I Timothy 3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is [a]good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in [b]pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
So we pick up again this theme of the centrality of the family that we are being taught here by the Holy Spirit.
This is not the first time that we have taken up this theme over they years and it will not be the last. We take up this theme repeatedly because it is one of the main themes in the Scriptures. It is a driving element in the whole idea of God being in covenant with families. It provides the foundation of the great analogy for the Church being “the family of God.” Four out of the 10 commandments deal directly with family matters. God is God to us and our seed. When the patriarchs die in Scripture often the language that is used is familial as it is said that “they were gathered to their Fathers.” The well-known passage in Romans 11 regarding branches cut off and grafted back in is a passage that deals with families of men as the branches. The relationship of the incarnate Jesus Christ with God is of a Son to the Father. Indeed it is not to much to say that should we get the matter of family wrong, if we should not pay attention to the voice of God in Scripture as it pertains to the family we will so far amiss on what it means to be Christian that it is doubtful that our Christianity will have any lasting power.
It is in this context that St. Paul deals with the issue of family in I Timothy 5 as he writes to Timothy. If you recall, there are problems with issues surrounding widows among the Church for which Timothy is responsible.
It seems that the widow’s list is a mess. There are widows on it that should not be there because they should be being taken care of by their families (5:4, 16). There are widows on it that should not be because they are apparently too young so that some are living in “pleasure,” and/or are being busybodies (11-13)which is perhaps hinting at the fact that some are loose women (6). There may well be widows among Timothy’s flock who are not being provided for by the Church which explains why the Holy Spirit says to “Honor widows who are really widows,” and goes some lengths to explain who qualifies for the widows list (9, 11).
And so because matters are a bit of a mess St. Paul writes in order to set things decent and in order touching the matter of widows.
And the passion by Paul on this subject is one of continuity that one finds throughout the Scripture. I offer just a Whitman’s sampler of text to sustain that observation;
Ex. 22:22 “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry;
Dt. 10:18 God administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.
Dt. 27:19 ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
Dt. 14:29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
Job 24:3 The wicked drive away the donkey of the fatherless;
They take the widow’s ox as a pledge.
Job 24:21 For the wicked[d]preys on the barren who do not bear,
And does no good for the widow.
Psalm 68:5 – A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
94:6 – They slay the widow and the stranger,
And murder the fatherless.
Psalm 146:9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He [a]turns upside down.
You can find this same theme repeated in Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah and Malachi.
Then the same concern bleeds into the NT because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
There we find it front and center in Acts 6 w/ the early Church. How and who will take care of the widows of the Church.
Then in James 1 it hits us right between the eyes:
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
So, this providing for Christian widows is elemental to Christianity and where it is absent so is basic Christianity.
But as we began to learn last week it is elemental not only to the jurisdictional responsibilities of the Church, it is also elemental to the jurisdictional responsibility of the family. Indeed, financially providing for widows is not a concern of the Church when the extended family are being Christians to their widows.
This sets the context for vs. 8 where we left off last week.
8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Here the Apostle, writing the very voice of God takes up the issue of familial responsibility and by doing so demonstrates the centrality of the family in its proper jurisdiction.
Before we begin to unravel vs. 8 let us note first, once again, that when dealing with the Church as a Elder, Paul & Timothy and faithful heralds through the generations have to speak not only on Justification, sanctification, regeneration, Redemption, new creation, Kingdom, and covenant but also on matters such as taking care of widows. Christianity is a faith that has social implications and those social implications should be taught from the pulpit despite what the R2K heretics teach.
Turning Christianity into a faith that is merely a empty profession of faith that by itself can secure the hopes and promises of that faith is and always has been a delusion. Christianity requires a self-denial that blossoms and flourishes both in church and family. Self denial seems to be the problem here as St. Paul puts his finger on head knowledge Christians who were absent of good works towards those the good works should most be expected to be found. There were Christians here in Ephesus attached to the Church who could calmly look on while their relations and friends languished in the deepest poverty.
In vs. 8 St. Paul makes it very clear the issue at hand.
