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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Timothy 5:4

but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God.
New American Standard Version
    Jump to:
  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Abbott's Illustrated New Testament
  3. Bridgeway Bible Commentary
  4. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  5. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  6. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  7. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  8. Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible
  9. James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
  10. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  11. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  12. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  13. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  14. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  15. Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament
  16. Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible
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Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Commandments;   Minister, Christian;   Widow;   Women;   Thompson Chain Reference - Children;   Duties;   Family;   Filial Honour;   Home;   Honour;   Lessons of Life;   Life;   Mothers;   Parents;   Religion;   Respect;   Worship;   Young People;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Children;   Widows;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Family;   Mission;   Widow;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Abortion;   Deacon, Deaconess;   Duty;   Teach, Teacher;   Wealth;   Widow;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Piety;   Widows;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Law;   Nephew;   Piety;   Widow;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Aging;   Nephew;   Piety;   Poor, Orphan, Widow;   Religion;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Nephew;   Widow;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Acceptance;   Eunice ;   Family;   Home;   Timothy and Titus Epistles to;   Widows;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Nephew;   Piety;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Deaconess;   Piety;   Widow;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Eunice;   Forefather;   Good;   Piety;   Widow;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

But if any widow have children or nephews - This shows that widows indeed are those that have neither children nor nephews, i.e. no relatives that either will or can help them, or no near relatives alive.

Let them learn first to show piety at home - Let these children and nephews provide for their aged or helpless parents or relatives, and not burden the Church with them while they are able to support them.

And to requite their parents - Και αμοιβας αποδιδοναι τοις προγονοις· Let them learn to give benefit for benefit. Your parents supported and nourished you when you were young and helpless; you ought therefore to support them when they are old and destitute. This is called showing piety; and there is doubtless an allusion to the fifth commandment: Honour thy father and thy mother - provide for them in their old age and afflictions; God commands this.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Let them,--that is, the children or nephews; let them take care of their relative, and not call upon the church.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


The young, the old and the widows (5:1-16)

It may at times have been difficult for Timothy to deal with those who were older or those who were of the opposite sex. Paul therefore reminds him to be careful how he treats people, and always to show fitting courtesy and to act with moral uprightness (5:1-2).

The church must care for those of its members who are in need. But the church does not have a duty to support financially those elderly people who have children and grandchildren who can look after them. The church should support only the widows who are very poor and who have no one to whom they can turn for help except God (3-5). Other widows, who have found a means of support by turning to a life of pleasure, should be sternly warned, for they are killing their spiritual lives (6-7). Paul repeats that, wherever possible, the widows in the church should be looked after by their own families. Even unbelievers acknowledge they have a responsibility towards elderly parents (8).

Because of its limited finances, the church should limit the number of widows on its welfare list. It should include only those who are over the age of sixty, have been married only once, have promoted Christian standards in their families and households, have demonstrated the servant attitude in their manner of living and have a reputation for good deeds (9-10).

Younger widows should not be included on the church's welfare list. In past cases some have shown a tendency to remarry hastily and the results have been disastrous. Others have become gossips and busybodies. They would do better to remarry (to those who share their faith; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:39) and so have the responsibility of bringing up children and looking after the home (11-15). In summary, people should look for ways to provide for widows privately rather than to let them become a burden to the church (16).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

But if any widow have children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to requite their parents: for this is acceptable in the sight of God.

Their own family ... This is not to be restricted to parents only, or even to grandparents. Lenski's comment on the Greek words so translated has the following, "They are used with reference to dutifulness toward God, and toward one's country, or one's family, including parents, grandparents, and other relatives."[6]

For this is acceptable in the sight of God ... Despite the fact of this being stated positively, as an example of what pleases God, the negative is also true, namely, that failure to heed this injunction is not acceptable in the sight of God.


[6] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 656.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

But if any widow have children - Who would be dependent on her care, and who might themselves contribute to her support.

Or nephews - The word nephew now commonly means the son of a brother or sister. Formerly the English word also meant grandchildren, or descendants of any description. Webster. The Greek word here - ἔκγονα ekgona- has the latter meaning. It denotes those “sprung from or born of;” and then descendants of any kind - sons, daughters, grandchildren. The Greek word would not, in fact, properly include nephews and nieces. It embraces only those in a direct line.

Let them learn first to show piety at home - Margin, “or kindness.” That is, let the children and grandchildren learn to do this. Let them have an opportunity of performing their duty toward their aged parent or grandparent. Do not receive such a widow among the poor and dependent females of the church, to be maintained at public expense, but let her children support her. Thus they will have an opportunity of evincing Christian kindness, and of requiting her for her care. This the apostle calls “showing piety” - εὐσεβεῖν eusebein- that is, “filial piety;” piety toward a parent by providing for the needs of that parent in advanced age. The word is commonly used to denote piety toward God, but it is also used to denote proper reverence and respect for a parent. Robinson.

And to requite their parents - To repay them, as far as possible, for all their kindness. This debt can never be wholly repaid, but still a child should feel it a matter of sacred obligation to do as much toward it as possible.

For that is good and acceptable before God - It is a duty everywhere enjoined; compare Matthew 15:5-7 notes; Ephesians 6:1-2 notes.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

if. App-118.2. a.

any. App-123.

children. App-108.

nephews = grandchildren or other descendants. Greek. ekgonos. Only here. Shakespeare in Othello uses the word nephews for grandchildren,

show piety at home = treat reverently (Greek. eusebeo. Only here and Acts 17:23) their own household.

requite = return recompenses (Greek. amoibe. Only here) to.

parents. Greek. progonos. Only here and a Tim. 1 Timothy 1:3.

acceptable. Greek. apodektos. Only here and 1 Timothy 2:3.

before = in the sight of.

God. App-98.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

4If any widow There are various ways of explaining this passage; and the ambiguity arises from this circumstance, that the latter clause may refer either to widows or to their children. Nor is this consistent with the verb (let them learn) being plural, while Paul spoke of a widow in the singular number; for a change of number is very customary in a general discourse, that is, when the writer speaks of a whole class, and not of an individual. They who think that it relates to widows, are of the opinion that the meaning is, “let them learn, by the pious government of their family, to repay to their successors the education that they received from their ancestors.” This is the explanation given by Chrysostom and some others. But others think that it is more natural to interpret it as relating to children and grandchildren. Accordingly, in their opinion, the Apostle teaches that the mother or grandmother is the person towards whom they should exercise their piety; for nothing is more natural than ( ἀντιπελαργία) the return of filial for parental affection; and it is very unreasonable that it should be excluded from the Church. Before the Church is burdened with them, let them do their duty.

Hereto I have related the opinion of others. But I wish my readers to consider if it would not agree better with the context in this manner: “Let them learn to conduct themselves in a godly manner at home.” As if he had said, that it would be valuable as a preparatory instruction, that they should train themselves to the worship of God, by performing godly offices at home towards their relatives; for nature commands us to love our parents next to God; that this secondary piety leads to the highest piety. And as Paul saw that the very rights of nature were violated under the pretense of religion, (87) in order to correct this fault, he commanded that widows should be trained by domestic apprenticeship to the worship of God.

To shew piety towards their own house Almost all the commentators take the verb εὐσεβεῖν in an active sense, because it is followed by an accusative; but that is not a conclusive argument, for it is customary with the Greek authors to have a preposition understood. And this exposition agrees well with the context, that, by cultivating human piety, they should train themselves in the worship of God; lest a foolish and silly devotion should divest them of human feelings. Again, let widows learn to repay what they owe to their ancestors by educating their own offspring.

For this is good and acceptable before God Not to shew gratitude to our ancestors is universally acknowledged to be monstrous; for that is a lesson taught us by natural reason. And not only is this conviction natural to all, that affection towards our parents is the second degree of piety; but the very storks teach us gratitude by their example; and that is the etymology of the word ἀνιπελαργία (88) But Paul, not satisfied with this, declares that God hath sanctioned it; as if he had said, “There is no reason why any one should think that it has its origin in the opinion of men; but God hath so ordained.”

;">“The stork’s an emblem of true piety,
Because when age has seized and made its dame
Unfit for flight, the grateful young one takes
His mother on his back, provides her food,
Repaying thus her tender care of him
Ere he was fit to fly.” — Beaumont.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. Intro:
    1. The church is not a corporation…it’s a family!
      1. One thing we’ve observe in the last 200 years of church history…If a church has people, that church has problems!
      2. We are a Fallible Flock of Flawed saints!
    2. Outline: Church Members; Church Widows; Church Leaders.
    3. Q: How should we treat people w/in the church?
      1. What if an elderly man steps out of line & needs rebuked?
      2. What if a young lady is after every guy in the church?
      3. How do you counsel the Don Juan flirt of the fellowship?
      4. What if an older lady is complaining? How do we handle her complaints?
      5. What about benevolence? “I once heard about a person/couple that the church didn’t help, they just sent them away?”
  2. ALL IN THE FAMILY! (1-25)
    1. CHURCH MEMBERS! (1,2)
    2. Basic Principles?
      1. Treat other people, the way we would treat members of our own family. [church is just a family “extension”]
      2. Having various groups in the church seems to be normal!
        1. Some churches today are trying to gear towards reachingone age group. Is this healthy? What does a family look like with only sisters, or all fathers? What dynamics would be lacking?
      3. The body of Christ contains people of all ages, abilities, & levels of maturity.
        1. Being aware of this diversity will help us respect, & when necessary, rebuke the saints in a way that glorifies God & strengthens the church. (Chuck Swindoll; pg.98)
    3. Older men – Treat them as respected Fathers.
      1. Rebuke – (only occurrence) it describes a severe verbal pounding!
        1. Treat them w/love, respect, & gentleness…rather than w/harsh rebuke. – Preserve their dignity & worth.
        2. So, is it ever right to rebuke? 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.
        3. It’s not whether we should; it’s when & howgently!
    4. Younger men – Treat them as appreciated brothers.
      1. Don’t “talk down to” younger men. Remember back older men…what was important to us in our 20’s?
      2. We wanted respect! - We wanted to be treated as equals!
    5. Older women – Treat them as esteemed mothers.
      1. With respect, love & honor that we would show our own mothers.
    6. Younger women - Treat them w/protection, like your little sister.
      1. Maintain a purity that would banish all evil in thought & deed.
      2. Protect her, respect her, set a example for her, don’t compromise her integrity.
    7. The church is not a corporation…it’s a family!
    8. CHURCH WIDOWS! (3-16)
    9. Basic Principles?
    10. Not everyone who asks for help should receive it.
    11. Charity begins at home.
    12. Church leaders must exercise discernment lest they create more problems than they solve.
    13. 2 kinds of Widows: (3-8)
      1. [1] Those that had family to care for them
      2. [2] Those that didn’t.
    14. (8) See the seriousness of taking care of your own family.
      1. Perhaps some in the Ephesus church were avoiding their obligation to support their widow mothers & grandmothers.
      2. Relatives should assume the responsibility for their widows in their family & free the churches to use their resources for the widows who were left alone.
      3. Some have family…but their family won’t help out!
      4. Some are financially taken care of…but would love your friendship. Love to be involved in your family(if their’s isn’t around). - Love to be spiritually encouraged. - Love accountability. – Ministering to the whole person!
    15. The Real Widow! (5)
      1. The real widow is one who is really in need!
      2. [1] She’s left alone – no relatives to support her. And no source of income, or encouragement.
        1. Remember, women didn’t have the choice of careers that they have today. No pension plan. No Social Security for them to depend on. [The church needed a plan to care for them]
      3. Our problem today seems to be more in regards to divorced moms trying their best to get by. [or maybe it’s the poor, the helpless, the jobless, elderly, convicts, or ex-cons]
        1. We must take care of all the needy in Gods family.
        2. It’s not optional; it’s essential!
        3. And as we do, we imitate the One who is a father to the fatherless, a husband to the widow, & a provider for the poor! [we are His channel of compassion!]
      4. [2] She puts her trust in God – she has a continuous confidence in God. She “has fixed her hope on God” (Williams Translation)
      5. [3] She prays night & day – a metaphor describing a person who prays continually.
      6. [4] She is 60 or older (9a)
      7. [5] She was faithful to her husband. (9b)
      8. [6] She is well known for her good deeds[NIV] (10a)
        1. Which would include: raising her kids & given to hospitality.
        2. Note: they start at home & move outward from there!
    16. (6) Pleasure – i.e. abandonment to pleasure.
      1. This person is described in detail in vs.11-16.
      2. She is in contrast to the praying women of vs.5.
    17. Younger Widows (11-16)
      1. (12) cast off their 1st faith – or their pledge of service(i.e. to Christ)
      2. (13) Probably the result of financially taken care of?
      3. (14) The solution for them? Urged to remarry & assume the responsible behavior appropriate to married women.
      4. “If idle hands are the devils workshop, then busy hands are God’s tool kit.”
      5. (16) Families, not the church are  the 1st line of support for widows.
        1. Parents, carrying for their children is a very serious responsibility. But there comes a day when the tables are turned, & carrying for parents is our responsibility!
        2. Again, many times families are not available to help!
    18. CCM’s Benevolence:
      1. ​​​​​​​We draw many principles from this text.
      2. Simply tossing money at every problem would have been poor stewardship.
        1. “We are not to abandon wisdom & discernment in order to exercise compassion!!!” (Ibid; pg.109)
      3. Don’t get upset if we have to ask questions.
        1. We’ve had some that are seeking for financial help that had a few homes, boats, etc.
        2. We try to impart Basic Financial Planning. {i.e. basic cable?}
      4. Our goals must be: Respect; Compassion; & Responsibility!
      5. If we have handled you wrong please come & make it right with us.
      6. I’ve done well with some of you…I’ve done terrible with others!
    19. CHURCH LEADERS! (17-25)
    20. (17,18) Story: Three small boys were bragging about their dads. The 1st boy said: "My dad writes a few short lines on paper, calls it a poem, sends away, and gets $100 for it.""My dad," said the second, "makes dots on paper, calls it a song, sends it away, and gets $200 for it.""That's nothing," declared the third boy. "My father writes a sermon on a sheet of paper, gets up in the pulpit and reads it, and it takes four men to bring in the money!"
    21. Some merit recognition(17,18) & some merit correction!(19,20).
      1. (17) The double honor means pay or financial remuneration.
        1. Again we see the highest responsibility is around the “preaching & teaching”.
    22. Problems come:
      1. When we believe reports that can’t be verified (19,20)
        1. This wasn’t urging special treatment for the elder, just fair protection from any impulsive accusations. (Shepherds Notes; pg.32)
          1. Sometimes a pastor is unpopular for speaking the truth in a counseling situation.
          2. Those who continue in sin after being warned in private should be rebuked before the entire congregation.
            1. This is obviously not step one. Jesus laid the stepsout in Mt.18:15-17.
          3. “Church discipline is God’s prescription for restoring wayward sheep, maintaining holiness in the flock, & warning the church of sin’s destructive power!” (Chuck Swindoll; pg.102)
      2. When we observe things w/prejudice or partiality (21)
        1. Hear the charge!
      3. When we make decisions before getting the facts (22)
        1. Both hasty accusations & hasty decisions are dangerous!
      4. When we get duped by someone’s clean reputation, & can’t discern their true character (24,25)
    23. (22) Keep yourself pure –
      1. One day a young minister was being escorted through a coal mine. At the entrance of one of the dim passageways, he spied a beautiful white flower growing out of the black earth. "How can it blossom in such purity and radiance in this dirty mine?" the preacher asked. "Throw some coal dust on it and see for yourself," his guide replied. When he did, he was surprised that the fine, sooty particles slid right off the snowy petals, leaving the plant just as lovely and unstained as before. Its surface was so smooth that the grit and grime could not adhere to it.
      2. Our hearts should have the same characteristic. Just as that flower could not control its habitat, so we cannot help it that we have to live in a world filled with evil. But God's grace can keep us so clean and unspotted that though we touch every side, it will not cling to us.
    24. (23) Some have used this verse to justify habitual drinking, like W.C. Fields who said, “I only keep a bottle around incase of snakebites. I also keep a small snake.”
    25. We dare not neglect the body, for often spiritual dullness and dryness come from the simple fact that the body is tired and neglected. No machine will run well unless it is cared for; and neither will the body. Mens sana in corpore sano, a healthy mind in a healthy body, was the old Roman ideal, and it is the Christian ideal too.E. F. Brown has well stated: “The verse shows that while total abstinence may be recommended as a wise counsel, it is never to be enforced as areligious obligation.” Paul is simply saying that there is no virtue in an asceticism which does the body more harm than good. (The letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.)
      1. It was “a little” & it was “medicinal”.
      2. Timothy, don’t neglect your own health. Apply whatever remedy is necessary for your own physical ailment.
        1. Medicine is not the enemy of faith.
    26. (25) How do you view your pastor(s)?
      1. Q: What expectations do you place on them? Are they realistic?
      2. Q: Do you take into account the different pastors schedules, their abilities, their gifts, & the priorities of scripture?
      3. Q: How do you respond when one of your pastors does something you think is wrong?
      4. Q: Do you allow the pastor room to grow?
      5. Q: Have you ever approached the pastor personally about some of your concerns? (or, is talking to a friend about him more of your style?)
      6. Q: What can you do this week to show one of your pastors, elders, or leaders that you honor them?
      7. Pray: that we wouldn’t be defensive; that we would stay away from moral compromise; that we would be accountable; & keep integrity.
    27. According to legend the angels of heaven, observing the beauty of a noted bishop's life, offered him the power to heal the sick and to perform miracles. The old bishop declined, saying, "The thing I most desire is that God would bestow upon me the gift of doing a great deal of good without even knowing it myself." Consequently, as the bishop walked upon the earth wherever his shadow fell the hearts of men cheered, little children laughed and tired men rested. J
      1. Humble goodness brings the gift of joy to others.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Brian Bell Commentary". 2017.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


‘Learn first to shew piety at home.’

1 Timothy 5:4

The test of a man’s piety is to be found in the home. It is a common complaint of to-day that men and women show their Christianity everywhere but at home and among their own people.

I. The claims of home.—The home and home relatives and friends have the first claim upon us. No amount of meeting-going can make up for the neglect of the home. Men and women have been known to look after other people’s children in Sunday-school and elsewhere while their own children are allowed to run wild, and the ground thus lost can never be recovered.

II. Piety at home.—This must be shown in—

(a) Family worship—a practice which unhappily is not as common as it used to be.

(b) A well-ordered life—patient, kind, sympathetic, and forbearing.

(c) A realisation of Christ’s presence. The truly pious person will not be content with sticking up in the living-room a card inscribed ‘Christ is the Head of this house’; he will show by his every word and thought and deed that he realises the guiding, sanctifying presence of the Master in all affairs of home life.

III. The home mission field.—Just as the claims of the home are paramount, so are the claims of our own countrymen to hear and to know the Gospel of God’s love. The needs of the foreign mission field are great, and must not be neglected, but may it never be said of us that we have been so eager to send the Gospel abroad that our own vineyard we have not kept. All home mission agencies need and deserve our warm support. ‘This ye ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone.’


‘Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.’

1 Timothy 5:24

There are thousands whose lives are their own condemnation. These are they whose sins are ‘open beforehand.’ ‘And some men they follow after’; that is to say, there are men all fair without, but within full of disguised and deadly evil.

I. Beware of sin of all kinds.—Sensuality, excess of meat or drink, deadens the soul, makes it, like the body, heavy and drowsy. It shuts out Jesus from your view. Beware of anger, envy, pride, sloth, a want of love, a peevish tone, an evil eye, an unguarded thought. Beware of inconsistency, of indifference to anything that concerns your precious Saviour. Such things deaden the heart, and raise grave doubts within as to whether He can love such as you.

II. One sin does not come alone.—Soon its train appears, until at length there is nothing outwardly to distinguish you from the inconsistent, ungodly, professing Christian world. The spiritual life is dead. A veil hangs between you and the Saviour. Oh, sad state to fall into!

III. The most powerful intellects of those who live in sin are mysteriously limited in the perception of truth. On the other hand, have we not often seen men of no intellectual power, yet possessing such gifts of wisdom and knowledge, such ripe and fruitful apprehensions of Divine truth, as the most cultivated intellect has never attained to?

IV. Sins which follow after.—Deceive not yourself: ‘they follow after’; stealthily, surely, like shadows, turning where you turn, dwelling where you abide, mysterious, inseparable. Oh, that a word of mine could arrest you, make you hasten to Jesus, to His precious blood for cleansing, pardon, peace! Unconverted one, may the Spirit of God open your eyes! Only He can.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Shall we turn now in our Bibles to First Timothy chapter five? Paul is a spiritual father to Timothy, Timothy"s mentor. He looks upon him as a son; in fact, he calls him his son in the faith. Timothy has been left in Ephesus to oversee the church that Paul established there. While he is in Ephesus, Paul wrote to him this epistle. And in this epistle, he seeks to instruct Timothy in things of the church.

In a Bible doctrine class in seminary, you would have a subject known as Ecclesiology. And they use the epistles of Thessalonians and Timothy for their Ecclesiology classes. For as Paul said in verse fifteen, how that he has written these things in order that he might know how he ought to behave in the house of the Lord.

So as we get to chapter five, he deals first of all with Timothy"s behavior towards the elders, men, the younger men, the elder women, and the younger women.

Rebuke not an elder ( 1 Timothy 5:1 ),

Timothy was a younger man. He told him don"t let any man despise thy youth. And here Paul is telling him not to rebuke an elder.

but entreat him as a father ( 1 Timothy 5:1 );

Looking upon him as a father and talk to him as you would a father, entreat him as you would a father. Older people, I think, naturally resent being told by younger people what they ought to do or being rebuked by younger people. So Paul said, Don"t rebuke them, entreat him as a father.

and the younger men as brothers ( 1 Timothy 5:1 );

There is a right way and a wrong way of calling a person"s attention to a failure in their walk. The wrong way engenders strife, resentment. The way I present it to a person can create an animosity. Be careful that we don"t build walls and barriers by the way in which we seek to correct someone. In dealing with the younger men, Paul said entreat them like a brother; treat the older men like fathers.

The elder women as mothers; and the younger as sisters, with all purity ( 1 Timothy 5:2 ).

Timothy was evidently unmarried. Paul tells him in another place to flee youthful lusts. Treat the younger women like sisters. And then,

Honour widows that are widows indeed ( 1 Timothy 5:3 ).

And now Paul seeks to define for Timothy who are the true widows.

If any widow have children or ( 1 Timothy 5:4 )

The word "nephew" should be translated "grandchildren,"

let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God ( 1 Timothy 5:4 ).

So the first responsibility and Paul will repeat this again, for the welfare and the care of the widows lies upon the children and the grandchildren. Now the church did take upon itself the responsibility of caring for the needy within the body. It was a part of the ministry of the church.

You remember in Acts chapter six, where the Grecians came to the apostles and they complained that their widows were not being dealt with as bountifully as were the Hellenists, as were the Hebrews at the administration of the church"s welfare program. And so there was a taking care of the widows by the church. But Paul seeks to define who are really qualified to come under the care of the church. If a widow had children or grandchildren, then it was their primary and first responsibility to take care of their needs.

Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate ( 1 Timothy 5:5 ),

Now these are the ones that the church is to take care of. One who is a "widow indeed, and desolate,"

who"s trusting in God, and is continuing in supplications and prayers night and day ( 1 Timothy 5:5 ).

And that is really the qualification for those widows that were to be taken care of by the church. They really were given a ministry within the church, and the ministry within the church was the ministry of intercessory prayer. And so they "trusted in God, and were continuing in supplications and prayers night and day" for the church and the work of the church.

How grateful we are for those prayers of the older women within the church. I really feel a tremendous loss here at Calvary with the death of many of these older women who held the church up in prayer continually. We had a blessed group of older women, many of them widows, who have now gone to be with the Lord, but who had this special ministry of prayer and supplication night and day.

Paul said in contrast to those,

Those that are living in pleasure are dead while they still live ( 1 Timothy 5:6 ).

I think that one of the most reprehensible things going is a dirty old woman. Now, I think that dirty old men are bad, too. But you know, there"s something about an older lady that there should have developed that softness and that beauty. And you see some beautiful older lady who is a grandmotherly type and then you hear her talk and she"s using profanity and all, and there"s just something that doesn"t set right. It"s just not there. You know, I think that you usually think of the older women as mothers and, the way that some of them talk or act, it"s just really reprehensible. And one of the saddest things is to see in Las Vegas these old ladies standing there at these one-armed bandits just working those things all day long, with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth, you know. I mean, that just isn"t in my mind the picture of what old ladies ought to be doing.

There is a beauty that comes to that older woman who has been walking with the Lord. There"s almost a sacredness. I love to just sit down and share with those who have been walking with the Lord through the years. And from their mouth there pours the richness of God"s love and God"s goodness through the years. Widows indeed.

But those that are living for pleasure, those poor gals in Vegas, they"re dead, Paul said, while they"re still alive. I mean, they may still be breathing but man, they"re dead and so is anybody who lives for pleasure, spiritually dead though they still may be alive.

And these things [Paul said] give in charge, that they may be blameless. For if any provide not for his own, specially those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel ( 1 Timothy 5:7-8 ).

That is, if they do not take care of the members of their own family, if they do not take care of the needs of those of their own family, really they have denied the faith. Honor thy father and mother, the Scriptures said. And you"ve denied the faith if you refuse to take care of your elderly parents and grandparents.

Let not a widow be taken into the number under sixty years of age, having been the wife of one man ( 1 Timothy 5:9 ),

Now this special ministry for widows, it seemed to be a ministry that was set aside in the church, and it was something that was an honored position. It was more or less a lifetime commitment by the older women to really give themselves to the burden of prayer and the prayer ministry for the church, and there was almost an office for the widows of the ministry of prayer. They were supported by the church. They were put on the church"s payroll and their duty was just to continue night and day in prayer and supplication for the church. And I"ll tell you, the church would be wise to hire the widows to do that, be profited by that kind of a ministry. A lot more than probably some of these young men that we put on staff who don"t know quite yet what they"re doing. If we had some widows that we put on staff just to pray for the church, a valuable asset. Any of you widows looking for a job?

So let the widow not be taken into the number; that is, the special ministry group who are cared for by the church, who are under sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband who are,

Well reported for their good works ( 1 Timothy 5:10 );

These are the qualifications. They"ve got to have a good report that they have been doing good works.

if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints" feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work ( 1 Timothy 5:10 ).

Great qualifications. Then there was the special area of ministry for them. But Paul said the younger widows, don"t take them into this special company.

Refuse them: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having [not damnation, but condemnation], because they have cast off their first faith ( 1 Timothy 5:11-12 ).

So Paul says that the younger widows should marry. If they are brought into this special company in ministry within the church, and then should leave that, fall in love and so forth, having made that commitment to Christ, having put the hand to the plough; turning back, they would feel condemned. Not good. It is better that they just go ahead and marry and bear children and all and not be brought into this special company of ministering widows within the church. For if the church is taking care of them,

They"re apt to be just going around from house to house becoming idle, and tattlers and busybodies, speaking about things that they should not be speaking. So better that they marry, have the responsibility of bearing their children, guiding their houses, and then gives no occasion for the enemy to speak reproachfully. For [he said] some are already turned aside after Satan. Now if any man or woman that believes has widows, let them take care of them, and not the church be charged; that they may take care of them that are widows indeed. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in word and doctrine ( 1 Timothy 5:13-17 ).

Now this indicates that there were other ministries for the older men besides just teaching the word and teaching doctrine, but these older men, these older saints accounted worthy of double honor. Again, even as the older women are a tremendous blessing to the church, so those older men who have walked with the Lord for years can be a tremendous blessing to the church. How I thank God for the ministry of the older men in this church. The blessing that they are, the ministry that they have and they should be accounted worthy of double honor.

For the scripture says, You are not to muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his hire ( 1 Timothy 5:18 ).

So the double honor to the older men. Then,

And against an elder receive not an accusation, unless there be at least two or three witnesses ( 1 Timothy 5:19 ).

Don"t take one person"s word for it; let there be two or three witnesses.

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may also fear ( 1 Timothy 5:20 ).

Now I"m afraid that if the church practiced this open public rebuke of the sinners, it would create, no doubt, a fear but it might also create an empty church. You remember when the woman was brought to Jesus, taken in the act of adultery and they said, Our law says stone her, what do you say? And Jesus said, Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. And He began to write on the ground; it doesn"t tell us what, but I feel certain that He was writing the names of the individuals and the sins they were guilty of. And it says they began to leave from the eldest to the youngest until there was none left. And if there was an open rebuke for sin, and we started going down naming everybody and naming the sins, it would create fear, I"m sure, within the church.

When I was a young man there was a man that I admired very much. I admired his ministry, Dr. Claire Britain. He was a medical doctor as well as a minister. And at a summer camp, I listened to him one year and he was saying that he could look into a young person"s eyes, and the eyes are so revealing. They tell everything that the young person is guilty of; it"s all there in their eyes. Man, I was afraid to look at him. Didn"t want him to see everything that was there.

Now I charge thee [Paul said] before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that you observe these things without preferring one before another, do nothing by partiality ( 1 Timothy 5:21 ).

We are all of us children of God. And as such, each of you are equally important to God. There are no second-class heavenly citizens. To you, I mean, to Jesus you are as important as anybody else, and it is the church"s business to follow the example of Christ and to show love, appreciation, honor, respect, and all, to everyone without partiality. We"re not to say, Hey, he"s got big bucks, you know, treat him good, and the church is guilty of sin before God. Paul is pretty straight with it. "I charge you before God and before Jesus Christ and before the elect angels." I mean, it"s a heavy-duty charge. Don"t show partiality, treat everyone alike.

How opposite that is from the natural tendency, if someone is a professional person; Oh, he"s a doctor. Oh, he"s a chief of police. Oh, he"s a lawyer, or something, and oh, he"s very wealthy, you know. And there is that tendency to, oh, you know, show little favors and oh, why don"t you come sit at our table, you know.

James also wrote saying have no respect of persons. "God is no respecter of persons" ( Romans 2:11 ). And we"re not to have respect of persons. James says, Hey, someone comes in, you know, and they"re well-dressed and you know, wearing diamonds and all, he says, you say, Hey, come on down, take this nice seat down here. Some guy comes in rags, you say, Hey, sit in the corner, man. And he said that"s wrong. You see, in the eyes of the Lord we are all the same. God doesn"t look upon me with any greater favor or honor or anything than He looks upon you. It is a tragic thing that the church has set up certain men that we say, Oh well, you know, look how close he is to God. We are equally close to God. We are equally in God"s favor. God is no respecter of man"s person. And we are not to be, either. So doing nothing by partiality.

Now lay hands suddenly on no man ( 1 Timothy 5:22 ),

What does that mean? Don"t come up and say, hey, you know, lay hands on me suddenly and shock. No, he"s talking now in the laying on of hands for the ordaining of a person for a ministry within the body of Christ. Let a person sort of prove themselves, don"t be quick to ordain people to a particular task. Oh, glad to see you here this morning. Here, take this Sunday school book; we need a teacher for our sixth grade class, you know. A lot of churches feel that you got to lock the person into a job, you know, get them involved, you know, and hold them. But Paul said, "Don"t lay hands on." You know, it"s a lot easier to get people in than it is to get them out. And a tragic thing has taken --has happened in the church, and without really learning the individual, ordaining them for particular tasks or particular job, and then you can rule that quickness of judgment for a long time. So don"t lay hands on any man suddenly.

and neither be a partaker of other men"s sins: keep yourself pure ( 1 Timothy 5:22 ).

Hey, that"s not just good exhortation for Timothy; that"s good for all of us. Keep ourselves pure. Now this is for Timothy.

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach"s sake and thine oft infirmities ( 1 Timothy 5:23 ).

Most of the people in that culture and in that day did drink wine. The wine that they drank was a mixture of water and wine, three parts of water, two parts of wine. And it was as common, as water as far as a drink was concerned, because in many of the areas the water was polluted. It would be like someone going down to Mexico and writing back and saying, Oh, man, I"ve got, you know, Montezuma"s revenge, you know. And you know, so you would write to them and say, Hey, you better drink cokes or something, you know, instead of that water. You know, drink a little wine for your stomach"s sake, for this dysentery and so forth. And that"s basically what Paul is suggesting to Timothy.

Now this is to me quite interesting, however. In that I have no doubt that of those men in the New Testament who had the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation in their life, the gift of miracles, healings and all, certainly Paul ranks with the chiefest of the apostles in the ministry gifts of the Spirit. Paul had many miracles wrought through his ministry. Paul had, I"m sure, the gift of faith, the gift of working of miracles, gifts of healing working through his life. And yet here is his son in the faith, Timothy.

Now when Paul was in Ephesus, they took his aprons and his sweatbands and they laid them on the sick people and they were healed. Why didn"t Paul just anoint the handkerchief and send it to Timothy and say, Sleep on this? Now I am certain that Paul had prayed for Timothy"s stomach disorders. And there are indications that Timothy was a very feeble person and was a sickly person, yet a companion of Paul. The question, why didn"t God heal Timothy? Why was he allowed to be sickly? Why would Paul write sort of a medical, physical prescription for his ailment rather than just pray for his healing? I am convinced that Paul did pray for Timothy"s healing. But nonetheless, Timothy wasn"t healed.

I believe the reason why is that we would not be caught up in that kind of heresy that we"d say, Well, brother, you"re still sick because there"s some sin in your life. Or you"re still sick because you just don"t have enough faith. Or you"re sick because you have this personal problem or something of that nature. To keep us from that kind of foolish, unscriptural speculation, we have the case of Timothy, a close associate, companion, son of Paul in the faith who Paul is giving some just, pure advice to, from a physical level for his oft sicknesses rather than having a divine touch of God and a healing upon his body.

God does not heal in every case. And in those cases where God doesn"t heal, God has a purpose for not healing. It is not the lack of faith. It is not something wrong in the life of the individual. There is something within those eternal purposes of God that we cannot, do not, and will not understand. And I am thoroughly opposed to that kind of teaching that if you will follow this formula, you will be healed, and then that person who has this chronic illness feels constantly guilty. There"s something wrong with me, something wrong with my relationship with God. Why aren"t I healed you know, what"s wrong with me? And actually you are kicking a person when they are down if you lay some kind of heavy trip on them that way. Oh, brother, you know, there"s just got to be something wrong, you know. If you just had enough faith it would happen to you, too.

There"s an interesting scripture concerning Jesus that we do not understand in our modern culture today. It said concerning Jesus, "A bruised reed he would not break" ( Isaiah 42:3 ). To put that into a modern vernacular would be; He would not kick a man who is down. That"s what meant by "a bruised reed he would not break." He wouldn"t kick a man when he"s down.

Paul himself had an affliction, which he prayed three times that God would deliver him from it. God finally answered, but not by delivering him but by just giving him the grace to endure it, declaring, "My grace is sufficient for you: my strength will be made perfect in your weakness" ( 2 Corinthians 12:9 ). So let us not be guilty of judging wrongly. Or of laying some heavy burden upon someone who is already burdened because of their illnesses, because of their weaknesses. Let us just recognize that God doesn"t heal in every case. Now God does heal in some cases, He doesn"t heal in other cases. Why He heals some and does not heal others is totally bound up in the sovereignty of God. As the Holy Spirit divides to each man severally as He wills of the gifts of the Spirit.

So Paul is encouraging Timothy for the stomach problem just drink a little wine. Don"t drink that water anymore, dangerous stuff. I understand when they come to the United States from Mexico they always warn them, now don"t drink the water. It"s because we have different amoebas here than they do down there, and they get the same kind of problems from our water that we get from theirs. It"s just that they become immuned to those amoebas in their water as we have become immuned to the amoebas. Hey, we don"t have the purest water in the world, believe me.

Now he said,

Some men"s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid ( 1 Timothy 5:24-25 ).

In other words, before you meet the person, often you hear about them and their sins have gone before them. People have told you, Oh hey, he"s done this and he"s done that and all. Before he ever comes and you meet him or he confesses whatever, you"ve already heard of what he has done. That happens so many times. A person comes to confess something and you"ve already heard it from two or three persons. And the same thing with a person"s good works, they also go before them. Or people have shared with you, Oh, he"s really, you know, outstanding and this, that or the other, and you hear of them before you meet them. Their works precede them. They"re manifest beforehand, cannot be hid.


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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Regarding Widows and Accusations against Elders

1. Rebuke] This shows the authority which Timothy exercised. An elder] i.e. an elderly man, not one officially so named.

3-16. The seventh charge to Timothy—as to widows.

3. Widows indeed] Each local Church kept a list of the widows belonging to the congregation, who were supported by the alms of the faithful if they were widows indeed, that is, if they had none to help them (1 Timothy 5:4-5). In return, they did what services they could to the brethren.

4. Nephews] RV 'grandchildren,' whose duty it was to take charge of their relations. Them] i.e. the children or nephews.

7. Blameless] RV 'without reproach,' that the Church widows may not be spoken ill of as women whom their relatives ought to support.

9, 10. The qualifications for being put on the widows' list, besides being destitute, are, (1) to be 60 years of age; (2) to have been faithful to her husband or husbands (a 'woman of one man'); (3) to be of good reputation; (4) to have brought up her children well; (5) to have shown hospitality to strangers (cp. 3 John 1:5); (6) to have washed the saints' feet (i.e. humbly ministered to her fellow-Christians; (7) helped any in distress; (8) to be fruitful of good works.

11-15. Reasons against admitting younger widows. After devoting themselves to the service of Christ in their first grief, they may afterwards marry and give up their work, in spite of the promise they made at the beginning, and if not that, they may become gossips and scandal-mongers. It is better that they should marry again, and occupy themselves with the cares of a household. From this we see that St. Paul was no enemy to second marriages, and he would not, therefore, have excluded elderly women from the widows' company because they had been twice married. This view confirms the meaning already given to 'wife of one man' (1 Timothy 5:9).

12. Having damnation] or, 'condemnation'; rather, 'incurring severe judgment.'

15. Some] i.e. some widows. The enthusiasm with which they had embraced Christianity and received St. Paul's gospel had already worn off. With some temperaments it takes but a short time for this to occur—a shorter time generally in women than in men. They had turned aside out of the right path, and were, therefore, going after Satan.

16. Any man or woman that believeth] RV 'any woman that believeth.' Not only children and grandchildren, but other relatives likewise, are to support aged widows, and so spare the Church's fund. The injunction must apply to men as well as women, though the RV reading stands on the better authority of MSS.

17-25. Resumption of charge to Timothy as to presbyters. (1) Presbyters distinguished by their zeal, specially those distinguished in preaching and catechising, are to have higher honour and a larger stipend than the rest. (2) An accusation against presbyters is not to be entertained by their superior officer (apostolic deputy, possibly bishop) sitting by himself and listening to reports, but only before (AV), 'at the mouth of' (RV), two or three witnesses, who would confirm each other's statements (Deuteronomy 19:15), and also make the case to be publicly known to the Church. (3) Presbyters must not be appointed hastily, or those who admit them into the ministry will be answerable for their ill-doing.

17. Elders] In 1 Timothy 5:1 this word had meant elderly men; here it means presbyters. This order of the ministry consisted at the time of elderly men, whence they had the name of elders or presbyters.

18. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox] Deuteronomy 25:4; 1 Corinthians 9:9; And, The labourer is worthy of his hire] read, 'And the,' etc. The words seem St. Paul's, not a quotation.

20. Them that sin] Their punishment is to be public, not kept secret for fear of scandal.

21. The solemnity of St. Paul's words emphasises the responsibility of imposing penalties on a presbyter. The elect angels] not a particular class of angels, but the angels who are chosen by God as His ministers.

22. Lay hands] It was Timothy's office now, as it had been St. Paul's previously (2 Timothy 1:6 and that of the presbytery or bishops (at least afterwards), to appoint presbyters by the laying on of hands. Some find here a reference to the absolution of offenders or heretics.

23. A continuation of the personal charge to Timothy. St. Paul seems to have been re minded to give the present injunction by the evident necessity of Timothy's taking care of his bodily health, if he is to carry out the work of his office satisfactorily. He, therefore, inserts it parenthetically. It teaches us that if the body needs the stimulant of wine, it is right to take it in moderation.

24, 25. Some men's sins] Return to the subject of laying on of hands. Some candidates for ordination have characters so evidently bad that their unfitness is plain before probation; in others it comes out later. And the same may be said of worthy candidates; some are plainly fit at first sight, others will be found fit on looking below the surface. So that Timothy must exercise his judicial functions on presbyters and candidates for orders very cautiously.

25. They that are otherwise] The character of those who differ from the class just mentioned by their goodness not being self-evident, will yet certainly come out in a short time.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

"The basic thought of the word "widow" is that of loneliness. The word comes from an adjective meaning "bereft" and speaks of her resultant loneliness as having been bereft of her husband." [Note: Hiebert, First Timothy, p91.]

