“I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.”
Paul ends the chapter by giving Timothy some suggestions. How do you end a letter to someone you care about? (Even though Paul isn’t technically ending the letter here.) You’d do the same thing, right?
First, he gives a not-so-subtle reminder that God is always watching. Being impartial is so important for ministers that Paul tells Timothy to be impartial, essentially, by everything he holds dear.
He then cautions him not to rush into appointing people to important positions. Ordaining someone for ministry shouldn’t be done without careful testing of the man’s abilities and qualifications. This is a note to us to keep an eye on ourselves all the time so we don’t take part in another person’s sin! As Matthew Henry’s Commentary says, “Those who are rash will become partakers in another man’s sins.” God’s grace keeps us pure, but it is by our own attempts that we remain so.
The next verse is one that I think a lot of people twist to their own desires. They want to drink, so they use this as an excuse. “See? The Bible says it’s okay!” But I don’t think that’s what it means at all. I think this is a genuine concern from Paul for this young man that he cared deeply about. Timothy had a weak body and was frequently ill. God made wine for our pleasure, and it’s His will for us to take care of our bodies so we can use them in service to Him. Paul tells Timothy to drink a little wine to stay healthier ~ wine should be a help, not a hindrance! Also, back then, water was NOT that good at all. They didn’t have the fancy filters that we have now. Their water could very well have been infested with all sorts of bacteria, and wine was the only thing that would settle the discomfort that the bad water would certainly cause.
Lastly, Paul warns his young charge, as he has so many times before. Some sins are so obvious that people see them and begin to judge the person for committing them. And all sin ~ and all sinners ~ should be dealt with differently. Some people realize their mistake, seek forgiveness, and are humbled when they find it in God, but others are quite the opposite. Ministers need great wisdom to know how to deal with everything, and if I was a gambling sort, I would bet everything I’ve got that Paul prayed frequently for Timothy to grow in wisdom. If there’s one thing a young person should pray for, that’s it.