Tuesday, 30 January 2018
Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19
Paul’s words of this verse are to be taken in context with the previous verses. An elder here is not simply an “older man” as was noted in verse 5:1. Rather, it is speaking of one in a position in the office of elder of verses 17 & 18. This is the subject under discussion, and he is continuing with it now. These words then are specifically being given to protect those in leadership from slanderous attacks and the like. Therefore, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder,” is specifically to be considered in this way. The elder is one in the church who is in a position of teaching, instruction, authority, and so on. But Paul doesn’t stop there. He completes the sentence with, “except from two or three witnesses.”
If someone came forward and made an accusation against someone who had already met all of the requirements of the office (which he has already laid out in the epistle), then the accusation was not even to be considered without additional support, meaning two or three witnesses. This individual has gone through the entire process for ordination, he has met the requirements, and he was duly installed. This would have included an investigation which interacted with many people. For one to come forward, make an accusation, and destroy that work by himself was not to be acceptable.
But, if an accusation was confirmed by more than one, then an investigation could proceed. This precept was a part of the law and culture of the Jewish people. It was given in Deuteronomy 17:6 concerning the death penalty. It was given in Deuteronomy 19:15 concerning any crime. It is cited in John 8:17 by Jesus, and Paul states it as a precept in 2 Corinthians 13:1. Though it is a part of the Law of Moses, Paul has carried it into the New Covenant as a protection for the people of the church as well.
The reason for this should be obvious. Anyone who bore a grudge against another could make up anything he wanted about that person and simply lie about it. In bringing discredit upon the person, it would then lead to discredit upon the faith. And this may be the underlying motive as well. It is the desire of the enemies of Christ to do whatever they can to harm the Christian faith. Accusing an elder is an easy way to do this.
Further, if a person has betrayed the office, having two or three witnesses who can substantiate the offense would be a valuable means of having him removed. As is seen in church hierarchies, there is often an unhealthy protection of true offenders. This is not limited to the Roman Catholic Church, but they are a great example of this. The high level of perversion among priests and bishops is hidden away by the Pope and his minions at the Vatican. But this should not be. The precept goes both ways. It is to secure an elder against unjust accusations, but it is also a precept which is intended to ferret out miscreants, and offenders of the Christian faith as well.
Life application: The sad state of accusations being levied against godly men is on the increase. As the world devolves into perversion, faithful preachers will continue to be attacked by those who want their perverse agendas to succeed. However, the sad state of protecting perverse people within the church is also something that has been on-going for centuries. An entire system of perversion has been built into many major denominations. These things need to be called out by the faithful, and highlighted to show the contrast between true Christianity, and that which is false.
Heavenly Father, help us to be faithful to Your word alone. When something happens in a church which brings discredit to the faith, may we faithfully follow Your word, and work to see that it is ended. And yet, may we not simply accept accusations without proof. There is a whole world of people who are working to destroy the reputation of decent leaders and faithful attendees, simply to bring a stain upon the name of Christ Jesus. Give us wisdom and discernment in how we respond to such challenges. Amen.