I Timothy 5
1 “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger
men as brethren;” Rebuke not (μὴ ἐπιπλήξης - mae epiplaexaes –
rebuke not; you should not be upbraiding); only here in the New Testament for
the more usual ἐπιτιμάω – epitimao - rebuke (II Timothy 4:2, and frequently in
the Gospels) or ἐλέγχω – elencho – rebuke - as Titus 1:13; 2:15; Revelation 3:19,
and elsewhere. In classical Greek it expresses a sharp castigation with words.
An elder (πρεσβυτέρῳ – presbutero - elder). The context shows that the meaning
is not a “presbyter,” but “an old man.” The precept has relation to Timothy’s youth
(ch.4:12). See the same order in respect to the persons to be admonished (Titus 2:1-6,
where, however, we have the forms πρεσβύτας – presbutas – seniors; aged
me - and πρεσβύτιδας – presbutidas – aged women - with νέας – neas –
young women and νεωτέρους – neoterous – younger men). The direction
is an instance of that admirable propriety of conduct, based upon a true
charity, which vital Christianity produces. A true Christian never forgets
what is due to others, never “behaves himself unseemly” (I Corinthians 13:5).
Intreat (παρακάλει - parakalei - intreat;); exhort would be a better rendering.
The younger men. This and the other accusatives in this and the following
verse are governed by παρακάλει –the prohibitive μὴ ἐπιπλήξῃς –- rebuke not –
is confined to the πρεσβυτέροι.– elders. As brethren. This phrase shows that
Timothy was still a young man himself. Observe, too, how even in reproving, the
sense of love is to be maintained. The members of the Church over which he rules
are either fathers and mothers, or brothers and sisters, or, it may be added, as his
own children, to the faithful pastor.
Reverence for Age (v. 1)
“Rebuke not an elder.” Comprehensive indeed is Scripture. Its virtue is no
vague generality, but is definite and distinct. It is this which makes the
Bible a daily portion. There is ever in it some special counsel and comfort.
With the cross for a center, all the precious jewels of truth are set in their
places around it. For each relationship of life there are separate behests of
duty, and he must read in vain who does not feel that it was written for
him. With this light none need go astray; and if they do, it is because they
love the darkness rather than the light. (John 3:16-21)
· THERE IS TO BE REVERENCE FOR AGE. We are to entreat the
elder rather than to rebuke them. Scolding is often mistaken for fidelity;
and there is a scolding preaching which holds up mistake and error to scorn
rather than to pity. The Bible reverences age. The elder, if he be here, must
have seen and known terrible troubles and fierce temptations. His boat has
been in many seas. His sword has been almost shivered, in many fights. His
countenance tells of tears and tribulations. He has known defeat as well as
victory. Rebuke him not. With the soft down of youth on your cheek, deal
reverently with the gray-headed men. If evil seems to be getting the
mastery, and the lingering angels are about to leave, entreat age by the
memories of the past and the great hopes of the reward so nigh at hand.
· THERE IS TO BE FELLOWSHIP WITH YOUTH. Be a son to the
aged, but a brother to the young. “And the younger men as brethren;” not
as a proud priest sent to rule them and to shrive them, but as one who has
the passions and the hopes, the duties and the dangers, of a brother.
2 “The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.”
Purity (ἀγνείᾳ - –hagneia - purity |); see ch. 4:12, note. See how jealously the
apostle guards against any possibility of abuse of the familiar intercourse of a clergy
man with the women of his flock. They are his sisters, and ἀγνείω – hagneio – pure;
chaste; is to be the constant condition of his heart and character.
Directions How to Treat Members of the Church
According to the Distinctions of Age and Sex. (vs. 1-2)
“Reprimand not an elderly person, but exhort him as a brother.” The
allusion is not to an official elder of the Church, but to any elderly member
Ø Such persons might possibly be guilty of serious shortcomings,
warranting private admonition, if not the exercise of discipline. Their
conduct would have a worse effect than that of more youthful offenders.
Ø Timothy must not use sharpness or severity in dealing with such
persons, because he must remember what is becoming on account of
his own youth. He should rather use “entreaty” on a footing of
brotherly equality. His zeal ought not to interfere with the reverence
due to age. Let the old be treated with humility and gentleness.
younger men as brothers.” He may use greater freedom with them, as being
on an equality as to age. He must not show airs of assumption toward
them, but may use more freedom in reproving their faults.
as mothers.” He must show them due deference and respect. If they should
err on any point, they must be entreated with all tenderness, as children
entreat their mothers.
younger as sisters, with all purity.” There must be, on the one hand, the
freedom of a brother with sisters; but, on the other hand, a marked
circumspection so as to avoid all ground of suspicion or scandal.
Propriety (vs. 1-2)
Propriety of conduct in the different relations of life is the application of
true charity to the particular circumstances of the case. Charity, while in all
cases it has the same essence, seeking the real good of the person with
whom it is dealing, varies its mode of application according to various
circumstances. There is in charity always a consideration of what is due to
others, a scrupulous and delicate appreciation of the difference of
positions, and consequent differences of feeling, which may be expected, in
different persons. In the natural family, men do not treat their fathers and
their children in the same manner. An upper servant does not deal out the
same measure to his master and to the servants that are under him. There
may be the same truth and the same charity, but there is a different outward
expression of them. It is a great and serious mistake to think that
impartiality requires an identity of proceeding in dealing with different
people. A wise charity knows how to discriminate, and to avoid the risk of
defeating its own ends by wounding the just susceptibilities of those with
whom it has to do. It is in accordance with this view that Paul here
gives directions to the youthful Timothy how to exercise his episcopal
authority over the different persons subject to it. The same sharp rebuke
that might be suitable for a young man would be out of place in the case of
an old one. Timothy must not forget the respect that is due from a young
man to an old one, even while exercising his episcopal functions. And so
with regard to the elderly women of his flock, he will know how to treat
them with filial respect; and with regard to the young women, he will know
how to infuse a brotherly spirit into his dealings with them, avoiding
every approach to any kind of familiarity inconsistent with that purity of
thought which regulates interaction between brothers and sisters. Then
will charity have her perfect work.
What Women Should Be (v. 2)
“The elder women as mothers.”
· Full of the power which comes from feminine pity.
· Full of motherly experiences about children.
· Full of daily care and the deaconate of serving tables at home.
· Full of a great heart-love that would make a roof-tree for all, as a
hen that gathereth her chickens under her wings.
Timothy will yet learn in the
Church work the value of a mother in
1. Mothers were our first pastors.
2. Mothers were our earliest examples.
“The younger as sisters, with all purity.” Beautiful is the holy grace of
purity, and sensitive is the girl-heart to the loveliness of true virtue! Put
them not into confessionals to suggest sins that they never knew, and
deprave the nature under the pretence of absolving it.
3 “Honor widows that are widows indeed.” Honor (τίμα - tima). The use of
the verb τιμάω – timao – to honor - in the comment on the fourth commandment
in Matthew 15:4-6, where the withholding of the honor due consists in saying,
“It is corban, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me,” and so
withholding the honor due, shows clearly that in the notion of honoring is included
that material support which their condition as widows required. So again in v.17 of
this chapter, the “double honor” due to elders who labor in the Word and
doctrine is clearly shown by v.18 to include payment for their maintenance.
This is also borne out by the frequent use of τιμή – timae – honor; a valuing;
a price paid in the sense of “price” (Matthew 27:6, 9; Acts 4:34; 7:16; 19:19;
I Corinthians 6:20). The passage might, therefore, be paraphrased, “Pay
due regard to the wants of those widows who are widows indeed.” The
“honor” here prescribed would be exactly the opposite to the “neglect”
(παρεθεωροῦντο – paretheorounto) complained of by the Grecian Jews
(Acts 6:1). The same idea is in the Latin honorarium, for a fee. Widows indeed;
i.e. really, as in vs. 5 and 16, desolate and alone. We learn from this passage that
care of widows by the whole Church, which began at
very infancy of the Church, was continued in the Churches planted by Paul.
We find the same institution though somewhat different in character,
in subsequent ages of the Church. Widowhood, as well as virginity, became
a religious profession, and widows were admitted with certain ceremonies,
including the placing on their heads a veil consecrated by the bishop.
Deaconesses were very frequently chosen from the ranks of the widows.
Sympathy with Widows (v. 3)
“Honor widows.” Let them have a special place in reverent care and
common prayer, as they have a lot which is so isolated and so hard — a
battle so keen and terrible, and as they find that the slender means are so
soon spent. The lonely hours are full of pictures of the past: as wives they
were the first to be thought of and provided for — the best was for them,
the first place at the table and in the heart was theirs; so honor them, for
they are sensitive to slight and indifference. Let the Church counteract the
neglect of the world.
· THE SPIRIT OF CHILDREN. If they have children, or, as sometimes
happens, nephews — or sister’s children — who lost their mother in life’s
dawn of morning, let them show piety at home:
Ø the piety of gratitude,
Ø the piety of help,
Ø the piety of reverence,
Ø the piety of requital.
How large a word “piety” is! An ungrateful child, who never thinks on a
parent’s past self-denial in its education, a parent’s watchfulness in times
of weakness and sickness, a parent’s interest in its pleasures and counsels
as to its companionships, and a parent’s long interest in all that relates to
mind and heart, is an impious child. Quick, clever, it may be flattered by
new friends, and favored by fortune with pleasant looks, and yet be:
Ø indifferent, and
· THE REQUITAL TO BE GIVEN. Remember, young friends, that you
have to requite your parents, not with the patronage of commercial
payment when you succeed, but with the requital of:
· the tender inquiry,
· the watchful love,
· the jealous service,
· the gracious respect.
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.” Children or nephews. (ἔκγονα - ekgona –
descendants; grandchildren) only here in the New Testament, but common in
the Septuagint and in classical Greek); descendants, children or grandchildren
(as on the other hand, πρόγονοι – progonoi – parents; progenitors -in this
verse includes grandparents as well as parents). In Latin nepotes, “descendants;”
nos neveux (in French), “our descendants;” and so the English word “nephews”
(derived from nepos, through the French neveu) properly means, and is commonly
so used in all old English writers, as e.g.
in Holinshed (
“their nephews, or sons’ sons, which reigned in the third place.” Locke’s phrase,
“a nephew by a brother,” seems to show the transition to the modern use of
“nephew.” But as the old meaning of “nephews” is now obsolete, it is
better to substitute “grandchildren,” as in the Revised Version. Let them learn.
Clearly “the children or grandchildren” is the subject. To show piety at home.
(εὐσεβεῖν – eusebein – to show piety towards). In the only other passage in
the New Testament where this word occurs, Acts 17:23, it has also an accusative
of the person — “whom ye worship.” Their parents. Their own family, of
which the widowed mother or grandmother formed a part. The force of τὸν ἴδον
οῖκον - ton idon oikon - “their own family,” lies in the implied contrast with the
Church. As long as a widow has members of her own house who are able to
support her, the Church ought not to be burdened (see v. 16). To requite
(ἀμοιβὰς ἀποδίδοναι – amoibas apodidonai – reciprocation; to be
paying); literally, to give back the return or exchange due. Ἀμοιβή – amoebae-
is only found here in the New Testament, but is not uncommon in the Septuagint,
and is much used in the best classical authors. The πρόγονοι – parents - had
nourished and cared for them in their childhood; they must requite that care
by honoring and supporting them in their old age. Acceptable. (ἀπόδεκτον -
apodekton – welcome; acceptable); only here in the New Testament or the
Septuagint, and rarely if ever in classical Greek. The same idea is expressed in
ch.1:15, by πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος, – pasaes apodochaes axios – worthy
of all acceptation, and in I Peter 2:19-20, by χάρις Τοῦτο χάρις παρὰ Θεῷ –
charis touto charis para Theo - This is acceptable with God.
