“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,’ and ‘The worker deserves his wages.’ Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.”
Now that he’s sorted out how to handle widows, Paul moves on to those other important members of the church ~ elders. Elders are immensely important. They’ve got a lot of duties in the church, most of which I don’t know about. But the ones who do their job well, Paul says, deserve TWICE as much as those who just do their job. Oxen were allowed to eat while they worked. Working hard and well earns a reward!
Apparently there wasn’t just one person who preached, like we have nowadays. Elders preached and taught, but not all elders did that. They were so important to the church that Paul tells Timothy not to take action on the bad word of one person against an elder. It couldn’t just be a rumor, either ~ it had to be a specific accusation for a specific thing, and THEN he could start thinking about it. But first, the witnesses had to be credible. They should accuse the elder in front of him, so he knows what they think he did wrong. Then, because the elder’s reputation is so important, the accusation should be well proven ~ so to speak, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” if you’re envisioning a jury like I am.
Public rebuke might be embarrassing for the person receiving it, but it’s designed for the good of those listening, so they pay attention and avoid wickedness. “I don’t want to be in THAT guy’s shoes! I’d better not do what he did.”