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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 5

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

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Verses 1-25

Regarding Widows and Accusations against Elders

1. Rebuke] This shows the authority which Timothy exercised. An elder] i.e. an elderly man, not one officially so named.

3-16. The seventh charge to Timothy—as to widows.

3. Widows indeed] Each local Church kept a list of the widows belonging to the congregation, who were supported by the alms of the faithful if they were widows indeed, that is, if they had none to help them (1 Timothy 5:4-5). In return, they did what services they could to the brethren.

4. Nephews] RV ’grandchildren,’ whose duty it was to take charge of their relations. Them] i.e. the children or nephews.

7. Blameless] RV ’without reproach,’ that the Church widows may not be spoken ill of as women whom their relatives ought to support.

9, 10. The qualifications for being put on the widows’ list, besides being destitute, are, (1) to be 60 years of age; (2) to have been faithful to her husband or husbands (a ’woman of one man’); (3) to be of good reputation; (4) to have brought up her children well; (5) to have shown hospitality to strangers (cp. 3 John 1:5); (6) to have washed the saints’ feet (i.e. humbly ministered to her fellow-Christians; (7) helped any in distress; (8) to be fruitful of good works.

11-15. Reasons against admitting younger widows. After devoting themselves to the service of Christ in their first grief, they may afterwards marry and give up their work, in spite of the promise they made at the beginning, and if not that, they may become gossips and scandal-mongers. It is better that they should marry again, and occupy themselves with the cares of a household. From this we see that St. Paul was no enemy to second marriages, and he would not, therefore, have excluded elderly women from the widows’ company because they had been twice married. This view confirms the meaning already given to ’wife of one man’ (1 Timothy 5:9).

12. Having damnation] or, ’condemnation’; rather, ’incurring severe judgment.’

15. Some] i.e. some widows. The enthusiasm with which they had embraced Christianity and received St. Paul’s gospel had already worn off. With some temperaments it takes but a short time for this to occur—a shorter time generally in women than in men. They had turned aside out of the right path, and were, therefore, going after Satan.

16. Any man or woman that believeth] RV ’any woman that believeth.’ Not only children and grandchildren, but other relatives likewise, are to support aged widows, and so spare the Church’s fund. The injunction must apply to men as well as women, though the RV reading stands on the better authority of MSS.

17-25. Resumption of charge to Timothy as to presbyters. (1) Presbyters distinguished by their zeal, specially those distinguished in preaching and catechising, are to have higher honour and a larger stipend than the rest. (2) An accusation against presbyters is not to be entertained by their superior officer (apostolic deputy, possibly bishop) sitting by himself and listening to reports, but only before (AV), ’at the mouth of’ (RV), two or three witnesses, who would confirm each other’s statements (Deuteronomy 19:15), and also make the case to be publicly known to the Church. (3) Presbyters must not be appointed hastily, or those who admit them into the ministry will be answerable for their ill-doing.

17. Elders] In 1 Timothy 5:1 this word had meant elderly men; here it means presbyters. This order of the ministry consisted at the time of elderly men, whence they had the name of elders or presbyters.

18. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox] Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Corinthians 9:9; And, The labourer is worthy of his hire] read, ’And the,’ etc. The words seem St. Paul’s, not a quotation.

20. Them that sin] Their punishment is to be public, not kept secret for fear of scandal.

21. The solemnity of St. Paul’s words emphasises the responsibility of imposing penalties on a presbyter. The elect angels] not a particular class of angels, but the angels who are chosen by God as His ministers.

22. Lay hands] It was Timothy’s office now, as it had been St. Paul’s previously (2 Timothy 1:6 and that of the presbytery or bishops (at least afterwards), to appoint presbyters by the laying on of hands. Some find here a reference to the absolution of offenders or heretics.

23. A continuation of the personal charge to Timothy. St. Paul seems to have been re minded to give the present injunction by the evident necessity of Timothy’s taking care of his bodily health, if he is to carry out the work of his office satisfactorily. He, therefore, inserts it parenthetically. It teaches us that if the body needs the stimulant of wine, it is right to take it in moderation.

24, 25. Some men’s sins] Return to the subject of laying on of hands. Some candidates for ordination have characters so evidently bad that their unfitness is plain before probation; in others it comes out later. And the same may be said of worthy candidates; some are plainly fit at first sight, others will be found fit on looking below the surface. So that Timothy must exercise his judicial functions on presbyters and candidates for orders very cautiously.

25. They that are otherwise] The character of those who differ from the class just mentioned by their goodness not being self-evident, will yet certainly come out in a short time.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/1-timothy-5.html. 1909.
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