(1) Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father.—Two-thirds of St. Paul’s first Letter to Timothy have been taken up with directions, warnings, and exhortations respecting the public duties connected with the office of superintending presbyter, or bishop, of a church like that of Ephesus; from these directions in connection with the public teaching and the official life in the church, the Apostle passes on to speak of the private relations which one in Timothy’s position ought to maintain with individual members of the congregation. And, first, he warns him against a misplaced zeal, which might urge him to unbefitting behaviour towards those older than himself. The enthusiastic and ardent young servant of Christ would see with sorrow and dismay the shortcomings of many an elder member of his flock, and, forgetting to make wise allowance for previous training, thought, and habits, would be likely, unwisely, and possibly unfairly, to find fault. Let him, in the cases of his elders—for the reference is rather to age than to office, as is clear from the reminder of 1 Timothy 5:2, addressed to the “elder women”—instead of open rebuke, use respectful and affectionate entreaties, after the manner of a son, not of an official.
The younger men as brethren.—And as regards the younger Christians of Ephesua, let them not be alienated by an assumption of dignity on the part of the chief presbyter of the Church. Let his relations with these younger members of the family of Christ be rather those of a brother and a friend than of a superior in rank and dignity.
The younger as sisters, with all purity.—In the case of the younger women, St. Paul adds to his directions respecting brotherly and sisterly regard a grave word, urging upon Timothy, and all official teachers like Timothy, to add to this self-denying, loving friendship a ceaseless watchfulness in all their conversation, so as not to afford any ground for suspicion; for, above all things, the recognised teacher of Christianity must be pure. No one can read and forget the quaint words of advice of St. Jerome: “Omnes puellas et virgines Christi, aut æqualiter ignora aut ægualiter dilige.”
The novel prominence, however, of females in such great centres as Ephesus not only necessitated some organisation which should administer the alms, and generally watch over and direct the self-sacrificing labours of the female portion of the community, but also required special vigilance, on the part of the chief pastor and his assistant presbyters and deacons, to prevent the charities of the Church being misused. The widow—the desolate and destitute, the mourning widow indeed, she who is in every sense a widow and has no one to whom to look for aid—she always has a claim on the Church. Not merely is she to be honoured by a simple exhibition of respect, but she is to be assisted and supported out of the alms of the faithful.
For that is good and acceptable before God.—An especial blessing is promised to those who really carry out this too often forgotten duty. (See Ephesians 6:2-3; and also comp. Mark 7:10-11.)
It has been asked why, in these official directions to Timothy, the question of relief of poor Christian widows comes so prominently forward. We find also that, in the first years which succeeded the Ascension, many widows in Jerusalem seemed to have been dependent on the Church for sustenance (Acts 6:1). Now we should expect to find in the Church of Christ the same loving care which was taken in the old days, when Israel was a great nation, of these solitary and unhappy women. (Comp. Deuteronomy 24:17, where we find special laws respecting the garments of widows never to be taken in pledge. See, too, such passages as Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 27:19; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 7:6; also Isaiah 10:2; Malachi 3:5.) Still, this hardly accounts for the statement of Acts 6:1 and these lengthened directions to Timothy. It is more than probable that there were, especially in these Eastern cities, a very large class of these desolate and unprotected women. The practice of polygamy is accountable for this, in the first instance; and the rigid morality of the Christian teaching would place a bar to the female convert from heathenism relapsing into a life where moral restraints were utterly disregarded. The charities of the early Church, especially in Oriental cities, were, without doubt, heavily burdened with this grave and increasing charge—provision for these poor desolate women; and it was to relieve the congregations in some degree that St. Paul wrote these elaborate instructions to Timothy, warning him, as the chief minister of the Ephesian Church, against an indiscriminate charity, and at the same time providing him with a system of severe restraints to be imposed upon the assisted women.
Still, the chief pastor in Ephesus must remember that among the women of his flock there were some widows indeed, with neither children nor grandchildren to assist them, without friends even to cheer their desolate, widowed life. To find out and to succour these poor, sad-hearted, friendless beings, St. Paul reminds Timothy, was one of the duties of a Christian minister.