Paul distinguished three kinds of widows in the church. First, there were the bereaved who had children or grandchildren who could support them. Second, there were those who had no family to care for them, the bereft as well as bereaved. The Christian physical relatives of the former group should care for the first type (cf. Mark 7:10-12; Ephesians 6:2).

"In explanation of "nephews" in KJV, the Oxford English Dictionary (7:91) notes that in the seventeenth century (when KJV appeared) the term nephew was commonly used for a grandson, though that meaning is now obsolete." [Note: Earle, pp376-77.]

"No "corban" business here. No acts of "piety" toward God will make up for impiety towards parents.... Filial piety is primary unless parents interfere with duty to Christ ( Luke 14:26)." [Note: Robertson, 4>584.]

The church should care for the latter group, the widows with no family to care for them, and presumably widows with non-supportive family members. The church should honor this second group of widows, the extremely dependent, rather than looking down on them.

"It is what a person Isaiah, not what he has, that is the proper gauge of honour, or of dishonour..." [Note: King, p90.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. Provisions for widows5:3-16

Paul gave instructions concerning the church"s responsibility for its widows to clarify how and for whom the church should provide special care. Widows have been and still are especially vulnerable individuals. As such God has always shown special concern for their protection (cf. Deuteronomy 10:18; Deuteronomy 24:17; Psalm 68:5; Isaiah 1:17; Luke 2:37). The early church normally mirrored His attitude ( Acts 6:1; Acts 9:39). In the Greco-Roman world a female normally obtained her social status and identity from her male, either her father or, after marriage, her husband. [Note: Towner, The Letters . . ., p335.]

". . . the real widow seems to be set up as an ideal in contrast to the young widows in much the same way that Timothy is in contrast to the false teachers ( 1 Timothy 4:6-16; 1 Timothy 6:11-16)." [Note: Fee, 1,2Timothy ..., p114.]

This whole discussion of widows appears to focus on the younger widows in particular. They may be the same women Paul spoke of in 2 Timothy 3:6-7 who were responding positively to the false teachers. This may explain the surprising length of the section. This is the most extensive treatment of a group in the whole epistle.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

C. How to deal with widows and elders5:3-25

Paul now addressed how Timothy was to deal with two main problem areas in the Ephesian church, the younger widows and the erring elders.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament

1 Timothy Chapter 5

Having thus considered the labourer, the apostle returns to the details of the work, in which Timothy was to display his diligence and watchful care. Everywhere here the subject is that which is suitable outwardly to an upright walk, that which is seemly, whether with regard to the position of individuals, or with respect to the world. The apostle speaks of elders; of widows, of that which is becoming for younger widows; of the honour due to faithful elders those among them especially who were teachers also. There is nothing inward, nothing of the soul’s relationships to God; but everything refers to the public testimony which suited the position of men in this world before God. It is important to remark this that although our joy lies in our heavenly privileges in our communion, yet we can never with impunity neglect ordinary duties or moral proprieties; we must take knowledge of the practical dangers that would beset us, owing to that which the flesh is.

We may notice that provision was made for all widows who had no relatives able to maintain them; and also that there were elders who did not teach.

Against an elder, Timothy was not to receive an accusation, unless there were two or three witnesses.

All this bears testimony to the fact, that the apostle gives these directions with a view to outward order; for the maintenance of that which is respectable in the eyes of all, and of respect for all that ought to be respected. At the same time, Timothy was to be careful not to give by the laying on of hands his sanction to any one who did not offer moral guarantees that, in the position he had taken, he deserved this mark of respect from others. It would be, on Timothy’s part, to become a partaker in the sins of which such a one might be guilty. He was not to lay hands hastily on any one.

Some men’s sins were open, and proclaimed before hand the judgment that awaited them. The sins of others were hidden: they would find them again at the great day. But this was a reason why he should do nothing in his charge with precipitation; he was also to keep himself pure.

Timothy’s habitual temperance is here seen: weak in body, the apostle recommends him to use his liberty by taking a little wine-a pleasing instance of grace. We have here a proof of the habits of this faithful servant. The Spirit shews us how carefully he kept himself from exciting or satisfying his passions in the least thing (at the same time that there is perfect liberty to use everything that is good when there is a true reason for it) and also the apostle’s tender interest in his fellow-labourer in the gospel. It is a little parenthesis attached to the expression, “be not a partaker of other men’s sins,” but it has great beauty. This affectionate watchfulness became the apostle; he desired holiness in his representative, but he well knew how to respect Timothy, and to maintain the decorum which he had enjoined, and to exhibit his heartfelt tenderness. The 24th verse is connected with the 22nd.

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Darby, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "John Darby's Synopsis of the New Testament". 1857-67.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

“But if any widow has children or grandchildren”: “When the King James Version was translated the word ‘nephews’ meant grandchildren, but that meaning has now become obsolete. The Greek word means ‘sprung from one’, that is, offspring or descendants” (Hiebert p. 92).

“They must first learn”: That is, learn by use and practice. “Present active imperative, ‘let them keep on learning’” (Robertson p. 583). The term “first” indicates, “before anything else is done, first of all” (Thayer p. 555). “In the first place, as their first and natural obligation” (Vincent p. 258).

“To practice piety”: “To be pious, to act reverently towards” (Thayer p. 262). “To show piety towards any to whom dutiful regard is due” (Vine p. 183).

“In regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents”: The words “some return” means, “a requital, recompense” (Vine p. 285). “Make a return to those who brought them up” (Arndt p. 46). “Younger family members are to show some appreciation for the sacrifice and care that their parents and grandparents extended to them. Hendriksen calls attention to an old Dutch proverb which indicates it frequently seems easier for one poor father to bring up ten children than for ten rich children to provide for one poor father” (Reese p. 221). “The children owe their parents a great debt which they can never fully repay for all the love, patience, and self-sacrificing care bestowed upon them during their infancy and childhood” (Hiebert p. 92). Every child should look forward to the day when they can repay their parents.

“For this is acceptable in the sight of God”: (Mark 7:9-12; John 19:26-27). In contrast, being disrespectful of our parents is not pleasing to God (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2). Various writers have noted that in the ancient world and even in the modern world, the vice of abandoning old and infirm parents was common.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents (or, nephews).—The Greek word here should be rendered grandchildren; the original meaning of “nephew” (nepotes) has disappeared. Here a warning against allowing the Church to be burdened with a burden which others ought to bear is given, in the form of a pressing reminder to the children or grandchildren of the destitute and desolate widow. It is a solemn and imperative duty for the children to afford all needful succour—a duty not to be evaded by any bearing the Christian name.

For that is good and acceptable before God.—An especial blessing is promised to those who really carry out this too often forgotten duty. (See ; and also comp. Mark 7:10-11.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

1 Timothy 5:24

Prof. Richard Moulton quotes this text in his exposition of "The Merchant of Venice". He says that "the story contains a double Nemesis, attaching to the Jew himself and to his victim. The two moreover represent the different conceptions of Nemesis in the ancient and modern world: Antonio"s excess of moral confidence suffers a nemesis of reaction in his humiliation, and Shylock"s sin of judicial murder finds a nemesis of retribution in his ruin by process of law. The nemesis, it will be observed, is not merely twofold, but double in the way that a double flower is distinct from two flowers; it is a nemesis on a nemesis; the nemesis which visits Antonio"s fault is the crime for which Shylock suffers his nemesis. Again, in that which gives artistic character to the reaction and the retribution the two nemeses differ. Let St. Paul put the difference for us. "Some men"s sins are evident, going before unto judgment; and some they follow after." So in cases like that of Shylock the nemesis is interesting from its very obviousness and the impatience with which we look for it; in the case of Antonio the nemesis is striking for the very opposite reason, that he of all men seemed most secure against it"

—Richard Moulton, Shakespeare as a Dramatic Artist, pp46, 47.

References.—V:24.—J. Baines, Sermons, p15. J. C. M. Bellew, Sermons, vol. iii. p96.

1 Timothy 5:24-25

Most editors take these verses, in connection with what precedes, as a reminder to Timothy that human character is not easy to read, and that the outward life of men requires careful scrutiny before it is passed or rejected by any one who has to make appointments or administer affairs within the society. Men are not always what they seem. They may be either worse or better than a superficial reading of their actions might suggest.

Wohlenberg, in his edition of the Epistles (Zahn"s Kommentar zum Neuem Testament, XIII. pp187f.) ingeniously proposes on the other hand to connect these verses with the following injunction to Christian slaves (, 2): "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and of His doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren." The connection is as follows, according to Wohlenberg: "Slaves occupy a position in which their misdeeds become quickly known and receive immediate punishment, whereas their good actions are usually allowed to pass unnoticed. On the other hand, when their masters sin, the wrongdoing gets hushed up and palliated, while any praiseworthy action on the part of masters is at once made public and honoured, thanks to their conspicuous position."

This exegesis makes the Apostle side with the slaves rather than with their masters, or at least dwell more on the faults of the latter. The former must not bring discredit on the Gospel by impertinence or laziness, nor must they presume on the kindness of such masters as happen to be Christians themselves, by insubordination. Let them not fear that their own virtues will go for nothing. And let them not imagine that their masters" injustice and cruelty will escape the judgment of God.

With the general sentiment we may compare Mr. Yorke"s method (in Shirley, ch. iv.), when he got vexed with successful evil in this world. He "believed fully that there was such a thing as judgment to come. If it were otherwise, it would be difficult to imagine how all the scoundrels who seemed triumphant in this world, who broke innocent hearts with impunity, abused unmerited privileges, were a scandal to honourable callings, took the bread out of the mouths of the poor, browbeat the humble, and truckled meanly to the rich and proud—were to be properly paid off, in such coin as they had earned. But," he added, "whenever he got low-spirited about such like goings-on and their seeming success in this mucky lump of a planet, he just reached down t"owd book" (pointing to a great Bible in the bookcase), "opened it like at a chance, and he was sure to light of a verse blazing wi" a blue brimstone glow that set all straight. He knew," he said, "where some folk was bound for, just as weel as if an angel wi" great white wings had come in ower t" door-stone and told him."

—James Moffatt.

References.—V:24, 25. —Expositor (7th Series), vol. v. p566. VI. l.—Ibid. (6th Series), vol. ii. p398. VI:2.—J. S. Boone, Sermons, p1. VI:3.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. xi. p45.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Timothy 5:1-16. The wise Church ruler must understand how to deal with his people individually. Each age and condition needs separate treatment: old men, young men; old women, young women. Widows in particular need discriminating care; since some of them may have to be supported by the Church; and we must not let the Church be imposed on, nor give occasion for scandal. Accordingly Church widows must be at least sixty years old, and be of good character.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Timothy 5:4. : offspring ought to be the best rendering of this. It has a wider connotation than children and narrower than descendants.

: It ought not to be necessary to say that the subject of this verb is , only that Chrys. Theod. Vulg. and [268] agree in referring it to the class . (“Requite them in their descendants, repay the debt through the children,” Chrys.; “Discat primum domum suam regere.” See critical note.) Similarly Augustine says of his mother Monica, “Fuerat enim unius viri uxor, mutuam vicem parentibus reddiderat, domum suam pie tractaverat” (Confessiones, ix. 9). This can only be regarded as a curiosity in exegesis.

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

: The first duty of children is filial piety. , which is usually correlative to parents rather than children, is used here “to mark the duty as an act of family feeling and family honour” (De Wette, quoted by Ell.).

(domum pie tractare, [269]82) with a direct accusative is also found in reff. Ellicott supplies an appropriate illustration from Philo, de Decalogo, § 23, “where storks are similarly said and ”.

[269] Speculum

: When the term occurs again, 2 Timothy 1:3, it has its usual meaning forefather. It is usually applied to forbears that are dead. Here it means parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents that are living; and this use of it was probably suggested by , a term of equally vague reference. Plato, Laws, xi. p. 932, is quoted for a similar application of the word to the living.

, . . .: Besides being enjoined in the O.T., our Lord taught the same duty, Mark 7:16-23 = Matthew 15:4-6. See also Ephesians 6:1-2.



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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Children or nephews; the word translated nephews means descendants, specially grandchildren. If a destitute widow had children or grandchildren who could support her, they were bound to do so, and not let her be a charge on the church. A disposition in children to be kind and attentive to their parents and grandparents, and if need be to support them and keep them from being a public charge, is required by the gospel, and is peculiarly pleasing to God.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary

TIMOTHY HAD BEEN entrusted with special responsibilities both as to teaching and as to order in the church. Consequently if he kept right and in a state of happy deliverance from these dangers he would be a minister of deliverance to many others. But then this might bring him into a measure of conflict with some. An elder even might need admonition as verse 1 Timothy 5:1 of chapter 5 shows us, and Timothy must be careful not to set himself wrong in attempting to set him right. The truth teaches us to render to all our fellow-believers their due, whether men or women, whether old or young.

In verse 1 Timothy 5:3 the question of the treatment of widows comes up and the subject is continued to verse 16. We might be tempted to wonder that so much space is given to the matter did we not remember that it was this very question which first brought the spirit of contention into the church of God, as recorded in Acts 6:1-7.

The general instruction of the passage is quite plain. Widows 60 years old and upwards without relations to support them were to be “taken into the number,” or “put on the list,” as receiving their support from the church if they had been marked by godliness and good works. The church is to relieve those who are “widows indeed” but not others. How wise is this ordering!

Other instructions come in by the way. Notice how clearly it is taught that children and descendants (the word is “descendants” rather than “nephews”) are responsible for the support of their parents. Thus they shew godliness or piety at home. Let us emphasize this in our minds for it is easily forgotten in these days of “doles” and other forms of public support. The denunciation in verse 1 Timothy 5:8 of the man who avoids or neglects this duty is very severe, showing how serious a sin it is in God’s sight. There may be men quite renowned for piety in public who are nevertheless branded as worse than an infidel for lack of this piety at home.

The characteristics of a “widow indeed” as given in verse 1 Timothy 5:5 are worthy of note. The Christian who in the days of her prosperity gave herself to such good works as are enumerated in verse 1 Timothy 5:10, would have recognized that after all it was just God Himself ministering to the afflicted through her hands. He was the Giver and she but the channel. Now the position is reversed but she knows well that she must not look to the channels but to the mighty Source of all. Hence her trust is in God and upon Him she waits in prayer. She too is marked by that trust in the living God which is so large an element in practical godliness.

Contrasted with this is the widow living “in pleasure” or “in habits of self-indulgence.” Such an one would be seeing life according to the ideas of the world, but she is here declared to be dead while living—practically dead, that is, to the things of God.

Sometimes worldly-minded believers ask rather plaintively why it is that they do not make spiritual progress or have much spiritual joy? Verse 1 Timothy 5:6 supplies us with an answer. There is nothing more deadening than self-indulgence in pleasure. The pleasure may be life of a worldly sort but it is death spiritually, for the soul is thereby deadened towards God and His things.

The bad effects of idleness come strongly before us in this passage. The younger widows were not to be supported at the expense of the church lest having no very definite occupation they should decline in heart from Christ and come under judgment—not “damnation” which is too strong a word. Their idleness then would assuredly produce a course of tale-bearing and general interference in other people’s affairs which is most disastrous to the testimony of God. Idleness in the twentieth century produces exactly the same crop of evil fruit as it did in the first century.

Further instruction as to elders is given in verses 1 Timothy 5:17-19. An elder was not necessarily a recognized teacher of the word, though he was to be “apt to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). Those who did “labour in the word and doctrine” were to be counted worthy of double honour, and that honour was to be expressed in a practical way as might be needful. If any of them lacked in material things they were to be supplied as the Scripture indicated. The first quotation of verse 1 Timothy 5:18 is from the Old Testament but the second is from the New, Luke 10:7. This is interesting evidence that Luke’s gospel was already in circulation and recognized as the inspired Word of God equally with the Old Testament.

Above all, Timothy was to be moved by a care for the glory of God in His house. Those who sinned were to be rebuked publicly so that all the believers might be admonished and sobered thereby, only the greatest possible care was to be taken lest anything like partiality should creep in. Nothing is more common in the world than favouritism, and we all of us so easily form prejudices either for or against our brethren in Christ. Hence this solemn charge laid upon Timothy “before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels.”

Connected with the solemn charge of verse 1 Timothy 5:21 against partiality comes the injunction, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.”

The laying on of hands is expressive of fellowship and identification, as Acts 13:3 shows us. Barnabas and Saul were already prophets and teachers when the Spirit called them to launch forth in the evangelization of the Gentile world. There was therefore no thought of “consecrating” them when their fellow-workers laid hands upon them, but rather of showing full fellowship and identification with their mission.

Timothy was to avoid haste in giving his sanction to any man lest later he should have to discover that he had accredited one who was unworthy, and thereby he might find himself in the unhappy position of having a share in his misdeeds. The believer is to be careful not only as to purity of a personal sort but also as to his associations.

Paul evidently knew how careful Timothy was as to personal purity, hence the instruction of verse 23. This verse has been much quoted in arguments as to the “temperance” question. It shows without a doubt that Scripture does not warrant the propaganda of extreme reformers. It shows however with equal clearness that a really godly Christian, such as Timothy was, kept so clear of wine that he had to be exhorted to take some medicinally, and then he was only told to take “a little.”

Verse 1 Timothy 5:24 is connected with the earlier part of verse 22. Many things whether evil or good are not at all open and manifest and we may therefore be easily deceived in our judgments. Ultimately however all will be manifested for nothing can be permanently hid. A solemn thought this!

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Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". 1947.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary


1 Timothy 5:1-8

That minister of Jesus is happiest who introduces the tone and manner of family life into the church, 1 Timothy 5:1-2. The attitude of son or brother to other men is peculiarly fitting. But he must always keep up the spiritual tone. It is so easy to descend to frivolity and familiarity. Remember that all intercourse with others must be governed by the words-in all purity.

The special references to widows evidence the early practice of the Church. Provision was made for godly women who had lost husbands by death, and who in return for the weekly gift from church funds, gave themselves to Christian service. The Apostle indicates the age and characteristics of those who might be eligible. It was his clear judgment, however, that, wherever possible, it was becoming for children to make such provision as would place an aged mother or other relative beyond the reach of want or any need of claiming maintenance from church funds. Our nurses and deaconesses are the modern counterparts of the order of widows in the early Church; yet the standard of Christian living here emphasized may well be pondered and prayed over by all Christian women, who should, as far as possible without fee or reward, consider church service only second to the claims of home.

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible



1. Concerning widows (1 Timothy 5:1-16)

2. Concerning elders (1 Timothy 5:17-21)

3. Responsibility and personal instructions (1 Timothy5:22-25)

1 Timothy 5:1-16

It is not necessary to follow all these instructions in detail and explain their meaning. An elder was not to be rebuked sharply, but to be entreated as a father, and younger men as brethren. Then he speaks of widows. Those who are widows indeed are to be held in honor. Piety was to be shown at home, if they had children. “She that is a widow indeed, and desolate (left alone) trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers day and night.” Happy privilege of such, with special claims upon the Saviour-God. Thus exercising trust in God and in His promises, her special ministry is the ministry of prayer and intercession (Luke 2:36-37). God hath chosen that which is weak, widows, those who are on sick-beds, “Shut-ins,” to use especially in the ministry of intercession.

The Day of Christ will reveal the great things which were accomplished in secret prayer. But if other widows lived in pleasure, in self-indulgence then she is dead while she liveth, that is, dead to the spiritual things. For such there could be no honor, but dishonor. And if anyone did not provide for his own house, he denied the faith and was worse than an infidel, for an unbeliever generally recognizes this duty. Then we have divinely given regulations as to those who should be given relief by the church, and those who should be refused. Practical godliness is thus to be maintained in the house of God, and manifested in every way so as “to give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”

1 Timothy 5:17-21

Elders that ruled well were counted worthy of double honor, and especially those who had the gift of expounding the word of God, and teaching the truth, “who labor in the Word and teaching.” And as elsewhere in his former epistles, the apostle here once more states the responsibility that “the laborer is worthy of his hire.” The ox that treadeth out the corn is not to be muzzled. The Creator-God careth for the oxen, and made a merciful provision for them in His law. How much more then should those be ministered to in temporal things that labored in the Word, and with much self sacrifice taught the truth. But the laborer must remain in dependence on the Saviour-God, for he is God’s laborer. (The almost universal custom of promising a laborer in the Word, an evangelist, pastor and teacher a salary, and the laborer depending on his bargain, is nowhere sanctioned by the Word of God. It is contrary to faith which should mark the path of the servant of Christ.) Instruction is given how an elder is to be treated if charged with wrong. Before God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels (from which we learn that angels are silent onlookers in all these things--1 Corinthians 11:10), Paul charges Timothy to observe these things, to be firm in them, without showing partiality.

1 Timothy 5:22-25

He was not to lay on hands hastily on any man, the outward sign of fellowship, to acknowledge them as co-laborers and become identified with them. It might result in becoming partakers of other men’s sins. How little conscience there is today in this matter! How often believers are in fellowship with those who are not teaching the truth. “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” A small matter, yet not too small for the Holy Spirit. No doubt Timothy had a very scrupulous conscience, but the apostle in this God-inspired letter, sets aside his scruples and tells him to use a little wine. Much criticism has been made of this divinely given instruction. Extreme faith-healers, who reject all means in a way that is not faith, but presumption, and on the other hand extreme prohibitionists, have made the astounding statement that Paul made a mistake when he wrote these words. But if Paul made a mistake here who can convince us that he did not make a mistake when he wrote the eighth chapter of Romans? Others state that it was not wine, but “grape juice.” We give the helpful comment of another:

“Timothy’s habitual temperance is here seen: weak in body, the apostle recommends him to use his liberty by taking a little wine--a pleasing instance of grace. We have here a proof of the habits of this faithful servant. The Spirit shows us how carefully he kept himself from exciting or satisfying his passions in the least thing (at the same time that there is perfect liberty to use everything that is good when there is a true reason for it), and also the apostle’s tender interest in his fellow-laborer in the gospel. It is a little parenthesis attached to the expression, ‘be not a partaker of other men’s sins,’ but it has great beauty. This affectionate watchfulness became the apostle; he desired holiness in his representative, but he well knew how to respect Timothy, and to maintain the decorum which he had enjoined, and to exhibit his heartfelt tenderness” (Synopsis of the Bible).

“Some men’s sins,” the apostle continues, “are open beforehand, going before to judgment”--they are manifested in the present life. “And some men they follow after”--unknown now, hidden away, but to be made manifest at the judgment seat of Christ.

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

Timothy's demeanor toward men and women was now described, and demands careful study and attention. As for men, seniors are to be treated with respect, while the younger men are to be treated as brethren.

Of women, he is to treat the elder as mothers, and the younger as sisters. The large section devoted to widows indicated peculiar local conditions and dangers. Hence the careful instructions.

At verse 1 Timothy 5:17 we find the term "elders" used in a more specific sense, referring undoubtedly to those who held office in the Church. These were to be held in honor and provided for. Order must be maintained, and discipline enforced, yet in such a way as befits the elders' honorable position. The true Church order must ever be "first pure, then peaceable." The responsibility resting on Timothy was so great that the apostle charged him to act in the sight of God, of Jesus Christ, and the elect angels. Apparently turning aside for a moment, and thinking of Timothy's "often infirmities," he gave him personal and practical advice.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But if any widow have children or nephews,.... Such are not widows indeed; they are not desolate, or alone, or without persons to take care of them; their children or nephews should, and not suffer the church to be burdened with them. Wherefore it follows,

let them learn first to show piety at home; which some understand of the widows, who, instead of casting themselves upon the church for a maintenance, or taking upon them the office of a deaconess, to take care of others, should continue in their own families, and bring up their children and nephews in like manner as they have been brought up by their parents, which will be more pleasing and acceptable unto God; but it is better to interpret it of their children; and so the Ethiopic version expresses it, "let the children first learn to do well to their own house", or family. It is the duty of children to take care of their parents in old age, and provide for them, when they cannot for themselves: this is a lesson they ought to learn in the first place, and a duty which they ought principally to observe; they should not suffer them to come to a church for relief, but first take care of them themselves, as long as they are in any capacity to do it; and these should be their first care before any others; so to do is an act of piety, a religious action, a pious one; it is doing according to the will and law of God, and is well pleasing to him:

and to requite their parents; for all the sorrow, pain, trouble, care, and expenses they have been at in bearing and bringing them forth into the world, in taking care of them in their infancy, in bringing them up, giving them an education, providing food and raiment for them, and settling them in the world; wherefore to neglect them in old age, when incapable of providing for themselves, would be base ingratitude; whereas to take care of them is but a requital of them, or a repaying them for former benefits had of them:

for that is good and acceptable before God; it is good in itself, and grateful, and well pleasing in his sight; it is part of the good, and perfect, and acceptable will of God; and which, as other actions done in faith, is acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament



1-16. Primitive Christianity is all luminous with spiritual wisdom. Widowed saints over sixty years were utilized in the Lord’s work, “spending night and day” in prayers and supplications, and, of course, receiving temporal sustenance as beneficiaries of the Church. As they spent all of their time in prayer and soul-saving labor, they must be supported by Christian benefaction. This organization of venerable widowed saints, unencumbered with temporal affairs and devoted to incessant prayer, is a lost institution of the apostolic age, which should by all means be revived. The superficial religion of our day is poorly competent to appreciate this apostolic institution. Up in the mountains of West Virginia, years ago, a Methodist Church flourished, and shed her light over all the land. Ere long some of the members went to heaven, others to the wild West, and others to the devil, leaving a few to transfer their membership to other Churches. However, Aunt Peggy says she is too old to go off to meeting, and she will finish her pilgrimage alone in old Mount Tabor. The house is neglected, chinking out, chimney fallen down, and roof caving in, but Aunt Peggy spends the Sabbath there on her knees, often getting happy and arousing the citizens by her shouts. One Sunday afternoon, some mischievous juveniles say, “Let us go and scare the old woman.” Halting in hearing distance, and listening to her supplications, behold! she is pleading with God to save the wicked young men of the neighborhood. Smitten by the thunderbolts of conviction, they come in, fall on the floor, and ask her to pray for them. This was the beginning of a great revival, resulting in hundreds converted and house rebuilt. Dr. Finney used to carry around with him a simple-hearted, illiterate old man, who had power with God to pull down salvation on the people. He would stay in his room, and pray while Finney preached. The Doctor said he could tell while he was preaching how the old man was getting along in prayers.

As you who read the “Life of Finney” will certify me, frequently the power came on his congregations, knocking the people down on all sides, till they would lie prostrate for hours crying to God. The world gives Finney credit for these mighty works, when God did them in answer to the prayer of that old saint. O how we need to revive our praying bands of sainted widows in every Church! “The power of prayer is actually unknown in the popular Churches of the present day.”

2. Elderly women as mothers, younger women as sisters in all purity.God help us all to heed this admonition! I have been lied on from every point of the compass; beaten with dirt, stones, frozen potatoes, and eggs; mobbed, threatened with immediate death, and twenty-six years ago hauled out of my circuit as a crazy man, and repeatedly rejected and forced to travel; but never was a scandal raised against me. I have been astonished that Satan did not utilize this powerful weapon against me; perhaps it is because I have always observed Paul’s injunction here to Timothy, Treat the younger women as sisters in all purity.Do not forget this. You can not be too careful in your deportment toward young women. Many an innocent man has been ruined influentially by mere indiscretion.

4. If any widow have children or grandchildren,they should take care of them, thus relieving the Church.

6. But she who is wanton living is dead;i.e., she is backslidden through wantonness, and spiritually dead though physically alive.

8. But if any one provides not for his own, and especially the inmates of his home, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.This is a terrible condemnation on lazy people who do not provide for their homes. God is so good pouring out the bounties of nature into the hand of industry on all sides, that almost any person with a very small effort can provide temporal sustenance. In Washington they claim to grow eight hundred bushels of Irish potatoes per acre. A person can live well on the potato and a little salt. This verse covers all the ground, and turns condemnation on all who do not provide for their families.

10. —If she has washed the feet of saints.Here Paul lays down foot- washing in the catalogue of Christian benefactions. In Oriental countries, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and Arabia, they do not wear shoes but sandals, to protect the bottoms of their feet from the burning sand. On arrival, hospitality greets the guest at the door, removes the sandals, and washes the feet. When Jesus was washing Peter’s feet (John 13), responsive to the remonstrances of the latter, he said, “What I do thou knowest not now, but shalt know hereafter.” Peter did know that Jesus was washing his feet. So that was not what Jesus was doing, but teaching him a profound lesson in Christian humility, which he could only receive after the consumption of all his blinding depravity by the fires of Pentecost. This statement of the Savior, and the historic fact that the primitive Church did not practice foot-washing, is demonstrative proof that it was not an ordinance of the Apostolic Church, like baptism and the eucharist, but simply an impressive lesson in humility, deduced from a long-standing custom of Oriental hospitality, now paralleled (especially in our northern latitudes, where sandals are not used), by blacking the shoes.

11-13. These verses refer to the sad fact of apostasy on the part of young widows through wantonness, whose provided remedy, along with the grace of God for keeping or reclamation, is matrimony.

14. Here Paul advises the younger widows to get married; as this institution is a blessed Christian privilege, and a powerful fortification against temptation and sin.

16. If any faithful woman have widows, let her support them, and let not the Church be burdened, in order that she may give her attention to those who are widows indeed. If your mother, daughter, or sister is left in widowhood, take care of her, thus relieving the Church.This paragraph on widowhood is characterized throughout with good common sense, prudence, and wisdom. O that the Church would heed it, coming back to first principles!

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Various Types of Widows

True widows were not to be embarrassed because the church refused to provide for their physical needs and left them in poverty. They should be shown respect and given the temporal relief they need. As will be seen, widows in deed were those who did not have children or close relatives who should provide for them. Children and grandchildren should be taught the proper love and care for their widowed mothers and grandmothers. By providing for needy mothers, children are repaying, in part, the years of loving care given to them while they were helpless children unable to face the world alone ().

The widow indeed is the one who has no relatives to support her and is in need. She has set her hope on God and turns to him regularly in prayer. In contrast to the widow worthy of the church’s support, Paul described a widow who gave herself to the pursuit of worldly pleasures. Such a widow would be trying to support a physical body which housed a spiritual corpse. The apostle wanted all these teachings presented to the church so there would be no avenue for reproach to be brought upon God"s people ().

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Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

How to Set in Order the Widows- Paul first tells Timothy the qualifications of true widows and their duties, which is the lowest office of the church, for they give themselves to prayer night and day ( ). He will also address the issue of elderly men and women in a local congregation.

1 Timothy 5:1 Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

1 Timothy 5:1 — "Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father" - Comments- Do not reprimand or rebuke your elder. A young minister is to treat his elders in the church with honor and consideration, showing them respect as a father or as a mother (verse 2). My Greek professor in Seminary, who was elderly, wisely told his class of young Bible students to treat his elder church members as fathers and mothers, to show them respect.

Note other passages on this subject:

Leviticus 19:32, "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old Prayer of Manasseh, and fear thy God: I am the LORD."

Proverbs 20:29, "The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head."

Proverbs 23:22, "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old."

King Solomon honored his mother, Bathsheba:

1 Kings 2:19, "Bathsheba therefore went unto king Song of Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king"s mother; and she sat on his right hand."

1 Timothy 5:2 The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

1 Timothy 5:2 — "the younger as sisters, with all purity" - Comments- 1 Timothy 5:2 can serve as guidelines for Christian dating. When Christian men date a Christian lady, they are to treat them as sisters. No one shows excessive physical affection towards a sibling. Instead, they give them a simply hug or a kiss on the cheek.

Comments- The Church Serves as an Extended Family Unit To Mould and Shape our Character- One of the great things about joining a local church is the fact that we can develop healthy relationships with "fathers, brothers, mothers and sisters" in the Lord. If we grew up in a dysfunctional home, if we had a father or mother that did not take the time to love us, a local church is the institution that God has ordained for these Christians to develop proper relationships. It is in church that God will give us a loving father or mother, a genuine brother or sister. It is this church environment that has helped me so much in learning good social behavior.

1 Timothy 5:3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.

1 Timothy 5:4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

1 Timothy 5:4"nephews" - In the Greek, literally, "descendents," but specifically grandchildren.

1 Timothy 5:4 — "to requite" - Literally, "to return or give a recompense or return."

1 Timothy 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

1 Timothy 5:5 — "and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day" - Comments- Cindy Jacobs, president and cofounder of Generals of Intercession, says that she once asked the Lord why we have to pray night and day, and why can we not just pray in the daytime and sleep at night. The Lord said to her, "because the devil never rests." She said that God made the night and called it good, but the devil has taken over the night. 120] That is when the drug deals happen, when the prostitutes come out and all kinds of evils take place. God originally made the night a good thing. For example, one good thing about the night is that it is a time of quietness and prayer and meditation on the activities of the day.

120] Cindy Jacobs, Praise the Lord (Santa Ana, California: Trinity Broadcasting Network), television program.

1 Timothy 5:5Comments- The widow is a person who can have much time to herself and not be burdened with the busy responsibilities of her youth, such as being a good wife and mother. Note:

1 Corinthians 7:32, "But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:"

Anna the prophetess is an illustration of this verse:

, "And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem."

Note that a righteous person has a powerful prayer life.

James 5:16, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Success is not according to physical strength, but by the power of God:

Zechariah 4:6 "Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts."

, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled."

Polycarp (A.D 69 to 155), in his epistle to the Philippians, exhorts the widows to continually in prayer, calling them the "altars of God."

"Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil; knowing that they are the altars of God, that He clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any one of the secret things of the heart." (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 4) 121]

121] Polycarp, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 1, The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (electronic edition), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

Comments - Distinction Between Widows- Paul gives a lengthy description in 1 Timothy 5:4-16 on how to honour widows. For widows who are not desolate, the responsibility of their care is to their descendents, primarily the closest of kin. For widows who are desolate, the church is responsible.

1 Timothy 5:6Comments- The Scriptures say that it is sinful for an older lady, a widow, not to devote herself to prayer and fasting.

1 Timothy 5:11Comments- After committing themselves to the church, these younger widows feel that they want to get married again and therefore, they will neglect the duties of constant prayer and fasting, to which they had committed themselves. The next verse says that they cast off their first faith.

1 Timothy 5:12Comments- The reason for their judgment is the "casting off of their first faith."

1 Timothy 5:13Comments- I had to deal with a situation in my marriage in which my wife began to meet with a group of ladies on a weekly basis. At first, everything seemed innocent and beneficial to a lady's need for friendship and fellowship. After a while, I began to feel that we were losing our intimacy, and we were not as close to one another as before. These ladies were telling each other about particular husbands or wives that were unfaithful; thus, causing doubt to arise in the hearts of all the ladies about their own husbands. As one point, I addressed the issues surrounding such weekly gatherings, and asked her to stop. She faithfully did so. Afterwards, I noticed her intimacy increasing.

1 Timothy 5:14 — "give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully" - Comments - Thee phrase "give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully" literally means, "to the adversary for the reason of a reproach." The devil is the accuser to the brethren. Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan, the accuser of the brethren, spends day and night accusing Christians of their faults. We find in Romans 8:33-34 a description of how Jesus Christ stands at the right hand of the Father to intercede for those whom Satan has accused.

, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God"s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."

Paul also warned Timothy about the adversary's opportunities to speak reproachfully against those with sin in the lives.

1 Timothy 5:14, "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully."

This tells us that when we sin, we must be quick to confess our sins so that Jesus Christ is given the authority to intercede in our behalf to the Father. We also have the story in Job 1-2of how Satan stood before God and accused Job of being unrighteous in his heart. The Lord said, "…and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause." ( Job 2:3) Thus, we see that Satan's accusations have the potential to move God against us. Job cried out for a redeemer to plead for his innocence, but there was none ( Job 9:33).

Job 9:33, "Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both."

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Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

The Role of Additional Members of the Congregation: Emphasis on the Body Yielding to a Godly Lifestyle - In 1 Timothy 5:1 to 1 Timothy 6:19 Paul teaches Timothy how to set in order and minister to the rest of the members of his congregation, those who do not qualify as bishops and deacons. Paul focuses upon the different age groups, the old and the young, to those holding different church offices, from the widows to the teachers, and to different social classes, the rich and the poor. Paul first deals with those who hold secondary church offices, which are the widows who dedicate themselves to prayer ( 1 Timothy 5:1-16), and the elders ( 1 Timothy 5:17-25). He then deals with the laity by focusing on the poor and the rich classes ( 1 Timothy 6:1-19). Thus, we see Paul addressing these groups of people in the order of honour they are bestowed by a society. Genuine widows are given the greatest honor, even in churches today, followed by church elders, then the poor, with the last being given to the rich.

Paul then teaches Timothy how to set in order and minister to the rest of the members of his congregation, those who will not qualify as bishops and deacons. Paul focuses upon the different age groups, the old and the young, to those holding different church offices, from the widows to the teachers, and to different social classes, the rich and the poor. Paul first deals with those who hold church offices, which are the widows who dedicate themselves to prayer ( ), and the elders ( 1 Timothy 5:17-25). He then deals with the laity by focusing on the poor and the rich classes ( 1 Timothy 6:1-19). Thus, we see Paul addressing these groups of people in the order of honour they are bestowed by a society. Genuine widows are given the greatest honor, even in churches today, followed by church elders, then the poor, with the last being given to the rich.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. How to Set In Order the Widows —

2. How to Set In Order the Elders —

3. Paul Addresses Slavery and Wealth —

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Geneva Study Bible

3 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety 4 at home, and 5 to requite their parents: 6 for that is good and acceptable before God.

(3) Widow's children and nephews must take care of their parents according to their ability. {(4)} The first reason, because that which they bestow upon their parents, they bestow it upon themselves. {(5)} Another, because nature itself teaches us to repay our parents. {(6)} The third: because this duty pleases God.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

3–16.] Directions concerning widows. This whole passage is somewhat difficult, and has been very variously understood. The differences will be seen below.

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Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

4.] The case of the χήρα who is not ὄντως χήρα, having earthly relations answerable for her support.

ἔκγονα] τέκνα τέκνων, Hesych.; grandchildren: not as E. V. ‘nephews;’ at least, not in its present sense.

μανθανέτωσαν] What is the subject? (1) The ancient Commentators mostly understand αἱ χῆραι, implied in τίς χήρα: so vulg. (discat: also D-lat, 2 cursives have μανθανέτω), Chr. (see below), Thdrt., Œc., Jer., Pel., Ambr., Luth., Calv., Grot., Calov., Huther, al. (2) But some of the ancients took τὰ τέκνα ἢ ἔκγονα as the subject: e.g. Œc. 2, Thl., and so Beza, Wolf, Mosh, Wegscheid: Heydenr., Flatt, Mack, De W., Wiesinger, Ellicott. There is much to be said for both views; and as we advance, we shall give the interpretations on both hypotheses, (1) and (2).

πρῶτον] Either, ‘first of all duties,’ which seems supported by 1 Timothy 5:8 below; or first, before applying to the church for sustenance. These meanings will apply to both the above alternatives: whether we understand the subject to be the widows, or the children and grandchildren.

τὸν ἴδιον οἶκον εὐσεβεῖν] On hypothesis (1),—to behave piously towards, i.e. to rule religiously (Luth.; so vulg.), their own household. This seems somewhat to force εὐσεβεῖν, see below; while the sense of τὸν ἴδιον οἶκον is thus the simple and usual one, as the widow in question would be the head of the household. On hypothesis (2), to behave piously towards, i.e. to honour with the honour which God commands, their own family, i.e. the widowed mother or grandmother who is one of their own family. This sense of εὐσεβής, εὐσέβεια, and εὐσεβέω, is common enough (see especially Palm and Rost’s Lex.): the reference being generally (not always, it is true) to superiors,—those who demand σέβας,—those who stand in the place of God. This sense of τὸν ἴδιον οἶκον is not so usual, but not therefore to be rejected. To dishonour their widowed mother or grandmother, would be to dishonour their own family, in that one of its members who most required respect.

καὶ ἀμοιβὰς ἀποδιδόναι τοῖς προγόνοις] On hypothesis (1), as Chrys., ἀπῆλθον ἐκεῖνοι· οὐκ ἠδυνήθης αὐτοῖς ἀποδοῦναι τὴν ἀμοιβήν· οὐ γὰρ δὴ καὶ αὐτὴ ἐγέννησας ἐκείνους, οὐδὲ ἀνέθρεψας. ἐν τοῖς ἐκγόνοις αὐτοῦ ἀμείβου· ἀποδίδου τὸ ὀφείλημα διὰ τῶν παιδῶν. But surely it is a very strange way of requiting one’s progenitors for their care of us, to be kind towards our own children: and besides, what would this have to do with the question, whether or not the widow was to be put on the charity roll of the church? But on hypothesis (2), this sentence certainly becomes more clear and natural. Let them, the children or grandchildren, learn first to be piously grateful to (these members of) their own families, and to give back returns (a return in each case) to their progenitors (so called, although living, because, the mother and grandmother having been both mentioned, πρόγονοι was the only word which would include them in one category).

