John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 5:21 - 5:21

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 5:21 - 5:21


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

21I adjure thee before God Paul introduced this solemn appeal, not only on account of the very great importance of the subject, but likewise on account of its extreme difficulty. Nothing is more difficult than to discharge the office of a public judge with so great impartiality as never to be moved by favor for any one, or to give rise to suspicions, or to be influenced by unfavorable reports, or to use excessive severity, and in every cause to look at nothing but the cause itself; for only when we shut our eyes to persons (107) do we pronounce an equitable judgment.

Let us remember that, in the person of Timothy, all pastors are admonished, and that Timothy is armed, as with a shield, against wicked desires, which not infrequently occasion much trouble even to some excellent persons. He therefore places God before the eyes of Timothy, that he may know that he ought to execute his office not less conscientiously than if he were in the presence of God and of his angels.

And the Lord Jesus Christ. After having named God, he next mentions Christ; for he it is to whom the Father hath given all power to judge, (Joh_5:22,) and before whose tribunal we shall one day appear.

And the elect angels. To “” he adds “” not as judges, but as the future witnesses of our carelessness, or rashness, or ambition, or unfaithfulness. They are present as spectators, because they have been commanded to take care of the Church. And, indeed, he must be worse than stupid, and must have a heart of stone, whose indolence and carelessness are not shaken off by this single consideration, that the government of the Church is under the eye of God and the angels; and when that solemn appeal is added, our fear and anxiety must be redoubled. He calls them “elect angels,” (108) not only to distinguish them from the reprobate angels, but on account of their excellence, in order that their testimony may awaken deeper reverence.

Without hastiness of judgment (109). The Greek word προκρίμα to translate it literally, answers to the Latin word proejudicium “ a judgment beforehand.” But it rather denotes excessive haste, (110) as when we pronounce a decision at random, without having fully examined the matter; or it denotes immoderate favor, when we render to persons more than is proper, or prefer some persons as being more excellent than others; which, in the decisions of a judge, is always unjust. Paul, therefore, condemns here either levity or acceptance of persons.

To the same purpose is that which immediately follows, that there must be no turning to this side or that; for it is almost impossible to tell how difficult it is, for those who hold the office of a judge, to keep themselves unmoved, amidst assaults so numerous and so diversified. Instead of κατὰ πρόσκλισιν (111) some copies have κατὰ πρόσκλησιν But the former reading is preferable.

(107) “Et qu’ regarde seulement le faict.” — “ when we look at nothing but the fact.”

(108) “ us remark that he wishes to distinguish them from those who rebelled. For the devils were not created wicked and malicious as they now are, enemies of all that is good, and false and cursed in their nature. They were angels of God, but they were not elected to persevere, and so they fell. Thus God reserved what he chose among the angels. And so we have already a mirror of God’ election of us to heaven, by free grace before we came into the world. Now, if we see the grace of God displayed even to angels, what shall become of us? For all mankind were lost and ruined in Adam, and we are an accursed, and, as the Scripture tells us, are born “ of wrath.” (Eph_2:3.) What must we become if God do not choose us by pure goodness, since from our mother’ womb (Psa_51:5) we are corrupted, and are alienated from him? This gracious election must prevail, in order to separate us from the reprobate, who remain in their perdition. We ought, therefore, carefully to remark this passage, that Paul, when speaking of the angels, shews that their high rank proceeds from their having been chosen and elected by God. And so, by a still stronger reason, we are separated from all other visible creatures, only because: God separates us by his mercy.” — Fr. Ser.

(109) “Sans jugement precupite, ou, sans preferer l’ a l’.” — “ hasty judgment, or, without preferring one before another.

(110) “Une trop soudaine hastivete.” — “ too sudden haste.”

(111) Κατὰ πρόσχλισιν, ‘ partiality’ or undue favor. So Clemens, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, has χατὰ προσχλίσεις (through partialities.) The word properly signifies a leaning towards, or upon.” — Bloomfield.