leadership02I Timothy 5 Part 3

New King James Version 17. Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

The Resultant Version 17. Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and teaching.

He urges them to let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor. “Elders” here is the Greek word presbuteroi, and refers to the representative men in the Ephesians’ community. Again, they had no separation of church and state in their communities, so these elders decided matters both religious and secular. The elders were expected to rule, and did rule. Yet it was important for those who ruled to rule well. The Lord urges them moreover to count those who do rule well as being worthy of double honor, or to value them at twice the assessment. Indeed, for an elder, ruling well was the doubly important thing.

The word “rule” here is proistemi, which is the same word used in I Timothy 3:4-5 for an overwatcher “ruling” his own house, and in I Timothy 3:12 for a deacon doing the same. The elders, as the representative men, were ruling over the community, and their doing it well was important, as is indicated here.

Finally, Paul urges that they especially be counted worthy of double honor who labor in the word and teaching. This is something that seems to seldom be valued highly in our day. One who labors in the word and teaching is not valued or respected in many cases. He is urged instead to get busy and to sign up for church programs and service opportunities. Yet our labors in the Word are most important, for only by doing such can a man hope to get to know God. Then, once one has labored in the Word, it is valuable for him to teach, for he can spread his findings on to others. The elders who do this should be counted worthy of double honor indeed, for as Christ said to Martha in Luke 10:42, they have chosen the good part.

New King James Version 18. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”

The Resultant Version 18. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is threshing the grain,” and, “The workman is worthy of his pay.”

Paul now quotes Scripture to prove that those representatives who labor in the word and doctrine are worthy of double honor. First, he quotes Deuteronomy 25:4, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” This verse appears in a passage discussing proper conduct. The idea of muzzling the ox is that, while it is pulling the thresher for harvesting the crops and separating the grain from the chaff, it might well get hungry and wish to stop and take a few bites of the grain to refresh itself. Of course, this would use up on the ox some of the grain meant for people. To avoid this, some would muzzle the ox so that it would have no opportunity to eat of the grain. Yet the ox is laboring hard in treading out the grain, and so it has earned the right to stick its nose into the grain and eat a mouthful now and then. God did not think it fair to muzzle the ox and force it to labor over your own food while it is unable to share in its labors itself. Therefore, He commanded that the ox not be muzzled while it is thus laboring. Paul now compares this to the elders who labor. They too are worthy of the fruits of their labors, and so should not be deprived of the honor due them while they labor hard over the word and teaching.

Next he quotes that the laborer is worthy of his wages. Yet this quotation is not from the Old Testament at all, but is actually from Luke 10:7 (a similar phrase occurs in Matthew 10:10, but the exact wording found here is only in Luke 10:7). And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. This is most interesting, since Luke probably wrote his books of Luke and Acts from Rome, where Paul was spending two years in his own, hired house (Acts 28:30). Paul would have been aware of Luke’s writing, and would have read what he wrote. Now, he calls what Luke wrote “Scripture,” and places it on an equal plane with the book of Deuteronomy! This shows us something that many today would like to deny: that the authors of the New Testament were well aware that what they were writing was Scripture. They were not just writing things for utilitarian motives regarding the things that were happening among them with no idea that these writings would ever be viewed as God’s Word. Paul viewed the writings of his good friend and the “beloved physician” Luke as Scripture, just as Peter viewed Paul’s writings as Scripture in II Peter 3:15-16. Of course, this is part of the reason many critics today deny the Pauline and Petrine authorship of both I Timothy and II Peter! But their faithless conclusions hold no interest for the believer. We can clearly see Paul knew that what Luke wrote was Scripture.

Paul’s use of these passages seems to imply that more than just honor is due to these representatives who rule well, and who labor in the word and teaching. The ox who treads out the grain is not just honored, but given food to eat. The laborer who gets wages is compared by the Lord Jesus to the disciples eating and drinking in another person’s house, figuring that that person owes them such a privilege. Therefore we would suggest that Paul clearly means not only that people should just feel feelings of honor towards these elders, but also that they should see to it that these elders are fed and remunerated for their labors. To do any less, indeed, would be to not honor the work they are doing for the Lord. Yet certainly feeling feelings of honor toward these elders, as well as treating them in honorable ways, are also owed to such elders who labor for God.

