1 Timothy 5:10
Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
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(10) Well reported of for good works.—Not only must men have no evil to say of her, but she must be well known for her good works, for her kindly willingness to help the weary and heavy-laden ones of the world.

If she have brought up children.—This title to honour must be understood quite in a general sense. It must not, of course, be supposed that St. Paul deemed it necessary to exclude from the order of presbyteral widows the childless mothers. Only the candidate for admission must be well known as one who loves children, and would be ready and willing gladly to discharge any public duties to the little orphan ones of the flock who might be intrusted to her care.

If she have lodged strangers.—If, even in a comparatively humble state, she have been always mindful of the sacred rites of hospitality, a virtue perhaps even more valued in the East than in the more reserved Western countries. In the early days of the new faith, the readiness to entertain and welcome Christian strangers seems to have been an especial characteristic of believers in Jesus of Nazareth.

If she have washed the saints’ feet.—Not perhaps to be understood literally, though the act of the Lord on the night before the Cross had invested this act of common hospitality with a peculiar halo of love and devotion. The woman who was to be admitted into the fellowship of this honoured order must be well known as one who had never shrunk from any act of devoted love, however painful or seemingly degrading.

If she have relieved the afflicted.—Not merely, or even chiefly, by alms, but by all kindly and sisterly encouragement: ever ready to mourn with those that mourn, deeming none too low or too degraded for her friendship, none out of the reach of her sisterly help and counsel.

If she have diligently followed every good work.—This sums up the beautiful character to be sought for in the candidates for membership in this chosen woman’s band. She must be known not merely as a mother and a wife, who had well and faithfully performed the womanly duties of her home life, but men must speak of her as one who had diligently and lovingly sought out the rough places of the world, and who, with a brave and patient self-denial, with a sweet and touching self-forgetfulness, had set herself to perform those kind, good actions the Master loves so well.

In the Shepherd of Hermas, written about A.D. 150, some eighty years after St. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, we have probably an example of one of these honoured widows in the person of Grapte, whose task it was to teach the widows and orphans of the Roman Church the meaning of certain prophecies. The authorship of the Shepherd has also been ascribed to the Hermas mentioned in Romans 16:14. It belongs, however, more probably to the middle of the second century, as stated above.

The criticism which dwells on this celebrated passage, containing St. Paul’s rules for admission into the order of presbyteral widows, and which finds in it subject matter belonging to a date later than the age of St. Paul and Timothy, forgets that, dating from the days when Jesus of Nazareth walked on earth, women had been enrolling themselves among His foremost followers, and had been sharing in the toils and enterprises of His most zealous disciples. We find the Marys and other holy women associated with “His own” in the days of the earthly ministry; they were foremost in the work done to the person of the sacred dead. We hear of them after the Resurrection repeatedly in the Jerusalem Church of the first days. It was the neglect of some of the Hebrew widows which led to the foundation of the deacon’s order. Dorcas, before ten years of the Church’s life had passed, appears to have presided over a charitable company of women at Lydda. Dorcas, no doubt, was but one out of many doing, in different centres, a similar work. Priscilla, the wife of Aquila, the wandering tent-maker of Pontus, early in St. Paul’s career evidently took a leading part in organising congregations of Christians. Lydia, the purple seller of Thyatira, was prominent in developing the Philippian Church. Phebe, under the title of the Deaconess of Cenchrea, was the official bearer of St. Paul’s famous letter to the Roman Church. This passage, dwelling on the growing organisation for women’s work at Ephesus, tells us more, certainly, than the scattered incidental allusions of the Acts and earlier Epistles. But the words of St. Paul speak only of the natural results and development of a great movement, which, dating from the earthly days of the ministry of Christ, was destined to give women a new position among the workers of the world.

The Ephesian organisation here regulated by the Apostle is nothing more than we should expect to find after thirty or thirty-two years of female effort in the Master’s cause.

5:9-16 Every one brought into any office in the church, should be free from just censure; and many are proper objects of charity, yet ought not to be employed in public services. Those who would find mercy when they are in distress, must show mercy when they are in prosperity; and those who show most readiness for every good work, are most likely to be faithful in whatever is trusted to them. Those who are idle, very seldom are only idle, they make mischief among neighbours, and sow discord among brethren. All believers are required to relieve those belonging to their families who are destitute, that the church may not be prevented from relieving such as are entirely destitute and friendless.Well reported of for good works - Of good character or reputation; see the notes on 1 Timothy 3:7.

