Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Timothy 5:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Let the elders that rule well - Elder is probably here the name of an ecclesiastical officer, similar to what we now term presbyter. See on 1 Timothy 5:1; (note). Dr. Macknight has remarked that, "in the first age, the name πρεσβυτερος, elder, was given to all who exercised any sacred office in the Church, as is plain from Acts 20:28, where the persons are called επισκοποι, bishops, who, Acts 20:17, were called πρεσβυτεροι, elders. The same thing appears from Titus 1:5, where those are called elders who, Titus 1:7, are named bishops; and from 1 Timothy 4:14, where, collectively, all who held sacred offices in Lystra are called πρεσβυτεριον, the presbytery or eldership, and are said to have concurred with St. Paul in setting Timothy apart to the ministry."

Double honor - Διπλης τιμης . Almost every critic of note allows that τιμη here signifies reward, stipend, wages. Let him have a double or a larger salary who rules well; and why? Because in the discharge of his office he must be at expense, in proportion to his diligence, in visiting and relieving the sick, in lodging and providing for strangers; in a word, in his being given to hospitality, which was required of every bishop or presbyter.

Especially they who labor in the word and doctrine - Those who not only preach publicly, but instruct privately, catechize, etc. Some think this refers to distinct ecclesiastical orders; but these technical distinctions were, in my opinion, a work of later times.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Let the elders that rule well - Greek, πρεσβύτεροι presbuteroiPresbyters. The apostle had given full instructions respecting bishops 1 Timothy 3:1-7; deacons 1 Timothy 3:8-13; widows 1 Timothy 5:3-16; and he here proceeds to prescribe the duty of the church toward those who sustain the office of elder. The word used - “elder” or “presbyter” - properly refers to age, and is then used to denote the officers of the church, probably because the aged were at first entrusted with the administration of the affairs of the church. The word was in familiar use among the Jews to denote the body of men that presided in the synagogue; see the Matthew 15:2 note; Acts 11:30; Acts 15:2 notes.

That rule well - Presiding well, or well managing the spiritual interests of the church. The word rendered “rule” - προεστῶτες proestōtes- is from a verb meaning to be over; to preside over; to have the care of. The word is used with reference to bishops, Titus 1:5, Titus 1:7; to an apostle, 1 Peter 5:1; and is such a word as would apply to any officers to whom the management and government of the church was entrusted. On the general subject of the rulers in the church; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 12:28. It is probable that not precisely the same organization was pursued in every place where a church was established; and where there was a Jewish synagogue, the Christian church would be formed substantially after that model, and in such a church there would be a bench of presiding eiders; see, on this subject, Whately‘s “Kingdom of Christ delineated,” pp. 84-80. The language here seems to have been taken from such an organization. On the Jewish synagogue, see the notes on Matthew 4:23.

Be counted worthy of double honour - Of double respect; that is, of a high degree of respect; of a degree of respect becoming their age and office; compare 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. From the quotation which is made in 1 Timothy 5:18, in relation to this subject, it would seem probable that the apostle had some reference also to their support, or to what was necessary for their maintenance. There is no improbability in supposing that all the officers of the church, of whatever grade or rank, may have had some compensation, corresponding to the amount of time which their office required them to devote to the service of the church. Nothing would be more reasonable than that, if their duties in the church interfered with their regular employments in their secular calling, their brethren should contribute to their support; compare notes on Romans 12:7 note; 1 Corinthians 12:28 note), and a part may have been employed in managing other concerns of the church, and yet all were regarded as the προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι proestōtes presbuteroi- or “elders presiding over the church.” It cannot, I think, be certainly concluded from this passage, that the ruling elders who did not teach or preach were regarded as a separate class or order of permanent officers in the church. There seems to have been a bench of elders selected on account of age, piety, prudence, and wisdom, to whom was entrusted the whole business of the instruction and government of the church, and they performed the various parts of the duty as they had ability. Those among them who “labored in the word and doctrine,” and who gave up all their time to the business of their office, would be worthy of special respect, and of a higher compensation.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Care must be taken that ministers are maintained. And those who are laborious in this work are worthy of double honour and esteem. It is their just due, as much as the reward of the labourer. The apostle charges Timothy solemnly to guard against partiality. We have great need to watch at all times, that we do not partake of other men's sins. Keep thyself pure, not only from doing the like thyself, but from countenancing it, or any way helping to it in others. The apostle also charges Timothy to take care of his health. As we are not to make our bodies masters, so neither slaves; but to use them so that they may be most helpful to us in the service of God. There are secret, and there are open sins: some men's sins are open before-hand, and going before unto judgment; some they follow after. God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make known the counsels of all hearts. Looking forward to the judgment-day, let us all attend to our proper offices, whether in higher or lower stations, studying that the name and doctrine of God may never be blasphemed on our account.
Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 297.2

