What does 1 Timothy 5:9 mean?
ESV: Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,
NIV: No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband,
NASB: A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man,
CSB: No widow is to be enrolled on the list for support unless she is at least sixty years old, has been the wife of one husband,
NLT: A widow who is put on the list for support must be a woman who is at least sixty years old and was faithful to her husband.
KJV: Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
NKJV: Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man,
Verse Commentary:
Paul's first expectation regarding charity is for immediate family members to care for each other, when they are able. In addition, Paul offers a list of expectations describing the kind of widows the church is obligated to support. Though the church is to help people with needs outside of these obligations, these criteria are meant to prioritize the church's ministry efforts.

First, the widow was to be at least aged sixty. In the Jewish culture of that day, sixty was considered the beginning of old age (Leviticus 27:3, 7). Verses 11–12 will further explain why this age requirement was important: younger widows have the ability to remarry. The priority of church charity is to be the greatest need, and this means the oldest and least self-reliant persons first.

The second requirement given in this verse is "having been the wife of one husband." This is phrased in almost exactly the same way as the requirements for overseers and deacons in 1 Timothy chapter 3. The phrase here is henos andros gynē, literally "a one-man woman." This is not an explicit statement regarding whether a widow has ever been divorced or remarried. Instead, just as with the men mentioned in chapter 3, the intent is that of reputation. A widow seeking church support should be one who was committed to her husband (the one who has died and left her alone).
Verse Context:
First Timothy 5:3–16 gives Paul's instructions regarding priority in the care of widows. Since church resources are finite, it is important to focus attention on those who are most needy. In this case, Paul refers to such women as ''true widows.'' Those who are younger or more capable should not be given an excuse for laziness or gossip. And, family members have the first and foremost responsibility for caring for each other. The guidelines given here focus attention on the most vulnerable women and avoid enabling immodest behaviors.
Chapter Summary:
First Timothy chapter 5 focuses on Timothy's supervision of those within the church. This includes a respectful attitude towards both men and women, young and old. A large portion of the chapter deals with how to care for widows. The theme of Paul's instruction is prioritizing those who are truly in need, and not enabling those who are merely lazy. Timothy is also instructed on how to screen out baseless accusations against an elder, and how to properly discipline them if they are found in sin. With that in mind, Timothy is also warned not to be reckless in who he appoints as an elder.
Chapter Context:
Prior passages explained the burden placed on Timothy and other church leaders. In this chapter, the emphasis is on how Timothy is to treat others in the congregation. A large portion of this refers to prioritizing charity for widows. This passage will more or less complete Paul's specific instructions to Timothy in this letter. The next (final) chapter will build on all of these themes with a command for Timothy to make the most of his spiritual service.
Book Summary:
First Timothy is one of Paul's three ''Pastoral Epistles.'' Paul's other letters, such as Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, are meant for a broader audience. First Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are written to specific people whom Paul is advising on how to best lead their local churches. These three letters present a close look at the form and function of church leadership. First Timothy, like 2 Timothy and Titus, is less formal and systematic, and more personal. This gives great insight into the way pastors, deacons, and elders ought to prioritize their time and energy.
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