Advice About Widows, Elders and Slaves, 5:1-6:2

1 Tim 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 1 Tim 5:2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute 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.’

1 Tim 5:3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.

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.

1 Tim 5:4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.

1 Tim 5:5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.

1 Tim 5:6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

1 Tim 5:7 Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.

1 Tim 5:8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

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.

1 Tim 5:9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband,

Over sixty – probably the maximum age at which they could be expected to work and provide for themselves.

1 Tim 5:10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

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.

1 Tim 5:11 As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry.

1 Tim 5:12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.

1 Tim 5:13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.

1 Tim 5:14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

1 Tim 5:15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.

1 Tim 5:16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

1 Tim 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

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)

1 Tim 5:18 For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

See Acts 20:35n

1 Tim 5:19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.

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.

1 Tim 5:20 Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

1 Tim 5:21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

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)

1 Tim 5:22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands – Paul may well be referring to the replacement of the sinning elders.

1 Tim 5:23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

1 Tim 5:24 The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.

1 Tim 5:25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.