If she have brought up children - Either her own or others. The idea is, if she has done this in a proper manner.

If she have lodged strangers - If she has been characterized by hospitality - a virtue greatly commended in the Scriptures; compare notes on 1 Timothy 3:2.

If she have washed the saints' feet - It is not certain whether this is to be understood literally, or whether it merely denotes that she had performed offices of a humble and self-denying kind - such as would be shown by washing the feet of others. It was one of the rites of hospitality in the East to wash the feet of the guest Genesis 18:4, and Paul might have spoken of this as having been literally performed. There is not the slightest evidence that he refers to it as a religious rite, or ordinance, anymore than he does to the act of bringing up children as a religious rite; compare notes on John 13:1-10.

If she have relieved the afflicted - If it has been her character that she was ready to furnish relief to those who were in distress.

If she have diligently followed every good work - This is one of the characteristics of true piety. A sincere Christian will, like God, be the friend of all that is good, and will be ready to promote every good object according to his ability. He will not merely be the friend of one good cause, to the neglect of others, but he will endeavor to promote every good object, and though from special circumstances, and special dealings of Providence, he may have been particularly interested in some one object of charity, yet every good object will find a response in his heart, and he will be ready to promote it by his influence, his property, and his prayers.

10. for good works—Greek, "IN honourable (excellent) works"; the sphere or element in which the good report of her had place (Tit 2:7). This answers to 1Ti 3:7, as to the bishop or presbyter, "He must have a good report of them which are without."

if—if, in addition to being "well reported of."

she … brought up children—either her own (1Ti 3:4, 12), or those of others, which is one of the "good works"; a qualification adapting her for ministry to orphan children, and to mothers of families.

lodged strangers—1Ti 3:2, "given to hospitality" (Tit 1:8); in the case of presbyters.

washed … saints' feet—after the example of the Lord (Joh 13:14); a specimen of the universal spirit of humbly "by love serving one another," which actuated the early Christians.

relieved the afflicted—whether by pecuniary or other relief.

followed … good—(1Th 5:15; compare instances in Mt 25:35, 36).

Well reported of for good works; if she be a person of repute for actions concerning others which are consonant to the will and commandment of God.

If she have brought up children well, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

If she have lodged strangers; if when persons that are Christians have come from other places, either driven from them, or upon their occasion, and could not amongst pagans find a convenient inn, her house have been open to them.

If she have washed the saints’ feet; if she have been ready to do the meanest offices for the servants of God, of which this washing of feet was one in great use in those hot countries, where they had not the benefit of shoes, either to cool, or refresh, or cleanse them.

If she have relieved the afflicted; if to her ability she have relieved such as have been in any kind of distress.

If she have diligently followed every good work; if though it may be she have not had ability, or opportunity, to do all the good works she would, yet she have diligently followed them, doing what she could; —let such a one be put into the catalogue of those whom the church will relieve, and honour, and employ. Well reported of for good works,.... Both by the members of the church, and by them that were without:

particularly if she have brought up children; that is, "well", as the Arabic version adds; in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; commanding them, as Abraham did, to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment; training them up in the paths of religion and virtue, from which they will not so easily depart when grown up.

If she have lodged strangers; as Abraham and Lot did, who entertained angels unawares: this may be understood of strangers in common, but especially of the brethren, ministers, and others, who came from distant parts, and travelled about to spread the Gospel of Christ. The (y) Jews say many things , "in honour of hospitality" or entertaining of strangers, especially of receiving into their houses the disciples of the wise men, and giving them food and drink, and the use of their goods; this was what gave persons a very great character with them, and highly recommended them.

If she have washed the saints' feet; which was usual in those hot countries, where they wore sandals only, partly for refreshment, and partly for the removal of dust and filth, contracted in walking; instances of this we have in several places of Scripture, Genesis 18:4. It was such a common piece of civility, that our Lord complains of the neglect of it towards him, Luke 7:44. It was what he did to his own disciples, and in so doing set them an example of what they should do to one another, John 13:14 and being a mean and low office, and which very likely was done by the servants of the house; the sense may be, if she has condescended to do the meanest office for the saints.

