1 Timothy 5:22 MEANING

1 Timothy 5:22
(22) Lay hands suddenly on no man.--This command refers primarily to the solemn laying on of hands at the ordination of presbyters and deacons. It no doubt also includes the "laying on of hands" customary, apparently, even in the Apostolic age, on the absolution of penitents and their re-admission to church fellowship.

Neither be partaker of other men's sins.--By thus negligently admitting into the ministry unfit persons--by carelessly and without due caution readmitting persons to a church fellowship, which by their evil life they had forfeited--Timothy would incur a grave responsibility, would in fact "be a partaker" in the sins and errors committed by those men, some of whom he had carelessly placed in important positions in the church, others of whom he had restored to communion before they had given sufficient evidence of their repentance. To limit, however, the reference of the command of St. Paul here to the laying on of hands in the ordination of presbyters and deacons, would imply a greater corruption in the church at that early date than is credible. Surely the number of "unfit" persons seeking the high and holy, but difficult and dangerous, posts of officers in a proscribed and hated community, would hardly by themselves have warranted such grave warning words as "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins."

Keep thyself pure.--The word "pure" here has a broad and inclusive signification. It, of course, denotes the urgent necessity of one holding Timothy's high and responsible office being pure and chaste in word and deed and thought; but here it also presses on the chief presbyter of Ephesus the imperative necessity of keeping himself, by ceaseless watchfulness, pure from all reproach in the matter of selecting candidates for the ministry, or in the restoring of the lapsed sinners to church fellowship.

Verse 22. - Hastily for suddenly, A.V. Lay hands, etc. Surely if we are guided by St. Paul's own use of the phrase, ἐπίθεσις χειρῶν, in the only two places in his writings where it occurs (1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6), we must abide by the ancient interpretation of these words, that they mean the laying on of hands in ordination. So also in Acts 6:6 and Acts 13:3, ἐπιτίθεναι χεῖρας is "to ordain." And the context here requires the same sense. The solemn injunction in the preceding verse, to deal impartially in judging even the most influential eider, naturally suggests the caution not to be hasty in ordaining any one to be an elder. Great care and previous inquiry were necessary before admitting any man, whatever might be his pretensions or position, to a holy office. A bishop who, on the spur of the moment, with improper haste, should ordain cue who afterwards required reproof as ἁμαρτάνων, sinning (ver. 20), would have a partnership in the man's sin, and in the evil consequences that flowed from it. And then it follows, Keep thyself pure; i.e. clear and guiltless (2 Corinthians 7:11), which he would not be if he was involved in the sin of the guilty elder. Observe that the stress is upon "thyself."

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.Lay hands suddenly on no man,.... Which is not to be understood of removing censures from off offenders, upon their repentance, which should not be suddenly and hastily done; and which it seems in later times has been done by imposition of hands; but since no such custom obtained in the apostle's time, and a taking off of censures is never in Scripture signified by this phrase, it cannot be intended here; but rather the admission of persons into the work of the ministry, and the installing of them into the office of an or pastor; upon whom, in these early times, hands were laid by the apostles, whereby gifts were conveyed, as on Timothy; See Gill on 1 Timothy 4:14.

And from this rite this act was so called, as it might be when it was laid aside; just as, with the Jews, an ordination of one of their doctors is called "imposition of hands", though they performed it by words, and not by laying on of hands; which now by them is not judged necessary (l): and then the sense is, do not hastily and at once admit any person into the sacred work of the ministry, or constitute him an elder, or pastor, over a church of Christ; but let him be first proved, and let it plainly appear, that he has the grace of God in him, and has gifts for public service bestowed on him; that he is sound in faith, and of a good life and conversation; and a man of uprightness and fidelity;

neither be partaker of other men's sins; of any of the members of the church; by doing the same, joining with them therein, or by consenting to them and taking pleasure in them, as done by others; by conniving at them, and not restraining them, nor reproving for them: or rather this refers to rash and hasty ordinations of ministers; and either regards the sins of those who lay hands suddenly on men, and with whom the apostle would not have Timothy join, that he might not be a partner in their sins; or else the sins of those that are ordained, and these, whether before or after their ordination; which such involve themselves in, who either rashly and ignorantly ordain such persons; and much more if they do it, knowing them to be such: and these sins may include both immorality and error; see . Keep thyself pure; not from his own sins, the sin of nature, indwelling sin, and actual transgressions; no man is, or can be pure, from either of these; nor can any man keep himself; Christ only is able to keep them from falling. But the apostle's meaning is, that he should keep himself pure from the sins of others, by not rashly and suddenly admitting any into the ministry; just as the apostle was pure from the blood of all men, by faithfully preaching the Gospel; so he suggests that Timothy would be pure from partaking of other men's sins, by observing a strict discipline in the house of God. Some refer this to chastity of body, in opposition to the sin of uncleanness, which his youthful age and the temptations about him might expose him to the danger of; and which is scandalous and infamous in a minister of the word. Which sense serves to show the connection of the following words, which otherwise seem to stand unconnected.

(l) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 3. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. Juthasin, fol. 60. 1. & Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect. 1, 2.

Courtesy of Open Bible