When the Holy Spirit speaks of “provide for his own,” the pronoun is masculine thus pointing us toward the responsibility of the paterfamilias – the Father of the family. This would fit what we spoke about last week in terms of the Trustee family. The Father is especially responsible for those whom today we might call the nuclear family but per the voice of God the Father is responsible even for those of the household.
The Greek verb for “provide” (προνοεῖ (pronoei) here has a meaning to “consider in advance…. or to look out before hand.”
So what is laid upon the head of the Trustee family is that he is to think beforehand of the probable needs of his own family and make arrangements to meet them.
Father’s did you just feel the world laid on your shoulders? Father’s did anyone tell you this when you were growing up? I know I wasn’t.
Here, implicitly the role of the paterfamilias is being taught. The Father is the head of the family. He is responsible to have foresight, to lay up provision, he is to consider the future rainy day. He is the protector and defender of that flock that is his family.
It is a great Christian responsibility to be a Christian man, husband, and father.
How far have we fallen in the West on this score?
Now there are barriers here to Christian men being Christian men. The FEDS and State take in taxes take what amounts to the inheritance that belongs to the first born that was used to meet these responsibilities of providing for his own and his household.
Secondly, there is the barrier of both nuclear and extended family embracing a worldview/faith in defiance of Christianity. It is hard to tell a Christian head of home that he has responsibility for someone who hates Christ and the Christian faith.
In keeping with this line of thought there is the barrier of a child who has gone wayward. How long does a Christian Father keep bailing that kind of child out? The Father of the prodigal in Luke 17 waited for his wayward child but did not bail him out.
There is the barrier of exorbitant costs and manpower that it can require to take care of a relative who is very sick.
So, as obvious as this responsibility is it is not without its conundrums and difficulties and while we may not be able to answer all these perplexities we can at least embrace the principle that we have a unique responsibility for our people… our kin.
Vs. 8 also teaches what we have taught here before and that there exists concentric circles of unique responsibilities. We have a unique responsibility to our kith and kin in terms of providing for them. There is no sending money to Africa or Asia to feed them when our own family members or people are in genuine need. To do so is not Christian behavior.
The Early Church Father Chrysostom had this to say. Chrysostom first quotes the passage and then demonstrates that it is consistent with the OT
And so says Isaiah, the chief of the Prophets, “Thou shalt not overlook thy kinsmen of thy own seed.” (Isa. lviii. 7, Sept.)
For if a man deserts. those who are united by ties of kindred and affinity, how shall he be affectionate towards others? Will it not have the appearance of vainglory, when benefiting others he slights his own relations, and does not provide for them? And what will be said, if instructing others, he neglects his own, though he has greater facilities; and a higher obligation to benefit them? Will it not be said, These Christians are affectionate indeed, who neglect their own relatives?
And Calvin chimes in with,
“It is therefore a proof of the greatest inhumanity, to despise those in whom we are constrained to recognize our own likeness.”
Of course what this teaches is that there is a proper partiality and so that partiality is not sin. We are to be partial to our family.
Another truism that Paul is teaching here is that grace does not erase nature but restores nature. Family relations are natural. The pagan/ heathen even commonly recognizes them. However, for the Christian the natural relations are cleansed and lifted so that, at least, ideally, it is Christian families where you find the greatest harmony of interest, the greatest amount of filial love, the greatest amount of care and provender.
We know this is taught here because the Holy Spirit can say to fail in this regard of looking after the family makes one worse than even the infidel who at least do this much in terms of family care.
Turning to Chrysostom
(2) “He is worse than an infidel.”
Wherefore? Because the latter, if he benefits not aliens, does not neglect his near kindred. What is meant is this: The law of God and of nature is violated by him who provides not for his own family. But if he who provides not for them has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel, where shall he be ranked who has injured his relatives? With whom shall he be placed? But how has he denied the faith? Even as it is said, “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him.” (Tit. i. 16.) What has God, in whom they believe, commanded? “Hide not thyself from thine own flesh.” (Isa. lviii. 7.) How does he then believe who thus denies God? Let those consider this, who to spare their wealth neglect their kindred. It was the design of God, in uniting us by the ties of kindred, to afford us many opportunities of doing good to one another. When therefore thou neglectest a duty which infidels perform, hast thou not denied the faith?”