Those who are called of God to labor in word and doctrine should ever be learners in the school of Christ.... Those who do not feel the importance of going on from strength to strength will not grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. RC 297.2

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
The Retirement Years, 127.1

You have simply to rest in the hands of God and feel that your work to preach the truth is done. Have no further responsibility in this direction. You can be free to bear your testimony to comfort yourself; this is your privilege; but to bear any church labor in word or doctrine, or to travel out among other churches to hold public meetings, God has released you.—Letter 2, 1872. RY 127.1

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 194

With every gift and offering there should be a suitable object before the giver, not to uphold any in idleness, not to be seen of men or to get a great name, but to glorify God by advancing His cause. Some make large donations to the cause of God while their brother who is poor, may be suffering close by them, and they do nothing to relieve him. Little acts of kindness performed for their brother in a secret manner would bind their hearts together, and would be noticed in heaven. I saw that in their prices and wages the rich should make a difference in favor of the afflicted and widows and the worthy poor among them. But it is too often the case that the rich take advantage of the poor, reaping every benefit that is to be gained, and exacting the last penny for every favor. It is all written in heaven. “I know thy works.” 1T 194.1

The greatest sin which now exists in the church is covetousness. God frowns upon His professed people for their selfishness. His servants have sacrificed their time and strength to carry them the word of life, and many have shown by their works that they prize it but lightly. If they can help the servant of God just as well as not, they sometimes do it; but they often let him pass on, and do but little for him. If they employ a day laborer, he must be paid full wages. But not so with the self-sacrificing servant of God. He labors for them in word and doctrine; he carries the heavy burden of the work on his soul; he patiently shows from the word of God the dangerous errors which are hurtful to the soul; he enforces the necessity of immediately tearing up the weeds which choke the good seed sown; he brings out of the storehouse of God's word things new and old to feed the flock of God. All acknowledge that they have been benefited; but the poisonous weed, covetousness, is so deeply rooted that they let the servant of God leave them without ministering to him of their temporal things. They have prized his wearing labor just as highly as their acts show. Says the True Witness: “I know thy works.” 1T 194.2

I saw that God's servants are not placed beyond the temptations of Satan. They are often fearfully beset by the enemy, and have a hard battle to fight. If they could be released from their commission, they would gladly labor with their hands. Their labor is called for by their brethren; but when they see it so lightly prized, they are depressed. True, they look to the final settlement for their reward, and this bears them up; but their families must have food and clothing. Their time belongs to the church of God; it is not at their own disposal. They sacrifice the society of their families to benefit others; and yet some who are benefited by their labors are indifferent to their wants. I saw that it is doing injustice to such to let them pass on and deceive themselves. They think they are approved of God, when He despises their selfishness. Not only will these selfish ones be called to render an account to God for the use they have made of their Lord's money, but all the depression and heartache which they have brought upon God's chosen servants, and which have crippled their efforts, will be set to the account of the unfaithful stewards. 1T 195.1

Read in context »
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 446

The work in which we are engaged is a responsible and exalted work. Those who minister in word and doctrine should themselves be patterns of good works. They should be examples in holiness, cleanliness, and order. The appearance of the servant of God, out of the pulpit and in, should be that of a living preacher. He can accomplish far more by his godly example than by merely preaching in the desk, while his influence out of the desk is not worthy of imitation. Those who labor in this cause are bearing to the world the most elevated truth that was ever committed to mortals. 1T 446.1

Men who are chosen of God to labor in this cause will give proof of their high calling and will consider it their highest duty to grow and improve until they shall become able workmen. Then, as they manifest an earnestness to improve upon the talent which God has entrusted to them, they should be helped judiciously. But the encouragement given them should not savor of flattery, for Satan himself will do enough of that kind of work. Men who think that they have a duty to preach should not be sustained in throwing themselves and their families at once upon the brethren for support. They are not entitled to this until they can show good fruits of their labor. There is now danger of injuring young preachers, and those who have but little experience, by flattery, and by relieving them of burdens in life. When not preaching they should be doing what they can for their own support. This is the best way to test the nature of their call to preach. If they desire to preach only that they may be supported as ministers, and the church pursue a judicious course, they will soon lose the burden and leave preaching for more profitable business. Paul, a most eloquent preacher, miraculously converted of God to do a special work, was not above labor. He says: “Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; and labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it.” 1 Corinthians 4:11, 12. “Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:8. 1T 446.2

I have been shown that many do not rightly estimate the talents which are among them. Some brethren do not understand what preaching talent would be the best for the advancement of the cause of truth, but think only of the present gratification of their feelings. Without reflection they will show preference for a speaker who manifests considerable zeal in his preaching and relates anecdotes which please the ear and animate the mind for a moment, but leave no lasting impression. At the same time they will put a low estimate upon a preacher who has prayerfully studied that he may present before the people the arguments of our position in a calm manner and in a connected form. His labor is not appreciated, and he is often treated with indifference. 1T 447.1

Read in context »
More Comments