Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Timothy 5:21

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

I charge thee before God - The apostle would have Timothy to consider that all he did should be done as in the sight of God, the Father of the spirits of all flesh; in the sight of Christ, the Savior of sinners, who purchased the Church with his own blood; and in the sight of the most holy, approved, and eminent angels, whose office it was to minister to the heirs of salvation. The word εκλεκτοι, elect, applied to the angels here, is supposed to distinguish those who stood, when others fell from their first estate. The former were elect, or approved; the latter reprobate, or disapproved. This is not an unfrequent sense of the word εκλεκτος, elect. Perhaps there is nothing else meant than the angels that are chosen out from among others, by the Lord himself, to be ministering servants to the Church.

Without preferring one before another - Χωρις προκριματος· Without prejudice. Promote no man's cause; make not up thy mind on any case, till thou hast weighed both sides, and heard both parties, with their respective witnesses; and then act impartially, as the matter may appear to be proved. Do not treat any man, in religious matters, according to the rank he holds in life, or according to any personal attachment thou mayest have for him. Every man should be dealt with in the Church as he will be dealt with at the judgment-seat of Christ. A minister of the Gospel, who, in the exercise of discipline in the Church, is swayed and warped by secular considerations, will be a curse rather than a blessing to the people of God. Accepting the persons of the rich, in ecclesiastical matters, has been a source of corruption in Christianity. With some ministers the show of piety in a rich man goes farther than the soundest Christian experience in the poor. What account can such persons give of their stewardship?

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I charge thee before God - compare Luke 16:28; Acts 2:20. The word rendered “charge” means, properly, to call to witness; then to affirm with solemn attestations; and then to admonish solemnly, to urge upon earnestly. It is a word which implies that the subject is of great importance. Paul gives this charge as in the presence of God, of the Redeemer, and of the elect angels, and wishes to secure that sense of its solemnity which must arise from the presence of such holy witnesses.

And the Lord Jesus Christ - As in the presence of the Lord Jesus; with his eye resting upon you.

And the elect angels - It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to speak as if we were in the presence of holy angels, and of the disembodied spirits of the good; compare notes on Hebrews 12:1. No one can prove that the angels, and that the departed spirits of holy men, are not witnesses of what we do. At all events, it is right to urge on others the performance of duty as if the eye of a departed father, mother, or sister were fixed upon us, and as if we were encompassed by all the holy beings of heaven. Sin, too, should be avoided as if every eye in the universe were upon us. How many things do we do which we would not; how many feelings do we cherish which we would at once banish from our minds, if we felt that the heavens above us were as transparent as glass, and that all the holy beings around the throne were fixing an intense gaze upon us! The word “elect” here seems to imply that there had been some influence used to keep them, and some purpose respecting them, which had not existed in regard to those who had fallen. Saints are called “elect” because they are chosen of God unto salvation (notes on Ephesians 1:4-5), and it would appear that it is a great law extending through the universe, that both those who remain in a state of holiness, and those who are made holy, are the subjects of purpose and choice on the part of God. The fact only is stated; the reasons which led to the choice, alike in regard to angels and human beings, are unknown to us; compare notes on Matthew 11:25.

That thou observe these things - Probably referring to all the things which he had enjoined in the previous parts of the Epistle.

Without preferring one before another - Margin, “prejudice.” The meaning is, “without previous judgment” - χωρὶς προκρίματος chōris prokrimatos- without any prejudice on account of rank, wealth, personal friendship, or predilection of any sort. Let there be entire impartiality in all cases. Justice was beautifully represented by the ancients as holding a pair of scales equally balanced. It is as important that there should be entire impartiality in the church as in civil transactions, and though it is not wrong for a minister of the gospel to have his personal friends, yet in the administration of the affairs of the church he should remember that all are brethren, and all, of whatever rank, color, sex, or age, have equal rights.

Partiality - Greek, “inclination,” or “proclivity” - that is, without being inclined to favor one party or person more than another. There should be no purpose to find one guilty and another innocent; no inclination of heart toward one which would lead us to resolve to find him innocent; and no aversion from another which would make us resolve to find him guilty.

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, 346.2

The minister is not to indulge in the relation of anecdotes, but he is to preach the Word. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” [1 Timothy 5:20, 21]. “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” [1 Timothy 4:12]. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” [2 Timothy 2:15]. VSS 346.2

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