New Defender's Study Bible Notes
5:1 an elder. The reference is to any older man in the church, not necessarily just to one with the office of elder. The practical instructions of this chapter deal with the relationship of the church to its individual members with special needs.
5:4 nephews. Actually, the Greek word includes any close descendants.
5:6 dead while she liveth. The immediate reference is to a young widow who, if supported by the church instead of getting married or of getting a job to support herself, has too much time on her hands and becomes either wanton or a busybody. The principle, however, would apply to anyone who “liveth in pleasure.” Such a person is spiritually dead.
5:8 denied the faith. I Timothy 5:1-16 gives rather detailed instructions concerning caring for widows in the church. Similar instructions no doubt would apply to other believers whom circumstances have rendered unable to care for themselves. The first deacons in the first church had been appointed for just such a purpose (Acts 6:1-7). Though the church has a significant responsibility in this connection, family members of those in need have a much greater responsibility. The failure to take care of one’s own family when able to do so is tantamount to denying the faith and thus is grounds for excommunication.
5:17 double honor. Some of the elders may be responsible as general overseers (or bishops); some may be pastors (or teachers, feeding the flock); some may do both. In any case, those who render this service faithfully and effectively deserve “double honor,” which presumably means (in light of the next verse) double remuneration. They may not need or request it, following Paul’s regular example, but they are deserving of it. It is the responsibility of the congregation (presumably as represented by the deacons) to be sensitive to this situation.
5:18 the scripture saith. This quotation from Deuteronomy 25:4 was also cited in I Corinthians 9:7-11, specifically verse 9.
5:18 worthy of his reward. This reference is a remarkable testimony to the divine inspiration of the gospel of Luke, with Paul quoting Luke 10:7 as authoritative Scripture. Paul had been accompanied by Luke on some of his earlier missionary voyages. Luke would even be with him in his last days (II Timothy 4:11). Paul probably had frequent contact with his physician throughout his later life. He must have had ample opportunity to read Luke’s gospel, perhaps even helping him with its composition. He realized not only that it was truly a product of the Spirit’s inspiration, but also that these particular words had been spoken by the Lord Jesus, and thus were of special importance in this connection.
5:22 Lay hands suddenly. No man should be called to the pastorate or diaconate carelessly or quickly before he has proved himself worthy (I Timothy 3:6,10).
5:23 little wine. It is remarkable that so many people who know almost nothing else in the Bible seem quite familiar with this verse, using it as their favorite Biblical justification for drinking intoxicating beverages. There is a legitimate question as to whether this “wine” was fermented wine or unfermented grape juice (the same Greek word was used for both). Assuming it was fermented wine, Paul was simply prescribing a little of it as a medicine for Timothy’s frequent digestive disorders, apparently aggravated by the contaminated water of the region. Alcohol, of course, is a germicide, and there are many medicines used today which contain small amounts of alcohol for that reason. Timothy was normally a total abstainer (and many other Scriptures indicate this practice should be followed by all sincere Christians—see on Ephesians 5:18, for example), and Paul had to urge him to take even “a little wine” for his medicinal needs. At most, therefore, people can only justifiably refer to this verse as authorizing the use of small amounts of bacteria-killing alcohol for medicinal purposes.