Monday, August 5, 2013

1 Timothy 5 - Order in the Church

LINK: 1 Timothy 5


BACKGROUND


Paul exhorted Timothy how to relate to certain groups in his church:


Older Members (5:1-2)


Timothy was to treat them as they would their mothers and fathers. Since we are exhorted to "honor our mothers and fathers" in the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3), we should approach these members with a certain amount of respect. We are not to give an attacking rebuke. The Greek word here means "to strike upon, to chastise with words" (Strong's, 1969). We should give older members a gentle exhortation. This Greek word is from the same word for the Holy Spirit and means to "come alongside to help" and is by the "meekness and gentleness of Christ." Older members were to treat younger members like brothers and sisters (and Timothy was to relate to the younger women in purity). 


Older Widows (5:3-10)


God cares for widows (Deuteronomy 14:29; Psalm 94:6; Malachi 3:5). This exhortation was primarily for faithful and believing widows, at least sixty years old, who were desolate and had no other means of human support from relatives so that the church resources could be used for those who have no other help. If relatives did not help, they were considered worse than unbelievers. The care was also designated for those who were believers with a faithful witness to the community (Luke 2:36-37; Acts 9:36-39). 


Younger Widows (5:11-16)


Timothy was to encourage the younger widows to not be idle (which leads to sinful behavior), remarry, and have families. 


Elders (5:17-25)


These people are those who direct the affairs of the church. Paul said that elders should be paid based on their ministries. He quoted Deuteronomy 25:4 to prove his point. Just as it would be cruel for a farmer to bind the mouth of an ox so that he could not eat the grain that he is threshing with his feet, it would be cruel to not let the worker enjoy the material blessing that resulted from his spiritual labor (Matthew 10:10; 1 Corinthians 9:14).


Paul also instructed on the procedure of discipline of an elder.  The purpose was for restoration and not revenge. There was to be no prejudice or partiality. He wanted protections against false accusations of those in authority by requiring two or three witnesses, and he wanted fair judging if an elder was found guilty. 


Paul also instructed that an elder should not be chosen in haste. Criteria should be according to 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. 


REFLECTION


In the past, I would see one godly pastor after another forced to resign under pressure because of gossip, rumors, and lies. Most of the problems could have been solved by effective Biblical peacemaking and a stern rebuke of the people who were gossiping! That never happened and people were let go based on false assumptions and uncorroborated stories. So sad. 


Paul was trying to prevent this kind of thing by establishing order in the church. Now, I am blessed to be in a church environment that follows Biblical principles when it comes to church order and peacemaking!


Stability in the church is a wonderful thing. 


APPLICATION


Does your church help widows who are truly in need? Find out about that. If you know of a needy widow, consider doing something to bless them in the near future. 


Also, pray for the elders/leaders of your local church. Walk away from those who complain and gossip about them. If you have a concern, go directly to them in a spirit of love and do not complain about them to others. Pray as they select new elders too. 


PRAYER


Lord, we want to pray for our pastors and elders. Please bless them today. I ask that You would guard them from the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Bless our widows. I pray especially for my "younger widow" friend. That you would bless her today. Amen. 

(Update: That younger widow remarried a widower in December 2014.) 
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