1 Timothy 5
ICC New Testament Commentary
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
5:1-6:2. Advice to Timothy how to deal with various classes in the Church: older men and younger men (1), older and younger women (2), widows (3-16), presbyters (17-25), slaves (6:1, 2).

“Those who hear thee” (4:16) are now subdivided: there is no single line of division: it is partly age, partly official position in the Church, partly social status; but two thoughts are common to the section. (i) The respect due to all, as members of the Christian family: cf. 5:1, 2, 3 (τίμα), 17 (διπλῆς τιμῆς), 6:1 (πάσης τιμῆς). There must be honour paid to real need, to good service, to social position. The thought of the family is carried on from 3:15, 4:6 (where see notes): cf. Luke 8:21 μήτηρ μου καὶ ἀδελφοί μου οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ ἀκούοντες καὶ ποιοῦντες: John 19:26, John 19:27.

(ii) The importance of winning respect among their pagan neighbours, cf. 5:7, 8, 14, 6:1. Wetstein’s notes on the whole passage illustrating the various commands from Greek and Roman writers are most illuminating in this respect.

Cf. Titus c. 2 throughout, which deals with the same problem from the point of view of the teaching to be given to each class.

1. Paraphrase. If you have to correct any, suit your correction to their age. Never sharply chide an older man, but appeal to him as you would to your own father; to younger men as to brothers; older women treat as mothers; younger women as sisters, with purity of thought and speech and deed.

πρεσβυτέρῳ] cf. Leviticus 19:32 “Thou shalt honour the face of the old man”; Ecclus 8:6 “Dishonour not a man in his old age” (but note the difference of motive), “for some of us also are waxing old.”

μὴ ἐπιπλήξης] cf. μὴ πλήκτην, 3:3, Titus 1:7 note, and Hierocles ap. Stob. Flor. T. lxxix. 53, εἰ τι που γέοιντο παραμαρτάνοντες, ἐπανορθώτεον μέν, ὰλλʼ οὐ μετʼ ἐπιπληξέως . . . καθάπερ ἔθος πρὸς τοὺς ἐλάττονας ἢ ἴσους ποιεῖν, ἀλλʼ ὡς μετὰ παρακλησέως (Field, Ot. Norv. ad loc.).

ὡς πατέρα] cf. Plato, Legg. p. 879 C, τὸν δὲ προέχοντα εἴκοσιν ἡλικίας ἔτεσιν ἄρῥενα ἢ θῆλυν νομίζων ὡς πατέρα ἢ μητέρα διευλαβεῖσθω. Aul. Gell. ii. 15, “majores natu a minoribus colebantur ad Deum prope et parentum vicem” (Wetstein). “One who has been familiar with the ordinary Greek usage in modern times can feel no doubt that these verses imply that Timothy should actually address men and women older than himself by the titles ‘father’ and ‘mother,’ while he was advised to salute those who were approximately of the same age with himself as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’” (Ramsay, Expositor, 1910, p. 326).

2. ὡς μητέρας] cf. Romans 16:13 “his mother and mine.”

ἐν πάσῃ ἁγνείᾳ] cf. Matthew 5:27ff. Wetstein quotes no illustration of this command.

3-16. The care for widows, based on natural sympathy for suffering (τὴν σιδηρᾶν τῆς χηρείας κάμινον, Chrys. de Sacerd. i. 2), was characteristic of the Jews (cf. Psalm 68:6, Deuteronomy 10:18, Deuteronomy 24:17, Isaiah 1:17, Luke 2:37) and carried on at once by the Christian Church (Acts 6:1, Jam 1:27; Ign. Smyrn. 6, with Lightfoot’s note). They received of the alms of the Church (Justin M. Apol. i. 67), and were specially commended to the bishop’s care (Ign. ad Polyc. 4). A common instinct drew them together, and they were grouped as a body (Acts 9:39, Acts 9:41 πᾶσαι αἱ χῆραι) occupied in deeds of kindness to the poor (ib.). At some time a formal list (καταλόγος, cf. 9; “Vidua-tus,” Tert. de virg. v. 9) was made of them, and there were two classes of them, one objects of honour and charity, the other active officials of the Church; cf. Eg. Ch. Order, pp. 180, 189; Hippol. Canons, 59, 157, and most fully for the later details; Test. Dom. N. 40-43 (with notes by Maclean and Cooper); Const. Apol. iii. I-3; St. Chrys. de Sacerdot. iii. 16; Dict. Christ. Antiqq. s.v.; Wordsworth, Ministry of Grace, pp. 264-74.

