1 Timothy 5:16-20
1 Tim 5:16 (KJB)
If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
 
Paul now sums up the section concerning the subject of widows. He states that those widows who have families, whether extended or immediate, should take care of them. That will reduce the burden of the church when a woman who is a widow indeed, that is, one who has no immediate or extended family becomes a widow, will be able to be helped by the church and with the reduced amount of widows being helped, the church will not be over-burdened.
 
1 Tim 5:17 (KJB)
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
 
Honour - Recognition or respect
Labour - Work hard or become weary
 
Now Paul switches to the subject of church elders, those who have rule in the church. Paul states that those who are ruling well in the church should be given double honor. The honor is doubled when they not only rule well, but when they are studying the Scriptures and making sure that true doctrine is always present in the church. A good elder in a church is not just one who rules but has very good understanding of Scripture so they may prevent any false teachings from entering the church because once false teachings enter the church, they are always sure to gain a foothold and many times will lead to a church going apostate. The time to stop a false teaching is when it first enters the church. This is why Paul states that a good elder is one who incessantly labors in the word to the point of weariness in protecting the flock he has been called to rule. Paul gave a good warning in his farewell. (Acts 20:29 KJV) For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Since the false teachers will not spare the flock, a good elder will realize this and take precautions by becoming strong in the word so he can immediately spot a false teaching, thus sparing the flock.
 
1 Tim 5:18 (KJB)
For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
 
(Deu 25:4 KJV) Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. When an ox was treading the corn or working, he was not be muzzled, that is, doing something which would prevent him from continuing the work. It is the same with those who labor in the word when they are stopped from continuing the study of the Scriptures. A muzzle was, and is used, to prevent an animal from opening their mouth and sometimes it is used while they are working. This is a bad practice because if the ox eats some of the corn, he gets fed and feels stronger and is able to do his work more vigorously. It is the same way with those who study the Scriptures. As they study the Scriptures, they are the first to eat of the spiritual food which they glean from the Scriptures. The reward is not some type of material possession but for a Christian it is the understanding of Scripture which strengthens the life of the laborer and strengthens those whom the teacher shares those biblical truths with. To summarize this, no one or nothing should be a hindrance to the one who chooses to labor in the word.
 
1 Tim 5:19 (KJB)
Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
 
Paul now brings up a very important subject. Since there are always going to be people in a church who may dislike a certain elder, they may wish to depose them by bringing some type of spurious accusation against him. (Deu 19:15 KJV) One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. To make sure that an elder is not unjustly accused by a jealous or bitter person, just as the law required two or three witnesses, it was also required in the church that if an accusation was made against an elder, it was required that more than one person be a true witness, and not just a hearsay witness, to make the accusation legitimate. They must have firsthand knowledge of the substance of the accusation.
 
1 Tim 5:20 (KJB)
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
 
Since the office of Elder, Deacon, and Bishop were very important church offices, if one of them were to be found in some type of a sin, then they were to be rebuked or corrected in front of all. Matthew 18:17 (KJV) And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  Paul continues the harmony of thought given by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 18.  Now it is clear that the Scripture speaks of rebuking in front of the entire church, especially after that person has been approached privately or with the required two or three witnesses. The goal here is to build fear into the other church leaders who may think they are above censure. Fear of the exposure of sin in a personís life can be a great cudgel in causing one to stay on the straight and narrow.

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