1 Timothy 5:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Timothy 5:21, NIV: I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

1 Timothy 5:21, ESV: In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.

1 Timothy 5:21, KJV: 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 5:21, NASB: I solemnly exhort you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.

1 Timothy 5:21, NLT: I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the highest angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing favoritism to anyone.

1 Timothy 5:21, CSB: I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels to observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing out of favoritism.

What does 1 Timothy 5:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In verse 19, Paul described a requirement that accusations against an elder come only from two or three witnesses. Here Paul reflects this gravity by referring to three "witnesses" to his command to Timothy. The seriousness, therefore, cannot be higher. In this case, should he fail, the "witnesses" against Timothy would be God the Father, Jesus, and the angels themselves.

Paul's command to Timothy is to not back down or be timid regarding enforcement of rebuking and removing sinning elders. This would likely be the most difficult work he would face as a church leader, but Paul emphasized that it must be done. The phrase "without prejudging" is the idea of without bias, meaning Timothy couldn't favor elders he liked or more harshly judge those he did not like; he had to deal with the evidence and facts of each situation. This, also, harmonizes with the need to only pursue accusations where there is sufficient evidence.

In dealing with elders, Timothy could do "nothing from partiality." False teachers showed favoritism (Jude 1:16), but Timothy could not. Christians are not to show favoritism of any kind: "My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory" (James 2:1), including in dealings with church leaders.