The Epistles to Timothy.

The pastoral epistles seem almost to constitute a division by themselves. They are all of the same practical character, they are written alike to individuals, and those the representatives of the apostle in their different places. They are in this way quite distinct from the epistles to the assemblies, although, of course, the instruction remains perfectly for us today. They are alike in this way, that the order established at the beginning, established, though it were, for godliness, yet is so far broken through in the general decline and failure of the Church as of necessity to alter in some measure the form of the truth for us. This is, indeed, taken notice of in the second epistle to Timothy in a very distinct way, as we shall have to see. The wisdom of God, foreseeing the failure, has not left us without suited guard and provision for such a time; but while all these things associate together the epistles that are before us, yet they are practically divided as the names with which they are connected necessarily divide them, the two epistles to Timothy from that to Titus. Moreover, these are connected together, of necessity, by the place they have numerically among Paul's epistles. The book of Numbers is in this way related to the book of Deuteronomy. There is a clear connection between these two in such a way as there is not between them and the books of Exodus and Leviticus, for instance. So, in the books of the Psalms, the fourth and fifth divisions are evidently very closely connected together. The number 5 is, as has been often shown, a 4 + 1, and contains in itself the meanings of both numbers — the number of weakness with that of strength; the number of the creature, we may say, with that which speaks of God. This is also the connection and division between the epistles to Timothy and Titus. The epistles to Timothy speak of behavior in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, and the directions in it are all for the maintenance of godliness, of the holiness which becomes God's house. The epistle to Titus takes also this character, but to show us that the truth, whatever is that, is of necessity according to godliness, and the relation of these with one another.

Titus is thus, however brief it may be, really the Deuteronomy of Paul's epistles, and as such we shall consider it. In Numbers also the failure of the people is brought out, as in Deuteronomy we find the lessons deduced from all this history of failure. Just so, in Timothy we have the failure which in Titus is scarcely seen; but the divine side, the lessons that God will have us learn as to it all, are fully dwelt upon.

The first epistle to Timothy is contrasted with the second as showing us the house of God in order, although there is a prophecy of the ruin which was even then impending. The second epistle shows us this in principle already accomplished. The house has become as a great house, with its "vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth, some to honor and some to dishonor" and the word goes forth that if one therefore now purge himself from these vessels to dishonor, "he shall be a vessel to honor, sanctified and meet for the Master's use." On the other hand, such an one is to "follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart." Separation from evil has always been God's principle from the beginning.

The First Epistle to Timothy.

Scope and Divisions of the First Epistle to Timothy.

The first epistle, on account of its very practical character, is somewhat hard to characterize: to give, that is, the connection between its various parts. This is not to say, as many commentators would teach us, that a connection is really wanting, and that the epistle is but a number of unassorted practical precepts; but the connection in such cases is necessarily harder to follow than where doctrine is before us. We shall find, indeed, the doctrine insisted upon, the necessity and importance of it; for it is the basis of all godliness: for the knowledge of God in Christ with which all doctrine of necessity is concerned, is that without which there can be no proper holiness, which is but separation to God as thus revealed. In this epistle the apostle insists therefore, in the first place, upon the absolute necessity of the preservation of the doctrine; and that this is a doctrine of grace and not of law. Grace is the one sufficiency for godliness as for all else. He therefore adduces himself, the messenger of this grace, as one in whom God had displayed it to the utmost; only, with faith in this there must be the maintenance of a good conscience, or shipwreck may be made as to the truth itself. Thus early have we intimation of what was, indeed, soon to come.

The second division insists upon prayer as all-needful in a world like this, and with the weakness in ourselves which we shall surely feel, if we feel anything. Prayer is, therefore, insisted on; but the house of God is, as was even true of the temple of old in its measure, "a house of prayer for all people." God, as the apostle declares Him, is the Saviour-God, revealed as that, in heart and desire towards all. As a consequence, prayer is to be made for all. Those who have no voice to utter their needs are to be represented by those whom God has waked up to the sense of them, and to whom He has given a love which seeks of necessity the blessing of men and to minister to it. But the question of prayer is wider than this, and the men are to "pray everywhere, lifting up pious hands."

In the third division, the house of God and the holiness belonging to it are insisted upon. The elders, or overseers and deacons, are appointed specifically for this, while the Church is seen as the "pillar and ground" (or support) "of the truth," which is indeed "the mystery of piety," even He who is Himself the living Truth, — God manifest in flesh.

In the fourth division it is foreseen that in the latter days some shall apostatize from this faith.

The last division gives us various special responsibilities, whether of the assembly as a whole, or of those in office in it.

The divisions, therefore, are:
1. (1 Tim. 1.): Grace, as the one necessity for all blessing.
2. (1 Tim. 2.): Prayer, as the expression of dependence on the part of those who know the heart of a Saviour-God and the Mediator between God and men, which is Christ Jesus.
3. (1 Tim. 3.): The house of God, and the holiness belonging to it.
4. (1 Tim. 4.): The latter-day apostasy.
5. (1 Tim. 5 and 6.): Special responsibilities.


Division 1. (1 Tim. 1.)

Grace the one necessity for all blessing.

It is most instructive to see, while at the same time very simple to understand, how the apostle begins his exhortations with regard to godliness by an insistence upon that grace which is the only power that breaks the dominion of sin, and on the maintenance of the truth as to God Himself revealed as a Saviour-God towards men. This alone brings in the light in which we are to walk, and which manifests things in their true character. Holiness, or piety, is always a "holiness of truth." God Himself and our relation to Him must be established fully before we can talk of any duties to one another. It was when man slipped away from God Himself that of necessity all else was disordered, the very beasts of the field rose up against man, and the first man born into the world was the murderer of his brother.

1. Paul speaks of himself, then, as an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the commandment of God our Saviour. How beautiful the urgency of this is! One might think it would suffice to know the blessedness of salvation to make it an absolute necessity to set it forth to others; but this is not enough for Him who is revealed in Christ as the Saviour-God; and He must thus thrust out His laborers into the fields which await the seed of the gospel — that precious seed from which all real fruit for Him is to be produced. Paul insists, therefore, here also upon his apostleship. He is not a mere messenger, but a messenger with fullest authority. God would have the truth of these things certified to man with all the assurance that He can give it, and thus, as we know, the miracles which attended the proclamation of the gospel at the outset were designed to call earnest attention to the testimony going forth. Timothy is himself an example of how God would have these things constantly maintained, as he is himself urged by the apostle to communicate the things which he has heard from him, among many witnesses, to faithful or believing men who shall be able to teach others also. "Faithful" and "believing" are the same word in the Greek, and all faithfulness is, in fact, a question simply of believing. Faith and faithfulness are root and stem in all living godliness. Thus the apostle addresses Timothy as his true child in faith. With him there was, of course, no apostleship. The testimony is to be left now to the responsibility of ordinary men to maintain it. The sowing of the seed is the simple way by which other seed is to be produced for fresh sowing.

Timothy is in his character, as in his name, a true product of the apostle's gospel. He is one who "honors God," who maintains what is His due amongst men. In feebleness this might be, indeed. We find in Timothy himself one with whom there was a special sense of inherent weakness. He needs to be exhorted to be strong; he needs to be told that the Spirit that we have received is not a spirit of cowardice, but of power and of love and of a sound mind; but with a true heart all these difficulties are overcome, and there is ever, according to the apostle's greeting here, "grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Christ," the One we serve.