If she have relieved the afflicted; either in body, with her purse; or in mind, by visiting them, and speaking comfortably to them: in general,

if she have diligently followed every good work; not only have done good works at certain times, but has followed that which is good; has closely pursued it, and that with great eagerness and diligence; has been constant and indefatigable in the performance of it.

(y) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 63. 2.

Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have {c} washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.

(c) This is spoken with regard to the manner of those countries.

1 Timothy 5:10. ἐν ἔργοις καλοῖς μαρτυρουμένη: ἐν with μαρτυρεῖσθαι means in respect of. See reff. and Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., vii., 562.

It is characteristic of the sanity of apostolic Christianity that as typical examples of “good works,” St. Paul instances the discharge of commonplace duties, “the daily round, the common task”. For ἔργα καλά see on chap. 1 Timothy 3:1.

εἰ ἐτεκνοτρόφησεν: As has been just explained, the εἰ is not so much dependent on καταλεγέσθω as explanatory of ἐν ἔργοις καλ. μαρτ. The rendering of the Vulg., [276], [277], [278], Amb., filios educavit, is better than that of [279]141, nutrivit, or Ambrst. enutrivit. It is not child-birth so much as the “Christianly and virtuously bringing up of children,” her own or those entrusted to her charge, that St. Paul has in his mind. Tert. de Virg. vel. 9, alluding to this passage, says, “Non tantum univirae, id est nuptae, aliquando eliguntur, sed et matres et quidem educatrices filiorum, scilicet ut experimentis omnium affectuum structae facile norint ceteras et consilio et solatio iuvare, etrut nihilominus ea decucurrerint, per quae femina probari potest”. The later Church widows, among other duties, had the care of the Church orphans (cf. Hermas Mand. viii.; Lucian, de morte Peregrini, 12).

[276] The Latin text of Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[277] The Latin version of Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[278] The Latin text of Codex Boernerianus (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Dresden, edited by Matthæi in 1791. Written by an Irish scribe, it once formed part of the same volume as Codex Sangallensis (δ) of the Gospels.

[279] Speculum

ἐξενοδόχησεν: Hospitality is a virtue especially demanded in a condition of society in which there is much going to and fro, and no satisfactory hotel accommodation. The episcopus must be φιλόξενος (1 Timothy 3:2, where see note).

εἰ ἁγίων πόδας ἔνιψεν: If the strangers were also “saints,” members of the Christian Society, they would naturally receive special attention. The mistress of the house would act as servant of the servants of God (cf. Genesis 18:6; 1 Samuel 25:41). Unless we assume the unhistorical character of St. John’s Gospel, it is natural to suppose that the story told in John 13:5-14, and the Master’s command to do as He had done, was known to St. Paul and Timothy. The absence of an article before πόδας “is due to assimilation to ἁγίων” (Blass, Grammar, p. 151, note 2).

εἰ παντὶἐπηκολούθησεν cuts short any further enumeration of details, if in short, she has devoted herself to good works of every kind. There is an exact parallel to this use of ἐπακολουθέω in Joshua 14:14, διὰ τὸ αὐτὸν [Caleb] ἐπακολουθῆσαι τῷ προστάγμαλι Κυρίου θεοῦ Ἰσραήλ. The word also means to “check” or “verify” an account. In Mark 16:20, “the signs ‘endorse’ the word” (Moulton and Milligan, Expositor, vii., vii. 376). So here it may connote sympathy with, and interest in, good works, without actual personal labour in them.10. well reported of] So the word is used of good testimony, in the appointment of the deacons, Acts 6:3, ‘seven men of good report;’ of Ananias, ‘a devout man … well reported of by all the Jews,’ Acts 22:12.

for good works] Lit. ‘in the matter of good works;’ the preposition expresses ‘the range in which a power acts,’ Winer, § 48, 3, a. Cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:2, ‘God’s minister in the Gospel of Christ;’ and 1 Timothy 1:18 with note. These good works are not to be limited to such as a widow with means could perform. All were within the reach of the devoted Christian widow, poor as she might be. And pastoral experience can shew similar ‘wonderful works’ still wrought by ‘pious poverty’ for the Saviour. The rhythmical structure of the verse is at least characteristic of St Paul’s rhetoric, fitted now to incorporate some sacred strain, now to suggest one.

