As we continue our journey through the book of 1st Timothy we encounter what Paul says about caring for widows in Chapter 5:3-16. He amplifies what James says in his letter, chapter 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Paul begins with almost a word for word repeat of what James says: “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.” He then qualifies who really is to be considered in need.
A widow who has children or grandchildren doesn’t qualify, because these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repay their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” Then he adds, she should be one who finds herself alone, who puts her trust in God, and continues in a life of prayer, asking God for help. She should not be put on the list unless she is over 60 years old and lived an exemplary life of service.
Paul encourages women who are believers who have widows in their families to help them and not let the church help them so they can help others who are really in need. He warns younger widows to take care that they not live irresponsibly. It is OK for them to get remarried and have a family.
Having identified who might really be needy and what the first lines of response should be he clearly expects the church to take care of any widow who is really in need. In James’s words, “look after…widows in their distress.”