DIRECTIONS AS TO
CLASSES IN THE
1. an elder--in age; probably not an elder in the
ministry; these latter are not mentioned till
"the elders that rule." Compare
"your old men," literally, "elders." Contrasted with "the younger men."
As Timothy was admonished so to conduct himself as to give no man
reason to despise his youth
so here he is told to bear in mind his youth, and to behave with the
modesty which becomes a young man in relation to his elders.
Rebuke not--literally, "Strike not hard upon"; Rebuke not
sharply: a different word from "rebuke" in
as brethren--and therefore equals; not lording it over them
2. with all purity--respectful treatment of the other sex will
3. Honour--by setting on the church roll, as fit objects of charitable
(1Ti 5:9, 17, 18;
So "honor" is used for support with necessaries
(Mt 15:4, 6;
Those really desolate; not like those
having children or relations answerable for their support, nor like
"who live in pleasure"; but such as, from their earthly desolation as
to friends, are most likely to trust wholly in God, persevere in
continual prayers, and carry out the religious duties assigned to
Care for widows was transferred from the Jewish economy to the
(De 14:29; 16:11; 24:17, 19).
4. 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"
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.
parents--Greek, (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
5. widow indeed, and desolate--contrasted with her who has children
or grandchildren to support her
trusteth in God--perfect tense in Greek, "hath rested, and doth
rest her hope in God."
adds another qualification in a widow for Church maintenance,
besides her being" desolate" or destitute of children to support her.
She must be not one "that liveth in pleasure"
but one making God her main hope (the accusative in Greek
expresses that God is the ultimate aim whereto her hope is
dative expresses hope resting on God as her present stay
[WIESINGER]), and continuing constantly in
prayers. Her destitution of children and of all ties to earth would
leave her more unencumbered for devoting the rest of her days to God
and the Church
(1Co 7:33, 34).
Compare also "Anna a widow," who remained unmarried after her husband's
death and "departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings
and prayers day and night"
(Lu 2:36, 37).
Such a one, Paul implies, would be the fittest object for the Church's
for such a one is promoting the cause of Christ's Church by her prayers
for it. "Ardor in prayers flows from hoping confidence in God" [LEO].
in supplications and prayers--Greek, "in her
supplications and prayers"; the former signifies asking under a
sense of need, the latter, prayer (see on
night and day--another coincidence with Luke
"cry day and night"); contrast Satan's accusations "day and night"
6. she that liveth in pleasure--the opposite of such a widow as is
and therefore one utterly undeserving of Church charity. The
Greek expresses wanton prodigality and excess
[TITTMANN]. The root expresses weaving at a
fast rate, and so lavish excess (see on
dead while she liveth--dead in the Spirit while alive in the flesh
7. these things--just now spoken
(1Ti 5:5, 6).
that they may be blameless--namely, the widows supported by the
8. But--reverting to
"If any (a general proposition; therefore including in its application
the widow's children or grandchildren) provide not for his own
(relations in general), and especially for those of his own house (in
particular), he hath (practically) denied the faith." Faith without
love and its works is dead; "for the subject matter of faith is not
mere opinion, but the grace and truth of God, to which he that believes
gives up his spirit, as he that loves gives up his heart" [MACK]. If in any case a duty of love is plain, it is in
relation to one's own relatives; to fail in so plain an obligation is a
plain proof of want of love, and therefore of want of faith. "Faith
does not set aside natural duties, but strengthens them" [BENGEL].
worse than an infidel--because even an infidel (or unbeliever) is
taught by nature to provide for his own relatives, and generally
recognizes the duty; the Christian who does not so, is worse
(Mt 5:46, 47).
He has less excuse with his greater light than the infidel who may
break the laws of nature.
9. Translate, "As a widow (that is, of the ecclesiastical order
of widowhood; a kind of female presbytery), let none be
enrolled (in the catalogue) who is less than sixty years old." These
were not deaconesses, who were chosen at a younger age (forty
was the age fixed at the Council of Chalcedon), and who had virgins (in
a later age called widows) as well as widows among them, but a
band of widows set apart, though not yet formally and finally, to the
service of God and the Church. Traces of such a class appear in
Dorcas herself was such a one. As it was expedient (see on
that the presbyter or bishop should have been but once married, so also
in her case. There is a transition here to a new subject. The reference
here cannot be, as in
to providing Church sustenance for them. For the restriction to
widows above sixty would then be needless and harsh, since many widows
might be in need of help at a much earlier age; as also the rule that
the widow must not have been twice married, especially
since he himself, below
enjoins the younger widows to marry again; as also that she must have
brought up children. Moreover,
presupposes some competence, at least in past times, and so poor widows
would be excluded, the very class requiring charity. Also,
would then be senseless, for then their remarrying would be a benefit,
not an injury, to the Church, as relieving it of the burden of their
sustenance. TERTULLIAN [On the Veiling of
Virgins, 9], HERMAS [Shepherd, 1.2],
and CHRYSOSTOM [Homily, 31], mention such
an order of ecclesiastical widowhood, each one not less than sixty
years old, and resembling the presbyters in the respect paid to them,
and in some of their duties; they ministered with sympathizing counsel
to other widows and to orphans, a ministry to which their own
experimental knowledge of the feelings and sufferings of the bereaved
adapted them, and had a general supervision of their sex. Age
was doubtless a requisite in presbyters, as it is here stated to
have been in presbyteresses, with a view to their influence on
the younger persons of their sex They were supported by the Church, but
not the only widows so supported
(1Ti 5:3, 4).
wife of one man--in order not to throw a stumbling-block in the
way of Jews and heathen, who regarded with disfavor second marriages
This is the force of "blameless," giving no offense, even in matters
10. for good works--Greek, "IN
honourable (excellent) works"; the sphere or element in
which the good report of her had place
This answers to
as to the bishop or presbyter, "He must have a good report of them
which are without."
if--if, in addition to being "well reported of."
she . . . brought up children--either her own
(1Ti 3:4, 12),
or those of others, which is one of the "good works"; a qualification
adapting her for ministry to orphan children, and to mothers of
"given to hospitality"
in the case of presbyters.
washed . . . saints' feet--after the example of the Lord
a specimen of the universal spirit of humbly "by love serving one
another," which actuated the early Christians.
relieved the afflicted--whether by pecuniary or other relief.
followed . . . good--
compare instances in
Mt 25:35, 36).
11. younger--than sixty years old
refuse--to take on the roll of presbyteress widows.
wax wanton--literally, "over-strong"
against Christ--rebelling against Christ, their proper Bridegroom
they will--Greek, "they wish"; their desire is to
12. Having--Bringing on themselves, and so having to bear
as a burden
judgment from God (compare
weighing like a load on them.
cast off their first faith--namely, pledged to Christ and the
service of the Church. There could be no hardship at the age of sixty
or upwards in not marrying again (end of
for the sake of serving better the cause of Christ as presbyteresses;
though, to ordinary widows, no barrier existed against remarriage
This is altogether distinct from Rome's unnatural vows of celibacy in
the case of young marriageable women. The widow-presbyteresses,
moreover, engaged to remain single, not as though single life were
holier than married life (according to Rome's teaching), but because
the interests of Christ's cause made it desirable (see on
They had pledged "their first faith" to Christ as presbyteress widows;
they now wish to transfer their faith to a husband (compare
1Co 7:32, 34).
13. withal--"at the same time, moreover."
learn--usually in a good sense. But these women's "learning" is
idleness, trifling, and busybodies' tattle.
wandering--Greek, "going about."
from house to house--of the members of the Church
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