1 Timothy 5:16
If any man or woman that believes have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
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(16) If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them.—This is not what, at first sight, it appears to be—a mere repetition of the injunction of 1Timothy 5:4; 1Timothy 5:8. There the duties enjoined were what may be termed filial; the love, respect, and kindness to the aged was especially pressed on the younger, on the children and grandchildren of the desolate, on the master of the house or family to which the aged widow belonged. Here the reference belongs exclusively to the younger widows, who (see Note above) were, no doubt, very numerous in a great Asian Church like Ephesus; for the future of these women, often still young and totally unprovided for, St. Paul was very anxious. Until a new home was found for such, of course the Church cared for them, but this heavy burden on the Church’s alms must be lightened as much as possible. It was the plain duty of relatives to care for these in their hour of destitution and sorrow. The Church would have many a one, still comparatively speaking young, utterly dependent on its scanty funds—friendless as well as homeless.

It has been asked: How is it that, considering the prominence here given to the questions (a) of the support of Christian widows, (b) of the rules respecting presbyteral widows, who evidently occupied a position of dignity and importance in the Church of the first days, no other mention of this class in the community (with the exception of Acts 6:1; Acts 9:39) appears in the whole New Testament.

This has been pressed as one of the arguments pointing to a much later date for the writing of the Epistle; but the question is, after all, readily and conclusively answered. With the exception of the short Epistle to Titus, the subject of the internal organisation of a church is nowhere handled. There is no room or place for such a mention in any of the more exclusively doctrinal or apologetic Epistles. In the broad field of ecclesiastical history occupied by the Acts, the two casual allusions above referred to, in the Churches of Jerusalem and Lydda, tell us of the existence of and the care for these widows in the communities of Christians, even in the earliest years of the Church’s existence.

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.If any man or woman that believeth - Christians are often simply called "believers," because faith is the leading and most important act of their religion.

Have widows - Widowed mothers, or grandmothers, or any other widows whose support would naturally devolve on them.

Let them relieve them - That is, let them support them. This was an obvious rule of duty; see the notes on 1 Timothy 5:8. Nothing can be more unreasonable than to leave those who are properly dependent on us to be supported by others, when we are able to maintain them ourselves.

That it may relieve, ... - That it may have the means of supporting those who are truly dependent. To require or expect the Church, therefore, to support those whom we ought ourselves to support, is, in fact, to rob the poor and friendless. In regard to these directions respecting widows 1 Timothy 5:3-16, we may remark in general, as the result of the exposition which has been given:

(1) they were to be poor widows, who had not the means of support themselves.

(2) they were, probably, to be not merely supported, but to be usefully employed in the service of the church, particularly in overseeing the conduct, and imparting instruction to the female members.

(3) they were to be of such age and character that there would be security of stability and correctness of deportment; such that they would not be tempted to leave the situation or to act so as to give occasion of reproach.

(4) it is by no means certain that this was intended to be a permanent arrangement. It grew probably out of the special customs respecting contact between the sexes in the Oriental world, and would undoubtedly be proper now in similar circumstances. But it by no means follows that this arrangement is binding on the churches where the customs of society are different. Yet.

(5) the passage inculcates the general principle that the poor widows of the church are to be assisted when they have no relatives on whom they can naturally depend. No class of people are more helpless than aged widows, and for that class God has always shown a special concern, and his people should do so likewise.

16. If any … have widows—of his family, however related to him. Most of the oldest manuscripts and versions omit "man or," and read, "If any woman that believeth." But the Received text seems preferable. If, however, the weightiest authorities are to prevail, the sense will be: He was speaking of younger widows; He now says, If any believing young widow have widows related to her needing support, let her relieve them, thereby casing the Church of the burden, 1Ti 5:3, 4 (there it was the children and grandchildren; here it is the young widow, who, in order to avoid the evils of idleness and wantonness, the result of idleness, 1Ti 5:11, 13; Eze 16:49, is to be diligent in good works, such as "relieving the afflicted," 1Ti 5:10, thus qualifying herself for being afterwards a widow-presbyteress).

let them—rather as Greek, "let him," or "her"; "let such a one" (1Ti 5:10).

be charged—literally, "be burdened" with their support.

widows indeed—really helpless and friendless (1Ti 5:3, 4).

