1 Timothy 5:22
Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.
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(22) Lay hands suddenly on no man.—This command refers primarily to the solemn laying on of hands at the ordination of presbyters and deacons. It no doubt also includes the “laying on of hands” customary, apparently, even in the Apostolic age, on the absolution of penitents and their re-admission to church fellowship.

Neither be partaker of other men’s sins.—By thus negligently admitting into the ministry unfit persons—by carelessly and without due caution readmitting persons to a church fellowship, which by their evil life they had forfeited—Timothy would incur a grave responsibility, would in fact “be a partaker” in the sins and errors committed by those men, some of whom he had carelessly placed in important positions in the church, others of whom he had restored to communion before they had given sufficient evidence of their repentance. To limit, however, the reference of the command of St. Paul here to the laying on of hands in the ordination of presbyters and deacons, would imply a greater corruption in the church at that early date than is credible. Surely the number of “unfit” persons seeking the high and holy, but difficult and dangerous, posts of officers in a proscribed and hated community, would hardly by themselves have warranted such grave warning words as “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins.”

Keep thyself pure.—The word “pure” here has a broad and inclusive signification. It, of course, denotes the urgent necessity of one holding Timothy’s high and responsible office being pure and chaste in word and deed and thought; but here it also presses on the chief presbyter of Ephesus the imperative necessity of keeping himself, by ceaseless watchfulness, pure from all reproach in the matter of selecting candidates for the ministry, or in the restoring of the lapsed sinners to church fellowship.

1 Timothy 5:22-25. Lay hands suddenly — And rashly; on no man — That is, appoint no man to church offices without full trial and examination: otherwise thou wilt be accessary to, and accountable for, his mis-behaviour in his office. Neither be partaker of other men’s sins — As thou wilt certainly make thyself, if thou be the means of bringing those into the ministry whom thou mightest have discovered to be unfit for that office. Keep thyself pure — Free from all such blameworthy practices, and from the blood of all men. Some men’s sins are open — Or manifest; beforehand — Before any strict inquiry be made; going before to judgment — Leading a person immediately to judge them unworthy of any spiritual office; and some men they — Their sins; follow after inquiry has been made — Or are not discovered perhaps till after their ordination. For which reason no one ought to be appointed to sacred offices hastily. Likewise the good works — And good qualities; of some are manifest beforehand — Before any particular inquiry be made; they are evident to all. Such therefore may he admitted to sacred offices without much examination; and they — Those good works and good qualities; that are otherwise — That remain concealed under the veils that humility spreads over them; cannot be entirely hid long — From thy knowledge, and must recommend such silent and reserved Christians both to thy esteem, and that of those who are intimately acquainted with them.

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.Lay hands suddenly on no man - Some have understood this of laying on hands to heal the sick (Koppe); others of the laying on of hands to absolve penitents, but the obvious meaning is to refer it to ordination. It was usual to lay the hands on the heads of those who were ordained to a sacred office, or appointed to perform an important duty; notes, 1 Timothy 4:14; compare Acts 6:6; Acts 8:17. The idea here is, that Timothy should not be hasty in an act so important as that of introducing people to the ministry. He should take time to give them a fair trial of their piety; he should have satisfactory evidence of their qualifications. He should not at once introduce a man to the ministry because he gave evidence of piety, or because he burned with an ardent zeal, or because he thought himself qualified for the work. It is clear from this that the apostle regarded Timothy as having the right to ordain to the ministry; but not that he was to ordain alone, or as a prelate. The injunction would be entirely proper on the supposition that others were to be associated with him in the act of ordaining. It is just such as a Presbyterian father in the ministry would give in a charge to his son now; it is in fact just the charge which is now given by Presbyterians and congregationalists to those who are set apart to the sacred office, in reference to ordaining others.

