The Book of 1 Timothy Bible Study Chapter 5 Part 3

Next up is 1 Timothy 5:20-25

v20: Those who are sinning: Those who are displaying sinful behaviour. 

  • Rebuke: Speak against. Set in order. 
  • In the presence of all: There is a debate as to whether this means that the person is sinning and everyone sees it (in which case it would need to be dealt with in a more public manner), or if this means that the sinner needs to be rebuked publicly. Scripture tells us that if someone does something wrong one person, the one who sees him sin, should go to him and confront him privately. If he refuses to listen, then one or two other people need to go, with the original person, to confront the sinner (Matt 18:15-16). If he still refuses to listen, then the sinner needs to be called into account in front of the entire congregation (Matt 18:17). This congregation will have a public reputation of dealing with sins, and taking a stand against sin through discipline. 
  • The rest also may fear: When people see that sin is dealt with in this way, they are not going to scoff at their sin or ignore it. They are going to be people who realise that if they continue in their sin, and do not change and do the right things, it may lead to their sins being exposed in a public manner. 

v21: I charge you: The word used here is a word for testifying or bearing witness, but it is a word in Greek that is also related to the word ‘diameter’. The diameter of a circle is the straight line that passes through the centre of a circle, from one side to the other. The diameter of a circle speaks of a thoroughness. We need to give, or be, a thorough testimony before G-d. 

  • Elect angels: At creation, G-d did not create some angels (heavenly host) to follow Him and others to follow satan. ALL the angels were created to follow G-d (just like all men are created to follow Him). However, through their own free will and choice, some angels chose to rebel against G-d when satan rebelled against Him (Rev 12:9). The angels that were (and are) faithful to G-d are the ones being referred to here as the ‘elect angels’ (just as those people who are IN Messiah are called ‘elect’). Election is not a choosing that some angels/humans will go to heaven and others will go to hell. Instead, election is an acknowledgment by G-d of a decision made by the angels or made by man. G-d elects or chooses those who have chosen Him. 
  • Observe these things (literally: Separate/Isolate): In Judaism, one of the first courses that a rabbi takes is regarding those things which are permitted and those things which are forbidden. Throughout the Scripture we see a separation between things – light and dark, good and evil, clean and unclean. Paul is telling Timothy that, in this same way, he needs to have a thorough testimony, before G-d the Father, Yeshua and the angels, that a separation unto G-d has happened in his life (2 Cor 6:17). 
  • Doing nothing with partiality (favouritism): We need to do things (or not do things) based on right or wrong. What is permitted we should do. What is forbidden we should not do. We should not categorise things into that which we like doing or that which we don’t like doing but should be aware to wholeheartedly embrace the full counsel of G-d (Acts 20:27). 

v22: Do not lay hands on anyone hastily: Don’t rush to give people a position of authority or leadership. Do not be hasty to commission them. People need to be proved and tested, and this takes time. 

  • Nor share in other people’s sins: Don’t participate in the sins of others. We need to live lives that are distinct, separated from sin. 
  • (Yourselves pure keep): This is how these words are ordered in the Greek. The emphasis is on us – we need to take responsibility for keeping ourselves pure. 

v23: Note: Timothy was mature in the faith, he was useful to Paul and to others, but he was not the healthiest individual. He had stomach problems and was often sick. 

  • Use a little wine: In those days the water was not purified like it is today. Oftentimes wine was used to dilute water and to be a purifying element within it. Paul was instructing Timothy to exercise some discernment. Timothy had physical problems and Paul was instructing him to care for himself physically – to take the necessary actions so that his problems would be lessened. 

v24: Some men’s sins are clearly evident: Their sins (and this is referring to males and females – people, human beings) can be visibly seen and are easily discernible.

  • Preceding them to judgment: They are going to be judged for those sins (unless they repent of them). 
  • Those of some men follow later: Some people are very good at covering up or camouflaging their sins. Their sins are not publicly known, talked about or dealt with. Their judgment doesn’t come immediately, but will eventually catch up with them. 

v25: The good works of some are clearly evident: Just like there are sins that stand out immediately and are evident to all, so too are there good works that are immediately evident to all. 

  • Those that are otherwise: Those who are on the outside (i.e. unbelievers) of these goods works.
  • Cannot be hidden: Sins can be hidden for a period of time, but no one is able to hide good works. Even good works done by unbelievers are powerful and cannot be hidden. Good works are more powerful than sinful works. 

Note: Paul wanted the very best for Timothy and for Timothy’s ministry and call. This is a characteristic of someone who is walking with G-d – they want to see other people thrive in G-dliness, good works, ministry etc. Paul was not jealous or envious of Timothy. He did not want Timothy to fail so that Paul could appear to be the greater of the two. Paul wanted Timothy to be built up, to be encouraged, to be all that G-d had purposed him to be. We need to be people who rejoice in the good things that G-d is doing in the lives of other people. When people are doing well it doesn’t reflect poorly upon us, but it reflects gloriously upon G-d. This should be a source of great joy to us. 

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