Elders: Double Honour; Double Responsibility (1 Tim. 5:19)Sep 17, 2023
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 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.
Throughout the Bible, there is an expectation that accusations against someone of any wrong doing must be proven by the witness of at least two people.
Numbers 35:30 says, "Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness."
Deuteronomy 17:6 says, "On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness."
But not just for murder. Deuteronomy 19:15 says "One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses."
Outside of the legal realm, Jesus applies the same principle when he's talking about church discipline, in Matt. 18:15-17. It's pretty straight forward.
- If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
- But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
- If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
So, when it comes to an elder or church leader, how is this principle to be applied?
If there are accusations, investigate. If there are witnesses, listen to them. If there is evidence, bring them before the church for reproof and as an example for others.
Lately, we have seen so way too many examples of good leaders who have gone astray. There's a Christian website, www.julieroys.com, which investigates and writes articles about problems among church leaders, whether it's financial, moral, or the abuse of power. Church leaders are worthy of double honour - and therefore, are doubly responsible to demonstrate the highest ideals of discipleship.
Anyone can fall away. Anyone can be tempted and give in to it. Let this be a warning to everyone! You may think you have it all together, but if they can lose it, so can you. Be watchful! And yet, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).
With God, no temptation is so great that we will be overcome. But, if you step away from him, all bets are off.