Sunday, June 9, 2013


For the week beginning Sunday June 9, 2013

(Respect and care for those in your church family)
1 Timothy 5

In 1 Timothy 5:1, in his original Greek writings, the word the apostle Paul uses for “rebuke” is “epiplesso” (ep-ee-place-so), and it means “to speak harshly to”, or “to strike at”. This is not however, the usual word, that New Testament writers use for “rebuke”. In fact, here in verse 1, of First Timothy 5, is the only time in Scripture, that this particular word is used for rebuke. The most common word used for rebuke, in the New Testament is “epitimao” (ep-ee-tee-mah-o), and it means “to censure”, or “admonish respectfully”.
Paul uses the term, “epiplesso”, to explain to Timothy how “not to” rebuke an older person. In fact, rebuke should never be such, that it drives any person to despair, or takes the heart and hope out of them, by showing harsh disrespect. While certainly we all must be rebuked, from time to time, more importantly, we must also be encouraged.
Here Paul is saying to Timothy that, on occasion when he has to correct an older person, he must do so with an attitude of love, because no person, who is hurt by our rebuke, is going to respond positively to our instruction, or guidance from that point on.  Only that rebuke which comes from love will be effective, and it should always be followed closely by some form of encouragement.
In 1 Timothy 5, verses 3-10, Paul advises Timothy on the responsibilities of the church, and the family, towards caring for the elderly widows within the church body. Here, Paul makes a distinct difference between;

·         Those widows who are “widows indeed”: which means those widows who are truly alone in the world, and have absolutely no other family members to take care of them. Those widows’ care becomes the responsibility of the church body (v.3).  Women who have been left totally alone in the world have placed their hope in GOD, and through much prayer, day and night, have asked GOD for HIS help (v.5).
·         Those widows who have surviving family members: For those widows who have living family members, such as children, or grand children, it becomes the duty of those surviving family members to show godliness at home, and repay their parents, by taking care of them. This kind of act is something that is very pleasing to GOD, because it shows our desire to be respectful and caring toward one another, both, as a biological family, and also, as a member in the family of CHRIST’s Church (v.4) . If a Christian woman has relatives who are widows, she must take care of them and not put the responsibility on the church. That way the church will be more able to take care of those widows who are truly alone (v.16). Those families who fail to do this, especially those who share the same home with these widows, are considered to be worst than unbelievers (infidels) (v.8).

In verse 6 Paul says that women who live for worldly pleasure (seeking pleasure that is outside of the will of GOD) should not be financially taken care of by the church, at any age. In fact, those widows are deemed to be spiritually dead” says Paul, and their lifestyles not only requires “no financial help from the church”, but they are also not qualified to contribute to others in the church body.
A responsible church body cannot allow itself to support people who choose to continue to live in sin. Such foolishness would leave the church vulnerable to criticism by the opponents of Christianity. But more importantly, GOD would not be pleased.
In 1 Timothy 5, verses 9-16, Paul shares with Timothy, some of the criteria, by which a widow is put on the “financial support list” at the church;

·         First of all, Paul tells us that the widow must be at least sixty years old, and was faithful to her husband.
·         She must be respected for the good she herself has done in her household, and in the church.
·         She has brought up her children well.
·         She is kind to strangers.
·         She has served other Christians humbly.
·         She has helped those who are in trouble.
·         She is always prepared to do what is good and right.

Paul, however, tells us in verses 11-15 that younger widows should not be put on this list, but rather should remarry, mostly because their physical desires are not yet extinguished enough, and that could affect their devotion to CHRIST in their work in the church.  They can also become overpowered by their own idleness, become lazy, and began to spend their time gossiping from house to house, getting into other people’s business, and saying things that they shouldn’t. Then satan will be able to point these widows out to the public, as an example of the kind of women who represent the Christian Church. We must live a life that exhibits respect for our family and church, at all times.
In 1 Timothy 5, verses 17-22, Paul turns his attentions to the subject of being respectful, to the elders in the church. Here he gives young Timothy a few sound rules for practical administration. In his original Greek writing, the word Paul uses for “rule”, in verse 17, is “proistemi” (pro-is-tay-mee), and it means, “to stand before in rank”, or “to preside over”.  It is a word that describes one who supervises over the life flow of the congregation. In other words, elders are responsible for directing the affairs of the church. In fact, they have a dual responsibility, of both, administration and instruction, and they should be paid well for their services, IF, they are doing a good job. Paul also says that we should not entertain complaints against an elder, unless, there are two or more witnesses who accuse them. However everyone who sins, including elders, must be rebuked and held accountable before the church, so that they, and others, will have a proper respect, or reverence for GOD (Vs. 19-20).
And remember, also, out of respect for the church, we must not be hasty in choosing our leaders. Whereas some people are so flawed, that there is no way we would ever consider them for leadership in the church, there are those others whose flaws will only be revealed with time (Vs. 22 & 24). However, for those whom we do install into leadership positions, their reputation must not suffer the damage of “false accusations”. Such things can hinder the effectiveness of leadership in the church, even if they prove “not” to be true. For, we can no more undo the damage done to the respect and reputation of the church and to others lives, because of false witness, than we can “un-ring a bell” once it has tolled.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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