1 Timothy 5:1–10, 16–18comment (0)
March 21, 2013
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:1–10, 16–1
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
Care for Others
1 Timothy 5:1–10, 16–18
The United States governmental agencies have taken on the responsibility of being the safety net for those with serious needs. Yet churches have not abdicated entirely their responsibility for financially needy members. Benevolence committees are often an active part of local churches. Believers need to be reminded of the biblical teaching that caring for widows is something God expects His people to do. And needy believers can benefit from knowing their church is committed to extending God’s compassion to them.
Respect All Age Groups (1–2)
The apostle Paul calls attention to specific problems in the Ephesian church and instructs Timothy on how he should behave toward members of the Christian family. He is to treat all groups fairly regardless of age. The older men are not to be confronted with harsh words but with deference and honor. Timothy is to regard the younger men as brothers, not taking a domineering attitude toward them. The older women are to be treated with respect, as his mother, and the younger women as sisters. Appropriate behavior should characterize all his dealings with women.
Act Responsibly (3–8)
Paul calls attention to the subject of widows and the treatment given them. God’s concern for widows in the Old Testament continues into the New Testament. Genuine widows are those who have no means of financial support and are wholly financially dependent upon the Lord. The honor they receive includes financial support.
Another group is widows who have children or grandchildren. The families of these widows are to care financially for them. Institutions of today’s society — pensions, Social Security, retirement homes — do not release any family from these obligations. The church cannot care for all the widows in a city, but it should care for believers who are members. A widow whom the church helps should not be a self-indulgent person but a godly woman who trusts Christ and has a ministry of intercessory prayer.
Help Needy Church Members (9–10, 16)
Paul lists the qualifications for a widow if she is to be supported financially by the church. (1) She must be at least 60 years old; at this age she is not likely to remarry. It appears from verse eight that a definite roll or list of names was kept in each local church, indicating those widows who were supported by the church. (2) She must be the wife of one husband. A similar expression is used in connection with the elders and deacons. Here it must mean something similar; that her married life was above reproach and without any suspicion of moral failure. (3) She must have a reputation for performing good works. (4) If she has children in her care (her own or those of others), she reared them in a Christian home. (5) Her life has been marked by hospitality and humble service.
Paul summarizes the principle of each believing family caring for its own. He did not say how this should be done; each local church must decide what to do according to the needs of the individual situation.
Support Church Ministers (17–18)
Paul next turns to the subject of the church’s financial obligation to the church’s spiritual leaders. In the early church several elders ministered among believers. These men devoted themselves full-time to the Lord’s work. Consequently they deserved financial support from the church. Elders who serve well should receive double honor, that is, not only respect but also adequate financial remuneration.
Two Scriptures are used here to establish the validity of elder compensation: Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7. These Scriptures teach that the worker (animal or man) is entitled to a portion of the fruit of his labor. So it is with elders; they are worthy of support from God’s people.