τοῦτο γὰρ …] see ch. 1 Timothy 2:3.

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George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Let her (2) learn first, &c. He gives this as a mark to know if widows deserve to be maintained out of the common stock; if they have been careful of their own family, and to assist their parents, if yet alive. In most Greek copies, and in the Syriac, is read, let them learn; i.e. let the children and grandchildren learn to govern their family, and to assist their parents, whey they are widows; that, as it is said ver. 16. the Church may not be burthened with maintaining them. (Witham) --- Let her render to her children the same good services she has received from her parents, that she may also expect from them what is her due as mother. (Theodoret)



Discat, in moat Greek copies, discant, Greek: manthanetosan. Yet St. John Chrysostom in his commentary, (Greek: log. ig.) expounds it of the widow.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 Timothy 5:4-8. There are two opposing views regarding the explanation of this section. (1) The view upheld by the majority of recent commentators, de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Plitt, which is as follows. Paul is giving Timothy instructions to support the “real” widows. From these he distinguishes (1 Timothy 5:4 being in contrast with 1 Timothy 5:3) the widow who has children or grandchildren, because they are able and ought to care for her. With μανθανέτωσαν we should supply as subject τέκνα ἔκγονα, and we should understand by τὸν ἴδιον οἶκον and τοῖς προγόνοις the widowed mother or grandmother. 1 Timothy 5:5 contrasts again with 1 Timothy 5:4; καὶ μεμονωμένη explains the signification of ὄντως χήρα. The predicate ἤλπικε κ. τ. λ. denotes the life-work which the “right,” i.e. the forsaken, widow has to fulfil, her fulfilment of it being a necessary condition of receiving support. 1 Timothy 5:6 declares negatively what conduct the apostle expects from an ὄντως χήρα, and to such conduct Timothy (1 Timothy 5:7) is to exhort them. At 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul returns to 1 Timothy 5:4, τις referring to the widows’ relations, and τῶν ἰδίων καὶ μάλιστα [ τῶν] οἰκείων to the widows themselves.—(2) The view upheld by most older and some recent commentators, especially Matthies and Hofmann, which is as follows. After enjoining on Timothy to honour the “real” widows, Paul first directs the widows who have children or grandchildren (still uncared for), to show these all loving care, and thereby recompense the love shown to themselves by their parents. The subject of μανθανέτωσαν is τις χήρα (as a collective idea); τὸν ἴδιον οἶκον are the children or grandchildren, and οἱ πρόγονοι the dead parents of the widow. 1 Timothy 5:5 describes the “real” widow as one who in her loneliness leads a life pious and consecrated to God; and as a contrast to this we have the picture of a wanton widow in 1 Timothy 5:6. In 1 Timothy 5:8, again (1 Timothy 5:4), widows who have relations needing their care are again reminded of the duty of this care.(172)

Each of these views has its difficulties. Against the second view, the supporters of the first maintain the following points:—(1) that as 1 Timothy 5:4 is in contrast with 1 Timothy 5:3, and 1 Timothy 5:5 in contrast again with 1 Timothy 5:4 ( δέ), the χήρα spoken of in 1 Timothy 5:4 cannot be regarded as belonging to the ὄντως χήραις; and (2) that as εὐσεβεῖν (1 Timothy 5:4) applies more naturally to the conduct of children towards their mother (or grandmother) than vice versâ, and as the thought: the widow is by her care for her children to make recompense for the care shown to herself by her parents, is “somewhat far-fetched” (de Wette), the ὄντως χήρα can only mean the widow with no relations for whom it is her duty to care.

But the first view has also its difficulties. If we adopt it, we find it strange that the apostle should not have written simply αὐτήν for τὸν ἴδιον οἶκον, and αὐτῇ for τοῖς προγόνοις, all the more that οἱ πρόγονοι is a name for “progenitors.” Further, πρῶτον, which Wiesinger translates inaccurately by “before all,” does not get its full force. It is arbitrary to understand by τέκνα ἔκγονα, grown-up children, especially as the expression τέκνα ἔχειν makes the children appear dependent on the mother (comp. 1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:6). De Wette says regarding 1 Timothy 5:5 : The author would have more clearly said: “Remind a true and forsaken widow to whom thou dost give support, that it falls upon her to show an example of confidence in God and of continual prayer;” but we can hardly think that the apostle would have expressed this thought in such an uncertain way. Even the three repetitions of the same thought in 1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16, is at least very strange. Finally, the idea of money-support, on which this view lays all stress, is purely imported. These difficulties are too considerable for us to regard the first view as right in spite of them.(173)

De Wette and Wiesinger are certainly right in regarding 1 Timothy 5:4 as contrasted with 1 Timothy 5:3, and 1 Timothy 5:5 with 1 Timothy 5:4, as well as in thinking that the word μεμονωμένη sets forth the apostle’s mark of the ὄντως χήρα; but they are not justified in inferring that in 1 Timothy 5:4 he is speaking of a widow with relations who can take care of her. Why, in that case, should the apostle in 1 Timothy 5:5 have said regarding the ὄντως χήρα, that she was to προσμένειν ταῖς δεήσεσι καὶ ταῖς προσευχαῖς, and to do so νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας, for all this is in no way opposed to what is said in 1 Timothy 5:4? The προσμένειν leads us to suppose that the apostle was thinking of a widow who had not to care for relations.

The right view will accordingly be this. After exhorting Timothy to honour the “real” widows (see on 1 Timothy 5:3), Paul distinguishes from these ὄντως χήραις, in the first place, the one who is not forsaken, but has children or grandchildren (not grown up); and he lays it on her as a duty not to neglect them. Then he describes the conduct of the “real” or forsaken widow, who has therefore no ἴδιον οἶκον, showing what beseems her in her position in life as a Christian widow; so that he is contrasting the widow who works diligently for her own, and the lone widow who continues day and night in prayer. As opposed to the latter (or even to both), he mentions in 1 Timothy 5:6 the χήρα σπαταλῶσα, who is, however, to be considered as dead, because her conduct is in entire contradiction with her widowed state. Then there is a natural transition to the exhortation in 1 Timothy 5:7, which gives the apostle an opportunity for uttering, in 1 Timothy 5:8, a general maxim in order to impress once more on the widow with relations to care for, the exhortation in 1 Timothy 5:4.—1 Timothy 5:4. τέκνα ἔκγονα] ἔκγονα here (in connection with τέκνα) means the “grandchildren” ( τέκνα τέκνων, Hesychius).(174) In classical usage, ἔκγονος is usually the son ( ἔκγονος, the daughter), but also the grandson; τὰ ἔκγονα denotes properly posterity (comp. Wisd. 40:15, 44:11, 45:13, 47:22; synonymous with τὸ σπέρμα).

μανθανέτωσαν] The subject for this verb might be taken from the object in the protasis; but the formation of the sentence is more correct, if we take the subject of the protasis ( τις χήρα) to be the subject here also. τις χήρα is then a collective idea, and takes the plural. Winer, too (p. 586 [E. T. p. 787]), supports this opinion.

πρῶτον] viz., before they give themselves up to the care of the church for them, with special reference to what follows: χήρα καταλεγέσθω, 1 Timothy 5:9, or better perhaps: “before she makes work for herself outside the house” (Hofmann).

τὸν ἴδιον οἶκον εὐσεβεῖν] The term οἶκον likewise shows that he is speaking not of the things which the children are to do for their widowed mother (or grandmother), but of the things which the widows as mothers are to do for the children; because the mother or grandmother does not necessarily belong to the οἶκος of a grown-up son or grandson, whereas the children not grown up necessarily belong to the οἶκος of the widowed mother. The meaning therefore is: they are not to forsake their house, i.e. their children or grandchildren. The term εὐσεβεῖν is used to show that the house is a temple to whose service they are to devote themselves. Matthies inaccurately translates: “practise piety in regard to one’s own house.” οἶκον is not the accusative of reference, but purely an objective accusative; comp. Acts 17:23, and Meyer on the passage. “To honour one’s house” is therefore equivalent to serving it with pious heart;(175) Luther’s translation: “rule divinely,” is not to the point.

καὶ ἀμοιβὰς ἀποδιδόναι τοῖς προγόνοις] According to the context, the meaning is this: the widows by the εὐσεβεῖν of their house, i.e. by their pious care for their children and grandchildren, are to recompense the love shown to themselves by their parents. Chrysostom: ἀπῆλθον ἐκεῖνοι ( οἱ πρόγονοιοὐκ ἠδυνήθῃς αὐτοῖς ἀποδοῦναι τὴν ἀμοιβὴν· ἐν τοῖς ἐκγόνοις ἀμειβοῦ· ἀποδίδου τὸ ὀφείλημα διὰ τῶν παίδων. Though this thought is peculiar, it is neither ingenious (de Wette) nor far-fetched (Wiesinger).

ἀμοιβή, in the N. T. ἅπαξ λεγόμ.; ἀμοιβ. ἀποδιδόναι, Euripides, Orestes, 467.

οἱ πρόγονοι, in contrast with the previous τὰ ἔκγονα: the progenitors; in the N. T. only here and 2 Timothy 1:3. It would be against usage to understand by it the (widowed) mother or grandmother who is still alive.

τοῦτο γάρ ἐστι ἀπόδεκτον κ. τ. λ.] comp. 1 Timothy 2:3.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Rules for correction and care - 1

1 Timothy 5:1-13

1Ti_5:1. Do not sharply and harshly rebuke an older believer. Paul recommends gentleness and kindness in correcting faults. Besides, Timothy was a young man; and while older believers are not to be spared and indulged in error or sin, they are to be reproved and corrected as parents. They are to be in-treated, which is a kinder approach than a rebuke. It is to make an earnest appeal with respect.

Even toward young men, the preacher is to use moderation and kindness in correction and deal with them as brothers (2 Timothy 2:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:7). Erring believers are not strangers and enemies but brothers, whose age, office, and relationship are not to be forgotten in times of offense.

1 Timothy 5:2. When older women offend and err, they are to be reasoned and pleaded with as children should with their mothers; for these older women are mothers in Israel and are to be treated with great tenderness and respect.

The young women, using the freedom as a brother would with a sister, are to be told their faults freely but privately or in such a manner as to preserve their purity in the eyes of the congregation. Let none, old nor young, be held up for ridicule or shame; but let their failures be handled as one would the infirmities of a beloved father, brother, mother, or sister. All of us are careful to protect the reputation, character, and feelings of our parents, brothers, and sisters. We are slow to expose, reluctant to offend, and refuse to inform others of their failures; but we rather deal with them tenderly and privately. This should be even more true of our spiritual family.

1 Timothy 5:3. ‘Honor widows that are widows indeed.’ By the word ‘honor’ Paul does not mean an expression of respect; for all believers are to be respected, honored, and held in high regard. But this is the special care, maintenance, and support given from the church fund to those in need. If widows are taken under the protection, support, and care of the church, it should be clearly established that they are without support, that they are indeed widows without children nor family to provide for them.

1 Timothy 5:4. If a woman's husband is dead and she has children or grandchildren, see to it that these are first made to understand that it is their duty and natural obligation to show kindness to their parents and provide for them, as their parents provided for them when they were children. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God. No believer will shift to the church his own responsibility to care for his mother.

1 Timothy 5:5-7. Paul expresses his meaning more clearly. If a woman is really alone, has no children, no support, and has fixed her hope in Christ, if she continues in faith and in the fellowship of the believers, not departing from the church and the gospel, she is to be enrolled with those supported fully from the church funds.

But those ought not be received for support who are self-indulgent, indifferent, and living careless lives. If one lives like an unbeliever, it is usually safe to assume that she IS an unbeliever and is not the responsibility of the church.

It is the duty of the pastor to inform the church and those who petition for help of these matters so that proper action may be taken, that none who are worthy be neglected, and that none abuse the privilege.

1 Timothy 5:8. If anyone fails to provide for his own relatives in need, and especially for his own parents and children, he has disowned the faith of Christ by failing to accompany that profession of faith with works and is worse than an unbeliever who performs his obligations in these matters (James 2:17-19).

1 Timothy 5:9-10. Let no widow be put on full support by the church who is under sixty years of age. Those who are still young and in good health should be able to support themselves. ‘Having been the wife of one man’ has to do with divorces, since remarriage after the death of one's mate is encouraged!

The widows over sixty who are enrolled for full support by the church are to be dedicated believers who have proved that dedication and faith by consecration, good works, and loyalty through the years.

1 Timothy 5:11-13. Do not hastily enroll the younger widows in this program of support and care; for when they become restless and their natural desires grow strong, they may marry again outside the faith, which will cause problems for them and discouragement and difficulty for those who have supported them. They incur condemnation for leaving and denying the faith and their pledge to Christ. Also, younger widows who are idle are tempted to spend their idle hours visiting among other women and talking about things they should not talk about. When the hands are idle, the tongue is usually very active.

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Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 2013.

Hamilton Smith's Writings

5 Warnings against Worldliness and Instruction in Piety

( 1 Timothy 5)

Having warned against the evil of some who will apostatise from Christianity and adopt a false religion of the flesh, the apostle now warns us against evils that may arise from worldliness within the Christian circle, and instructs how to deal with the needs of God"s people so that nothing may be allowed that would be an occasion for reproach and thus hinder the testimony of God"s grace before the world.

(a) The spirit in which wrongs are to be dealt with (verses1, 2)

Occasions may arise when evils are manifested in the Christian circle that rightly call for rebuke. Nevertheless, in administering rebuke we are to recognise what is due to age and sex, and thus be careful that the rebuke is given in a right spirit. The rebuke may be right and yet have no effect, or even do harm, because of the wrong spirit in which it is given. A right rebuke in a wrong spirit is simply meeting the flesh in the flesh.

Age is to be respected, even if rebuke is called for. An elder brother is not to be rebuked sharply (N.T.), but exhorted with all the deference that a son would pay to a father. The younger men are not to be treated as of little account, but rebuked with love as brethren, the elder women with the deference due to a mother. Younger women are to be dealt with in "all purity", thus avoiding the careless familiarity that nature might adopt.

Thus in all our dealings with one another the manner is to be such that nothing is done that would outrage propriety and give occasion for scandal.

(b) Instruction as to meeting the needs of God"s people and warnings against self-indulgence in temporal things (verses3-16)

(V:3). Firstly, we are instructed to pay due regard to widows who are "widows indeed". A "widow indeed" is not simply a person bereft of her husband, but one marked by certain moral qualities. Whether in need or not, such are to be held in honour.

(V:4). If, however, such are in temporal need, let the descendants prove their practical piety by rendering a return to their parents, for this is good and acceptable before God. Here again we see that piety brings God into all the details of life, and seeks to act in a way that is pleasing to God.

(V:5). The apostle then gives us the beautiful marks of one that is a "widow indeed". She is desolate, being without human resources; her confidence is in God- she "trusteth in God" - and she is dependent upon God, for she "continueth in supplications and prayers night and day."

(V:6). In contrast with the widow indeed, the apostle warns us against any in the house of God abandoning themselves to "habits of self-indulgence" (N.T.). Such are dead while living. We are exhorted to reckon ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus ( Romans 6:11). We cannot live to self and God at the same time. If living to self we are living to sin, which is lawlessness, or the indulgence of our own wills. Habits of self-indulgence must bring in spiritual death between the soul and God.

(V:7). Such warnings are necessary in order that, walking in piety, every one in the house of God may not only be acceptable and pleasing to God but also blameless before men.

(V:8). For a Christian to fail in providing for his own, and especially for those of his own house, is to sink below what is natural, and thus deny the faith of Christianity which sanctions these natural relationships and teaches us to respect them. It is thus possible for a Christian, if acting in the flesh, to behave in a way that is "worse than the unbeliever."

(Vv9, 10). There may, however, be needy individuals in the Christian circle, who have no relatives to provide for them. Such should be put upon the list of those who can be rightly cared for by the assembly. Nevertheless, one must take care not to use the house of God as if it were merely an institution for supporting needy people.

Grace may, indeed, on occasions help the most abandoned. Here it is a question of suitability for inclusion in a list of those who receive regular assistance from the Lord"s people. Such must, by their lives, have proved their fitness for such help. In persons of normal health, the one suited for the list must be of an age when, under ordinary circumstances, she would no longer be able to work for her living; she must have been the wife of one husband, and one to whom an honourable testimony is borne by reason of her good works in bringing up children, in having shown kindness to strangers, in having refreshed the saints, comforted the afflicted, and, indeed, followed every good work.

Very blessedly this Scripture shows how much a godly woman can do that is pleasing to God and in helping the Lord"s people. The omissions, however, are as striking as the good works that are enumerated. Nothing is said about teaching or preaching or, indeed, anything that would bring the woman into prominence in a public way contrary to the order of God"s house.

(Vv11-13). The younger widows are not to be put upon the list. To provide for such, as in the case of widows indeed, would lead them to forget Christ as their one Object, and instead have before them simply the desire of remarrying, and thus become guilty of casting off their first faith. It is thus possible, not only to lose our first love, but to cast off our first faith which, at the start of our Christian life, made Christ the great Object.

Moreover, to put the younger widows on the list would only encourage them in idleness and thus become a snare, for their idleness would lead them to wander from house to house as "gossipers and meddlers" (N.T.). A gossiper repeats tales and tittle-tattle to the disadvantage of others; a meddler interferes in the affairs of others, freely expressing opinions about matters which are not his concern. In neither case is there any thought of helping the needy, or seeking to put right any wrong, but rather the indulgence of the flesh in its love of slander. Gossipers and meddlers, whether repeating what is false or true, are in either case "speaking things which they ought not." The preacher says, "He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets ( Proverbs 20:19); and, again, "Every fool will be meddling" ( Proverbs 20:3). The law says, "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people" ( Leviticus 19:16). Christianity warns us against "wandering about from house to house" as "gossipers and meddlers".

What names have been wasted and broken;

What pestilent sinks have stirred

By a word in lightness spoken-

By only an idle word!

(V:14). The judgment of the apostle is that the younger women should marry and find their proper sphere of activity in the home-life, bringing up children and guiding the house. Whether elders are addressed, or widows, or the younger women, all are to remember that they form part of the house of God, and in God"s house nothing is to be allowed that will give occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

(V:15). Through the neglect of these instructions some indeed had already turned aside after Satan. They might not admit or realise the seriousness of their course; but, evidently, to grow careless or wanton in relation to Christ would lead to the soul being beguiled by Satan and turning aside to the devil"s temptations.

(V:16). Widows in the families of Christians are to be relieved by the family, leaving the assembly free to assist those who are widows indeed.

(c) The needs of elders (verses17-21)

The apostle passes on to instruct us as to meeting the needs of those who hold a position as official elders, and the spirit in which any charges of evil against such are to be met.

(Vv17, 18). The work of the elders was to take the lead in the assemblies of God"s people (N.T.). They are responsible to see that godly order is maintained in public and private. Honour was due to an elder as such; those who did their work well were to be counted worthy of double honour, especially those who, besides caring for the saints, laboured in word and teaching. Moreover, their temporal needs were not to be forgotten. Both the Old Testament and the New are quoted, as having equal authority as Scripture, to press our responsibility to help the labourer ( Deuteronomy 25:4; Luke 10:7).

(V:19). The elder, by reason of his service, would be more liable than others to misunderstanding and detraction. His having at times to deal with faults in others could lead to resentment and ill-feeling which might manifest itself in malicious accusation. There might, indeed, be just cause for an accusation, but it was not to be received apart from witnesses.

(Vv20, 21). Offenders, whether elders or not, whose faults have been fully proved by adequate witnesses, are to be rebuked before all that others may fear. Nevertheless, everything in the way of rebuke is to be done, not simply before others, but "before God" whose house we are, before the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Son over God"s house, and before the elect angels who are ministers of those who form the house. Thus the rebuke would be without "prejudice" that would form a judgment without duly considering the whole matter, and without partiality that would prefer one before another.

(d) Care in the expression of fellowship (verse22)

(V:22). In Scripture to lay hands on another is the sign of fellowship, rather than the communication of authority as Christendom teaches. False liberality may affect large-heartedness by carelessly extending fellowship to those who are pursuing a wrong course. We may thus put our sanction on evil and partake of other men"s sins. We are to keep ourselves pure, an injunction that clear proves we may be defiled by our associations.

(e) Instruction as to bodily needs (verse23)

(V:23). The needs of a weak and suffering body are not to be neglected. Timothy was to "use a little wine" on account of his stomach and "frequent illnesses". Timothy is not blamed for his illnesses, nor is it suggested that their frequent occurrence proves any lack of faith on his part; nor is he exhorted to seek that elders should lay hands on him or even pray for his healing. He is bidden to use an ordinary remedy. Nevertheless, it is "a little wine" and to be used for the sake of a weak stomach. Thus there is no excuse, in the apostle"s advice, for taking an excess of wine or using it for mere self-indulgence.

(f) Warning against judging by appearances (verses24, 25)

(V:24). In judging of our associations with others we have to guard against being deceived by appearances. The sins of some are so open that there can be no question as to their character and condemnation. Others may be equally evil and yet deceive by a fair show in the flesh. Nevertheless, their sins will pursue them to judgment.

(V:25). This may be true of those in whom grace has wrought. With some it is obvious that their good works proclaim their true character. Others may be equally the subjects of grace and yet their works may be less public. In due time all will come to light.

As we read the apostle"s instructions and warnings we may well take heed to the word, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" ( 1 Corinthians 10:12). From the exhortations of the chapter it is evident that the believer can fall into a condition in which he lies in habits of self-indulgence (verse6); he can act in a way that is worse than an unbeliever and thus deny the faith (verse8); can wax wanton against Christ and thus cast off the first faith (verse11); can become an idle wanderer from house to house, gossiping and meddling in the affairs of others (verse13); and can turn aside after Satan (verse15).

Moreover, as we read the instructions, we learn that those who compose the house of God should seek to live in a way that is good and acceptable before God (verse4); blameless before men (verse7); giving no occasion for reproach (verse14).

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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". 1832.

The Bible Study New Testament

4. Children or grandchildren. In normal family relationships, it is the Lord’s will that children and grandchildren take care of their parents and grandparents. See 1 Timothy 5:8.




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ironside's Notes on Selected Books

Chapter 11 The Church's Responsibility in Temporal Things

1 Timothy 5:1-16

Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan. 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, (vv. 1-16)

We hear a great deal today in many quarters about the Social Gospel, and by that is meant the implication that the one great business of the church of God in the world is to try to better the temporal circumstances of those among whom it ministers. Many churches have given up, to a large extent, the preaching of the gospel of Christ in order to devote themselves to this Social Gospel. There should be no question as to the fact that from the earliest days of the church, immediately following Pentecost, Christians did recognize that they had a responsibility to those among them who were in need and distress. We are told in Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” But our great business is to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The Lord Himself gives gifts to teach and preach that the church may be built up in the things of God.

As Christians go on with the Lord, they will recognize their duty toward those in less comfortable circumstances than themselves. In other passages of the New Testament we have emphasized for us our responsibility as Christians to think of the needy and the suffering.

I remember years ago when working among the Navaho Indians in the southwest down in Arizona and New Mexico, we were having a workers’ conference at one time. There came out from the East a representative of one of the larger denominations which was given to a great extent to this so-called “Social Gospel.” He was speaking one afternoon, and said that he had been shocked as he traveled over the reservation and saw something of the filth and poverty in which many of the Indians lived. Turning to one of the missionaries he said, “My brother, I think your first responsibility is to teach these people the use of soap and water and a toothbrush, and the use of vermin-destroying fluids of some kind or another. You will never be able to make Christians out of them until you show them how to improve their homes and teach them to value cleanliness and decency.”

When the man sat down, one of the young Navaho preachers got up and said something like this: “I was very much interested in what our friend from the East had to say. I never thought our responsibility was to go about and preach a gospel of soap and water. I thought it was to carry the gospel of the cleansing blood of Christ. But after we get one of our Navaho people saved, if he has been used to living in filth, when we go back to visit him we find things are all changed. When they get cleaned up inside then they want things clean outside.” He added, “I don’t want to take issue with our friend who has come to visit us, but I think he is putting the cart before the horse when he insists on the Social Gospel first instead of the gospel of the grace of God.”

Now that young Navaho was right. Many of us with years of experience have observed that there is nothing that changes the outward circumstances of people like having them get right with God in their hearts. But on the other hand, when we do get right with God, we ought to remember that we do have certain social responsibilities.

By the way, while I am speaking of this, let me add one other testimony to that of the Navaho. Many years ago when I was a Salvation Army officer we had gathered for an officers’ council-that is what others would call a ministerial association-and General William Booth himself was addressing us. He talked about the social program that he had proposed in a book that had just then been published titled In Darkest England and the Way Out. General Booth said, “My Comrades, never allow yourselves to put social work before the gospel of the grace of God.” Then to illustrate what he meant he said, “Take a man who has ruined himself by strong drink, has become a confirmed drunkard, beggared his family so that his wife has been separated from him, and his children are in orphan homes. He is just a common drunkard on the street. Take that man and sober him up, get him to sign the pledge and promise never to take another drink, move him out into the country in a new environment, settle him down in a little cottage, teach him a trade if he does not know one, bring back his wife and children, make his home a comfortable one, and then let him die in his sin and go to hell at last! Really it is not worthwhile, and I for one would not attempt it.”

That was General Booth speaking. He was emphasizing the mistake of meeting the physical needs of people rather than the spiritual needs. First of all, get men right with God and other things will follow in due order.

In our epistle the Apostle is putting before Timothy some principles for the church of God. First we have three verses that deal with the matter of Christian courtesy. “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. Honour widows that are widows indeed.” The Christian company was necessarily separated from the world without. When a person became a child of God in those days, he was soon outside the synagogue if a Jew and outside the fellowship of idolatry if a Gentile. These Christians were brought together in very intimate association, and their communion one with another was most precious and intense. But there is always the possibility that when people are thus linked together that they will forget that natural courtesy that should be shown to one another. The Spirit of God stresses the importance of this.

“Rebuke not an elder.” I take it he does not mean an official elder, because he contrasts an elder man with a younger man. He means: Do not rebuke one advanced in years. If such an one needs a word of admonition, go to him in a kindly manner and speak to him as one would speak to a father. But never, as a young man, upbraid an older man, because if you do it will only show your own ill-breeding and your lack of subjection to the Spirit of God. Deal with younger men as brethren. Timothy was a preacher of the Word. He was to look at all younger men in the fellowship as brothers in Christ and treat them as such. He was not to take a place of authority among them, domineering over them, but he was to seek to work with them as on one common level and recognize them as brothers in Christ.

He was to esteem older women as he would his own mother. What a beautiful ideal! He was to look upon a lady who had grown old in the service of the Lord with the same reverent feeling that he would look upon the countenance of his own mother and be ready to help her in any way he could. He was to treat younger women as though they were his sisters, with all purity. That is, never to act toward any young woman in a way he would not like some other man to behave to his own sister.

Widows who had lost their companions and perhaps were left without any visible means of support were to be honored because of the place they held. Homes such as are in operation today to shelter those who have no means of support were not known at that time, and the church had a special responsibility toward the widows for whom no provision had been made. The church still has a definite duty to fulfill to those of its own who are left in poverty and distress because of the decease of their natural providers.

On the other hand, relatives are never to turn over the care of widows to the church if they, themselves, are able to look after these widows. “But if any widow have children or nephews [the word translated nephews really means “descendants”], let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.” If there is an aged sister left a widow and she has sons or daughters or other descendants, they are to understand that they are morally responsible to keep her. They are not to turn her over to some institution to look after her.

The Jews have a very interesting story that they tell of a young Jew who had the responsibility to care for his aged father. The young man married, and his wife was very proud and greatly resented having the care of her father-in-law in the home and having part of their money go to his support. So she was constantly nagging her husband, begging him to send the old gentleman to the Poor Farm. Finally the young man turned to his father and said, “Father, I shall have to take you to the Poor Farm.” The old man wept and pleaded, saying, “My dear boy, I am already seventy-six years of age. Please care for me a few years or months longer. I don’t want to die in the Poor Farm.” But the young man said, “You will have to come with me.” So he placed his hand on the old man’s arm, and they started down the road. On they went, the young man dragging his father by force while the old gentleman complained until they got to a certain tree. Then the old man stopped and said, “No! No! No! I will not go any farther. I didn’t drag my father any farther than this tree!” Is not the lesson plain?

If you are not gracious and kind to the old, the day may come when you yourself will be old and you will reap as you sow. We who can do so are to care for our older relatives. This is just ordinary Christianity in action.

“Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.” That is, one who has been bereft of her husband in advanced age and feels her loss, but trusts in God and spends much time before Him in prayer is a blessing to the entire Christian community to which she belongs.

On the other hand, there are some widows who seem almost glad to have their liberty, and when the husband is dead they rejoice in their freedom. They give themselves to folly and pleasure. So we read, “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” The church has no responsibility to support widows of that kind, and they themselves will have to answer to God for their careless behavior. Notice those words. They apply not only to careless widows but also to anyone else living in pleasure: “dead while she liveth!” The only right life is the life lived to the glory of God.

“And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.” Again the Apostle stresses the responsibility of those who have others dependent upon them.

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” That is a serious word for anyone who refuses to labor and properly take care of wife or children or others dependent upon him. No matter what kind of religious profession a man makes, he has denied the faith and is worse than an utter unbeliever if he neglects his family and leaves them in want when by proper care he could meet their needs.

In the early church certain arrangements were made to provide for these widows. We see this in the sixth chapter of Acts. You remember the first murmuring in the church occurred because of some of the widows of the Greek-speaking Jews complained that they were not as well cared for as the widows of the Palestinian Jews, and that led to the appointment of the seven deacons to handle the distribution of the funds for this purpose.

The Apostle says, “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.” It was these things that entitled a widow to the charity of the church: sixty years of age, presumably unable to earn her own living, a consistent record in the past-that is, she cared for strangers when she had a husband and a home. “If she have washed the saints’ feet.” It was an Oriental way of saying, “If she has been hospitable.” It was a custom in that time, when one wearing sandals entered a home, a servant would bring water, remove the sandals, and bathe the travel-worn feet of the visitor. If the widow had done all these things for the comfort and cheer of her guests, then she certainly was entitled to the care of the church in the time of her bereavement and poverty.

“But the younger widows refuse.” They presumably were able to earn their own living. It was not expected that the church should assume responsibility toward them. If so, it would have encouraged them in idleness. They would not have found it necessary to become employed in any useful calling. “For when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry.” In this way they might have brought discredit upon the church of God. God said to Israel, “Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way?” (Jeremiah 2:36). These young widows, if they had no responsibility, would be in danger of wandering about from house to house. Not only would they be idle, but they might also become tattlers and busybodies, carrying tales from one home to another. When people have nothing else to do they generally set their tongues working overtime. “The tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things” (James 3:5). To avoid idle gossip the younger widows should be gainfully employed.

“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan.” He had evidently heard of some in the church who had thus gone astray.

As he closes this section, Paul again points out the responsibility of the relatives to care for aging widows. “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.” It is just another way of saying, “There will be plenty of people needing the help of their brethren and sisters in Christ, and therefore let those who should care for any who are in such needy circumstances take charge of these distressed ones and not put a needless burden on the church of God.” This was God’s order in the early church, and it is still His order today. It is the business of the church to consider the poor and needy and minister to them as far as it can. On the other hand, it is but right that the members of a family provide for the needs of those related to them, if they can do so, and relieve the church of this additional load.

As children of God we are never to be selfish or stingy in ministering to those who are in poverty and distress. But we are not to encourage laziness, nor should the church be held accountable to support those whose own children can assume their care.




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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. 1914.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Timothy 5:4. ΄ανθανέτωσαν, let them learn) i.e. let the sons learn; and rather the grandsons, for in the correlative progenitors ( τοῖς προγόνοις) alone are mentioned. There is an elegant Metonymy of the antecedent for the consequent; the consequent is, that the widows should remain with their relations (viz. their sons or grandchildren).— πρῶτον τὸν ἴδιον, first their own) before they are put into any public office (duty).— οἷκου εὐσεβεῖν, to treat their family with dutiful affection) We have the same word with the accusative, Acts 17:23. The reason (ground) for the dutiful conduct enjoined, is evident from the end of the verse.— ἀμοιβὰς ἀποδιδόναι τοῖς προγόνοις, to requite their progenitors [parents, Engl. Vers.]) Some think that the duty of widows who have families, is here intended; and Pricæus compares with this passage that of Augustine regarding his mother Monica, She had requited her parents, she had treated her family with pious affection, 1 Timothy 1:9, Confess, 100:9. That saying of the Roman censors in reference to old bachelors is quite in accordance with this: Nature writes in you the law, as of being born, so also of begetting; and your parents, by supporting you, have bound you, if you have any shame, to pay the debt of bringing up grandchildren (for them).—Val. Max., l. 2, c. 4. But the word μανθανέτωσαν, let them learn, and its plural number, shows that the matter under discussion, is the duty of children and grandchildren. Therefore the widow in 1 Timothy 5:5, who has no children, is opposed to the widow who has children, because the former has no one from whom she can receive requital, and she therefore has her hopes placed solely in God.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

if any widow have children — not “a widow indeed,” as having children who ought to support her.

nephews — rather, as Greek, “descendants,” or “grandchildren” [Hesychius]. “Nephews” in old English meant “grandchildren” [Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity, 5.20].

let them — the children and descendants.

learn first — ere it falls to the Church to support them.

to show piety at home — filial piety towards their widowed mother or grandmother, by giving her sustenance. Literally, “to show piety towards their own house.” “Piety is applied to the reverential discharge of filial duties; as the parental relation is the earthly representation of God our heavenly Father‘s relation to us. “Their own” stands in opposition to the Church, in relation to which the widow is comparatively a stranger. She has a claim on her own children, prior to her claim on the Church; let them fulfil this prior claim which she has on them, by sustaining her and not burdening the Church.

parentsGreek, (living) “progenitors,” that is, their mother or grandmother, as the case may be. “Let them learn,” implies that abuses of this kind had crept into the Church, widows claiming Church support though they had children or grandchildren able to support them.

good and — The oldest manuscripts omit. The words are probably inserted by a transcriber from 1 Timothy 2:3.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

If any widow - not "a widow indeed," as having children who ought to support her.

Nephews, [ ekgona (Greek #1549)] - 'descendants,' or 'grandchildren.' Nephews in old English meant grandchildren (Hooker, 'Ecclesiastical Polity,' 5: 20).

Let them - the children and descendants.

Learn first - before calling the church to support them.

To show piety at home - by sustaining their widowed mother or grandmother. [ Ton (Greek #3588) idion (Greek #2398) oikon (Greek #3624) ' ... toward their own house.'] "Piety means reverential dutifulness; the parental relation representing our heavenly Fathers relation to us. 'Their own' is opposed to the church, to which the widow is comparatively a stranger. She has a claim on her own, prior to her claim on the church; let them fulfill this prior claim by sustaining her, and not burdening the church.

Parents, [ progonois (Greek #4269)] - (living) 'progenitors;' i:e., their mother or grandmother. "Let them learn" implies that some widows had claimed church support, though having children or grandchildren able to support them.

Good and 'Aleph (') A C Delta G f g, Vulgate, omit: probably inserted from 1 Timothy 2:3.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Timothy 5:1. Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father. Job’s three princely friends not only mistook his case, but were severe in their reprehensions; and were themselves reprehended of the Lord. Shem and Japhet, on the contrary, covered the error of their father, and obtained a blessing. Noah’s error was solitary, and for the moment, probably ignorant of the power of new wine. It was a spot, but it superseded not his honour as a patriarch, and was only a momentary eclipse of his glory as a prophet. — The word “elder” denotes aged members in the church, as well as presbyters in office, who are entitled first of all to private entreaties. Their public character is sacred, and intimately connected with the prosperity of the church.

1 Timothy 5:3-10. Honour widows who are widows indeed. Some of these were deaconesses, like Phoebe, in the church, whose office corresponded with the matrons of the synagogue. The widow indeed, however poor, trusts in God, and spends her leisure in prayer, and in worship with the church. God has promised bread to such widows. Let her relatives take her home; but if they fail, let the church, after the manner of the synagogue, supply the lack. This favour is conferred on widows who are past the years of labour, which Paul, as a maximum, fixes at sixty. Neither would he admit the widows who had married husband after husband.

1 Timothy 5:17. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour. That is, the presbyters; some of whom were in the simple ages employed at their labour, and edified the flock on the sabbath, and at other times. Those who laboured in the word and doctrine, were, it would seem, men wholly devoted to the ministry; but the most aged and holy, and best qualified of these were called bishops. Hence the distinction gradually took place between bishop, presbyter or priest, as the sexton and deacon. The “double honour” is thought to refer to the firstborn who had a double portion assigned them by the law: and the elders of Israel or magistrates are called presbyters in the Septuagint. Double honour may therefore imply reverence and maintenance. As they give their whole labour to the church, the church should give them bread in return.

1 Timothy 5:19. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Because an elder is a character known for probity, and because the world aim their darts at the leaders of the flock. An elder also, in the exercise of discipline, has faults to reprehend; and those under censure will put the fairest show on their baser conduct.

1 Timothy 5:21. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect or holy angels, that thou observe these things. What charge can be more solemn? Men must be sworn, and in the full and open court of heaven, to do the work of the Lord faithfully, and without partiality. They must be like Levi, who knew not his father or his mother, when the rebels came not to worship at the sound of the trumpet. Ministers are sworn and charged before Jehovah’s presence, for in his presence they must finally be judged.

1 Timothy 5:22. Lay hands suddenly on no man. Time must be allowed to give proof that candidates for the ministry possess the proper spirit and qualifications for their work.

Neither be partaker of other men’s sins, by ordaining novices, or incompetent persons, for the work of the Lord. A young man once came to bishop Horsley for orders, dressed as a gentleman for the chase. What news, young man, said the bishop, from Newmarket? My lord, said he, I have not been at Newmarket. I came to be ordained. Do you think, said the bishop, that I would ordain a horse-jockey? His ordination was of course postponed.

The ministerial charge is a very serious one; the aged Eli lost his life by being partaker of the sins of his sons. All sinners must, after milder means have failed, be put back from the holy communion, lest we should have no real christian church. In the letters addressed to the seven churches in the province of Asia, all the sins of the flock are laid on the pastors’ shoulders, and nearly the whole tribe of Benjamin was cut off for covering the sins of the sons of Belial. Surely our own sins are enow to make us tremble before the great and awful tribunal.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

Ver. 4. Let them learn first to show] Such any one is in truth, as he is at home, Psalms 101:2. The hypocrite’s virtues (as that of the Sarmatians) run all outward. Something he seems abroad, but follow him home, and you shall soon see what he is: follow stage players into their attiring house where they disrobe themselves, and then it will appear they are vile varlets. {a} Like unto this apostolic precept, was that of Chile, one of the wise men of Greece, της αυτου οικιας καλως προστατειν to govern honestly a man’s own family. (Laert. in Vita.)

And to requite their parents] {See Trapp on "Matthew 15:4"} The storks feed their dams when old; though the young kites expel their dams, and with their bills and wings beat them out of their nest. Boughs bend toward their root, &c.

{a} A man or lad acting as an attendant or servant; a menial, a groom. Now arch. ŒD

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Obligations Towards Others

The exhortations in the previous verses concern the personal walk of both Timothy´s and yours. In this chapter the apostle points Timothy at his attitude towards different groups of people in the church:
1. in 1Tim 5:1-2 different age groups;
2. in 1Tim 5:3-16 the widows;
3. in 1Tim 5:17-20 the elders.

The 1Tim 5:21-25 closes the chapter with the exhortation to have nothing to do with partiality and to deal responsibly with others and with his own body.

1Tim 5:1. Like in a family the distinction of age and sex must also be recognized in the house of God. The first indication concerns the "older man" who needs exhortation. Sometimes it is necessary to rebuke an older person. Age doesn't make a person immune for failures. When rebuke is necessary caution is appropriate for the way it happens (Lev 19:32).

An older brother should not be rebuked sharply. 'Sharply rebuke' literally means 'to hit', what indicates here 'to hit with words'. You ought not to raise your voice to such a person. When an older brother should be admonished, it must happen with the sensitivity of a son towards his father. When younger brothers would consider this instruction more in their dealings then a lot of deep-rooted and long lasting conflicts could have been prevented.

