I Timothy Brief Study Notes
Verses 1-2: “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” The very first thing Paul addresses in this chapter is the treatment of older men and women by those who are younger. Essentially those younger in age are to look up to those who are older in age and treat them with respect. Paul is not encouraging us to overlook errors they may make, but to treat situations where correction must be made in an honorable and tactful way. The contrast between the older as a father or mother and the younger as a brother or sister really clarifies that we are not talking about the office of an elder in these verses, but common respect for older folks. The younger are on a level together where as the older folks in age are to be better respected. This use to be a common principle taught to children, but our culture has nullified that lesson.
Verse 3: “Honour widows that are widows indeed.” God has been clear throughout the Bible that he wants widows to be taken care of (Exodus 22:22-24 and Acts 6:1-3). Paul will continue through this chapter to reveal what qualifications are to be met for a widow to be a “widow indeed” – true widow.
Verse 4: “But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.” The family of a widow, specified as the children or nephews, are commanded to show respect and to pay back their parents. The old “my children owe me nothing” saying is not true. Children need to be there to take care of their parents. Such is expected of all saints (Matthew 25:31-46 and Galatians 6:10), however this is to the greater degree and more specific. Our current culture has diminished the function of a whole family. Therefore, many are unable to grasp the meaning and implications of this verse. That is truly sad!
Verses 5-7: “Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.” A woman that is a true widow, that is left alone, trusts in God and continues to pray. In comparison there is one who is in the same condition physically, however this second woman would be spiritually bankrupt. One that trusts in God knows that God will care for them (Romans 8:28). That type of faith would be expected from an older sister in Christ. The second widow mentioned is one who is dead spiritually because of her sins (Romans 6:16 and Ephesians 2:1). Paul then urges Timothy to bring this message so everyone can be accountable to these things.
Verse 8: “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” A fitting conclusion to this text is now given. We are worse than unbelievers if we do not care for those in our own families. How can one who does not love his physical family (it is implied that both are Christians) ever grasp loving his or her neighbor (Matthew 19:19) or our Lord of whom we cannot see (I John 4:20)?
Verses 9-10: “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man. Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” God gives authority to individual Christians towards what widows we can care for individually or concurrently (James 1:26-27), but in our context here we are seeing specific authority for which widows the church can collectively care for. The widow must be 60 years old or older, having been the wife of one man (Romans 7:1-3 and I Corinthians 7:1-2), who has done good works (II Timothy 3:16-17 and II Corinthians 5:10), had children which she raised properly (Proverbs 22:6 and Titus 2:4-5), she has to have shown hospitality (Hebrews 13:2 and Acts 2:46), acted with humility (John 13:1-17), cared for the sick (Matthew 25:36), and have complete faithfulness (Revelation 2:10). Some complain that these restrictions are difficult. In light of how Christians are to grow, these things are not difficult; they should be expected of all older sisters in Christ (II Peter 1:3-10). The reference passages used to explain each of the above qualifications were general references. They apply not only to the widow, but all Christians. A widow indeed is simply a 60+ year old faithful Christian.
Verses 11-15: “But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan.” The local church is not to care for the younger widows. An older woman in the faith would be able to spend her life being supported without becoming unfaithful. She would no longer have the physical desires of a younger lady. However, a younger widow would turn to sin. “Wax wanton” is defined by Thayer as: “to feel the impulses of sexual desire.” A young woman is full of energy and physicals desires. That energy and desire should be spent finding a husband and starting a family. By her being married and starting a family her energy can be spent for good instead of being turned to the worse. Young women who are bored, fully supported without working, having no husband to guide them, no house to care for, etc. will become the busybodies of the local church. That is all they would have to do.
Verse 16: “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.” A closing is now given on the subject that is very much likened unto what we read in verse four of this chapter. The church should not be doing things with the Lord’s money unless it is: first approved and secondly necessary. The widows indeed would be those who have no one to care for them, and have met the scriptural requirements set forth earlier in this chapter. It should be noted that the kind of aid we are discussing is not general benevolence that might be given once or twice, but is long term aid.
Verses 17-18: “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.” The elders discussed here are not just elders by way of age, but those who have the office of an elder who meet the qualifications listed in chapter three as well as Titus 1:6-9. Elders are to be treated with respect and this verse authorizes that they may also be financially supported by the local church. Paul uses the same argument in I Corinthians 9:7-14 about preachers being financially supported as he does here in reference to the elders. When Paul speaks of not muzzling the ox that treads the corn he makes a very good and valid illustration. The ox that is not muzzled is able to eat some of the corn as he works. The elder and preacher are both able to receive support as they labor in the vineyard of the Lord.
Verses 19-20: “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” An elder ought to be respected in a way that he when someone brings a charge against him it needs to be done with witnesses present. This protects the elder who is supposed to be a man who is protecting and feeding the flock. A good elder would be one that may be disliked because he would be one who initiates discipline within the local church. Those that dislike him cannot just run against him. Thus, Paul makes this limitation for how to approach an elder. If the person bringing the charge were in error, then there would be two or three witnesses on behalf of the elder. However, if that elder is a sinner he should be rebuked publicly. This shows that an elder is not untouchable, but the steps prior to this public action would have to be taken correctly.
Verse 21:“I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.“ One command is not any less important than another. We must strive to do all things God has instructed us to do (James 2:10).
Verse 22: “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.” The laying on of hands here is not the passing on of spiritual gifts. Only an Apostle was able to do such things (Acts 8:14-18). The laying on of hands would be the appointment of one to the office of an elder as we see in our context. Just as the elders land hands on Timothy to appoint him as a Gospel Preacher (I Timothy 4:14). Paul also instructs Timothy not to partake in other men’s sins. We must always remember that even our association with error makes us partakers of those sins (II John 9-11).
Verse 23: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” It is truly sad when one twists this scripture to try and authorize social drinking (II Peter 3:16). This passage simply authorizes Timothy to use fruit of the vine (cf. Isaiah 65:8)for medicinal purposes. Social drinking, partying, and drunkenness are clearly in opposition to the will of the Lord (Proverbs 23:29-35 and I Peter 4:3).
Verses 24-25: “Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” Some men are clearly sinners and that is shown by their open works. Others are more cunning and some of their actions will be hidden until the Day of Judgment. The same thing is true of those that do good works. Some are open and others are not. When the Lord judges all will be made open and punishment or reward will reveal what things one has done (Romans 14:11-12 and II Corinthians 5:10).
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2003 by Brian A. Yeager may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.