1 Timothy 5:3
Honour widows that are widows indeed.
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(3) Honour widows that are widows indeed.—The mention of the relations of a pastor to the female members of the flock suggests another train of thought. Christianity had, during the thirty years of its history, developed a perfectly new existence for women who professed the faith of Jesus of Nazareth. In the Master’s new and strange (new and strange to the civilised world of that day) command—that the poor, the needy, and the sick should be succoured, that the helpless should be helped, and the comfortless comforted—a blessed calling was invented. so to speaks for Christian women. Their secluded and, in many respects, degraded life in the old world was, in great measure, owing to the fact that till Christ taught the universal duty of charity, women had no recognised public occupation in the world. The charge of the Founder of the new religion provided an endless variety of blessed, happiness-giving work for women of all ages and rank.

The novel prominence, however, of females in such great centres as Ephesus not only necessitated some organisation which should administer the alms, and generally watch over and direct the self-sacrificing labours of the female portion of the community, but also required special vigilance, on the part of the chief pastor and his assistant presbyters and deacons, to prevent the charities of the Church being misused. The widow—the desolate and destitute, the mourning widow indeed, she who is in every sense a widow and has no one to whom to look for aid—she always has a claim on the Church. Not merely is she to be honoured by a simple exhibition of respect, but she is to be assisted and supported out of the alms of the faithful.

1 Timothy 5:3-4. Honour — And endeavour honourably to support from the public stock; widows — Whose destitute circumstances recommend them as the certain objects of charity. According to the Greek commentators, the widows of whom the apostle speaks in this passage were aged women appointed by the church to instruct the young of their own sex in the principles of the Christian faith, and who, for that service, were maintained out of the funds of the church. This opinion is rendered probable by the apostle’s order to Timothy, (1 Timothy 5:9,) to admit none into the number of widows without inquiring into their age, circumstances, character, and qualifications, even as in ordaining bishops and deacons; who are widows indeed — Really such; that is, who are desolate, and neither able to maintain themselves, nor have any near relations to provide for them, and who are wholly devoted to God. But if any widow have children — Able to provide for her; or nephews — Rather grand-children, as εκγονα signifies; let them learn — Their children or descendants; first to show piety at home — Before the church be burdened with them; and to requite their parents — For all their former care, trouble, and expense; for that is good — Καλον, decent, fair, and amiable, in the eyes of men; and acceptable before God — Who requires us, out of regard to his honour and favour, to attend carefully to the duties of those relations in which we stand to each other.

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.Honour widows - The particular attention and respect which are enjoined here, seem to refer to the class of widows who were supported by the church, and who were entrusted with the performance of certain duties toward the other female members, see 1 Timothy 5:9. It is to be remembered that the contact of the sexes was much more circumscribed in Oriental countries than it is among us; that access to the female members of the church would be much less free than it is now, and that consequently there might have been a special propriety in entrusting the duty of watching over the younger among them to the more aged. This duty would be naturally entrusted to those who had not the care of families. It would also be natural to commit it, if they were qualified, to those who had not the means of support, and who, while they were maintained by the church, might be rendering a valuable service to it. It would seem, therefore, that there was a class of this description, who were entrusted with these duties, and in regard to whose qualifications it was proper that Timothy should be instructed. The change of customs in society has made this class less necessary, and probably the arrangement was never designed to be permanent, but still it may be a question whether such an arrangement would not now be wise and useful in the church. On this subject, see the notes on Romans 16:1.

That are widows indeed - Who are truly widows. We associate with the word "widow," commonly, not only the idea of the loss of a husband, but many other things that are the usual accompaniments of widowhood - a poor and dependent condition; care and solicitude; sadness and sorrow. This idea is implied in the use of the word employed here - χήρα chēra - which means properly one who is "bereaved," (from the adjective χήρος chēros, "bereaved"), and which, as Calvin says, conveys the idea of one in distressed circumstances. What Paul regarded as constituting true widowhood, he specifies in 1 Timothy 5:4-5, 1 Timothy 5:9-10. He connects with it the idea that she had no persons dependent on her; that she was desolate, and evinced true trust in God; that she was so aged that she would not marry again; and that by her life she had given evidence of possessing a heart of true benevolence; 1 Timothy 5:10.

