1 Timothy 5:1-16 – Support for (some) Widows

This week we will be gathering to discuss 1 Timothy 5. Paul opens these readings with a discussion about our duties towards other believers, and particularly widows. The Hebrew Scriptures have a continuing concern with the care and treatment of widows. The Law states “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will burn.” Exodus 22:22-23. The right to glean after a harvest belongs to “the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.” Deuteronomy 24:19-24. In the New Testament, the first recorded congregational quarrel occurred because the Hellenistic Jewish Christians believed that their widows were being neglected. Acts 6:1. Taking care of widows is a sacred duty in the Bible.

However, as we have discussed before, what happens when people take advantage of the church’s sacred duty? Paul faced this situation in the church in Thessalonica where certain members of the congregation were refusing to work and simply depended upon others for support. 2 Thess. 3:6-15. Timothy’s church is facing a similar problem. There are some widows who have families that can support them and some widows who are young enough not to require support. Paul says that the church should not support these widows so that it has the ability to support those who truly need the support.

Paul also advises that the young widows should remarry. These women were causing problems in the church and living off of the church and so Paul believes that they should be remarried and relieved of their idleness. This advice is in contradiction to that advice given by Paul to the church in Corinth. (See, 1 Corinthians 7:25-40). There, Paul says that the unmarried (including young women) should not (re)marry because marriage makes a person concerned about the world, whereas the unmarried have the opportunity to devote themselves entirely to the service of the Lord. If you have the opportunity this weekend, compare Paul’s advice on remarriage in 1 Corinthians 7 with that of 1 Timothy 5 and think through this difference in Paul’s counsel.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is Sloppy Joes. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here. Please bring a friend.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you. 

Exodus 20:12

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