Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
DIRECTIONS AS TO
CLASSES IN THE
1. an elder--in age; probably not an elder in the
ministry; these latter are not mentioned till
"the elders that rule." Compare
"your old men," literally, "elders." Contrasted with "the younger men."
As Timothy was admonished so to conduct himself as to give no man
reason to despise his youth
so here he is told to bear in mind his youth, and to behave with the
modesty which becomes a young man in relation to his elders.
Rebuke not--literally, "Strike not hard upon"; Rebuke not
sharply: a different word from "rebuke" in
as brethren--and therefore equals; not lording it over them
2. with all purity--respectful treatment of the other sex will
3. Honour--by setting on the church roll, as fit objects of charitable
(1Ti 5:9, 17, 18;
So "honor" is used for support with necessaries
(Mt 15:4, 6;
Those really desolate; not like those
having children or relations answerable for their support, nor like
"who live in pleasure"; but such as, from their earthly desolation as
to friends, are most likely to trust wholly in God, persevere in
continual prayers, and carry out the religious duties assigned to
Care for widows was transferred from the Jewish economy to the
(De 14:29; 16:11; 24:17, 19).
4. if any widow have children--not "a widow indeed," as having
children who ought to support her.
nephews--rather, as Greek, "descendants," or "grandchildren"
[HESYCHIUS]. "Nephews" in old English meant "grandchildren"
Ecclesiastical Polity, 5.20].
let them--the children and descendants.
learn first--ere it falls to the Church to support them.
to show piety at home--filial piety towards their widowed mother or
grandmother, by giving her sustenance. Literally, "to show piety towards
their own house." "Piety is applied to the reverential discharge of
filial duties; as the parental relation is the earthly representation of
God our heavenly Father's relation to us. "Their own" stands in
opposition to the Church, in relation to which the widow is
comparatively a stranger. She has a claim on her own children, prior
to her claim on the Church; let them fulfil this prior claim which she
has on them, by sustaining her and not burdening the Church.
parents--Greek, (living) "progenitors," that is, their mother or
grandmother, as the case may be. "Let them learn," implies that abuses
of this kind had crept into the Church, widows claiming Church support
though they had children or grandchildren able to support them.
good and--The oldest manuscripts omit. The words are probably
inserted by a transcriber from
5. widow indeed, and desolate--contrasted with her who has children
or grandchildren to support her
trusteth in God--perfect tense in Greek, "hath rested, and doth
rest her hope in God."
adds another qualification in a widow for Church maintenance,
besides her being" desolate" or destitute of children to support her.
She must be not one "that liveth in pleasure"
but one making God her main hope (the accusative in Greek
expresses that God is the ultimate aim whereto her hope is
dative expresses hope resting on God as her present stay
[WIESINGER]), and continuing constantly in
prayers. Her destitution of children and of all ties to earth would
leave her more unencumbered for devoting the rest of her days to God
and the Church
(1Co 7:33, 34).
Compare also "Anna a widow," who remained unmarried after her husband's
death and "departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings
and prayers day and night"
(Lu 2:36, 37).
Such a one, Paul implies, would be the fittest object for the Church's
for such a one is promoting the cause of Christ's Church by her prayers
for it. "Ardor in prayers flows from hoping confidence in God" [LEO].
in supplications and prayers--Greek, "in her
supplications and prayers"; the former signifies asking under a
sense of need, the latter, prayer (see on
night and day--another coincidence with Luke
"cry day and night"); contrast Satan's accusations "day and night"
6. she that liveth in pleasure--the opposite of such a widow as is
and therefore one utterly undeserving of Church charity. The
Greek expresses wanton prodigality and excess
[TITTMANN]. The root expresses weaving at a
fast rate, and so lavish excess (see on
dead while she liveth--dead in the Spirit while alive in the flesh
7. these things--just now spoken
(1Ti 5:5, 6).
