1 Timothy 5:5
Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusts in God, and continues in supplications and prayers night and day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate.—St. Paul, after mentioning this exception to the fit objects of the Church’s charity and protection, again returns to this special class of helpless ones: “the widows indeed”—a class, no doubt, in those days of selfish luxury and of extreme misery and hopelessness, often utterly neglected, and not unfrequently left to starve and to perish in want and misery.

It has been asked why, in these official directions to Timothy, the question of relief of poor Christian widows comes so prominently forward. We find also that, in the first years which succeeded the Ascension, many widows in Jerusalem seemed to have been dependent on the Church for sustenance (Acts 6:1). Now we should expect to find in the Church of Christ the same loving care which was taken in the old days, when Israel was a great nation, of these solitary and unhappy women. (Comp. Deuteronomy 24:17, where we find special laws respecting the garments of widows never to be taken in pledge. See, too, such passages as Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 27:19; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 7:6; also Isaiah 10:2; Malachi 3:5.) Still, this hardly accounts for the statement of Acts 6:1 and these lengthened directions to Timothy. It is more than probable that there were, especially in these Eastern cities, a very large class of these desolate and unprotected women. The practice of polygamy is accountable for this, in the first instance; and the rigid morality of the Christian teaching would place a bar to the female convert from heathenism relapsing into a life where moral restraints were utterly disregarded. The charities of the early Church, especially in Oriental cities, were, without doubt, heavily burdened with this grave and increasing charge—provision for these poor desolate women; and it was to relieve the congregations in some degree that St. Paul wrote these elaborate instructions to Timothy, warning him, as the chief minister of the Ephesian Church, against an indiscriminate charity, and at the same time providing him with a system of severe restraints to be imposed upon the assisted women.

Still, the chief pastor in Ephesus must remember that among the women of his flock there were some widows indeed, with neither children nor grandchildren to assist them, without friends even to cheer their desolate, widowed life. To find out and to succour these poor, sad-hearted, friendless beings, St. Paul reminds Timothy, was one of the duties of a Christian minister.

Trusteth in God.—These, without love of child or friend, cast themselves on the support of the everlasting arms. The language here used by St. Paul pictures, evidently, some loving and trustful character then living, of whom he was thinking while writing the Letter to Timothy. “She hath trusted and still trusts in God; she continues in prayer night and day.”

And continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.—Like Anna, the daughter of Phanuel (Luke 2:36-37), whom some suppose St. Paul took as the model and example for these Christian widows. The meaning of these words, descriptive of a holy life, is not that the earnest and pious bereaved woman should pass her days and nights in the unrelieved monotony of constantly repeated prayers. Such a life, unpractical and useless, would never commend itself to one like St. Paul; the words simply describe the desolate one casting all her care on the Lord, and telling Him, as her only friend, of all her thoughts and actions, her words and her works.

1 Timothy 5:5-7. Now she who is a widow indeed — Deprived of all support from her relations and friends. The apostle seems to allude to the signification of the word χηρα, rendered widow, which comes from χηρος, orbus, desertus, a person destitute, forsaken: and desolate Μεμονωμενη, reduced to solitude, having neither children nor grand- children to relieve her; trusteth in God — Having no one else to trust in; and continueth in supplications and prayers, &c. — Devotes herself wholly to the service of God, spending a great part of her time by day and night in devotion. But she who liveth in pleasure — Delicately, voluptuously, in elegant regular sensuality, though not in the use of any such pleasures as are unlawful in themselves. The original word σπαταλωσα, properly signifies, faring deliciously; is dead while she liveth — Both in respect of God, whom she does not serve, and in respect of her fellow-creatures, whom she does not benefit. She is spiritually dead, dead to true piety and virtue. These things give in charge — For they are things which concern Christians in all circumstances and relations of life, who are too ready to seek happiness in the pursuit of sensual pleasure; that they may be blameless — The gender of the word here rendered blameless shows that the Ephesian brethren, not the widows, were the persons to whom Timothy was to give these things in charge. Probably either the deacons, or Timothy’s hearers in general, were intended. Indeed, in so luxurious a city as Ephesus, widows could not be the only persons who were in danger of failing into such sensualities as the apostle had been warning them against.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.A widow indeed, and desolate - The word rendered "desolate" means "solitary, alone." It does not necessarily imply the idea of discomfort which we attach to the word desolate. The sense is, that she had no children or other descendants; none on whom she could depend for support.

Trusteth in God - She has no one else to look to but God. She has no earthly reliance, and, destitute of husband, children, and property, she feels her dependence, and steadily looks to God for consolation and support.

And continueth in supplications and prayers night and day - Continually; compare notes on 1 Timothy 2:1; see also the description of Anna in Luke 2:36-37. The apostle regards this as one of the characteristics of those who were "widows indeed," whom he would have received into the class to be maintained by the church, and to whom the charge of younger members of the church might be entrusted.

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 [2475]1Ti 2:1; [2476]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).

Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate: the apostle here opens the term of widow indeed, 1 Timothy 5:3; one that is memonwmenh one that is made alone, destitute of such as ought to help her, a husband, or children; and being so,

trusteth in God; is a believer, reposing her trust and confidence in God;

and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day; spendeth her time religiously in prayer and acts of devotion. Not that other persons that are poor and desolate should not be regarded and taken care for, but the church is not so concerned in them, at least as a church; the magistrate ought to take care of them, and all good Christians, being men as well as Christians, ought to consider them; but in the first place, and principally, they are to take care of such widows, such desolate persons. 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.

{7} Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

(7) The second rule. Let the church take care of those who are indeed widows, that is to say, those who are poor and destitute of help from their own friends, and live godly and religiously.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Timothy 5:5 defines more precisely what widows the apostle specially exhorts Timothy to “honour.”

ἡ δὲ ὄντως χήρα καὶ μεμονωμένη] καὶ μεμονωμένη is an epexegetical addition, defining ἡ ὄντως χήρα as one with no relatives who take care of her, or of whom she takes care.

ἤλπικεν ἐπὶ τὸν Θεόν] The distinction between ἐλπικέναι ἐπί with the dative (1 Timothy 4:10) and ἐλπικ. ἐπί with accusative, is that in the former case the object furnishes the ground on which the hope rests; in the latter, the goal towards which it is directed.

καὶ προσμένει (strengthened form of μένει; τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτερεῖν, Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2) ταῖς δεήσεσι κ. ταῖς προσευχαῖς (comp. 1 Timothy 2:1) νυκτὸς κ. ἡμέρας (1 Thessalonians 2:9). With this we may compare what Luke (Luke 2:37) says of Anna the prophetess. Jerome (Ep. ad Gerontiam): quibus deus spes est, et omne opus oratio. Matthies rightly remarks: “The idea of the genuine widow is explained not abstractly, but in concrete form, in actual realization, for which reason we have the indicative used instead of the imperative or optative, as if a single representative of the whole class were described in living, personal form.” Hofmann will not allow this natural explanation to stand, because “the predicate which names a moral behaviour does not accord with a subject denoting an outward state.” Taking ἣ δέ as a relative pronoun, he connects it with ἤλπικεν ἐπὶ Θ., and regards καὶ προσμενεῖ (for προσμένει) as the apodosis, ὄντως χήρα καὶ μεμονωμένη forming an affix to ἣ δέ. Apart from the objection that the meaning advanced by Hofmann would have been expressed much more naturally by ἡ δὲ ὄντως χήρα κ. μεμ., ἣ ἤλπικεν ἐπὶ Θεὸν, καὶ προσμενεῖ, the meaning would be far from appropriate here. Besides, it gives no characteristic mark of the widow, for the hope which results in continual prayer is not peculiar to widows. Hofmann in his polemics does not observe that, in the apostle’s presupposition, she whose outward condition is more definitely described is a believing widow. When this is observed, we cannot deny the appropriateness of the reference (in Wiesinger) to 1 Corinthians 7:32 ff.1 Timothy 5:5. ἤλπικεν ἐπί: hath her hope set on. See on 1 Timothy 4:10, the analogy of which favours the omission of the article here.

προσμένει: She is like Anna, νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσιν λατρεύουσα νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν (Luke 2:37). προσκαρτερεῖν is more usual in this connexion, e.g., Romans 12:12, Colossians 4:2.

Ell. notes that Paul always has the order νυκτ. καὶ ἡμ. as here. Luke has also this order, with the acc., but ἡμ. καὶ νυκτ. with the gen. In Rev. the order is ἡμ. καὶ νυκτός.5. trusteth in God] The perfect of a continuing settled state, as in 1 Timothy 2:14 ‘is found in transgression;’ so here ‘is found with a full hope placed upon God,’ hath her hope set in God. The same perfect is in 1 Timothy 4:10, taking there however the dative after the preposition, ‘we have our hope resting on the living God.’

continueth] The same compound, strong, word as in Acts 13:43, ‘to continue in the grace of God;’ its strength is seen in its use, Acts 11:23, ‘that they would cleave unto the Lord.’

in supplications and prayers] ‘As the words stand, both having the article, prayer is subdivided into its two kinds; if the article were not repeated, prayer and intercession would be taken together as forming one whole,’ Winer, § 19, 5, n. See note on 1 Timothy 2:1 for the strict meaning of the two words and for their use in the plural. Compare Acts 2:42, ‘they continued steadfastly … in the prayers.’1 Timothy 5:5. Μεμονωμένη) desolate (reduced to desolation). The idea of the word χήρα, signifying orbity [bereavement], is here unfolded.—ἤλπικεν, hath put her trust) The antithesis is in 1 Timothy 5:4.—προσμένει ταῖς δεήσεσι, continueth instant in supplications) The antithesis is in 1 Timothy 5:6.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). And desolate (καὶ μεμονωμένη)

N.T.o. From μόνος alone. Explanatory of a widow indeed. One entirely bereaved.

Trusteth in God (ἤλπικεν ἐπὶ τὸν Θεὸν)

Strictly hath directed her hope at God. Rev. hath her hope set on God implies ἐπὶ with the dative, as 1 John 3:3.

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