1 Timothy v.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. An ancient man.[1] Here the word presbyter is not taken as in other places, for a bishop or priest, but for an elderly man, who is otherwise to be dealt with than young men. (Witham) — We cannot sufficiently admire the tenderness and prudence of all this saint’s counsels. Reproof, under any circumstances, is always sufficiently painful, without being accompanied by harsh and unfeeling words and manners. Age, though not exempt from fault, should always be treated with tenderness and respect.

Ver. 2. A just medium must be observed in the guidance of the sex, avoiding equally an indiscreet severity or an affection too tender and bordering on sensuality. A just diffidence in self is the best security. — All chastity refers to the heart, eyes, ears, words, looks, with the precautions of times and places.

Ver. 3. Honour widows. To honour, here means to relieve and maintain. (Witham)

Ver. 4. Let her[2] learn first, &c. He gives this as a mark to know if widows deserve to be maintained out of the common stock; if they have been careful of their own family, and to assist their parents, if yet alive. In most Greek copies, and in the Syriac, is read, let them learn; i.e. let the children and grandchildren learn to govern their family, and to assist their parents, when they are widows; that, as it is said in ver. 16., the Church may not be burthened with maintaining them. (Witham) — Let her render to her children the same good services she has received from her parents, that she may also expect from them what is her due as mother. (Theodoret)

Ver. 5. She that is a widow indeed, and desolate, (destitute of help, as the Greek word implieth) may be maintained; and then let her be constant in prayers and devotions night and day. (Witham) — Every Christian soul is a widow of Jesus Christ, who has been forcibly torn from her: and in her communications with heaven she ought to offer up an afflicted and humbled heart—the heart of a widow. It is thus she will avoid the dangers of the world, and secure true life in unchangeable felicity. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. For she that liveth in pleasure, (i.e. that seeks to live in ease and plenty) is dead[3] while she is living, by the spiritual death of her soul in sin. See St. Chrysostom with no less eloquence than piety, expounding this riddle, as he terms it, to wit, what it is to be at the same time alive and dead. (Witham)

Ver. 8. He hath denied the faith, (not in words, but in his actions) and is worse than an infidel; nay, even than brutes, that take care of their young ones. (Witham) — Faith may be renounced either by words or by actions, when our conduct shews that in our hearts we really do not believe what would otherwise influence our lives. (Calmet) — We have a horror of the name of apostacy, and fear not its works. Is not this to be a Christian in appearance, and an infidel in heart?

Ver. 9. Not under threescore years of age. Some think he speaks only of such a widow as was placed over all the rest: but the common exposition is of all such widows as were maintained in that manner, who made a vow of chastity, who assisted the ministers of the Church in looking to the poor, and in the administering baptism to women. — Who hath been the wife of one husband; i.e. hath never been married but once. (Witham)

Ver. 11. As for the younger widows,[4] admit them not into that number; for when they have grown wanton in Christ, which may signify in the Church of Christ, or as others translate, against Christ; when they have been nourished in plenty, indulging their appetite in eating and drinking, in company and conversation, in private familiarities, and even sometimes in sacrilegious fornications against Christ and their vows, they are for marrying again. See St. Jerome. (Witham)

Ver. 12. Having, or incurring and making themselves liable to damnation, by a breach of their first faith, their vow or promise, (Witham) by which they had engaged themselves to Christ. (Challoner)

Ver. 13. Idle, &c. He shews by what steps they fall. Neglecting their prayers, they give themselves to idleness; they go about visiting from house to house; they are carried away with curiosity to hear what passes, and speak what they ought not of their neighbour’s faults. (Witham) — The young widow that bears a near resemblance with this portrait, is not less to be lamented on her own account than feared and shunned on account of others.

Ver. 14. The younger[5] (widows) should marry. They who understand this of a command or exhortation to all widows to marry, make St. Paul contradict himself, and the advice he gave to widows 1 Corinthians vii. where he says, (ver. 40.) She (the widow) will be more happy if she so remain according to my counsel; and when it is there said, I would have all to be as myself. [See the notes on those places.] He can therefore only mean such young widows, of whom he is speaking, that are like to do worse. Thus it is expounded by St. Jerome to Sabina:[6] “Let her rather take a husband than the devil.” And in another epistle, to Ageruchia: “It is better to take a second husband than many adulterers.” St. Chrysostom[7] on this verse: I will, or would have such to marry, because they themselves will do it. See also St. Augustine,[8] de Bono viduitatis, chap. viii. (Witham)

Ver. 15. For some are already turned aside after Satan, by breaking the vows they had made. “Yet it does not follow, (says St. Augustine in the same place [de Bono viduitatis, chap. viii.]) that they who abstain not from such sins may marry after their vows. They might indeed marry before they vowed; but this being done, unless they keep them they justly incur damnation.” “Why is it, (says he again, on Psalm lxxv.) they made void their first faith? but that they made vows, and kept them not. But let not this (says he) make you abstain from such vows, for you are not to comply with them by your own strength; you will fall, if you presume on yourselves; but if you confide in him to whom you made these vows, you will securely comply with them.” How different was the doctrine and practice of the first and chief of the late pretended reformers, who were many of them apostates after such vows? (Witham)

Ver. 17-18. The priests, or ancient ministers, (i.e. bishops, priests, &c.) deserve a double honour; i.e. to be more liberally supplied and maintained by the flock, especially when they labour in preaching the word. — Thou shalt not muzzle, &c. See 1 Corinthians ix. 9. (Witham) — It is the obligation of the faithful to provide a decent maintenance for their pastors, and the duty of pastors to be content with little. Happy the church where there is no further difference found than between the liberality of the former and the disinterestedness of the latter!

