1 Timothy 5:9
Let not a widow be taken into the number under three score years old, having been the wife of one man.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old.—The question respecting the assistance to be afforded to the poor and destitute widows of the great Asian Church reminded St. Paul of an organisation, consisting of widowed women, which had grown out of the needs of Christianity. He would lay down some special rules here to be observed by his friend and disciple. What, now, is this organisation commended to Timothy in these special directions? Here, and here only in the New Testament, do we find it alluded to; but the instructions in this passage are so definite, so precise, that it is impossible not to assume in the days of Timothy and of Paul, in some, if not in all the great churches, the existence of an official band of workers, consisting of widows, most carefully selected from the congregation of believers, of a somewhat advanced age, and specially distinguished for devotion—possessing, each of these, a high and stainless reputation—they were an official band of workers, a distinct order, so to speak; for these widows, formally entered on the Church’s list, could not possibly represent those poor and desolate widows, friendless and destitute, spoken of above. The minimum age of sixty years would also exclude many; and the advice of St. Paul to the younger ones to marry again could never have been addressed to women wanting even many years of the requisite “sixty.” Were these poor souls to be formally shut out from receiving the Church’s alms? Again, those on the list could never be the same persons whom we hear of as deaconesses (Romans 16:1, and in the Christian literature of the second century). The active duties of the office would have been utterly incompatible with the age of sixty, the minimum age at which these were to be entered on the list. We then conclude these “widows” were a distinct and most honourable order, whose duties, presbyteral rather than diaconic, apparently consisted in the exercise of superintendence over, and in the ministry of counsel and consolation to, the younger women.—That they sat unveiled in the assemblies in a separate place by the presbyters; that they received a special ordination by laying on of hands; that they wore a peculiar dress—were distinctions probably belonging to a later age.

Having been the wife of one man.—Of the conditions of enrolment in this “order,” the first—that of age—has been alluded to; the second—“having been the wife of one man”—must not be understood in the strictly literal sense of the words. It is inconceivable that the hope of forming one of the highly honoured band of presbyteral women depended on the chance of the husband living until the wife had reached the age of sixty years. Had he died in her youth, or comparative youth, the Apostle’s will was that the widow should marry again. (See 1Timothy 5:14, where St. Paul writes, “I will that the younger women marry,” &c.)

The right interpretation of the words is found in some such paraphrase as, “If in her married life she had been found faithful and true.” The fatal facility of divorce and the lax state of morality in Pagan society, especially in the Greek and Asiac cities, must be taken into account when we seek to illustrate and explain these directions respecting early Christian foundations.

While unhesitatingly adopting the above interpretation of the words “wife of one man,” as faithfully representing the mind of St. Paul, who was legislating here, it must be remembered, for the masses of believers whose lot was cast in the busy world (see his direct command in 1Timothy 5:14 of this chapter, where the family life is pressed on the younger widow, and not the higher life of solitude and self-denial), still those expositors who adopt the stricter and sterner interpretation of “wife of one man”—viz., “a woman that has had only one husband”—have, it must be granted, a strong argument in their favour from the known honour the univircæ obtained in the Roman world. So Dido, in Æn. iv. 28, says—

“Ille meos, primus qui me sibi junxit, amores

Abstulit, ille habeat secum, servetque sepulcher.”

Compare, too, the examples of the wives of Lucan, Drusus, and Pompey, who, on the death of their husbands, devoted the remainder of their lives to retirement and to the memory of the dead. The title univiræ graved on certain Roman tombs shows how this devotion was practised and esteemed. “To love a wife when living is a pleasure, to love her when dead is an act of religion,” wrote Statius—

“Uxorem vivam amare voluptas

Defunctam religio.”

—Statius, Sylv. v., in Proæmio.

And see, for other instances, Lecky, Hist. of European Morals, chap. 5.

But it seems highly improbable that the delicate and touching feeling, which had taken root certainly in some (alas! in only a small number) of the nobler Roman minds, influenced St. Paul, who, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, was laying down rules for a great and world-wide society, which was to include the many, not the few, chosen souls—was legislating for the masses, to whom such an expressed wish would indeed be “a counsel of perfection” rarely to be carried out; and so, without hesitation, we adopt the more practical interpretation given above.

