1 Timothy 5:1-13 (KJV)

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5:1-3 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.

Chapter 5 and 6 are a shift from qualifications of Christian leadership and more so towards pressing matters within the Body that Timothy needed to address. Particularly elders and widows.

Elders in this sense are simply who has “proven themselves” within the Body of Christ. Presbyteros has many varying usages including some one “advanced in age” and or a ranking per say within the Jewish or Christian faith. 

Here in this passage, I would focus particularly on a seasoned member of the church who would be “advanced in age.” My focus on this comes from Paul’s following instruction to treat the younger men as brethren and elder women as mothers. Just prior, Paul instructed again women teaching leadership so this would discount a woman as a presiding elder of the church. There is a focus on age here and on both ends of the spectrum, Timothy is called to grace and respect. 

There is a time to rebuke within the church as a leader; however, this portion is simply referencing a relationship. A rebuke leads to silence, but intreating is a comforting exhortation. A rebuke may promote spiritual stagnation while intreating leads to Godly edifying. 

Women in the following line have a similar diagnosis from Paul. They are to be treated as mothers and sisters. Sisters being treated with “all purity” is a large calling. Remembering that this was a letter from Paul to Timothy says much as to why this call was made. 

As a leader, Timothy was to remain blameless: In speech and in conduct. Paul was calling Timothy to appropriately address younger women as he would family. With Timothy keeping this in mind, he could reasonably tend to his Christian duties and act accordingly in dialogue with those of the opposite sex. 

Honor in this sense means “to value” or to “fix the value.” A widow would have suffered a lot and because Timothy valued them, he would esteem them and assure their needs were met. This was an important concept that Paul was setting in place because men held a lot of responsibility in a marriage and without her husband, a widow’s life would be handicapped in comparison to someone who still had their husband. 

As we see in verse 3 and then further into chapter 5, Paul is specific about the widows that receive such honor. 

5:4-7 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.

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.

These additional instructions hone in on the responsibility of a widow at home with children. To make this more general, one’s home life can be an indicator of spiritual well being and spiritual maturity. This is exemplified through 1 Timothy 3:4 as well when Paul calls pastors to have their children under rule. In the context of those married, being blameless requires a parent to parent well. 

This is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word amoibe (In English, requite) is found. It means to return a favor. In order to be a 1 Timothy 5:3 widow, they need to follow Paul’s council through Timothy. They need to learn how to take on the home responsibilities.

In doing this, they are passing down the morals and loving affection of the widow’s parents and generationally generating a legacy of a tame household. This is a profound concept that needs to be transferred to the 21st century. It would be something like this: Godly parents procreate Godly children who likewise procreate Godly children like their parents did. A healthy family is a desire of God’s. 

An honorable widow (a widow indeed) trusts in God to sustain her needs. Paul makes this obvious. Ceasely prayer and supplication with thanksgiving are two important qualifications of prayer according to Paul’s teaching and a model practice for the Body today as well (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6). 

It reflect a flavor of the old wise saying, 

“If you are going to pray don’t worry, and if you’re going to worry, don’t pray.” 

This illustration clearly only goes so far however as we are called to go to God with our worries (1 Peter 5:7). The goal is to leave them with our intercessor Jesus Christ (Romans 8:26-27). 

Despite the popular heresy of the “prosperity gospel,” we are not promised physical prosperity. Nonetheless, we are called to prosper spiritually. This is exemplified in the lives of the widows in Ephesus. They trusted in God to meet there, not their wants. 

Despite the gravity of their situation, they uplift Christ over self and illustrate a prime example of blamelessness. As Christians, we do not have to look far to see that physical riches may diminish character. In our infirmities and under God’s care, one may find that it is much easier to abide, rely on His Fatherly qualities, and all-sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).

5:8-10 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.

Paul takes a quick step out of his identification of a widow indeed and targets men who do not care for their family. Men are to provide and uphold responsibility for the wellbeing of those in their household. 

Paul uses the term, “denied the faith,” because such an action by men is incongruent with Gospel living and the high calling that has been set before. Thus, likening them to an infidel or someone outside of the faith. 

It was expected for the local church to make provisions for those who were in need. But like most care programs, requirements are set in place in order to maintain the purity of the program, reduce abuse of it, and ensure priority is met. 

Three score years is an archaic form of saying 60 years old. At 60 years old, the likelihood of remarriage would drastically lower, incapacitating her ability to provide for herself. The wife of one man also shows of their character and faithfulness in a culture where prostitution and similar sexual immorality was prevalent. 

Saying this, Paul continues to examine character as he lays out a grander blueprint of provisional prerequisites. 

“Well reported of for good works” is a contributing component of being blameless. Good works are expected from Christians and exemplify fruits of righteousness and a powerful working of the inner man by Christ. This statement shows that being “blameless” and “well reported of” before men does not just mean that someone can speak no evil of you- It also means that they can speak good of you. 

The works to follow are all examples of good works that a widow can contribute to a blameless resume. They all encompass the idea of hospitality, which was heavily preached upon by the apostle Paul (Romans 12:13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). 

5:11-13 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.

Within the Bible, younger does not always indicate physical age but may allude to spiritual maturity as well. Nonetheless, this portion is primarily addressing the age of the widow. This is how Paul was determining the physical needs that were to be made. Following this, Paul points Timothy to the spiritual complications following a younger widow.

To wax “wanton” simply means to “pull away” as in the reins on a horse. When this action is commenced, much like the steering of a horse, you will diverge from the path set before you on the day of your salvation. This was obviously an issue within the church when it came time to make provisions for widows and therefore Paul addresses it so that Timothy discern wisely. 

These widows pull their reins more towards gratifying pleasures than the intended will of Jesus Christ for their lives. 

“Having damnation” is a similar warning to that given to leadership in 1 Timothy 3:6-7. These frivolous actions will ultimately lead them down a destructive road, forming ungodly habits which lead to detrimental consequences. 

God bless!

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