Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Having damnation.—Judgment, not necessarily “damnation.” The Greek word krima is often thus unhappily translated. The context of the passage must in all cases decide the nature of the “judgment,” whether favourable or the contrary. Here it signifies that those who in after days give up a work which for their Master’s sake they had undertaken, expose themselves to a searching judgment, which will thoroughly sift the reasons that induced them to forsake the begun toil, and that, if the reasons be not satisfactory, will be unfavourable, and will surely involve condemnation.
Because they have cast off their first faith.—Though, probably, no vows respecting marriage were required from those widows who devoted themselves to the Lord’s service, yet virtually such a solemn enrolment partook of the nature of a life-long engagement—an engagement which, if they married again, must necessarily be given up.
Such a going back, such a giving up the higher and the more devoted life—the life of self-sacrifice, of self-abnegation—for the ordinary joys and cares of domestic life, for the useful but still every-day pursuits of ordinary men and women—such a going back, would be indeed a casting off their first faith, and such an example of backsliding could not fail to harm the cause of Christ.1 Corinthians 11:29. The meaning is, that they would contract guilt, if they had been admitted among this class of persons, and then married again. The apostle does not say that that would be wrong in itself (compare notes on 1 Timothy 5:14), or that they would be absolutely prohibited from it, but that injury would be done if they were admitted among those who were "widows indeed" - who were supported by the church, and who were entrusted with a certain degree of care over the more youthful females - and then should leave that situation. It might give occasion for scandal it might break in upon the arrangements; it would show that there was a relaxing of the faith, and of the deadness to the world, which they were supposed to have; and it was better that they should be married 1 Timothy 5:14, without having been thus admitted.
Because they have cast off their first faith - This does not mean that they would lose all their religion, or wholly fall away, but that this would show that they had not the strong faith, the deadness to the world, the simple dependence on God 1 Timothy 5:5, and the desire which they had to be weaned from worldly cares and influences, which they once had. When they became widows, all their earthly hopes seemed to be blasted. They were then dead to the world, and felt their sole dependence on God. But if, under the influence of these strong emotions, they were admitted to the "class of widows" in the church, there was no certainty that they would continue in this state of mind. Time would do much to modify their grief. There would be a reviving love of the world, and under the influence of this they would be disposed to enter again into the marriage relation, and thus show that they had not the strong and simple faith which they had when the blow which made them widows fell heavily upon then.
cast off their first faith—namely, pledged to Christ and the service of the Church. There could be no hardship at the age of sixty or upwards in not marrying again (end of 1Ti 5:9), for the sake of serving better the cause of Christ as presbyteresses; though, to ordinary widows, no barrier existed against remarriage (1Co 7:39). This is altogether distinct from Rome's unnatural vows of celibacy in the case of young marriageable women. The widow-presbyteresses, moreover, engaged to remain single, not as though single life were holier than married life (according to Rome's teaching), but because the interests of Christ's cause made it desirable (see on 1Ti 3:2). They had pledged "their first faith" to Christ as presbyteress widows; they now wish to transfer their faith to a husband (compare 1Co 7:32, 34).
1. What is meant by krima, which we both here and elsewhere translate damnation.
2. How they cast off their first faith.
Many think the Greek word by us translated damnation, ought to have had a softer sense, it being certainly capable of it. Some think it signifies here no more than guilt, or a blot; others, a public infamy; others, the judgment of good men against them. But it may be we cannot so well determine this without understanding what is meant by
their first faith, which they are here said to have cast off: by which some understand their profession of Christianity; others, their promise or engagement to the church, not to marry. The latter sense supposeth that all those widows that were taken into the ministry of the church before mentioned, promised that they would keep themselves unmarried, which is a most groundless supposition. I do rather think that by their first faith, he means their first or former profession of Christianity; which was a crime that did expose them not only to the judgment and censure of sober Christians, but to eternal damnation. I shall offer my own sense of this text thus: it is certain these Christians were lilies among thorns, a small handful amongst a far greater number of pagans; and it is not improbable, that some younger widows, out of a desire to marry, might marry to pagans, and be by them tempted to apostacy from the Christian profession; upon which the apostle orders, that none under sixty years of age should be henceforth taken into the ministry of the church, lest doing such a thing when they were under that character, it should be a greater scandal. This seems the more probable from 1 Timothy 5:15, where the apostle adds, for some are already turned aside after Satan.
