About Jesus Steve Sweetman
1 Timothy 5 to 6:2
About Widows, Elders And Slaves (ch.5:1 – 6:3)
chapter 5 Paul gives Timothy some practical advise on a number of points.
He begins in verses 1 and 2 by telling Timothy not “to rebuke an
older man harshly, but exhort him as a father”.
This instruction was obviously based on Timothy’s young age.
Even if at times he needed to bring some correction to “an older
man”, he should do it with respect because of the older man’s age and
Timothy’s youthfulness. Correction
should not be ignored, but should be done in a respectful way.
the youth culture of our day, this is one very important lesson for
younger people to learn. Older
people, even elderly people, have been around a long time. They have a
measure of wisdom and history that can benefit the church.
goes on to tell Timothy to treat “younger men as brothers, older women
as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity”.
Note the words “absolute purity”.
Timothy being young himself would have natural feelings towards
younger women. Paul was
cautioning him about being pure towards his fellow Christian sisters. Sexual
sins in the church are nothing new. It
is one of the more prevalent reasons why Christian leaders fall into
verses 3 to 8 Paul gives instructions concerning widows. First of all he
says that if a widow has children or grandchildren that could look after
her, then it is their responsibility to do so, not the churches.
The children and grandchildren should put their religion into
practice by looking after their parent or grandparent.
Yet if the widow has no one to look after her, if she is dedicated
to the Lord, prays to God night and day for help,
then the church can look after her.
If the widow is worldly
and does not really trust God, then this widow should find help elsewhere.
This is only common sense. It
places the responsibility on the family so the church can care for those
who need the care most.
we see the balance between the church looking after its people and the
families themselves looking after their people.
Both are important. It's
only my thinking, but so many churches these days have so much overhead
expenses, in buildings, programs, and salaries, that they have very little
money, or none at all, to help the needy in their midst.
This should not be.
verse 8 Paul says that if a person does not provide for his relatives, and
especially his immediate family, then that person is worse than an
unbeliever, “and has denied the truth”.
What does “denying the truth mean”?
If one claims real faith in Jesus and their actions do not show
this faith, then by their very actions, they are denying what they claim
to have. There lips may
profess faith, but their actions deny what their lips claim to have.
Either they really don’t have faith, or else their faith is
don't believe Paul is saying that the person who does not look after his
own family will lose his salvation. I
don't think the word "deny' implies that.
The word "deny" simply implies that the person is not
living what he professes. He's
denying the faith, not losing it, or giving it up.
the distinction between "relatives" and "immediate
family" here. Families
should look after relatives as well as their immediate family. Only when
that is not possible should the church look after them.
verses 9 and 10, concerning these widows who have no family to look after
her, Paul gives further instructions on how to care for her.
First of all the widow should be over 60 years old, suggesting that
she may be too frail to help herself.
Beyond the age factor, she must be
a woman who was faithful to her husband, full of good works and
helping other saints who need it.
Paul really doesn’t want to waist valuable money on someone who
doesn’t deserve it. Paul
seldom took money from others. He
felt everyone else should be like minded, but if one had to receive
financial help, they should be worthy of the help they get.
Therefore widows in the church who worked hard in the church should
be financially supported.
our modern church should follow these particular rules exactly as Paul
lays out is debatable. Nevertheless
there is a principle that should be followed.
A church does not simply hand out money to whoever wants it.
One must earn the respect in order to find help by the church. If
you begin to help someone you don’t really know, and if it turns out
that person is wasting church funds, then the church should stop giving to
that person. That person needs
to learn respect for money and for those who give it to him. The
same rule should apply in our society and government.
verses 11 and 12 Paul talks about “younger widows”.
He tells Timothy not to put these younger widows on a list to
receive financial help, because sooner or later they will find husbands
who will support them. Paul goes on to say that these women when they
remarry “break their first pledge and bring judgement on themselves”.
What does this mean? How
would remarrying bring judgement, and what pledge are they breaking.
In 1 Cor. 7 Paul clearly states that there is nothing wrong with
remarrying when your spouse dies, even though he would personally not
recommend it. So remarrying is
not wrong. If remarrying is
not wrong, the first pledge they are breaking, is not the pledge they made
to their first husband who is no longer living. Could the first pledge be
speaking of their pledge to give their lives to Jesus?
I don’t think so. One
can still pledge themselves to Jesus and be married at the same time. If
this were not the case, we would all be in trouble.
don’t think we can say for sure just what Paul meant by these words.
