Widows in the Church

Widows In The Church
I Timothy 5:1-3


  • Paul speaks to the issue of widows in the church in a long sermon here from verses 3-16.
  • I also want to point out that it is not the church’s responsibility to support widows outside the church (not members or worshipper of God.)
  • Paul is instructing Timothy here to then give this same instruction to the church at Ephesus. This is also good for any church of today’s time.
  • I Timothy 5:1…Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; 2) The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. 3) Honour widows that are widows indeed.
  • Note first of all verses 1 and 2 of Paul’s letter here concerning the care of the members of the church…
  1. The older men in the church – Rebuke not an elder, but intreat (treat them, act towards) him as a father; When Paul said “rebuke not” he means that it is not anyone’s responsibility to harshly tell them what their problems or sins are. To “rebuke” someone is to scold them in a loving manner what the Bible says about a sin that you were made aware of.
  2. 1b) “…and the younger men as brethren;” Paul is saying here to treat or behave towards the younger men as you would your own brother (sibling).
  3. 2) The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. Now then Paul here asks that the older women are to be treated like you would your own mother (love, care, generosity, alms). Then the younger women are to be treated as you would a sister (sibling), but Paul adds with all purity.” In other words not look at them with dirty thoughts or expect them to have sex with you.
  • Now we get to the heart of our message today in verse 3… Honour widows that are widows indeed.
  • Whenever you see the word “honour (honor)” in the Bible it means… to give value to someone or something. Treat them in a special way.
  • I wish to point out the fact that God’s design for mankind is to give women special care.
  • NOTE; God tells us that women are the object of three things…
  1. Provision – to provide for their needs, wants, care and soul.
  2. Preservation – to preserve their life physically and spiritually
  3. Protection – To protect them physically and spiritually. God reminds us in the words of I Peter 3:7…Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
  • God expects the husband to provide for his wife, family, and the church.
  • And because of this, widows (women) are without means of support from their husband if they are dead, imprisoned, or has abandoned them.
  • Christ set up the church to take care of its widows. However, there are Christ’s established values and laws to be honored according to the Father in Heaven.
  • Basically, God is concerned for the protection, preservation and provision of those that are in need. Another is the orphans.
  • Psalms 68: 5…A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
  • Did you get that men? A father is one who provides for his own family, protects his own family, and preserves his own family. We acquire this characteristic from God our Father!
  • When a child loses their father, or a wife loses her husband, God will protect them out of pity and mercy. They are God’s concern as well should be ours.

I.  The Treatment of Widows

   A) Cursed for poor treatment to widows

  • God blesses (Makes happy) those who bless widows, and God curses (punishes badly) those who curse (treat badly) widows.
  • Deuteronomy 27:19…Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.
  • This was the law of God through the work of Moses and the Jews.
  • Isaiah 1:17…Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
  • Jeremiah 22:3…Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place.

B)    Blessed for good treatment to widows

  • Isaiah 1:17…Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 19)  If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: 20) But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
  • Jeremiah 22:1…Thus saith the LORD; Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word,
  • Verse 3… Thus saith the LORD; Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. 4) For if ye do this thing indeed, then shall there enter in by the gates of this house kings sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, he, and his servants, and his people. 5) But if ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself, saith the LORD, that this house shall become a desolation.
  • Exodus 22:23…Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23) If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; 24)  And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless.
  • God said He will hear their cry! Oh what a blessing for widows and orphans that are of Godly nature… He will hear your cry.

C)    Ideal situations God provides for widows

  • The ideal situation for a widow is re-marriage.
  • In fact, scripture encourages widowed women under 60 years of age to re-marry.
  • You say “WHY?” Like I said before … for protection, preservation and protection. This is done through the man in remarriage
  • However, not all women need protected, preserved, or provided for.
  • Some husbands while alive were able to make enough money to put money into savings and invest in items that were beneficial to their spouse and families so that they would not have need of anything after his death.
  • In Genesis 38:11, God gives us an example where a widow comes under the protection of her father.
  • Ruth 1:16… Ruth chose to go to her mother in law’s for protection and provision.
  • Also in the Old Testament we can see the Levitical law of a widowed woman being taken by her brother in law (if he wasn’t married).
  • If her husband’s brother was married then she was to be placed with the next of kin. (Deut. 25:5-10)