Trusteth in God.—These, without love of child or friend, cast themselves on the support of the everlasting arms. The language here used by St. Paul pictures, evidently, some loving and trustful character then living, of whom he was thinking while writing the Letter to Timothy. “She hath trusted and still trusts in God; she continues in prayer night and day.”
And continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.—Like Anna, the daughter of Phanuel (Luke 2:36-37), whom some suppose St. Paul took as the model and example for these Christian widows. The meaning of these words, descriptive of a holy life, is not that the earnest and pious bereaved woman should pass her days and nights in the unrelieved monotony of constantly repeated prayers. Such a life, unpractical and useless, would never commend itself to one like St. Paul; the words simply describe the desolate one casting all her care on the Lord, and telling Him, as her only friend, of all her thoughts and actions, her words and her works.
That they may be blameless.—That, whether seeking support from the public alms of the Christian community or not, the widows of the congregation should struggle after an irreproachable self-denying life, and show before men publicly whose servants they indeed were. In these words there seems a hint that the former life of many of these women-converts to Christianity had been very different to the life loved of Christ, and that in their new profession as Christians there was urgent need of watchfulness on their part not to give any occasion to slanderous tongues.
And specially for those of his own house.—The circle of those for whose support and sustenance a Christian was responsible is here enlarged: not merely is the fairly prosperous man who professes to love Christ, bound to do his best for his nearest relations, such as his mother and grandmother, but St. Paul says “he must assist those of his own house,” in which term relatives who are much more distant are included, and even dependents connected with the family who had fallen into poverty and distress.
He hath denied the faith.—Faith, considered as a rule of life, is practically denied by one who neglects these kindly duties and responsibilities, for “faith worketh by love” (Galatians 5:6). Faith here is considered by St. Paul, not as mere belief in the doctrine, or even in a person, but as a rule of life.
And is worse than an infidel.—The rules even of the nobler Pagan moralists forbid such heartless selfishness. For a Christian, then, deliberately to neglect such plain duties would bring shame and disgrace on the religion of the loving Christ, and, notwithstanding the name he bore, and the company in which he was enrolled, such a denier of the faith would be really worse than a heathen.
Having been the wife of one man.—Of the conditions of enrolment in this “order,” the first—that of age—has been alluded to; the second—“having been the wife of one man”—must not be understood in the strictly literal sense of the words. It is inconceivable that the hope of forming one of the highly honoured band of presbyteral women depended on the chance of the husband living until the wife had reached the age of sixty years. Had he died in her youth, or comparative youth, the Apostle’s will was that the widow should marry again. (See 1 Timothy 5:14, where St. Paul writes, “I will that the younger women marry,” &c.)
The right interpretation of the words is found in some such paraphrase as, “If in her married life she had been found faithful and true.” The fatal facility of divorce and the lax state of morality in Pagan society, especially in the Greek and Asiac cities, must be taken into account when we seek to illustrate and explain these directions respecting early Christian foundations.
While unhesitatingly adopting the above interpretation of the words “wife of one man,” as faithfully representing the mind of St. Paul, who was legislating here, it must be remembered, for the masses of believers whose lot was cast in the busy world (see his direct command in 1 Timothy 5:14 of this chapter, where the family life is pressed on the younger widow, and not the higher life of solitude and self-denial), still those expositors who adopt the stricter and sterner interpretation of “wife of one man”—viz., “a woman that has had only one husband”—have, it must be granted, a strong argument in their favour from the known honour the univircæ obtained in the Roman world. So Dido, in Æn. iv. 28, says—
“Ille meos, primus qui me sibi junxit, amores
Abstulit, ille habeat secum, servetque sepulcher.”
Compare, too, the examples of the wives of Lucan, Drusus, and Pompey, who, on the death of their husbands, devoted the remainder of their lives to retirement and to the memory of the dead. The title univiræ graved on certain Roman tombs shows how this devotion was practised and esteemed. “To love a wife when living is a pleasure, to love her when dead is an act of religion,” wrote Statius—
“Uxorem vivam amare voluptas
—Statius, Sylv. v., in Proæmio.
And see, for other instances, Lecky, Hist. of European Morals, chap. 5.
