Instructions about Relationships in Church – 1 Timothy Chapter 5
In this chapter Paul gives sound practical advice on how he was to communicate with people within the fellowship of the church, and how to make decisions about people who are particularly needy in the church.
“Do not rebuke an older man.” Yes, being an older man, I relate to this!! “But exhort him as a father.” There should be respect for those of a more mature age. Unfortunately in these days and in our culture age does not bring respect. It seems that in general children do not have very much respect for their parents. In previous centuries and in other cultures older people were respected by those who were younger. They were considered to be wise, because of their years of experience. Perhaps the dementia ‘pandemic’ hasn’t helped the situation.
Paul goes on to say “Exhort … younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters.” Even when church discipline is involved, people should be treated with true respect.
In verses 3 – 16 Paul instructs Timothy about widows. As in the Jerusalem church in Acts chapter 6, the church in Ephesus supported those in need, including widows. In Acts the Hellenist widows were being largely excluded from the food bank at the church. This was rectified by appointing godly men to supervise the distribution. Here in Ephesus it seems there were widows who wanted to be provided by the food bank who really were not eligible. Now any woman who lost her husband will have experienced trauma and distress, but some of the younger women were taking advantage of the food being provided, and then misusing their time. They learnt to be idle, wandering from house to house, and were gossiping busybodies! Some had even backslidden, turning away from following Jesus and serving Satan. Paul laid down several rules:
- Honour widows who trust in God and continue in prayer night and day.
- Widows who have offspring must be supported by the offspring. They should repay their parents.
- Widows who are under 60 should not be accepted.
- She should have only been married once.
- She should be well reported for good works.
- Paul desires that young widows should marry.
Paul now returns to the subject of elders in verse 17. This time it is how elders should be respected in the church.
- They are worthy of double honour, particularly if they preach and teach. The labourer is worthy of his hire.
- Do not receive complaints about an elder except from at least two people.
Paul then continues with more instructions to Timothy:
- Discipline publically those who continue in sin
- Do not show partiality
- Do not promote people prematurely
- Do not limit your liquid intake to water. Timothy seemed to be suffering from stomach problems amongst other things. The water was not purified as ours is, so Paul suggests a little wine. When I joined a team on a trip to Kenya, we were out in the bush. We were advised not to drink the water from the wells, but only bottled water, as our European stomachs may be affected by the impurities. The locals had built up immunity to them.
Verses 24 & 25 could be paraphrased “be sure your sins will find you out!” You cannot hide your works, good or bad.