What Pleases God (v. 4)
“For that is good and acceptable before God.” He looks not merely on the
great heroisms of confessors and martyrs, but on the sublime simplicities
even of a child’s character.
one of those who think that it is a monstrous mistake to fill their hymns
with rich rhapsodies about heaven, about wanting to be angels, and about
superior emotions, when the very things next to them are seldom referred
to at all. To the father the son must always be a boy, and the daughter to
the mother a girl; so that all manner, even which is high-flown and
independent, or brusque and irreverent, is painful, and brings tears to the
hearts of parents.
home,” by which is not meant precocity of religious opinion, or
plentifulness of religious phraseology, but the piety of respect, attention,
obedience, requital, and reverence. This is “good and acceptable
5 “Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and
continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.” A widow indeed
(see v. 3). Desolate (μεμονωμένη - memonomenae – desolate; being alone –
only here in the New Testament, rare in Greek versions of Old Testament, frequent
in classical Greek); literally, left alone, or made solitary, which is also the exact
meaning of “desolate,” from µόνος – monos - alone. A widow with children or
grandchildren able to support her is not altogether desolate. As regards the
connecting δέ - de – rendered “now” is better rendered “but.” The apostle is
contrasting the condition of the ὄντες χήρα – ontes chaera - a real widow –
who has only God to look to for help, and who passes her time in prayer, with that
of the widow with children and grandchildren. The second “but” in v. 6 is
no real objection; the widow who “giveth herself to pleasure ‘ is contrasted
in her turn with the devout prayerful widow whose conduct has just been
described. The inference intended to be drawn is that the one is eminently fit,
and the other eminently unfit, to be supported at the common charge of the
Church. Trusteth in God. Hath her hope set on God (see ch. 4:10).
Supplications and prayers (see ch.2:1, note). Night and day. Perhaps
by night and by day would express the genitive better (Matthew 2:14;
Luke 18:7), as indicating time when, rather than time how long. In Luke 2:37,
Anna the prophetess is said to worship “with fastings and supplications night
and day (νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν – nukta kai haemeran – night and day),
where the accusative conveys rather more the notion of vigils prolonged through
the night. As regards the order of the words, “day and night,” or “night and day,”
there seems to be no rule. Mark always has “night and day” (Mark 4:27; 5:5);
Luke uses both (Luke 2:37; 18:7; Acts 9:24; 20:31; 26:7). Paul always “night and
day,” as in this passage (Acts 20:31; I Thessalonians 2:9; 3:10; II Thessalonians
3:8; II Timothy 1:3). John always “day and night” (Revelation 4:8; 7:15; 12:10;
Desolateness (v. 5)
“Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate.” Here the apostle returns
to widows again, showing that he has them very much in his mind.
· DESOLATE. That is the revealing word. “Desolate.” She may be poor
and desolate, or she may he competent and desolate, or she may be rich
and desolate — all surrounding things making her feel more the loss of that
which is not; all framing “emptiness;” all but reminders of the presence
which gave value to them all.
· DESOLATE; FOR THE LIFE-PATH IS AND MUST BE TRODDEN
ALONE. The wakeful hours find her alone; the hours when pain and
weariness come to her find her alone; for the difficult problem of thought
has none to aid in its solution now — she is alone. So desolate; for other
fellowships are not for life; they only help to vary her life. Desolate; for
none can quite understand her care and grief, and think that she will soon
put them, off with the weeds and crape.
Confidence in the Father (v. 5)
“Trusteth in God.” Let Timothy remember that in her case experience has
ratified truth. She will need no elaborate arguments for the truth, because:
· SHE HAS THE EVIDENTIAL PROOF WITHIN. Did she not in the
dark hours fling her arms around her Father’s neck; did she not tell him
that she would fear no want, though she felt such change? Did not that
trust — simple trust — do her more good than all human words, all kindly
letters, all change of place and scene? Others wondered at her, rising up in
her poor strength to arrange, to order, to re-adjust life to means and
circumstances, to do her best for the little flock that she was shepherdess
to in the wilderness.
· SHE HAS THE FELLOWSHIP OF PRAYER. Yes, O man of the
world, O scorner of truth, O soft-spoken atheist, she prays! Makes the air
quiver, yon say. Hears the echo of her own cry, you say. Bends before an
empty throne, you say. It may be you, have you never felt the need for God
as she needs Him now. Her need is an instinct and an argument; for somehow
in this world there is A DIVINE REVEALING, call it what you like, that
satisfies the desire of every living thing. And she has prayed, and the secret
of the Lord has been made known; and that it is no empty experience, is now
to be proven in this way.
· SHE REVEALS ITS POWER BY HER PERSEVERANCE IN IT.
She “continueth in prayers and supplications night and day.” Then there
must be relief. The burden must be lighter, the load must be easier, the
vision must be clearer. None of us continue in that which mocks us. The
invisible world is as real as the visible one. We know when there is a
whisper within us and an arm around us, and so does she. Surely you
would not rob her of her only wealth — her trust. But you cannot. “Night
and day.” Mark that. She finds in the night an image of her grief. She finds
in the night silence. The children, if any, are asleep. She whose tears have
watered her couch, whose hand has reached forth into the empty space,
whose every movement would once have awakened solicitude, as of pain,
or weariness, or sleeplessness, is now alone. But not alone; for the lips
move and a great cry goes up: “O God, be not far from me! Listen to the
voice of my cry, my King and my God. My heart within me is desolate.
Hear me out of thy habitation, thou Father of the fatherless, thou Judge of
the widow. I mourn in my complaint and make a noise. Oh, when wilt thou
come to me?” (various Psalms: 71:12; 5:2; 143:4; 68:5; 55:2; 101:2)
And God does come; and it may help Timothy to know that
this gospel which he has to preach is a Divine living seed, bearing its
harvests in the hearts and homes of the elders and of the widows. We shall
see in our next exposition that Paul knows that there are worldly hearts
to whom affliction brings no gracious fruit; and if there be a sight on earth
more appalling than another, it is the frivolous widow whose very
mourning is a pride and a study, whose manner is that of a pleasure-seeker,
and whose heart is unaffected by the reverences of the memories of love
and death. It is very evident that the gospel which Timothy was to teach
and preach was no mere creed, no mere perfect ritual or ceremonial, but a
religion human and Divine, a religion that anticipates the changes and
sorrows and dangers of every individual life. This Book is a vade-mecum.
(a handbook or guide that is kept constantly at hand for consultation). Here we go for all
the medicines of relief and hope that our poor humanity needs. (The Great
Spiritual Medicine Cabinet of Life – CY – 2019) We shall never outgrow
THE BOOK! Its leaves are still for the healing of the nations (on this
earth as the Tree of Life is in heaven - Revelation 22:2 – CY – 2019),
and it makes life calm, restful, and beautiful. How comes it that we
have known the sweetest angels in such guises as these afflictions
and bereavements bring? Yet so it is. Where shall we go? Oh, life has many
roads; bandits and robbers lurk here and there, and there are swollen rivers
to be forded, and dangerous passes to be entered. How shall we go? With this
rod and staff WE MAY GO ANYWHERE! If we take a fable, let it be the
ancient stone: if you look therein, strange transformations take place — you
ask me what I see?
o Now a sword; now a mountain;
o now a simple loaf of bread;
o now a touchstone of evil and of good;
o now a rock high above the waters;
o now a pilot on a dangerous sea;
o now a pillar rising on the plain of time;
o now a harp from which sweetest music breathes;
o now a pillow — a simple pillow. (Even for me – CY – 2019)
Cowper puts aside his own ‘Task’ and takes God’s Testament; so
will we. On these promises of God we will fall asleep.
6 “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” She that
liveth in pleasure. Giveth herself to pleasure (ἡ σπαταλῶσα – hae
spatalosa – one squandering; one being prodigal; liveth in pleasure);
only here and James 5:5 (ἐσπαταλήσατε – espatalaesate - “been wanton,” –
Authorized Version - “taken your pleasure,” Revised Version) in the New
Testament. The word brings into the strongest possible contrast the widow
who was like Anna, and those whom Paul here denounces. Is dead while
she liveth; or, has died (is dead) in her lifetime. She is dead to God and
is no longer a living member of the
expression “twice dead” (Jude 1:12). The expression in Revelation 3:1 is
different, unless ζῶσα – zosa - living - here can have the same meaning
as ὄνομα ἔχει ὅτι ζῇ, - – onoma echei hoti zae – a name that thou
livest - though nominally alive as a Christian,” etc.
Death in Life (v. 6)
“But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” Christianity
purifies and harmonizes the whole nature of man (Mr. Spurgeon said,
“the purpose of Christianity is to sanctify the secular.”), and assimilates
whatever is pure in humanity to the
earthly joys; nay, rather it plants many flowers by the wayside of life. But
pleasure is often perverted by man, and in that age it had become so associated
with what was coarse and carnal, that the very word “pleasure” became in the
gospel a synonym for sin. We have here death in the midst of life — “that
liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” — or death and life side by side.
CHARACTERIZES THE DEAD SOUL. There is:
Ø no movement of thought towards God;
Ø no feet swift to do His will;
Ø no heart that beats in sympathy with His Law.
Instinct is alive; but the brightness of the eye, and the music of the voice,
and the activities of life, are like flowers upon graves.
THE DEAD SOUL. All around there may be signs of outward life. As the
body lies in the churchyard, the murmuring river flows by its banks, the
birds make their summer music in the trees, and men, women, and children
stay to rest, and to read the inscriptions on the graves; but to all these
things the sleepers in the tombs are insensible. So the dead soul is:
Ø insensible to the august realities of religion,
Ø to the voice of God, and
Ø to the visions of the great day.
· THE CORRUPTION OF THE DEAD BODY CHARACTERIZES
THE DEAD SOUL. This is the dread thought in connection with death,
that we must bury it out of sight. When decay commences, corruption
begins; and he, who knows all that is in man, tells us that out of the
sepulcher of THE UNRENEWED HEART OF MAN come evil
desires, murders, and adulteries (Matthew 15:19). “They that sow
to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6:8).
These aspects of the case show us that, as there are graveyards in the
crowded cities with all their busy life, so IN THE UNRENEWED
HEART OF MAN there is DEATH IN THE MIDST OF LIFE!
7 “And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.”
These things, etc. The apostle had been giving Timothy his own instructions
concerning widows and their maintenance by their own relations. He now adds
the direction that he should give these things in charge to
lest they should be guilty and blameworthy by acting in a different spirit. He probably
was aware of a disposition existing in some quarters to throw the burden of
maintaining their widows upon the Church. (ἀνεπίληπτοι - anepilaeptoi –
blameless; without reproach; unrebukeable); above, see ch.3:2, note. If they
did not so they would be liable to the terrible reproach mentioned in v. 8, that,
Christians as they called themselves, they were in their conduct worse than
Directions with Regard to Widows (vs. 3-7)
The gospel provides for the helpless.
Ø These were abundantly recognized in Old Testament times. The
fatherless and the widow were commended, to the special care of the
Israelites. The garments of widows were never to be taken in pledge.
The man was cursed who perverted the judgment of the widow. The
widow was never to be afflicted or made a prey (Deuteronomy 16:11;
27:19; Jeremiah 7:6; Isaiah 10:2).
Ø The claims of widows were officially recognized in New Testament
times. The order of deaconship arose out of the necessity of widows
“Honor widows that are widows indeed.” There are three classes of
widows referred to by the apostle.
Ø There are widows who are not only deeply religious, but quite
destitute. She who is a widow indeed is “desolate, has set her
hope in God, and abides in supplications and prayers night and day.”
o There are widows without husband, without children or
grandchildren, and. without means of living. They have no friends
to cheer the loneliness or relieve the necessities of their widowed life.
o They are deeply religious and trustful. “She has set her hope in
God,” who is the Husband of the widow; and is constant in prayers
like Anna the prophetess (Luke 2:36-38), to that God who gives
her a daily supply of comforts, and cheers her in her solitude.
Ø There are widows who are not so destitute, for they have
children and grandchildren to provide for their wants.
Ø There are widows who are fond of gaiety and pleasure, and
destitute of religion. “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while
she liveth.” They are dead spiritually, like those who “have
a name to live, but are dead” (Revelation 3:1). “If ye live after
the flesh, ye shall die” (Romans 8:13). This class of widows
resembled the daughters of
their case the union of soul and body, but no quickening
principle of spiritual life. They savor the things that be of
men rather than the things that be of God.