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).

Honour widows; give a respect to such as have lost their husbands, with a regard to that honourable estate of marriage in which they have been formerly, and do not only pay them a due respect, but afford them a maintenance, Acts 6:1.

That are widows indeed: who are widows indeed he openeth further, 1 Timothy 5:5; such as are not only pious, but desolate, as the Greek word for a widow implies, according to its derivation.

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.

{2} {a} Honour widows that are widows indeed.

(2) The apostle gives these rules concerning the care of widows.

(a) Have care of those widows who have need of help.

1 Timothy 5:3. From this to 1 Timothy 5:16 we have instructions regarding the widows of the church.

χήρας τίμα] Theodoret, Theophylact, Pelagius, and most recent expositors, among others, de Wette and Wiesinger, refer τίμα to the support of the widows by money. De Wette explains τίμα directly as “care for them, support them,” adding, “he is speaking of support from the church-purse.” Wiesinger, on the other hand, remarks: “We do not say that τιμάω means ‘support’ exactly, but it means an honouring which was to manifest itself in supporting them.” In proof of this view, appeal is made to the passages in Acts 6:1; Acts 28:10; Matthew 15:4-6; but wrongly. In the two last passages the meaning “support with money” can only arbitrarily be given to τιμᾷν (see Meyer on Acts 28:10); and though the widows were supported by the church, as we learn from Acts 6:1 (comp. also Ignatius, ad Polycarp. chap. iv.; Justin Martyr, Apolog. i. 67), we cannot from that draw any inference as to the meaning of τιμᾷν. But even the context does not necessitate us to specialize the meaning. Granted that all that follows referred only to money-support to be given to the widows, why should not these special exhortations be introduced by one of a more general nature? Besides, the support mentioned being the business of the church, and not of Timothy alone, the apostle—according to the analogy of καταλεγέσθω (1 Timothy 5:9)—would not have written τίμα, but χῆραι τιμάσθωσαν. Hence, with several old and some recent commentators, such as Matthies, van Oosterzee, Plitt, Hofmann, we should retain the usual meaning of τιμᾷν. Their support by the church is simply a consequence and proof of the τιμᾷν.

τὰς ὄντως χήρας] is added to define more precisely what widows Paul was thinking of, viz. those who are widows in the true and proper sense of the word (Luther: right widows). Ὄντως is used as an adjective only here in the N. T. (Plato, Phaedr. 260a: τὰ ὄντως ἀγαθά). What kind of widows are meant thereby, we are to infer from what follows.

1 Timothy 5:3. τίμα: It is difficult to fix precisely the force of τιμάω in this connexion. On the one hand, the passage (1 Timothy 5:3-8) is a part of the general directions as to Timothy’s personal relations to his flock. Respect, honour, would, then, render the word adequately. On the other hand, 1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8 show that the question of widows’ maintenance, as a problem of Church finance, was in the apostle’s mind; and he goes on, in 1 Timothy 5:9, to lay down regulations for the admission of widows to the number of those who were entered on the Church register for support. Perhaps respect was first in the writer’s mind, while the term used, τίμα, easily lent itself to the expression of the notion of support, which immediately suggested itself. Similarly Chrys. (τῆς τῶν ἀναγκαίων τροφῆς), comparing 1 Timothy 5:17, where τιμή has the sense of pay, cf. Sir 38:1, Matthew 15:4-6, Acts 28:10. Honora beneficiis is Bengel’s comment.

τὰς ὄντως: Those who really deserve the name of widows are (1) those who have no younger relatives on whom they have a claim for support, (2) those who conform to certain moral and spiritual requirements detailed below.

3. Honour widows] The honour implied is further referred to in 1 Timothy 5:9; as the honour of 1 Timothy 5:17 is defined by 1 Timothy 5:18. So in Acts 28:10 the Melitans ‘honoured us with many honours, and when we sailed they put on board such things as we needed.’ Cf. Lewin’s note there. ‘The honours probably included pecuniary aid. Honor was often used for money; whence honorarium a fee.’

that are widows indeed] So 1 Timothy 5:16; and in the true text 1 Timothy 6:19, ‘the life which is life indeed:’ a usage of the article with this adverb peculiar to this Epistle.

