|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:17-25 Care must be taken that ministers are maintained. And those who are laborious in this work are worthy of double honour and esteem. It is their just due, as much as the reward of the labourer. The apostle charges Timothy solemnly to guard against partiality. We have great need to watch at all times, that we do not partake of other men's sins. Keep thyself pure, not only from doing the like thyself, but from countenancing it, or any way helping to it in others. The apostle also charges Timothy to take care of his health. As we are not to make our bodies masters, so neither slaves; but to use them so that they may be most helpful to us in the service of God. There are secret, and there are open sins: some men's sins are open before-hand, and going before unto judgment; some they follow after. God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make known the counsels of all hearts. Looking forward to the judgment-day, let us all attend to our proper offices, whether in higher or lower stations, studying that the name and doctrine of God may never be blasphemed on our account.
Verse 23. - Be no longer a drinker of for drink no longer, A.V. Be... a drinker of water (ὑδροπότει); here only in the New Testament. It is found in some codices of the LXX. in Daniel 1:12, and also in classical Greek. We learn from hence the interesting fact that Timothy was, in modern parlance, a total abstainer; and we also learn that, in St. Paul's judgment, total abstinence was not to be adhered to if injurious to the health. The epithet, "a little," should not be overlooked. Was Luke, the beloved physician, with St. Paul when he wrote this prescription (see 2 Timothy 4:11)? It is also interesting to have this passing allusion to Timothy's bad health, and this instance of St. Paul's thoughtful consideration for him. Infirmities (ἀσθενείας); in the sense of sicknesses, attacks of illness.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Drink no longer water,.... Though it was commendable in him to keep under his body, as the apostle did, by abstemious living, and not pamper the flesh and encourage the lusts of it, and so preserve purity and chastity; yet it was proper that he should take care of his health, that it was not impaired by too much severity, and so he be incapable of doing the work of the Lord. And it seems by this, that his long and only use of water for his drink had been prejudicial to his health: wherefore the following advice was judged proper:
but use a little wine; some, by "a little wine", understand not the quantity, but the quality of the wine; a thin, small, weak wine, or wine mixed with water; and so the Ethiopic version renders the words, "drink no more simple water", (or water only,) "but mix a little wine"; though rather the quantity is intended, and which is mentioned. Not as though there was any danger of Timothy's running into an excess of drinking; but for the sake of others, lest they should abuse such a direction, to indulge themselves in an excessive way; and chiefly to prevent the scoffs of profane persons; who otherwise would have insinuated that the apostle indulged intemperance and excess: whereas this advice to the use of wine, was not for pleasure, and for the satisfying of the flesh, but for health,
for thy stomach's sake; to help digestion, and to remove the disorders which might attend it: the Ethiopic version renders it, "for the pain of the liver", and "for thy perpetual disease"; which last might be a pain in his head, arising from the disorder of his stomach: the last clause we render,
and thine often infirmities; or weaknesses of body, occasioned by hard studies, frequent ministrations, and indefatigable pains and labours he endured in spreading the Gospel of Christ.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. no longer—as a habit. This injunction to drink wine occasionally is a modification of the preceding "keep thyself pure." The presbyter and deacon were enjoined to be "not given to wine" (1Ti 3:3, 8). Timothy seems to have had a tendency to undue ascetical strictness on this point (compare Note, see on 1Ti 4:8; compare the Nazarene vow, Nu 6:1-4; John the Baptist, Lu 1:15; Ro 14). Paul therefore modifies the preceding words, "keep thyself pure," virtually saying, "Not that I mean to enjoin that kind of purity which consists in asceticism, nay, be no longer a water-drinker," that is, no longer drink only water, but use a little wine, as much as is needed for thy health. So Ellicott and Wiesinger. Alford thus: Timothy was of a feeble frame (see on 1Co 16:10, 11), and prone to timidity in his duties as overseer where vigorous action was needed; hence Paul exhorts him to take all proper means to raise his bodily condition above these infirmities. God hereby commands believers to use all due means for preserving health, and condemns by anticipation the human traditions which among various sects have denied the use of wine to the faithful.
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