Ver. 19. Against a priest. The word presbyter[9] is commonly here expounded of bishops and priests; though St. Chrysostom understands it of men advanced in age. — Receive not an accusation; i.e. do not sit as judge, nor hearken to such information. (Witham)

Ver. 20. Them that sin, so as to be public criminals, &c. (Witham)

Ver. 21. Without prejudice[10] for or against any one, not declining to either side, holding the scales of justice equally. (Witham)

Ver. 22. Impose not hands lightly upon any man, in promoting him to be a minister of God by the sacrament of orders, unless he be duly qualified. — Neither in this be partaker of other men’s sins, as they make themselves who ordain others rashly. (Witham)

Ver. 24-25. Some men’s sins are manifest, &c. These two verses seem connected with the admonition before given, as to ordaining ministers, some men’s sins and evil life being so manifest, that they are certain to be rejected. — And some men they follow after: they appear not till after a trial and examination. — In like manner also good deeds, and good lives of some men, are so manifest, that they are easily admitted. And such as are otherwise, (that is, when they are desirous to conceal their virtues) they cannot be hidden: by an examination and trial they will appear. (Witham) — This refers to what he had said before, that he ought not easily to ordain others, but pass his judgment with scrutiny and impartiality. But there are some whom the public voice already condemns; their crimes are manifest: and there are others, though bad, whose crimes cannot be proved without examination. (Calmet) — St. Basil thinks it refers to the general judgment. Many both good and bad actions are at present manifest: others shall not be known till the day of judgment. Hypocrites are reserved to be judged by the Lord, as we cannot pronounce upon their actions. (St. Basil, lib. de Virgin.)


[1] Ver. 1. Seniori, presbutero.

[2] Ver. 4. Discat, in most Greek copies, discant, manthanetosan. Yet St. Chrysostom in his commentary, (log. ig.) expounds it of the widow.

[3] Ver. 6. St. Chrysostom, (log. ig. p. 301.) touto phusin ainigma, &c.

[4] Ver. 11. Cum luxuriatæ fuerint in Christo, otan gar katastreniasosi tou Christou. See Apocalypse xviii. 7, 9. It is a metaphor from horses not to be governed. See St. Jerome, Ep. ad Ageruchiam. tom. iv. part 2. p. 741. tou Christou, i.e. contra Christum, says Erasmus and Arius Montanus. In injuriam viri sui Christi, says St. Jerome.

[5] Ver. 14. Volo juniores nubere, boulomai neoteras gamein.

[6] Ver. 14. St. Jerome, (Ep. ad Sabinam, tom. iv. part. 2. p. 669.) maritum potius accipiat quam diabolum. The same author, (Ep. ad Ageruchiam. p. 741.) multo tolerabilius habere secundum virum, quam plures adulteros.

[7] Ver. 14. St. Chrysostom, (log. ie. p. 311.) boulomai, epeide autai boulontai.

[8] Ver. 14. St. Augustine, (de bono viduitatis, chap. viii.) nubant antequam Deo voveant, quod nisi reddant, jure damnantur. And in Psalm lxxv. Quid est primam fidem irritam fecerunt? voverunt et non reddiderunt. And again St. Augustine, Non sitis pigri ad vovendum. Non enim viribus vestris implebitis: deficietes, si de vobis præsumitis, si autem de illo cui vovistis, vovete, securi reddetis.

[9] Ver. 19. Adversus presbyterum, kata presbuterou. And St. Chrysostom, (p. 313.) ten elikian.

[10] Ver. 21. Sine præjudicio, choris prokrimatos.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

He gives him lessons concerning widows; and how he is to behave to his clergy.

1 An ancient man rebuke not, but entreat him as a father; young men, as brethren:

2 Old women, as mothers; young women, as sisters, in all chastity.

3 Honour widows, who are widows indeed.

4 But if any widow have children, or grandchildren, let her learn first to govern her own house, and to make a return of duty to her parents: for this is acceptable before God.

5 But she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, let her hope in God, and continue in supplications and prayers night and day.

6 For she that liveth in pleasures, is dead while she is living.

7 And this give in charge, that they may be blameless.

8 But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

9 Let a widow be chosen, not under threescore years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband.

10 Having testimony for her good works, if she have educated children, if she have exercised hospitality, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have ministered to them that suffer tribulation, if she have diligently followed every good work.

11 But the younger widows avoid: For when they have grown wanton in Christ, they will marry:

12 Having damnation, because they have made void their first faith.

13 And withal being idle, they learn to go about from house to house: not only idle, but tattlers also, and inquisitive, speaking things which they ought not.

14 I will, therefore, that the younger should marry, bear children, be mistresses of families, give no occasion to the adversary to speak evil.

15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.

16 If any of the faithful have widows, let him relieve them, and let not the church be burthened: that there may be sufficient for them who are widows indeed.

17 Let the priests who rule well, be esteemed worthy of double honour: especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

18 For the Scripture saith: *Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And: **The labourer is worthy of his hire.

19 Against a priest receive not an accusation, but under two or three witnesses.

20 Them that sin reprove before all: that the rest also may have fear.

21 I charge thee, before God, and Christ Jesus, and the elect Angels, that thou observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by declining to either side.

22 Impose not hands lightly upon any man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins. Keep thyself chaste.

23 Do not still drink water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thy frequent infirmities.

24 Some men’s sins are manifest, going before to judgment: and some men they follow after.

25 In like manner also good deeds are manifest; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.



18: Deuteronomy xxv. 4.; 1 Corinthians ix. 9. — ** Matthew x. 10.; Luke x. 7.