II.  Christ Demonstrates the Heart Of God

  A)  Towards the widows in the New Testament

  • Mark 12:41… And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury:
  • Jesus was watching how and what people gave in their offerings and tithes.
  • On the wall of the temple in the court for women, there were placed receptacles for the offerings.
  • Now look further into verse 41… and many that were rich cast in much. 42) And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
  • Widows of this time were generally poor because they had no means of support. They didn’t have a welfare office, or any kind of programs like we have today for the widows.
  • In fact a woman was always unemployed. They couldn’t hold jobs. It was frowned upon and against Jewish Law.
  • This woman put in “two mites (One penny).
  • Verse 43) And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44) For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
  • Christ seen the godliness of this woman by what she gave and how she gave it.
  • These are exactly the kind of widows that God will always bless and exalt in heaven when they stand at the judgment seat of Christ.
  • It was customary that the synagogues would have a collection group that would go out every Friday morning and they would circle the city and collect goods and money from the various people, bringing it back on Friday afternoon, distributing it out to the widows before Friday night sundown which began the Sabbath.
  • Look at Luke 7:11…And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. 12) Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow:
  • This was a widow who was truly a widow. She had just lost her husband and now her son. No means of support. No protection, no preservation, and no providence.
  • Later in verse 12 we see that this woman was very popular with the people of the city because they were with her in her time of grief… “…and much people of the city was with her.”
  • Now we come to verse 13) And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14) And he came and touched the bier (bier is a coffin) and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15) And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.
  • You see folks, this is the heart we are to have. A heart of compassion on those who are in need, especially the widows.
  • Christ saw that she was going to be without support. Without a man to give her what is necessary for her living. So he gave her the son she had lost.
  • Another story in Luke 18:2… Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
  • This man was a judge of people without fear of God nor respect of people’s needs.
  • 3) And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
  • By this statement we can see that she had people take advantage of her and some may have defrauded her relentlessly to a point of no return.
  • The sad part is that you will learn by reading down in Luke 20:47 that Pharisees and leaders of Israel devoured widows houses. The minute their husband died, the Pharisees kicked out the widows and took possession of their homes.
  • In fact, look at verse 4) And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5) Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
  • This widow woman was begging for her life, for her protection, for her providence. The attitude of this judge was deplorable.
  • This judge had an attitude of disgust and little patience for those who were considered to be undesirable.
  • God will always hear the cry of those who are in need and especially the widow. 6) And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7) And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8) I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
  • Did you get that in verse 8… Jesus said of God’s judgment to to those who abuse the widow… “he will avenge them speedily.”
  • I would not want God to find me guilty of abusing a widow.

B)    One more example, Jesus on the cross

  • I know that we all know of the story of Jesus being crucified on the cross.
  • But do we remember that Jesus only spoke directly to two people?
  1. The malefactor (criminal) – whom He forgive and carried to Paradise.
  2. John – so that he would take care of his widowed mother. (Joseph  had died long before the cross.)
  • This speaks volumes about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He in all his pain and agony wants to make sure that others are cared for after He departs this life. WOW.
  • Men if you do not have the care and compassion that our Lord had, you are in for a rough life. You will never be blessed.