Neither be partaker of other men's sins - This is evidently to be interpreted in connection with the injunction "to lay hands suddenly on no man." The meaning, in this connection, is, that Timothy was not to become a participant in the sins of another by introducing him to the sacred office. He was not to invest one with a holy office who was a wicked man or a heretic, for this would be to sanction his wickedness and error. If we ordain a man to the office of the ministry who is known to be living in sin, or to cherish dangerous error, we become the patrons of the sin and of the heresy. We lend to it the sanction of our approbation; and give to it whatever currency it may acquire from the reputation which we may have, or which it may acquire from the influence of the sacred office of the ministry. Hence, the importance of caution in investing anyone with the ministerial office. But while Paul meant, doubtless, that this should be applied particularly to ordination to the ministry, he has given it a general character. In no way are we to participate in the sins of other people. We are not to be engaged with them in doing wrong; we are not to patronize them in a wicked business; we are not to be known as their companions or friends; and we are not to partake of their unlawful gains. We are not to lend money, or a boat, or a horse, or a pistol, or a bowie-knife, for an unlawful business; we are not to furnish capital for the slave-trade, or for manufacturing intoxicating drinks, or for an enterprise that contemplates the violation of the Sabbath.

Keep thyself pure - Particularly, in regard to participation in the sins of others; generally, in all things - in heart, in word, in conduct.

22. Lay hands—that is, ordain (1Ti 4:14; 2Ti 1:6; Tit 1:5). The connection is with 1Ti 5:19. The way to guard against scandals occurring in the case of presbyters is, be cautious as to the character of the candidate before ordaining him; this will apply to other Church officers so ordained, as well as to presbyters. Thus, this clause refers to 1Ti 5:19, as next clause, "neither be partaker of other men's sins," refers to 1Ti 5:20. Ellicott and Wiesinger understand it of receiving back into Church fellowship or absolution, by laying hands on those who had been "rebuked" (1Ti 5:20) and then excommunicated (Mt 18:17); 1Ti 5:20 favors this. But as in 1Ti 4:14, and Ac 6:6; 13:3; 2Ti 1:6, the laying on of hands is used of ordination (compare however as to confirmation, Ac 8:17), it seems better to take it so here.

suddenly—hastily: 1Ti 5:24, 25 show that waiting for a time is salutary.

neither be partaker of other men's sins—by negligence in ordaining ungodly candidates, and so becoming in some degree responsible for their sins. Or, there is the same transition from the elders to all in general who may sin, as in 1Ti 5:19, 20. Be not a partaker in other men's sins by not "rebuking them that sin before all," as well as those that are candidates for the presbytery, as also all "that sin."

keep thyself pure—"thyself' is emphatic. "Keep THYSELF" clear of participation in OTHER men's sin by not failing to rebuke them that sin (1Ti 5:20). Thus the transition is easy to 1Ti 5:23, which is concerning Timothy personally; compare also 1Ti 5:24.

By Lay hands suddenly on no man, is certainly, to be understood: Do thou suddenly set no man apart to any ecclesiastical employment. Laying on of hands was but an external ceremony used in blessing, Genesis 48:14,15, and in the conferring of power upon persons. Numbers 27:18 Deu 34:9. In the New Testament, we find this rite used: in prayer upon healing the sick, Mark 16:18 Acts 28:8; in blessing, Mark 10:16; in conferring the gifts of the Holy Ghost, Acts 19:6; in ordination, or setting persons apart to some ecclesiastical employment, 1 Timothy 4:14 Acts 6:6; and being so used, it is sometimes put for the whole action. This the apostle forbids Timothy to do suddenly, that is, without a first proof of the person’s fitness for his work, 1 Timothy 3:10, both with respect to his knowledge, and to his holiness of conversation.

Neither be partaker of other men’s sins: this participation of other men’s sin ought to be taken heed of in the whole course of our conversation, but it seemeth here to be especially forbidden with reference to what was before spoken of, viz. the setting men apart for or putting them into any ecclesiastical employment; he who puts into the ministry any erroneous or ignorant persons, or any persons of a lewd conversation, makes himself guilty of all the harm they do, if he hath not first taken a due and reasonable proof of them, but hath laid hands upon them suddenly. Amongst other ways by which we interest ourselves in others’ guilt, one is, by not hindering it, having power so to do. He, or they, whom it lies upon to admit, or not admit, men into the ministry, have a power to refuse them in case upon proof of them they do not find them apt to teach, or fit for the ministration they are to undertake, or such for holiness of life as God requireth: God by his word declaring what such persons ought to be, and commanding him or them first to prove such persons, and to lay hands on none suddenly, hath invested him or them with such a power, of which man cannot deprive them.