if she have brought up children] R.V. rightly, if she hath brought up; ‘hath’ not ‘have’ because the moods are indicative, not conditional; ‘hath brought up,’ not ‘brought up,’ because the English idiom, in such a retrospect, uses the definite past, while the Greek uses the indefinite aorist: see Revisers’ Preface. ‘There are numerous cases in which the use of the indefinite past tense in Greek and English is altogether different, and in such instances we have not attempted to violate the idiom of our language by forms of expression which it could not bear.’ The bringing up of children most naturally refers to her own home and family, where she has been a nursing mother. This compound verb occurs only here in N.T.; as does the next.

lodged strangers] An ordinary daily incident of both rich and poor life then: and in the days of persecution soon to follow a sacred privilege and necessity.

washed the saints’ feet] This special act of Eastern hospitality is singled out doubtless from our Lord’s taking the humble service upon Himself at the Last Supper, John 13:4-17. Cf. Abraham’s reception of the ‘three men’ at Mamre, Genesis 28:4, ‘Let a little water be fetched and wash your feet;’ and the designation of Elijah’s companion and disciple, 2 Kings 3:11, ‘Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.’ ‘The saints’ is another word used like ‘faithful’ (1 Timothy 5:8) at the commencement of the Epistles and elsewhere to describe all who have been ‘set apart’ from the heathen as ‘Christ’s people’ by baptism.

relieved the afflicted] The ‘relief’ is the same word as in 1 Timothy 5:16, exemplifying the promise ‘with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.’ To give such relief from small means would not then be harder than now; and it is very striking, when one knows the real life of the poor, to see how much they can and do help one another in trouble, especially when there is ‘Christian will’ to ‘find the way.’

diligently followed every good work] Bp Ellicott rightly seems to point out that the preposition in the compound verb indicates direction rather than diligence, quoting 1 Peter 2:21, ‘that ye should follow his steps.’ Cf. also Mark 16:20 and 1 Timothy 5:24 in this chapter. She might not have been in front rank but she hath humbly followed and ‘hath done what she could’ in every good work.1 Timothy 5:10. Ἔργοις καλοῖς, good works) These are presently enumerated, among which is also this species, παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ ἐπακολουθεῖν, where ἀγαθὸς is more than καλός.—ἐτεκνοτρόφησεν) if she have rightly brought up children, either her own, or those of others, for the benefit of the Church.—ἐξενοδόχησεν, lodged strangers) that she may be worthy of being publicly compensated by the Church for the benefits which she has conferred on its members.—πόδας ἔνιψεν, has washed the feet) A Synecdoche of the part, for every kind of humble offices.—θλιβομένοις, the straitened [the afflicted]) with poverty.—[41] ἐπηκολούθησε, has followed up) It is the part of ministers and men to take the lead in good works, Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14 (προΐστασθαι, not as Engl. Vers. to maintain, but to take the lead in good works); of women to follow up, by assisting so far as they are able. The glosses in Pricæus are, ἐπηκολούθησεν, ἐκοινώνησεν, ὑπηρέτησεν.