III.  The First Ministry of the Church was for Widows

  A)  More important than evangelism, fellowship, and communion

  • Look at Acts 6:1… And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
  • It was not that their mission board was not meeting the needs of the missionaries, nor was it that the handicapped people were not being addressed, or the youth department was not catering to the whims of it’s youth group, but simply the fact “…because their widows were neglected.” This was a personal matter of the church because these were widows of men who served the church faithfully until they died, and now their wives were left unattended to.
  • If I may vent a little here… When my father died, I had to scurry around and make hundreds of calls, go to the V.A. hospital a million times and write letters and all this for the sake of my widowed mother who had spent an unbelievable amount of time taking care of the needs of an honorably discharged veteran of our so called “Grand Ole U.S.A.” If I would not have gone through all this nonsense, mom would be out on her ear in the streets of Wichita begging for her life. The government would rather keep their money than to give it to the widows of the Vets that served our country proudly.
  • And you know what else? If the vets knew how the country was going to treat their wives (widows) after their death, they may have not joined the military in the first place.
  • You cannot depend upon mankind to take care of the widows. This is why it is vitally important for the widows to depend upon God and His people (The local church) to take care of their needs.
  • “…there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews,”
  • What was the murmuring (dispute, griping and complaining) all about?
  • Now who are these Grecians and Hebrews? Well, the Hebrews would be the Jerusalem Jews, the Palestinian Jews, (the Jews of the land of Israel.)
  • The Hellenists, or the Greeks (The Hellenists) or the Grecian Jews were those who lived outside of Palestine. They were the ones that were in the scattering, the dispersed Jews. They were the ones who had come to Jerusalem for the festivals and the feast days. But their homes were in the Roman Empire elsewhere.
  • Obviously the early church had taken over the ministry of the synagogues and probably were more efficient because they had the love of Christ that generated in their hearts. So, as they ministered to the widows there was some injustices being done towards the Hellenistic Jews who had moved in, heard the gospel, repented and asked Jesus to come into their heart. They were moving in with families that lived in Jerusalem and maybe some of them pitched a tent in the back yard or took over the nearest Holiday Inn or whatever and it was an over population problem.
  • They were accepted because they weren’t part of the original church. It’s like the “born deaf” who do not accept other deaf that had been hearing at one time to lose their hearing due to an illness or accident late in life.
  • Deaf is deaf, widows are widows. It doesn’t matter where they come from or where they have been, what they are wearing or how long they have been in the church.
  • So, basically the dispute (murmurings) was about the church’s funds set up for the widows and what to do about it.
  • Now in Acts 6, note verse 2…Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.
  • Here we see the twelve apostles getting together to discuss this matter and they say…” It’s not going to be right for us to stop our teaching and look out for the needs of these families who need food on their tables. Of course we already know that the topic of this discussion was the concern for the widows ( 1).
  • 3) Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.
  • This is their decision… find 7 men that can be trusted to give the money or food or whatever necessary to the widows and let them take care of the widows so that we can focus on teach the word of God.
  • Might I add here that this is another place that proves the function of the church is to take care of their pastor’s finances so that he too can focus on the ministry without having to focus on work, his family and providing for them.
  • So the idea was accepted and voted on to take Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas to care for the widows.
  • This is another thing the Pastor does not necessarily need to be the one to do the work. But honest men of God need to be willing to help in the ministry.

B) Another account concerning a widow

  • Here is an interesting account of a widow in Acts 9:36…Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas:
  • By the way, “Dorcas” means… a deer, or gazelle.
  • “…this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.”
  • Here we see this woman who was always helping others in the church, tending to the needs of the members that were in need. Helping in the kitchen every time dinners were prepared, going to buy groceries for those who lacked food, cleaning the church, and so on.
  • 37)  And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
  • The Jews did not embalm the bodies but rather just washed them to ready them for viewing of the body and mourning in the home.
  • 38) And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. 39) Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.
  • Apparently, some of the Jews there had seen Peter at the gate Beautiful with John and thought maybe he could do something for this lady that they held in high regard.
  • Now then, here is the key to the verse that brings our subject into focus… “all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.”
  • It does not say that “all the women” stood by him (Peter), it says that all the what…”widows” stood by him. WHY? Because it was the widows that this lady had taken care of. It was her ministry through the church. The widows depended greatly upon this woman.
  • 40) “But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed;”
  • When it says that Peter “put them all forth” it means that he took them outside or at least far enough away that he could hear his own prayer.
  • I know that you deaf probably can’t understand this fact about hearing but let me tell you that when you get a bunch of upset, bawling women in one room, there is no way you could hear yourself think let alone say a prayer.  
  • 40b) “…and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41) And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 42) And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.
  • This was the second resurrection of dead person in the N.T. to benefit a widow.
  • The first was in Luke where the widow’s son was risen from the dead, and now this woman here in Acts.
  • James 1:27… Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
  • Pure religion is something the world is lacking in. Notice what God inspired James to write … “to visit” meaning to come to their aid.

