1 Timothy 5:17-25 Restoring and Maintaining Biblical Eldership

1 Timothy 5:17-25

Restoring and maintaining biblical eldership

 

[17] Let (imperative) the elders who rule (stand first / exercise leadership / show concern for) well be considered worthy of double honor (two-fold honor – 1. respect 2. remuneration/wage/reward/compensation), especially (chiefly / particularly) those who labor (kopiao – labor to the point of fatigue / not amount but effort) in preaching (logos – word / speaking) and teaching (instruction / particularly in doctrine). [18] For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” (Deuteronomy 25:4 and spelled out in 1 Cor. 9:3-12) and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” (Quoted from Luke 10:7 and Jesus’ words recorded by Luke) [19] Do not admit (imperative – receive) a charge (cause or complaint or accusation) against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15; Matt. 18:16). [20] As for those who persist in sin (behavior opposite of the qualifications of the role of pastor/elder), rebuke (bring to open conviction) them in the presence of all (the congregation – no place to hide from sin), so that the rest may stand in fear (the other pastor/elders). [21] In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. [22] Do not be hasty in the laying (imperative – affirming men for service as an elder / pastor) on of hands, nor take part (imperative – to be part of) in the sins of others; keep yourself pure (imperative). [23] (No longer drink (imperative) only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) [24] The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. [25] So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.

 

Godly leadership is absolutely crucial in the kingdom of God. Leadership that only a Harvard Business grad can provide is not crucial to the advance of the kingdom. That is not to say that a Harvard grad could not lead in the kingdom, just that leadership in the kingdom is constructed on kingdom values rather than education and “talent” alone.

 

Great men who epitomize these kingdom values are often shoved aside because they don’t facilitate growth enough fast enough. Often they may be abused by unrealistic expectations that are not biblical and when they don’t meet the expectations they become a constant target for those who want to pay someone to do their ministry.

 

Often the mentality is that if one is paid to be a pastor then he is solely responsible for the kingdom and if he fails then it’s his fault. So, this man is ridden hard, poorly compensated, poorly respected, attacked and then asked to move on or he chooses to leave for the sake of survival.

 

The other extreme is that some may come and never lead toward the kingdom and never teach and preach at any depth or they may even lead to wrong belief and practice yet he is allowed to stay and get away with disobeying Scripture.

 

Either way, leadership in the church is vital and succession of leadership is vital.

 

Some people in the church have led Ephesus astray. Elders had even begun to fail in upholding the mystery of the gospel, and the church at Ephesus begun to leave her first love. Timothy’s task is large.

 

Hosea 4:9 reminds the people that they are perishing because of not knowing the truth and not being taught the truth. “Like people like priest.”

 

It is vital that Jesus’ under shepherds be like the Shepherd and lead like him, and it is vital that the people of God honor those who do that job well.

 

How does Paul instruct Timothy to go about restoring and maintaining biblical eldership that will restore and maintain the people of God?

 

First, Paul tells Timothy to make sure they honor elders who do their job well v. 17-18

For one to resist payment for ministry because Paul did is a fake humility built on a lie.

 

Paul received payment and sustenance from the churches he served as an apostle.

 

[18] I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. [19] And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. [20] To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. – Philippians 4:18-20

 

Although Paul worked to help support himself he did not reject his full right to receive necessary supply from his labor. Paul did reject it at Corinth for a reason, but only at Corinth that we know of.

 

We original founders and pastors at TRCC have been pleased to serve at our own cost and labor for our time here for a lengthy season, and we have been honored through some payment as well, and that is no sin.

 

We often have taken, perhaps, excessive pride in not receiving full wage from the church, but it is not wrong to honor elders well.

 

As our church grows and as we have the responsibility to start new campuses and as the workload on elders increases we will need to figure how to obey this passage as well as we obey the Great Commission. It is not one or the other. It is obey the Scriptures well in all areas.

 

Having said that, what is communicated here about honoring elders well?

 

First of all note that Scripture’s instruction is imperative. Honoring of the elders is not optional. The bible demands it.

 

It feels self-seeking and truthfully this is hard for me to say because it’s not my nature to do this kind of thing. I have an unhealthy and biblically inaccurate view on this issue. My early experience in pastoral ministry has been that the elders were the least compensated and easiest target and that the elder must be fine with living at poverty level and in constant fear that someone was going to rip him a new exit location.

 

I’ve watched pastors take unnecessary junk from “believers” disrespecting them in the name of opinion not moral failure and they do it in a manner that is unbiblical and unholy, yet justified because the pastor was the paid guy or just because he was the pastor. I’ve watched those same pastors barely be able to pay their bills and feed their families. I have truly heard stories of pastors being given groceries only to have the amount of the groceries deducted from their check.

 

As clearly as the Scriptures say to make disciples of all nations it mandates that elders be respected as Jesus’ under shepherds. So, don’t think these men exist as open targets for opinion laden expectations set so high Jesus can’t meet them. Honor is due them.

 

Second, note that the imperative is based on the Scriptures. In verse 18 Paul cites Deuteronomy 25:4 that he expounds on in 1 Corinthians 9:3-12 and he also cites Luke 10:7 in which Luke records the words of the Lord Jesus.

 

[4] “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain. Deuteronomy 25:4

 

[3] This is my defense to those who would examine me. [4] Do we not have the right to eat and drink? [5] Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? [6] Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? [7] Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? [8] Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? [9] For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? [10] Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. [11] If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? [12] If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 1 Corinthians 9:3-12

 

(Paul did this at Corinth because of the tenuous relationship with that church not because of a moral high horse about not being paid for ministry. We’ve seen that in Philippians already.)