[41] Παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ, every good work) Wherever any good springs forth, either near or at a distance, it is a sacred duty for us to go to its support. If it was the duty of widows, who subsequently were glad to enjoy the assistance of others, how much more does it become men, and those, too, appointed to offices? Many pay attention to their sons perhaps, their relatives, neighbours, or countrymen. But, indeed, they consider it altogether alien to them (an uncalled for act) to bestow anything on persons unknown and on strangers; or if any case occur seeming to be rather unconnected with them, or a little more remote, to attempt anything in its behalf; 1 Samuel 25:10. Whoever has attempted a good work will experience the truth of this.—V. g.Verse 10. - Hath for have, A.V. (five times); used hospitality to for lodged, A.V. Well reported of (μαρτυρουμένη; see 1 Timothy 3:7 and note). This use is frequent in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 7:8; Hebrews 11:2, 4, 5, 39), also in 3 John 1:6, 12. Good works (ἔργοις καλοῖς). The phrase occurs frequently in the pastoral Epistles, both in the singular and in the plural (1 Timothy 2:10; 1 Timothy 3:1; in this verse; ver. 25; 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 1:16; Titus 2:7, 14; Titus 3:1, 8, 14). Our Lord had first used the phrase, and taught how "good works" were to be the distinctive marks of his disciples (Matthew 5:16), as they were evidences of his own mission (John 10:32, 33). It denotes all kinds of good actions as distinguished from sentiments. Love, e.g. is not a good work. Feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and visiting the sick are good works (see Matthew 25:35, etc.). Brought up children (ἐτεκνοτρύφησεν); only here in the New Testament or LXX., but found, as well as τεκνοτροφία, in Aristotle. The word must mean "brought up children of her own," because τέκνον does not mean "a child" with reference to its age, but "a child" with reference to its parent who bare it. The only apparent exception in Holy Scripture is 1 Thessalonians 2:7, where the nurse's alumni are called "her own children," but obviously this is no rent exception. The classical usage is the same. We must, therefore, understand the apostle here to mean "if she hath brought up her children well and carefully, and been a good mother to them." The precept corresponds to that laid down for an ἐπίσκοπος in 1 Timothy 3:4. Possibly, as Grotius suggests, a contrast may be intended with the conduct of some heathen mothers, who, if they were very poor, exposed their children. Used hospitality to (ἐξενοδόχησεν); only here in the New Testament or LXX., but, as well as ξενοδόκος and ξενοδοχία, not uncommon in classical Greek. The common form in the New Testament is ξενίζειν. (For the inculcation of hospitality, see 1 Timothy 3:2, note, and 3 John 1:5.) Washed the saints' feet (see John 13:5-8; and comp. Luke 7:44, where the omission to provide water to wash the feet of a guest is reprobated as inhospitable). The saints (Romans 12:13). Hath relieved (ἐπήρκεσεν); only here and twice in ver. 16 in the New Testament, and. in 1 Macc. 8:26 and Romans 11:35; but common in classical Greek. The afflicted (τοῖς θλιβομενοις); used of any kind of trouble or afflictions (θλίψις); compare, for the precept, Romans 13:15. Diligently followed (ἐπηκολούθησε; comp. 1 Peter 2:21). The idea is somewhat similar to that of "pressing on toward the goal," in Philippians 3:14 (see also ver. 12, where διώκω is rendered in A.V., "I follow after"). Good work. Here ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ, as in Acts 9:36; Romans 2:7, 10; Romans 13:3; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 2:10; and frequently in the pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 2:10). Well reported of (μαρτυρουμένη)

Lit. born witness to or attested, as Acts 6:3; Acts 10:22; Hebrews 11:2. Comp. μαρτυρίαν καλὴν ἔχειν to have good testimony, 1 Timothy 3:7.

For good works (ἐν ἔργοις καλοῖς)

Lit. in good works; in the matter of. Comp. 1 Timothy 6:18; Titus 2:7; Titus 3:8, Titus 3:14. In the Gospels, ἔργον work appears with καλὸς and never with ἀγαθὸς. In Paul, always with ἀγαθὸς and never with καλὸς Kings In the Pastorals, with both. The phrase includes good deeds of all kinds, and not merely special works of beneficence. Comp. Acts 9:36.

If (εἰ)

Introducing the details of the general expression good works.

Have brought up children (ἐτεκνοτρόφησεν)

N.T.o. olxx; very rare in Class. The children may have been her own or others'.

Lodged strangers (ἐξενοδόχησεν)

N.T.o. olxx. On the duty of hospitality comp. 1 Timothy 3:2; Matthew 25:35; Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9; 3 John 1:5.

Washed the feet

A mark of Oriental hospitality bestowed on the stranger arriving from a journey, and therefore closely associated with lodged strangers.

Of the saints (ἁγίων)

Ἅγιος is rare in Class. In lxx, the standard word for holy. Its fundamental idea is setting apart, as in Class., devoted to the gods. In O.T., set apart to God, as priests; as the Israelites consecrated to God. In N.T., applied to Christians. Ideally, it implies personal holiness. It is used of God, Christ, John the Baptist, God's law, the Spirit of God. Paul often uses οἱ ἅγιοι as a common designation of Christians belonging to a certain region or community, as Philippians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:2. In such cases it does not imply actual holiness, but holiness obligatory upon those addressed, as consecrated persons, and appropriate to them. What ought to be is assumed as being. In this sense not in the Gospels (unless, possibly, Matthew 27:52) or in the Epistles of Peter and John. Rare in Acts.


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