Recall from our previous studies that we have to understand the historical context of the letter that is written so that we may understand what is being said, and sometimes it makes the Scripture even more relevant to what is going on in our lives as we begin to see what is really being addressed and what is actually being said. We will consider this here, and concerning these Pastoral Epistles, that will involve some controversy as it turns out.
As we have been going through these letters, I have been realizing that what Paul is talking to Timothy about is the character of the servant of Christ Jesus. You can preach a lot of things and not have people get upset with you, but the moment you start trying to preach things like, “if you want to be a leader you must have a high moral character as well as have a desire to serve Christ,” you get people lining up to criticize you. Look, if you are hoping that you can just pray some formulaic prayer and then go on living in your sin, I have to lovingly plead with you to repent – that is change your mind. This kind of thinking throughout history has been the reason behind every attack on Christians, on Christianity itself, on its servants like Paul and Timothy, and on God Himself, the effort to either annul the truth of the Trinity or to make Jesus a created being, and to His holy Word and its inerrancy and sufficiency.
There are several attacks on the authorship of these letters, and it is more practical to deal with them all at once, because they are the same for each letter. There are four primary areas of attack:
- The letters cannot be attached to the known history of the book of Acts. (These letters make more sense if Paul was released after his imprisonment at the end of the book of Acts.)
- Attempts to confuse the relationship between Paul and Timothy. (Attempts to make these guys seem like co-conspirators in constructing a false religion.)
- Different tone, style, and vocabulary in these letters argue different authorship. (Paul uses different tones in the letters he writes in the letters that nearly no one disputes authorship of, e.g., Philippians and Galatians or Colossians.)
- Specific heresies and ecclesiastical structure too advanced for the time period. (All heresies started somewhere. They didn’t have names here because Paul was perhaps dealing with things for the first time in these letters.)
Liberal theologians, in their constant attempts to throw God and the Bible under the bus, so to speak, take this opportunity to attempt to introduce error into the Church. For example, Marcion, who rejected the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament portion of our Bible) and the God of Israel because of the wrathful aspects of His nature, did not include 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus in his canon EVEN THOUGH HE KNEW OF THE LETTERS. Marcion rejected these letters as inspired because they didn’t line up with what he believed, and I need to point this out because it is a real danger for those who study the word – that we let our presuppositions dictate our understanding rather than the other way around.. Let’s take that as a caution not to do the same, especially in this day of compromise for the sake of so-called social justice which really is a Marxist model for social change, and is well removed from real Christianity. We can get into that another time.
In Chapter 1, we looked at the introduction of Paul and noted it was very short, marking his familiarity with the recipient Timothy. He encouraged Timothy to stay on at Ephesus where he was, suggesting the Timothy was perhaps looking to leave Ephesus to other, greener pastures, so to speak. In fact, Timothy had a difficult job there at Ephesus, because things had, like Paul had said before his first imprisonment, wicked men had arisen, some from within, some from without, leading the flock of Ephesus astray from their first love, Christ. These false teachers and brethren spoke from a seared conscience, and had begun to turn to myths and genealogies. There were both Jewish and Gentile components to this false teaching, and already most of the components of what would later be called Gnosticism were already in place. Paul had already dealt with these things in some measure in his letter to the Colossians, so modern critics who claim that Paul could not have authored this letter because he was addressing Gnosticism which didn’t come along until the second century clearly have ignored Colossians, of which no one disputes the authorship. (When liberal scholars aren’t consistent, it makes my life easier, because I can easily identify the error, and then communicate it to you!) They also talk ab out the kind of leaders that Paul was trying to put into place and say that didn’t happen in churches until late second or early third centuries. People, that doesn’t mean Paul didn’t tell Timothy to set these things up.
Then Paul refers to his own testimony to give the main point of Christianity – God reconciles the worst sinners to Himself to show that the way is open for everyone that will accept that Jesus paid the price of redemption for them personally, and that is worth all the fight we can muster. Some had given up that fight, and had suffered shipwreck of their faith, and Paul even named examples of two such men, Hymenaeus and Alexander, who he said had been delivered to Satan so they might be taught not to misuse the name of the Lord.
