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1 Timothy 5:16 – Care tasks

14-06-2024 - Posted by Hans

If any believing woman has widows with her, let her be relieving them and let not the ecclesia be burdened, that it should be relieving those who are already widows.

This verse concludes a passage that began in verse 3 about widows. It concludes with what it began: the real widows (:3,5,16). By this, Paul refers to the widows who are completely alone because they have no husband and no children. In many cases, an (older) widow will have to rely on assistance from others in such a case. Such widows would be honored (:3) with support from the ecclesia. Paul began and ends with that recommendation.

What Paul wants to prevent is that the ecclesia is unnecessarily burdened with caring for widows. The normal course of events is that a ‘real widow’ is supported by the people around her. If these are not children (:4), then other immediate family or directly involved people. Paul sees this care task primarily reserved for religious women who have such widows in their immediate environment.

Indeed, Paul presupposes a situation in which there was no ‘father state’ to whom one could appeal. And women were not yet breadwinners. In addition to all the wise advice from the apostle, this also gives food for thought…