Tuesday in the Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Timothy 5:17-25

On the Treatment of Elders

Paul has spoken of the qualifications of elders (3:1-7); now he turns to the privileges and responsibilities of these.  First, they are “worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”  He then goes on to suggest that this honor includes remuneration (Deuteronomy 25:4; Luke 10:7).  Such regard for the teaching office also speaks to the gravity of the service, which is why James says that not many should desire to teach as they will be judged with greater strictness (3:1).  It is the most serious matter in the world to handle the word of God and rightly divide it.  No man is perfect in this regard but he must at least be sincere and thorough in his study—which prompts me to say that a church must not only allow but demand that her pastor spend time in his study (not “office”) to pray and sweat drops of blood over his Bible studies and sermons.

But as he receives double honor he is also held to a higher standard.  Granted, any accusation must be “on evidence of two or three witnesses” (which frankly was always the standard for everyone).  In other words, allow no frivolous charges as some might simply dislike the man for stepping on their toes.  But if he is guilty of some major indiscretion, then he must be publicly rebuked which is different from the way of handling other church members (Matthew 18:15-20).  Again, the emphasis is on the importance of the office and the need for integrity, nobility, and a life that is above reproach.  Failures here invariable make their way out into the world which cause scandals that give the enemy grounds for boasting.  And this is why the Apostle warns Timothy to “not be hasty in the laying on of hands,” that is, in setting apart elders and deacons.  This is a place where Baptist and other evangelical churches have failed miserably, shoving young men into positions for which they were not ready only to see them fall away for lack of maturity.  Such men must be proven over time, and a degree from a seminary is no proof of spiritual maturity or even doctrinal integrity.  And Paul is certain that sooner or later their works will find them out either for good or evil—another argument for taking time to set apart.

Paul then charges Timothy to “keep these rules without prejudging,” and does so even before “the elect angels,” showing again the seriousness of his command.  And finally, Paul has a word for Timothy, a young man who has been set apart for his integrity and giftedness: “Take [no] part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.”  Watch yourself, Timothy.  Indeed, to all the pastors out there: Be on guard; keep yourselves pure.  And Watch!

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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