1 Timothy 5:24
Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.
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(24) Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.—The preceding verse was parenthetic, and suggested by his fears lest the effect of his direction to his son in the faith to keep himself pure might lead Timothy to the practice of a useless and unhealthy asceticism. St. Paul now returns and closes the subject on which he had been instructing his representative at Ephesus. He tells him, in his choice of men to fill the public positions in the Church of God—in his public inquiries into their conduct and teaching—in his inquiries respecting sinners, who, having forfeited their position as members of the community, were seeking re-admission into church fellowship, not to forget there were two classes of sins: the one class public and open, heralds, so to speak, of the judgment to follow. In the case of men sinning thus, the church’s chief pastor would have no difficulty in determining upon his course of action. But there was another class of sins—silent and, as far as public and general knowledge went, unknown—only published after judgment had been given. To rightly estimate such characters will require much care and penetration, and this will be part of Timothy’s work. The judgment (krisis) here mentioned is that of Timothy as shown in the careful selection of candidates for ordination—in determining what sinners are fit for restoration to church fellowship—in pronouncing sentence in the matter of accused presbyters.

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.Some men's sins are open beforehand - This declaration, though it assumes a general form, is to be taken evidently in connection with the general subject of introducing men to the ministry 1 Timothy 5:22; and 1 Timothy 5:23 is to be regarded as a parenthesis. The apostle had given Timothy a charge 1 Timothy 5:22 respecting the character of those whom he should ordain. He here says, in reference to that, that the character of some people was manifest. There was no disguise. It was evident to all what it was, and there could be no danger of mistake respecting it. Their conduct was apparent to all. About such people he ought not to hesitate a moment, and, no matter what their talents, or learning, or rank in the community, he ought to have no participation in introducing them to the ministry.

Going before to judgment - Their character is well understood. There is no need of waiting for the day of judgment to know what they are. Their deeds so precede their own appearance at the judgment-bar, that the record and the verdict can be made up before they arrive there, and there will be scarcely need even of the formality of a trial. The meaning here is, that there could be no doubt about the character of such people, and Timothy should not be accessory to their being introduced into the office of the ministry.

And some men they follow after - That is, their character is not fully understood here. They conceal their plans. They practice deception. They appear different from what they really are. But the character of such people will be developed, and they will be judged according to their works. They cannot hope to escape with impunity. Though they have endeavored to hide their evil deeds, yet they will follow after them to the judgment-bar, and will meet them there. The meaning, in this connection, seems to be, that there ought to be circumspection in judging of the qualifications of men for the office of the ministry. It ought not to be inferred from favorable appearances at once, or on slight acquaintance, that they are qualified for the office - for they may be of the number of those whose characters, now concealed or misunderstood, will be developed only on the final trial.

24. Two kinds of sins are specified: those palpably manifest (so the Greek for "open beforehand" ought to be translated; so in Heb 7:14, it is translated "evident"; literally, "before" the eyes, that is, notorious), further explained as "going before to judgment"; and those which follow after the men ("some men they, that is, their sins, follow after"), namely, not going beforehand, loudly accusing, but hidden till they come to the judgment: so 1Ti 5:25, the good works are of two classes: those palpably manifest (translate so, instead of "manifest beforehand") and "those that are otherwise," that is, not palpably manifest. Both alike "cannot be hid"; the former class in the case of bad and good are manifest already; the latter class in the case of both are not manifest now, but shall be so at the final judgment.

