1 Timothy 5

Listen to 1 Timothy 5

Instructions for the Church

1 1Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, 2younger men as brothers,
2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
3 Honor widows 3who are truly widows.
4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn 4to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for 5this is pleasing in the sight of God.
5 She 6who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and 7continues in supplications and prayers night and day,
6 but 8she who is self-indulgent is 9dead even while she lives.
7 10Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach.
8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for 11members of his household, he has 12denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been 13the wife of one husband,[a]
10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has 14shown hospitality, 15has washed the feet of the saints, has 16cared for the afflicted, and has 17devoted herself to every good work.
11 But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when 18their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry
12 and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.
13 Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also 19gossips and 20busybodies, saying what they should not.
14 So I would have 21younger widows marry, bear children, 22manage their households, and 23give the adversary no occasion for slander.
15 24For some have already strayed after Satan.
16 If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those 25who are truly widows.
17 Let the elders 26who rule well be considered worthy of 27double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
18 For the Scripture says, 28"You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, 29"The laborer deserves his wages."
19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except 30on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
20 As for those who persist in sin, 31rebuke them in the presence of all, 32so that the rest may stand in fear.
21 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels 33I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, 34doing nothing from partiality.
22 35Do not be hasty in the 36laying on of hands, nor 37take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
23 (No longer drink only water, but 38use a little wine 39for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)
24 The sins of some men are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.
25 So also good works are conspicuous, and 40even those that are not cannot remain hidden.

1 Timothy 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

Directions as to the elder and younger men and women. (1,2) And as to poor widows. (3-8) Concerning widows. (9-16) The respect to be paid to elders. Timothy is to take care in rebuking offenders, in ordaining ministers, and as to his own health. (17-25)

Verses 1-2 Respect must be paid to the dignity of years and place. The younger, if faulty, must be rebuked, not as desirous to find fault with them, but as willing to make the best of them. There is need of much meekness and care in reproving those who deserve reproof.

Verses 3-8 Honour widows that are widows indeed, relieve them, and maintain them. It is the duty of children, if their parents are in need, and they are able to relieve them, to do it to the utmost of their power. Widowhood is a desolate state; but let widows trust in the Lord, and continue in prayer. All who live in pleasure, are dead while they live, spiritually dead, dead in trespasses and sins. Alas, what numbers there are of this description among nominal Christians, even to the latest period of life! If any men or women do not maintain their poor relations, they in effect deny the faith. If they spend upon their lusts and pleasures, what should maintain their families, they have denied the faith, and are worse than infidels. If professors of the gospel give way to any corrupt principle or conduct, they are worse than those who do not profess to believe the doctrines of grace.

Verses 9-16 Every one brought into any office in the church, should be free from just censure; and many are proper objects of charity, yet ought not to be employed in public services. Those who would find mercy when they are in distress, must show mercy when they are in prosperity; and those who show most readiness for every good work, are most likely to be faithful in whatever is trusted to them. Those who are idle, very seldom are only idle, they make mischief among neighbours, and sow discord among brethren. All believers are required to relieve those belonging to their families who are destitute, that the church may not be prevented from relieving such as are entirely destitute and friendless.

Verses 17-25 Care must be taken that ministers are maintained. And those who are laborious in this work are worthy of double honour and esteem. It is their just due, as much as the reward of the labourer. The apostle charges Timothy solemnly to guard against partiality. We have great need to watch at all times, that we do not partake of other men's sins. Keep thyself pure, not only from doing the like thyself, but from countenancing it, or any way helping to it in others. The apostle also charges Timothy to take care of his health. As we are not to make our bodies masters, so neither slaves; but to use them so that they may be most helpful to us in the service of God. There are secret, and there are open sins: some men's sins are open before-hand, and going before unto judgment; some they follow after. God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make known the counsels of all hearts. Looking forward to the judgment-day, let us all attend to our proper offices, whether in higher or lower stations, studying that the name and doctrine of God may never be blasphemed on our account.

Cross References 40

  • 1. [Leviticus 19:32]
  • 2. Titus 2:6
  • 3. ver. 5, 16
  • 4. Matthew 15:4-6; Mark 7:10-13; Ephesians 6:1, 2; [Genesis 45:9-11]
  • 5. 1 Timothy 2:3
  • 6. ver. 3, 16
  • 7. [Luke 2:37; Luke 18:1-5]
  • 8. James 5:5; [Ezekiel 16:49]
  • 9. Revelation 3:1
  • 10. 1 Timothy 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:2
  • 11. See Galatians 6:10
  • 12. Revelation 2:13; [2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16; 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 3:8]
  • 13. [1 Timothy 3:2]
  • 14. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 15. See Genesis 18:4
  • 16. ver. 16
  • 17. [1 Timothy 6:18]
  • 18. [Rev. 18:3, 7, 9]
  • 19. 3 John 10(Gk.)
  • 20. 2 Thessalonians 3:11; 1 Peter 4:15
  • 21. [1 Corinthians 7:9]
  • 22. [Titus 2:5]
  • 23. 1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:5, 8
  • 24. [1 Timothy 1:20]
  • 25. ver. 3, 5
  • 26. Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; [1 Corinthians 12:28]
  • 27. Deuteronomy 21:17
  • 28. 1 Corinthians 9:9; Cited from Deuteronomy 25:4
  • 29. Matthew 10:10; Luke 10:7; [Leviticus 19:13; Deuteronomy 24:15; 1 Cor. 9:4, 7-14]
  • 30. See Deuteronomy 19:15
  • 31. Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15
  • 32. Deuteronomy 13:11
  • 33. 1 Timothy 6:13; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 4:1
  • 34. See 2 Corinthians 5:16
  • 35. [1 Timothy 3:10]
  • 36. See Acts 6:6
  • 37. [2 John 11]
  • 38. [1 Timothy 3:8]
  • 39. Psalms 104:15
  • 40. [Psalms 37:6; Proverbs 10:9]

