Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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1 TIMOTHY - Chapter 5

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1 Timothy 5

Supplemental Commentary:

IV.  DUTIES TOWARDS THE FLOCK  5, 1 -- 6, 19

5, 3-8:  Widows.  The Apostle defines a widow in the Christian sense of the word.  There is a play on the Greek word for widow which means "desolate" or "isolated."

5, 17-25:  Presbyters.    18.  To the citation of Deut. 25, 4, St. Paul adds a saying of the Lord mentioned in St. Luke, which Gospel was probably composed before this Epistle.

22.  The rite of laying on of hands appears in the New Testament in connection with (a) healing of the sick; (b) imparting of the Holy Spirit; (c) imparting of the spiritual gifts fitting one to exercise a special office in the community.  This last is the case in Acts 6, 6, where the Twelve laid hands on the first seven deacons; in 13, 3, where the prophets and teachers of Antioch laid hands on Sts. Paul and Barnabas; in 1 Tim. 4, 14, telling us that a college of presbyters, perhaps that of Lystra, laid hands on Timothy; and finally in the present verse where Timothy is warned not to lay hands hastily on anyone.  It is clear in all the cases mentioned that this rite of laying on hands can be carried out only by certain persons.

Presbyters (Priests).  This term does not appear in St. Paul's writings outside the Pastoral Epistles.  In his first Epistle to Timothy he mentions a presbyterate, seemingly a college of presbyters, and this is connected with Acts 14, 22, where Paul and Barnabas are said to have appointed presbyters in every church.  In 17 the presbyters are described as presiding officers, and some of them at least are given to preaching and teaching.  Their functions are sufficiently important to required that they be chosen with great discretion.  Their rank is so high that no accusation is to be heard against them unless supported by two or three witnesses, that is, in juridical form.  The public admonition to be inflicted on them is of a nature that will affect the community deeply.  In the Epistle to Titus (1, 5), Titus is ordered to institute presbyters in each city of Crete.  In these passages then "Presbyter" is an official title.  Yet in 1 Tim. 5, 1 the same word appears to be understood in its original sense of "old man."  See Titus 1, 7 for the relation of priest and bishop.

23.  It is hard to say what had led Timothy to total abstinence from wine.  St. Paul urges that he use some on account of his health.  Possibly the Apostle wished him to react against a false asceticism.


Confraternity Bible:

Different Classes  1 Do not rebuke an elderly man, but exhort him as you would a father, and young men as brothers, 2 elderly women as mothers, younger women as sisters in all chastity.

Widows  3 Honor widows who are truly widowed.  4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let these first learn to provide for their own household and make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing to God.  5 But she who is truly a widow, and left solitary, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.  6 For she who gives herself up to pleasures is dead while she is still alive.  7 And command them to be blameless.  8 But if anyone does not take care of his own, and especially of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

9 Let a widow who is selected be not less than sixty years old, having been married but once, 10 with a reputation for her good works in bringing up children, in practising hospitality, in washing the saints' feet, in helping those in trouble, in carefully pursuing every good work.  11 But refuse younger widows, for when they have wantonly turned away from Christ, they wish to marry, 12 and are to be condemned because they have broken their first troth.  13 And further, being idle, they learn to go about from house to house, and are not only idle but gossipers as well and busybodies, mentioning things they ought not.  14 I desire therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, rule their households, and give the adversary no occasion for abusing us.  15 For already some have turned aside after Satan.  16 If any believing woman has widowed relatives, let her provide for them and do not let the Church be burdened, in order that there may be enough for those who are truly widows.

Presbyters  17 Let the presbyters who rule well be held worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching.  18 For Scripture says, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."  19 Do not listen to an accusation against a presbyter unless it is supported by two or three witnesses.  20 When they sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, that the rest also may have fear.  21 I charge thee before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels that thou observe these things impartially, in no way favoring either side.  22 Do not lay hands hastily upon anyone, and do not be a partner in other men's sins.  Keep thyself chaste.  23 Stop drinking water only, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thy frequent infirmities.  24 Some men's sins are manifest even before investigation, other men's sins only afterwards.  25 In like manner also the good works are manifest, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.