1 Timothy 5:9-10. Let not a widow be taken into the number Καταλεγεσθω, taken upon the list of those who are to be maintained by the church, and to attend upon the sick poor, and teach the young; under threescore years old — It might, on many accounts, and for very obvious reasons, be proper that this office should be committed only to persons of an advanced age, and such as laid aside all thoughts of marrying again. Having been — Neither a harlot nor a concubine; but the wife of one man — At a time; or having chastely confined herself to one husband while in the married relation, and not divorced him and married another. See note on 1 Timothy 3:2. Well reported of for good works — Of different kinds; if she have brought up children — Religiously and virtuously, her own, or others who had been committed to her care; if, in her more prosperous days, she manifested a generous and hospitable disposition; and lodged Christian strangers — Who were at a loss for necessary accommodations on their journeys; if she have washed the saints’ feet — Has been ready to do the meanest offices for them; if she have relieved the afflicted — This, and some of the other good works mentioned by the apostle, being attended with great expense, the poor widows, who desired to be taken into the number, cannot be supposed to have performed them at their own charges. “I therefore suppose,” says Macknight, “the apostle is speaking of female deacons, who had been employed in the offices here mentioned at the common expense; consequently the meaning of the direction will be, that in choosing widows, Timothy was to prefer those who formerly had been employed by the church as deaconesses, and had discharged that office with faithfulness and propriety. For since these women had spent the prime of their life in the laborious offices of love mentioned by the apostle, without receiving any recompense but maintenance, it was highly reasonable, when grown old in that good service, to promote them to an honourable function, which required knowledge and experience rather than bodily strength, and which was rewarded with a liberal maintenance.”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.Let not a widow be taken into the number - Margin, "chosen." The margin expresses the sense of the Greek more accurately, but the meaning is not materially different. Paul does not here specify into what "number" the widow is to be "taken," or for what purpose she is to be "chosen," but he speaks of this as a thing that was well understood. There can be no doubt, however, what he means. In the Acts of the Acts 1 Timothy Acts 6:1 we have this account: "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a complaining of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." "It appears that from the first formation of the Christian church, provision was made out of the public funds of the society for the indigent widows who belonged to it;" see Patey's Horae Paulinae on 1 Tim. o. 11. To this, as to a well-known practice, Paul here evidently refers. The manner in which he refers to it is such as to show that the custom had an existence. All that was necessary in the case, was, not to speak of it as if it were a new arrangement, but to mention those who ought to be re garded as proper subjects of the charity. It would seem, also, that it was understood that such widows, according to their ability, should exercise a proper watch over the younger females of the church. In this way, while they were supported by the church, they might render themselves useful.

Under threescore years old - For such reasons as those mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:11-14.

Having been the wife of one man - There has been much diversity of opinion whether this means that she had never had but one husband, or whether she had been the wife of but one man at a time; that is, whether she had cast off one and married another; see Whitby, in loc. The same difficulty has been felt in regard to this as on the passage in 1 Timothy 3:2; see the notes on that verse. Doddridge, Clarke, and others, suppose that it means, "who had lived in conjugal fidelity to her husband." The reason assigned for this opinion by Doddridge, is, that the apostle did not mean to condemn second marriages, since he expressly 1 Timothy 5:14 commends it in the younger widows. The correct interpretation probably is, to refer it to one who had been married but once, and who, after her husband had died, had remained a widow. The reasons for this opinion briefly are:

(1) That this is the interpretation most naturally suggested by the phrase;

(2) that it agrees better with the description of the one that was to be enrolled among the "number" - those who were "widows indeed" - as we should more naturally apply this term to one who had remained unmarried after the death of her husband, than to one who had been married again;

(3) that, while it was not unlawful or improper in itself for a widow to marry a second time, there was a degree of respect and honor attached to one who did not do it, which would not be felt for one who did; compare Luke 2:36-37, "She was a widow of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years." The same is true now. There is a higher degree of respect felt for such a widow than there is for one who has been married again, though she may be again a widow.

(4) among the pagans, it was regarded as especially honorable to have been married to but one man, and such widows were the Pudicitioe Coronam, or crown of chastity; Val. Max. L. i. c. ii.; compare Livy, L. 10:c. 23; see Whitby.

