NT502-Hinson

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First Timothy addresses the organization and life of a Christian community. The epistle presupposes that there is an active ministry to Paul's church in Ephesus. The author is pastorally approaching difficult issues that by inference are occurring, and suggesting ways the church might organize as a Christian community. In 1 Timothy 5:3-16, the text deals with the community's duties toward widows and the expectations of the widows themselves. There is precedent for the organizational role and authority of the church in Acts 6:1-7, which cites the neglect of widows as the need for such organization. The pericope discusses assisting widows implying that the needs of widows continue, and also cites limited church resources as a concern (1 Tim 5:16). A widow can be defined as a woman whose husband has died, but scripture and 1 Timothy 5 suggest a more nuanced definition. Old Testament mandates for the care of widows describe them as vulnerable, needing protection and social support (Deut 10:18; 14:28-29; 24:17, 19-21; 27:19; 2 Sam 14:4-11; Job 24:3; Ps 94:4-7; 146:9; Isa 10:2). The scriptural obligation to care for widows is reinterpreted in 1 Timothy. The author goes beyond addressing the simple needs of widows and attempts to define the place of widows in community. This organization considers the pragmatic issues of limited resources of the community (1 Tim 5:16), as well as the duties and requirements of the widow (1 Tim 5:4, 9-10). The determination of who qualifies as a widow is a larger concern of the passage. Widows are often mentioned in scripture with orphans and strangers as marginalized and in need. Orphans and strangers are easier to identify. In 1 Timothy 5, the author prescribes who is to be considered a "real" wido... ... middle of paper ... ...ortunity for honor (1 Tim 5:3) in the midst of abandonment, loneliness, and suffering. In searching for a practical way to meet real needs, the author prescribes who to care for, how to care for them, and outlines expectations. Modern readers might explore a broader definition of widows as the outcast, marginalized, needy, or alone. Caring for others is framed as a ministry of mutual involvement and inclusion in the community. A caveat for modern interpreters is the idea of exclusion of those who do not qualify. The prescription in 1 Timothy 5 does not always cast aside, but searches for inclusion in other ways (1 Tim 5:14). In the full context of the author, the wellbeing of the community, inclusion, and valuing others are all important. First Timothy 5:3-16 informs modern Christian communities in the identification, expectation, and inclusion of the marginalized.

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