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I TIMOTHY 5:24,25

Friend Beebe: Please give your views on I Timothy 5:24,25, “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid.” By so doing you will oblige a sincere inquirer after truth.

Your friend in tribulation,
J. Childers.
Drake Co., Ohio,
Sept. 21, 1861.

REPLY: This chapter abounds with practical rules to be observed by Timothy in the discharge of his pastoral duties in the church of God, in which he was an ordained bishop (or elder). Among other instructions he is cautioned against laying hands suddenly on any man. That is, if we rightly understand, in setting them apart to the office of elders, deacons or other responsible places in the church. To avoid premature ordinations, it would be necessary to form a judgment in regard to the prospective proclivities of candidates for ordination. Let these first be proved, and when the church becomes satisfied that they possess the proper qualifications, let them be set apart to the work, by prayer, fasting and the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. But be not hasty. There are perceptible indications which, if judiciously watched, will enable the church and the presbytery to judge even beforehand whether the assignment would be beneficial. Some men, even in the church, are by no means qualified for the office of pastor or deacon, their failings or sins may be anticipated. For instance, if the candidate for the ministry be a novice, his prospective sin is that being lifted up with pride, he will fall into the condemnation of the devil. The church and the presbytery must judge in this matter beforehand. Or if he be given to too much wine, or in his natural disposition greedy of filthy lucre, or passionate, a striker, one who is not able to rule well his own house, we are not at liberty to lay hands on him, but from these evidences we are to judge of him beforehand. The evil consequences which would result from their being installed in the sacred office are open, and need not that time or trial be given, for the consequence is so open and apparent that it may be judged beforehand. The bishop, for instance, must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach. In the absence of these qualifications, we may righteously and scripturally judge beforehand, that his future, if set apart to the work, would be unprofitable, and hazardous to the peace of the church. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand, for, if we find them in possession of all the requisites named in the third chapter of this epistle, we may judge beforehand that his ministry will be edifying, comforting, instructing and every way beneficial to the church of God.

Some have understood the apostle to mean that the sins of God’s elect people have gone to judgment before death, and that the sins of the non-elect follow to judgment, and are not judged until after death and the resurrection, but we do not understand this to be the subject on which the inspired apostle was in this text, or its connection, instructing Timothy. We do believe that the sins of all God’s people were as fully known, and adjudged by God before the world began as they are or will be at any subsequent period. And further, they are judicially judged, summed up, and laid upon Christ when God laid on him the iniquity of all his people; and experimentally, when they were first quickened with spiritual life and arraigned before their eternal Judge, in their first convictions for sin. We also believe that all the wicked deeds of men and devils were known unto God from everlasting, and that the final destiny of both saints and sinners is unchangeably fixed in the purpose and wisdom of the divine mind as it will ever be. But still, to our mind, the text under consideration does not relate to that subject, but, as we have endeavored to show, to the judgment of the church and of the presbytery in regard to those on whom hands should or should not be laid in solemn ordination, as elders, deacons, etc.

Middletown, N.Y.,
October 15, 1861.

Elder Gilbert Beebe,
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 55 - 57