that they may be blameless--namely, the widows supported by the
8. But--reverting to
"If any (a general proposition; therefore including in its application
the widow's children or grandchildren) provide not for his own
(relations in general), and especially for those of his own house (in
particular), he hath (practically) denied the faith." Faith without
love and its works is dead; "for the subject matter of faith is not
mere opinion, but the grace and truth of God, to which he that believes
gives up his spirit, as he that loves gives up his heart" [MACK]. If in any case a duty of love is plain, it is in
relation to one's own relatives; to fail in so plain an obligation is a
plain proof of want of love, and therefore of want of faith. "Faith
does not set aside natural duties, but strengthens them" [BENGEL].
worse than an infidel--because even an infidel (or unbeliever) is
taught by nature to provide for his own relatives, and generally
recognizes the duty; the Christian who does not so, is worse
(Mt 5:46, 47).
He has less excuse with his greater light than the infidel who may
break the laws of nature.
9. Translate, "As a widow (that is, of the ecclesiastical order
of widowhood; a kind of female presbytery), let none be
enrolled (in the catalogue) who is less than sixty years old." These
were not deaconesses, who were chosen at a younger age (forty
was the age fixed at the Council of Chalcedon), and who had virgins (in
a later age called widows) as well as widows among them, but a
band of widows set apart, though not yet formally and finally, to the
service of God and the Church. Traces of such a class appear in
Dorcas herself was such a one. As it was expedient (see on
that the presbyter or bishop should have been but once married, so also
in her case. There is a transition here to a new subject. The reference
here cannot be, as in
to providing Church sustenance for them. For the restriction to
widows above sixty would then be needless and harsh, since many widows
might be in need of help at a much earlier age; as also the rule that
the widow must not have been twice married, especially
since he himself, below
enjoins the younger widows to marry again; as also that she must have
brought up children. Moreover,
presupposes some competence, at least in past times, and so poor widows
would be excluded, the very class requiring charity. Also,
would then be senseless, for then their remarrying would be a benefit,
not an injury, to the Church, as relieving it of the burden of their
sustenance. TERTULLIAN [On the Veiling of
Virgins, 9], HERMAS [Shepherd, 1.2],
and CHRYSOSTOM [Homily, 31], mention such
an order of ecclesiastical widowhood, each one not less than sixty
years old, and resembling the presbyters in the respect paid to them,
and in some of their duties; they ministered with sympathizing counsel
to other widows and to orphans, a ministry to which their own
experimental knowledge of the feelings and sufferings of the bereaved
adapted them, and had a general supervision of their sex. Age
was doubtless a requisite in presbyters, as it is here stated to
have been in presbyteresses, with a view to their influence on
the younger persons of their sex They were supported by the Church, but
not the only widows so supported
(1Ti 5:3, 4).
wife of one man--in order not to throw a stumbling-block in the
way of Jews and heathen, who regarded with disfavor second marriages
This is the force of "blameless," giving no offense, even in matters
10. for good works--Greek, "IN
honourable (excellent) works"; the sphere or element in
which the good report of her had place
This answers to
as to the bishop or presbyter, "He must have a good report of them
which are without."
if--if, in addition to being "well reported of."
she . . . brought up children--either her own
(1Ti 3:4, 12),
or those of others, which is one of the "good works"; a qualification
adapting her for ministry to orphan children, and to mothers of
"given to hospitality"
in the case of presbyters.
washed . . . saints' feet--after the example of the Lord
a specimen of the universal spirit of humbly "by love serving one
another," which actuated the early Christians.
relieved the afflicted--whether by pecuniary or other relief.
followed . . . good--
compare instances in
Mt 25:35, 36).
11. younger--than sixty years old
refuse--to take on the roll of presbyteress widows.
wax wanton--literally, "over-strong"
against Christ--rebelling against Christ, their proper Bridegroom
they will--Greek, "they wish"; their desire is to
12. Having--Bringing on themselves, and so having to bear
as a burden
judgment from God (compare
weighing like a load on them.
cast off their first faith--namely, pledged to Christ and the
service of the Church. There could be no hardship at the age of sixty
or upwards in not marrying again (end of
for the sake of serving better the cause of Christ as presbyteresses;
though, to ordinary widows, no barrier existed against remarriage
This is altogether distinct from Rome's unnatural vows of celibacy in
the case of young marriageable women. The widow-presbyteresses,
moreover, engaged to remain single, not as though single life were
holier than married life (according to Rome's teaching), but because
the interests of Christ's cause made it desirable (see on
They had pledged "their first faith" to Christ as presbyteress widows;
they now wish to transfer their faith to a husband (compare
1Co 7:32, 34).