Some suggest that the pledge they break, is a pledge to stay single, maybe
to serve Jesus better, or maybe to receive financial help from the church.
If a young widow pledges singleness to church elders and receive
money as a result, then changes her
mind and remarries, she breaks her pledge to singleness .
The breaking of any commitment in the eyes of Paul, or even God, is
serious, thus brings a certain measure of
condemnation on the one breaking the commitment.
as Christians we say we will do something, then we should do it, without
changing our minds. Ecc. 5:5
tells us that it is better not to make a vow and to make one and not
follow through on it. Broken
promises hinders our witness to Jesus.
Our lives are based on trust. That
is, we trust Jesus for our salvation.
He is trustworthy to do what He promises.
He expects us to be trustworthy as well.
When we break our vows, our promises, we better have a very good
reason for doing so.
verse 13, another reason why Paul tells Timothy not to give financial
support to younger widows is because they tend to be idle, going from
house to house gossiping and saying things they should not be saying.
Paul then says that he tells younger women to marry, have children,
and be busy looking after their family.
By doing this they stay away from any temptation.
Yet even as Paul tells Timothy these words, some women have ignored
this advise and have fallen away from the truth, thus “follow satan”
instead of Jesus.
women may have trouble about what Paul is saying here.
I think the point here is, and he is talking about women, is that
idleness breads gossip and other such things.
I think Paul would say men would have the same problem, but he is
not talking about men in this verse. When
Paul suggests these young women get married and have children, that sure
would not give them any time to run around and gossip.
I think that is why he is suggesting they get married.
Also, as seen in the last couple of verses, when women's sensual
desires get too strong they should marry.
Paul says the same thing in 1 Cor. 7 concerning both men and women.
For this reason as well, women should be married.
goes on to say in verse 16 that if any woman has a widow in her family,
maybe a mother or a sister, then she should look after that widow.
The church should not have to look after her.
Paul says that church funds should “go to the widows who are
really in need”, and if one has a family member that can look after her,
then she is not really in need. Again,
we see the importance of the family here.
The family in this sense of the word takes priority over the
church. That is to say,
families should look after their own so the church can better use their
resources to look after those who have no family.
This is simple logic and should be a part of any churches strategy
concerning the poor.
verse 17 Paul now leaves the topic of widows and turns his attention to
elders. He says “the elders
who direct the affairs of the church well should receive double honour,
especially those who work in teaching and preaching”.
This sentence tells us a couple of things about the first century
church. First it tells us that
church leaders were “elders”, not an elder, as in one elder only. Elders
were those men who qualified by their Godly life to be elders, as
described in chapter 3. The
word “elders” when in reference to church leadership always appears in
the plural form in the New Testament.
that elders “direct the affairs of the church”, or as the original
manuscripts say, “ruling elders”.
Elders rule, or direct the affairs of the church.
They do this jointly, although they do not all have the same
talents and job description. Obviously some elders majored in teaching and
preaching as Paul says here. Paul
does not say what the rest of the elders do.
Yet by pointing out that some teach and preach, we can only
conclude that each man’s duties were different, according to the gift
God had given him. Not all
were teachers and preacher. Note
again how Paul distinguishes between teaching and preaching.
these elders who work hard at teaching and preaching, they should receive
double honour. This most
likely means double financial support since in the next verse he says
“a worker deserves his wages”.
Paul often puts an emphasis on preaching and teaching the doctrines
of Christ, and therefore anyone who does this should be paid for it, even
though he himself doesn’t want to be paid.
He would rather have the church spend their money on needy widows
than to give it to him.
from this verse we see the church having a group of men who direct the
affairs of the church. Some of
these men specialize in preaching and teaching, while others specialize in
other things according to their gifting.
Even with these words concerning double honour, there is no hint
that these men are called “head elders”.
They are still elders, and do not stand above the rest of the
elders as in our modern church.
there is any accusation against one of these elders then, as we see in
verse 19, at least two or three people should bring the accusation to
Timothy, or in case there was no Timothy, I would suppose they would bring
it to the other elders. The
point here is that there needs to be more than one person bringing the
verse 20 we see that there must be a definite problem, not a false
accusation by one person. If
it is proved that the elder in question really has sinned or done
something wrong, then he needs “to be rebuked publicly so that the
others, as in other elders, may be warned.
verse 21 Paul charges Timothy before God, Jesus and the elect angels to
carry out these instructions without “partiality or favouritism”.
