1 Timothy


4. Directions for ruling a church, 5:1-6:2a

ii] Dealing with elders, diet, discipline and slaves


Having dealt with the care of widows in the church, Paul now gives instruction for the presbuteroi, "presbyters / elders", concluding with instructions for slaves.


i] Context: See 5:1-16.


ii] Background: See 1:1-11.


iii] Structure: Instructions on the regulation of elders and slaves:

General Instruction, v1-2:

Treat all people with respect.

Specific Instructions:

Presbuteroi - "presbyters / church officers / elders", v17-25:

In the exercise of ministry they deserve financial support, v17-18;

Accusations against an elder must be carefully considered, v19-21;

Their ordination should not be undertaken hastily, v22;

They should take care of their health, v23;

An ordinand must be properly investigated, v24-25.


Show respect toward masters, 6:1-2a.


iv] Interpretation:

As with the widows, respect toward the elders in a church is practically expressed by providing for them, v17-18. Respect for the elder and his office is also shown by not accepting wilful accusations against him without proper investigation, v19, but on the other hand, where sin is evident it must be publicly dealt with, v20, without partiality or prejudice, v21. Given the responsibilities of the office, appointments must not be made hastily, v22, but with care and due consideration, v24-25. A little wine for medicinal purposes never goes astray!!!, v23. Paul concludes with instructions for slaves, again in the terms of respect for both believing and unbelieving masters.


The elders and the bishops: It is not overly clear how the office of elder fits with bishop / overseer and deacon / servant. It is possible that episkopoV, "bishop" is a chief presbuteroV, "elder", and that the other "elders" serve under him. Jeremias argues that the word is simply used to identify "older men" in the congregation, cf., 5:1. These older men, like the "real widows" / older women devoid of a spouse, must be respected. It is possible that the word covers all those who serve as "bishops" and "deacons" (an inclusive term) who, like the "real widows" are "enrolled" / "ordained", v22, so Chrysostom.

As with the widows, the word may extend to all the elderly men in the congregation. In that sense, the word, at this stage in church history, is not wholly technical. So, Barrett translates v1, "The older men who are nobly taking on themselves the responsibility of leadership ........ especially those who labor in preaching and teaching (ie., Bishops and deacons)" This special class of "elders" serve as church officers, ruling, leading, caring, cf., 1Thes.5:12, Rom.12:8. They are probably the same class of church officers / "elders" referred to in Acts, cf., Acts 11:30, etc. Against this rather informal understanding, the majority of commentators argue that "elders" are themselves a special class of church officer, members of a "patriarchal committee" who form "a council and lay hands upon the man who is set apart by the word of the prophet (1Tim.1:18, 4:14)", D/C.


Slavery: Viewed from our perspective, Paul's instructions to slaves, fails to address a repugnant social institution. Jesus also has little to say on the morality, or otherwise, of the societal structures of the day (eg. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's", "The poor you will always have with you", ..). The Bible certainly promotes the release of slaves, particularly within the family of God, Jer.34:9, and Paul happily encourages believers not to become slaves, 1Cor.7:23, and to seek their freedom when the opportunity presents itself, 1Cor.7:21. Still, this is not an aggressive attack upon what is a repugnant social evil.

Clearly, the knowledge that Christ's kingdom is not of this world promotes a radical disengagement with the aspirations of the secular world, and this disengagement is evident here. It is also likely that Paul's willingness to go along with societal norms is driven by his desire to promote free access for the gospel (an attack upon an institution sanctioned by law, and integral to Roman society, would not bode well for harmonious relations with the Roman State). Paul's instruction here sit within existing societal norms, so he doesn't address the issue of slavery as such, but rather gives advice on how a Christian slave should serve his master - secular = with respect; a believer = "with devotion." See Ephesians 6:5-9.

Text - 5:17

i] Instructions concerning elders / senior men, in particular those who serve as a church officer / bishop or deacon, v17-25: a) In the exercise of their ministry, a minister of the Word deserves financial support, v17-18.

oiJ ... presbuteroi (oV) "the elders" - [let] the elders. Nominative subject of the verb "to count worthy." See above.

proestwteV (proisthmi) perf. part. "who direct the affairs of the church [well]" - having ruled, governed, managed, conducted / cared for, concerned for [well]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "elders", as NIV. The perfect tense gives the sense, "have been and are now so serving", Knight. "Govern well as presiding officers", D/C.

timhV (h) gen. "of [double] honour" - [be counted, treated, regarded worthy, deserving of double] honour. Genitive of direct object after the verb "to count worthy of", indicating that which one is worthy of, here "respect". "Respect", yes, but possibly "remuneration", Kelly, an "honorarium / compensation." Certainly v18 indicates that a stipend is in mind here, although why "double / twofold compensation"? Is it double the compensation given to widows, or double the compensation given to older men in general / double the pension? It seems likely that the "twofold" is both honour / respect itself and financial compensation; "Elders with a gift of leadership should be considered worthy of respect and of adequate salary", Phillips.