"goes about and visits her neighbours continually; and these are they that corrupt the world.''
Of this sort of women must the Jews be understood, when they say (a), it is one of the properties of them to be "going out", or gadding abroad, as Dinah did; and that it is another to be "talkative", which agrees with what follows:
and not only idle, but tattlers also; full of talk, who have always some news to tell, or report to make of the affairs of this, or the other person, or family:
and busy bodies; in the matters of other persons, which do not concern them:
speaking things which they ought not; which either are not true, and, if they are, are not to be spoken of, and carried from place to place: this is a very great inconvenience, the apostle observes, arising from the admission of such young widows to be relieved and maintained at the church's charge.Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)1 Timothy 5:12. Ἔχουσαι κρίμα, ὅτι] Almost all expositors take ὅτι as introducing the object, so that what follows describes the κρίμα which the widows have to suffer. There is variance only in the more precise definition of κρίμα, whether it is to be understood as the judgment of God (Wiesinger, van Oosterzee), or the judgment of men (Wegscheider: “they draw blame on themselves;” Plitt: “they meet with reproof”), or the judgment of their own conscience (so in this commentary; comp. 1 Timothy 4:2 : κεκαυτηριασένοι τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν). Hofmann takes ὅτι as “because,” as there is no article with κρίμα: “they are liable to condemnation;” but this makes the meaning of κρίμα ἔχειν too vague. Since the use of the article in the N. T. is so wavering, it is difficult to come to a definite conclusion. Plitt’s explanation may be taken as the most natural.
ὅτι τὴν πρώτην πίστιν ἠθέτησαν] τὴν πίστιν ἀθετεῖν in Polybius (who often uses ἀθετεῖν by itself) is “fidem fallere, break a pledge.” This meaning has rightly been maintained here by most. So Chrysostom: παρέβησαν τὰς συνθήκας; Augustine on Ps. lxxv.: primam fidem irritam fecerunt; voverunt et non reddiderunt. We cannot infer from this expression that any formal oath not to marry again was demanded when they were received into the number of church-widows; but it certainly does follow that the reception pledged the widows to devote their lives only to the service of the Lord. To this pledge they were unfaithful so soon as they began the behaviour described in 1 Timothy 5:11. It is out of place here to appeal to such passages in the Fathers as testify that in later times the deaconesses had to vow that they would not marry. Πρώτην does not stand for πρότεραν, but is used by the apostle because the vow (tacit or expressed) to serve the Lord was taken at the beginning of their new position in life. Calvin wrongly takes the πρώτη πίστις as the fides in baptismo data, referring the unfaithfulness to the desire to marry, which is defined more precisely by ὅταν καταστρηνιάσωσι τ. Χρ.1 Timothy 5:12. ἔχουσαι κρίμα: deserving censure. There is no special force in ἔχουσαι, as Ell. explains, “bearing about with them a judgment, viz., that they broke their first faith”. This seems forced and unnatural. ἔχειν κρίμα is correlative to λαμβάνεσθαι κρίμα (Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47; Romans 13:2; Jam 3:1). They have condemnation because, etc., habentes damnationem quia (Vulg. ). κρίμα of course by itself means, judgment; but where the context, as here, implies that the judgment is a sentence of guiltiness, it is reasonable so to translate it.
τὴν πρώτην πίστιν: This has been already explained. On the use of πρῶτος for πρότερος see Blass, Gram. p. 34.
ἠθέτησαν: annulled, irritam fecerunt (Vulg. ).
