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1 Timothy 5:11,12 – A frivolous promise?

14-06-2024 - Posted by Hans

Yet the younger widows refuse, for whenever they should be restive against Christ, they are wanting to marry; having judgement seeing that they repudiate their first faith.

These verses are undoubtedly the most difficult of this entire chapter. The misunderstanding arises because the text is seen separately from the context. Timothy selected older widows for special shelter work and one of the requirements is that these servants should devote themselves completely to this and would no longer enter into marriage. Some believe that this conflicts with verse 14 where Paul recommends that younger widows marry and have children. But that conclusion is of course unjustified.

For the ministry that required Timothy to enroll women, he would refuse younger widows. The reason for this is that Paul fears that these widows could easily be tempted to break their word of honor to remain single. Such a breach of contract would be evidence of frivolity. They would therefore also (as it literally says) have a “judgment”, i.e. they would rightly be accused of having abandoned their ministry.

In short: it is not the wish of young widows to marry that is condemned here, but the breaking of a solemn promise. So read carefully!