1 Timothy 5:17-22
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.…
I. ITS FAITHFULNESS SHOULD BE HONOURED. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour."
II. ITS REPUTATION SHOULD BE CHERISHED.
1. We ought to be slow to believe evil. "Against an elder" (here used in the official sense and not with reference to age) "receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses," or (as the Revised Version has it), "except at the mouth of two or three witnesses." The reference is obviously to a well-known Mosaic law. Timothy was not to be credulous of evil reports, he was to pay no attention to mere gossip, and still less was he to show any encouragement to slanderers. He was not appointed specially as a judge; but in contentions, such as unhappily arose in the Church, his authority would often be appealed to. Again and again noble reputations have been ruined by slander, and the injustice and wickedness of the charges have only been demonstrated when it was too late to repair the wrong. But while we are to be slow to believe evil —
2. We ought to be brave in the rebuke of evil. No fear of man, no mincing words to please fastidious ears, no wish to smother up iniquity, should be ours. "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
III. ITS ASPIRANTS SHOULD BE APPROVED. "Lay hands suddenly (or hastily) on no man." The custom of the laying on of hands dates back to patriarchal times. Jacob laid his hands on Ephraim and Manasseh when he blessed them. It was an appropriate indication of the subject of prayer, a solemn act of designation and of dedication; and in the apostolic days it was used to sanction and ratify the elective act of the Church. In such work we are not to be ruled by caprice, excluding one we dislike; nor by partiality, appointing our personal friends, or those having some claims upon us. "I charge thee" (says Paul) "before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality." What could be a stronger inducement to the keeping of these commands than the realization of the fact that an unseen God and holy angels are near us, and that all our works, and even our purposes, are open and naked before Him with whom we have to do! And there is yet another word here for every Christian, especially for those who work for the Master, namely this: "Be not partaker of other men's sins; keep thyself pure," for the emphasis in the original is to be laid just there. It is easy enough to see other people's faults, and even to rebuke them; but beware lest any have occasion to turn on you and say, "Physician, heal thyself." Purity in the sense of chastity is, no doubt, included here, for an impure life is fatal to a Christian and ruinous to his influence for good — nay, even if such evil is only harboured within, it will prove the paralysis of spiritual life.
(A. Rowland, LL. B.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.