Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. — 1 Timothy 5:17
It has been a number of decades since the Sunday morning that I learned the principle of respecting and honoring the ministry. I was seven years old at the time, and had invited a school friend to attend church with me. When it was time for the service to begin, my mother, a member of the church orchestra, positioned my friend and me in the front of the center section of the congregation, where she could keep an eye on us from the platform. Things went fine through the song service, but as the meeting progressed, my friend and I got squirmy. It was a downhill slide from there!
When the minister stood up to speak, we poked each other and giggled at his comments. He was preaching on the topic of Hell, and we would shiver dramatically at each of his emphatic statements. After only a few minutes into the sermon, my mother could no longer put up with our antics. When I saw her get up from her seat on the platform and head meaningfully in our direction, I instantly became a model of perfect church decorum. However, it was too late for my reformed behavior to make an impression on my mother. She marched me back to the Ladies’ Room, where we came to a clear understanding about respect for the ministry that I have never forgotten. At the conclusion of the service, my mother escorted me to the preacher who had given the sermon, and I had an opportunity to personally apologize for my actions. That day, I learned that ministers deserve our honor and respect. I have never forgotten!
In today’s focus verse, Paul pointed out that ministers are not only worthy of honor, but of double honor! Paul felt that faithful servants of God deserve recognition and respect. These individuals have been chosen from among the congregation on the basis of God’s call. They have been equipped by the Spirit to perform the work of the Lord, and have been set apart and ordained to the ministry. Along with receiving fair compensation for their services, they should also be supported and appreciated. They are God’s chosen representatives!
Today, does your attitude toward the ministry reflect a spirit of respect? Are you careful to be supportive in your words and actions? Let’s make it a point to follow Paul’s instruction and accord honor to the men and women God has appointed.
In this portion of text, Paul reminded Timothy of what is due those who have been set apart for the work of the ministry. In the Early Church, leaders customarily supported themselves, just as the Apostle himself did. Still, Paul believed that faithful service deserved due recognition and reward, and that those who devoted themselves full-time to the work of the Lord as preachers and teachers should receive “double honour.” It is God’s plan that, when possible, the needs of His servants be met by the congregation of the local church.
The word labour in verse 17 has a connotation of “working hard to the point of exhaustion.” The work of the church is not to be regarded lightly. It is not just laboring physically, but also bearing the burden of the spiritual welfare of the congregation.
In verses 19-21, Paul instructed Timothy that church discipline must be fair and impartial. While discipline of church members is explained in other Scriptures, here Paul discussed the discipline of church leaders. He cautioned Timothy to first be sure of his facts. Only then was he to administer discipline, and it was to be done in a manner that was open and aboveboard. Finally, he was to obey the Word, no matter what his personal feelings might be, acting without prejudice for or against the accused.
In verses 22-25, Paul counseled Timothy to avoid haste in the ordaining of ministers. He was making the point that Timothy must be careful not to compromise his stand for righteousness by endorsing individuals who were neither spiritually qualified nor worthy of his trust.
Verse 23 is an interjected thought of a personal nature. Paul’s advice to Timothy was not advocating drinking, but rather, taking the wine for medicinal use, which was a common practice of the day. It is also possible that Timothy had indigestion from contaminated water and therefore Paul was encouraging him to drink liquids other than water.
In the final two verses of the chapter, Paul returned to the topic of ordaining workers. He admonished Timothy not to ordain a man until his character was quite evident by his works. In time, his works would prove him.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. Charge concerning the ministry of Timothy
B. Concerning relationships with various groups
3. Concerning elders (5:17-25)
a. The honor due elders (5:17-18)
b. The discipline of elders (5:19-21)
(1) Before all (5:19-20)
(2) Without partiality (5:21)
c. The ordination of elders (5:22-25)
Let us be certain that we treat our ministry with the respect and honor due them!