John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 5:22 - 5:22

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John Calvin Complete Commentary - 1 Timothy 5:22 - 5:22


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22Lay not hands suddenly on any man There can be no doubt that he intended to guard Timothy against ill-will, and to obviate many complaints, which are continually arising against the godly servants of Christ, who refuse to comply with the ambitious requests of any. For some accuse them of sternness; others of envy; and some exclaim that they are cruel, because they do not at once receive those who boast of having some recommendatory qualities. This is what we abundantly experience in the present day. Paul therefore exhorts Timothy not to lay aside judicious caution, and not to suffer himself to be overpowered by improper feelings; not that Timothy needed such an admonition, but to restrain, by his authority, those who otherwise might have given annoyance to Timothy,

First, the “laying on of hands ” means Ordination: (112) that is, the sign is put for the thing signified; for he forbids him to receive too easily any one that has not been fully tried. There are some who, through a desire of novelty, would wish to receive into the ministerial office, some person hardly at all known, as soon as he has given one or two exhibitions that are reckoned good. It is the duty of a wise and thoughtful bishop, to resist this troublesome feeling, in the same manner as Paul here bids Timothy do.

Neither partake of other men’ sins He means that he who consents to an unlawful act of ordination is involved in the same guilt as the chief actors in it. Yet some explain it thus: “ he admit unworthy persons, whatever faults they may afterwards commit, to him will be imputed the blame or a part of the blame.” But I think that this is a more simple view of it: “ others rush forth to such rashness, do not make thyself a partaker with them, lest thou share in their guilt.” Even where our judgment is otherwise sound, it often happens that we are carried away by the folly and levity of others. (113)

Keep thyself pure I consider this also to have the same reference as the preceding clause. As if he had said, “ others do anything that is wrong, beware lest any contagion reach you, either by consent or by approbation. If you cannot hinder them from polluting themselves, it is at least your duty to have your counsels at all times separated from theirs, so that you may keep yourself pure.” If any prefer to view it as a general statement, let him enjoy his opinion; but, for my own part, I reckon it to be more suitable to limit it to the present context.



(112) “Laquelle on appelle Ordination ou Consecration.” — “ is called Ordination or Consecration.”

(113) “ whom does the Apostle speak? Is it only to ministers who preach the doctrine of the gospel? Is it only to magistrates, and to those who have the sword and the administration of civil government? No, but to all Christians, great and small. It is then said, that we must not partake of the sins of others. And in what manner? By reproving them. (Eph_5:11.) And so he who intends to flatter his neighbor, and who shuts his eyes when he sees that God is offended, and especially he who consents to it will be still more blamable. Let us seriously think, that we shall have a hard account to render to God, if we have walked amidst the corruptions of the world, so as to make it appear that we approved of them. And so much the more ought we to meditate on this doctrine, when we see that there is such boldness in sinning, that custom appears to have become the law. Let a man be convinced that he is doing wrong, yet provided that he has many companions, he thinks that he is excused. ‘ wolves we must howl,’ it will be said. Now we see that the sins of others will not excuse us before God, and though the whole world sin along with us, we shall not fail to be involved in the same condemnation. Let us think of that.” — Fr. Ser.