1 Timothy Chapter 5:1-18 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:1

1Do not harshly rebuke an elder He now recommends to Timothy gentleness and moderation in correcting faults. Correction is a medicine, which has always some bitterness, and consequently is disagreeable. Besides, Timothy being a young man, his severity would have been less tolerable, if it had not been somewhat moderated.

But exhort him as a father The Apostle enjoins him to reprove elder persons as parents; and he even employs the milder term, exhort It is impossible not to be moved with reverence, when we place before our eyes our father or our mother; in consequence of which, instead of harsher vehemence, we are immediately influenced by modesty. Yet it ought to be observed, that he does not wish old men to be spared or indulged in such a manner as to sin with impunity and without correction; he only wishes that some respect should be paid to their age, that they may more patiently bear to be admonished.

The younger as brethren Even towards younger persons he wishes moderation to be used, though not in an equal degree; for the vinegar must always be mingled with oil, but with this difference, that reverence should always be shewn to older persons, and equals should be treated with brotherly gentleness. Hence pastors are taught, that they must not only take into account their office, but must also see particularly what is due to the age of individuals; for the same things are not applicable to all. Let it therefore be remembered, that, if dramatic performers attend to decorum on the stage, it ought not to be neglected by pastors, who occupy so lofty a station.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 5:1

1Ti_5:1-25. General directions as to how Timothy should deal with different classes in the Church.

an elder — in age; probably not an elder in the ministry; these latter are not mentioned till 1Ti_5:17, “the elders that rule.” Compare Act_2:17, “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 (1Ti_4:12); 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 2Ti_4:2.

entreat — exhort.

as brethren — and therefore equals; not lording it over them (1Pe_5:1-3).

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 5:1

Rebuke not an elder – The word “elder” here is not used in the sense in which it often is, to denote an officer of the church, a presbyter, but in its proper and usual sense, to denote an aged man. This is evident, because the apostle immediately mentions in contradistinction from the elder, “the younger men,” where it cannot be supposed that he refers to them as officers. The command to treat the “elder” as a “father,” also shows the same thing. By the direction not to rebuke, it is not to be supposed that the minister of the gospel is not to admonish the aged, or that he is not to show them their sins when they go astray, but that he is to do this as he would to a father. He is not to assume a harsh, dictatorial, and denunciatory manner. The precepts of religion always respect the proprieties of life, and never allow us to transgress them, even when the object is to reclaim a soul from error, and to save one who is wandering. Besides, when this is the aim, it will always be most certainly accomplished by observing the respect due to others on account of office, relation, rank, or age.

But entreat him as a father – As you would a father. That is, do not harshly denounce him. Endeavor to persuade him to lead a more holy life. One of the things for which the ancients were remarkable above most of the moderns, and for which the Orientals are still distinguished, was respect for age. Few things are enjoined with more explicitness and emphasis in the Bible than this; Lev_19:32; Job 29; Pro_20:20; Pro_30:17; compare Dan_7:9-10; Rev_1:14-15. The apostle would have Timothy, and, for the same reason, every other minister of the gospel, a model of this virtue.

And the younger men as brethren – That is, treat them as you would your own brothers. Do not consider them as aliens, strangers, or enemies, but entertain toward them, even when they go astray, the kindly feelings of a brother. This refers more particularly to his private conversation with them, and to his personal efforts to reclaim them when they had fallen into sin. When these efforts were ineffectual, and they sinned openly, he was to “rebuke them before all” 1Ti_5:20, that others might be deterred from following their example.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:2

2The younger as sisters, with all chastity The phrase, with all chastity, relates to younger women; for at that age they ought always to dread every kind of suspicion. Yet Paul does not forbid Timothy to have any criminal or immodest conduct towards young women, (for there was no need of such a prohibition,) but only enjoins him to beware of giving to wicked men any handle for laughter. For this purpose, he demands a chaste gravity, which shall shine throughout all their intercourse and conversation; so that he may more freely converse with young persons, without any unfavorable reports.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 5:2

The elder women as mothers – Showing still the same respect for age, and for the proprieties of life. No son who had proper feelings would rebuke his own mother with severity. Let the minister of religion evince the same feelings if he is called to address a “mother in Israel” who has erred.

The younger as sisters – With the feelings which you have toward a sister. The tender love which one has for a beloved sister would always keep him from using harsh and severe language. The same mildness, gentleness, and affection should be used toward a sister in the church.

With all purity – Nothing could be more characteristic of Paul’s manner than this injunction; nothing could show a deeper acquaintance with human nature. He knew the danger which would beset a youthful minister of the gospel when it was his duty to admonish and entreat a youthful female; he knew, too, the scandal to which he might be exposed if, in the performance of the necessary duties of his office, there should be the slightest departure from purity and propriety. He was therefore to guard his heart with more than common vigilance in such circumstances, and was to indulge in no word, or look, or action, which could by any possibility be construed as manifesting an improper state of feeling. On nothing else do the fair character and usefulness of a youthful minister more depend, than on the observance of this precept. Nowhere else does he more need the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the exercise of prudence, and the manifestation of incorruptible integrity, than in the performance of this duty. A youthful minister who fails here, can never recover the perfect purity of an unsullied reputation, and never in subsequent life be wholly free from suspicion; compare notes, Mat_5:28.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:3

3Honor widows that are really widows. By the word honor he does not mean any expression of respect, but that special care of them which bishops took in the ancient Church; for widows were taken under the protection of the Church, that they might be supported out of the common funds. The meaning of this mode of expression is as if he had said, “For selecting widows that are to be taken under your care and that of the deacons, you ought to consider who they are that are really widows What was their condition we shall afterwards explain more fully. But we must here attend to the reason why Paul does not admit any but those who are absolutely widows, and, at the same time, widows without children; for, in that condition, they dedicated themselves to the Church, that they might withdraw from all the private concerns of a family, and might lay aside every hindrance. Justly, therefore, does Paul forbid to receive the mothers of families, who are already bound by a charge of a different kind. When he calls them “really widows”, he alludes to the Greek word χήρα, which is derived ἀπὸ τοῦ χηροῦσθαι, from a verb which signifies to be “deprived” or “destitute.”

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 5:3

Honor (τίμα)

Not only by respectful treatment but by financial support. Comp. τιμήσει, Mat_15:5, and πολλαῖς τιμαῖς ἐτίμησαν, Act_28:10; and διπλῆς τιμῆς 1Ti_5:17. Comp. Sir. 38:1. ‘The verb only once in Paul (Eph_6:2, citation), and only here in Pastorals.

Widows (χήρας)

Paul alludes to widows in 1Co_7:8 only, where he advises them against remarrying. They are mentioned as a class in Act_6:1, in connection with the appointment of the seven. Also Act_9:39, Act_9:41. In the Pastorals they receive special notice, indicating their advance from the position of mere beneficiaries to a quasi-official position in the church. from the very first, the church recognised its obligation to care for their support. A widow, in the East, was peculiarly desolate and helpless. In return for their maintenance certain duties were required of them, such as the care of orphans, sick and prisoners, and they were enrolled in an order, which, however, did not include all of their number who received alms of the church. In Polycarp’s Epistle to the Philippians, they are styled “the altar of God.” To such an order the references in the Pastorals point. The Fathers, from the end of the second century to the fourth, recognised a class known as πρεσβύτιδες aged women (Tit_2:3), who had oversight of the female church-members and a separate seat in the congregation. The council of Laodicaea abolished this institution, or so modified it that widows no longer held an official relation to the church.

Who are widows indeed (τὰς ὄντως χήρας)

Comp. 1Ti_5:5, 1Ti_5:16. Ὄντως verily, truly, twice in Paul, 1Co_14:25; Gal_3:21. See on 2Pe_2:18. Wherever ὄντως is used by Paul or by any other N.T. writer, it is used purely as an adverb (see Luk_23:47; Luk_24:34): but in all the four instances in the Pastorals, it is preceded by the article and converted into an adjective. The meaning is, who are absolutely bereaved, without children or relations (comp. 1Ti_5:4), and have been but once married. There is probably also an implied contrast with those described in 1Ti_5:6, 1Ti_5:11-13.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 5:3

Honour widows – The particular attention and respect which are enjoined here, seem to refer to the class of widows who were supported by the church, and who were entrusted with the performance of certain duties toward the other female members, see 1Ti_5:9. It is to be remembered that the contact of the sexes was much more circumscribed in Oriental countries than it is among us; that access to the female members of the church would be much less free than it is now, and that consequently there might have been a special propriety in entrusting the duty of watching over the younger among them to the more aged. This duty would be naturally entrusted to those who had not the care of families. It would also be natural to commit it, if they were qualified, to those who had not the means of support, and who, while they were maintained by the church, might be rendering a valuable service to it. It would seem, therefore, that there was a class of this description, who were entrusted with these duties, and in regard to whose qualifications it was proper that Timothy should be instructed. The change of customs in society has made this class less necessary, and probably the arrangement was never designed to be permanent, but still it may be a question whether such an arrangement would not now be wise and useful in the church. On this subject, see the notes on Rom_16:1.