(5) as these persons were not only to be maintained by the church, but appear also to have been entrusted with an office of guardianship over the younger females, it was of importance that they should have such a character that no occasion of offence should be given, even among the pagan; and, in order to that, Paul gave direction that only those should be thus enrolled who were in all respects widows, and who would be regarded, on account of their age and their whole deportment, as "widows indeed." I cannot doubt, therefore, that he meant to exclude those from the number here referred to who had been married the second time.

9. Translate, "As a widow (that is, of the ecclesiastical order of widowhood; a kind of female presbytery), let none be enrolled (in the catalogue) who is less than sixty years old." These were not deaconesses, who were chosen at a younger age (forty was the age fixed at the Council of Chalcedon), and who had virgins (in a later age called widows) as well as widows among them, but a band of widows set apart, though not yet formally and finally, to the service of God and the Church. Traces of such a class appear in Ac 9:41. Dorcas herself was such a one. As it was expedient (see on [2478]1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6) that the presbyter or bishop should have been but once married, so also in her case. There is a transition here to a new subject. The reference here cannot be, as in 1Ti 5:3, to providing Church sustenance for them. For the restriction to widows above sixty would then be needless and harsh, since many widows might be in need of help at a much earlier age; as also the rule that the widow must not have been twice married, especially since he himself, below (1Ti 5:14) enjoins the younger widows to marry again; as also that she must have brought up children. Moreover, 1Ti 5:10 presupposes some competence, at least in past times, and so poor widows would be excluded, the very class requiring charity. Also, 1Ti 5:11 would then be senseless, for then their remarrying would be a benefit, not an injury, to the Church, as relieving it of the burden of their sustenance. Tertullian [On the Veiling of Virgins, 9], Hermas [Shepherd, 1.2], and Chrysostom [Homily, 31], mention such an order of ecclesiastical widowhood, each one not less than sixty years old, and resembling the presbyters in the respect paid to them, and in some of their duties; they ministered with sympathizing counsel to other widows and to orphans, a ministry to which their own experimental knowledge of the feelings and sufferings of the bereaved adapted them, and had a general supervision of their sex. Age was doubtless a requisite in presbyters, as it is here stated to have been in presbyteresses, with a view to their influence on the younger persons of their sex They were supported by the Church, but not the only widows so supported (1Ti 5:3, 4).

wife of one man—in order not to throw a stumbling-block in the way of Jews and heathen, who regarded with disfavor second marriages (see on [2479]1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:6). This is the force of "blameless," giving no offense, even in matters indifferent.

Let not a widow be taken, into the number under threescore years old; what number he meaneth is very doubtful, whether he means the number of deaconesses, or the number of such as should receive alms from the church. Those who translate katalegesyw here chosen seem to favour the former. They say, that in the primitive church there being a want of hospials and public places for the reception of people deceased in their estates, &c., they chose some old widows to take care of the poorer sort of women when they were sick, and these also were themselves maintained by the church, and served the church in that charitable employment. Whether this number, or the more general number of widows relieved by the church, be meant, the caution of their age was very prudent:

1. Because younger widows could work for their living, and needed not to burden the church.

2. Because under those years they probably might marry again, and so become useless to the church.

3. Because after those years there could be no great fear of scandal from their wantonness and incontinency.

Having been the wife of one man: this condition seems harder to be understood; for though in former times, amongst the Jews and pagans, men were allowed more wives than one at the same time, yet no laws ever allowed the woman liberty of more husbands.

2. To understand it of women that had not been twice married, their first husbands being dead, seems hard, no law of God forbidding the second marriages of men and women successively.

3. Some therefore rather understand it of such widows as were become wives to second husbands, the first not being dead, but parted from them legally, either through their own fault, or through their voluntary desertion.

