《Coffman Commentaries on the Bible – 1 Timothy》(James B. Coffman) Commentator

but refuse profane and old wives' fables. And exercise thyself unto godliness


Download 0.51 Mb.
Date conversion29.03.2017
Size0.51 Mb.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

but refuse profane and old wives' fables. And exercise thyself unto godliness:

"Invented stories and untrue fables have no place in Christian proclamation. The faith is rooted in history."[21]

How much of the lore regarding the so-called canonization of the "saints" of the church is pure fable? For example, take the tale regarding St. Patrick who was said to have died in Ireland; but he was so beloved that his friends would not bury him; and on the fourth day his body swelled up, burst, and emitted profusely the most marvelous perfume men had ever smelled! This yarn was told by a clergyman of the historical church in this writer's community, when he was a small boy.

Exercise thyself unto godliness ... A moment later Paul would cite the reason for this admonition. Exercise unto godliness leads to eternal rewards; the other type of exercise provides only temporal benefits.


[21] Ronald A. Ward, op. cit., p. 71.

Verse 8
for bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come.

This is denominated a "faithful saying" in the next verse. The contrast between the mere care of the body and the far more important care of the soul is the thing in view. It is incredible how much time, effort, expense and concern men lavish upon exercise and care of their bodies; and, while Paul allows this to be profitable "for a little," that is, "for a little time, only," the far more important requirements of the religious life of the soul should be stressed more than the other.

Verse 9

Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation.

Commentators are sharply divided on whether this applies to the preceding 1 Timothy 4:8, or to the following 1 Timothy 4:10. The view preferred here sees it as applicable to the preceding verse, above. As Lenski expressed it:

This saying is identical with the dictum in 1 Timothy 1:15, and does not seal what follows, but what precedes ... (It carries the idea) Trust it or not; it is and remains worthy of all acceptation.[22]SIZE>


[22] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 636.

Verse 10
For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe.

Of the living God ... The Christian hope contrasted starkly with the hope of the pagan world which was set upon dead idols.

Who is the Saviour of all men ... "This is not universalism. The key is in the words, `specially of them that believe.'"[23] It is a fact, of course, that God is able and willing to save all men, and that all who are ever saved will be saved by him; and it is in this sense that "he is the Saviour of all men." As Lenski said, "We know why so many are not saved (Matthew 23:37)."[24]

[23] Ronald A. Ward, op. cit., p. 73.

[24] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 639.

Verse 11
These things command and teach.

Every word Paul addressed to Timothy is Christian doctrine. The order to command and teach those things extends to all times and to all congregations seeking to do the will of the Lord. Paul's instructions in this letter were not merely personal advice to Timothy, but solid doctrinal guidelines for the church of all ages.

Verse 12

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity.

White's paraphrase of the meaning here is as follows:

Assert the dignity of your office even though men may think you young to hold it. Let no one push you aside as a boy.[25]SIZE>

It should not be inferred from this, however, that Timothy was young by present-day methods of reckoning youth. Youth is a relative term, as pointed out by White: "Forty is reckoned old for a captain in the army, young for a bishop, and very young for a prime minister."[26]

Gould pointed out that:

It is age, rather than youth, that is in danger of being despised today. When a church seeking a minister automatically disqualifies every man on its list who is fifty years old, or older, it has come dangerously near to despising maturity.[27]SIZE>

Despite the validity of what Gould says, there is also a widespread tendency to ignore and bypass men in their twenties when settled churches start looking for a minister. This also is extremely reprehensible.

In word ... life ... love ... The conduct of any minister is regulated by this. He must be one whose life measures up to the holy ideals which he preaches.

[25] Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 126.

[26] Ibid.

[27] J. Glenn Gould, op. cit., p. 598.

Verse 13
Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching.

Till I come ... As previously pointed out, we do not know if Paul ever was permitted to go to Ephesus again, as he planned here to do.

Give heed to reading ... Despite the obvious application of this admonition to the simple necessity of study on the part of every minister, Lenski was sure that something else was meant. He wrote:

Timothy is directed to pay close attention to the reading of the churches, that is, to WHAT is being read, not that SOMETHING should be read, still less that Timothy do the reading but to what is being read."[28]SIZE>

Full agreement is felt with this; and the point is one worthy of consideration by churches everywhere. Some of the "modern" translations being read publicly are near blasphemy in their contradiction of sacred truth; and one finds reason to rejoice that the Hillsboro church in Nashville, Tennessee, laid down the dictum that only certain versions of the Holy Bible were ever to be read publicly from their pulpit. It was a similar concern which Paul enjoined upon Timothy here.