That are widows indeed – Who are truly widows. We associate with the word “widow,” commonly, not only the idea of the loss of a husband, but many other things that are the usual accompaniments of widowhood – a poor and dependent condition; care and solicitude; sadness and sorrow. This idea is implied in the use of the word employed here – χήρα chēra – which means properly one who is “bereaved,” (from the adjective χήρος chēros, “bereaved”), and which, as Calvin says, conveys the idea of one in distressed circumstances. What Paul regarded as constituting true widowhood, he specifies in 1Ti_5:4-5, 1Ti_5:9-10. He connects with it the idea that she had no persons dependent on her; that she was desolate, and evinced true trust in God; that she was so aged that she would not marry again; and that by her life she had given evidence of possessing a heart of true benevolence; 1Ti_5:10.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:4

4If any widow There are various ways of explaining this passage; and the ambiguity arises from this circumstance, that the latter clause may refer either to widows or to their children. Nor is this consistent with the verb (let them learn) being plural, while Paul spoke of a widow in the singular number; for a change of number is very customary in a general discourse, that is, when the writer speaks of a whole class, and not of an individual. They who think that it relates to widows, are of the opinion that the meaning is, “let them learn, by the pious government of their family, to repay to their successors the education that they received from their ancestors.” This is the explanation given by Chrysostom and some others. But others think that it is more natural to interpret it as relating to children and grandchildren. Accordingly, in their opinion, the Apostle teaches that the mother or grandmother is the person towards whom they should exercise their piety; for nothing is more natural than (ἀντιπελαργία) the return of filial for parental affection; and it is very unreasonable that it should be excluded from the Church. Before the Church is burdened with them, let them do their duty.

Hereto I have related the opinion of others. But I wish my readers to consider if it would not agree better with the context in this manner: “Let them learn to conduct themselves in a godly manner at home.” As if he had said, that it would be valuable as a preparatory instruction, that they should train themselves to the worship of God, by performing godly offices at home towards their relatives; for nature commands us to love our parents next to God; that this secondary piety leads to the highest piety. And as Paul saw that the very rights of nature were violated under the pretense of religion, in order to correct this fault, he commanded that widows should be trained by domestic apprenticeship to the worship of God.

To shew piety towards their own house Almost all the commentators take the verb εὐσεβεῖν in an active sense, because it is followed by an accusative; but that is not a conclusive argument, for it is customary with the Greek authors to have a preposition understood. And this exposition agrees well with the context, that, by cultivating human piety, they should train themselves in the worship of God; lest a foolish and silly devotion should divest them of human feelings. Again, let widows learn to repay what they owe to their ancestors by educating their own offspring.

For this is good and acceptable before God Not to shew gratitude to our ancestors is universally acknowledged to be monstrous; for that is a lesson taught us by natural reason. And not only is this conviction natural to all, that affection towards our parents is the second degree of piety; but the very storks teach us gratitude by their example; and that is the etymology of the word ἀνιπελαργία But Paul, not satisfied with this, declares that God hath sanctioned it; as if he had said, “There is no reason why any one should think that it has its origin in the opinion of men; but God hath so ordained.”

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 5:4

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” [Hooker, 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 1Ti_2:3.

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 5:4

Nephews (ἔκγονα)

N.T.o. Often in lxx. Nephews, in the now obsolete sense of grandsons or other lineal descendants. Derived from Lat. nepos. Trench (Select Glossary) remarks that nephew was undergone exactly the same change of meaning that nepos underwent, which, in the Augustan age, meaning grandson, in the post-Augustan age acquired the signification of nephew in our present acceptation of that word. Chaucer:

“How that my nevew shall my bane be.”

Legend of Good Women, 2659.

‘His (Jove’s) blind nevew Cupido.”

House of Fame, 67.

Jeremy Taylor: “Nephews are very often liken to their grandfathers than to their fathers.”

Let them learn

The subject is the children and grandchildren. Holtzmann thinks the subject is any widow, used collectively. But the writer is treating of what should be done to the widow, not of what she is to do. The admonition is connected with widows indeed. They, as being utterly bereft, and without natural supporters, are to be cared for by the church; but if they have children or grandchildren, these should assume their maintenance.

First (πρῶτον)

In the first place: as their first and natural obligation.

To show piety at home (τὸν ἴδιον οἶκον εὐσεβεῖν)

More correctly, to show piety toward their own family. Piety in the sense of filial respect, though not to the exclusion of the religious sense. The Lat. pietas includes alike love and duty to the gods and to parents. Thus Virgil’s familiar designation of Aeneas, “pius Aeneas,” as describing at once his reverence for the gods and his filial devotion. The verb εὐσεβεῖν (only here and Act_17:23) represents filial respect as an element of godliness (εὐσέβεια). For τὸν ἴδιον their own, see on Act_1:7. It emphasizes their private, personal belonging, and contrasts the assistance given by them with that furnished by the church. It has been suggested that οἶκον household or family may mark the duty as an act of family feeling and honor.

To requite (ἀμοιβὰς ἀποδιδόναι)

An entirely unique expression. Ἁμοιβή requital, recompense is a familiar classical word, used with διδόναι to give, ἀποτιθέναι to lay down, τίνειν to pay, ποιεῖσθαι to make. N.T.o. Paul uses instead ἀντιμισθία (Rom_1:27; 2Co_6:13), or ἀνταπόδομα, (Rom_11:9), or ἀνταπόδοσις (Col_3:24). The last two are lxx words.

Their parents (τοῖς προγόνοις)

N.T.o. Parents is too limited. The word comprehends mothers and grandmothers and living ancestors generally. The word for parents is γονεῖς, see 2Ti_3:2; Rom_1:30; 2Co_12:14; Eph_6:1; Col_3:20. Πρόγονοι for living ancestors is contrary to usage. One instance is cited from Plato, Laws, xi. 932. The word is probably selected to correspond in form with ἔκγονα children.

Good and acceptable (καλὸν καὶ ἀποδεκτὸν)

Omit καλὸν καὶ good and. Ἁπόδεκτος acceptable only here and 1Ti_2:3. See note.

Before (ἐνώπιον)

Frequent in N.T., especially Luke and Revelation. It occurs 31 times in the phrases ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ in the sight of God, and ἐνώπιον κυρίου in the sight of the Lord. olxx. Comp. ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Θεοῦ before God. Act_10:4; 1Th_1:3; 1Th_2:19; 1Th_3:9, 1Th_3:13. Not in Pastorals, and by Paul only 1 Thessalonians the difference is trifling. Comp. 1Jo_3:19 and 1Jo_3:22.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:5

5She who is really a widow He expresses his meaning more clearly than before; for he shews that they are really widows who are solitary and have no children. He says that such persons hope in God Not that this is done by all, or by them alone; for we may see many widows that are childless, and that have no relatives whatever, who nevertheless are haughty and insolent, and altogether ungodly both in heart and in life. On the other hand, then, are those who have many children, and who are not prevented from having their hope placed in God; such as Job and Jacob and David. But for this, (πολυτεκνία) a multitude of children would be a curse, whereas Scripture always reckons it among the remarkable blessings of God. But Paul says here that widows “hope in God,” in the same manner as he elsewhere writes, that the unmarried study only to please God, because their affections are not divided like those of married persons. (1Co_7:32.) The meaning therefore is, that they have nothing to disturb their thoughts, from looking to God alone; because they find nothing in the world on which they can rely. By this argument he commends them; for, when human aid and every refuge fails them, it is the duty of the Church to stretch forth her hand to render assistance; and thus the condition of the widow, who is childless and desolate, implores the aid of the pastor.