The exact status implied here is not clear. A formal list is assumed to exist (9): there is a danger that unworthy recipients of charity will be admitted, and the main purpose of the writer is to control applicants, to exclude rather than to include (4, 8, 16): some have already been untrue to their ideal (12, 15). These facts imply some lapse of time. On the other hand, there are more detailed regulations for the qualifications of a widow than there were for bishop or deacon, as if the order were not yet fully established; and there is a more definite recommendation of second marriages than would have been likely in the 2nd century. It is also not clear whether two classes are implied here: (a) recipients of charity, not included in any list but dealt with as necessity arose (4-8), and (b) active officials busied with deeds of kindness (9-15). This is possible, though we might expect such a distinction to have been more clearly marked at 5:9.

The care of widows would be required Very early, and all that is laid down here would be possible in a church that had been founded for ten years.

Paraphrase. In dealing with widows, distinguish between those who have any to support them and those who have not. To the last give official recognition and support; but if any have children or grandchildren, let these learn their first lessons in true piety by respect for their own family, and make due return to their forbears, for this is acceptable in God’s sight. But one who is really a widow and left entirely alone in the world has only God to trust in, and remains constant in her prayers and supplications evening and morning: whereas a widow who lives a life of pleasure and self-indulgence is no better than a living corpse. Hand on to them these instructions, that none of them may be liable to censure. But any Christian who makes no provision for his own kith and kin, especially those who live under his own roof, thereby gives the lie to the Christian faith and is worse than his heathen neighbours.

There is another distinction to be made. You must have an official list for widows in the service of the Church, and no one should be put on this list unless she is at least sixty years old, and has proved herself faithful to her husband: she must be one of whom her neighbours speak well for her kind actions, if she has brought up children carefully, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has with her own hands washed the feet of God’s people on their travels, if she has relieved those in trouble—in a word, if she has at all times thrown her whole heart into good deeds.

But do not put on your list of widows any one younger than sixty. For such, whenever they chafe and fret against the restrictions which their allegiance to Christ involves, wish to marry and so expose themselves to censure as being untrue to their first devotion to Him. Nay, more than that, they also train themselves to be nothing better than idlers, as they gad about from house to house: yes, not only idlers but gossips and busybodies, chattering about things on which it is better to be silent. It is my wish therefore that younger women should marry, bear children, rule their households, and so give no occasion to any enemy to abuse the Church. For, short as the time has been, yet some have already turned aside from their allegiance to Christ to be followers of Satan.

One word more. If any such woman has any widows in her household, she should, as I have already said about men, support them herself and not let the expense fall on the Church funds: they are needed for the support of those who are widows in the fullest sense, with no one to support them.

Parry suggests a possible displacement of the text and would arrange the verses in this order: 3, 4, 8, 7, 5, 6, 9. This would be more natural, but is scarcely necessary.

3. τίμα] “Show due respect and honour to” (cf. vv. 1, 2 and 6:1). Such respect would include (a) sustenance when needed. Cf. 17, Matthew 15:4-6; and Wohlenberg aptly quotes Hom. Il. 12. 310, Γλαῦκε, τίη δὴ νῶι τετιμήμεσθα μάλιστα ἕδρῃ τε κρέασίν τʼ ἠδὲ πλείοις δεπάεσσιν;

(b) Perhaps also a special seat in the meetings and rank in the Church hierarchy; cf. Origen, in Joannem, ii. p. 412 (Lommatzsch), ἡ καταλεγομένη εἰς ἐκκλησιαστικὴν τιμὴν χήρα. Concil. Laodic. Canon 11, αἱ προκαθημέναι: but it must not be limited to these. Respect would be equally due to widows not supported by the Church, cf. 4; cf. Hippol. Canons, 59, “Viduis propter copiosas orationes, infirmorum curam et frequens jejunium præcipuus honor tribuatur.”