Keep thyself pure: the purity here mentioned, is comprehensive of that chastity which some would have the word here signify, but it is most reasonable to understand it here with relation to what went before, viz. partaking of other men’s sins; If thou canst not keep the church pure, but ignorant or erroneous persons, or sots, will get into the church, yet let them not get in through thy hands,

keep thyself pure.

Lay hands suddenly on no man,.... Which is not to be understood of removing censures from off offenders, upon their repentance, which should not be suddenly and hastily done; and which it seems in later times has been done by imposition of hands; but since no such custom obtained in the apostle's time, and a taking off of censures is never in Scripture signified by this phrase, it cannot be intended here; but rather the admission of persons into the work of the ministry, and the installing of them into the office of an or pastor; upon whom, in these early times, hands were laid by the apostles, whereby gifts were conveyed, as on Timothy; See Gill on 1 Timothy 4:14.

And from this rite this act was so called, as it might be when it was laid aside; just as, with the Jews, an ordination of one of their doctors is called "imposition of hands", though they performed it by words, and not by laying on of hands; which now by them is not judged necessary (l): and then the sense is, do not hastily and at once admit any person into the sacred work of the ministry, or constitute him an elder, or pastor, over a church of Christ; but let him be first proved, and let it plainly appear, that he has the grace of God in him, and has gifts for public service bestowed on him; that he is sound in faith, and of a good life and conversation; and a man of uprightness and fidelity;

neither be partaker of other men's sins; of any of the members of the church; by doing the same, joining with them therein, or by consenting to them and taking pleasure in them, as done by others; by conniving at them, and not restraining them, nor reproving for them: or rather this refers to rash and hasty ordinations of ministers; and either regards the sins of those who lay hands suddenly on men, and with whom the apostle would not have Timothy join, that he might not be a partner in their sins; or else the sins of those that are ordained, and these, whether before or after their ordination; which such involve themselves in, who either rashly and ignorantly ordain such persons; and much more if they do it, knowing them to be such: and these sins may include both immorality and error; see . Keep thyself pure; not from his own sins, the sin of nature, indwelling sin, and actual transgressions; no man is, or can be pure, from either of these; nor can any man keep himself; Christ only is able to keep them from falling. But the apostle's meaning is, that he should keep himself pure from the sins of others, by not rashly and suddenly admitting any into the ministry; just as the apostle was pure from the blood of all men, by faithfully preaching the Gospel; so he suggests that Timothy would be pure from partaking of other men's sins, by observing a strict discipline in the house of God. Some refer this to chastity of body, in opposition to the sin of uncleanness, which his youthful age and the temptations about him might expose him to the danger of; and which is scandalous and infamous in a minister of the word. Which sense serves to show the connection of the following words, which otherwise seem to stand unconnected.

(l) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 3. & Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. Juthasin, fol. 60. 1. & Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect. 1, 2.

{18} Lay hands {g} suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.

(18) The fifth rule: let the minister lay hands suddenly on no man. Let him not be faulty in this, either by favouring any man's folly, or perverse affection. If anything is not done well by his fellow elders, let him keep his conscience pure.

(g) As much as you are able, do not rashly admit anyone at all to any ecclesiastical function.

