PASSAGE: "Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22).
COMMENT: Paul is writing to "my loyal child in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2). Timothy, who has remained behind to lead the newly established congregation in Ephesus, a busy and sophisticated city on the coast of Asia Minor. Paul's concern is that other teachers have come to Ephesus with understandings of the teachings of Jesus Christ at odds with Paul's. Some of these other teachers are apparently more tied to Judaism, with "myths and endless genealogies" (1:4) tied to Jewish law and tradition. Others apparently were more ascetic, demanding that followers live a severe lifestyle—as opposed to Paul's guidance to "take a little wine" (5:23). The Greek translated here as "Do not ordain" literally means "Do not lay hands on." Obviously, there is at this early point no overall church structure “ordaining” ministers. Paul is telling Timothy not to turn over authority for the Ephesus group to just anyone who claims to teach the message of Jesus. The Greek word for sin literally means “missing the mark,” and Paul clearly feels that these other teachers and potential church leaders are “missing the mark” and both misunderstanding and misrepresenting Jesus' teachings, and the significance of his ministry.
It is often the case today that when we come into a heightened dimension of spiritual
awareness, there are many others eager to tell us what it all means and what we should do. Paul's caution to Timothy is equally important for us today—we must first trust our own inner guidance. If other teachers support that guidance, well and good. But if there is a conflict, we must always give priority to our personal guidance, flowing from our Oneness with God.