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1Timothy 5 (web)

5:1 Don't rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father;
the younger men as brothers;
5:2 the elder women as mothers;
the younger as sisters, in all purity.


5:3 Honor widows who are widows indeed.
5:4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren,
let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to repay their parents,
for this is {TR adds "good and"} acceptable in the sight of God.
5:5 Now she who is a widow indeed, and desolate, has her hope set on God,
and continues in petitions and prayers night and day.
5:6 But she who gives herself to pleasure is dead while she lives.
5:7 Also command these things, that they may be without reproach.
5:8 But if anyone doesn't provide for his own, and especially his own household,
he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.

5:9 Let no one be enrolled as a widow under sixty years old,

5:11 But refuse younger widows,

for when they have grown wanton against Christ, they desire to marry;
5:12 having condemnation, because they have rejected their first pledge.
5:13 Besides, they also learn to be idle, going about from house to house.
Not only idle, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.
5:14 I desire therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children,
rule the household, and give no occasion to the adversary for reviling.
5:15 For already some have turned aside after Satan.
5:16 If any man or woman who believes has widows, let them relieve them,
and don't let the assembly be burdened; that it might relieve those who are widows indeed.


5:17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching.
5:18 For the Scripture says,
"You shall not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain." (Deut 25:4)
And, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." (Lev 19:13)
5:19 Don't receive an accusation against an elder, except at the word of two or three witnesses.
5:20 Those who sin, reprove in the sight of all, that the rest also may be in fear.

5:21 I charge you in the sight of God, and Christ Jesus, and the chosen angels,

Discussion Questions

vs 1-2 Should we treat Christians differently based on their age and gender?
vs 3-16
Would you say that your parents and grandparents desires are fulfilled or can you do something more to meet their desires?
Would you say that your parents and grandparents needs are fulfilled or can you do something more to meet their needs?
Between meeting their needs and meeting their desires, where does your responsibility end?
vs 6 What's wrong with living for pleasure? (Xref Luke 8:14; 2Tim 3:4; Titus 3:3)
vs 13 Paul is making a generality about younger women. Would you also make the same kind of generality about women today, or are they different now?
vs 14 Why does he recommend marriage for young widows, yet recommends singleness for virgins in 1Cor 7:25+
vs 17 What does it mean by "double honor"?
vs 20 Why is this not a contradiction of vs 1?
vs 21,22 What problems is Paul warning Timothy about that are often characteristic of those in positions of authority?


vs 1-2 Timothy is exhorted to treat younger men as brothers, rather than as sons or children. Yet Paul often speaks of younger Christians and even Timothy, as his children (1Cor 4:14; 1Tim 1:2). I suspect that Timothy was rather young and Paul may have considered it too condescending for him to treat younger men and women as children. But perhaps pastors should seriously consider whether they are treating their congregation in a too condescending manner as speaking with children rather than adults. Also, for obvious reasons Paul adds "with absolute purity" when speaking of relationships with younger women, for though they are sisters in spirit, they are generally not sisters in the flesh.

vs 3-16 Widows

What provisions did God make for Widows in the Law of Moses? vs 9,10 Paul commands that regular Christian giving in a sort of Christian welfare for widows program should be limited to widows who are worthy as he defines above, though I suspect others would be provided for on a less regular basis as the need arose.

vs 11,12 Implies that being put on the widows list and receiving regular welfare support obligated one to take a pledge to remain single.

vs 18 The Deut quoted Paul explains more extensively in 1Cor 9:9 that one application is that Christian ministers are entitled to payment for their services (although Paul purposely serves free of charge). In the institutional environment that characterizes modern day Christendom, this normally is applied just to full-time Christian ministers. But this is incorrect, as in such a case Paul himself would not qualify for such a payment. It really applies to all who have devoted themselves to the work of preaching and teaching the Bible. The "double honor" Paul mentions is respect and monetary compensation.

vs 21 Cronyism (Favoritism shown to old friends without regard for their qualifications) is often a temptation faced by those in authority.

If those in authority simply develop an attitude of not caring what others except God think about them, they could easily escape the snares of favoritism. "How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" John 5:44

Additional Comments

Exhort Men

1Tim 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers.

