“1 Timothy 5:17-20”
Categories: 1 Timothy
“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.’ Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.”
---End of Scripture verses---
Paul gave the qualifications for elders in 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and here he writes of the honor due to those who serve in the official capacity of “ruling” over the sheep of the Lord’s flock. He said in 3:1, “If a man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” When a man dedicates his life to overseeing the Lord’s sheep (along with at least one other qualified “bishop), honor is due him for the important and commendable and very difficult position that he has willingly undertaken.
“The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor” (verse 1). Paul uses the familiar adage that is prevalent in inspired Scripture of not muzzling “the ox while he is threshing” (verse 18), to show that elders have every right to receive “wages” for the wearisome and sometimes thankless work that they do. If an ox is worthy of eating of the physical food he provides by threshing grain, certainly those who must give an answer for the souls they lead (Hebrews 13:17) are much more deserving of receiving material sustenance for the spiritual needs that they help provide for.
I am not personally aware of any elders who receive financial compensation for the work they do in shepherding the Lord’s people. All that I know serve in this capacity out of the kindness and goodness of their hearts, and for the love of the people that they lead. But if a financial need ever arises, these men are more than worthy of receiving the wages that they would need to cover the expenses of living a decent life—compensation worthy of the vital position that they hold. They earn it by their work brethren and friends.
We are not to “receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses” (verse 20). It is just as wrong to receive the accusation as it is to make it, unless there is ample evidence to back it up. This is actually a biblical principle and rule that should be afforded all people (Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; John 8:17-18; 2 Corinthians 13:1; Hebrews 10:28). When an alleged infraction is proven to be true, the sinner (even, and especially if he is an elder) should be rebuked “in the presence of all” (verse 20). This serves a double purpose: to punish the guilty and to instill the fear of sinning in the church.
Please read 1 Timothy 5:21-25 for tomorrow.
Have a blessed day!
- Louie Taylor