New King James Version 19. Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.

The Resultant Version 19. Do not receive an accusation against a representative except on the basis of two or three witnesses.

We must recall that Timothy was set as God’s appointed ruler over these elders, though he himself was probably around thirty years old, or in his early thirties at most. Remember that elders were the representative men, and did not necessarily have to be very old. At the same time, most of them would probably have been older than Timothy. Yet as God’s representative, this did not matter, for he had been set over them. All such positions, however, were no longer being filled by God’s choice, as Christ was now the only Mediator between God and men, as we saw in I Timothy 2:5. Thus, though Timothy had a God-given position, God would no longer inspire his choices so that they would always be right. Thus, it is necessary for Paul to give him advice about what to do when an accusation comes before him against an elder.

The Lord urges Timothy through Paul not to admit an accusation against an elder from a single witness, but rather to wait for two or three witnesses against him. This was all in accordance with the law of Moses, which states in Deuteronomy 19:15: “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” This was especially true when it came to the death penalty for executions, as Deuteronomy 17:6 declares: “Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.

Does Paul citing this principle from the law mean that he was supporting the keeping of the law today in the dispensation of grace? I do not believe so. This only shows us that Paul was supporting justice. Not receiving a single accusation without any corroboration is not just a matter of the law, for it is never just to condemn a person based solely on a single witness. In that case, it is just a matter of one person’s word against another. If a man has been given the position of an elder in the first place, it should be because he has been demonstrated to be a man of character. It is not right to believe an accusation against such a man if it is made by a single person only. He could be guilty, of course, but it is much better to presume him innocent unless another person steps forward with the same accusation. Otherwise, he might well be charged and his character maligned merely for the dislike and hatred of another individual who is spreading lies against him. This would not be just. A second witness should always be required before a charge is received for consideration.

We could use to learn this lesson in our day. In an environment wherein we have become very sensitive to sexual harassment, “guilty until proven innocent” has been the typical way of handling anyone who is accused of this crime. Any girl or women who simply wants power, or attention, or just dislikes some man can ruin his life with a careless accusation. No second witness is required. This is simply not right, and is contrary to the principles of justice. Such an accusation against an elder, like all accusations, should not be received without a second or third witness. Those who do receive such accusations show how little they understand what God calls judgment. This is the very thing the Lord is ordering Timothy not to do.

New King James Version 20. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.

The Resultant Version 20. Those who are sinning make known in the sight of all, in order that the rest also may fear.

Though it is important not to accept a spurious accusation against an elder or an accusation with only one witness, still it might be that a legitimate accusation is made against an elder, and that he really is sinning. In Acts 20:17, Paul spoke to the elders of the Ephesian ekklesia in Miletus the last time he saw them before writing this letter. In his address to them, he warned them, “Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” This was a prophecy through the Spirit that some of these elders would sin, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves rather than after Christ. Therefore, it certainly was possible that true accusations could be brought against some of these elders, for some of them might well have been sinning and doing this very thing while Timothy was among them. Remember, Paul told Timothy that the reason he had left him in Ephesus was to “charge some that they teach no other doctrine.

Therefore Paul orders Timothy that, when he does learn that an elder is sinning, he is to rebuke that elder in the presence of all. This probably means all the elders, though it could mean all the people. The point of doing this is that the rest also may fear to do such things themselves. The rest of the elders need to be warned against getting caught up in the sins of some of their number. Moreover, this kind of public shame might work to shock the sinning elder into considering his behavior and turning back to righteousness.

Yet remember what the outcome of all this in Ephesus would be. Paul remarked to Timothy in II Timothy 1:15, “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.” The reality is that Timothy’s overwatch of the Ephesian elders did not succeed. Ultimately, they all turned away from him, from Paul, and from the One Whom they represented. The danger in Ephesus was real, and so Timothy needed to know how to handle these situations. Alas, for all the good management that Timothy no doubt carried out, it was all in vain among the Ephesians!