[28] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 643.

Verse 14

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.

What was this gift, and where did Timothy get it? Lenski answers thus:

God gave (it) not by a miraculous gift from heaven, but "by means of prophecy," by a communication of the word to him, and did that under the tutelage of one of the most capable prophets this word ever had, namely, Paul himself.[29]SIZE>

The gift may also be identified with Timothy's ability, as Paul's assistant, to found and establish churches in the truth. From 2 Timothy 1:6, it is clear that Paul himself was present and participated in the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, the same being the occasion when Timothy was set aside unto the attainment of this gift, an attainment which was prophesied at the time. As to what prophet may have spoken it, Silas, who was also a prophet, was Paul's companion at the time; and either he or Paul could have made the prophecy which was so gloriously fulfilled in Timothy. If on the first tour, Barnabas could have uttered it.


[29] Ibid., p. 645.

Verse 15

Be diligent in these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy progress may be made manifest unto all.

The utmost diligence and application to the task in hand are indicated by this; and such diligence and perseverance will surely issue in favorable results. It is regrettable that some ministers seem to believe that they can benefit mankind more by who they are and what they imagine themselves to be, than by any diligent application to the work of saving souls. It was a task, arduous, demanding, and constant to which Paul here assigned Timothy.

Verse 16

Take heed to thyself, and to thy teaching. Continue in these things; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee.

Paul never thought of salvation as a "once procured, final feat, settled and done forever!" No, salvation was a matter of fidelity and perseverance to the end of life. From this, it is also clear that there is a sense in which men must save themselves, not in the sense of either meriting or earning salvation, but in the sense of diligent continuity in the Christian way. There is no occasion in the Christian life when the follower of the Lord may feel free to rest upon his laurels, assume that he "has it made," or cease the fidelity that should mark the entirety of his whole life. Wallis pointed out that "continuing" is one of the basic words "used to describe the steadfast walk of a Christian (Galatians 3:10; Hebrews 8:9; James 1:25; Acts 14:22 and Colossians 1:23). It is basically the same as ABIDE in John 15,1John."[30]


[30] Wilbur B. Wallis, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 856.
05 Chapter 5

Verse 1

Instructions in this chapter deal with respect for the aged, concern for sound budgeting practices in a congregation, and especially the problem of overloading the financial burden of the church by the inclusion of persons who should be supported by their own offspring. There is no apparent organization of the materials by Paul in this section; but, like any person writing a letter, he merely jotted down the thoughts as they came to him. Glimpses of concerns with the most far-reaching consequence are frequent in the interesting and helpful teachings of this chapter.

Rebuke not an elder, but exhort him as a father; the younger men as brethren: (1 Timothy 5:1)

Rebuke not an elder ... It is apparent that the church office of "elder" is not meant here, but merely older men, a fact apparent from the inclusion of "younger men" in the same verse. "The context shows that the meaning is not a presbyter, but an old man."[1] Honor and respect of the aged is a Christian principle; but the tragedy is that this ethic is more honored in the non-Christian nations of Asia than in the "Christianized" West. The meaning here is not that an elder must never be accused, because Paul, a little later, made provision for that. The proper sensitivity, respect and regard for the elderly are in view here.

The younger men as brethren ... A glimpse of the apostolic conception of the Christian community shines in these verses. Various Christians are as fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers, as determined by their age and sex. In fact the church itself has been described as a divine extension of the family, the family being, in every way, just as sacred and divine as the church. In fact, the family antedates either the church or any state; but in the prevalence of sin and corruption, it often happens that the church family preserves more of the genuine family love and mutual concern than may be found in some families. Although the fact does not seem to be in Paul's thought here, this correct evaluation of all church members as brothers, sisters, etc., is a great deterrent to immorality and other sinful practices.


[1] A. C. Hervey, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 21,1Timothy (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 59.

Verse 2

the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, in all purity.

In all purity Lenski observed that "in all purity" is commonly understood to mean that Timothy is to watch his sexual nature when he is admonishing younger women";[2] but despite the fact of his denying that this is the correct understanding of the place, the meaning should nevertheless be allowed. Hervey had this conclusion, "See how jealously the apostle guards against any possibility of abuse of the familiar intercourse of a clergyman with the women of his flock."[3]

[2] R. C. H. Lenski, St. Paul's Epistles ... 1Timothy (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1937), p. 654.