τὰς ὄντως] in contrast to (a) any who have friends who can support them4; (b) any who live self-indulgent lives, who deserve neither support nor respect6.

4. εὐσεβεῖν] “pie tractare” (Ambros.) rarely applied to human beings, though εὐσέβεια was used of loyalty to the Emperor (cf. 2:2 note, and vid. M.M. s.v.): here πρῶτον suggests deeper lessons to be learnt afterwards. Let them learn their first lessons in εὐσεβεία in their treatment of their own parents: then they will know how to reverence God’s family (cf. 3:15, supra1, 2) and God Himself; cf. note on 8.

μανθανέτωσαν] what is the nominative? Possibly “such widows” making return to their forbears by due treatment of their own children or grandchildren (Chrys. Thdt. Pelag. Holtzmann, Wohlenberg), but more probably “such children and grandchildren” as τέκνα ἢ ἔκγονα lead up more naturally to τοῖς προγόνοις, and this gives a better antithesis to v. 5, and is more in accordance with the whole drift of the paragraph which is about the support of widows rather than their duties (so Theod.-Mops. Bengel, Liddon, von Soden). For the sense of this filial duty in the pagan world, cf. Eur. Or. 462-69, Iph. in Aul. 1228; Demosth. c. Aristog. 1, ἐγὼ γὰρ ἄπιστον καὶ θεοῖς ἐχθρόν, οὐ μόνον ἀνθρώποις, ὑπολαμβάνω τὸν τῶν γονέων ἀμελοῦντα, and other illustrations in Wetstein.

ἀμοιβάς] The plural is common (even when speaking of one person; cf. Eur. Or. l.c. ἀπέδωκʼ ἀμοιβὰς οὐ καλάς); cf. Inscr. Cagnat. iv. 293, ii. 39, κομιζόμενος τῶν εὐεργεσιῶν ἀξίας τὰς ἀμοιβάς (M.M. s.v.).

5. καὶ μομονωμένη] cf. 4 Mac 16:10 ἡ πολύπαις καὶ καλλίπαις γυνὴ χήρα καὶ μόνη πολύθρηνος.

ταῖς δεήσεσιν] the prayers, i.e. those at the meetings of the Church (cf. Luke 2:37 ἡ οὐκ ἀφίστατο ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱεροῦ νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσι λατρεύουσα), or those prescribed for widows to say in private. Hymns of praise for widows to say at night and at dawn are given in full in Test. Dom. N. c. 43.

6. σπαταλῶσα] probably akin to σπάω, to suck down, hence to live luxuriously, self-indulgently, often combined with τρυφᾶν: cf. Jam 5:5, Ezekiel 16:49 ἐν πλησμονῇ ἄρτων καὶ ἐν εὐθηνίᾳ ἐσπατάλων αὐτὴ καὶ αἱ θυγατέρες αὐτῆς: Proverbs 29:21 κατασπαταλᾶν. Hermas, Sim. vi. 1; Barn. x. 3; Ps.-Chrys. de pœna, ix. 277 E, ὁ σπαταλίστης ἐκεῖνος of Dives in Luke 16:19. For these and other illustrations, cf. Hort on Jas. ubi sup. and Add. Note, p. 107. Vulg. “quæ in deliciis est”; Th.-Mops. “solis epulis et deliciis vacare properans.”