 Speculum12. Corruptio optimi fit pessima; Christ, trust in Christ, the life of Christ, were supreme during the former marriage; into the loneliness of widowhood, not safeguarded by age, the flesh and the devil have penetrated, and have dethroned Christ: a rebel’s name only can be hers. Cf. 1 Timothy 5:15.
having damnation] Rather, condemnation; a present ‘judgment,’ of being self-condemned as rebels, deserters: because they have rejected their first faith: ‘faith’ being most naturally used here as above, 1 Timothy 5:8, the phrase ‘their first faith’ may thus best refer to their early Christian life, just as in the Epistle to Ephesus (the same Church to which this letter goes) the condemnation is that they ‘have left their first love,’ and the exhortation is to ‘do the first works.’ The word ‘reject’ is the same as in Jude 1 Timothy 5:8, ‘these … defile the flesh and set at nought dominion,’ where the thought and subject are very much the same, ‘turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.’ To make the reference to the breaking of a vow or pledge of widowhood seems both inadequate and misleading.1 Timothy 5:12. Ἔχουσαι, having) for certain, by this time.—ὅτι) because.—τὴν πρώτην πίστιν ἠθέτησαν) πίστιν ἀθετεῖν, as Raphelius shows from Polybius, is not to keep the faith; comp. 1 Timothy 5:8. It is called πρώτη πίστις, their first faith, the faith of their early life, which they had before they were enrolled among the widows. Their second vows break this faith, and are opposed to it; comp. “thy first love,” Revelation 2:4.Verse 12. - Condemnation for dare, ration, A.V,; rejected for cast off, A.V. Condemnation; κρίμα, variously translated in the A.V. "damnation," "condemnation," and "judgment." The word means a "judgment," "decision," or "sentence," but generally an adverse sentence, a "condemnation." And this is the meaning of the English word "damnation," which has only recently acquired the signification of "eternal damnation." Rejected (ἠθέτησαν); literally, have set aside, or displaced, and hence disregarded, an oath, treaty, promise, or the like. In the A.V. variously rendered "reject," "despise," "bring to nothing," "frustrate," "disannul," "east off." The κρίμα which these widows Brought upon themselves was that, whereas they had devoted themselves to a life of prayer and special service of the Church, they had now set aside this their first faith, and returned to the ordinary pleasures and avocations of the world.
The phrase only here. See on 1 Timothy 3:6. Damnation is an unfortunate rendering in the light of the present common understanding of the word, as it is also in 1 Corinthians 11:29. Better, judgment or condemnation, as Romans 3:8; Romans 13:2. The meaning is that they carry about with them in their new, married life a condemnation, a continuous reproach. Comp. 1 Timothy 4:2; Galatians 5:10. It should be said for the translators of 1611 that they used damnation in this sense of, judgment or condemnation, as is shown by the present participle having. In its earlier usage the word implied no allusion to a future punishment. Thus Chaucer
"For wel thou woost (knowest) thyselven verraily
That thou and I be dampned to prisoun."
Knight's T. 1175.
Wiclif: "Nethir thou dredist God, that thou art in the same dampnacioun?" Luke 23:40. Laud.: "Pope Alexander III. condemned Peter Lombard of heresy, and he lay under that damnation for thirty and six years." "A legacy by damnation" was one in which the testator imposed on his heir an obligation to give the legatee the thing bequeathed, and which afforded the legatee a personal claim against the heir.
They have cast off their first faith (τὴν πρώτην πίστιν ἠθέτησαν)
Ἁθετεῖν is to set aside, do away with, reject or slight. See Mark 6:26; Luke 10:16; Hebrews 10:28. Often in lxx. Πίστιν is pledge: so frequently in Class. with give and receive. See, for instance, Plato, Phaedr. 256 D. In lxx, 3 Macc. 3:10. The phrase πίστιν ἀθετεῖν N.T.o. olxx. There are, however, a number of expressions closely akin to it, as Galatians 3:15, διαθήκην ἀθετεῖν to render a covenant void. In lxx with oath, 2 Chronicles 36:13. Psalm 14:4: "He that sweareth to his neighbor καὶ οὐκ ἀθετῶν." Psalm 88:34; Psalm 131:11; 1 Macc. 6:62. The meaning here is, having broken their first pledge; and this may refer to a pledge to devote themselves, after they became widows, to the service of Christ and the church. The whole matter is obscure.
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