|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 3. - Honor (τίμα). The use of the verb τιμάω in the comment on the fourth commandment in Matthew 15:4-6, where the withholding of the honor due consists in saying, "It is corban, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me," and so withholding the honor due, shows clearly that in the notion of honoring is included that material support which their condition as widows required. So again in ver. 17 of this chapter, the "double honor" due to elders who labor in the Word and doctrine is clearly shown by ver. 18 to include payment for their maintenance. This is also borne out by the frequent use of τιμή in the sense of "price" (Matthew 27:6, 9; Acts 4:34; Acts 7:16; Acts 19:19; 1 Corinthians 6:20, etc.). The passage might, therefore, be paraphrased, "Pay due regard to the wants of those widows who are widows indeed." The "honor" here prescribed would be exactly the opposite to the "neglect" (παρεθεωροῦντο) complained of by the Grecian Jews (Acts 6:1). The same idea is in the Latin honorarium, for a fee. Widows indeed; i.e. really, as in vers. 5 and 16, desolate and alone. We learn from this passage that the care of widows by the whole Church, which began at Jerusalem in the very infancy of the Church, was continued in the Churches planted by St. Paul. We find the same institution though somewhat different in character, in subsequent ages of the Church. Widowhood, as well as virginity, became a religious profession, and widows were admitted with certain ceremonies, including the placing on their heads a veil consecrated by the bishop. Deaconesses were very frequently chosen from the ranks of the widows (Bingham, 'Antiq.,' bk. 7. 1 Timothy 4.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
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.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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).
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