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1 Timothy 5:18 – Don’t muzzle a threshing ox

14-06-2024 - Posted by Hans

Let elders who have presided ideally be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who are toiling in word and teaching. For the scripture is saying: “A threshing ox you shall not be muzzling” and “Worthy is the worker of his wages.”

While we live in a society where the elderly are often considered ‘dismissed’ and ‘a burden’, they deserve respect in Scripture (5:4). By “double honor” Paul thinks of material support in addition to respect. And especially for those “who are toiling in word and teaching”. Their labor is called toil, which indicates that all their time and energy are consumed in it. They often lose income because of this commitment and therefore they are worthy of support.

Paul here refers to the Scripture that an ox that is threshing should not be muzzled (Deut.25:4). In 1Corinthians 9:9 he also refers to that verse and explains that this instruction in the Torah is not fundamentally about oxen, but about believers who labor in the spiritual harvest. And as an ox should not be hindered (muzzled) from eating while threshing, so a toiler “in word and instruction” should not be hindered from receiving support. In fact, he is well worth that support.