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1 Timothy 5:6

ESV but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.
NIV But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.
NASB But she who indulges herself in luxury is dead, even while she lives.
CSB however, she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.
NLT But the widow who lives only for pleasure is spiritually dead even while she lives.
KJV But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

What does 1 Timothy 5:6 mean?

Prior verses have discussed the need for the church to care for "true widows," defined as those who truly are alone and unable to care for themselves. Clearly, though, not all elderly or single women are legitimately in need of the church's charity. For example, in contrast to the "true widow," who prays to God for help, are those women who are selfish and ungodly. Paul uses the Greek term spatalōsa here. This refers to someone who is consumed with pleasure, sensuality, or materialism.

Such a woman is described as being "dead even while she lives," echoing the spiritual emptiness of worldly living. This is the same sentiment seen from Paul in Romans 8:6 and from John in Revelation 3:1. The Greek behind the phrase "dead even while she lives" is literally "has died while alive." An ungodly widow is still alive, but is as good as dead since she does not live for God. The church can help any person to show God's love, but was not required to do so for widows who lived for self rather than God. Verses 9–10 reveal a godly widow was known for being a "one man woman," and had a reputation for good works.

Not every woman who has lost family or a husband will be known for having a reputation of good works (1 Timothy 5:10). It stands to reason that some of the women taking support from the church in Ephesus were living sensual, extravagant, ungodly lives. Paul warns against this here as well as in 1 Timothy 5:13.

The goal in mind is for the church not to be "burdened" (1 Timothy 5:16), but to help widows who are sincerely in need, with no other help, who are following the Lord. Resources which could greatly help a suffering "true widow" are wasted on a woman who is only looking for selfish pleasure.
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