Faithlife Sermons

The Ministry of the Church to Widows

The Pastoral Epistles  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes
Transcript
1 Timothy 5:3–8 AV
Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Introduction:

God has always designed that women be the special objects of care.
And the care of widows in the Church is a very vital issue that is outlined in the following passage.
Women are to be objects of provision, preservation, and Protection.
The Scripture tells that women are the weaker vessel and so; therefore, man is her protector.
Women are always seen the Scriptures as being cared for.
And the Word of God pronounces a blessing on those that bless widows and those who properly care them.
Isaiah 1:17–18 AV
Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Most people have only heard verse 18 used in an evangelistic context, rarely do people hear it in the context of verse 17.
You say, “Well, Pastor, are you saying that if a person cares for widows, then they are saved? Isn’t that works salvation?
Yes, it would be and that is not what the passage is teaching.
But the passage is teaching that we show the reality of our faith by heeding the command to care for widows.
And Paul, in the NT, I believe backs up this teaching in the text that we are looking.
1 Timothy 5:8 AV
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
If someone refuses to bring in the widow in their family and home and care for them, their faith is very questionable.
That is what the text says.
Jeremiah 22:3–4 AV
Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.
Exodus 22:23 AV
If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry;
It is by God’s design, then, that women that are devoid of a husband that her needs be provided.
This passage is very, very instructive for us.
And I want to try this passage up for you so that you get the full idea of what is going on in the passage.
We want to look at four areas in this passage.
First, The Widow’s Declaration.
Second, The Widow’s Distribution.
Third, The Widow’s Devotion.
Fourth, The Widow’s Determination.
This passage is so practical and instructive for the Church.

I. The Widow’s Declaration (vs. 3)

1 Timothy 5:3 AV
Honour widows that are widows indeed.
The text says here that the Church has the responsibility to “honor widows.”
Now, of course you know that the English word “widow” describes a woman whose husband is dead.
Now, the Greek word for “widow” is “χήρα” and it includes the situation where a woman has lost her husband in death, but it is not limited to that.
Because that Greek word also means, “bereft, robbed, having suffered loss, left alone.”
This word describes a disadvantaged and vulnerable class of people.
Jesus choose this culturally familiar image to teach the disciples about persistence in prayer.
Remember in Luke 18, Jesus gave an illustration about the fact that there was a certain king in the land:
Luke 18:2 AV
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
And then He informed His disciples:
Luke 18:3 AV
And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
There was, very obviously, a person or a group of persons that were trying to take advantage of this woman because she was a widow, she was in a class of people that were disadvantaged and vulnerable.
There was another example that Jesus gave His disciples about how this class of women were taken advantage of because of their vulnerabilities.
Jesus noted a woman that gave all that she had in the temple on Sabbath.
Mark 12:42–44 AV
And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
Now, keep in mind here that Christ was not, as some incorrectly interpret, praising this widow because she gave “all that she had,” but was condemning a system of religion that convinced this widow that in order to be right with God she had to give all that she had.
And the teaching of Christ is that the system took advantage of this widow because she was in a class of people of vulnerability.
When warning His disciples about the teachers of the law, Jesus specifically cites their mistreatment of widows as one of their most serious sin.
Mark 12:40 AV
Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
So, in the society of the time, widows were in a class of people of great vulnerability and many people, even the religious, took advantage of that vulnerability.
The word does not speak of how a woman was left alone, it merely describes the situation.
It is broad enough to encompass those who lost their husbands through death, desertion, divorce, or imprisonment.
So, in the language of the Scriptures, the word was used to not just describe a woman whose husband was dead, but merely to describe a woman who was left alone.
William Barclay said:
1 Timothy: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary The Obligation of the Church to Support Widows

It could even encompass those cases where a polygamist came to Christ and sent away his extra wives