Continueth in prayers. This is the second ground of commendation, that they continually devote themselves to prayer. Hence it follows, that they ought to be relieved and supported at the expense of the Church. At the same time, by these two marks he distinguishes between the worthy and the unworthy; for these words are of the same import as if he enjoined that they only shall be received who look for no aid from men, but rely on God alone, and, laying aside other cares and employments, are earnestly devoted to prayer; and that others are ill qualified and of no advantage to the Church. Again, this constancy in prayer demands freedom from other cares; for they who are occupied with the government of a family have less freedom and leisure. We are all, indeed, commanded to pray continually; but it ought to be considered what is demanded by every person’s condition, when, in order to pray, retirement and exemption from all other cares are demanded.

What Paul praises in widows, Luke (Luk_2:36) asserts as to Anna, the daughter of Phanuel; but the same thing would not apply to all, on account of the diversity in their manner of life. There will be foolish women — apes, and not imitators, of Anna — who will run from altar to altar, and will do nothing but sigh and mutter till noon. On this presence, they will rid themselves of all domestic affairs; and, having returned home, if they do not find everything arranged to their wish, they will disturb the whole family by outrageous cries, and will sometimes proceed to blows. Let us therefore remember that there are good reasons why it is the peculiar privilege of those who are widows and childless, to have leisure for praying by night and by day; because they are free from lawful hindrances, which would not permit those who govern a family to do the same.

And yet this passage lends no countenance to monks or nuns, who sell their mutterings or their loud noises for the sake of leading an easy and idle life. Such were anciently the Euchites or Psallians; for monks and Popish priests differ in no respect, except that the former, by continually praying, thought that none but themselves were pious and holy, while the latter, with inferior industry, imagined that they sanctify both themselves and others. Paul had no thought of anything of this sort, but only intended to shew how much more freely they may have leisure for prayer who have nothing else to disturb them.

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 5:5

widow indeed, and desolate — contrasted with her who has children or grandchildren to support her (1Ti_5:4).

trusteth in God — perfect tense in Greek, “hath rested, and doth rest her hope in God.” 1Ti_5:5 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” (1Ti_5:6), but one making God her main hope (the accusative in Greek expresses that God is the ultimate aim whereto her hope is directed; whereas, 1Ti_4:10, 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, 1Co_7:34). 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” (Luk_2:36, Luk_2:37). Such a one, Paul implies, would be the fittest object for the Church’s help (1Ti_5:3); 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 1Ti_2:1; see on Phi_4:6).

night and day — another coincidence with Luke (Luk_18:7, “cry day and night”); contrast Satan’s accusations “day and night” (Rev_12:10).

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:6

6. She who is in luxury. After having described the marks by which real widows may be known, he now contrasts them with others that ought not to be received. The Greek participle which he employs, σπαταλῶσα, means one who allows herself every indulgence, and leads an easy and luxurious life. Accordingly, Paul (in my opinion) censures those who abuse their widowhood for this purpose, that, being loosed from the marriage yoke, and freed from every annoyance, they may lead a life of pleasant idleness; for we see many who seek their own freedom and convenience, and give themselves up to excessive mirth.

Is dead while she liveth When Paul says that such persons “are dead while they live,” this is supposed by some to mean that they are unbelievers; an opinion with which I do not at all agree. I think it more natural to say that a woman “is dead,” when she is useless, and does no good; for to what purpose do we live, if it be not that our actions may yield some advantage? And what if we should say that the emphasis lies in the word liveth? For they who covet an indolent life, that they may live more at their ease, have constantly in their mouth the proverbial saying: —

“For life is not to live, but to be well.” (89)

The meaning would therefore be: “If they reckon themselves happy, when they have everything to their heart’s wish, and if they think that nothing but repose and luxury can be called life, for my part, I declare that they are dead.” But as this meaning might seem liable to the charge of excessive ingenuity, I wished merely to give a passing glimpse of it, without making any positive assertion. This at least is certain, that Paul here condemns indolence, when he calls those women dead who are of no use.

Adam Clarke

1 Timothy 5:6

But she that liveth in pleasure – Ἡ δε σπαταλωσα· She that liveth delicately – voluptuously indulging herself with dainties; it does not indicate grossly criminal pleasures; but simply means one who indulges herself in good eating and drinking, pampering her body at the expense of her mind. The word is used in reference to what we term petted and spoiled children; and a remarkable passage, is produced by Kypke, from an epistle of Theanus to Eubulus, found in Opusc. Myth. Galaei, page 741, where he says: “What can be done with that boy, who, if he have not food when and as he pleases, bursts out into weeping; and, if he eats, must have dainties and sweetmeats? If the weather be hot he complains of fatigue; if it be cold, he trembles; if he be reproved, he scolds; if every thing be not provided for him according to his wish, he is enraged. If he eats not, he breaks out into fits of anger. He basely indulges himself in pleasure; and in every respect acts voluptuously and effeminately. Knowing then, O friend, ὁτι τα σπαταλωντα των παιδιων, ὁταν ακμασῃ προς ανδρας, ανδραποδα γινεται, τας τοιαυτας ἡδονας αφαιρει· that boys living thus voluptuously, when they grow up are wont to become slaves; take away, therefore, such pleasures from them.” I have introduced this long quotation, the better to fix the meaning of the apostle, and to show that the life of pleasure mentioned here does not mean prostitution or uncleanness of any kind, though such a life may naturally lead to dissolute manners.

Is dead while she liveth – No purpose of life is answered by the existence of such a person. Seneca, in Epist. 60, says of pleasure-takers, and those who live a voluptuous life: Hos itaque animalium loco numeremus, non hominum: quosdam vero ne animalium quidem, sed mortuorum – mortem antecesserunt. “We rank such persons with brutes, not with men; and some of them not even with brutes, but with dead carcasses. They anticipate their own death.” Such persons are, as the apostle says elsewhere, dead in trespasses, and dead in sins.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:7

7And command these things He means, that not only does he prescribe to Timothy the course which he ought to follow, but the women also must be carefully taught not to be stained with such vices. It is the duty of the pastor not only to oppose the wicked practices or ambition of those who act an unreasonable part, but to guard against every danger, as far as lies in his power, by instruction and constant warnings.

That they may be blameless. It was the natural result of prudence and steadfastness not to admit widows, unless they were worthy; but yet it was proper to assign a reason why they were not admitted; and it was even necessary to forewarn the Church that unworthy persons should not be brought forward, or should not offer themselves. Again, Paul commends this part of instruction on the ground of utility; as if he had said, that it must by no means be despised, because it is common, since it aims at the chief part of a good and perfect life. Now there is nothing that ought to be more diligently learned in God’s school than the study of a holy and upright life. In a word, moral instruction is compared with ingenious speculations, which are of no visible advantage, agreeably to that saying, “All Scripture is profitable, that the man of God may become perfect,” etc. (2Ti_3:16.)

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:8

8And if any person do not provide for his own Erasmus has translated it, “If any woman do not provide for her own,” making it apply exclusively to females. But I prefer to view it as a general statement; for it is customary with Paul, even when he is treating of some particular subject, to deduce arguments from general principles, and, on the other hand, to draw from particular statements a universal doctrine. And certainly it will have greater weight, if it apply both to men and to women.

He hath denied the faith He says that they who do not care about any of their relatives, and especially about their own house, have “denied the faith.” And justly; for there is no piety towards God, when a person can thus lay aside the feelings of humanity. Would faith, which makes us the sons of God, render us worse than brute beasts? Such inhumanity, therefore, is open contempt of God, and denying of the faith.

Not content with this, Paul heightens the criminality of their conduct, by saying, that he who forgets his own is worse than an infidel This is true for two reasons. First, the further advanced any one is in the knowledge of God, the less is he excused; and therefore, they who shut their eyes against the clear light of God are worse than infidels. Secondly, this is a kind of duty which nature itself teaches; for they are (στοργαὶ φυσικαί) natural affections. And if, by the mere guidance of nature, infidels are so prone to love their own, what must we think of those who are not moved by any such feeling? Do they not go even beyond the ungodly in brutality? If it be objected, that, among unbelievers, there are also many parents that are cruel and savage; the explanation is easy, that Paul is not speaking of any parents but those who, by the guidance and instruction of nature, take care of their own offspring; for, if any one have degenerated from that which is so perfectly natural, he ought to be regarded as a monster.

