mention such
an order of ecclesiastical widowhood, each one not less than sixty
years old, and resembling the presbyters in the respect paid to them,
and in some of their duties; they ministered with sympathizing counsel
to other widows and to orphans, a ministry to which their own
experimental knowledge of the feelings and sufferings of the bereaved
adapted them, and had a general supervision of their sex. Age
was doubtless a requisite in presbyters, as it is here stated to
have been in presbyteresses, with a view to their influence on
the younger persons of their sex They were supported by the Church, but
not the only widows so supported (1Ti 5:3, 4).
wife of one man—in order not to throw
a stumbling-block in the way of Jews and heathen, who regarded with
disfavor second marriages (see on 1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6). This is the force of
"blameless," giving no offense, even in matters indifferent.
10. for good works—Greek, "IN honourable (excellent) works"; the
sphere or element in which the good report of her had place
2:7). This answers to 1Ti 3:7, as to the bishop or presbyter,
"He must have a good report of them which are without."
if—if, in addition to being "well
she … brought up children—either
her own (1Ti 3:4, 12), or those of others, which is one of
the "good works"; a qualification adapting her for ministry to orphan
children, and to mothers of families.
lodged strangers—1Ti 3:2, "given to hospitality" (Tit 1:8); in the case of presbyters.
washed … saints' feet—after the
example of the Lord (Joh 13:14);
a specimen of the universal spirit of humbly "by love serving one
another," which actuated the early Christians.
relieved the afflicted—whether by
pecuniary or other relief.
followed … good—(1Th 5:15; compare instances in Mt 25:35, 36).
11. younger—than sixty years old (1Ti 5:9).
refuse—to take on the roll of
wax wanton—literally, "over-strong"
against Christ—rebelling against
Christ, their proper Bridegroom [Jerome].
they will—Greek, "they wish";
their desire is to marry again.
12. Having—Bringing on themselves, and
so having to bear as a burden (Ga 5:10) judgment from God (compare 1Ti 3:6), weighing like a load on
cast off their first faith—namely,
pledged to Christ and the service of the Church. There could be no
hardship at the age of sixty or upwards in not marrying again (end of
1Ti 5:9), for the sake of serving better
the cause of Christ as presbyteresses; though, to ordinary widows, no
barrier existed against remarriage (1Co 7:39). This is altogether distinct from
Rome's unnatural vows of celibacy in the case of young marriageable
women. The widow-presbyteresses, moreover, engaged to remain single,
not as though single life were holier than married life (according to
Rome's teaching), but because the interests of Christ's cause made it
desirable (see on 1Ti 3:2). They had pledged
"their first faith" to Christ as presbyteress widows; they now wish to
transfer their faith to a husband (compare 1Co 7:32, 34).
13. withal—"at the same time,
learn—usually in a good sense. But
these women's "learning" is idleness, trifling, and
from house to house—of the members of
the Church (2Ti 3:6).
"They carry the affairs of this house to that, and of that to this;
they tell the affairs of all to all" [Theophylact].
talkers." In 3Jo 10,
inconsiderately curious (2Th 3:11). Ac 19:19, "curious," the same Greek.
Curiosity usually springs from idleness, which is itself the mother
of garrulity [Calvin].
speaking—not merely "saying."
The subject-matter, as well as the form, is involved in
the Greek word [Alford].
which they ought not—(Tit 1:11).
14. younger women—rather, as ellipsis
ought to be supplied, "the younger widows," namely younger
widows in general, as distinguished from the older widows taken on
the roll of presbyteresses (1Ti 5:9). The "therefore" means seeing that
young widows are exposed to such temptations, "I will," or
"desire," &c. (1Ti 5:11-13). The precept here that they should
marry again is not inconsistent with 1Co 7:40; for the circumstances of the two cases
were distinct (compare 1Co 7:26).