13. withal--"at the same time, moreover."
learn--usually in a good sense. But these women's "learning" is
idleness, trifling, and busybodies' tattle.
wandering--Greek, "going about."
from house to house--of the members of the Church
"They carry the affairs of this house to that, and of that to this;
they tell the affairs of all to all"
tattlers--literally "trifling talkers." In
busybodies--mischievously busy; inconsiderately curious
"curious," the same Greek. Curiosity usually springs from
idleness, which is itself the mother of garrulity
speaking--not merely "saying." The subject-matter,
as well as the form, is involved in the Greek word
which they ought not--
14. younger women--rather, as ellipsis ought to be supplied,
"the younger widows," namely younger widows in general, as
distinguished from the older widows taken on the roll of
The "therefore" means seeing that young widows are exposed to such
temptations, "I will," or "desire," &c.
The precept here that they should marry again is not inconsistent with
for the circumstances of the two cases were distinct (compare
Here remarriage is recommended as an antidote to sexual passion,
idleness, and the other evils noted in
Of course, where there was no tendency to these evils, marriage again
would not be so requisite; Paul speaks of what is generally desirable,
and supposing there should be danger of such evils, as was likely. "He
does not impose a law, but points out a remedy, to
younger widows" [CHRYSOSTOM].
thus gaining one of the qualifications
for being afterwards a presbyteress widow, should Providence so ordain
guide--Greek, "rule the house" in the woman's due
place; not usurping authority over the man
give none occasion--literally, "starting-point": handle of reproach
through the loose conduct of nominal Christians.
the adversary--of Christianity, Jew or Gentile.
"He that is of the contrary part." Not Satan, who is introduced
in a different relation
to speak reproachfully--literally, "for the sake of reproach"
(1Ti 3:7; 6:1;
Tit 2:5, 10).
If the handle were given, the adversary would use it
for the sake of reproach. The adversary is eager to exaggerate
the faults of a few, and to lay the blame on the whole Church and its
15. For--For in the case of some this result has already
ensued; "Some (widows) are already turned aside after Satan," the
seducer (not by falling away from the faith in general, but) by such
errors as are stigmatized in
sexual passion, idleness, &c., and so have given occasion of
"Satan finds some mischief still for the idle hands to do."
16. If any . . . have widows--of his family, however
related to him. Most of the oldest manuscripts and versions omit "man
or," and read, "If any woman that believeth." But the Received text
seems preferable. If, however, the weightiest
authorities are to prevail, the sense will be: He was speaking
of younger widows; He now says, If any believing young widow
have widows related to her needing support, let her relieve them,
thereby casing the Church of the burden,
1Ti 5:3, 4
(there it was the children and grandchildren; here
it is the young widow, who, in order to avoid the evils of
idleness and wantonness, the result of idleness,
1Ti 5:11, 13;
is to be diligent in good works, such as "relieving the afflicted,"
thus qualifying herself for being afterwards a
let them--rather as Greek, "let him," or "her"; "let such a one"
be charged--literally, "be burdened" with their support.
widows indeed--really helpless and friendless
(1Ti 5:3, 4).