New King James Version 21. I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality.

The Resultant Version 21. I charge you before God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, and the chosen angels, that you observe these things apart from prejudgment, doing nothing according to partiality.

Now Paul solemnly charges Timothy. This was to give the strongest emphasis to this portion, for of course any instructions written in an inspired letter could be taken as a charge from God. So this is something that is very important for Timothy to pay attention to and to follow.

Paul charges him before God, even the Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word is kai here, and this word does often mean simply “and.” Yet the Greeks could also use this word in ways that we do not use our word “and,” and one of these was to connect two nouns that are used appositionally, that is, one defines the other. That is a principle of the Greek language, and I believe that principle applies here. Paul is not charging Timothy before two separate Beings or two separate Gods, One called God and the other called the Lord Jesus Christ. No, he is charging him before One and One only: God even the Lord Jesus Christ.

He also charges him before the elect angels. This word “angels” is simply a Greek word, not the name of a heavenly race of beings. The word means “messengers,” and it is often used of human messengers, not just of heavenly ones. For example, John the Identifier is called an “angel,” though our translators generally translate the word “messenger” in that case. The word “elect” is the Greek eklektos, and is more or less a transliteration of the Greek word, not a translation. Much of the whole doctrinal scheme of Calvinism is based on a certain theological meaning they attach to this word “elect” and the related word “election.” Yet “elect,” if we would translate it, simply means “chosen.” These Paul was charging Timothy before along with God even the Lord Jesus Christ were the chosen messengers. This could include, along with the chosen angels of heaven, God’s chosen apostles and evangelists, for they carried God’s message to the world in the Acts period. Timothy had been one of them, and though the Acts period was now ended and he was living in the dispensation of grace, he needed to walk worthy of that legacy.

What Paul urges Timothy to do is to observe the things he has taught him in this letter apart from prejudice or prejudgment. To determine a person’s innocence or guilt before that person’s case is ever presented is not justice in the sight of God. Yet many today would insist that God has already prejudged the majority of men on earth to a most horrible fate, merely because they have never prayed a certain prayer. This is certainly not in accordance with God’s judgment, for He certainly does not prejudge anyone before considering all the facts of that person’s case.

Finally, Timothy is to do nothing according to partiality. It is very easy as a leader to favor certain people you like and to disfavor others you either do not like or else do not like as well. Yet this is a misuse of power and is not Godliness. Timothy is lead justly, and to not do things this way. Those who know the Lord and have positions of leadership should keep these same principles in mind. Prejudice and partiality are never right in a leader.

New King James Version 22. Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure.

The Resultant Version 22. Lay hands swiftly on no one, neither contribute to the sins of other people; keep yourself pure.

Now we come to this matter of laying hands on anyone hastily. This raises the question of what exactly Paul means by laying hands on anyone. There are times when this phrase is used to refer to arresting someone, as in Matthew 26:50 at the Lord’s arrest.

50. But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”
Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

Yet this phrase is different from the one we are considering. The word for “laid” is epiballo, which can mean to seize a prisoner. The same word is used in connection with laying on of hands in Luke 20:19, John 7:30, 7:44, Acts 4:3, and 21:27. The phrase here in I Timothy 5:22, however, uses the word epitithemi for “lay,” which has to do with putting or laying on, and does not carry the idea of arresting. Therefore this is certainly not a warning to Timothy to beware whom he arrests, and we have no evidence that Timothy had the power to arrest anyone anyway.

Another way that this phrase was used was for laying hands on people in order to heal them. The first example of this is in Matthew 9:18.

18. While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.”

What this man is clearly asking the Lord to do is to lay His hand on his daughter in order to heal her. The word for “lay” is epitithemi, the same as in I Timothy 5:22. This phrase occurs again in connection with healing in Mark 5:23, 6:5, 7:32, 8:23, 8:25, 16:18, Luke 4:40, 13:13, Acts 9:12, 9:17, and 28:8. Yet we would discount the idea that Paul is telling Timothy not to heal anyone too hastily. It is true that a wicked man healed might be able to do more mischief than if he had been left ill or handicapped. Yet we have no indication from Scripture that the apostles were ever cautious about healing anyone, but were very willing to spread the gift they had been given most liberally, and healed all who came to them to be healed. There was no caution involved.