This the apostle seems to forbid, to avoid reproach and scandal to the church. Let not a widow be taken into the number,.... That is, of widows, to be maintained by the church; though some choose to understand these words of the number of such who were made deaconesses, and had the care of the poor widows of the church committed to them; and so the Arabic version renders it, "if a widow be chosen a deaconess"; but the former sense is best, for it appears from 1 Timothy 5:1 that the apostle is still speaking of widows to be relieved: now such were not to be taken under the church's care for relief, under threescore years old: for under this age it might be supposed they would marry, and so not be desolate, but would have husbands to provide for them; or they might be capable of labour, and so of taking care of themselves. The age of sixty years was by the Jews (x) reckoned "old age", but not under.

Having been the wife of one man; that is, at one time; for second marriages are not hereby condemned, for this would be to condemn what the apostle elsewhere allows, Romans 7:2. Nor is the sense only, that she should be one who never had more husbands than one at once; for this was not usual for women to have more husbands than one, even where polygamy obtained, or where men had more wives than one: this rather therefore is to be understood of one who had never put away her husband, and married another, which was sometimes done among the Jews; see Mark 10:12, and this being a scandalous practice, the apostle was willing to put a mark of infamy upon it, and exclude such persons who had been guilty of it from the number of widows relieved by the church.

(x) Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21.

{9} Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of {b} one man,

(9) The fourth rule: let none under sixty years old be taken into the number of widows, to serve the congregations or churches. And they must be those who are free from every reproach of immorality, and are well reported of, for their diligence, charity, and integrity.

(b) That has only ever had one husband at a time.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Timothy 5:9 ff. From this point the apostle takes up a special class of widows, viz. those who had been placed by the church on a formal list, and who accordingly possessed a certain position of honour in the church. From 1 Timothy 5:16 it is to be inferred that it was the duty of the church to care for them so long as they lived, while from 1 Timothy 5:10 it appears that they had to perform for the church certain labours of love suited to them. The various views regarding them have already been given in the Introduction, § 5; each has its special difficulties. Still Mosheim’s view is the most probable,[176] only what the apostle says of these widows does not justify us in transplanting into the apostolic age the ecclesiastical institution of the χῆραι (πρεσβύτεραι, πρεσβύτιδες) in the same form as it had at a later date. We have here only the tendencies from which the institution was gradually developed. Though the apostle takes it for granted that the church takes care of these widows, we cannot conclude that, as the older expositors assume,[177] he means by the ΚΑΤΑΛΕΓΈΣΘΩ their reception into the number of the widows to be supported by the church. Poor widows, like poor persons generally, would surely be supported by the church without being placed in the special class of the ΧῆΡΑΙ here meant.—1 Timothy 5:9-10. ΧΉΡΑ ΚΑΤΑΛΕΓΈΣΘΩ] ΚΑΤΑΛΈΓΕΙΝ (ἍΠ. ΛΕΓ. in N. T.), properly “select,” then “place upon a list,” used especially of the citizens chosen for service in war; comp. Aristophanes, Acharn. 1629, Lysist. 14. 6. χήρα is not the subject, but the predicate; Winer, p. 549 [E. T. p. 738]: “as widow let her be registered (enrolled) who is not under sixty” (so, too, Wiesinger, Hofmann). The common translation is: “let a widow be chosen” (so de Wette, van Oosterzee, Plitt.).

μὴ ἔλαττον ἐτῶν ἑξήκοντα γεγονυῖα] Leo and some others connect ΓΕΓΟΝΥῖΑ with what follows (Vulgate: quae fuerit unius viri uxor; so Luther). A comparison with 1 Timothy 3:2 shows that this is incorrect; besides, the construction itself demands the connection with what precedes. The genitive does not depend on ΓΕΓΟΝΥῖΑ (as Luke 2:42 : ὍΤΙ ἘΓΈΝΕΤΟ ἘΤῶΝ ΔΏΔΕΚΑ), but on ἜΛΑΤΤΟΝ, and is equivalent to Ἢ ἜΤΗ ἙΞΉΚΟΝΤΑ (comp. Demosthenes, in Timocrat. p. 481: γέγονα οὐκ ἔλαττον ἢ τριάκοντα ἔτη).

ἙΝῸς ἈΝΔΡῸς ΓΥΝΉ, after the explanation given at 1 Timothy 3:2 of the corresponding expression: ΜΙᾶς ΓΥΝΑΙΚῸς ἈΝΉΡ, denotes the widow who has lived in sexual intercourse with no one but her lawfully wedded husband.