Mercy, as has been often noticed, is specially added here, where an individual is addressed; and is it not according to the character of things which is coming in, that it should be now, in the close of Paul's epistles, the individual that is thus specially addressed? Individuality is needed surely to be preserved at all times, but how distinctly does that individuality need to be insisted on when the mass are going astray! Conscience is individual, never of a body as such; and it always leads to individual action, although where the Spirit of God is, there will be the action together, of course, of those who are guided by the Spirit.

The apostle urges him to remember that he had besought him to abide in Ephesus for the express purpose of charging some that they taught no other doctrine. The danger of this is plainly intimated; and in Paul's address, as we find it in the Acts, to the Ephesian elders, it is fully realized. Thus already the tendencies are manifest which were so soon to have such terrible development. It was all in the germ at present, but there is, alas, a kind of life in these germs of evil which leads to development of their own kind, just as faith of necessity will develop itself upon the other hand. That which he warns of here is the giving heed to fables and endless genealogies: things which, whatever they might be, did not spring out of the truth which God was declaring, and which thus brought in all the uncertainty that of necessity attaches to what is of man. These endless genealogies might be of very different kinds from the genealogies of the law upon which men might still build themselves, or the genealogies of heathenism such as afterwards manifested themselves mystically in the teachings of Gnosticism. In fact, all that men can think of naturally is the derivation of one thing from another, as we see manifestly in the science of our own days. Where God is to come in they are at fault, and there tends to be the resistance of this need of God, and the substitution of natural laws and material developments in place of the Creator. We shall find in this epistle that in the apostasy of the last days, of which the apostle speaks, it is the Creator who is in the first place set aside. For the proper intelligence of God and of His ways there must be revelation. Here reason cannot lay the foundations, although it may be summoned to approve of the foundations laid. Here is where Scripture is of the first necessity for all the foundations of science, and because men have not faith, science becomes, for lack of a foundation, a mere "opposition of science falsely called such."

2. But one pressing matter that faced Christianity now was the Judaism which had fallen away from God, and now, therefore, was in the hands of Satan everywhere to resist the truth. "The end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned." Where the truth was not received, into soil like this thorns and thistles would spring up with it and choke it; and thus those could be already pointed out who had gone astray, "desiring to be teachers of law;" by that very fact revealing that they did not understand the law itself of which they spoke. True it was that it was of God, and of necessity had use, as everything that is of God must have; but the lawful use of the law they did not recognize — that its power was in condemnation, not in justification, and not even in the production of that holiness at which it aimed and which was its own character. Thus the law had not its application to a righteous person, but to "the lawless and insubordinate, to the ungodly and sinners, the unholy and profane" of every kind. It was, therefore, for the rooting up of thorns and weeds; but where the true seed was sown and the gospel of the glory of the blessed God was bringing forth fruit, how dangerous to introduce the plowshare! Law was intended to be the handmaid of grace. It has, as a schoolmaster, its necessary lessons; but the schoolmaster is not always to abide, and the freedom of the Spirit of adoption the law never knew. Thus, as a first necessity for godliness, there must be the maintenance of the grace which alone could produce it, in contrast with the law.

3. The apostle still further insists upon his own case as being the eminent example of that grace which he was preaching; the messenger and the message corresponded fully. The message of most perfect grace came on the lips of the chief of sinners, whom grace had conquered to itself, and in whom it now found the means of assuring all that Christ Jesus had "come into the world to save sinners," and that without exception. Thus he who was beforetime the persecutor of Christians was not saved to be kept in a corner, but, on the contrary, was needed as the special advertisement of that which God was doing, that no man might conceive himself too great a sinner for this grace. True it was that it was in the ignorance of unbelief that Saul the persecutor had lived and acted. This it was that alone enabled mercy to be shown him at all, for the gates of the city of refuge were open only to the unconscious manslayer, not to the deliberate murderer; and so those who were the deliberate rejecters of God's grace in Christ had by that very fact placed themselves beyond the power of the revelation itself to reach them. It had in a sense reached them, but only to manifest their incapacity for the reception of it altogether. Such was not Paul's case, and the grace of the Lord was "exceeding abundant" towards him, "with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." Christ had been revealed to him not in vain, and now he could assure all men who would receive it that Christ Jesus had indeed "come into the world to save sinners," and that he himself was the pattern of that grace that Christ was showing to all "who should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting." He breaks out with the praise that filled his heart to the One who through all time abides "the King of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only God, to whom be honor and glory to the ages of ages."

4. But immediately there follows the recognition of danger. Even grace itself may be apparently received, while in fact turned into that which is most perfectly opposed to God, the true opposite of that which it imitates. Paul commits the charge of maintaining this truth of which he has been speaking, to his child Timotheus, one specially marked out before by prophecies, for his encouragement and exhortation in the warfare to which he was now called. Two things needed to be maintained together, "faith and a good conscience," the recognition of the claims which faith itself made upon the soul. There were already to be seen wrecks resulting from the divorce of these two from one another. The truth itself only maintains its place in connection with that exercise of conscience which testifies to God being before the soul. Already, Hymenaeus and Alexander were in this way blaspheming. Paul had, in his apostolic power, delivered them to Satan — put them into the hands of one who would use his power with them, as we have seen as to the offender among the Corinthians, for the destruction of the flesh, but that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. God's grace would thus triumph in making the very enemy of souls in this way the instrument of their deliverance.

Division 2. (1 Tim. 2.)


We now have, insisted on in the strongest way, the necessity of prayer. As already said, the house of God is necessarily, by the fact that this God is the God of all, "a house of prayer for all nations." Prayer is the recognition of the creature place as such, — of the need of God; while at the same time it testifies, if it be true prayer, of the faith that counts upon Him. It is striking that it comes into so much prominence in this epistle. It is important that the very grace of Christianity, the positiveness of salvation and of the working of all things together for good to them that love God, should not be permitted practically to set aside the need of prayer. God is all-mighty, all-wise, all-good; spite of all opposition, He will accomplish His will, and His will is that which should be accomplished. God is the only one who in that sense is entitled to have a will. But here there is the need, as is evident, of looking at things all around. Prayer is, no doubt, in one sense a necessity on our side, rather than on God's. We did not pray Christ down from heaven, but God sent Him for the lost. All through He is the First in this way, the One who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. While that is true, it must not for a moment be used in contradiction to the truth that "the fervent, effectual prayer of the righteous man availeth much," and that God would have us "always to pray and not to faint." We must take this almightiness, this wisdom and love of God, to energize us, therefore, to prayer, and not to hinder us. It should act as plain encouragement, and in no other way. We are not in heaven, but only on our way to it, and prayer is just that which in the answers which we find to it keeps us in constant remembrance of the living God whom we need, and whose grace towards us becomes in this way so much more consciously such. For how much are we indebted to the needs which we thus have, and which it is plain God permits us to be reminded of in so many and often very painful ways! Love acts also in prayer, gives voice to its desires, as we see here; and thus we are permitted to have our place with God Himself, and our communion with Him who is the Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

