1 Timothy 5


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

Widows And Elders

This chapter goes into detail of how respect should be shown and taught to all members of the Lord’s church. The Greek for rebuke used here isn’t the normal word used for ‘rebuke’, here the word used is, ‘epiplesso’, which literally means to strike at. In other words, Timothy was told not to lash out at older men, but to treat them with respect.

Later in the chapter we find the normal Greek word for ‘rebuke’ used, which is ‘elegcho’, this tells us that Timothy could rebuke, but not in the same sense as the word used here, 1 Timothy 5:20 / Titus 2:15.

Younger men and women must be respect all their older brothers and sisters, like they would respect their mother and father, Leviticus 19:32 / Proverbs 16:31. The reason for this is simply to prevent the younger members from becoming arrogant and full of pride.

Notice respect must be shown to the younger women with absolute purity, which means the older men weren’t to lust after them, Matthew 5:28.

‘Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 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 Timothy 5:3-4

After being told to respect those who are older within our congregations, Paul now moves onto to widows, where he asks Timothy to honour them. Paul emphasises here on the widows who are in real genuine need, those who have no children or relatives to look after them, Exodus 22:2-24 / Deuteronomy 24:17-19 / Acts 6:1-2.

These are the widows which the church as a whole has a responsibility for, James 1:27. If a widow has either children or grandchildren, then it’s their responsibility to take care of her.

When the children or grandchildren look after their mother or grandmother, the children learn to be thankful. Their thankfulness is demonstrated when they repay their parents or grandparents, for everything they sacrificed in order to raise them properly, Matthew 15:4 / Ephesians 6:1-2 / Genesis 45:10.

‘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. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.’ 1 Timothy 5:5-6

Those who should be legitimately helped by the church should serve the church in some way. It’s the genuine widow who is entitled to be supported by the church because she put her hope in God. Although she may not be physically able to work and support herself, she is given the job of praying for the church, Luke 2:36-38.

If she has no children or grandchildren to look after her and her needs, the church is responsible for taking care of her and meeting her needs. However, she mustn’t live for the pleasures of this world, if she does, she is classed as being dead.

In other words, if she just lives for the pleasures the world has to offer, she’s as good as dead and the church would have no responsibilities in taking care of her or meeting her needs.

‘Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.’ 1 Timothy 5:7-8

Paul here, instructs Timothy to instruct the children or grandchildren to take care of their believing parents and grandparents, by doing so, they fulfil God’s commands and will stand blameless before God. God’s normal way of providing for the needy isn’t through the church, but through our own hard work.

Notice also if these children or grandchildren don’t fulfil their responsibilities to their relatives, Paul says, they have ‘denied the faith’, Matthew 18:17 / 2 Timothy 3:5. In other words, the church, in this situation wouldn’t have any responsibility for any widow because they have children or grandchildren to do so, Isaiah 58:7 / 2 Corinthians 12:14.

Paul clearly teaches here that anyone who doesn’t care for their parents or grandparents have actually sinned against God. In fact he says, they are ‘worse than an unbeliever’, the reason they are worse is simply because the unbeliever has enough moral values to take care of their parents or grandparents. God clearly tells us that we all have a responsibility to work and look after our own families, Romans 12:17 / 2 Corinthians 8:21.

‘No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.’ 1 Timothy 5:9-10

In this part of Paul’s letter, he now turns the responsibility of caring for widows to the church as a whole. If a widow didn’t have any children or grandchildren to look after them and if they are sixty years of age or older, they were entitled to receive regular support from the church. If widow was under sixty years of age, it was believed that she could still support herself or even get married again.

The widow also would need to have been ‘faithful to her husband’, in other words, a one man woman, who hasn’t cheated on her husband, 1 Timothy 3:2. This doesn’t necessary mean that she only ever had one husband, she may have divorced and remarried, but since her husband died, she decided to remain a widow.

It’s interesting that Paul places six spiritual qualifications on those widows who are to receive regular support from the church.

1. They must be well known for her good deeds, 1 Timothy 3:7.

2. They must have brought up children properly, either her own or others.

3. They must be hospitable to strangers, 1 Timothy 3:2.

4. They must have washed the saints’ feet, that is, practiced hospitality, Genesis 18:4 / John 13:1-10.

5. They must have helped those in trouble.

6. They must be devoted to all kinds of good deeds.

The widows must meet all those requirement to be entitled to receive support from the church.

‘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. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.’ 1 Timothy 5:11-12

The younger widows, that is widows under the age of sixty years old weren’t entitled to any regular support from the church if they followed their ‘sensual desires’, that is lust after the flesh, or they remarried.

Paul isn’t condemning young widows for wanting to get married, 1 Timothy 5:14 / 1 Corinthians 7:39, he’s only observing that many unmarried women are so hungry for marriage and companionship that they don’t conduct themselves in a godly way in regard to relationships.

It’s possible that the church in Ephesus had some problems with younger widows, who after receiving support from the church became unfaithful or they remarried, hence the support from the church would come to an end. Paul is basically saying that they would contract guilt, if they had been admitted among this class of widows, and then married again.

‘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 busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to.’ 1 Timothy 5:13

It appears as though these young widows, were becoming lazy and busybodies. Remember there were no church buildings back then, so they met in people’s homes. These widows appear to go from house to house taking advantage of the fellowship being offered by others saints but doing nothing but gossiping.

As a result of them ‘talking nonsense’, talking about things they shouldn’t talk about and so, they were obviously creating divisions within the church, John 3:10 / 2 Thessalonians 3:11.

Clarke in his commentary says the following.