ζῶσα τέθνηκε] possibly suggested by Luke 15:24 νεκρὸς ἦν καὶ ἔζησε (Resch), but the thought is common; cf. Revelation 3:1 ὄνομα ἔχεις ὅτι ζῇς καὶ νεκρὸς εἶ: Hermas, Sim. vi. c. 2, τῶν τοιούτων ἡ ζωὴ θανατός ἐστιν: Juv. viii. 85, “Dignus morte perit, cœnet licet ostrea centum Gaurana”; Cic. ad Att. xii. 2, “Homini non recta sed voluptaria quærenti nonne βεβίωται?” (cf. Wetstein for other illustrations). So Dante sees in hell the soul of Friar Alberigo whose body is still on earth (Inf. xxxiii.).

8. εἰ δέ τις . . . οὐ προνοεῖ]. This command takes up again the command of 4, showing that the duty of children or grandchildren was part of a general law of Christian duty. It may include the duty of a Christian providing for his widow and children in case of his death (so Hofmann and Wohlenberg; cf. Judith 8:7 and the requirement of Jewish Law, that a husband should always so provide for his widow at the time of marriage, vid. Jewish Encyclopædia, s.v. Ketubah), but it cannot be limited to that. There is an interesting analogy to this argument in Philo, de Decalogo, § 23, who argues that men who neglect their parents are worse than storks, who show εὐσεβεία (cf. 5 supra) towards them and provide for them in their old age; and he concludes ἀμήχανον δʼ εὐσεβεῖσθαι τὸν ἀόρατον ὑπὸ τῶν εἰς τοὺς ἐμφανεῖς καὶ ἐγγὺς ὄντας ἀσεβούντων.

οἰκείων, probably a narrower circle than ἰδίων (for μάλιστα cf. 4:10, Galatians 6:10), his relations, and especially any who are still members of his household; but the two may refer to the same persons, those who are his own kin and most closely intimate with him (Expositor, Jan. 1922).

τὴν πίστιν ἤρνηται (cf. Titus 1:16), he has been untrue to the Christian faith, which requires honour for parents as part of the Christian duty.

ἀπίστου χείρων] (a) Because unbelievers perform the duty; cf. Eur. Fragm. 852 (Nauck):

ὅστις δὲ τῶ φύσαντε μὴ τιμᾶν θέλει

μή μοι γένοιτο μήτε συνθύτης θεοῖς

μήτʼ ἐν θαλάσσῃ κοινόπλουν στέλλοι σκάφος.

(b) Because he has not only the law of nature but the law of Christ to guide him, cf. Galatians 6:2, Galatians 6:10. For similar appeal to heathen morality, cf. Romans 2:14, 1 Corinthians 5:1, Php 4:8; and for the same a fortiori argument, John 19:11.

9. καταλεγέσθω (ἅπ. λεγ. in N.T.) placed on a list of those who were pledged (cf. πίστιν, 12) to life-long widowhood.

ἐτῶν ἑξήκοντα] when the desire for marriage 12 would have passed; the age fixed by Plato for men and women to become priests and priestesses in his ideal state (Laws, p. 759 D), and regarded by Orientals as the time for retiring from the world for quiet contemplation (Ramsay, Expositor, 1910, p. 439).

10. ἕὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή] cf. 3:2 note. The arguments for translating “married only once” are stronger in this case, because of the dislike of “nuptiæ secundæ” and the praise of the “univira” or “virginea” both in the Jewish (Judith 16:22, Luke 2:36) and in the heathen world (cf. Tert. ad Uxor. 1. c. 6, De Monog. c. 17, and illustrations in Wetstein). Yet the permission to remarry 14 points the other way; the writer would scarcely exclude from the official list a widow who on his advice had remarried and again become a widow. Hence “faithful to one man” remains possible. So Thd.-Mops. Thdt. τὸ σωφρόνως ἐν γάμῳ βιοῦν νομοθετεῖ: Ramsay and many modern Commentators.

ἐτεκνοτρόφησεν] “vel suos vel alienos” (Bengel); the context (ἐργ. καλ. μαρτυρ.) suggests something that goes beyond the duties of her own home; and Church widows later had the charge of orphans, Herm. Mand. viii. There may be implied—if she has not exposed her children, but brought them up (Hillard).