malista adv. "especially" - Superlative adverb. As noted in 5:8, this adverb can take the sense "that is / namely / I mean ....." So, "the senior men who nobly take upon themselves the responsibility of a leader / the head of a church / a presiding officer, that is, those who labor at preaching and teaching, should be counted worthy of receiving respect and an adequate stipend."

oiJ kopiwnteV (kopiaw) pres. part. "those whose work" - the ones working. The participle may be taken as a substantive, although Perkins argues that it is adjectival, attributive, modifying the subject, "the elders having ruled well."

en + dat. "-" - in [word, speech and teaching]. Local, "in the sphere of preaching and teaching", or possibly modal, expressing manner.


Supporting scripture: Deut.25:4, cf., 1Cor.9:9, and second quotation reflecting Jesus teaching, cf., Matt.10:10, Lk.10:7.

gar "for" - for [the scripture says]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the principle annunciated in v17 is true, "because the sacred writing / scripture says for us / in a way that applies to us ....."

alownta (aloaw) pres. part. "while it is treading out the grain" - [an ox] threshing = treading out grain [you shall not muzzle]. The participle may be taken as adjectival, attributive, limiting "ox", "which is treading out grain", or adverbial, temporal, as NIV, "when it treads out the grain", ESV.

tou misqou (oV) gen. "wages" - [and the workman is worthy of] the wages [of him]. Genitive complement of the predicate adjective axioV, "worthy of".


b) A minister accused of an offence, or having committed an offence, must be publicly judged with care and due consideration, v19-21. As Calvin notes, "none are more liable to slanders and calumnies than godly teachers." "Paul is urging Timothy to follow the procedure found in Matthew 18 and the OT before the church accepts or acknowledges as correct an accusation against an elder", Knight.

kata + gen. "against [an elder]" - [do not receive an accusation] against [an elder]. Expressing opposition; "against"

ektoV ei mh "unless" - except. Introducing an exceptive clause which establishes a contrast by designating an exception. The adverb ektoV, "except", is a pleonasm (a redundant word).

epi + gen. "it is brought by" - upon, on the testimony of [two or three witnesses]. Expressing basis / cause. Elliptic; "upon the basis of / the testimony of / the evidence of two or three witnesses", cf., Deut.17:6.


The sins of a minister should not be shielded or hidden. It is interesting how, up till recent times, Western society has tended to do the exact opposite; "if you can't tell the world she's a good little girl, then don't tell the world at all." The tendency to quietly, and usually ineffectually, deal with pedophiles in public institutions, including Church institutions, has caused massive damage.

touV aJmartanontaV (aJmartanw) pres. part. "those who sin / those elders who are sinning" - the ones sinning. The participle serves as a substantive. The present tense, being durative, may express "persistent sinning." The TNIV assumes that Paul is still addressing elders; this seems likely.

enwpion + gen. "before" - [expose, reprove, convict] before. Local, expressing space.

pantwn gen. adj. "everyone" - all. The "all" may be "all the elders", but it is more likely "all the members of the congregation" (in the 1st. century, "all the men of the congregation).

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Introducing a purpose clause / hypothetical result; "in order that / so that."

oiJ loipoi adj. "the others" - the rest. The adjective serves as a substantive; "those who remain." The majority of commentators think that "the rest" entails "the rest of the elders", but it could well be "the rest of the believers", so Knight, Wilson.

kai "-" - and. Adjunctive; "also".

fobon (oV) "[may take] warning" - [may have] fear. Accusative direct object of the verb "to have." "Fear" of what? Probably fear of public exposure.


enwpion + gen. "in the sight of" - [i testify, charge, declare solemnly] before [god and christ jesus]. Local, expressing space; "in the presence of God." "I adjure you in the sight of God", Cassirer.

twn eklektwn aggelwn "the elect angels" - [and] the elect angels. It is unusual to place angels as functionaries with God the Father and God the Son. In a sense, Paul is calling on the Father and the Son, and those who minister in the service of God, to bear witness to the importance of his charge to Timothy, namely that integrity is essential in Christian ministry. As servants of God, the adjective "elect" is not raising their status, but rather distinguishing them from the fallen angels.

iJna + subj. "to [keep]" - that [you keep, guard, these instructions]. Introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Paul charges.

cwriV + gen. "without" - apart from, without [prejudice, preconceived bigotry]. Expressing separation; "without expressing or practicing something", BAGD.

mhden poiwn (poiew) pres. part. "and to do nothing" - not doing. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the dependent statement "to keep without prejudice", as NIV. "I charge you to keep these rules and never ....... to act other than impartially", Barclay.

