1 Timothy 5:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Timothy 5:12, NIV: Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.

1 Timothy 5:12, ESV: and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.

1 Timothy 5:12, KJV: Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.

1 Timothy 5:12, NASB: thereby incurring condemnation, because they have ignored their previous pledge.

1 Timothy 5:12, NLT: Then they would be guilty of breaking their previous pledge.

1 Timothy 5:12, CSB: and will therefore receive condemnation because they have renounced their original pledge.

What does 1 Timothy 5:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Younger widows who were "enrolled" in the church's support system would potentially be remarried, and therefore "incur condemnation." The idea that this would be condemnable, especially if marriage was not wrong, can be puzzling to modern readers. The reason is that the "true widows" prioritized by the church are those fully devoted to serving others as a result of their support from the congregation (1 Timothy 5:10). Upon remarrying, this commitment would be broken. In ancient times, a pledge or commitment was considered of tremendous importance. The church's charity, then, is to prioritize those who are truly needy, not merely those waiting for a better situation.

This is also the reason the Bible often warns against taking oaths—sometimes referred to in context as "swearing." For example, Jesus said, "…do not take an oath at all…" (Matthew 5:34). James taught, "But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your 'yes' be yes and your 'no' be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation" (James 5:12). The death of John the Baptist gives one example of why this could be a problem in a culture which treated such vows as absolutely binding. King Herod promised his daughter by oath she could have anything she wanted, up to half the kingdom. When she asked for the head of John the Baptist, Mark 6:26 states, "And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her."