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1 Timothy Series

Chapter 5

 

John Baugh
December 10, 2008

 

Maintaining a Proper Relationship
with Other Believers

 

1 Timothy 5: 1-25

 

 

Honor Widows

 

1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.  3 Honor widows who are widows indeed; 4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.

 

5 Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 6 But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach.

 

8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

 

11 But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12 thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.

 

16 If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.

 

 

Concerning Elders

 

17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

 

19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.

 

21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. 22 Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

 

23 No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

 

24 The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. 25 Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.

 

 

 

 

Older Men, Younger Men, Older Women and Younger Women

 

1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

 

In the first two verses of what we see as Chapter 5 of Paul’s letter to Timothy, Paul offers sound advice to Timothy regarding how he should look at those to whom he ministers. Considering older men and women, along with younger men and women, Paul suggests that Timothy consider them to be family, to see them with the respect given to father, mother, brother and sister.

 

How we naturally look at others is dependent on many things, but if we see other believers as family, we start off any relationship in the proper manner. Considering them to be family will make us enter into any situation with either parental respect or sibling love. Paul also reminds Timothy that we need to remember the need for purity (of thoughts and actions) in any dealings with others, but especially with those to whom we minister.  

 

 

Care of Widows within the church

 

3 Honor widows who are widows indeed; 4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.  5 Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 6 But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

 

 

It is interesting to remember that one of the first problems to come up in the church in Jerusalem after Pentecost was a murmuring among the widows as to how they were being treated by the other believers. Evidently there were enough widows in the congregation at Ephesus to concern Paul and so he reminded Timothy (and members of the congregation to whom the letter would have been read) that “Blood Family” has the responsibility to care for their own.

 

Apparently, the church in Ephesus had made provisions to care for widows and Paul takes the time to state the provisions and limitations for their care.

 

The provisions stated:

 

1 - She should be a "Real widow" with no other means of support, including self possessed wealth, job security or family. Obviously, a widow with enough money to support herself would not need the help of the church.

 

In this time, women who lose their husbands may have insurance coverage, independent income, a job that provides income sufficient to meet their needs or investments that provide a living. IT is certainly not universal, but at least some women may end up with more money than men after the death of a spouse, perhaps more financially secure than they had ever been in marriage. The support of these women should not be the responsibility of the church in any way. But they are to be honored, as Paul points out in Verse 3. They are to be paid reverence and respect; they are to be shown love, compassion and concern to meet their emotional needs. This is what the church is responsible to do.

 

For women with families, Paul tells Timothy that it is the responsibility of the family to care for her. Paul tells Timothy that caring for an elderly parent with no other means of support is acceptable in the sight of God.  It was also socially acceptable and considered to be the obligation of children in Greek and Roman society at that time.

 

2 - The widow who is supported by the church should be committed to the spiritual ministry of the church. Paul indicates the widow should be one who "has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day." Widows who were being helped by the church should be active in the ministry of the church during the later years of their lives.

 

In the letter to Titus, Paul instructs him to help the older women learn to teach the younger women and that seems to fit well into what Paul tells Timothy should be the work of widows in the church at Ephesus. In Paul's thoughts, a good ministry for older women (especially Widows) seems to be that they would be available to the younger women of the church for prayer, for support, for teaching, for understanding. Such a ministry would help the younger women to grow spiritually and promote the advancement of God's kingdom.

 

Some women who find themselves alone after the death of their husband, with a considerable amount of money, decide to spend their remaining days traveling around the world, going to bridge parties, and entertaining herself. Paul states that such women might as well be dead since they are not investing their lives as God intended. The focus of any life on self above others is a wasted opportunity for a wonderful ministry.

 

 

Which Widows are to be put on the list?

 

9 A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.

 

Here, Paul writes that a widow should be at least sixty years old. Most people died in their sixties in those days and were nearing the end of their lives. In Paul's mind, he wanted them to devote their remaining years in service to the Lord.

 

Secondly, Paul writes that the woman was to be the wife of one husband. That has confused many people who have taken that to mean a woman could not be married more than once. Yet husbands died in those days; women at times were divorced in those days, so a widow could well have been married two or three times in the course of her lifetime. And in Verse 14 Paul urges younger widows to marry and bear children, so he certainly does not mean that if they marry again, when they reached the age of sixty or more and subsequently lost their husbands they could not qualify.

 

The requirement stated here is very similar to the one listed for elders and deacons, when Paul stated that they were to be a "one-woman man." Here a woman is to be a "one-husband woman." This does not mean she cannot have been married more than once, but rather that when she is married her focus is on her husband. She is not a philanderer; she is not entering relationships in any degree with other men, but she was faithful to her husband.

 

Then Paul states that she is to be of good reputation, listing an admirable description of a woman of good reputation:

 

1 - She has brought up children. Stated differently, if she had had children, she has brought them up (properly).

