Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 Timothy 5:1-16

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Treat groups in Groups in God's household as family members. - 1 Timothy 5:1-2

Treat groups in God's household as family members. The purpose statement of the letter focuses reader attention on "how to behave in the household of God" (see note 3:15). Paul applied the metaphor earlier in the letter to qualifications for church leaders (see notes 3:4, 12). In this overarching summary, he characterizes pastoral relations with different groups in specific familial terms. Timothy is not to abuse his authority. Rather, he is to relate to 'older men' as 'fathers,' 'younger men' as 'brothers,' older women as 'mothers' and 'younger women' as 'sisters.

Criteria for relating to younger & older Widows well. - 1 Timothy 5:3-16

Paul instructed Timothy on how to care well for widowed women, who were particularly vulnerable to exploitation in Ephesian society. Indeed, 'some' had been influenced by the false teachers and were sinning against the community (cf. 1 Tim 5:13-15; 2 Tim 3:6-7). Paul distinguished between older and younger widows, and between widows who had family resources and those who were all alone (5:5)

Honor widows - 1 Timothy 5:3

Honor widows, real widows. In ancient, patrilineal societies, where land inheritance laws privileged sons, widows were dependent utterly on their extended family and tribe for material support. This economic reality was mitigated by Old Testament Law (cf. Ex 22:22; Deut 24:19-21; Ruth). The Prophets clearly warned God's people when they neglected their covenantal obligations to widows (cf. Isa 1:17; Jere 22:3; Zech 7:9-10; Mal 3:5). The care of widows is an identifying marker of 'true faith' in the New Testament community (cf. Acts 6:1-6; Jas 1:27).

If a widow has children or grandchildren - 1 Timothy 5:4

If a widow has children or grandchildren. Paul placed the primary responsibility of providing for widows on the family as an expression of their love to God and each other. Having defended the right to marry and the importance of rearing children within marriage, Paul underscored the opportunity of younger widows to remarry

A real widow - 1 Timothy 5:5

a real widow. In Paul's view, only older widows (see 5:3), who had no family support, were eligible for financial support from the church. As image-bearers of equal dignity, Paul expected both contributions from and for these widows. From them, he expected consistent prayers that exemplified the dependence on God to which each member is called. Moreover, as members of Christ's social body, Paul expected God to provide for their material support through the church.

Preach these things. - 1 Timothy 5:7

Preach these things. Literally, 'command these things that they may be blameless.' Again, Paul is correcting false appropriations of the law. These clear instructions help everyone in the community know how to relate.

He is worse than an unbeliever.- 1 Timothy 5:8

he is worse than an unbeliever. As mentioned in note 5:3 above, the care of widows, orphans and immigrants is a mark of 'true faith' in the covenant community (cf. Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-35; 6:1-6; James 1:27). But, that care starts at home so as not to burden the limited resources of the church to provide for its members, who have no family. For Paul, failure to provide material goods for family members and church members is spiritual malpractice

Enrolled as a widow- 1 Timothy 5:9

enrolled as a widow. Some traditions within the church have interpreted an order or office of widow from this text. But, Paul's emphasis is on developing a list of 'real widows' who should not be overlooked in the distribution of food or funds (cf. Acts 6:1-6). Not younger than sixty. This is the age under which it was expected, at least in Greco-Roman culture, that widows would remarry. A wife of one husband. Like the requirements for elder and deacon (see notes 3:2, 12), widows who received material support from the church were expected to be of consistent moral character, providing a good example in their relational practices.

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