Instructions for the Church
5 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows.
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
1 Timothy 5 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The domino effect is something we all have experienced from time to time. This is when a reaction is produced by one event setting off a chain of other events. Much like falling dominoes, we have experienced this in the positive and negative. The positive is when things “fall together” and things we’ve been hoping for or praying about come into place. In those times it feels like a rush of excitement. The negative is when things we’ve dreaded happening begin to take place and one right after another — it goes from bad to worse.
As Paul gives more instruction to Timothy on dealing with the widows in the church, he then speaks toward the choosing of church leaders. He lays out the best way to confront an elder within the congregation who is out of line or has overstepped their spiritual boundary. He makes an interesting statement at the end.
The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. 25 So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.1 Timothy 5:24-25 ESV
Let’s consider this a moment. Some people’s sin is clearly evident but what Paul is relating to Timothy is that there are hidden sins that will be exposed. Likewise, there are some good works taking place that are clearly evident, but also great works that no one knows about except God. In His timing, if He chooses to do so, He will bring these wonderful aspects of a person’s life to light.
Sometimes it is easy to see the struggles and sins of an individual. And yes, sometimes our own struggles are blatant before onlookers. Let us always remember this. We all have areas where God is dealing with the issues we have. Because He cares so much for us and desires ultimate transformation, He does what He sees as best to have that change take place. On the flip side, maybe you’re working hard toward seeing Jesus’ Kingdom come but it has gone unnoticed by others? The accolades of man mean nothing as God’s view is what matters.
The reminder is if we are struggling in our sin, which many of us do daily, continue to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit. Do not let that sin overtake and rule. If we are working tirelessly toward great things of God, stay committed to that regardless of what others’ perception may be. Through our obedience to the things of God and His workings, may He bring a domino effect of great things falling into place.
1 Timothy 5 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Through Jesus’ sacrifice and forgiveness, we enter into a new relationship with God. As our father, He loves us unconditionally and leads us into truth and light. The point is, it is Jesus who allows us to transform in our role in relation to God. We once were convicts: dead in our sin and waiting for our sentencing from the judge. But by repentance and faith, Jesus storms the courtroom and offers Himself for the sentencing we deserved. The judge is now our father because Jesus has rescued us and brought us into His family as brothers and sisters.
For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”Hebrews 2:11-12 ESV
This new identity is important, not only for us but also in our dealings with others. This is exactly what Paul opens with here in 1 Timothy 5.
When Timothy faces the task of rebuking an older man in the church, he should not view this man as a random old geezer who is out of touch with reality. Because of our new identity (and his new identity), we factor in our relationship under Christ. Paul stresses that Timothy must treat this older man in the same way he would treat his father. Instead of a tongue lashing, the correction should come in the form of exhortation. The goal is to win over the person because you love them. But in all that Paul is saying, relationship is the key.
I know far too many believers who abandon their relationship when they feel they have been wronged. From a pastor’s perspective, this is a 2-way street. Over the years, I have had experiences with other believers that were less than ideal. I have been on the other end of tongue lashings. I have seen people I love and trust walk away from the church without first coming to me with their issues. I wonder if they would have treated their family members the same way?
If we view the people in our church as only numbers or customers, we will never experience church the way God intended. We are a family united by the love of Christ, and this ideal must guide our attitude with others in the body.