IV.  Paul’s Message on Responsibility to Widows

  A) Basic principles

  • Honor widows who are real widows. (T Timothy 5:3) Why did Paul mention this? Because it was a problem.
  • This church was having problems of ungodliness, false doctrines, and the lack of honor to the widows.
  • Widows in the church were also not doing what God had required them to do as Jewish worshipers.
  1. Older widows were being allowed to serve semi-officially for the church.
  2. Their lives were a mystery and not clean or pure.
  3. Younger widows were remarrying unbelievers.
  4. Younger widows were breaking vows made to Christ.
  5. The widow’s family were not supporting their own widow.
  6. There were widows who could help other widows (such as Dorcas) but they were not doing that.
  • Some (If not most) of the problem with the widows actions and the church’s action towards the widows was the fact that they simply had not been taught how to treat the widows.

B) Obligation of the church to support widows

  • What basically does the word “widow” mean? To us today it means … a woman whose husband is dead.
  • The word “widow” in the Greek is “chera” that means bereft (robbed). It also means to suffer loss, being left alone.
  • Now, let us go a step further… this does not necessarily mean that her husband has died. It could mean that her husband was imprisoned, her husband had given her a bill of divorcement, Her husband abandoned her.
  • Also in this time (Bible time) there was the fact of polygamy (many wives). If a husband was a polygamist and was converted to Christ, he would then have to get rid of all his wives and keep just one.
  • Verse 5 helps us to understand a little more… “Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.”
  • The word “desolate” means empty or alone and nothing to do with death.
  • In these days (Bible days) woman could not seek employment, there was no widow funding, no organizations to support the widow, no welfare programs.
  • God was testing the church and the community to see what kind of love was in their heart, testing their spiritual character.
  • For churches to help those in need is a reflection of Christ among them. Christ was always helping those in need.
  • The word “honor” is “timao” in the Greek. It means to show respect, care, support, treat graciously.
  • The word “honor” implies financial support. How do we know that?
  • Look at Matthew 15 where Jesus is confronted again by the scribes and the Pharisees in verse 2… “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
  • These traditions were more like “Laws” that were not biblical in any way. In fact, some of them contradicted the Bible. They were additions to scripture and not the original Law of Moses.
  • One of the “traditions” was that before you ate any meal you had to go through this ceremonial cleansing. It wasn’t for sanitary reasons but for a religious ceremony… “for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.”
  • May I take a minute here and let you know that a Christian is not religious. Religious means that you serve a god not necessarily the God of Abraham. In the dictionary you will find that the word “religious” means … characterized by sticking to a religion by being devout godly, and pious.
  • But the problem lies within the beliefs of the person as to which god or God they serve. Christians follow Christ not Muhammad, Christians serve God not mammon (Money), Mary, nor priests. Christians call no one Rabbi or father except God and Jesus Christ. WHY? Because we are CHRISTIAN not religious.
  • Some Jews believed that there was this demon called Shibtwa and that it lived on the hands of people. If you ate without this religious washing/purification then the demon would come inside you.
  • Jesus answer to their stupid ceremony was in verse 3But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress (rebel against) the commandment of God by your tradition?
  • What did Jesus mean by that? What tradition did the Pharisees have that broke the commandment of God?
  • Jesus explains that in Matthew 15:4…For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.
  • Verse 4 (Of Matt.15) here goes back to the Law given by God in Exodus 20:12… Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
  • The word “honor” here is described by God as to mean respect them, elevate them, support them, care for them. How? By giving them whatever is necessary to sustain life. Money clothes, food, etc. Now this was if the parents were destitute, poor, or without means of support.
  • Now then, Jesus lets the Pharisees and scribes know that he is aware of their adding to scripture.
  • Look at what Jesus said to them in verse 5) But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me;
  • The Jews were saying that it means to give your parents money whenever they needed it. Support them monetarily.
  • Their tradition taught that if you had some money and you say it is a gift, then it is “corban…” meaning it is devoted to God, or promised to God. Well that meant that they could not give that money to a lesser person until you could dismiss the vow (Promise).
  • So, when someone’s parents had a need they would give the excuse that the money was “corban” and they cannot help them with their need because it belongs to God.
  • 6) And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.  
  • Jesus said that you gave the kids an excuse to not help their parents with your stupid tradition called corban.
  • Look at verse 7 (of Matt.15)… Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8) This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
  • Back to our text of I Timothy 5:3.. When Paul said to honor the widows, it means financially. They cared for you and gave you money when you were young and the necessities you needed when growing up. Now it’s your turn to care for them (If they need it.)
  • Basically there is a difference between “widows” and “widows indeed (true).”
    a.      “widows”- women who have lost their husband because of death,  imprisonment, abandonment but have the means or support of family.
    b.      “widows indeed” – women who have lost their husbands and have no means of support, no family that is able to care for her, etc.