going before to judgment—as heralds; crying sins which accuse their perpetrator. The connection seems to me this: He had enjoined Timothy, 1Ti 5:20, "Rebuke them that sin before all": and in 1Ti 5:22, "Neither be partaker of other men's sins," by ordaining ungodly men; having then by a digression at the clause, "keep thyself pure," guarded against an ascetical error of Timothy in fancying purity consisted in asceticism, and having exhorted him to use wine for strengthening him in his work, he returns to the subject of his being vigorous as an overseer in rebuking sin, whether in presbyters or people, and in avoiding participation in men's sins by ordaining ungodly candidates. He says, therefore, there are two classes of sins, as there are two classes of good works: those palpably manifest, and those not so; the former are those on which thou shouldest act decidedly at once when called on, whether to rebuke in general, or to ordain ministers in particular; as to the latter, the final judgment alone can decide; however hidden now they "cannot be hid" then. This could only be said of the final judgment (1Co 4:5; therefore, Alford's reference of this verse to Timothy's judgment in choosing elders must be wrong); all judgments before then are fallible. Thus he implies that Timothy can only be responsible if he connive at manifest, or evident sins; not that those that are otherwise shall escape judgment at last: just as in the case of good works, he can only be responsible for taking into account in his judgments those which are patent to all, not those secret good works which nevertheless will not remain hidden at the final judgment.

The sense of this verse depends upon the term krisin, which we translate judgment, it being doubtful whether it is to be understood of the judgment of God, or the judgment of men in ecclesiastical judicatories. If we understand the words of the judgment of God, the sense is this: Some men’s sins are punished in this life, before their persons come before God’s judgment-seat; others are more private and concealed, the punishment of which follows after. But this interpretation must suppose Paul here to run into another argument, differing from what he had before spoken upon, which though it be not unusual with the apostle, yet there being no need we should say he doth so in this place, I rather incline to think, that by judgment is in this place meant the judgement of the church, as to persons fit to be trusted with any part of the ministry of it: Some men (saith the apostle) are open, lewd, scandalous persons, whose erroneousness, or sottish life, hath been manifest before they offer themselves to the church’s judgment, to be put into the office of elders or deacons; concerning these thy way is plain, admit them not. Others discover not the erroneousness of their principles, nor the impetuousness of their lusts, before they have obtained what they aim at, and are got into office; for these, they must fall under thy judgment, when they do discover what they are, and turn them out again. Some men's sins are open before hand,.... Some men are such open and notorious sinners, that there is no need of any inquiry about them, or any examination of them; or any witnesses to be called to their character, in order to pass judgment concerning them; they even prevent and supersede any formal process about them. With such persons, the apostle intimates, Timothy could have no difficulty upon him, what to do with them; should they be proposed for the ministry, he would know at once what to do with them; namely, reject them. There would be no danger of his laying hands suddenly on such; for the following phrase,

going before to judgment, is not to be understood of God's judgment, or of the last and future judgment of the great day, but of human judgment: it is true indeed that some men's sins are manifest and barefaced, before that day comes; while others are so private, that they will not be known till that day declares them, and brings to light the hidden things of darkness: and much such a way of speaking is used by the Jews; who say (m),

"whoever committeth one transgression, (a notorious one,) in this world, it joins to him, "and goes before him" "to the day of judgment".''

But this sense agrees not with the context; and with what propriety soever it may be said, of some men's sins going before to judgment, it cannot be said with any, that others follow after judgment; since at the general judgment, every work, both good and bad, with every secret thing, will be brought into it; and nothing will follow after that: wherefore the next clause,

and some men they follow after; that is, some men's sins follow after, is to be understood of their following after human judgment; or of their appearing in the light after judgment has been passed upon them, which before were hid: and the sense of the whole is this, that the characters of some men are so well known, and it is so plain a case, that they are destitute of the grace of God; have not ministerial gifts; or are unsound in the faith; or are men of immoral lives and conversations; so that there can be no dispute about them, whether they are to be admitted into the ministry of the word or rejected. But there are other persons who may be proposed, whose sins or errors are so private, that they may not be known; and yet may appear afterwards; wherefore it is proper to take time, and not be too hasty, or lay hands suddenly on men.

(m) T. Bab. Sota, fol. 3. 2. Vid. Avoda Zara, fol. 5. 1.

{20} Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.

(20) Because hypocrites sometimes creep into the ministry, even though there is ever so great diligence used, the apostle wishes the pastors not to be therefore troubled, or slack at all in their diligence in trying and examining, because the Lord has appointed a time to discover the faults of such men, and it is our duty to take heed that we do not offend in our trying and examining.

1 Timothy 5:24. This and the following verse, in close relation to one another, as ὡσαύτως shows, express a truth quite general, which the context defines more precisely.