The second category you have to deal with are your peers, "the younger men". When you notice something there that is in contrast to God's Word, you should approach them with the sensitivity of true brotherly love. Together with them you participate in the family of God. In that relation it is not appropriate to rebuke them high-handedly as a superior (cf. Job 33:6).

1Tim 5:2. The third category is that of "older women". Like the older men here also the sensitivity of a son towards his mother has to be present. Like the other groups the point is that Timothy should express a family-oriented affection in his conduct and above all respect for the individual.

The fourth category is the most sensitive one. Timothy must really watch out how he approaches "the younger women" in case they need to be corrected. He should deal with them "as sisters, in all purity". The brotherly love should not deteriorate into feelings of the flesh. He must be careful to be inwardly pure of his mind in order to expose a fully upright and transparent behavior. Unclean thoughts, words or deeds must be avoided. If this word was taken to heart by younger believers (and not only by them) then many tragedies that have occurred within the pastoral care in this area, would not have happened.

1Tim 5:3. The fifth category is that of the "widows". Paul extensively pays attention to them. The word 'widow' implies 'bereft, 'having suffered loss'. A 'real widow' is somebody who is really left alone, 'bereft' of her husband. That caused her to be in need. She has no family either to whom she can appeal to.

The Holy Spirit accords much room for the widows (no fewer than fourteen verses), because they are being easily forgotten. That was already the case at the beginning of the church (Acts 6:1), when the believers shared everything together in those days. How much more then this appeal of James has to be heeded to "visit orphans and widows in their distress" (Jam 1:27).

Widows and their children are the objects of the special care of God (Psa 68:6; Psa 146:9). He who takes care of them can count on the blessing of God (Deu 14:29; Deu 24:19). Considering this it should not be difficult to 'honor' or to respect and esteem them. This appropriate respect and esteem will be exposed in the financial support and in surrounding them with serving and caring love. Then the financial support will not have the side-thought of an act of charity to a poor.

In this care of the widow you can see an example of the functioning of the church in other forms of care. One of the aspects to which you can recognize a church according to God's thoughts, is the care that is spent to those who need it. Is there care for those who have spiritual difficulties, for those who risk to give in to certain temptations, for believers who face difficulties in raising their children, for older people?

1Tim 5:4. There can be an inclination to withdraw yourself from caring while it clearly appears on your way. In the case of the widows there can be 'children or grandchildren'. Paul points them to their obligations towards their mother or grandmother if she is a widow. They must "first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family". In that way they show respect to God, they deal according to His will. They are not allowed to withdraw themselves from that responsibility by saying that it is a matter the government or the church should be taking care of. The Lord Jesus also condemns sharply the pious motives to withdraw from this obligation (Mt 15:3-6).

He who supports his mother or grandmother who is a widow, doesn't do that only because the Lord desires that. It also ought to happen out of gratitude for what the parents and grandparents have done to them. It is a recognition of the love and care that the parents and grandparents have spent on them. The word "repay" means to meet a responsibility. It has to do with repayment, to give something back. If you find yourself in such a situation you may know that by doing so you are "acceptable before God". You please God by doing that. That's a wonderful exhortation, isn't it?

1Tim 5:5. Not every widow finds herself in the same circumstances. You have seen that there are widows who can rely on their children and grandchildren. But what happens when that's not the case? If it has to be said of a widow that she "is a widow indeed and who has been left alone"? 'Left alone' emphasizes that this widow really has no one to rely on. She is permanently alone and left.

Then God remains her reliance. While she has no one to rely on, God remains her great refuge. She can put her trust and hope in Him. Constantly she may go to Him, incessantly draw near to Him and ask whatever she needs. In Anna you find a beautiful example of that (Lk 2:36-38). She was not occupied with her own need. She was occupied with the need God's people were in.

Don't you think that such widows are a blessing to the church? They do not expect their help to come from the church, but from God. Right in the middle of their vulnerable condition of dependency they feel how much they need to have fellowship with God. "Night and day" doesn't mean unceasingly, but without having anything between her and God. It shows that she has a continual fellowship with God.

1Tim 5:6. Such an attitude is in sharp contrast to that of her "who gives herself to wanton pleasure". Then there is no mention of being focused on God and expecting all help from Him. That widow "is dead even while she lives". Not every real widow is needy. There are those who are in a financially strong position and who use that to live "in wanton pleasure". She who lives like that, lacks the blessing of dependency on God. The spiritual life of such a person is not visible. She lives indeed, but without involving God in her life. You may say that she is actually dead.

To live 'in luxury and pleasure' (Jam 5:5) indicates a wasteful way of life. There is no room for God. It is the mentality of "let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (1Cor 15:32).

Now read 1 Timothy 5:1-6 again.

Reflection: How is your relation towards the different groups that are mentioned here? Do you see a particular category to which you may spend some care?

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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Timothy 5:4". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Pastoral Care of the Aged, the Young, the Widows.

v. 1. Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father, and the younger men as brethren,

v. 2. the elder women as mothers, the younger as sisters, with all purity.

v. 3. Honor widows that are widows indeed.

v. 4. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents; for that is good and acceptable before God.

v. 5. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

v. 6. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

v. 7. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.

v. 8. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Having given his young assistant various rules of conduct concerning his own person, the apostle now delivers certain precepts to him regarding his conduct toward the members of the various stations in the congregation. He instructs Timothy first of all about the manner in which he should administer certain exhortations: An older man do not scold, but admonish him like a father, the younger men like brothers, the older women like mothers, the younger like sisters, with all purity. Although the tendency toward certain sins varies with the age, it remains true that transgressions of God's holy will occur in every station of life, and that the number of years which a person has lived have little influence upon the activity of the evil nature, certain sins even having a tendency to become ruling sins in later life, if a Christian has not always battled against them with might and main. It becomes the duty of the faithful pastor, therefore, occasionally to administer reproofs from the Word of God. Much depends, in that case, upon the manner in which this unpleasant, but necessary duty is carried out. If it is an older man whose transgression comes into consideration, the reproof should pot take the form of harsh censure, of severe objurgation, of violent scolding, in spite of the fact that many sins are peculiarly offensive if committed by the aged. There is no conflict of duties here. As teacher of the congregation the minister is obliged to apply the necessary reproof on the basis of the Word of God. But since, according to the Fourth Commandment, the honoring of older persons is demanded, the admonition must be made with respect and reverence. The aged man that has sinned should rather be exhorted, as a loving son would speak to his father whom he perceives to have fallen into some offense. If younger men are in need of reproof, this should not be administered in a spirit of superiority and lordliness, but with the fine tact that makes use of brotherly well-wishing, not, however, with a patronizing, condescending air. Toward older women that stood in need of correction Timothy was to assume the same attitude of respect as toward older men. While showing all due respect for their hoary heads, he must carry out the work of his office with all earnestness. The most difficult cases might be those of younger women, where there is always danger of misunderstanding. Toward these Timothy should therefore assume the role of brother, applying the Word of God with all earnestness and avoiding even the faintest suspicion of an interest which is not compatible with the purity demanded by the Sixth Commandment.

The apostle now inserts a special paragraph concerning the station of widows, whose treatment in the congregations had offered some difficulties from the very beginning: Honor widows that really are widows. The word which the apostle here uses is not to be confined to the care for the bodily maintenance, but includes the entire respectful treatment which the Lord demands toward older persons in the Fourth Commandment. This respect will, as a matter of course, be shown also in actual deeds of kindness, in providing for their livelihood whenever that seems necessary. At the same time the apostle is careful to define the term which he uses by stating that he has reference to such women as are really widows, as belong into the class of such persons for whom the Fourth Commandment demands respect, Psa_68:5; Job_1:16; Pro_15:25.

That Paul here has special reference to widows that are absolutely alone in the world, and thus have no one to give them the honor and the care which they ought to have, is shown by his explanation: But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety at home and to return full compensation to the parents; for this is acceptable before God. In case a woman that is a widow still has children or offspring in the wider sense, including nephews and grandchildren, living, these relatives have a duty to perform in her behalf, a duty which devolves upon them through the Fourth Commandment, that of providing for the maintenance of their aged relative with all respect. This duty they should learn first, rather than expect the congregation to make provision for such as are forsaken by their own flesh and blood. In this way the children show piety, they practice religion in the proper manner, and they return, at least in some measure, some compensation which they owe the mother or grandmother. Such behavior is in accordance with the will of God, it is acceptable to Him, it finds favor in His sight.

Having shown what widows do not properly come under the heading "widows indeed," which ones are not included among those for whom the congregation must provide, he now describes one that is bereft of all human assistance: But the really forlorn widow has her hope set on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. Here is a brief, but very fitting description of a Christian widow as she should be. That she is without a provider among men, that she is utterly forsaken and alone, this fact commends her to the care of the congregation as a matter of course. Such cases are met with, also in our days, where some poor widow has lost both husband and children, and is gradually forsaken also by such as were formerly her friends. It is then that the power of the Christian religion, of her faith in God, exerts itself. She has set her hope and trust in God, her confidence in the Lord of her salvation is unshaken. To Him she therefore turns in continual trusting prayer and supplication; she casts her cares upon Him who is the Father of the fatherless and the God of the widows, who provides for all their wants in His own manner. A widow whom this description fits, who has the example of Anna in the Temple before her continually, is herewith commended to the loving, honoring care of the congregation.

A widow of the opposite kind is also sketched by the apostle: She, however, that indulges in voluptuousness is dead while she lives. here is a widow that has cast faith and a good conscience overboard and yields to the temptation to lead a life of sin and shame. The apostle describes her conduct as an indulging in dissipation, voluptuousness, whereby all chastity, decency, and shame is trodden under foot; for such a woman deliberately uses the charms of her sex to allure men, her object being to gain the means for a life of ease and pleasure. The apostle's verdict upon such a one is that she is dead while she is living. This temporal life she is indeed still possessing,—that she is enjoying to the limit,—but she has lost the one true life, the life in and with God; she is lying in spiritual death, whose end is eternal damnation.

No wonder that St. Paul adds the remark, for the sake of these widows as well as for the relatives of such as were in need: These things set up as a rule that they may be irreproachable. The children and relatives should at all times remember their duty toward one whom the Lord has entrusted to their care; and the widows should guard against the temptation to indulge in a life of sin and shame, of prodigality and wastefulness. It is an admonition which must be made a rule, which must be held before those for whom it is intended time and again, lest they yield to an attack of Satan and fall into some snare prepared by him. It is the Lord's will that all Christians, and therefore also those to whom these special admonitions are directed, should be without blame, should conduct themselves so as to be free from just censure.

The apostle, moreover, draws a general conclusion from the discussion, makes a general rule: But if any one does not provide for his own people, and especially for those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. The Lord has distinctly stated that the support of forsaken widows rests, first of all, upon the relatives as a sacred duty. Speaking in a wider sense, His apostle now makes it the duty of every one, man or woman, young or old, to discharge the debt which relationship imposes. If anyone neglects his near relatives and, above all, the members of his own family, that are connected with him by the bonds of the closest blood relationship, he clearly shows that he has no love for them. But this, in turn, is evidence of the fact that true faith no longer dwells in his heart, that he has repudiated the faith that ever did have its home there. Even an unbeliever, an infidel, a heathen, that has not yet felt the power of the Holy Ghost in the Word, would be ashamed to become guilty of such behavior, of abandoning his nearest relatives to a miserable fate. Worse than such an infidel, therefore, is a person that bears the name of Christian, and yet refuses to perform one of the chief duties demanded of him.

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Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical


Directions in reference to the Management of the Community

A.—How Timothy must conduct himself toward aged and young persons of both sexes in the community, and especially toward the widows

1 Timothy 5:1-16

1Rebuke not an elder [an aged man], but entreat him as a father; [,] and the younger men as brethren; [,] 2The elder women as mothers; [,] the younger 3 as sisters, with [in] all purity.[FN1] Honor widows that are widows indeed 4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that[FN2] is good and acceptable before God 5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God,[FN3] and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day 6 But she that liveth in pleasure, is dead while she liveth.[FN4] 7And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless 8 But if any provide[FN5] not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel 9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one Prayer of Manasseh, 10Well reported of for good works; [,] if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet [feet of saints], if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work 11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton[FN6] against Christ, they will marry; [,] 12Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith [have laid aside = turned away from their first fidelity]. 13And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; [,] and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not 14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully 15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.[FN7] 16If any man or woman that believeth[FN8] have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; [,] that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.


1 Timothy 5:1. An elder. After the Apostle, at the close of the previous chapter, has given Timothy his general exhortation and counsel as to the conduct of his high office, he passes to a more exact view of his duty in the guidance of the church, with special reference to persons of differing positions, age, and sex. Melanchthon: “Addit admonitiones particulares aliquot de negotiis forensibus et æconomicis, et insigne testimonium Esther, quod Deo placeant officia debita cognatis.”—An elder, πρεσβυτέρῳ; not an elder in the official sense, as is plain from the contrast with the νεωτέροι, but a member of the church, provectioris ætatis.—Rebuke not; that Isaiah, in case he has been guilty of some offence, reprove him not with violence and severity, noli eum inerepare. Youthful zeal and impulse might easily mislead Timothy in this, since many sins are really more offensive when committed by the aged.—But entreat him as a father. Act toward him as a right-minded son would to a father whom he perceives to have fallen into wrong.—The younger men as brethren, sc., παρακάλει, without any self-exaltation over them. Timothy must thus exhort all, without distinction; but the tone and manner and spirit of his words must be modified according to the differing circumstances of those whom he addressed.

1 Timothy 5:2. The elder women purity. He must keep toward the elder women the same conduct as toward the elder men. In respect to the younger women of the church, he is reminded most emphatically of the duty of ἁγνείᾳ. Grammatically, this requirement may be referred to all the preceding clauses, but logically it belongs only to νεωτέρας. Although the ἁγνείᾳ here urged consists first in chastity, its whole force is not thus exhausted (comp. 1 Timothy 4:12). The conduct of Timothy must be morally pure in its fullest sense, so as to guard himself not only from evil, but from the appearance of evil.—As sisters. Bengel well says: “Hic respectus egregie adjuvat castitatem.”

1 Timothy 5:3. Honor widows. χήρας is entirely general, although afterward different classes among widows are spoken of.—Hold in honor, τίμα; not merely by care and support from the treasury of the church (De Wette), but again quite general: show them the honor and respect that belong to a widow, as well as help in their necessities.—That are widows indeed, τὰς ὄντως χήρας; a more exact description of those widows whom Paul specially commends to Timothy. The following more fully explains his meaning. Those who still have children, or other near kindred, who can and ought to maintain them, are not χήραι in the free sense of the word. That the Apostle chiefly speaks of the outward condition, not of the personal character of widows (Schleiermacher), clearly follows from 1 Timothy 5:4 (comp. also 1 Timothy 5:16). In 1 Timothy 5:5 the Apostle first alludes to the spirit and demeanor of the widow who really deserves the name. In all that concerns the local and temporal view of this subject, the following verse is of special importance; for it is the fullest passage in the whole New Testament, treating of the character, the rights, and the duties of a Christian widow. In 1 Timothy 5:4-8 the Apostle names the widows who can justly claim support from the church; then, in 1 Timothy 5:9-16, the widows who should be or should not be chosen for the service of the church.

1 Timothy 5:4. But if any widow have children or nephews. According to Acts 6:1, widows were almost the first objects of Christian beneficence; and from various evidences in Justin, Ignatius, Eusebius and others, it appears that they were very early regarded with special affection. This beneficence seems, however, to have been soon abused by the indolence of some who had widows among their near relatives, but sought to escape their own duty by giving them to the charge of the church. The church was thus burdened beyond its powers, and Christian love exercised at the cost of natural relationship. Against this wrong condition the precept of the Apostle was directed, and the community was freed from the obligation of sustaining those who had near relatives.—The children or nephews [grandchildren] must learn (μανθανέτωσαν)—not the widows themselves (Matthies)—to shew piety at home. By home is here designated the whole family, inclusive of the widowed mother or grandmother; and the εὐσεβεῖν which Paul sets forth for them, does not mean godly rule (Luther), but the exhibition of a childlike, pious spirit, as becomes the children and grandchildren of such widows. Thus they should requite their parents, especially the widowed, ἀμοιβὰς ἀποδιδόναι; that Isaiah, show thankfulness, by caring for their physical support.—Acceptable before God; who has promised a special blessing on the true fulfilment of filial duty ( Ephesians 6:12; comp. Mark 7:10-11). The connection of this precept is thus quite necessary; and it is a riddle to us how Huther, in his commentary on this passage, otherwise so able, explains these last words not of the duties of the children, but of the widows themselves; i. e., that the widows were to take care of the children and grandchildren, and thereby requite the love which had been shown them by the deceased parents. Even if, as we doubt, no verbal difficulties prevented this exposition—which is defended by Matthies likewise, and many older commentators—it would still be quite unnatural and forced; while, on the other hand, the connection favors our view; and this, too, is in the main also the view of De Wette. Theodoret had already given the correct sense, when he wrote: μανθανέτωσαν τὰ ἔκγονα τιμᾷν τὴν οἰκείαν μητέρα ή̀ μάμμην. That by οἶκος is denoted all the persons belonging to a house, including even the servants, is clear, among several passages, from John 4:53; Acts 16:31.

1 Timothy 5:5. Now she that is a widow indeed, &c. “Viduæ, liberos habenti, opponitur ver.5, vidua, cui non sunt, a quibus mutuam vicem accipit, quæ spes unice in Deo collocatas habet;” Bengel.—A widow indeed, ὄντως χήρα (comp. 1 Timothy 5:3). The word χήρα expresses loneliness; and this idea is now strengthened by the addition to it, and desolate, καὶ μεμονωμένη; i. e., utterly without children or grandchildren who could care for her. It follows of necessity that the church must support such widows; and it is called to their remembrance in 1 Timothy 5:16. But here the Apostle gives a description of the personal disposition of a widow, which contains a like exhortation and comfort. He sketches the character of those whom Timothy should honor ( 1 Timothy 5:3), that he may counsel him as to his own duty as teacher, and as to the requirements which he is carefully to urge on such poor women. “The idea of the true widow is not expressed abstractly, but in concrete, by supposing a real person; and hence instead of the imperative or the optative, the indicative is used (ἤλπικεν and προσμένει), as if some individual widow were described as the representative of all;” Matthies. Of the two traits here mentioned, trusteth in God is indirectly contrasted with trust in children or grandchildren; while the following, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day, is the precise opposite of that disposition which, just afterward, is condemned ( 1 Timothy 5:6) in a word. (On δέησις and προσευχή, see note on 1 Timothy 2:1.) We can scarcely escape the thought that the Apostle, in sketching this character, had before his mind a real person, perhaps the prophetess Anna ( Luke 2:36-38), who, although at the close of the Old Covenant, may be called in many respects the type of the Christian widow.

1 Timothy 5:6. But she that liveth in pleasure, is dead. A true Pauline thought (comp. Romans 8:13), and a fine contrast to the picture of the “widow indeed,” who, while dead to the world and its pleasures, in a higher sense was living. Σπαταλῶσα (comp. James 5:5), according to Hesychius; ἀναλίσκειν ἀσώτως καὶ ἀσώτως ἀλαζονεύεσθαι.—Is dead while she liveth (comp. Matthew 8:22); spoken of a widow with double fitness, “quippe quæ nec naturaliter James, nec spiritualiter frugi sit;” Bengel. That it is to be understood in this sense, that she has no further support to expect from the church-treasury, is neither directly nor indirectly involved in the words of the Apostle. The entire dissolution of the moral life is here represented as a warning, while it is left to the wisdom of Timothy to make the best provision for such cases. As to the expression itself, comp. Revelation 3:1, and the beautiful words of Seneca, Epist. 1 Timothy 71: “Vita mors est et quidem turpis, inter fœda versantibus.”

1 Timothy 5:7. And these things be blameless. Ταῦτα may be in various ways connected with the preceding, either only with 1 Timothy 5:6, or with 1 Timothy 5:3 et sqq., or even with 1 Timothy 5:5-6. The latter seems certainly to deserve the preference; and thus the following words, that they may be blameless, definitely refer to the widows. For children, or other relations who forget their duties to the widows, the Apostle has a much more severe rebuke ( 1 Timothy 5:8). Beyond his careful attention to the physical comfort of widows, he wishes them to strive, as befits Christians, after moral blamelessness, and reflect on his words of encouragement and warning as they concern their personal character. Apart from the question of their claim to support, it is only thus they can be blameless according to the will of the Lord, and ornaments of His Church on earth.

1 Timothy 5:8. But if any provide not for his own. The Epistle turns now from the widows, to those on whom first (πρῶτον, 1 Timothy 5:4) rests the duty of their support, and who, if they perversely refuse this sacred debt, deserve a sharp censure. It Isaiah, indeed, quite indefinite; εἰ δέ τις, κ.τ.λ., and therefore it may rightly be taken as a general exhortation, implying the duty of each to care for his own kindred. In this connection, however, it does not apparently refer to the duty of widows to their children (Heinrichs, Planck), but to any relatives who are under high and sacred obligations to support widows (comp. 1 Timothy 5:16). The Apostle would prick the conscience of those who seek a pretext to escape this duty.—Those of his own house, are not associates in the faith ( Galatians 6:10), but those of his family in the natural sense of the word.—Provide not (comp. 1 Timothy 5:4).—He hath denied the faith, τὴν πίστιν ἤρνηται; the Christian faith, which is active in love and inseparable from love, and releases no man from the fulfilment of natural duties, but imposes them on all.—Is worse than an infidel. Many of the heathen recognized and performed the duty of caring for their needy parents; and thus the Christian who refuses it is below the very idolater. Calvin: “Quod duabus de causis verum Esther, nam quo plus quisque in cognitione Dei profecit, eo minus habet excusationes. Ergo in fidelibus sunt pejores, qui in clara Dei luce cæcutiunt. Deinde hoc genus officii Esther, quod natura ipsa dictat, sunt enimστοργαὶ φυσικαί. Quod si natura duce infideles ultro propensi sunt ad suos amandos, quid de iis sentiendum, qui nullo tali affectu tanguntur? Nonne impios ipsos ferocitate superant?

1 Timothy 5:9. Let not a widow be taken, Χήρα καταλεγέσθω. The Apostle passes now to the second point, of which he would remind them in respect to widows; and the only question Isaiah, what is meant by καταλέγειν. The word itself presents no difficulty; it is to choose, to note or register in a list (in catalogum referre), as, e.g., citizens, soldiers, taxpayers, are classed together, and thus publicly distinguished from others. As to its real meaning here, we must decide whether it denotes a place on the list of those publicly supported, or an enrolment in the order of church-deaconesses. Almost all the older commentators are of the first opinion; nearly all the recent ones of the latter. (On the literature of the subject, compare De Wette in loco.) We think, too, that there are almost insurmountable difficulties in the way of the first view. For if only the maintenance of widows is here spoken of, why, then, the rule that no widow under sixty years of age should be admitted, while yet younger widows without near relatives had an undoubted right to such support? Why the requirement that they must have the evidence of good works, that they must have brought up children, lodged strangers, washed the saints’ feet, relieved the afflicted, followed diligently every good work? Should those, who perhaps had not once had an opportunity for the exercise of such good deeds, remain excluded from the charity of the church? Why, further, must a widow, in order to be put on a list of the poor, have had but one husband? Chrysostom, therefore, Homil31, De diversis N. T. locis, has justly expressed himself against this view; and it is indeed only apparently favored by 1 Timothy 5:16. See further below. All the evidence shows that the Apostle designs here a selection for a distinct service in the church—a service in the nature of things confined to women, and therefore the office of deaconess (comp. 1 Timothy 3:11), of which we have a pattern in Phœbe ( Romans 16:1-2); and it seems that only those invested with such an office were to be maintained by the church. This last circumstance explains probably why the Apostle speaks fully in this place of the female ministers of the church, and not before in chap3, where otherwise it would have agreed better with the whole connection.—As love to the Lord had before impelled some women to serve Him and His ( Luke 8:2-3), so in the apostolic age it had probably led believing sisters to undertake the office of deaconess. The fact that adult women were baptized made this arrangement necessary; and again, the maintenance of the invalid poor, the training up of orphan children, and other works of love, were best entrusted to such hands. When the church had become accustomed to such a service, it could not well dispense with it; and in the place of those retiring or dying, new fellow-workers—the first Sisters of Charity, so to speak—would be chosen and set apart. For this, definite instructions were necessary, which the Apostle in this passage gives to Timothy. It is to some degree apparent, from the requirements here made, in what their office consisted—duties of hospitality, of training children, &c. It cannot be proved that only widows were inducted into this office of deaconess. As to Phœbe ( Romans 16:1), it is not known whether she was virgin, wife, or widow; and from 1 Timothy 3:11 it seems to follow that the wives of deacons performed like services of love. Yet it lay in the nature of the case that widows of a certain age must be specially allotted to such a service, both because they were free from other duties, which else might have had a prior claim (see 1 Timothy 5:8), and because their love to the Lord and to the church could not repay more fitly the charity bestowed on them. It is of such a church-widowhood, a τάγμα χηρεῖον, Tertullian (De virgin. veland, cap. 9) says: “Ad quam sedem (viduarum) præter annos LX. non tantum univiræ, i. e, nuptæ aliquando eliguntur, sed et matres, ed quidem educatrices filiorum;” while Jerome speaks of it as a standing custom of the church in his days; ad Nepot:Multas anus alit Ecclesia, quæ officium ægrotanti præstant et beneficium accipiunt ministrando.” Compare the thorough essay of Mosheim on this passage, whose view has been followed also by Böttcher and Mack. Such widows, called presbyteresses, seem to have had the same relation toward their own sex as the presbyters toward the men; and the later office of deaconess which we find in the ancient church, and which was first established by Canon XI. of the Synod of Laodicea, was only, with certain modifications, the carrying out of the outline here drawn. True, we find no further trace of such an institution in the apostolic letters; but this one is quite sufficient, and the oldest church-fathers also call it an apostolic tradition. Meanwhile, we must observe that the later solemn rites accompanying their institution do not date from the apostolic age; and without doubt it was then marked by the greatest simplicity. When De Wette, e.g., says that the widows sat in a specific place, next to the presbyters in the assembly, with their heads uncovered; that they had an oversight over the women of the church, especially over widows and orphans; that they were invested with the vestis vidualis, and consecrated by the laying on of hands: all this belongs, in the main, to a later period. Baur, however, is in worse error, when, on the strength of this passage, he opposes the genuineness of the Pastoral Epistles, because he thinks such an institution inconceivable in the apostolic age. He understands by widows, χήρας in the ecclesiastical use of the word; by which, on the ground of Ignat, Epist. ad Smyrn, cap.3, παρθένοι are intended. But, granted even that there were in the second century virgins who remained unmarried from ascetic motives, and were therefore named χήραι, it does not follow that these women named in the Epistle to Timothy were other than real widows. We conclude, rather, that it was the early custom to choose church-deaconesses from the class of widows; so that widows and deaconesses were almost synonymous terms. The Apostle does not once touch this subject in connection with his remarks on church offices and ministerial duties, but in an entirely different place. The young χήραι, whom Timothy (according to 1 Timothy 5:11) must reject, are not unmarried women, but such as had early lost their husbands, and would be in danger, by a second marriage, of renouncing the service which they had already entered for the benefit of the church. “No ascetic antagonism between a married life and fidelity to Christ is here in the least intended (see 1 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 5:14), but an unfaithfulness towards Christ, which consisted in making the office of the deaconess a stepping-stone to marriage;” Lange, Apost. Zeitalt. i. p142.

[Our author has ingeniously sought to combine the two more probable of the three explanations. He accepts the view set forth by Mosheim, and defended by the best of recent English expositors, as well as by De Wette, Wiesinger, and Huther, yet he supposes that the order of deaconess was afterwards developed out of this earlier one of female presbyters. Such a view, however, is open to grave objection. There can be little doubt that the deaconess was a recognized officer of the church before Canon XI. of Laodicea formally established the order. See Schaff, “Apost. Church,” B3, 1 Timothy 3, p135, for a thorough summary of the facts and the several hypotheses. The truth seems to be, that such exact distinctions of class and name do not suit the character of the primitive age. The order doubtless existed before the title was established. We can easily understand that such a χηρῶν χορὸς, or church-widowhood, had its official duty and honor; and as the ranks of church authority became more settled, as the deacon became at last the assistant of the presbyter, so the deaconess, hitherto a general phrase for such ministering women, became an order next to that of the female presbyter. The subject of the primitive deaconess has of late been viewed with special interest. We refer the reader especially to the essay of Howson, “Deaconesses,” and a recent volume by J. M. Ludlow, “Woman’s Work in the Church.” It is clear that in the Greek Church of the second century it was a most active and useful ministry. It aided the clergy in many duties—in baptizing women, in the care of the church-edifice, and in messages of charity. Undoubtedly this order differed in many features from the germ of the primitive day. It had become a semi-clerical office, and had its vow of ordination. No trace of this can be found in the simpler deaconess of the Pastoral Epistles. But it is not to be confounded with the later type of female celibates in the Latin Church; on the contrary, it is a striking feature, that, with the change from the healthy, social life of a Christian womanhood in the church to the conventual life, the order of deaconess passed away. The just abhorrence of the Romish abuse has led the Protestant to lose sight too often of the good which may be wrought by such organized womanly charity, after the pattern not of the convent, but of St. Paul’s ἐκκλησία κατ’ οἶκον.—W.]

1 Timothy 5:10. Under threescore years old. Having thus fixed the point of view from which this rule of the Apostle must be regarded, the wisdom of the following instructions becomes clear.—Not under sixty years of age. The participle γεγονυῖα belongs to the preceding, not the following words. (The contrary in the Vulgata: Quæ fuerit unius viri uxor; and so Luther also.) It denotes the advanced time of life which these widows must have reached. Such persons would with reason be expected not to marry again, but might with undivided hearts dedicate themselves to the service of the church. In accordance with this, Theodosius the Great afterwards established the law: “Nulla, nisi emensis 60 annis, secundum præceptum Apostoli ad Diaconissarum consortium transferatur.”—The wife of one man (see on 1 Timothy 3:2), who had been once married, but not again; although Paul, in 1 Timothy 5:14, advised second marriage for the younger widows. “It cannot mean that Timothy should not choose a widow who had had several husbands at the same time; for polyandry did not exist among the Greeks, or Jews, or Romans; and even if such a woman had desired church-office, she would have been so marked by public opinion, that a Christian bishop could never have thought of giving her such a charge;” Mack. The cause of this rule was, without doubt, the same as in the case of the presbyter and deacon (see above).—Well reported of for good works. The Apostle briefly names many and weighty things required of the χήρα. She must have a good report for good works. Not only must she be beyond objection, but she must be a woman of known moral and devout character. Those good works which are not exclusively works of charity, are regarded as the living sphere (ἐν) in which she has won this good testimony. What works the Apostle chiefly refers to, is plain from the following clauses.—If she have brought up children, ἐτεκνοτρόφησεν; whether her own, or the children of a stranger. The idea of a devout, godly training, is not strictly expressed by this word, but an education complete, and so far successful.—If she have lodged strangers (comp. 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2). As hospitality was in all ages an Oriental virtue, it must be a Christian one.—If she have washed the saints’ feet (comp. John 13:15; Luke 7:44). That which the Lord did in a symbolic way, is here meant in its literal sense, following the common Oriental custom, which the gospel had not abolished.—If she have relieved the afflicted, ἐπαρκεῖν (in the New Testament found only here, and in 1 Timothy 5:16). Afflicted, not exclusively paupertate, Bengel; but afflicted by the manifold evils and accidents of life.—If she have diligently followed every good work. A general proposition, in which all before is embraced. The expression, every good work, is still stronger than the reference to ἔργοις καλοῖς at the beginning of the verse. It is therefore not to be restricted to charity alone, but has a wider sense. To follow, does not stand here in contrast to præire, which is an obligation of men (Bengel), but has the sense of imitate, or pursue (Luther).

1 Timothy 5:11. But the younger widows refuse, &c, νεωτέρας; not, strictly, all those who have not yet reached the full sixty years; but all, in general, who, in contrast with the aged, belong to the category of the young. Refuse, παραιτοῦ; whenever they apply for admission among the deaconesses, in order to enjoy the honor and privilege of the older widows.—For, when they have begun to wax wanton, καταστρηνιάσωσι τοῦ Χρ. The word denotes a voluptuous desire, a pruritus libidinosus, which leads them into open opposition to Christ, to whom their fidelity was pledged. A formal vow of chastity, like that of the later orders of nuns, was naturally not required of them; and Melanchthon says truly: “Etiam si tunc consuetudo fuisset faciendi vota, quod non dicit Paulus, tamen ea vota dissimillima fuissent votis monasticis, quæ sine ulladubitatione idolatria.” Since the Apostle, however, had directed that the widows mentioned should be married but once, this desire was an inward infidelity to Christ, for whose Church they were now and always to live with undivided hearts.—They will marry [again]; an evidence that their purpose was not the indulgence of sensual sin, but a second marriage; and hence the exposition of Jerome is too strong—quæ fornicatæ sunt. This, indeed, made them less culpable, yet none the less unfit for the spiritual office.

1 Timothy 5:12. Having damnation. This design of second marriage has brought condemnation on the young widows (κριμα = κατάκρισις); not only a deserved reproach from others, but the judgment of God, who is faithful, on all who are unfaithful to their covenant with Him. [This interpretation seems too strong. It is by no means to be supposed, had St. Paul thought second marriage in any case worthy of such Divine judgment, that he would have advised and even urged it in 1 Timothy 5:14. It is enough to read, having condemnation, being worthy of blame. Our commentator seems in this, and all passages relating to women, to have some-what the tone of a later ascetic like Jerome. We may say the same of the criticism of Calvin on the sex, given with approval by our author, in 1 Timothy 5:13. This harsh spirit must not be made the expositor of the loving, social law of the first Christian family.—W.]—They have cast off their first faith.Augustin, on Psalm 75 : “Voverunt et non reddiderunt.” According to Calvin, the vow of fidelity made at baptism is here meant; but it is difficult to see why a second marriage should be irreconcilable with this vow. It seems better to suppose, with most expositors, that the allusion is to the vow, which was implicite, included in their reception into the common order of widows. They have thereby dedicated themselves exclusively to the service of Christ and His Church; and as they had freely chosen this work, knowing its duties and its restrictions, a second marriage was in this view a breach of troth to Christ.

1 Timothy 5:13. And withal they learn, &c. The Apostle sees a yet greater evil in the employment of young widows. Not only they have this desire of marriage, but they are withal idle, ἀργαὶ; thus neglect their duties, and do what they should avoid.—Wandering about from house to house;i. e., they are wont to go without good cause. Μανθάνουσι is best connected with περιερχόμεναι. Matthies says rightly: “Μανθάν. with the participle expresses a disposition which has become a habit; they have the wont of idle gadding about.”—Tattlers also, and busybodies. They become gossips (φλύαροι; Chrysostom, λάλοι), persons who pry, without being asked, into the business of others, περίεργοι (comp. 2 Thessalonians 3:11), speaking things which they ought not; in opposition to all before (comp. μὴ δεῖ, Titus 1:11). The very character of the duties belonging to the office of deaconess, bringing them in close contact with many persons and social relations, made this temptation doubly perilous. Calvin: “Istis viduis, honoris prætextu, quod veluti publicam personam gerebant, facilior quovis aditus patebat. Hanc opportunitatem nactæ beneficio Ecclesiæ abutebantur ad desidiam: deinda (ut fieri solet) ex otio nascebatur curiositas, quæ ipsa garrulitatis est mater. Verissimum enim est illud Horatii: percontatorem fugito, ram garrulus idem est. Omni enim fide curiosos, ut ait Plutarchus, carere æquum cst, qui simulatque aliquid hauserunt, nunquam cessant, donec effutiverint. Præsertim mulieribus hoc contingit, quæ natura jam propensæ sunt ad loquacitatem nulliusque arcani capaces. Ergo non abs re hæc tria simul conjuncta sunt a Paulo, otium, curiositas et garrulitas.”

1 Timothy 5:14. I will therefore, &c. Paul silently assumes that Timothy will ask how he shall check this evil, and make the young widows, instead of a shame, an honor to the church. Hence, he suggests the wisest course. As, however, compliance with his rule would not, even with the best intentions, depend merely on the widows themselves (Schleier-macher), the apodicticβούλομαι οὖν is to be understood not in an absolute, but in a limited sense. If there were nothing to prevent, the young widows (such as are described in 1 Timothy 5:11-13) are counselled to marry—γαμεῖν, a word used in 1 Corinthians 7:39 likewise of second marriage.—Bear children, τεκνογονεῖν; a word in which, as in 1 Timothy 2:15, not only the actus parturiendi, but the training of the children by the mother, should be included.—Guide the house, οἰκοδεσποτεῖν; mistress of the house—that Isaiah, household affairs. Bengel: “Nubere, liberos gignere, familiam regere—tres gradus societatis domesticæ. Sic habebunt quod agant, citra otium et curiositatem.” [It is to be noticed how the domestic and social spirit of Christianity appears here in contrast with the conventual morality of later times. St. Paul speaks severely of the conduct of the younger widows; but he must be understood as referring to certain positive cases under his eye of immodest and gossiping women. He does not forbid second marriage, but, 1 Timothy 5:12, their specific transgression of a former promise to devote their lives to church-duty. On the contrary, he urges marriage, true household life, as the best cure for such abuses. It is curious to read in Roman writers—e.g., A. Lapide—the attempt to make out of St. Paul’s reasoning an implicit argument for the single state. The same false ascetic tendency may be already traced in Tertullian and Augustin, which led to the exalting of virginity as a higher state of Christian piety.—W.]—Give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully, τῷ ἀντικειμένῳ; perhaps the devil, which 1 Timothy 5:15 does not conflict with; or else in general an adversary, whether in the heathen or the Jewish world; since it must be remarked that Paul viewed the world as under Satanic influences. Should the young widows follow the wrong course, they would give occasion, ἀφορμήν, to what? As the final words, λοιδορίας χάριν, do not depend on this, but stand by themselves, it seems best here to supply, occasionem sc. ipsas seducendi; Huther. The young widows remain idle, curious, and tattling, and the sure consequence Isaiah, that the ἀντικειμένος finds many opportunities to catch them in his snares; and this would bring reproach on the church, as well as on themselves. Λοιδορίας χάριν; properly, to the advantage of reproach; a singular and hard construction (De Wette), yet not more singular than many others which mark the style of the Pastoral Epistles. The adversary is represented as watching his occasion to revile the Church of Christ, and overjoyed at even the appearance of it. There was, indeed, already in the church more than the mere appearance of evil.

1 Timothy 5:15. For some are already turned aside after Satan. It is plain that τινες refers distinctly to some young widows at Ephesus, of whom unfavorable reports must have reached the ears of the Apostle, although we need not deny that his complaint might have had a wider application. The mention of this was to enforce on Timothy the need of following expressly the counsel given him in 1 Timothy 5:14, since there would else be periculum in morâ. Ἐξετρ. ὀπίσω τοῦ σατανᾶ does not necessarily mean a complete defection from Christianity, but certainly a walking in paths of error, whether it be heresy or an immoral life. It is possible that some had united themselves in a second marriage with unbelievers, and had thus really severed themselves from the church.

1 Timothy 5:16. If any man or woman that believeth, πιστὸς πιστή. Griesbach and Lachmann have, without good reason, omitted the words πιστὸς (see De Wette and Tischendorf). The Apostle, while he sums here all his remarks on this point, is not content with a mere repetition, but goes still further. The duty which, in 1 Timothy 5:4, he has imposed solely on the relatives of the widows, he now enjoins, so far as circumstances admit, on every believer without, distinction. If any have widows, not only in his own household, but in the larger circle of friends or relatives, whose maintenance comes at all within his ability or duty, he should give it, and thus lighten the burden of the church. To explain it of others, of widows wholly deserted, has too narrow a meaning. It would seem that the Apostle especially refers to younger widows, who from selfish economy sought the service of the church; and from whom he could be best relieved ( 1 Timothy 5:11) by thus providing for their support.


1. It is not only among the requisites, but the weightiest obligations of a pastor of the church, to mingle with every rank and age, as each may need; yet at the same time he should see that the holiness of his office is not endangered, and that the adversary find no occasion for reproach. Paul could without self-boasting, in his exhortation to Timothy, allude to his own excellent example. The highest example, however, is always that of the Chief Shepherd, the Lord of the Church, in the days of His earthly life.

