by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 5 Lincolnton, NC February 5, 2006
23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
24 Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
25 Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.
1901 ASV Translation:
23 Be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
24 Some men's sins are evident, going before unto judgment; and some men also they follow after.
25 In like manner also there are good works that are evident; and such as are otherwise cannot be hid.
I. Paul's Final Comments to Timothy Regarding His Responsibilities For Elders in the Churches.
A. The "drink a little wine" instruction is included for a reason.
1. Since it is smack dab in the midst of the instructions for dealing with flawed elders, the assumption that there is a connection is not misguided.
2. The most likely connection is the physiological stress involved in dealing with the sins of others.
a. It is highly likely that Timothy's body reacted to the conflicts by creating stomach problems and other stress-related weaknesses.
b. It is highly interesting that Paul counseled him to begin to use wine to address those issues -- especially in the light of the fact that many people will turn to wine to "fix" their stress issues in soul/spirit realms. Apparently Paul knew that Timothy was too "conscientious" to let his counsel turn into an excuse for over-indulgence. It is one thing to take alcohol for medicinal purposes; it is altogether another thing to use wine as a "stress-reliever".
c. It is possible that Paul's counsel would address impurities in the supply of water for drinking.
3. That dealing with the sins of others is "stressful" is obvious from the fact that there are few who will do it consistently.
a. The difficulties are enormous -- beginning with the mere question of whether one ought to be "tolerant of each other's humanity". No one can be "perfect" and everyone "offends in many ways" (James 3:2). There must be some "slop in the gears" to keep believers from slipping into "Law". But, there must also be some "accountability" so that believers do not slip into libertinism (Hebrews 3:13).
b. The biblical message is that the humility of repentance allows for the assumption that the exhorted/rebuked will exercise it. The probability is that "Christianity" is so far down the wrong road now that rebuke is now seen to be only a last resort if a "resort" at all. The message of Jesus was, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3). There is little to no room here for the pride of self-righteousness. However, there is no room, either, for the pride of accusation without a willingness to listen to the "explanation". There has to be balance; but it is not easy to find, or practice.
B. The focus upon the problem of men's behavior is also included for a reason.
1. There are those sins which are difficult, if not impossible, to hide.
2. There are some sins which can be hidden and only come out after a while.
3. There are also good works which are obvious.
4. Those works which are not good will eventually show up because they are impossible to hide.