3–16. Timothy’s duties in regard to widows

Counsel on alms and charities for widows. The natural and obvious view of this passage studied in itself is to present the Church charities of this period as having reached an intermediate stage between the common purse or daily ministration of Acts 2:45; Acts 6:1, and the order of widows publicly appointed and maintained with specified duties of education, superintendence and the like, which seems to have arisen later, perhaps from a strained interpretation of this passage itself, and which was abolished by the 11th Canon of the Council of Laodicea. ‘The women who are called by the Greeks “presbyters,” and by us “senior widows,” “once-wives,” and “churchmothers” ought not to have a position as an ordained body in the Church.’ Such a view is exactly parallel with that of the Church polity in these Epistles as ‘intermediate between the presbyterian episcopacy of the earlier apostolic period and the post-apostolic episcopacy.’

If this is correct, we shall not distinguish, with Bp Ellicott, ‘the desolate and destitute widow’ of 1 Timothy 5:3-8 from ‘the ecclesiastical or presbyteral widow’ of 1 Timothy 5:9-16. More distinct and definite direction is given in 1 Timothy 5:10 for the selection of the widows who are described in general terms in 1 Timothy 5:5. A generation of Christian life has passed now since the loving undiscriminating ‘ministration’ of the first days. The very numbers of ‘Christian widows’ with varying character and circumstances, as well as the reasonableness of the thing itself, require the test of the past conduct, 1 Timothy 5:10, and the present life, 1 Timothy 5:5. ‘Charity organisation’ is the pastor’s duty.

1 Timothy 5:3. Χήρας, widows) Chrysostom speaks at great length of widows, de Sacerd., p. 166, et seqq.—τίμα, honour) by acts of kindness, 1 Timothy 5:17-18.—ὄντως χήρας, widows indeed) Ploce;[39] the word indeed excludes those who have children or live luxuriously (1 Timothy 5:6).

[39] A word put twice, first in the simple sense, afterwards to express an attribute of the simple word. Widows, in the second instance here, means one who realizes the description given in ver. 5.—ED.

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.). 1 Timothy 5:3Honor (τίμα)

Not only by respectful treatment but by financial support. Comp. τιμήσει, Matthew 15:5, and πολλαῖς τιμαῖς ἐτίμησαν, Acts 28:10; and διπλῆς τιμῆς 1 Timothy 5:17. Comp. Sir. 38:1. 'The verb only once in Paul (Ephesians 6:2, citation), and only here in Pastorals.

Widows (χήρας)

Paul alludes to widows in 1 Corinthians 7:8 only, where he advises them against remarrying. They are mentioned as a class in Acts 6:1, in connection with the appointment of the seven. Also Acts 9:39, Acts 9:41. In the Pastorals they receive special notice, indicating their advance from the position of mere beneficiaries to a quasi-official position in the church. from the very first, the church recognised its obligation to care for their support. A widow, in the East, was peculiarly desolate and helpless. In return for their maintenance certain duties were required of them, such as the care of orphans, sick and prisoners, and they were enrolled in an order, which, however, did not include all of their number who received alms of the church. In Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians, they are styled "the altar of God." To such an order the references in the Pastorals point. The Fathers, from the end of the second century to the fourth, recognised a class known as πρεσβύτιδες aged women (Titus 2:3), who had oversight of the female church-members and a separate seat in the congregation. The council of Laodicaea abolished this institution, or so modified it that widows no longer held an official relation to the church.

Who are widows indeed (τὰς ὄντως χήρας)

Comp. 1 Timothy 5:5, 1 Timothy 5:16. Ὄντως verily, truly, twice in Paul, 1 Corinthians 14:25; Galatians 3:21. See on 2 Peter 2:18. Wherever ὄντως is used by Paul or by any other N.T. writer, it is used purely as an adverb (see Luke 23:47; Luke 24:34): but in all the four instances in the Pastorals, it is preceded by the article and converted into an adjective. The meaning is, who are absolutely bereaved, without children or relations (comp. 1 Timothy 5:4), and have been but once married. There is probably also an implied contrast with those described in 1 Timothy 5:6, 1 Timothy 5:11-13.

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