1 Timothy 5:3
Honor widows that are widows indeed.
5:3-8 Honour widows that are widows indeed, relieve them, and maintain them. It is the duty of children, if their parents are in need, and they are able to relieve them, to do it to the utmost of their power. Widowhood is a desolate state; but let widows trust in the Lord, and continue in prayer. All who live in pleasure, are dead while they live, spiritually dead, dead in trespasses and sins. Alas, what numbers there are of this description among nominal Christians, even to the latest period of life! If any men or women do not maintain their poor relations, they in effect deny the faith. If they spend upon their lusts and pleasures, what should maintain their families, they have denied the faith, and are worse than infidels. If professors of the gospel give way to any corrupt principle or conduct, they are worse than those who do not profess to believe the doctrines of grace.Honour widows - The particular attention and respect which are enjoined here, seem to refer to the class of widows who were supported by the church, and who were entrusted with the performance of certain duties toward the other female members, see 1 Timothy 5:9. It is to be remembered that the contact of the sexes was much more circumscribed in Oriental countries than it is among us; that access to the female members of the church would be much less free than it is now, and that consequently there might have been a special propriety in entrusting the duty of watching over the younger among them to the more aged. This duty would be naturally entrusted to those who had not the care of families. It would also be natural to commit it, if they were qualified, to those who had not the means of support, and who, while they were maintained by the church, might be rendering a valuable service to it. It would seem, therefore, that there was a class of this description, who were entrusted with these duties, and in regard to whose qualifications it was proper that Timothy should be instructed. The change of customs in society has made this class less necessary, and probably the arrangement was never designed to be permanent, but still it may be a question whether such an arrangement would not now be wise and useful in the church. On this subject, see the notes on Romans 16:1.

That are widows indeed - Who are truly widows. We associate with the word "widow," commonly, not only the idea of the loss of a husband, but many other things that are the usual accompaniments of widowhood - a poor and dependent condition; care and solicitude; sadness and sorrow. This idea is implied in the use of the word employed here - χήρα chēra - which means properly one who is "bereaved," (from the adjective χήρος chēros, "bereaved"), and which, as Calvin says, conveys the idea of one in distressed circumstances. What Paul regarded as constituting true widowhood, he specifies in 1 Timothy 5:4-5, 1 Timothy 5:9-10. He connects with it the idea that she had no persons dependent on her; that she was desolate, and evinced true trust in God; that she was so aged that she would not marry again; and that by her life she had given evidence of possessing a heart of true benevolence; 1 Timothy 5:10.

Honour widows that are widows indeed. Who those are, see in 1 Timothy 1:5. The honour to be given them is not a putting of them into the office of a deaconess, in the church; which office, some think, is referred to in Acts 6:1, and did obtain in some of the primitive churches; and it might be that some of these widows, the apostle here and hereafter speaks of, might be preferred to the rest, and be set over them, and have the care of such, who were more infirm; but then this could only be the case of some, whereas the honour here spoken of is what is to be given to all that are really widows; and therefore rather regards some external honour and respect to be shown them, by words and actions; and especially it designs an honourable provision for them, and maintenance of them; in which sense the word is used in 1 Timothy 5:17. So, with the Jews, giving gifts to persons, and making presents to them, is called honour. When Manoah asked the angel's name, that he might do him honour, when his saying came to pass, Judges 13:17 the sense, according to them, is (q),

"that I may inquire in what place I may find thee, when thy prophecy is fulfilled, and give thee "a gift"; for there is no honour but what signifies a gift, as it is said, Numbers 22:17, "honouring I will honour thee".''

So giving gifts to the poor, or providing for their maintenance, is doing them honour; and that this is the sense here, appears by what follows in the context.

(q) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 10. fol. 199. 4.

{2} {a} Honour widows that are widows indeed.

(2) The apostle gives these rules concerning the care of widows.

(a) Have care of those widows who have need of help.

Honor (τίμα)

Not only by respectful treatment but by financial support. Comp. τιμήσει, Matthew 15:5, and πολλαῖς τιμαῖς ἐτίμησαν, Acts 28:10; and διπλῆς τιμῆς 1 Timothy 5:17. Comp. Sir. 38:1. 'The verb only once in Paul (Ephesians 6:2, citation), and only here in Pastorals.

Widows (χήρας)

Paul alludes to widows in 1 Corinthians 7:8 only, where he advises them against remarrying. They are mentioned as a class in Acts 6:1, in connection with the appointment of the seven. Also Acts 9:39, Acts 9:41. In the Pastorals they receive special notice, indicating their advance from the position of mere beneficiaries to a quasi-official position in the church. from the very first, the church recognised its obligation to care for their support. A widow, in the East, was peculiarly desolate and helpless. In return for their maintenance certain duties were required of them, such as the care of orphans, sick and prisoners, and they were enrolled in an order, which, however, did not include all of their number who received alms of the church. In Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians, they are styled "the altar of God." To such an order the references in the Pastorals point. The Fathers, from the end of the second century to the fourth, recognised a class known as πρεσβύτιδες aged women (Titus 2:3), who had oversight of the female church-members and a separate seat in the congregation. The council of Laodicaea abolished this institution, or so modified it that widows no longer held an official relation to the church.

Who are widows indeed (τὰς ὄντως χήρας)

Comp. 1 Timothy 5:5, 1 Timothy 5:16. Ὄντως verily, truly, twice in Paul, 1 Corinthians 14:25; Galatians 3:21. See on 2 Peter 2:18. Wherever ὄντως is used by Paul or by any other N.T. writer, it is used purely as an adverb (see Luke 23:47; Luke 24:34): but in all the four instances in the Pastorals, it is preceded by the article and converted into an adjective. The meaning is, who are absolutely bereaved, without children or relations (comp. 1 Timothy 5:4), and have been but once married. There is probably also an implied contrast with those described in 1 Timothy 5:6, 1 Timothy 5:11-13.

3. Honour—by setting on the church roll, as fit objects of charitable sustenance (1Ti 5:9, 17, 18; Ac 6:1). So "honor" is used for support with necessaries (Mt 15:4, 6; Ac 28:10).

widows indeed—(1Ti 5:16). Those really desolate; not like those (1Ti 5:4) having children or relations answerable for their support, nor like those (in 1Ti 5:6) "who live in pleasure"; but such as, from their earthly desolation as to friends, are most likely to trust wholly in God, persevere in continual prayers, and carry out the religious duties assigned to Church widows (1Ti 5:5). Care for widows was transferred from the Jewish economy to the Christian (De 14:29; 16:11; 24:17, 19).

Honor widows that are widows indeed - One meaning of the word τιμαω, to honor, is to support, sustain, etc., Matthew 15:4, Matthew 15:5; and here it is most obviously to be taken in this sense. Provide for those widows especially which are widows indeed - persons truly destitute, being aged and helpless, and having neither children nor friends to take care of them, and who behave as becometh their destitute state. But see the note on 1 Timothy 5:10. 5:3 Honour - That is, maintain out of the public stock. 5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed. In the church at Jerusalem the widows were honored with support (Ac 6:1). The teaching of Paul here seems to place widows who were above sixty years old (1Ti 5:9), and without children or grandchildren to support them (1Ti 5:4), in a class of church widows devoted to the work of the church (1Ti 5:10), and supported out of its funds. Such were widows indeed.
1 Timothy 5:2
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