New International Version
Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
King James Bible
Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
Darby Bible Translation
Drink no longer only water, but use a little wine on account of thy stomach and thy frequent illnesses.
World English Bible
Be no longer a drinker of water only, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities.
Young's Literal Translation
no longer be drinking water, but a little wine be using, because of thy stomach and of thine often infirmities;
1 Timothy 5:23 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
Drink no longer water, but use a little wine - The whole of this verse seems, to several learned critics and divines, strangely inserted in this place; it might have been, according to them, a note which the apostle inserted in the margin of his letter, on recollecting the precarious state of Timothy's health, and his great abstemiousness and self-denial. I believe the verse to be in its proper place; and, for reasons which I shall adduce, not less necessary than the directions which precede and follow it. But it may be necessary to inquire a little into the reasons of the advice itself. The priests under the Mosaic law, while performing sacred rites, were forbidden to drink wine: Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever through your generations; Leviticus 10:9; Ezekiel 44:21. It was the same with the Egyptian priests. It was forbidden also among the Romans, and particularly to women and young persons. Plato, De Legibus, lib. ii., edit. Bip., vol. viii., page 86, speaks thus: Αρ' ου νομοθετησομεν, πρωτον μεν, τους παιδας μεχρις ετων οκτωκαιδεκα τοπαραπαν οινου μη γευεσται; - μετα δε τουτο, οινου μεν δη γευεσθαι του μετριου, μεχρι τριακοντα ετων· - τετταρακοντα δε επιβαινοντα ετων, εν τοις ξυσσιτιοις ευωχηθεντα, κ. τ. λ. "Shall we not ordain by law, in the first place, that boys shall not, on any account, taste wine till they are eighteen years old? In the next place, we should inform them that wine is to be used moderately till they are thirty years old. But when they have attained the fortieth year, then they may attend feasts; for Bacchus has bestowed wine upon men as a remedy against the austerity of old age, της του γηρως αυστηροτητος εδωρησατο τον οινον φαρμακον, ὡστ' ανηβᾳν ἡμας, και δυσθυμιας ληθην γιγνεσθαι, μαλακωτερον εκ σκληροτερου το της ψυχης ηθος, καθαπερ εις πυρ σιδηρον εντεθεντα, γιγνομενον· that through this we might acquire a second youth, forget sorrow, and the manners of the mind be rendered softer, as iron is softened by the action of the fire." But wine, according to the assertions of some, was given to men as a punishment, that they might be rendered insane: Ὁ δε νυν λεγομενος ὑφ' ἡμων, φαρμακον επι τουναντιον φησιν αιδους μεν ψυχης κτησεως ἑνεκα δεδοσθαι, σωματος δε ὑγιειας τε και ισχυος· page 100. "But we have now said that it is, on the contrary, medicine; and was given that the soul might acquire modesty, and the body health and vigor."
From Athenaeus we learn that the Greeks often mingled their wine with water; sometimes one part of wine to two of water; three parts of water to one of wine; and at other times three parts of water to two of wine. See his Deipnosophistae, lib. ix. "Among the Locrians, if any one was found to have drunk unmixed wine, unless prescribed by a physician, he was punished with death; the laws of Zaleucus so requiring. And among the Romans, no servant, nor free woman, ουτε των ελευθερων οἱ εφηβοι μεχρι τριακοντα ετων, nor youths of quality, drank any wine till they were thirty years of age." Deipnosoph., lib. x. c. 7, p. 429. And it was a maxim among all, that continued water-drinking injured the stomach. Thus Libanius, Epist. 1578. Πεπτωκε και ἡμιν ὁ στομαχος ταις συνεχεσιν ὑδροποσιαις· "Our stomach is weakened by continual water-drinking."
From 1 Timothy 4:12, we learn that Timothy was a young man; but as among the Greeks and Roman the state of youth or adolescence was extended to thirty years, and no respectable young men were permitted to drink wine before that time; allowing that Timothy was about twenty when Paul had him circumcised, which was, according to Calmet, in the year of our Lord 51, and that this epistle was written about a.d. 64 or 65, then Timothy must have been about thirty-five when he received this epistle; and as that was on the borders of adolescence, and as the Scripture generally calls that youth that is not old age, Timothy might be treated as a young man by St. Paul, as in the above text, and might still feel himself under the custom of his country relative to drinking wine, (for his father was a Greek, Acts 16:1), and, through the influence of his Christian profession, still continue to abstain from wine, drinking water only; which must have been very prejudicial to him, his weak state of health considered, the delicacy of his stomach, and the excess of his ecclesiastical labors.
As Timothy's life was of great consequence to the Church of God at Ephesus, it was not unworthy of the Spirit of God to give the direction in the text, and to mingle it immediately with what some have called more solemn and important advice.
1. It was necessary that the work should be done in the Church at Ephesus which the apostle appointed to Timothy.
2. There was no person at Ephesus fit to do this work but Timothy.
3. Timothy could not continue to do it if he followed his present mode of abstemiousness.
4. It was necessary, therefore, that he should receive direction from Divine authority relative to the preservation of his life, and consequently the continuation of his usefulness, as it is not likely that a minor authority would have weighed with him.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
It is surprising that it should have entered any one's mind to make a Sacrament of Confirmation out of that laying on of hands which Christ applied to little children, and by which the apostles bestowed the Holy Spirit, ordained presbyters, and healed the sick; as the Apostle writes to Timothy: "Lay hands suddenly on no man." (1 Tim. v. 22.) Why not also make a confirmation out of the sacrament of bread, because it is written: "And when he had received meat, he was strengthened" (Acts ix. 19); or …
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