 

[1] After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. [2] And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. [3] Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. [4] Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. [5] Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ [6] And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. [7] And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Luke 10:1-7

 

Although Paul and Barnabas rejected this right at Corinth, they gladly accepted it in other situations as we have noted because it is a standard that Father has set.

 

A little bible scholarship side note I’ve mentioned before but need to draw your attention to because it’s in the text. Paul is quoting Luke’s writing and recording of the Lord Jesus here in the 60’s AD. This affirms that the New Testament authors were already acknowledging the writings of the eyewitnesses and apostles as authoritative, and much of the New Testament pre-date AD 70. The bible is inspired, inerrant and authoritative.

Back to the main point: the main point here in Jesus’ words to the 72 he is sending out is that they are to carry no supplies for themselves but should expect that they would be compensated for their work. This is Jesus’, the speaker of Deuteronomy 25:4, take on his own standard.

 

It’s in the Manual.

 

Third, take note of the one’s to be honored. The elders ruling well and those who labor at preaching and teaching are worthy.

 

Those who rule, or exercise leadership and those who work hard (labor until the point of being tired) at preaching and teaching are worthy of being honored. The elders who make good decisions and go first and those who work at the proclamation and the instruction are worthy.

 

Paul sets a standard for the elder. The elder must be a hard worker not a lazy worker. They must be a proactive, self-starting, on task, not needing to be reminded, not satisfied big boy. This is man work. This man deserves to be honored. But, what does that honor look like?

 

Finally, note that those who work and excel are to receive double honor. This does not mean double pay. The best understanding goes back to St. Chrysostom (347-407, Archbishop at Constantinople) who understood the double honor to mean a two-fold honor of respect and compensation. John Calvin had no disagreement with Chrysostom in that understanding either.[1]

 

I am not healthy regarding my approach to or acceptance of this truth. Being raised by depression generation folks who leaned toward some levels of legalism created a “poverty” theology in me.

 

Prosperity theology is a lie. God does not make it his aim to give health, wealth and overflowing material resources to all Christians.

 

Poverty theology is a lie too. Father does not intend for believers to shun all resources and be poor and barely able to get by when they can do better and better should be done for them. I have a hard time receiving pay for ministerial work because my framework is broken. So this is hard for me to say for myself, but it’s not hard to say for others.

 

In any way you can, don’t fail to honor the men who lead you well.

 

Second, Paul tells Timothy to protect elders and the people v. 19

Listen to Deuteronomy 19:15-20:

[15] “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. [16] If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, [17] then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. [18] The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, [19] then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. [20] And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. Deuteronomy 19:15-20

 

Listen to Jesus’ exposition of Deuteronomy 19:15-20 in Matthew 18:15-20:

[15] “If your brother sins against you (not if he / she breaks an expectation set that is not in Scripture), go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. [16] But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. [17] If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. [18] Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [19] Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. [20] For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:15-20

 

Take note that this passage protects the people and the elders from false accusations and from opinion-laden confrontations. If a person or an elder sins by breaking clear Scriptural commandments or, in the case of an elder, failing to meet the qualifications for an elder and bringing public shame on the gospel, then those who have witnessed the sin should follow the Matthew 18 model that the Lord Jesus set up that leads to redemption or to church discipline.

 

There can be many nuances to the practice of this passage, but the spirit of the passage is to protect people from silly issues raised by a person with an ax to grind or from false accusation from a person with evil intent.

If there is sin, then this model should be employed. If there is a failure for a person to meet some unspoken expectations, then the holder of the unspoken expectations should repent for having those unspoken expectations with the Lord, move on and not bother the brother or sister with the issue.

 

Here are some truths to guide the practice of protecting each other according the spirit of this passage:

1. We are the family of God first, standing together, covering each other in a covenant relationship. After that, we do ministry together. Our relationship with each other is more important than performance.

 

2. We agree to speak bible truth to each other in love at all times (not truth according to the speaker).

 

3. If our family is successful…then we are successful.

 

4. Don’t take offense. Don’t be offended even if it’s justified. No one who is truly seeking to follow Jesus comes here to make someone angry or hurt him or her.

 

5. Those who don’t worship are the ones who complain.

 

6. First hear from the Father in the word…then be obedient to what he is saying.

 

7. Work to operate in servant leadership.

 

8. Assume good intentions.

 

Third, Paul tells Timothy to correct elders and the people v. 20-21

Because there was a need at Ephesus for some elders to be corrected Paul makes sure Timothy does this properly and institutes a biblical model for correcting elders as well as correcting wayward members of the fellowship.

 

Again, we have established that the moral qualifications of 1 Timothy are not to be applied to the elders only. Rather, the moral qualifications are especially to be applied to the elders but not ignored by the members of the fellowship. The need to apply the standards to the elders especially is due to the fact that they will be the first brought to public trial and possibly death, so their moral standing must be of highest importance. But the member could not just ignore the moral standards.

 

Note that the correction was to take place in public only after the person’s refusal to repent of violating the Scriptures. “As for those who persist in sin”.

 

The understanding is that the people are following the Lord’s instruction in Matthew 18:15-20 and that the person who will not repent should be dealt with in public whether elder or member. The public nature of this correction was intended to create a level of holy fear. The public nature of dealing with sin imitates the heavenly reality that Father knows our sin and nothing is hidden from his sight and will correct his children and this should cause the believer to strive for holiness and repentance due to a holy fear of violating Father’s righteousness and receiving his correction. This public correction is not unkind; rather it is a gracious action that is a means of the Lord’s grace to rescue believers from the cancer of sin.

