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1 Timothy 5:3

ESV Honor widows who are truly widows.
NIV Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.
NASB Honor widows who are actually widows;
CSB Support widows who are genuinely in need.
NLT Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her.
KJV Honour widows that are widows indeed.

What does 1 Timothy 5:3 mean?

Building upon the treatment of older women as mothers and younger women as sisters in verse 2, Paul changes to a discussion of widows. While the term most literally means a woman who has lost her husband to death, in that culture the term was more often used for women who were also childless. This is why Paul specifies special concern for "widows who are truly widows." Honor included the respect given to parents (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1–3) as well as God's treatment of widows as expressed in the Old and New Testaments (James 1:27).

Those who are "truly widows" or "really" widows in need narrows the discussion from all women whose husbands have died. Rather, Paul is concerned with a particular group of widows in the church congregation who fit specific criteria. These criteria are discussed in the following verses and include distinctions between older and younger widows, the character traits of widows, and widows who should be cared for primarily by their own biological family members, rather than the church.
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