ἘΝ ἜΡΓΟΙς ΚΑΛΟῖς ΜΑΡΤΥΡΟΥΜΈΝΗ] ΜΑΡΤΥΡΕῖΝ in the N. T. has often the meaning: give one a good testimony; hence the passive is: possess a good testimony (μαρτυρίαν καλὴν ἔχειν, 1 Timothy 3:7). ἘΝ here (as elsewhere in connection with verbs of similar meaning, see Wahl, s.v. ἐν Η. α.) gives the ground (of the good testimony); comp. Hebrews 11:2, for which in Hebrews 11:39 we have ΔΙΆ.

The ἜΡΓΑ ΚΑΛΆ (comp. 1 Timothy 5:25; 1 Timothy 6:18, and other passages in the Pastoral Epistles) are not only works of benevolence, although to these chief attention is directed, but generally “good works”.

εἰ ἐτεκνοτρόφησεν] εἰ cannot be joined immediately with ΚΑΤΑΛΕΓΈΣΘΩ, since the sense forbids us to consider this and the following clauses as co-ordinate with what precedes. It is rather attached to the ἘΝ ἜΡΓ. ΚΑΛ. ΜΑΡΤΥΡΟΥΜΈΝΗ, not, however, in such a way (as Heydenreich thinks) as to stand for ὍΤΕ (which is also not the case in Acts 26:22-23), but in such a way as to distribute the preceding idea into its single parts, and connect them with it in free fashion, “if namely.” Luther: “and who has a testimony of good works, as she has brought up children.”

On ἐτεκνοτρόφησεν (ἅπ. λεγ.) Theodoret remarks: Οὐ ΘΡΈΨΑΙ ΜΌΝΟΝ ἈΠΑΙΤΕῖ, ἈΛΛᾺ ΚΑῚ ΤῸ ΕὐΣΕΒῶς ΘΡΈΨΑΙ. Wrong; the verb, not “rear” (van Oosterzee), but “nurse” (Luther), refers to the attention of love, as do the verbs that follow; compare Acts 22:3 : ἈΝΑΤΕΘΡΑΜΜΈΝΟς distinguished from ΠΕΠΑΙΔΕΥΜΈΝΟς. There is no reason for thinking here of strange children, since it may rightly be called a ΚΑΛῸΝ ἜΡΓΟΝ, if a mother does not entrust the rearing of her children to others, but takes care of them herself (in opposition to Leo and Wiesinger); the apostle is not thinking of the distinction between strange children and one’s own. Heydenreich, de Wette, and others think that Paul bases this exhortation on the ground that the ΤΕΚΝΟΤΡΟΦΊΑ was part of the official duties of a ΧΉΡΑ, and that she must have practised them before; but they are wrong, because in that case we could not but consider the ΞΕΝΟΔΟΧΕῖΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. as also the special duties of such widows.

ΕἸ ἘΞΕΝΟΔΌΧΗΣΕΝ] comp. 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8 (ΦΙΛΌΞΕΝΟς); Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2. The word ΞΕΝΟΔΟΧΕῖΝ (Euripides, Alc. 555) is in the N. T. ἅπαξ ΛΕΓ.

ΕἸ ἉΓΊΩΝ ΠΌΔΑς ἜΝΙΨΕΝ
] comp. John 13:5 ff.; also Luke 7:44. Wahl: pedum lotio (apud Judaeos) opus erat servile eademque apud eos in primis humanitatis officiis hospiti praestandis ponebatur. The feet-washing is meant literally, and not merely as “a symbolic expression for the manifestations of self-denying love” (first ed.); although Paul might at the same time be thinking of other services of lowly love. Theophylact: ΕἸ ΤᾺς ἘΣΧΆΤΑς ὙΠΗΡΕΣΊΑς ΤΟῖς ἉΓΊΟΙς ἈΝΕΠΑΙΣΧΎΝΤΩς ἘΞΕΤΈΛΕΣΕ.

The ἍΓΙΟΙ are not merely the ΞΈΝΟΙ (in opposition to Wiesinger), but the Christians in general who came into the house as guests.

