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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Timothy 5

 

 

Verse 1

1 Timothy 5:1. πρεσβυτέρῳ is best taken as a term of age, seniorem (Vulg.). This view is supported by the ὡς πατέρα, πρεσβυτέρας, νεωτέρας. The term νεωτέρους might possibly refer to a subordinate Church officer. In Acts 5:6 it is susceptible of that meaning; but in the subsequent narrative (Acts 5:10) οἱ νεώτεροι who are in attendance on the Apostles are merely νεανίσκοι.

ἐπιπλήξῃς: Treat harshly. The more usual ἐπιτιμᾶν occurs 2 Timothy 4:2. παρακάλει ὡς πατέρα: Respect for age must temper the expression of reproof of an old man’s misdemeanours. νεωτέρους and the following accusatives in 1 Timothy 5:2 are governed by some such verb as treat, behave towards, deal with, implied in ἐπιπλήξῃς and παρακάλει.


Verses 1-16

1 Timothy 5:1-16. The wise Church ruler must understand how to deal with his people individually. Each age and condition needs separate treatment: old men, young men; old women, young women. Widows in particular need discriminating care; since some of them may have to be supported by the Church; and we must not let the Church be imposed on, nor give occasion for scandal. Accordingly Church widows must be at least sixty years old, and be of good character.


Verse 2

1 Timothy 5:2. ἐν πάσῃ ἁγνίᾳ: with the strictest regard to purity, or perhaps propriety. Christians, Athenagoras tells us (Legat. 32), considered other Christians, according to their age, as sons and daughters; brothers and sisters; fathers and mothers. Ellicott quotes Jerome’s maxim, “Omnes puellas et virgines Christi aut aequaliter ignora aut aequaliter dilige” (Epist. 52, 5, p. 259). Compare de Imitatione Christi, i. 8, “Be not a friend to any one woman, but recommend all good women in general to God”.


Verse 3

1 Timothy 5:3. τίμα: It is difficult to fix precisely the force of τιμάω in this connexion. On the one hand, the passage (1 Timothy 5:3-8) is a part of the general directions as to Timothy’s personal relations to his flock. Respect, honour, would, then, render the word adequately. On the other hand, 1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8 show that the question of widows’ maintenance, as a problem of Church finance, was in the apostle’s mind; and he goes on, in 1 Timothy 5:9, to lay down regulations for the admission of widows to the number of those who were entered on the Church register for support. Perhaps respect was first in the writer’s mind, while the term used, τίμα, easily lent itself to the expression of the notion of support, which immediately suggested itself. Similarly Chrys. ( τῆς τῶν ἀναγκαίων τροφῆς), comparing 1 Timothy 5:17, where τιμή has the sense of pay, cf. Sirach 38:1, Matthew 15:4-6, Acts 28:10. Honora beneficiis is Bengel’s comment.

τὰς ὄντως: Those who really deserve the name of widows are (1) those who have no younger relatives on whom they have a claim for support, (2) those who conform to certain moral and spiritual requirements detailed below.


Verse 4

1 Timothy 5:4. ἔκγονα: offspring ought to be the best rendering of this. It has a wider connotation than children and narrower than descendants.

μανθανέτωσαν: It ought not to be necessary to say that the subject of this verb is τέκνα ἔκγονα, only that Chrys. Theod. Vulg. and (268) agree in referring it to the class χῆραι. (“Requite them in their descendants, repay the debt through the children,” Chrys.; “Discat primum domum suam regere.” See critical note.) Similarly Augustine says of his mother Monica, “Fuerat enim unius viri uxor, mutuam vicem parentibus reddiderat, domum suam pie tractaverat” (Confessiones, ix. 9). This can only be regarded as a curiosity in exegesis.

πρῶτον: The first duty of children is filial piety. οἶκον, which is usually correlative to parents rather than children, is used here “to mark the duty as an act of family feeling and family honour” (De Wette, quoted by Ell.).

εὐσεβεῖν (domum pie tractare, (269)82) with a direct accusative is also found in reff. Ellicott supplies an appropriate illustration from Philo, de Decalogo, § 23, “where storks are similarly said εὐσεβεῖν and γηροτροφεῖν”.

προγόνοις: When the term occurs again, 2 Timothy 1:3, it has its usual meaning forefather. It is usually applied to forbears that are dead. Here it means parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents that are living; and this use of it was probably suggested by ̓́κγονα, a term of equally vague reference. Plato, Laws, xi. p. 932, is quoted for a similar application of the word to the living.

τοῦτο γάρ, κ. τ. λ.: Besides being enjoined in the O.T., our Lord taught the same duty, Mark 7:16-23 = Matthew 15:4-6. See also Ephesians 6:1-2.


Verse 5

1 Timothy 5:5. ἤλπικεν ἐπί: hath her hope set on. See on 1 Timothy 4:10, the analogy of which favours the omission of the article here.

προσμένει: She is like Anna, νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν (Luke 2:37). προσκαρτερεῖν is more usual in this connexion, e.g., Romans 12:12, Colossians 4:2.

Ell. notes that Paul always has the order νυκτ. καὶ ἡμ. as here. Luke has also this order, with the acc., but ἡμ. καὶ νυκτ. with the gen. In Rev. the order is ἡμ. καὶ νυκτός.


Verse 6

1 Timothy 5:6. σπαταλῶσα: The modern term fast, in which the notion of prodigality and wastefulness is more prominent than that of sensual indulgence, exactly expresses the significance of this word. The R.V., she that giveth herself to pleasure, is stronger than the A.V. A somewhat darker force is given to it here by the associated verb in 1 Timothy 5:11, καταστρηνιάσωσιν. The Vulg. is felicitous, Quae in deliciis est, vivens mortua est. The expression is more terse than in Revelation 3:1, “Thou hast a name that thou livest and thou art dead”. Cf. Romans 7:10; Romans 7:24, Ephesians 4:18. Wetstein quotes in illustration from Stobaeus (238), as descriptive of a poor man’s life of anxiety, πένης ἀποθανὼν φροντίδων ἀπηλλάγη, ζῶν γὰρ τέθνηκε.


Verse 7

1 Timothy 5:7. ταῦτα is best referred to 1 Timothy 5:4, with its implied injunctions to the younger generation to support their widows.

ἀνεπίλημπτοι: i.e., all Christians whom it concerns, not widows only.


Verse 8

1 Timothy 5:8. The Christian faith includes the law of love. The moral teaching of Christianity recognises the divine origin of all natural and innocent human affections. The unbeliever, i.e., the born heathen, possesses natural family affection; and though these feelings may be stunted by savagery, the heathen are not likely to be sophisticated by human perversions of religion, such as those denounced by Jesus in Mark 7. Ell. says. “It is worthy of notice that the Essenes were not permitted to give relief to their relatives without leave from their ἐπίτροποι, though they might freely do so to others in need; see Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 8, 6.”

The Christian who falls below the best heathen standard of family affection is the more blameworthy, since he has, what the heathen has not, the supreme example of love in Jesus Christ. We may add that Jesus Himself gave an example of providing for one’s own, when He provided a home for His mother with the beloved disciple.

οἱ ἴδιοι are near relatives: οἱ οἰκεῖοι, members of one’s household. One of the most subtle temptations of the Devil is his suggestion that we can best comply with the demands of duty in some place far away from our home. Jesus always says, Do the next thing; “Begin from Jerusalem”. The path of duty begins from within our own house, and we must walk it on our own feet.

οἰκείων: The omission of the article in the true text before οἰκείων precludes the possibility of taking the word here in the allegorical sense in which it is used in Gal. and Eph.: “the household of the faith”; “the household of God”.

προνοεῖ: This verb is only found elsewhere in N.T. in the phrase προνοεῖσθαι καλά, Romans 12:17, 2 Corinthians 8:21 (from Proverbs 3:4, προνοοῦ καλὰ ἐνώπιον κυρίου καὶ ἀνθρώπων).


Verse 9

1 Timothy 5:9. καταλεγέσθω: St. Paul passes naturally from remarks about the duty of Church members to their widowed relatives to specific rules about the admission of widows to the roll of Church widows (see Acts 6:1). The χήρα of this ver. is ὄντως χήρα of 1 Timothy 5:3; 1 Timothy 5:5, who was to receive consideration and official recognition. These widows had no doubt a ministry to fulfil—a ministry of love, prayer, intercession, and giving of thanks (Polycarp, 4); but it is difficult to suppose that St. Paul, or any other practically minded administrator, would contemplate a presbyteral order of widows, the members of which would enter on their duties at the age of 60, an age relatively more advanced in the East and in the first century than in the West and in our own time. We may add that the general topic of widows’ maintenance is resumed and concluded in 1 Timothy 5:16.

In the references to widows in the earliest Christian literature outside the N.T. (with the exception of Ignatius Smyrn. 13) they are mentioned as objects of charity along with orphans, etc. (Ignatius, Smyrn. 6, Polyc. 4; Polycarp, 4; Hermas, Vis. ii. 4, Mand. viii., Sim. i. 1 Timothy 5:3, ix. 26, 27; Justin, Apol. i. 67). None of these places hints at an order of widows. The subject cannot be further discussed here; but the evidence seems to point to the conclusion that the later institution of widows as an order with official duties was suggested by this passage. The history of Christianity affords other examples of supposed revivals of apostolic institutions.

Ell., who follows Grotius in seeing in this verse regulations respecting an ecclesiastical or presbyteral widow, objects to the view taken above that it is “highly improbable that when criteria had been given, 1 Timothy 5:4 sq., fresh should be added, and those of so very exclusive a nature: would the Church thus limit her alms?”

But 1 Timothy 5:4 sq. does not give the criteria, or qualifications of an official widow; but only describes the dominant characteristic of the life of the “widow indeed,” viz., devotion; and again, the Church of every age, the apostolic not less than any other, has financial problems to deal with. Charity may be indiscriminating, but there are only a limited number of widows for whose whole support the Church can make itself responsible; and this is why the limit of age is here so high. At a much younger age than 60 a woman would cease to have any temptation to marry again.

Lightfoot has important notes on the subject in his commentary on Ignatius, Smyrn. §§ 6, 13 (Apost. Fathers, part ii. vol. ii. pp. 304, 322). See also, on the deaconess widow, Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christianity, trans. vol. i. p. 122. The opinion of Schleiermacher that deaconesses are referred to here is refuted (1) by the provision of age, and (2) by the fact that they have been dealt with before, 1 Timothy 3:11.

According to Bengel, the gen. ἐτῶν depends on χήρα, μὴ ἔλαττον being an adverb, “of 60 years, not less”.

γεγονυῖα: It is best to connect this with the preceding words, as in Luke 2:42, καὶ ὅτε ἐγένετο ἐτῶν δώδεκα. In favour of this connexion is the consideration that in the parallel, 1 Timothy 3:2, μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα stands alone, and that it γεγονυῖα were to be joined with what follows, it would most naturally follow γυνή. As a matter of fact, this transposition is found in (270).; and this connexion is suggested in (271), two cursives, (272), (273), (274), (275)141, Vulg. (quae fuerit (g fuerat) unius viri uxor) go, boh, syrr, Theodore Mops., Theodoret, and Origen.

ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή: The Church widows must conform to the same ideal of the married life as the episcopi. See Tert. ad uxorem, i. 7, “Quantum fidei detrahant, quantum obstrepant sanctitati nuptiae secundae, disciplina ecclesiae et praescriptio apostoli declarat, cum digamos non sinit praesidere, cum viduam allegi in ordinem [al. ordinationem], nisi univiram, non concedit.”


Verse 10

1 Timothy 5:10. ἐν ἔργοις καλοῖς μαρτυρουμένη: ἐν with μαρτυρεῖσθαι means in respect of. See reff. and Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., vii., 562.

It is characteristic of the sanity of apostolic Christianity that as typical examples of “good works,” St. Paul instances the discharge of commonplace duties, “the daily round, the common task”. For ἔργα καλά see on chap. 1 Timothy 3:1.

εἰ ἐτεκνοτρόφησεν: As has been just explained, the εἰ is not so much dependent on καταλεγέσθω as explanatory of ἐν ἔργοις καλ. μαρτ. The rendering of the Vulg., (276), (277), (278), Amb., filios educavit, is better than that of (279)141, nutrivit, or Ambrst. enutrivit. It is not child-birth so much as the “Christianly and virtuously bringing up of children,” her own or those entrusted to her charge, that St. Paul has in his mind. Tert. de Virg. vel. 9, alluding to this passage, says, “Non tantum univirae, id est nuptae, aliquando eliguntur, sed et matres et quidem educatrices filiorum, scilicet ut experimentis omnium affectuum structae facile norint ceteras et consilio et solatio iuvare, etrut nihilominus ea decucurrerint, per quae femina probari potest”. The later Church widows, among other duties, had the care of the Church orphans (cf. Hermas Mand. viii.; Lucian, de morte Peregrini, 12).

ἐξενοδόχησεν: Hospitality is a virtue especially demanded in a condition of society in which there is much going to and fro, and no satisfactory hotel accommodation. The episcopus must be φιλόξενος (1 Timothy 3:2, where see note).

εἰ ἁγίων πόδας ἔνιψεν: If the strangers were also “saints,” members of the Christian Society, they would naturally receive special attention. The mistress of the house would act as servant of the servants of God (cf. Genesis 18:6; 1 Samuel 25:41). Unless we assume the unhistorical character of St. John’s Gospel, it is natural to suppose that the story told in John 13:5-14, and the Master’s command to do as He had done, was known to St. Paul and Timothy. The absence of an article before πόδας “is due to assimilation to ἁγίων” (Blass, Grammar, p. 151, note 2).

εἰ παντὶἐπηκολούθησεν cuts short any further enumeration of details, if in short, she has devoted herself to good works of every kind. There is an exact parallel to this use of ἐπακολουθέω in Joshua 14:14, διὰ τὸ αὐτὸν [Caleb] ἐπακολουθῆσαι τῷ προστάγμαλι κυρίου θεοῦ ἰσραήλ. The word also means to “check” or “verify” an account. In Mark 16:20, “the signs ‘endorse’ the word” (Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., vii. 376). So here it may connote sympathy with, and interest in, good works, without actual personal labour in them.


Verse 11

1 Timothy 5:11. There are two main factors in the interpretation of this verse: (1) a general Church regulation—not laid down by St. Paul but found in existence by him—that a widow in receipt of relief should be ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή; and (2) his determination to make provision that no scandal should arise from broken vows. The notion was that there was a marriage tie between Christ and the Church widow. This would be her first faith, her earliest and still valid plighted troth. Cf. Revelation 2:4, τὴν ἀγάπην σου τὴν πρώτην ἀφῆκες (of the Church at Ephesus).

νεωτέρας may be rendered positively, young.

παραιτοῦ: reject. This verb is used of “profane and old wives’ fables” (1 Timothy 4:7), of “foolish and ignorant questionings” (2 Timothy 2:23), of “a man that is heretical” (Titus 3:10); so that, at first sight, it seems a harsh term to use in reference to “young widows”. But the harshness is explained when we remember that St. Paul is speaking, not of the widows in themselves, but as applicants for admission to the roll of specially privileged Church widows. In a Church still immature as to its organisation and morale the authorities would be only courting disaster were they to assume the control of young widows, a class whose condition gave them independence in the heathen society around them.

καταστρηνιάσωσιν: Cum enim luxuriatae fuerint [in deliciis egerint, (280)110] in Christo (Vulg.).

The word denotes the particular character of their restiveness. It was understood with this sexual reference in Pseud. Ignat. ad Antioch. 11, αἱ χῆραι μὴ σπαταλάτωσαν, ἵνα μὴ καταστρηνιάσωσι τοῦ λόγου. στρῆνος (over-strength), wantonness or luxury occurs Revelation 18:3; στρηνιάω, Revelation 18:7; Revelation 18:9, to wax wanton, live wantonly, or luxuriously. The preposition κατά, with the genitive, has the sense against, of opposition, as in καταβραβεύω, καταγελάω, καταδικάζω, κατακαυχάομαι, κατακρίνω, etc.

For ὅταν with the subjunctive or indicative, see Winer-Moulton, Grammar, p. 388. The subjunctive, as in the text, is the normally correct way of expressing a contemplated contingency.

τοῦ χριστοῦ: Here only in the Pastorals.

γαμεῖν θέλουσι: θέλειν has here an emphatic sense, as in John 7:17; and its association here supports the view that it “designates the will which pro-deeds from inclination,” as contrasted with βούλομαι, “the will which follows deliberation” (Thayer’s Grimm, s.v.). γαμεῖν is used of the woman also, 1 Timothy 5:14, Mark 10:12; 1 Corinthians 7:28; 1 Corinthians 7:34.


