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Paul instructs Timothy not to let his youth cause distraction: meet this objection with loving speech, faithful conduct, pure action, and transparent living as an example for all.

Respect an elderly man. Don’t speak to him sharply; appeal to him as you would a father. Treat younger men as brothers, elderly women as mothers, and younger women as sisters in all purity.

Honor widows, but be discerning about which ones are truly widows. If any widow has children or grandchildren, then go to the descendants first and teach them that it is their spiritual responsibility to care for their own family, to repay their parents and grandparents because this is what pleases God. Here’s how you know if she is a true widow: she is all alone with her hope fixed in God, crying her pleas, prayers, and appeals to God day and night. But the woman who is living for pleasure is dead as she stands. You should command these things to everyone to keep them free of blame. And listen, if someone is not providing for his own relatives and especially his own household, then he is denying the faith and is worse off than an unbeliever.

Family members have a duty before God to support their relatives. But when a widow has no family to support her, the church must step in to be her surrogate family. Paul, of course, is thinking of those widows who have served faithfully in the ministry of the church. The elderly are easily forgotten, especially those without caring families. The church is called to honor those who have been faithful servants by maintaining relationships with them and helping them when they are in need.

Now only these should be put on the widow registry: a woman who is at least 60 years old, was a faithful wife to one husband, 10 is well thought of for her good works, has raised children, was hospitable, has washed the feet of the saints, has tended to the sick and suffering, and has devoted herself to do good wherever possible. 11 Don’t add younger women to the widow roll because when their desires for pleasure overtake them, they get careless in their devotion to the Anointed One. Their constant thoughts become, “I want to get married,” 12 and such thoughts disqualify them because they have tossed aside their first commitment to Him. 13 Plus, they get into the habit of being idle. Not only are they idle, but they band together and roam from house to house, gossiping about and meddling into other people’s business; they talk about all sorts of things that should never be spoken of. 14 That’s why I think it’s best to have the younger widows remarry, have children, and take care of their households so that the enemy gains no opportunity to come with accusations. 15 (Unfortunately some have already lined up behind Satan!) 16 Tell any woman of faith: if you have a widow in your family, help her so the church is unencumbered and is free to extend aid to the widows who are truly in need of its help.

17 Elders who are leading well should be admired and valued. Double up on the honor shown them; care for them well—especially those constantly and consistently teaching the word and preaching. 18 For the Scripture agrees, “Don’t muzzle the ox while it is treading out your grain,”[a] and, “The worker deserves his wages.”[b]

19 Listen, when or if a charge comes against an elder, don’t even acknowledge the accusation unless there are two or more witnesses. 20 Bring any believers who persist in sinning before the community and publicly scold them so that all the rest will know to fear sin and its consequences. 21 I challenge you—in front of God, Jesus His Anointed, and His select heavenly messengers—to keep these instructions. And don’t do anything out of favoritism. 22 Don’t be too quick to lay hands upon anyone or share in the sins of others—stay clean.

23 Concerning your health, Timothy, don’t just drink water; drink a little wine. It is good for your stomach and will help with your frequent ailments.

24 Some people’s sins are clearly on display before the world. They lead the way to the final judgment. But it’s not so easy with other people because their sins trail behind and don’t catch up to them until later. 25 The same is true regarding good works; some are there for all to see. Other people’s works can be inconspicuous; but at the final judgment, they cannot remain hidden.

Footnotes

  1. 5:18 Deuteronomy 25:4
  2. 5:18 Compare Luke 10:7

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