1. In the first place, in fact, we have the insistence here upon prayer, not for ourselves, but for others. The natural order, perhaps, with us would be first of all for ourselves, and then for others. The apostle reverses this: "I exhort, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men; for kings, and all that are in pre-eminence," all those who stand out, evidently, from the mass as influential, in one way or another, for good or for evil, with regard to those amongst whom they move. It is true that there is a reference here to ourselves also, the result of the blessing of these, in our being able ourselves to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all piety and gravity; but we are not to think of that as if it were the whole of it; for we are immediately reminded that "this is good and acceptable before God our Saviour; who would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Here, also, the quietness and peace in general is not, of course, and never could be, the great thought, but the work of the gospel amongst them; the life eternal is, of course, that which is the all-important consideration, and the trials and sorrows of this life are ever being used of God to awaken men to the reality of the life to come; but that the gospel should go forth in peace is the mercy sought. God "would have all men to be saved, and to come to a knowledge of the truth." Let us notice how these things are put together. There is no thought of people being saved without the knowledge of the truth. There is no thought, according to the fashion of the day, that a man simply crying in his need to God will be answered, and we need not trouble ourselves too much, therefore, about the gospel. God is surely ready to hear the cry, but His way of salvation is by the truth, and there is no other that Scripture recognizes; but the testimony now has the widest possible range. There is not only one God, as the Jew rightly contended, but one Mediator between God and men;" not between God and the Jew, and not with any distinction amongst men in this respect. "The Man Christ Jesus," "the Son of Man," as He continually called Himself, is the expression of God's heart, not to a certain class amongst men merely, but to all. He has given "Himself a ransom for all." He has made a provision, from the good of which none are excepted except those who voluntarily set themselves apart from blessing. The times are come in which God having fully demonstrated man's condition, He can speak out what is according to His own nature. Individually people have, no doubt, still to be tested, as through the ages men have been tested, and to be made to find their way to the place of those "without strength" and "ungodly," where Christ has met men; but God has nevertheless demonstrated man's condition as a whole, and He is not now hindered or limited in the testimony which He is giving. It is a testimony world-wide. To this the apostle was appointed "a herald" and "teacher of the nations in faith and truth." This testimony then is to characterize the Church as a whole, — not that all are, as we may say, officially evangelists, but, nevertheless, evangelization is the privilege and duty of all who themselves have received the gospel.

2. He turns to prayer in general as that which is to characterize men everywhere. In the public place it is still the men who are to pray, lifting up pious hands. The apostle maintains throughout, in the most consistent manner, the doctrine that the woman's place is not the public one. Nature teaches the same thing, however little we may listen to its voice. This, of course, no more cuts off the women from evangelizing, nor even from instructing in the truth which they have learned, than it cuts them off from prayer. The apostle is thinking of the house of God as the "house of prayer for all nations," and it is public prayer of which he is speaking. This is where the men as such find their place. Here there is no question, of course, of office; there is no one who is exempted really from the duty of praying in every place. The hands that they lift up must be indeed pious hands. No one who cannot lift up such has title to pray in public. Do not men, in fact, shrink often from public prayer really in consequence of the responsibility which it is felt to entail? The people who do not pray are not obliged to have their hands so scrupulously clean! If we "lift them up," they will be noticed; but what a safeguard there is in this, and how needful that everywhere Christians should be found in the place which God. has accorded them, with "pious hands" lifted up, "without wrath or disputation!"

In like manner, also, he points out the moral character which the women necessarily, equally with the men, are to exemplify. They are to be adorned with fitting apparel. The seeking of adornment is natural to them, but let this then, says the apostle, be it, — in fact, the sweetest and most real adornment that can any where be found, — not the adornment of the outside, not costly or even so much external adornment, as the adornment of the spirit which is to be seen in them, and of the works which will speak for them; while at the same time the apparel is, no doubt, to be fitting, not slovenly, not such as would cause remark upon the other side, but suited to the quiet modesty which belongs to them. As to the place of the woman as a teacher, the apostle carries us back to the beginning of all. It is, indeed, the constant way with him to uphold, along with the peculiar place which God has given us as Christians, where it is no question of sex at all, the creation-place, which is not really interfered with by this. It is not for eternity, nor meant to be put as if of equal value with the place in Christ. Nevertheless, there are lessons to be learned here which are wholesome to receive, and which cannot without danger be set aside. We shall find, in fact, as we go on, that one great feature of the apostasy, so soon to set in, will be the disregard of that which God instituted when He created man. The woman then is not to teach — that is, in such a way clearly as to exercise authority over the man. That is not a question of the fall, although the apostle brings in the fall in order to illustrate his point. It inheres, however, in the very character of woman, who is the heart of humanity, as Adam is the head. But in the fall itself Adam was not deceived. It is not that that excuses Adam in the least. It would rather be the opposite of this, but it certainly illustrates the fact that with man intelligence is prominent. The woman ought to have been kept, no doubt, by a heart which realized what God was to them, and the love which He had manifested towards them in the Paradise prepared. She was not ill-guarded against the tempter, but she was guarded in a different way. Alas, the temptation broke through both these guards, and head and heart were alike involved in the ruin that came in. Still, the woman's way of being in the transgression was as one deceived, and the man was not deceived. It is not a difference with regard to the measure of the sin itself, but it is a difference which shows the man and the woman in the characteristic features of each. The apostle closes here with the comforting assurance that where the fall had brought the woman into suffering and sorrow, which was the needed reminder of that which no child of man is ever intended to forget, God nevertheless would assuredly come in to deliver those who continued "in faith and love and holiness, with sobriety." The thought of a reference here to Christ as the child born seems to have no justification in the language nor in the context.

Division 3. (1 Tim. 3, 4.)

The house of God and the holiness belonging to it.

We now come really to the house of God itself first of all, indeed, to that which was instituted for the preservation of the character which it should necessarily have as the house of God. The elder, or overseer, and the deacon are provisions for the expression, on the one hand, of that godliness which belongs to it as such, and also of that character which we see must necessarily belong to it as the house of a Saviour-God, and whose love, therefore, must be shown by ministry to the need, which is, in fact, ordered on God's part, to draw out and cultivate the spirit so necessary in the Christian. These things are all that we may learn how to conduct ourselves in the house of God. Whatever special place Timothy might have and had, yet the conduct of any in the house of God must befit the place in which he is. The directions even as to elders and deacons are not, so to speak, merely for their own sake; they show us the character that God values and seeks from His people, giving it only an emphasis which cannot certainly make the lesson for us less.