But it seems highly improbable that the delicate and touching feeling, which had taken root certainly in some (alas! in only a small number) of the nobler Roman minds, influenced St. Paul, who, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, was laying down rules for a great and world-wide society, which was to include the many, not the few, chosen souls—was legislating for the masses, to whom such an expressed wish would indeed be “a counsel of perfection” rarely to be carried out; and so, without hesitation, we adopt the more practical interpretation given above.
If she have brought up children.—This title to honour must be understood quite in a general sense. It must not, of course, be supposed that St. Paul deemed it necessary to exclude from the order of presbyteral widows the childless mothers. Only the candidate for admission must be well known as one who loves children, and would be ready and willing gladly to discharge any public duties to the little orphan ones of the flock who might be intrusted to her care.
If she have lodged strangers.—If, even in a comparatively humble state, she have been always mindful of the sacred rites of hospitality, a virtue perhaps even more valued in the East than in the more reserved Western countries. In the early days of the new faith, the readiness to entertain and welcome Christian strangers seems to have been an especial characteristic of believers in Jesus of Nazareth.
If she have washed the saints’ feet.—Not perhaps to be understood literally, though the act of the Lord on the night before the Cross had invested this act of common hospitality with a peculiar halo of love and devotion. The woman who was to be admitted into the fellowship of this honoured order must be well known as one who had never shrunk from any act of devoted love, however painful or seemingly degrading.
If she have relieved the afflicted.—Not merely, or even chiefly, by alms, but by all kindly and sisterly encouragement: ever ready to mourn with those that mourn, deeming none too low or too degraded for her friendship, none out of the reach of her sisterly help and counsel.
If she have diligently followed every good work.—This sums up the beautiful character to be sought for in the candidates for membership in this chosen woman’s band. She must be known not merely as a mother and a wife, who had well and faithfully performed the womanly duties of her home life, but men must speak of her as one who had diligently and lovingly sought out the rough places of the world, and who, with a brave and patient self-denial, with a sweet and touching self-forgetfulness, had set herself to perform those kind, good actions the Master loves so well.
In the Shepherd of Hermas, written about A.D. 150, some eighty years after St. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, we have probably an example of one of these honoured widows in the person of Grapte, whose task it was to teach the widows and orphans of the Roman Church the meaning of certain prophecies. The authorship of the Shepherd has also been ascribed to the Hermas mentioned in Romans 16:14. It belongs, however, more probably to the middle of the second century, as stated above.
The criticism which dwells on this celebrated passage, containing St. Paul’s rules for admission into the order of presbyteral widows, and which finds in it subject matter belonging to a date later than the age of St. Paul and Timothy, forgets that, dating from the days when Jesus of Nazareth walked on earth, women had been enrolling themselves among His foremost followers, and had been sharing in the toils and enterprises of His most zealous disciples. We find the Marys and other holy women associated with “His own” in the days of the earthly ministry; they were foremost in the work done to the person of the sacred dead. We hear of them after the Resurrection repeatedly in the Jerusalem Church of the first days. It was the neglect of some of the Hebrew widows which led to the foundation of the deacon’s order. Dorcas, before ten years of the Church’s life had passed, appears to have presided over a charitable company of women at Lydda. Dorcas, no doubt, was but one out of many doing, in different centres, a similar work. Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, the wandering tent-maker of Pontus, early in St. Paul’s career evidently took a leading part in organising congregations of Christians. Lydia, the purple seller of Thyatira, was prominent in developing the Philippian Church. Phebe, under the title of the Deaconess of Cenchrea, was the official bearer of St. Paul’s famous letter to the Roman Church. This passage, dwelling on the growing organisation for women’s work at Ephesus, tells us more, certainly, than the scattered incidental allusions of the Acts and earlier Epistles. But the words of St. Paul speak only of the natural results and development of a great movement, which, dating from the earthly days of the ministry of Christ, was destined to give women a new position among the workers of the world.
The Ephesian organisation here regulated by the Apostle is nothing more than we should expect to find after thirty or thirty-two years of female effort in the Master’s cause.