ἐξενοδόχησεν] cf. 3:2 φιλόξενον, note, Acts 16:15, Hebrews 13:2. Chrys. ad loc. ὡς αὐτὸν δεχομένη τὸν Χριστόν.

εἰ ἁγίων πόδας ἔνιψεν] Cf. 1 S 25:41, Luke 7:44, John 13:14.

εἰ . . . ἐπηκολούθησεν] “If she has followed up thoroughly (ἐπί) every good work,” summing up the preceding and expanding it to include all good tasks (ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ), not merely those that stand out in the eyes of the world (ἔργοις καλοῖς). Cf. Plato, Rep. 370 B, ἀνάγκη τὸν πράττοντα τῷ πραττομένῳ ἐπακαλουθεῖν μὴ ἐν παρέργου μέρει (Wohlenberg), and illustrations from the papyri, ap. M.M. s.v. There may also be the new point—“if she has helped in the good works which others have begun” (Liddon), but this would probably have been more clearly expressed.

καταστρηνιάσωσι (ἅπαξ λεγ., but cf. στρηνιᾶν, Revelation 18:9; στρῆνος, Revelation 18:3, Revelation 18:2 K 19:28 used of the Assyrian king, τὸ στρῆνός σου ἀνέβη ἐν τοῖς ὠσί μου), to grow physically restless and so restive against the limitations of Christian widowhood; Apost. Const. iii. 1, προφάσει τοῦ μὴ δύνασθαι κρατεῖν τῆς ἀκμῆς.

12. κρίμα] liable to severe judgment, i.e. primarily of men (cf. 14), though the thought of the divine judgment lies in the background, cf. 24; Apost. Const. iii. 1, λόγον ὑφέξει τῷ θεῷ.

τὴν πρώτην πίστιν (cf. Revelation 2:4 τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν πρώτην, 2:5 τὰ πρῶτα ἔργα), the original impulse of faith which led her to join the widows; or more exactly “the first troth” or “promise of allegiance” made when she joined, τὴν συνθήκην λέγει, Chrys. “primam fidem susceptae viduitatis,” Tert. de Monog. 13. ὅτι τὴν ἑαύτης ἐπαγγελίαν οὐκ ἐφύλαξε, Apost. Const. iii. 1 (cc. 1-3 are an expansion and interesting later comment on this section). Cf. Psalm 14:4 ὁ ὀμνύων τῷ πλησίον αὐτοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἀθετῶν.

13. ἀργαὶ μανθάνουσι] “they learn to be idle,” an unusual construction, but found in the technical phrase of learning a profession; cf. παλαιστὴς μανθάνειν, ἱατρός μανθάνειν, Chrys. vii. p. 699 A, ix. p. 259 B (Field, Otium Norvic. ad loc.). Hence it is unnecessary to suppose that εἶναι has dropped out of the text (Blass, N.T. Gr. § 73), or to conjecture λανθάνουσι (Hitzig).

μανθάνουσι] cf. 2 Timothy 3:7 πάντοτε μανθάνοντα, and contrast sup. 2:11 ἐν ἡσυχίᾳ μανθανέτω.

14. νεωτέρας] i.e. χήρας 11, “juvenculas viduas,” Tert. ubi sup.; though, perhaps, not limited to them (von Soden), cf. Titus 2:4, Titus 2:5.

οἰκοδεσποτεῖν] “The application of the word to a wife implies the new and improved position which was secured to women by the Gospel” (Liddon), but οἰκοδέσποινα is found in Plutarch and other non-Christian writers.

τῷ ἀντικειμένῳ] Any human opponent of the Gospel, anxious to use a scandal as a means of discrediting the Church (cf. 3:7, 6:1, Titus 2:5, Titus 2:8, 1 Corinthians 16:9); or perhaps “The Adversary,” i.e. Satan, as in (Philo) Bibl. Ant. xlv. 6, the human adversary being thought of as his agent.