Christians should not speak to elders as they would to little children. This is generally understood in society. While correction is to be applied to every age group, the way in which the correction is applied should differ. Elders are not to be chided as one would children. They are not to be spoken in a condescending manner. Rather they are to be encouraged to walk rightly.

Peter sets the tone saying, "The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1Peter 5:1-3

And this also teaches how those older are to treat those younger.

Exhort Women

1Tim 5:2  older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity.

It's not appropriate to sharply rebuke or otherwise chide one's mother. So also in the family of God. And these are in fact mothers. For Jesus said, "For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother." Mt 12:50

Concerning sisters he adds "with all purity", given that sisters in the faith are potential mates. And thus one must give particular attention to the sexual purity of such relationships.

Honor Real Widows

1Tim 5:3 Honor widows who are really widows.

By "honor" Paul means to care for them as dependents, which is one reason why some widows are not reckoned widows in this context, as they may have sufficient resources of themselves despite not having a husband. The NIV accurately portrays the sense of this statement saying, "Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need."

Such widows and orphans are provided with special entitlements or recognition among God's people. Thus the Law of Moses states, "You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." Ex 22:21-24

But while Paul is dealing with the subject of widows, and elsewhere orphans are reckoned in a similar category, there may in fact be other people, such as the physically disabled, of whom these ideas apply to as well.

Family Responsibilities

1Tim 5:4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.

Putting religion into practice is like this: "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."Jas 1:27 So also caring for the needs of one's family is part of what it means to live the Christian life.

But in addition to both these obligations there is yet another reason to provide for widows in one's own family - namely the idea of repaying one's parents and grandparents for all the labor they put into raising you. Even at his death Jesus provided for his apparently widowed mother, saying to John, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. John 19:27

So if you've been struggling to have a clear idea as to what you can do to please God - well, there you have it!

Real Widows Pray

1Tim 5:5  Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.

For these next dozen verses Paul gets very particular of the type of widow which the church should officially support.

An example of a widow who reflects this condition is Anna of whom it is written, "Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." Luke 2:36,37

More generally this gives the poor and otherwise afflicted an idea of what God expects of them. They are to be involved in talking with God night and day. Anna understood that.

Living for Pleasure?

1Tim 5:6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.

Being a dependent and receiving entitlements, being alone, and not having a job, it's easy to spend life just watching TV, or just being involved in other such leisure activities.

But "He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."2Cor 5:15

And yes, this is somewhat a warning to retirees. Living for leisure is like the rich fool who said, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry." Luke 12:19 But to God he was dead from that moment.

Regardless of one's widowhood status or the legitimacy of receiving entitlements, if you're living for yourself rather than living to serve God, you might as well be dead as far as God is concerned.


1Tim 5:7  And these things command, that they may be blameless.

Part of attaining a blameless life is a function of someone else being willing to command and instruct us, and of our willingness to receive such commands and instruction.

And thus it is written, "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." Heb 13:17

Do you have someone watching over you as men who much give an account for you? If not, ask God to provide you with such a person or persons, which would be beneficial to your spiritual maturing unto a life above reproach.

Worse than an Unbeliever

1Tim 5:8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Here is a sterner warning than that previously mentioned in verse 4. For what is it to deny the faith and be worse than an unbeliever but to be not only unsaved but worthy of the punishment of an apostate. For, "whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?" 1John 3:17

It's kind of along the lines of the parable of the unforgiving servant of Matthew 18:23-25 who received his master's grace but with the wrong attitude and ended up condemned. For to neglect the needs of one's family, God having graciously provided for one's own need, is to devalue God's graciousness to such a point as to deny it altogether.

Of such it is written, "It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."" 2Peter 2:21,22

Church Widows

1Tim 5:9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man

In the early church they apparently kept a list of those widows the church would officially support. And not all who were widows were on the list.

One had to be old enough to be on the list. For the younger Paul speaks of later in verse 11. And as for having been the wife of one man, she must have been married but once in her lifetime. Perhaps there was concern of a divorce and remarriage situation which in light of Luke 16:18 may taint her reputation, but perhaps even in the case of remarrying as a widow there may be concern that such a person already has two families who could offer support.

But the Bible also implies a special virtue in having married but once in a lifetime, as in the Old Testament priests were not allowed to marry widows. "No priest is to drink wine when he enters the inner court. They must not marry widows or divorced women."Eze 44:21,22

Thus widows having been married to one man only were particularly above reproach, remaining faithful to their spouse even beyond what they were required.

Qualified Widows

1Tim 5:10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints' feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.

Here we gain insight of some categories of works which Christian women can invest it. Bringing up children is often undervalued in the modern feminist society in which we live. But actually one can scarcely imagine a more valuable and essential job.

Lodging strangers is another thing. Women are often hindered from ministry due to fear. (1Peter 3:6) Having strangers over is not only a bother, but also a risk. But one's hospitality overcomes such things.

Washing feet may have little relevance today. But it was a very practical albeit lowly job then in which people would walk around in sandals or bare feet among the manure laddened, dirt and dust filled streets. Yet Jesus himself stooped to wash the disciples feet. So also is commended the women who washed his feet. But who today can find in themselves the humility to stoop to such jobs?

Relieving people's affliction is yet another of the necessary credentials of the virtuous widow. How might you get involved in that activity in the near future?

And it is not just that she was involved in these activities, but also that she carried these out zealously, diligently, intentionally. Thus let us pray that we don't miss opportunities to serve due to our own laziness.

Refuse Younger Widows

1Tim 5:11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry,

What is implied here is that getting on the list meant the widow was committing herself to live the rest of her life celibate.

The practice in Catholicism of certain young men and women vowing themselves to a lifetime of celibacy is not wise, as we can see from this and the next two verses.

The NASB puts it "for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married"

Becoming a Christian does not free one from sensusal desires. Rather the Christian learns to regulate their sensual desires. For example Paul advises "if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." 1Cor 7:9

Disavowed Condemned

1Tim 5:12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith.

By "their first faith" Paul was speaking of their vow of celibacy. The Law says, "any vow of a widow or a divorced woman, by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her." Num 30:9 Though neither the Law nor Paul clarify the consequences of breaking such a vow. But if nothing else this would surely damage her reputation.

What does this imply of those who vow "till death do us part"?

Idle Widows

1Tim 5:13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.

It is not healthy for one's life to be predominantly leisure, free from labor. While God provides times for rest, it is written, "Six days you shall labor and do all your work." Ex 20:9 And we were created in Christ Jesus to be actively involved in doing good works, but idle hands are the devil's workshop.

One way in which women who have too much time on their hands fall into sins associated with idleness is by interfering in the lives of others - gossipping about others, being busybodies. The greek lexicon defines the word used for "busybody" as "busy about trifles and neglectful of important matters esp. busy about other folks' affairs."

And of busybodies Paul notes in 2Thess 3:11,12 that "we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread."

Young Widows to Marry

1Tim 5:14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

This advice shows itself to be conditional in view of his advice in 1Cor 7, namely:

1Cor 7:39,40 "A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. But she is happier if she remains as she is, according to my judgment——and I think I also have the Spirit of God."
1Cor 7:8,9 "I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion."
But in 1Tim Paul notes their characteristic lack of self-control and thus advises them to marry. But not only to marry, but to bear children. For this is honorable, and to manage the house and thus attain a good reputation honorable of a godly woman.

Turned to Satan

1Tim 5:15  For some have already turned aside after Satan.

This may have been news to them as what Paul means by turning aside to Satan may seem rather subtle. For he already allude to what this meant, namely giving oneself over to leisure and gossip, and not minding their own business - this in contrast to giving oneself over to service and good works.

Many a Christian turns aside to Satan in this manner without realizing it.

Don't Unnecessarily Burden the Church

1Tim 5:16  If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.

This is a reiteration of what he's been saying. But I'd like to focus on this idea of burdening the church unncessarily. For how many burden the church unnecessarily and divert funds which could be used for the truly needy? In fact Paul himself generally avoided burdening the church concerning his own needs, opting rather to be self-supporting - which allowed him to be generous and free up the resources of others.

