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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
The Voice in Speech and Song, 305.3

Those who minister in word and doctrine must first be partakers of the fruits of the Spirit. Bear this in mind. Bridle your disposition, and then peace and contentment will find room in your soul. If you wish your heart to overflow with the love of God, cultivate grateful thanksgiving for the unspeakable privilege of knowing the truth. If you would lose sight of self by beholding Christ, you would be changed from glory to glory, from character to character, and would rejoice in His redeeming love. VSS 305.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 393

*****

Ambassadors for Christ have a solemn and important work, which rests upon some altogether too lightly. While Christ is the minister in the sanctuary above, He is also, through His delegates, the minister of His church on earth. He speaks to the people through chosen men, and carries forward His work through them, as when in the days of His humiliation He moved visibly upon the earth. Although centuries have passed, the lapse of time has not changed His parting promise to His disciples: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” From Christ's ascension to the present day, men ordained of God, deriving their authority from Him, have become teachers of the faith. Christ, the True Shepherd, superintends His work through the instrumentality of these undershepherds. Thus the position of those who labor in word and doctrine becomes very important. In Christ's stead they beseech the people to be reconciled to God. 4T 393.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 472-3

I was shown that if the moral and intellectual faculties had not been clouded by wrong habits of living, ministers and people would have been quick to discern the evil results of mixing sacred and common things. Ministers have stood in the desk and preached a most solemn discourse, and then by introducing merchandise, and acting the part of a salesman, even in the house of God, they have diverted the minds of their hearers from the impressions received, and destroyed the fruit of their labor. If the sensibilities had not been blunted, they would have had discernment to know that they were bringing sacred things down upon a level with common. The burden of selling our publications should not rest upon ministers who labor in word and doctrine. Their time and strength should be held in reserve, that their efforts may be thorough in a series of meetings. Their time and strength should not be drawn upon to sell our books when they can be properly brought before the public by those who have not the burden of preaching the word. In entering new fields it may be necessary for the minister to take publications with him to offer for sale to the people, and it may be necessary in some other circumstances also to sell books and transact business for the office of publication. But such work should be avoided whenever it can be done by others. 1T 472.1

Ministers have all that they ought to do to preach the word, and after they have urged solemn truth upon the people they should maintain a humble dignity as the preachers of exalted truth and as representatives of the truth presented to the people. After their labored effort they need rest. Even selling books upon present truth is a care, a tax to the mind, and a weariness to the body. If there are those who still have a reserve force and can be taxed without injury to themselves, there is important work for them to do, and it has but just commenced when they have spoken the truth to the people. Then come the exemplary preaching, the watchful care, the seeking to do good to others, the conversation, and visiting at the fireside from house to house, entering into the condition of mind and the spiritual state of those who listened to the discourse from their lips; exhorting this one, reproving that one, rebuking another, and comforting the afflicted, suffering, and desponding. The mind should be as free from weariness as possible that they may be minutemen, “instant in season, out of season.” They should obey the injunction given by Paul to Timothy: “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them.” 1T 472.2

The responsibility of the work rests very lightly upon some. They feel that after they leave the desk their work is done. It is a burden to visit, a burden to talk; and the people who are really desirous of getting all the good there is for them, and who wish to hear and learn that they may see all things clearly, are not benefited and satisfied. Ministers excuse themselves because they are weary, and yet some exhaust their precious strength and spend their time in work which another could do just as well as they. They should preserve moral and physical vigor that as faithful workmen of God they may give full proof of their ministry. 1T 473.1

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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

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