15. ἤδη] cf. οὕτω ταχέως, Galatians 1:6; ἐξετράπησαν, cf. 1:6, turned out of the true path (cf. the “Two Ways”) from following the true leader (Matthew 16:24 εἴ τις θέλει ὀπίσω μου ἐλθεῖν) to follow false teachers (Acts 20:30 τοῦ ἀποσπᾶν τοὺς μαθητὰς ὀπίσω αὐτῶν), nay, the great opponent himself, i.e. by second marriage after the promise of perpetual widowhood; or by such lives as those described in 13, cf. 2 Timothy 3:6.

16. εἴ τις πιστή] The general principle (cf. 4 and 8) is reasserted and applied to women, who have just been thought of as managing households (14). Such a woman may have a widowed mother, or grandmother, or daughter, or even servant in her house.

17-25. Discipline over presbyters.

(a) Reward for faithful work, 17, 18, 25.

(b) Censure for faults, 19-22, 24.

Personal digression, 23.

Cf. Apost. Const. ii. 6 sqq. Apost. Canon 74, 75 for later expansion of these rules; and for the spirit in which the discipline was exercised, cf. Tert. Apol. 39, “judicatur magno cum pondere, ut apud certos de Dei conspectu, summumque futuri judicii præjudicium est.”

Paraphrase. Let such presbyters as have presided well be treated by the Church as deserving of yet greater honour and more ample support, especially those who take pains with preaching and teaching, for Scripture lays down the definite command, “Thou shalt not muzzle an ox when treading out corn,” and the Lord Himself has said, “The labourer is worthy of his wages.” If an accusation is brought against any presbyter, refuse to listen to it unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. But those presbyters who are proved guilty rebuke before all, that the rest may fear to imitate them. When you act as judge, keep before yourself the thought of the last judgment, of God, of Jesus Christ, of the chosen angels; and carefully observe these rules, never making up your mind beforehand, never acting out of favouritism. If you have passed censure on any one, do not be over hasty in remitting the penalty; do not let your own good name be soiled by contact with the sins of others; keep your own life pure and untarnished. You have done so hitherto and have with that view abstained from wine, but I would advise you no longer to keep this rule; take wine sparingly, as your digestion is weak and you are so often ill. Such weakness may impair your judgment. In your decisions as judge you will need careful patience; in some cases, no doubt, the sins are patent to everybody and lead you by the hand to a decision, but in others they only appear after investigation. In the same way excellent actions are, as a rule, patent to everybody, and those that are not cannot in the end remain hidden.

17. πρεσβυτέροι] not of age, but of official position: apparently the same as that of the ἐπίσκοπος, cf. 3:2 (διδακτικόν) 3:5 (προϊστάμενον).

διπλῆς τιμῆς] in the widest sense “honour,” “respect” (3 note, 6:1; cf. Didache, 4, τιμήσεις αὐτὸν ὡς κύριον: Apost. Const. ii. 28, τιμᾶν διὰ τῶν προεστώτων κύριον τὸν θεόν); but such respect has to show itself through material support from the offerings of the faithful; cf. Apost. Ch. Order, 12, τιμήσεις αὐτὸν . . . ἐκ τοῦ πόνου τῶν χειρῶν σου: hence διπλῆς may be quite literal, twice the amount of firstfruits (cf. Didache, c. 13) that is given to others, perhaps especially twice that given to widows (3-16, cf. Apost. Const. ii. 28, ὅσον δʼ ἑκάστῃ τῶν πρεσβυτίδων δίδοται, διπλοῦν διδόσθω τοῖς διακόνοις . . . τότε δὲ πρεσβυτέροις . . . διπλῆ καὶ αὐτοῖς ἀφοριζέσθω ἡ μοῖρα . . . ἑκάστῳ οὖν ἀξιώματι οἱ λαϊκοὶ τὴν προσήκουσαν τιμὴν νεμετωσαν τοῖς δόμασι καὶ τῇ κατὰ τὸν βίον ἐντροπῇ). Cf. Wetstein for illustrations of double pay given to soldiers who had done good service.