1 Timothy 5:22. The exhortation in this verse: χεῖρας ταχέως μηδενὶ ἐπιτίθει, is not defined further. In the N. T. the laying on of hands is mentioned on various occasions; thus specially in healing the sick (whether by Christ or His disciples), in bestowing the divine blessing (Matthew 19:13; Matthew 19:15), in imparting the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17), in appointing to a definite ecclesiastical office (Acts 6:6), in setting apart for special church work (Acts 13:3). It has been thought that Paul has here in mind the laying on of hands which was done at the readmission of excommunicated persons (de Wette, Wiesinger); but there is no trace in the N. T. of the existence of this custom in apostolic times. It is more natural to refer it to the ordination, whether of a presbyter or deacon (besides the older expositors, Mosheim, Otto, van Oosterzee,[195] Plitt, and others); but in that case 1 Timothy 5:22 should have come before 1 Timothy 5:21. Hofmann thinks that it is used of the appointment to a church office; but of this there is no hint in the context. It will be most correct to take the exhortation quite generally, so that the meaning is, Timothy is to lay hands ΤΑΧΈΩς, i.e. “in over-hasty fashion,” on no one—whatever the occasion may be. The reason why not, is given in the next words: μηδὲ κοινώνει ἁμαρτίαις ἀλλοτρίαις. The ἈΛΛΟΤΡΊΑΙ ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑΙ are not, as Hofmann thinks, the sins of those who are hasty in the laying on of hands, but the sins of those on whom hands are too hastily laid. He who thoughtlessly lays hands on the unworthy, thereby declaring them worthy of the divine blessing, makes himself a sharer in their sins. Against this Timothy is to guard; he is rather to observe what Paul expresses by saying: ΣΕΑΥΤῸΝ ἉΓΝῸΝ ΤΉΡΕΙ. This exhortation is in itself quite general, but it stands here in close relation to the foregoing warning. Timothy is to keep himself pure (ἉΓΝΌς as in 1 Timothy 4:12, not in the special meaning “chaste”), particularly in not making himself a partaker of others’ sins by laying hands on them too hastily. This reference, declared by van Oosterzee to be the only one possible, is wrongly denied by de Wette and Wiesinger. Heinrichs and others err in regarding the apostle’s exhortation as “a prohibition against intercourse with wicked men.”

[195] Van Oosterzee wrongly thinks that vv. 24, 25, are in favour of this explanation; there is in them no hint of any reference to ordination.

1 Timothy 5:22. Our best guide to the meaning of χεῖραςἐπιτίθει is the context, and more especially the following clause, μηδὲἀλλοτρίαις. μηδέ constantly introduces an extension or development of what has immediately preceded; it never begins a new topic. Now the injunction Be not partaker of other men’s sins is certainly connected with the disciplinary rebuke of sin, and refers of course to definite acts of sin committed in the past, as well as to their consequences or continuation. The whole procedure is outlined: we have the accusation in 1 Timothy 5:19, the conviction and sentence in 1 Timothy 5:20, and—in the true Pauline spirit—repentance and reconciliation in this verse; and the topic of ministerial treatment of sin is resumed and continued in 1 Timothy 5:24 sq. We can hardly doubt that St. Paul had in his mind Leviticus 19:17, “Thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour and not bear sin because of him,” καὶ οὐ λήμψῃ διʼ αὐτὸν ἁμαρτίαν. To witness in silence an act of wrong-doing is to connive at it. If this is true in the case of private persons, how much more serious an offence is it in the case of those to whom government is committed? See 2 John 1:11, ὁ λέγων γὰρ αὐτῷ χαίρειν κοινωνεῖ τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ τοῖς πονηροῖς.

χεῖραςἐπιτίθει is then best referred to imposition of hands on reconciled offenders, on their re-admission to Church communion. Eusebius (H. E., vii. 2), speaking of reconciled heretics, says, “The ancient custom prevailed with regard to such that they should receive only the laying on of hands with prayers,” μόνῃ χρῆσθαι τῇ διὰ χειρῶν ἐπιθέσεως εὐχῇ. See Council of Nicea, Song of Solomon 8, according to one explanation of χειροθετουμένους, and Council of Arles, Song of Solomon 8.