DIFFERENT CLASSES OF WIDOWS.
Ø The Church was not bound to support or assist widows with
children or grandchildren, who were therefore to be taught
“to show piety at home, and to requite their parents.” (v.4)
The Church was not to be burdened with their support. Their
relatives were not exempt under the gospel from the
necessity of providing for them. The apostle adds that the discharge
of this off-forgotten duty is “good and acceptable before God”
(Ephesians 6:2-3; Mark 7:10-11).
Ø The Church owned no obligation of any sort to pleasure-loving
widows, except to warn them of the sin, folly, and danger of
Ø The Church was to pay due regard to “widows indeed” who were
destitute of all resources. “Honor widows that are widows indeed.”
The term implies more than deference or respect; such widows were
entitled to receive relief from the Christian community. It was a loving
duty to provide for such sad-hearted, friendless beings.
GUIDANCE. “These things command, that they may he without
reproach” (v.7). The injunction was necessary for the Church’s sake, that it
might not neglect its proper duty to this destitute class, and for the sake of
the various classes of widows and their relatives, who needed to be without
reproach, as they were supposedly members of the Church.
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.”
Provideth (προνοεῖ - pronoei - provideth). Elsewhere in the New Testament
only in Romans 12:17 and II Corinthians 8:21, where it has an accusative of the
thing provided; here, as in classical Greek, with a genitive of the person; frequent
in the Septuagint, and still more so in classical Greek. The substantive προνοία –
pronoia – forethought; providence - occurs in Acts 24:2 and Romans 13:14.
For those of his own house. In many cases the widow would be actually living
in the house of her child or grandchild. But even if she were not, filial duty would
prompt a proper provision for her wants He hath denied the faith; viz. by
repudiating these duties which the Christian faith required of him (see Ephesians
The Duty of Providing for One’s Own Household (v. 8)
The growth of the Church necessitated a careful regard to this duty.
especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is
worse than an unbeliever.”
Ø This passage asserts the obligations that spring out of family
relationship. It points to the duty of supporting relatives, and all who
live under one roof, who through poverty may have become
dependent upon us.
Ø The gospel does not relax, but rather strengthens, the ties of
natural kinship. The Essenes would not give relief to their relatives
without the permission of their teachers, though they might help
others in need.
DENIAL OF THE FAITH.
Ø It is a denial of the faith, not in words, but in works, for it is a
denial of the duty of love, which is the practical outcome of faith;
for “faith worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). There may have
been a tendency at
to rest content with a mere profession of the truth, without the
habit of self-denial.
Ø Such conduct would place the Christian professor in a position
far below that of the heathen unbeliever, who recognized the
duty of supporting relatives as one of his best principles. It would
be a serious dishonor to Christ and the gospel to neglect duties
held in highest honor by the heathen. The light of the gospel greatly
aggravates the sin of such persons.
Care for the Home (v. 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.” The gospel
does not leave us with any loose ideas of responsibility. There is often a
universal sentiment of goodness which finds no particular application.
· MAN HAS “HIS OWN.” He is to care for his own soul. He is
accountable for his own influence. He is the father of his own family, and,
up to a certain age, his will is their law. He is to provide for his own; his
thought and skill and care are all to be laid upon the altar or’ the
household. It is sad to see men sometimes flattered by the world, and
welcomed to every hearth, who yet leave “their own” slighted and
neglected at home. The gospel says that the husband is the head of the
wife; and the gospel evidently understands the design of God, that man
should be the hard worker and- bread-winner of life.
· HE HAS A FAITH TO KEEP. What is meant here by denying the
faith, and being worse than an infidel? Surely this, that the faith is meant to
make us Christ-like; one with Him who pleased not Himself, who ministered
to others, and who revealed to us that great law of love by which every
Christian life must be inspired. The word. “infidel” has often been used. to
represent mere skeptical unbelief. It really means “wanting in faith;” and
the man who, whatever he professes, does not live out the spirit of the
gospel (which sanctifies, above all things earthly, the marriage life, and
makes it the image of the union betwixt Christ and His Church), that man is
worse than an infidel, if by infidel we mean a man who intellectually has
not accepted the Christian faith.
9 “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years
old, having been the wife of one man.” Let not a wido be taken into
the number - Let none be enrolled, etc. The proper translation let a woman be
enrolled as a widow not under sixty years old; i.e. χήρα – chaera – widow –
is the predicate, not the subject. It follows that the word “widow” here is used in
a slightly different sense from that in the preceding verses, viz. in the technical sense
of one belonging to the order of widows, of which it appears from the word
καταλεγέσθω – katalegestho – let her be enrolled - there was a regular roll kept
in the Church. We do not know enough of the Church institutions of the apostolic age
to enable us to say positively what their status or their functions were, but doubtless
they were the germ from which the later development took its rise. We may gather,
however, from the passage before us that their lives were specially consecrated
to the service of God and the Church; that they were expected to be instant and
constant in prayer, and to devote themselves to works of charity; that the apostle
did not approve of their marrying again after their having embraced this life
of widowhood, and therefore would have none enrolled under sixty years
of age; and generally that, once on the roll, they would continue there for
their life. Enrolled (καταλεγέσθω); only here in the New Testament or
(in this sense) in the Septuagint; but it is the regular classical word for enrolling,
enlisting, soldiers, etc. Hence our word “catalogue.” In like manner, in the
times of the Empress Helena, the virgins of the Church are described as
ἀναγεγραμμένας ἐν τῷ τῆς ἐκκλησίας κανόνι – anagegrammenas en to taes
ekklaesias kanoni - (Socr., 1:17), “registered in the Church’s register,” or list of
virgins. Under three score years old. A similar rule was laid down in several early
canons, which forbade the veiling of virgins before the age of forty. This care to
prevent women from being entangled by vows or engagements which they had not
well considered, or of which they did not know the full force, is in striking
contrast with the system which allows young girls to make irrevocable
vows. The participle γεγονυῖα - gegonuia – being; having become;
having been - belongs to this clause (not as in the Authorized Version
to the following one), and as the Revised Version also indicates, by putting
having been in italics; though it does not translate γεγονυῖα in this clause,
unless possibly the word “old” is considered as representing γεγονυῖα.
It should be, Let none be enrolled as widows, being under sixty years of age.
The wife of one man; see ch.3:2, the similar phrase, “the husband of one wife”
(which likewise stands without any participle), and the note there. To which may
be added that it is hardly conceivable that Paul should within the compass of a
few verses (see v. 14) recommend the marriage of young widows, and
yet make the fact of a second marriage an absolute bar to a woman being
enrolled among the Church widows.
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.” Well reported of (μαρτυρουμένη - marturoumenae –
well reported; being attested; being witnessed) see ch.3:7 and note).
This use is frequent in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 7:8; 11:2, 4-5, 39),
also in III John 1:6, 12. Good works (ἔργοις καλοῖς – ergois kalois).
The phrase occurs frequently in the pastoral Epistles, both in the singular and
in the plural (ch. 2:10; 3:1; in this verse; v. 25; 6:18; II Timothy 2:21; 3:17;
Titus 1:16; 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14). Our Lord had first used the phrase, and taught
how “good works” were to be the distinctive marks of His disciples (Matthew
5:16), as they were evidences of His own mission (John 10:32-33). It denotes
all kinds of good actions as distinguished from sentiments. Love, e.g. is not a
good work. Feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and visiting the sick are
good works (see Matthew 25:35, etc.). Brought up children
(ἐτεκνοτρύφησεν – eteknotruphaesen – she nourishes children); only here
in the New Testament or Septuagint, but found, as well as τεκνοτροφία –
teknotrophia - bring up children - in Aristotle. The word must mean “brought
up children of her own,” because τέκνον – teknon - does not mean “a child”
with reference to its age, but “a child” with reference to its parent who bare it.
The only apparent exception in Holy Scripture is I Thessalonians 2:7, where the
nurse’s alumni are called “her own children,” but obviously this is no real exception.
The classical usage is the same. We must, therefore, understand the apostle here to
mean “if she hath brought up her children well and carefully, and been a good
mother to them.” The precept corresponds to that laid down for an ἐπίσκοπος –
episkopos in ch.3:4. Possibly, a contrast may be intended with the conduct
of some heathen mothers, who, if they were very poor, exposed their children.
Lodged strangers. (ἐξενοδόχησεν – exenodochaesen - used hospitality to;
she is hospitable); only here in the New Testament or Septuagint, but, as well as
ξενοδόκος – xenodokos and ξενοδοχία – xenodochia, not uncommon in
classical Greek, meaning to lodge strangers.. The common form in the New
Testament is ξενίζειν – xenizein – entertain; host. (For the inculcation of
hospitality, see ch.3:2, note, and III John 1:5.) Washed the saints’ feet (see
John 13:5-8; and compare Luke 7:44, where the omission to provide water to
wash the feet of a guest is reprobated as inhospitable). The saints (Romans 12:13).
Hath relieved (ἐπήρκεσεν – epaerkesen – she relieves); only here and twice
in v. 16 in the New Testament, but common in classical Greek. The afflicted
(τοῖς θλιβομενοις – tois thlibomenois – ones being afflicted); used of any
kind of trouble or afflictions (θλίψις – thlipsis - affliction); compare, for the
precept, Romans 12:15. Diligently followed (ἐπηκολούθησε – epaekolouthaese –
follows up; compare I Peter 2:21). The idea is somewhat similar to that of “pressing
on toward the goal,” in Philippians 3:14 (see also v. 12, where διώκω – dioko –
is rendered in Authorized Version, “I follow after”). Good work. Here ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ –
ergo agatho – good work - as in Acts 9:36; Romans 2:7, 10; 13:3; II Corinthians 9:8;
Ephesians 2:10; and frequently in the pastoral Epistles (ch. 2:10).
Particular Directions as to the Class of Widows Commended to the
Church’s Sympathy and Support (VS. 9-10)
These persons are variously regarded by commentators as simply destitute
widows, or as deaconesses, or as presbyteresses. The most simple and
natural explanation is that they belonged to the first class, for the directions
here given apply to what the Church is to do for such widows, not what
duty is required of them in the Church administration.
· THE ENROLMENT OF WIDOWS IN THE ALMONER’S LIST OF
THE CHURCH. “Let none be enrolled as a widow under threescore years
Ø The existence of such a list is implied in Acts 6:1, where a murmuring
is said to have arisen because “the widows were neglected in
the dally ministration.” There are also traces of such a list in the earlier
Ø Such a class would be recruited from the ordinary vicissitudes of life,
from the special persecutions that followed the gospel, and perhaps also
from the separations from polygamous husbands brought about through
the influence of Christianity.
· THE QUALIFICATIONS OF WIDOWS FOR A PLACE IN THE
Ø As to age. “Not under threescore years old.” As this age marks a
relatively greater degree of senility in the East than in the West, the
widows must be regarded as of the infirm class, and therefore as not in any
degree able for the active duties of limb. This one consideration inclines us
to believe that they did not belong to the order of deaconesses or
presbyteresses. If widows had been enrolled at a much earlier age, they
must have become a serious burden for a great length of time upon the
Church’s liberality. Therefore young widows were not to be enrolled at all.
Ø As to her previous married life. “The wife of one man.”
o This does not mean that she should not have been twice married,
§ the apostle counsels the younger women to marry again
(v. 14), and sanctions second marriages (Romans 7:1-3);
§ because the ascetic idea of married life, which some would
associate with widows holding a certain ecclesiastical rank,
received no sanction from the apostle.
o It does not mean that she should not have had several husbands at
one time, for polyandry (a woman having more than one husband)
was quite unusual.
o It signifies that she should never have stood related but to one living
husband; not divorced from one husband and then married to another —
a chaste and faithful spouse, true to her marriage vow.