οἱ κοπιῶντες] distinguishes those presbyters who teach from those who only preside; or, perhaps, those who take special pains from those who do not; cf. II 2:6.

18. βοῦν κ.τ.λ.] Deuteronomy 25:4, quoted by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:9.

ἄξιος κ.τ.λ.] Luke 10:7. The analogy of 1 Corinthians 9:9-14 οὕτω καὶ ὁ κύριος διέταξεν, makes it clear that this is quoted not as a well known proverb, but as a saying of the Lord. As such it might be known to the writer orally, or possibly in the Lucan copy of Q (τοῦ μισθοῦ, Lk.; but τῆς τροφῆς, Mt.). In the latter case it might be included under the introductory phrase ἡ γραφή, and would be the earliest instance of the Lord’s words being quoted as “Scripture.”

19. ἐπὶ δύο . . . μαρτύρων] The words were omitted in some MSS known to Jerome, but in no extant MS, and are necessary to the context. Perhaps “Do not let an accusation be brought before you in private, unless two or three witnesses are present with you to hear it” (Holtzmann, Wohlenberg, cf. Apost. Canon 74, ἐπίσκοπον κατηγορηθέντα ἐπί τινι παρὰ ἀξιοπίστων ἀνθρώπων καλεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ἀνάγκαιον), where the trial follows: but more probably it refers to the actual trial, a short phrase equivalent to ἐπὶ στόματος δύο κ.τ.λ., “unless two or three support the charge with their evidence”—the rule of Jewish law (Deuteronomy 19:15) taken up by our Lord (Matthew 18:16), by St. Paul (2 Corinthians 13:1), and later applied to a charge against an ἐπίσκοπος, Apost. Canon 75, which limits the witnesses to orthodox Christians, εἰς μαρτυρίαν τὴν κατʼ ἐπισκόπου αἰρετικ̣ὸν μὴ προσδέχεσθαι, ἀλλὰ μηδὲ πιστῶν ἕνα μόνον.

20. τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας] perhaps “those who persist in sin” (present partic.), cf. Titus 3:11. The context limits this and πάντων and οἱ λοιποί to presbyters.

21. Cf. II 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:13. The appeal is to the thought of those who will take part in the final judgment (Matthew 25:31), with the double suggestion—(a) Judge, as one who has to represent on earth the Divine Judge in heaven, cf. Matthew 18:18, and Tertullian, Apol. 39, quoted on p. 61. (b) Judge, as one who will have himself to be judged for his actions as judge.

τῶν ἐκλ. ἀγγ.] cf. Odes of Solomon, 4. 8, “the elect archangels.” Test. XII. Patr. Lev_19, μάρτυς ἐστὶ κύριος καὶ μάρτυρες οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτοῦ: 4 Esdr 16:68 “quomodo abscondetis peccata vestra coram Deo et angelis ejus.” They are “elect” in contrast to the fallen angels; but the main thought is “chosen to share in the judgment”; cf. Charles, Revelation 14:10, and τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν ἐν Ῥώμῃ δικαστῶν, O.G.I.S. 4993 (M.M. s.v.).

22. χεῖρας ἐπιτίθει] Either “ordain no one hastily”: the need of discipline over presbyters suggests the importance of great care at ordination to prevent subsequent troubles: he must be careful to keep his hands quite clean, to allow no suspicion of favouritism or of condoning evil, lest he be tarred with the brush of others’ sins. An interesting expansion of this will be found in Chrys. de Sacerd. iv. 374-78. This is supported by 3:10 and the use of χεῖρας ἐπιτίθεναι in the N.T. (so all the Greek commentators, von Soden),1 but it is not very appropriate to the context.