Verse 12

1 Timothy 5:12. ἔχουσαι κρίμα: deserving censure. There is no special force in ἔχουσαι, as Ell. explains, “bearing about with them a judgment, viz., that they broke their first faith”. This seems forced and unnatural. ἔχειν κρίμα is correlative to λαμβάνεσθαι κρίμα (Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47; Romans 13:2; James 3:1). They have condemnation because, etc., habentes damnationem quia (Vulg. (281)). κρίμα of course by itself means, judgment; but where the context, as here, implies that the judgment is a sentence of guiltiness, it is reasonable so to translate it.

τὴν πρώτην πίστιν: This has been already explained. On the use of πρῶτος for πρότερος see Blass, Gram. p. 34.

ἠθέτησαν: annulled, irritam fecerunt (Vulg. (282)).


Verse 13

1 Timothy 5:13. ἅμα δὲ καί is Pauline. See reff.

It is best to assume an omission of εἶναι, not necessarily through corruption of the text, as Blass supposes (Gram. p. 247). On the example cited by Winer-Moulton, Gram. p. 437 from Plato, Euthyd. p. 276 b, οἱ ἀμαθεῖς ἄρα σοφοὶ μανθάνουσιν, and Dio. Chrys. lv. 558, Field notes, “Although the reading in Plato may be doubtful, there is no doubt of the agreement of St. Paul’s construction with later usage”. Field adds two from St. Chrysostom T. vii. p. 699 a: τί οὖν; ἂν παλαιστὴς μανθάνῃς; T. ix. p. 259 b: εἰ ἰατρὸς μέλλοις μανθάνειν. He notes that the correlative phraseology, διδάξαι (or διδάξασθαι) τινὰ τεκτόνα, χαλκέα, ἱππέα, ῥήτορα, is to be found in the best writers.

It is impossible to connect μανθ. περιερχ. as Vulg., discunt circuire domos; for, as Alf. says, “ μανθάνω with a participle always means to be aware of, take notice of, the act implied in the verb”. Here, e.g., the meaning would be “they learn that they are going about,” which is absurd. Bengel’s view, that μανθάνουσι is to be taken absolutely, is equally impossible: “being idle, they are learners,” the nature of the things they learn to be inferred from the way they spend their time. Von Soden connects μανθ. with τὰ μὴ δέοντα; suggesting that they learnt in the houses referred to in 2 Timothy 3:6 what was taught there ( μὴ δεῖ, Titus 1:11).

περιερχόμεναι τὰς οἰκίας: These last words may possibly refer to the house to house visitation, going about (R.V.), which might be part of the necessary duty of the Church widows; but which would be a source of temptation to young women, and would degenerate into wandering (A.V.).

οὐ μόνον δὲἀλλὰ καί is a Pauline use of constant occurrence. See Romans 5:3; Romans 5:11; Romans 8:23; Romans 9:10; 2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 8:19; Philippians 2:27 [ οὐδὲ μόνον]; 2 Timothy 4:8. Also in Acts 19:27, 3 Maccabees 3:23.

ἀργαί, φλύαροι, περίεργοι: A series of natural causes and consequences. The social intercourse of idle people is naturally characterised by silly chatter which does not merely affect the understanding of those who indulge in it, but leads them on to mischievous interference in other people’s affairs.

φλύαροι: φλυαρεῖν is found in 3 John 1:10, prating. φλύαρος is an epithet of φιλοσοφία in 4 Maccabees 5:10; and in Proverbs 23:29 ((283) (284)) φλυαρίαι ὁμιλίαι ἐνφιλόνικοι are among the consequences of excessive wine-drinking.

περίεργοι: See 2 Thessalonians 3:11, μηδὲν ἐργαζομένους ἀλλὰ περιεργαζομένους. In Acts 19:19 τὰ περίεργα, curious arts, means the arts of those who are curious about, and pry into, matters concealed from human knowledge, impertinent to man’s lawful needs.

λαλοῦσαι τὰ μὴ δέοντα expresses the positively mischievous activity of the φλύαροι, as περίεργοι. Compare Titus 1:11, διδάσκοντες μὴ δεῖ. In both passages μή is expressive of the impropriety, in the writer’s opinion, of whatever might conceivably be spoken and taught; whereas τὰ οὐ δέοντα would express the notion that certain specific improper things had, as a matter of fact, been spoken. See Winer-Moulton, Gram. p. 603.


Verse 14

1 Timothy 5:14. βούλομαι οὖν: See note on 1 Timothy 2:8.

νεωτέρας: The insertion of χήρας before νεωτέρας in about 30 cursives, Chrys. Theodoret, John Damasc., Jerome, is a correct gloss (so R.V.). The whole context deals with widows, not with women in general, as A.V. and von Soden.

γαμεῖν: There is nothing really inconsistent between this deliberate injunction that young widows should marry again, and the counsel in 1 Corinthians 7:8, that widows should remain unmarried. The widows here spoken of would come under the class of those who “have not continency”; not to mention that the whole world-position of the Church had altered considerably since St. Paul had written 1 Cor.

οἰκοδεσποτεῖν: well rendered in Vulg., matres-familias esse. The verb is only found here in the Greek Bible, but οἰκοδεσπότης frequently occurs in the Synoptists. It is the equivalent of οἰκουργούς, Titus 2:5.

τῷ ἀντικειμένῳ: The singular (see ref.) does not refer to Satan, but is used generically for human adversaries. The plural is more usual, as in the other reff. Cf. ἐξ ἐναντίας, Titus 2:8.

λοιδορίας χάριν is connected of course with ἀφορμήν, not with βούλομαι, as Mack suggests, “I will … on account of the reproach which might otherwise come on the Church”.

For the sentiment cf. 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:5; Titus 2:8, 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:16. In all these places the responsibility of guarding against scandal is laid on the members of the Church generally, not specially on the Church rulers. The construction of χάριν here is not quite the same as in Galatians 3:19, Titus 1:11, Judges 1:16. Here it is an appendage to the sentence, explanatory of ἀφορμὴν διδόναι.