In Chapter 2, the conversation talks about the need to pray for all men, especially our leaders – in that time, Caesar Nero. That was convicting to me personally, because I do not like politics or those who lead political parties, sometimes at cross-purposes to the Everlasting God. However, Paul instructs Timothy to have the people pray evangelistically for everyone. The chapter then turns to what some have called regulative principle, although I believe it is much more if it is in the writ of Scripture. We discussed what it meant on the spectrum of gender relations, and identified four basic positions, rejected the two extremes as not Biblical, and presented the two outlooks of the main camps of opinion on the interpretation of Scripture, and then asked you to make up your own mind, with the thought that it is a spectrum, and one need not necessarily be restricted to one camp. For example, it is possible to be egalitarian with complementarian leanings, at least for short periods of time. Whatever your position, I will repeat my earlier warning, not to let your presuppositions colour your understanding of Scripture, but to read what it says and then make up your own mind in concord with the Holy Spirit. This is important here, because whatever way you understand Chapter 2, will influence your understanding of Chapter 3 and beyond, for example.
Chapter 3 talks about the need for spiritual leadership of the church, in more than one form, and how central godly leadership really is for the success of the individual believer.
Chapter 4 speaks about the great turning away of people from good teaching and what that good teaching is, and what the character of the one who teaches it needs to be – in many ways that matter, it is a letter to one who would be a pastor, and the moral character that such a one must have if his ministry is to have power and authority with people.
Chapter 5 continues in that line of thought of what a servant of Christ is supposed to care about, and how to deal with people that have needs in the Church. Before we dig into that, let me give my customary caution, especially given my earlier comments about the attacks on the Word itself. Don’t believe a word I say. All the tools are there for you to dig into the Word yourself! We have literally dozens of translations of the Scriptures available, and you should survey several. There are great commentaries for when you get to a part you can’t understand. There are word studies. There are good pastors you can ask. The Holy Spirit can live in you like he lives in me, and one of His jobs is to guide you into all truth. You have no excuse for not doing the work yourself. So do it! And if you reach different conclusions than I have AFTER you have done the work, I would be happy to have an intelligent dialogue with you and our open Bibles. With that said, let’s get into the chapter.
1: Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers,
- Remember Timothy’s task here – he has been positioned in Ephesus by the Lord to call false leaders to account. However, that doesn’t just mean we can line ’em all up against the wall and call ready, aim, fire. There is a WAY to do things, and it is always with gentleness, and with relationship based on family!
- Older Man – Presbuteros: Same word used for a group of Elders! This is in fact the non-Church, common Greek usage of the word – an older man. What are we NOT supposed to do? Rebuke [epiplesso, to strike at, rebuke (with words)] them. Instead, how are we to treat him? To appeal [parakaleo, to call to, to give strong encouragement] how? As a father [pater]. I understand that not everyone had a good father – I did not – but think about it – what if this were your dad? How and what would you say to address an issue?
- Younger men – Neoteros: This is the word used for “younger ones,” and can be used for male or female subjects of address. In Greek construction, it is talking about males, and because of the next verse. How are we to address them? As brothers. How would you deal with your own brother on a hard issue?
2: the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
- Here is more of the same. How would you say a hard thing to your mom? Or your sister? Consider these people like your family – and I personally think we are in Christ. You hear me say “Brother” or “Sister” to people all the time. I really believe that.
- In all purity – Understand, Timothy was a man – and being in proximity to the opposite sex can create conditions for a fall from grace for some. Sadly, I have seen it. The guy that performed my marriage ceremony fell into this very sin. And I will tell you that it broke my heart, and my wife’s heart. We still love him, he’s still married to his wife – but he has disqualified himself from church leadership and will never again pastor a church in the Southern Baptist Convention. Set up conditions for purity and violate them at your own peril, I think.
- Do you see how the family relationships come in? I say to you, it puts a real spin on that old curmudgeon on your church council that always seems to cross your will. Pretend for a second that man is your father. Now how would you approach it? What about that sour old lady that always has a snipe or an unkind word for you. What if that was your mom? Family relationships are supposed to have love in them. It changes the approach, doesn’t it?
3: Honor widows who are widows indeed;
- Here Paul begins to talk about the extended family relationship. What happens when your mom or sister loses her husband? This is another place where the cultural understanding of that society is important. In that society, when a woman lost her husband, she lost her support and ability to feed herself. There was no such thing as Canada Pension Plan or Old Age Security, or Social Security in USA. Her life’s partner was gone – and when the food ran out in her pantry, she would have to turn to others just to eat. What happened then?