It is asked, Why does the Apostle prefer the members of the household to the children? I answer, when he speaks of his own and especially those of his household, by both expressions he denotes the children and grandchildren. For, although children may have been transferred, or may have passed into a different family by marriage, or in any way may have left the house of the parents; yet the right of nature is not altogether extinguished, so as to destroy the obligation of the older to govern the younger as committed to them by God, or at least to take care of them as far as they can. Towards domestics, the obligation is more strict; for they ought to take care of them for two reasons, both because they are their own blood, and because they are a part of the family which they govern.

Adam Clarke

1 Timothy 5:8

But if any provide not for his own – His own people or relatives.

Those of his own house – That is, his own family, or a poor widow or relative that lives under his roof.

Hath denied the faith – The Christian religion, which strongly inculcates love and benevolence to all mankind.

Is worse than an infidel – For what are called the dictates of nature lead men to feel for and provide for their own families. Heathen writers are full of maxims of this kind; Tacitus says: Liberos cuique ac propinquos Natura carissimos esse voluit. “Nature dictates that to every one his own children and relatives should be most dear.” And Cicero, in Epist. ad Caption: Suos quisque debet tueri. “Every man should take care of his own family.”

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 5:8

But — reverting to 1Ti_5:4, “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 (Mat_5:46, Mat_5:47). He has less excuse with his greater light than the infidel who may break the laws of nature.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 5:8

But if any provide not for his own – The apostle was speaking 1Ti_5:4 particularly of the duty of children toward a widowed mother. In enforcing that duty, he gives the subject, as he often does in similar cases, a general direction, and says that all ought to provide for those who were dependent on them, and that if they did not do this, they had a less impressive sense of the obligations of duty than even the pagan had. On the duty here referred to, compare Rom_12:17 note; 2Co_8:21 note. The meaning is, that the person referred to is to think beforehand (προνοεἶ pronoei) of the probable needs of his own family, and make arrangements to meet them. God thus provides for our needs; that is, he sees beforehand what we shall need, and makes arrangements for those needs by long preparation. The food that we eat, and the raiment that we wear, he foresaw that we should need, and the arrangement for the supply was made years since, and to meet these needs he has been carrying forward the plans of his providence in the seasons; in the growth of animals; in the formation of fruit; in the bountiful harvest. So, according to our measure, we are to anticipate what will be the probable needs of our families, and to make arrangements to meet them. The words “his own,” refer to those who are naturally dependent on him, whether living in his own immediate family or not. There may be many distant relatives naturally dependent on our aid, besides those who live in our own house.

And specially for those of his own house – Margin, “kindred.” The word “house,” or “household,” better expresses the sense than the word “kindred.” The meaning is, those who live in his own family. They would naturally have higher claims on him than those who did not. They would commonly be his nearer relatives, and the fact, from whatever cause, that they constituted his own family, would lay the foundation for a strong claim upon him. He who neglected his own immediate family would be more guilty than he who neglected a more remote relative.

He hath denied the faith – By his conduct, perhaps, not openly. He may be still a professor of religion and do this; but he will show that he is imbued with none of the spirit of religion, and is a stranger to its real nature. The meaning is, that he would, by such an act, have practically renounced Christianity, since it enjoins this duty on all. We may hence learn that it is possible to deny the faith by conduct as well as by words; and that a neglect of doing our duty is as real a denial of Christianity as it would be openly to renounce it. Peter denied his Lord in one way, and thousands do the same thing in another. He did it in words; they by neglecting their duty to their families, or their duty in their closets, or their duty in attempting to send salvation to their fellow-men, or by an openly irreligious life. A neglect of any duty is so far a denial of the faith.

And is worse than an infidel – The word here does not mean an infidel, technically so called, or one who openly professes to disbelieve Christianity, but anyone who does not believe; that is, anyone who is not a sincere Christian. The word, therefore, would include the pagan, and it is to them, doubtless, that the apostle particularly refers. They acknowledged the obligation to provide for their relatives. This was one of the great laws of nature written on their hearts, and a law which they felt bound to obey. Few things were inculcated more constantly by pagan moralists than this duty. Gelgacus, in Tacitus, says, “Nature dictates that to every one, his own children and relatives should be most dear.” Cicero says, “Every man should take care of his own family “ – suos quisque debet tueri; see Rosenmuller, in loc., and also numerous examples of the same kind quoted from Apuleius, Cicero, Plutarch, Homer, Terence, Virgil, and Servius, in Pricaeus, in loc. The doctrine here is:

(1) That a Christian ought not to be inferior to an unbeliever in respect to any virtue;

(2) That in all that constitutes true virtue he ought to surpass him;

(3) That the duties which are taught by nature ought to be regarded as the more sacred and obligatory from the fact that God has given us a better religion; and,

(4) That a Christian ought never to give occasion to an enemy of the gospel to point to a man of the world and say, “there is one who surpasses you in any virtue.”

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:9

9Let a widow be chosen. He again points out what kind of widows should be taken under the care of the Church; and more clearly than he had formerly done.

Not under sixty years of age First, he describes the age, sixty years; for, being supported at the public expense, it was proper that they should have already reached old age. Besides, there was another and stronger reason; for they consecrated themselves to the ministry of the Church, which would have been altogether intolerable, if there were still a likelihood of their being married. They were received on the condition that the Church should relieve their poverty, and that, on their part, they should be employed in ministering to the poor, as far as the state of their health allowed. Thus there was a mutual obligation between them and the Church. It was unreasonable that those who were under that age, and who were still in the vigor of life, should be a burden to others. Besides, there was reason to fear that they would change their mind and think of being married again. These are two reasons why he does not wish any to be admitted “under sixty years of age.”

Who hath been the wife of one man As to the desire of marrying, that danger had been sufficiently guarded against, when a woman was more than sixty years old; especially if, during her whole life, she had not been married to more than one husband. It may be regarded as a sort of pledge of continence and chastity, when a woman has arrived at that age, satisfied with having had but one husband. Not that he disapproves of a second marriage, or affixes a mark of ignominy to those who have been twice married; (for, on the contrary, he advises younger widows to marry;) but because he wished carefully to guard against laying any females under a necessity of remaining unmarried, who felt it to be necessary to have husbands. On this subject we shall afterwards speak more fully.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim 5:9. More definite direction is now given as to the honour and the qualification, Let not a widow be taken into the number. The position of the word ‘widow’ at the beginning of the sentence makes it probably part of the predicate, as R.V., Let none be enrolled as a widow. A roll or catalogue of widows for whom the alms of the Church were bespoken existed from the very first, Act_6 and has been the care of each Church and each parish to a greater or less extent to the present day under varying forms and conditions:—the least satisfactory arrangement on a large scale being the provision made by Christian England of ‘The House’; the most satisfactory being the pleasant almshouses dotted over the country, and the pension moneys from our Church alms taken month by month as from Christ with delicate attention by our deacon curates themselves to the cottage homes. Those who have had to select from such a list in a parish will have found the hints for selection given here very useful and necessary;

(1) ascertained impossibility of support from relatives;

(2) good moral character as wife and widow;

(3) a defined period for ‘old age’;

(4) reputation as a good mother, a kind neighbour, a zealous Church worker.

under threescore years old] Lit. ‘who is found to be less than 60 years old,’ the participle belonging to the previous clause, according to the general usage: cf. Luk_2:42, ‘when he was twelve years old.’

having been the wife of one man] ‘Having been,’ if retained should be put as by R.V. in italics, marking it as an English insertion; the phrase ‘wife of one man’ is precisely the same as in 3:2, where see note. The clear and indisputable meaning here of the words is that of having been faithful to one husband all his lifetime instead of leaving him for another or adding another, ‘no bigamist or adulteress.’ She is to be ‘enrolled’ as such. Many of the N.T. exhortations on this point are startling to us as implying even in the circle of Christians very lax principles and habits still. And yet English ministerial knowledge could tell of many startling views and habits that prevail among us now in respect of the sanctity and purity of the married state. It is no ‘counsel of perfection’ but the plain elementary pledge ‘to live together—till death’s parting—after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of matrimony,’ that St Paul here commends. And it still needs much commending.