1. The bishop, commonly so-called, or "overseer," as the word means, comes before us first here. His title of office expresses the character of it. The man himself who is to fill the office is the "elder," though not here named as such. We have the two brought together in the plainest way in the apostle's address to the elders at Ephesus in the book of Acts, where, calling for the elders of the Church, he bids them to take care for the Church of God, in which the Holy Spirit had made them bishops, or overseers. The elder (elder in years) is necessarily the one who is alone fit for such an office. The incongruity of a young man being appointed to it should be obvious at first sight. It is a place which requires experience, and which calls for a reputation on the part of one who fills it, gained not all at once, but as he is tested and manifested by the testing. He was appointed specifically to this work, did not appoint himself to it, though he might aspire to such, and desire a good work in aspiring to it. In fact, work of this character is what there is, perhaps, more danger of men shrinking from than aspiring to. Not every elder in years would therefore be what his years should have made him, and the apostle's words indicate here that the love to others which necessarily exists in the Christian heart should lead him to desire labor of this kind. It is labor, not authority, that he desires. The appointment, which is what is called ordinarily ordination now, was that which manifestly gave authority. The idea everywhere entertained today that the evangelist, or teacher, needs such authority for the exercise of his proper gift, is an entire mistake as to the very purpose of the ordination. A gift speaks for itself. It is the "manifestation of the Spirit," as the apostle says, which is for every man to profit with it; that is, he is to use it for the profit of others. The fact of the gift entails the responsibility of using it, and to seek authority from man in this way is, however ignorantly, to slight the authority of God, which can make no mistake in the gift that has been given. People would say, of course, that the question here is as to the possession of the gift; but there is in Christianity, as we have seen, the widest liberty for every one, without pretension, to help another according to the full capacity which he may realize to do so. Christians will easily determine for themselves whether it is help that they are getting or the reverse. We know the baker by the bread he gives us. We know the teacher by the spiritual food which he supplies. Ordination at the hands of a certain number of any limited class sets aside in reality the responsibility of every one to take heed for himself as to what he hears. The teaching is supposed to have been otherwise guaranteed to him, and he has little to do except to sit down and receive that which comes with such a sanction. The abuse is everywhere manifest, and the abuse is inherent in such a use of ordination as we find here. The conscience of both hearer and teacher is taken away from its proper immediate exercise before God, and human influences get their leave to rule in a disastrous way. The independence of the teacher must be secured in obedience to the Spirit Himself, who is in this respect the true Overseer every way and, on the other hand, the one who hears is to be in no wise dependent upon the teacher. The unscriptural thought of a minister and his congregation gives, in fact, the teacher a monopoly of instruction which a true soul, uninfluenced by tradition, would surely, as a matter of course, refuse. Who would desire to assume responsibility of giving to those under him all that they need in this way, shutting out the divers gifts in the body of Christ, as himself all-competent to be all gift? God's way is at once that of liberty to serve, and of service instead of rule, which in this case is out of place. Wherever it is a question of teaching or evangelizing, the authority is in the Word itself, and no other is needed. The Word is maintained in its place as the decisive word of God, to which all are to be subject, and is that also which every one is responsible for himself to recognize, and empowered to do so by the Spirit which is received. If the teaching becomes in any wise erroneous, so as to affect fundamental points, of course the discipline of the assembly comes rightly into its place. Apart from this, the rule is, as the apostle says of prophesying in the assembly: "Let the prophets speak" — give them also their liberty — "and let the rest judge." All party spirit, all working of men's minds merely, in this way finds its most effectual power of restraint. But we have here to do, not with the evangelist or teacher, but with the overseer, who is indeed to be "apt to teach;" that is, he is to be able to use the word of God as he has received it. If he could not do this, he could have no right influence or authority over others; but this does not amount to a teacher's gift, and in fact we find elsewhere that the elders that rule well are to be accounted "worthy of double honor, specially those who labor in the word and doctrine." If they labored in the word and doctrine, that was an additional thing, and of necessity deserved additional honor; but the elder might rule well, apart from that. In the case, then, of oversight of the kind that is indicated here, (that fatherly oversight which he has shown his readiness for by having his children in subjection in his own house) ordination had its rightful place. There might be matters to inquire into which it would be in no wise well for every one to have liberty for. On the other hand, we never hear of an elder in a place or congregation, but of elders. It was not the rule of one man that could be tolerated even here. Too much power of this sort man cannot be safely trusted with; while, on the other hand, the presence of a class which had such authority would be necessarily of great advantage. It is evident that the elders in no wise interfered with the responsibility of assembly discipline, however much they might be leaders here; but the assembly in this was to act as the assembly everywhere, in its own place and responsibility.

The character needed in the overseer will now be easy to understand. A man might rightly aspire to oversight, as has been already said. He might rightly crave the ability to help in matters in which every assembly, in fact, needs help. If he desired it as a good work, not for personal display, it was all well. But the overseer must be irreproachable. There must not be a cloud upon him. His moral character must be spotless in the eyes of all. He was to be the "husband of one wife, sober, discreet, decorous, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, but mild, not given to contention, not fond of money." Here is the moral character which becomes him, and it needs scarcely to be enlarged upon. A special point is that which follows here, and we see how necessarily the elder would be both an elderly and a married man. There must have been time to show his power to conduct well his own house, otherwise how could he take this larger care as to the assembly of God itself? The apostle does not exactly say "the house of God" because, as we may believe, he is thinking of the local assembly, and the house of God is a larger thought than that; but the care, nevertheless, is similar. It is a fatherly care, suited to the house of God as such, although he cannot be the father in that house, as in fact he never was the father, even in one assembly. There was a community of fathers, for the house of God needs the care of many, and the various ability implied in this. He was not to be a novice, even though he might have all other qualifications. He should be a man tried, and therefore who has had time for the trial, "lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil;" that is, should fall into the sin for which the devil is condemned. A solemn word this, which has been commented on, perhaps, sufficiently elsewhere; but here we have the primal sin itself, in view of which God has acted all the way through human history, and in the very creation of man no less. How solemn to think that a being created in perfection, one of those "angels that excel in strength," who are the type of creature independence so far as this can be spoken of, should fall in the only way, perhaps, in which we can think of any possibility of a fall on the part of such an one, by self-occupation, self-admiration; and what an awful fall it was! How has God hedged man around in this respect to hide pride from him, with the limitation of a human body, naturally a naked creature, inferior in some respects to the beasts around him, whose nature, too, in many respects he shares!

A limitation this, which the fall has only been the means of more strictly circumscribing, so that the lesson shall be more fully learned at last. In how many ways, spite of all, may this pride seek its satisfaction; nay, its recognized place, one might almost say, among Christians themselves. and how many current systems provide more or less for this! Man in the office of an elder must be specially one who has shown himself not easily lifted up with pride. He must show that he has laid to heart the lesson of his origin, and of all God's dealings with him by the way. His testimony also must be good from those that are without. God does not make light of a man's testimony from the world itself, although we must not expect the world to appreciate that which is peculiarly Christian in him; but he must have a good testimony in this way, so as not to fall into reproach, (and bring reproach, therefore, upon those among whom he has a place of this sort,) and into the snare of the devil, the accuser, who will be apt to buffet and render him useless by this very reproach.

2. The deacon is, in the strict meaning of the word, the "minister" one who serves; and this word is applied in a larger way than to the local office which is here indicated by it. Here, no doubt, the minister was such as in the case of the seven appointed in Jerusalem; whose duty it was to "serve tables." This expressively indicates what is in question. It is the bodily need especially that the deacon serves. In this way he cannot and must not forget that he is the spiritual man, and that all lesser and lower things are necessarily to have their character from their spiritual bearing. The ministry of the assembly is the outflow of the heart drawn out by the needs which God permits for this purpose. It is the same principle as that which obtains in the whole body of Christ, here more in outward things; but there is, of course, nothing secular in it, nor indeed is there to be anywhere, in any point of Christian life. Those chosen in the Acts were to be "men full of the Holy Spirit," no less; and we may be sure that they needed and could find use for all that this implies. Stephen and Philip are beautiful examples of those who in such ministry acquired "for themselves a good degree, and much boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."

