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1Timothy 5:22,23 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.


·        Lay hands suddenly on no man

If we first consider what Paul writes to Titus:

Titus 1:5-7 For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.  For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

We see Titus given the task of ordaining elders in Crete and Paul describing the qualities that he should look for. 

In 1Timothy 3 we see the same requirements being described to Timothy.

1Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Then in verses 8 and 10:  8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 

10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 

It is reasonable to deduce that Timothy had the same task of ordaining elders and maintaining due order in the churches about Ephesus, in Paul’s absence, as Titus had in Crete. 

Further advice is given in verses19 and 20: Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

In the early church men were ordained for particular tasks by prayer and the laying on of hands as a demonstration of selection and approval. 

Using Strong’s Concordance.

1Timothy 5:22 Lay <2007epitithemi> hands <5495 cheir> suddenly on no man,

Example 1.The seven chosen for the daily ministration:

Acts 6:6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid<2007epitithemi> their hands <5495 cheir> on them. 

Example 2.The selection of Barnabas and Saul for missionary work:

Acts 13:3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid <2007 epitithemi> their hands <5495 cheir> on them, they sent them away. 

The act of laying on of hands is a metaphor for ordination. The person upon whom hands are laid has been dedicated to perform a particular task.  In the case of the verses in your question, the laying on of hands has to do with the dedication of elders in the church.

Suddenly <5030 tacheos> Probably better understood as hastily, without sufficient understanding of the person's behaviour or background. Here are two cases in which the same word translated "suddenly" in the King James version is translated as "hastily" in John, and "so soon" in Galatians.

John 11:31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily <5030 tacheos> and went out,

Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon <5030 tacheos> removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

From the foregoing:

Lay hands suddenly on no man means: ‘Do not ordain an elder in haste’. This agrees with1Timothy 3:10 And let these also first be proved[means tested]neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

The battle to keep a pure doctrine fell heavily upon the ones responsible for ordaining elders. Those who hastily ordained unsuitable candidates who subsequently preached a different gospel were effectively taking part their sin.

2 John 1:8 -11 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. 

The maintenance of correct doctrine is vitally important.

Galatians 1:8,9  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. 

Philippians 3:18,19 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 

The Christian church was to slide into apostasy [ false doctrine] within 300 years and become the Roman state church, described in Revelation asBabylon, the mother of harlots.

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 

A man of God has a duty to both rebuke and separate from those that hold a different doctrine and in consequence preach a different gospel from that of the Apostles. 

The last part of the verses in question: Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities   Let's go back to Titus to see what this means:

Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless... not given to wine,

In the absence of tea and coffee, the choice of drink for the early Christians was (as far as I know) water or wine (fermented grape juice).

Jesus drank wine and we are commanded to eat bread and drink wine in memory of his sacrifice. Wine in moderation is OK. Wine in excess is not.  

Drawing the line for some is not easy, they become alcoholics. From this verse we may deduce that Timothy, to set an example, drank only water with his meals. Paul, with his typical love and concern for another’s general wellbeing (which we should emulate), advises him that to drink a little wine would be beneficial to him. As Paul had the holy spirit we can assume that his advice, in Timothy’s case, was sound. God designed the (self fermenting) grape to provide wine‘to make glad the heart of man’ (Ps 104:15) and in moderation it is a blessing. It reminds us that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that ‘good wine’ kept to the last (John 2:10) and that we are the ‘new bottles’ into which it is put to be preserved (Luke 5:38). 

If you are interested in understanding the Bible, a Bible course is available on which can be done either online or by mail. There is no charge. The sole aim of the course is to help you to understand the Bible. If you sign up you will be assigned, without cost, a personal tutor to guide you through the course and answer your questions. 

I hope this helps,

Glenn Smith