This was used in the case of penitents generally. So Pope Stephen (ap. Cyprian, Ep. 74), “Si qui ergo a quacunque haeresi venient ad vos, nihil innovetur nisi quod traditum est, ut manus illis imponatur in paenitentiam”. See Bingham, Antiquities, xviii. 2, 1, where the 15th Canon of the Council of Agde (A.D. 506) is cited: “Poenitentes tempore quo poenitentiam petunt, impositionem manuum et cilicium super caput a sacerdote consequantur.” The antiquity of the custom may be argued from the consideration that imposition of hands was so prominent a feature in ordination, that it is not likely that its use would have been extended to anything else if such extension could not have claimed unquestioned antiquity in its favour. If the explanation of this verse given above—which is that of Hammond, De Wette, Ellicott, and Hort—be accepted, we have here the first distinct allusion to the custom of receiving back penitents by imposition of hands.

Timothy is bidden to restrain by deliberate prudence the impulses of mere pity. A hasty reconciliation tempts the offender to suppose that his offence cannot have been so very serious after all; and smoothes the way to a repetition of the sin. “Good-natured easy men” cannot escape responsibility for the disastrous consequences of their lax administration of the law. They have a share in the sins of those whom they have encouraged to sin. Those who give letters of recommendation with too great facility fall under the apostolic condemnation.

On the other hand, the ancient commentators—Chrys., Theod., Theoph., Oecumen.—refer χεῖρας ἐπιτίθει to hasty ordinations; and in support of this, the generally adopted view, it must be granted that ἐπίθεσις χειρῶν undoubtedly refers to ordination in 1 Timothy 4:14, 2 Timothy 1:6. If we assume the same reference here, the intention of the warning would be that Timothy will best avoid clerical scandals by being cautious at the outset as to the character of those whom he ordains. The clause in 1 Timothy 3:10, καὶ οὗτοι δὲ δοκιμαζέσθωσαν πρῶτον, would, in this case, have the same reference; and we should explain ἁμαρτίαι ἀλλότριαι as possible future sins, for the commission of which a man’s advancement may give him facilities, and responsibility for which attaches, in various degrees of blameworthiness, to those who have rendered it possible for him to commit them.

σεαυτόν is emphatic, repeating in brief the warning of the previous clause.

ἁγνόν: The context demands that the meaning should not be chaste (castum Vulg.), as in Titus 2:5, 2 Corinthians 11:2; but pure in the sense of upright, honourable, as in 2 Corinthians 7:11, Php 4:8, Jam 3:17.

22. Lay hands suddenly on no man] Better perhaps hastily; the adverb has a similar use in the words of the Unjust Steward, Luke 16:6, ‘Take thy bond and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Compare the clause in the Litany ‘from battle and murder, and from sudden death,’ i.e. a death into which we are hurried unawares. The passage has by a large preponderance of ancient and modern commentators been referred to the ‘imposition of hands’ in ordination; and so the first Ember-Prayer of the English Prayer-Book, ‘Guide and govern the minds of thy servants the bishops and pastors of thy flock, that they may lay hands suddenly on no man, but faithfully, &c.’ Bp Ellicott’s objection that the context only speaks of men ordained is partly met above 1 Timothy 5:17, and is not of so great force as the objections to his own rendering ‘No penitent is hastily to be absolved by imposition of hands and readmitted to Church fellowship.’ For (1) when the phrase is so brief, it is unnatural to interpret it except in accordance with its clear meaning in the other two places where it occurs in these Epistles, 1 Timothy 4:14, and 2 Timothy 1:6; and (2) there is no certain proof of the other use of the imposition of hands, i.e. in absolution, so early, although Eusebius, Hist. ii. 2, calls it ‘an old custom.’

neither be partaker of other men’s sins] Nor yet be a partner in. The verb as used in N. T. with a dative implies a fellowship in life and spirit. Compare the simple usage, Luke 5:10, ‘the sons of Zebedee which were partners with Simon,’ and the derived, 1 Peter 4:13, ‘ye are partners in Christ’s sufferings,’ and 2 John 1:11, ‘he that giveth him greeting is partner in his evil works.’ This clause takes up again the dealing truly with the ‘error in religion’ and ‘viciousness in life’ of those already ordained; with this fresh thought perhaps; ‘the solemn laying on of hands connects you inevitably with the character of those whom you will ordain: but neither can you in your position be free from danger to yourself by laxness in regard to those who are already ordained; libera animam tuam; “use the authority given you, not to hurt but to help” your own account before God as well as theirs, by “driving away erroneous doctrine” and evil-living.’

keep thyself pure] This thought follows on: ‘there is danger too from your own temptations; see that you “deny all worldly lusts and live soberly” yourself.’ The order in the Greek is thyself keep thou pure. The word here used for ‘pure’ occurs in that locus classicus of ‘personal religion,’ 1 John 3:3, where Bp Westcott well distinguishes the three separate Greek words for ‘pure,’ ‘holy’ and ‘clean.’