Another point against this is that we nowhere have any indication that Timothy ever had the gift of healing. Paul had this gift, of course, and used it quite often in the Acts period. Yet we never read that Paul’s companions had the same gift, and so there is no reason to think that Timothy was a healer. Moreover, Paul himself no longer had the gift of healing, as we will read in the very next verse. Paul is writing to Timothy here after the advent of the dispensation of grace, in which we believe that the miraculous gifts of the Acts period were suspended. Suddenly or cautiously, Timothy could not lay hands on anyone to heal him.

Another purpose for laying on hands in the New Testament was to give the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We see the apostles doing this in Acts 8:17, 8:19, and 19:6. In this case also the Greek phrase is the same as we have here in I Timothy 5:22. This certainly might be a case for caution, for surely the gifts of the Spirit should not be distributed to ones who are unworthy. Yet we would question whether this even could be so. I Corinthians 12:11 declares of the distribution of the gifts of the Spirit:

11. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

This tells us most clearly that it is the Spirit Who gives the gifts, and that He gives them as He wills to do so. Even those who had the power to lay on hands and give the gifts of the Spirit could not have done so to the wrong person or against the Spirit’s will, for He was the One Who truly distributed the gifts, and the apostles were just His agents. Moreover, as we said above, the Acts period had come to an end by the time Paul wrote I Timothy, and the miraculous gifts of the Spirit ended along with it. Thus Timothy could not have distributed gifts of the Spirit recklessly or cautiously, so there would have been no need to caution him about that.

There are still other uses of the idea of laying on of hands. For example, the Lord lays His hands on children and prays for them in Matthew 19:13-15.

13. Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15. And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

This seems to be getting closer to what we are looking for, and it does use the word epitithemi for “lay.” However, the Lord seems to be advising against caution here in this sort of laying on of hands, and we can see little reason why caution would be needed before laying hands on anyone in order to pray for him.

The Lord does the same thing in Revelation 1:17.

17. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.

In this case, the laying on of His hand seems to be for the purpose of strengthening John and giving him the ability to go on observing this vision so he can write about it in his book. The same Lord is the One Who lays on His hand in this case as in Matthew. However, we would again deny the idea that Timothy had any such power as to strengthen anyone by a touch, as the Lord can do.

We are doubtless near our goal when we come to the occurrence of this phrase in Acts 6:6. Here, the seven have been chosen to distribute the charitable donations and to see to it that the widows among the believers are properly cared for. Then we read in Act 6:6 of the seven:

6. whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.

We would call this action a commissioning, for the twelve were taking a duty that had formerly been theirs and that they had had the authority to carry out and laying it on these seven. From now on, the seven had the authority to do this work that had been the twelves’, and so they truly were commissioned here. Yet by the time Paul is writing to Timothy, the Acts period is over and the kingdom of God has been suspended. Even if Timothy still retains some of his God-given authority from the Acts period, it seems doubtful that God has given him the power to pass this authority on. This becomes even clearer when we consider that it is Timothy who must decide cautiously upon whom to lay his hands. In Acts when people were commissioned God participated in the choosing of them. The dispensation of grace and the kind of advice Timothy is being given shows us this is not what Paul was talking about here.

A passage which might finally help us solve our difficulty is Acts 13:2-3. Here, Barnabas and Saul are among the other prophets and teachers in Syrian Antioch. We read of them:

2. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3. Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

This case is most certainly not like Acts 6:6, for the call to work was given by God to Barnabas and Saul. Therefore the other prophets and teachers could not be taking their authority and transferring it to them, or giving them a commission, for this had already been given to them by the Holy Spirit Himself. This laying on of hands (again epitithemi) is immediately prior to them sending them away. The word for “sent away” is apolyo, which is the same word used for divorcing a wife in multiple passages. What these men were doing was dividing Barnabas and Saul from their group. Until this time, they had been a part of their number, and so had been answerable for certain tasks and duties among them. Now, however, they are being sent away from the group, and are being left in God’s hands.

What, then, was the laying on of their hands for in this case? I believe it was for two purposes. One was to let them go from the group, even as we discussed above. The second was to indicate their own support for the work they were going to do and solidarity with them in it. In the work they were going to do, Barnabas and Saul would be representing the Lord, and yet now they would also be representing their home ekklesia in Antioch. Indeed, when they return from their journey in Acts 14:27-28, they report to them all that God had done with them. Thus, this laying on of hands was to send them out, as well as to offer them their wholehearted support and backing, if it was necessary, in what God was going to do with them.

This brings us back to I Timothy 5:22. If Timothy was laying hands on people for this purpose, it would be to send them out to do a work, and to offer his own solidarity and support for them in this work. This would be a good thing to do for men going out to faithfully serve God, and yet Paul offers Timothy a word of warning. He should not do this for anyone hastily. Why not, we may ask? Surely there could be no harm in Timothy offering people this sort of encouragement? Yet consider that, if one pledges solidarity and support to a person in an endeavor, he then shares responsibility for what that person does in that endeavor from then on. If Timothy lays his hands on someone, indicating that he fully supports what that person is going to do for the Lord, and then that person goes out and dishonors the Lord and sins, Timothy himself shares in the responsibility for that sin. Indeed, since he is in solidarity with and supports that person, he shares in the guilt of that person when he sins. This is a serious matter! Thus, Timothy is to be most cautious in whom he identifies himself with in this way. It will not do for him to show support for men who will only fail God and sin against Him at the first opportunity. Timothy should not hastily offer his support for such people. In this way, he will keep himself pure from the sins of others. That is what I believe Paul is talking about here when he talks about laying on hands and cautions Timothy against doing so recklessly.

New King James Version 23. No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.

The Resultant Version 23. Be no longer a water drinker, but use a sip of wine for your stomach’s sake and your repeated infirmities.

Now Paul advises Timothy with some personal advice. It seems Timothy was drinking only water, and it was affecting his health. Paul therefore advises him to use some wine with his water. Why was this?

An interesting verse to compare with this passage is in II Maccabees 15:39, the very last verse of II Maccabees. Though we acknowledge that this book is not inspired and does not belong as part of Scripture, it was written by a Jew living in that part of the world not too long before the era in which the New Testament was written. In that verse the writer of II Maccabees declares:

39. For as it is hurtful to drink wine or water alone; and as wine mingled with water is pleasant, and delighteth the taste: even so speech finely framed delighteth the ears of them that read the story. And here shall be an end. King James Version

It is interesting that the writer of II Maccabees gives the same advice here that Paul gave Timothy. He views it as hurtful to drink wine alone. This is probably because of its intoxicating properties. If one attempted to quench one’s thirst with wine, especially in the hot climate of that part of the world, one could quite easily become intoxicated. Yet why not drink water alone? The problem is likely that water in that part of the world, and without our modern means of purification, could often be bad. To drink water alone would be to risk many health problems from microscopic creatures living in the water. Without our means of filtering or purifying water, their method for dealing with the problem was using alcohol, which could kill the bad creatures living in the water. This is why they would mix wine into their water, and viewed the combination as better than either alone.

Now we know that Paul has already warned Timothy against the overuse of wine. In I Timothy 3:3, he gave as one of the qualifications for an overwatcher that he be “not parallel with wine.” It could well be that this was not the first time Timothy had heard Paul warn against the misuse of wine, and insist that such behavior was inappropriate for those who watch over God’s people. As such, it could very well be that Timothy had determined not to drink wine at all, and was following out that policy during his ministry in Ephesus. However, this was now causing him problems, for the water he was drinking was not good, and it was bothering his stomach and causing him many infirmities.

Now such an issue would not have been a problem for one of God’s ministers in the book of Acts. In a time when if believers would “drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them” (Mark 16:18), certainly Timothy could have drunk bad water and felt no ill effects. Thus his policy in the Acts period would not have been a dangerous one at all. Now, however, the Acts period was over, and protection from poisons in the water was no longer given to all God’s people. Now, when Timothy drank the bad water of Ephesus, it was giving him problems. God, the Great Physician, sees what is causing Timothy these problems, and gives the right solution: he should use a sip of wine with his water to purify it and to aid his stomach and alleviate his infirmities.