Verse 15

1 Timothy 5:15. τινες: See note on 1 Timothy 1:3.

ἐξετράπησαν ὀπίσω τοῦ σ.: This is a pregnant phrase, meaning “They have turned out of the way [of life and light] and have followed after Satan”. “The prepositional use of ὀπίσω, which is foreign to profane writers, takes its origin from the LXX (Hebr. אַחֲרֵי)” (Blass, Gram. p. 129). The primary phrase is ἔρχεσθαι [also ἀκολουθεῖν or πορεύεσθαι] ὀπίσω τινός. For ὀπίσω in an unfavourable sense cf. Luke 21:8, John 12:19, Acts 5:37; Acts 20:30, 2 Peter 2:10, Judges 1:7, Revelation 13:3. The phrase, no doubt, refers to something worse than a second marriage.


Verse 16

1 Timothy 5:16. εἴ τις πιστή: This is one of those difficulties that prove the bona fide character of the letter. We may explain it in either of two ways: (1) It not un-frequently happens that the language in which we express a general statement is unconsciously coloured by a particular instance of which we are thinking at the moment. St. Paul has some definite case in his mind, of a Christian woman who had a widow depending on her, of whose support she wishes the Church to relieve her, or (2) the verse may be an afterthought to avoid the possibility of the ruling given in 1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:7-8 being supposed to refer to men only. Von Soden explains it by the independent position of married women indicated in 1 Timothy 5:14 and Titus 2:5. The phrase ἔχει χήρας may be intended to include dependent widowed relatives, aunts or cousins, who could not be called προγόνοι.

βαρείσθω. Compare the use of βάρος, 1 Thessalonians 2:6, δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι; of ἐπιβαρέω, 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:8; καταβαρέω, 2 Corinthians 12:16; ἀβαρής, 2 Corinthians 11:9.

This verse proves that the κατάλογος of widows here in view was primarily at least for poor relief.


Verse 17

1 Timothy 5:17. The natural and obvious meaning of the verse is that while all presbyters discharge administrative functions, well or indifferently, they are not all engaged in preaching and teaching. We distinguish then in this passage three grades of presbyters: (1) ordinary presbyters with a living wage; (2) efficient presbyters ( κοπιῶντες, 1 Thessalonians 5:12); (3) presbyters who were also preachers and teachers. Cf. Cyprian (Epist. 29), presbyteri doctores. It must be added that Hort rejects the distinction between (2) and (3) (Christian Ecclesia, p. 196).

διδάσκων and παρακαλῶν were possessors of distinct and recognised charismata (Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28-29; 1 Corinthians 14:6).

προεστῶτες: See note on 1 Timothy 3:4.

διπλῆς τιμῆς: Remuneration is a better rendering of τιμή than pay, as less directly expressive of merely monetary reward. Liddon suggests the rendering honorarium. On the one hand, διπλῆς certainly warrants us in concluding that presbyters that ruled well were better paid than those that performed their duties perfunctorily. Bengel justifies the better pay given to those that “laboured in the word, etc.,” on the ground that persons so fully occupied would have less time to earn their livelihood in secular occupations. On the other hand, we must not press the term double too strictly (cf. Revelation 18:6, διπλώσατε τὰ διπλᾶ). πλείονος τιμῆς (Theod.) is nearer the meaning than “double that of the widows, or of the deacons, or simply, liberal support” (Chrys.). The phrase is based, according to Grotius, on Deuteronomy 21:17; in the division of an inheritance the first-born received two shares, cf. 2 Kings 2:9. The custom of setting a double share of provisions before presbyters at the love feasts (Constt. Ap. ii. 28) must have been, as De Wette says, based on a misunderstanding of this passage.

ἀξιούσθωσαν implies that what they were deemed worthy of they received.

κοπιῶντες: There is no special stress to be laid on this, as though some preachers and teachers worked harder in the exercise of their gift than others.

λόγῳ: The omission of the article, characteristic of the Pastorals, obscures the reference here to the constant phrase speak, or preach the word, or the word of God.

διδασκαλίᾳ: See note on chap. 1 Timothy 1:10.


Verses 17-25

1 Timothy 5:17-25. What I have been saying about the support of widows reminds me of another question of Church finance: the payment of presbyters. Equity and scriptural principles suggest that they should be remunerated in proportion to their usefulness. You are the judge of the presbyters; in the discharge of this office be cautious in accusing, and bold in rebuking. I adjure you to be impartial. Do not absolve without deliberate consideration. A lax disciplinarian is partner in the guilt of those whom he encourages to sin. Keep yourself pure. I do not mean this in the ascetic sense; on the contrary, your continual delicacy demands a stimulant. But, to resume about your duties as a judge, you need not distress yourself by misgivings; you will find that your judgments about men, even when only instinctive, are generally correct.


Verse 18

1 Timothy 5:18. If this verse is read without critical prejudice, it implies that in the writer’s judgment a quotation from Deuteronomy 25:4 and the Saying, ἄξιος, κ. τ. λ. might be coordinated as γραφή; just as in Mark 7:10, Acts 1:20, and Hebrews 1:10, two O.T. quotations are coupled by a καί. For this formula of quotation, in addition to the reff., see John 19:37; Romans 4:3; Romans 11:2; Galatians 4:30; James 2:23. James 4:5.