 

We are told in verse 21 that this correction is to be done without judging too quickly and without any partiality. In other words all in the fellowship are given the process of Scripture to holiness, but ALL are given that same process. No one gets to escape accountability to follow the Lord Jesus in all things.

 

Paul then makes an astounding statement regarding the ultimate reason for correcting folks in sin. That reason is that Father, Son (and Holy Spirit due to his ongoing ministry in the church although not mentioned, his ministry is assumed. The idea here is that the Son has ascended to the right hand of the Father having sent the Spirit to point to the Father and Son), and the elect angels are observing the playing out of God’s eternal plan on the global stage.

 

[7] Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. [8] To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, [9] and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, [10] so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. [11] This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, [12] in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. [13] So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. Ephesians 3:7-13

 

There is a much deeper and richer event taking place than the mundane existence of my little daily experience. Through striving for holiness in the church and the effort to move people toward holiness Father and Son are glorified or dishonored in the heavenly places and the elect angels celebrate or mourn. The fallen principalities and powers and rulers of wickedness accuse and berate us in our sin or possibly are taken aback by a pursuit of holiness. Either way, the events of our life together on mission are not done in isolation from supernatural working and this should cause us to be in awe, careful about our actions and words and strive for holiness and therefore praise to Father, Son and Spirit.

 

Finally, Paul tells Timothy to be careful in selecting elders v. 22-25

In selecting church leaders from the church for the office of pastor / elder Paul urges care. The distasteful task of disciplining church leaders called for up-front wisdom and care in selection because to place in leadership one who was not qualified would be to partake in their sin. Hard questions must be asked and need to continue to be asked to insure the pursuit of righteousness.

 

Paul inserts a personal note as an aside in the text here, and the question is, “what place does verse 23 have in the section on selecting elders”?

 

Here is the answer: Timothy’s purity was key in the selection process. He had to be seeking purity. Timothy had perhaps been led into some ascetic practices due to the teaching on the part of some elders that people should abstain from certain foods and drinks and activities in order to be holy.

 

Timothy had taken to drinking only water and was apparently getting sick frequently. Paul knew, as was the wisdom of the day, that water born sicknesses made life hard and that wine had certain health benefits. So, one one sure way to insure good health was to re-introduce the consumption of wine back into his diet for physical health and for spiritual health.

 

Timothy’s standing with God was not affected by the taking of water only. As Paul said in Colossians 2:23 “these have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

 

In fact, Timothy’s efforts at appeasing the false teachers were making him sick. Timothy had to insist on the truth and live it out by drinking wine because Timothy’s purity was actually affected to the negative by practicing asceticism in error. In other words, Timothy’s potential sin of succumbing to the ascetic practices of the false teachers could cloud his discernment. What appeared to be holy was actually sin and could affect Timothy’s ability to discern sin issues in the men he was to appoint to the office of pastor / elder. So Timothy was to take a drink, get well and continue on.

 

Paul’s final instruction to Timothy was, in summary, to be discerning. Some people’s sins are clear, but some people’s sins are well covered. This requires discernment that is the supernatural, Holy Spirit empowered ability to smell the spiritual air and know that all is well or something is amiss. Time will always tell.

 

Some people who don’t look all spiritual on the outside are actually solid gold and that can’t be hidden over time. Some who look good are actually death in disguise and that can’t be hidden either.

 

The goal of leadership is to discern those things and courageously hold the line even if people didn’t agree.

 

In Luke 7:31-35 Jesus compares the generation of his hearers to children who complained because they played a flute and the people listening didn’t dance, so the kids played a dirge and others didn’t mourn. Then Jesus says that John the Baptist came with rejection of stuff and he was accused of having a demon. Jesus came eating and drinking what John rejected and they complained that he was a glutton and friend of sinners, but wisdom is proved wise by it’s fruit.

 

The reality is that Timothy’s leadership in wisdom and obeying Scripture would be called demonic by some and sinner friendly by others, however, the fruit of obeying Scripture would be shown to be right and that was to be Timothy’s aim not people’s opinion of him.

 

In closing, the realty is that sometimes in preaching and teaching the bible there is not a cool way to wrap it up and move people’s emotions to worship with cool applications to be practiced that moment. Sometimes the application has to take place in the trenches when spiritual bombs are dropping through demonic attack or the war of fighting for the kingdom in the midst of enemy territory. This is one such passage.

 

We have started learning how to do this, but we must keep on learning and doing and make sure we continue for as long as the Lord will sustain this work.

 

Let’s hear and let’s obey as we continue on the journey together of life together on mission in brining the kingdom of Jesus Christ to fruition here in Rome, GA and among our people group.

 

Lets worship the Father and make known his manifold wisdom!

 

 

[1] David Torrence and Thomas Torrence, eds., 1st and Timothy, Calvin’s Commentaries, Vol. 10 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), p. 261.

1 Timothy 5:1-16

1 Timothy 5:1-16

Serving the needy in the church

 

First, what I say in this message is said with fear. I’m afraid of getting the exposition, and therefore, application of this text wrong.

 

Second, let me say that this passage introduces challenges that can’t be addressed in full in a Sunday morning sermon. These challenges must be fleshed out in fellowship with one hand on the Manual and one hand on the work.

 

Third, let me say that we have elders who are reading great resources (When Helping Hurts, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkertt) on this and evaluating how we as a church do this kind of work with the truth of Scripture dictating how the church ministers grace and help inside and outside.