See Poole on "1 Timothy 5:15" If any man or woman that believeth have widows,.... That is, if any member of a church, whether a brother or a sister, have mothers or grandmothers, or any near relations widows, in mean circumstances, and incapable of taking care of themselves:

let them relieve them; out of their own substance; which is what the apostle before calls showing piety at home, and requiting their own parents:

and let not the church be charged; or burdened with the maintenance of them:

that it may relieve them that are widows indeed; that the church may be in a better capacity, its stock not being expended on others, to supply the wants of those who are really widows; who have neither husbands, nor children, nor any relations, to provide for them; nor anything in the world to support themselves with.

{13} If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

(13) The sixth rule: let the faithful help their widows at their own expense as much as they can, and do not let the congregation be burdened with these expenses.

1 Timothy 5:16. According to Heydenreich, Leo, de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, and other expositors, this verse is in substance a repetition of what was already said in 1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8; but if a right view of those verses be taken, there is not so much repetition.

Hofmann wishes to separate 1 Timothy 5:16 from what precedes it, as he separates 1 Timothy 5:8 from the preceding words: “If in 1 Timothy 5:16 the apostle comes to speak of the case in which the support of a widow is not to fall a burden on the church, this has no reference to the honouring of widows.” There is as little ground for the one separation as for the other; for it is not to be supposed that καταλέγεσθαι in 1 Timothy 5:9 does not refer to the church’s support.

εἴ τις πιστὸς ἢ πιστὴ ἔχει χήρας] so runs the Rec. (Tisch. 7). But the weightiest MSS. have the reading: εἴ τις πιστὴ ἔχει χήρας (Tisch. 8), which is decidedly to be preferred. The other is only a pointless correction, arising from the idea that the husband should be named along with the wife, and without considering that is by no means suitable to the mention of both together, and that τὶς πιστή must in any case be a Christian spouse. The reason why the wife and not the husband is named is, that on her was laid the duty of caring for the widows belonging to the house. The ἔχειν expresses the close connection of the widows with the particular family, a connection which may most naturally be supposed to be one of kin.[186] Erasmus translates it: si qua mater habet filiam viduam; and de Wette, too, supposes that by widow here we are to understand the daughter, niece, etc., not the mother, aunt, etc. This limitation, however, is not contained in the expression itself. Had Paul thought of the relationship in this definite way, he would have expressed himself accordingly.

καὶ μὴ βαρείσθω ἡ ἐκκλησία] let not a charge or burden be laid on the church by undertaking the support of such widows. (The verb belongs to later Greek for the common βαρύνειν; only the form βεβάρημαι is Attic; comp. Butmann, Ausf. Gr. II. p. 88.)

The next words give the reason: ἵνα ταῖς ὄντως χήραις κ.τ.λ.

On the train of thought in this section dealing with widows, Matthies rightly says: “Complaints are made from the most various quarters regarding difficulties and inequalities, regarding want of order and clearness, regarding repetition and confusion in this section; but all this is, for the most part, founded on presuppositions which have no basis in fact.” We cannot but see that the train of thought is simple and natural, so soon as we observe that the chief point in the apostle’s mind in this section is the injunction regarding the καταλέγεσθαι of the widows, and that in 1 Timothy 5:4 he is not speaking as in 1 Timothy 5:16 of widows to be cared for, but of those who have to care for the children or grandchildren belonging to them.

[186] Hofmann thinks that “here the case is supposed of a Christian woman having widows in her house who, for a long or short period, are serviceable, helpful to her.” But, as a matter of course, such widows receive hire from those in whose service they work, and their support can therefore not be laid as a burden on the church.1 Timothy 5:16. εἴ τις πιστή: This is one of those difficulties that prove the bona fide character of the letter. We may explain it in either of two ways: (1) It not un-frequently happens that the language in which we express a general statement is unconsciously coloured by a particular instance of which we are thinking at the moment. St. Paul has some definite case in his mind, of a Christian woman who had a widow depending on her, of whose support she wishes the Church to relieve her, or (2) the verse may be an afterthought to avoid the possibility of the ruling given in 1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:7-8 being supposed to refer to men only. Von Soden explains it by the independent position of married women indicated in 1 Timothy 5:14 and Titus 2:5. The phrase ἔχει χήρας may be intended to include dependent widowed relatives, aunts or cousins, who could not be called προγόνοι.

