April 20, 2021 – Tuesday
1 Timothy 5:16 NIV
16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.
1 Timothy 5:16 RGT
16 If any faithful man or faithful woman has widows, let them minister to them, and do not let the church be charged, so that there may be enough for those who are true widows.
If you are wondering why two translations for this single verse I don’t blame you. But take a look, the NIV has If any woman who is a believer while the RGT (Revised Geneva Translation) has If any faithful man or woman and ask why the difference in translations? In trying to get an answer I went to two interlinear sources to find out which one was correct the first source had If any believing woman while the second source had If any believing man or believing woman so that was no real help at all.
Looking for an answer I looked at the New English Translation (NET) and in its note to this verse discovered a few things. First, most sources include both the believing man and woman while most of the earlier and better sources have only the believing woman. Okay, but why. Again, the NET says, such looks to be a motivated reading, perhaps to bring some parity to the responsibilities of men and women listed here. I disagree as I do not believe such was a concern during the time when the manuscripts were written or copied. Instead, the second reason given by the NET makes much more sense, including both men and women was a way of harmonizing with verse 4. And verse four reads, But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God, where children or grandchildren would include both men and women.
Either way, the intent of verse four is to show the responsibility for helping is from the home, from daughters, granddaughters, sons, or grandsons to take care of the widows within the family. Then there is verse eight that points directly at the male head of the household, But if someone does not provide for his own, especially his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Thus, for me, our verse of the day would by implication in verses four and eight (especially eight) include men.
The why of this direction is clear. It is so the church can take care of those older godly widows who are needy and have no one to help care for and take care of them. Those then become the responsibility of the church. Barnes’ comments that, the passage inculcates the general principle that the poor widows of the church are to be assisted when they have no relatives on whom they can naturally depend. No class of people are more helpless than aged widows, and for that class God has always shown a special concern, and his people should do so likewise. I believe God would judge a church poorly that turns it back on such widows.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Help our families to take care of those who can no longer take care of themselves, especially the widows in our families. And when the widows have no one to help or care for them, let our church be guided to provide that help and care as well. – In Jesus Name. Amen.