τινῶν ἀνθρώπων αἱ ἁμαρτίαι πρόδηλοί εἰσι] πρόδηλος does not mean “formerly manifest” (Calvin, Beza, Leo, Mack, Matthies, and others), but “manifest before all eyes” (Chrysostom, Theodoret, de Wette, Wiesinger, Hofmann, and others). Comp. Hebrews 7:14 (see Delitzsch, comment. on the passage); Jdt 8:29; 2Ma 3:17; 2Ma 14:39; so also in the classics (comp. the Latin propalam).

προάγουσαι εἰς κρίσιν is here, as often, intransitive (opp. ἀκολουθεῖν, comp. Matthew 21:9), equivalent to “precede.” According to the sense, we must supply as the dative of more precise definition: “those who have committed the sins.”

εἰς κρίσιν, equivalent to “to judgment.” The meaning therefore is: some men are in such a condition that their sins are not only made manifest by the κρίσις, but they are already notorious beforehand; they precede to judgment those who have practised them, and thus show in anticipation the result of the judgment.

The next clause forms the contrast to this thought: τισὶ δὲ καὶ ἐπακολουθοῦσιν] ἐπακολουθεῖν corresponds to the προάγειν, and ἄδηλοι naturally suggests itself in contrast with πρόδηλοι. The meaning is: Some men are in such a condition that—in regard to the κρίσις—their sins follow them, i.e. that their sins are only made manifest by their coming to judgment; the judgment alone makes their sins manifest.

Mack imports arbitrary references by his interpretation: “they follow hard on their heels, so that they cannot remain unknown, except to those hasty and careless in observing.”

De Wette is right in his explanation: “with some they are only known afterwards;” but he is wrong in his additional remark: “when they have gone on a longer or shorter distance;” on this point there is clearly nothing said here.

As the verse has the appearance of an aphorism, κρίσις is to be taken quite generally; but since the apostle utters this general sentence in reference to 1 Timothy 5:22, it is to warn Timothy that he is to lay hands on no man rashly, etc., without a κρίσις, i.e. without subjecting him to a judgment whereby sins, usually hidden, may become manifest.

As there is no good ground for interpreting 1 Timothy 5:22 of ordination, it is wrong to take κρίσις here as identical with δοκιμάζειν, 1 Timothy 3:10. For de Wette’s explanation also: “the ecclesiastical decision of the moral censor,” there is no sufficient ground. There is as little ground for the opinion of some expositors (Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Hofmann) who interpret the κρίσις of the judgment of God, and find the thought expressed that in the divine judgment all sins alike, whether manifest before or hidden, shall come to light. Wiesinger further assumes that thereby the exhortation to Timothy to beware of others’ sins as of his own, is strengthened. But, on the one hand, it is arbitrary to supply Θεοῦ with κρίσις;[196] on the other hand, the apostle is not discussing various sins, but the sins of various men. Further, it is wrong to obscure the meaning of ἘΠΑΚΟΛΟΥΘΟῦΣΙΝ, and to put in its place the thought, “they are hidden.” Besides, we cannot see how the thought thus taken could serve Timothy as a standard for his conduct, for those sins which are only made manifest by the last judgment must remain hidden to Timothy, in which case he could not be reproved for laying hands on those who had committed such sins.[197] To the opinion that Paul wished to strengthen his exhortation to Timothy by alluding to the last judgment there is this objection, that the only reason for drawing a distinction between manifest and hidden sins, would have been a suspicion on Paul’s part that Timothy was guilty of secret sins. But how could he have such a suspicion, and how can this interpretation agree with ΤΙΝῶΝ ἈΝΘΡΏΠΩΝ and ΤΙΣῚ ΔΈ?

The ΚΡΊΣΙς here mentioned is therefore not the divine judgment, but a trial which Timothy must hold, lest the thing of which he is warned in 1 Timothy 5:22 should happen (so, too, Plitt).

[196] It is certainly correct to say that κρίσις, even without Θεοῦ, sometimes in the N. T. denotes the judgment of God; but this only takes place when the context gives clear indication of it, as in Jam 2:13, which is not the case here.