Ø As to her reputation for good works. “Well reported of in respect to
good works.” There must not only be no evil spoken of her, but she must
have a reputation for good works. This reputation covers live facts of
o “If she hath brought up children.” This would imply self-sacrifice,
sympathy and zeal for youthful training. She would train her children
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, commanding them like
Abraham (Genesis 18:19) to keep the way of the Lord, from which
they would not so easily depart in after-life. (“Train up a child in
the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
o “If she hath lodged strangers.” She may have seen better days, and
had frequent opportunities of showing hospitality to Christian travelers
moving from place to place. The readiness to welcome strangers was
most characteristic of the early Christians.
o “If she hath washed the saints’ feet,” in token, not only of
conventional hospitality, but of deep humility after the highest
of all examples.
o “If she hath relieved the afflicted.” Not by mere gifts, but by matronly
sympathy and encouragement, implying the visitation of the distressed
in their homes.
o “If she hath diligently followed every good work.” She must not have
wearied in well-doing, but have followed that which was good with
eagerness, constancy, and true fidelity to God and man.
11 “But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax
wanton against Christ, they will marry;” Refuse. Note the wisdom of Paul, who
will not have the young widows admitted into the roll of Church widows, lest, after
the first grief for the loss of their husbands has subsided, they should
change their minds, and wish to return to the world and its pleasures, and
so incur the guilt of drawing back their hands from the plough. Would that
the Church had always imitated this wisdom and this consideration for the
young, whether young priests or young monks and nuns! Wax wanton
against (καταστρηνιάσωσι - katastraeniasosi). This word only occurs here,
but the simple στρηνιάω – straeniao – indulging; lived deliciously - is found in
Revelation 18:7, 9, and is used by the Greek poets of the new comedy in the sense
of τρυφᾶν – truphan – delicately; live a voluptuous life; to be luxurious
(Schleusner, ‘Lex.’). Trench (‘Synonyms of New Testament’), comparing
his word with τρυφᾶν and σπαταλᾶν – spatalan – live in pleasure;
be wanton - ascribes to it the sense of “petulance” from fullness, like the state of
Jeshurun, who waxed fat and kicked (Deuteronomy 32:15); in the sense
of “to be over-strong.” The sense, therefore, is that these young widows, in
the wantonness and unsubdued worldliness of their hearts, reject the yoke
of Christ, and kick against the widow’s life of prayer and supplication day
and night. And so they return to the world and its pleasures, which they
12 “Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.”
Damnation. κρίμα – krima – damnation; condemnation; judgment;
variously translated in the Authorized Version. The word means a
“judgment,” “decision,” or “sentence,” but generally an adverse sentence, a
“condemnation.” And this is the meaning of the English word “damnation,”
which has only recently acquired the signification of “eternal damnation.”
Cast off. (ἠθέτησαν – aethetaesan - rejected); literally, have set aside, or
displaced, and hence disregarded, an oath, treaty, promise, or the like. In the
Authorized Version, variously rendered “reject,” “despise,” “bring to nothing,”
“frustrate,” “disannul,” “cast off.” The κρίμα which these widows brought
upon themselves was that, whereas they had devoted themselves to a life of prayer
and special service of the Church, they had now set aside this their first faith, and
returned to the ordinary pleasures and avocations of the world.
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.” Learn to be idle (ἀργαὶ μανθάνουσιν –
argai manthanousin – learn to be idle). This is a construction which has no
similar passage in Greek to support it, except one very doubtful one in Plato,
‘Euthudemus’ (vol. 4. p. 105, Bekker’s edit.). But the other constructions
proposed, viz. to construe μανθάνουσι (they are inquisitive, or, curious; they are
learning). Going about (περιερχόμεναι – perierchomenai – wandering about;
going about – they are inquisitive, or, curious.); compare Acts 19:19, where there
is the same idea of reproach in the term. It is used in a good sense in
Hebrews 11:37. Tattlers (φλύαροι – phluaroi); only here in the New Testament,
and once only in the Septuagint in . (IV Maccabees 5:10), but common in classical
Greek. It means “a trifling silly talker.” The verb φλυαρέω – phluareo – gossiping –
occurs in III John 1:10. Busybodies (περίεργοι – periergoi); only here and
Acts 19:19 in the New Testament or Septuagint, but not uncommon in classical
Greek, in the sense in which it is used here. The verb περιεργάζεσθαι –
periergazesthai occurs in II Thessalonians 3:11 in the same sense, “meddling
with what does not concern you.”
The Busybody Life (v. 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.” Indolence is the parent of all sins, because, with evil so
active in the world, some of its emissaries are sure to be wanting houseroom
in our hearts.
which is busy in trifles, which has learned to enjoy listless hours. For the
wandering thought produces the wandering life. “Wandering about
from house to house;” and, having nothing else to build with, too often build
aerial structures of untruths and half-truths.
in this world by busybodies cannot be over-estimated. It is easy to send an
arrow into the air, but not to gather it up again. It is easy to poison the
river of good reputation, but we cannot re-purify the stream. It is easy to
pluck the flower of a good man’s fame, but we cannot restore its beauty.
“Speaking things which they ought not.” How few really make
“I ought” govern their lives! (I have often thought: What would happen
in this world if people would just try to do right? - CY – 2013). Custom
and convenience and pleasantness too often constrain our speech. People
like to startle others, to give the shock of a new sensation (Especially, in
this technological age! – CY – 2013), to amuse them, to please them. And,
alas! it is too true that tattlers and busybodies know how to gratify those
hey visit. Paul thinks in v.14, that marriage and care of children and
housewifery are good things and that women so occupied give none
occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
14 “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide
the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
Younger women. Widows. As the whole discourse is about widows, it
is better to supply this as the substantive understood in νεωτέρας – neoteras –
younger. In v. 11 we have νεωτέρας χήρας – neoteras chaeras – younger
widows.. The οῦν – oun – then - which precedes is a further proof
that this direction or command of the apostle’s springs from what he had
just been saying about the young widows, and therefore that what follows
relates to them, and not to women generally. In order to avoid the scandal
mentioned in v. 11 of the young widows first dedicating their
widowhood to Christ, and then drawing back and marrying, he directs that
they should follow the natural course and marry, in doing which they
would be blameless. Bear children (τεκνογονεῖν – teknogonein – to
be bearing children): here only in the New Testament or Septuagint; but
τεκνογονία – teknogonia child-bearing - occurs in ch. 2:15
(where see note). Guide the house. (οἰκοδεσποτεῖν – oikodespotein –
rule the household; to be managing the household - here only in this
sense); act the part of οἰκοδέσποινα – oikodespoina - the mistress of a
family (Plutarch and elsewhere). οἱκοδεσπότης – oikodespotaes – master
of the house - frequent in the New Testament, and kindred words are used
in classical Greek. To speak reproachfully. (λοιδορίας χάριν – loidorias
charin – reviling; railing against grace. The adversary (ὁ ἀντικείμενος –
ho antikeimenos – the adversary), the opponent of Christianity, was
always seeking some occasion to speak reproachfully of Christians
and revile them. Any misconduct on the part of Christian widows would give
him the occasion he was looking for. They must be doubly careful,
therefore, lest they should bring reproach upon the Name of Christ (compare
James 2:7; I Peter 2:12; 4:4, 14-15). λοιδορίας χάριν is added... to
ἀφορμὴν διδόναι - aphormaen didonai – giving incentive; give none
occasion - to specify the manner in which the occasion would be used. Do not
give the adversary a starting-point from which he may be able to carry
out his desire to revile the people of God.
15 “For some are already turned aside after Satan.” Some. This is
generally understood of some widows who had already given occasion to
the adversary to speak reproachfully, by turning aside from the path of
Christian virtue which they had begun to walk in, and following Satan who
had beguiled them into the path of vice and folly. But the words are
capable of another meaning, equally arising from the preceding verse, viz.
that some have already followed the example of Satan, “the accuser of the
brethren,” and have begun to revile Christianity, taking occasion from the
conduct of some who were called Christians. These revilers might be not
unbelieving Jews or heathen, but apostate or heretical Jews like those of
whom the same verb (ἐκτρέπεσθαι – ektrepesthai – were turned aside)
is used in ch.1:6 and II Timothy 4:4. In something of the same spirit Paul called
Elymas the sorcerer “a child of the devil,” because he sought to turn away
Sergius Paulus from the faith, probably by speaking evil of Barnabas and Saul.
The adversary is not necessarily always the devil. It could be any particular
Individual or the collective society around the Church which is always watchful for
the halting of God’s servants. For good cause or bad the reproaches will come,
but they ought not to be justified by the injurious, or frivolous, or licentious
conduct of professors. Mischief of this sort had already accrued to the
cause of Christ. Some widows had given evidence of the idle, wanton, worldly
behavior already condemned, showing a distinct swerve toward the adversary
of souls and the accuser of the brethren. “Christ was the true Spouse; Satan
Directions with Regard to Young Widows (vs. 11-15)
THE LIST OF THE CHURCH’S PENSIONERS. “Younger widows
decline.” This did not imply that destitute widows, however young, would
be excluded from occasional help from the Church’s funds, but they were
not to be made a permanent charge upon the resources of the Church.
They were young enough to labor for their own living, or, as the apostle
advised, they might marry a second time, and thus obtain a provision for
shall wax wanton against Christ, they desire to marry.”
Ø This language does not imply that they had, to speak, taken
Christ for their Bridegroom, and then proved shamelessly
unfaithful to their vows. This thought belongs to the ascetic
ideas of a later period, as if the widows in question had taken the
irrevocable engagement of nuns or of other ecclesiastical persons.
They might, indeed, have remarried not only without blame, but
by the direct counsel of the apostle himself.
Ø Neither does it imply that they had been untrue to the memory
of their first husbands.
Ø The case supposed is that of some young widows, who had taken
their place among others of their world-renouncing class in the
list of the Church’s widows, and had drawn back into a luxurious,
pleasure-loving habit of life. There is no breach of the promise of
widowhood either expressed or implied in the passage, and such a
breach could not be interpreted by itself as equivalent to a renunciation
of the Christian faith. The case supposed is that of a departure from
the proprieties of widowed life, in connection with a Christian profession,
which only too surely indicated a virtual repudiation of the faith.
Ø The judgment that attached to their conduct implied this virtual
renunciation of faith. “Having condemnation because they set at
naught their first faith.”
o Not their faith to their first husbands;
o not their vow or promise to remain in widowhood, which might be
called their former faith, but not their first faith; but
o their simple faith in Christ, when they were baptized into His Name
and devoted themselves to His service. They set it at nougat by not
walking according to it, their conversation not becoming their
profession of it. Their condemnation, or, rather, their judgment,
is not to be regarded as eternal, because it might be removed by
a timely repentance.
LIFE. “And withal they learn also to be idle, going about from house
to house; and not only idle, but talkers and busybodies, speaking
things which they ought not.” These young widows, being under no
necessity to labor for their living — for they were supported by the funds
of the Church — used their leisure badly.
Ø They were idle.
o This habit of life is forbidden; for Christians are to be
“not slothful in business.” (Romans 12:11)
o It leads to misdirected activity; for such widows “wander
from house to house,” because they have no resources
Ø They become loose talkers, babbling out whatever comes into
Their minds. “From leisure springs that curiosity which is the
mother of garrulity” (Calvin).
Ø They become busybodies, with a perverted activity in the
concerns of others which implies a neglect of their own. This
meddling spirit leads to misunderstandings and mischief of many
Ø They become talkers of scandal, “speaking things which
they ought not” (v.13), things which may be false, or, if true,
are not to be repeated from house to house.
Directions to Such Young Widows (vs. 14-15)
The case is one for special guidance.
· A RETURN TO THE SPHERE OF DOMESTIC DUTIES IS
ADVISED BY THE APOSTLE. “I wish, therefore, that the younger
widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no occasion for the
adversary to reproach.”
Ø There is nothing in this counsel, to encourage a resort to ascetic life, or
an escape from the ordinary obligations of society. The overvaluation of
ascetic life has been the great means of disparaging and discouraging the
piety of common life. Religion was made, not for an idle, but for a busy
Ø The return to home ties would probably break the force of temptations
to loose living. Idleness would thus be counteracted, as well as the
wantonness against Christ previously censured. The woman would thus be
“saved by child-bearing, it she continued in faith and holiness with
sobriety” (ch. 2:15).
Ø Mark the variety of her new relations. First to her husband, then to her
children, then to her servants. She is to discharge each duty faithfully, so as
to avoid the reproach of the adversary.
