by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2 Lincolnton, NC January 15, 2006
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
1901 ASV Translation:
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, except at the mouth of two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin reprove in the sight of all, that the rest also may be in fear.
I. Having Addressed the Issue of How Elders Are to be Treated Re: Their Task(s), Paul Turns to How They Are to be Treated if They Drop the Ball.
A. First, Unsubstantiated Accusations Are to be Rejected.
1. In the performance of their tasks, elders will invariably stir opposition from the dark kingdom.
2. The M.O. of the dark kingdom is slander.
3. The only way to tell if a person is a proponent of the dark kingdom, or a target of that kingdom is by validation of their tactics.
a. There are false elders who are "into" the various lusts and are using "ministry" as a means to their gratification.
b. There are also true elders who are going to be antagonizing the ungodly and becoming targets of slander.
c. The only way to tell which is which is by the subjection of their methods to both validation (checking to see if they have really done what they are being accused of having done) and evaluation (checking to see if what they have done is ungodly).
1) Validation is to be handled by multiple witnesses.
2) Evaluation is to be handled by the other elders.
B. Second, Valid Accusations Are to Result in Public Exposure/Rebuke.
1. Paul does not mention any "benefit" to the elder who sins (which may imply that men at this level seldom accept correction).
2. Paul does mention a "benefit" to those who observe how the elder is publicly humiliated.
a. He says "the others" may "have fear".
1) The "others" may well be the other elders.
2) The obvious "problem" with those who "sin" is that they do not have a sufficient "fear" of being caught up in the process of defiling God's Church (Note Paul on this issue in 1 Corinthians 3:17 in its context).
b. Clearly, the issue of public rebuke is more than just the humiliation/fear issue, for it is also the historical stage for the manifestation of what God does as a consequence.
1) Much of what God does goes unrecognized because the things that would make His action recognizable are not made "public". If the elder who sins is simply quietly shunted into oblivion, no one sees what happens to him afterwards as the reaction of God to his sin.
2) If God means it when He says that He will destroy those who defile His Church, a public disclosure of the defilement will make it more easily recognizable when the destruction occurs...thus increasing the fear level and, therefore, the purity level.