Expositor’s Greek Testament

1 Timothy 5:9. καταλεγέσθω: St. Paul passes naturally from remarks about the duty of Church members to their widowed relatives to specific rules about the admission of widows to the roll of Church widows (see Act_6:1). The χήρα of this ver. is ἡ ὄντως χήρα of 1Ti_5:3; 1Ti_5:5, who was to receive consideration and official recognition. These widows had no doubt a ministry to fulfil—a ministry of love, prayer, intercession, and giving of thanks (Polycarp, 4); but it is difficult to suppose that St. Paul, or any other practically minded administrator, would contemplate a presbyteral order of widows, the members of which would enter on their duties at the age of 60, an age relatively more advanced in the East and in the first century than in the West and in our own time. We may add that the general topic of widows’ maintenance is resumed and concluded in 1Ti_5:16.

In the references to widows in the earliest Christian literature outside the N.T. (with the exception of Ignatius Smyrn. 13) they are mentioned as objects of charity along with orphans, etc. (Ignatius, Smyrn. 6, Polyc. 4; Polycarp, 4; Hermas, Vis. ii. 4, Mand. viii., Sim. i. 1Ti_5:3, ix. 26, 27; Justin, Apol. i. 67). None of these places hints at an order of widows. The subject cannot be further discussed here; but the evidence seems to point to the conclusion that the later institution of widows as an order with official duties was suggested by this passage. The history of Christianity affords other examples of supposed revivals of apostolic institutions.

Ell., who follows Grotius in seeing in this verse regulations respecting an ecclesiastical or presbyteral widow, objects to the view taken above that it is “highly improbable that when criteria had been given, 1Ti_5:4 sq., fresh should be added, and those of so very exclusive a nature: would the Church thus limit her alms?”

But 1Ti_5:4 sq. does not give the criteria, or qualifications of an official widow; but only describes the dominant characteristic of the life of the “widow indeed,” viz., devotion; and again, the Church of every age, the apostolic not less than any other, has financial problems to deal with. Charity may be indiscriminating, but there are only a limited number of widows for whose whole support the Church can make itself responsible; and this is why the limit of age is here so high. At a much younger age than 60 a woman would cease to have any temptation to marry again.

Lightfoot has important notes on the subject in his commentary on Ignatius, Smyrn. §§ 6, 13 (Apost. Fathers, part ii. vol. ii. pp. 304, 322). See also, on the deaconess widow, Harnack, Mission and Expansion of Christianity, trans. vol. i. p. 122. The opinion of Schleiermacher that deaconesses are referred to here is refuted (1) by the provision of age, and (2) by the fact that they have been dealt with before, 1Ti_3:11.

According to Bengel, the gen. ἐτῶν depends on χήρα, μὴ ἔλαττον being an adverb, “of 60 years, not less”…

…ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή: The Church widows must conform to the same ideal of the married life as the episcopi. See Tert. ad uxorem, i. 7, “Quantum fidei detrahant, quantum obstrepant sanctitati nuptiae secundae, disciplina ecclesiae et praescriptio apostoli declarat, cum digamos non sinit praesidere, cum viduam allegi in ordinem [al. ordinationem], nisi univiram, non concedit.”

Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown

1 Timothy 5:9

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 Act_9:41. Dorcas herself was such a one. As it was expedient (see on 1Ti_3:2; Tit_1:6) 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 1Ti_5:3, 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 (1Ti_5:14) enjoins the younger widows to marry again; as also that she must have brought up children. Moreover, 1Ti_5:10 presupposes some competence, at least in past times, and so poor widows would be excluded, the very class requiring charity. Also, 1Ti_5:11 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, 1Ti_5:4).

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 (see on 1Ti_3:2; Tit_1:6). This is the force of “blameless,” giving no offense, even in matters indifferent.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 5:9

Let not a widow be taken into the number – Margin, “chosen.” The margin expresses the sense of the Greek more accurately, but the meaning is not materially different. Paul does not here specify into what “number” the widow is to be “taken,” or for what purpose she is to be “chosen,” but he speaks of this as a thing that was well understood. There can be no doubt, however, what he means. In the Acts of the Apostles 1Ti_6:1 we have this account: “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a complaining of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” “It appears that from the first formation of the Christian church, provision was made out of the public funds of the society for the indigent widows who belonged to it;” see Patey’s Horae Paulinae on 1 Tim. No. 11. To this, as to a well-known practice, Paul here evidently refers. The manner in which he refers to it is such as to show that the custom had an existence. All that was necessary in the case, was, not to speak of it as if it were a new arrangement, but to mention those who ought to be re garded as proper subjects of the charity. It would seem, also, that it was understood that such widows, according to their ability, should exercise a proper watch over the younger females of the church. In this way, while they were supported by the church, they might render themselves useful.

Under threescore years old – For such reasons as those mentioned in 1Ti_5:11-14.

Having been the wife of one man – There has been much diversity of opinion whether this means that she had never had but one husband, or whether she had been the wife of but one man at a time; that is, whether she had cast off one and married another; see Whitby, in loc. The same difficulty has been felt in regard to this as on the passage in 1Ti_3:2; see the notes on that verse. Doddridge, Clarke, and others, suppose that it means, “who had lived in conjugal fidelity to her husband.” The reason assigned for this opinion by Doddridge, is, that the apostle did not mean to condemn second marriages, since he expressly 1Ti_5:14 commends it in the younger widows. The correct interpretation probably is, to refer it to one who had been married but once, and who, after her husband had died, had remained a widow. The reasons for this opinion briefly are:

(1) That this is the interpretation most naturally suggested by the phrase;

(2) That it agrees better with the description of the one that was to be enrolled among the “number” – those who were “widows indeed” – as we should more naturally apply this term to one who had remained unmarried after the death of her husband, than to one who had been married again;

(3) That, while it was not unlawful or improper in itself for a widow to marry a second time, there was a degree of respect and honor attached to one who did not do it, which would not be felt for one who did; compare Luk_2:36-37, “She was a widow of great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years.” The same is true now. There is a higher degree of respect felt for such a widow than there is for one who has been married again, though she may be again a widow.

(4) Among the pagans, it was regarded as especially honorable to have been married to but one man, and such widows were the Pudicitioe Coronam, or crown of chastity; Val. Max. L. i. c. ii.; compare Livy, L. 10:c. 23; see Whitby.

(5) As these persons were not only to be maintained by the church, but appear also to have been entrusted with an office of guardianship over the younger females, it was of importance that they should have such a character that no occasion of offence should be given, even among the pagan; and, in order to that, Paul gave direction that only those should be thus enrolled who were in all respects widows, and who would be regarded, on account of their age and their whole deportment, as “widows indeed.” I cannot doubt, therefore, that he meant to exclude those from the number here referred to who had been married the second time.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:10

10For good works Those qualifications which are next enumerated relate partly to honor, and partly to labor. There can be no doubt that the assemblies of widows were honorable, and highly respectable; and, therefore, Paul does not wish that any should be admitted into them, but those who had excellent attestations of the whole of their past life. Besides, they were not appointed in order to lazy and indolent inactivity, but to minister to the poor and the sick, until, being completely worn out, they should be allowed honorably to retire. Accordingly, that they may be better prepared for the discharge of their office, he wishes them to have had long practice and experience in all the duties which belong to it; such as — labor and diligence in bringing up children, hospitality, ministering to the poor, and other charitable works.

If it be now asked, Shall all that are barren be rejected, because they have never borne any children? We must reply, that Paul does not here condemn barrenness, but the daintiness of mothers, who, by refusing to endure the weariness of bringing up their children, sufficiently shew that they will be very unkind to strangers. And at the same time he holds out this as an honorable reward to godly matrons, who have not spared themselves, that they, in their turn, shall be received into the bosom of the Church in their old age.

By a figure of speech, in which a part is taken for the whole, he means by the washing of the feet all the services which are commonly rendered to the saints; for at that time it was customary to “wash the feet.” (92) An employment of this nature might have the appearance of being mean and almost servile; and therefore he makes use of this mark for describing females who were industrious, and far from being fastidious or dainty. What next follows relates to liberality; and, lastly, he expresses the same thing in general terms, when he says, if she hath been diligent in every good work; for here he speaks of acts of kindness.

Adam Clarke

1 Timothy 5:10

Well reported of for good works – Numbers being able to bear testimony, as the word implies, that she has not only avoided all sin, but that she has walked according to the testimony of God.

Brought up children – It was customary among the Gentiles to expose their children, when so poor that they were not able to provide for them. Pious and humane people took these up; and fed, clothed, and educated them. The words brought up may refer to the children of others, who were educated in the Christian faith by pious Christian women.

Lodged strangers – If she have been given to hospitality, freely contributing to the necessitous, when she had it in her power.