This direction by no means shuts them out from participation in the alms of the Church, if they were in need and destitute; but it wisely excluded the younger women from a position and from duties which they might in their first days of grief and desolation covet, but of which, as time passed on—as experience had shown St. Paul—they not unfrequently wearied. Those who had put their hands to the plough and afterwards looked back, he proceeds to tell us, would be a hindrance to the Church’s work, and in some cases might prove a subject of scandal and reproach.
For when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ.—The Apostle was looking on to the time when, the first fervour excited by grief and sorrow being past, these younger sisters in many instances would begin again to long after their old pursuits and pleasures. The Greek word rendered “wax wanton” suggests especially the idea of restiveness. They will lose—to use Jerome’s well-known expression—their love for their own proper Bridegroom—Christ.
They will marry.—The sight of domestic happiness enjoyed by other women will affect them. They, too, will long in their poor hearts for home joys; they will weary for the prattle of their own little children.
How much untold misery would have been avoided—how many wasted lives would have been saved for good and useful service, had Churchmen in later times only obeyed the words and carried out the thoughts of Paul, and persistently refused, as did St. Paul and Timothy, to receive the proffered services of women still too young in years for such devoted work, but who, through a temporary pressure of sorrow, dreamed for a moment they would be able to carry out their purpose of a life-long renunciation of the world, its excitement and its joys.
St. Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw how too often such renunciation, made under peculiar pressure of circumstances, undertaken with the hot fervour of youth, in later days would become weary and distasteful.
Because they have cast off their first faith.—Though, probably, no vows respecting marriage were required from those widows who devoted themselves to the Lord’s service, yet virtually such a solemn enrolment partook of the nature of a life-long engagement—an engagement which, if they married again, must necessarily be given up.
Such a going back, such a giving up the higher and the more devoted life—the life of self-sacrifice, of self-abnegation—for the ordinary joys and cares of domestic life, for the useful but still every-day pursuits of ordinary men and women—such a going back, would be indeed a casting off their first faith, and such an example of backsliding could not fail to harm the cause of Christ.
He knew the ordinary man or woman was incapable of such exalted heroism, and therefore was too wise, too loving, even to recommend a life which few could live. It was not that the Master, Christ, and the greatest of his servants, St. Paul, did not themselves prize and admire the higher ideal and the nobler life—for was it not their own? Did not one attain to it, and the other die in his hero-efforts to reach it? But Master and scholar in their gospel of the world have left commands that all, not the few, can obey—have enjoined a life which all, not the few, may live.
Give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.—The reference here is not to the devil—as would at first appear probable from the direct reference in the next verse—but to the enemy of Christ—the sneering worldly man, who, jealous of a faith which he declines to receive, and envious of a life in which he will not share, is always on the look-out to discover flaws and failings in the avowed professors of a religion which he hates. (Comp. Titus 2:8.)
After Satan.—They had swerved from the narrow, thorny road of self-denial which they had chosen for themselves, and perhaps dreading, after their public profession, to form afresh any legal marriage ties, had followed that downward path of sensuality which surely leads to Satan.
It has been asked: How is it that, considering the prominence here given to the questions (a) of the support of Christian widows, (b) of the rules respecting presbyteral widows, who evidently occupied a position of dignity and importance in the Church of the first days, no other mention of this class in the community (with the exception of Acts 6:1; Acts 9:39) appears in the whole New Testament.
This has been pressed as one of the arguments pointing to a much later date for the writing of the Epistle; but the question is, after all, readily and conclusively answered. With the exception of the short Epistle to Titus, the subject of the internal organisation of a church is nowhere handled. There is no room or place for such a mention in any of the more exclusively doctrinal or apologetic Epistles. In the broad field of ecclesiastical history occupied by the Acts, the two casual allusions above referred to, in the Churches of Jerusalem and Lydda, tell us of the existence of and the care for these widows in the communities of Christians, even in the earliest years of the Church’s existence.