ΕἸ ΘΛΙΒΟΜΈΝΟΙς ἘΠΉΡΚΕΣΕΝ] Bengel arbitrarily limits the meaning of ΘΛΙΒΌΜΕΝΟΙ, wishing to interpret it only of the poor; it is to be taken more generally as equivalent to “those in distress.” Ἐπαρκεῖν in the N. T. only here and at 1 Timothy 5:16.

After naming several works of love in detail, the apostle adds more generally, in order to exhaust the ἘΝ ἘΡΓ. ΚΑΛ. ΜΑΡΤΥΡΕῖΣΘΑΙ: ΕἸ ΠΑΝΤῚ ἜΡΓῼ ἈΓΑΘῷ ἘΠΗΚΟΛΟΎΘΗΣΕ.[178] Hence we must not here think of works of benevolence only, but take πᾶν ἔργον in its entire meaning.

ἘΠΑΚΟΛΟΥΘΕῖΝ (in the N. T. only here at 1 Timothy 5:24, at Mark 16:20, where it is absolute, and at 1 Peter 2:21, where it is joined with ΤΟῖς ἼΧΝΕΣΙ) is mostly referred to persons; but we cannot therefore, with Schleiermacher, supply here ΑὐΤΟῖς, i.e. θλιβομένοις.[179] It stands here in the same sense as ΔΙΏΚΕΙΝ, 1 Timothy 6:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:15; Hebrews 12:14. Luther: “who has followed every good work.”[180]

[176] With his view de Wette and Wiesinger agree; also Hofmann in substance. Even van Oosterzee refers us to Mosheim; but he wrongly identifies the widows here mentioned with the deaconesses, whereas Mosheim clearly distinguishes between them.

[177] Chrysostom in his commentary explains this passage as meaning, receiving in order to care for. In his Hom. 31, in div. N. T. loc., however, he interprets it of receiving into an ecclesiastical office, saying: καθάπερ εἰσὶ παρθένων χοροὶ, οὕτω καὶ χηρῶν τὸ παλαιὸν ἦσαν χοροὶ, καὶ οὐκ ἐξῆν αὐταῖς ἁπλῶς εἰς τὰς χήρας ἐγγράφεσθαι.

[178] This Hofmann wrongly disputes, wishing to lay the emphasis not on παντὶ ἔργ. ἀγαθ., but on ἐπηκολούθησε: “if there was any good to be done, she was to follow after it with all diligence, she was to make it her business.”

[179] Bengel gives a peculiar reference to the word, which cannot be justified, saying: antistitum et virorum est bonis operibus praeire Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14, mulierum, subsequi, adjuvando pro sua parte.

[180] Hofmann is indeed not wrong in contending against the view that ver. 15 points to the services which the widows here mentioned are to perform for the church. He says that this verse only tells that “she must have fulfilled the duties of a mother and a Christian housewife.” But the enumeration of all these duties indicates that as a church-widow she must be practised in the exercise of many services of love.1 Timothy 5:9. καταλεγέσθω: St. Paul passes naturally from remarks about the duty of Church members to their widowed relatives to specific rules about the admission of widows to the roll of Church widows (see Acts 6:1). The χήρα of this ver. is ἡ ὄντως χήρα of 1 Timothy 5:3; 1 Timothy 5:5, who was to receive consideration and official recognition. These widows had no doubt a ministry to fulfil—a ministry of love, prayer, intercession, and giving of thanks (Polycarp, 4); but it is difficult to suppose that St. Paul, or any other practically minded administrator, would contemplate a presbyteral order of widows, the members of which would enter on their duties at the age of 60, an age relatively more advanced in the East and in the first century than in the West and in our own time. We may add that the general topic of widows’ maintenance is resumed and concluded in 1 Timothy 5:16.

In the references to widows in the earliest Christian literature outside the N.T. (with the exception of Ignatius Smyrn. 13) they are mentioned as objects of charity along with orphans, etc. (Ignatius, Smyrn. 6, Polyc. 4; Polycarp, 4; Hermas, Vis. ii. 4, Mand. viii., Sim. i. 1 Timothy 5:3, ix. 26, 27; Justin, Apol. i. 67). None of these places hints at an order of widows. The subject cannot be further discussed here; but the evidence seems to point to the conclusion that the later institution of widows as an order with official duties was suggested by this passage. The history of Christianity affords other examples of supposed revivals of apostolic institutions.