Washed the saints’ feet – This was an office of humanity shown to all strangers and travelers in the eastern countries, who, either walking barefoot, or having only a sort of sole to defend the foot, needed washing when they came to their journey’s end. Pious women generally did this act of kindness.

Relieved the afflicted – Visited and ministered to the sick.

Diligently followed every good work – In a word, if she have been altogether a Christian, living according to the precepts of the Gospel, and doing the Lord’s work with all her heart, soul, and strength.

From the character given here of the widow indeed, it may be doubted whether χηρα, widow, was not in some cases the name of an office, which name it might have from being ordinarily filled by widows. It can hardly be supposed that any widow, unless she had considerable property, could have done the things enumerated in this verse, some of which would occasion no small expense. The widow indeed may mean a person who was to be employed in some office in the Church; and Timothy is enjoined not to take any into that office unless she had been before remarkable for piety and humanity. Some think that the widows of whom the apostle speaks had been deaconesses, and wished now to be taken on what might be termed the superannuated list; and the apostle lays down rules for the admission of such, the sum of which is: Let none come on this superannuated list unless she be at least sixty years of age, and can bring proof of her having conscientiously discharged the office and duty of a deaconess.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 5:10

Well reported of for good works – Of good character or reputation; see the notes on 1Ti_3:7.

If she have brought up children – Either her own or others. The idea is, if she has done this in a proper manner.

If she have lodged strangers – If she has been characterized by hospitality – a virtue greatly commended in the Scriptures; compare notes on 1Ti_3:2.

If she have washed the saints’ feet – It is not certain whether this is to be understood literally, or whether it merely denotes that she had performed offices of a humble and self-denying kind – such as would be shown by washing the feet of others. It was one of the rites of hospitality in the East to wash the feet of the guest Gen_18:4, and Paul might have spoken of this as having been literally performed. There is not the slightest evidence that he refers to it as a religious rite, or ordinance, anymore than he does to the act of bringing up children as a religious rite; compare notes on Joh_13:1-10.

If she have relieved the afflicted – If it has been her character that she was ready to furnish relief to those who were in distress.

If she have diligently followed every good work – This is one of the characteristics of true piety. A sincere Christian will, like God, be the friend of all that is good, and will be ready to promote every good object according to his ability. He will not merely be the friend of one good cause, to the neglect of others, but he will endeavor to promote every good object, and though from special circumstances, and special dealings of Providence, he may have been particularly interested in some one object of charity, yet every good object will find a response in his heart, and he will be ready to promote it by his influence, his property, and his prayers.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:16

16If any believer. It being customary for every one willingly to throw his own burdens on the whole Church, on this account he expressly enjoins that it be guarded against. He speaks of believers who ought to support their widows; for, as to those widows who renounced a wicked relationship, it was proper that they should be received by the Church. And if they act a sinful part, who, by sparing themselves, allow the Church to be burdened with expense, let us learn from this in what aggravated sacrilege they are involved, who, by fraud or robbery, profane what was once dedicated to the Church.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim 3:16. If any man or woman that believeth] The balance of authority in mss. requires us to read with R.V., If any woman that believeth.

have widows] Again, hath widows, dependent on her. In what precise way we are to understand this verse is not very clear; whether (1) as a general summary of the whole passage, or (2) as a summary of the portion respecting younger widows inculcating such oversight as might anticipate sinful leanings, or (3) as an extension of the charge to more distant Christian relatives than in vv. 4 and 8. On the whole, having regard to the way in which the points are put more than once in some fresh aspect, with some degree of repetition, (1) seems best. From 3 to 8 the chief reason given for refusing lavish maintenance is the good of the relatives themselves; from 9 to 15 the good of the widows; in v. 16 the good of the Church. Each section is commenced without any introductory particle; and (it may be noticed) in Scrivener’s edition is marked by a capital letter.

let not the church be charged] Or, more exactly, burdened; the verb is the later Hellenistic form of the strong classical verb ‘to weigh down,’ ‘to oppress.’ It is the word used of the apostles’ eyes ‘weighed down with sleep,’ Mat_26:43; of St Paul’s affliction in Asia, 2Co_1:8, ‘we were weighed down exceedingly.’ Bp Wordsworth quotes Cornelius, bishop of Rome, a.d. 250 (in Euseb. 6.43), as mentioning the existence in the Church of Rome of ‘widows and afflicted,’ more than 1500 in number. For the N. T. use of ‘the Church,’ see on ch. 3:14.

widows indeed] See v. 3.

Expositor’s Greek Testament

1 Timothy 5:16. εἴ τις πιστή: This is one of those difficulties that prove the bona fide character of the letter. We may explain it in either of two ways: (1) It not un-frequently happens that the language in which we express a general statement is unconsciously coloured by a particular instance of which we are thinking at the moment. St. Paul has some definite case in his mind, of a Christian woman who had a widow depending on her, of whose support she wishes the Church to relieve her, or (2) the verse may be an afterthought to avoid the possibility of the ruling given in 1Ti_5:4; 1Ti_5:7-8 being supposed to refer to men only. Von Soden explains it by the independent position of married women indicated in 1Ti_5:14 and Tit_2:5. The phrase ἔχει χήρας may be intended to include dependent widowed relatives, aunts or cousins, who could not be called προγόνοι.

βαρείσθω. Compare the use of βάρος, 1Th_2:6, δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι; of ἐπιβαρέω, 1Th_2:9, 2Th_3:8; καταβαρέω, 2Co_12:16; ἀβαρής, 2Co_11:9.

This verse proves that the κατάλογος of widows here in view was primarily at least for poor relief.

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 5:16

If any man or woman that believeth – Christians are often simply called “believers,” because faith is the leading and most important act of their religion.

Have widows – Widowed mothers, or grandmothers, or any other widows whose support would naturally devolve on them.

Let them relieve them – That is, let them support them. This was an obvious rule of duty; see the notes on 1Ti_5:8. Nothing can be more unreasonable than to leave those who are properly dependent on us to be supported by others, when we are able to maintain them ourselves.

That it may relieve, … – That it may have the means of supporting those who are truly dependent. To require or expect the Church, therefore, to support those whom we ought ourselves to support, is, in fact, to rob the poor and friendless. In regard to these directions respecting widows 1Ti_5:3-16, we may remark in general, as the result of the exposition which has been given:

(1) They were to be poor widows, who had not the means of support themselves.

(2) They were, probably, to be not merely supported, but to be usefully employed in the service of the church, particularly in overseeing the conduct, and imparting instruction to the female members.

(3) They were to be of such age and character that there would be security of stability and correctness of deportment; such that they would not be tempted to leave the situation or to act so as to give occasion of reproach.

(4) It is by no means certain that this was intended to be a permanent arrangement. It grew probably out of the special customs respecting contact between the sexes in the Oriental world, and would undoubtedly be proper now in similar circumstances. But it by no means follows that this arrangement is binding on the churches where the customs of society are different. Yet.

(5) The passage inculcates the general principle that the poor widows of the church are to be assisted when they have no relatives on whom they can naturally depend. No class of people are more helpless than aged widows, and for that class God has always shown a special concern, and his people should do so likewise.

John Calvin

1 Timothy 5:17

17Elders For preserving the good order of the Church, it is likewise highly necessary that elders should not be neglected, but that due regard should be paid to them; for what could be more unfeeling than to have no care about those who have the care of the whole Church? Here πρεσβύτερος (elder) is not a name of age, but of office.

Accounted worthy of double honor Chrysostom interprets “double honor” as meaning “support and reverence.” I do not oppose his opinion; let it be adopted by any one that chooses. But for my own part, I think it is more probable that a comparison is here drawn between widows and elders. Paul had formerly enjoined that honor should be paid — to widows; but elders are more worthy of being honored than widows, and, with respect to them, ought therefore to receive double honor.

But in order to shew that he does not recommend masks, he adds, who rule well; that is, who faithfully and laboriously discharge their office. For, granting that a person should a hundred times obtain a place, and though he should boast of his title; yet, if he do not also perform his duty, he will have no right to demand that he shall be supported at the expense of the Church. In short, he means that honor is not due to the title, but to the work performed by those who are appointed to the office.