Double Honor

1Tim 5:17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

By "double honor" he is referring first of all to respect and secondly to getting paid. This is the double honor. For just as he says in 1Tim 5:4 to repay one's parents, so also with spiritual parents. And besides, "the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel." 1Cor 9:14, which is why he speaks especially of those laboring in word and doctrine.

This tells us that one way in which to practice honoring others is to give them money.

Don't Muzzle the Ox

1Tim 5:18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," (Deut 25:4)and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." (Lev 19:13)

Paul elborates upon this in 1Cor 9:7-12 saying, "is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more? But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with ! anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ."

Thus while those who labor in word and doctrine have the RIGHT to get paid for doing so, they may chose to give up such personal rights in order to serve even better.

Dealing with Accusations

1Tim 5:19  Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.

In fact this principle was to be applied to everyone and not just elders. For Jesus said, "if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that `by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church."Mat 18:15-17

And Paul himself warned the Corinthians "This will be the third time I am coming to you. By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." 2Cor 13:1

This principle comes from the Law which says, "One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established." Deut 19:15

Notice that throughout 1Timothy he has either alluded to the Law or quoted it directly, as in the case of 5:18,19. Thus the Law of Moses has relevance to the Christian life.

Sinning Elders Publicly Rebuked

1Tim 5:20  Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.

Even in the case of elders. Public rebuke is a fearful thing, but one in which Paul does not shy away, as we note for example of his rebuke of the apostle Peter in Galatians 2, and of the sexually immoral Christian in 1Cor 5.

Public rebuke is meant to evoke a sense of fear due to public humiliation. Such shame motivates the God fearing to repent. But beware of misapplying this else oneself be found a slanderer.

Without Prejudice or Partiality

1Tim 5:21  I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.

Having just alluded to the fear of public shame in the previous verse, Paul applies this to Timothy to motivate him. For Paul invokes the highest audience - God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels - as witnesses to Timothy's ministry. In particular Paul was concerned about prejudice developing. For such have been the downfall or the marginalization of many who have held positions of institutional authority. But one is safer if one keeps a views towards pleasing God rather than man.

Don't Hastily Endorse Others

1Tim 5:22 "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure."

That is, do not authorize or endorse the ministry of others without thoroughly checking them out first. For to do so would be to unintentionally share in the sins they commit. And zeal and enthusiasm should not be the primary measure of one's readiness for such positions.

Neither should Christians gullibly accept alleged authority figures on their word only. For Bible commends the Bereans for their skepticism saying, "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Acts 17:11


1Tim 5:23  "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities."

Christians then and now generally tried to avoid wine as it could lead to drunkenness. Timothy had probably given up wine altogether to avoid any appearance of impropriety. But there is always danger that such scruples may lead to legalism, if one forgets the freedom we have in Christ.

Another aspect of this verse is that in contrast to the health and wealth gospel today, the early Christians recognized that such infirmities were part of the Christian life - that God ordained Christians to suffer in the flesh just as non-Christians do - and that suffering doesn't necessarily have to do with sin. For we see that Paul did not view Timothy's suffering as a result of some kind of sin. Nor do we see Paul tell Timothy that he was suffering because of his lack of faith. Furthermore, contrary to that modern deviant theology known as "Christian Science" which advocates healing by faith alone, Paul recommended a medical remedy.

Obvious and Hidden Sins

1Tim 5:24  "Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later."

Paul is probably speaking in reference to verse 22 in the sense of authorizing men for ministry. In evaluating such candidates it must be kept in mind that while some men's sins are obvious to all, there are others who start off well but end poorly. Or it could be that such men are actively involved in sin, but secretly, only to be revealed on the judgement day. He's advising Timothy to scrutinize all candidates, regardless their reputation.

Obvious and Hidden Good Works

1Tim 5:25  "Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden."

And here is the converse to 5:24. For while some are clearly good, there are others who are equally so, but work in secret, as Jesus advised.

Mat 6:1-4 "Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. So when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Such works will not ultimately be hidden. For the judgement day will reveal all. But even in this life it's hard to hide a good work, as people tend to get word of it from secondary sources - such as through the ones benefiting from the good work.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Sep 12,2020