Evening Bible Study
The book of Acts ends in AD 60 with Paul being in Rome under house arrest.
We believe Paul was later released, and visited various places, including
While traveling, Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to pastor the church.
Timothy had spent many years with Paul and was like a spiritual “son” to
This letter was written somewhere around AD 63, to guide Timothy to correct
the problems in Ephesus.
Timothy is in his mid-forties about now.
Timothy would pastor the church for 30 years, and die a martyr in AD 97.
5:1-2 Church Relationships
:1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger
men as brothers,
:1 Do not rebuke an older man
Paul could be talking about those who hold the office of an elder since
he’s already been doing that and he will do some more later, but I think that
with the immediate context (younger men, elder women …) he’s probably talking
about how Timothy should treat men who are older than he is.
rebuke – epiplesso – to
strike upon, beat upon; to chastise with words, to chide, upbraid, rebuke
exhort – parakaleo – to
call to one’s side; exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction
In modern day America, we don’t know too much about respect for our elders.
Seems an elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of
years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a
set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%. The elderly
gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, “your hearing
is perfect. Your family must be really pleased you can hear again.” To which
the gentleman said, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and
listen to the conversations. I’ve changed my will three times!”
Because of Paul’s use of “rebuke” and “exhort”, you get the idea that Paul
is giving Timothy advice about how to confront and deal with older man who has
become a problem.
Confronting doesn’t need to come with abuse like the “rebuke”.
Sometimes we get the idea that treating our elders with respect means that
we don’t ever say anything contradictory to them.
We get confused and thing we must treat them as if they are correct 100% of
Paul is saying that there’s room to “exhort” them, to come alongside them
and give them a “nudge”.
(1 Timothy 5:1 NLT)
speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to
your own father.
:1 younger men as brothers
While Timothy is to treat the men older than himself as his own father, he
is to treat guys younger than himself as a “brother”.
Though I could say a lot about how brothers treat each other (having had
three sons), I think the point is to treat younger men as equals.
Sometimes we can tend to treat those younger than us as “babies” or
“inferiors” instead of equals.
:2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.
:2 older women as mothers
The Bible says,
(Exodus 20:12 NKJV)
your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the
Lord your God is giving you.
Paul pointed out (Eph. 6:1-3) that this was the first commandment that came
with a promise, a reward. Our days would “be long” in the land if we obeyed.
For some of us, we no longer have our mothers around, they have gone on to
heaven. Others of us either don’t have our mothers in the area, or we don’t
have a good relationship with our moms.
You still get to practice your skills of honoring mothers though – there
are plenty of gals in the church that we are blessed to have with us.
:2 younger women as sisters, with all purity
purity – hagneia – purity,
sinlessness of life
This word ultimately derives from hagios,
“holy”, but this form of the word is only used twice, both times in 1Timothy.
This is the same word that Paul used to exhort Timothy last week:
Timothy 4:12 NKJV) Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers
in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
You can draw a straight line from “purity” to the issue of how you treat
people of the opposite sex.
Some folks think of church as a social opportunity, a place to meet people,
especially those of the opposite sex.
We need to be real careful here.
We do have plenty of folks who have found their spouse in
church – that’s where I found Deb. What better place to find a spouse?
Yet we need to work at keeping our relationships pure.
I like Paul’s encouragement to treat younger gals “as sisters”.
I remember hearing the phrase, “like kissing your sister” to describe when
two people dated, but the relationship was purely platonic – nothing sexual.
That resonates with me because I grew up in a family of sisters – I was the
I love my sisters. I will do anything for my sisters. I will protect my
sisters. I will argue with my sisters. I will tease my sisters – but there’s
not a thought of impurity in any of it.
That’s how we need to work at treating others of the
In ancient days, there were two classes of people who were at the bottom of
the social and economic ladder: Widows and orphans.
Widows and orphans had no means to support themselves – the world’s economy
was run by men and these people had no “men” in their lives.
There was no Social Security. There was no government Welfare.
Jesus’ followers were men and women who had been touched by the grace of
God – saved when they were worthless, loved when they were undeserving.
They had been so impacted by God’s love that they knew they needed to pass
that same kind of grace on to others.
James summed it up like this:
(James 1:27 NLT) Pure and
genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and
widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
Back in the earliest days of the church in Jerusalem, the believers were
practicing this. One of the ways they helped the widows was in providing them
(Acts 6:1 NLT) But as the
believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The
Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying
that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of
Even though there were problems developing from this ministry, you see the
church involved in this process of helping the less fortunate.
Now in Ephesus, they were having similar issues, helping the widows.
Paul is going to give Timothy some practical suggestions on how this should
:3 Honor widows who are really widows.
:3 Honor widows
Here, the idea isn’t just tipping your cap in respect, but “honor” carries
over to the idea of giving some type of actual physical aid, whether food or
:3 who are really widows
We might want to define “widows” as any woman who has lost her husband, but
that’s not going to be Paul’s definition.
