The word "elder" in this passage is to be understood as a designation of age, not of an appointed office. In this, Vincent, Expositors, and Robertson agree. Vincent says: "The Presbyterate denotes an honorable and influential estate in the church on the ground of age, duration of church membership, and approved character." Expositors says: "Presbuteros is best taken as a term of age." Robertson says: "Presbuteros used in the usual sense of an older man, not a minister (bishop as in 3:2) as is shown by 'as a father.' "
Vincent presents a strong case for his assertion that "modern criticism compels us, I think, to abandon the view of the identity of Bishop and Presbyter." He cites the testimony of Clement of Rome to the effect that Bishops are distinguished from the Presbyters, and if the bishops are apparently designated as Presbyters, it is because they have been chosen from the body of Presbyters, and have retained the name even when they have ceased to hold office. Vincent argues that the offices are exhausted in the description of Bishops and Deacons. Nothing is said of Presbyters until chapter 5, where Timothy's relations to individual church members are prescribed, and in Titus 2:2, these members are classified as old men (presbutos), old women, young men, and servants. Vincent makes the point that men are not appointed as elders. They became elders by reason of long, mature experience in the Christian life. Bishops or overseers are appointed from among the elders (Tit. 1:5, cts 14:23). It is best, therefore, to take the term "elder" as a designation of a class of men in the church, the older men who by reason of age, character, and long church-membership, have a respected and trusted standing in the church.
The word "rebuke" is epiplēssō, "to strike upon, beat upon, to chastise with words, to chide, upbraid, rebuke, treat harshly." Expositors says: "Respect for age must temper the expression of reproof of an old man's misdemeanors." The word "intreat" is parakaleō, "to beg, beseech, entreat." It is, "I beg of you, please."
Translation: Do not upbraid an elderly man, but entreat him gently as a father, younger men as brethren, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with the strictest regard to purity.
(5:3) The word "honor" (timaō) means "to estimate, fix the value, to honor, revere, venerate." It has in it the idea of properly appreciating the value of someone or something and of paying that person or thing the respect, reverence, deference, and honor due him or it by reason of its value or position. Here, the context injects the added idea of financial support as included in the honor shown the widows.
As to the identity of these widows, Vincent has a helpful note: "Paul alludes to widows in 1 Corinthians 7:8, where he advises them against remarrying. They are mentioned as a class in Acts 6:1, in connection with the appointment of the seven. Also Acts 9:39,41. In the Pastorals they receive special notice, indicating their advance from the position of mere beneficiaries to the quasi-official position in the church. From the very first, the church recognized its obligation to care for their support. A widow, in the East, was peculiarly desolate and helpless. In return for their maintenance, certain duties were required of them, such as the care of orphans, sick and prisoners, and they were enrolled in an order, which, however, did not include all of their number who received alms of the church. In Polycarp's epistles, they are styled 'the altar of God.' To such an order, the references in the Pastorals point."
The word "indeed" is ontōs, "verily, truly." "The meaning is, who are absolutely bereaved, without children or relations, (comp. v. 4), and have been but once married. There is probably also an implied contrast with those described in vv. 6, 11-13" (Vincent), Translation: Be constantly showing filial reverence and respect to widows who are truly widows.
(5:4) The English word "nephews" is used here in an obsolete sense of grandsons or other lineal descendants. Vincent quotes Jeremy Taylor, "Nephews are very often liker to their grandfathers than to their fathers." The words, "let them learn," are to be construed with widows, not children, since Paul is speaking of what should be done to the widow, not of what she should do. The widows if utterly alone and without natural supporters, are to be cared for by the Church, but if they have children, or grandchildren, these should assume the obligation for their support. The word "first" (prōton) points to this obligation as their first and natural one.
The words "to show piety," are eusebeō, "to act piously or reverently" toward God, one's country, magistrates, relations, and all to whom dutiful regard or reverence is due. "At home" is to idion oikon, literally, "one's own private, unique, personal household." Vincent remarks that it has been suggested that the phrase may mark the duty as an act of family feeling and honor. The word "requite" is apodidōmi. The verb itself means "to give," the prefixed preposition "off," the compound verb, "to give off from" one's self. It is used of discharging one's obligations, since a debt like a burden, is thrown off. The word "parents" is progonos, from proginomai, "to become before." Thus, it refers to those who have come into existence before, thus, to ancestors. The word "parents" is therefore too limited. The reference is to mothers and grandmothers here and to living ancestors generally. The words, "good and," are a rejected reading. The word "before" is enōpion, literally, "in the sight of."
