“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. 3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds. 11 As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. 12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. 14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan. 16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need. 17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. 22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. 23 Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 24 The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. 25 In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.”
The thoughts of the Apostle Paul do not come from nowhere in 1 Timothy, but rather are a logical Holy Spirit inspired thought process from the opening chapters of the Old Testament. The revealed and established order that he discussed in chapters 1-4 are a direct reflection of what God has infused into His creation. The order is directly related to the Godhead and to the source and pattern of reconciliation brought about by Jesus Christ. This order is only understood by the spiritually-minded through the deposit of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Paul continues his discussion in chapter 5.
Keeping God’s supremacy in mind, I think the Apostle Paul has thus far taught that the sovereign will of God is directed for human interdependence manifest properly reflecting the hierarchy of the Godhead. What does that mean? Human relationships are best, in their best form, when properly reflecting mutual love patterned after the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the Godhead). The Godhead is revealed through Scripture and most fully in the life of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament. The New Testament is the witness of proper human relationships based on mutual love. When following this divine pattern, we can mirror the Godhead on Earth among Creation through the dominion status of human beings as a family.
Simply stated: Family structure is a reflection of God that denotes respect and honor to His Sovereignty.
The structure of the human family order is to be a direct reflection after Eden’s family structure which is God’s original template. The Garden of Eden is the ideal and standard for roles and duties. It is then also the ideal of the Church as the bride in submission to her husband… Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth is the genuine human image of God in right relationship to Father God. He is the perfect expression of what was first intended by and for Adam (human beings).
The order is then:
God (Father and Son and Holy Spirit)
God is a community of love within Himself which we scarcely understand. Even though we do not understand God fully, we can see God is Triune and loving in nature. In Scripture’s native themes we can experience Him for ourselves.
His design for the human family directly reflects the family-type love within the Godhead. The husband is the head of the family household just as Father God is head of Trinity and with the New Testament redemptive narrative Christ is the head of the Church. The man is to submit to loving his wife as Christ submits to the Father in loving humanity.
The wife is the helper through who human life is born and is a direct reflection of life brought forth through Christ. Moreover, childbearing reflects Christ’s redemptive childbearing (creating followers).
Just as God offers eternal life. The Church (the mother of Christians) communicates about eternal life. The point is that the order reflects Who the Triune God is as a community of love. Within this understood order, we have instructions in the form of rules that are given to Timothy to help disciples in the Church continue toward the goal of reflecting the Triune God blamelessly.
In 1 Timothy 5 (yes we are getting to 1 Timothy 5), the Apostle Paul categorizes the rules for conduct for the old, young, male, female, married, widowed, and principles for so many others. In their roles and God-given capacities of both age and gender, Paul addresses the positive goals for the church family acknowledging the negative tendencies of human beings. He gives boundaries and preventive steps of action to promote godliness among all the people of the church family. Therefore, as we read this letter, there is an asserted need to be attentive what Paul says in regards to our age and gender to fulfill our proper role in the family of God.
As stated in verses 1-2: “Do not address an older man harshly but appeal to him as a father. Speak to younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters—with complete purity” (1 Timothy 5, NET). He then goes on to address those who are “truly” widows (verses 3-16).
“Truly” widows… this is interesting. The true widows were to receive support from the Church. The widow would likely be giving to the group more than she receives as we take a look at Paul’s overall statements. She is the one caring for orphans and the sick on a regular basis. She was also a woman of high moral charter just as the deacon, deaconess, and elders. We are told she was to be the wife of one husband (note that it is clear here the only being married once to the same man is being indicated, not polygamy which may shed more light on the standard for men in place of honor within the church). This lady is a servant of all who is truly by herself in this life. All other types of widows were to be primarily cared for by relatives or a second husband.
What is being stressed here? The Apostle Paul is stressing care for those that have devoted herself (or himself) to the Lord solely. This woman has given herself to ministry fully and God’s people are taking care of her. What is this? This is mutual love as reflected by the Godhead. God is love. His people are to be love. In any relationship, we find ourselves (in this passage it is a widow, verses 3-16, or a church leader, verses 17-25), we are to have a mutual love for each other. Adoration. Benevolence. Care. Deep kindness. Provision. We are to have mutual love one for another as we reflect the God that we barely understand, but desperately want to reflect.
May we reflect God fully in all our relationships.
May we reflect mutual love for our wives and husbands and submit to one another.
May our Christian families call to the divine order that reflects our God’s love for us.
May we reject our temptations to live according to our own plans and roles and self-love.
May those who devote themselves to ministry love widows, orphans, and the poor with God-given love.
May we provide well for those who lead and serve in our Church family.
The last relationship (order) that Paul speaks of bleeds into chapter 6, but connects with chapter 5. Paul refers to those who find themselves under the yoke of slavery. This is a very uncomfortable topic for us. Those who were slaves are told to treat the matter as worthy of respect. Again, a charge of submission. Even those who are slaves can reflect Christ’s example manifest through His human victory. They are called to be more than they appear in the worldly order. Masters that don’t follow Jesus Christ can learn from such a dedicated soul and come to know Christ. Paul sets this as a slave’s goal. This should be the goal of all Christians that honestly intend to follow the Lord.
BMD & TMB