Here remarriage is recommended as an antidote to sexual passion,
idleness, and the other evils noted in 1Ti 5:11-13. Of course, where there was no
tendency to these evils, marriage again would not be so requisite; Paul
speaks of what is generally desirable, and supposing there should be
danger of such evils, as was likely. "He does not impose a law,
but points out a remedy, to younger widows" [Chrysostom].
bear children—(1Ti 2:15); thus gaining one of the qualifications
5:10) for being afterwards a
presbyteress widow, should Providence so ordain it.
guide—Greek, "rule the
house" in the woman's due place; not usurping authority over the
give none occasion—literally,
"starting-point": handle of reproach through the loose conduct of
the adversary—of Christianity, Jew or
Gentile. Php 1:28; Tit 2:8, "He that is of the contrary part." Not
Satan, who is introduced in a different relation (1Ti 5:15).
to speak reproachfully—literally, "for
the sake of reproach" (1Ti 3:7; 6:1; Tit 2:5, 10). If the handle were given,
the adversary would use it for the sake of reproach. The
adversary is eager to exaggerate the faults of a few, and to lay the
blame on the whole Church and its doctrines [Bengel].
15. For—For in the case of some
this result has already ensued; "Some (widows) are already turned aside
after Satan," the seducer (not by falling away from the faith in
general, but) by such errors as are stigmatized in 1Ti 5:11-13, sexual passion, idleness,
&c., and so have given occasion of reproach (1Ti 5:14). "Satan finds some mischief still for
the idle hands to do."
16. If any … have widows—of his
family, however related to him. Most of the oldest manuscripts and
versions omit "man or," and read, "If any woman that believeth." But
the Received text seems preferable. If, however, the weightiest
authorities are to prevail, the sense will be: He was speaking
of younger widows; He now says, If any believing young widow
have widows related to her needing support, let her relieve them,
thereby casing the Church of the burden, 1Ti 5:3, 4 (there it was the children
and grandchildren; here it is the young widow, who, in
order to avoid the evils of idleness and wantonness, the
result of idleness, 1Ti 5:11, 13; Eze 16:49, is to be diligent in good works, such
as "relieving the afflicted," 1Ti 5:10, thus qualifying herself for being
afterwards a widow-presbyteress).
let them—rather as Greek, "let
him," or "her"; "let such a one" (1Ti 5:10).
be charged—literally, "be
burdened" with their support.
widows indeed—really helpless and
friendless (1Ti 5:3, 4).
17. The transition from the widow
presbyteresses (1Ti 5:9) to
the presbyters here, is natural.
rule well—literally, "preside well,"
with wisdom, ability, and loving faithfulness, over the flock assigned
be counted worthy of double
honour—that is, the honor which is expressed by gifts (1Ti 5:3,
18) and otherwise. If a
presbyter as such, in virtue of his office, is already worthy of honor,
he who rules well is doubly so [Wiesinger] (1Co 9:14; Ga 6:6; 1Th
5:12). Not literally that a
presbyter who rules well should get double the salary of one who
does not rule well [Alford], or of a
presbyteress widow, or of the deacons [Chrysostom]. "Double" is used for large in general
specially they who labour in the word and
doctrine—Greek, "teaching"; preaching of the word, and
instruction, catechetical or otherwise. This implies that of the
ruling presbyters there were two kinds, those who labored in
the word and teaching, and those who did not. Lay presbyters, so
called merely because of their age, have no place here; for both
classes mentioned here alike are ruling presbyters. A college of
presbyters is implied as existing in each large congregation. As in
3:1-16 their qualifications
are spoken of, so here the acknowledgments due to them for their
18. the scripture—(De 25:4; quoted before in 1Co 9:9).
the ox that treadeth out—Greek,
An ox while treading.
The labourer is worthy of his
reward—or "hire"; quoted from Lu 10:7, whereas Mt 10:10 has "his meat," or "food." If Paul
extends the phrase, "Scripture saith," to this second clause, as well
as to the first, he will be hereby recognizing the Gospel of Luke, his
own helper (whence appears the undesigned appositeness of the
quotation), as inspired Scripture. This I think the correct
view. The Gospel according to Luke was probably in circulation then
about eight or nine years. However, it is possible "Scripture saith"
applies only to the passage quoted from De 25:4; and then his quotation will be that of
a common proverb, quoted also by the Lord, which commends itself to the
approval of all, and is approved by the Lord and His apostle.
