Chapter Six — Part Two: The Book of Acts

By: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne

Publish date: 06/20/2021

Foundation Scriptures:
Acts 6:1
1 Timothy 5:1-15

1. Widows in the Church.
a. Acts 6:1 AMPC — Now about this time, when the number of the disciples was greatly increasing, complaint was made by the Hellenists (the Greek-speaking Jews) against the [native] Hebrews because their widows were being overlooked and neglected in the daily ministration (distribution of relief).
b. Under the laws at that time, the men worked for a living and owned the rights to almost all physical property.
c. The woman were mothers and homemakers and they, and their children, were dependent upon their husbands for provision and protection.
d. If they were widows, they were fully dependent upon other male members of their families for support.
e. If they did not have any family, the Church now took responsibility to take care of them.
f. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul gives Timothy guidance concerning how to treat the members of his congregation, particularly widows.

2. Qualifications for Church Support.
a. Paul’s advice to Timothy, specifically—and to the Church, generally.
b. Treat everyone with respect.
c. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 Wuest — Do not upbraid an elderly man, but entreat him gently as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with the strictest regard to purity.
d. Widows were to be given material support, but only under specific circumstances.
e. 1 Timothy 5:3 AMPC — [Always] treat with great consideration and give aid to those who are truly widowed (solitary and without support).
f. Family—children or grandchildren—were expected to fully support their widows.
g. 1 Timothy 5:4 AMPC — But if a widow has children or grandchildren, see to it that these are first made to understand that it is their religious duty [to defray their natural obligation to those] at home, and make return to their parents or grandparents [for all their care by contributing to their maintenance], for this is acceptable in the sight of God.
h. Each family was to take responsibility for the widows in their household, and not place the burden on the Church.
i. 1 Timothy 5:16 AMPC — If any believing woman or believing man has [relatives or persons in the household who are] widows, let him relieve them; let the church not be burdened [with them], so that it may [be free to] assist those who are truly widows (those who are all alone and are dependent).
j. A Christian man who did not perform his obligations and provide for his family (and dependent relatives), was considered worse than an unbeliever!
k. 1 Timothy 5:7-8 AMPC — Charge [the people] thus, so that they may be without reproach and blameless. 8 If anyone fails to provide for his relatives, and especially for those of his own family, he has disowned the faith [by failing to accompany it with fruits] and is worse than an unbeliever [who performs his obligation in these matters].
l. The Church was ONLY obligated to take care of the committed and godly Christian widows, who had NO other relatives.
m. 1 Timothy 5:5-6 AMPC — Now [a woman] who is a real widow and is left entirely alone and desolate has fixed her hope on God and perseveres in supplications and prayers night and day, 6 Whereas she who lives in pleasure and self-gratification [giving herself up to luxury and self-indulgence] is dead even while she [still] lives.
n. If a widow was younger than sixty, or had divorced a husband, she was not eligible for Church support.
o. 1 Timothy 5:9 AMPC — Let no one be put on the roll of widows [who are to receive church support] who is under sixty years of age or who has been the wife of more than one man.
p. For their part, the windows were expected to be active in serving others and doing good.
q. 1 Timothy 5:10 AMPC — And she must have a reputation for good deeds, as one who has brought up children, who has practiced hospitality to strangers [of the brotherhood], washed the feet of the saints, helped to relieve the distressed, [and] devoted herself diligently to doing good in every way.

3. Younger Widows.
a. Paul advises Timothy to not sign up the younger widows to receive Church support.
b. 1 Timothy 5:11-13 AMPC — But refuse [to enroll on this list the] younger widows, for when they become restive and their natural desires grow strong, they withdraw themselves against Christ [and] wish to marry [again]. 12 And so they incur condemnation for having set aside and slighted their previous pledge. 13 Moreover, as they go about from house to house, they learn to be idlers, and not only idlers, but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say and talking of things they should not mention.
c. 1 Timothy 5:15 AMPC — For already some [widows] have turned aside after Satan.
d. There was no law against a widow remarrying after the death of her husband (Rom. 7:2-3).
e. However, if they committed to serve the Lord and to receive Church support, without following through on their pledge, it would open the door to temptation.
f. Unfortunately, when people do not stay busy serving others in love, they tend to either become grumpy and contentious, or gossipers and busybodies.
g. Each of us is commanded to mind our OWN business and work for our OWN support.
h. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 KJV — And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
i. Every one of us must attend wholeheartedly to our own personal responsibilities—not just for the sake of those we serve, including the raising of our children—but also as a Christian witness to the nonbeliever.
j. The young widows were encouraged to remarry and be a godly witness for Christ in every aspect of their lives.
k. 1 Timothy 5:14 AMPC — So I would have younger [widows] marry, bear children, guide the household, [and] not give opponents of the faith occasion for slander or reproach.