Bible Studies

PRECEPTS FOR HANDLING ELDERS AND WIDOWS(YOUTHS)

Written by Gastonjeremiah


Memory Verse: “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity:. Honour widows that are widows indeed” (1 Timothy 5: 1-3)

Text: 1 Timothy 5:1-25.

That focused the previous on chapter, the prophecy Apostle on Paul apostasy gave an in latter exhortation times, which he had spoken of as a thing expected and taken for granted among Christians. He charged Timothy to, instill in the minds of Christians such attitudes that might prevent their being seduced by false teachers. “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth” (2 Peter 1:12). Ministers themselves are expected to grow and increase in the knowledge of Christ and His doctrine: they must be nourished up in the words of faith. The best way for ministers to grow in knowledge and faith is to put the brethren in remembrance; while we teach others, we teach ourselves. In this chapter, Apostle Paul gave Timothy a guide or general direction on how to deal with different classes of people in the Church, most especially when error is discovered. In order to maintain the standard and still keep a good decorum in the household of God, he laid down rules about the manner of rebuking people, suitable to their several ages; gave directions concerning widows, both old and young; and instructed Timothy on how to behave towards elders in office on different accounts. The rules for giving reproof to old men, as fathers; to young men, as brethren; to elderly women, as mothers; and to the younger, as sisters. In fact the church itself has been described as a divine extension of the family, the family being, in every way, just as sacred and divine as the church. Therefore, discipline must be upheld in order to present it as “•••a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

Point 1: CHARGE CONCERNING ELDERS.

1 Timothy 5:1,2,17-19; Leviticus 19:32; Romans 13:7; Galatians 6:1,6; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; James 3:17; l Peter 5:5-6; 1 Corinthians 9:5-14; Philippians 2:29; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7,17; 2 Corinthians 13:1.

Apostle Paul gave Timothy a rule concerning rebuke. Every minister by virtue of his office is expected to reprove, rebuke, exhort with longsuffering and doctrine, in season and out of season (1 Timothy 4:2). This is necessary to maintain orderliness and holiness not only in the household of God but in our homes and society. In carrying out this responsibility, he provided a caution by divine guidance; “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). An elder, either in age or in office must be entreated as a father and mother. Respect must be given to them and therefore they must not be rebuked sharply. As it is natural between children and their parents, so also it should be in the ministry. Since it is not expected of young people to disrespect fathers and mothers, so also, a minister of the gospel must respect aged people and those he met in the service. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the com. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward” (verses 17, 18). Young ministers must maintain, support and help the aged and those met in the ministry. Paul explains that those who labor in the Lord’s work are entitled to support. They should be honoured by compensation when they do their work well, using examples from the Old Testament priesthood as well as the right of farmers to share in the crop they worked on (1 Corinthians 9:5-14; Galatians 6:6). In verse 18, he cited an Old Testament precedence as basis relating to compassion for work animals (Deuteronomy 25:4). Oxen would help thresh the grain after harvesting, but would be allowed to pause to eat some of it during their labour. That focused on honest treatment of workers. Jesus taught on the preacher’s compensation in Luke 10:7 and using a number of commandments in the Old Testament that we should not defraud workers, but to pay them promptly for their work (Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:14- 15; James 5:4).

Question 1: What should be the attitude of young ministers to elders?

As he carries out his assignment in the vineyard of God, he must “against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses” (verse 19). Young ministers must not gang up against those they met in ministry or the aged, but verify things well and entreat them as fathers and mothers. There should be no room for rumor mongering in the house of God. “For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:11). Where it is discovered that an elder has erred or promotes error, such should be reported to the appropriate quarters for necessary action. No elder should be shielded
in error.

Question 2: How should we correct or communicate with younger ones or mates in the church?

“…And the younger men as brethren…” The younger must be rebuked as brethren, with love and
tenderness in order to make the best of them. “•••Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2, 3). “…The elder women as mothers…” (Verse 2); these are to be considered as mothers in Israel, and to be treated with great tenderness and respect. “…the younger as sisters, with all purity” (verse 2). He must deal with the younger women as his sisters. But Paul cautioned Timothy to let his relationships with the younger women be with absolute purity. Paul knows the temptations that pastors and leaders sometimes face, and he had to caution them.

Point 2: COUNSEL CONCERNING WIDOWS.

1 Timothy 5:3-16; Exodus 22:22-24; Deuteronomy 14:29; 24:19-21; Psalm 68:5; Jeremiah 7:6-7; Zechariah 7:9,10; Acts 6:1-3; l Corinthians 7:8-9; James 1:27; Proverbs 14:12-13; 21:17; Isaiah 32:9- 15; Luke 12:16-21; Mark 4:19.

