Thursday, January 12, 2023

2023.01.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 5:1–2

Read 1 Timothy 5:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: What isn’t he to do to an older man (1 Timothy 5:1)? What is he to do instead? In what manner? Whom else is he to exhort? In what way? How is he to exhort older women (1 Timothy 5:2)? And how to exhort younger women? With what necessary emphasis?  

How is the minister to treat those whom he is teaching and showing the faith? 1 Timothy 5:1–2 looks forward to the second reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that as the minister maintains his authority, a great part of the example that the faith produces in him is to be found in how he treats every single person in the church.

As we come into chapter five, the apostle is still teaching his protégé how to maintain his authority. He is to command and teach exercise in godliness that comes from proper doctrine (1 Timothy 4:11), not allowing anyone to disregard him and his ministry (1 Timothy 4:12). The apostle gave the mechanism for doing this: making evident progress in the faith so as to be an example to all (1 Timothy 4:12–16). Now, we have a combination of those things: a big part of Timothy’s exemplary Christianity is the manner in which he commands and teaches others.

The particular word for the prohibited rebuke in 1 Timothy 5:1 means to rebuke someone by way of reproaching or even denouncing them. It is built from a verb root that had originally meant to stun with a blow, an obvious failure to apply Proverbs 12:18 to life, and not the way of talk of someone who is being an example in word (cf. 1 Timothy 4:12). 

Instead, Timothy is to exhort. It’s the same word as in 1 Timothy 4:13, the same as most famously used for the Holy Spirit being another “Helper” like the Lord Jesus: One called alongside, the implementation of the Word in whatever way is needed and helpful. The term itself implies the implementation of wisdom in what to say and when to say it.

As for making that decision—word choice and timing—the rest of our passage focuses upon how respectful relationships within a household (a godly one, obviously!) are a good guide for how to conduct oneself in the household of God. This hearkens us back to 1 Timothy 3:4–5, where the respectful manner in the household that he leads was to be an indicator of what kind of ministry and fruit he would have in God’s church (i.e., God’s household). 

Older men (1 Timothy 5:1a) and older women (1 Timothy 5:2a) are owed a great deal of respect indeed. It is difficult for readers in a culture where the fifth commandment is not well kept with father and mother to appreciate the honor and respect that is being commanded here. For us, it might better convey the sense if we use the word ‘reverence’. What a tone this should set where the elders of the church lead all in addressing older saints with reverence!

Similarly, younger men and younger women are not to be spoken down to. There is an imbalance in the phrasing, which might have had us expecting that they are to be exhorted as “children.” Here is an extra respect that those who are lesser by age and lesser by office are to be spoken to with the affection and deference that belongs instead to a brother or sister. A minister or elder in the church should be setting the example for others (and the tone for the whole) of not speaking down to anyone at all. Again—how excellent will be the spirit of a congregation in which this is the manner of the leadership!

Finally, a special consideration is to be made for younger women: purity. Note the word, ‘all’. They are to be treated as holy, specially sacred to God so that effort is made to protect them from any hint or possibility of impurity.

When ordinary interaction occurs with extraordinary respect, the Lord blesses it by making words of commandment, teaching, or application to be more weighty and effective.

With whom in your home could your manner of speech improve in giving reverence or deference? With whom in the church? Who is someone you know whose speech reflects the way yours should be?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for not having in us the mind that is in Christ Jesus. The way we speak often fails to treat others as better than ourselves. So, our speech is often contrary to the instruction that Paul gave Timothy. Even in our own households, we often use our tongues in ways that would be inappropriate in the household of God. Forgive us, and tame our tongues, we pray, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

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