The question then arises, Is ἄξιος, κ. τ. λ. a proverbial saying carelessly or mistakenly quoted by St. Paul as γραφή? or, Was St. Paul familiar with its presence in a written document, an early gospel, the subject of which was so sacred as to entitle it to be called γραφή? The question has been prejudged by supposed necessary limitations as to the earliest possible date for a gospel; and many have thought it safest to adopt Stier’s statement that ἄξιος, κ. τ. λ. was a common proverb made use of both by our Lord (Luke 10:7; Matthew 10:10), and by St. Paul. In that case, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that St. Paul forgot that it was not γραφή; for here it is not natural to take ἄξιος, κ. τ. λ., as a supplementary or confirmatory statement by the writer in the words of a well-known proverb. The proverb, if it be such, is rather the second item in γραφή, just as in 2 Timothy 2:19, the “seal” consists of (a) “The Lord knoweth them that are his,” and (b) “Let every one that nameth,” etc. Our Lord no doubt employed proverbs that were current in His time, e.g., Luke 4:23, John 4:37. In both these cases He intimates that He is doing so; but He does not do so in Matthew 10:10, or Luke 10:7. Besides, while the variation here between Matt. ( τῆς τροφῆς) and Luke ( τοῦ μισθοῦ) is of the same degree as in other cases of varying reports of Sayings from Q common to Matthew and Luke, yet such variation in wording is not likely in the case of a well-known proverb. We may add that it is difficult to know to what ruling of Christ reference is made in 1 Corinthians 9:14 if it be not this Saying. Critical opinion has recently grown inclined to believe that much of the gospel material which underlies the Synoptists was put into writing before our Lord’s earthly ministry closed. (See Sanday, The Life of Christ in Recent Research, p. 172.) The only question, therefore, is not, Could St. Paul have read the Evangelic narrative? but, Could he have coordinated a gospel document with the written oracles of God, venerated by every Hebrew as having a sanctity all their own? The question cannot be considered apart from what we know to have been St. Paul’s conception of the person of Jesus Christ. We may readily grant that it would be a surprising thing if St. Paul thought of the writings of any contemporary apostle as “Scripture,” as 2 Peter 3:16 does; but since he believed that Christ was “the end of the Law” (Romans 10:4), it would be surprising were he not to have esteemed His words to be at least as authoritative as the Law which He superseded.

The order in Deuteronomy 25:4 is οὐ φιμ. βοῦν ἀλο. The same text is quoted, 1 Corinthians 9:9 in the form οὐ κημώσεις βοῦν ἀλο. ((285)*(286)*(287) (288)). St. Paul’s treatment of the command, as pointing to an analogy in the life of human beings, does not need any defence. Our just repudiation of the spirit in which he asks in 1 Cor., “Is it for the oxen that God careth?” must not blind us to the large element of truth in his answer, “Yea, for our sake it was written”.


Verse 19

1 Timothy 5:19. The mention of καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι, and of what was due to them, naturally suggests by contrast the consideration of unsatisfactory presbyters. Yet even these were to be protected against the possibility of arbitrary dismissal. They were to have a fair trial in accordance with the provisions of the Old Law, Deuteronomy 19:15 (see also Deuteronomy 17:6, Numbers 35:30. This requirement of two or three witnesses is used allegorically in 2 Corinthians 13:1. Cf. John 8:17, Hebrews 10:28.) It has been asked, Why should this, the ordinary rule, be mentioned at all? The solution is to be found in a consideration of the private, unofficial, character of the Christian Church when this epistle was written. The Church was altogether a voluntary society, unrecognised by the state. The crimes of which its governors could take cognisance were spiritual; or if they were such as were punishable by the ordinary state law, the Church was concerned only with the spiritual and moral aspect of them, that is to say, so far as they affected Church life. There were then no spiritual courts, in the later sense of the term. No Church officer could enforce any but spiritual punishments. In these circumstances, the observance of legal regulations would not be a matter of necessity. Indeed a superintendent who was jealous for the purity of the Church might feel himself justified in acting even on suspicion, when the question arose as to the dismissal of a presbyter.

ἐκτὸς εἰ μή: This phrase arises from a blend of εἰ μή and ἐκτὸς εἰ. Examples of its use are cited from Lucian. Alford notes that similar “pleonastic expressions such as χωρὶς εἰ or εἰ μή, are found in later writers such as Plutarch, Dio Cassius, etc.”. Deissmann cites an instructive example for its use in the Cilician Paul from an inscription of Mopsuestia in Cilicia of the Imperial period (Bible Studies, trans. p. 118). See reff.

ἐπὶμαρτύρων: This seems an abbreviation for ἐπὶ στόματος μαρτ. So R.V. Cf. 2 Corinthians 13:1, Hebr. עַל־פִּי עֵד. It is a different use from ἐπὶ in the sense of before (a judge), Mark 13:9, Acts 25:9-10. See Blass, Gram. p. 137.


Verse 20

1 Timothy 5:20. τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας: It cannot be certainly determined whether this refers to offending presbyters only or to sinners in general. In favour of the first alternative, is the consideration that it seems to be a suitable conclusion to 1 Timothy 5:19; and the vehemence of the adjuration in 1 Timothy 5:21 receives thus a justification. It demands greater moral courage to deal judicially with subordinate officials than with the rank and file of a society.

On the other hand, the sequence of thought in these concluding verses of the chapter is not formal and deliberate. Although it has been shown above that 1 Timothy 5:17-25 form one section, marked by one prominent topic, the relation of Timothy to presbyters, it cannot be maintained that the connexion is indisputably obvious; and the use of the present participle suggests that habitual sinners are under discussion. One is reluctant to suppose that such men would be found amongst the presbyters of the Church.

ἐνώπιον πάντων: At first sight this seems opposed to the directions given by our Lord, Matthew 18:15, “Shew him his fault between thee and him alone”; but the cases are quite different: Christ is there speaking of the mutual relations of one Christian with another, as brothers in the household of God; here St. Paul is giving directions to a father in God, a Christian ruler, as in 2 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15. Moreover, as Ell. points out, Christ is speaking of checking the beginning of a sinful state, St. Paul is speaking of persistent sinners.