- Paul begins with the word “honour.” The Greek word means to affix a value to them. It conveys the meaning that they should be held in high regard – conditionally, according to Paul – if they are true widows.
- You must understand that this analogy of family is carried to the Church very strongly. What if this is happening to members of your congregation?
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.
- The question Paul begins to examine here is, “What widows should the Church support?” Paul here is saying that it is the responsibility of one’s own family to support the widow before anyone else. I once heard a preacher say that throughout Biblical history God had set up the family as a provision for women that had lost their spouse. Paul is laying the foundation of that idea right here. First, Paul says, let her children and or grandchildren take care of her because she is their own family. It’s why parents have children, in some measure, and further, it is acceptable in the sight of God. There is more I could say, and it can be demonstrated from Genesis and all the way through the Old Testament, but I want to stay on topic.
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.
- Paul is clarifying what widows the church needs to care for, remember. A true widow has been left alone. She has no means of support left. Perhaps her husband and children were killed in the persecutions. Perhaps the her husband had died and they had no children.
- A true widow that the church should care for should be a believer! “has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day…” Sounds like a believer to me!
6: But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives.
- Wanton – to live without regard to the consequences. This is in my opinion the mark of someone that is not a real believer. We have them in the churches today, but these women instead of giving themselves to God and staying there by making those entreaties and prayers, give themselves to wantonness. Paul has talked about this before in 1 Cor. 7:8-9. “But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
- Wantonness is a deliberate lack of self-control. You live like you do not care about the consequences of your actions. They burn with passion. Later in this chapter, Paul says that it is his reasoning on why younger ones should marry, even bear children. Look at the alternative – fall into relationship after relationship, bed after bed, until you lose interest or die.
- Dead while she lives – thnesko, from than, dead, to die. Does this mean that this lady lost her salvation? No, it means that she wasn’t saved in the first place, or that she is walking in the flesh instead of the Spirit (which some argue is the same thing).
7: Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach.
- Prescribe – There’s that word again – makes Timothy sound like a pharmacist, right? The Greek is paraggello, command. In context, we are talking about the ordinances about widows, and about treating others like family.
- So that they may be above reproach – literally without reproach, not able to be taken to task for bad behaviour. Again, we see the necessity for personal character in a life, not just attendance at meetings, rote prayers, and good works. Think of it this way – character is proven by what you do when no one is watching but God.
- Who are “they” in this instance? This refers to Timothy’s charges – the people of the assembly at Ephesus, where Timothy is when this letter was written.
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.
- Paul is summarizing some of the previous discussion about widows here, but there are other applications to this statement. The statement itself in context is referring to v.4 primarily. Provide [pronoeo, consider in advance, look out for beforehand] indicates a level of planning for the what-ifs. In my previous profession as a financial planner, this was the whole discussion. Why are we supposed to contribute to financial vehicles and have current wills? For estate planning purposes and the what-ifs of life. God may be sovereign, but we do not know if we will live through the day. So why don’t you do this anymore, Ger? I got tired of banging my head against the wall trying to get the point across that good intentions aren’t enough, telling people in your family isn’t going to cut it, because they all have their own interests at heart. God took the time to plan into society and the family means of supporting the defenseless, but no one seems to care about that. And that’s when I became aware of the REAL issue that plagued people – the need of the Gospel. And as a financial planner, that’s not what your message is supposed to be.
- So let me say this to you – if you do not provide, that is consider in advance or look out for beforehand for your own family [oikeios, those of your own household], you have denied [arenomai, to contradict, disavow, reject, abnegate (deny or refuse)] the faith [pistis, the firm persuasion or opinion held that Jesus is your Lord and you are His in this case] and is worse [cheiron, more evil or aggravated; more sore, worse in condition] than an unbeliever [apistos, literally the negative of pistis, without Christian faith]. Ger! I didn’t know it was possible to be worse than an unbeliever! Well, Paul says it is. All you have to do is not use all your resources to benefit your family after you are gone. And that seems to be what society by my observation is rushing toward, especially with life insurance allowing you to do this for pennies on the dollar! Please note that I am not talking about those people with no resources and no ability to do this – it is only given to a man according to what a man has, according to Paul in another place.