19. Against an elder—a presbyter of the
receive not—"entertain not" [Alford].
but before two or three witnesses—A
judicial conviction was not permitted in De 17:6;
19:15, except on the
testimony of at least two or three witnesses (compare Mt 18:16; Joh 8:17; 2Co 13:1; 1Jo 5:6, 7). But Timothy's entertaining an
accusation against anyone is a different case, where the object was
not judicially to punish, but to admonish: here he might
ordinarily entertain it without the need of two or three
witnesses; but not in the case of an elder, since the more earnest
an elder was to convince gainsayers (Tit 1:9), the more exposed would he be to
vexatious and false accusations. How important then was it that Timothy
should not, without strong testimony, entertain a charge against
presbyters, who should, in order to be efficient, be "blameless" (1Ti 3:2;
Tit 1:6). 1Ti 5:21, 24 imply that Timothy had the power
of judging in the Church. Doubtless he would not condemn any
save on the testimony of two or three witnesses, but in ordinary cases
he would cite them, as the law of Moses also allowed, though there were
only one witness. But in the case of elders, he would require two or
three witnesses before even citing them; for their character for
innocence stands higher, and they are exposed to envy and calumny more
than others "Receive" does not, as Alford thinks, include both citation and conviction,
but means only the former.
20. Them that sin—whether presbyters or
rebuke before all—publicly before the
Church (Mt 18:15-17; 1Co 5:9-13; Eph 5:11). Not until this "rebuke" was
disregarded was the offender to be excommunicated.
others … fear—that other members
of the Church may have a wholesome fear of offending (De 13:11; Ac
21. I charge thee—rather as
Greek, "I adjure thee"; so it ought to be translated
before—"in the presence of
Lord—omitted in the oldest manuscripts
God the Father, and Christ the Son, will testify against thee,
if thou disregardest my injunction. He vividly sets before Timothy
the last judgment, in which God shall be revealed, and Christ
seen face to face with His angels
elect angels—an epithet of reverence.
The objects of divine electing love (1Pe 2:6). Not only "elect" (according to
the everlasting purpose of God) in contradistinction to the
reprobate angels (2Pe 2:4), but
also to mark the excellence of the angels in general (as God's chosen
ministers, "holy angels," "angels of light"), and so to give more
solemnity to their testimony [Calvin] as
witnesses to Paul's adjuration. Angels take part by action and sympathy
in the affairs of the earth (Lu 15:10; 1Co 4:9).
these things—the injunctions, 1Ti 5:19,
without preferring one before
another—rather as Greek, "prejudice"; "judging
before" hearing all the facts of a case. There ought to be judgment,
but not prejudging. Compare "suddenly," 1Ti 5:22, also 1Ti 5:24.
partiality—in favor of a man,
as "prejudice" is bias against a man. Some of the oldest
manuscripts read, "in the way of summoning (brethren) before
a (heathen) judge." But Vulgate and other good
authorities favor the more probable reading in English
22. Lay hands—that is, ordain (1Ti 4:14; 2Ti 1:6; Tit 1:5). The connection is with 1Ti 5:19. The way to guard against scandals
occurring in the case of presbyters is, be cautious as to the character
of the candidate before ordaining him; this will apply to other Church
officers so ordained, as well as to presbyters. Thus, this clause
refers to 1Ti 5:19, as
next clause, "neither be partaker of other men's sins," refers to 1Ti 5:20. Ellicott and Wiesinger understand it of receiving back into
Church fellowship or absolution, by laying hands on those who
had been "rebuked" (1Ti 5:20) and then excommunicated (Mt 18:17); 1Ti 5:20 favors this. But as in 1Ti
4:14, and Ac 6:6; 13:3; 2Ti 1:6, the laying on of hands is used of
ordination (compare however as to confirmation, Ac 8:17), it seems better to take it so
suddenly—hastily: 1Ti 5:24, 25 show that waiting for a time is
neither be partaker of other men's
sins—by negligence in ordaining ungodly candidates, and so
becoming in some degree responsible for their sins. Or, there is the
same transition from the elders to all in general who may
sin, as in 1Ti 5:19, 20. Be not a partaker in other men's sins
by not "rebuking them that sin before all," as well as those that are
candidates for the presbytery, as also all "that sin."