Hagnos ‘pure,’ hagios ‘holy,’ and katharos ‘clean:’ ‘hagnos marks prominently a feeling, the result of an inward effort, and katharos a state, coming by the application of some outward means; hagios that which is holy absolutely, either in itself (as God) or in idea (as man in virtue of his divine destination). It is in respect of our Lord’s human life that He can be spoken of as hagnos, and in respect of His true humanity it can be said of Him that “He is pure” and not only that “He was pure.” The result of the perfection of His earthly discipline (Hebrews 5:7 ff.) still abides in His glorified state.’

1 Timothy 5:22. Χεῖρας, hands) It was the duty of Timothy to lay his hands on the presbyters.—ταχέως, hastily) without previous examination.—μησὲ κοινώνει, nor be partaker) They do so, who do anything hastily. [And indeed, in this passage, the sudden imposition of hands is that upon which a check is placed. But certainly, in the other departments of life, the participation of other men’s sins is very frequent. That happens either before or after the act, in our thoughts, affection, gestures, words, writings, works; by doing, omitting to do; in regard to superiors, equals, inferiors, ministers, subjects; while a greater or less portion of the fault falls sometimes on the one side, sometimes on the other.—V. g.] 1 Timothy 5:24-25, show that waiting for a time is salutary, and an admonition is introduced parenthetically (“keep thyself—infirmities”), which young Timothy was meanwhile carefully to observe.

Verse 22. - Hastily for suddenly, A.V. Lay hands, etc. Surely if we are guided by St. Paul's own use of the phrase, ἐπίθεσις χειρῶν, in the only two places in his writings where it occurs (1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6), we must abide by the ancient interpretation of these words, that they mean the laying on of hands in ordination. So also in Acts 6:6 and Acts 13:3, ἐπιτίθεναι χεῖρας is "to ordain." And the context here requires the same sense. The solemn injunction in the preceding verse, to deal impartially in judging even the most influential eider, naturally suggests the caution not to be hasty in ordaining any one to be an elder. Great care and previous inquiry were necessary before admitting any man, whatever might be his pretensions or position, to a holy office. A bishop who, on the spur of the moment, with improper haste, should ordain cue who afterwards required reproof as ἁμαρτάνων, sinning (ver. 20), would have a partnership in the man's sin, and in the evil consequences that flowed from it. And then it follows, Keep thyself pure; i.e. clear and guiltless (2 Corinthians 7:11), which he would not be if he was involved in the sin of the guilty elder. Observe that the stress is upon "thyself." 1 Timothy 5:22Lay hands on

Probably with reference to that rite in the formal restoration of those who had been expelled from the church for gross sins.

Suddenly (ταχέως)

Better, hastily.

Neither be partaker of other men's sins (μηδὲ κοινώνει ἁμαρτίαις ἀλλοτρίαις)

Letter, make common cause with. See on communicating, Romans 12:13. Comp. Romans 15:27; 1 Peter 4:13; Ephesians 5:11. By a too hasty and inconsiderate restoration, he would condone the sins of the offenders, and would thus make common cause with them.

Keep thyself pure (σεαυτὸν ἁγνὸν τήρει)

Comp. 1 Timothy 6:14. Enjoining positively what was enjoined negatively in the preceding clause. For pure see on 1 John 3:3. For keep see on reserved, 1 Peter 1:4. The phrase ἑαυτὸν τηρεῖν to keep one's self, in James 1:27; 2 Corinthians 11:9.

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