ἵνα καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ, κ. τ. λ.: Cf. Deuteronomy 13:11.


Verse 21

1 Timothy 5:21. διαμαρτύρομαι: It is easy to see that St. Paul had not perfect confidence in the moral courage of Timothy. He interjects similar adjurations, 1 Timothy 6:13, 2 Timothy 4:1. In 1 Thessalonians 4:6 we can understand διεμαρτυράμεθα to mean that purity had been the subject of a strong adjuration addressed by the apostle to his converts.

τῶν ἐαλεκτῶν ἀγγέλων: The epithet elect has probably the same force as holy in our common phrase, The holy angels. Compare the remarkable parallel, cited by Otto and Krebs, from Josephus, B. J. ii. 16, 4, μαρτύρομαι δὲ ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμῶν τὰ ἅγια καὶ τοὺς ἱεροὺς ἀγγέλους τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρίδα τὴν κοινήν, and Testament of Levi, xix. 3, μάρτυς ἐστι κύριος, κ. μάρτυρες οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ, κ. μάρτυρες ὑμεῖς. The references to angels in St. Paul’s speeches and letters suggest that he had an unquestioning belief in their beneficent ministrations; though he may not have attached any importance to speculations as to their various grades. We are safe in saying that the elect angels are identical with “the angels which kept their own principality” (Judges 1:6), “that did not sin” (2 Peter 2:4).

Ellicott follows Bp. Bull in giving ἐνώπιον a future reference to the Day of Judgment, when the Lord will be attended by “ten thousands of His holy ones” (Judges 1:14). But this seems an evasion due to modern prejudice. ἐνώπιον implies that the solemnity of the charge or adjuration is heightened by its being uttered in the actual presence of God, Christ, and the angels. Perhaps one may venture to suppose that these are thought of as in three varying degrees of remoteness from human beings, with our present powers of perception. God the Father, though indeed “He is not far from each one of us,” “dwells in light unapproachable”; Christ Jesus, though in one sense He dwells in us and we in Him, is for the most part thought of as having His special presence at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens; but the angels, though spiritual beings, are akin to ourselves, creatures as we are, powers with whom we are in immediate and almost sensible contact, media perhaps through which the influences of the Holy Spirit are communicated to us.

ταῦτα refers to all the preceding disciplinary instructions.

προκρίματος: dislike, praejudicium.

πρόσκλισιν: partiality (nihil faciens in aliam partem declinando, Vulg.).

Clem. Rom., ad Cor. 21, has the phrase κατὰ προσκλίσεις. The reading πρόσκλησιν is almost certainly due to itacism. It could only mean “by invitation, i.e., the invitation or summons of those who seek to draw you over to their side” (Thayer’s Grimm).


Verse 22

1 Timothy 5:22. Our best guide to the meaning of χεῖραςἐπιτίθει is the context, and more especially the following clause, μηδὲἀλλοτρίαις. μηδέ constantly introduces an extension or development of what has immediately preceded; it never begins a new topic. Now the injunction Be not partaker of other men’s sins is certainly connected with the disciplinary rebuke of sin, and refers of course to definite acts of sin committed in the past, as well as to their consequences or continuation. The whole procedure is outlined: we have the accusation in 1 Timothy 5:19, the conviction and sentence in 1 Timothy 5:20, and—in the true Pauline spirit—repentance and reconciliation in this verse; and the topic of ministerial treatment of sin is resumed and continued in 1 Timothy 5:24 sq. We can hardly doubt that St. Paul had in his mind Leviticus 19:17, “Thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour and not bear sin because of him,” καὶ οὐ λήμψῃ διʼ αὐτὸν ἁμαρτίαν. To witness in silence an act of wrong-doing is to connive at it. If this is true in the case of private persons, how much more serious an offence is it in the case of those to whom government is committed? See 2 John 1:11, λέγων γὰρ αὐτῷ χαίρειν κοινωνεῖ τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ τοῖς πονηροῖς.

χεῖραςἐπιτίθει is then best referred to imposition of hands on reconciled offenders, on their re-admission to Church communion. Eusebius (H. E., vii. 2), speaking of reconciled heretics, says, “The ancient custom prevailed with regard to such that they should receive only the laying on of hands with prayers,” μόνῃ χρῆσθαι τῇ διὰ χειρῶν ἐπιθέσεως εὐχῇ. See Council of Nicea, Song of Solomon 8, according to one explanation of χειροθετουμένους, and Council of Arles, Song of Solomon 8.

This was used in the case of penitents generally. So Pope Stephen (ap. Cyprian, Ep. 74), “Si qui ergo a quacunque haeresi venient ad vos, nihil innovetur nisi quod traditum est, ut manus illis imponatur in paenitentiam”. See Bingham, Antiquities, xviii. 2, 1, where the 15th Canon of the Council of Agde (A.D. 506) is cited: “Poenitentes tempore quo poenitentiam petunt, impositionem manuum et cilicium super caput a sacerdote consequantur.” The antiquity of the custom may be argued from the consideration that imposition of hands was so prominent a feature in ordination, that it is not likely that its use would have been extended to anything else if such extension could not have claimed unquestioned antiquity in its favour. If the explanation of this verse given above—which is that of Hammond, De Wette, Ellicott, and Hort—be accepted, we have here the first distinct allusion to the custom of receiving back penitents by imposition of hands.

Timothy is bidden to restrain by deliberate prudence the impulses of mere pity. A hasty reconciliation tempts the offender to suppose that his offence cannot have been so very serious after all; and smoothes the way to a repetition of the sin. “Good-natured easy men” cannot escape responsibility for the disastrous consequences of their lax administration of the law. They have a share in the sins of those whom they have encouraged to sin. Those who give letters of recommendation with too great facility fall under the apostolic condemnation.