He’s going to have a much narrower definition of who the church should be
The more I look at this passage, I wonder if we should completely
reevaluate the people we help as a church.
:4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to
show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable
:4 learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents
If a woman’s husband dies, but she has other relatives, whether children or
grandchildren, then it’s only right and proper for the family to take care of
the woman’s needs. God thinks that the family should take care of its own
We find this kind of principle at church when we are asked if we can help
someone out. We have funds set aside to do just that very thing. But one of the
things that we find it important to ask, is whether or not their family can
help them out. Sometimes people don’t want to ask their family for help, yet in
God’s sight, He would rather that the family be the first place we go to for
:4 for this is good and acceptable before God
Some people are too proud to ask their family for help, but I wonder if
sometimes our financial hardships are the very things that God wants to use to
help repair families, to force them to work together and take care of each
This is what we are to “learn” (vs. 4 “learn to show piety”) with our
families - to take care of each other.
I think it’s important that the church not short-circuit this kind of thing
by stepping in and rescuing people when they need to learn to do things God’s
Sometimes the embarrassment of asking the family is what a person needs to
motivate them to take care of their own needs properly.
:5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and
continues in supplications and prayers night and day.
:5 she who is really a widow
Paul is going to give some qualifications about the people the church
should be helping.
Again, I’m not sure that most of the people we’ve helped fall into this
Just to be honest with you – when people ask me for help at church, I tend
to open my wallet and help them. I’m not good at following Paul’s guidelines.
Yet I almost always feel guilty afterwards for helping them.
:5 left alone
The gal who is “really a widow” has no one else to help her.
:5 trusts in God
trusts – elpizo – to hope;
hopefully to trust in
It’s in the “perfect” tense. She has hoped and trusted in God in the past
and continues to trust in God.
Perhaps again this is the idea that she has no one else to trust in for
help but God since she is “left alone”.
When you get to vs. 11-12, it would seem that part of being a “widow
indeed” is a pledge not to get remarried.
She is not trusting in getting a husband, but is hoping in God.
:5 continues in supplications and prayers night and day
The “really a widow” gal is one who has a serious prayer life.
I’d suggest that the church is “hiring” or “supporting” these kinds of gals
to be their prayer warriors.
Women who will pray like this:
:6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.
:6 she who lives in pleasure is dead
The church’s welfare system wasn’t meant for people to take it easy and
“live the good life”.
Living for pleasure
If all you are living for is the pleasure you might receive in this life,
you’re heading down a dead end.
Look at how Moses’ faith in the Lord impacted his own life:
NKJV) —24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son
of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to
enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures
in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Moses saw that the pleasures of sin were “passing”, they
Moses would rather feel the rebuke of following God than
all the treasures of Egypt.
He knew that in the end, when he got to heaven, that he
was the one getting the best treasure.
:7 And these things command, that they may be blameless.
Paul wants Timothy to put these things into action so that both the ladies,
as well as the church, might be doing the right things.
I think it’s important that we be careful to spend the funds that have been
entrusted to the church on the right kinds of things.
:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of
his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
:8 if anyone does not provide for his own
Take care of your family
provide – pronoeo – to
perceive before, foresee; think of beforehand; to provide for one
Providing for your family involves thinking ahead and planning for the
needs of your family.
This is our responsibility, to provide for our family.
:8 he has denied the faith
If you do not take the responsibilities of taking care of your family
seriously, you are worse than an unbeliever.
:9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and
not unless she has been the wife of one man,
:10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she
has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved
the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.
:9 Do not let a widow …
Paul gives more rules about who the church should regularly support.
1) She has to be at least 60 years old. (vs. 9)
2) She has to be a “one man woman” (vs.9)
This is similar to Paul’s requirements for an overseer or deacon where they
were to be “one woman man” (1Tim. 3:2; 3:12)
Here, these “widows” were to formerly be a “one man woman”
This might refer to monogamy vs. polygamy, though it might also refer to
divorce and remarriage.
3) A reputation for good works
What follows are samples of those good works.
a. Brought up children.
She’s been a mom, though none of her children have survived or else they
would be supporting her.
b. lodged strangers
She has demonstrated hospitality.
c. washed the saints’ feet
This was servant’s work, just as Jesus did at the Last Supper (John 13).
d. relieved the afflicted
The language is that of a relief worker helping those who have gone through
e. diligently followed every good work
I think the idea is that whenever she has seen a good work done by someone
else, she has done the same thing.
Perhaps the idea is that of following close after Jesus’ example.
:11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow
wanton against Christ, they desire to marry,
:12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith.
:11 refuse the younger widows
Timothy was to encourage the church to NOT help the gals who were too young,
perhaps those younger than sixty.
:11 begun to grow wanton
Younger gals may want to eventually remarry.