C) Obligation of the church to evaluate the widow

  • God design for women- God’s design for women is to stay home, take care of the children, the home and etc. Men are to work and earn a living for the family, and provide a home, and the needs of the family.
  • Since women have been “So-called liberated,” I would like to share some statistics…
  1. Since 1960 the workforce has doubled for women
  2. 45% of the U.S. workforce is now women (That means less men are working)
  3. All women on average still earn $10,000.00 a year LESS than men.
  4. A woman today who graduates with a 4-year college degree earns the same amount of money per year that a male high school dropout earns in one year.
    – What women have worked hard to get, they still don’t have. What they didn’t expect to get, they got. –
  5. Employers refuse to pay women as much as a man because of … 1) the costs of daycare, 2) maternity leave, and sick child absences.
  6. 45% of working women today are single, divorced, separated, or widowed.
  7. According to Lenore Whitesman in her book “The Divorce Revolution” the unexpected results for women and children in America, on the average, divorced women and their children of the household experience a 73% decline in their standard of living. The former husbands in the first year after divorce experience a 42% rise in their standard of living.
  8. In 1940, 1 out of every 6 marriages ended in divorce. In 1990, 50% of all marriages ended in divorce.
  • More and more women are becoming victims of their desire to work rather than a blessing to the household which leaves them with the judgment of God upon the female gender for “doing what they think” is best.
  • Women are to be cared for, not enslaved.
  • We have already established the fact that it is the family’s responsibility to take care of the needs of their mother and father.
  • Greek culture and law state that sons and daughters were morally bound and legally bound to support their parents. Anyone who refused that duty was to lose their civil rights.
  • If the pagan (idol worshipers) people can honor their parents then it is even more important for the Christian.
  • If a widow needs support, before the church does anything, they need to evaluate or assess their situation.
  • Some widows may have too much pride to ask for help or let anyone know that they need help.
  • Good Godly loving members of the church or “body of Christ” will know when someone is in need and a “widow indeed.”
  • EVALUATE – When it is brought to the church’s attention, they need to respond immediately by calling a meeting of the church elders and a few women that know the widow.
  • Here is what we can see our world heading to… more widows than ever before. WHY? HOW?
  • We have seen the marriage rates for women today, their divorce rate, their working for less, aborting children which causes more health issues later in life, then they are also left without an intimate relationship with a man who can support them. Younger women are settling for casual sex when they want it and some never marry and therefore no support when they are old.


