1 Timothy 5
Rx for church problems
Tips for ministering to humans1Don’t rip into an older man with criticism. Approach him like he’s your dad. And treat younger men like they’re your brothers. 2As for older women, treat them like you would treat your mom. Then treat the young ladies like they’re your sisters, and keep it wholesome. 3Show nothing but respect for true widows, those who are all alone.
4But if a widow has kids or grandkids, let them act like it and do the right thing. Let them take care of her. This isn’t just a way for kids to repay their parents for taking care of them. It’s what God wants them to do. 5A true widow is all alone. She doesn’t have anyone to take care of her. All the hope she has she puts in God. She prays day and night for help. 6But the widow who lives selfishly for her own enjoyment, well, she’s not living at all.
Help your needy family members7Pass along these instructions because we don’t want believers to get criticized for treating people badly. 8So-called believers are frauds if they don’t take care of their own needy relatives—especially relatives in the immediate family. Frauds like that are worse than an unbeliever.
9You can put a widow on the list to get church support if she’s at least 60 years old and was faithful to her husband. 10But she also should have a good reputation. Examples: she helped others, raised her kids, showed hospitality, welcomed believers by washing the dust off their feet, helped people in trouble, and took every opportunity to do something good for someone.
11Don’t put young widows on the list. When their sex drive takes over, they can end up getting remarried and abandoning the Messiah. 12When that happens, they’ll face judgment for trashing their faith. 13And if you put them on the list, they’ll learn the art of laziness. They’ll spend their time gossiping, sticking their nose in other people’s business, and belching out words they should have kept to themselves. 14What I’d like to see happen is for young widows to marry again. Let them have children, manage the home front, and give the enemy no excuse for badmouthing them. 15It’s too late for some widows. They’ve already switched sides and joined Satan.
16If a woman is a believer and has relatives who are widowed, the believer should take care of those widows so the church doesn’t have to do it. That allows the church to help the true widows, the ladies who don’t have any family to help them.
Show some respect to church leaders17Double dip your church leaders in honor if they have been working hard and doing a good job of preaching and teaching. 18After all, the Bible says, “Don’t put a muzzle over the mouth of an ox so it can’t eat while it’s helping you knock loose the grain kernels from stalks.” It also says, “A worker deserves a salary.”
19If someone makes an accusation against a church leader, don’t take any action on it unless there are two or three witnesses. 20Publicly confront any leaders who won’t stop misbehaving. This will give everyone else in the church fair warning not to misbehave.
21God is watching me as I write this. So is Jesus the Messiah and his chosen angels. Knowing this, I’m ordering you to follow the rules I’ve given you. Don’t pass judgment on anyone until you have all the facts. Be fair, don’t show any favoritism. 22Don’t be too quick on the draw when it comes to laying hands on people you appoint as church leaders. If you pick the wrong people, you’ll be partly responsible for the sins of others. Stay away from sin.
23Stop drinking nothing but water. Drink a little wine, too, for the sake of your stomach and to help you keep from getting sick so often. 24Some people sin openly, for everyone to see. Their sins will be waiting for them at judgment time. Other people sin secretly. Their sins will follow them all the way to judgment. 25Some good deeds are obvious, too. Others are done in secret. But no good deed will stay secret.
Paul was distinguishing between “true widows” who needed support from the church and other widows who had family to take care of them. They were both widows who had lost their husbands. But the ladies Paul called “true widows” had lost even more, because they had no one to help them.
It was a common courtesy in the ancient Middle East to wash the feet of visitors, or to at least offer them water to wash their own feet. People wore sandals and walked on dirt trails, so their feet quickly got layered in dirt and dust.
Possibly a reference to Satan, given what Paul says in verse 15.
Some Bible versions read into the context that follows in verse 18 and they say the church should double the minister’s salary, or at least give them a bonus (Contemporary English Version, New Living Version).
See Deuteronomy 25:4
See Luke 10:7.
People in Paul’s day believed that wine could help a sick person get better. The father of medicine, Hippocrates (about 480-370 BC) wrote, “Wine is an appropriate item for people, both for the healthy body and for the ailing person.”
Paul says Christians shouldn’t “rip into an older man with criticism,” but should treat him “like he’s your dad” (5:1). How do you think Paul would expect Timothy to criticize an older man in the church who is teaching heresy, such as the idea that God doesn’t want Christians to get married? After all, Paul called these people liars: “These liars tell people not to get married” (4:3).
Paul called widows with no means of support other than the church “true widows” (5:3). As though women who had lost their husbands were not really widows if they had family to help them. If Paul had asked you to comment on his letter to help him polish it before he mailed it, what would you have said about this?
Paul says something that might sound harsh and uncalled for: “So-called believers are frauds if they don’t take care of their own needy relatives—especially relatives in the immediate family. Frauds like that are worse than an unbeliever” (5:8). What’s a Christian to do about a family member who’s always in need because he or she constantly makes hurtful decisions? And what’s a Christian to do if they have tried to help but all they end up doing is enabling their family member to continue living a life that puts themselves and others at risk?
Paul didn’t want widows under 60 added to the church charity list (5:9). How do you react to the reasons he gives for that (5:11-14)?
Paul tells Timothy, “Double dip your church leaders in honor if they have been working hard and doing a good job of preaching and teaching” (5:17). What do you think he meant by that? How do we double dip a church leader in honor?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul advises Timothy not to take action on a church leader accused of misbehavior “unless there are two or three witnesses” (5:19). How have you seen misconduct among church leaders dealt with in the church?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul tells Timothy to pick church leaders carefully. “If you pick the wrong people, you’ll be partly responsible for the sins of others. Stay away from sin” (5:22). Many of us have seen church leaders hurt others and drive them away from church and God. What kinds of behavior among church leaders does that sort of thing?