- Does this mean this person is not saved? It doesn’t say that, and I won’t make it. I do think that if this has gotten your attention like it did mine, that if you’re still breathing, there is still time to do something about it! This is an opportunity for the Lord to change you and protect your loved ones at the same time from future financial woes. Don’t think you can do it on your own? There are some great, licensed financial planners out there that can help. If you’re in Ontario, I have a few names, shoot me an email.
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,
- There is some intriguing evidence that this verse (and verse 10) refer to a specific kind of a widow, as opposed to the more general widow class at the beginning of the chapter. “The List” refers potentially to lists that have been discovered and dated to the second and third centuries referring to the kind of widow who would be placed on it. These widows were servants of the Church, and a “list” was maintained of these women.
- This group of widows served the church and found orphaned children in the marketplace and rescued them from a life of either some form of combat training if you were a boy, or being taught to be a prostitute by some den mother if you were a girl. They patrolled the city it seems, and placed the children they found in homes, something that is very Christian at its most basic level. These ladies also visited the households of younger Christian women and guided them in how to raise their children, keep house, and things like that.
- “Not less than 60 years old” – This should be seen as a qualification of being placed on this list. The age qualification did not exist for widows to be supported by the church, they were supported when they had need, as were others. Why 60? It’s a general reference point that crosses cultures, I suspect. At age 60 in Greek society, this is where people “retired” to a life of philosophical contemplation. In Roman society, it was believed that this was the point at which sexual drives were no longer an issue for people. At 60, these women were likely to have the time, and the desire to not have an intimate relationship again.
- Having been a one-man woman – this is the same structure of phrasing we saw for deacons and elders earlier in the book. This does not mean they were only married once, but only to one man at a time.
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.
- And from this specific verse, we again see the more important qualifications of character that is seen in the kinds of good works for which she would gain a good reputation – bringing up godly children, showing hospitality to strangers, washing the saints’ feet (doing the down and dirty things people need occasionally), assisting those in distress, really anything that could be called good that she could do.
- Why? This list demonstrates that this woman would have the maturity of character and the life experience to be a good servant in a soul-care kind of ministry in which these women on the list were thought to engage.
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,
- Why is this here? Because the reputation of the church is at stake. Remember, these widows were servants of the church. Younger women that have been married after a couple of years will face this. I’ve seen it before, but in a good way. I had a good friend named Louis. He married another good friend named Yvonne, and they had two children together. They had been married for two or three years when the Lord took Louis home after a short battle with an aggressive form of Leukemia. I was one of two people that had the dubious privilege of seeing Louis’ body, and I can tell you that the cancer ravage him, as did the chemotherapy and radiation treatments he had undergone. He looked like an 80-year-old man, and he was 36. She became a widow with 2 young children.
- I should tell you that Louis was a faithful brother, and he had been one of those who provided for [considered in advance, looked out for beforehand] his wife and children. He had life insurance, AND he had mortgage insurance that paid for the home she was in, though she chose to sell it (I can understand why – all the memories). She never had to work, and she will never want for an income ever, because he had instructed his financial advisors to take the proceeds of his life insurance and buy her a life annuity that would give her 50,000 per year for the rest of her life, no matter what. That let her stay home and raise their two boys.
- Eventually, Yvonne moved away, to be closer to her own family so that the boys could have some family and male influence in their lives, and she remarried. And there is nothing wrong with that! And let me say, her boys are grown now, and her oldest has joined the Canadian Air Force, just like his dad. I saw the photos too of the day he got his pilot’s license, his glider license, all that – and her younger one went on to a career in electronic communications, which is what his dad did in the Air Force. Both boys are Christians. Why? Because dad and mom were both faithful to God and the Scriptures.
- Think of how this could have otherwise gone wrong. A younger woman in her mid-30s loses her husband, either by desertion, divorce or death, as John MacArthur puts it. After an appropriate time of mourning, she makes a vow to the Lord, to serve Him all her remaining days in her singleness, to be one of these women who are servants of the church. She approaches the leadership of the gathering, and they put her on the list. She begins to serve in her capacity as household advisor and rescuer of children. What has this set up?