· THE REASON WHY SUCH COUNSEL IS GIVEN. “Give no
occasion for reproach to the adversary; for already some have been turned
away after Satan.”
Ø The adversary is not necessarily the devil, nor any particular individual,
but that collective society around the Church which is always watchful for
the halting of God’s servants. For good cause or bad the reproaches will
come, but they ought not to be justified by the injurious, or frivolous, or
licentious conduct of professors.
Ø Mischief of this sort had already accrued to the cause of Christ. Some
widows had given evidence of the idle, wanton, worldly behavior already
condemned, showing a distinct swerve toward the adversary of souls and
the accuser of the brethren.
o Christ is the true Spouse;
o Satan the seducer.
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.” If any woman, etc. So the preponderance of
the best manuscripts (And so my Greek New Testament which I have had
from my college days – CY – 2013). If the Revised Version is right, the woman
only is mentioned as being the person who has the management of the house.
The precept here seems to be an extension of that in v. 4, which relates
only to children and grandchildren, and to be given, moreover, with special
reference to Christian widows who had no believing relations to care for
them, and so were necessarily cast upon the Church. Let her relieve them
(ἐπαρκείτω – eparkeito – let them be relieving) as in v. 10). Widows indeed
(ταῖς ὄντως χήραις – tais ontos chaerais –the ones really widows - as in
vs. 2 and 5).
Dealing with Certain Classes in the Church (vs. 1-16)
· BEHAVIOR OF TIMOTHY TOWARD THE ELDER AND
YOUNGER CHURCH MEMBERS OF BOTH SEXES. “Rebuke not an
eider, but exhort him as a father; the younger men as brethren: the eider
women as mothers; the younger as sisters, in all purity.” A minister has to
deal with people differing in age and sex. If he is a young minister like
Timothy, he has a difficult part to act. It may happen that one who is very
much his elder is guilty of an offence. How is he to conduct himself toward
him? He is not to rebuke him sharply, as the word means, being different
from what is employed in II Timothy 4:2, where authority is given to
rebuke. Along with the authority that belongs to his office, there is to be
such respect as is due by a child to a father. Entreaty will therefore not be
separated from the presentation of duty. If it is younger men that offend,
there is not to be wanting the respect that is due to brethren. If it is the
elder women who are faulty, they are to be addressed as mothers. “Plead
with your mother, plead” (Hosea 2:2). If it is the younger women who
have to he dealt with, there is to be sisterly regard, without the slightest
departure from propriety.
· THE CHURCH ROLL OF WIDOWS. “Honor widows that are
widows indeed.” The honor requires to be restricted, to harmonize with the
definition of them that are widows indeed. It comes to be their being
placed (v. 9) on the special roll of Church widows. Let the honor not be
lowered by being too widely extended; let it be confined to them that are
Ø Exclusion of those who have claims on children or grandchildren. “But
if any widow hath children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show
piety towards their own family, and to requite their parents: for this is
acceptable in the sight of God.” The Church is not to be charged with the
care of widows who have children or grandchildren able to care for them.
Upon them the duty falls, before failing upon the Church. This is only how
a sacred regard for parents should show itself. It is a duty founded on
natural justice, viz. requital for services rendered to them by parents. And it
cannot but be pleasing to God, who has laid the foundations of it in nature,
and who is represented by the parents, so that what is rendered to them is
regarded as rendered to Him.
Ø Qualification of being desolate. “Now she that is a widow indeed, and
desolate.” The widow indeed is defined as desolate or left alone, i.e. who,
needing to be cared for, has none of her own to care for her.
o Religion of her position. “Hath her hope set on God, and continueth
in supplication and prayers night and day.” Having no expectation
from any earthly helper, she hath her hope set on God, i.e. primarily
for earthly blessings that she needs. She is also by her destitution led
to dwell more upon the future than upon the present. She is also by her
loneliness led to be much with God. She addresses God in connection
with her own requirements, but she does not forget the requirements
of others; for her prayers extend from day into the night, from night
into the day. Thus is her position made helpful to her religious life.
o Irreligion of a desolate position. “But she that giveth herself to
pleasure is dead while she liveth.” In the absence of children or
grandchildren that can care for her, the temptation is, where a woman
has not a lawful way of making a living, to seek a living by giving
herself up to unlawful pleasure. Such a one necessarily loses any
Christian status that she had entitling her to be cared for by the Church.
It can be said of her more radically, that she makes a contradiction of
her life. While living, she is making of herself moral rottenness. As
in this state she is a fit object for Christian sympathy. And, if she
comes to see herself to be in this state, there is hope for her from Him
who hath said, “Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.”
(John 6;37) But that is the true reading of her state upon which all
effort after her salvation must proceed, “She is dead while she
§ Reason for insisting on the qualification. “These things also
command, that they may be without reproach.” The
requirement was to be laid authoritatively upon the Church,
in the interest of the widows themselves. There was their
character as a class to be protected. Let none be admitted
into their number who were not fit subjects for Church
§ General principle by which this case is ruled. “But if any
provideth not for his own, and specially his own household,
he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.”
The law for the believer is that he is to provide, more widely,
for his own and, less widely, for those who belong to the family.
He who does not observe this is virtually unchurching
himself. He is falling below the unbeliever, who is taught by
nature, or by his religion which is wrong on so many points,
to do as much.
With regard to caring for parents, Plutarch says that all men, though
some may think otherwise, say that nature and the law of nature
requires that parents should have the highest honor next the gods;
that men can do nothing more acceptable to the gods than by readily
heaping favors upon their parents; and that nothing is a greater
evidence of atheism or impiety than to despise them. On the other
hand, there is a clear obligation also founded in nature for parents
to provide for their children while they are in a state of dependence.
This obligation is violated by the man who spends on his own
lusts what should be spent on his family.
Ø Qualification of age. “Let none be enrolled as a widow under threescore
years old.” In accordance with what has gone before, we are to think of a
roll of widows supported by the Church, for which the minimum
requirement of age is here laid down as sixty.
Ø Qualification of regularity of marriage. “Having been the wife of one
man.” It is difficult to see how such second marriage as is sanctioned in
v. 14 should exclude from the roll. It is better, therefore, to think of some
irregularity, such as unlawful divorce from a first husband.
Ø Qualification of serviceableness. “Well reported of for good works; if
she hath brought up children, if she hath used hospitality to strangers, if she
hath washed the saints’ feet, if she hath relieved the afflicted, if she hath
diligently followed every good work.” Some of the works are mentioned
for which she is to be well reported of.
o First, what she has done for children, either her own or orphans.
To bring up children well implies great self-denial and power of
management, and is to do a great service to the Church.
o Secondly, what she has done for strangers. We are to think of
their being entertained for the Church. If they were not Christians,
they would be sent away with a good impression of Christianity.
o Thirdly, what she has done for the saints. The washing of the feet
is common in the East. We need not wonder at stress being laid
on her performing a humble service. Humble services are to be
performed toward the members of the Christian circle, for the
sake of Christ and after the example of Christ.
o Fourthly, what she has done for the afflicted, or hard pressed in
any way. We are to think of relief being afforded by a visit of
sympathy, a word of encouragement, the undertaking of work
as well as the bestowal of charity.
It is added generally, “If she hath diligently followed every good work.” It
is evident that one who had been so serviceable to the Church would, in
case of her destitution, have a claim to be supported by the Church. It can
easily be seen, too, how, with such qualifications, she would be expected,
in lieu of the support rendered to her, to render such service to the Church
as was in her power. Thus the roll of Church widows would have the
honorable character of a roll of Church workers. And we can think of
widows being admitted upon the roll who did not need Church support,
but wanted to do Church work. And there seems to have been, in
accordance with this, in the early Church, an order of presbytery widows,
who, under the sanctions of the Church, attended to the sick and instructed
and advised the younger members of their sex.
Ø Exclusion of younger widows. “But younger widows refuse.” They were
not to have the honor of being put upon the roll, though, in case of
destitution, not beyond Christian help.
o Their changeableness. “For when they have waxed wanton against
Christ, they desire to marry; having condemnation, because they
haverejected their first faith.” Under the influence of grief, their first
thought might be to devote themselves to Christian service, and with
that view to apply to be admitted on the roll of Church widows. But
there would be danger of their departing from that idea of their life.
The fact of their desiring to marry being regarded as a waxing wanton
against Christ implies that the being admitted to the roll was a coming
under some obligation to continue in widowhood for the sake of such
services as they could render. Their being taken off the roll implies
the condemnation of their rejecting their first faith, i.e. departing
from the idea which, at the first, with sacred feelings, they had
adopted for their future earthly life.
o Their triviality. “And withal they learn also to be idle, going about
from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and
busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” This was a
second danger, while remaining in widowhood and having their
names on the roll, their departing from the seriousness of the life
which they had chosen. There is a way of going about from house to
house which is simply a wasting of time. This leads to a habit of
gossiping, and a habit of intermeddling. Things are said which
ought not to be said — as being colored and mischievous in their
o His advice to them confirmed by experience. “I desire therefore that
the younger widows marry, bear children, rule the household, give
none occasion to the adversary for reviling; for already some are
turned after Satan.” In view of the dangers mentioned, the apostle
appoints, for the younger widows, marriage and its duties. That
would take away occasion for reviling. Some who had given
themselves to Christ as presbyter widows were turned after Satan,
i.e. married, or given up to idle habits.
o Such as needed to be relieved. “If any woman that believeth hath
widows, let her relieve them, and let not the Church be burdened;
that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.” This touches the
former point of support. If they married, then they did not need
Church support. But what was to be done with lonely and destitute
young widows who remained unmarried? The apostle lays the
burden of their support upon a believing female relative (on the
supposition that there was such). She is to undertake the burden,
rather than that the Church should be burdened. It is implied that,
in the event of there being no one to undertake the burden,
the Church is to step in and act the part of the relative, without,
however, placing her meantime upon the honorable roll of
Church Charities (vs. 3-16)
One of the most difficult problems to solve in any well-ordered human
society is so to administer charity to the indigent as not to encourage
indigence which might be avoided — not to injure the character by
endeavors to benefit the body. It is certain that the expectation of being
provided for by others, without any efforts of his own, has a tendency to
check those exertions by which a man may provide for himself. But it is no
less certain that there is room in the world for the exercise of a wholesome
charity, and that to dry up the streams of benevolence would be as great an
injury to the givers as to the receivers. The result is that great care and
much wisdom are requisite to regulate the administration of all charities on
a large scale. The early Church, with an instinctive wisdom, directed its
chief care to the support of widows. Here the main cause of the indigence,
at least, was one which no human forethought could prevent — the death
of the bread-winner. But even in their case many prudent cautions were
interposed. The widow must have age of not less than threescore years, as
well as widowhood, to commend her. She must be desolate, without any
relations or friends whose natural duty it would be to support her. She
must have established a good Christian character in the days of her
prosperity, and shown her love to Christ, and the people of Christ, by
works of mercy and pity. In like manner all public charities should be
administered so as to encourage industry and to check idleness; so as to
countenance virtue and rebuke vice; so as to prevent the unworthy from
appropriating the provision that was intended for the worthy and
unfortunate. In a word, in the administration of charitable funds, charity
and wisdom must work hand-in-hand.
Further Directions as to the Support of Widows (v. 16)
There is here a return to the subject of private beneficence.
· THE DUTY OF CHRISTIAN WOMEN TO SUPPORT THEIR
WIDOWED RELATIVES. “If any man or woman that believes hath widows,
let support be given to them.” The allusion is probably to the younger
widows, whose future would be very uncertain till, at least, they should
marry. The apostle had already provided for the case of aged widows. It
was the plain duty of relatives to watch over the welfare of the younger
women, who might be sisters, sisters-in-law, or nieces. The apostle founds
the duty upon the principle that the gospel has not superseded, but rather
strengthened, the claims of kinship.
· REASONS FOR THE DISCHARGE OF THIS PRIVATE DUTY.
“And let not the Church be burdened, that it may relieve those that are
Ø It would burden the Church greatly to increase the number of the
pensioners on its generosity.