On the other hand, the ancient commentators—Chrys., Theod., Theoph., Oecumen.—refer χεῖρας ἐπιτίθει to hasty ordinations; and in support of this, the generally adopted view, it must be granted that ἐπίθεσις χειρῶν undoubtedly refers to ordination in 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6. If we assume the same reference here, the intention of the warning would be that Timothy will best avoid clerical scandals by being cautious at the outset as to the character of those whom he ordains. The clause in 1 Timothy 3:10, καὶ οὗτοι δὲ δοκιμαζέσθωσαν πρῶτον, would, in this case, have the same reference; and we should explain ἁμαρτίαι ἀλλότριαι as possible future sins, for the commission of which a man’s advancement may give him facilities, and responsibility for which attaches, in various degrees of blameworthiness, to those who have rendered it possible for him to commit them.

σεαυτόν is emphatic, repeating in brief the warning of the previous clause.

ἁγνόν: The context demands that the meaning should not be chaste (castum Vulg.), as in Titus 2:5, 2 Corinthians 11:2; but pure in the sense of upright, honourable, as in 2 Corinthians 7:11, Philippians 4:8, James 3:17.


Verse 23

1 Timothy 5:23. μηκέτι ὑδροπότει: An adequate explanation of this seemingly irrelevant direction is that since there is a certain degree of ambiguity in ἁγνός, St. Paul thought it necessary to guard against any possible misunderstanding of Keep thyself pure: “I do not mean you to practice a rigid asceticism; on the contrary, I think that you are likely to injure your health by your complete abstinence from wine; so, be no longer a water-drinker, etc.” So Hort, who thinks that this is “not merely a sanitary but quite as much a moral precept” (Judaistic Christianity, p. 144). This explanation is preferable to that of Paley who regards this as an example of “the negligence of real correspondence … when a man writes as he remembers: when he puts down an article that occurs the moment it occurs, lest he should afterwards forget it” (Horae Paulinae). Similarly Calvin suggested that σεαυτὸνἀσθενείας was a marginal note by St. Paul himself. Alford’s view has not much to commend it, viz., that Timothy’s weakness of character was connected with his constant ill health, and that St. Paul hoped to brace his deputy’s will by a tonic.

For this position of μηκέτι cf. Mark 9:25; Mark 11:14, Luke 8:49, John 5:14; John 8:11, Romans 14:13, Ephesians 4:28; and see note on chap. 1 Timothy 4:14.

διὰ τὸ στόμαχον: Wetstein’s happy quotation from Libanius, Epist. 1578 must not be omitted: πέπτωκε καὶ ἡμῖν στόμαχος ταῖς συνεχέσιν ὑδροποσίαις.


Verse 24

1 Timothy 5:24. The connexion of this general statement is especially with 1 Timothy 5:22. The solemn warning against the awful consequences of an ill-considered moral judgment on those condemned was calculated to overwhelm a weak man with anxiety. Here the apostle assures Timothy that in actual practical experience the moral diagnosis of men’s characters is not so perplexing as might be supposed antecedently. The exegesis of προάγουσαι and ἐπακολουθοῦσιν depends on the view we take of κρίσις; vis., whether it refers to a judgment passed by man in this world, or to the final doom pronounced by God in the next. κρίσις is used of such a judgment as man may pass, in John 8:16, 2 Peter 2:11, Judges 1:9; though the word is more frequently used of the Great final Judgment. If, as is generally allowed, these verses, 24 and 25, are resumptive of 1 Timothy 5:22, the κρίσις here indicated is that of the Church ruler, Timothy in this case, deciding for or against the admission of men to communion (or to ordination). It is evident that the final Judgment of God, which no one can certainly forecast, cannot help or hinder a decision made in this life by one man about another. The meaning, then, of the clause is as follows: In the case of some men, you have no hesitation as to your verdict; their sins are notorious and force you to an adverse judgment. With regard to others, your suspicions, your instinctive feeling of moral disapproval, comes to be confirmed and justified by subsequent revelation of sins that had been concealed. This is, in the main, the explanation adopted by Alford.

πρόδηλοι: Not open beforehand (A.V.), but evident (R.V.), manifesta sunt (Vulg.) as in Hebrews 7:14 (neut.). The προ is not indicative of antecedence in time, but of publicity, as in προεγράφη, Galatians 3:1.

προάγουσαι: It is best to take this in a transitive sense, as in Acts 12:1; Acts 17:5; Acts 25:26, of bringing a prisoner forth to trial. Here the object of the verb is understood out of τινῶν ἀνθρώπων. The men are in the custody of their sins, which also testify against them. In the other case, the witnesses—the sins—do not appear until the persons on trial have had sentence pronounced on them. We supply εἰς κρίσιν after ἐπακολουθοῦσιν.


Verse 25

1 Timothy 5:25. ὡσαύτως here, as in chap. 1 Timothy 2:9, naturally introduces an antithesis to what has gone before; and this determines the meaning of τὰ ἄλλως ἔχοντα; not as ἔργα which are not καλά, but as ἔργα καλά which are not πρόδηλα; and justifies the R.V. rendering, There are good works that are evident. The next clause is parallel to the corresponding part of 1 Timothy 5:24 : Sins and good works alike cannot be successfully and indefinitely concealed; they follow—are disclosed some time or other in justification of—the κρίσις of men. The literal rendering in R.V. (289)., The works that are good are evident, could only be defended by laying emphasis on καλά, “good in appearance as well as in reality”; but καλὰ ἔργα is of frequent occurrence in these epistles without any such special signification; see on 1 Timothy 3:1; and this rendering deprives ὡσαύτως of any force. Von Soden thinks that we have here a reference to the sayings in Matthew 5:14-16.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-timothy-5.html. 1897-1910.

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