1 Timothy 5:20
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
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(20) Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.—The Apostle here, apparently, is still referring exclusively to that order of presbyters whose more meritorious members he had directed Timothy to honour with a special honour, and towards whose accused members he instructed him how to act. He now passes to the question how to deal with these responsible officers of the Church when they were proved to be notoriously sinning. While, on the one hand, the earnest and devoted men were to be honoured with “a double honour”—while every possible legal precaution was to be taken in the case of those being accused—on the other hand, when proved to be men continuing in sin and error, their punishment must be as marked as in the other case was the reward. The errors and sins of teachers of the faith are far more dangerous than in those who make up the rank and file of congregations, and require a more severe and more public punishment.

It is not improbable that St. Paul was especially alluding here to false teaching—to errors of doctrine on the part of some of the Ephesian presbyters. He seems, in his parting address at Miletus to the elders (presbyters) of this very Ephesian Church, to have foreseen such a grievous falling away in the future among their company—“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Compare also the Epistle to this same Church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:4-5). As the sin, whatever has been its nature, has been committed by men intrusted with a responsible and public charge, so the rebuke and punishment must also be in public, that the warning may then spread over the whole of the various congregations composing the Church, and thus “others also may fear.”

5:17-25 Care must be taken that ministers are maintained. And those who are laborious in this work are worthy of double honour and esteem. It is their just due, as much as the reward of the labourer. The apostle charges Timothy solemnly to guard against partiality. We have great need to watch at all times, that we do not partake of other men's sins. Keep thyself pure, not only from doing the like thyself, but from countenancing it, or any way helping to it in others. The apostle also charges Timothy to take care of his health. As we are not to make our bodies masters, so neither slaves; but to use them so that they may be most helpful to us in the service of God. There are secret, and there are open sins: some men's sins are open before-hand, and going before unto judgment; some they follow after. God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make known the counsels of all hearts. Looking forward to the judgment-day, let us all attend to our proper offices, whether in higher or lower stations, studying that the name and doctrine of God may never be blasphemed on our account.Them that sin - That have been proved to have committed sin - referring probably to the elders mentioned in the previous verse, but giving the direction so general a form that it might be applicable to others.

Rebuke before all - Before all the church or congregation. The word "rebuke" properly denotes to reprove or reprehend. It means here that there should be a public statement of the nature of the offence, and such a censure as the case demanded. It extends only to spiritual censures. There is no power given of inflicting any punishment by fine or imprisonment. The power of the church, in such cases, is only to express its strong and decided disapprobation of the wrong done, and, if the case demands it, of disowning the offending member or minister. This direction to "rebuke an offender before all," may be easily reconciled with the direction in 1 Timothy 5:1, "Rebuke not an elder." The latter refers to the private and pastoral conversation with an elder, and to the method in which he should be treated in such contact - to wit, with the feelings due to a father; the direction here refers to the manner in which an offender should be treated who has been proved to be guilty, and where the case has become public. Then there is to be a public expression of disapprobation.

That others also may fear - That they may be kept from committing the same offence; compare 1 Peter 2:14. The end of punishment is not the gratification of the private feelings of him who administers it, but the prevention of crime.

20. Them that sin—whether presbyters or laymen.

rebuke before all—publicly before the Church (Mt 18:15-17; 1Co 5:9-13; Eph 5:11). Not until this "rebuke" was disregarded was the offender to be excommunicated.

others … fear—that other members of the Church may have a wholesome fear of offending (De 13:11; Ac 5:11).

Them that sin; that is, that sin publicly and scandalously, so as others have taken notice of it.

Rebuke before all; rebuke not privately, by a ministerial correption, but by a public ecclesiastical correption before the whole church.

That others also may fear; that the salve may answer the sore, and the plaster be as broad as the wound; and that others may be afraid to do the like. This end of the punishment agreeth with that mentioned Deu 13:11.

Them that sin rebuke before all,.... This the apostle adds to the above rule, to show that he was far from screening wicked ministers, or elders, guilty of flagitious crimes, and gross enormities: for these words, though they may be applied unto, and may hold good of all offenders, that are members of churches; yet they seem chiefly to regard elders, even such who sin, who continue to sin, who live in sin, in some notorious sin or another; which is evident and known, to the great scandal of religion, and dishonour of the Gospel: and so some read the words, "them that sin before all, rebuke"; not only admonish once and again, but degrade them from their office, and withdraw from them, as from other disorderly persons, and cut them off, and cast them out of the church, and that in a public manner; and so the Arabic version renders it, "before the congregation": which was done only in case of notorious offences: and which rule is observed by the Jews, and runs thus (h);

"a wise man, an elder in wisdom, and so a prince, or the father of the sanhedrim, that sins, they do not excommunicate him (with Niddui) always "publicly", unless he does as Jeroboam the son of Nebat and his companions; but when he sins other sins, they chastise him privately.''

