Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.
3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.
16 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.
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18 For the scripture saith, thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
Though Timothy was wise and learned, he was yet young and owed respect to his elders. Older men ought always to be treated as one would treat his father – with respect and humility. You do not rebuke your father as he would rebuke you, but rather you exhort him to do better and improve. Older women are similar in that they are to be treated as mothers – with love, compassion, and respect.
The younger – those your age and younger – are your brothers and sisters. As a teacher or pastor, they are your younger siblings who go astray and need to be rebuked in love. You do not rebuke these brothers and sisters as you would a stranger, for they are your family and you desire only to see them succeed and thrive in godliness and faith.
A “widow indeed” is a woman who has no husband to care for her, nor any relatives who can take care of her. Her children may be too young to care for her, or she may have no children. Her father is dead, and her cousins are unable to take her under their wings. These widows deserve all compassion and love from us, for we are their brothers and fathers and sisters and mothers.
However, not all widows are this way. Many have family that ought rightly take care of them in piety. These widows have a duty from the Lord to guide her children and nephews and nieces in piety and submission to their parents, which is good and acceptable to God. As she is cared for, so she must also give care to her family.
A widow indeed is unable to provide for herself, for she cares for her children or has dedicated herself to her husband while he yet lived. These widows can trust only in God, and offer continual prayers and supplications on behalf of herself and the whole people of God. In return, let the brethren take care of her as an act of service to the same God to which she prays.
Anyone who lives in pleasure and sin, though, shows not the fruits of salvation and is likely yet dead. The Lord alone can bring new life to these.
Orders for the Church
These are a series of commands for the whole Church, that they remain blameless before man and God.
- We must care for our own families. Anyone who does not care for his family is worse than an infidel, for he casts blame on the faith. In addition, we must care also for all the brethren as though they were our families (though it is right and good to care for our families first).
- The Church ought not to provide care to widows under the age of thirty. These young women can find a new husband and raise many excellent children to provide for her as she ages. In fact, if we take them in as “wives of the Church” (as it were), they are likely to still desire marriage and find a new husband. In the process, they shall too often cast off their faith, learn to be idle instead of studious, gossip, and cause disruptions. In short, they become “brides of Satan,” doing things that work evil in the world and harboring no godliness in their hearts.
- “Wives of the Church” are to be women well known for their good works – for raising excellent children, for providing lodging and food to strangers, for working humbly and dutifully in the Church, for helping the sick and the injured, and for diligently performing good services.
- The Brethren ought to care for the widows around us, so that the whole of the Church need not be burdened with them and they might be comforted.
- The elders that lead the Church well should be doubly honored, for their age and for their dutiful and godly service – this applies most particularly to those who preach and study the Word. This gives them honors that they richly deserve, and so is a good thing that should be natural for us.
- Give benefit of the doubt to the elders of the Church. Many will come trying to discredit them (we have seen this with many excellent ministers of the Faith over the course of history, and much moreso recently). Unless there is sufficient evidence to be concerned about them, assume the accusers are merely laying false accusations against them.
- Rebuke sinful brethren before the Church – those who have been approached in private and continued to sin. This provides a warning to the brethren not to stray from the faith and give in to the sinful nature of the flesh.
Orders for Timothy
The remaining orders are for Timothy, in particular. Some of these apply to all preachers and leaders in the faith, while others are specifically tailored for him. These are fairly apparent.
- Do not be partial to one person or another, but remain without prejudice. God is no concerner of persons, but causes the rain to fall on both the just and the unjust, the Jew and the Gentile, the rich and the poor. As a minister of God, one must also be impartial in dispensing judgment and compassion.
- Be an example of blamelessness. Do not start fights, nor join in other people’s sins.
- Timothy had a weak stomach that needed some help, so Paul ordered him to drink wine. I assume that Timothy abstained for a reason, but Paul made drink okay by giving this command.
Leaders and Followers
Some men sin openly while they live, and others follow after them into damnation. Others work good openly in the world, and others follow after them. Both good and evil works cannot remain forever hidden. Therefore seek to do good, in public and in private, that such good works be made manifest in their time.
Let us Pray
Lord, God, author and perfecter of our faith, we praise you that you are God. You respect not personages, but dispense your blessings and curses in accordance with your will and your justice and mercy. You are unchanging and perfect, glorious beyond all imagining, wise beyond all comprehension, and knowledgable beyond all understanding. We praise you as the One God, and we pray that we do not place any thing above You in our minds and hearts.
We thank you that you have sent your ministers to guide us and teach us. We thank you for the Apostles and their teachings which are yet among us, and we thank you that you have preserved the words of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega, who you made man to walk among us and teach us. We thank you that we are assured of both his death for our sins and his resurrection as promise of future resurrection for us.
Lord, let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight. Let your commands always be upon our minds and hearts. Let us always seek to follow these commands, knowing that we shall at times fail but that you shall forgive.
Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all the brethren and those who are not yet called to the faith. Preserve us all, O Lord, from the sinful natures of our flesh, from the false preachers and seductions of devils, and from the spiritual forces of darkness in the high places.