  • The future church in America (all over the world really) is going to have a huge dilemma. What do we do with all these widows.
  • The EVALUATION is this…
  1. SUPPORT THE TRUE WIDOWS – I Timothy 5:3…Honour (support financially) widows that are widows indeed.
  2. HONOR THE FAMILY’S RESPONSIBILITY – 4) But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety (show loyalty and devotion to parents) at home, In other words, the children and nephews are to take care of the widows. 4b) …and to requite their parents (repay what they have done for you, something done in return): for that is good and acceptable before God. The care for widows is done when there is no support from the husband. The responsibility falls to the children.
  3. CRITERIA FOR WIDOWS INDEED (True widows) – 5) Now she that is a widow indeed,(Woman alone) and desolate, (without support of any kind) trusteth in God, (She has fixed her hope on God) and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
  • Did you catch that very important piece of criteria for supporting a widow from the church’s perspective?
  • Does she “trust in God?”
  • FIRST – Is she truly alone, SECOND – does she not have children or family to care for her needs, THIRD – Does she “trust in God?”
  • Does this woman alone in the world show us (As a church) that she is totally committed to God and trusts Him for her everyday needs?
  • If a woman comes to the church begging for help, not a Christian, are we responsible for her needs? NO. You may say… “Well that’s mean.” No my friend, that is gospel.
  • Children of God do not support satan’s children. Those who chose a life dedicated to self and satan do not deserve to be supported by the church.
  • Now then, a church may chose to help an unsaved widow, but they are not responsible to support her.
  • Do good to all men, especially our own…Galatians 6:10 (KJV) As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
  • It is the church’s duty to take care of the widows of the “household of faith” (Members of the church, believers) especially.
  • Jeremiah 49:11…Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me.

D)    The Heart Of God Towards Widows

  • Let us look at this O. T. story in I Kings 17:8…And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, 9) Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
  • God said… I have commanded a widow to take care of you (Elijah).
  • Might I add that I Israel there were many widows because of the wars against Israel due to their rebellion.
  • Also note that Zidon was the territory of Jezebel an enemy of Elijah, and Elijah is asked of God to go there to seek a widow to take care of him.
  • 10) So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11) And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 12) And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
  • This widow was gathering firewood to build a fire and cook a small meal for her son who was “starving to death”. Her son was so hungry that he was about ready to pass out. So this wood was very precious and time too was of the essence. It could also be that the boy was a little sick.
  • Now as she is searching for sticks Elijah starts to bark orders for her to tend to his need of water. And then before she even gets two steps on her way to fetch water, he barks another order to bring him some bread too.
  • What we need to realize here that this was common for men to order women around as slaves, especially widows. They were many times considered lower than dogs.
  • Note in verse 12 her response being a little short with him basically saying… “I don’t have any bread with me and all I have is a little bit of flour in a barrel and oil in a cruse (flask, rams horn).”
  • I believe that this woman was thinking that this man was taking advantage of her by asking for things that she could not afford to give.
  • LESSON LEARNED – widows/ladies… the lesson to learn here is that when God asks you to give or get rid of something that you feel that you cannot afford to give, have faith if God’s providence.
  • Have faith that God will take care of your needs.
  • Elijah here speaking to the woman as the angel spoke to Mary and the shepherds…13) And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
  • In other words… Elijah said… “Give me (the man of God) what I need first then God will take care of your needs.”
  • Now, if you are a person that is very good at measuring out exactly what you need and very tight with your money (As most widows), the you know this widow had already measured out what she had and knew that she had none extra to give. She had just enough flour and just enough oil.
  • Water was not an issue. She had access to a family well. But the bread, the food, that was a different issue altogether.
  • Elijah gave her the promise of God if she takes care of the man of God in verse 14) For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, Your barrel of flour will never be empty) neither shall the cruse of oil fail, (Your jar of oil will never become bad) until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.
  • Hey, you want to know what kind of widow she was? Look at verse 15) And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many 16) And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.
  • If you mind giving me some expansion here… a man of God is very pleased and feels worthwhile when the people of God do as they are asked.
  • It’s just like a parent asking their child to do something and they ignore the command.
  • The man of God (Pastor) spends a lot of time studying the word of God and making it exciting and interesting to deliver it and the people act like they had been to an opera… sitting for hours listening to glorified jibberish.
  • The widow obeys the command of the LORD by the lips of Elijah by going home and fixing Elijah something first, then taking it to him with water. Then she goes home to take care of her starving son.
  • WIDOWS NOTE: the reward for being obedient to God is this… Look at verse 15) And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many 16) And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.
  • Some commentators have suggested that after her obedience to the LORD (giving the man of God a meal), God blessed her with two weeks worth of food for her obedience.
  • BUT THAT IS NOT ALL – You will witness the true blessings of God on faithful widows in verse 17-24. The widow’s son dies and is brought back to life by God through Elijah solidifying God’s mercy and grace upon this widow.
  • To me, this is the O.T. version of the widow’s mite. Giving all she had was so valuable to God in not how much she gave but rather why she gave it and how she gave it.
  • This widow done what was asked without griping, complaining, smarting off, or a whine. She did it with gladness of heart.
  • CHURCH – we are to help the widows indeed, specially those that are godly. This is the plan of God for His people. We are His people, right?