17. The transition from the widow presbyteresses
to the presbyters here, is natural.
rule well--literally, "preside well," with wisdom, ability, and
loving faithfulness, over the flock assigned to them.
be counted worthy of double honour--that is, the honor which is
expressed by gifts
(1Ti 5:3, 18)
and otherwise. If a presbyter as such, in virtue of his office, is
already worthy of honor, he who rules well is doubly so
Not literally that a presbyter who rules well should get double the
salary of one who does not rule well [ALFORD],
or of a presbyteress widow, or of the deacons
[CHRYSOSTOM]. "Double" is used for large in
specially they who labour in the word and
doctrine--Greek, "teaching"; preaching of the word, and
instruction, catechetical or otherwise. This implies that of the
ruling presbyters there were two kinds, those who labored in
the word and teaching, and those who did not. Lay presbyters, so
called merely because of their age, have no place here; for both
classes mentioned here alike are ruling presbyters. A college of
presbyters is implied as existing in each large congregation. As in
their qualifications are spoken of, so here the acknowledgments due to
them for their services.
18. the scripture--
quoted before in
the ox that treadeth out--Greek, An ox while treading.
The labourer is worthy of his reward--or "hire"; quoted from
has "his meat," or "food." If Paul extends the phrase, "Scripture
saith," to this second clause, as well as to the first, he will be
hereby recognizing the Gospel of Luke, his own helper (whence appears
the undesigned appositeness of the quotation), as inspired
Scripture. This I think the correct view. The Gospel according
to Luke was probably in circulation then about eight or nine years.
However, it is possible "Scripture saith" applies only to the passage
and then his quotation will be that of a common proverb, quoted also by
the Lord, which commends itself to the approval of all, and is approved
by the Lord and His apostle.
19. Against an elder--a presbyter of the Church.
receive not--"entertain not" [ALFORD].
but before two or three witnesses--A judicial conviction was not
De 17:6; 19:15,
except on the testimony of at least two or three witnesses (compare
1Jo 5:6, 7).
But Timothy's entertaining an accusation against anyone is a
different case, where the object was not judicially to punish, but to
admonish: here he might ordinarily entertain it without the
need of two or three witnesses; but not in the case of an elder,
since the more earnest an elder was to convince gainsayers
the more exposed would he be to vexatious and false accusations. How
important then was it that Timothy should not, without strong
testimony, entertain a charge against presbyters, who should, in order
to be efficient, be "blameless"
1Ti 5:21, 24
imply that Timothy had the power of judging in the Church. Doubtless he
would not condemn any save on the testimony of two or three
witnesses, but in ordinary cases he would cite them, as the law of
Moses also allowed, though there were only one witness. But in the case
of elders, he would require two or three witnesses before even citing
them; for their character for innocence stands higher, and they are
exposed to envy and calumny more than others "Receive" does not, as
ALFORD thinks, include both citation and
conviction, but means only the former.
20. Them that sin--whether presbyters or laymen.
rebuke before all--publicly before the Church
Not until this "rebuke" was disregarded was the offender to be
others . . . fear--that other members of the Church may have a
wholesome fear of offending
21. I charge thee--rather as Greek, "I adjure thee"; so it
ought to be translated
before--"in the presence of God."
Lord--omitted in the oldest manuscripts
God the Father, and Christ the Son, will testify against thee, if
thou disregardest my injunction. He vividly sets before Timothy
the last judgment, in which God shall be revealed, and Christ seen
face to face with His angels
elect angels--an epithet of reverence. The objects of divine electing
Not only "elect" (according to the everlasting purpose of God)
in contradistinction to the reprobate angels
but also to mark the excellence of the angels in general (as God's
chosen ministers, "holy angels," "angels of light"), and so to give
more solemnity to their testimony [CALVIN] as
witnesses to Paul's adjuration. Angels take part by action and sympathy
in the affairs of the earth
these things--the injunctions,
1Ti 5:19, 20.
without preferring one before another--rather as Greek,
"prejudice"; "judging before" hearing all the facts of a case.
There ought to be judgment, but not prejudging. Compare "suddenly,"
partiality--in favor of a man, as "prejudice" is bias against a man. Some of the oldest manuscripts read, "in the way of summoning
(brethren) before a (heathen) judge." But Vulgate and other
good authorities favor the more probable reading in English Version.
