I charge thee before God
Who sees and knows all things, and is a righteous and most impartial Judge; with whom there is no respect of persons, and in whose place and stead, the judges of the earth, both civil and ecclesiastical, stand; and to whom they are accountable for the judgment they pass on men and things; and in whose house or church Timothy was, whose business he was doing, and which ought to be done, with a view to his glory; wherefore the apostle gives him this solemn charge as in his sight:
and the Lord Jesus Christ:
who also is God omniscient; and is Jesus Christ the righteous, the Head of the church, and the Judge of quick and dead; before whose judgment seat all must appear; where there will be no respect of persons, nor any partiality used.
And the elect angels;
by whom are meant not some of the angels, the more choice, excellent, and principal among them; as the seven angels in the Apocryha:
``I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.'' (Tobit 12:15)
among whom Raphael is said to be one. But this is a spurious account, and not to be credited; nor was it an ancient tradition of the Jews, that there were seven principal angels; (See Gill on Revelation 1:4). The Chaldee paraphrase on ( Genesis 11:7 ) is mistaken by Mr. Mede, where not "seven", but "seventy" angels are spoken of: but here all the good angels are designed, called sometimes the holy angels, and sometimes the angels in heaven; and here, by the Syriac version, "his angels"; either the angels of God, as they are sometimes styled; or the angels of Jesus Christ, being made by him, and being ministers to him, and for him; and also "elect", because chosen to stand in that integrity and holiness, in which they were created; and to enjoy everlasting glory and happiness, while others of the same species were passed by and left to fall from their first estate, and appointed to everlasting wrath and damnation: so that it may be observed that God's election takes place in angels as well as in men; and which flows from the sovereign will and pleasure of God; and was made in Christ, who is their head, and by whom they are confirmed in their happy state; and in which they must be considered in the pure mass, since they never fell; and which may serve to illustrate and confirm the doctrine of election with respect to men. Now before these the apostle charges Timothy; since they are near to the saints, encamp about them, minister unto them, and are concerned for their good; are spectators of their actions, and witnesses of what is done in churches, since they frequently attend the assemblies of the saints, and will descend with Christ, when he comes to judge the world in righteousness: the mention of them in this, charge gives no countenance to the worshipping of angels, since they are not set upon a level with God and Christ; nor is the charge delivered before them as judges, but as witnesses; nor are the words in the form of an oath, but of a charge; the angels are not sworn by, or appealed unto; only in their presence is this solemn charge given; and it may be observed, that even inanimate creatures, the heavens and the earth, are sometimes called upon as witnesses; and besides, it was usual with the Jews to make such kind of obtestations, So Agrippa F9, in his speech to the Jews, exhorting them to fidelity to the Romans, beseeches them by their holy things, (kai touv ierouv ) (aggelouv tou ueou) , "and the holy angels of God", and their common country, that is, the good of it, that they would remain steadfast. What is the amount of this charge follows,
that thou observe these things;
either all that are contained in the epistle, or more particularly the rules prescribed in this chapter; concerning rebuking members of a different age and sex, providing for poor widows, and taking care of the ministers of the Gospel, and chiefly what regards the discipline of the church with respect to the elders of it; as not to admit an accusation against them, unless it is sufficiently evident, and yet not connive at notorious sinners, but rebuke them publicly; and this charge belongs not only to Timothy, but to the whole church, and to all succeeding ministers and churches in all ages. The manner in which these things are to be observed is,
without preferring one before another;
or, as the words may be rendered, "without prejudgment"; that is, without prejudging a case, or determining, before hearing, how it shall be; or as the Syriac version renders it, "in nothing let thy mind be prepossessed"; the sense is, that he should attend to any case that should come before him in the church, without prejudice or prepossession, and hearken to what is said on both sides; and judge impartially, and not in haste, but weigh well and consider the evidence that is given, and then determine as the case appears; so the Arabic version renders it, "without haste", or precipitancy; to which agrees the advice of the men of the great congregation, or Ezra's congregation, who were in his time, and succeeded him; (Nydb Mynwtm wwh) , "be slow in judgment" F11, or long at it; that so by strict and close examination, things not known at first may be discovered: and when judgment is passed, it should not be through affection to one party, and disrespect to another; which is called in Scripture a respect of persons, and here a preferring one to another; and which is further explained by adding,
doing nothing by partiality;
or by inclining to one side more than to another. A judge should not preponderate to either side, but should hold the balance of justice even, and do nothing to turn the scale one way or another, but as the weight and truth of the evidence direct; and such a rule should be observed in all church affairs.
F9 Joseph. de Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 16. sect. 4.
F11 Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 1. Vid. Maimon in ib.