E)    A widow in her supplication and prayer

  • When the church is looking to support the widow or rather trying to discern whether or not to support this widow there has to be some investigating on whether she is 1) a true widow, 2) desolate (abandoned, without support of any kind, 3) Trust in God, and now Paul advises Timothy to make sure that the church investigates whether she is truly seeking God’s will and guidance and completely dependent upon God for her resources.
  • We see this when we look back to our text of I Timothy 5:5…Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
  • The word “supplications” is “deēsis” in the Greek. It means requests or petitions. She is making a request to God for her needs whatever they may be.
  • Might I add that this is not just a necessity for a widow but rather for every believer in God. If you truly want a prayer or request to be granted by God you have to show some sort of desire inquire of Him daily, all the time, for however long it takes.
  • When a widow (or anybody) prays daily completely leaning on God and not trying to go out and “make it happen” God will give her the desires of her heart and the requests that she has made known unto God.
  • The word prayers is “proseuchē” in the Greek. It means… to commune with God, a type of worship with God, a time of thanks, a way of praising God.
  • You see now, the widow is not just begging God or petitioning God, but she is communing with God, praising God, worshiping God, communing with God. ALL of that.
  • Widows that know the laws that govern the church may say to themselves… “Well I will pray to God but I know the church will take care of me because they are supposed to do that.” That is NOT dependency on God. That is dependency upon the Law, and dependency upon man who enforces the Law.
  • Now when we look to the later part of our text verse in I Timothy 5:5, we cant help but note the verbiage “continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
  • “…night and day.” What? A widow is expected to pray all day and all night until her prayers are answered? Of course not! It simply means that whenever (day or night) she petitions or requests, or begs God for her needs.
  • There is mentioned in the New Testament a great example of this kind of widow in Luke 2:36.
  • Let us look at Luke 2, where we see Jesus being brought to the temple by his parents. Jesus had already been circumcised eight days after his birth. Mary had already observed her 40 ceremonial days of being unclean after giving birth (Lev. 12:2-5).
  • They bring Jesus to present him to God. What does this mean?
  1. Exodus 13:2…Sanctify (Make Holy) unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.
  2. Exodus 13:12…That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S.
  3. Exodus 13:15 …And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.
  • The word “matrix” is the womb (belly, place that holds something) of the woman.
  • Anyway, back to our story of Luke 2, talking about a widow who is daily in prayer and supplication, look at verse 36… And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; 37) And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years (84 years), which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38) And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
  • Prophetess meaning, that she was a woman who spoke God’s word. She was not a pastor or priest in the church. The O.T. only mentions 3 women prophetesses Miriam (Moses’ wife) was one, Deborah the second, and the third prophetess being Hulda.
  • Anyway, Anna prophesied here that He was “the Christ/Messiah.”
  • Just an FYI, after they brought Jesus to the temple here the departed Jerusalem and returned to Galilee where they were visited by the magi (The astronomers/kings sent from King Herod to kill Jesus).
  • By the way, Anna (This widow mentioned in Luke 2) was said to have had her living quarters in the temple because of her being a widow, and her dedication to God.
  • I believe that we need to understand that we (the church) are obligated to offer support to widows that have already displayed their heart for God for years of dedication to the church and the ministry of God.
  • It is not that the church is supposed to go up to a woman that has recently been widowed and say to her… “If you get your act together and start showing us that you are a Christian, God fearing, and prayerful woman, then we will be able to support you.”
  • That’s not it at all. The church is supposed to take care of women who have long served the church, long served the Lord, and long served her husband (if she had one).