βαρείσθω. Compare the use of βάρος, 1 Thessalonians 2:6, δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι; of ἐπιβαρέω, 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:8; καταβαρέω, 2 Corinthians 12:16; ἀβαρής, 2 Corinthians 11:9.

This verse proves that the κατάλογος of widows here in view was primarily at least for poor relief.16. If any man or woman that believeth] The balance of authority in mss. requires us to read with R.V., If any woman that believeth.

have widows] Again, hath widows, dependent on her. In what precise way we are to understand this verse is not very clear; whether (1) as a general summary of the whole passage, or (2) as a summary of the portion respecting younger widows inculcating such oversight as might anticipate sinful leanings, or (3) as an extension of the charge to more distant Christian relatives than in 1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8. On the whole, having regard to the way in which the points are put more than once in some fresh aspect, with some degree of repetition, (1) seems best. From 3 to 8 the chief reason given for refusing lavish maintenance is the good of the relatives themselves; from 9 to 15 the good of the widows; in 1 Timothy 5:16 the good of the Church. Each section is commenced without any introductory particle; and (it may be noticed) in Scrivener’s edition is marked by a capital letter.

let not the church be charged] Or, more exactly, burdened; the verb is the later Hellenistic form of the strong classical verb ‘to weigh down,’ ‘to oppress.’ It is the word used of the apostles’ eyes ‘weighed down with sleep,’ Matthew 26:43; of St Paul’s affliction in Asia, 2 Corinthians 1:8, ‘we were weighed down exceedingly.’ Bp Wordsworth quotes Cornelius, bishop of Rome, a.d. 250 (in Euseb. 6.43), as mentioning the existence in the Church of Rome of ‘widows and afflicted,’ more than 1500 in number. For the N. T. use of ‘the Church,’ see on ch. 1 Timothy 3:14.

widows indeed] See 1 Timothy 5:3.1 Timothy 5:16. Ἐπαρκείτω, let him (or her) relieve them) 1 Timothy 5:10 [θλιβομένοις ἐπήρκεσεν, “relieved the afflicted”].—ἡ ἐκκλησία, the Church) in relieving the widows.—ἐπαρκέσῃ, in order that it may have enough for relieving) viz. the Church.Verse 16. - Woman for man or woman, A.V. and T.R.; hath for have, A.V.; her for them, A.V.; burdened for charged, A.V. If any woman, etc. So the preponderance of the best manuscripts, and the texts of Lachmann, Buttmann, Tischendorf, etc. But the T.R. is retained by Alford, Ellicott, 'Speaker's Commentary,' and others. If the R.V. is right, the woman only is mentioned as being the person who has the management of the house. The precept here seems to be an extension of that in ver. 4, which relates only to children and grandchildren, and to be given, moreover, with special reference to Christian widows who had no believing relations to care for them, and so were necessarily cast upon the Church. Let her relieve them (ἐπαρκείτω, as in vet 10). Widows indeed (ταῖς ὄντως χήραις, as in vers. 2 and 5). Man or woman that believeth (πιστὸς ἣ πιστὴ)

Lit. believing man or woman. But πιστὸς ἢ should be omitted. Read, if any woman that believeth.

Have widows (ἔχει χήρας)

If any Christian woman have relatives or persons attached to her household who are widows

The church be charged

Holtzmann quotes an inscription in the chapel of the Villa Albani at Rome: "To the good Regina her daughter has erected this memorial: to the good Regina her widowed mother, who was a widow for sixty years and never burdened the church after she was the wife of one husband. She lived 80 years, 5 months, and 26 days."

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