 

Now, let’s turn to 1 Timothy 5:1-16.

 

[1] Do not rebuke (subjunctive {making a request / expressing opinion} – strike – metaphorically to hit with words) an older man but encourage (parakaleo – same word used to define the Holy Spirit; to speak along side; to counsel – the word is applied to each of the groups in the church) him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, [2] older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. [3] Honor (imperative – esteem and reverence) widows who are truly widows. [4] But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn (imperative – learn) to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. [5] She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, [6] but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. [7] Command (imperative – charge; command) these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. [8] But if anyone does not provide (present, active, indicative – ongoing supply as needed) for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. [9] Let a widow be enrolled (imperative – enroll) if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, [10] and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. [11] But refuse (imperative – have nothing to do with) to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry [12] and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. [13] Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. [14] So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. [15] For some have already strayed after Satan. [16] If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care (imperative – care for) for them. Let the church not be burdened (imperative – burdened), so that it may care for those who are truly widows.

 

This passage seems strange on the heals of chapter 4 if the passage is not studied in light of the whole message of Paul’s writing to Timothy.

 

Some members of the church at Ephesus had abandoned truth and godliness (1:5-6; 2:8). Some had shipwrecked their faith (1:19). Some women had abandoned their proper role and were trying to usurp the function of the men (2:9-15). Some men in leadership and aspiring to leadership and service were not qualified, so Paul instructs on the qualifications necessary for elders and deacons (3:1-13; 5:19-22). Some were teaching demonic lies (4:1-5; 6:3-5). Some older widows were living impure lives (5:6-7), as were some of the younger widows (5:11-13). And finally, some so-called Christians were letting the church take care of their family while neglecting their duty.

 

When reading this passage there is a key question to help us to learn what I believe the point of the text is.

 

The most important question here is not, “what do we do with widows?” The most important question here is why did Paul move from the commands to teach and apply truth to addressing how we speak one another in the context of serving the widows?

 

What the text says, which is quite clear, is only the first step in study. We have to move from what the text says to understand what it means and only then can we make application.

 

What does the text say?

 

The text tells us that Paul instructs regarding how to address each other regarding the treatment of widows.

 

Who is being addressed in this passage?

 

There is the church as the community of the kingdom of God, which is family (v. 1-16)

 

The church is the community of the kingdom of God and that community is truly family. Jesus taught this when he spoke about his followers as his mother, brothers and sisters (Mt. 12:46-50).

 

Paul tells Timothy regarding the instruction he is to give in this situation to “command these things so that they may be without reproach” (verse 7).

 

Paul wants Timothy in his teaching for the community of the kingdom to command them for the sake of them not being able to be blamed for wrong. He wants to rescue them from accusation.

 

Paul is not saying that those who are wrong should not be rebuked.

 

Those striving for holiness should be treated as the family they are.

What does that look like in the family and who is receiving this instruction?

 

There are older men. (v. 1)

The older men striving for holiness should not be rebuked.

 

Paul says to “encourage” them. The same word used by Jesus to identify the Holy Spirit is used here “parakaleo”, to speak beside. Paul wants Timothy and us to speak as the Holy Spirit ministers to each other because this word is applied throughout verses 1-2 to all the groups in the church.

 

The older men acting like unbelievers should be rebuked and commanded to get in line with the gospel.

 

There are younger men. (v. 1)

The younger men striving for holiness should be treated like a brother. Perhaps not like a Jolly boy brother at this current phase when all things involve wrestling for dominance, but that brotherly like commitment to each other’s good and joy.

 

Younger men acting like unbelievers should be rebuked as such.

 

There are older women. (v. 2)

The older women striving for holiness should be treated like momma. Gentle and kind.

 

The older women acting like unbelievers should be properly corrected.

 

There are younger women. (v. 2)

The younger women striving for holiness should be treated like the young sister with complete purity. She should not be the object of the young man’s scheming, rather protected like a sister.

 

The younger women acting like unbelievers should be properly corrected.

 

There are true widows who are older. (v. 3, 5, 9-10)

The pious widow, in this situation, was at least sixty years of age. Sixty was the age in this culture at Ephesus that people began to “retire”. According to Plato men and women were to become priests and priestesses at this age.[1] This age requirement ensures that these widows would not be driven by desires ranging from their sexuality to their profession.

 

The idea here is to be whatever age this is in a particular context.

 

True widows who are morally, ethically and practically seeking holiness and service to the fellowship (continue in prayers and supplication night and day), are to be honored through meeting whatever need there is.

There is indication that these true widows served the fellowship in some way and was dedicated to that service, and therefore, they were to be cared for.

 

There are children and grandchildren. (v. 4)

The children and grandchildren are to pitch in and serve their widowed mother or grandmother. This is the way it is.

 

There are self-indulgent younger widows. (v. 6, 11-13)

Then there is the younger widow who probably adhered to the fellowship because of her husband or for social reasons, but when the commitment to serve (taken on due to being taken into the service of having her needs met) wanes due to desires and the revealing of the true intentions of the heart they walk away from their oath to serve and the reception of needs being met and become idle, gossipers, busybodies and “bumping them gums”.

 

I would argue that one does not need to be a widow to do that. It’s the fallen tendency of the female gender. It’s very feminine when dudes do it.

 

Idle – nothing to do constructive but eat lunch with your buddies.

 

Gossiper – telling the latest scoop

 

Busybody – “periergoi” alongside to work. The word in Greek means “magic art” and giving the appearance of work but really scheming. I’m not sure what all this means, but the idea we understand it to mean is “meddler” or “interferer”. This probably means that meddling is more than meddling but playing a demonic role of seeking to alter outcomes to one’s favor.

