To explain the “judgment,” “sins,” and “good deeds” of First Timothy 5:24-25 it is necessary to get
the context from verse 5:22 where Paul is giving Timothy advice concerning selecting elders and leadership within the church of Ephesus. Many problems in the local church can be avoided by
simply refusing to give positions of leadership in the church to men who are unqualified. So,
Timothy is told not be “hasty” or “quick” to give positions of leadership (“laying on of hands”) to men, otherwise Timothy will have to “share” (koinonei meaning “to have fellowship” or “to participate”)
in the sins of these leaders. This means that Timothy should avoid putting unqualified, unprepared, sinful, incompetent, arrogant men in leadership positions otherwise Timothy (and, ultimately, Paul himself) will be left to clean up the mess (or, sharing and participating in the sins of others.)
Timothy can keep himself pure by surrounding himself with good leaders who will not drag him through a series of disastrous decisions and internal church conflicts that waste time,
drain emotional energy, and cause people to leave the church.
“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” – First Timothy 5:22
Paul tells Timothy “keep yourself pure.” And, then in a side note on “purity” Paul seems to add a parenthetical statement as a personal note concerning Timothy’s pursuit of “purity.” Paul tells
Timothy to “drink a little wine.” Timothy may have slipped into an ascetic view of wine in his
attempt to keep himself pure. Paul gives the imperative command:
“Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach.”
It is tempting to think that church conflicts that Timothy had to deal with in Ephesus and had attempted to manage in Corinth were wearing on him and causing physical problems.
Many of these problems can be avoided by appointing qualified men. Paul continues (5:24-25) to
talk about evaluating and selecting men for church leadership. Paul points out that some sins of
the potential elders are obvious, making it easy to reject them for positions of leadership, but in
the case of others, the sins of the elders that are chosen come dragging in behind their
appointment to office:
“The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.”
The “judgment” that is being discussed here is not God’s final judgment, but Timothy’s judgment
of men’s qualification to serve as elders in the church of Ephesus. Timothy is told to take his
time in finding help in leadership, because a mistake upfront could cause him serious damage
on the backside.