Ø The exercise of private beneficence would allow a fuller provision to be
made for those aged widows who were really friendless, homeless, and
17 “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor,
especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.” The elders
(πρεσβυτεροι)- presbuteroi ) here in its technical sense of “presbyters,” which
in the first age were the ruling body in every Church (see Acts 14:23), after the
analogy of the elders of the Jews. Rule well (οἱ καλῶς προεστῶτες) –
hoi kalos proestotes – rule well; the ones having ideally presided). The
presbyters or elders were the chiefs, rulers, or presidents, of the Church (see
Romans 12:8; I Thessalonians 5:12; and above, ch.3:4-5). It seems that they did
not necessarily teach and preach, but those who did so, laboring in the Word
and teaching, were especially worthy of honor. Double honor (see note on
v. 3) means simply increased honor, not exactly twice as much as some
one else, or with arithmetical exactness. So the word διπλοῦς – diplous –
double - is used in Matthew 23:15; Revelation 18:6; and by the Septuagint
in Isaiah 40:2; Jeremiah 16:18; and elsewhere also in classical Greek. And so
we say, “twice as good,” “twice as much,” with the same indefinite
meaning. The Word and doctrine (teaching). The “Word” means generally
“the Word of God,” as we have “preach the Word,” “hear the Word,” “the
ministry of the Word,” “doers of the Word,” etc. And although there is no
article before λόγῳ – logo – word - here yet, considering the presence of the
preposition ἐν – en – in - and Paul’s less careful use of the article in his later
Epistles, this absence is not sufficient to counterbalance the weight of those
considerations which lead to the conclusion that “laboring in the Word”
refers to the Word of God. The alternative rendering of “oral discourse” or
“in speaking” seems rather weak. Doctrine (teaching) would mean catechetical
instruction and similar explanatory teaching. Labor (οἱ κοπιῶντες – hoi
kopiontes – labor; the ones toiling); a word very frequently used by Paul of
spiritual labors (Romans 16:6,12; I Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 4:11; Colossians 1:29).
18 “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth
out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward.” Thou shall not
muzzle, etc. This passage, from Deuteronomy 25:4, which is quoted and
commented upon, in the same sense as here, in I Corinthians 9:9,
shows distinctly that reward was to go with labor. The ox was not to be
hindered from eating some portion of the grain which he was treading out.
The preacher of the gospel was to live of the gospel. The laborer is
worthy of his reward. (ἄξιος ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὑτοῦ - axios ho
ergataes tou misthou autou – worthy of his reward; hire). In Matthew 10:10
the words are the same as here, except that τῆς τροφῆς – taes trophaes -
his meat; nourishment - is substituted for τοῦ μισθοῦ - his wages; hire;
reward. But in Luke 10:7 the words are identical with those here used, even to
the omission of the verb ἔστιν – estin – is. The conclusion is inevitable that the
writer of this Epistle was acquainted with and quoted from Luke’s Gospel; and
further, that he deemed it, or at least the saying of the Lord Jesus recorded,
in it, to be of equal authority with ἡ γραφή – hae graphae - the Scripture. If this
Epistle was written by Paul
after his first imprisonment at
tolerably certain that he was acquainted with the Gospel or Luke, so that there is no
improbability in his quoting from it. His reference to another saying of the Lord Jesus
in Acts 20:35 gives additional probability to it. The passage in II Timothy 4:18 seems
also to be a direct reference to the Lord’s Prayer, as contained in the Gospels of
Matthew and Luke. Paul does not directly call the words ἡ γραφή, only treats them
as of equal authority, which, if they were the words of Christ, of course they were.
Directions Respecting the Honor Due to the Elders of the Church
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor,
especially those who labor in the Word and doctrine.”
· THE CLASS OF PERSONS HERE REFERRED TO.
Ø It is evident that the apostle knew of no officers in the Church at
Ø Their principal duty was government. It was at least the prominent
element in their calling.
Ø The passage suggests that, while all the elders governed, all did not
labor in the Word and doctrine. Each Church in that day had its band of
elders at its head, but the teaching function was not universal, though
by-and-by assumed greater prominence and commanded greater
distinction and respect.
THE HONOR DUE TO ELDERS. They were to be counted worthy of
double honor; that is, they were to be liberally provided for by the Church,
as a special mode of showing respect to their office.
THE GROUND FOR THIS INJUNCTION. “For the Scripture saith,
Thou shall not muzzle an ox while treading out the corn. And, The laborer
is worthy of his hire.” These two sayings, one contained in Scripture
(Deuteronomy 25:4), the other a proverbial saying used by our Lord
Himself (Luke 10:7), affords an argument for the support of Christian
Ø This shows that both the Law and the gospel sanction the due support of
Ø It shows that the minister’s support is a matter of right, and not of
compassion or kindness. The animals that labored had a right to the
fruit of their labors.
19 “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three
witnesses.” Receive (παραδέχου – paradechou – be receiving; be assenting
to; give ear to, entertain); as in Acts 22:18, “They will not receive thy testimony.”
Accusation. At the mouth of, etc. There is a reference to the law in Numbers
35:30; Deuteronomy 19:15, and elsewhere (to which our Lord also refers, John 8:17),
and Paul applies the principle of the law to Timothy’s dealings with presbyters who
might be accused of not “ruling well.” He was not to encourage delatores, secret
accusers and defamers, but if any one had a charge to make against a ruler, it was
to be done in the presence of witnesses (ἐπί – epi – on - with a genitive).
A doubt arises whether “the witnesses” here spoken of were to be witnesses able
to support the accusation, or merely witnesses in whose presence the accusation
must be made. The juxtaposition of the legal terms κατηγορία – kataegoria –
accusation - and ἐπὶ μαρτύρων – epi marturon – on witnesses - favors the
strict meaning of μαρτύρων, witnesses able to support the κατηγορία. And,
therefore, the direction to Timothy is, “Suffer no man to accuse a presbyter
unless he is accompanied by two or three witnesses who are ready to back up
Directions as to Accusations against Elders (v. 19)
“Against an elder receive not an accusation, except it be upon two or three
· ELDERS MAY BE EXPOSED TO SUCH ACCUSATIONS BY
THEIR VERY ZEAL AND FAITHFULNESS.
Ø Their duty being to convince the gainsayers and to reprove the faults of
men, they would be exposed to the risk of false accusation. Good ministers
would be oftener accused if their accusers could but find judges willing to
receive their charges.
It is the interest of the
ministers unchallenged. It involves a sort of scandal for them to be accused
at all, even though they should afterwards be cleared.
· THE COURSE RECOMMENDED IN CASES OF THIS SORT.
Ø It diminishes the chances of such charges being made, that the
testimony of a single malicious witness will not suffice to have an
accusation even formally considered.
Ø It would be a serious discouragement to a good minister for such
charges to be entertained upon partial or defective evidence.
Ø The deference due to the position of a man chosen by the Church as its
pastor demanded a wise caution in the reception of charges against him.
Ø Yet it was the duty of Timothy to make an investigation supported by
adequate evidence. There is nothing in the minister’s position to exempt
him from a just inquiry and its due consequences.
20 “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”
Reprove; ἔλεγχε – elenche – rebuke; be you exposing , not ἐπιπλήξῃς –
epiplaexaes – you should be upbraiding, as in v. 1 (see Matthew 18:15).
There, the fault being a private one, the reproof is to be administered in private.
But in the case of the sinning presbyter, which is that here intended, Timothy is
to reprove the offender “before all,” that others also may fear, and may be
deterred by their fear from committing a like offence.
The Manner of Public Rebuke (v. 20)
The apostle refers here, not to offending elders, but to members of the
Church generally, as we justly infer from the change of number. It is the
elder in the one case; it is “those who sin” in the other.
· THE PUBLICITY OF REBUKE. “Those that sin rebuke before all.”
Ø The class referred to consists not of those merely overtaken in a fault
(Galatians 6:1), but, as the tense of the word signifies, persons given
to sinning. Thus great consideration and caution are to be exercised. The
casual transgressor might be dealt with privately, and would not need
further dealing on his exhibiting evidence of repentance.
Ø It was to be merely rebuke, not exclusion from the Church. If the rebuke
was unheeded, the extreme sentence would follow.
Ø The rebuke was to be public.
o The transgression may have been very public, to the scandal of religion;
o the publicity would involve the full disclosure of the sin, and involve
· THE DESIGN OF PUBLIC REBUKE. “In order that the rest also may
fear.” Such a discipline would have a deterrent influence upon others. The
strictness of the law would not be without effects upon conscience.
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, etc. It has been well
remarked that the solemnity of this charge indicates the temptation which there
might be to Timothy to shrink from reproving men of weight and influence “rulers”
in the congregation, and “elders” both in age and by office, young as he himself
was (ch.4:12). Perhaps he had in view some particular case
Charge (διαμαρτύρομαι – diamarturomai – I am charging; I am conjuring;
not παραγγέλλω – paraggello – I give thee charge, as in ch. 6:13); rather,
I adjure thee. The strict sense of διαμαρτύρομαι is “I call heaven and earth to
witness the truth of what I am saying;” and then, by a very slight metonymy,
“I declare a thing,” or “I ask a thing,” “as in the presence of those witnesses who are
either named or understood.” Here the witnesses are named: God, and Christ Jesus,
and the elect angels. In II Timothy 2:14 it is “the Lord;” in Ibid. ch.4:1 God and
Jesus Christ, as also in ch.6:13. In the passages where the word has the force of
“testifying” (Acts 2:40; 10:42; 18:5; I Thessalonians 4:6, etc.), no witnesses
are named, but great solemnity and earnestness are implied.
The elect angels. This is the only passage where it is predicated of the angels
that they are elect. But as there is repeated mention in Holy Scripture of the
fallen angels (Matthew 25:41; I Corinthians 6:3; II Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6;
Revelation 12:7, 9), the obvious interpretation is that Paul, in this solemn adjuration,
added the epithet to indicate more distinctly the “holy angels,” as they are frequently
described (Matthew 25:31; Luke 9:26, etc.), or “the angels of God” or “of heaven”
(Matthew 22:30; 24:36; Luke 12:8-9; John 1:51). Possibly the mention of
Satan in v. 15, or some of the rising Gnostic opinions about angels (Colossians 2:18),
may have suggested the epithet. The reason for the unusual addition of “the angels”
is more difficult to adduce with certainty. But perhaps II Timothy 4:1 gives us the clue,
where the apostle shows that in appealing to Jesus Christ he has a special eye to the
great and final judgment. Now, in the descriptions of the last judgment, the angels
are constantly spoken of as accompanying our Lord (Matthew 16:27; 25:31;
Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 12:8-9; II Thessalonians 1:7, etc.). If Paul, therefore, had
in his mind the great judgment day when he thus invoked the names of God and
of Christ, he would very naturally also make mention of the elect angels. Without
preferring. (χωρὶς προκρίματος - choris prokrimatos - without preferring;
apart from prejudice); here only in the New Testament, and not found in the
Septuagint or classical Greek, though the verb προκρίνω – prokrino – pre-judge –
occurs in both. Although the English word “prejudice” seems at first sight an apt
rendering of πρόκριμα – prokrima – prefer one before another , it
does not really give the sense so accurately as “preference.” We commonly
mean by “prejudice” a judgment formed prior to examination, which
prevents our judging rightly or fairly when we come to the examination,
which, however, is not the meaning of the Latin praejudicium. But
προκρίνω means rather “to prefer” a person, or thing, to others. And
therefore πρόκριμα means “preference,” or “partiality,” or, as the Authorized
Version has it, “preferring one before another.” The two meanings may be
Thus expressed. “Prejudice,” in the English use of the word, is when a person
who has to judge a cause upon evidence prejudges it without evidence, and
so does not give its proper weight to the evidence. “Preference” is when
he gives different measure to different persons, according as He is swayed
by partiality, or interest, or favor. Paul charges Timothy to measure out
exactly equal justice to all persons alike. By partiality (κατὰ πρόσκλισιν –
kata prosklisin – by partiality; according to bias). This also is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον –
hapax legomenon - used one time - as far as the New Testament is concerned,
and is not found in the Septuagitn, but is found, as well as the verb προσκλίνω –
prosklino – inclination; tilting; bias -, in classical Greek. It means literally the
“inclination” of the scales to one side or the other, and hence a “bias” of the mind
to one party or the other. The balance of justice in the hands of Timothy was
to be equal.