 

These are women whose hearts are revealed as unregenerate and not Proverbs 31 type material.

 

There are relatives who are not caring for their family and immediate household who have denied the faith in their failure to care for their widows. (or relatives in need) (v. 8)

These people are some who are ripe for a good rebuke.

 

These are the kind of folks that a “velvet covered brick” kind of rebuke may save.

 

It is not Christian to fail to care for our parents and grandparents or immediate households.

 

There are younger widows who need to remarry. (v. 14)

Paul tells Timothy that these younger widows just need to get remarried and keep that Proverbs 31 thing going.

 

This requires the willingness to work hard at being a biblical woman and single men willing to marry widows.

 

Men, where are you? What a ministry, single dudes. A younger widow with children or a young family who needs a man with a job and can lead. What a ministry!

 

Young single dudes for younger widows. Older single dudes for older widows. Wonder who will crank that ministry up?

 

There are widows (younger and maybe older) who have strayed after Satan and have been part of the spread of false teaching. (v. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)

These ladies are just trouble. They are undisciplined, not caring for the vow they made to serve and receive help.

 

Paul says these ladies incur condemnation. Paul does not explain this condemnation except to say that they have strayed after Satan and have caused slander to come to the name of Christ.

 

This sounds like a Hebrews 6 type of situation where the unbelieving nature of their heart is revealed in the fellowship and they have strayed into eternally destructive places.

 

These ladies are candidates for church discipline and may never return.

 

There are believing women who are relatives of widows who are to care for their relatives who are widows. (v. 16)

To take it a step further, Paul says that if there is a believing lady who has a widow for a relative that she, probably along with her husband, should bear the responsibility to care for their family member.

 

This is who Paul is speaking to. But is that the primary reason Paul brings these issues up?

 

What is the central question?

 

The question is why does Paul address how we speak to one another in the family of God within the context of addressing widows in the church?

Let’s see if we can answer this question from the overall context of 1 Timothy.

 

The gospel had been traded for myths and endless genealogies as well as doctrines of demons in the practice of the church. We know that Timothy and the church gets things corrected because Jesus’ letter to Ephesus reminds us of their fighting the false teaching (Rev. 2:1-7).

 

Adding to the sheer confusion of the false teachings at Ephesus is what Paul calls “weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:6b-7). And it is probably some of these who have been involved in subverting church order (1 Tim. 2:8-15).

 

The main work of the gospel and the mission of the gospel have been marginalized. Paul says as much in 4:1-5 when he calls the peripheral bible study discussion times “devoting themselves to doctrines of demons.”

 

Good work, like bible studies, caring for the poor of the town, providing resources for orphans and even homes for orphans and, in the case of 1 Timothy 5:1-16, the care of widows, had become the main work and so much so that it had to be addressed by Paul in letter form and gets 10 verses. Qualifications for elders didn’t get that much space. The explanation of the gospel of the glory of the blessed God in 1:11 didn’t get any exposition. It got 1 verse! This issue must have been a real problem.

 

The main work of knowing God and making him know has been replaced by service work and careless application of service work without any standard of why, how and who being informed by knowing God and making him known.

 

Here is a direct application to the church in Rome, GA. Any time our “ministries” or our “service work to the community” take the dominant conversation over knowing God and the mission of making him known we have stepped into dangerous territory.

 

We see this in “Christian” community service organizations that serve needs but never serve up the knowledge of God. Need ministry has replaced the need to know God who fixes the root cause. Knowing the one whose image they bear is not important. Addressing the immediate physical need trumps the need of the soul. This type of work is a tip off that we are practical atheists because we believe the immediate need is more vital than the need of the soul. We toss to the side the fact that we are living souls not just living bodies.

 

Don’t hear this wrong. Immediate need is vital. It should not be ignored. However, to address the immediate need without ever getting to the spiritual need is rebellion against God.

 

We understand that there are strategies and necessities of addressing immediate things, but that can’t be the end. That kind of work must lead to the gospel and transformation in order for the work to be a success and complete.

 

This is why I want Christian families fostering, fostering to adopt and adopting. Just giving a kid a home is only half of the equation. Giving a kid a Christian home is the goal!!!!

 

There is action and then there is gospel action. We want gospel action, not just action.

 

The necessary strategic means of addressing the needs of our context created by the fall are important, but they are never more important than the mission of knowing God and making him known. The end is Jesus Christ known and worshipped. How we get there is by going, healing and proclaiming. That is what he Lord said to do when he sent out the twelve.

In our town there is plenty of healing work in addressing immediate need. There is also some addressing of the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom. But there are few who are doing both well.

 

LISTEN: This message is NOT a summons for TRCC people to go start ministries that do both. This message is seeking to understand Paul’s instruction to Timothy so that Holy Spirit can stir the hearts of God’s people to know Jesus Christ and make him known in the way he would direct regardless of what it looks like or cost to those who are so stirred.

 

What can we take away from the instruction in 1 Timothy 5:1-16?

 

1. In correcting ministerial failure, the family is to be corrected in grace and gentleness v. 1-2

 

2. Needs based ministry happens in the church primarily

The scripture is addressing the care of those inside of the church not those who are not Christians. As a matter of fact we learn here that some of the people they are caring for are leading folks after Satan, and those folks are not to be cared for like those who are seeking godliness.

 

The widows who are eligible for ministry from the church are those who are living holy lives in dedication to the kingdom and the church.

