by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 Lincolnton, NC October 9, 2005
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
1901 ASV Translation:
4 But if any widow hath children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show piety towards their own family, and to requite their parents: for this is acceptable in the sight of God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, hath her hope set on God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
I. Paul's Instruction Regarding Widows.
A. The terminology "a widow indeed" is interesting in that it contradicts the typical understanding of a "widow" as someone who has lost her husband.
1. Typically a "widow" has become such by the death of the spouse.
2. But Paul's description of a "widow" is not someone who has lost a spouse, but someone who has no means of providing for the necessities of physical life.
B. In line with his terminology, Paul insists that "children or grandchildren" are a source of the physical necessities of life and are responsible for the provision of those necessities to the elderly woman who does not have them by reason of her own resources.
1. Clearly, Paul is addressing the situation as though the offspring are "in the church".
a. It is impossible for unbelievers to "show piety".
1) The term "show piety" is combined with the phrase "their own house" in a way that implies a responsibility to make their own home a place where true reverence for God is exercised. Paul has a larger issue in mind than simply taking care of elderly parents. His view is of the responsibility that is incumbant upon the recipients of grace to be involved in the development of the character for which grace was extended.
2) The development of grace-character is a learning process and cannot simply "appear" suddenly. Developing a proper attitude toward those in true need is a major part of the grace-character (seeing that the Kingdom is to be made of such) and is a two-way street. The elderly parent is responsible for having set the pattern before old age set in, and the offspring are responsible for accepting that pattern in regard to those upon whom old age has set in. Failure on either side of that equation brings serious consequences and the church has a limited responsibility in addressing those consequences. The church is not a local charity that exists to provide for the foolishly improvident. God clearly imposes consequences upon the rebellion of unbelief and it is not the church's responsibility to mitigate those consequences for those who continue in their rebellion.
a) The church has the responsibility of evangelism toward those in rebellion.
b) The church has no further responsibility toward those who reject the grace of God. [The "love thy neighbor" issue is the issue of evangelism, and the Good Samaritan story is not about a man who created his own hell, but about a man who "fell among thieves" (Luke 10)].
3) Creaturehood in God's creation is no joke; nor is it a matter to be taken lightly. Creatures have responsibilities toward their Creator and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). The pursuit of rebellion does not go without severe consequences.
b. Paul's instruction is to the church through its leaders, not the culture at large.
2. The church has a responsibility to a Christian elderly woman who is without physical necessities and who has no believing offspring who will provide for her.
3. But, the Christian woman also has a serious set of requirements upon her.
a. She can not be a "Christian" who has become such so that the church will take care of her.
b. She must be a "Christian" in whom the virtues of Christ have developed to the point of having put her hope in God and having learned to pray.