What does 1 Timothy chapter 5 mean?Chapter 5 begins a new section giving instructions regarding various groups. Paul provides Timothy with guidance regarding various persons within the Ephesian church. These include both older and younger people (1 Timothy 5:1–2), widows (1 Timothy 5:3–16), and elders (1 Timothy 5:17–25). Chapter 6 will continue this discussion in the context of servants or slaves.
The first section in this chapter (1 Timothy 5:1–2) includes specific information regarding treatment of older and younger men. Timothy is to treat both with respect: older men as fathers, younger men as brothers. Verse two deals with older and younger women, who are to be honored and not treated with lustful or inappropriate attitudes.
Verses 3 through 16 provide a lengthy set of instructions relating to widows in the church. Paul's overall message is to "Honor widows who are truly widows" (1 Timothy 5:3). This means the church should prioritize those who are truly in need. Charity should not be squandered on those who have the ability to help themselves. Family is always the first line of defense against poverty (1 Timothy 5:4). Those who are truly left alone are to be helped by other believers (1 Timothy 5:5–6). Rules for widows helped by the church are given in verses 9 through 16.
The third section of this chapter focuses on proper ways to honor and discipline elders (1 Timothy 5:17–25). Those who rule well are worthy of "double honor" (1 Timothy 5:17). In this context, that means not only the respect of the church members, but financial support to allow them to focus on the needs of the congregation. Accusations against elders are to be handled according to specific instructions (1 Timothy 5:19–21). In particular, Timothy is to avoid wasting time on charges which lack evidence or credibility. However, if an elder is found to be in sin, they are to be publicly rebuked.
In addition, Paul strongly warns Timothy to use much caution in selecting elders (1 Timothy 5:22–25). Both sins and good deeds can be hidden from the eyes of other people. God, however, is well aware of them.