[197] This objection does not affect Hofmann’s interpretation, for he—unjustifiably—separates vv. 24, 25 from what precedes, and wishes to regard them as introductory to what follows.1 Timothy 5:24. The connexion of this general statement is especially with 1 Timothy 5:22. The solemn warning against the awful consequences of an ill-considered moral judgment on those condemned was calculated to overwhelm a weak man with anxiety. Here the apostle assures Timothy that in actual practical experience the moral diagnosis of men’s characters is not so perplexing as might be supposed antecedently. The exegesis of προάγουσαι and ἐπακολουθοῦσιν depends on the view we take of κρίσις; vis., whether it refers to a judgment passed by man in this world, or to the final doom pronounced by God in the next. κρίσις is used of such a judgment as man may pass, in John 8:16, 2 Peter 2:11, Judges 1:9; though the word is more frequently used of the Great final Judgment. If, as is generally allowed, these verses, 24 and 25, are resumptive of 1 Timothy 5:22, the κρίσις here indicated is that of the Church ruler, Timothy in this case, deciding for or against the admission of men to communion (or to ordination). It is evident that the final Judgment of God, which no one can certainly forecast, cannot help or hinder a decision made in this life by one man about another. The meaning, then, of the clause is as follows: In the case of some men, you have no hesitation as to your verdict; their sins are notorious and force you to an adverse judgment. With regard to others, your suspicions, your instinctive feeling of moral disapproval, comes to be confirmed and justified by subsequent revelation of sins that had been concealed. This is, in the main, the explanation adopted by Alford.

πρόδηλοι: Not open beforehand (A.V.), but evident (R.V.), manifesta sunt (Vulg.) as in Hebrews 7:14 (neut.). The προ is not indicative of antecedence in time, but of publicity, as in προεγράφη, Galatians 3:1.

προάγουσαι: It is best to take this in a transitive sense, as in Acts 12:1; Acts 17:5; Acts 25:26, of bringing a prisoner forth to trial. Here the object of the verb is understood out of τινῶν ἀνθρώπων. The men are in the custody of their sins, which also testify against them. In the other case, the witnesses—the sins—do not appear until the persons on trial have had sentence pronounced on them. We supply εἰς κρίσιν after ἐπακολουθοῦσιν.24. It is most natural to regard 1 Timothy 5:24-25 as a review under a fresh aspect of the two main duties urged upon Timothy in the paragraph; just as in the former paragraph, 1 Timothy 5:3-16, 1 Timothy 5:16 is similarly related to its preceding context. The meaning thus will be; ‘I have bidden you in rebuking your presbyters “to be so merciful that you be not too remiss, so to minister discipline that you forget not mercy”; remember how quickly sometimes error stands “self-condemned,” how slow at other times its evil is in working out. Again, in rewarding your presbyters I have bidden you, as a wise and faithful servant, “give to God’s family their portion in due season,” by deserved promotion and preferment; remember how readily some clerical “good work” comes to the front, while yet the more quiet pastoral service cannot be left in the dark and cold.’

are open beforehand] Better, as R.V., are evident; the preposition in the compound adjective only signifies ‘at once’ ‘before one’s eyes;’ the word is used just as we use ‘evident’ in geometrical proof, in Hebrews 7:14, ‘For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda.’

going before to judgment] The verb is common in the Gospels in its simple sense, e.g. Mark 11:9, ‘they that went before and they that followed;’ here, somewhat metaphorically, it describes the obtrusive forward character of ‘advanced’ teaching and ‘fast’ living; cf. 2 John 1:9, ‘every one that goeth forward,’ ‘that advances in bold confidence beyond the limits set to the Christian Faith’ (Bp Westcott). The judgment is that of Timothy and of the Church. The clause seems to recur compressed into one word, Titus 3:11, ‘such an one sinneth, being self-condemned’ or ‘self-judged.’ Our metaphors ‘patent error,’ ‘rampant vice,’ are modern representatives of the two phrases.