The deacons, then, are to be "grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not seeking gain by base means;" and while not absolutely, as in the case of an elder, needing to be "apt to teach," yet must hold "the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." Faith and conscience are thus to be joined together, as we have already seen. Mere orthodoxy is incompetent everywhere. If the conscience is not under the authority of the truth, the truth can only be a burden to one instead of the blessing that it should be. The deacons, also, were to be men who had been tested, and had abode the test. They were to be entrusted with things which manifestly have their power of temptation even among Christians. They are to be first proved, and then to minister as those without blame and who have approved themselves. The wives are mentioned also in a special manner here, as not in the case of the elder, which has also, no doubt, to do with the relative characters of the two offices. The wives were to be "grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things." The deacons, too, were to be "husbands of one wife, conducting their children and their own houses well." We are reminded of Philip's daughters who were prophetesses, when Philip himself had risen to a larger sphere of labor than that which was his at Jerusalem in the first place. In this way they would "acquire for themselves a good degree," they would be helped in helping, and find boldness also in the faith in Christ.

3. The apostle now tells Timothy that he was writing these things that he might know how to conduct himself in the house of God. Holiness becomes God's house forever. The holiness which should be found in the houses of His people is, of course, but the mere reflection of this. Yet here, too, the character of the house is left in measure to the responsibility of those who are in it. A responsibility indeed it is, for this house of God is the assembly of the living God, indwelt by the living Spirit, the witness for Christ upon the earth. As this, it is of necessity "the pillar," proclaiming, and "the ground of the truth," supporting it by its character; and this remains always in principle the same, although, alas, the failure of man has come in plentifully, as we know, to affect it. Still, if we think of Christendom itself, we could not look outside it for the truth, or for the character which the truth emphasizes. We must not, indeed, look at the masses — that is sadly true; but we cannot look outside the profession of the faith for this faith that is professed. The truth which it declares is of the most marvelous character. It is "the mystery of piety" — thus, that which is necessary absolutely to godliness, as we have already seen. Without the truth there will be no godliness; but here it is "the mystery of piety," not the truth simply which Israel had, but much more than this, and having features which, though we may find them in germ in the Old Testament, yet, after all, are peculiar in the full sense to the Christianity which has replaced it. A mystery is always something hidden; but which, nevertheless, is made known to those initiated. To them it is not a mystery any longer, not a secret, but a thing revealed, however much it be true that indeed there are heights and depths in it which no man has ever fathomed, or will fathom. This mystery is in a Person, acquaintance with whom, if it be real, in the heart, is piety itself. It is "He who hath been manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory."

The opening clause here is, as we all know, contested. Our common version is: "God was manifested in the flesh." The Revised has it as here: "He who hath been manifested." It is a question of text, which criticism is answering in a way, perhaps, somewhat distasteful to one who cleaves most to the blessed thought, which is, however, really the same, however we read it. We are not really so poor in texts regarding the deity of Christ as to take so seriously the loss of this one; but in fact it is only a superficial view that we do lose it: for WHO is it that has been "manifested in the flesh"? What do such words mean? We cannot think of angels; we cannot think of a man manifested in the flesh. Deity it must after all be, and the language is almost equivalent to that which the apostle John uses in the place in which he is giving us the very criterion of orthodoxy in this matter: "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ has come in flesh is of God." That is the confession, to deny which constitutes an antichrist; yet the deity of Christ is no more positively stated there than in the questioned passage before us. But who could speak of a man come in flesh? And there is no doctrine of an angel so coming, to be put in opposition to that which is plainly the true one. The manifestation of God is that which is the intent and purpose of all divine communications. It can be nothing else here than God manifested in the flesh, whether this be stated or only implied. The passage, even as commonly read, has been taken by those unsound in the doctrine, the Gnostics, as merely a sort of appearance, a manifestation indeed, but not a personal one. The connection with what follows, however, speaks in favor of the new rendering. One can hardly say "God justified in the Spirit." This latter clause, which speaks of the descent of the Spirit of God upon Christ, making Him thus the Christ, the Anointed, refers to Him as the Man Christ Jesus, the Second Man, wholly approved of God, refusing the first fallen one. It is quite true that here also is the One to whom God at the same time testifies as His beloved Son, but the expression has reference to the white robe in which the priest must offer, or the unblemished character of the lamb of sacrifice. It is thus John, who has seen the Spirit descend, testifies of Him as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world;" and the whole scene is in harmony with this.

In any case, as already said, it is the Lord's deity that is implied here. There is no meaning really otherwise in it; and what a wonderful thing it is, flesh, the human nature as identified with its lowest part, with just that which speaks of weakness and mutability, yet the vessel of the display of Deity itself! A Man here is found who can give God His character — single and alone can do it. The One who has revealed Himself in the Old Testament as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, (and then we must look at these as types, rather than at the men themselves,) is now revealed in One who as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ awakes the whole heart to worship. The lowliness of the manifestation is an essential part of its glory. The "vessel of earth" (although not in the same sense in which the apostle speaks of it in Corinthians) discloses, is fitted to disclose, the excellency of a power which is all of God. It is not a gleam of glory that is there, but the full reality of it, which will make the throne of God forever to be also the throne of the Lamb. God and man are here in such relation that the one is, so to speak, essential to the other. There must be truest humanity and there must be the full truth of Godhead, or the revelation is lost. It must be the Creator who becomes the Redeemer. If it were any way possible, which it is not, yet the moral impossibility of God leaving the work of redemption to another should be manifest at once. It is God Himself who thus wins man's heart to Himself. It is God who has this double claim now upon His creature. It is thus He wins for Himself the creature He has made.

From this point His justification in the Spirit becomes a necessity. God has not repented of His creation of man. Here the thought that He had in the beginning as to him is revealed. Here is the blessed Man before us who embodies that thought — One upon whom, without shedding of blood at all, because of His own perfection, the Holy Spirit can abide — nay, we should say, must abide. Our justification is, as we have seen in Corinthians, by the Spirit too; the Spirit now able to dwell in us because of the perfection in which we are before God; but this is no perfection of our own. It is the perfection of the work accomplished for us and of Him in whom we stand. On the other hand, Christ as indwelt of the Spirit is the testimony to His own perfection, and this can never know any change. He is thus the Christ, the Anointed One. This becomes His very title — the Man approved of God, and approved as suited for the work with which He here connects Himself, just come out of that retirement in which He had been before the eye of God alone, to take His place openly as ministering to man, and that to the giving up of Himself in death; as Jordan, out of which He has come up, testifies.

The next thing that we have here shows us the grandeur of the scene for which the revelation is. It is a revelation in manhood, in flesh; but it is a revelation "seen of angels." The principalities and powers become not merely spectators, but spectators of that which is wonderful blessing for them, even while the Lamb of sacrifice is, of course, not for them; but we have seen in Ephesians that God the Father as revealed to us in Christ is thus "the Father of every family in heaven and earth." The relation of Fatherhood is necessarily characterized by all that this revelation of the Father brings out in it.

In the next clause we have another but a different expansion of the grace that is here: "Preached among the nations" shows that the old hindrances to that which was ever in His heart have been removed, and that now Jew and Gentile alike become the recipients of His favor. He is plainly seen not to be the God of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. Thus He is "believed on in the world." Though it be true that it is by the power of the Spirit only that anything is effected, yet there is this response in the world at large to the revelation made. That which Judaism could not accomplish, the Gentile world being practically almost untouched by it, is now accomplished. Man's heart awakens in the new spring-tide of blessing which is opening up, and which, whatever the conflict yet with the cloud and darkness, is destined at last to banish them from the earth, and Christ "lifted up" from the earth to draw men unto Him.

With all this ensured, then, the final word here is: "Received up in glory." The glory of God from which He has come, once more receives Him. The cloud may for a while hide Him from the earth which His presence has so blessed, nevertheless it is only to open new scenes of higher blessing to man himself. He has glorified God upon earth, and God has glorified Him in heaven. There is hence not only a light breaking out through the opened veil for men, but also a way opened in for men into the place in which He is.

