by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 3 Lincolnton, NC January 22, 2006
21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.
1901 ASV Translation:
21 I charge thee in the sight of God, and Christ Jesus, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality.
22 Lay hands hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.
I. The "Charge".
A. The intensified form of "to bear witness" is used to identify the "charge". It seems to have a "more thorough" presentation than just "bearing witness". Theological Dictionary of the New Testament makes a case for it to mean a "more emphatic" declaration (implying a greater need to "adjust" oneself to the "truths" that are being declared).
B. The "witnesses" are of significant interest; partially because of the inclusion of the "elect angels".
1. One can understand the "before God" reference in that He is the Ultimate Observer.
a. The issue here is this: God, as the Ultimate Observer, is also the One Who is the Ultimate Reactor. God does not sit idly by without reaction when His creatures take action.
b. There is a tension in the reality that the "load" of trying to "get it right" is very great and has been "removed" by the ministry of Jesus as the Christ. The fact of the importance of "getting it right" and the reality that the "ultimate consequences" of failure are significantly mitigated by the reality of forgiveness push this tension. By the same token, the "ultimate consequences" of successfully getting it right are mitigated by the relativity of the Kingdom-service positions and the infinity of the "Life" option for those who inherit that Kingdom. What, really, is going to be the difference between the experience of the death-bed convert and the life-long servant? If the "eleventh hour laborer" is given the same "wage" as the "all-day laborer" (Matthew 20:1-16), and it is a subtle evil to begrudge that, what "love" is it that presses the Timothy-like disciple to be "charged before God and Christ and the angels"?
1) Clearly, "love" would not begrudge a fellow-believer a massive outpouring of the "life" of God upon him even though he didn't deserve it.
2) Just as clearly, this kind of "love" would hardly need to have an exhortation to remember God, Christ, and the angels.
3) But, it is a fact of life and biblical revelation that actions "matter". ["Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."] In what sense do they "matter"? Bottom line: the reality of the pain involved in ignorant unbelief and the terrors connected with it make a significant case for walking in the light of the Light -- at least for the self-interested. If a person could grow to fearless love so that pain is insignificant in light of the goal, why wouldn't that be better than floundering all one's lifetime in fearful selfishness?
2. One can understand the "before Christ Jesus" reference in that He is the Head of the Church.
3. It is the "elect angels" reference that throws us a curve. What have they to do with the issue?
a. "Angels" are only mentioned in the Pastorals twice. The "other" time is in the "summary hymn" of 1 Timothy 3:16 regarding the vast mystery of godliness. In our study of that text, we made note that "Thus, even though not a major focus of revelation to men, the impact of the manifestation of God among men upon the angelic realm is, apparently, a rather major issue of the divine plan as it unfolds with its human focus. In other words, that God has acted with the angels in mind is a major doctrinal reality for the Truth which the local church is to maintain in its setting. It may well be of critical importance that man be aware that God's dealings in grace toward him were not all just for him (it might gender a bit of humility for man to ponder that fact). Two facts stand out: God's dealings with men are all about His revelation of His own character (not man's); and God's dealings with men are all about His revelation for the sake of non-men (not exclusive of man, but also not centered upon man). The point: it is inherent in the nature of God that He had feelings of compassion for men; it is not inherent in the worth of man that God should have had such feelings."
b. Thus, the "elect angels" are to have a place of priority in Timothy's thinking as he goes about his business. It is, apparently, particularly necessary that they have such a place when it comes time to deal with the problems of church leadership.