Or, more probably, after you have passed judgment, do not be hasty in revoking it and receiving the offender back again into communion; cf. Jam 5:15, 2 Corinthians 2:6-11. This was done later by laying on of hands; cf. Cyprian, Ep. 74. § 12, “hos enim oportet cum redeunt acta paenitentia per manus impositionem solam recipi.” Eusebius, H.E. vii. 2 (who speaks of it as a παλαιὸν ἔθος for receiving heretics into the Church); Apost. Const. ii. 18 (of any penitent) χειροθετήσας αὐτὸν ἔα λοιπὸν εἶναι ἐν τῷ ποιμνίῳ, ib. 41 and 43. This suits better the context, which is one of discipline, and also the following command against being implicated in the sins of others; cf. De Aleatoribus, § 1, “salutari doctrina admonemur ne, dum delinquentibus adsidue ignoscimus, ipsi cum eis pariter torqueamur” (so Hammond, Ellicott, Hort (Christian Ecclesia, p. 214), Chase (Confirmation in the Apostolic Age, p. 65), Holtzmann).

23. ἁγνόν] of personal purity; cf. 4:12, 5:2, with perhaps a wider reference, free from all contact with evil and the sins of others; cf. Apost. Const. ii. 17.

ὑδροποτεῖν] here only in N.T., but Daniel 1:12 (LXX); and in classical authors, cf. Harrison, p. 165. This suggests that Timothy had adopted the rule of entire abstinence from wine, whether for example’s sake or from ascetic reasons; cf. Daniel 1:12; Philo, de Vit. C., p. 477 of the Therapeutæ. Similar advice is given for the bishop in Test. D. N. cc. 22 and 31; also cf. Epict. iii. 13, 21, and Hillard aptly quotes G. Herbert, A Priest to the Temple, c. x. “It may be added, not for emboldening the unruly but for the comfort of the weak, that not only sickness breaks the obligations of fasting, but also sickliness. For it is as unnatural to do anything that leads me to a sickness to which I am inclined, as not to get out of that sickness when I am in it, by any diet.”

διὰ τὸν στόμαχον] cf. Libanius, Ep. 1578, πέπτωκε καὶ ἡμῖν ὁ στόμαχος ταῖς συνέχεσιν ὑδροποσίαις (Wetstein).

24, 25 return to the main subject, emphasizing the need of careful examination both for praise and for censure. προδηλοί, in the sight of all, cf. Hebrews 7:14; προάγουσαι, cf. 1:18 note; Ep. Barn. 4. 12, ἐὰν ᾖ ἀγαθός, ἡ δικαιονύνη αὐτοῦ προηγήσεται αὐτόν· ἐὰν ᾖ πονηρός, ὁ μισθὸς τῆς πονηρίας ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ. κρίσιν, i.e. primarily Timothy’s judgment, but the thought of the Divine judgment lies behind (cf. Tert. Apol. l.c. p. 61, and the Agraphon, ἴδου ἄνθρωπος καὶ τὸ ἔργον αὐτοῦ: Resch, Agrapha, pp. 133, 265, 293).

25. τὰ ἄλλως ἔχοντα] i.e. not πρόδηλα. They cannot in the end be hidden, and you will be able to honour them adequately. τὰ ἔργα τὰ καλά recalls καλῶς 17 but goes beyond that instance.

M.M. The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament, by J. H. Moulton and G. Milligan, 1914-

Blass, Grammar of New Testament Greek, English translation, 1898.

O.G.I.S. Orientis Grœci Inscriptiones Selectœ, ed. W. Dittenberger, 1903-1905.

1 Wetstein quotes, to illustrate the thought, Isocrates, ad Demonic, § 38, εἰς ἀρχὴν κατασταθεὶς μηδένι χρῶ πονηρῷ πρὸς τὰς διοικήσεις· ὧν γὰρ ἂν ἐκεῖνος ἁμάρτοι, σοὶ τὰς αἰτίας ἀναθήσουσιν. Hor. Ep. i. 18. 77, “Qualem commendes etiam atque etiam aspice, ne mox Incutiant aliena tibi peccata pudorem.”

The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
Honour widows that are widows indeed.
But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
For some are already turned aside after Satan.
If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.
Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
ICC New Testament commentary on selected books

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