Attention should be directed here to the vast powers intrusted to the “presiding presbyter” of such a Church as Ephesus (to use the title of Bishop in the ecclesiastical sense would be as yet an anachronism. It probably was, however, of general use within thirty years from the date of the Epistle, certainly before the close of the century). In addition to the general office of supervisor, one in the position of Timothy evidently had the distribution of the several grades of honours and remuneration among the presbyteral order (1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Timothy 5:21). To him, as presiding elder, belonged the functions of supreme judge in all matters ecclesiastical and moral, relating to the varied officials of both sexes connected with the Church. The right of ordination which, when the Apostles and the first generation of believers had passed away, became the exclusive work of the bishop, is here (see 1 Timothy 5:22) specially intrusted by an Apostle to Timothy, the chief presbyter and apostolic representative in the Church of Ephesus, in the words: “Lay hands suddenly on no man.”
The elders (presbyters) to whom Timothy was to accord some special honour, were those who, in the congregations and Christian schools of so great a city as Ephesus, in addition to their many duties connected with organisation and administration, were distinguishing themselves in a marked manner by their preaching and teaching.
Among the devoted and earnest presbyters in these Asian churches, some there were, doubtless, who possessed the special gift of teaching, either in the class-room or the preacher’s chair. Those who, possessing, well and faithfully exercised these invaluable gifts were to be in some way preferred by the chief minister. The “double honour” (timè) is a broad inclusive term, and seems to comprehend rank and position as well as remuneration—victu et reverentiâ, as Melancthon paraphrases the words “double honour.” Timothy is here directed to confer on the more distinguished of the order of presbyters, official rank and precedence, as the reward of faithful and successful work.
The idea in the Apostle’s mind, when he quoted the words of Moses, was: If, in the well-known and loved law of Israel, there was a special reminder to God’s people that the very animals that laboured for them were not to be prevented from enjoying the fruits of their labours, surely men who with zeal and earnestness devoted themselves as God’s servants to their fellows, should be treated with all liberality, and even dignified with especial respect and honour.
And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.—It is possible, though hardly likely, that St. Paul, quoting here a well-known saying of the Lord (see St. Luke 10:7), combines a quotation from a Gospel with a quotation from the Book of Deuteronomy, introducing both with the words “For the Scripture saith”—Scripture (graphè) being always applied by St. Paul to the writings of the Old Testament. It is best and safest to understand these words as simply quoted by St. Paul, as one of the well-remembered precious declarations of the Lord Jesus.
It is not improbable that St. Paul was especially alluding here to false teaching—to errors of doctrine on the part of some of the Ephesian presbyters. He seems, in his parting address at Miletus to the elders (presbyters) of this very Ephesian Church, to have foreseen such a grievous falling away in the future among their company—“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Compare also the Epistle to this same Church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:4-5). As the sin, whatever has been its nature, has been committed by men intrusted with a responsible and public charge, so the rebuke and punishment must also be in public, that the warning may then spread over the whole of the various congregations composing the Church, and thus “others also may fear.”
The Church of Ephesus had been built up and consolidated by the personal presence and influence of St. Paul, resident there some three years; and at the time when St. Paul wrote to Timothy it was second in numbers and in influence to none of the early groups of congregations (except, perhaps, to the Christian communities of Syrian Antioch). Placed by an Apostle as the first head of such a community, intrusted with one of the greatest and most important charges in Christendom, Timothy indeed needed to be watchful. Well might St. Paul remind him of the tremendous witnesses who would be present in his hour of trial.
And the elect angels.—St. Paul had been speaking of the internal organisation of the church on earth, and had been dwelling, first, on rank and order among women, and secondly, among men, especially directing that a special position of honour should be given to the more distinguished and zealous of the presbyteral order. The term “elect” here given to certain of those blessed spirits—in whose sight, as they stood and ministered before the throne of God, Timothy would rule over the charge committed to him—would seem to imply that, as on earth, so in heaven are there degrees in rank and variety in occupation. These holy ones are probably termed “elect” as especially selected by the Eternal as His messengers to the human race, as was Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God. (See Luke 1:19.) St. Paul loves to refer to the ranks and degrees of the host of heaven. (See Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16.) But it is possible that these “elect angels” were those blessed spirits who “kept their first estate,” and had not fallen. (See 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 1:6.)