2. As the gospel is an inestimable good for the poor, and pauperism appears in a wholly different form in Christian lands than in those still in darkness and the shadow of death, so it is in regard to the condition of the widow. Widowhood has special cause of gratitude to Christ, in whom the words, “He is a Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widow,” have had so noble a fulfilment. How vast a difference between the fate of the widow of the Brahmin of highest rank, and the widow of the poorest disciple of the Lord! [A significant illustration of the influence of the Church in this respect may be found in Maine’s “Ancient Law,” p 1 Tim218: “The provision for the widow was attributable to the exertions of the Church, which never relaxed its solicitude for the interest of widows surviving their husbands; winning, perhaps, one of the most arduous of its triumphs, when, after exacting for two or three centuries an express promise from the husband, at marriage, to endow his wife, it at length succeeded in engrafting the principle of dower on the customary law of all western Europe.”]

3. Christianity does not overturn the original order, or free any from the obligations which natural relationship has imposed. Nothing, indeed, is more honored by it than the natural στοργή, the neglect of which is most positively condemned ( 2 Timothy 3:3). How holy and indissoluble the tie of children and parents, is first clearly known when we have found in it the true though earthly type of the per feet unity between the Eternal Son and the Holy Father.

4. The office of deaconess in the early church came from the deep craving of Christian women to serve the Lord among their poor associates. It is to the honor of the Romish Church that it encourages its Sisters of Charity to give themselves with noble self-denial to so rare a work; nor can it be denied that Protestantism has too often, in condemning such works of love, rejected alike the good and the evil. We may rejoice that the evangelical Church in our day has come back from this narrow one-sidedness; and the associations of deaconesses already established in many places, with their hospitals and nurseries, are worthy proofs of it.

5. The apparent contradiction in the Apostle’s advice to young widows to marry again, and that in 1 Corinthians 7:32 et seq., where he speaks of marriage in an entirely different way, is satisfactorily explained when we recal the difference in times and circumstances. In Corinth, there was a youthful church in possession of manifold gifts, whom the Apostle desired to see dedicated, as far as possible, to the service of the Lord; here, on the contrary, was a disturbance, indeed a retrograde, in a long-established church, for which, therefore, rules of order and discipline were necessary as a step toward a high Christian ideal, wholly above many in the church. In this very difference we have cause to admire the wisdom of the Apostle.

6. It is important, in our church provision for the poor, that the limit which the Apostle here advises be remembered, as well as the enlargement of our charity. The vocation of the deacon is not to entirely support the poor, but to relieve their wants, and to confine the constantly increasing stream of pauperism, as far as possible, within its natural bounds.

7. “Melius Esther, cum severitate diligere, quam cum lenitate decipere;” Augustin.

8. “Apud templum Hierosolymæ fuerunt mulieres, quæ serviebant coquendo, lavando, sarciendis vestibus, medicatione Levitis et pauperibus. Hunc morem Apostoli imitati transtulerunt et ad Ecclesiam jusserunt eligi grandes natu matronos, quæ ægrotis aut peregrinis servirent, et hæ mercedes habebant ex eleëmosynis, quas Ecclesia tunc liberaliter conferebat. De hoc more loquitur Paulus, tunc de votis monasticis;” Melanchthon.


A seemly conduct in the ministerial office.—The censure of wrong-doers must sometimes be public, but always within due bounds.—The peril of gross and of refined sensuality in the ministry.—Christianity and the state of widowhood: (1) What Christianity is to the widow; (2) what widows should be for Christianity.—Children the natural helpers of their needy parents.—The ideal of a Christian widow.—The mirror of the Christian widow.—Alone, yet not alone; John 16:32.—What special causes a Christian widow has above others to place her trust in God.—Promises of God to devout widows, and examples of their support and rescue, especially recorded in the Old Testament.—Every man who provides not for his own household, is worse than a heathen. How this saying is (1) misused by those who work only for the bread that perisheth; (2) is forgotten by those who work only for the bread of eternal life, and neglect the care of their nearest kindred.—What is the cause that so many who labor in a larger sphere often overlook the duties which lie nearest to them?—Fidelity in small things and fidelity in great things must ever go hand in hand.—The task and the blessing of a Christian old age.—How even in the garments of sorrow and widowhood we may serve the Lord in His Church.—The widow spiritually dead, and spiritually alive.—The danger of idleness and the blessing of labor.—Better an active vocation for the earth, than pampering the flesh, under pretence of living for heaven.—He is no believer who entirely neglects the care of the poor.—Every Christian man and woman is called within the social circle to be in a measure a deacon or a deaconess.

Starke: Cramer: If we censure wrong-doers, we must consider the age and the persons, that we may make them better, not worse through exasperation, and may avoid all scandal.—Lange’s Opus: It is as shameful as it is sinful, to give aged women names of ridicule and scorn.—Happy they who grow old in honor ( Sirach 8:7; Proverbs 16:31).—Cramer: Widows must be honored, not oppressed; for they are privileged persons in the sight of God ( Exodus 22:22; Psalm 68:6; Sirach 35:17).—Anton: An inferior in his right sphere will be really honored by his superior.—Hedinger: It is a shameful wrong when children, by neglect and extravagance, become so poor that they cannot support their parents ( Genesis 45:11; Genesis 45:23).—The more the widow is forsaken of men, the nearer she is to God ( 1 Kings 17:12 et seq.).—The church is a guild, not of the high and worldly, but of the wretched and suffering who hope in Christ.—Widows may easily fall, and should therefore walk circumspectly, and avoid every appearance of evil, that they may escape calumny ( Ephesians 5:15).—Hedinger: To call ourselves believers, and do no works of faith, is hypocrisy. Hast thou faith? then show it in Christian duties ( James 2:18).—No church is bound to maintain widows who can earn their bread with their own hands ( 2 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Kings 17:10; 1 Kings 17:15; Luke 4:26; Luke 4:25).—The poor can also help the poor, if not in deeds, yet in wise counsel ( Acts 27:8).—When widows marry again, they do not sin ( 1 Timothy 5:14; Romans 7:3).—Those who have charge of the poor should give good heed how they bestow their alms.—It is a most unchristian scandal, when those who are well-to-do neglect their needy kindred ( Isaiah 58:7).

Heubner: Christianity honors age; it is a sign of decay in a people when age is despised.—A life of pleasure is death to the soul. Compare the excellent exposition by Chrysostom on this passage.—The greatest unkindness is that toward near kindred.—Hereafter, too, Christians will be put to shame by Gentiles ( Matthew 12:41-42).—We must test the love, before we entrust an office to love.—Widowhood is tempting by its freedom.—Indolence leads to other vices.—The perils of social intercourse.—From Christian families grows the well-being of the Church.—The Christian who receives alms, should ask himself whether they are not needed more by others.

Lisco: How the welfare of a Christian church can be promoted: (1) By a watchful discipline; (2) by the conscientious and careful aid of the poor.—The helping women of the church.

Van Oosterzee: Christian women of the apostolic age exhibited as (1) precursors worthy of love; (2) examples worthy to be followed; (a) in their true Christian, (b) their true womanly action; Bonn, 1859.

Von Gerlach: Love expresses itself in various ways, according to the object which it seeks. It is full of zeal for the kingdom of God in its relation to the children, whom it trains up for the Lord; it is generous toward strangers; lowly and obliging toward believers; hopeful toward the suffering; it is all in all.

Baxter: Our way of teaching should be as simple and clear as possible, for it leads a preacher straightest to his mark. Whoso will be understood, must speak to the capacity of his hearers. Truth loves the light, and is most beautiful when it is unveiled. An envious enemy conceals the truth; a hypocrite does it under pretence of teaching it; overwrought, obscure sermons (like painted windows which keep out the light), are often a sign of over-daubed hypocrisy.


FN#1 - 1 Timothy 5:2.—[In contrast with the common form, the Sinaiticus has αγυιᾳ.—E. H.]

FN#2 - 1 Timothy 5:4.—Received text: “That is good and acceptable.” The words καλὸν καὶ are, after A. C. D. F. G, Sinaiticus, and other witnesses, to be stricken out.

FN#3 - 1 Timothy 5:5.—[Lachmann brackets the article τὸν, before Θεὸν; and the Sinaiticus, instead of Θεὸν, has κύριον, without the article.—E. H.]

FN#4 - 1 Timothy 5:6.—[Vulg, vivens mortua est.—E. H.]

FN#5 - 1 Timothy 5:8.—[προνοεῖ; Sinaiticus, προνοεῖται.—E. H.]

FN#6 - 1 Timothy 5:11.—[καταστρηνιάσωσιν; Lachmann has, in the margin, καταστρηνιάσουσιν.—E. H.]

FN#7 - 1 Timothy 5:15.—[Instead of the common order, ἐξητράπησαν τινες, the Sinaiticus has τινες ἐξητράπ.; also Lachmann, in margin.—E. H.]

FN#8 - 1 Timothy 5:16.—[The received text, and, among the recent editors, Tischendorf, have εἴ τις πιστὸς πιστὴ. The Vulg. reads: si quis fidelis. Lachmann omits τις πιστὸς . Nor are these words in the Sinaiticus.—E. H.]

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Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

In this section we are faced with more detailed, practical responsibilities in reference to the various relationships in which one may be found. This is wholesome, sobering instruction. First, a young man must have a proper respect for an elder. It is certainly not necessarily an official elder of which the apostle speaks, for this would leave us with no true application of the instruction for today, there being no authority left us at all for the official appointment of elders. But any older brother is entitled to such respect, that, if he should be wrong, he is to be exhorted in kindness, not sharply rebuked. With the same respect that is due a father, so any elder brother should be treated. While the relationship with the younger men is not precisely the same, yet there is to be similar consideration. With these, however, on certain occasions, a rebuke may be more necessary than with the elder, but always this should be brotherly, not censorious.

Similarly, the elder women were to be treated as mothers, the younger as sisters, with the necessary addition here, "with all purity." The assembly is seen here to be, as regards its order, patterned after proper family life, not as a business, nor as an army, either of which may be eminently efficient in a cold, impersonal way, but could never represent the interest in the individual that is characteristic of the love of our God and Father.

Not every widow was to be given the same honor, but if she were "a widow indeed" she was entitled to particular attention and respect. She is one who, while feeling the sorrow of her widowhood, nevertheless puts her confidence in the Living God, and manifests her dependence upon His love and grace, by prayer and supplication consistently. If she were in any need, this "honor" would certainly involve the alleviation of those needs by temporal support. Yet, if she had children or descendents, these were certainly responsible for her care, and they should learn to show piety at home by relieving her need, in some measure returning the care of the mother or parents in former years. God expects and accepts this. It is, of course, evident that if this were callously ignored by descendents not in the assembly, then the assembly would be responsible. But if the widow lives in self-indulgence, she is dead while she lives, and in such a state she could certainly claim no support from the assembly. Indeed, their supporting her in such a case would be an unseemly encouraging of her irresponsible ways.

It was necessary that these things should be solemnly charged upon the saints in order to preserve them from the blame that wrongdoing brings: they must not be ignorant of these serious matters. Verse 8 of course refers to one whom we have seen to have responsibility for his close relatives, including widows. He should provide, at least if he is at all able, for his own near relatives who require care, but, of course, specially for those of his own house. If by irresponsible neglect he does not do this, in practice he denies the wholesome truth of Christianity; and his practice being in opposition to his profession (for this refers to one claiming to be a saint), he is worse than an unbeliever; it is virtual hypocrisy.

Taken into the number would mean being made a regular dependent of the assembly. This was not to be the case if she were under sixty years of age, for she could support herself by working. Of course, this is not a rigid law, for there would naturally be exceptions in cases of disease or accident having caused permanent incapacitation. On the other hand, it may be necessary on occasion that relief should be given to a younger widow who is manifestly in need, even though the assembly ought not to support her regularly.

Again, one could not expect to be "taken into the number" if she had not in previous life manifested some measure of godliness. Fidelity is of course the point in view in her having been the wife of one man. If after her first husband's death, she had remarried and been widowed a second time, this would not invalidate her (1 Corinthians 7:39), but cases of bigamy or of divorce and remarriage are evidently in view here.

But the past record of a widow should show some evidence of hospitality, and of having "washed the saints' feet," that is, having in measure at least sought to apply the Word of God in kindness for the welfare of the saints of God; also that she had relieved in temporal ways those in affliction, and had followed diligently every good work. These were marks to look for, in some no doubt evident in large measure, in others in lesser.

Verse 11. For the assembly to support younger widows is here shown to be likely harmful to the state of their own souls. It may not always be the case, but it is the general tendency. To grow wanton against Christ is just the opposite of the subject, subdued spirit that ought to characterize a widow: it is bold, brazen, self-willed. Desiring to marry while in such a state is certainly dangerous - not that desiring to marry is in itself wrong, for this is almost immediately recommended (v. 14). But if the widow does not have wholesome occupation to maintain her own support, her attitude may become one of casting off her first faith, forsaking her previous confidence in the God who had blessed her with a husband, and in wisdom had taken her husband away again. If faith is to remain constant and steady, it requires the teaching of God by means of the wise government of His hand; and well-meant efforts of others to relieve temporal needs may actually defeat this working of God. It may encourage idleness, and too many unprofitable visits to the houses of others, with its attendant gossip and meddling in other people's matters.

The apostle has written elsewhere that "the wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 7:39). In the same chapter, however, he gives advice which may seem to be in conflict with that which he gives here in 1 Timothy 5:14. For he writes, "But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God" (v. 40). He makes it very clear that he is expressing a strictly personal opinion here, in contrast to what is the commandment of the Lord. He himself remained unmarried in order to more fully and undividedly serve the Lord, and if such motives influence the younger women in remaining unmarried, who can question that it is the happier path for them? Yet, it must be faced that this is not the general attitude among women, or men either; and 1 Timothy no doubt expresses that which is generally most appropriate while 1 Corinthians 7:1-40 makes allowance for the exception.

If a young widow's tendency were to learn to be idle, etc., then to be married is more preferable than this. Guiding the house, bearing children could be spiritually rewarding; a

wholesome guard too against the danger of Satan's accusa­tions and reproach. For some had already turned aside after Satan, succumbing to the temptations of idleness and self­indulgence, which Satan will use to the full.

But if a widow did require support, then her own relatives were primarily responsible for this, that the assembly might be left the more capable of relieving those who were widows indeed, desolate and of godly character.

Verse 17. Clearly, an elder may be thoroughly reliable in qualities of leadership, even though he may not be a capable teacher of the Word of God; and if so, he is entitled to double honor, but specially if he labors in the giving of the Word, and teaching. True spiritual qualifications should earn the respect of saints: a mere formal appointment would not do this. The ox not to be muzzled would teach us that a laborer is entitled to partake of the fruits of his labor; and in this case, if one devotes such time to the work of the Lord that other regular employment is not sufficient to support him, then the saints of God are to consider themselves responsible for this: "The laborer is worthy of his reward."

Accusations against anyone must certainly be thoroughly substantiated, or refused. But this was all the more imperative if against an elder; for it is evident that Satan would particularly attack them with such things, since they were in a place of prominence and rule, or leadership. Two or three witnesses must be present to hear the accusation. Let this rule never be forgotten. A case of evil must be clearly proven before action is taken.

On the other hand, if there should be a case of public sin manifest, it must not be ignored. To rebuke before all them that sin, would be most solemn treatment. Nor does this refer to every case of failure in a saint. The chapter does make plain what is involved in this: it must be a case of sin publicly known and persisted in. One living boldly in self-indulgence (v. 6), one utterly careless as to providing for his own house (v. S), one wandering about from house to house in idleness and gossip (v. 13), are cases such as would require a public rebuke, if after personal remonstrance they continued their sinful course. Even then, a rebuke must not be merely angry criticism, but solemn, humble, gentle, firm reproof that carries conviction.

In verse 21 is it not peculiarly solemn to note the urgency of this charge to Timothy? These were matters he must not ignore, however painful the responsibility of facing them might be. And favoritism must be most carefully avoided: the same measure must be used for all. Indeed, in any Christian's life, partiality is to have no place whatever: we must be constantly on our guard against this. The glory of God, the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, the dignity of the elect angels should have deep effect upon us in the consideration of such matters. It is far too easy to allow strong feelings to influence us in any matter. Indeed, the godly qualities of a saint might so attach us to that one as to favor him though he may be wrong in a certain case. Or, if I should have a disagreement with one in a certain matter, I may be easily predisposed to hold him in disfavor without perfectly fair reason. How subtle is the flesh in every one of us! Of course, there are obvious excuses besides these for partiality, but we must be unsparing in our self-judgment as to all of these.

This same spirit of impartiality is a preservative from the dangers of identifying ourselves with any man with due knowledge and consideration. For the laying on of hands signfies willing identification in fellowship. If I do not know the individual either personally or reputation I may find myself identified with sins I did not suspect. To accept him in fellowship in the work of the Lord or in the worship of the Lord would make me a participator in that which he practices. This is a more serious matter than even saints of God generally think. If the man should be guilty of evil practice or evil doctrine, and I have associated myself with him, I make myself impure. Let us be watchful against such mixtures.

It may seem strange that at this point verse 23 is inserted. Timothy is told to drink no longer only water, but use a little wine for his stomach's sake. But the connection is important. No doubt Timothy's true desire was to maintain purity, and his sensitive conscience needed to be enlightened to the fact that in using a little wine for his stomach's sake, he would not be courting grave danger such as he would in laying hands suddenly on one he did not know. Too frequently Christians have these things completely in reverse. They feel it impure to drink wine at all, even for their health's sake; and think nothing of the danger of associating themselves with a stranger.

In both of these cases, of course, the believer is responsible to use godly caution and good judgment. It is only "a little wine" Timothy is told to use; nor is it to be taken simply for pleasure's sake, but for his health. One who is frequently affected by bodily infirmity can well sympathize with Timothy, as well as to take encouragement by the fact of this spiritually-minded young man being tried by such afflictions.

But verse 24 returns to the direct consideration of associations. Some men's sins are open beforehand: their character is that of an open book, and is very easily discerned: we may judge of their sins without difficulty. It is not God's judgment of which the apostle speaks, but that which others may easily and rightly form with very little acquaintance.

But some men they follow after: these may be proficient at concealing their true character if you do not know them: it will only be later that their sins are laid bare for proper judgment. It is simply a warning that we do not know every man's character on first acquaintance, and must be on our guard not to be deceived.

There is, of course, the other side to this also: the good works of some are manifest beforehand. These may actually indicate a good character, but are not sufficient proof before further knowledge; for what may at first appear good may yet have hidden motives of evil behind it. The good of another may not be seen until he is well known, and others may be surprised at how much goodness there is present when it did not first appear. Personalities are completely different, and only time will actually prove one's character. But works that are otherwise than "good" cannot be hid: it does not take too long before one may be known by his works: if they are evil, how can he hide them indefinitely?

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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. 1897-1910.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Directions are here given concerning the taking of widows into the number of those who were employed by the church and had maintenance from the church: Honour widows that are widows indeed. Honour them, that is, maintain them, admit them into office. There was in those times an office in the church in which widows were employed, and that was to tend the sick and the aged, to look to them by the direction of the deacons. We read of the care taken of widows immediately upon the first forming of the Christian church (Acts 6:1), where the Grecians thought their widows were neglected in the daily ministration and provision made for poor widows. The general rule is to honour widows that are widows indeed, to maintain them, to relieve them with respect and tenderness.

I. It is appointed that those widows only should be relieved by the charity of the church who were pious and devout, and not wanton widows that lived in pleasure, 1 Timothy 5:5, 1 Timothy 5:6. She is to be reckoned a widow indeed, and it to be maintained at the church's charge, who, being desolate, trusteth in God. Observe, It is the duty and comfort of those who are desolate to trust in God. Therefore God sometimes brings his people into such straits that they have nothing else to trust to, that they may with more confidence trust in him. Widowhood is a desolate estate; but let the widows trust in me (Jeremiah 49:11), and rejoice that they have a God to trust to. Again, Those who trust in God must continue in prayer. If by faith we confide in God, by prayer we must give glory to God and commit ourselves to his guidance. Anna was a widow indeed, who departed not from the temple (Luke 2:37), but served God with fasting and prayer night and day. But she is not a widow indeed that lives in pleasure (1 Timothy 5:6), or who lives licentiously. A jovial widow is not a widow indeed, not fit to be taken under the care of the church. She that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives, is no living member of the church, but as a carcase in it, or a mortified member. We may apply it more generally; those who live in pleasure are dead while they live, spiritually dead, dead in trespasses and sins; they are in the world to no purpose, buried alive as to the great ends of living.

II. Another rule he gives is that the church should not be charged with the maintenance of those widows who had relations of their own that were able to maintain them. This is mentioned several times (1 Timothy 5:4): If any widow have children or nephews, that is grandchildren or near relations, let them maintain them, and let not the church be burdened. So 1 Timothy 5:16. This is called showing piety at home (1 Timothy 5:4), or showing piety towards their own families. Observe, The respect of children to their parents, with their care of them, is fitly called piety. This is requiting their parents. Children can never sufficiently requite their parents for the care they have taken of them, and the pains they have taken with them; but they must endeavour to do it. It is the indispensable duty of children, if their parents be in necessity, and they in ability to relieve them, to do it to the utmost of their power, for this is good and acceptable before God. The Pharisees taught that a gift to the altar was more acceptable to God than relieving a poor parent, Matthew 15:5. But here we are told that this is better than all burnt-offerings and sacrifices; this is good and acceptable, etc. He speaks of this again (1 Timothy 5:8), If any provide not for his own, etc. If any men or women do not maintain their own poor relations who belong to them, they do in effect deny the faith; for the design of Christ was to confirm the law of Moses, and particularly the law of the fifth commandment, which is, Honour thy father and mother; so that those deny the faith who disobey that law, much more if they provide not for their wives and children, who are parts of themselves; if they spend that upon their lusts which should maintain their families, they have denied the faith and are worse than infidels. One reason why this care must be taken that those who are rich should maintain their poor relations, and not burden the church with them is (1 Timothy 5:16) that it may relieve those who are widows indeed. Observe, Charity misplaced is a great hindrance to true charity; there should be prudence in the choice of the objects of charity, that it may not be thrown away upon those who are not properly so, that there may be the more for those who are real objects of charity.

III. He gives directions concerning the characters of the widows that were to be taken into the number to receive the church's charity: not under sixty years old, nor any who have divorced their husbands or been divorced from them and have married again; she must have been the wife of one man, such as had been a housekeeper, had a good name for hospitality and charity, well reported of for good works. Observe, Particular care ought to be taken to relieve those, when they fall into decay, who, when they had wherewithal, were ready to every good work. Here are instances of such good works as are proper to be done by good wives: If she have brought up children: he does not say, If she have borne children ( children are a heritage of the Lord ), that depends on the will of God; but, if she had not children of her own, yet if she had brought up children. If she have lodged strangers, and washed the saints' feet; if she have been ready to give entertainment to good Christians and good ministers, when they were in their travels for the spreading of the gospel. Washing of the feet o their friends was a part of their entertainments. If she have relieved the afflicted when she had ability, let her be relieved now. Observe, Those who would find mercy when they are in distress must show mercy when they are in prosperity.

IV. He cautions them to take heed of admitting into the number those who are likely to be no credit to them (1 Timothy 5:11): The younger widows refuse: they will be weary of their employments in the church, and of living by rule, as they must do; so they will marry, and cast off their first faith. You read of a first love (Revelation 2:4), and here of a first faith, that is, the engagements they gave to the church to behave well, and as became the trust reposed in them: it does not appear that by their first faith is meant their vow not to marry, for the scripture is very silent on that head; besides the apostle here advises the younger widows to marry (1 Timothy 5:14), which he would not if hereby they must have broken their vows. Dr. Whitby well observes, ldblquote If this faith referred to a promise made to the church not to marry, it could not be called their first faith. dblquote Withal they learn to be idle, and not only idle, but tattlers, etc., 1 Timothy 5:13. Observe, It is seldom that those who are idle are idle only, they learn to be tattlers and busy-bodies, and to make mischief among neighbours, and sow discord among brethren. Those who had not attained to such a gravity of mind as was fit for the deaconesses (or the widows who were taken among the church's poor), let them marry, bear children, etc., 1 Timothy 5:14. Observe, If housekeepers do not mind their business, but are tattlers, they give occasion to the adversaries of Christianity to reproach the Christian name, which, it seems, there were some instances of, 1 Timothy 5:15. We learn hence, 1. In the primitive church there was care taken of poor widows, and provision made for them; and the churches of Christ in these days should follow so good an example, as far as they are able. 2. In the distribution of the church's charity, or alms, great care is to be taken that those share in the public bounty who most want it and best deserve it. A widow was not to be taken into the primitive church that had relations who were able to maintain her, or who was not well reported of for good works, but lived in pleasure: But the younger widows refuse, for, when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry. 3. The credit of religion, and the reputation of Christian churches, are very much concerned in the character and behaviour of those that are taken into any employment in the church, though of a lower nature (such as the business of deaconesses), or that receive alms of the church; if they do not behave well, but are tatlers and busy-bodies, they will give occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 4. Christianity obliges its professors to relieve their indigent friends, particularly poor widows, that the church may not be charged with them, that it may relieve those that are widows indeed: rich people should be ashamed to burden the church with their poor relations, when it is with difficulty that those are supplied who have no children or nephews, that is, grand-children, who are in a capacity to relieve them

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

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.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

But if any widow have children or nephews: by the widows indeed, mentioned by the apostle, 1 Timothy 5:3, he here showeth that he meant women that not only wanted husbands, but children, or grandchildren or any near kindred that were Christians, and in a capacity to relieve them; but if any widows had any such near relations, the apostle willeth that they should be taught

to shew piety at home; ton idion oikon eusebein, word for word, to worship their own house, or to be religious or godly toward their own house; that is, to show a respect or pagan homage to their own house. For worship is nothing but a respect, honour, or homage paid to another in consideration of his or her excellency and superiority; only the use of this word, which is the Greek word generally used to express religion and godliness by, lets us know that religion and godliness is vainly pretended to any that have of this world’s goods, and relieve not those from whom they are descended, (for the word ekgona signifies persons descended from another, whether in the first generation or not), if they be in want, and stand in need of their assistance.

And to requite their parents: nor is this an act of charity, but justice, a just requital of our parents for their care of us, and pains with us in our education.

For that is good and acceptable before God; and this is good, just, decent, and commanded by God, and acceptable in the sight of God, for the precept:

Honour thy father and mother, is the first commandment with promise, Ephesians 6:2. By the way, that precept is excellently expounded by this text, both as to the act commanded, which this text teacheth is to be extended to maintenance as well as compliments; and as to the object, viz. all those as to whom we are ekgona, descended from, whether immediate parents, yea or no.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Christians Form The Household of God And Should Treat One Another With Respect And As Family. They Should Therefore See To The Needs Of Their Ageing Parents While The Church As Family Must See To Widows Who Have No Children And Who Reveal Their Family Oneness By Regular Attendance At Prayer (1 Timothy 5:1-8).

Here the church is seen as a household, compare 1 Timothy 3:15. It is seen as the family of God (compare Matthew 12:49-50), and should reveal reciprocal love. Thus Timothy, in dealings with the church members must treat them as family. Older men were to be treated with respect, even when being gently admonished, younger men were to be treated as beloved brothers, and so on. A great problem, however, in the ancient world was the needs of widows who had no relatives to care for them both emotionally and financially. Care for older relatives was seen as the responsibility of the children, and was even sometimes legislated for, but the elder widow who had no family had no one to care for her. Paul declares here that such widows are to be cared for by the church because they are part of the church’s family, and this includes both emotional and financial care. While today the state may make physical provision, there is still a responsibility on the part of the church to see that that provision is sufficient, and also to show the love and concern towards such people that the family would normally show.

The impression we may get from what Paul says is that people were using the church’s charitable arrangements so as to avoid their own responsibilities. Paul therefore gives clear instruction concerning this. It is in fact very relevant to us today for the same basic problems still arise around the world.


a Do not rebuke an older person (or ‘elder), but exhort him as a father, the younger men as brothers (1 Timothy 5:1).

b The elder women as mothers, the younger as sisters, in all purity (1 Timothy 5:2).

c Honour widows who are indeed widows (1 Timothy 5:3).

d But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to pay back their parents, for this is acceptable in the sight of God (1 Timothy 5:4).

c Now she who is indeed a widow, and desolate, has her hope set on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who gives herself to pleasure is dead while she lives (1 Timothy 5:5-6).

b These things also command, that they may be without reproach (1 Timothy 5:7).

a But if any does not provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).

Note that in ‘a’ reference is made to exhorting men, and in the parallel these men are to provide for their own. In ‘b’ the women are to be exhorted in all purity, and in the parallel ‘they’ are to be without reproach. In ‘c’ widows who are ‘indeed widows’ are to be ‘honoured’, while in the parallel ‘indeed widows’ suitable widows are defined. Central in ‘d’ is the attitude of Christians towards their ageing parents.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to pay back their parents, for this is acceptable in the sight of God.’

However, where widows had children or grandchildren it was they who were to ‘honour’ their ageing parent, fulfilling their religious responsibility towards them and paying them back for all the care and love that they had bestowed on them. For this was what was acceptable in the sight of God.

It should be noted here that the Christian had a responsibility towards ageing parents, not only to provide for them but to cherish them. The same responsibility applies today. Our parents have cared for us and looked after us for many years, and if we are Christians we will reciprocate when the time comes, for that is what God expects of us. Compare Mark 7:10-12; Ephesians 6:2)

‘To show piety.’ This is the parallel verb to the noun for godliness. It indicates ‘to fulfil responsibility’, in this case to parents. The same construction as here is found on the lips of Paul in Acts 17:23 where Paul has in mind the fulfilling of man’s responsibility towards God.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

. Widows.—The space devoted to "widows" indicates the existence of a special difficulty in Asia. Paul gives Timothy definite instructions. (a) Deserving widows really left alone should be maintained from Church funds (1 Timothy 5:3). (b) The funds, however, must not be burdened by widows with descendants or friends capable of assisting. Descendants must make it their first charge to fulfil the family obligation involved. Otherwise they disown the Christian way of life, and acknowledge a standard lower than that of unbelievers (1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16). (c) The mark of a true widow is that, avoiding dissipation, which is spiritual death (cf. Revelation 3:1), she has forsaken domestic ties (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:33 f.) for the wholehearted service of God (1 Timothy 5:5 f.; contrast 1 Timothy 5:11 f.). (d) None should be placed on the official roll who is not (i) sixty years old, (ii) of proved self-restraint, (iii) of established reputation for good works (1 Timothy 5:9 f.). (e) Young widows should not be included, because (i) they may wish to remarry, and so violate their troth to Christ; (ii) in their visiting they may become busybodies. Since, then, they cannot control their natural instincts, let them marry again and attend to household cares (so 1 Corinthians 7:8 f.). Actual experience shows this to be wise (1 Timothy 5:11-15).

forms a single paragraph. It is usual to refer 1 Timothy 5:3-8 to the maintenance of widows, and 1 Timothy 5:9-16 to the selection of an "order" within the Church's official ministry. Though the maintained widows doubtless rendered some service, this sub-division is improbable, because (a) the subject of maintenance is still prominent in 1 Timothy 5:16, (b) the same word "widow" would not bear two different meanings within a few verses, (c) a minimum age-limit of sixty is more natural in charity than in service.

1 Timothy 5:3. honour: as context proves, embraces the idea of "maintain."

1 Timothy 5:4. grandchildren: the old meaning of "nephews" (AV).

1 Timothy 5:7. these things: the points made in 1 Timothy 5:3-6. The "but" of 1 Timothy 5:8 shows the descendants to be included in those to be "without reproach."

1 Timothy 5:9. wife, etc., 1 Timothy 3:2* (mutatis mutandis).

1 Timothy 5:10. children: whether her own or adopted. Care of orphans ranked among the good works encouraged by Judaism (Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, p. 138).

1 Timothy 5:14. adversary: i.e. human opponents.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary


1Ti . Children or nephews.—R.V. "children or grandchildren." "Descendants, or more specially, as the context implies, grandchildren—nephews in the original but now antiquated sense of the word" (Ellicott). Shew piety at home.—Another example of St. Paul's natural religion. Filial piety is what he here enjoins.

1Ti . She that is a widow indeed.—Like old Anna who "departed not from the Temple"—left desolate for a long lifetime.

1Ti . She that liveth in pleasure.—R.V. "giveth herself to pleasure." The only other use of the word in the New Testament is Jas 5:5.—an instructive parallel. Dead while she liveth.—As in the vivid thought of the East that which was certain was spoken of as actual, so St. Paul regards a wanton life as an actual death.

1Ti . If any provide not.—If he does not use his judgment to anticipate the needs. For his own, and specially for those of his own house.—This cuts at the root of the improvidence which might originate in the care of the Church, through the deacons, for those who were destitute. A man's household must be his concern rather than that of the Church or the board of guardians.

1Ti . Let not a widow be taken into the number.—R.V. "Let none be enrolled as a widow." It has been suggested that they were an order of widows who took the oversight of the younger women. Perhaps they acted as chaperons.

1Ti . Brought up children.—Whether her own children, or others left as orphans, it is not easy to decide. Lodged strangers.—R.V. "used hospitality to." Not only with the possibility of finding angels (Heb 13:2) amongst them, but with the direct assurance that the Lord Himself, in His lowliest servant, was honoured.

1Ti . The younger widows refuse.—"They were not necessarily to be excluded from the alms of the Church, but were only to be held ineligible for the collegium viduarum" (Ellicott).

1Ti . Tattlers also, and busy-bodies.—Like Diotrephes—going about prating against St. John—these babblers give unrestrained licence to their tongues, and permit others no peace from their meddlesomeness.

1Ti . If any man or woman that believeth have widows.—How were the younger widows to be supported then? Let their relatives care for them rather than place them in a position to bring reproach on the community.


Widows and the Early Christian Church.

I. There was a distinction recognised between the different grades of widowhood.—In this paragraph four classes of widows are mentioned.

1. The widow indeed (1Ti ; 1Ti 5:5). She is desolate, quite alone in the world. She has not only lost her husband, but is without children or any other near relative to provide for her needs. The Church must be to her in place of husband and family, and seek to mitigate as much as possible the oppressive loneliness of her life.

2. The widow with a family. "Children and grandchildren" (1Ti ). It is the Christian duty of the members of the family to provide for the wants of the home (1Ti 5:4; 1Ti 5:8; 1Ti 5:16). The Church must not burden itself with responsibilities that belong to others, and which they must be taught to discharge.

3. The widow living in pleasure. Gay, frivolous, and even worse (1Ti ; 1Ti 5:11-15). Her young, passionate nature must be restrained, and be warned not to bring discredit and disgrace upon herself and the Church. 4. The enrolled widow (1Ti 5:9-10). She must be sixty years of age, have had only one husband, have had experience in the bringing up of children, and be well known as devoted to good works. She is a widow indeed, and something more. She has an office in the Church with definite functions to discharge, and the Church is responsible for her support.

II. Discretion and tact were necessary in dealing with the different classes of widows.—Timothy was young, and was exhorted so to behave himself that his moral integrity should command respect in spite of his youth. Respect must be shown towards age and moral worth (1Ti ), and discretion exercised in dealing with the young and wanton (1Ti 5:6-7). There is a shrewd insight into human nature in one of the rules imposed by Wesley on his early preachers: "Converse sparingly with women, especially with young women." "Care must be taken not to encourage either a rigour not likely to be maintained, or opportunities of idleness certain to lead to mischief. Help is to be generously afforded to the destitute, but the resources of the Church must be jealously guarded. They must not be wasted on the unworthy, or on those who have other means of help. And, so far as possible, the independence of those who are relieved must be protected by employing them in the service of the Church" (1Ti 5:3-16) (Plummer).

III. The principle of self-help and independence in the Christian family is recognised and strongly enforced (1Ti ; 1Ti 5:8; 1Ti 5:16).—The Church is not to be regarded as a permanent board of relief constituted for the administration of indiscriminate charity. It does not and should not free any of its members from responsibilities by undertaking for them in mistaken charity the duties they ought to discharge and are capable of discharging themselves. Christianity teaches the gospel of work, not as an end in itself, but as a means of securing support and independence, and of freely ministering to the good of others. No one should be encouraged to attach himself or herself to the Church for the sake of personal maintenance. The Church must keep her needy members, but all who can work should be stimulated to honest and diligent industry.


1. The young minister must be circumspect in his behaviour towards women.

2. The Church should shelter and help its deserving widows.

3. The Church should encourage work and a spirit of independence.


1Ti ; 1Ti 5:8; 1Ti 5:16. Family Responsibilities.

I. Parents and children should mutually contribute to the family support.

II. The help of children afforded to their parents is a just requital of parental toil and affection.

III. The neglect of self-evident family duties is utterly alien to the spirit and teaching of Christianity (1Ti ).

1Ti . The Christian Home—

I. Is the sphere for exercising practical religion.—"Learn first to show piety at home."

II. Recognises the righteous claims of the widowed mother to affection and support.—"If any widow have children or grandchildren, let them … requite their parents."

III. Enjoys the Divine approval.—"For that is good and acceptable before God."

Piety at Home.

I. The home must be safe.

II. Make it attractive.

III. Make it instructive.

IV. Make the home a preparation for life.

V. Make the home a preparation for heaven.

VI. Keep the home near heaven.—J. Hamilton.

1Ti . Consistency of Benevolence with providing for our own.

I. Whenever the conduct proposed is physically impossible, it cannot be our duty.

II. Wherever this conduct would frustrate the great end of benevolence by lessening human happiness, it cannot be our duty.—

1. If the interests and duties of mankind were all thrown into a common stock, there would be little or no good done to any.

2. The division of human industry should be voluntary.

3. By the institution of families preparation is effectually made for the preservation, support, and education of children.

4. All the duties of man respect especially the objects he best knows, those to which he can most frequently and effectually extend his beneficence.—Dwight.

1Ti . Young Widowhood—

I. Has its special perils.—

1. In rebelling against the claims of Christ (1Ti ).

2. In degenerating into habits of idleness and mischievous gossip (1Ti ).

II. Has its safeguards in the duties and responsibilities of domestic life.

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

(1) ¶ Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; (2) The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. (3) ¶ Honour widows that are widows indeed. (4) But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. (5) Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. (6) But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. (7) And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. (8) But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

I forbear to comment on those directions. They are too plain to need any. I only pause over the last of those verses, to observe the very strong language Paul useth, when speaking of a man's not providing for his own, in calling him worse than an Infidel. And it is the highest reproach to a member of Christ's body, when he passeth by the ties of grace; while we find carnal men are sometimes so eminent for observance of them in the ties of nature. And the argument runs thus: a carnal man, when entering into the concerns of his natural alliances, proves thereby the common nature he feels for those with whom he is interested. If therefore a man professeth to be a partaker of grace, and consequently supposed to be member of Christ's mystical body; and yet can behold another member suffer want in any sense, either spiritual or temporal, and doth not relieve him, he denies the very principle which he professeth; and is worse than the Infidel, who knows nothing of gracious feelings, and makes no profession of them. Reader! if this maxim of the Apostle was made the standard on those occasions, to ascertain a man's faith, is it not to be feared, that very frequently many would be found that do not, come up to it? And yet John, the beloved Apostle, gives it to the Church, for a general rule, to ascertain character. We know (said he) that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. 1 John 3:14.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

People's New Testament

Honor widows that are widows indeed. In the church at Jerusalem the widows were honored with support (Acts 6:1). The teaching of Paul here seems to place widows who were above sixty years old, and without children or grandchildren to support them, in a class of church widows devoted to the work of the church, and supported out of its funds. Such were "widows indeed."

But if any widow hath children or nephews. These must support them, and thus "show piety at home." Nephews is better rendered "grandchildren."

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Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "People's New Testament". 1891.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

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.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Grandchildren (εκγοναekgona). Old word from εκγινομαιekginomai here only in N.T.

Let them learn (μαντανετωσανmanthanetōsan). The children and grandchildren of a widow. Present active imperative third person plural of μαντανωmanthanō “Let them keep on learning.”

First (πρωτονprōton). Adverb, first before anything else. No “corban” business here. No acts of “piety” toward God will make up for impiety towards parents.

To shew piety (ευσεβεινeusebein). Present active infinitive with μαντανετωσανmanthanetōsan and old verb, in N.T. only here and Acts 17:23. From ευσεβηςeusebēs (ευ σεβομαιeuτον ιδιον οικονsebomai), pious, dutiful.

Their own family (αμοιβας αποδιδοναιton idion oikon). “Their own household.” Filial piety is primary unless parents interfere with duty to Christ (Luke 14:26).

To requite (αποδιδωμιamoibas apodidonai). Present active infinitive of Αμοιβαςapodidōmi to give back, old and common verb (Romans 2:6), to keep on giving back. αμειβομαιAmoibas (from τοις προγονοιςameibomai to requite like for like) is old and common word, but here only in N.T.

Their parents (προγονοςtois progonois). Dative case of old and common word προγινομαιprogonos (from αποδεκτονproginomai to come before), “ancestor.” In N.T. only here and 2 Timothy 1:3. See note on 1 Timothy 2:3 for “acceptable” (apodekton).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Sermon Bible Commentary

1 Timothy 5:4

Piety at Home.

I. The home must be safe. It must be a sanctuary, where there is nothing to hurt or destroy. It is a great and lifelong benefit when life's outset is passed in an atmosphere of truth and openness, and nothing is more disastrous than that system of false threatening and coercion which makes its little victims both incredulous and superstitious, both cowardly and cunning. Be yourself fair, candid, evenly-minded, making it easy to others to tell the truth, listening to both sides of the story, and careful to judge righteous judgment. And keep out all that has the opposite tendency.

II. Make home attractive. The Australian bower-bird has its playing-place, a curious tunnel of twigs adorned with shells and pebbles and glittering potsherds, through which it has unwearied delight with its companions in whisking to and fro. And man himself is a bower-bird; merry movement, gay music, light objects; every child has the love of them—every home should be full of them. He is the good God who gives the gaiety, and he would be a gloomy demon who would drive it away.

III. Make home instructive. Be yourself intelligent; to surrounding minds a kindly, high-toned presence gives something they can grasp and which keeps them from cleaving to the dust.

IV. Make the home a preparation for life, and also a preparation for heaven. The only commodity which we can count on carrying through life is character; and by character we mean all those elements which enter into our moral and spiritual composition—faith in God, reverence, submission to His will, love to Christ, a sweet and gracious disposition, practical beneficence, a readiness for praise and thanksgiving. Keep the home near heaven. Let it face towards the Father's house.

J. Hamilton, Works, vol. vi., p. 503.

References: 1 Timothy 5:4.—G. D. Macgregor, Christian World Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 198; E. W. Shalders, Ibid., vol. xiii., p. 157; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. xi., p. 277. 1 Timothy 5:6.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 208; Forsyth and Hamilton, Pulpit Parables, p. 137. 1 Timothy 5:8.—J. H. Thom, Laws of Life, 2nd series, p. 210. 1 Timothy 5:10.—J. T. Stannard, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 154. 1 Timothy 5:17-25.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. iv., p. 47; Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxii., p. 186. 1 Timothy 5:22.—E. Cooper, Practical Sermons, vol. iii., p. 198.

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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1 Timothy 5:4. The first group thus excluded from those that answer to the name of ‘widow,’ are such as have ‘children or nephews’ (i.e. grandchildren) who are able to support them.

Let them learn. On simply grammatical grounds, the words may refer either to the widows or the children, and each view has found supporters. There can, however, be little or no doubt that the latter is the true reference. ‘Let them show their piety’ not ‘at home,’ but ‘to their own house or family.’ As with the Romans and the Jews, so in some measure even with the Greeks, duty to parents came under the head of piety rather than of legal obligation.

Parents. Strictly speaking, ‘progenitors’ or ‘ancestors,’—the word being chosen in order to include the grandchildren.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books

1 Timothy 5:4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

"piety" is translated worship in Acts 17:23. The Englishman"s concordance states that the literal translation of the word in the Timothy text would be, "to care piously for their own house."

"Requite" is translated shalt perform, shall reward, will pay, shall render, yielded, to give and others. It seems to have the idea of children giving back, as in giving back what they have been given in their lives with their family.

In short the Godly thing to do if you have a widow in your family that is in the need of help, is take her in and show her the proper hospitality and care for her as she cared for you.

This concept is not widely held in our own society. We tend to say to our old folks, "get lost." This is not to say that care homes etc. are wrong for they are not. In many cases the people need the care that only a care home can offer.

If on the other hand the widow is not in need of that care, but is not able to be in her own surroundings then your place may well be the place where she belongs.

Those dear old mothers took care of us when we needed help, and we should in turn help them when they are in need of help.


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Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Stanley Derickson - Notes on Selected Books".

The Biblical Illustrator

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Timothy 5:4". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16

But if any widow have children or nephews.

Home responsibilities

We are reminded here--

I. That home responsibilities are to be accepted as the appointment of God. The sacredness of family relationship is constantly insisted upon both in the Old Testament and the New. All transgressions against it were severely punished under the Mosaic economy, and were condemned still more solemnly by our Lord. A word of exposition on the first clause in the fourth verse is desirable, “If any widows have children or nephews, let them (i.e., not the widows, but the children or nephews)
learn first to show piety (filial love) at home.” The word “nephews” is used by our translators in its old English sense, and is rendered in the Revised Version by its nearest modern equivalent, “grand children,” for in the writings of Chaucer, Sir Thomas More, and John Locke, “nephews” is used to denote grandchildren. And similarly, when it is said
they are to requite their “parents,” more is included than fathers or mothers, for the apostle’s word is equivalent to the Scotch “forbears,” for which the English language has no exact synonym. The idea is that we owe a debt of gratitude to those from whom we have derived existence, and to whom we owe the support, care, and education we have received. We are bound to see that to the utmost of our ability their wants in old age are met.

II. That among our God-given responsibilities is the duty of labouring for the support of the weak. Among the blessings of our human relationships is this: that honest work is necessitated. We have seen instances in which a young fellow who has spent all his salary on cigars, dress, and amusements, has after his marriage buckled to work, and displayed an energy and ability for which none had given him credit before. Many a brave young wife and self-sacrificing mother has been ennobled through her home duties, having completely abandoned the foolish and trivial pursuits to which she was once addicted. And what numberless instances there are of men, whose diligence and self-abnegation are beyond praise, who have become what they are by first feeling the responsibility of caring and working for a widowed mother!

III. Paul emphatically declares that those who fail in these responsibilities have denied the faith and are worse than infidels. Stern as the words are, they are true! Even the heathen, certainly the better class of them, were wont to acknowledge filial duties, and would have condemned cynical disregard of parents and refusal to fulfil natural duties towards them. This is an offence against humanity, and therefore, in the deepest sense, an offence against Christ. But a Christian professes to have higher motives in duty than others. Let us never for get that the test of character is to be found in family relationships rather than in those which are ecclesiastical; and that it is in the home first and chiefest of all that Christ’s disciples are to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour. (A. Rowland, LL. B.)

Piety at home.--

Life at home

A church within a church, a republic within a republic, a world within a world, is spelled by four letters--Hornet If things go right there, they go right everywhere; if things go wrong there, they go wrong everywhere. The door-sill of the dwelling-house is the foundation of Church and State. A man never gets higher than his own garret or lower than his own cellar. In other words, domestic life overarches and underguides all other life. George Washington commanded the forces of the United States, but Mary Washington commanded George. Chrysostom’s mother made his pen for him. As individuals, we are fragments. God makes the races in parts, and then He gradually puts us together. What I lack, you make up; what you lack, I make up; our deficits and surpluses of character being the wheels in the great social mechanism. One person has the patience, another has the courage, another has the placidity, another has the enthusiasm; that which is lacking in one is made up by another, or made up by all. Buffaloes in herds; grouse in broods; quails in flocks; the human race in circles. Our usefulness, and the welfare of society, depend upon our staying in just the place that God has put us, or intended we should occupy. For more compactness, and that we may be more useful, we are gathered in still smaller circles in the home group. And there you have the same varieties again; brothers, sisters, husband, and wife; all different in temperaments and tastes. It is fortunate that it should be so. If the husband be all impulse, the wife must be all prudence. If one sister be sanguine in her temperament, the other must be lymphatic. Mary and Martha are necessities. Then there are those who will, after awhile, set up for themselves a home, and it is right that I should speak out upon these themes.

1. My first counsel to you is, have Jesus in your new home, if it is a new home; and let Him who was a guest at Bethany be in your new household; let the Divine blessing drop upon your every hope, and plan, and expectation. Those young people who begin with God end with heaven.

2. My second advice to you in your home is, to exercise to the very last possibility of your nature the law of forbearance. Prayers in the household will not make up for everything. Some of the best people in the world are the hardest to get along with. Sometimes it will be the duty of the husband and sometimes of the wife to yield; but both stand punctiliously on your rights, and you will have a Waterloo with no Blucher coming up at nightfall to decide the conflict. The best thing I ever heard of my grandfather, whom I never saw, was this: that once, having unrighteously rebuked one of his children, he himself--having lost his patience, and, perhaps, having been misinformed of the child’s doings--found out his mistake, and in the evening of the same day gathered all his family together, and said: “Now, I have one explanation to make, and one thing to say. Thomas, this morning I rebuked you very unfairly. I am very sorry for it. I rebuked you in the presence of the whole family, and now I ask your forgiveness in their presence.” It must have taken some courage to do that.

3. I advise, also, that you make your chief pleasure circle around about that home. It is unfortunate when it is otherwise. If the husband spend the most of his nights away from home, of choice and not of necessity, he is not the head of the household; he is only the cashier. If the wife throw the cares of the household into the servant’s lap, and then spend five nights of the week at the opera or theatre, she may clothe her children with satins, and laces, and ribbons that would confound a French milliner, but they are orphans.

4. I advise you also to cultivate sympathy of occupation. Sir James McIntosh, one of the most eminent and elegant men that ever lived, while standing at the very height of his eminence, said to a great company of scholars: “My wife made me.” The wife ought to be the advising partner in every firm. She ought to be interested in all the losses and gains of shop and store. She ought to have a right--she has a right--to know everything. Your gains are one, your interests are one, your losses are one; lay hold of the work of life with both hands. Four hands to fight the battles. Four eyes to watch for the danger. Four shoulders on which to carry the trials. It is a very sad thing when the painter has a wife who does not like pictures. It is a very sad thing for a pianist when she has a husband who does not like music.

5. I have one more word of advice to give to those who would have a happy home, and that is: let love preside in it. (T. De Witt Talmage.)

Home, sweet home

How many are longing for grand spheres in which to serve God. They admire Luther at the Diet of Worms, and wish they had some such daring opportunity in which to exhibit Christian character. Now, the apostle comes to such persons, in my text, and says: “I will show you a place where you can exhibit all that is grand, and beautiful, and glorious in the Christian character, and that place is the domestic circle.” “Let them learn first to show piety at home.” Indeed, if a man does not serve God on a small scale, he never will serve Him on a large scale. I propose to speak to you of home as a test, of home as a refuge, of home as a political safeguard, of home as a school, of home as a type of heaven.

I. The home, in the first place, is the most powerful test of one’s character. A man’s disposition in public may be in gay costume, while in private it is in deshabille. The play actor does differently on the platform from the way he does behind the scenes; and public life is often a very different thing from private life. A man will receive you in his parlour with so much gracefulness that he seems to be the distillation of smiles, while in his heart there is a swamp of nettles. Private life is often public life turned wrong side out. The lips that drop with myrrh and cassia--the disposition that seems to be warm and bright as a sheaf of sunbeams, may only be a magnificent show-window to a wretched stock of goods. The harp that all day sang like an angel, may at night grate like a saw. There are those who are philanthropists in public life, who in home life are the Nero with respect to their slippers and their gown. The great Newton, after he had spent half of his life on one manuscript, came into his study one day and found that his dog had torn the manuscript to pieces. All he said was: “Little Diamond, you know not how much trouble you have given your master.” Audubon, the great ornithologist, with gun and pencil, went all through the forests of this country for the purpose of bringing down and sketching the birds of the land; then went home, put the valuable documents in a trunk, and, after an absence, found that the rats had completely devoured the manuscripts, so that again he took gun and pencil, and again went through the forests of the land, reproducing that which was destroyed; while there are many in private life who, at the loss of a pencil or an article of clothing, will act as though they had met with a severe and irreparable loss, and will blow sharp, and loud, and long as a north-east storm. Let us learn to show piety at home.

II. Again: I remark that home is a refuge. The home is the tent we pitch to rest in, our bayonets stacked, our war caps hung up, our heads resting on the knapsack until the morning bugle sounds, warning us to strike tent and prepare for marching and action. Oh, what a pleasant place it is to talk over the day’s victories, and surprises, and attacks, seated by the still camp-fires of the domestic circle. Life is a stormy sea. With shivered mast, and torn sail, and hulk aleak, we put into the harbour of home. Into this dry-dock we come for repair. Blessed harbour! The candle in the window is to the labouring man the lighthouse guiding him into port. May God pity the poor miserable wretch who has not any home.

III. Again: I remark that the home is a political safeguard. The safety of the State depends upon the character of the home. The Christian hearthstone is the only foundation for a Republic. In the family virtues are cultured which are a necessity for the State; and if there be not enough moral principle to make the family adhere, there cannot be enough political principle to make the State adhere. No home, no free institution. No home makes a nation of Goths and Vandals; makes the Nomads of Central Asia; makes the Numidians of Africa, changing from month to month, and from place to place, as the pasture happens to change.

IV. I go further, and speak of home as a school. Old ground must be upturned by a subsoil plough, and harrowed and re-harrowed, and then it will not yield as good a crop as new ground with less culture. Now, infancy and childhood are new ground, and all that is scattered over that ground will yield luxuriantly. Make your home the brightest place on earth if you would charm your children into the high path of rectitude and religion. Do not always have the blinds turned the wrong way. Let God’s light, that puts gold on the gentian and spots the pansy, stream into your windows. Do not expect your children to keep step to a dead march. A dark home makes bad boys and bad girls to be bad men and bad women. Above all, take into your homes thorough Christian principle. (T. De Witt Talmage.)

Home piety

I. Our first endeavour will be to show what piety is. This is all the more needful, as mistakes, numerous and fatal, exist on this vital subject, not only in the world, but also in the Church. It is “the mind that was in Christ, leading us to walk as He also walked.”

1. Piety has its principles. It is not like a tree without a root; or a stream without a spring. It is originated, sustained, and cherished by an experimental acquaintance with God in Christ; for “this is life eternal, to know Thee, the true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent.” Here, then, we have the principles of piety--knowledge, faith, love, submission, and holy fear. A cluster of good things; the soul and spirit of true religion; the gift of the Divine hand; the fruit of the Spirit; the purchase of Messiah’s blood; and the earnest of everlasting life.

2. Piety has its enjoyments. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her.” The forgiveness of sins, access to God as a Father, the communion of Saints, the hope of everlasting life, the possession of a new nature, constitute a well-spring of blessedness to the humble, believing, obedient soul.

3. Piety has its duties. “If ye love Me, said the Saviour, keep My commandments; not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” With what frequency and earnestness has practical piety been enforced in the law and the prophets, as also by our Lord and His apostles!

II. We proceed to show where piety is to be made manifest. If the principles and rootlets of piety be out of sight, their existence and power may easily be made apparent. Vegetable life in this sweet jessamine, or in yonder blushing rose, is far beyond our ken; but the effects of life are plain enough to be seen--the rind, the bud, the leaf, the flower, tell us that life is there. As to animal life--the sparkling eye, the ruddy countenance, the cheerful voice, the active limb, show us that life is there; but it is as much a mystery as ever; as far out of sight as ever. Steam, as it lies in the bosom of the boiler, is invisible; but the stroke of the piston, the sweep of the u heel, and the speed of the train, as well as the condensing power of the atmosphere, tell us that it is there. So of piety: much of it is hidden from the public gaze--its depths are not seen. Christian life is hid with Christ in God. Yet if spiritual life exists, it will give proof of its existence and power. Hence at Antioch, when Barnabas “had seen the grace of God, he was glad.” And exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. Fire must burn, a fountain must flow, a good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit--Therefore show piety.

1. In general, wherever the providence of God may place you. The shop, the ship, the market, the farm, the factory, the counting-house, will afford you opportunities for confessing your Lord.

2. In particular, let your piety appear at home. Show to those around you, that the fear and love of God control your desires, purposes, words, and deeds; whatever your relation to the family circle--in whatever department your duty lies, act your part with cheerfulness, fidelity, and to the extent of your ability. See, that your piety is such as never can be reasonably questioned.

3. The considerations by which this important duty may be enforced are numerous and weighty. Would to God we could rightly see and feel them. God, our Saviour, has made Christian believers “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, to show forth the praises of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvellous light.” And shall they not do His pleasure? Shall not Christian people acknowledge their Owner--and the claims of Him who hath made, redeemed, and saved them--by giving up themselves to His service, by glorifying Him, both at home and abroad, in their body and spirit, which are His? Besides, as members of the family circle, are we not bound to promote its comfort, safety, and welfare to the extent of our ability? If you feel any interest in the prosperity of the Church, the conversion of poor sinners, the general good of society, show piety at home. Be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Tread in the steps of faithful Abraham, the pattern of believers, and the friend of God, who commanded his children and household after him to keep the way of the Lord. Drink into the spirit of Joshua, who served the Lord himself, and put forth all his strength to lead his family to do likewise. (J. J. Topham.)

The Christian at home

Some characteristics of home piety.

1. A careful respect for the rights of each member of the family. It is our first duty to be just towards each other, and a duty which is obligatory all round, as between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, families and their relatives, employers and servants. It is not always easy to be just. It requires thoughtful consideration and some power of imaginative sympathy even on the part of those who desire to do as they would be done by. A great deal of the wrong that is suffered in the world arises out of unwitting injustice. Some persons are grossly and habitually unjust to those about them, misrepresenting their opinions, and imposing upon them sacrifices of feeling and trouble, while in other respects they are singularly generous. Another frequent cause of unhappiness in families is the partiality shown to a favourite child. This also justice forbids.

2. Next to careful respect for the rights of others I may mention great forbearance in asserting our own. A small thing in family life, but most significant as an index to character, is the self-pleasing with which some persons secure their own preferences at table. Even if they make a show of giving up what others like, they do it so ostentatiously that their generosity is generally declined. But real self-denial, that can find pleasure in the gratification of others, will conceal its preferences so that they may enjoy what they like without knowing that it is at the expense of any one else.

3. A third characteristic of home piety is the endeavour to please those about us for their good. A cheerful manner, a flow of wise and genial conversation, sparkling here and there with some bright coruscation of wit, flavoured always with the salt of cultured taste, and sometimes suggestive of serious thoughts, is a fine means of pleasing and benefiting others. Show piety at home by learning to talk well and wisely.

4. Lastly, piety should be shown at home in a devout regard for the honour of God. At the principal meals of the day, and morning or evening, if not both morning and evening, reverence should find suitable expression in acts of worship. You must be guided by your own sense of fitness as to what arrangements you shall make for this purpose. Let us systematically choose the good part, seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, endeavour to catch the spirit of our Master, and let its influence be diffused throughout our whole life. (E. W. Shalders, B. A.)

Piety at home

The radiance of a Christian character is to shine around the family hearth. In most minds the word home awakens emotions both sweet and solemn. Our tenderest relations, our strongest affections, our highest joys, our deepest sorrows, all are touched by the thought of home. The great duty which our text enjoins is the cultivation of piety at home.

I. Home is the place where character is most tested; and if piety be not shown there, it cannot be shown anywhere. Our real character is not so much shown in what we do intentionally and with a purpose, as in what we do impulsively and without reflection. Abroad in the world men may wear a cloak--they may deceive others, they may deceive themselves as to their true character; but at home the cloak generally slips aside, the true character comes out, and those who see them in their unguarded hours know them as they really are. Often a word, a look, or even a gesture in the family will give more insight into a man’s heart than years of observation of his public life. The close intercourse of home life tries as well as reveals the real character. That which tries character also helps to form it. Home not only shows what we are, it helps to make us what we shall be for ever. The education which is deepest and most enduring is that of the home school.

II. Home is sometimes the scene of our deepest sorrows: and piety is the best help to enable us to bear these. The causes which disturb the happiness of home are manifold. Unwise marriage unions are the cause of much family misery. Bad habits are a frequent occasion of home sorrow, Evil tempers sometimes ruin the happiness of home. A practical carrying out of our text would speedily correct the evils to which we have referred, and change the character of the home-life where they have been endured. Were all the members of a family to “learn to show piety at home,” what a scene of blessedness that would be! But there are other trials which sometimes convert the home into a “house of mourning,” and which piety alone can enable us to meet. There are homes in which the pinching of poverty has to be endured. There are homes where disease presses with his heavy hand; and homes over which death spreads his black and chilly wing. But if there be only one pious member of the family, how the others will look to him and lean upon him in their hour of bereavement and sorrow! The influence acquired by consistency of character now operates for the good of his afflicted friends.

III. Home ought to be the scene of our highest joy; and piety is the only means to make it so, The mutual love and confidence so essential to family happiness, can be produced and secured by nothing so certainly as by a common affection for the Saviour. How blessed are the ties of nature when they are sanctified and strengthened by grace! (G. D. Macgregor.)

Selfish children

An old Virginia minister said lately, “Men of my profession see much of the tragic side of life. I have seen men die in battle, have seen children die, but no death ever seemed so pathetic to me as the death of an aged mother in my church. I knew her first as a young girl, beautiful, gay, full of joy and hope. She married and had four children. Her husband died and left her penniless. She sewed, she made drawings, she taught, she gave herself scarcely time to eat or sleep. Every thought was for her children, to educate them, to give them the advantages their father would have given them had he lived. She succeeded. She sent her boys to college and her girls to school. When all came home they gave themselves up to their own selfish pursuits. She lingered among them some three years, and then was stricken with mortal illness brought on by overwork. The children gathered around her bedside. The oldest son took her in his arms. He said, ‘You have been a good mother to us.’ That was not much to say, was it? It was much to her, who had never heard anything like it. A flush came over her pallid face, and with faint voice she whispered, ‘My son, you never said so before!’” (Dr. Hoge.)

John Gough and his mother

I remember, when my father was away in the Peninsular war, my mother, who used to work lace very nicely (and she grew very nearly blind by it), went one day from Sandgate to Dover, eight and a half miles, to sell it. I went out to play, having the whole day to myself till she came back. I was a famous reader when I was a little bit of a thing, and I never remember the time when I learned to read, and I can’t remember when I could not read with the book the wrong side up. As I was playing, a boy came up to me and said, “Johnny Gough, Mr. Purday wants you in the library.” Well, I ran into the library, and I remember being taken into a little room, and a girl dipped her hands in water and rubbed my face, and brushed my hair back, to make me look decent, and then took me into the reading-room, where there was a venerable looking gentleman, whom I distinctly remember they called “my lord.” Mr. Purday said, “This is the boy I was speaking of”; and he then put a newspaper into my hands, and asked me to read a certain column to him, which I did. He gave me a five-shilling piece; another gentleman gave me sixpence; and the proprietor of the library gave me two pennies. Oh I how rich I was! I went out to play with the boys; I put my hands in my pockets now and then, and jingled my money, and then went on playing again. After a while a boy came to me and said, “Johnny, your mother has got home.” I ran into the house, and there sat my poor mother upon a stool, faint and weary, with her basket of lace at her side. Her face was buried in her hands; I heard her sob, and I never could bear to hear my mother cry. “Mother, mother,” said I, “what is the matter?” “My poor child,” she said, “I have not sold a farthings-worth to-day, and what we shall do God only knows!” Said I, “Mother, just look at this!” and she did look at it; and she said, “Why John, where did you get that?” “I have been into the library; one gentleman gave me that, another gave me that, and Mr. Purday gave me these two pennies. My mother went upon her knees, clasped me around the neck, lifted up her eyes, thanked God, and then gave me a halfpenny all to myself! And what do you suppose I did with it? I went out and changed it into two farthings, and I never enjoyed money as much as that all the days of my life. (J. B. Gough.)

A widow’s trust in God

M. Poinsot, the devoted Protestant Scripture-reader at Charleroi, has been much blessed in his arduous and heroic work for Christ. He says in his journal--“I visited a poor woman of seventy-six years of age, alone, poor, and ill. I said to her, ‘The nights must seem very long to you, being always alone?’ ‘If I were alone,’ she replied, ‘I should have been dead long ago, but I have a Friend who never leaves me day nor night; I commune always with Him, and His Word comforts me.’ ‘But,’ I said, ‘if you became worse in the night?’ ‘He would take care of me,’ was the reply; ‘He is the best Doctor in Belgium.’”

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Timothy 5:4". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Timothy 5:4. Nephews, Or, grand-children.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

Chapter 14


THE subject of this fifth chapter is "The Behavior of the Pastor towards the older and younger men and women in the congregation." Some have thought that it forms the main portion of the letter to which all the rest is more or less introductory or supplementary. But the structure of the letter cannot easily be brought into harmony with this view. It seems to be much nearer the truth to say that the unpremeditated way in which this subject is introduced cannot well be explained unless we assume that we are reading a genuine letter, and not a forged treatise. The connection of the different subjects touched upon is loose and not always very obvious. Points are mentioned in the order in which they occur to the writer’s mind without careful arrangement. After the personal exhortations given at the close of chapter 4, which have a solemnity that might lead one to suppose that the Apostle was about to bring his words to a close, he makes a fresh start and treats of an entirely new subject which has occurred to him.

It is not difficult to guess what has suggested the new subject. The personal exhortations with which the previous section ends contain these words, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity." Timothy is not to allow the fact that he is younger than many of those over whom he is set to interfere with the proper discharge of his duties. He is to give no one a handle for charging him with want of gravity or propriety. Sobriety of conduct is to counterbalance any apparent lack of experience. But St. Paul remembers that there is another side to that. Although Timothy is to behave in such a way as never to remind his flock of his comparative youthfulness, yet he himself is always to bear in mind that he is still a young man. This is specially to be remembered in dealing with persons of either sex who are older than himself, and in his bearing towards young women. St. Paul begins with the treatment of older men and returns to this point again later on. Between these two passages about men he gives directions for Timothy’s guidance respecting the women in his flock, and specially respecting widows. The subject occupies more than half the chapter and is of very great interest, as being our chief source of information respecting the treatment of widows in the early Church.

Commentators are by no means unanimous in their interpretation of the details of the passage, but it is believed that the explanation which is now offered is in harmony with the original Greek, consistent with itself, and not contradicted by anything which is known from other sources.

It is quite evident that more than one kind of widow is spoken of: and one of the questions which the passage raises is-How many classes of widows are indicated? We can distinguish four kinds; and it seems probable that the Apostle means to give us four kinds;

1. There is "the widow indeed ( η οντως χηρα)." Her characteristic is that she is "desolate," i.e., quite alone in the world. She has not only lost her husband, but she has neither children nor any other near relation to minister to her necessities. Her hope is set on God, to Whom her prayers ascend night and day. She is contrasted with two other classes of widow, both of whom are in worldly position better off than she is, for they are not desolate or destitute; yet one of these is far more miserable than the widow indeed, because the manner of life which she adopts is so unworthy of her.

2. There is the widow who "hath children or grandchildren." Natural affection will cause these to take care that their widowed parent does not come to want. If it does not, then they must learn that "to show piety towards their own family and to requite their parents" is a paramount duty, and that the congregation must not be burdened with the maintenance of their mother until they have first done all they can for her. To ignore this plain duty is to deny the first principles of Christianity, which is the gospel of love and duty, and to fall below the level of the unbelievers, most of whom recognized the duty of providing for helpless parents. Nothing is said of the character of the widow who has children or grandchildren to support her; but, like the widow indeed, she is contrasted with the third class of widow, and, therefore, we infer that her character is free from reproach.

3. There is the widow who "giveth herself to pleasure." Instead of continuing in prayers and supplications night and day, she continues in frivolity and luxury, or worse. Of her, as of the Church of Sardis, it may be said, "Thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead." [Revelation 3:1]

4. There is the "enrolled" widow; i.e., one whose name has been entered on the Church rolls as such. She is a "widow indeed" and something more. She is not only a person who needs and deserves the support of the congregation, but has special rights and duties. She holds an office, and has a function to discharge. She is a widow, not merely as having lost her husband, but as having been admitted to the company of those bereaved women whom the Church has entrusted with a definite portion of Church work. This being so, something more must be looked to than the mere fact of her being alone in. the world. She must be sixty years of age, must have had only one husband, have had experience in the bringing up of children, and be well known as devoted to good works. If she has these qualifications, she may be enrolled as a Church widow; but it does not follow that because she has them she will be appointed.

The work to which these elderly women had to devote themselves was twofold:

(1) Prayer, especially intercession for those in trouble;

(2) Works of mercy, especially ministering to the sick, guiding younger Christian women in lives of holiness, and winning over heathen women to the faith.

These facts we learn from the frequent regulations respecting widows during the second, third, and fourth centuries. It was apparently during the second century that the order of widows flourished most.

This primitive order of Church widows must be distinguished from the equally primitive order of deaconesses, and from a later order of widows, which grew up side by side with the earlier order, and continued long after the earlier order had ceased to exist. But it would be contrary to all probability, and to all that we know about Church offices in the Apostolic and sub-Apostolic age, to suppose that the distinctions between different orders of women were as marked in the earliest periods as they afterwards became, or that they were precisely the same in all branches of the Church.

It has been sometimes maintained that the Church widow treated of in the passage before us is identical with the deaconess. The evidence that the two orders were distinct is so strong as almost to amount to demonstration.

1. It is quite possible that this very Epistle supplies enough evidence to make the identification very improbable. If the "women" mentioned in the section about deacons [1 Timothy 3:11] are deaconesses, then the qualifications for this office are quite different from the qualifications for that of a widow, and are treated of in quite different sections of the letter.

2. But even if deaconesses are not treated of at all in that passage, the limit of age seems quite out of place, if they are identical with the widows. In the case of the widows it was important to enroll for this special Church work none who were likely to wish to marry again. And as their duties consisted in a large measure in prayer, advanced age was no impediment, but rather the contrary. But the work of the deaconess was for the most part active work, and it would be unreasonable to admit no one to the office until the best part of her working life was quite over.

The difference in the work assigned to them points in the same direction. As already stated, the special work of the widow was intercessory prayer and ministering to the sick. The special work of the deaconess was guarding the women’s door in the churches, seating the women in the congregation, and attending women at baptisms. Baptism being usually administered by immersion, and adult baptism being very frequent, there was much need of female attendants.

1. At her appointment the deaconess received the imposition of hands, the widow did not. The form of prayer for the ordination of a deaconess is given in the Apostolical Constitutions (8:19, 20), and is worthy of quotation. "Concerning a deaconess, I Bartholomew make this constitution: O Bishop, thou shalt lay thy hands upon her in the presence of the presbytery and of the deacons and deaconesses, and shalt say; O eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and of woman; Who didst replenish with the Spirit Miriam, Deborah, Anna, and Huldah; Who didst not disdain that Thy Only begotten Son should be born of a woman; Who also in the tabernacle of the testimony and in the temple didst ordain women to be keepers of Thy holy gates; -look down now also upon this Thy servant, who is to be ordained to the office of a deaconess. Grant her Thy Holy Spirit and cleanse her from all defilement of flesh and spirit, that she may worthily discharge the work which is committed to her, to Thy glory and the praise of Thy Christ; with Whom be glory and adoration to Thee and to the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen." Nothing of the kind is found for the appointment of a Church widow.

2. It is quite in harmony with the fact that the deaconesses were ordained, while the widows were not, that the widows are placed under the deaconesses. "The widows ought to be grave, obedient to their bishops, their presbyters, and their deacons; and besides these to the deaconesses, with piety, reverence, and fear."

3. The deaconess might be either an unmarried woman or a widow, and apparently the former was preferred. "Let the deaconess be a pure virgin; or at least a widow who has been but once married." But, although such things did occur, Tertullian protests that it is a monstrous irregularity to admit an unmarried woman to the order of widows. Now, if widows and deaconesses were identical, unmarried "widows" would have been quite common, for unmarried deaconesses were quite common. Yet he speaks of the one case of a "virgin widow" which had come under his notice as a marvel, and a monstrosity, and a contradiction in terms. It is true that Ignatius in his letter to the Church of Smyrna uses language which has been thought to support the identification: "I salute the households of my brethren with their wives and children, and the virgins who are called widows." But it is incredible that at Smyrna all the Church widows were unmarried; and it is equally improbable that Ignatius should send a salutation to the unmarried "widows" (if such there were), and ignore the rest. His language, however, may be quite easily explained without any such strange hypothesis. He may mean "I salute those who are called widows, but whom one might really regard as virgins." And in support of this interpretation Bishop Lightfoot quotes Clement of Alexandria, who says that the continent man, like the continent widow, becomes again a virgin; and Tertullian, who speaks of continent widows as being in God’s sight maidens (Deo) as for a second time virgins. But, whatever Ignatius may have meant by "the virgins who are called widows," we may safely conclude that neither in his time, any more than that of St, Paul, were the widows identical with the deaconesses.

The later order of widows which grew up side by side with the Apostolic order, and in the end supplanted., or at any rate survived, the older order, came into existence about the third century. It consisted of persons who had lost their husbands and made a vow never to marry again. From the middle of the second century or a little later we find a strong feeling against second marriages springing up, and this feeling was very possibly intensified when the Gospel came in contact with the German tribes, among whom the feeling already existed independently of Christianity. In this new order of widows who had taken the vow of continence there was no restriction of age, nor was it necessary that they should be persons in need of the alms of the congregation. In the Apostolic order the fundamental idea seems to have been that destitute: widows ought to be supported by the Church, and that in return for this, those of them who were qualified should do some special Church work. In the later order the fundamental idea was that it was a good thing for a widow to remain unmarried, and that a vow to do so would help her to persevere.

In commanding Timothy to "honor widows that are widows indeed" the Apostle states a principle which has had a wide and permanent influence, not only on ecclesiastical discipline but upon European legislation. Speaking of the growth of the modern idea of a will, by which a man can regulate the descent of his property inside and outside his family, Sir Henry Maine remarks, that "the exercise of the Testamentary power was seldom allowed to interfere with the right of the widow to a definite share, and of the children to certain fixed proportions of the devolving inheritance. The shares of the children, as their amount shows, were determined by the authority of Roman law. The provision for the widow was attributable to the exertions of the Church, which never relaxed its solicitude for the interest of wives surviving their husbands-winning, perhaps, one of the most arduous of its triumphs when, after exacting for two or three centuries an express promise from the husband at marriage to endow his wife, it at length succeeded in engrafting the principle of Dower on the Customary Law of all Western Europe." This is one of the numerous instances in which the Gospel, by insisting upon the importance of some humane principle, has contributed to the progress and security of the best elements in civilization.

Not only the humanity, but the tact and common sense of the Apostle are conspicuous throughout the whole passage, whether we regard the general directions respecting the bearing of the young pastor towards the different sections of his flock, old and young, male and female, or the special rules respecting widows. The sum and substance of it appears to be that the pastor is to have abundance of zeal and to encourage it in others, but he is to take great care that, neither in himself nor in those whom he has to guide, zeal outruns discretion. Well-deserved rebukes may do far more harm than good, if they are administered without respect to the position of those who need them. And in all his ministrations the spiritual overseer must beware of giving a handle to damaging criticism. He must not let his good be evil spoken of. So also with regard to the widows. No hard-and-fast rule can be safely laid down. Almost everything depends upon circumstances. On the whole, the case of widows is analogous to that of unmarried women. For those who have strength to forego the married state, in order to devote more time and energy to the direct service of God, it is better to remain unmarried, if single, and if widows, not to marry again. But there is no peculiar blessedness in the unmarried state, if the motive for avoiding matrimony is a selfish one, e.g., to avoid domestic cares and duties and have leisure for personal enjoyment. Among younger women the higher motive is less likely to be present, or at any rate to be permanent. They are so likely sooner or later to desire to marry, that it will be wisest not to discourage them to do so. On the contrary, let it be regarded as the normal thing that a young woman should marry, and that a young widow should marry again. It is not the best thing for them, but it is the safest. Although the highest work for Christ can best be done by those who by remaining single have kept their domestic ties at a minimum, yet young women are more likely to do useful work in society, and are less likely to come to harm, if they marry and have children. Of older women this is not true. Age itself is a considerable guarantee: and a woman of sixty, who is willing to give such a pledge, may be encouraged to enter upon a life of perpetual widowhood. But there must be other qualifications as well, if she wishes to be enrolled among those who not only are entitled by their destitute condition to receive maintenance from the Church, but by reason of their fitness are commissioned to undertake Church work. And these qualifications must be carefully investigated. It would be far better to reject some, who might after all have been useful, than to run the risk of admitting any who would exhibit the scandal of having been supported by the Church and specially devoted to Christian works of mercy, and of having after all returned to society as married women with ordinary pleasures and cares.

One object throughout these directions is the economy of Christian resources. The Church accepts the duty which it inculcates of "providing for its own." But it ought not to be burdened with the support of any but those who are really destitute. The near relations of necessitous persons must be taught to leave the Church free to relieve those who have no near relations to support them. Secondly, so far as is possible, those who are relieved by the alms of the congregation must be encouraged to make some return in undertaking Church work that is suitable to them. St. Paul has no idea of pauperizing people. So long as they can, they must maintain themselves. When they have ceased to be able to do this, they must be supported by their children or grandchildren. If they have no one to help them, the Church must undertake their support; but both for their sake as well as for the interests of the community, it must, if possible, make the support granted to be a return for work done rather than mere alms. Widowhood must not be made a plea for being maintained in harmful idleness. But the point which the Apostle insists on most emphatically, stating it in different ways no less than three times in this short section (1 Timothy 5:4; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:16) is this, - that widows as a rule ought to be supported by their own relations; only in exceptional cases, where there are no relations who can help, ought the Church to have to undertake this duty. We have here a warning against the-mistake so often made at the present day of freeing people from their responsibilities by undertaking for them in mistaken charity the duties which they ought to discharge, and are capable of discharging, themselves.

We may, therefore, sum up the principles laid down thus:-

Discretion and tact are needed in dealing with the different sections of the congregation, and especially in relieving the widows. Care must be taken not to encourage either a rigor not likely to be maintained, or opportunities of idleness certain to lead to mischief. Help is to be generously afforded to the destitute; but the resources of the Church must be jealously guarded. They must not be wasted on the unworthy, or on those who have other means of help. And, so far as possible, the independence of those who are relieved must be protected by employing them in the service of the Church.

In conclusion it may be worth while to point out that this mention of an order of widows is no argument against the Pauline authorship of these Epistles, as if no such thing existed in his time. In Acts 6:1 the widows appear as a distinct body in the Church at Jerusalem. In Acts 9:39; Acts 9:41, they appear almost as an order in the Church at Joppa. They "show the coats and garments which Dorcas made" in a way which seems to imply that it was their business to distribute such things among the needy. Even if it means no more than that Dorcas made them for the relief of the widows themselves, still the step from a body of widows set apart for the reception of alms to an order of widows set apart for the duty of intercessory prayer and ministering to the sick is not a long one, and may easily have been made in St. Paul’s lifetime.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Expositor's Bible Commentary".

The Pulpit Commentaries


1 Timothy 5:1

Exhort for intreat, A.V.; and omitted. Rebuke not ( μὴ ἐπιπλήξης); only here in the New Testament for the more usual ἐπιτιμάω (2 Timothy 4:2, and frequently in the Gospels) or ἐλέγχω, as Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15; Revelation 3:19, and elsewhere. In classical Greek it expresses a sharp castigation with words. Compare the "patruae verbera linguae" (Hor., 'Od.,' 3. Revelation 12:3). It answers to the Latin objurgo. An elder ( πρεσβυτέρῳ). The context shows that the meaning is not a "presbyter," but "an old man." The precept has relation to Timothy's youth (1 Timothy 4:12). See the same order in respect to the persons to be admonished (Titus 2:1-6, where, however, we have the forms πρεσβύτας and πρεσβύτιδας with νέας and νεωτέρους). The direction is an instance of that admirable propriety of conduct, based upon a true charity, which vital Christianity produces. A true Christian never forgets what is due to others, never "behaves himself unseemly." Exhort ( παρακάλει); certainly a much better rendering than intreat in the A.V. The younger men. This and the other accusatives in this and the following verse are governed by παρακάλει; the prohibitive μὴ ἐπιπλήξῃς Is con- lined to the πρεσβυτέροι. As brethren. This phrase shows that Timothy was still a young man himself. Observe, too, how even m reproving the sense of love is to be main- mined. The members of the Church over which he rules are either fathers and mothers, or brothers and sisters, or, it may be added, as his own children, to the faithful pastor.

1 Timothy 5:2

In for with, A.V. Purity ( ἀγνείᾳ); see 1 Timothy 4:12, note. See how jealously the apostle guards against any possibility of abuse of the familiar intercourse of a clergy- man with the women of his flock. They are his sisters, and ἀγνείω is to be the constant condition of his heart and character.

1 Timothy 5:3

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 Matthew 15:17 of this chapter, the "double honor" due to elders who labor in the Word and doctrine is clearly shown by Matthew 15:18 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, Matthew 27:9; 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 Matthew 15:5 and Matthew 15:16, 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 4:1-16.).

1 Timothy 5:4

Hath for have, A.V.; grandchildren for nephews, A.V.; towards their own family for at home, A.V.; this for that, A.V.; acceptable in the sight of for good and acceptable before, A.V. and T.R. Grandchildren ( ἔκγονα; only here in the New Testament, but common in the LXX. and in classical Greek); descendants, children or grandchildren (as on the other hand, πρόγονοι in this verse includes grandparents as well as parents). In Latin nepotes, "descendants;" nos neveux (in French), "our descendants;" and so the English word "nephews" (derived from nepos, through the French neveu) properly means, and is commonly so used in all old English writers, as e.g. in Holinshed (Richardson's Dictionary), "their nephews, or sons' sons, which reigned in the third place." Locke's phrase, "a nephew by a brother," seems to show the transition to the modern use of "nephew." But as the old meaning of "nephews" is now obsolete, it is better to substitute "grandchildren," as in the R.V. Let them learn. Clearly "the children or grandchildren" is the subject. To show piety towards ( εὐσεβεῖν). In the only other passage in the New Testament where this word occurs, Acts 17:23, it has also an accusative of the person—"whom ye worship." In classical Greek also εὐσεβεῖν τινα is used as well as εἰς, or περὶ, or πρὸς τινα.. Their own family, of which the widowed mother or grandmother formed a part. The force of τὸν ἴδον οἷκον, "their own family," lies in the implied contrast with the Church. As long as a widow has members of her own house who are able to support her, the Church ought net to be burdened (see Acts 17:16). To requite ( ἀμοιβὰς ἀποδίδοναι); literally, to give back the return or exchange due. ἀμοιβή is only found here in the New Testament, but is not uncommon in the LXX., and is much used in the best classical authors. The πρόγονοι had nourished and cared for them in their childhood; they must requite that care by honoring and supporting them in their old age. This is acceptable ( ἀπόδεκτον); only here in the New Testament or LXX., and rarely if ever in classical Greek. The same idea is expressed in 1 Timothy 1:15, by πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος, and in 1 Peter 2:19, 1 Peter 2:20, by χάρις τοῦτο χάρις παρὰ θεῷ, "This is acceptable with God."

1 Timothy 5:5

Hath her hope set on for trusteth in, A.V. A widow indeed (see 1 Timothy 5:3). 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 1 Timothy 5:6 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"; 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" (Re John 4:8; John 7:15; John 12:10; John 14:11; John 20:10).

1 Timothy 5:6

Giveth herself to for liveth in, A.V. Giveth herself to pleasure ( ἡ σπαταλῶσα); only here and James 5:5 ( ἐσπαταλήσατε "taken your pleasure," R.V., "been wanton," A.V.) in the New Testament, but found (as well as σπατάλη and σπάταλος) in Ec 21:15, and in Polybius (Liddell and Scott). Trench compares and contrasts στρηνιάω τρυφάω, and σπαταλάω, and says that the latter includes the idea of prodigality. The word brings into the strongest possible contrast the widow who was like Anna, and those whom St. Paul here denounces. Is dead while she liveth; or, has died (is dead) in her lifetime. She is dead to God, and, as Alford suggests, is no longer a living member of the Church of Christ. Compare St. Jude's expression "twice dead" (Jude 1:12). The expression in Revelation 3:1 is different, unless ζῶσα here can have the same meaning as ὄνομα ἔχει ὅτι ζῇ, "though nominally alive as a Christian," etc.

1 Timothy 5:7

These things also command for and these things give in charge, A.V.; without reproach for blameless, A.V. These things, etc. The apostle had been giving Timothy his own instructions concerning widows and their maintenance by their own relations. He now adds the direction that he should give these things in charge to the Ephesian Church, lest they should be guilty and blameworthy by acting in a different spirit. He probably was aware of a disposition existing in some quarters to throw the burden of maintaining their widows upon the Church. Without reproach ( ἀνεπίληπτοι); above, 1 Timothy 3:2, note. If they did not so they would be liable to the terrible reproach mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:8, that, Christians as they called themselves, they were in their conduct worse than unbelievers.

1 Timothy 5:8

Provideth for provide, A.V.; his own household for those of his own house, A.V. and T.R.; unbeliever for infidel, A.V. Provideth ( προνοεῖ). Elsewhere in the New Testament only in Romans 12:17 and 2 Corinthians 8:21, where it has an accusative of the thing provided; here, as in classical Greek, with a genitive of the person; frequent in the LXX., and still more so in classical Greek. The substantive προνοία occurs in Acts 24:2 and Romans 13:14. His own household; because in many cases the widow would be actually living in the house of her child or grandchild. But even if she were not, filial duty would prompt a proper provision for her wants He hath denied the faith; viz. by repudiating these duties which the Christian faith required of him (see Ephesians 6:1-3).

1 Timothy 5:9

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 4:1-16.) 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, anti 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 Timothy 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 1 Timothy 3:14) 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.

1 Timothy 5:10

Hath for have, A.V. (five times); used hospitality to for lodged, A.V. Well reported of ( μαρτυρουμένη; see 1 Timothy 3:7 and note). This use is frequent in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 7:8; Hebrews 11:2, Hebrews 11:4, Hebrews 11:5, Hebrews 11:39), also in 3 John 1:6, 3 John 1:12. Good works ( ἔργοις καλοῖς). The phrase occurs frequently in the pastoral Epistles, both in the singular and in the plural (1 Timothy 2:10; 1 Timothy 3:1; in this verse; verse 25; 1 Timothy 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 1:16; Titus 2:7, Titus 2:14; Titus 3:1, Titus 3:8, Titus 3:14). Our Lord had first used the phrase, and taught how "good works" were to be the distinctive marks of his disciples (Matthew 5:16), as they were evidences of his own mission (John 10:32, John 10:33). It denotes all kinds of good actions as distinguished from sentiments. Love, e.g. is not a good work. Feeding the hungry and clothing the naked and visiting the sick are good works (see Matthew 25:35, etc.). Brought up children ( ἐτεκνοτρύφησεν); only here in the New Testament or LXX., but found, as well as τεκνοτροφία, in Aristotle. The word must mean "brought up children of her own," because τέκνον does not mean "a child" with reference to its age, but "a child" with reference to its parent who bare it. The only apparent exception in Holy Scripture is 1 Thessalonians 2:7, where the nurse's alumni are called "her own children," but obviously this is no rent exception. The classical usage is the same. We must, therefore, understand the apostle here to mean "if she hath brought up her children well and carefully, and been a good mother to them." The precept corresponds to that laid down for an ἐπίσκοπος in 1 Timothy 3:4. Possibly, as Grotius suggests, a contrast may be intended with the conduct of some heathen mothers, who, if they were very poor, exposed their children. Used hospitality to ( ἐξενοδόχησεν); only here in the New Testament or LXX., but, as well as ξενοδόκος and ξενοδοχία, not uncommon in classical Greek. The common form in the New Testament is ξενίζειν. (For the inculcation of hospitality, see 1 Timothy 3:2, note, and 3 John 1:5.) Washed the saints' feet (see John 13:5-8; anti comp. Luke 7:44, where the omission to provide water to wash the feet of a guest is reprobated as inhospitable). The saints (Romans 12:13). Hath relieved ( ἐπήρκεσεν); only here and twice in 1 Timothy 3:16 in the New Testament, and. in 1Ma 8:26 and 11:35; but common in classical Greek. The afflicted ( τοῖς θλιβομενοις); used of any kind of trouble or afflictions ( θλίψις); compare, for the precept, Romans 13:1-14 :15. Diligently followed. The idea is somewhat similar to that of "pressing on toward the goal," in Philippians 3:14 (see also Philippians 3:12, where διώκω is rendered in A.V., "I follow after"). Good work. Here ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ, as in Acts 9:36; Romans 2:7, Romans 2:10; Romans 13:3; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Ephesians 2:10; and frequently in the pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 2:10).

1 Timothy 5:11

Younger for the younger, A.V.; waxed for began to wax, A.V.; desire to for will, A.V. Refuse. Note the wisdom of Paul, who will not have the young widows admitted into the roll of Church widows, lest, after the first grief for the loss of their husbands has subsided, they should change their minds, and wish to return to the world and its pleasures, and so incur the guilt of drawing back their hands from the plough. Would that the Church had always imitated this wisdom and this consideration for the young, whether young priests or young monks and nuns! Waxed wanton against ( καταστρηνιάσωσι). This word only occurs here, but the simple στρηνιάω is found in Revelation 18:7, Revelation 18:9, and is used by the Greek poets of the new comedy in the sense of τρυφᾶν, to be luxurious (Schleusner, 'Lex.'). Trench ('Synonyms of New Testament'), comparing this word with τρυφᾶν and σπαταλᾶν, ascribes to it the sense of "petulance" from fullness, like the state of Jeshurun, who waxed fat and kicked (Deuteronomy 32:15); and so Liddell and Scott give the sense of "to be over-strong." The sense, therefore, is that these young widows, in the wantonness and unsubdued worldliness of their hearts, reject the yoke of Christ, and kick against the widow's life of prayer and supplication day and night. And so they return to the world and its pleasures, which they had renounced.

1 Timothy 5:12

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.

1 Timothy 5:13

Also to be for to be, A.V.; going for wandering, A.V. Also seems unnecessary, as "withal" seems to represent ἅμα καὶ. Learn to be idle ( ἀργαὶ μανθάνουσιν). This is a construction which has no similar passage in Greek to support it, except one very doubtful one in Plato, 'Euthudemus'. But the other constructions proposed, viz. to construe μανθάνουσι, "they are inquisitive, or, curious," as Grotius and substantially Bengel; or to take περιερχόμεναι after μανθάνουσι, "they learn to go about" (Vulgate, De Wette, etc.), cannot be justified by examples either, as μανθάνειν has always either an accusative ease or an infinitive mood after it, unless it is used in quite a different sense, as in the passage from Herod., 1 Timothy 3:1, quoted by Alford: διαβεβλημένος .. οὐ μανθάνεις, "You are slandered without being aware of it." In this difficulty it is best to take the sense given in the A.V. and the R.V., following Chrysostom, etc., and of moderns Winer, Ellicott, Alford, etc., which the general turn and balance of the sentence favors. Going about ( περιερχόμεναι); comp. Ac 29:13, where there is the same idea of reproach in the term. It is used in a good sense in Hebrews 11:37. Tattlers ( φλύαροι); only here in the New Testament, and once only in the LXX. (4Ma Hebrews 5:10), but common in classical Greek. It means "a trifling silly talker." The verb φλυαρέω occurs in 3 John 1:10. Busybodies ( περίεργοι); only here and Acts 19:19 in the New Testament or LXX., but not uncommon in classical Greek, in the sense in which it is used here. The verb περιεργάζεσθαι occurs in 2 Thessalonians 3:11 in the same sense, "meddling with what does not concern you."

1 Timothy 5:14

Desire for will, A.V.; widows (in italics) for women A.V.; rule the household for guide the house, A.V.; for reviling for to speak reproachfully, A.V. Widows. As the whole discourse is about widows, it is better to supply this as the substantive understood in νεωτέρας. In 1 Timothy 5:11 we have νεωτέρας χήρας. The οὗν which precedes is a further proof that this direction or command of the apostle's springs from what he had just been saying about the young widows, and therefore that what follows relates to them, and not to women generally. In order to avoid the scandal mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:11 of the young widows first dedicating their widowhood to Christ, and then drawing back and marrying, he directs that they should follow the natural course and marry, in doing which they would be blameless. Bear children ( τεκνογονεῖν): here only in the New Testament or LXX.; but τεκνογονία occurs in 1 Timothy 2:15 (where see note). Rule the household ( οἰκοδεσποτεῖν; here only in this sense); act the part of οἰκοδέσποινα, the mistress of a family (Plutarch and elsewhere). οἱκοδεσπότης frequent in the New Testament, and kindred words are used in classical Greek. For reviling ( λοιδορίας χάριν). The adversary ( ὁ ἀντικείμενος), the opponent of Christianity, was always seeking some occasion to speak reproachfully of Christians and revile them. Any misconduct on the part of Christian widows would give him the occasion he was looking for. They must be doubly careful, therefore, lest they should bring reproach upon the Name of Christ (camp. James 2:7; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 4:4, 1 Peter 4:14, 1 Peter 4:15). " λοιδορίας χάριν is added .. to ἀφορμὴν διδόναι to specify the manner in which the occasion would be used" Ellicott). Do not give the adversary a starting-point from which he may be able to carry out his desire to revile the people of God.

1 Timothy 5:15

Already some are for some are already, A.V. Some. This is generally understood of some widows who had already given occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully, by turning aside from the path of Christian virtue which they had begun to walk in, and following Satan who had beguiled them into the path of vice and folly. But the words are capable of another meaning, equally arising kern the preceding verse, viz. that some have already followed the example of Satan, "the accuser of the brethren," and have begun to revile Christianity, taking occasion from the conduct of some who were called Christians. These revilers might be not unbelieving Jews or heathen, but apostate or heretical Jews like those of whom the same verb ( ἐκτρέπεσθαι) is used in 1 Timothy 1:6 and 2 Timothy 4:4. In something of the same spirit St. Paul called Elymas the sorcerer "a child of the devil," because he sought to turn away Sergius Paulus from the faith, probably by speaking evil of Barnabas and Saul.

1 Timothy 5:16

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 1 Timothy 5:4, 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 1 Timothy 5:10). Widows indeed ( ταῖς ὄντως χήραις, as in 1 Timothy 5:2 and 1 Timothy 5:5).

1 Timothy 5:17

Those for they, A.V.; in teaching for doctrine, A.V. The elders ( πρεσβυτεροι) here in its technical sense of "presbyters," which in the first age were the ruling body in every Chinch (see Acts 14:23; Acts 20:2, Acts 20:4, Acts 20:6, Acts 20:22), after the analogy of the elders of the Jews. Rule well (at καλῶς προεστῶτες). The presbyters or elders were the chiefs, rulers, or presidents, of the Church (see Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12; and above, 1 Timothy 3:4, 1 Timothy 3:5). It seems that they did not necessarily teach and preach, but those who did so, laboring in the Word and teaching, were especially worthy of honor. Double honor (see note on 1 Timothy 5:3) means simply increased honor, not exactly twice as much as some one else, or with arithmetical exactness. So the word διπλοῦς is used in Matthew 23:15; Revelation 18:6; and by the LXX. in Isaiah 40:2; Jeremiah 16:18; and elsewhere also in classical Greek. And so we say, "twice as good," "twice as much," with the same indefinite meaning. The Word and teaching. The "Word" means generally "the Word of God," as we have "preach the Word," "hear the Word," "the ministry of the Word," "doers of the Word," etc. And although there is no article before λόγῳ here yet, considering the presence of the preposition ἐν, and St. Paul's less careful use of the article in his later Epistles, this absence is not sufficient to counterbalance the weight of those considerations which lead to the conclusion that "laboring in the Word" refers to the Word of God. The alternative rendering of "oral discourse" or "in speaking" seems rather weak. Teaching would mean catechetical instruction and similar explanatory teaching. Labor ( οἱ κοπιῶντες); a word very frequently used by St. Paul of spiritual labors (Romans 16:6, Romans 16:12; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 4:11; Colossians 1:29, etc.).

1 Timothy 5:18

When he for that, A.V.; hire for reward, A.V. Thou shall not muzzle, etc. This passage, kern Deuteronomy 25:1-19., which is quoted and commented upon, in the same souse as here, in 1 Corinthians 9:9, shows distinctly that reward was to go with labor. The ox was not to be hindered from eating some portion of the grain which he was treading out. The preacher of the gospel was to live of the gospel. The laborer is worthy of his hire ( ἄξιος ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὑτοῦ). In Matthew 10:10 the words are the same as here, except that τῆς τροφῆς (his meat) is substituted for τοῦ μισθοῦ. But in Luke 10:7 the words are identical with those here used, even to the omission (in the R.T.) of the verb ἔστιν. The conclusion is inevitable that the writer of this Epistle was acquainted with and quoted from St. Luke's Gospel; and further, that he deemed it, or at least the saying of the Lord Jesus recorded, in it, to be of equal authority with " ἡ γραφή," the Scripture. If this Epistle was written by St. Paul after his first imprisonment at Rome, we may feel tolerably certain that he was acquainted with the Gospel or St. Luke, so that there is no improbability in his quoting from it. His reference to another saying of the Lord Jesus in Acts 20:35 gives additional probability to it. The passage in 2 Timothy 4:18 seems also to be a direct reference to the Lord's Prayer, as contained in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. St. Paul does not directly call the words ἡ γραφή, only treats them as of equal authority, which, if they were the words of Christ, of course they were.

1 Timothy 5:19

Except at the mouth of for but before, A.V. An elder; here clearly a presbyter, as the context proves. Receive ( παραδέχου); give ear to, entertain; as in Acts 22:18, "They will not receive thy testimony." At the mouth of, etc. There is a reference to the law in Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 19:15, and elsewhere (to which our Lord also refers, John 8:17), and St. Paul applies the principle of the law to Timothy's dealings with presbyters who might be accused of not "ruling well." He was not to encourage delatores, secret accusers and defamers, but if any one had a charge to make against a ruler, it was to be done in the presence of witnesses ( ἐπί with a genitive). A doubt arises whether" the witnesses" here spoken of were to be witnesses able to support the accusation, or merely witnesses in whose presence the accusation must be made. The juxtaposition of the legal terms κατηγορία and ἐπὶ μαρτύρων favors the strict meaning of μαρτύρων, witnesses able to support the κατηγορία. And, therefore, the direction to Timothy is, "Suffer no man to accuse a presbyter unless he is accompanied by two or three witnesses who are ready to back up the accusation." The italic the mouth of, in the R.V., is not necessary or indeed justified. There is no ellipsis of στόματος. ἐτὶ δύο ᾒ τριῶν μαρτύρων, "before two or three witnesses," is good classical Greek.

1 Timothy 5:20

Reprove for rebuke, A.V.; in the sight of for before, A.V.; the rest for others, A.V.; be in fear for fear, A.V. Reprove; ἔλεγχε, not ἐπιπλήξῃς, as in 1 Timothy 5:1 (see Matthew 18:15). There, the fault being a private one, the reproof is to be administered in private. But in the ease of the sinning presbyter, which is that here intended, Timothy is to reprove the offender "before all," that others also may fear, and may be deterred by their fear from committing a like offence.

1 Timothy 5:21

In the sight of for before, A.V.; Christ Jesus for the Lord Jesus Christ, A.V. and T.R.; prejudice for preferring one before another, A.V. I charge thee, etc. It has been well remarked that the solemnity of this charge indicates the temptation which there might be to Timothy to shrink front reproving men of weight and influence" rulers" in the congregation, and "elders" both in age and by office, young as he himself was (1 Timothy 4:12). Perhaps he had in view some particular case in the Ephesian Church. Charge ( διαμαρτύρομαι; not παραγγέλλω, as 1 Timothy 6:13); rather, I adjure thee. The strict sense of διαμαρτύρομαι is "I call heaven and earth to witness the truth of what I am saying;" and then, by a very slight metonymy, "I declare a thing," or "I ask a thing," "as in the presence of those witnesses who are either named or understood." Here the witnesses are named: God, and Christ Jesus, and the elect angels. In 2 Timothy 2:14 it is "the Lord;" in 2 Timothy 4:1 God and Jesus Christ, as also in 1 Timothy 6:13. In the passages where the word has the force of "testifying" (Luke 16:18; Acts 2:40; Acts 10:42; Acts 18:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:6, etc.), no witnesses are named, but great solemnity and earnestness are implied. The elect angels. This is the only passage where it is predicated of the angels that they are elect. But as there is repeated mention in Holy Scripture of the fallen angels (Matthew 25:41; 1 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Peter 2:4; Jud 2 Peter 1:6; Revelation 12:7, Revelation 12:9), the obvious interpretation is that St. Paul, in this solemn adjuration, added the epithet to indicate more distinctly the "holy angels," as they are frequently described (Matthew 25:31; Luke 9:26, etc.), or "the angels of God" or "of heaven" (Matthew 22:30; Matthew 24:36; Luke 12:8, Luke 12:9; John 1:51). Possibly the mention of Satan in 1 Timothy 6:15, or some of the rising Gnostic opinions about angels (Colossians 2:18), may have suggested the epithet. The reason for the unusual addition of "the angels" is more difficult to adduce with certainty. But perhaps 2 Timothy 4:1 gives us the clue, where the apostle shows that in appealing to Jesus Christ he has a special eye to the great and final judgment. Now, in the descriptions of the lust judgment, the angels are constantly spoken of as accompanying our Lord. If St. Paul, therefore, had in his mind the great judgment-day when he thus invoked the names of God and of Christ, he would very naturally also make mention of the elect angels. And so Bishop Bull, quoted in the 'Speaker's Commentary.' Without prejudice ( χωρὶς προκρίματος); here only in the New Testament, and not found in the LXX. or classical Greek, though the verb προκρίνω occurs in both. Although the English word "prejudice" seems at first sight an apt rendering of πρόκριμα, it does not really give the sense so accurately as "preference." We commonly mean by "prejudice" a judgment formed prior to examination, which prevents our judging rightly or fairly when we come to the examination, which, however, is not the meaning of the Latin praejudicium. But προκρίνω means rather "to prefer" a person, or thing, to others. And therefore πρόκριμα means "preference," or "partiality," or, as the A.V. has it, "preferring one before another." The two meanings may be thus expressed. "Prejudice," in the English use of the word, is when a person who has to judge a cause upon evidence prejudges it without evidence, and so does not give its proper weight to the evidence. "Prefer-once" is when he gives different measure to different persons, according as He is swayed by partiality, or interest, or favor. St. Paul charges Timothy to measure out exactly equal justice to all persons alike. By partiality ( κατὰ πρόσκλισιν). This also is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον as far as the New Testament is concerned, and is not found in the LXX., but is found, as well as the verb προσκλίνω, in classical Greek. It means literally the "inclination" of the scales to one side or the other, and hence a "bias" of the mind to one party or the other. The balance of justice in the hands of Timothy was to be equal.

1 Timothy 5:22

Hastily for suddenly, A.V. Lay hands, etc. Surely if we are guided by St. Paul's own use of the phrase, ἐπίθεσις χειρῶν, in the only two places in his writings where it occurs (1 Timothy 4:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6), we must abide by the ancient interpretation of these words, that they mean the laying on of hands in ordination. So also in Acts 6:6 and Acts 13:3, ἐπιτίθεναι χεῖρας is "to ordain." And the context here requires the same sense. The solemn injunction in the preceding verse, to deal impartially in judging even the most influential eider, naturally suggests the caution not to be hasty in ordaining any one to be an elder. Great care and previous inquiry were necessary before admitting any man, whatever might be his pretensions or position, to a holy office. A bishop who, on the spur of the moment, with improper haste, should ordain cue who afterwards required reproof as ἁμαρτάνων, sinning (Acts 13:20), would have a partnership in the man's sin, and in the evil consequences that flowed from it. And then it follows, Keep thyself pure; i.e. clear and guiltless (2 Corinthians 7:11), which he would not be if he was involved in the sin of the guilty elder. Observe that the stress is upon "thyself."

1 Timothy 5:23

Be no longer a drinker of for drink no longer, A.V. Be... a drinker of water ( ὑδροπότει); here only in the New Testament. It is found in some codices of the LXX. in Daniel 1:12, and also in classical Greek. We learn from hence the interesting fact that Timothy was, in modern parlance, a total abstainer; and we also learn that, in St. Paul's judgment, total abstinence was not to be adhered to if injurious to the health. The epithet, "a little," should not be overlooked. Was Luke, the beloved physician, with St. Paul when he wrote this prescription (see 2 Timothy 4:11)? It is also interesting to have this passing allusion to Timothy's bad health, and this instance of St. Paul's thoughtful consideration for him. Infirmities ( ἀσθενείας); in the sense of sicknesses, attacks of illness.

1 Timothy 5:24

Evident for open beforehand, A.V.; unto for to, A.V.; men also for men, A.V. Some men's sins, etc. St. Paul is evidently here recurring to the topic which he had been dealing with ever since 1 Timothy 5:17, viz. Timothy's duty as a bishop, to whom was entrusted the selection of persons for the office of elder, or presbyter, and also the maintaining of discipline among his clergy. Alford sees the connection of the precept about drinking a little wine with what went before, and with this twenty-fourth verse, in the supposed circumstance that Timothy's weak health had somewhat weakened the vigor of his rule; and that the recommendation to leave off water-drinking was given more with a view to the firmer discharge of those duties than merely for his bodily comfort. This may be so. But there is nothing unlike St. Paul's manner in the supposition that he had done with the subject in hand at the end of the twenty-second verse, and passed on to the friendly hint with regard to Timothy's health, but then subjoined the fresh remarks in 1 Timothy 5:24 and 1 Timothy 5:25, which were an afterthought. Evident ( πρόδηλοι); only found in the New Testament, in Hebrews 7:14 besides these two verses, and in the apocryphal books of the Old Testament. It is common, with the kindred forms, προδηλόω προδήλωσις, etc., in classical Greek. It is doubted whether πρὸ in this compound verb has the force of "beforehand," as in the A.V., and not rather that of "before the eyes of all," and therefore only intensifies the meaning of δηλόω. But the natural force of πρὸ in composition certainly is "before" in point of time; and hence in a compound like πρόδηλος would mean" evident before it is examined," which of course is equivalent to "very evident." St. Paul's meaning, therefore, would be: Some men's sins are notorious, requiring no careful inquisition in order to find them out; nay, they of themselves go before—before the sinner himself—unto judgment. But there are also some whose sins follow after them. It is not till after close inquiry that they are found out. They go up to the judgment-seat apparently innocent, but after a while their sins come trooping up to their condemnation. This enforces the caution, "Lay hands hastily on no man."

1 Timothy 5:25

In like maturer for likewise, A.V.; there are good works that are evident for the good works of some are manifest beforehand, A.V.; such as for they that, A.V. There are good works, etc. It is much best to understand πινῶν, as the A.V. does, and render the good works of some, answering to τινῶν αἱ ἁμαρτίαι of 1 Timothy 5:24. Such as are otherwise—i.e., not manifest beforehand—cannot be hid. "They will be seen and recognized some time or other" (Ellicott). Alford seems to catch the true spirit of the passage when he says, "The tendency of this verse is to warn Timothy against hasty condemnation, as the former had done against hasty approval. Sometimes thou wilt find a man's good character go before him.... but where this is not so.... be not rash to condemn: thou mayest on examination discover it there be any good deeds accompanying him: for they... cannot be hidden."


1 Timothy 5:1, 1 Timothy 5:2.Propriety.

Propriety of conduct in the different relations of life is the application of true charity to the particular circumstances of the case. Charity, while in all cases it has the same essence, seeking the real good of the person with whom it is dealing, varies its mode of application according to various circumstances. There is in charity always a consideration of what is due to others, a scrupulous and delicate appreciation of the difference of positions, and consequent differences of feeling, which may be expected, in different persons. In the natural family, men do not treat their fathers and their children in the same manner. An upper servant does not deal out the same measure to his master and to the servants that are under him. There may be the same truth and the same charity, but there is a different outward expression of them. It is a great and serious mistake to think that impartiality requires an identity of proceeding in dealing with different people. A wise charity knows how to discriminate, and to avoid the risk of defeating its own ends by wounding the just susceptibilities of those with whom it has to do. It is in accordance with this view that St. Paul here gives directions to the youthful Timothy how to exercise his episcopal authority over the different persons subject to it. The same sharp rebuke that might be suitable for a young man would be out of place in the case of an old one. Timothy must not forget the respect that is due from a young man to an old one, even while exercising his episcopal functions. And so with regard to the elderly women of his flock, he will know how to treat them with filial respect; and with regard to the young women, he will know how to infuse a brotherly spirit into his intercourse with them, avoiding every approach to any kind of familiarity inconsistent with that purity of thought which regulates the intercourse between brothers and sisters. Then will charity have her perfect work.

1 Timothy 5:3-16.Church charities.

One of the most difficult problems to solve in any well-ordered human society is so to administer charity to the indigent as not to encourage indigence which might be avoided—not to injure the character by endeavors to benefit the body. It is certain that the expectation of being provided for by others, without any efforts of his own, has a tendency to check those exertions by which a man may provide for himself. But it is no less certain that there is room in the world for the exercise of a wholesome charity, and that to dry up the streams of benevolence would be as great an injury to the givers as to the receivers. The result is that great care and much wisdom are requisite to regulate the administration of all charities on a large scale. The early Church, with an instinctive wisdom, directed its chief care to the support of widows. Here the main cause of the indigence, at least, was one which no human forethought could prevent—the death of the bread-winner. But even in their case many prudent cautions were interposed. The widow must have age of not less than threescore years, as well as widowhood, to commend her. She must be desolate, without any relations or friends whose natural duty it would be to support her. She must have established a good Christian character in the days of her prosperity, and shown her love to Christ, and the people of Christ, by works of mercy and pity. In like manner all public charities should be administered so as to encourage industry and to check idleness; so as to countenance virtue and rebuke vice; so as to prevent the unworthy from appropriating the provision that was intended for the worthy and unfortunate. In a word, in the administration of charitable funds, charity and wisdom must work hand-in-hand.

1 Timothy 5:17-25.Duties and privileges of the clergy.

The duties of the clergy are to rule and to labor. The privileges of the clergy are honor and pay. The clergy are rulers; not lords and tyrants, not domineering over conscience or deeds, but leaders ( προεστῶτες, here; ἡγούμενοι, Hebrews 13:7), presidents, officers of the great Church army, going before them in every hard service and difficult duty, regulating their counsels by wise advice, leading their worship, ordering their discipline, taking the lead in the management of their common affairs. And the clergy are laborers. Not drones doing nothing, and eating the fruit of other men's toil, hut laboring in the Word and doctrine of Christ. Theirs is a double labor: they labor first to learn, and then they labor to teach others what they have learnt themselves. They study the Holy Scriptures, and give the Church the benefit of their studies. Nor are their labors light or desultory. It is the hard toil ( κοπιῶντες) of mind and body, the continuous toil of a lifetime. These are their duties. Their privileges are honor and pay—honor in proportion to their labors for the Church and the fruit of those labors; honor due to their spiritual dignity as those whom the Holy Ghost has set over the flock of Christ. And with this honor—expressed by the title of "reverend" prefixed to their names—is also due pay, support and maintenance at the Church's charge. The ox must not be muzzled while he treads out the corn for others, nor must the laborer be defrauded of his hire when his honest work is done. They that preach the gospel are to live of the gospel. The Churches which they serve must set their minds free, as far as may be, from worldly cares, by providing for their maintenance while they give themselves to the Word of God and prayer. It is obvious how entirely in accordance with these apostolic sayings is the setting apart of endowments for the permanent support of those who are engaged in the ministry of the Word, and the feeding of the flock of Christ. The exhortation to the bishop to lay hands hastily on no man, and to be impartial in all his dealings, follows naturally from the consideration of the duties and the privileges of the priesthood.


1 Timothy 5:1, 1 Timothy 5:2.Directions how to treat members of the Church according to the distinctions of off and sex.

I. THE CONDUCT OF TIMOTHY TOWARD ELDERLY MEN. "Reprimand not an elderly person, but exhort him as a brother." The allusion is not to an official elder of the Church, but to any elderly member of it.

1. Such persons might possibly be guilty of serious shortcomings, warranting private admonition, if not the exercise of discipline. Their conduct would have a worse effect than that of more youthful offenders.

2. Timothy must not use sharpness or severity in dealing with such persons, because he must remember what is becoming on account of his own youth. He should rather use "entreaty" on a footing of brotherly equality. His zeal ought not to interfere with the reverence due to age. Let the old be treated with humility and gentleness.

II. THE CONDUCT OF TIMOTHY TOWARD YOUNGER MEN. The younger men as brothers." He may use greater freedom with them, as being on an equality as to age. He must not show airs of assumption toward them, but may use more freedom in reproving their faults.

III. HIS CONDUCT TOWARD ELDERLY WOMEN. "Elderly women as mothers." He must show them due deference and respect. If they should err on any point, they must be entreated with all tenderness, as children entreat their mothers.

IV. HIS CONDUCT TOWARD THE YOUNGER WOMEN. "The younger as sisters, with all purity." There must be, on the one hand, the freedom of a brother with sisters; but, on the other hand, a marked circumspection so as to avoid all ground of suspicion or scandal.—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:3-7.Directions with regard to widows.

The gospel provides for the helpless.


1. These were abundantly recognized in Old Testament times. The fatherless and the widow were commended, to the special care of the Israelites. The garments of widows were never to be taken in pledge. The man was cursed who perverted the judgment of the widow. The widow was never to be afflicted or made a prey (Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 27:19; Jeremiah 7:6; Isaiah 10:2).

2. The claims of widows were officially recognized in New Testament times. The order of deaconship arose out of the necessity of widows (Acts 6:1-7).

II. THE DIFFERENT CLASSES OF WIDOWS IN THE CHURCH. "Honor widows that are widows indeed." There are three classes of widows referred to by the apostle.

1. There are widows who are not only deeply religious, but quite destitute. She who is a widow indeed is "desolate, has set her hope in God, and abides in supplications and prayers night and day."

2. There are widows who are not so destitute, for they have children and grandchildren to provide for their wants.

3. There are widows who are fond of gaiety and pleasure, and destitute of religion. "She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." They are dead spiritually, like those who "have a name to live, but are dead" (Revelation 3:1). "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die" (Romans 8:13). This class of widows resembled the daughters of Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49). There was in their case the union of soul and body, but no quickening principle of spiritual life. They savor the things that be of men rather than the things that be of God.


1. The Church was not bound to support or assist widows with children or grandchildren, who were therefore to he taught "to show piety at home, and to requite their parents." The Church was not to be burdened with their support. Their relatives were not exempt under the gospel from the necessity of providing for them. The apostle adds that the discharge of this off-forgotten duty is "good and acceptable before God".

2. The Church owned no obligation of any sort to pleasure-loving widows, except to warn them of the sin, folly, and danger of their life.

3. The Church was to pay due regard to "widows indeed" who were destitute of all resources. "Honor widows that are widows indeed." The term implies more than deference or respect; such widows were entitled to receive relief from the Christian community. It was a loving duty to provide for such sad-hearted, friendless beings.

IV. THE NECESSITY OF MAKING A RULE FOR THE CHURCH'S GUIDANCE. '"These things command, that they may he without reproach." The injunction was necessary for the Church's sake, that it might not neglect its proper duty to this destitute class, and for the sake of the various classes of widows and their relatives, who needed to be without reproach, as they were supposedly members of the Church.—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:8.The duty of providing for one's own household.

The growth of the Church necessitated a careful regard to this duty.

I. THE DUTY HERE ENJOINED. "If any provides not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever."

1. This passage asserts the obligations that spring out of family relationship. It points to the duty of supporting relatives, and all who live under one roof, who through poverty may have become dependent upon us.

2. The gospel does not relax, but rather strengthens, the ties of natural kinship. The Essenes would not give relief to their relatives without the permission of their teachers, though they might help others in need.


1. It is a denial of the faith, not in words, hut in works, for it is a denial of the duty of love, which is the practical outcome of faith; for "faith worketh by love." There may have been a tendency at Ephesus, as in Churches to which James wrote, to rest contempt with a mere profession of the truth, without the habit of self-denial.

2. Such conduct would place the Christian professor in a position far below that of the heathen unbeliever, who recognized the duty of supporting relatives as one of his best principles. It would be a serious dishonor to Christ and the gospel to neglect duties held in highest honor by the heathen. The light of the gospel greatly aggravates the sin of such persons.—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:9, 1 Timothy 5:10.Particular directions as to the class of widows commended to the Church's sympathy and support.

These persons are variously regarded by commentators as simply destitute widows, or as deaconesses, or as presbyteresses. The most simple and natural explanation is that they belonged to the first class, for the directions here given apply to what the Church is to do for such widows, not what duty is required of them in the Church administration.

I. THE ENROLMENT OF WIDOWS IN THE ALMONER'S LIST OF THE CHURCH. "Let none be enrolled as a widow under threescore years old."

1. The existence of such a list is implied in Acts 6:1, where a murmuring is said to have arisen because "the widows were neglected in the dally ministration." There are also traces of such a list in the earlier Christian writers.

2. Such a class would be recruited from the ordinary vicissitudes of life, from the special persecutions that followed the gospel, and perhaps also from the separations from polygamous husbands brought about through the influence of Christianity.


1. As to age. "Not under threescore years old." As this age marks a relatively greater degree of senility in the East than in the West, the widows must be regarded as of the infirm class, and therefore as not in any degree able for the active duties of limb. This one consideration inclines us to believe that they did not belong to the order of deaconesses or presbyteresses. If widows had been enrolled at a much earlier age, they must have become a serious burden for a great length of time upon the Church's liberality. Therefore young widows were not to be enrolled at all.

2. As to her previous married life. "The wife of one man."

(a) the apostle counsels the younger women to marry again (Acts 6:14), and sanctions second marriages (Romans 7:1);

(b) because the ascetic idea of married life, which some would associate with widows holding a certain ecclesiastical rank, received no sanction from the apostle.

3. As to her reputation for good works. "Well reported of in respect to good works." There must not only be no evil spoken of her, but she must have a reputation for good works. This reputation covers live facts of goodness.

1 Timothy 5:11-15.Directions with regard to young widows.

I. THE YOUNGER WIDOWS WERE NOT TO BE ENROLLED ON THE LIST OF THE CHURCH'S PENSIONERS. "Younger widows decline." This did not imply that destitute widows, however young, would be excluded from occasional help from the Church's funds, but they were not to be made a permanent charge upon the resources of the Church. They were young enough to labor for their own living, or, as the apostle advised, they might marry a second time, and thus obtain a provision for themselves.

II. THE REASON FOR DECLINING- SUCH WIDOWS. "For when they shall wax wanton against Christ, they desire to marry."

1. This language does not imply that they had, to speak, taken Christ for their Bridegroom, and then proved shamelessly unfaithful to their vows. This thought belongs to the ascetic ideas of a later period, as if the widows in question had taken the irrevocable engagement of nuns or of other ecclesiastical persons. They might, indeed, have remarried not only without blame, but by the direct counsel of the apostle himself.

2. Neither does it imply that they had been untrue to the memory of their first husbands.

3. The case supposed is that of some young widows, who had taken their place among others of their world-renouncing class in the list of the Church's widows, and had drawn back into a luxurious, pleasure-loving habit of life. There is no breach of the promise of widowhood either expressed or implied in the passage, and such a breach could not be interpreted by itself as equivalent to a renunciation of the Christian faith. The case supposed is that of a departure from the proprieties of widowed life, in connection with a Christian profession, which only too surely indicated a virtual repudiation of the faith.

4. The judgment that attached to their conduct implied this virtual renunciation of faith. "Having condemnation because they set at naught their first faith."

III. THE INJURIOUS AND SCANDALOUS EFFECTS OF SUCH A LIFE. "And withal they learn also to be idle, going about from house to house; and not only idle, but talkers and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." These young widows, being under no necessity to labor for their living—for they were supported by the funds of the Church—used their leisure badly.

1. They were idle.

2. They become loose talkers, babbling out whatever comes into their minds. "From leisure springs that curiosity which is the mother of garrulity" (Calvin).

3. They become busybodies, with a perverted activity in the concerns of others which implies a neglect of their own. This meddling spirit leads to misunderstandings and mischiefs of many kinds.

4. They become talkers of scandal, "speaking things which they ought not"—things which may be false, or, if true, are not to be repeated from house to house.—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:14, 1 Timothy 5:15.Directions to such young widows.

The case is one for special guidance.

I. A RETURN TO THE SPHERE OF DOMESTIC DUTIES IS ADVISED BY THE APOSTLE. "I wish, therefore, that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no occasion for the adversary to reproach."

1. There is nothing in this counsel, to encourage a resort to ascetic life, or an escape from the ordinary obligations of society. The over-valuation of ascetic life has been the great means of disparaging and discouraging the piety of common life. Religion was made, not for an idle, but fur a busy world.

2. The return to home-ties would probably break the force of temptations to loose living. Idleness would thus be counteracted, as well as the wantonness against Christ previously censured. The woman would thus be "saved by child-bearing, it she continued in faith and holiness with sobriety" (1 Timothy 2:15).

3. Mark the variety of her new relations. First to her husband, then to her children, then to her servants. She is to discharge each duty faithfully, so as to avoid the reproach of the adversary.

III. THE REASON WHY SUCH COUNSEL IS GIVEN. "Give no occasion for reproach to the adversary; for already some have been turned away after Satan."

