Paul is here instructing Timothy on the proper recipients of material aid which was to be distributed to those in places of need. In this particular case he is speaking of support given to those who are widows. Widowhood in biblical times was tantamount to indigence since those societies offered little opportunity for widows to support themselves, especially the aged. Yet he does not include all who had lost their husbands in this instruction. Rather he speaks of those who are “widows indeed”.
Those who had families among the believers, who could support them, were not “widows indeed” since they were not “desolate” (i.e.; isolated and destitute). Thus he exhorts those families to render aid to them, lest they be like the infidels, without regard or natural affection, not to menton without the concept of giving honor to one’s parent.
Not only are those who are to be considered as “widows indeed”, destitute and aged; but also to be those who are spiritually minded individuals who are known to be women of unceasing prayer. Also they are to be recognized as those who have faithfully maintained their marriage bond in a chaste and modest fashion. (see. v.9) This is an almost forgotten virtue in this day of unwed cohabitation and repeated divorce and remarriage for any reason one may choose. They are to be diligent mothers (obviously without living children who are believers) as well as women who are lovers of hospitality and service unto others. (see v.10).
It is interesting to note that the exhortations which are set forth concerning monetary giving in the New Testament church are always accompanied with specific needs as we see in Paul’s frequent requests for gifts to help suffering saints, specifically those who were in Jerusalem who in many cases were stripped of their property because of their confession of faith in CHRIST.
Collections were to be done for specific purposes, rather than the modern concept of contributions to a general, ongoing fund. Since the love of money is the root of all evil, it is not strange that matters of money probably cause more problems in churches than any other issue. Add to that the concept of salaried, career, professional “ministers”, and a general funding of mission boards and the like; and a departure from the NT instruction of giving is complete.
The LORD often uses “widows” throughout the scriptures to illustrate various spiritual lessons which are given to the sons of GOD. The first time that the word “widow” is found in the scriptures is in the mention of Tamar who was married to Judah’s oldest son, Er. Er being a wicked man was slain by the LORD (see Gen 38:7) leaving Tamar a widow. She was then wed to Judah’s son, Onan, who was also slain by the LORD because of his disobedience.
Judah then promised to give Tamar to his younger son Shelah when he came of age. Judah’s promise was not honored when Shelah grew up, so Tamar dressed provocatively and sat by the roadside in the manner of a harlot. in order to snare Judah. The outcome of this union brought forth a son to Tamar, named Pharez who was ultimately a part of the genealogy of the LORD JESUS CHRIST. (see Mat.1:3) Through this widow the LORD would demonstrate HIS absolute predestination of all things as HE ordained even the wickedness of men unto HIS own glory. Just as the sin of Adam was in keeping with HIS purpose to exalt HIS only begotten SON as the PRINCE and REDEEMER of HIS people, so too was the birth of Pharez brought forth to manifest that same REDEEMER’s union with certain members of Adams sinful race. HE is the SAVIOR of sinners, acquainted with our grief and taking upon HIMSELF the likeness of our sinful flesh.
Then we read in I Kings 17 of a widow in Zarephath, to whom the LORD sent the prophet Elijah. She was on the verge of starving to death, yet the LORD had dried up the brook Cherith and sent away the ravens by which HE had fed Elijah in order to send him to her that he might be fed, but much more importantly that the LORD might through Elijah cause the meal and oil of her house to never fail, thus bringing life to her according to the mercy of GOD, and demonstrating HIS power over death as Elijah raised her son from the dead.
The LORD used her as an illustration of HIS sovereign purpose to bring the gospel unto HIS elect among the gentiles. “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.” (Luke 4:25-26) The LORD’s electing grace is still hated by the religious men of this world even as it was when those Jews became angry and would have cast him off of the cliff when HE told them of this. (see Luke 4:28-30)
HE also used the poor widow (see Mark 12:42) who cast in her two mites into the treasury in order to illustrate the true concept of giving. She gave all that she had. The LORD would have men to know that HE loves the cheerful giver and is not mindful of percentages and quotas which satisfy the conscience of religious men.
HE used Anna the widow prophetess as a perfect illustration of those who are “widows indeed”. (see Luke 2:36-37) HE would also set forth the innate longing of the saints of GOD for the appearing of the REDEEMER as she favorably looked upon the CHILD and gave thanks.
HE met the widow of Nain (see Luke 7:11-16) and demonstrated that HE, being full of compassion on those who are broken and helpless, is the RESURRECTION and the LIFE as HE raised her son from the dead without so much as a word spoken by her; saying to her “Weep not”.
He spoke of a widow in HIS parable of the “unjust judge” (see Luke 18:1-8) who received that which she desired because she continually sought the REMEDY. The LORD will hear the cry of those who earnestly seek HIM. This puts us in mind of that Gentile woman who had a daughter who was vexed of the Devil. She earnestly sought the LORD to deliver her daughter, but HE seemingly turned her away saying that HE was not sent but to the house of Israel. Yet she persisted, knowing HE was her only HOPE. Then HE told her that it was not fitting to take food intended for the children of Israel and give it to dogs (i.e.; Gentiles).
Yet the LORD had given her faith, and HE would demonstrate that fact in pointing out that HE had not found this “faith” even in Israel who prided themselves as being the children of GOD by their natural birth. For she, under the power of the HOLY GHOST, said, “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.” (Mat 15:27) “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb 11:6) This sort of “faith” can come from only ONE SOURCE, and always witnesses the same result. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom 10:12-13)
Those who are “widows indeed” are illustrative of those whose hearts are broken before the LORD. Those who have no other ONE to whom they can go. They have run out of options and they can turn to no other. “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.” (Psa 34:18-19)mam