1 Timothy 5Widows indeed; those that are entirely friendless and desolate, as explained below. (v. 5.) To honor them in this case means to provide for them. (Compare 5:17.)
Let them,—that is, the children or nephews; let them take care of their relative, and not call upon the church.
Trusteth in God, &c.; that is, she ought to trust in God, and live a holy and blameless life.
Is dead; dead to the cause of Christ. Perhaps the meaning is, that she is to be excluded from all share in the charities of the church.
Taken into the number; selected, chosen. This expression is usually understood to refer to some office in the church, held by aged widows, the nature of which we can only infer from the circumstances of the case. Perhaps Phebe (Rom. 16:1, 2) was one of this class.—Having been the wife of one man; having, been faithful and true during her married life. The expression cannot be intended to censure a second marriage, inasmuch as such a marriage is recommended in v. 14.
Washed the saints' feet; been hospitable and kind to them,—washing the feet being the token and symbol of hospitality.
Refuse; that is, in respect to the appointment or election referred to above. (v. 9.)
We are not sufficiently acquainted with the usage in the early church, to which the apostle refers in this passage, (9-12,) to account for the apparent severity of this language. It seems to imply that being received into the number referred to above, (v. 9,) they came under some obligation to remain single, and in devote themselves for life to the service of the church. But what circumstances there were to render it necessary or desirable to impose such an obligation, does not appear.
The younger women; including, of course, the widows, as it is this class which is the subject of these instructions.
Have widows; related to them, or dependent upon them.
Honor; reward. This is shown to be the meaning by what follows.
Before all; publicly.
The elect angels; the holy angels.
Lay hands; in ordination.
By this direction, which stands in striking contrast with the ascetic doctrines which Paul had condemned, (4:3,) he shows that no religious end is answered by suffering any bodily discomfort or pain which can be avoided; but that Christianity seeks to promote the welfare and happiness of man in all respects,—in small things as well as in great, at present as well as for the future, and in respect to the comfort of the body as well as to the prosperity of the soul.
They follow after; that is, they are concealed for a time, and afterwards developed.
Cannot be hid; cannot long be hid. The meaning of the two verses is, that, though sin may be secreted for a time, and virtue remain unobserved, yet in the end the true character of every one will be fully known.
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