Division 4. (1 Tim. 4.)

The latter-day apostasy.

The fourth division stands in the saddest contrast with that which we have just been looking at. The brighter the light, the darker the shadows. The corruption of the best becomes the worst corruption; and, alas, as soon as ever we speak of what is entrusted to man, there is sure to follow the demonstration of man's wilful incapacity. We must never lose sight of the wilfulness which is the incapacity. Scripture never forgets the complete responsibility of man in every way, and never allows that he fails through weakness simply, through mere incompetency. The apostle goes on now, therefore, to speak of the foreseen apostasy, even from a faith like this; the power of Satan working where the power of God is working, and man giving heed to Satan rather than to God. How blessed, however, to realize that here also, where it may least seem so, God is absolute Master of all circumstances, and that even the worst revolt of the creature shall at last glorify Him! For us also the knowledge of these things should be also the knowledge of that which is in our own hearts, and which should make us cleave, in the consciousness of our weakness, to Him, with fuller purpose and desire, who alone is able to deliver us from all that is within as well as all that is without.

1. It is remarkable how much the apostle connects, in all that is here, the present with the past, carrying us back to the very beginning, to the creation and the fall, and showing us the apostasy in Christendom as being still the revolt of the creature against the Creator, the spurning of that which God instituted at the beginning, so that just as Christianity embodies in itself also the principles inherent in God's first creation, so the apostasy too sums up in itself the elements of all apostasy, which is seen to be rebellion all along the line of history, as we may say. How gracious of God that all this is marked out for us, that we might not be dismayed or overborne by that in itself so startling, the spirit of evil yet unconquered and manifesting itself only the more, the more God's grace is manifested! "The Spirit," then, "speaketh expressly that in the latter days some shall apostatize from the faith." We have not here exactly, as in Thessalonians, the fully organized apostasy. It is the individual, rather, and in that way so soon to manifest itself. The faith is here what is struck at in the first place, as it is, as we know, the foundation of all. Other things will follow; and if the faith can be destroyed, the fruits of faith will of necessity follow. Men may make, as they are making now, light of doctrine. Satan is wiser, and, with all this, while he encourages it, is only making manifest his own estimation of doctrine. He knows how to exalt morality at its expense, and to be here, apparently, the angel of light contending for righteousness. Only, in fact, his lies begin with a doctrine which his followers must receive, and in which all is found for the accomplishment of that which it is in his heart to accomplish. Apostasy from the faith will be found always to be the "giving heed to deceiving spirits, and teachings of demons," although there may be times in which this may be palpable, and, as the darkness increases, demonolatry may, and naturally will, become more openly in fashion. It is all about us today; by which we may judge of the darkness; but the apostle's words are not to be limited to this. A certain homage to the truth, if we can call it so, is found in these lies in hypocrisy. Evil has to put on the form of godliness, and is a successful imitator of that for which it can be no substitute. The conscience is, in fact, being seared at the same time that there is the utmost pretence of following it, and of something higher than even ordinary Christianity itself can produce. Of this character is the "forbidding to marry," and "bidding to abstain from meats," an asceticism which puts Stylites upon his pillar, and is a real satisfaction of the flesh, abhorrent to Him whose delight is that His creatures should freely enjoy that which He has created to be received with thanksgiving. Self-denial is, of course, all well, when there are interests to be served by it, and which make it, therefore, to be really this; but this is the mere caricature, the aping of self-denial, not the reality. It is plainly nothing like what you find in Christ at all, in whose presence there was a rejoicing as of the men of the bride-chamber in the Bridegroom come. Christianity has now, therefore, removed even the restrictions of Judaism, and justified God in His creation of every creature as good. The Jewish restrictions had, as we know, their typical significance, and were shadows for the time — not even then the very image of the true. The word of God thus sanctifies the reception of all that He has made for us and put into our hands; and it is the mere part of unbelief to refuse anything. With this reception there is, of necessity, that which is the acknowledgment of our dependence upon Him which all this implies, and of our need that He should make it to us that which He has ordained it for. Our very food is not sanctified to us, does not rightly become our own for Christian use, except by prayer.

2. The apostle goes on now to exhort, in view of all this, that everything that is not sanctified by the word of God should be refused. There must be no speculation, no dreaming outside the Word, nothing which would bring in uncertainty. We must walk amid realities, in the light of ascertained truth. In putting the brethren in remembrance of these things, Timothy would be a good minister of Jesus Christ, himself nourished with the words of the faith and of good doctrine, which he had fully followed up; for in all doctrine there must be that which ministers to the need of the soul, in order that there may be the fruit from it also for which it is intended. He was to avoid, therefore, "profane and old wives' fables," the merely speculative and the profane never being far apart; in fact, lacking in the very beginning of it the sobriety of mind which finds all-sufficient the revelation of God, and distrusts all human ability to transcend it. Piety was to be sought, and to this he was to exercise himself, the body being but a small part of it here, and the exercise of it being profitable for a little, but piety profitable for everything; having promise of the present life and of that which is to come. It is plain that even the Lord's words as to the losing of one's life in this world are not contradictory to what the apostle says here. A path with the light of heaven upon it, whatever be the path itself, must be a bright one; and God has amply provided for this. Happiness, indeed, is the only thing that will satisfy Him.

Faithful is this word and worthy of all acceptation: even the laboring and striving because of hope in a living God grows out of faith in One who is the Preserver of all men, especially of those who believe. The character of a Saviour-God for all is here again, as we have found it before in the epistle. Sin has brought in all the distress there is, all the hardship, all the straits and limitations. In these we are not called to rejoice, save only as indeed God works by them to give us the necessary lessons of our schooling time' but His glorious, beneficial love is that which we are called to believe in, and to see everywhere thus, whatever may be the appearances.

These things, then, Timothy was to command and teach. Youthful as he might be, he was to allow no one to despise him on that account. His own growth and maturity in the Word were to be manifest, as well as all the moral character which attaches to this. He was to give himself to exhortation, to teaching, developing by using the gift which had been given to him. He was not to neglect that which was in him. How many do this, perhaps by the false humility which would make the gift to be but little — false, because the smallest gift from God is not to be despised, and contains in it a germ which may indefinitely grow, if only God is served in it. In Timothy's case this gift had been given through prophecy, with the laying on of hands of the eldership. It was not the laying on of hands that communicated the gift, although it owned it, no doubt. The gift was given through prophecy, the voice of God announcing it, as prophecy means here as elsewhere. He had thus a special place which none of us can now pretend to; but with all this there is only the more need of recognition of how dependent he was upon the thing upon which we too are dependent. His gift did not release him from that which Christianity imposes upon all. He was to occupy himself with these things that he ministered, to be wholly in them — an immense point, as he declares, for a progress which was to be made manifest to all. There is nothing for power like real occupation, heart-occupation with our own things. We are relieved from the pressure of things upon us, from the cares which fret away the good of life. The things eternal assuming their proper place with us, nothing that is of time can be a real hindrance. To these things, then, he had to take heed, and to the teaching; himself not alone being concerned in them, he would both save himself (that is, in the working out salvation after the manner we have seen in Philippians) and those also who heard him.

Division 5. (1 Tim. 5, 6.)

Special responsibilities.