 

2 - She has shown hospitality to strangers. Not just her friends, but others also.

 

3 - She has been faithful to Christ's call for humble service (has washed the saints' feet), showing a willingness to serve wherever needed.

 

4 - She has assisted those in distress, including those who are sick, afflicted, who have suffered loss, etc., showing a willingness to serve in the ministry of helping others.

 

5 - She has devoted herself to every good work.

 

Any woman who has met all of the characteristics of reputation Paul mentions would have proven her value to the church and would have shown herself to be deserving of support from the church many times over.

 

Younger Widows

 

11 But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12 thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.

 

Perhaps Paul understood the pressures on a young woman at that time to have a family, a husband, and children. Perhaps Paul understood the longing for companionship and life that a younger woman might have. In Paul's mind, the younger widows should be encouraged to marry again. 

 

In the instructions Paul gives to Timothy, only those women who had already been married, who had already fulfilled their obligations and their desires for marriage and family were to be enrolled in this special order of celibate persons, not younger women.

 

Sometimes, in a moment of grief at the loss of a husband a young woman might state a desire to remain celibate for the rest of her life, but Paul was concerned that after a while her desires might change.

 

What Paul is writing here is that if she does, then she is led to break her promise to never marry again and he does not want her to do that. So Paul lists two reasons for not assuming the responsibility for younger widows:

 

1 - They would prove unfaithful to their first pledge, which they made in a moment of deep commitment but were unable to live up to.

 

2 - They would tend (over time) to become idle "freeloaders," as we would call them today. And instead of serving would "go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention."

 

Perhaps Paul had experience with this type of behavior. We can see it today in the actions portrayed by certain actresses in Soap Operas - young women with lots of time on their hands going from place to place, drinking endless cups of coffee, telling all the news of the neighborhood -- and getting far too involved in other people's business - becoming much too involved other people's affairs. 

 

Paul Offers Advice to Young Widows:

 

14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.

 

In Paul's opinion, younger widows need to take up life again. He writes that in doing this, they will remove the opportunity for the devil to attack and destroy the Christian church.

 

 

Women Believers who have Responsibilities to Widows

 

 

16 If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.

 

Paul finally writes to Timothy that if married women, had widows on their side of the family who had no one to take care of them they should do so.  Paul writes that this should take place so that the church would not be burdened, so that it would be better able to care for the truly needy.

 

 

Our Responsibility to Widows

 

In his "New Study Bible" commentary, William Barclay points out that Paul lays a responsibility not only on family members to take care of the older parents, but on the older parents to be the kind of people who can live at home with their younger children. There is a dual responsibility here. Sometimes older parents can be difficult to get along with (crotchety, grouchy, complaining, and interfering) that it is not possible for them to live in the home. Scripture allows for adjustment of these principles to fit the situation; each family must decide for itself. But basically it is clearly underscored that it is the privilege, indeed the responsibility of families to take care of their older parents.

 

 

Dealings With Elders

 

17 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

 

Here, Paul refers to the overseers, those who minister to the church. Paul says that those who minister well (devote time to scripture study, preparation, preaching and teaching, be given double honor. The first consideration is that they be given respect. The second honor is that they receive remuneration. They are to be paid. Their needs, their expenses, their salaries are to be paid in order to free them to do the work of preaching and teaching. If Pastors are occupied fully in this work of preaching and teaching the Scriptures, so that people understand them, then they are to be given this double honor.

 

Paul offers scriptural evidence to support this statement, by going back to the Law, as Moses stated in the book of Deuteronomy, "You shall not muzzle an ox while he is threshing" (Deut 25:4).

 

In those days, the threshing of grain was done by oxen which walked around on the grain to thresh out the sheaves. Oxen used for this work were not permitted to be muzzled. They were working and deserved to eat. Paul quotes this same verse in First Corinthians, saying in that connection, "Does God care for oxen? Is that why he said that?" "No," Paul says, "he wrote that for us," (1 Cor 9:9-10).

 

In Paul's mind, what was appropriate for the Oxen was appropriate for the overseer. As he worked, so should he be allowed to feed.

 

Next, Paul uses an interesting statement:

 

and "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

 

What Paul is saying here is that those who labor deserve their wages. The interesting thing here is that these words come from the Book of Luke, Chapter 10, verse 7. This could mean that when Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, the Letter from Luke to Theophilus had already been written, and that Paul was already calling it scripture. It could also mean that these words from Christ were widely known at that time to have been spoken by the Lord.

 

Accusations against elders

 

19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.

 

Charges against elders must be supported by more than one person. That is because elders and pastors are in public view, and oftentimes they have to say unpleasant things to people. They do not have to say them unpleasantly, of course. Sometimes people strike back; they try to get even -- sometimes by slandering or starting rumors. Here, Paul says that unsubstantiated accusations should not be sufficient for action and that the church should not entertain a charge against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses.

