v1-16 - A big part of Pastor Timothy's job that Paul was preparing him for with this letter is caring for the people in his congregation.
In the first two verses, Paul covers a big contingent of church membership: men and women, both young and old. In each case, they are to be treated with familial respect.
The biggest chunk of this passage is devoted to one of the biggest needs within their society: widows.
There was no Social Security or other civil safety net in that ancient society, so widows, especially those with no close family left, were very vulnerable.
Even so, the early church didn't have unlimited financial resources, so instructions are given here on how to triage the need.
Families must first care for their own, so that the church only needs care for those who need help the most.
It might seem like the Church has a huge responsibility to care for the poor and lonely in our communities, but v16 makes clear that the Church is only responsible to care for her own people.
That seems selfish and un-Christian, until you look at the bigger picture. The Church's primary responsibility is to communicate God's grace to His people, which builds their faith.
Then as individual Christians, we ought to be "putting our religion [faith] into practice by caring for our own family (v4)" as well as meeting the needs of our communities in general.
v17-20 - Having covered the benevolent needs of the church, Paul briefly turns his attention to the care for "the elders who direct the affairs of the church."
Paul recognizes that the work of preachers has economic value, not just spiritual value.
Think of the economic value of preaching. Having been reminded each week that their sins are forgiven by grace, congregants are encouraged to express their gratitude to God in their vocations by working hard and conducting themselves in godly ways. This is a key reason why strong church communities often flourish economically.
Therefore, the preacher is entitled to benefit economically from his work.
Elders must be held accountable in all aspects of their lives, but as men ordained by God, they must be protected from malicious accusers.
v21-25 - This chapter closes with some final instructions to Pastor Timothy (chapter five should end after v23, with the final two verses added to the beginning of chapter six).
Pastors are charged with keeping all of the instructions in this letter.
Right after giving Pastor Timothy this massive charge, Paul reminds him to take care of himself as well, by drinking a little wine now and then.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE:
Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out. - Proverbs 10:9
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Paul mentions something to Timothy about water and wine in this chapter. What is it? (See verse 23.)
How would you explain to someone that it's not selfish for the church to only be concerned with the needy in their own congregations?
Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God who cares for His people, and pleased when His children care for each other (v4)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will have the heart of a godly widow, who "puts her hope in God, and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help (v5)."
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: