Fourth in a series of studies in 1 Timothy 5
“Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:19-20).
Continuing his instruction to this young evangelist about relationships, Paul adds a second component about the treatment of one who serves in the office of elder, one who has become a “leading servant” in a congregation.
Paul knows that, human nature being what it is, not even an elder can please everyone all the time and that a person who becomes disgruntled with an elder might attempt to discredit him through public accusation.
The apostle’s instruction is that Timothy is not to give credence to such an accusation unless two or more others come forward supporting the charge. If the charges are supported and proved to be true, the elder is to be rebuked before “all,” referring to those in the congregation in which the elder serves.
This teaching is a clear, distinct example that extends down even to the church of today: elders are to lead exemplary lives—if they fail to do so, they are to be held accountable before the congregation they serve.
Even if such a situation occurs, we cannot ignore the context of this section of scripture: that is, that in all of these relationships, our treatment of others should display a spirit of love, care, and respect.