Yet he prefers those who labor in word and doctrine, that is, those who are diligent in teaching the word; for those two terms, word and doctrine, signify the same thing, namely, the preaching of the word. But lest any one should suppose him to mean by the word an indolent, and, as it is called, a speculative study of it, he adds doctrine

We may learn from this, that there were at that time two kinds of elders; for all were not ordained to teach. The words plainly mean, that there were some who “ruled well” and honorably, but who did not hold the office of teachers. And, indeed, there were chosen from among the people men of worth and of good character, who, united with the pastors in a common council and authority administered the discipline of the Church, and were a kind of censors for the correction of morals. Ambrose complains that this custom had gone into disuse, through the carelessness, or rather through the pride, of the doctors, who wish to possess undivided power.

To return to Paul, he enjoins that support shall be provided chiefly for pastors, who are employed in teaching. Such is the ingratitude of the world, that very little care is taken about supporting the ministers of the word; and Satan, by this trick, endeavors to deprive the Church of instruction, by terrifying many, through the dread of poverty and hunger, from bearing that burden.

Cambridge Bible Humphreys

1 Tim 5:17. the elders that rule well] The perfect part. with present neuter signification. The verb itself is peculiar to these Epistles, except Rom_12:8, ‘he that ruleth with diligence,’ and 1Th_5:12, ‘that labour among you and are over you; and is used of the management ‘of a house,’ in 3:4 and 5, ‘of children,’ 3:12, and of the mastery ‘of good works,’ Tit_3:8 (where see note) and 14. The word is too general to draw from it the meaning of ruling elders as distinguished from teaching elders. Doubtless ‘government’ was the foremost thought in the selection of an ‘elder’ because someone must give orders ‘for order’s sake.’ But the above passage from the earliest of the Epistles, the 1 Thessalonians, shews us the three chief functions of the ministry already blended: (1) that of the laborious servant, ‘that labour among you,’ the same word as here, ‘who labour;’ (2) that of the leader and head in things spiritual, ‘are over you,’ as here ‘that rule;’ and (3) that of the teacher and counsellor, ‘and admonish you,’ as here ‘in the word and in teaching.’ As Bp Lightfoot puts it in his ‘Christian Ministry’ Ep. Philipp., ‘The work of teaching seems to be regarded rather as incidental to than as inherent in the office: “double honour shall be paid.… especially to such as labour in word and doctrine,” as though one holding this office might decline the work of instruction.’

double honour] The word has been defined on v. 3; and includes, though it is not confined to, money payment: this is clear from the next verse.

they who labour in the word] The meaning of the Greek word comes out with especial force in 2Ti_2:6, the husbandman that laboureth, that really toils ‘with honest sweat week in week out.’ So Mat_11:28, ‘Come unto Me all ye that labour,’ A.V., where the Prayer-Book in the ‘comfortable words’ renders ‘all that travail.’ Surely our word ‘labour’ has lost some of its strength now since the time when it represented toil and pain like the ‘labour pains’ of ‘a woman in her travail.’ It is right therefore to lay stress on the word here in reading the passage.

in the word and doctrine] Rather, in speech and in teaching. ‘In speech:’ the exact phrase has occurred 4:12, and seems to describe the ordinary intercourse (cf. Col_4:6), while ‘in teaching’ describes the sermon, or lecture, or lesson, the word being characteristic of the present stage of the pastoral office; see note on 1:10.

Adam Clarke

1 Timothy 5:17

Let the elders that rule well – Elder is probably here the name of an ecclesiastical officer, similar to what we now term presbyter. See on 1Ti_5:1 (note). Dr. Macknight has remarked that, “in the first age, the name πρεσβυτερος, elder, was given to all who exercised any sacred office in the Church, as is plain from Act_20:28, where the persons are called επισκοποι, bishops, who, Act_20:17, were called πρεσβυτεροι, elders. The same thing appears from Tit_1:5, where those are called elders who, Tit_1:7, are named bishops; and from 1Ti_4:14, where, collectively, all who held sacred offices in Lystra are called πρεσβυτεριον, the presbytery or eldership, and are said to have concurred with St. Paul in setting Timothy apart to the ministry.”

Double honor – Διπλης τιμης. Almost every critic of note allows that τιμη here signifies reward, stipend, wages. Let him have a double or a larger salary who rules well; and why? Because in the discharge of his office he must be at expense, in proportion to his diligence, in visiting and relieving the sick, in lodging and providing for strangers; in a word, in his being given to hospitality, which was required of every bishop or presbyter.

Especially they who labor in the word and doctrine – Those who not only preach publicly, but instruct privately, catechize, etc. Some think this refers to distinct ecclesiastical orders; but these technical distinctions were, in my opinion, a work of later times.

Jonathan Edwards

1 Tim. 5:17. “Let the elders that rule well, be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” What the Apostle probably had in view when he used the expression of “double honour” to the elder, was the law that gave a double portion to the elder brother.

Pulpit Commentary


Those for they, A.V.; in teaching for doctrine, A.V. The elders (πρεσβυτεροι) here in its technical sense of “presbyters,” which in the first age were the ruling body in every Chinch (see Act_14:23; Act_20:2, Act_20:4, Act_20:6, Act_20:22), after the analogy of the elders of the Jews. Rule well (at καλῶς προεστῶτες). The presbyters or elders were the chiefs, rulers, or presidents, of the Church (see Rom_12:8; 1Th_5:12; and above, 1Ti_3:4, 1Ti_3:5). It seems that they did not necessarily teach and preach, but those who did so, laboring in the Word and teaching, were especially worthy of honor. Double honor (see note on 1Ti_5:3) means simply increased honor, not exactly twice as much as some one else, or with arithmetical exactness. So the word διπλοῦς is used in Mat_23:15; Rev_18:6; and by the LXX. in Isa_40:2; Jer_16:18; and elsewhere also in classical Greek. And so we say, “twice as good,” “twice as much,” with the same indefinite meaning. The Word and teaching. The “Word” means generally “the Word of God,” as we have “preach the Word,” “hear the Word,” “the ministry of the Word,” “doers of the Word,” etc. And although there is no article before λόγῳ here yet, considering the presence of the preposition ἐν, and St. Paul’s less careful use of the article in his later Epistles, this absence is not sufficient to counterbalance the weight of those considerations which lead to the conclusion that “laboring in the Word” refers to the Word of God. The alternative rendering of “oral discourse” or “in speaking” seems rather weak. Teaching would mean catechetical instruction and similar explanatory teaching. Labor (οἱ κοπιῶντες); a word very frequently used by St. Paul of spiritual labors (Rom_16:6, Rom_16:12; 1Co_15:10; Gal_4:11; Col_1:29, etc.).

Albert Barnes

1 Timothy 5:17

Let the elders that rule well – Greek, πρεσβύτεροι presbuteroi, Presbyters. The apostle had given full instructions respecting bishops 1Ti_3:1-7; deacons 1Ti_3:8-13; widows 1Ti_5:3-16; and he here proceeds to prescribe the duty of the church toward those who sustain the office of elder. The word used – “elder” or “presbyter” – properly refers to age, and is then used to denote the officers of the church, probably because the aged were at first entrusted with the administration of the affairs of the church. The word was in familiar use among the Jews to denote the body of men that presided in the synagogue; see the Mat_15:2 note; Act_11:30; Act_15:2 notes.

That rule well – Presiding well, or well managing the spiritual interests of the church. The word rendered “rule” – προεστῶτες proestōtes – is from a verb meaning to be over; to preside over; to have the care of. The word is used with reference to bishops, Tit_1:5, Tit_1:7; to an apostle, 1Pe_5:1; and is such a word as would apply to any officers to whom the management and government of the church was entrusted. On the general subject of the rulers in the church; see the notes on 1Co_12:28. It is probable that not precisely the same organization was pursued in every place where a church was established; and where there was a Jewish synagogue, the Christian church would be formed substantially after that model, and in such a church there would be a bench of presiding eiders; see, on this subject, Whately’s “Kingdom of Christ delineated,” pp. 84-80. The language here seems to have been taken from such an organization. On the Jewish synagogue, see the notes on Mat_4:23.

Be counted worthy of double honour – Of double respect; that is, of a high degree of respect; of a degree of respect becoming their age and office; compare 1Th_5:12-13. From the quotation which is made in 1Ti_5:18, in relation to this subject, it would seem probable that the apostle had some reference also to their support, or to what was necessary for their maintenance. There is no improbability in supposing that all the officers of the church, of whatever grade or rank, may have had some compensation, corresponding to the amount of time which their office required them to devote to the service of the church. Nothing would be more reasonable than that, if their duties in the church interfered with their regular employments in their secular calling, their brethren should contribute to their support; compare notes on 1 Cor. 9.