A Solemn Charge to Timothy to be Conscientiously Impartial in these Cases
· THE SOLEMNITY OF THE CHARGE. “I solemnly charge thee before
God, and Jesus Christ, and the elect angels.”
Ø Timothy, who is exhorted to faithfulness in judgment, is himself brought
face to face with his Lord and Judge, who will appear along with the elect
angels as assessors or executors of the Divine commands.
o God is omniscient and He is righteous, for with Him is no respect of
persons, and Timothy was a minister in the house of God, answerable
for his discharge of all ecclesiastical duty.
o Christ is likewise omniscient as well as righteous, Head of the
Church and Judge of the quick and the dead, before whose
judgment-seat all must stand.
o “The elect angels.”
§ These, who left not their first estate, but have been preserved
in their integrity by Christ, who is the Head both of angels
and of men, are the ministers and attendants of God.
§ There is nothing here to warrant the worship of angels, because
they are not here regarded as judges, but as witnesses; neither
are they sworn by nor appealed to by the apostle. The heavens
and the earth are often summoned as witnesses in the same
Ø This high appeal was designed to elevate the mind of Timothy above all
sinister motives, and secure him against the dangers of a timid
compliance with evil.
· THE SUBSTANCE OF THE CHARGE. “That thou keep these things
without prejudging, doing nothing by partiality.” He refers to the judicial
inquiries respecting eiders and members of the Church.
Ø There was to be an absence of prejudice. There must be no prejudging a
case before it is heard, under the influence of party feeling. Timothy must
calmly hearken to the case presented by both sides, and weigh the evidence
without haste or favor to either side.
Ø There was to be an absence of all partiality. “Doing nothing by
partiality.” There must be no leaning to one side more than another. The
scales of justice must be held evenly in Church affairs. Elders and members
were alike to be judged with all fairness.
22 “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s
sins: keep thyself pure.” Lay hands, etc. Surely if we are guided by Paul’s
own use of the phrase, ἐπίθεσις χειρῶ - epithesis cheiron – lay hands, in the
only two places in his writings where it occurs (ch.4:14 and II Timothy 1:6), we
must abide by the ancient interpretation of these words, that they mean the laying
on of hands in ordination. So also in Acts 6:6 and 13:3 ἐπιτίθεναι χεῖρας –
epitithenai cheiras - laid their hands; placed their hands - is “to ordain.”
And the context here requires the same sense. The solemn injunction in the
preceding verse, to deal impartially in judging even the most influential eider,
naturally suggests the caution not to be hasty in ordaining any one to be an elder.
Great care and previous inquiry were necessary before admitting any man,
whatever might be his pretensions or position, to a holy office. A bishop
who, on the spur of the moment, with improper haste, should ordain one
who afterwards required reproof as ἁμαρτάνων – hamartanon - sinning
(v. 20), would have a partnership in the man’s sin, and in the evil consequences
That flowed from it. Neither participate in other men’s sins. Timothy would
“adopt the sins he overlooked’ if he did not rightly distinguish between the worthy
and the unworthy. And then it follows, Keep thyself pure; i.e. clear and guiltless
(II Corinthians 7:11), which he would not be if he was involved in the sin of the
guilty elder. He must be pure who is called to judge others. There must be no
shadow of evil attaching to his character or conduct. Any impurity of
character would utterly destroy his influence, and silence his rebukes of others.
Observe that the stress is upon “thyself.”
A Caution against Hasty Induction of Ministers (v. 22)
There ought to be great care in the original appointment of ministers. There
Must be due care in ordaining right persons to the ministry. “Lay hands on
no one hastily.” Saul and Barnabas were thus designated to their missionary
tour (Acts 13:2). Timothy was thus ordained by the hands of the presbytery.
(ch. 4:14). It was the solemn recognition by the
the minister-elect had RECEIVED FROM ON HIGH. Timothy was to guard
against the possibility of rash appointments to the ministry by a due inquiry beforehand
into the spiritual character and pastoral qualifications of the candidates for office:
Ø The glory of God,
Ø the salvation of man,
Ø the honor of religion,
were all involved in such appointments.
· THE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES OF SLACKNESS IN THE DISCHARGE
OF SUCH A DUTY. "Neither participate in other men's sins." Timothy would
"adopt the sins he overlooked' if he did not rightly distinguish between the
worthy and the unworthy.
· THE NECESSITY OF PERFECT PURITY ON TIMOTHY'S OWN PART.
"Keep thyself pure." He must be pure who is called to judge others. There must
be no shadow of evil attaching to his character or conduct. Any impurity of
character would utterly destroy his influence, and silence his rebukes of others.
23 “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake
and thine often infirmities.” Water. (ὑδροπότει – hudropotei – be you
drinking water); here only in the New Testament. It is found in some codices
of the Septuagint in Daniel 1:12, and also in classical Greek. We learn from hence
the interesting fact that Timothy was, in modern parlance, a total abstainer; and
we also learn that, in Paul’s judgment, total abstinence was not to be adhered to
if injurious to the health. The epithet, “a little,” should not be overlooked. Was
Luke, the beloved physician, with Paul when he wrote this prescription (see
II Timothy 4:11)? It is also interesting to have this passing allusion to Timothy’s
bad health, and this instance of Paul’s thoughtful consideration for him.
Infirmities (ἀσθενείας - astheneias); in the sense of sicknesses, attacks of
Direction to Timothy to be Careful of His Health (v. 23)
“No longer drink water, hut use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thy
· THE APOSTLE LENDS NO ENCOURAGEMENT TO AN ASCETIC
ATTITUDE TOWARD MEATS OR DRINKS. The Essenes abstained
altogether from wine, and as there was a close connection between
is not improbable that such views may have reached
There was no harm in Timothy abstaining from wine, as a protest against
excess in wine, but rather something highly praiseworthy. It was not
through any deference to Essene asceticism, but through such a
consideration as is here suggested, that Timothy was an habitual
· THE APOSTLE HAS EXCLUSIVE REGARD TO TIMOTHY’S
HEALTH. The use of wine was regarded in its purely medicinal aspect,
and not as a mere pleasant beverage. Timothy was engaged in a service
that demanded the fullest exhibition of all mental and bodily hardihood, as
well as an iron endurance of disappointment and opposition. Under such
influences, he would become depressed with effects most prejudicial to his
health. The counsel shows the deep interest of the apostle in the young
evangelist’s comfort and welfare.
24 “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment;
and some men they follow after.” Some men’s sins, etc. Paul is evidently
here recurring to the topic which he had been dealing with ever since v. 17,
viz. Timothy’s duty as a bishop, to whom was entrusted the selection of
persons for the office of elder, or presbyter, and also the maintaining of
discipline among his clergy. Alford sees the connection of the precept
about drinking a little wine with what went before, and with this twenty-fourth
verse, in the supposed circumstance that Timothy’s weak health had
somewhat weakened the vigor of his rule; and that the recommendation to
leave off water-drinking was given more with a view to the firmer
discharge of those duties than merely for his bodily comfort. This may be
so. But there is nothing unlike Paul’s manner in the supposition that he
had done with the subject in hand at the end of the twenty-second verse,
and passed on to the friendly hint with regard to Timothy’s health, but then
subjoined the fresh remarks in vs. 24 and 25, which were an after-thought.
Open beforehand. (πρόδηλοι – prodaeloi – before evident); only found in
the New Testament, in Hebrews 7:14 besides these two verses, and in the
apocryphal books of the Old Testament. It is common, with the kindred forms,
προδηλόω – prodaeloo; προδήλωσις – prodaelosis; etc., in classical Greek.
It is doubted whether πρὸ – pro – before - in this compound verb has the force
of “beforehand,” as in the Authorized Version, and not rather that of “before
the eyes of all,” and therefore only intensifies the meaning of δηλόω – daeloo –
declare; show; signify. . But the natural force of πρὸ in composition certainly
is “before” in point of time; and hence in a compound like πρόδηλος – prodaelos
would mean “evident before it is examined,” which of course is equivalent
to “very evident.” Paul’s meaning, therefore, would be: Some men’s sins
are notorious, requiring no careful inquisition in order to find them
out; nay, they of themselves go before — before the sinner himself — unto
judgment. But there are also some whose sins follow after them. IT IS NOT
UNTIL CLOSE INQUIRY THAT THEY ARE FOUND OUT! They go up
to the judgment seat apparently innocent, but after a while THEIR SINS
COME TROOPING UP TO THEIR CONDEMNATION. This enforces
the caution, “Lay hands hastily on no man.”
Sins that Go Before (v. 24)
“Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and
some men they follow after.” Primarily, these words refer to the ministry.
Never act suddenly. You may be deceived, and lay hands on unfit men,
damaging the Church and dishonoring God. Manner may deceive. Latent
sins may slumber beneath specious appearances. Some sins blossom at
once, and evil is unveiled. At times the poisonous springs send forth their
deleterious waters at once. Sometimes they are like hidden watercourses
flowing beneath the surface soil, and appearing in unexpected places.
Moral government always exists, but diversity characterizes the methods of
God. Justice and judgment are the habitation of His throne. Sometimes Cain
and Ananias are punished at once; the one is outlawed, the other dies. But
Herod and Pilate waited for a revealing day. Subject — Sins that go
before. They have outriders. As with a trumpet-peal attention is called to
their advent. We see the evil-doers; vile in countenance, shambling in gait,
dishonored in mien. These sins are revealed. We mark lost delicacy, honor,
purity, peace, principle, reputation, joy!
· THIS IS SPECIAL OR EXCEPTIONAL. “Some men’s sins.” Do not,
in observing them, draw an argument for the necessary goodness of others.
The openness of some judgments does not give, necessarily, fair fame to
others. In the most decorous life there may be secret sins. The slumbering
fire may be in the hold of the stately ship. The hidden vulture may be
waiting for the carrion of the soul. But here there is judgment. We look
around, we see it. Our newspapers, our neighborhoods say, “Behold the
hand of God here.”
Ø Faith is departed;
Ø hope is blighted;
Ø beauty is destroyed;
Ø the dark outriders are here.
· THIS IS A SPECTACLE TO MEN. “They are open beforehand,” and
not made manifest merely in the sense of being sins, but their judgment is
with them. For there are two ideas — you may see a sin to be a sin, but
you need not have its judgment open. But the translation here requires that
we should understand that the judgment is open, as well as the sin. You see
not only men’s corruption, but their misery; not only their guilt, but their
shame. A child might see a poison berry, and know that it is such; or see a
snake, and be told it has a sting; but how clear the judgment if, under the
one tree, a little child lay dead; and beside the serpent a man was struggling
in throes of agony!
· THEY ARE OPEN BEFOREHAND. That implies they are hints in
this world (where there is a place for repentance) of troubles yet to come.
They do not exhaust judgment; they are premonitions of it. The light of
mercy plays all around even the paths of judgment here; for the Savior of
men is able to deliver from every prison-house. The beforehand judgment
may be a merciful thing, but let no man deal lightly with it. The gathering
clouds presage the fury of the storm; the pattering drops herald the hail and
rain; the reddening light of the volcano tells of the desolating lava. “Some
men’s sins are open beforehand.”
Sins that Follow After (v. 24)
“Some men they follow after.” Here is a revealed fact with no comment
upon it, but it is very terrible. A smooth comfortable life, and yet a life of
respectable sin! No blame, no opprobrium, no ostracism from society. Men
deceive themselves. They go into the
streets of their
prophet reproves them. The waters are rising, but no Noah warns them; all
is placid and full of repose.
· THE CONNECTION BETWEEN A MAN AND HIS SINS. “And
some men they follow after.” Our sins are like us; they reflect our faces;
they are mirrors which will one day show us ourselves; they follow after us
by a moral individuality; they will each fly to their own center. Our sins are
not resolvable into some generic whole as the sin of man. The blight in the
summer-time is not so disastrous in defacing beauty, the locusts of the East
are not so devastating in their all-devouring flight, as are our troops of sins.
