1 Timothy 5 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Timothy 5)

Verse 1

[1] Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

Rebuke not — Considering your own youth, with such a severity as would otherwise be proper.

Verse 3

[3] Honour widows that are widows indeed.

Honour — That is, maintain out of the public stock.

Verse 4

[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.

Let these learn to requite their parents — For all their former care, trouble, and expense.

Verse 5

[5] Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

Widows indeed — Who have no near relations to provide for them; and who are wholly devoted to God.

Desolate — Having neither children, nor grandchildren to relieve her.

Verse 6

[6] But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

She that liveth in pleasure — Delicately, voluptuously, in elegant, regular sensuality, though not in the use of any such pleasures as are unlawful in themselves.

Verse 7

[7] And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.

That they — That is, the widows.

Verse 8

[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.

If any provide not — Food and raiment.

For his own — Mother and grandmother, being desolate widows.

He hath — Virtually.

Denied the faith — Which does not destroy, but perfect, natural duties. What has this to do with heaping up money for our children, for which it is often so impertinently alleged? But all men have their reasons for laying up money. One will go to hell for fear of want; another acts like a heathen, lest he should be worse than an infidel.

Verse 9

[9] Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,

Let not a widow be chosen — Into the number of deaconesses, who attended sick women or travelling preachers.

Under threescore — Afterwards they were admitted at forty, if they were eminent for holiness.

Having been the wife of one husband — That is, having lived in lawful marriage, whether with one or more persons successively.

Verse 10

[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.

If she hath washed the feet of the saints — Has been ready to do the meanest offices for them.

Verse 11

[11] But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

Refuse — Do not choose.

For when they are waxed wanton against Christ — To whose more immediate service they had addicted themselves.

They want to marry — And not with a single eye to the glory of God; and so withdraw themselves from that entire service of the church to which they were before engaged.

Verse 12

[12] Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.

They have rejected their first faith — Have deserted their trust in God, and have acted contrary to the first conviction, namely, that wholly to devote themselves to his service was the most excellent way. When we first receive power to believe, does not the Spirit of God generally point out what are the most excellent things; and at the same time, give us an holy resolution to walk in the highest degree of Christian severity? And how unwise are we ever to sink into anything below it!

Verse 14

[14] I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

I counsel therefore the younger women — Widows or virgins, such as are not disposed to live single.

To marry, to bear children, to guide the family — Then will they have sufficient employment of their own.

And give no occasion of reproach to the adversary — Whether Jew or heathen.

Verse 15

[15] For some are already turned aside after Satan.

Some — Widows.

Have turned aside after Satan — Who has drawn them from Christ.

Verse 17

[17] Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

Let the elders that rule well — Who approve themselves faithful stewards of all that is committed to their charge.

Be counted worthy of double honour — A more abundant provision, seeing that such will employ it all to the glory of God. As it was the most laborious and disinterested men who were put into these offices, so whatever any one had to bestow, in his life or death, was generally lodged in their hands for the poor. By this means the churchmen became very rich in after ages, but as the design of the donors was something else, there is the highest reason why it should be disposed of according to their pious intent.

Especially those — Of them.

Who labour — Diligently and painfully.

In the word and teaching — In teaching the word.

Verse 18

[18] For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

Deuteronomy 25:4

Verse 19

[19] Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

Against an elder — Or presbyter. Do not even receive an accusation, unless by two or three witnesses - By the Mosaic law, a private person might be cited (though not condemned) on the testimony of one witness; but St. Paul forbids an elder to be even cited on such evidence, his reputation being of more importance than that of others.

Verse 20

[20] Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Those — Elders.

That sin — Scandalously, and are duly convicted.

Rebuke before all — The church.

Verse 21

[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.

I charge thee before God — Referring to the last judgment, in which we shall stand before God and Christ, with his elect, that is, holy, angels, who are the witnesses of our conversation. The apostle looks through his own labours, and even through time itself, and seems to stand as one already in eternity.

That thou observe these things without prejudging — Passing no sentence till the cause is fully heard.

Or partiality — For or against any one.

Verse 22

[22] Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.

Lay hands suddenly on no man — That is, appoint no man to church offices without full trial and examination; else thou wilt be accessary to, and accountable for, his misbehaviour in his office.

Keep thy self pure — From the blood of all men.

Verse 24

[24] Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.

Some men's sins are manifest beforehand — Before any strict inquiry be made.

Going before to judgment — So that you may immediately judge them unworthy of any spiritual office.

And some they — Their sins.

Follow after — More covertly.

Verse 25

[25] Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.

They that are otherwise — Not so manifest.

Cannot be long hid — From thy knowledge. On this account, also, be not hasty in laying on of hands.