IV. DUTY TOWARD ELDERS (5:17-20) 1 TIMOTHY 5:17-25

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1 1 TIMOTHY 5:17-25 IV. DUTY TOWARD ELDERS (5:17-20) A. In this chapter Paul explained how Timothy was to behave toward different age groups & genders within the church. 17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word & doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain, and, The laborer is worthy of his wages. 1. In our previous lesson, we covered Timothy s duties toward the older & younger members, & also the older & younger widows. 2. This lesson deals with his duty toward elders within the local church. A. These elders are not just the older men mentioned in verse one. 1. These elders trace back to chapter three, where Paul stated their qualifications to serve as bishops (episkopos) or overseers. 3. Finally, Paul presented some guidelines that will help Timothy carry out these instructions. 2. They are said to have the authority to rule as Shepherds over a flock (Acts 20:28). [Timothy was in Ephesus when Paul wrote this letter to him, & we know from Acts 20 that the church in Ephesus had elders. However, these instructions are no less important for churches without elders, because we all need to be prepared for that time when we are able to appoint them.] a. A shepherd s rule is characterized by leading (example), feeding (teaching), gentleness, affection, watchfulness & protection from danger. 1

2 B. Elders who rule well ARE TO BE counted worthy of double honor from the church. Explain? d. These men are worthy of double honor (Explanation: 1 Cor 9:1-14). 1. Remember, Timothy was to honor older members & widows indeed (to value & to esteem them highly). 3. As a basis for these instructions Paul used two passages from the Law & one statement made by Jesus during His personal ministry. 2. But in the case of certain male elders, Paul said they are due a double portion of honor or a two-fold honor. The reason? a. Because they have taken on or accepted a double duty. b. The elder s primary duty is the spiritual care & oversight of the church. Deut 25:4 You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain. Luke 10:7 (Jesus to the disciples) And remain in the same house, eating & drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages ( The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning. Lev 19:13). Do not go from house to house. 4. In summary, qualified men who are appointed to serve as elders have every right to be financially supported in their work. c. But some elders have the opportunity & ability to devote themselves ALSO to the study & presentation of God s word much like the apostles, or an evangelist & teacher. C. Most of us, if not all of us, have never witnessed elders being supported for their work. Why? 1. Churches primarily support local evangelists. (The church does have authority for that work.) 2

3 a. But the local church also has the duty to support its male teachers (Gal 6:6). b. Could we come up with the $150,000 + per year it would take to support our current cast of male teachers? c. Since churches primarily support evangelists, this often leaves fewer resources to support elders. d. This may not have been as much of an issue in NT times, since needs & expectations were fewer by comparison to ours. 2. Elders either have occupations that take care of their physical needs, or, if they are retired, they have planned for their retirement needs. 3. Notwithstanding, if there is a man in the local church: Who desires & is qualified to be an elder, Who desires to devote his life to the study & teaching of the God s word - AND who does that work well, Who requires monetary support for that work, The Holy Spirit said that he is worthy of that support as a double honor. D. Next, Paul taught Timothy how to deal with elders when charges are brought against them, & also when they have sinned. 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. 1. Two or three witnesses must substantiate any charge against an elder. 3

4 a. THIS principle should be applied to EVERY member. 21 I charge you before God & the Lord Jesus Christ & the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality. b. An evangelist, because of the nature of his work, is in a position to hear things about the members of the church where he labors. c. If his attitude is right, he will not listen to idle gossip about anyone. A. In verse 21, Paul gave two guidelines as to how Timothy was to carry out these instructions. 1. There was to be no prejudice, Timothy was not to prefer one before another (kjv 1 word in Grk). Thayer s to form an opinion before the facts are known. 2. If any charge against an elder is proven true, then it is to be brought to the attention of the church, just as Jesus taught (Matt 18:15-20). [Again, like the support of elders, the discipline of an elder is something that most of us have never witnessed; yet it can & does occur. Remember Paul s warning to the elders in Ephesus (Acts 20:30). a. Timothy might be more compatible with some members than others, but he was not to allow his feelings to interfere with his duty to them. 2. There was to be no partiality shown to any member. Strong s a leaning towards, an inclination. V. GUIDELINES FOR COMMANDS (21-25) a. There are many factors that might cause an evangelist to lean toward one person or family over another: 4

5 friendship, contribution, a large family or someone with influence. b. That being the case, Timothy would be tempted to show an interest in one person or family over another, or to take up their cause, or even to overlook their sins. c. The temptation would be to do their bidding rather than the Lord s will. B. In verse 22, Paul gave another admonition in connection with the appointment of elders. 22 Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins; keep yourself pure. 1. The laying on of hands was a method of appointing one to a special work (Acts 6:6; 13:3). a. Timothy was not to be hasty in appointing elders; time is needed for proving each man. 2. Timothy was not to share in other people s sins ; this statement seems to be connected to the previous one. a. If he acted hastily, Timothy might appoint an unworthy elder; this would make Timothy partly responsible for the damage this man might cause the church by his sins. 3. The admonition to keep yourself pure would be accomplished by heeding the apostle s instructions here. C. In verse 23, Paul gave Timothy some personal advice regarding his health. 23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake & your frequent infirmities. 5

6 1. This suggests that Timothy s common practice was to abstain from the use of wine, but that he might use it for medicinal purposes. 2. This statement is no justification for the social use of intoxicating liquor; in fact, it cannot be proven that this wine was anything more than the common table beverage (3 to 5 parts water). D. The closing verses of this chapter have broad application (though Paul may still have had the elders in mind). b. Some people s sins follow later, or will not be known until the judgment. c. {Timothy was not expected to have perfect understanding of the circumstances in everyone s life.} d. If the members conceal their sins, eventually those sins will be known. 2. In verse 25, Paul made the same remark about one s good works. 24 Some men's sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. 25 Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, & those that are otherwise cannot be hidden. CLOSING 1. Some men s sin s are clearly evident, open beforehand (kjv). Thayer s known to all. Why are these matters important for us to consider, even if we are not elders or preachers? a. Some people s sins will be preceding them to judgment. Because faithfulness or neglect in these matters will affect the condition of the church. 6

7 There is no question that each local church needs elders. But along with that fact is the importance of using spiritual wisdom in selecting those who overseer. It poses a danger to the evangelist as well as to the church to impulsively place someone in a position of spiritual responsibility (2 Jn 10-11). No man is faultless, but that shouldn t stand in the way of appointing qualified men to the spiritual oversight of the local church. The work & worship of each congregation rises or falls with its leadership. Godly leadership will result in God s blessings THAT is what we are aiming for, because THAT is what the Lord says we need. 7

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