1 Tim 5:1-16

I have always found it interesting that we, as the body of Christ, are often referred to in the New Testament using familial language. Together, we have one Father, as we have been adopted into His forever family. Because of this, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, and thus gaining many more spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children in the process.

In the passage for today, the language of family is extended to several difficult situations. Paul’s purpose in using this language, I believe, is so that the people to whom Timothy is ministering would be especially considerate of others in their midst. For example, as the family of God, Paul desires that they would treat the older men among them just as they would treat their own fathers (cf. v. 1), and likewise, that they would treat the older women as mothers (cf. v. 2). Thus, when we take on the perspective of Paul, our conduct becomes compassionate and caring, just as it should be in the family.

Specifically, this passage talks about the care of widows. In a nutshell, Paul is saying here that a widow’s own family (i.e., their real “flesh and blood” family) should be encouraged to provide for them (cf. v. 4). This is right and good, and provides an occasion for the widow’s family to do good works. Not only this, but Paul is also saying here that widows who are younger should be encouraged to live well and to be a blessing to others (cf. v. 11-15). This provides the younger widows with an occasion to live well before the Lord and to do what is right.

Although the passage is about living like the family of God, these verses show that it is important to not take advantage of the church family unnecessarily. I believe Paul is giving these thoughts to Timothy because the church family can easily be burdened and bogged down with these kinds of requests. Just as with a family, it isn’t just the Mom and Dad who do everything for everyone else. It is important that everyone do their part for the sake of the family (cf. v. 16). Therefore, to love well and to live well, as the body of Christ, that is, as His family, it is important to remember that we all have an important role to play.

by Eric Fields, Elder

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