Introduction to 1 Timothy Chapter 5
In this chapter the apostle lays down rules about the manner of rebuking persons, suitable to their several ages; gives directions concerning widows, both old and young; and instructs Timothy how to behave towards elders in office on different accounts. The rules for giving reproof to old men, as fathers; to young men, as brethren; to elder women, as mothers; and to the younger, as sisters, are in 1 Timothy 5:1. Next follow the directions about taking care of widows, who are to be honoured and maintained by the church, that are widows indeed, 1 Timothy 5:3 not such who have relations that are capable of taking care of them, who ought to do it, and not burden the church; since so to do is an act of piety, a requiting parents for their former care and kindness, and is good and acceptable in the sight of God, 1 Timothy 5:4 but such who are desolate and alone, and have no husbands nor children, nor any to support their wants, but wholly depend on the providence of God, and are constant at the throne of grace crying for help and relief, which shows they are living Christians; whereas such who spend their time in sinful lusts and pleasures, are dead while they live; wherefore if members of churches, with respect to this business, would be blameless, they ought to take care of the former, and reprove the latter, 1 Timothy 5:5. And as for those persons who cast their poor widows upon the church, and will not provide for them, when they are able, they are to be looked upon as deniers of the faith, and to be worse than the Heathens themselves, 1 Timothy 5:8. The qualifications of widows to be taken care of by the church, besides those before mentioned, are, that they be sixty years of age, having been the wife of one man, and well known for their good works, some of which are particularly mentioned, 1 Timothy 5:9 but those who are under the age fixed, and especially are fit for marriage, and the procreation of children, should be rejected, because of their lasciviousness, idleness, tattling, and busying themselves about other people's matters; these, on the contrary, should be directed to marry, bear children, take care of household affairs, and give no occasion to the enemy to reproach and blaspheme; and the rather such advice should be taken, since there had been some sad instances of apostasy in such persons, 1 Timothy 5:11. And then the apostle repeats his order to believers, to take care of their poor widows, who were able to do it themselves, that so the church might not be burdened, and might be able to relieve such as were real and proper objects, 1 Timothy 5:16. And then follow rules with respect to elders in office, as that those that rule well, and labour in the ministry of the word, should be honourably maintained; which is confirmed by a passage of Scripture in the Old Testament, and by a saying of Christ's in the New, 1 Timothy 5:17, that an accusation should not be received against one of such a character, but by two or three witnesses, 1 Timothy 5:19 and that such of them that fell into any notorious sin should be publicly rebuked, in order to make others afraid to sin, 1 Timothy 5:20. And these things the apostle, in the most solemn manner, charges Timothy, in the sight of God, Christ, and the angels, to observe, without partiality, 1 Timothy 5:21. To which he adds, that he would not have him be hastily concerned in the ordination of anyone as an elder, lest he should involve himself in his sin, whereas by acting otherwise he would be free, 1 Timothy 5:22 and then inserts some advice to himself, to take care of his health, 1 Timothy 5:23 and concludes the chapter with observing, on occasion of what he had said, 1 Timothy 5:22 that some men's sins were open, and their characters were easily discerned, and others were private, and such were also the good works of others; which made the case either more easy or more difficult to determine what was to be done; and therefore nothing should be done suddenly and rashly, 1 Timothy 5:24.