 

The primary outreach of Scripture is in the proclamation of the gospel to rescue people from the fall through healing hurt and preaching the good news. Not just alleviating needs in the community.

 

The best way I can illustrate this is twofold:

When there is a need in the fellowship and there is no one else to help, we help. When I get calls from people’s cell phone who are not in our church wanting the church to pay their power bill, I offer to meet with them and pay their bill if they will let me teach them about stewardship of God’s resources, budgeting, living within means and the need to be transformed by the gospel and become part of the fellowship of the kingdom of God accountable to God and each other.

 

There are some ways we think we are helping that actually hurt people and can facilitate the rebellion. (Read, “When helping hurts” by Corbett and Fikkert).

 

Most of the passages of Scripture dealing with those who need service is dealing with those who need service among God’s people not those who are just scattered about with no relation to the people of God.

 

Acts 4:34 “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold.”

 

There is a proclamation of the kingdom from the fellowship that cares for those of its number whether from the resources of the whole or from the individual families of the fellowship. That proclamation beacons people to come and taste the gospel.

 

This kind of internal love and care helps along the external work in repairing a broken world by bringing the kingdom to bear on that broken world.

 

Only in the west is this unclear. The church in the east gets this. There is nothing they can do publicly, so they care for each other, and when allowed, those outside, and those on the outside are attracted to that kind of love. I have heard this from pastors in eastern countries with my own ears (thank you Bob Roberts).

 

We love and serve each other as a model of loving and serving out town.

 

3. Needs based ministry, including widows in the church, should first be taken care of by family

 

4. Needs based ministry, including widows in the church, should be contingent on holiness

 

5. Needs based ministry, including widows in the church, should never take the place of the ministry of the word and growth toward maturity in Christ through the fellowship

 

Needs based ministry must fit with and inside of the command, “Until I come devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13).

 

Needs based ministry must reflect the truth of Scripture and the demands of Scripture.

 

Needs based ministry must never neglect the application of Scripture to its work.

 

6. Needs based ministry not met by the immediate family, if in the fellowship, is unbelieving behavior and dangerous v. 8, 16

 

Paul actually says that those not providing for their relatives have denied the faith. Man, that’s harsh, but it’s in the Manual. In other words, God values me taking care of my family before he values the church taking care of my family.

 

Why? The family unit is a direct reflection of the image in which we are created. Father, mother, children / Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

 

We are created in the image of Trinity. Father never neglects the Son. Son never neglects the Spirit. Spirit never neglects the Father or Son and so on.

 

As transformed image bearers we must recognize this reality and imitate the inter-Trinitarian love displayed in Father, Son and Spirit.

 

A failure to do this displays that one does not know, understand or love the Trinitarian God they are claiming to follow because they refuse to imitate that Trinitarian God.

 

A failure to care for one’s family is a direct denial of the gospel of the kingdom.

 

Be warned, you must care for your parents, grandparents, wife, and children. (See verse 4).

 

(Note to families who use a facility for care of their parents: for those of us who have had to put their parents in a place for care this is not neglecting the duty. This is a way our culture and prosperity have provided that we can take advantage of when there are medical or life reasons we can’t just take them into our homes. We must not feel guilty for this.)

 

7. The neglect of knowing Christ and making him known will lead to giving Satan opportunity to slander God’s people and lead others away into following after Satan v. 14-15

 

Due to the poor application of Scripture to the church’s ministry Satan had achieved a foothold in the lives of God’s people and was doing his best work.

 

The idea of slander here is that the church is open to being spoken ill of due to some of it’s members who are neglecting holiness and giving the church, and therefore Jesus, a bad name.

 

The ideas is that they have had their needs met, the pressure is off and the devotion to Christ is waning and the rebellious and non-transformed heart is starting to go after it’s idols and the result is that the name of Christ is tarnished.

 

Above all things we must guard the reputation of Christ, refuse Satan a foothold through making need ministry the focus, hold to Scripture, meet necessary need, seek after and expect holiness and trust that Jesus will, through this work, bring his kingdom to fruition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975), 109.

1 Timothy 4:11-16

1 Timothy 4:11-16

The gospel is the story of the bible. The good news is the narrative that gives the narrative of life it’s meaning and all of the little stories in the narrative (like my life, wins, losses, fails and hardships and yours) their meaning. The gospel is a comprehensive framework by which all of life is seen, interpreted and lived. The gospel defies fire insurance and Sunday morning lip service. The gospel is the standard by which all views of life and actions are to be judged.

The metanarrative of the gospel affects how we view food, exercise, brushing our teeth, cutting the grass, hunting/harvesting resources, manhood, womanhood, children, man’s state before God, who God is, what God has said, what God is like, how God acts, what God is passionate about, what God expects from his people, government, taxation, the Arab / Israeli conflict, kings, presidents, suffering, evil, the intermediate state (time between death and our resurrection either to life or to eternal punishment) and everything in between these few examples.

This is what Timothy has been dropped into Ephesus to defend and insist on.

Paul wraps up this section of instruction to Timothy with a series of 10 imperatives as means of combatting the teaching and exhortation of demons through lying men and women. Paul gives these imperatives as a means of setting before the church the good doctrine of the gospel.