Question 3: Who are the widows?

“Honour widows that are widows indeed” (verse 3). At this point, Paul came to the point of who to help and who not to, in order not to cause indolence or murmuring in the church. Honour those that are widows indeed, that is, maintain them and admit them into office. There was in those days an office in the church in which widows were employed, and that was to attend to the sick and the aged, to be monitored by the deacons (Acts 6:1). Apart from respecting and honouring the widows, Paul distinguished between three groups of widows: (1) Godly widows who are older and have no family to support them (verse 5). (2) Widows who have family that can support them: “children or grandchildren” (verse 4). (3) Younger widows who should remarry rather than depend upon the church for support (verses 6, 11-15). He gave some practical guidelines to help Timothy and as well as today’s ministers to decide which widows they should be helping. These older widows who have no other family to help them are beyond marriageable age, and who have lived a life of faith and good works are suitable recipients of the church’s support (verses 9, 10).

Question 4: Should we neglect the widows as a result of our commitment to service?

Meanwhile, Paul makes it absolutely clear that believers are expected to provide for their aged family members. “But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel… If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed” (verses 8, 16). Failure to do this is to deny the very faith you claim to believe. Even unbelievers care for their aged relatives. Paul stated that, not to take up this responsibility makes one worse than an unbeliever or “infidel”. Caring for one’s parents and grandparents is God’s way of repaying or “requiting” what they did for us (verse 4).
“But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry” (verse 11). Paul gave this precept in order to guide against idleness, gossip and careless life. As young widows, they may be viewed as a threat to the stability of the other families in the Christian community. Paul instructed the Corinthian church that remarriage was acceptable, but “only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). Paul seems to have had experience in Ephesus with younger Christian widows who ended up marrying unbelievers, rather than Christians and then turned away from the faith. So he says here, “For some are already turned aside after Satan” (verse 15). In this way “have cast off their first faith” (verse 12). Therefore, they should not remain unmarried, but to be faithful disciples of Christ.

Point 3: CHURCH DISCIPLINE.

1 Timothy 5:20-25; Deuteronomy 13:6-11; 17:12,13; Galatians 2:11-14; 2 Timothy 4:1-5; 1 Corinthians 5:3-5,13; 1 Timothy 1:20; 3:2,3; Titus 1:7; Leviticus 10:9-11; Proverbs 31:4-6)

Any accusation must be well supported with facts after thorough investigations. This guideline protects an elder from unkindness. Then those that sin should be rebuked or corrected openly. Public rebuke is designed for the good of others that they may fear. Partiality or favouritism is to be strongly avoided in correction as Christian ministers following the footsteps of Christ.
In addition, no one should be hastily ordained by any leader to avoid compromise.

Question 5: What do you understand by the advice of Paul to Timothy in Verse 23?

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (verse 23). There has been much difficulty in the interpretation of this advice. Some have erroneously accepted and taught it as an excuse to indulge in drinking of alcoholic wine. Whereas, Paul specifically stated “for thy stomach’s sake”, meaning, it was not for pleasure or for excitement, but solely because it was regarded as necessary for the promotion of his health; that is, as a medicine. Being a youth, Paul counseled Timothy to take care of his health, and prescribed the use of a small quantity of wine, mixed with water, as a suitable medicine in his case. Youths
are strongly advised not to drink alcoholic wine (Leviticus
10:9-11; Proverb 31:6).
“Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after” (verse 24). It implies here that some men’s sins are open and confessed; they are not found by secret search before repentance and restitution. Others they follow after; that is, their wickedness are kept in secret, until after thorough investigation has been made, yet they will still cover up. Sins that are repented of are dealt with before one gets to the judgment throne but those swept under the carpet or covered up are exposed on the judgment day. Like that of King Saul before Samuel (1 Samuel 15:13-23). “Likewise
also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid” (verse 25). In Church discipline therefore, we must observe that, (1.) there are secret, and open sins; (2.) sinners must be differently dealt with – There are those who open up without investigation while some, despite thorough search will still cover up; (3.) the effects of church discipline are different; some are thereby humbled and brought to repentance, so that their good works are manifest beforehand, while it is quite otherwise with others; (4.) the unruly should not be spared but must be rebuked before all. So Timothy, as well as youth officers are called to be very wise and show discipline in carrying out their ministerial assignments. Christian youths must not be found in the habit of covering up sin because sooner or later their sin will find them out.

About the author

Gastonjeremiah

He is a teacher, writer, and preacher. His interests range from education to writing. He is also interested in reading, teaching, and in technology.

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