1. The adversary is not necessarily the devil, nor any particular individual, but that collective society around the Church which is always watchful for the halting of God's servants. For good cause or bad the reproaches will come, but they ought not to be justified by the injurious, or frivolous, or licentious conduct of professors.

2. Mischief of this sort had already accrued to the cause of Christ. Some widows had given evidence of the idle, wanton, worldly behavior already condemned, showing a distinct swerve toward the adversary of souls and the accuser of the brethren. "Christ was the true Spouse; Satan the seducer."—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:16.—Further directions as to the support of widows.

There is here a return to the subject of private beneficence.

I. THE DUTY OF CHRISTIAN WOMEN TO SUPPORT THEIR WIDOWED RELATIVES. "If any woman that believes hath widows, let support be given to them." The allusion is probably to the younger widows, whose future would be very uncertain till, at least, they should marry. The apostle had already provided for the case of aged widows. It was the plain duty of relatives to watch over the welfare of the younger women, who might be sisters, sisters-in-law, or nieces. The apostle founds the duty upon the principle that the gospel has not superseded, but rather strengthened, the claims of kinship.

II. REASONS FOR THE DISCHARGE OF THIS PRIVATE DUTY. "And let not the Church be burdened, that it may relieve those that are widows indeed."

1. It would burden the Church greatly to increase the number of the pensioners on its generosity.

2. The exercise of private beneficence would allow a fuller provision to be made for those aged widows who were really friendless, homeless, and destitute.T.C.

1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Timothy 5:18.Directions respecting the honor due to the alders of the Church.

"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the Word and doctrine."


1. It is evident that the apostle knew of no officers in the Church at Ephesus but these elders, with the deacons.

2. Their principal duty was government. It was at least the prominent element in their calling.

3. The passage suggests that, while all the elders governed, all did not labor in the Word and doctrine. Each Church in that day had its band of elders at its head, but the teaching function was not universal, though by-and-by assumed greater prominence and commanded greater distinction and respect.

II. THE HONOR DUE TO ELDERS. They were to be counted worthy of double honor; that is, they were to be liberally provided for by the Church, as a special mode of showing respect to their office.

III. THE GROUND FOR THIS INJUNCTION. "For the Scripture saith, Thou shall not muzzle an ox while treading out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his hire." These two sayings, one contained in Scripture (Deuteronomy 25:4), the other a proverbial saying used by our Lord himself (Luke 10:7), affords an argument for the support of Christian laborers.

1. This shows that both the Law and the gospel sanction the due support of the ministry.

2. It shows that the minister's support is a matter of right, and not of compassion or kindness. The animals that labored had a right to the fruit of their labors.—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:19.Directions as to accusations against elders.

"Against an elder receive not an accusation, except it be upon two or three witnesses."


1. Their duty being to convince the gainsayers and to reprove the faults of men, they would be exposed to the risk of false accusation. Good ministers would be oftener accused if their accusers could but find judges willing to receive their charges.

2. It is the interest of the Church of Christ to maintain the reputation of its ministers unchallenged. It involves a sort of scandal for them to be accused at all, even though they should afterwards be cleared.


1. It diminishes the chances of such charges being made, that the testimony of a single malicious witness will not suffice to have an accusation even formally considered.

2. It would be a serious discouragement to a good minister for such charges to be entertained upon partial or defective evidence.

3. The deference due to the position of a man chosen by the Church as its pastor demanded a wise caution in the reception of charges against him.

4. Yet it was the duty of Timothy to make an investigation supported by adequate evidence. There is nothing in the minister's position to exempt him from a just inquiry and its due consequences.T.C.

1 Timothy 5:20.—The manner of public rebuke.

The apostle refers here, not to offending elders, but to members of the Church generally, as we justly infer from the change of number. It is the elder in the one case; it is "those who sin" in the other.

I. THE PUBLICITY OF REBUKE. "Those that sin rebuke before all."

1. The class referred to consists not of those merely overtaken in a fault (Galatians 6:1), but, as the tense of the word signifies, persons given to sinning. Thus great consideration and caution are to be exercised. The casual transgressor might be dealt with privately, and would not need further dealing on his exhibiting evidence of repentance.

2. It was to be merely rebuke, not exclusion from the Church. If the rebuke was unheeded, the extreme sentence would follow.

3. The rebuke was to be public.

II. THE DESIGN OF PUBLIC REBUKE. "In order that the rest also may fear." Such a discipline would have a deterrent influence upon others. The strictness of the law would not be without effects upon conscience.—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:21.—A solemn charge to Timothy to be conscientiously impartial in these cases.

I. THE SOLEMNITY OF THE CHARGE. "I solemnly charge thee before God, and Jesus Christ, and the elect angels."

1. Timothy, who is exhorted to faithfulness in judgment, is himself brought face to face with his Lord and Judge, who will appear along with the elect angels as assessors or executors of the Divine commands.

(a) These, who left not their first estate, but have been preserved in their integrity by Christ, who is the Head both of angels and of men, are the ministers and attendants of God.

(b) There is nothing here to warrant the worship of angels, because they are not here regarded as judges, but as witnesses; neither are they sworn by nor appealed to by the apostle. The heavens and the earth are often summoned as witnesses in the same sense.

2. This high appeal was designed to elevate the mind of Timothy above all sinister motives, and secure him against the dangers of a timid compliance with evil.

II. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE CHARGE. "That thou keep these things without prejudging, doing nothing by partiality." He refers to the judicial inquiries respecting eiders and members of the Church.

1. There was to be an absence of prejudice. There must be no prejudging a case before it is heard, under the influence of party feeling. Timothy must calmly hearken to the case presented by both sides, and weigh the evidence without haste or favor to either side.

2. There was to be an absence of all partiality. "Doing nothing by partiality." There must be no leaning to one side more than another. The scales of justice must be held evenly in Church affairs. Eiders and members were alike to be judged with all fairness.—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:22.—A caution against hasty induction of ministers.

If such judicial inquiries are to be avoided, there ought to be great care in the original appointment of ministers.


1. This does not refer to the practice of receipting offenders back into the Church by the imposition of the bishop's hands. No such practice can be identified with the apostolic age, or with that immediately succeeding it.

2. It refers, as the usage of the pastoral Epistles suggests, to "the laying on of hands in ordination."

II. THE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES OF SLACKNESS IN THE DISCHARGE OF SUCH A DUTY. "Neither participate in other men's sins." Timothy would "adopt the sins he overlooked' if he did not rightly distinguish between the worthy and the unworthy.

III. THE NECESSITY OF PERFECT PURITY ON TIMOTHY'S OWN PART. "Keep thyself pure." He must be pure who is called to judge others. There must be no shadow of evil attaching to his character or conduct. Any impurity of character would utterly destroy his influence, and silence his rebukes of others.—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:23.Direction to Timothy to be careful of his health.

"No longer drink water, hut use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thy frequent ailments."

I. THE APOSTLE LENDS NO ENCOURAGEMENT TO AN ASCETIC ATTITUDE TOWARD MEATS OR DRINKS. The Essenes abstained altogether from wine, and as there was a close connection between Ephesus and Alexandria, where such views were held by a small section of Jews, it is not improbable that such views may have reached Ephesus. There was no harm in Timothy abstaining from wine, as a protest against excess in wine, but rather something highly praiseworthy. It was not through any deference to Essene asceticism, but through such a consideration as is here suggested, that Timothy was an habitual water-drinker.

II. THE APOSTLE HAS EXCLUSIVE REGARD TO TIMOTHY'S HEALTH. The use of wine was regarded in its purely medicinal aspect, and not as a mere pleasant beverage. Timothy was engaged in a service that demanded the fullest exhibition of all mental and bodily hardihood, as well as an iron endurance of disappointment and opposition. Under such influences, he would become depressed with effects most prejudicial to his health. The counsel shows the deep interest of the apostle in the young evangelist's comfort and welfare.—T.C.

1 Timothy 5:24, 1 Timothy 5:25.Final directions to Timothy respecting his attitude toward the sins and sinful works of men.

I. A CAUTION AGAINST HIS BEING TOO PRECIPITATE IN ABSOLVING MEN FROM CENSURE. "The sins of some men are manifest, going before to judgment; with some again, they follow after." The judgment is God's, without excluding man's.

1. One class of sins is public and open. They reach the Judge before the man himself who commits them. The sins are notorious. Timothy will have no excuse for absolving such persons.

2. Another class of sins is not so manifest. Unknown for the time to all but the all-seeing eye of God, yet going leeward notwithstanding to the final judgment, where nothing can be hid. The judgment of man may have meanwhile absolved such a sinner, but the mournful secret comes out after all.

II. A CAUTION AGAINST BEING TOO PRECIPITATE IN HIS CENSURES. "In like manner also the works that are good are manifest, and those that are otherwise cannot be hid." Some are open witnesses, others are secret witnesses; but there can be no effectual suppression of their testimony. God will bring works of all kinds into light. But it is the duty of Timothy and ministers in general to use due diligence to have the truth brought to light respecting such works. Therefore Timothy was not to be rash in condemning where hidden worth had not disclosed itself sufficiently to his eye. The good tree would by-and-by justify itself by its fruits.—T.C.


1 Timothy 5:1.Reverence for age.

"Rebuke not an elder." Comprehensive indeed is Scripture. Its virtue is no vague generality, but is definite and distinct. It is this which makes the Bible a daily portion. There is ever in it some special counsel and comfort. With the cross for a center, all the precious jewels of truth are set in their places around it. For each relationship of life there are separate behests of duty, and he must read in vain who does not feel that it was written for him. With this light none need go astray; and if they do, it is because they love the darkness rather than the light.

I. THERE IS TO BE REVERENCE FOR AGE. We are to entreat the elder rather than to rebuke them. Scolding is often mistaken for fidelity; and there is a scolding preaching which holds up mistake and error to scorn rather than to pity. The Bible reverences age. The elder, if he be here, must have seen and known terrible troubles and fierce temptations. His bark has been in many seas. His sword has been almost shivered, in many fights. His countenance tells of tears and tribulations. He has known defeat as well as victory. Rebuke him not. With the soft down of youth on your cheek, deal reverently with the gray-headed men. If evil seems to be getting the mastery, and the lingering angels are about to leave, entreat age by the memories of the past and the great hopes of the reward so nigh at band.

II. THERE IS TO BE FELLOWSHIP WITH YOUTH. Be a son to the aged, but a brother to the young. "And the younger men as brethren;" not as a proud priest sent to rule them and to shrive them, but as one who has the passions and. the hopes, the duties and the dangers, of a brother.—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:2.—What women should be.

"The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity." Full of the power which comes from feminine pity. Full of motherly experiences about children. Fall of daily care and the deaconate of serving the home-tables. Full of a great heart-love that would make a roof-tree for all, as a hen that gathereth her chickens under her wings. Timothy will yet learn in the Church work the value of a mother in Israel.

1. Mothers were our first pastors.

2. Mothers were our earliest examples.

"The younger as sisters, with all purity." Beautiful is the holy grace of purity, and sensitive is the girl-heart to the loveliness of true virtue! Put them not into confessionals to suggest sins that they never knew, and deprave the nature under the pretence of absolving it.—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:3.Sympathy with widows.

"Honor widows." Let them have a special place in reverent care and common prayer, as they have a lot which is so isolated and so hard—a battle so keen and terrible, and as they find that the slender means are so soon spent. The lonely hours are full of pictures of the past: as wives they were the first to be thought of and provided for—the best was for them, the first place at the table and in the heart was theirs; so honor them, for they are sensitive to slight and indifference. Let the Church counteract the neglect of the world.

I. THE SPIRIT OF CHILDREN. If they have children, or, as sometimes happens, nephews—or sister's children—who lost their mother in life's dawn of morning, let them show piety at home—the piety of gratitude, the piety of help, the piety of reverence, the piety of requital. How large a word "piety" is! An ungrateful child, who never thinks on a parent's past self-denial in its education, a parent's watchfulness in times of weakness and sickness, a parent's interest in its pleasures and counsels as to its companionships, and a parent's long interest in all that relates to mind and heart, is an impious child. Quick, clever, it may be flattered by new friends, and favored by fortune with pleasant looks, and yet be selfish, indifferent, and forgetful.

II. THE REQUITAL TO BE GIVEN. Remember, young friends, that you have to requite your parents, not with the patronage of commercial payment when you succeed, but with the requital of the tender inquiry, the watchful love, the jealous service, the gracious respect.—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:4.What pleases God.

"For that is good and acceptable before God." He looks not merely on the great heroisms of confessors and martyrs, but on the sublime simplicities even of a child's character.

I. AVOID MISTAKES IN CHILD TRAINING AND TEACHING. I am one of those who think that it is a monstrous mistake to fill their hymns with rich rhapsodies about heaven, about wanting to be angels, and about superior emotions, when the very things next to them are seldom referred to at all. To the father the son must always be a boy, and the daughter to the mother a girl; so that all manner, even which is high-flown and independent, or brusque and irreverent, is painful, and brings tears to the hearts of parents.

II. REMEMBER THE RELIGIOUSNESS OF HOME-LIFE. "Piety at home," by which is not meant precocity of religious opinion, or plentifulness of religious phraseology, but the piety of respect, attention, obedience, requital, and reverence. This is "good and acceptable before God."—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:5.Desolateness.

"Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate." Here the apostle returns to widows again, showing that he has them very much in his mind.

I. DESOLATE. That is the revealing word. "Desolate." She may be poor and desolate, or she may he competent and desolate, or she may be rich and desolate—all surrounding things making her feel more the loss of that which is not; all framing "emptiness;" all but reminders of the presence which gave value to them all.

II. DESOLATE; FOR THE LIFE-PATH IS AND MUST BE TRODDEN ALONE. The wakeful hours find her alone; the hours when pain and weariness come to her find her alone; for the difficult problem of thought has none to aid in its solution now—she is alone. So desolate; for other fellowships are not for life; they only help to vary her life. Desolate; for none can quite understand her care and grief, and think that she will soon put them, off with the weeds and crape.—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:5.Confidence in the Father.

"Trusteth in God." Let Timothy remember that in her case experience has ratified truth. She will need no elaborate arguments for the truth, because—

I. SHE HAS THE EVIDENTIAL PROOF WITHIN. Did she not in the dark hours fling her arms around her Father's neck; did she not tell him that she would fear no want, though she felt such change? Did not that trust—simple trust—do her more good than all human words, all kindly letters, all change of place and scene? Others wondered at her, rising up in her poor strength to arrange, to order, to readjust life to means and circumstances, to do her best for the little flock that she was shepherdess to in the wilderness.

II. SHE HAS THE FELLOWSHIP OF PRAYER. Yes, O man of the world, O scorner of truth, O soft-spoken atheist, she prays! Makes the air quiver, yon say. Hears the echo of her own cry, you say. Bends before an empty throne, you say. It may be you, have never felt to need God as she needs him now. Her need is an instinct and an argument; for somehow in this world there is a Divine revealing, call it what you like, that satisfies the desire of every living thing. And sloe has prayed, and the secret of the Lord has been made known; and that it is no empty experience, is now to be proven in this way.

III. SHE REVEALS ITS POWER BY HER PERSEVERANCE IN IT. She "continueth in prayers and supplications night and day." Then there must be relief. The burden must be lighter, the load must be easier, the vision must be clearer. None of us continue in that which mocks us. The invisible world is as real as the visible one. We know when there is a whisper within us and an arm around us, and so does she. Surely you would not rob her of her only wealth—her trust. But you cannot. "Night and day." Mark that. She finds in the night an image of her grief. She finds in the night silence. The children, if any, are asleep. She whose tears have watered her couch, whose hand has reached forth into the empty space, whose every movement would once have awakened solicitude, as of pain, or weariness, or sleeplessness, is now alone. But not alone; for the lips move and a great cry goes up: "O God, be not far from me! Listen to the voice of my cry, my King and- my God. My heart within me is desolate. Hear me out of thy habitation, thou Father of the fatherless, thou Judge of the widow. I mourn in my complaint and make a noise. Oh, when wilt thou come to me?" And God does come; and. it may help Timothy to know that this gospel which he has to preach is a Divine living seed, bearing its harvests in the hearts and homes of the eiders and of the widows. We shall see in our next exposition that St. Paul knows that there are worldly hearts to whom affliction brings no gracious fruit; and if there be a sight on earth more appalling than another, it is the frivolous widow whose very mourning is a pride and a study, whose manner is that of a pleasure-seeker, and whose heart is unaffected by the reverences of the memories of love and death. It is very evident that the gospel which Timothy was to teach and preach was no mere creed, no mere perfect ritual or ceremonial, but. a religion human and Divine, a religion that anticipates the changes and sorrows and dangers of every individual life. This Book is a vade-mecum. Here we go for all the medicines of relief and hope that our poor humanity needs. We shall never outgrow the Book. Its leaves are still for the healing of the nations, and it makes life calm, restful, and beautiful. How comes it that we have known the sweetest angels in such guises as these afflictions and bereavements bring? Yet so it is. Where shall we go? Oh, life has many roads; banditti lurk here and there, and there are swollen rivers to be forded, and dangerous passes to be entered. How shall we go? With this rod and staff we may go anywhere. If we take a fable, let it be the ancient stone: if you look therein, strange transformations take place—you ask me what I see? Now a sword; now a mountain; now a simple loaf of bread; now a touchstone of evil and of good; now a rock high above the waters; now a pilot on a dangerous sea; now a pillar rising on the plain of time; now a harp from which sweetest music breathes; now a pillow—a simple pillow. Cowper puts aside his own 'Task' and takes God's Testament; so will we. On these promises of God we will fall asleep.—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:6.Death in life.

"But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth." Christianity purifies and harmonizes the whole nature of man, and assimilates whatever is pure in humanity to the kingdom of God. It does not destroy pure earthly joys; nay, rather it plants many flowers by the wayside of life. But pleasure is often perverted by man, and in that age k had become so associated with what was coarse and carnal, that the very word "pleasure" became in the gospel a synonym for sin. We have here death in the midst of life—"that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth"—or death and life side by side.

I. THE IMMOBILITY WHICH CHARACTERIZES THE DEAD BODY CHARACTERIZES THE DEAD SOUL. There is no movement of thought towards God; no feet swift to do his will; no heart that beats in sympathy with his Law. Instinct is alive; but the brightness of the eye, and the music of the voice, and the activities of lift, are like flowers upon graves.

II. THE INSENSIBILITY OF THE DEAD BODY CHARACTERIZES THE DEAD SOUL. All around there may be signs of outward life. As the body lies in the churchyard, the murmuring river flows by its banks, the birds make their summer music in the trees, and men, women, and children stay to rest, and to read the inscriptions on the graves; but to all these things the sleepers in the tombs are insensible. So the dead soul is insensible to the august realities of religion, to the voice of God, and to the visions of the great day.

III. THE CORRUPTION OF THE DEAD BODY CHARACTERIZES THE DEAD SOUL. This is the dread thought in connection with death, that we must bury it out of sight. When decay commences, corruption begins; and he, who knows all that is in man, tells us that out of the sepulcher of the unrenewed heart of man come evil desires, murders, and adulteries. "They that sow to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption" These aspects of the case show us that, as there are graveyards in the crowded cities with all their busy life, so in the unrenewed heart of man there is death in the midst of life.—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:8.—Care for the home.

"But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." The gospel does not leave us with any loose ideas of responsibility. There is often a universal sentiment of goodness which finds no particular application.

I. MAN HAS "HIS OWN." He is to care for his own soul. He is accountable for his own influence. He is the father of his own family, and, up to a certain age, his will is their law. He is to provide for his own; his thought and skill and care are all to be laid upon the altar or' the household. It is sad to see men sometimes flattered by the world, and welcomed to every hearth, who yet leave "their own" slighted and neglected at home. The gospel says that the husband is the head of the wife; and the gospel evidently understands the design of God, that man should be the hard worker and- bread-winner of life.

II. HE HAS A FAITH TO KEEP. What is meant here by denying the faith, and being worse than an infidel? Surely this, that the faith is meant to make us Christ-like; one with him who pleased not himself, who ministered to others, and who revealed to us that great law of love by which every Christian life must be inspired. The word. "infidel" has often been used. to represent mere skeptical unbelief. It really means "wanting in faith;" and the man who, whatever he professes, does not live out the spirit of the gospel, that man is worse than an infidel, if by infidel we mean a man who intellectually has not accepted the Christian faith.—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:13.—The busybody life.

"And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not." Indolence is the parent of all sins, because, with evil so active in the world, some of its emissaries are sure to be wanting houseroom in our hearts.

I. WE MAY LEARN TO BE IDLE. There is no life so undignified as that which is busy in trifles, which has learned to enjoy listless hours. For the wandering thought produces the wandering life. "Wandering about from house to house;" and, having nothing else to build with, too often build aerial structures of untruths and half-truths.

II. NOT ONLY IDLE, BUT TATTLERS. The harm that has been worked in this world by busybodies cannot be over-estimated. It is easy to send an arrow into the air, but not to gather it up again. It is easy to poison the river of good reputation, but we cannot re-purify the stream. It is easy to pluck the flower of a good man's fame, but we cannot restore its beauty. "Speaking things which they ought not." Holy few really make "I ought" govern their lives! Custom and convenience and pleasantness too often constrain our speech. People like to startle others, to give the shock of a new sensation, to amuse them, to please them. And, alas! it is too true that tattlers and busybodies know how to gratify those they visit. St. Paul thinks in this next verse (14) that marriage and care of children and housewifery are good things (which the ascetic Roman Church seems not to think), and that women so occupied give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:24.Sins that go before.

"Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after." Primarily, these words refer to the ministry. Never act suddenly. You may be deceived, and lay hands on unfit men, damaging the Church and dishonoring God. Manner may deceive. Latent sins may slumber beneath specious appearances. Some sins blossom at once, and evil is unveiled. At times the poisonous springs send forth their deleterious waters at once. Sometimes they are like hidden watercourses flowing beneath the surface soil, and appearing in unexpected places. Moral government always exists, but diversity characterizes the methods of God. Justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne. Sometimes Cain and Ananias are punished at once; the one is outlawed, the other dies. But Herod and Pilate waited for a revealing day. Subject—Sins that go before. They have outriders. As with a trumpet-peal attention is called to their advent. We see the evil-doers; vile in countenance, shambling in gait, dishonored in mien. These sins are revealed. We mark lost delicacy, honor, purity, peace, principle, reputation, joy!

I. THIS IS SPECIAL OR EXCEPTIONAL. "Some men's sins." Do not, in observing them, draw an argument for the necessary goodness of others. The openness of some judgments does not give, necessarily, fair fame to others. In the most decorous life there may be secret sins. The slumbering fire may be in the hold of the stately ship. The hidden vulture may be waiting for the carrion of the soul. But here there is judgment. We look around, we see it. Our newspapers, our neighborhoods say, "Behold the hand of God here." Faith is departed; hope is blighted; beauty is destroyed; the dark outriders are here.

II. THIS IS A SPECTACLE TO MEN. "They are open beforehand," and not made manifest merely in the sense of being sins, but their judgment is with them. For there are two ideas—you may see a sin to be a sin, but you need not have its judgment open. But the translation here requires that we should understand that the judgment is open, as well as the sin. You see not only men's corruption, but their misery; not only their guilt, but their shame. A child might see a poison berry, and know that it is such; or see a snake, and be told it has a sting; but how clear the judgment if, under the one tree, a little child lay dead; and beside the serpent a man was struggling in throes of agony!

III. THEY ARE OPEN BEFOREHAND. That implies they are hints in this world (where there is a place for repentance) of troubles yet to come. They do not exhaust judgment; they are premonitions of it. The light of mercy plays all around even the paths of judgment here; for the Savior of men is able to deliver from every prison-house. The beforehand judgment may be a merciful thing, but let no man deal tightly with it. The gathering clouds presage the fury of the storm; the pattering drops herald the hail and rain; the reddening light of the volcano tells of the desolating lava. "Some men's sins are open beforehand."—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 5:24.Sins that follow after.

"Some men they follow after." Here is a revealed fact with no comment upon it, hut it is very terrible. A smooth comfortable life, and yet a life of respectable sin! No blame, no opprobrium, no ostracism from society. Men deceive themselves. They go into the streets of their Nineveh, but no prophet reproves them. The waters are rising, but no Noah warns them; all is placid and full of repose.

I. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN A MAN AND HIS SINS. "And some men they follow after." Our sins are like us; they reflect our faces; they are mirrors which will one day show us ourselves; they follow after us by a moral individuality; they will each fly to their own center. Our sins are not resolvable into some generic whole as the sin of man. The blight in the summer-time is not so disastrous in defacing beauty, the locusts of the East are not so devastating in their all-devouring flight, as are our troops of sins. They follow after us, and blight our immortality.

II. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SHAME AND SIN. "They follow after." That is the reason we are not ashamed of them. Shame for sin is not sorrow for sin. The Hindu is only ashamed when he is discovered. That is not grief at sin: it is horror at being found out. Sins that follow after are not much thought about. The world has given us carte blanche if we preserve our position in society. What men shrink from is exposure and shame. It' all sins were revealed, who could bear it? If the earth were a moral mirror, who could walk upon it? But detection surely comes in God's way—in God's great day when he shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ.—W.M.S.


1 Timothy 5:1-16.Dealing with certain classes in the Church.

I. BEHAVIOR OF TIMOTHY TOWARD THE ELDER AND YOUNGER CHURCH MEMBERS OF BOTH SEXES. "Rebuke not an eider, but exhort him as a father; the younger men as brethren: the eider women as mothers; the younger as sisters, in all purity." A minister has to deal with people differing in age and sex. If he is a young minister like Timothy, he has a difficult part to act. It may happen that one who is very much his cider is guilty of an offence. How is he to conduct himself toward him? He is not to rebuke him sharply, as the word means, being different from what is employed in 2 Timothy 4:2, where authority is given to rebuke. Along with the authority that belongs to his office, there is to be such respect as is due by a child to a father. Entreaty will therefore not be separated from the presentation of duty. If it is younger men that offend, there is not to be wanting the respect that is due to brethren. If it is the elder women who are faulty, they are to be addressed as mothers. "Plead with your mother, plead" (Hosea 2:2). If it is the younger women who have to he dealt with, there is to be sisterly regard, without the slightest departure from propriety.

II. THE CHURCH ROLL OF WIDOWS. "Honor widows that are widows indeed." The honor requires to be restricted, to harmonize with the definition of them that are widows indeed. It comes to be their being placed (2 Timothy 4:9) on the special roll of Church widows. Let the honor not be lowered by being too widely extended; let it be confined to them that are really deserving.

1. Exclusion of those who have claims on children or grandchildren. "But if any widow hath children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to requite their parents: for this is acceptable in the sight of God." The Church is not to be charged with the care of widows who have children or grandchildren able to care for them. Upon them the duty falls, before failing upon the Church. This is only how a sacred regard for parents should show itself. It is a duty founded on natural justice, viz. requital for services rendered to them by parents. And it cannot but be pleasing to God, who has laid the foundations of it in nature, and who is represented by the parents, so that what is rendered to them is regarded as rendered to him.

2. Qualification of being desolate. "Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate." The widow indeed is defined as desolate or left alone, i.e. who, needing to be cared for, has none of her own to care for her.

3. Qualification of age. "Let none be enrolled as a widow under threescore years old." In accordance with what has gone before, we are to think of a roll of widows supported by the Church, for which the minimum requirement of age is here laid down as sixty.

4. Qualification of regularity of marriage. "Having been the wife of one man." It is difficult to see how such second marriage as is sanctioned in 2 Timothy 4:14 should exclude from the roll. It is better, therefore, to think of some irregularity, such as unlawful divorce from a first husband.

5. Qualification of serviceableness. "Well reported of for good works; if she hath brought up children, if she hath used hospitality to strangers, if she hath washed the saints' feet, if she hath relieved the afflicted, if she hath diligently followed every good work." Some of the works are mentioned for which she is to be well reported of. First, what she has done for children, either her own or orphans. To bring up children well implies great self-denial and power of management, and is to do a great service to the Church. Secondly, what she has done for strangers. We are to think of their being entertained for the Church. If they were not Christians, they would be sent away with a good impression of Christianity. Thirdly, what she has done for the saints. The washing of the feet is common in the East. We need not wonder at stress being laid on her performing a humble service. Humble services are to be performed toward the members of the Christian circle, for the sake of Christ and after the example of Christ. Fourthly, what she has done for the afflicted, or hard pressed in any way. We are to think of relief being afforded by a visit of sympathy, a word of encouragement, the undertaking of work as well as the bestowal of charity. It is added generally, "If she hath diligently followed every good work." It is evident that one who had been so serviceable to the Church would, in case of her destitution, have a claim to be supported by the Church. It can easily be seen, too, how, with such qualifications, she would be expected, in lieu of the support rendered to her, to render such service to the Church as was in bet' power. Thus the roll of Church widows would have the honorable character of a roll of Church workers. And we can think of widows being admitted upon the roll who did not need Church support, but wanted to do Church work. And there seems to have been, in accordance with this, in the early Church, an order of presbytery widows, who, under the sanctions of the Church, attended to the sick and instructed and advised the younger members of their sex.

6. Exclusion of younger widows. "But younger widows refuse." They were not to have the honor of being put upon the roll, though, in case of destitution, not beyond Christian help.

1 Timothy 5:17-25.—The presbyterate.

I. HONOR DUE TO ELDERS. "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching." As associated with Paul, Timothy was to be classed as an extraordinary office-bearer in the Church. He had the organizing of the Ephesian Church, but it was intended that the rule should permanently reside in a class of ordinary office-bearers who are here called ciders. The fact is plainly stated that elders were ordained by the apostles in every Church (Acts 14:23). It appears that the organization of a Church was regarded as defective without the appointment of elders (Titus 1:5). In the Church of Ephesus, as in all other Churches that we read of, there was a plurality of elders. All the elders are regarded as ruling or presiding, i.e. over the brethren who composed the Church. To elders it belongs to administer the laws which Christ has laid down for the government of his Church, and to take the general superintendence of the affairs of the congregation over which they are placed. It is a rule in which good qualities may be evinced, such as fidelity, diligence, impartiality, affectionateness, a habit of dependence upon Divine grace. Elders as such are to be counted worthy of honor, but those that rule well are to be counted worthy of double honor, i.e. the honor of excellence in the discharge of their duties added to the honor belonging to their office. There are two classes of elders—those who merely rule, and those who, besides ruling, are charged with the Word and with teaching. It is an honor by itself to have to do with the Word, and especially with the teaching of it, i.e. to be teaching elders; but those who have not only the office, but do well in it—suggested by the word "labor"—are to becounted worthy of double honor.

II. THEIR MAINTENANCE. "For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his hire." Under the honor to be done especially to the laborious teaching elder, is brought maintenance. This is enforced by a reference to Deuteronomy 25:4. The Jewish law showed consideration for an animal that had to labor. The ox was not to be muzzled when, in Eastern fashion, treading out the corn. It was not to be prevented from enjoying the fruit of its labors. The application is given at some length in 1 Corinthians 9:1-27., but it is simply brought out here by a proverb, which is also made use of by our Lord. The Christian teacher labors as really as the ox that treads out the corn. Not less than the ox he is to have the condition of labor, viz. maintenance. He is to have it not as a necessity, but on the principle that he is entitled to it as the reward of his labor.

III. THEIR JUST TREATMENT UNDER ACCUSATION. "Against an elder receive not an accusation, except at the month of two or three witnesses." There is reference to a well-known regulation of the Jewish law. It was especially to be observed in the case of honored or doubly honored elders. No weight was to be attached to unproved private complaints. "It might easily happen in a Church, so large and mixed as the Ephesian, that one or another, from wounded feelings of honor, from mere partisanship, or some selfish motive, would seek to injure a presbyter, and drag him down from his influential position; and against this the precept of the apostle was the best safeguard."

IV. DISCIPLINE IF SHOWN TO BE SINNING. "Them that sin reprove in the sight of all, that the rest also may be in fear." The apostle has been treating of elders; he is still treating of elders in 1 Corinthians 9:22. If, then, ordinary weight is to be attached to the context in interpretation, the conclusion seems certain that public reproof was only enjoined in the case of sinning elders. We are to understand that the accusation against them has been substantiated by two or three witnesses, and that by continuing in sin they exhibit no signs of repentance. Let such be publicly reproved, that, if the publicity does not do them good, it may at least cause a wholesome fear to fall upon others of their class.

V. SOLEMN ADJURATION. "I charge thee in the sight of God, and Christ Jesus, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing by partiality." The form of the adjuration is remarkable for the proximity in which Christ Jesus stands to God. If we are led to think of God as being omniscient, we are as naturally led to think of Christ Jesus as being omniscient, i.e. Divine. The form of the adjuration is also remarkable for the bringing in of the elect angels, i.e. honored to be the chosen objects of God's love. Their omniscience does not belong to them singly, but to their class, which is frequently represented as very numerous. As witnesses of what is now done on earth they will be present with their Lord on the day of judgment. The matter of the adjuration is the upholding of the presbyterate. Let none of the order be prejudged unfavorably; let none, through favor, be spared, if their sin is patent. We may learn from the solemnity of the adjuration, how highly the apostle valued the honor of the order.

VI. CARE IN APPOINTING TO THE ORDER. "Lay hands hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." The laying on of hands in ordination, which is clearly referred to here, is symbolic of the communication of spiritual gifts. We also learn from the language here, that it is equivalent to recognition on the part of those ordaining. They are accountable thus far, that if, through hastiness, they have admitted unworthy persons into the order, then they are partakers of their sins. As having to pronounce upon others, Timothy was to keep himself pure; his own conduct was to be above suspicion.

VII. TIMOTHY CAUTIONED. "Be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." Paley makes a point of the want of connection. "The direction stands between two sentences, as wide from the subject as possible." He, however, puts more upon this than it will bear. There is a certain Epistolary negligence, but there is connection. It occurs to the apostle that the command to keep himself pure might be too strictly interpreted by Timothy. He was not to be regarded as enjoining the utmost abstinence on him. On the contrary, his opinion was that Timothy was abstinent beyond what his health demanded. He was a drinker of water, i.e. accustomed to the exclusive use of water as a drink. Whatever his reasons for adopting this course, it was too rigorous for him. He needed a little wine for his stomach's sake and his often infirmities. This is not certainly to be construed into a license for the unlimited use of wine. He is only recommended the use of a little wine. And the very reason which is given for its use is against its use where the same reason does not exist. It is only too obvious that alcohol is destructive to the stomach, and the fruitful cause of infirmities. It is destructive to the brain as well as to the stomach. "There is quite a marked type of mental degeneration which may result from continuous drinking during ten years without one instance of drunkenness. We have, as a statistical fact, that from fifteen to twenty per cent of the actual insanity of the country is produced by alcohol." In the name of health, then, its use is to be feared; but, where health demands the use of wine, it is a sin not to use it. For the servant of the Lord must have his strength of body at a maximum for him.

VIII. A POINT TO BE CONSIDERED IN THE JUDGING OF MEN FOR OFFICE. "Some men's sins are evident, going before unto judgment; and some men also they follow after. In like manner also there are good works that are evident; and such as are otherwise cannot be hid." Present judging has a look forward to future judging. To future judgment all actions, bad and good, are regarded as going forward. But there is a difference, both in the ease of bad actions and of good actions. Some men's sins are notorious; and, as heralds, go before them to judgment, proclaiming their condemnation. With regard to such, judging for office is an easy matter; but it is not so with others. "Their sins are first known after and by the judgment, not known beforehand like the first named. In regard to those whose character is not yet clear, circumspection in our judgment cannot be too strongly urged." The same difference applies to good works. Some are as clear as noonday; and therefore there can be no hesitation in regard to the doers of them. There are, however, other good works which are not thus clear; these cannot be hid longer than the judgment. In view of the discovery of good deeds at present unknown, we cannot be too circumspect in our judgment of men, lest by our hastiness we do injury to any.—R.F.

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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". The Pulpit Commentary. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
Judges 12:14; *marg:; Job 18:19; Isaiah 14:22
1 Samuel 22:3,4; Proverbs 31:28; Luke 2:51; John 19:26,27
or, kindness.
Matthew 15:4-6; Mark 7:11-13
to requite
Genesis 45:10,11; 47:12,28; Ruth 2:2,18; Ephesians 6:1-3
Reciprocal: Genesis 4:7 - If thou doest well;  Proverbs 30:11 - doth;  Matthew 15:6 - honour;  Luke 7:12 - a widow;  Acts 6:1 - their;  Acts 28:10 - honoured;  Romans 12:1 - acceptable;  Romans 14:18 - is;  Ephesians 5:10 - acceptable;  1 Timothy 5:3 - indeed;  1 Timothy 5:8 - house;  1 Timothy 5:9 - a widow;  1 Timothy 5:16 - let them;  James 1:27 - Pure

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Vincent's Word Studies

Nephews ( ἔκγονα )

N.T.oOften in lxx. Nephews, in the now obsolete sense of grandsons or other lineal descendants. Derived from Lat. nepos. Trench (Select Glossary ) remarks that nephew was undergone exactly the same change of meaning that nepos underwent, which, in the Augustan age, meaning grandson, in the post-Augustan age acquired the signification of nephew in our present acceptation of that word. Chaucer:

“How that my nevew shall my bane be.”

Legend of Good Women, 2659.

'His (Jove's) blind nevew Cupido.”

House of Fame, 67.

Jeremy Taylor: “Nephews are very often liken to their grandfathers than to their fathers.”

Let them learn

The subject is the children and grandchildren. Holtzmann thinks the subject is any widow, used collectively. But the writer is treating of what should be done to the widow, not of what she is to do. The admonition is connected with widows indeed. They, as being utterly bereft, and without natural supporters, are to be cared for by the church; but if they have children or grandchildren, these should assume their maintenance.

First ( πρῶτον )

In the first place: as their first and natural obligation.

To show piety at home ( τὸν ἴδιον οἶκον εὐσεβεῖν )

More correctly, to show piety toward their own family. Piety in the sense of filial respect, though not to the exclusion of the religious sense. The Lat. pietas includes alike love and duty to the gods and to parents. Thus Virgil's familiar designation of Aeneas, “pius Aeneas,” as describing at once his reverence for the gods and his filial devotion. The verb εὐσεβεῖν (only here and Acts 17:23) represents filial respect as an element of godliness ( εὐσέβεια ). For τὸν ἴδιον their own, see on Acts 1:7. It emphasizes their private, personal belonging, and contrasts the assistance given by them with that furnished by the church. It has been suggested that οἶκον household or family may mark the duty as an act of family feeling and honor.

To requite ( ἀμοιβὰς ἀποδιδόναι )

An entirely unique expression. Ἁμοιβή requitalrecompense is a familiar classical word, used with διδόναι togive, ἀποτιθέναι tolay down, τίνειν topay, ποιεῖσθαι tomake. N.T.oPaul uses instead ἀντιμισθία (Romans 1:27; 2 Corinthians 6:13), or ἀνταπόδομα , (Romans 11:9), or ἀνταπόδοσις (Colossians 3:24). The last two are lxx words.

Their parents ( τοῖς προγόνοις )

N.T.oParents is too limited. The word comprehends mothers and grandmothers and living ancestors generally. The word for parents is γονεῖς , see 2 Timothy 3:2; Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 12:14; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20. Πρόγονοι for living ancestors is contrary to usage. One instance is cited from Plato, Laws, xi. 932. The word is probably selected to correspond in form with ἔκγονα childrenGood and acceptable ( καλὸν καὶ ἀποδεκτὸν )

Omit καλὸν καὶ goodand. Ἁπόδεκτος acceptableonly here and 1 Timothy 2:3. See note.

Before ( ἐνώπιον )

Frequent in N.T., especially Luke and Revelation. It occurs 31 times in the phrases ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ inthe sight of God, and ἐνώπιον κυρίου inthe sight of the Lord. olxx. Comp. ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ before God. Acts 10:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:9, 1 Thessalonians 3:13. Not in Pastorals, and by Paul only 1Thessalonians the difference is trifling. Comp. 1 John 3:19and 1 John 3:22.

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The text of this work is public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

Let these learn to requite their parents — For all their former care, trouble, and expense.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.Children or nephews—Who are able, should show piety enough at home to keep them from burdening the Church.

Nephews—Rather, grandchildren. The apostle’s let them learn, implies that these relatives are members of the Church, and may be by the Church required to do their duty under pain of the penalty implied in 1 Timothy 5:8.

RequiteRecompense returns; so expressed to show that the care for feeble parentage is not a mere benevolence, but a repayment, and so a binding duty.

Their parents—Or, progenitors; including grandparents, or any higher living progenitors in direct line. In countries where women marry in extreme youth, great-grandchildren at sixty are no rare occurrence.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 5:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.