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the apostle lays down rules about the manner of rebuking persons, suitable to their several ages; gives directions concerning widows, both old and young; and instructs Timothy 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 elder women, as mothers; and to the younger, as sisters, are in 1Ti 5:1,2. Next follow the directions about taking care of widows, who are to be honoured and maintained by the church, that are widows indeed, 1Ti 5:3 not such who have relations that are capable of taking care of them, who ought to do it, and not burden the church; since so to do is an act of piety, a requiting parents for their former care and kindness, and is good and acceptable in the sight of God, 1Ti 5:4 but such who are desolate and alone, and have no husbands nor children, nor any to support their wants, but wholly depend on the providence of God, and are constant at the throne of grace crying for help and relief, which shows they are living Christians; whereas such who spend their time in sinful lusts and pleasures, are dead while they live; wherefore if members of churches, with respect to this business, would be blameless, they ought to take care of the former, and reprove the latter, 1Ti 5:5-7. And as for those persons who cast their poor widows upon the church, and will not provide for them, when they are able, they are to be looked upon as deniers of the faith, and to be worse than the Heathens themselves, 1Ti 5:8. The qualifications of widows to be taken care of by the church, besides those before mentioned, are, that they be sixty years of age, having been the wife of one man, and well known for their good works, some of which are particularly mentioned, 1Ti 5:9,10 but those who are under the age fixed, and especially are fit for marriage, and the procreation of children, should be rejected, because of their lasciviousness, idleness, tattling, and busying themselves about other people's matters; these, on the contrary, should be directed to marry, bear children, take care of household affairs, and give no occasion to the enemy to reproach and blaspheme; and the rather such advice should be taken, since there had been some sad instances of apostasy in such persons, 1Ti 5:11-15. And then the apostle repeats his order to believers, to take care of their poor widows, who were able to do it themselves, that so the church might not be burdened, and might be able to relieve such as were real and proper objects, 1Ti 5:16. And then follow rules with respect to elders in office, as that those that rule well, and labour in the ministry of the word, should be honourably maintained; which is confirmed by a passage of Scripture in the Old Testament, and by a saying of Christ's in the New, 1Ti 5:17,18, that an accusation should not be received against one of such a character, but by two or three witnesses, 1Ti 5:19 and that such of them that fell into any notorious sin should be publicly rebuked, in order to make others afraid to sin, 1Ti 5:20. And these things the apostle, in the most solemn manner, charges Timothy, in the sight of God, Christ, and the angels, to observe, without partiality, 1Ti 5:21. To which he adds, that he would not have him be hastily concerned in the ordination of anyone as an elder, lest he should involve himself in his sin, whereas by acting otherwise he would be free, 1Ti 5:22 and then inserts some advice to himself, to take care of his health, 1Ti 5:23 and concludes the chapter with observing, on occasion of what he had said, 1Ti 5:22 that some men's sins were open, and their characters were easily discerned, and others were private, and such were also the good works of others; which made the case either more easy or more difficult to determine what was to be done; and therefore nothing should be done suddenly and rashly, 1Ti 5:24,25.

in office, but in age; for elders by office are afterwards spoken of, and particular rules concerning them are given, 1Ti 5:17,19. Besides, an elder is here opposed, not to a private member of a church, but to young men in age; and the apostle is here giving rules to be observed in rebuking members of churches, according to their different age and sex, and not according to their office and station; and this sense is confirmed by a parallel text in Tit 2:2-6. Now an ancient man, a member of a church, is not to be rebuked in a sharp and severe way; the word here used signifies to smite or strike; and so the Arabic version renders it, "do not strike an elder"; meaning not with the hand, but with the tongue, giving hard words, which are as heavy blows; reproof is a smiting, and there is a gentle and a sharp one, Ps 141:4, Tit 1:13. It is with the former, and not the latter, that man in years is to be reproved, when he is in a fault, whether with respect to doctrine or practice, as such persons may be as well as younger ones; and when they are observed to err, they should not be roughly and sharply dealt with:

\\but entreat him as a father\\; as a child should entreat a father, when he is going out of the way; give him honour and respect, fear and reverence, and persuade him to desist; entreat and beseech him to return to the right path of truth and holiness; use him as a father in Christ, that has known him that is from the beginning, and as of long standing in the church: this must be understood of lesser crimes, and not of atrocious and flagitious ones, obstinately continued in, to the great scandal of religion, and dishonour of the Gospel; for then severer methods must be used; see Isa 45:20. But though this is the sense of the passage, yet the argument from hence is strong, that if an elder in years, a private member, who is ancient, and in a fault, is not to be roughly used, but gently entreated, then much more an elder in office.

\\And the younger men as brethren\\; the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "as thy brethren". Timothy was a young man himself; and as he was to consider an elderly man as his father, and use him accordingly; so he was to consider young men as equal with him, at least in age, and take the more freedom with them, in reproving them for their faults, and use somewhat more authority with them; and yet consider them as brethren in Christ, and reprove them in a brotherly way, and with brotherly love. 06621-940619-2205-1Ti5.2

1 Timothy 5 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.