The responsibility of the Church extends to all qualifying women who have lost their husbands.
Now, I believe that this is a corrective passage.
We can conclude that the widows were not being properly honored in the Church.
In other words, the whole idea of biblical instruction to widows needs to be taught because of what needed to be corrected in Ephesus.
The text says:
1 Timothy 5:3 AV
Honour widows that are widows indeed.
In other words, the Apostle is saying that the obligation of the Church is to honor widows that are truly widows.
So we get the idea that not every woman that has been left alone, is considered truly a widow.
And we get the idea that there were women in the church of Ephesus that were calling themselves widows, that are not truly a widow.
And what we understand through the way that the Greek word for “widow” was used is that women who were “left alone” could be be considered a widow, so it did not just include death.
And, you know, really with divorce and desertion being so rampant in our society, we face an even greater challenge than the Church at Ephesus.
The treatment of widows tests the spiritual character of the Christian community.
Now, again, we must understand that not every woman that has been left alone is considered by the Word of God to be a widow, but the ones that are really widows are to be honored.
The text is clear in just these few words, that there are women who have been called “widows” that are not truly widows.
The text could be translated, “honor the widows that are real widows.”
“Honor” is the word “τιμάω” and it means “to show in high regard, to manifest consideration towards.”
It is beautiful to see what the Scriptures teaches with respect to widows.
Psalm 68:5 AV
A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
And the word “judge” there is the Hebrew word “דַּיָּן(day-yan)” and it means to be the protector.
Widows are under God’s special protection and care.
Deuteronomy 10:18 AV
He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
Proverbs 15:25 AV
The LORD will destroy the house of the proud: but he will establish the border of the widow.
Psalm 146:9 AV
The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
The Scripture promises a blessing to those who help and honor widows.
Jeremiah 22:3–4 AV
Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people.
So, the NT Church follows in the footsteps of the OT teaching to honor the deprived women who are really deprived.
I think that it is interesting to note that as far as the family unit is concerned that the Scripture spends two short verses for fathers, brothers, sister, and mothers, but 14 verses on women in the Church who were deprived of a husband.
Why would this be?
I think, in one regard, it says something important about God.
God has a special place in His heart for single women, especially those that are somehow deprived on a husband; either through, as we have seen, divorce, imprisonment, or death.
And, I say I mentioned before, our society has really created a class of widows that were virtually unknown in the first century.
God is the protector is widows.
Some of the most touching stories in the OT concern the care and feeding of widows.
God fed Ruth (who lost her husband) during the barley harvest and placed a child on Naomi’s lap (Ruth 1:22-2:23)
He spared the widow of Zarephath in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17:7-24).
He provided an abundance of oil for a widow through the minstry of Elisha (2 Kings 4:1-7).
He brought an only son back to like for the widow in Nain (Luke 7:11-15).
And on the cross, he made provision for his own mother in her widowhood (John 19:25-27).
Now, the word “honor” does have built into the word financial support if it is needed by the widow.
Now, on that issue as we will see, it is not the Church that has the primary role of support for the widow; however, on that note Jesus illustrates the usage of the word “honor” in condemnation of the Pharisees.
Matthew 15:1–6 AV
Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.
First century Judaism had developed an intricate system of extrabiblical regulations, some of which contradicted Scripture.
Jesus rebuked them because of one of those most wicked traditions.
They thought that a person could avoid the responsibility to support his parents if had devoted that money to God.
As our Lord points out; however, that selfish and and hypocritical tradition directly contradicts the OT command to honor none’s parent in the event that the woman, in particular, is left widowed.
Now, the Church is not obligated to support or honor all widows, only those who are truly widows.
Not all widows are widows without means.
Many widows have resources to their disposal, but the Church is always to give all widows the spiritual comfort and care of the Church.
The Church is only called to help, financially, those who are completely alone and without necessary resources for daily life.
So, the Church is to honor women that are devoid of a husband for many reasons, not only death, but only to those widows who are truly widows.
Not every widow is truly a widow.
So, we see The Widow’s Declaration; honor those widows that are truly widows.

II. The Widow’s Distribution (vs. 4)

1 Timothy 5:4 AV
But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
Here is where the Apostle begins to discuss the qualifications of what makes a women devoid of a husband truly a widow.
The Church is to honor those women who are devoid of a husband, but only if the following circumstances are not present.
Because the Church cannot and is not required to indiscriminately support all widows that ask for assistance.
The following verses, really 4-8, define for us what is truly a widow.
Now, in verse 4 Paul makes it very clear that if a woman who is devoid of a husband; whether by divorce, death, imprisonment, or abandonment, if she has children and/or grandchildren, she is to receive support from them and not the Church.
Because if she has children and/or grandchildren she is not a biblical definition of a widow.
The family has the primary responsibility for its own women devoid of a husband.
The widow’s relatives must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family.
In our text, the word “first” is the Greek word “πρῶτος” and means “to be first in a sequence.”
It means “to be first in order,” or “first in importance.”
It carries the idea of “being the most important.”
It is translated once in the NT as being “the best” in Luke 15:22.
It is translated once in the NT as being “the Chief” in Acts 28:7.
It is translated twice in the NT as being “the foremost” in 1 Timothy 1:15 and 1 Timothy 1:16.
It is translated twice in the NT as being “the principal” in Luke 19:47 and Acts 25:2.
It is translated four times in the NT as being “the leading” in Mark 6:21; Acts 13:50, Acts 16:12, Acts 17:4.
In John 1:15 and John 1:30 the word is translated “before” giving the indication of first in priority.
You, no doubt, get the idea of how the Apostle meant this word.
The first of priorities for a family is to support the women that are devoid of a husband.
The Apostle further say that they do this to show godliness.
It is a very godly practice, according to Paul, for the children and grandchildren to help distribute to widows in their family.
Why?
Notice the text: “to requite their parents.”
The word “requite” is the word “ἀμοιβή” and means “to return” or “to recompense.”
It is good and pleasing in the sight of God and; therefore, a godly thing that children and grandchildren do this for the widows in their families because they owe a debt to the widow who brought them into the world, clothed them, fed them, housed them, and supported them.
Caring for a destitute mother, who is devoid of a husband in her time of need is a small return for all she has done.
In the ancient Greek world, when a women became a widow she would enter the household of her son or grandson and when that happened any support that she might have recieved from her husbands life would then pass to the one whose home to moved to reside.
The two motivations that a family has for caring for the widows in their families is; you owe the widow and you owe God.
And so the Church does not become unnecessarily burdened, Paul commands that the family take up the support of the true widow.
Because if a widow has family that can care and support them, the Church is under no obligation to do it.
They would not be considered a “true widow.”
So, when we speak of The Widow’s Declaration, it is the declaration from the Scriptures that the Church is to honor those widows that are truly widows.
When we speak of The Widow’s Distribution, it is the command of the Scripture that if a woman who is devoid of a husband have children or grandchildren, they are to honor the widow and the Church is not liable because she would not be considered a true widow.
Related Media
Related Sermons