11) Command (imperative – to order or charge) and teach (imperative – to teach) these things (the things instructed in verse 1-10). 12) Let no one despise (imperative – look down on; presume; despise) you for your youth, but set (imperative – born; be made; marker indicating a new standard) the believers an example in speech (word; account; matter), in conduct (behavior; way of life), in love (agape – loving like God loves), in faith (faithfulness not belief), in purity (moral purity). 13) Until I come, devote (imperative – beware; pay attention;) yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14) Do not neglect (imperative – disregard; ignore) the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15) Practice (imperative – plot; practice) these things, immerse (imperative – be; mean; exist in; immerse is not actually in the text. There is not a word for that. The word is “ginomai” to be. It is also middle voice meaning that there is action on Timothy’s part but there is passive work happening. Timothy’s being in the duty is sustained by God by the Spirit) yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16) Keep (imperative – pay close attention; stay; hold fast) a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist (imperative – remain; continue; persist) in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:11-16 ESV)

Let’s put these imperatives into some instruction for us pastors and for all of us church members. A note here: this section is particularly important for pastors/elders to understand and hear so that we will not neglect the proper function of our role. This passage is vital for the church to hear so that those who aspire to the office of overseer can hear and understand the role. This passage is vital for the church to hear so that their expectations of pastor/elder are in line.

Many expect a pastor to their high priest (whether they say it or not they practice it). Many expect the pastor to be the doctor and chief medical expert. Many expect the pastor to be the Chief Shepherd. Many expect the pastor to be deacon, elder, employee and constantly available to hear everyone’s confession. Many expect the pastor to be an accomplished counselor. These, and perhaps many other false expectations are not the role of pastor / elder.

That is not what the text says. Let’s have God’s expectations not expectations we cook up in wishing Father organized things our way.

Let’s look at these imperatives from Paul to Timothy.

1. Command and teach gospel truth and right application of gospel truth v. 11

The gospel is not simply a message that rescues lost people from the wrath of God. It is that, but it is much more. You hear it here and you will hear it in other places as well to “preach the gospel to yourself” daily. That can mean reminding yourself of God’s rescue from his wrath through the work of Christ on the cross to justify all those who come to him by faith so that they are adopted into the family of God as a child and co-heir with Christ.

 

However, I would argue that this proclamation of the gospel to ourselves needs to advance in maturity to the application of the whole truth of Scripture to every domain of life as well as every event and moment in those domains.

 

The good news of God’s kingdom affects everything! The reign and rule of Christ over all things, which the gospel announces, truly has consequences in every nook and cranny.

 

Let me just quickly hit one. Education, for example is not isolated from the gospel. How many times in your college education did you discuss the disciplines in relation to the gospel and the chief discipline of theology (the study of the God of the bible and his story, the gospel)? Heck, how many of your schools even had theology as a discipline?

 

For instance, let’s look at psychology. Psychology is the study of the soul. How can one study the soul if they don’t know well first the author of the soul? How can one know the inner workings of the soul if they don’t understand man as image bearing? Psychology is first a gospel study in asking the questions: who is man? What is man’s makeup (body, soul)? What is the image of God? What parts of God does man reflect in that image? What is the effect of the spiritual realm on the soul and the body? Is there a spiritual realm that does such stuff? How do we recognize this world and its affects?

 

If one does not do this gospel work first, psychology becomes a sub category of biology because man in his fallen state begins to assume wrong ideas such as “man is the result of biological evolution because there is no God”. This leads to treating the soul as if it is a biological entity alone.

 

What about philosophy? Philosophy is the study of wisdom. Where does wisdom come from? If we divorce philosophy from the gospel then wisdom must come from man and man’s experiences in culture and therefore wisdom at its root can shift to the most expedient and pragmatic need of the culture and the thinking of men in that culture. This means that wisdom is a creation of man in community. What if wisdom is rooted in eternal truth and comes from the nature of God? Should we isolate philosophy from the gospel? Never! Colossians 2:8 tells us that philosophy not rooted in Christ comes from the elemental spirits of the world affecting the traditions of men.

 

The gospel, the study of the nature, character, work and history of God, is the chief discipline because the gospel affects everything. It is the comprehensive framework by which the kingdom of God is constructed and we must command and teach and apply this reality.

 

This application is not sermonic. This application is going to have to be done by everyone!

 

This means we have to know it. This means we have to study it. This means we have to work at applying it. This means we have to be confronted with our love of the world system over our love for God’s kingdom. This means we are in a constant state of learning and applying.

 

We have to know our bible and be committed to reading it, studying it and the practice of it.

 

We have to be committed to knowing the comprehensive gospel and its practice in fellowship and kingdom expansion.

 

2. Let no one despise your youth v. 12a

Most estimates from studies in Acts and from the study of the epistles put Timothy in his mid thirties at the writing of 1 Timothy. No doubt Timothy must have been the youngest of the elders and young compared to the congregation.

 

Chronological snobbery, the belief that things are better because they are younger or older, works in both directions. The lie that newer is better is just that, a lie. The lie that older is better and wiser is just that, a lie.

 

Better is better and wiser is wiser. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Age does not necessarily determine this. God determines these things and he has given them to us in the Manual.

 

God does not look at the outward appearance, but he looks at the heart. David was the youngest of his brothers, yet God chose David as king over the older ones.

 

The point here is not that youth is better or that age is better. The point here is that the gospel is better and that regardless of Timothy’s age, the gospel must be applied. Therefore, Paul commands Timothy to not let his age become an issue.

 

One can be 70 and respected, but if they are not Spirit gifted, disciplined, righteous, gentle and holy they are just as much a fool as the 20-year-old punk.

 

Age is never the issue. Submission to the Scriptures, submission to authority, pursuit of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11) is the issue. If one does those things their age is irrelevant.

 

Timothy was to avoid weak attempts to side step the issue of the gospel and its application. Timothy had to command that the issue remain the issue. We must as well.

