Thirdmill Study Bible

Notes on 1 Timothy 5:3-12

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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.

Devoted to every good work - 1 Timothy 5:10

5:10 devoted to every good work. The same character and wisdom is expected of an older woman in the church as is expected from older men: fidelity in marriage, faithfulness is childrearing, service to fellow believers and hospitality towards strangers. See notes 2:15; 3:1-7, 8-13.

They revoke their first commitment - 1 Timothy 5:12

they revoke their first commitment. Paul's advice to Timothy about 'younger widows' in the Ephesian church is cautious, because some have forsaken their fundamental commitment to Christ (see note 5:15) to become 'gossips' and divisive instruments of the false teachers (see 2 Tim 3:6-7).

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