Explain the “widow’s vow” (I Timothy 5:3)

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Explain the “widow’s vow” (I Timothy 5:3)

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:50 am

Paul’s concern in this section of I Timothy (5:9-16) is for widows who may be considered for service positions within the church. The “vow” may refer to Numbers 30:9 where Moses gave the following instruction: Any vow or obligation taken by a widow or divorced woman will be binding on her—Numbers 30:9. At one level, this would have been inconsequential to the church Timothy served because Moses’ words were given to the children of Israel, while the women in Timothy’s church at Ephesus would have largely been Gentile, yet there may still have been a pledge of devotion to church work made by those becoming widows early. Regardless, the focus was that widows over 60 years of age (the general age of retirement in Paul’s culture) would be assumed to be free from the normal duties of homemaking, and thus able to give themselves totally to the Lord’s service. It also appears that widows of this age would have been the most in need of support from the church due to their stage of life, so there may have been a sense of exchange for these older widows—service for support. For younger widows, his advice was to look for an opportunity to remarry and raise a family. What Paul had seen was younger widows vowing service to the Lord in the immediate days of bereavement and grief, and then, as grief gave way to the rest of their lives, that thoughts of marriage and family again became primary focuses, thus potentially causing disruption to the church and its ministries. There was also the concern expressed of young widows remarrying to fall away from the faith, since it was common practice at that time for the wife to take her husband’s religion.

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