Ell., who follows Grotius in seeing in this verse regulations respecting an ecclesiastical or presbyteral widow, objects to the view taken above that it is “highly improbable that when criteria had been given, 1 Timothy 5:4 sq., fresh should be added, and those of so very exclusive a nature: would the Church thus limit her alms?”

But 1 Timothy 5:4 sq. does not give the criteria, or qualifications of an official widow; but only describes the dominant characteristic of the life of the “widow indeed,” viz., devotion; and again, the Church of every age, the apostolic not less than any other, has financial problems to deal with. Charity may be indiscriminating, but there are only a limited number of widows for whose whole support the Church can make itself responsible; and this is why the limit of age is here so high. At a much younger age than 60 a woman would cease to have any temptation to marry again.

Lightfoot has important notes on the subject in his commentary on Ignatius, Smyrn. §§ 6, 13 (Apost. Fathers, part ii. vol. ii. pp. 304, 322). See also, on the deaconess widow, Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christianity, trans. vol. i. p. 122. The opinion of Schleiermacher that deaconesses are referred to here is refuted (1) by the provision of age, and (2) by the fact that they have been dealt with before, 1 Timothy 3:11.

According to Bengel, the gen. ἐτῶν depends on χήρα, μὴ ἔλαττον being an adverb, “of 60 years, not less”.

γεγονυῖα: It is best to connect this with the preceding words, as in Luke 2:42, καὶ ὅτε ἐγένετο ἐτῶν δώδεκα. In favour of this connexion is the consideration that in the parallel, 1 Timothy 3:2, μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα stands alone, and that it γεγονυῖα were to be joined with what follows, it would most naturally follow γυνή. As a matter of fact, this transposition is found in [270].; and this connexion is suggested in [271], two cursives, [272], [273], [274], [275]141, Vulg. (quae fuerit (g fuerat) unius viri uxor) go, boh, syrr, Theodore Mops., Theodoret, and Origen.

[270] Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. 1 Timothy 2:13-15.

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

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

[273] 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.

[274] 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.

[275] Speculum

ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή: The Church widows must conform to the same ideal of the married life as the episcopi. See Tert. ad uxorem, i. 7, “Quantum fidei detrahant, quantum obstrepant sanctitati nuptiae secundae, disciplina ecclesiae et praescriptio apostoli declarat, cum digamos non sinit praesidere, cum viduam allegi in ordinem [al. ordinationem], nisi univiram, non concedit.”9. More definite direction is now given as to the honour and the qualification, Let not a widow be taken into the number. The position of the word ‘widow’ at the beginning of the sentence makes it probably part of the predicate, as R.V., Let none be enrolled as a widow. A roll or catalogue of widows for whom the alms of the Church were bespoken existed from the very first, Acts 6 and has been the care of each Church and each parish to a greater or less extent to the present day under varying forms and conditions:—the least satisfactory arrangement on a large scale being the provision made by Christian England of ‘The House’; the most satisfactory being the pleasant almshouses dotted over the country, and the pension moneys from our Church alms taken month by month as from Christ with delicate attention by our deacon curates themselves to the cottage homes. Those who have had to select from such a list in a parish will have found the hints for selection given here very useful and necessary; (1) ascertained impossibility of support from relatives; (2) good moral character as wife and widow; (3) a defined period for ‘old age’; (4) reputation as a good mother, a kind neighbour, a zealous Church worker.

under threescore years old] Lit. ‘who is found to be less than 60 years old,’ the participle belonging to the previous clause, according to the general usage: cf. Luke 2:42, ‘when he was twelve years old.’

