Instructions about Specific Groups
5:1 Do not address an older man harshly but appeal to him as a father. Speak to younger men as brothers, 5:2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters—with complete purity.
An older man…older women – Could possibly be translated ‘elder’ and ‘women elders’ respectively.
‘The local church is rightly called ‘the church family’, in which there are fathers and mothers, and brothers and sisters, not to mention aunts and uncles, grandparents and children. Leaders should not be insensitive and treat everybody alike. No, they must behave towards their elders with respect, affection and gentleness, their own generation with equality, the opposite sex with self-control and purity, and all ages of both sexes with that love which binds together members of the same family.’ (Stott)
Summarising the message of 4:11-5:2, Stott says that there is much wisdom here, especially for younger ministers given responsibility beyond their years: ‘If they watch their example, becoming a model of Christ-likeness; if they identify their authority, submitting to Scripture and drawing all their teaching from it; if they exercise their gift, giving evidence of God’s call and of the rightness of the church’s commissioning; if they show their progress, letting it be seen that their Christian life and ministry are dynamic, not static; if they mind their consistency, by practising what they preach; and if they adjust their relationships, being sensitive to people’s age and sex—then other people will not despise their youth, but gladly and gratefully receive their ministry.’
5:3 Honor widows who are truly in need. 5:4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn to fulfill their duty toward their own household and so repay their parents what is owed them. For this is what pleases God. 5:5 But the widow who is truly in need, and completely on her own, has set her hope on God and continues in her pleas and prayers night and day. 5:6 But the one who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 5:7 Reinforce these commands, so that they will be beyond reproach. 5:8 But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
In the OT, widows were to be treated with kindness Ex 22:22; Deut 14:29; 16:11,14 24:17,19-21; Ex 26:12 27:19; etc. In the New Testament the same tender regard for them is inculcated Acts 6:1-6 1; Tim 5:3-16 and exhibited.
If anyone does not provide for his relatives – The language is this passage is generic, referring to men and women alike. It is about working-age adults (perhaps especially women – see v16) caring for their elderly relatives. In Paul and Timothy’s day, the cultural expectation was for children or grandchildren to look after their aged relatives. ‘In the modern world, this of course does not dictate exactly how that care should be provided, whether in one’s home, in a nursing home or via numerous other mediating alternatives. But it does suggest that a family has financial responsibility to its own members before the church (or any other community) should be burdened.’ (Blomberg, Neither Poverty Not Riches, 208)
Has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever – Care of aged relatives was the cultural norm even amongst the pagans of the day.
5:9 No widow should be put on the list unless she is at least sixty years old, was the wife of one husband, 5:10 and has a reputation for good works: as one who has raised children, practiced hospitality, washed the feet of the saints, helped those in distress—as one who has exhibited all kinds of good works.
Over sixty – probably the maximum age at which they could be expected to work and provide for themselves.
According to Blomberg, the order of widows continued well into the fourth century. But increasingly common became the office of deaconess, involving ministries of prayer and practical service (particularly to other women), and later still gave way to the monastic movement.
5:11 But do not accept younger widows on the list, because their passions may lead them away from Christ and they will desire to marry, 5:12 and so incur judgment for breaking their former pledge. 5:13 And besides that, going around from house to house they learn to be lazy, and they are not only lazy, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things they should not.
5:14 So I want younger women to marry, raise children, and manage a household, in order to give the adversary no opportunity to vilify us. 5:15 For some have already wandered away to follow Satan. 5:16 If a believing woman has widows in her family, let her help them. The church should not be burdened, so that it may help the widows who are truly in need.
5:17 Elders who provide effective leadership must be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching. 5:18 For the scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and, “The worker deserves his pay.” 5:19 Do not accept an accusation against an elder unless it can be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 5:20 Those guilty of sin must be rebuked before all, as a warning to the rest.
We first find church officers as such among the elders in Jerusalem, Acts 11:30; 15:6. This office of presbyter appears to have been modelled on the eldership of the synagogue. This is in line with the general patterning of the NT church on the synagogue. (cf. Jas 2:2) Christian eldership added to the Jewish model duties of a pastoral (Jas 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1-3) and preaching (1 Tim 5:17) nature. Elders were ordained by Paul and Barnabas, Acts 14:23, and by Titus, Tit 1:5.
‘Some though not all elders teach, (1 Tim 5:17; Tit 1:9; Heb 13:7) and Eph 4:11-16 says that Christ gave the church “pastor-teachers” (one class of persons with a dual role) to equip everyone for service through the discovery and development of each person’s spiritual gifts. (1 Tim 5:12-16) In the congregational leadership groups envisaged by the apostles, there may have been teachers who were not elders (2 Tim 2:2) as well as elders who did not teach and elders who both ruled and taught.’ (Packer, Concise Theology)
v18 See Acts 20:35n
The following passages deal with church discipline: Mt 18:15-18; 1 Cor 5; 2 Cor 2:5-11; Gal 6:1; 2 Thess 3:6-15; 1 Tim 5:19-20; Tit 3:9-11.
5:21 Before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, I solemnly charge you to carry out these commands without prejudice or favoritism of any kind. 5:22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily and so identify with the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. 5:23 (Stop drinking just water, but use a little wine for your digestion and your frequent illnesses.) 5:24 The sins of some people are obvious, going before them into judgment, but for others, they show up later. 5:25 Similarly good works are also obvious, and the ones that are not cannot remain hidden.
The elect angels – This ‘is possibly an allusion to the belief that angels watched over human affairs (see e.g. Mt 4:6, quoting Ps 91:11-12; Mt 18:10).’ (NBC)
This is the only reference to ‘elect angels’,;so the exact meaning is difficult to determine. It could reflect the idea that some angels defected from God, while some (i.e., the elect) did not. Or it could mean that some angels are “choice,” that is, superior to the other angels in some indefinable way.’ (DPL)
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands – Paul may well be referring to the replacement of the sinning elders.
Use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses –
‘The beneficial aspects of a little wine were common knowledge in the ancient world…This verse has often been misused in popular exegesis as an endorsement of social drinking; the use of alcohol here is strictly medicinal. In the other occurrences of οἶνος, “wine,” in Paul’s letters, he urges caution in its use (Rom 14:21; Eph 5:18; 1 Tim 3:8; Titus 2:3). οἶνος, “wine,” was a fermented drink; there is no evidence of nonalcoholic (pasteurized) wine in ancient times.’ (Mounce, WBC)
It is well known that the alcoholic content of a liquid would need to be 60% or above in order for it to have antiseptic properties. But we should not infer from this that Paul was recommending the use of non-alcoholic wine (if such were even available) to Timothy.