kata + acc. "out of" - according to [partiality]. Expressing a standard.


c) The ordination of a minister should not be undertaken hastily, v22. This verse is usually taken to refer to the setting apart / ordination of a mature man for the purpose of ministry. Given the context, it is possible that Paul is speaking about an act of reconciliation where the repentant offender referred to in v20 is restored to their full status within the congregation. A more likely interpretation is that the instruction seeks to prevent the need for the disciplinary action referred to in v20, and this by allowing a span of time to pass before appointing a person to a position of authority.

tacewV adv. "[do not be] hasty" - [lay hands on] quickly. The modal adverb "quickly" takes a negative sense here, so "hastily". If ordination is in mind, the instruction to Timothy is that he, along with the other elders who would participate in the ordination (assumed), should proceed judiciously; "don't be too quick to accept people into the service of the Lord", CEV.

mhdeni dat. adj. "-" - no one. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to lay [hands] on."

aJmartiaiV (a) dat. "the sins" - [nor share in, participate in] the sins. Dative of direct object after the verb "to share in." Culpability ensues from a lack of due diligence, here "haste"; "do not make yourself responsible for the sins of another man", Moffatt.

allotriaiV dat. adj. "of others" - belonging to others. Attributive adjective, dative in agreement with "sins." "Anybody else's sins", NJB.

aJgnon adj. "pure" - [keep yourself] pure. Accusative complement of the accusative direct object "yourself", standing in a double accusative construction. Here in a moral sense; "free from sin."


d) A minister should take care of his health, v23. The instruction is not overly clear. Is Paul slighting ascetic puritanism (a Nazarite vow), a kind of "lighten up" instruction - live a little, love a little, that's the meaning of life? Ministers can easily adopt a holier-than-thou lifestyle. Or is Paul simply touching on the practical issue of health - poor digestion? Given our modern sedentary lifestyle, we might recommend a brisk morning walk, a limited intake of carbohydrates, avoid rich foods, .... Of course, the instruction may not be general, but specifically addressed to Timothy.

mhketi adv. "stop" - no longer [drink only water]. Temporal adverb; "not from now on", BAGD. Elliptic, "only water", ie., not to drink exclusively water.

alla "and" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "but use a little wine", ESV.

oinw/ (oV) dat. "wine" - [use a little] wine. Dative of direct object after the verb craomai which most often takes a dative, but sometimes accusative. The "wine" is not grape juice, but fermented grape juice.

dia + acc. "because of" - because of [the stomach of you and the frequent illnesses, ailments of you]. Causal; "because of, on account of", possibly expressing benefit, "for the sake of."


e) The ordination of a minister requires no mere superficial scrutiny, v24-25. Sins / offences, like good deeds, inevitably show themselves, and on these a sound judgment can be made.

anqrwpwn (oV) gen. "men / of some" - [the sins of some] men. The genitive is adjectival, verbal, subjective, or attributive / idiomatic, limiting "sins", "the sins which are committed by some people."

prodhloi adj. "[are] obvious" - [are] evident, obvious, open. Predicate adjective. The prefix pro intensifies, so "very evident."

proagousai (proagw) pres. part. "reaching the place" - going before them [to, into judgment]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verbal phrase "are evident", "are soon in evidence and lead to judgment", but possibly adverbial, temporal. The "judgment" is human judgment - character assessment. In many cases, a person's behavioural traits are well known and assessments of their character already made.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a contrasting point; "but the sins of others appear later", ESV.

kai "-" - indeed. Here probably emphatic, "indeed, in fact"; "but some indeed follow after." Possibly adjunctive; "but also." Given that the character flaws of some people are not always evident, the advice to not hastily ordain a minister should always apply. Marshall, following Roloff, argues that the judgment is divine and that the point being made is "that all sins, overt and secret, will be judged by God."

tisin pro. "the sins of others" - the sins by certain ones = by others [follow after]. Emphatic by position. The subject ai aJmartiai, "sins", is assumed. The dative is best taken as instrumental, "the sins committed by others", possibly as a dative of possession, "the sins of other people." The epi prefix verb "to follow after" takes a dative of direct object, so the intended sense may be "follow after others / them."


wJsautwV adv. "in the same way" - likewise, similarly [also the good works are very evident]. Comparative adverb; "It's the same with good deeds. Some are easily seen, but none of them can be hidden", CEV.

kai "-" - and. Here probably adjunctive; "likewise also."

ta .... econta (ecw) pres. part. "those that are" - [and] the ones having / being. The participle serves as a substantive.

allwV adv. "not obvious" - otherwise, in another way. "The ones being otherwise" is presumably the good deeds, rather than the sinful deeds of v24, the deeds which are otherwise than good; "good deeds that are not immediately evident will become so, even though they are now otherwise", Knight.

