1 Timothy 5:19 MEANING

1 Timothy 5:19
(19) Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.--By the "elder" here we must understand a presbyter--the ordained minister of the Church. St. Paul has been directing his son in the faith, and successor in the government of the chief Asian Church, carefully to watch for, and to reward by dignity and honour, the services of the more zealous and distinguished presbyters. He now tells him that the other matters, besides zeal and successful service among the Church's professed officers, will come before him when he stands at the helm of the Church. Charges--owing, possibly, to jealousy, party feeling, suspected doctrinal error--will not unfrequently be brought against a presbyter. Such an accusation is only to be received by Timothy when the evidence is perfectly clear. Every possible precaution against simply vexatious charges brought against one occupying the hard and difficult position of a presbyter, must be taken by the presiding minister. The reference is to Deuteronomy 17:6.

Verse 19. - Except at the mouth of for but before, A.V. An elder; here clearly a presbyter, as the context proves. Receive (παραδέχου); give ear to, entertain; as in Acts 22:18, "They will not receive thy testimony." At the mouth of, etc. There is a reference to the law in Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 19:15, and elsewhere (to which our Lord also refers, John 8:17), and St. Paul applies the principle of the law to Timothy's dealings with presbyters who might be accused of not "ruling well." He was not to encourage delatores, secret accusers and defamers, but if any one had a charge to make against a ruler, it was to be done in the presence of witnesses (ἐπί with a genitive). A doubt arises whether" the witnesses" here spoken of were to be witnesses able to support the accusation, or merely witnesses in whose presence the accusation must be made. The juxtaposition of the legal terms κατηγορία and ἐπὶ μαρτύρων favors the strict meaning of μαρτύρων, witnesses able to support the κατηγορία. And, therefore, the direction to Timothy is, "Suffer no man to accuse a presbyter unless he is accompanied by two or three witnesses who are ready to back up the accusation." The italic the mouth of, in the R.V., is not necessary or indeed justified. There is no ellipsis of στόματος. Ἐτὶ δύο ῃ} τριῶν῞ μαρτύρων, "before two or three witnesses," is good classical Greek.

5:17-25 Care must be taken that ministers are maintained. And those who are laborious in this work are worthy of double honour and esteem. It is their just due, as much as the reward of the labourer. The apostle charges Timothy solemnly to guard against partiality. We have great need to watch at all times, that we do not partake of other men's sins. Keep thyself pure, not only from doing the like thyself, but from countenancing it, or any way helping to it in others. The apostle also charges Timothy to take care of his health. As we are not to make our bodies masters, so neither slaves; but to use them so that they may be most helpful to us in the service of God. There are secret, and there are open sins: some men's sins are open before-hand, and going before unto judgment; some they follow after. God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make known the counsels of all hearts. Looking forward to the judgment-day, let us all attend to our proper offices, whether in higher or lower stations, studying that the name and doctrine of God may never be blasphemed on our account.Against an elder receive not an accusation,.... A charge of any crime:

but before two or three witnesses; good sufficient ones, who are capable of well attesting the fact: a charge against a pastor of a church is not to be easily received; it should not be listened to privately, unless it clearly appears by such a number of witnesses; nor should it be brought publicly before the church, until it is privately and previously proved, by a sufficient number of credible witnesses, that it is really fact. The sense is, not that judgment shall not pass against him but by such a number of witnesses, or that the evidence upon his trial shall consist of such a number; for this is no other than what ought to be in the case of a private member, and of every man, according to Deuteronomy 19:15. But the sense is, that the affair of an elder shall not be put upon a trial, much less sentence pass, until it has been privately proved against him, by proper testimonies, beyond all exception; only in such a case, should a church admit a charge against its elder. The reason of this rule is, because of his high office and the honour of the church, which is concerned in his, as well as of religion; for it carries in it some degree of scandal for such a person to be charged, even though he may be cleared; as also because of his many enemies, who through envy, malice, and the instigation of Satan, would be continually pestering the church with charges, could they be easily admitted.

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