keep thyself pure—"thyself' is
emphatic. "Keep THYSELF" clear of
participation in OTHER men's sin by not
failing to rebuke them that sin (1Ti 5:20). Thus the transition is easy to 1Ti 5:23, which is concerning Timothy
personally; compare also 1Ti 5:24.
23. no longer—as a habit. This
injunction to drink wine occasionally is a modification of the
preceding "keep thyself pure." The presbyter and deacon were enjoined
to be "not given to wine" (1Ti 3:3, 8).
Timothy seems to have had a tendency to undue ascetical strictness on
this point (compare Note, see on 1Ti 4:8;
compare the Nazarene vow, Nu 6:1-4;
John the Baptist, Lu 1:15; Ro 14). Paul therefore modifies the preceding
words, "keep thyself pure," virtually saying, "Not that I mean to
enjoin that kind of purity which consists in asceticism, nay, be no
longer a water-drinker," that is, no longer drink only
water, but use a little wine, as much as is needed for thy
health. So Ellicott and Wiesinger. Alford
thus: Timothy was of a feeble frame (see on 1Co
16:10, 11), and prone to timidity in his duties as overseer where
vigorous action was needed; hence Paul exhorts him to take all proper
means to raise his bodily condition above these infirmities. God hereby
commands believers to use all due means for preserving health, and
condemns by anticipation the human traditions which among various sects
have denied the use of wine to the faithful.
24. Two kinds of sins are specified: those
palpably manifest (so the Greek for "open
beforehand" ought to be translated; so in Heb 7:14, it is translated "evident"; literally,
"before" the eyes, that is, notorious), further explained
as "going before to judgment"; and those which follow after the men
("some men they, that is, their sins, follow after"), namely, not going
beforehand, loudly accusing, but hidden till they come to the judgment:
5:25, the good works
are of two classes: those palpably manifest (translate so,
instead of "manifest beforehand") and "those that are otherwise," that
is, not palpably manifest. Both alike "cannot be hid"; the
former class in the case of bad and good are manifest already;
the latter class in the case of both are not manifest now, but shall be
so at the final judgment.
going before to judgment—as heralds;
crying sins which accuse their perpetrator. The connection seems to me
this: He had enjoined Timothy, 1Ti 5:20, "Rebuke them that sin before
all": and in 1Ti 5:22,
"Neither be partaker of other men's sins," by ordaining ungodly men;
having then by a digression at the clause, "keep thyself pure," guarded
against an ascetical error of Timothy in fancying purity consisted in
asceticism, and having exhorted him to use wine for strengthening him
in his work, he returns to the subject of his being vigorous as an
overseer in rebuking sin, whether in presbyters or people, and
in avoiding participation in men's sins by ordaining ungodly
candidates. He says, therefore, there are two classes of sins,
as there are two classes of good works: those palpably
manifest, and those not so; the former are those on which thou
shouldest act decidedly at once when called on, whether to rebuke in
general, or to ordain ministers in particular; as to the latter, the
final judgment alone can decide; however hidden now they "cannot
be hid" then. This could only be said of the final judgment
4:5; therefore, Alford's reference of this verse to Timothy's
judgment in choosing elders must be wrong); all judgments before
then are fallible. Thus he implies that Timothy can only be responsible
if he connive at manifest, or evident sins; not that those
that are otherwise shall escape judgment at last: just as in the
case of good works, he can only be responsible for taking into
account in his judgments those which are patent to all, not those
secret good works which nevertheless will not remain hidden at the