[3] A. C. Hervey, op. cit., p. 95.

Verse 3
Honor widows that are widows indeed.

Honor ... "That is, maintain out of the common stock."[4] Spence affirmed the same thing, "The widow is not merely to be honored, but she is also to be assisted out of the alms of the faithful."[5] This construction of the word "honor" goes back to our Lord's command that "honor thy father and mother" forbade use of the device of Corban to avoid their financial assistance" (Matthew 15:4-6). The same word occurs again in 1 Timothy 5:17, below, where likewise the meaning includes financial remuneration.

Despite the duty of helping needy widows, however, Paul moved quickly to countermand any intention of the church's assuming financial obligations that properly belonged to children or other next of kin to those in need. See next verse.

[4] John Wesley, One Volume New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1972), in loco.

[5] H. D. M. Spence, Ellicott's Bible Commentary, Vol. VIII (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 201.

Verse 4

But if any widow have children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to requite their parents: for this is acceptable in the sight of God.

Their own family ... This is not to be restricted to parents only, or even to grandparents. Lenski's comment on the Greek words so translated has the following, "They are used with reference to dutifulness toward God, and toward one's country, or one's family, including parents, grandparents, and other relatives."[6]

For this is acceptable in the sight of God ... Despite the fact of this being stated positively, as an example of what pleases God, the negative is also true, namely, that failure to heed this injunction is not acceptable in the sight of God.


[6] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 656.

Verse 5
Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, hath her hope set on God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that giveth herself to pleasure is dead while she liveth.

Two classes of widows are pointed out by this, only the first class being entitled to the support of the church. As a practical fact, there are widows indeed who have no relative who can support them; and in these verses Paul indeed allowed and commanded that the truly faithful and God-fearing should be maintained by the congregations.

Continueth in supplications and prayers night and day ... cannot mean continuous engagement in the actual offering of prayers, but it speaks of a rule of life and conduct. As Wallis put it, "The whole discussion should be considered in the light of Old Testament teaching where care for the widow is emphasized (see James 1:27)."[7] It is a high tribute which Paul here paid to the widows supported from the public purse. He does not command them to set their hope upon God, etc., but describes them as already doing so.

She that liveth in pleasure, describes the other type of widow. Although the words are not too specific, a profligate, unwholesome and unspiritual life are indicated.

Is dead while she liveth ... This is one of seven passages in the New Testament which speak of "an eternal sin," "the sin unto death," and that state of spiritual hardness which "it is impossible to renew." How sad is the thought that some are already spiritually dead. They may yet live many years before their funerals are held; but as regards the precious hope in Christ, they are dead already. For longer discussion of "An Eternal Sin," see in my Commentary on Hebrews, pp. 125-128.


[7] Wilbur B. Wallis, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 856.

Verse 7
These things also command, that they may be without reproach.

This verse has the effect of binding the laws enunciated in this chapter upon all generations of Christians; it is Paul's way of emphasizing that his words in this letter are not merely good advice for a young preacher, but they are the law of God for the church of all ages.

Verse 8

But if any man provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.

Spence has the following comment on this verse:

The circle of those whose support and sustenance were the responsibility of the Christian is here enlarged. Not merely parents and grandparents, but "he must assist those of his own house." Even dependents connected with the family who may have fallen into poverty and neglect are included.[8]SIZE>

Charity begins at home, and so do all other obligations of the Christian life. As White said:

One of the most subtle temptations of the devil is his suggestion that we can best comply with the demands of duty in some place far away from home. Jesus always said, "Do the next thing; begin at Jerusalem, etc." The path of duty begins from within our own house, and we must walk it on our own street.[9]SIZE>

[8] H. D. M. Spence, op. cit., p. 202.

[9] Newport J. D. White, Expositor's Greek Testament, Vol. IV (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 128.

Verse 9
Let none be enrolled as a widow under threescore years, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she hath brought up children, if she hath used hospitality to strangers, if she hath washed the saints' feet, if she hath relieved the afflicted, if she hath diligently followed every good work.

