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1 Timothy 5:11

ESV But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry
NIV As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry.
NASB But refuse to register younger widows, for when they feel physical desires alienating them from Christ, they want to get married,
CSB But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when they are drawn away from Christ by desire, they want to marry
NLT The younger widows should not be on the list, because their physical desires will overpower their devotion to Christ and they will want to remarry.
KJV But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

What does 1 Timothy 5:11 mean?

In 1 Timothy 5:9, Paul specifically calls on the church to prioritize older widows in their care and charity. Here, this is explicitly emphasized. Timothy is to flatly reject giving such extensive support to non-elderly widows. In the context of this passage, "younger" widows were those under age sixty (1 Timothy 5:9). Paul uses the Greek word katalegesthō here, which literally refers to a written catalog, register, or list. This strongly implies that the early house churches kept an organized ledger to determine which widows received regular care from the church's finances and volunteers.

Paul also specifies the reasons why non-elderly widows were not to be added to this list. First and foremost, they were able and likely to remarry. Paul's reference to their "passions" likely contrasts a widow's passion to devote herself entirely to Christ with the desire to marry. Being remarried is not wrong (1 Timothy 5:14; 1 Corinthians 7:1–16), but would take away their status as a "true widow" who serves the church (1 Timothy 5:3, 10). Instead, she would have other family obligations. The following verse adds further details in this regard, followed by additional spiritual warnings in verses 13 through 15.
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