|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 5. - Hath her hope set on for trusteth in, A.V. A widow indeed (see ver. 3). Desolate (μεμονωμένη; only here in the New Testament, rare in Greek versions of Old Testament, frequent in classical Greek); literally, left alone, or made solitary, which is also the exact meaning of "desolate," from solus, alone. A widow with children or grandchildren able to support her is not altogether desolate. As regards the connecting δέ, rendered "now" both in the A.V. and the R.V., Bishop Ellicott rightly renders it "but." The apostle is contrasting the condition of the ὄντες χήρα, who has only God to look to for help, and who passes her time in prayer, with that of the widow with children and grandchildren. The second "but" in ver. 6 is no real objection; the widow who "giveth herself to pleasure ' is contrasted in her turn with the devout prayerful widow whose conduct has just been described. The inference intended to be drawn, as Ellicott justly remarks, is that the one is eminently fit, and the other eminently unfit, to be supported at the common charge of the Church. Hath her hope set on God (see 1 Timothy 4:10). Supplications and prayers (see 1 Timothy 2:1, note). Night and day. Perhaps by night and by day would express the genitive better (Matthew 2:14; Luke 18:7), as indicating time when, rather than time how long. In Luke 2:37, Anna the prophetess is said to worship "with lastings and supplications night and day (νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν)," where the accusative conveys rather more the notion of vigils prolonged through the night. As regards the order of the words, "day and night," or "night and day," there seems to be no rule. St. Mark always has "night and day" (Mark 4:7; Mark 5:5); St. Luke uses both (Luke 2:37; Luke 18:7; Acts 9:24; Acts 20:31; Acts 26:7). St. Paul always "night and day," as in this passage (Acts 20:31; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 2 Timothy 1:3). St. John always "day and night" (Revelation 4:8; Revelation 7:15; Revelation 12:10; Revelation 14:11; Revelation 20:10).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Now she that is a widow indeed,.... A real widow, whom the Jews (r) call "a perfect one", in opposition to one that is divorced, or a brother's widow, that has had the shoe plucked off for her: and such an one as the apostle means, is one that is
desolate, or "alone": who has neither husband to take care of her, nor children or nephews to show kindness to her, nor any worldly substance to subsist upon:
but trusteth in God: not in man, nor in an arm of flesh, but in the living God, the giver of all good things, the Judge of widows; who vindicates their cause, avenges the injuries done them, protects and defends them, and relieves their wants, and gives all encouragement to them, to trust in him; see Jeremiah 49:11.
and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day; as the widow Anna did, Luke 2:36. A Widow indeed is one that has no outward dependence, betakes herself to the Lord, puts her confidence in him, and cries to him continually for a daily supply; and such an one, amidst all her poverty and meanness, is a living believer, one that lives by faith on the Lord; and is profitable, and useful to the church by her prayers and supplications made for them, as well as for herself; whereas she that is in the next verse described is just the reverse.
(r) Jarchi in Exek. xliv. 22.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. widow indeed, and desolate—contrasted with her who has children or grandchildren to support her (1Ti 5:4).
trusteth in God—perfect tense in Greek, "hath rested, and doth rest her hope in God." 1Ti 5:5 adds another qualification in a widow for Church maintenance, besides her being" desolate" or destitute of children to support her. She must be not one "that liveth in pleasure" (1Ti 5:6), but one making God her main hope (the accusative in Greek expresses that God is the ultimate aim whereto her hope is directed; whereas, 1Ti 4:10, dative expresses hope resting on God as her present stay [Wiesinger]), and continuing constantly in prayers. Her destitution of children and of all ties to earth would leave her more unencumbered for devoting the rest of her days to God and the Church (1Co 7:33, 34). Compare also "Anna a widow," who remained unmarried after her husband's death and "departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers day and night" (Lu 2:36, 37). Such a one, Paul implies, would be the fittest object for the Church's help (1Ti 5:3); for such a one is promoting the cause of Christ's Church by her prayers for it. "Ardor in prayers flows from hoping confidence in God" [Leo].
in supplications and prayers—Greek, "in her supplications and prayers"; the former signifies asking under a sense of need, the latter, prayer (see on 1Ti 2:1; Php 4:6).
night and day—another coincidence with Luke (Lu 18:7, "cry day and night"); contrast Satan's accusations "day and night" (Re 12:10).
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