Let none be enrolled ... This means, let none be enrolled upon the list to receive church support except those with the qualifications outlined in these verses. As Lipscomb said:

This did not necessarily preclude aid to widows who were younger and in need; but these were the ones who were to be enrolled in the class whom the church maintained in comfort and in honor.[10]SIZE>

There are some who fancy that they find here the beginnings of monastic orders, but full agreement is felt with Wallis, who said:

Here are details about the qualifications of widows to be supported by the church. (1) It was proper that they should have already reached old age. (2) There was a mutual obligation between the church and those widows, who were to consecrate themselves to the service of the church, which would have been altogether intolerable, if there was still a likelihood of their being married.[11]SIZE>

There are many questions about this list of widows which we are not able to answer. As Lenski said, "Everybody would like to know more about this listing, but this one sentence is all we have."[12]

Certainly, the excuse for monastic orders of women, which is imputed to these lines, is totally wrong. The women in this list were mothers with children, past the age of sixty, already known and honored in the church for their good works. Whatever service they may have given to the church in such things as teaching, visitation of the sick, etc., was evidently undertaken by them upon a voluntary basis, which was quite natural in view of their being supported by the church. This was a far different thing from the exploitation of young women in monasticism.

Having been the wife of one man ... This is the same word used in 1 Timothy 3:2, that the husband of one wife could be an elder; and the meaning would appear to be the same. The past perfect is used here because the husband (by the definition of widow) would already have been dead. The similarity of the qualification, however has led some to assert that these were the "female presbyters"! But as Lenski said, "These women were not congregational officers, such as elders or deacons."[13]

1 Timothy 5:10 both begins and ends with "good works," which, like a pair of book ends, encloses the list of services mentioned; and this was very fortunate. Otherwise, it might have been alleged that "foot washing" was a church ordinance. White was impressed with the fact that:

It is characteristic of the sanity of Christianity that as typical examples of good works, St. Paul cites the discharge of commonplace duties, "the daily round, the common task."[14]SIZE>

[10] David Lipscomb, Commentary on 1Timothy (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1942), p. 166.

[11] Wilbur B. Wallis, op. cit., p. 857.

[12] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 665.

[13] Ibid., p. 666.

[14] Newport J. D. White, op. cit., p. 130.

Verse 11

But younger widows refuse: for when they have waxed wanton against Christ, they desire to marry;

Our interpretation of this is: Do not take any young widows into this list of those to be supported by the church; because, as time goes on, they will wish to marry; and, due to their youth and lack of experience, they will become idle, gad around from house to house, tattle and carry tales. This cannot mean that any young widows in need would be refused all assistance; because there is evidently a certain class of widows involved in these instructions.

Verse 12

having condemnation, because they have rejected their first pledge.

Some find a "vow of celibacy" in "pledge"; but nothing like that is in the word. It simply refers to their pledge of loyalty to Christ at the time of their conversion. In the pagan culture of that time, a Christian widow's marrying again was altogether likely to mean marrying a pagan, marrying out of the church, a thing Paul denounced in the Corinthian letter. These instructions were not merely theoretical postulates; they were grounded in the solid experience and inspiration of the holy apostle. To have had young widows or marriageable age on the list of those supported by the church would have led to all kinds of preposterous and ridiculous situations, all of which would be avoided by the proper respect for Paul's words here.

Verse 13
And withal they learn also to be idle going about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.

See under preceding verse for comment regarding this, also a paraphrase of what is thought to be the meaning of it.

Verse 14
I desire therefore that the younger widows marry, bear children, rule the household, give no occasion to the adversary for reviling:

The proper life-style for young widows is that of remarriage, to a Christian husband, of course, and the rearing of a family, not that of a paid retainer of the church.

The younger widows ... "We do not attribute to Paul the statement that all widows up to the age of sixty should marry. `Younger' here refers to the youthful widows."[15]

Rule the household ... "The Bible does not contradict itself; and it teaches that the husband is to have the rulership over his wife and household."[16] The meaning, therefore, is that she shall rule her household subject to the authority of her husband.

Give no occasion to the adversary for reviling ... Spence's comment on this is:

The adversary here is not the devil, but the sneering worldly man, jealous of a faith he will not receive, envious of a life he will not share, and always on the lookout for flaws of followers of a religion which he hates.[17]SIZE>

The particular slander Paul was guarding against was discerned by Lenski in this:

The charge, or danger, was not that those young widows would become strumpets. But many of them were ready to enter into a pagan marriage without Christ, without their first faith; they became pagans again in order to suit a pagan husband. Plenty of such cases occur to this day.[18]SIZE>

[15] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 672.

[16] E. M. Zerr, Bible Commentary, Vol. VI (Marion, Indiana: Cogdill Foundation, 1954), p. 181.

[17] H. D. M. Spence, op. cit., p. 205.

[18] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 674.

Verse 15

1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

The database is protected by copyright ©hestories.info 2017
send message

    Main page