That thou observe these things.—The “things” Timothy was to observe, as ever in the presence of so august a company of witnesses, were the varied points touched upon in the preceding verses, relating to the internal organisation of the church over which he was presiding, especially bearing in mind (for St. Paul again refers to this point) his words which bore upon judgment of presbyters—the men whose lives and conversation were to be an example to the flock.
Without preferring one before another.—More literally, without prejudice. He who presides over a great Christian community must be above all party feeling. That unhappy divisions existed in the churches, even in the lifetime of the Apostles, we have ample evidence, not only in the inspired writings, but also in the fragments we possess of the earliest Christian literature.
Doing nothing by partiality.-Although these reminding words, and those immediately preceding, were written with especial reference to the judicial inquiry Timothy would be constrained to hold in the event of any presbyter being formally accused either of a moral offence or of grave doctrinal error in his teaching, yet they must be understood in a far broader sense. The presiding elder in Ephesus must never forget that he bears rule, not only over one school of Christian thought, but over all men who acknowledged Jesus as Messiah and Redeemer.
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.
The reminder was, no doubt, suggested by St. Paul’s own words, with which he closed his solemn direction respecting Timothy’s dealings with the accused presbyters, and the care to be used in the laying on of hands: “Keep thyself pure.” That Timothy possessed—as did his master Paul—a feeble body, is clear from the words “thine often infirmities.” He was, above all things, considering his great position in that growing church, to remember “to keep himself pure,” but not on that account to observe ascetical abstinence, and so to weaken uselessly the frail, perishable, perhaps ever dying body, in which he must work that great work committed to him in the master’s church. Abstinence from wine was a well-known characteristic feature of the Essene and other Jewish ascetic sects. We know there was frequent intercommunion between Alexandria and Ephesus (see Acts 18:24); and it has even been conjectured that Apollos, who taught publicly at Ephesus, was himself a famous Essene teacher. The practice of these grave and ascetic Jews, many of whom became Christians, no doubt affected not a little the habits and tone of thought of the Ephesian congregations. Hence the necessity of St. Paul’s warning against allowing the bodily power to be weakened through abstinence and extreme asceticism.
EXCURSUS ON NOTES TO I. TIMOTHY.ON A SUGGESTED INTERPRETATION OF CHAPTER 5:25.
ON A SUGGESTED INTERPRETATION OF CHAPTER 5:25.
IT has been suggested, with considerable ingenuity, that 1 Timothy 5:25 belongs to, and is an introduction of, a new division of the Epistle, where the Apostle gives Timothy instructions respecting certain teachings to be addressed to different ranks in the Christian society of Ephesus. The connection with 1 Timothy 5:24 then would be—as it is in the case of sins, so, too, it is in the case of good works. These latter are not always on the surface distinguishable. Some, of course, are manifest, but there is many a noble life the secrets of which will only come to light at the last day—“they cannot be hid” THEN. And this is too often the case with that unhappy class (the slaves), “those under the yoke,” of whom the Apostle was about to speak (1 Timothy 6:1-2). It is possible that St. Paul meant here to turn Timothy’s attention especially to those in slavery, that he might diligently search out the noblest and most devoted, and ordain (see 1 Timothy 5:22) them to perform sacred duties, so that each class—the slaves as well as the rich and well-born—should possess representatives among the ordained ministers. This is at least possible when we consider the vast number of slaves—not a few of them, too, possessing high culture—in the world known by St. Paul and Timothy.
In connection with, but not necessarily linked with, this thought is an interpretation of the general subject matter of the sixth chapter, which views the whole as instructions to the three broad divisions into which Christian society of the first century may be said to have been roughly divided:—
(1) SLAVES . . .
1 Timothy 5:25 to 1 Timothy 6:3. Instructions respecting slaves, who possessed nothing of their own.
1 Timothy 6:4-5. The allusion to the false teachers, whose teaching respecting slavery was very different from his.
(2) MIDDLE CLASS.
1 Timothy 6:6-16. St. Paul introduces the warning against covetousness and the wish to be rich, the special danger of the middle class—the free, but who were the reverse of wealthy—to which order Timothy belonged. Then followed
(3) THE RICH
1 Timothy 6:17-19. Special instructions to the rich and the highly horn.