They follow after us, and blight our immortality.
· THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SHAME AND SIN. “They follow
after.” That is the reason we are not ashamed of them. Shame for sin is not
sorrow for sin. The Hindu is only ashamed when he is discovered. That is
not grief at sin: it is horror at being found out. Sins that follow after ARE
NOT MUCH THOUGHT ABOUT! The world has given us carte blanche
if we preserve our position in society. What men shrink from is exposure
Ø If all sins were revealed, who could bear it?
Ø If the earth were a moral mirror, who could walk upon it?
But detection surely comes in God’s way — in God’s great day when He
shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. (Romans 2:16)
25 “Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand;
and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” There are good works, etc.
It is much best to understand πινῶν – pinon - some, as the Authorized
Version does, and render the good works of some, answering to τινῶν αἱ ἁμαρτίαι –
pinon hai hamartiai – some of the sins - of v. 24. They that
are otherwise — i.e., not manifest beforehand — cannot be hid. “They will
be seen and recognized some time or other.” (Jesus said, “For there is
nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not
be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in the darkness shall be
heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets
shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.” (Luke 12:2-3). Alford seems to
catch the true spirit of the passage when he says, “The tendency of this verse is
to warnTimothy against hasty condemnation, as the former had done
against hasty approval. Sometimes thou wilt find a man’s good character go
before him.... but where this is not so.... be not rash to condemn: thou mayest
on examination discover if there be any good deeds accompanying him: for
they... cannot be hidden.”
Final Drections to Timothy Respecting His Attitude Toward the Sins
and Sinful Works of Men (vs. 24-25)
ABSOLVING MEN FROM CENSURE. “The sins of some men are
manifest, going before to judgment; with some again, they follow after.”
The judgment is God’s, without excluding man’s.
Ø One class of sins is public and open. They reach the Judge
before the man himself who commits them. The sins are notorious.
Timothy will have no excuse for absolving such persons.
Ø Another class of sins is not so manifest. Unknown for the
time to all but the all-seeing eye of God, yet going forward
notwithstanding to the FINAL JUDGMENT where nothing
can be hid. The judgment of man may have meanwhile absolved
such a sinner, but the mournful secret comes out after all.
CENSURES. “In like manner also the works that are good are
manifest, and those that are otherwise cannot be hid.” Some are
open witnesses, others are secret witnesses; but there can be no
effectual suppression of their testimony. God will bring works of
all kinds into light (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 12:36). But it is the
duty of Timothy and ministers in general to use due diligence to have the
truth brought to light respecting such works. Therefore Timothy was not
to be rash in condemning where hidden worth had not disclosed itself
sufficiently to his eye. The good tree would by-and-by justify itself by its
fruits. (Matthew 7:16-20).
Duties and Privileges of the Clergy (vs. 17-25)
The duties of the clergy are to rule and to labor. The privileges of the
clergy are honor and pay. The clergy are rulers; not lords and tyrants, not
domineering over conscience or deeds, but leaders (προεστῶτες – proestotes –
leaders; ones having presided - here; ἡγουμένων – haegoumenon – ones
leading; ruling; guiding - Hebrews 13:7), presidents, officers of the great
Church army, going before them in every hard service and difficult duty,
regulating their counsels by wise advice, leading their worship, ordering their
discipline, taking the lead in the management of their common affairs. And
the clergy are laborers. Not drones doing nothing, and eating the fruit of
other men’s toil, hut laboring in the Word and doctrine of Christ. Theirs is
a double labor:
They study the Holy Scriptures, and give the Church the benefit of their studies.
Nor are their labors light or desultory. It is the hard toil (κοπιῶντες– kopiontes –
labor ) of mind and body, the continuous toil of a lifetime. These are
their duties. Their privileges are honor and pay — honor in proportion to their
labors for the Church and the fruit of those labors; honor due to their spiritual
dignity as those whom the Holy Ghost has set over the flock of Christ. And with
this honor — expressed by the title of “reverend” prefixed to their names — is
also due pay, support and maintenance at the Church’s charge. The ox must not
be muzzled while he treads out the corn for others, nor must the laborer be
defrauded of his hire when his honest work is done. They that preach the
gospel are to live of the gospel (I Corinthians 9:14). The Churches which they
serve must set their minds free, as far as may be, from worldly cares, by providing
for their maintenance while they give themselves to the Word of God and
prayer. It is obvious how entirely in accordance with these apostolic
sayings is the setting apart of endowments for the permanent support of
those who are engaged in the ministry of the Word, and the feeding of the
flock of Christ. The exhortation to the bishop to lay hands hastily on no
man, and to be impartial in all his dealings, follows naturally from the
consideration of the duties and the privileges of the priesthood.
The Presbyterate (vs. 17-25)
· HONOR DUE TO ELDERS. “Let the elders that rule well be counted
worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in
teaching.” As associated with Paul, Timothy was to be classed as an
extraordinary office-bearer in the Church. He had the organizing of the
reside in a class of ordinary office-bearers who are here called elders. The
fact is plainly stated that elders were ordained by the apostles in every
Church (Acts 14:23). It appears that the organization of a Church was
regarded as defective without the appointment of elders (Titus 1:5). In
a plurality of elders. All the elders are regarded as ruling or presiding, i.e.
over the brethren who composed the Church. To elders it belongs to
administer the laws which Christ has laid down for the government of His
Church, and to take the general superintendence of the affairs of the
congregation over which they are placed. It is a rule in which good
qualities may be evinced, such as:
Ø affectionateness, and
Ø a habit of dependence upon Divine grace.
Elders as such are to be counted worthy of honor, but those that rule well are to
be counted worthy of double honor, i.e. the honor of excellence in the
discharge of their duties added to the honor belonging to their office. There
are two classes of elders:
Ø those who merely rule, and
Ø those who, besides ruling, are charged with the Word and with teaching.
It is an honor by itself to have to do with the Word, and especially with the
teaching of it, i.e. to be teaching elders; but those who have not only the
office, but do well in it — suggested by the word “labor” — are to be
counted worthy of double honor.
· THEIR MAINTENANCE. “For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not
muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy
of his hire.” Under the honor to be done especially to the laborious
teaching elder, is brought maintenance. This is enforced by a reference to
Deuteronomy 25:4. The Jewish law showed consideration for an
animal that had to labor. The ox was not to be muzzled when, in Eastern
fashion, treading out the corn. It was not to be prevented from enjoying the
fruit of its labors. The application is given at some length in I Corinthians
9., but it is simply brought out here by a proverb, which is also made use of
by our Lord. The Christian teacher labors as really as the ox that treads out
the corn. Not less than the ox he is to have the condition of labor, viz.
maintenance. He is to have it not as a necessity, but on the principle that he
is entitled to it as the reward of his labor.
· THEIR JUST TREATMENT UNDER ACCUSATION. “Against an
elder receive not an accusation, except at the mouth of two or three
witnesses.” There is reference to a well-known regulation of the Jewish
law. It was especially to be observed in the case of honored or doubly
honored elders. No weight was to be attached to unproved private
complaints. “It might easily happen in a Church, so large and mixed as the
Ephesian, that one or another, from wounded feelings of honor, from mere
partisanship, or some selfish motive, would seek to injure a presbyter, and
drag him down from his influential position; and against this the precept of
the apostle was the best safeguard.”
· DISCIPLINE IF SHOWN TO BE SINNING. “Them that sin reprove
in the sight of all, that the rest also may be in fear.” The apostle has been
treating of elders; he is still treating of elders in v. 22. If, then, ordinary
weight is to be attached to the context in interpretation, the conclusion
seems certain that public reproof was only enjoined in the case of sinning
elders. We are to understand that the accusation against them has been
substantiated by two or three witnesses, and that by continuing in sin they
exhibit no signs of repentance. Let such be publicly reproved, that, if the
publicity does not do them good, it may at least cause a wholesome fear to
fall upon others of their class.
· SOLEMN ADJURATION. “I charge thee in the sight of God, and
Christ Jesus, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without
prejudice, doing nothing by partiality.” The form of the adjuration is
remarkable for the proximity in which Christ Jesus stands to God. If we are
led to think of God as being omniscient, we are as naturally led to think of
Christ Jesus as being omniscient, i.e. Divine. The form of the adjuration is
also remarkable for the bringing in of the elect angels, i.e. honored to be
the chosen objects of God’s love. Their omniscience does not belong to
them singly, but to their class, which is frequently represented as very
numerous. As witnesses of what is now done on earth they will be present
with their Lord on the day of judgment. The matter of the adjuration is the
upholding of the presbyterate.
Ø Let none of the order be prejudged unfavorably;
Ø let none, through favor, be spared, if their sin is obvious.
We may learn from the solemnity of the adjuration, how highly the apostle
valued the honor of the order.
· CARE IN APPOINTING TO THE ORDER. “Lay hands hastily on no
man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” The laying
on of hands in ordination, which is clearly referred to here, is symbolic of
the communication of spiritual gifts. We also learn from the language here,
that it is equivalent to recognition on the part of those ordaining. They are
accountable thus far, that if, through hastiness, they have admitted
unworthy persons into the order, then they are partakers of their sins. As
having to pronounce upon others, Timothy was to keep himself pure; his
own conduct was to be above suspicion.
· TIMOTHY CAUTIONED. “Be no longer a drinker of water, but use
a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” Paley
makes a point of the want of connection. “The direction stands between
two sentences, as wide from the subject as possible.” He, however, puts
more upon this than it will bear. There is a certain Epistolary negligence,
but there is connection. It occurs to the apostle that the command to keep
himself pure might be too strictly interpreted by Timothy. He was not to be
regarded as enjoining the utmost abstinence on him. On the contrary, his
opinion was that Timothy was abstinent beyond what his health demanded.
He was a drinker of water, i.e. accustomed to the exclusive use of water as
a drink. Whatever his reasons for adopting this course, it was too rigorous
for him. He needed a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his often
infirmities. This is not certainly to be construed into a license for the
unlimited use of wine. He is only recommended the use of a little wine.
And the very reason which is given for its use is against its use where the
same reason does not exist. It is only too obvious that alcohol is
destructive to the stomach, and the fruitful cause of infirmities. It is
destructive to the brain as well as to the stomach. “There is quite a marked
type of mental degeneration which may result from continuous drinking
during ten years without one instance of drunkenness. We have, as a
statistical fact, that from fifteen to twenty per cent of the actual insanity of
the country is produced by alcohol.” (Does one think that the knowledge of
smoking causing cancer deters from its use? Smoking may not cause insanity
but some would think it insane to acquire lung cancer by not heeding the
warning! CY – 2019) In the name of health, then, its use is to be feared; but,
where health demands the use of wine, it is a sin not to use it. For the servant
of the Lord must have his strength of body at a maximum for him.
· A POINT TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE JUDGING OF MEN
FOR OFFICE. “Some men’s sins are evident, going before unto judgment;
and some men also they follow after. In like manner also there are good
works that are evident; and such as are otherwise cannot be hid.” Present
judging has a look forward to future judging. To future judgment all
actions, bad and good, are regarded as going forward. But there is a
difference, both in the case of bad actions and of good actions.
Ø Some men’s sins are notorious; and, as heralds, go before them to
judgment, proclaiming their condemnation. With regard to such,
judging for office is an easy matter.
Ø But it is not so with others. “Their sins are first known after
and by the judgment, not known beforehand like the first named.
In regard to those whose character is not yet clear, circumspection
in our judgment cannot be too strongly urged.”
The same difference applies to good works. Some are as clear as noonday;
and therefore there can be no hesitation in regard to the doers of them.
There are, however, other good works which are not thus clear; these
cannot be hid longer than THE JUDGMENT! In view of the discovery
of good deeds at present unknown, we cannot be too circumspect in our
judgment of men, lest by our hastiness we do injury to any.
Rest assured that “....God shall bring every work into judgment, with every
secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)
and Jesus said “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed;
neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken
in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in
the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the mountain tops.” (Luke 12:2-3)
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