Homilies on 1st Timothy XIV
So all this means our churches, ideally speaking, should provide the grandest display of family love. Further, as we consider that the Church is called the family of God, a large measure of this attitude must fall over into caring for one another. We know this because elsewhere Paul can say, “Do good to all men, but especially unto the household of faith.”
Now all this is monumentally important in our age where we are being told by nearly everyone in Evangelicaldom thinks like the need to
And I quote from a pop-star on the Evangelical scene
“That we Christians hate all forms of partiality.”
But that is exactly what St. Paul is calling for here. A Biblical partiality for our family. We can’t provide for everyone but we can have biblical partiality and provide for our own family.
[Rushdoony] “We have an obligation of decency, and of honesty, integrity towards all men. But we are not obligated to take care of all men. Now of course you talk with anyone, but in a crisis your obligation is to help whom? Yourself, your husband, your family. This is the basic obligation we share. We cannot be bleeding hearts towards all men.”
Now, briefly we consider the obstacles that we face in terms of this view of family;
III.) Recent & Current Opposition
Ideologically and philosophically the most threatening worldview to Christianity knows if it can destroy the family it will destroy Christianity.
“Only when we have led every woman from the home into the workplace will complete equality be achieved, by the destruction of the institution of the family, which is the basis of capitalist society.”
Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State
“Feminism offered corporations an excuse (what the political philosopher Nancy Fraser called a “legitimation”) for breaking the implicit contract to pay any full-time worker a wage he could raise a family on. It was feminism that provided, under pressure of the recessions of the 1970s, a pretext for re-purposing household and national budgets. Instead of being used for reproduction (understood as both family-forming and investment), those budgets would now be consumed. The increment in the family wage that had been meant for the raising of children was withdrawn. Families were no longer entitled to it—mothers would have to enter the workplace to claim it. But they wound up getting only a small part of it, and their competition drove down their husbands’ wages into the bargain.”
The Age of Entitlement
“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”
Black Lives Matter — Website
What we Believe
Francis Nigel Lee understood the importance for Marxism to destroy the Christian family;
The earthly family, then, roots in the Holy Family in heaven, and although Marx inverted the primordiality of the Holy Family to the earthly family, he well realized their relationship. This is why Marx stated in his famous Theses on Feuerbach that “once the earthly family is discovered to be the secret of the holy family, the former must then itself be destroyed in theory and in practice.”~
However, precisely because the relationship is the very reverse of what Marx believed (the Holy Family being the secret of the earthly family. in actual fact), and precisely because the Holy Family is eternally indestructible, all Marxist attempts to destroy the earthly family (which is the image of the indestructible Holy Family)87 must fail….”
So, philosophically, the modern state which is the incarnation of the Marxist worldview is the enemy of the Christian family and so the enemy of Christianity. That modern state is programming the children of the West to hate Christian families. Public school teachers who are not epistemologically self-conscious regarding their professed Christian faith, no matter their good intentions are the enemy of the Christian faith.
What can be done?
Now the question arises… “Our families are not like this what can we do.”
This is the question of the Psalmist asks;
if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (11:3)
There are no easy answers here.
1.) Collect the flotsam and jetsam in your families and extended family who share your general Christian worldview and have conversations down this line.
2.) Parents teach these principles to your children from very young and teach them to look for a spouse that share these convictions.
3.) In the years to come once I’m off the scene look for churches and ministers who share these convictions. A church that embraces this will go along way towards helping stabilize you and your family on these matters.
4.) Realize the necessity to build, if you can, generational wealth that can be used as the glue that can help in these matters.
Ill. – Texas family (Chronicles Magazine)
5.) If possible keep family local. The kind of family dynamics that are presupposed in Scripture are served a great deal if the family is more or less local to one another. The geographic fracturing of family has led to the weakening of the strength of the family.
6.) Attend the same church. Of course this can’t be done if you don’t share a common confession/worldview but if you are local to one another and share a common faith the church you attend should be filled with people who share your last name. This is implied in the text. These widows and the families who were to provide for them were obviously in the same Church.