1 Timothy 5

Caring for Widows

Financial "Honoring"

Honor widows who are truly widows (1 Timothy 5:3).

Given the sense of the broader context, Paul likely intends “honor” (Gk. timaō) here as a reference to financial support. The coin shown here, a gold aureus, was minted by Nero, who was emperor at the time 1 Timothy was written. This coin is part of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Biblical Coin Collection.

The True Widow's Posture

Now she who is truly a widow and has been left alone has fixed her hope on God, and she continues in entreaties and prayers night and day (1 Timothy 5:5).

This statue of Rachel in a prayerful pose is part of a larger tomb façade designed by Michelangelo for Pope Julius II. The most famous statue of this sculpture is that of Moses. The tablets of the ten commandments and a portion of Moses’s arm are visible on the far right side of the photo.

Caring for Your Own

Whoever does not provide for his own, especially his own household, has denied the faith. Such a one is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).

Even non-Christians would give to the poor. Therefore a Christian not providing even for their own family would fall short of the standard to which even unbelievers generally hold themselves. This relief from Rome (AD 117–138) is from an honorary monument to Hadrian showing the emperor presiding over the distribution of food to needy Roman children.

Age of Enrollment

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years old (1 Timothy 5:9).

It is noteworthy that Paul gives an actual minimum age for enrollment for financial support. Life expectancies in antiquity were lower than they are today. For those who made it past the age of 10, life expectancy was about 50 years of age. Accurate numbers are impossible to know, but it is estimated that only about 10 percent of people reached age 60, and only about 5 percent would see age 70. Thus the age of 60 was a significantly stricter threshold than it would be today. This marble bust of an older woman was found in Palombara Sabina in Rome and was carved in the late 1st century BC.

The Standard for Character

If she has washed the feet of the saints (1 Timothy 5:10).

The practice of washing the feet of others was the task of a servant in the Greco-Roman world. Jesus set an example for His followers by washing the feet of His disciples, positioning Himself as a servant to them. This served as the model to which Paul refers when he uses washing feet as a way to determine if a widow has been selfless, willing to serve others.

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