having been the wife of one man] ‘Having been,’ if retained should be put as by R.V. in italics, marking it as an English insertion; the phrase ‘wife of one man’ is precisely the same as in 1 Timothy 3:2, where see note. The clear and indisputable meaning here of the words is that of having been faithful to one husband all his lifetime instead of leaving him for another or adding another, ‘no bigamist or adulteress.’ She is to be ‘enrolled’ as such. Many of the N.T. exhortations on this point are startling to us as implying even in the circle of Christians very lax principles and habits still. And yet English ministerial knowledge could tell of many startling views and habits that prevail among us now in respect of the sanctity and purity of the married state. It is no ‘counsel of perfection’ but the plain elementary pledge ‘to live together—till death’s parting—after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony,’ that St Paul here commends. And it still needs much commending.1 Timothy 5:9. Καταλεγέσθα) let not a widow be taken into the number.—μὴ ἔλαττον ἐτῶν ἑξήκοντα) The genitive here does not depend on the comparative, for in that case it would have been written ἔλαττων,[40] but on ΧΉΡΑ; ἜΛΑΤΤΟΝ (for ΚΑΤᾺ ἜΛΑΤΤΟΝ, as Lat. summum, minimum, for ad summum, ad minimum, at most, at least) is used adverbially. So Plato, τάλαντα οὐκ ἔλαττον ἑκατόν (at least a hundred talents; literally, a hundred talents—not less).—ἐτῶν ἑξήκοντα, of sixty years) The antithesis is in 1 Timothy 5:11. Even virgins of this age might be reckoned among widows. But the apostle would by no means praise those who would thrust their younger daughters into monasteries, where they may remain from their youth up to their death.—ἑνὸς, of one) i.e. who has been lawfully married, or has had one husband, or one and afterwards a second.

[40] A widow having attained the age of sixty years—not less.—ED.Verse 9. - Let none be enrolled as a widow for let not a widow be taken into the number, A.V. Let none be enrolled, etc. The proper translation seems certainly to be (Ellicott, Alford, Huther, etc.), let a woman be enrolled as a widow not under sixty years old; i.e. χήρα a is the predicate, not the subject. It follows that the word "widow" here is used in a slightly different sense from that in the preceding verses, viz. in the technical sense of one belonging to the order of widows, of which it appears from the word καταλεγέσθω there was a regular roll kept in the Church. We do not know enough of the Church institutions of the apostolic age to enable us to say positively what their status or their functions were, but doubtless they were the germ from which the later development (of which see Bingham, bk. 7. 1 Timothy 4.) took its rise. We may gather, however, from the passage before us that their lives were specially consecrated to the service of God and the Church; that they were expected to be instant and con-slant in prayer, and to devote themselves to works of charity; that the apostle did not approve of their marrying again after their having embraced this life of widowhood, and therefore would have none enrolled under sixty years of age; and generally that, once on the roll, they would continue there for their life. Enrolled (καταλεγέσθω); only here in the New Testament or (in this sense) in the LXX.; but it is the regular classical word for enrolling, enlisting, soldiers, etc. Hence our word "catalogue." In like manner, in the times of the Empress Helena, the virgins of the Church are described as ἀναγεγραμμένας ἐν τῷ τῆς ἐκκλησίας κανόνι (Socr., 1:17), "registered in the Church's register," or list of virgins. Under three score years old. A similar rule was laid down in several early canons, which forbade the veiling of virgins before the age of forty. This care to prevent women from being entangled by vows or engagements which they had not well considered, or of which they did not know the full force, is in striking contrast with the system which allows young girls to make irrevocable vows. The participle γεγονυῖα, "being," belongs to this clause (not as in the A.V. to the following one), as Alford clearly shows, and as the R.V. also indicates, by putting having been in italics; though it does not translate γεγονυῖα in this clause, unless possibly the word "old" is considered as representing γεγονυῖα. It should be, Let none be enrolled as widows, being under sixty years of age. The wife of one man; see above, 1 Timothy 3:2, the similar phrase, "the husband of one wife" (which likewise stands without any participle), and the note there. To which may be added that it is hardly conceivable that St. Paul should within the compass of a few verses (see ver. 14) recommend the marriage of young widows, and yet make the fact of a second marriage an absolute bar to a woman being enrolled among the Church widows. Be taken into the number (καταλεγέσθω)

Better, enrolled (as a widow). N.T.o. Very, rare in lxx. Common in Class. Originally, to pick out, as soldiers. Hence, to enroll, enlist. Here, to be enrolled in the body of widows who are to receive church support. See on 1 Timothy 5:3.

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