F)   A widow that is dead while she lives

  • Back in our text verse of I Timothy 5, look at verse 6…But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
  • “But she” meaning the widow woman that the church is to evaluate, and then it says “… that liveth in pleasure…” meaning a woman that lives according to her own satisfaction. A woman that leans to her own understanding and ways, not God’s ways. A woman that may go find a way to get support for herself, or possibly one that tales to do whatever is necessary to get the money to support her kind of living that she is accustomed to.
  • Then verse 6 says… “…is dead while she liveth.” How can a person be “dead” while they are alive? This means that she is “spiritually dead.”
  • There are widows like that have no family to take care of them and so they go out and try to get support for themselves. They do not wait on God to supply their needs.
  • They are not devoted to God, dependent upon God, no love for God, and no desire to obey God.
  • Paul warns Timothy that this kind of widow is not worthy of the church’s money to support her. A woman that is dead spiritually while she lives physically in a life of sin.
  • A widow or person may ask… “WHY wouldn’t you want to help all widows even the lost?” I believe that if God leaves them destitute or to die in their addiction (Whether it be drugs or prostitution, etc.) it is the judgment of God to decide whether or not to take care of them or not. It is not our call. It is not for us to interfere with the judgment of God.
  • If these ladies are true Christians/worshipers of God, then the critical moments which are the judgments of God will cause them to repent.
  • Speaking of a woman who is being punished (The judgment of God), I am reminded of Samaria (the city) who is likened to Sodom in Ezekiel 16:49…Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
  • This is a typical woman of today who has lost her husband, hoping from man to man, bed to bed, doing as she pleases…alive physically but dead spiritually.
  • This widow can make no claim to money from the church. The church members need to be wise.
  • The “widow indeed (True widow)that Christ was talking about (In I Tim. 2) is one that will still continue to serve God after her husband dies. Many give up and turn to worldly organizations to help them. But we need to know right now that this is the church of God the people of God who are a called out assembly “ekklesia” to take care of those that are widows indeed.
  • Someone may say… “Bro. Ron that sounds cold hearted towards those widows that are being judged. Shouldn’t we help them and make them feel loved as God loves us?” I am following Christ’s example.
  • Christ gave a parable in John 15:2 (KJV)…Every branch in me that beareth not fruit (This is talking about Christians who do nothing to further the work or ministry of Christ) he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

G) A Widow without blame

  • Look back into our text of I Timothy 5:7…And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.
  • When we talk about “being without blame,” we mean to always live our life in such a way that no one can blame us for anything wrong, sinful, immoral, or even unethical.
  • Paul is telling Timothy here “these things give in charge,” (Command these things of your people.) He is not just talking about commanding the widows but also everyone that is involved with the widow, concerning the widow, even the church.
  • The reputation of the church is at stake.
  • What are “these things” that Paul talking about that we should preach, teach and command of our people concerning a widow? Everything mentioned in the first two verses…rebuke not the elderly women/widows, honor true widows (support them, monetarily if necessary), children of the widow are supposed to assume their responsibility of supporting the widow first, evaluate the widow in concern to see if she is worthy of the support (desolate, trusts in God, prays daily for her needs.)

V.  How God Views Failure In Supporting a Widow

  A) Especially those of his own family

  • Look now at our text again in I Timothy 5:8…But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
  • Providing for your own is one of God’s requirements for man. We can see Jacob’s concern to provide for his house (family) in Genesis 30:30, then we see Paul again in II Thess. 3:11 talking about men working not at all to provide for their own family are considered to be busybodies and disorderly.
  • If family members do not help a widow of their own family Paul said (Inspired of God I remind you) they have…
  1. “denied the faith” which means denying the principle of Christian love (John 13:35, Rom. 5:5, I Thess. 4:9)
  2. “worse than an infidel” meaning that you are worse than an unbeliever, worse than an unsaved person, worse than worldly person. Because the lost people work to provide for their own because they love them.
  3. When the family fails the support of their widow, then it becomes the church’s responsibility. But God labels them infidels and deniers of the faith.