Translation: But, as is the case, if a certain widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn first to show filial reverence and respect to their own household, and to discharge their obligation relative to a recompense to their forebears, for this is acceptable in the sight of God.
(5:5-7) The word "now" is de, and is adversative here, pointing to the contrast between the widow of verse 4 who has relatives to take care of her, and the widow of verse 5 who does not. Alford says, "Thus what follows is said more for moral eulogy of such a widow, than as commending her to the charity of the church: but at the same time, as pointing out that one who thus places her hopes and spends her time, is best deserving of the Church's help." The word "desolate" is from monos, "alone." The perfect tense participle of monoō, "to leave alone," is used, emphasizing a lone condition. The word "trusteth" is ēlpike, the perfect tense of elpizō, "to hope." This tense speaks of a past completed process having present results, sometimes, permanent ones. It speaks here of a widow who has as a habit of life set her hope upon God with the result that the hope has become permanently fixed as a settled and immovable trust. One could translate, "has directed her hope at God," or, "has her hope settled permanently on God."
The word "supplications" is deēsis, and refers to a prayer that is the expression of one's personal needs. "Prayers" is proseuchē, "prayer addressed to God." It has an element of devotion in it. The words, "liveth in pleasure," are the translation of spatalaō, "to live luxuriously, lead a voluptuous life" (Thayer). Expositors says of this word; "The modern term fast, in which the notion of prodigality and wastefulness is more prominent than that of sensual indulgence, exactly expresses the significance of this word." The same authority suggests the translation of the R.V., "she that giveth herself to pleasure." Moulton and Milli-gan in their Vocabulary of the Greek Testament give the meaning as, "give myself to pleasure, am wanton." They say that this word is often combined in the LXX and other sources with truphaō," 'to live a luxurious life,' with perhaps somewhat worse associations." The expression, "is dead while she liveth," is zōsa tethnēkin, the present participle of the verb zaō, "to live, be alive," and the perfect tense verb of thnēskō, "to die." The literal Greek here is, "living, having died, with the present result that she is dead."
Translation: But the one who is a widow and has been left completely and permanently alone, has set her hope permanently on God, and continues constantly in petitions for her needs and in prayers night and day. But the one who lives luxuriously, lives while she is in the state of having died, with the result that she is dead. And these things constantly be commanding in order that they may be irreproachable.
(5:8) The word "provide" is pronoeō, "to perceive before, foresee, think of beforehand, provide, to take thought for, care for." Vincent says that "the A.V., uses provide in its earlier and more literal meaning of taking thought in advance. This has been mostly merged in the later meaning of furnish, so that the translation conveys the sense of providing honestly for ourselves and our families" (note on Romans 12:17).
Vincent comments on the words, "he hath denied the faith," as follows: "Faith demands works and fruits. By refusing the natural duties which Christian faith implies, one practically denies his possession of faith. 'Faith does not abolish natural duties, but perfects and strengthens them.' " The word "infidel" is apistos, the word for "faith," pistos, and Alpha prefixed which negates the word, the total meaning of the word being, "an unbeliever." Vincent remarks that even an unbeliever will perform these duties from natural promptings. The faith spoken of here is, of course, the Christian Faith.
Expositors has a helpful note: "The Christian faith includes the law of love. The moral teachings of Christianity recognize the divine origin of all natural and innocent human affections. The unbeliever, i.e., the born heathen, possesses natural family affection; and though these feelings may be stunted by savagery, the heathen are not likely to be sophisticated by human perversions of religion, such as those denounced by Jesus in Mark 7 . . . . The Christian who falls below the best heathen standard of family affection, is the more blame-worthy, since he has, what the heathen has not, the supreme example of love in Jesus Christ."
The words, "his own," refer to near relatives, "of his own house," to members of one's own household.