krubhnai (kruptw) aor. pas. inf. "be hidden / remain hidden forever" - [are not able] to be hidden. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "to be able."


ii] Instructions concerning slaves, v1-2a. The pronoun oJsoi, "as many as, all who", is possibly not a general reference to slaves, but a reference to elders who are slaves, "such of the above as are under the yoke of slavery", Barrett, so Parry, Pastoral Epistles, Cambridge, 1920. Most commentators take v1 as instructions to believing slaves in general bound under a non-believing master, and v2 as instructions to believing slaves in general bound under a believing master.

uJpo + acc. "under" - [as many as are] under [the yoke]. Here expressing subordination; "under the rule of."

douloi "the yoke of slavery" - as slaves. The relationship between the nominative noun douloi, "slaves" and the accusative noun zugon, "yoke" is somewhat unclear. The construction zugoV douleiaV, "yoke of slavery", as NIV, douleiaV, "of slavery", being genitive, is found in the LXX, imaging the harsh nature of the institution, but that is not the syntax here. Syntactically, the nominative douloi, "slaves", stands in apposition to the clause "all who are under the yoke", the accusative zugon, "yoke", serving as the object. So, "all who are under yoke, slaves, ..." = "let all those who are under the yoke, those who are slaves, regard their own masters ....."

hJgeisqwsan (hJgeomai) pres. imp. "should consider" - let consider, regard, count [the one's own masters]. Expressing a general command.

timhV (h) gen. "[worthy of full] respect" - [worthy of all] respect, honour. Genitive complement after the adjective "worthy of." The adjective pashV, "all", makes the point that the respect should not be half-hearted, so the NIV "full respect". One can well imagine that some masters may not be worthy of respect due to their treatment of slaves, but the thought here is that masters have a right of authority over their workers, which authority / position is deserving of respect. The motivation for that respect, expressed in the hina clause that follows, encourages respect, even where respect is not due, because of the master's failure to exercise his authority justly, ie., he is not devoted to the welfare of his slaves, v2a. All authority stems from God and those who exercise it must do so as He does - with mercy. Mounce argues that "the verse can be read as a concession to culture without agreeing with it", although slavery, as a form of indentured labor, was probably viewed as the-way-things-are in the first century.

iJna mh + subj. "so that" - lest. Introducing a negated purpose (possibly result); the purpose being ultimately evangelistic - "that the gospel may not be ill spoken of by non-Christian masters", Knight. For Paul "the cause of Christ has priority", Mounce.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "God's [name]" - [the name] of god [and the teaching be blasphemed]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, although given that "the name" = the person = the reign of God, the genitive may be taken as verbal, subjective.


oiJ ... econteV (ecw) pres. part. "those who have [believing masters]" - the ones having [believing masters]. The participle serves as a substantive.

mh katafroneitwsan (katafronew) pres. imp. "should not show them disrespect" - do not look down on, despise, disrespect them. "Let not those who have believing masters treat them disrespectfully."

oJti "just because" - because [they are brothers]. More reason than cause; "on the ground that they are brothers", ESV. A believing master could be viewed as a soft touch and for this reason an employee may choose to be less than dutiful.

alla "instead" - but. Adversative.

mallon adv. "even better" - [let them serve them] more = all the more, all the better, even better. Comparative adverb; "On the contrary, they are to serve them the more readily", Cassirer.

oJti "because" - because [they are believers (faithful, trustworthy, reliable) and beloved]. Here introducing a causal clause explaining why a believer should serve a believing master the more readily, namely, "because those who are receiving their service are their brothers in faith and love", Barclay.

oiJ .... antilambanomenoi (antilambanw) pres. mid. part. "their masters" - the ones receiving help [of the = their service]. The participle serves as a substantive. The more active sense of the verb "to take hold of, aid" = "those who devote themselves to kindness", BAGD, is unlikely; better the more passive sense "to take part in, receive" = "those benefitting from", "those who take part in receiving", Lock. The NIV, as with NRSV, NEB, NJB, .. take the view that the participial construction "those benefitting from", refers to the master, not the slave. As Bernard argues, "pistoi kai agaphtoi, "believers and beloved", must be the predicate of the sentence, which determines that oiJ thV euergesiaV antilambanomenoi, "the ones receiving the service", the subject, must be a description of the masters who have already been called pistouV, "believers", at the beginning of the verse." See Marshall for other less likely constructions.

agaphtoi adj. "dear to them" - beloved. The adjective serves as a substantive. Presumably "beloved" of God, D/C, rather than loved by the slaves, or the church, or the wider community, although most commentators tend to understand the term as meaning "worthy of being loved by human beings", see Fee etc.

thV euergesiaV (a) gen. "devoted to the welfare of their slaves" - the = their service. Genitive of direct object after of the anti prefix verb "to take part in, receive = benefit from."


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