‘It is no sin in any case to marry, bear children, and take care of a family, but it is a sin in every case to be idle persons, gadders about, tattlers, busybodies, sifting out and detailing family secrets.’

‘So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to 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 Timothy 5:14-16

Here Paul desires that younger widows should get married, have children and manage their homes. This would help them be directed by the headship of the husband.

In other words, they could exercise and occupy themselves in the duties of a wife, instead of allowing the Satan to use them to gossip, 1 Corinthians 7:9 / 1 Timothy 5:13. They would be so busy raising their children, they wouldn’t have time to be idle and go from one house to another, Titus 2:4-5.

Sadly, some of the younger widows had already turned away to follow Satan. The reason Paul mentions this is because he’s highlighting the reason why they shouldn’t be admitted into the number of the widows who were to be supported at the expense of the church, and to whom the care of the younger female members was to be committed.

Although the N.I.V. uses the words, ‘woman,’ it should read, ‘men and women’. Paul is encouraging all Christian men or women to continue to take care of those widows of their own households.

These would be the widows with unbelieving children who refused to care for their Christian mothers. The first responsibility for support is at the home and the church is to support the truly in need and who are godly, 1 Timothy 5:4-5 / 1 Timothy 5:8.

‘The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honour, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’ 1 Timothy 5:17-18

Paul had earlier given the full qualifications for elders, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, deacons, 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and widows, 1 Timothy 5:3-16, and now he begins to explains the congregation’s responsibility towards the elders.

Those elders who are actively working among the church members need to be given a double honour, especially those elders who are actively preaching and teaching, Acts 20:28 / Romans 12:7 / 1 Corinthians 12:28 / 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 / 1 Peter 5:1-6.

Because they are constantly involved with the physical and spiritual lives of the church, they should receive an income. As God took care to make provision for the labouring ox, much more due attention should be paid to those who labour for the welfare of the church, Leviticus 19:13 / Deuteronomy 24:15 / Deuteronomy 25:4 / 1 Corinthians 9:8-10. That’s why Paul says the worker deserves his wages, Matthew 10:10 / Luke 10:7.

‘Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.’ 1 Timothy 5:19-20

To help prevent false accusations against an elder, there should always be two or three witnesses who can prove the accusation to be either true or false, Deuteronomy 25:4 / 1 Corinthians 9:7-9. The reason for the two or three witnesses also stopped any individual who wanted to slander the character of an elder they didn’t like.

However if an elder has been proven that he is sinning, then they must be rebuked in front of the church, in this way the public rebuking serves as a warning to any other Christian who are involved in sin. This is all about church discipline and it brings to mind the saying, ‘prevention is better than cure’, 1 Peter 2:14.

‘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 favouritism.’ 1 Timothy 5:21

Paul here charges Timothy, the word ‘charge’ means to call to witness, then to affirm with solemn proofs, and then to admonish solemnly, to urge upon earnestly, Luke 16:28 / Acts 2:20. It’s a word which implies that the subject is of great importance.

Notice Paul gives this charge in the presence of God, Christ and of the elect angels, and wishes to secure that sense of its seriousness which must arise from the presence of such holy witnesses, Hebrews 12:1.

There’s no doubt that Paul’s charge to Timothy was serious, as it is with all church leaders. There’s no room for partiality or favouritism within the Lord church, as they are described as sinful, James 2:1-9 / Galatians 3:26-29.

‘Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.’ 1 Timothy 5:22-23

The ‘laying on of hands’ mentioned here isn’t referring to imparting of the miraculous gifts as this was done only by the apostles, Acts 8:18 / Romans 1:11 / 2 Timothy 1:6.

The laying on of hands mentioned here is in reference to Timothy giving his hands on approval of someone, 1 Timothy 4:14 / Acts 6:6 / Acts 8:17, especially those who would be elders or to those who might bring accusations against existing elders,1 Timothy 3:6 / 1 Timothy 3:10.

He wasn’t to be too hasty in doing this, because he would share in the sins of others. In other words, Timothy wasn’t to become a participant in the sins of another by introducing him to the sacred office of eldership.

He was also to ‘keep himself pure’, which may imply that Timothy wasn’t married. Paul encourages him to stay clear of anything or anyone which may cause him to become unholy. As an evangelist he needs to stay clear of anything or anyone which might jeopardise is reputation of character as an evangelist.

No one is really sure by Paul asks him to drink only water, it’s possibly simply because of the health benefits which come from drinking water. It’s possible that Timothy had stopped drinking wine, 1 Timothy 3:3, but here Paul encourages him to drink a little wine for medicinal reasons only, not for pleasure. It’s probably the idea of adding a little wine to the water.

We don’t know what the actual illnesses Timothy was struggling with, but it was affecting his stomach. It’s worth noting that the miraculous gift of healing was already beginning to cease at this time, otherwise Paul would have simply healed him, Acts 19:11-12 / Philippians 2:27 / 2 Timothy 4:20.

‘The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.’ 1 Timothy 5:24-25

Paul ends this chapter by reminding Timothy that some sins are obvious, these are the sins of people who boldly and arrogantly behave sinfully in front of others, Galatians 5:19-21. Paul says there’s no need of waiting for the day of judgment to know what they are, they’re sinful behaviour is obvious.

Just as some sins are obvious, so are good deeds, their good deeds are a reflection of what’s in people’s hearts, Matthew 7:15-23 / James 3:10-12.

All our good deeds will eventually revealed but sins are sometimes hidden, and will be evident only at the judgment, Matthew 25:31-40 / 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Go To 1 Timothy 6


"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

2 Timothy 1:7