We come now to that which in itself is simple enough, scarcely needing expansion, but which, as a whole, is difficult to connect together. We are reminded, also, of the continual difference between the days of the apostle and the present days, when the seeds of evil which he saw himself beginning to work, have been so greatly developed, and have issued to so large an extent in the breaking up of the Church as a whole. Apostles are gone, and the ordering of things as a whole is left largely, as is plain, to individual responsibility. We have not even a Timothy, any more than a Paul. The ordination of elders according to Scripture has dropped, for we have none set in the place of Timothy himself or in the place of the apostle, to ordain them. To the Church the power of this was never committed. Authority, in fact, in this way could never safely be entrusted to the Church, and is not. The Church is the company of saints, the company of the taught, and not, as Rome would make it, of the teachers. But on that very account its place is that of obedience rather than authority — not but what every right action of the assembly, every act of discipline that is really of God will be owned of Him, and is that as long as authoritative; but there is no power to deliver to Satan, for instance, as we find the apostle doing; and one can see why, in the circumstances in which we are, it should be of God that the formal ordination of elders, for instance, should be denied us. We have, of course, such men as are pointed out in the present epistle, men who, as being suited for the work and desiring it, are encouraged to take it up, only that the authority that they claim must be based simply upon the Word, and upon no special commission. Every right-minded Christian, recognizing the work of one of this character, and acting in this manner, will surely honor such an one for the work, and for what he sees him to be; but this is a very different thing from a claim of authority. The only safety for us anywhere now is in obedience; and we put our own selves in this way under the authority which we plead with others. This necessarily affects the form of much that we have before us. When we come to the second epistle, we shall find that neither elders nor indeed deacons are spoken of any more. We need not say that they did not exist: things no doubt had not got so far as that. Timothy was still present to ordain, and perhaps Titus also; although, in fact, it is only the latter who is formally, as far as the epistle goes, commissioned to act in this way. We have an expression which implies that Timothy did so, but the way in which it is left shows us how, in the days that were then coming in, there would be less and less need of any insistence upon such things as these. Provision for the continuance of ordination, even in the case of elders, there is not. Timothy is instructed to commit the things which he has received to faithful men, that they may teach others also; but that in no wise includes any authoritative commission to be given to them. God works through all this, would exercise the conscience, would throw us, as already said, upon individual responsibility more, and thus produce for us a more simple and entire dependence upon Himself — a walk with Him alone. The individual is never left to be swamped, as it were, by the shipwreck of the Church at large. Alas, we may, through timidity and love of ease, give ourselves up to a condition of mere helplessness and drifting with the mass. We have to remember that it is just the mass that has failed, and that after all, at all times, the walk with God is necessarily an individual walk — not that fellowship with others is less valued, but that it gains its whole character from our own fellowship, first of all, with the Father and the Son. This alone prevents the fellowship of others even being a snare to us. The exhortation, "Go not with the multitude to do evil," is one that we have ever to keep in mind. Evil seems so much less evil, alas, when it is the multitude that are doing it. A separate course is so often looked at as really a course of pride, rather than a conscious responsibility, that we are apt to ask ourselves even, may it not be so? — can we be altogether right, when this involves the judgment that so many, therefore, and of the Lord's own people, are going wrong? For all this, the only help we have is to walk in the sense of a higher Presence, before whom men as a whole are, comparatively, but vanity.

But thus we can understand how little authority, such as ordination speaks of, can be committed to men in such a condition of things as Scripture shows us we are in at the present. We see on every side those who in this case might claim the authority, who are entirely unfit to exercise it; and men are respected and bowed to as being in an official place, who, if they were to be judged as men, would have to be shunned instead of followed. This has in Romanism, where we see all these things in full development, resulted in the priest being entirely competent as priest, while as man he may be scorned and detested. God can honor no such system as this. Scriptural following of men is simply and only as they follow Christ; but officialism leads ever to the violation of this; and where the teaching and preaching are considered to be only legitimately in the hands of those who are humanly commissioned, the worst results will necessarily follow. In Romanism the preaching and teaching part have almost ceased. There is a mere ritual administration, which can be entrusted to men of what ever character, and of course the whole system becomes machinery of the lowest type, although it may be energized by a spirit of thorough evil. However, we must now go on with the epistle.

1. In his behavior among the saints, Timothy is exhorted to remember the differences which necessarily existed. Age, among other things, is to be respected; not so much in the treatment itself, as in the manner of treatment. An "elder" here is no doubt an elderly man, not simply an official elder, although it would apply to these. Such an one was not to be rebuked sharply, but exhorted humbly, as one might exhort a father. The young men were to be treated as brethren, the elder women as mothers; again, the younger as sisters, with all purity.

The case of those who are in circumstances of special need and dependence is next considered. Those that are widows indeed, in the full reality of widowhood, are to be honored, evidently to be cared for in the way of ministry, and according to their need. If such an one had children, then these were to show piety at home. It would not be right to take from them that which was their responsibility, nor would it be what would be desired on the part of those who felt things rightly from the divine or from the human side. But the widow indeed, one left really solitary, cast upon God alone, had a place of corresponding privilege as one who might give herself to prayer and supplication in behalf of others continuously. Whoever she were as to circumstances, if she was only thinking of self-indulgence, she was dead while living. God never recognizes any as having no duties to perform, no part to play, in a world such as this is. We can see how prayer is recognized as everywhere a need and a responsibility. One lying helpless upon a bed of sickness could yet pray, and pray; and perhaps there could be no greater usefulness than to live shut up, as men might think, after this fashion. If the heart was still after the things of which by circumstances one might be deprived, then all was out of place. The very providence of God was unheeded, and there could be no honor for one in such a condition. If any one did not provide for his own, especially for those of his own house, his own immediate circle, he denied the faith, and was worse than the unbeliever by the full extent of his profession.

As for the widows, those who were to be considered such were not to be less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, and with testimony borne to them by the good works their lives had exhibited. The children they had brought up would speak for them, the hospitality they had exercised, the washing the saints' feet (not, evidently, here the idle ceremony into which this kind of thing has degenerated, but the real practical ministry and the refreshment of those who needed it), the relief of the afflicted; in short, every good work that could be called that. On the other hand, the younger widows were to be refused — that is, they were not to be considered as belonging to the class of widows proper. They might have taken for themselves the place as a place in honor, but without faithfulness such as would be equal to the path implied. Thus they would not continue in it, would be self-condemned in what they had done, and the restlessness of their spirit would be manifest in mere wandering about among the families of the saints, gossiping and meddling and speaking things unfit. The rule, therefore, was for the younger to marry, exercise themselves in home duties, give no occasion to a reproach which would put them into the hands of the adversary; and here a small beginning might end in their going far astray; but if there were widows in the family of any Christians, these were themselves to assume the responsibility of their relief, and leave the assembly to charge itself with those who were really in the desolation implied in widowhood.

