Elders, Ordination, Infirmities, Judgment 1 Tim. 5:17-21

Elders, Ordination, Infirmities, Judgment 1 Tim. 5:17-21  CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

In the remainder of I Timothy 5, from verses 17-25, Paul gave Timothy practical advice for dealing with elders [17-21], ordinations [22], his own infirmities [23] and judgment [24-25].

An elder’s honor — 1 Tim 5:17 — elders are pastors [1 Pet 5:1-4; Acts 20:17, 28].  Therefore, they are to rule [Heb 13:7, 17].  Elders who rule well are to be counted worthy of double honor.  That is, the office is already worthy of honor, and the man in the office who rules well is also worthy of honor; thus, double honor.  This double honor is especially true of elders who labor in the word and doctrine.  After all, elders are to “feed the church of God,” and this requires labor in the word of God.

An elder’s livelihood — 1 Tim 5:18 — Paul deals with the subject of a minister’s compensation in 1 Cor 9:6-14.  The laborer is worthy to be supported by those to whom he ministers.  This is part of his “honor,” v.17.  Paul said, “the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel,” [1 Cor 9:14].  You find the Lord’s words, which Paul quoted, in Lk 10:7.  The elder who labors in the word and doctrine is typified by an ox [1 Cor 9:9; Deut 25:4].  As the ox can eat of that which he is treading, so the preacher can eat “of the gospel.”  There are interesting parallels between oxen and preachers.  Oxen are worked in the field by their master, they generally work in pairs and they drop to their knees when the load is heavy.

An accusation against an elder — 1 Tim 5:19-21 — Paul said that an accusation against an elder must be brought with two or three witnesses [Deut 19:15].  This is to safeguard him against a false accusation or a grievance brought by only one person.  If the accusation is found to be true, then he is to be rebuked “before all, that others also may fear.”  It serves as a deterrent to others [Acts 5:11].  And Paul charged Timothy, before God, Jesus and the elect angels [the Lord’s, not the devil’s, Rev 12:7], to follow these instructions impartially and without respect of persons.  The temptation is to “protect” someone you prefer or “railroad” someone you disdain.

Ordination — 1 Tim 5:22 — “lay hands suddenly on no man” protects you from ordaining a fellow who might not pan out.  Paul’s instructions concerning deacons apply here, “let these also first be proved,” [1 Tim 3:10].  Prove him first, then lay hands on him.  Also, there is a temptation in the ministry to go along with some wrong things other men are doing.  So, Paul said, “neither be partakers of other men’s sins.”  These can be sins like correcting the Bible, compromising doctrine, cooperating with infidels, corrupting the music and so forth.  We’re not to take part in their sins [2 Jn 10-11].  Paul said, “Keep thyself pure.”  Pure doctrine, pure associations, pure motives, pure conscience, pure conduct, and so forth will keep you out of trouble.

Infirmities — 1 Tim 5:23 — Timothy had stomach problems and was often sick.  Paul prescribed a “little wine” as a medicinal remedy for when he was sick.  Paul certainly wasn’t suggesting that drunkenness be added to his problems [1 Tim 3:3].  He could have mixed the wine with water instead of drinking water alone.  Note that Paul didn’t heal Timothy, considering how powerful his gift of healing was [Acts 19:11-12].  The reason, I believe, is that Paul’s gift of healing waned late in his ministry when the gospel turned to the Gentiles [Acts 28:28].  Healing had been, primarily, a sign gift to the Jews [1 Cor 1:22].  Note that Paul’s last companion was Luke, the physician [2 Tim 4:11; Col 4:14] and Trophimus wasn’t healed, either [2 Tim 4:20].

Judgment — 1 Tim 5:24-25 — Paul told Timothy that we can’t know all there is to know about men by what we see.  Some men’s sins are open beforehand and are manifest, as are some men’s good works.  But some men’s sins won’t show up till later, as some men’s good works won’t be manifest till later.  In either case, whether sins or good works, whether manifest or not, they cannot be hid.  They will be revealed in the judgment [2 Cor 5:10; Col 3:23-25].  This is comparable to what Paul said in 1 Cor 4:3-5, not to judge others or yourself [Rom 14:10-13].