some men they follow after] More exactly, some men they only follow after; the evil consequences and evil repute are slow in attaching themselves.1 Timothy 5:24. Τινῶν, of some) Not only is the aspect of the sins which are committed [i.e the footing on which they stand, the point of view from which they are to be regarded] different, but also of the men, though committing the same sins.—αἱ ἁμαρτίαι, the sins) their evil deeds, and their evil habits to be known from the former.—πρόδηλοι) manifest before any inquiry is made, or anything determined concerning the men.—προάγουσαι) going before, preceding him that commits them, so that he is immediately seen to be unworthy of the imposition of hands. The antithesis is, follow after.—εἰς κρίσιν) [Engl. Vers. to judgment] so far as concerns the judgment to be formed of the men.—τισὶ) That is more emphatic than if he had repeated τινῶν; some also their own sins follow.—ἐπακαλουθοῦσι follow after) Meanwhile we must wait patiently, till the matter fully discloses itself, and we must not inquire too harshly. God, however, directs His faithful servant to do and say what is seasonable. The preposition ἐπὶ implies no long interval.Verse 24. - Evident for open beforehand, A.V.; unto for to, A.V.; men also for men, A.V. Some men's sins, etc. St. Paul is evidently here recurring to the topic which he had been dealing with ever since ver. 17, viz. Timothy's duty as a bishop, to whom was entrusted the selection of persons for the office of elder, or presbyter, and also the maintaining of discipline among his clergy. Alford sees the connection of the precept about drinking a little wine with what went before, and with this twenty-fourth verse, in the supposed circumstance that Timothy's weak health had somewhat weakened the vigor of his rule; and that the recommendation to leave off water-drinking was given more with a view to the firmer discharge of those duties than merely for his bodily comfort. This may be so. But there is nothing unlike St. Paul's manner in the supposition that he had done with the subject in hand at the end of the twenty-second verse, and passed on to the friendly hint with regard to Timothy's health, but then subjoined the fresh remarks in vers. 24 and 25, which were an afterthought. Evident (πρόδηλοι); only found in the New Testament, in Hebrews 7:14 besides these two verses, and in the apocryphal books of the Old Testament. It is common, with the kindred forms, προδηλόω προδήλωσις, etc., in classical Greek. It is doubted whether πρὸ in this compound verb has the force of "beforehand," as in the A.V., and not rather that of "before the eyes of all," and therefore only intensifies the meaning of δηλόω. But the natural force of πρὸ in composition certainly is "before" in point of time; and hence in a compound like πρόδηλος would mean" evident before it is examined," which of course is equivalent to "very evident." St. Paul's meaning, therefore, would be: Some men's sins are notorious, requiring no careful inquisition in order to find them out; nay, they of themselves go before - before the sinner himself - unto judgment. But there are also some whose sins follow after them. It is not till after close inquiry that they are found out. They go up to the judgment-seat apparently innocent, but after a while their sins come trooping up to their condemnation. This enforces the caution, "Lay hands hastily on no man." Open beforehand (προδηλοί)

A.V. wrong in giving πρὸ a temporal force, whereas it merely strengthens δηλοί evident, manifest. The meaning is openly manifested to all eyes. In N.T. only here, 1 Timothy 5:25, and Hebrews 7:14. In lxx, see Judith 8:29; 2 Macc. 3:17; 14:39.

Going before to judgment (προάγουσαι εἰς κρίσιν)

Προάγειν, oP. In N.T. habitually with a local meaning, either intransitive, as Matthew 2:9; Matthew 14:22; Mark 11:9; or transitive, as Acts 12:6; Acts 17:5. The meaning here is that these open sins go before their perpetrator to the judgment-seat like heralds, proclaiming their sentence in advance. Κρίσιν, not specifically of the judgment of men or of the final judgment of God, or of the sentence of an ecclesiastical court - but indefinitely. The writer would say: no judicial utterance is necessary to condemn them of these sins. The word in Paul, only 2 Thessalonians 1:5.

They follow after (ἐπακολουθοῦσιν)

The verb only here, 1 Timothy 5:24, 1 Peter 2:21, and (the disputed) Mark 16:20. The sins follow up the offender to the bar of judgment, and are first made openly manifest there.

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