2. The official elders are now considered. Their work is spoken of here more as taking the lead than exactly as ruling. Evidently, those who were fit for the position would be those who might be expected to have a judgment which would form the judgment of others. As has been often said, but cannot be too fully understood, the following of men in any case has to be carefully guarded. If it interferes with the taking up of individual responsibilities before God, then it is a thorough evil, and not good at all; yet how common a case is this, how content we are oftentimes to leave the responsibility to others, as if, after all, we could devolve that which is our own upon them! How we love ease, to escape the conflict of opinion, and all that this may entail also! There is not a place, perhaps, in which there is but a small company of Christians together, that does not suffer greatly from this very thing. On the other hand, to take the lead well, gave a place of special honor, which, if those who did so labored in the word and teaching, would be necessarily increased. Here it is that again the responsibility of the saints to minister to the need of such is emphasized. Scripture had already said, as the apostle has quoted in another place, that the ox was not to be muzzled that trod out the corn, and the workman, too, was worthy of his hire. All this is very different from the way of bargain and guarantee which is the fashion of the day. The workman is God's laborer, if he be anything; and nothing must take him from or deprive him of the privilege of a walk of faith on his own part, looking to God alone. The misery of making a man's gift a matter of merchandise is illustrated so on all hands now that it should not require much to be said about it. "The merchantman in the house of the Lord" has had his rebuke plentifully, in the Old Testament and in the New.

The elder was not to have an accusation brought against him unless there were two or three witnesses. His character stood for him evidently in this respect, and one who deserved the place he filled was not to be put lightly under suspicion. Let us remember, however, that it is an elder who is spoken of here; and while the principle may be of larger application, yet there is a caution as to its use implied in the other statements here. Those that sinned were to be reproved before all, in order that the rest might fear. These things were to be observed by Timothy as in the presence of God and Christ and the elect angels. How plain the difficulty implied in his observance of them by this solemn appeal to act as in the presence of those before whom men were as nothing!

3. He was to lay hands hastily upon no man, nor thus to be partaker in the sins of others. The laying on of hands was practised in various ways in the Church of old. It was essentially a sign of fellowship, not necessarily a communication of authority at all. Those who laid hands on Paul and Barnabas when they started for their mission among the Gentiles imparted no authority to those with whom they thus signified their fellowship. On the other hand, it is quite possible, although it is disputed, that hands were laid upon elders, and that the apostle refers to this in this case. Here it would still be the sign of fellowship, the recognition of one in a certain place of confidence, in his fitness for the place into which he was put. The responsibility implied in it is evident. If thus there should be a hasty recognition not justified afterwards by the conduct of those who received it, those who had committed themselves to it would have identified themselves with what in result was shame and dishonor. Timothy must keep himself pure.

Timothy's own bodily need is not overlooked amid these instructions, and incidentally it bears witness against much that we hear in the present day. The apostle prescribes, as it were, for Timothy's weak stomach. He does not blame him for the infirmities which he has. He does not tell him that there was lack of faith or he would not have them. He does not exhort him to get people to go and lay their hands on him, or to have himself anointed with oil, or even to seek the prayers of others. He bids him use a little wine instead. We need not apologize for him in this. Scripture can bear all the responsibility for its statements, which, after all, here too as elsewhere, are carefully guarded. A little wine, only a little, and for the sake of a weak stomach: if men will make mischief out of that, let them do it.

The apostle ends these exhortations with a reminder which may have various application to what has gone before. Some men's sins, he reminds Timothy, are manifest beforehand, so that the judgment which belongs to them is clear even in the present life, while some may pass through life with their true character far different from that which is attributed to them — so as to the good works as well as the sins. In some cases these would be manifest and before the eyes of all, but yet the day is coming in which those unrecognized here will find full recognition.

4. He passes on to the case of bondsmen in a condition so contrary in itself to what is implied in Christianity, under a yoke which was often of the most grievous nature, to those who were enemies of the Lord whom they served. Yet even these they were to honor as in the place which God permitted them, and in testimony to the doctrine of Christ, that the name of God and this might not be blasphemed. If they had believing masters, there was still a difficulty upon another side. They were in danger of despising them as brethren. One can easily see how this might be, and that the common place which they had with them in the Church of God might make them fret against or overlook the responsibility of service. This question of slavery we have seen taken up in the epistle devoted to it. They were not to allow in the meanwhile their service to them to be lessened because they were Christians; rather, they might gladly do them service the more, recognizing their own faithfulness to a higher Master, and the grace which they shared with them. These things were to be insisted upon. They were wholesome words, words according to Christ, and a doctrine which was according to godliness. If any did not consent to them, he was such as, in pride of heart, was making Christianity a mere matter of wordy contention, and not recognizing its moral power. Out of such a disposition would arise "envy, strife, railings, wranglings of men corrupted in mind and destitute of the truth," making their profession of godliness a means of serving their own ends. There was, indeed, a gain in piety, great gain, if there were with it that spirit of contentment which would necessarily go with that recognition of God in all things which piety implies. As to the world, we brought nothing into it, nor can we carry anything out of it. We are but tenants at the will of Another; and with our hearts upon the things beyond, we may well be content with such sustenance and covering as God accords to us. On the other hand, they that would be rich, whatever in fact they might be, yet if they craved riches, they would fall into temptation, the snare of the enemy, and many foolish and hurtful lusts which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For "the love of money," the apostle adds, "is a root of every evil;" not "the root of all evil," but a root on which anything of this character might grow. It is not the money, of course, that is evil, but the love of it; and there were many then, as there are how many now, who are only witnesses of how far men may in this way wander even from the faith itself, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows!

5. The apostle closes now with some general exhortations. As a man of God Timothy is to flee from the things which have been pointed out. To flee, oftentimes for the Christian, is valor and discretion both. There are plenty of things that could be rightly pursued and coveted, "righteousness, piety, faith, love, patience, meekness of spirit" — many of them not things which the world admires, and which only show the different spirit of Christianity. But there is a fight to be fought, a good fight, and that, indeed, for present laying hold of that eternal life which in fact belongs to every Christian, but which needs to be enjoyed in all that it implies, and which connects itself with that eternity also to which we are hastening. Here is the Christian calling, and Timothy was one who already had confessed a good confession among many witnesses. Here he was in the path of One who had been indeed the "Faithful Witness," and the apostle charges him as in the presence of such an one and of the Creator-God, who cares for all His creatures so that we may be without carefulness, to keep this commandment without spot, irreproachable, until the appearing of the Lord should put everything indeed in its right place, and put an end to conflict. God would reveal Him in the time appointed, for which Christ Himself waits, taking the kingdom itself in subjection to Him whom in the kingdom He serves as elsewhere. It is God who is "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, the Lord of those that exercise lordship;" the One who only hath in Himself immortality, all His creatures entering into this of His will merely; He whom in His essence, also, man is unable to see, dwelling, as He does, not in darkness, but in the light unapproachable, in an excellence of glory which the finite creature cannot sustain or realize. But it is light, not darkness; and it is light in which we see all that can be seen, and in its true character as He shows it. To Him be honor and eternal might!

Paul turns back once more, as he thinks of Him, to bid Timothy warn the rich not to value themselves upon these riches, so poor in such a Presence, and so uncertain at the best, but to trust in Him, this living God, who delights indeed richly to bestow all things for our enjoyment. Let them use their opportunity to do good, let them be rich in their good works, liberal in distribution, willing to communicate, laying up for themselves thus, from these perishable riches, a good foundation for eternity, and that they may lay hold of what is really life. Timothy, too, was to keep what was committed to his trust, avoiding profane, vain babblings and oppositions of knowledge of so many kinds, — falsely named indeed when they were in opposition to the truth. It is not that any kind of knowledge which is true can be without its value. Christianity does not entail the necessity of rejecting any part of it; but how easily, nevertheless, these things may be elevated into an undue place, and made to be real opposition to the truth — necessarily, therefore, false in being so. Some had already been drawn away from the faith itself after this manner. How many have been so since!