Online Bible Commentary
Caring for Widows
1 Timothy 5:11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, 12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. 13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. 14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15 For some have already turned aside after Satan. 16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows. (NKJV)
Paul is giving special instructions for church leaders in this letter to Timothy. Timothy is currently helping the church in Ephesus.
These instructions were needed because of the false teaching in the church. Some of the widows were helping to spread the false teaching.
In the previous passage Paul wrote of the qualifications for widows to be entitled to receive support from the church. In this passage He writes of those not entitled to receive support.
Paul begins by writing “But refuse the younger widows; (v. 11a). The “younger widows” are not to be put on the “list” for support.
Paul then says why this is the case. He writes “for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry” (v. 11b).
These younger widows are not yet considered to be of “old age” and they also have a better chance of remarrying. To be “wanton against Christ” may include such things as sensual desires. If the widow allows herself to be controlled by her sensual desires, there is the chance that she will marry a non-Christian and forsake her faith.
Paul has previously suggested that it is better for people to remain single, like himself, and devoted wholly to Christ. However, if they have sensual desires that they can not control it is better for them to marry (1 Cor. 7:8-9). He stays consistent with that teaching here.
Paul continues by writing “having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith” (v. 12). Those who cast off their “first faith”, in this case Christianity, are subject to God’s condemnation.
Paul also cautioned against God’s condemnation when he wrote “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7:39).
So, if the widow does not marry “in the Lord”, another Christian, but instead marries a non-Christian, the widow may bring judgment upon herself if she forsakes her relationship with Christ. Paul is also concerned with the widows forsaking the teachings of Christianity and resorting to false teaching because some have already done this.
Whenever anyone strays from Christian teaching, they are more open to accepting or promoting false teaching. We see an epidemic of this in our society today.
This happens often when Christian young men and women go off to college. If they do not continue to attend church, they are more prone to following false teaching, the ways of Satan.
The source of this false teaching in some cases are Godless professors in our colleges. This was the same concern Paul had for the “young widows” who might marry non-Christians.
Next, Paul writes “And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not” (v. 13). The other reason, in addition to sensual desires, for young widows to remarry is so that they do not have time on their hands.
The old saying “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” is true. Idleness not only prevents constructive behavior, but also leads to destructive behavior.
Paul has seen the younger widows spreading false teaching because they have too much time on their hands. They turned to gossip and became “busybodies”, slandering others, including God’s word.
Paul writes “Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (v. 14). His solution for this problem is for them to marry, perhaps have children, and manage a home. But they are only to marry Christian men.
Paul continues by writing “For some have already turned aside after Satan” (v. 15). Paul’s concern that younger widows in the church could remarry non-Christians who would turn them from their faith has already happened in some cases.
Paul concludes this passage with “If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows” (v. 16). This is a charge to the Christian children or grandchildren of widows.
In the preceding passage Paul wrote that widows with children or grandchildren were not entitled to help from the church because it was the Christian responsibility for their families to take care of them. Here he appeals to them again to help the widows in their family. It is the Godly thing to do, and it frees the church to help those “true widows”, the ones who are really in need.
In the church today, there may be more widows than ever before. People are living longer and women typically outlive men.
Widows have more years of being in need. It is more important than ever for families to care for the widows in their families.
And it is more important than ever for churches to care for those widows in need who live alone and who do not have families. It is the church’s responsibility to care for these Godly women. Too many are left to fend for themselves.
Some churches do a good job of caring for their widows in need. Other churches may need a new focus in this area. .