:12 cast off their first faith
Evidently one of the pledges on joining the order of widows was not to
If these gals were young enough, they’d want to get married and then break
their pledge to the Lord.
It’s not wrong for the gals to want to get married, it’s only wrong if
they’ve made a lifelong pledge to stay unmarried and then turn around and break
There is value to not being married, and it’s apparently this value that
was employed by these “widows”. Paul wrote,
7:34–35 NKJV) —34 There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried
woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and
in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she
may please her husband. 35 And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on
you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without
:13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to
house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which
they ought not.
Paul gives more reasons why younger gals should not be put on the list.
:13 besides they learn to be idle
There is some truth to that old adage, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”.
Paul’s concern is that younger widows will be tempted to just get
themselves into trouble because of their idleness and end up causing trouble in
They start poking their noses into places they don’t belong and stirring up
It’s not just young widows that have trouble with idleness, we can all have
3:6–12 NLT) —6 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives
and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. 7 For you know
that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. 8 We never
accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night
so we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We certainly had the right to ask
you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow. 10 Even while
we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not
get to eat.” 11 Yet we hear
that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other
people’s business. 12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.
I get the idea that someone who is constantly gossiping about others must
have too much time on their hands.
“There exist beings who, for the sake of
obtaining the key to these enigmas, which are, moreover, of no consequence
whatever to them, spend more money, waste more time, take more trouble, than
would be required for ten good actions, and that gratuitously, for their own
pleasure, without receiving any other payment for their curiosity than
curiosity...Why? For no reason. A pure passion for seeing, knowing, and
penetrating into things. A pure itch for talking. And often these secrets once
known, these mysteries made public, these enigmas illuminated by the light of
day, bring on catastrophes, duels, failures, the ruin of families, and broken
lives, to the great joy of those who have “found out everything,” without any
interest in the matter, and by pure instinct. A sad thing. Certain persons are
malicious solely through a necessity for talking. Their conversation, the chat
of the drawing-room, gossip of the anteroom, is like those chimneys which
consume wood rapidly; they need a great amount of combustibles; and their
combustibles are furnished by their neighbors.”
Idleness leads to trouble…
:14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear
children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak
:14 I desire that the younger widows marry
Paul’s exhortation to Timothy is for these younger gals to get remarried
and stay busy.
In today’s society, he might have recommended they “get a job”.
manage the house –
oikodespoteo (“house” + “tyrant,
despot, master”) – to be master (or head) of a house; to rule a household,
manage family affairs
:14 give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully
opportunity – aphorme – a
place from which a movement or attack is made, a base of operations
When we as believers get into trouble with our idleness, we open a door for
the devil to accuse the church.
We give him a “base of operations” inside the church.
:15 For some have already turned aside after Satan.
:15 some have already turned aside after Satan
Paul isn’t talking about hypothetical situations.
Of the past 11 years that Paul has spent with Timothy, three of those years
were spent in Ephesus.
I imagine that Paul has some Ephesians in mind when he writes these things.
He’s probably also seen these things in other churches – like the
Help isn’t always helpful
I think the overall warning of this passage is for those of us who want to
empty out our pockets at every cry for help.
When a butterfly or moth is struggling to get out of its chrysalis, it’s
important that it’s allowed to struggle.
If your child is doing a science project and watching the chrysalis, it’s
important that you don’t try to help the creature out by cutting the cocoon,
thinking you’d make it easier for the butterfly.
The butterfly needs to squeeze out the fluid that’s inside of the wings,
and if it doesn’t have the tiny hold in the cocoon to squeeze it out of, it
won’t be able to fly.
Parents face the same issue when it comes to raising their kids.
Your kids need to learn to know the pain of falling down every once in a while.
They need to know the pain of failure if they are going to learn to push
through and grow.
Sometimes our helping others isn’t really helping at all.
Sometimes we are enabling others to end up getting themselves into trouble.
:16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do
not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really
:16 let them relieve them
People should meet the needs of their families, and not the church. The
church should be taking care of those who have nowhere else to turn.
To help or not to help
As believers we are faced with the responsibility of learning to pay
attention to the Spirit’s leading when it comes to helping people in need.
We want to be sure to help when we’re supposed to.
(Proverbs 3:27 NLT)
not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help
NLT) —37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see
you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a
stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we
ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you
the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and
sisters, you were doing it to me!’
And yet there are going to be times when the worst thing we could do is to
give someone money.
That’s what this passage has taught us – that some people will allow Satan
a foothold in their life because they no longer need to work hard or trust in
God for their needs.
Sometimes money isn’t what people need.
When Peter and John met the lame man at the gate of the Temple, they didn’t
have what the guy was asking for. He was asking for “alms”, for money.
(Acts 3:6 NKJV) Then Peter
said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the
name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
May God give us the wisdom to know how the best way is to help.