- Here is a younger widow, going around to Christian homes ostensibly to assist younger wives raise their kids and run their homes, just a year or two removed from doing this herself. She remembers what it was like with her beloved. She is sorely tempted, and it is made worse by her very exposure to godly men, who themselves, as we have seen repeatedly in the Christian world these days, are subject to sin, especially in this area. The problem gets bigger. The widow seduces the man, or the other way around. Now you have a problem of tremendous proportion, and the church itself has its character called into question. Oops.
12: thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge.
- And now she has not only broken her vow to Christ, but she has fallen into grievous sin – and the church also wears the proverbial egg on its face for such poor testimony. Or even if that doesn’t happen and she is somehow able to remain chaste, see what else could go wrong here.
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.
- I mean, going around from household to household is a part of her job, but this woman instructs the housewife, and does not do the work for her. I can speak from personal experience that when I became a sales manager, my sales skills suffered, and that I would look for opportunities to NOT sell and hand off to one of my juniors. Is that lazy? Maybe not by itself, but it’s a very fine line at times. It can become so.
- But laziness is not the main problem here. What is? Gossip [phluaros, one who babbles inappropriately], and being a busybody [periergos, practitioner of “curious arts,” busy about trifles and neglectful of important matters – especially other peoples’ affairs]. And because she is in a perfect position to do these things, and carries with her some church authority, it could be a very dangerous thing indeed. Why? Because the conversation in these cases will always turn toward what Paul calls here “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;
- Hence Paul’s words. No, don’t put younger widows on the list of official church servants. Let them get married – they will likely want to anyway, and there is nothing wrong with that. Let them have children (and raise them in Christ). Let them keep house (or learn to do so). In doing these kinds of things, the enemy is not given opportunity to accuse us before God, which is HIS job. Our job is to stay off his radar.
15: for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.
- How does Paul know all this? Because it has already happened.
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.
- This is another cultural reference in part. There were women of means in those days, whether they had rich husbands who were not believers and who had consented to stay with their wife, or women who had been left in charge of her former husband’s estate after his death, or because they were entrepreneurial themselves – any of those were possible – and they also gave financial (and otherwise) support to widows. Paul is saying here that this should continue so that the church can look after the needs of those widows who really had no one to look after them.
17: The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.
- Paul here begins a new paragraph. He’s switching gears, and he’s now instructing Timothy on the restoration process for the Elders in leadership in Ephesus. He’s making a minor distinction here. Of those Elders that rule well, there are those that “work hard” at preaching and teaching. I’ve heard the distinction worded as “ruling elders” and “teaching elders” in the past. I suppose that’s true in the church, but I don’t think that any elder specifically gets out of preaching at least occasionally. Having said that, not all have the gift of teaching, so I do see the difference, and acknowledge it gratefully, as one who is gifted in the area of teaching, or “skilled in teaching” as Paul said earlier in the book.
- Double honour – some have suggested that this means “double pay.” For those in a salaried environment, this might seem like a good idea! However, it doesn’t say double money. Is says double value. It also says “considered worthy.” What if they can’t pay you what you’re worth? Are you any less called by God to be there? If you think you are less called by God if the pay is less, then like Paul, I will pull no punches. You are at best a hired hand that will run screaming when the wolf comes. At worst, you are one of the wolves, and need to be exposed for what you are. There are things that are worse than not having enough money.
18: For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
- However, this passage is speaking of some kind of pay arrangement. Here is how it is supposed to work. Christians will come to your place of worship, and they will put into what I look at as the Lord’s Treasury what God puts on their hearts. I’m not going to talk about tithing here because the text does not. That money is to be used in the work that God is doing locally first. It should pay the expenses of the place, and it should ALSO give some form of support to those who are faithfully preaching the word of God.
- The phrase “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing” is a phrase that occurs in Scripture 3 times. The very first of those is in Deuteronomy 25:4, where it is a paragraph on its own. It is sandwiched between two paragraphs, the first talking about a judge deciding how many lashes to give somebody, and the latter talking about the brother of a deceased man marrying the widow to care for her and raise up children for the dead brother so as to preserve his inheritance.
- The second use of that phrase is in 1 Cor. 9:9, where Paul is talking about his right as a leader in the house of God to reap material rewards for his spiritual service, though it is noteworthy that Paul would not claim that right in Corinth. The third is of course this verse. In 1 Corinthians 9:9, Paul asks, “God is not concerned about oxen, is he?” He follows that with his argument about how leaders in the house of God have a right to some form of support from the church they labour in, ESPECIALLY if they preach – they are indeed worthy of double pay, if it can be supported. If not, anything to help is the rule.