22. Lay hands--that is, ordain
The connection is with
The way to guard against scandals occurring in the case of presbyters
is, be cautious as to the character of the candidate before ordaining
him; this will apply to other Church officers so ordained, as well as
to presbyters. Thus, this clause refers to
as next clause, "neither be partaker of other men's sins," refers to
ELLICOTT and WIESINGER
understand it of receiving back into Church fellowship or
absolution, by laying hands on those who had been
and then excommunicated
favors this. But as in
and Ac 6:6; 13:3;
the laying on of hands is used of ordination (compare however as
it seems better to take it so here.
1Ti 5:24, 25
show that waiting for a time is salutary.
neither be partaker of other men's sins--by negligence in ordaining
ungodly candidates, and so becoming in some degree responsible for their
sins. Or, there is the same transition from the elders to
all in general who may sin, as in
1Ti 5:19, 20.
Be not a partaker in other men's sins by not "rebuking them that sin
before all," as well as those that are candidates for the presbytery,
as also all "that sin."
keep thyself pure--"thyself' is emphatic. "Keep
THYSELF" clear of participation in
OTHER men's sin by not failing to
rebuke them that sin
Thus the transition is easy
which is concerning Timothy personally; compare also
23. no longer--as a habit. This injunction to drink wine
occasionally is a modification of the preceding "keep thyself pure."
The presbyter and deacon were enjoined to be "not given to wine"
(1Ti 3:3, 8).
Timothy seems to have had a tendency to undue ascetical strictness on
this point (compare Note, see on
compare the Nazarene vow,
John the Baptist,
Paul therefore modifies the preceding words, "keep thyself pure,"
virtually saying, "Not that I mean to enjoin that kind of purity which
consists in asceticism, nay, be no longer a water-drinker," that
is, no longer drink only water, but use a little wine, as
much as is needed for thy health. So ELLICOTT and
WIESINGER. ALFORD thus:
Timothy was of a feeble frame (see on
1Co 16:10, 11),
and prone to timidity in his duties as overseer where vigorous action
was needed; hence Paul exhorts him to take all proper means to raise
his bodily condition above these infirmities. God hereby commands
believers to use all due means for preserving health, and condemns by
anticipation the human traditions which among various sects have denied
the use of wine to the faithful.
24. Two kinds of sins are specified: those palpably
manifest (so the Greek for "open beforehand" ought to
be translated; so in
it is translated "evident"; literally, "before" the eyes,
that is, notorious), further explained as "going before to judgment";
and those which follow after the men ("some men they, that is, their
sins, follow after"), namely, not going beforehand, loudly accusing,
but hidden till they come to the judgment: so
the good works are of two classes: those palpably
manifest (translate so, instead of "manifest beforehand") and
"those that are otherwise," that is, not palpably manifest. Both
alike "cannot be hid"; the former class in the case of bad and good are
manifest already; the latter class in the case of both are not
manifest now, but shall be so at the final judgment.
going before to judgment--as heralds; crying sins which accuse
their perpetrator. The connection seems to me this: He had enjoined
"Rebuke them that sin before all": and in
"Neither be partaker of other men's sins," by ordaining ungodly men;
having then by a digression at the clause, "keep thyself pure," guarded
against an ascetical error of Timothy in fancying purity consisted in
asceticism, and having exhorted him to use wine for strengthening him
in his work, he returns to the subject of his being vigorous as an
overseer in rebuking sin, whether in presbyters or people, and
in avoiding participation in men's sins by ordaining ungodly
candidates. He says, therefore, there are two classes of sins,
as there are two classes of good works: those palpably
manifest, and those not so; the former are those on which thou
shouldest act decidedly at once when called on, whether to rebuke in
general, or to ordain ministers in particular; as to the latter, the
final judgment alone can decide; however hidden now they "cannot
be hid" then. This could only be said of the final judgment
therefore, ALFORD'S reference of this verse to
Timothy's judgment in choosing elders must be wrong); all
judgments before then are fallible. Thus he implies that Timothy can
only be responsible if he connive at manifest, or evident sins;
not that those that are otherwise shall escape judgment at last:
just as in the case of good works, he can only be responsible
for taking into account in his judgments those which are patent to all,
not those secret good works which nevertheless will not remain hidden
at the final judgment.