Throughout this section Paul instructs Timothy about how to take care of—and perhaps even enlist the service of—women who are “truly widows”(1 Tim 5:3). In the NT era, widows have no social safety net, few employment options, and must rely on family. “If any believing woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them. Let the church not be burdened, so that it may care for those who are truly widows”(1 Tim 5:16). The “truly widows” are those who are completely alone (1 Tim 5:5), with no family or options. Such women are worthy of the church’s ongoing concern and support.
Paul gives a list of requirements for church support of such a woman. She must be at least 60, a faithful wife and mother, and a Christian worker (1 Tim 5:9-10). Younger widows are not to be enrolled because they may want to choose to remarry and abandon their “former faith”(1 Tim 5:11-12). This may indicate that ongoing support hinges on a commitment not to remarry—or perhaps even that these widows are doing a special work for the congregation that would require their singleness. Paul warns Timothy to refuse the younger widows and encourage them to honor Christ in their current state (1 Tim 5:13-15).
These verses remind us that God has work for all of us. It would be tempting for an older widow—someone who has suffered a tragic loss while aging herself—to feel unimportant. Yet Christians are to honor those who serve Jesus and value the work they do. We all have a part to play.
------------- One Thing to Think About: What kind of reputation do I have in light of v. 9-10?
One Thing to Pray For: Opportunities to encourage and serve alongside faithful Christian women