Why? Because God
Himself is partial to no man. He
is just. There is no place for
favouritism in the church. Just
because you like someone does not mean he or she should hold any special
position in the church. Church
leadership depends on one’s calling and talents along with the proper
the word "charge". As
an apostle, and a special apostle at that, Paul gives Timothy a command to
follow through on. I believe
that Paul is the Moses of the New Testament.
What he has been telling Timothy is the Word of the Lord for
also the word "elect", as in "elect angels".
This simply means "chosen angels".
Just why Paul uses the word "elect" in reference to
angels, I don't really know. One
might guess by saying certain angels are chosen to certain jobs and Paul
had certain angels in mind. We
need to realize that Paul knew more about these things than we do.
He had a multitude of visions.
He was taken up into the third heaven and saw things that others
hadn't seen, and that he was not permitted to speak about.
So it is my guess that he had good reason to speak about
"elect", or, "chosen" angels here.
verse 22 Paul says “do not be hasty in the laying on of hands’.
I think this is in reference to the ordaining of elders because of
the context of these words. I
don’t think Paul is referring to laying on of hands in the sense of
praying for someone’s healing. Timothy
needs to be certain who he
chooses to be elders. He
should not make a hasty decision. Once
the choices have been made then he can lay his hands on them and give them
to the service of the Lord.
also tells Timothy to keep himself pure, “and not to share in the sins
of others”. Timothy, in his
lifestyle must stand far above the ordinary Christian.
Paul has given Timothy a great responsibility and those in
leadership like Timothy needs to be examples for others to follow. It
is clear that there were problems in the church if Paul had to tell
Timothy not to participate in other people's sin.
The first generation church was a great church, but it had its
problems like any other generation church.
verse 23 Paul gives Timothy a little personal advice.
It appears that Timothy had some kind of stomach problem that
obviously the Lord didn’t heal. Therefore Paul told Timothy to “drink
a little wine” to help that problem. Whether Paul understood the science
behind what he was saying or not, it is clear that as we understand today,
for some stomach problems, wine can be of some assistance . And to make it
clear, Paul is not talking about grape juice.
Wine is wine. When Paul
uses the word wine, it is the same Greek word that is used when Jesus
turned the water into wine, and also when he tells people not to get drunk
with wine. You cannot get
drunk with grape juice.
verse 24 Paul says, “the sins of some men are obvious, reaching the
place of judgement ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them”.
What I believe Paul means here is that obvious sins that can be
seen by all often have immediate judgement by God and men.
For example immorality in an elder.
If an elder commits adultery he will be rebuked openly and may
loose his eldership. Judgement
has already come to him. Yet
not all sins are so open and evident to see. These sins will not be judged
by men, but will be judged by God at some future point.
verse 24 Paul says that in like fashion when it comes to good deeds.
Some good deeds are obvious for all to see while others are not so
obvious, but both will have its rewards, whether now or later.
chapter 6 verse 1 Paul turns his attention to the practice of slavery.
Paul does not condemn the practice of slavery in these verses,
although you must remember in chapter 1 verse 10 he lists slave trading
with serious sins, such as murder. Here he tells the slaves to respect
their owners, even if they are not Christians, so that the name of Christ
will not be “slandered”, and also so that Paul’s teaching may not be
“slandered”. And if
the master of the slave is a Christian (suggesting Christians were slave
owners) then even more so should the slave honour his master, and treat
him as a brother. These words
are not the full understanding of Paul when it comes to slaves and owners.
Elsewhere Paul tells the slave owners to treat his slaves as
brothers in Christ as well.
is clear that Paul is against trading and misusing slaves. One
thing we need to realize about slaves and the Jews is that the Lord of
Moses did not abolish slavery. Slaves
were permitted. What the Law
of Moses did do though was give protection to the slaves.
They were to be treated well, with dignity that a human being
should have. I will not get
involved in the details here but slaves is a big subject and needs to be
discussed in an article of its own.
verse 1 Paul told slaves to respect their masters, and it wasn't because
they were slaves. If slaves
had a healthy respect for their masters, Paul viewed that as a good
witness to the Lord Jesus. Another reason for this respect was so Paul's
teaching would not be slandered. This
is easy to figure out. Paul
taught these Christians to love and respect all people, and if they
didn't, than people would not think much of Paul's teaching.
verse 2 Paul tells Timothy to teach the slaves that they are to respect
believing masters as well. So
the respect Paul spoke about in the last verse is clearly for unbelieving
masters. Paul says that just
because your master is a believer you should not take advantage of him and
give him less respect. I'm
sure Paul would teach the reverse as well. Masters
were to respect their slaves.