 

When a charge is confirmed and the elder repents, no public action is necessary. But if he persists (that is the next word), then a public rebuke is required: "As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear."

 

This mirrors what Jesus said in Matthew 18 - "If your brother sins against you, go to him and tell him his fault, between you and him alone; and if he repents, you have gained your brother," (Matt 18:15). Nothing more need to be said, that settles it. Then Jesus continues, "If he does not hear you, then take two or three more and go to him again and try to lay hold of his conscience with their help. If he does not hear them, then tell it to the church," (Matt 18:16-17). That is a public rebuke -- a difficult but very important thing to do.

 

A Solemn Charge

 

21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality

 

As in any situation, It probably would have been very easy for Timothy to have shown partiality. He might well have had some close friends among the leaders of this church at Ephesus. Paul urged him to not let partiality or anything else stand in the way of doing what was necessary for the church.

 

Timothy might well have felt inadequate for the task that Paul had assigned. Knowing this, Paul summons powerful help for the young pastor, when he writes, "in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels." God the Father is involved. He is at work in the congregation. He knows what is going on; nothing is hid from his eyes. Christ Jesus, Lord of the church, head of the body, is present also. Jesus can work from within. He can touch men's consciences; he can get at their hearts. And the elect angels are involved, these personages whom the book of Hebrews tells us are as "ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of salvation," (Hebrews 1:14). Paul tells Timothy not to be intimidated. If the situation requires action, then Timothy is to act -- patiently, lovingly, thoughtfully and carefully -- but he is to act.

 

22 Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

 

The laying on of hands was the recognition of a man by the other elders as being chosen of the Lord. It indicates that such men are the ones whom God has chosen. Paul tells Timothy to be careful, to not do that hastily.

 

Further, Paul tells Timothy not to ignore sins and weaknesses he may find in men: "Do not participate in another man's sin but keep yourself pure." If you suggest a man for eldership, knowing that there is a weakness or a sin in his life that he is not dealing with, when he is made an elder you have participated in his sin; you have gone along with it.

 

The Water and Wine Question Regarding Timothy’s Health

 

23 No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

 

This admonition seems to be out of place, because Paul suddenly shifts from talking about choosing elders to a personal word to Timothy.

 

Perhaps as he was writing, Paul was reminded of something about Timothy that he felt needed correction. Timothy, evidently, was leaning toward total abstinence from wine. We know there was a lot of public drunkenness in Ephesus at that time. The reaction of almost all Christians to public drunkenness is, "I don't want anything to do with that."

 

In much of the church, there is an attitude that the Christian position about drinking should be one of total abstinence; that no Christian ought to drink at all. It should be remembered that the scriptural record clearly states that our Lord drank wine, and so did the apostles. Here, Paul is evidently warning Timothy about total abstinence, especially because it was negatively affecting his health. Timothy had not taken a balanced position. Paul warns him, "For your health's sake, don't do this."

 

So Paul warns him against drinking the water! Anyone who as traveled abroad knows that in some countries, the water is not drinkable. It wrecks havoc with our stomach, or worse. Anyone who has suffered accidental bad water consumption probably understands what Timothy was going through. He was suffering from what has been called "the runs" or some more colorful term to describe a severe intestinal and bowel difficulty.

 

Paul is warning him to use a little wine to prevent that. The simple fact is that in many cases, wine prevents stomach upsets, dysentery, etc. Paul is suggesting to Timothy that he use wine to prevent this.

 

Good actions and bad; righteousness and sin

 

24 The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. 25 Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.

 

Pastor Ray Stedman offered these words to describe verses 24-25.

 

"God was at work in that congregation in Ephesus, Paul is saying, and he was bringing to light things that were hidden. That is what Jesus does. He said, "A time is coming when that which is done in secret shall be shouted from the housetops; that which is spoken in the closet shall be heralded in the streets." Everybody is going to know about it. God takes hidden sins and brings them to light. Many a man thinks he is hiding his sins but he is not. God is steadily working to bring those sins to public exposure. There are some men whose sins are conspicuous, and it is obvious they are heading for God's judgment. You would not elect them or appoint them to any office.

But they are not the only kind, the apostle says. Some men are skillful at hiding sin. They appear to be very dedicated, committed people, but there is rotten evil in their hearts all the time. If you get into the habit of electing people to office or appointing them into some responsible position without giving time to observe them you will get into trouble. "Time will tell," the world's proverb says. Let some time go by. God will bring it out. Get close to them. The closer you get the more obvious their evil will become.

But it works the other way too. Some men appear retiring and quiet, yet they may be very good men. Such men may make the very best elders. So do not rush men into leadership. If they have something good going on quietly in their lives, even when these are not conspicuous, Paul says, they cannot remain hidden. God will bring it all out if you get close to them. Abraham Lincoln's famous dictum, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time," is a wise word in choosing elders."

 

 

 

 

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