Especially they who labour in word and doctrine – In preaching and instructing the people. From this it is clear that, while there were “elders” who labored “in the word and doctrine,” that is, in preaching, there were also those who did not labor “in the word and doctrine,” but who were nevertheless appointed to rule in the church. Whether, however, they were regarded as a separate and distinct class of officers, does not appear from this passage. It may have been that there was a bench of elders to whom the general management of the church was confided, and that a part of them were engaged in preaching; a part may have performed the office of “teachers” (see the Rom_12:7 note; 1Co_12:28 note), and a part may have been employed in managing other concerns of the church, and yet all were regarded as the προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι proestōtes presbuteroi – or “elders presiding over the church.” It cannot, I think, be certainly concluded from this passage, that the ruling elders who did not teach or preach were regarded as a separate class or order of permanent officers in the church. There seems to have been a bench of elders selected on account of age, piety, prudence, and wisdom, to whom was entrusted the whole business of the instruction and government of the church, and they performed the various parts of the duty as they had ability. Those among them who “labored in the word and doctrine,” and who gave up all their time to the business of their office, would be worthy of special respect, and of a higher compensation.

1 Timothy 5:18

18Thou shalt not muzzle the ox This is a political precept which recommends to us equity and humanity in general; as we have said in expounding the First Epistle to the Corinthians; for, if he forbids us to be unkind to brute animals, how much greater humanity does he demand towards men! The meaning of this statement, therefore, is the same as if it had been said in general terns, that they must not make a wrong use of the labor of others. At the present day, the custom of treading out the corn is unknown in many parts of France, where they thresh the corn with flails. None but the inhabitants of Provence know what is meant by “treading it out.” But this has nothing to do with the meaning; for the same thing may be said about ploughing.

The laborer is worthy of his hire He does not quote this as a passage of Scripture, but as a proverbial saying, which common sense teaches to all. In like manner, when Christ said the same thing to the Apostles, (Mat_10:10,) he brought forward nothing else than a statement approved by universal consent. It follows that they are cruel, and have forgotten the claims of equity, who permit cattle to suffer hunger; and incomparably worse are they that act the same part towards men, whose sweat they suck out for their own accommodation. And how intolerable is the ingratitude of those who refuse support to their pastors, to whom they cannot pay an adequate salary!

Pulpit Commentary


When he for that, A.V.; hire for reward, A.V. Thou shall not muzzle, etc. This passage, kern Deu_25:1-19., which is quoted and commented upon, in the same souse as here, in 1Co_9:9, shows distinctly that reward was to go with labor. The ox was not to be hindered from eating some portion of the grain which he was treading out. The preacher of the gospel was to live of the gospel. The laborer is worthy of his hire (ἄξιος ὁ ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὑτοῦ). In Mat_10:10 the words are the same as here, except that τῆς τροφῆς (his meat) is substituted for τοῦ μισθοῦ. But in Luk_10:7 the words are identical with those here used, even to the omission (in the R.T.) of the verb ἔστιν. The conclusion is inevitable that the writer of this Epistle was acquainted with and quoted from St. Luke’s Gospel; and further, that he deemed it, or at least the saying of the Lord Jesus recorded, in it, to be of equal authority with “ἡ γραφή,” the Scripture. If this Epistle was written by St. Paul after his first imprisonment at Rome, we may feel tolerably certain that he was acquainted with the Gospel or St. Luke, so that there is no improbability in his quoting from it. His reference to another saying of the Lord Jesus in Act_20:35 gives additional probability to it. The passage in 2Ti_4:18 seems also to be a direct reference to the Lord’s Prayer, as contained in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. St. Paul does not directly call the words ἡ γραφή, only treats them as of equal authority, which, if they were the words of Christ, of course they were.

A.T. Robertson

1 Timothy 5:18

Thou shalt not muzzle (ou phimōseis). Prohibition by ou and future (volitive) indicative of phimoō (from phimos, muzzle), old word, quoted also in 1Co_9:9 as here from Deu_25:4, and for the same purpose, to show the preacher’s right to pay for his work. See note on 1Co_9:9 for aloōnta (when he treadeth out the corn).

The labourer is worthy of his hire (axios ho ergatēs tou misthou autou). These words occur in precisely this form in Luk_10:7. It appears also in Mat_10:10 with tēs trophēs (food) instead of tou misthou. In 1Co_9:14 Paul has the sense of it and says: “so also the Lord ordained,” clearly meaning that Jesus had so said. It only remains to tell whether Paul here is quoting an unwritten saying of Jesus as he did in Act_20:35 or even the Gospel of Luke or Q (the Logia of Jesus). There is no way to decide this question. If Luke wrote his Gospel before a.d. 62 as is quite possible and Acts by a.d. 63, he could refer to the Gospel. It is not clear whether Scripture is here meant to apply to this quotation from the Lord Jesus. For ergatēs (labourer) see note on Phi_3:2.

Marvin Vincent

1 Timothy 5:18

The Scripture (ἡ γραφή)

Comp. 2Ti_3:16. To the Jews ἡ γραφή signified the O.T. canon of Scripture; but in most cases ἡ γραφή is used of a particular passage of Scripture which is indicated in the context. See Joh_7:38, Joh_7:42; Act_1:16; Act_8:32, Act_8:35; Rom_4:3; Rom_9:17; Rom_10:11; Gal_3:8. Where the reference is to the sacred writings as a whole, the plural γραφαὶ or αἱ γραφαὶ is used, as Mat_21:42; Luk_24:32; Joh_5:39; Rom_15:4. Once γραφαὶ ἅγιαι holy Scriptures, Rom_1:2. Ἑτέρα γραφὴ another or a different Scripture, Joh_19:37; ἡ γραφὴ αὕτη this Scripture, Luk_4:21; πᾶσα γραφὴ every Scripture, 2Ti_3:16. See on writings, Joh_2:22. The passage cited here is Deu_25:4, also by Paul, 1Co_9:9.

Thou shalt not muzzle (οὐ φιμώσεις)

In N.T. mostly in the metaphorical sense of putting to silence. See on speechless, Mat_22:12, and see on put to silence, Mat_22:34. Also see on Mar_4:39. On the whole passage see note on 1Co_9:9.

That treadeth out (ἀλοῶντα)

More correctly, while he is treading out. The verb only here and 1Co_9:9,1Co_9:10. Comp. ἅλων a threshing-floor, Mat_3:12; Luk_3:17. An analogy to the O.T. injunction may be found in the laws giving to the Athenians by the mythical Triptolemus, one of which was, “Hurt not the laboring beast.” Some one having violated this command by slaying a steer which was eating the sacred cake that lay upon the altar, – an expiation-feast, Bouphonia or Diipolta was instituted for the purpose of atoning for this offense, and continued to be celebrated in Athens. Aristophanes refers to it (Clouds, 985). A laboring ox was led to the altar of Zeus on the Acropolis, which was strewn with wheat and barley. As soon as the ox touched the grain, he was killed by a blow from an axe. The priest who struck the blow threw away the axe and fled. The flesh of the ox was then eaten, and the hide was stuffed and set before the plough. Then began the steer-trial before a judicial assembly in the Prytaneum, by which the axe was formally condemned to be thrown into the sea.

The laborer is worthy, etc.

A second scriptural quotation would seem to be indicated, but there is no corresponding passage in the O.T. The words are found Luk_10:7, and, with a slight variation, Mat_10:10. Some hold that the writer adds to the O.T. citation a popular proverb, and that Christ himself used the words in this way. But while different passages of Scripture are often connected in citation by καὶ, it is not according, to N.T. usage thus to connect Scripture and proverb. Moreover, in such series of citations it is customary to use καὶ πάλιν and again, or πάλιν simply. See Mat_4:7; Mat_5:33; Joh_12:39; Rom_15:9-12; 1Co_3:20; Heb_1:5; Heb_2:13. According to others, the writer here cites an utterance of Christ from oral tradition, coordinately with the O.T. citation, as Scripture. Paul, in 1Th_4:15; 1Co_7:10, appeals to a word of the Lord; and in Act_10:35 he is represented as quoting “it is more blessed to give than to receive” as the words of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 9, in the discussion of this passage from Deuteronomy, Paul adds (1Co_9:14) “even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel,” which resembles the combination here. This last is the more probable explanation.


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