This passage has long been the bastion of the Christian social drinker, or even the budding Christian alcoholic. One of my friends told me of a teacher in his Christian school who would often justify his drinking with this verse, misquoting it as “use a little wine for your soul’s sake.” Well, if the Greek word stomachos means “soul,” then I suppose I know nothing of Greek. But I strongly suspect that this man had nothing at all wrong with his stomach, nor do most of the people who use this verse to justify their use of alcohol. This verse is discussing alcohol as medicine, not as a means of entertainment. Timothy’s decision to stay away from it was not entirely wrong, just overdone in this case because of the bad water where he was living. The water where I live is not bad, however, so there is no excuse here for me to not be only a water drinker.

How does this verse fit into the context of what the Lord has been talking about, we might ask? It seems to be stuck in the middle of many commands that have little to do with it. I would suggest it is put here because Timothy was connecting not drinking wine with proper conduct for a leader (I Timothy 3:3). It is also here because these are instructions for proper conduct in the dispensation of grace. The fact that Timothy needed medical advice from God shows that this was no longer the time when God worked through miraculous power to heal and work miracles and signs. In the very city Timothy was now in, Ephesus, Paul had sent handkerchiefs or aprons from his body to the sick, and they had been healed by contact with them. Now, however, all God offers Timothy for his sickness is medical advice. This shows us that God had changed His work since Acts 28:28. He was no longer sending forth His great power to heal. This is something we need to understand, and that has great importance for knowing how to live in the dispensation of grace. Thus it fits in with Paul’s instructions to Timothy regarding proper conduct in this new age in which he now found himself living.

New King James Version 24. Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later.

The Resultant Version 24. Some men’s sins are openly evident, going before to judgment, however with some they even follow after.

God points out that some men’s sins are obvious. They are done in an almost public way, and everyone knows about them. Thus the reality of them is clear even before they are brought into judgment to be set in order regarding them. The sins of other men are hidden, however. No one knows of them. They are not public knowledge. If you bring this man into court, he may appear to be a very good man, and only upon investigation and cross-examination will his sins start to come out and be exposed.

We can see that this would be a great word of wisdom for a leader of men to know. Just because someone does not appear obviously to be sinning, he may have sins that are hidden and not obvious to all. Just because a man appears to be right in his behavior does not mean that he is. Therefore it is not good for any leader to be fooled by public appearance.

Paul may have in mind times that Timothy will be required to set certain men in order for their sins. However, it could be that Timothy will not always be able to expose the hidden sins of some men. Ultimately, only in God’s great judgment court can we be assured that the exposure of all men’s sins will follow after them and not be hidden. Praise God that He is the righteous Judge, and no sin is hidden from His eyes! Right judgment will always follow Him, and the Judge of the whole earth will do right.

New King James Version 25. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.

The Resultant Version 25. In the same way also the good works of some are openly evident, and the ones that are otherwise are not able to be hidden.

Similarly, the good works of some men are clearly evident, whereas those of others are hidden. This can especially be true in the time in which we live: in the dispensation of grace. Everyone sees and appreciates the good deeds of a woman like Mother Theresa. Yet how many people recognize the good work of those who labor and struggle over the Word of God? How many people recognize the sacrifices some make for God, such as sacrificing position or friends or even relationship with family for His sake? There are many good works done for God that are hidden to most eyes and are unrecognized by men. Yet these things cannot be hidden forever. Someday, when God judges all the works of men, these good works cannot be hidden. They will come out, and “then each one’s praise will come from God.” I Corinthians 4:5.

For this cause we should not be discouraged. Timothy might well find it that the good work he was doing was not recognized or appreciated by those among whom he was doing it. Yet this does not mean that he will never receive the praise he deserves for it. We might have to wait for the good work we have done to be recognized, but it will be someday. Praise God that this world is not the end of the story!