- The second phrase, “The labourer is worthy of his wages” is found also in Luke 10, where Jesus is talking about the disciples who are sent to proclaim the kingdom of God being supported by the house that they are staying in. This is also a model for the church in paying what it can to its ministers to support them. Interestingly, they did not receive money, but food and lodging as payment. An interesting case for a parsonage, isn’t it.
19: Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.
- Here, Paul is getting down to the actual setting up of godly Elders, and I think the removal of the ungodly and heretical ones that seemed to plague the church, and Ephesus in particular. Paul begins this idea by telling Timothy that he should not “admit into evidence” [receive] an accusation against an Elder without 2 or 3 corroborating witnesses of good and reliable character. This is partially because those under review to be removed would likely try to stir up controversy about the other elders or about Timothy himself.
20: Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.
- Here is how we know the context is about those Elders that were ungodly. The message Paul give Timothy is that if they will not repent, that is change their mind and acknowledge their sinful behaviour, then Timothy is to rebuke them in front of the entire church. The word for rebuke means to expose and convict (of the offence).
- But Ger! That’s not how it should be done! You should do it privately, I hear you say. I agree. I think that Paul knew Timothy was past that with them. You had heretics, idolaters, sexual predators, and others like that. In Leadership. In the Church. And everyone could see it if they looked. No, the sin was committed publicly, and therefore the rebuke had to be public as well. Why? So that the rest of the Elders would be afraid of sinning, or at least of the penalty for it.
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.
- Paul makes the entire task a solemn charge! He invokes the very presence of God, the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent One, and Christ Jesus, and His chosen [same word used for “elect”] angels! The command? Literally to “guard this without prejudice, doing nothing from partiality.” The same standard was to be applied to everyone, and all were to be held to it without exception. No one could legitimately then say, “That’s not fair.”
22: Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
- Paul here is helping timothy to navigate what are likely to be some rough waters when he goes after the disqualified leaders. The more argumentative of the crowd – and let’s face it, there is always at least one in every congregation, and Timothy was likely dealing with several – were likely to NOT want to go quietly. And there would be those that would try to make trouble for some that did not deserve it. Don’t be too quick to remove people in these cases, says Paul. Hence v. 19, about needing two or three corroborating witnesses of good character. Otherwise, one might listen to the wrong evidence and get rid of the wrong person from leadership – for which Timothy would be solely responsible. No, “Keep yourself free from sin,” says Paul.
23: No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
- And Timothy – it’s okay if you need to treat your stomach with a little wine. Don’t let these guys give you indigestion.
- I need to say something here. I once heard a gentleman in a “reformed pub” tell others that one could never make a case for abstinence from scriptures, and that Paul was giving permission to drink as long as one did not become unruly. I agree with the first part – you cannot make a case for the complete abstinence from alcohol from the scriptures. But I don’t think Paul was giving Timothy (or anyone else) “permission” to have a cold one after a long day. I don’t think that’s wrong if you can do it. But what have we said about qualifications for leadership? “Not a drinker.” And as we saw that was about a lifestyle choice. Your sitting in ANY kind of a pub and imbibing your favorite malt beverage MAY be a reason to disqualify you from leadership. Especially if you smoke cigars with it, given what we know tobacco does to you now.
- Paul is telling Timothy that it isn’t a bad thing to treat a stomach issue with a known and accepted medical treatment. And you have to understand that “wine” then was not equivalent with wine now. It was little more than grape juice, at the very beginnings of fermentation – either that or it was watered down enough to be of next to no alcoholic content. And we have better things these days to treat your indigestion and headaches that are caused by stress and tension from dealing with stubborn, disqualified leadership candidates.
24: The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.
- This is kind of like a rhyming couplet, only the words aren’t forming the rhyme, the ideas are. The first verse, 24, talks about how sins are sometimes evident and sometimes hidden, and then v. 25 talks about good deeds in the same fashion, and declares all will be known.
25: Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.
- Good or bad, we will all be judged by our works. Yes, we may be saved by grace through faith, but we will still be judged like all men – by our works.
And that’s chapter 5!