More helps for young Timothy
I. How to deal with the age-groups? (verses 1, 2)
1. The older – due respect and humble entreaty.
2. The younger – pure love, be they brothers or sisters.
II. How to deal with widows, i.e. the church’s role in this; 3 suggestions: (verses 3-16)
1. Where possible, let close relatives take the responsibility (v. 4, 8, 16). It will be good for them, too.
2. Certain ones, who have proved themselves spiritually, to be cared for by the church (v. 9, 10).
3. Younger widows should make their own way with the Lord (v. 11-15). Use watchful discrimination.
III. Attitudes to functioning elders (verses 17-22)
1. If serving well, accord special honours and considerations (v. 17, 18).
2. Reject unproved criticism of them (v. 19).
3. Act sternly when criticism is valid (v. 20).
4. Let there be no partiality (v. 21).
5. Don’t appoint elders too quickly (v. 22) (When we lay hands on them we identify ourselves, as partakers, so be careful).
IV. A final summary (verses 23-25)
1. Paul’s concern for Timothy’s poor health (v. 23).
2. Paul’s advocacy of patience in reaching conclusions about people (v. 24, 25) (comp. Math. 7:20; 1 Cor. 4:5).
A strong impression that reaches us from this chapter isthat the Christian life is intensely practical, not least our church-life together. Various situations are touched upon, situations that are likely to arise in any normal fellowship and wise counsels are given in each case. The apostle mentions for instance, variations of age and sex (vs. 1, 2), and the
matter of widows (vs. 3-16). He refers to our responsibilities to needy relatives, etc. And while local conditions at the time could easily colour some of the advice, valuable principles are suggested which could be helpful to us all. Our point, however, is that everything is very practical, and could also involve considerable sacrifices of many kinds. But this is all part of expressing Christ, and that, of course, is our basic and all-pervading calling (Rev. 12:17; 19:10).
In this connection, we could perhaps ask what, for example is the church’s long-term responsibility when, together, we dedicate to the Lord the children of our Christian brothers and sisters. Does it perhaps imply an undertaking by the body of Christ to stand by that child, if, for any reason, the parents themselves become unable to do for the child what, normally, they would do? Food for thought, perhaps, but, be the answer what it may, individual Christians and local churches do have very practical responsibilities in all their relationships with each other. Perhaps it needs to be said that ‘church truth’ is just a subject for enterprising Bible students, but something with very practical and perhaps costly, implications and outworkings.
It also comes to us strongly that in our particular times we should pay special attention to the sound advice of verse two regarding the Christian worker’s attitude to sisters in the church, specially the younger ones. We hesitate to enlarge upon, or even to refer to, the abundant evidence in recent time that this is an area of tremendous danger to the Christian worker. We note that Paul had earlier mentioned purity (Chapter 3:9; 4:12), and now he comes back to it in chapter 5:2 and 5:22. The apostle knew that Timothy’s whole future usefulness would require close watchfulness and fullest integrity in those areas, so, as a father, he helps him. How we, too, need the blessed Holy Spirit to fill and govern us in our Christian work, and to know a continual baptism of God’s cleansing fire! Those who have ears to hear, will hear.