Translation: But if, as is the case, a certain one does not anticipate the needs of his own and provide for them, and especially for those of his own household, he has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
(5:9, 10) The words, "be taken into the number," are the translation of katalegō, legō, "to pick out," and Kata, "down," thus, "to select and write down in a register or a list." The verb was used originally in the sense of "to pick out," as soldiers. Here it means "to be enrolled" in the body of widows who are to receive church support. The words, "having been the wife of one man," are literally, "a woman of one man." That is, she could be enrolled as above, provided she had not married more than once. "Well reported" is literally, "borne witness to." It is the word martureō, "to bear witness or testimony." On the clause, "if she have washed the saint's feet," Vincent comments, "A mark of Oriental hospitality bestowed on the stranger arriving from a journey, and therefore closely associated with 'lodged strangers,' " A definite article in the Greek text where the A.V., uses an indefinite article, makes it clear that this washing of the feet was a necessity and not a ritual. In John 13:5, Jesus is said to pour water into the basin. The Greek definite article points to a basin placed at the door of the rented room by the owner of the building for the use of a slave who would wash the feet of the guests as they arrived for the supper. The Oriental wore sandals, and as a result, his feet became dusty and needed cleansing. There being no slave in attendance, the Son of God performed the duties of a slave. The word "saints" is hagios, the verb hagiazō, "to set apart for God, to consecrate." Thus, a saint is a Christian, one set apart for God. The name "Christian" was coined by the world. The city of Antioch in Syria was noted in the first century for the nicknames it coined and applied to famous personages. Luke tells us, "The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11:26.) It was a term of derision given to those who worshipped Christ as God rather than the Roman Emperor. Agrippa used the name in his famous sentence, "With but little persuasion you would make me a Christian" (Acts 26:28). He used it as a term of derision. Peter, by the Holy Spirit, accepts it as a name to designate a believer when he says, "If any man suffer as a Christian" (1 Peter 4:16). In each case, it is used as a term of reproach.
Translation: Do not allow a widow to be enrolled who is less than sixty years old; she must be married only once, have testimony borne her in the matter of good works, if she reared children, if she showed hospitality to strangers, if she washed the saints' feet, if she succored those who were hard pressed by circumstances, if she persevered in every good work.
(5:11, 12) "Younger" (neōteres) may be rendered positively, "young" (Expositors). Vincent says: "Almost in a positive sense, young. Not under sixty years." "Wax wanton" is katastrēniaō, "to feel the impulses of sexual desire." Vincent corrects A.V., rendering, "when they have begun to wax wanton," Hotan (whenever) is used with the aorist subjunctive. Vincent says, "Their unruly desire withdraws them from serving Christ in His church, and is, therefore, against Him." "They will marry" is gamein thelousin. The verb thelō speaks of a desire which comes from the emotions. These widows were bent on marrying or determined to marry. The word "damnation" is from krima, which only means "judgment," or at its strongest, "condemnation." Vincent says that "the meaning is that they carry about with them in their new married life, a condemnation, a continuous reproach." The word "damnation" in A.D. 1611 was used in the sense of judgment or condemnation, as is shown by the present tense of the participle "having." In its early usage, the word had in it no idea of a future punishment. Chaucer uses the word in the following: "For wel thou woost (knowest) thyselven verraily, that thou and I be dampned (damned) to prisoun." Here is just another example of those obsolete words in the A.V. "Cast off" is atheteō, "to do away with something laid down or prescribed, to act towards something as though it were annulled, to make void, nullify." Vincent explains: "The meaning here is that they have broken their first pledge: and this may refer to a pledge to devote themselves, after they became widows, to the service of Christ and the Church. The whole matter is obscure."
Translation: But young widows refuse. For whenever they feel the impulses of sexual desire, thus becoming unruly with respect to Christ, they determine to marry, having judgment because they have nullified their first faith.
(5:13) Vincent, commenting on the words, "They learn to be idle," says: "To be taken absolutely, as in 1 Cor. 14:31; 2 Tim. 3:7. They go about under the influence of an insatiable curiosity, and meet those who creep into houses and take captive silly women (2 Tim. 3:7), and learn all manner of nonsense." "Wandering about" is perierchomai, "to go about," used of stroll-lers, wanderers, navigators.