 

3. Set the example v. 12b

Timothy is to set the example for others to follow. The list of items Paul gives Timothy is different somewhat from the items he will mention in 6:11 that Timothy is to pursue (righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness) as opposed to the things Paul tells him to flee (6:3-10). Does this mean that Timothy should not set the example in gentleness since it’s not in the list here in 4:12? Of course that is not what Paul means. This list of items probably represents what the liars who are teaching demonic doctrines don’t set the example in.

 

Speech and Conduct

Speech and conduct truly go together. In other words, Timothy should do what he says. If Timothy teaches the gospel then he should apply the metanarrative of truth to all areas as thoroughly as he can. Timothy should speak the truth and act the truth out.

 

Love, Faith, and Purity

The second group, consisting of “love,” “faith,” and “purity,” refers to inner traits. Paul desired a love that demonstrates itself for both God and others. The term “faith” is anarthrous (not saving faith) in the Greek and likely represents an attitude of faithfulness or trustworthiness rather than right belief. The call for “purity” demands both sexual purity and integrity of heart.[1]

 

4. Devote yourself to publicly reading Scripture, to exhortation and to teaching v. 13

Listen to the words of Justin Martyr: “On a day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has finished, the president speaks, instructing and exhorting the people to imitate these good things.”[2]

 

Note the equation of the apostle’s writings with the writings of the Old Testament.

 

Note the place of the service. It is “as long as time permits”. They didn’t spend all day doing a church service. They gathered for worship then got back to living out the truth in the domains of society together. They were glocal!

 

Note that after the reading of the texts the leader they called the “president” expounded on the texts to teach (instruct in doctrine) and exhort (preach) the church to do what they just read (“these good things”).

 

This is what Justin Martyr inherited at the close of the first century. This is what Paul is instructing Timothy to do here in the 60’s. Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture to exhortation and to teaching. This is Timothy’s charge and job description. When you gather lay down the word and expound on it and send folks off to go do it.

 

How does Timothy display his devotion to this most crucial task?

 

Timothy is to display his devotion by not neglecting his gift for exhorting and teaching v. 14

The constant challenge for the pastor / elder is the tyranny of the urgent and the false expectations of people who will chew you a new hole or distance themselves from you because of some perceived slight because, after all, the pastor / elder is to be perfect and no room for error is to be given (sarcasm).

 

Paul will tell Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:6 to “fan into flame” the gift that was given to him.

 

Many Sunday sermons are limp because they were copied from the internet, completed in about 30 minutes, snapped shut in order to move on to CEO duties and forgotten.

 

The teaching gift must be fanned into flame. It must be cultivated, practiced, and refined. Timothy is to be devoted to that.

 

Church don’t expect your pastor / elders to be CEO men. We’ve been over that. This is not their function. This does not mean that some are not gifted in administration, but it means that those who are particularly administrative are still applying word and prayer to the administration of the work of teaching and preaching and kingdom expansion.

Timothy is to display his devotion by practicing and immersing himself in these things v. 15

Practice – (imperative – plot; practice)

Immerse – (imperative – be; mean; exist in; immerse is not actually in the text. There is not a word for that. The word is “ginomai” to be. It is also middle voice meaning that there is action on Timothy’s part but there is passive work happening. God by the Spirit sustains Timothy’s being in the duty)

 

Timothy is to practice study and teaching. Every chance he gets he must work on this most crucial craft of study and communication.

 

He is to immerse himself in this task. We have already seen that the pastor / elder’s job is the word and prayer. Any task that takes time away from these is a misplaced. This required discipline on the part of the pastor / elder and understanding on the part of the church.

 

5. Persist in keeping a watch on yourself and the gospel v. 16

Paul’s closing will be our closing for this text today. Persist is in the imperative. This conclusion is not a closing “good idea”. Paul’s instruction is an imperative. “Keep” and “persist” are both imperatives.

 

“Keep a close watch on yourself and the teaching.”

It is commanded that we watch closely our speech and conduct. It is commanded that we watch closely our love, faith and purity.

 

As we keep a close watch on our children when they are young and playing in potential dangerous situations we are to keep that kind of close watch on lives and the gospel we teach. We must continually be monitoring our living and our teaching to see if they match and if they are in line with Scripture.

 

This is daily walking with Christ in fellowship and submission to him. Do you do this?

 

“Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

This is sobering. This duty cannot be neglected. The power of a life integrated based on the gospel is supernatural. Why, because Paul says that it will save the practitioner and the observer who is imitating.

 

Don’t misunderstand. Paul is not saying that one’s works save. Paul is affirming that the saved do work and that this work for the pastor / elder is to watch, shepherd one’s life and teaching into integration and those people will be saved, but even greater, the people they lead will be saved too by following the same teaching and the same living.

 

Lest you think that this falls on the pastor / elder and you escape, know this: all people are always leading and following. Someone is following you because you are older / wiser / charismatic / fun / “good looking” / popular / smart / up front / on the stage / perceived as a leader / etc. Are you living the truth so that those watching are led to the truth and imitating it?

 

Are we all perfect? No. Do we all fail? Yes. Must we be aware of the need to follow Jesus daily? You bet. Go. Know and learn the gospel and its multifaceted applications to the whole of creation and living it out. In case you have not figured this out yet, it will be a life-long proposition.

 

[1] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, 1, 2 Timothy, Titus, vol. 34, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 138.

[2] Justin Martyr, First Apology, translated by A.W.F Blunt, Cambridge Patristic Texts, Vol. 1 (Cambridge; Cambridge, 1911), 1, p. 67.