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.
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.