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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 5

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

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Verses 1-25



1. Concerning widows (1 Timothy 5:1-16 )

2. Concerning elders (1 Timothy 5:17-21 )

3. Responsibility and personal instructions (1 Timothy 5:22-25 )

1 Timothy 5:1-16

It is not necessary to follow all these instructions in detail and explain their meaning. An elder was not to be rebuked sharply, but to be entreated as a father, and younger men as brethren. Then he speaks of widows. Those who are widows indeed are to be held in honor. Piety was to be shown at home, if they had children. “She that is a widow indeed, and desolate (left alone) trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers day and night.” Happy privilege of such, with special claims upon the Saviour-God. Thus exercising trust in God and in His promises, her special ministry is the ministry of prayer and intercession (Luke 2:36-37 ). God hath chosen that which is weak, widows, those who are on sick-beds, “Shut-ins,” to use especially in the ministry of intercession.

The Day of Christ will reveal the great things which were accomplished in secret prayer. But if other widows lived in pleasure, in self-indulgence then she is dead while she liveth, that is, dead to the spiritual things. For such there could be no honor, but dishonor. And if anyone did not provide for his own house, he denied the faith and was worse than an infidel, for an unbeliever generally recognizes this duty. Then we have divinely given regulations as to those who should be given relief by the church, and those who should be refused. Practical godliness is thus to be maintained in the house of God, and manifested in every way so as “to give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

1 Timothy 5:17-21

Elders that ruled well were counted worthy of double honor, and especially those who had the gift of expounding the word of God, and teaching the truth, “who labor in the Word and teaching.” And as elsewhere in his former epistles, the apostle here once more states the responsibility that “the laborer is worthy of his hire.” The ox that treadeth out the corn is not to be muzzled. The Creator-God careth for the oxen, and made a merciful provision for them in His law. How much more then should those be ministered to in temporal things that labored in the Word, and with much self sacrifice taught the truth. But the laborer must remain in dependence on the Saviour-God, for he is God’s laborer. (The almost universal custom of promising a laborer in the Word, an evangelist, pastor and teacher a salary, and the laborer depending on his bargain, is nowhere sanctioned by the Word of God. It is contrary to faith which should mark the path of the servant of Christ.) Instruction is given how an elder is to be treated if charged with wrong. Before God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels (from which we learn that angels are silent onlookers in all these things--1 Corinthians 11:10 ), Paul charges Timothy to observe these things, to be firm in them, without showing partiality.

1 Timothy 5:22-25

He was not to lay on hands hastily on any man, the outward sign of fellowship, to acknowledge them as co-laborers and become identified with them. It might result in becoming partakers of other men’s sins. How little conscience there is today in this matter! How often believers are in fellowship with those who are not teaching the truth. “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” A small matter, yet not too small for the Holy Spirit. No doubt Timothy had a very scrupulous conscience, but the apostle in this God-inspired letter, sets aside his scruples and tells him to use a little wine. Much criticism has been made of this divinely given instruction. Extreme faith-healers, who reject all means in a way that is not faith, but presumption, and on the other hand extreme prohibitionists, have made the astounding statement that Paul made a mistake when he wrote these words. But if Paul made a mistake here who can convince us that he did not make a mistake when he wrote the eighth chapter of Romans? Others state that it was not wine, but “grape juice.” We give the helpful comment of another:

“Timothy’s habitual temperance is here seen: weak in body, the apostle recommends him to use his liberty by taking a little wine--a pleasing instance of grace. We have here a proof of the habits of this faithful servant. The Spirit shows us how carefully he kept himself from exciting or satisfying his passions in the least thing (at the same time that there is perfect liberty to use everything that is good when there is a true reason for it), and also the apostle’s tender interest in his fellow-laborer in the gospel. It is a little parenthesis attached to the expression, ‘be not a partaker of other men’s sins,’ but it has great beauty. This affectionate watchfulness became the apostle; he desired holiness in his representative, but he well knew how to respect Timothy, and to maintain the decorum which he had enjoined, and to exhibit his heartfelt tenderness” (Synopsis of the Bible).

“Some men’s sins,” the apostle continues, “are open beforehand, going before to judgment”--they are manifested in the present life. “And some men they follow after”--unknown now, hidden away, but to be made manifest at the judgment seat of Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/1-timothy-5.html. 1913-1922.
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