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Leadership #17 - 1 Timothy 5

Elders and Evangelists
1 Timothy 5:17-22

Teaching Moments

1. The first part of chapter 5 offers instructions about dealing with widows in the church. Older widows should be enrolled for ministry and prayer, but younger widows need to remarry. Verse 17 is a change in subject. Paul now offers Timothy some parting advice about his role within the leadership of the church at Ephesus.

2. The phrase “direct affairs” is also used in 1 Timothy 3:4,5,12. Elders manage the affairs of church in analogous way that the husband manages the affairs of the home. He is responsible for the church in an analogous way that the husband is responsible for the home. The text notes that the function of the elder is to “direct affairs,” but that some do more...they also labor in preaching and teaching. In other words, they do more than the work of an elder. They also function in an additional role.

3. “Double Honor” belongs to elders who not only “direct the affairs of the church” but also work in “preaching and teaching.” Literally, the text says “word and teaching.” However, the idea of “word” here is the kind of work the evangelist does. He proclaims the word (cf. 1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 4:2). Teaching is a responsibility of both elder and evangelist, but this additional comment on elders who take on a double task indicates that we are talking about an elder here who takes on the additional task of preaching (that is, takes on the role of evangelist as well). Thus, “double honor” belongs to one who serves as an elder and evangelist.

4. The honor under consideration here is remuneration for their ministry. Paul quotes Deuteronomy 25:4 (which he also quoted in 1 Corinthians 9:9) and Luke 10:7. These texts are applied to financial remuneration for ministry tasks.

5. Paul offers some guidelines for receiving an accusation against an elder. First, it must be brought by two or three witnesses. Second, the rebuke must be public. This excludes private and personal (only one individual) offenses. This protects the elder, but also provides the church with a way to correct an elder.

6. The purpose of the public rebuke is to warn other elders. Elders need accountability. They must be accountable to the church and the church needs some means of holding them accountable in a responsible way.

7. Paul charges Timothy to carry out his instructions without partiality and without favoritism. This may particuarly relate to his relationship with elders, but it may involve the whole letter and his relationships with everyone in the church. In either event, the principle applies to his relationship with eldesr.

8. “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands.” Laying on of hands was some kind of “ordaining” or appointing ritual (cf. Acts 6:6; 13:3). Timothy apparently had some responsibility in appointing people to ministry tasks, and, most probably, appointing elders. This may be a general point as #7 (and the rest of verse 22 is general as well), but it also has application to the selection of elders. Titus and Timothy had a role in the selection of elders.

9. I think the appointment of elders was not done by fiat. Rather, it was a process of congregational consent led by the evangelists. Both the congregation and the evangelists have a role and each has a responsibility.

10. There is a triangular relationship between elder--congregation--evangelist. Each is accountable to the other. Elders lead the church as responsible for its affairs, the evangelists lead the church as teachers and equippers, and the church ministers empowered by this leadership. There is mutual accountability in their respective roles.

Discussion Questions

1. Have you ever been part of a church where the paid evangelist of the church is also an elder? How did that work out? Does this text speak to the appropriateness of such a role?

2. What are the dangers of an elder also serving the church as an evangelist? What are the potential advantages?

3. Have you ever been in a church where an elder received a public rebuke? How did it happen? Why does it not happen more often when there is a need for it? Are elders too intimidating to even think about rebuke?

4. What mechanism does a church need in order to ensure that elders are accountable to the church? What do you think about a “reaffirmation” process?

5. What other means of accountability can the church exercise in relation to the elders? What protection do we need to offer elders from false accusations?

6. Why do you think Paul emphasizes the impartiality of Timothy in this text? Why is that important?

7. What is the relationship between Timothy and the appointment of elders or other ministry tasks? What do you think is the meaning of this “laying on of hands”?

8. What does this responsibility of laying on of hands mean today? How does this reflect the responsibility of an evangelist?

9. Discuss in what ways the church is accountable to the elders, the elders accountable to the church, the evangelist accountable to the elders, the elders accountable to the evangelist, and the evangelist in relationship to the church?


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