Who Takes Care of the Widows in the Church?
1 Timothy 5:3-12, Part 8, In Pursuit of Godliness Series
Women who lost their husbands, widows who need support, care, and protection, are special object of God’s love and mercy. When women lost support, care, and provisions from their husband because of death, God starts to do something, He places widows under His attention and protection. He places a curse on those who abuse widows. He said, “19 ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.” Deuteronomy 27:19, NKJV.
Another way to care, protect and provide for widows, God said to the widows of marrying age, “5 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go into her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.” Deuteronomy 25:5. You might say, but those are in the Old Testament, who takes care of the widow in the church? The Bible informs us that the first care givers of the widows are her own family but in the absence of family support then the church must help.
1. Individual families must support their own widows. 1 Timothy 5:4
“4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.”
· Our society today pushes for independence over family relationships and family responsibilities.
· But amongst God’s people, families must be the primary source of care, provision, and protection for widows.
· The Greek word for honor in this verse (timao) means to fix a value. This is where we got the English word honorarium.
· Financially supporting widows is a practice of godliness (piety), which pleases God.
· God so loved the parents who raised their children in fear of Him, so He expects their children and grandchildren to repay their parents with goodness.
· God promised blessings to those who would honor their parents. See Exodus 20:12.
· But warns those who would not support their widows.
“8But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8
2. The church must help the widows in the absence of family support. 1 Timothy 5:3, 6-7.
“3 Honor widows who are really widows…“6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless.”
· God has deep compassion for widows who have no means, and so must the church display the same compassion.
· The early church has taken the responsibility of looking after abandoned widows. See Acts 6:1-4.
· But in verses 6,11-12, Paul presents a disqualification section. Perhaps, Paul was thinking about the limited funds the Ephesian church, therefore, the church must use God’s money wisely.
· Verses 6 and 7 give us the idea that the church must not reward the widow who lived in worldly pleasures, as this will not agree with the truth that the church is the bastion of godliness.
· The younger widows (below 60 years old) must also be disqualified for church support as they can still remarry and have not reached retirement age (in that culture), thus, she can still be (self)employed.
3. Eligible widows must be enrolled for church support. 1 Timothy 5:9-10.
“9Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.”
· Taken into the number means to be enrolled on a list to support financially and materially.
Qualified widows for church charity. vv.9-10
· 1st: No means to support herself.
· 2nd: Had been faithful to God’s purpose for family relationships.
3rd: Had been faithfully serving God through the church.