The end is,

that others also may fear; that other elders, or other members of the church, or both, may fear to do the same evil things, lest they incur the same censure and punishment: the Syriac version reads, "other men"; and the Arabic version, "the rest of the people". The phrase seems to be taken out of Deuteronomy 13:11.

(h) Maimon. Talmud Tora, c. 7. sect. 1.

{16} Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

(16) The third rule: let the leaders so convicted be openly rebuked, so that they may be an example to others.

1 Timothy 5:20 contains a further instruction regarding his conduct toward the presbyters.

τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας] does not refer to the members of the church in general (de Wette, Wiesinger), but to the presbyters (van Oosterzee, Plitt, Hofmann),—those presbyters who, in their official work or general walk, do not conduct themselves in a manner worthy of their office. In such cases it does not matter whether a charge against them is brought before Timothy or not.[191]

ἘΝΏΠΙΟΝ ΠΆΝΤΩΝ ἜΛΕΓΧΕ] The most natural reference of ΠΆΝΤΕς also is to the presbyters. It would clearly be too much to expect that Timothy should punish all sinners before the whole church (comp. Matthew 18:15-17); that would be unsuitable, even in the case of presbyters who had sinned. On ἐλέγχειν, “censure,” comp. Luke 3:19; Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15.

ἽΝΑ ΚΑῚ ΟἹ ΛΟΙΠΟῚ ΦΌΒΟΝ ἜΧΩΣΙ] “ΟἹ ΛΟΙΠΟΊ may be only the rest of the same class to which the ἉΜΑΡΤΆΝΟΝΤΕς belong,” Hofmann.

[191] Neither the present (ἁμαρτάνοντας) nor the lack of δέ disproves this view. The aorist (ἁμαρτήσαντας) would have pointed to some earlier incident, and δέ would be necessary only if the apostle had had clearly in mind the contrast to the καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι mentioned in ver. 17.

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.

20. Them that sin] A connecting particle has some authority here but not enough for adoption. The absence need not (see note above) make us think the subject is changed from offending presbyters to sinners generally. This would require more support from the context than is given, the main thought being still Timothy’s official and personal bearing towards presbyters. The article with the present participle is nearly the equivalent of a substantive. Cf. Winer, § 47, 7. The same article and present participle occur in 1 John 3:6, where the force of the present is of the utmost importance. ‘It describes a character, “a prevailing habit,” and not primarily an act.’ Bp Westcott. So here, ‘those who are living in sin’ among the presbyters. Bp Wordsworth gives a special character to these sins: ‘He is speaking specially of Presbyters whose sins, particularly in doctrine, are public and notorious. And this exposition is confirmed by the application of the word “sins” to them here and in 1 Timothy 5:24, and Titus 3:11, where he says of a heretical teacher that he “sinneth being self-condemned.” St Paul thus declares the moral guilt of false doctrine.’ And he quotes St Paul’s prophecy to the Athenian presbyters of such ‘grievous wolves,’ ‘speaking perverse things’ among them, Acts 20:29.

rebuke before all] The word is sometimes ‘convict,’ sometimes ‘condemn.’ In its use in these Epistles, here and 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9; Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15, it seems always to have reference to false teaching and its consequent evil living, and to unite the sharp convincing proof of the error and the sharp condemning reproof of the vice.

that others also may fear] Rather, as R.V., that the rest also may be in fear; ‘the rest,’ i.e. those who have heard and perhaps approved of the false teaching and its vicious morals; ‘may be in fear,’ the longer expression being used to denote the state of abiding ‘godly fear.’

1 Timothy 5:20. Τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας) them that sin, the elders convicted by witnesses. The others are contradistinguished from those.—οἱλοιποὶ) the others in the flock, who have either committed the same sin, or lest they should commit it.—φόβον, fear) suitable to those who are prepared to sin.

Verse 20. - Reprove for rebuke, A.V.; in the sight of for before, A.V.; the rest for others, A.V.; be in fear for fear, A.V. Reprove; ἔλεγχε, not ἐπιπλήξῃς, as in ver. 1 (see Matthew 18:15). There, the fault being a private one, the reproof is to be administered in private. But in the case of the sinning presbyter, which is that here intended, Timothy is to reprove the offender "before all," that others also may fear, and may be deterred by their fear from committing a like offence. 1 Timothy 5:20Them that sin (τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας)

Referring to Elders, who, by reason of their public position (προεστῶτες), should receive public rebuke.

Rebuke (ἔλεγχε)

Comp. 2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9, Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15. See on reproved, John 3:20.

Others (οἱ λοιποὶ)

More correctly, the rest. His fellow Elders.

May fear (φόβον ἔχωσιν)

May have fear, which is stronger than A.V.

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