From the book, The Memoir of David King - Ministry in the Church of Christ.
Widow Ministry (pages 316-320).
"Let not a widow be taken into the number under three-score years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows refuse; for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith." - 1 Tim. v:9-12.
The reader will do well carefully to examine the entire chapter from which the above verses are taken. The subject now under notice, of which it mainly treats, is of the deepest interest and importance.
The rendering of the Common Version is not all that is desirable. Perhaps that by Dr. Macknight may be accepted as a better translation:
"Let not a widow be taken into the number under sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, borne witness to for good works; that she hath brought up children, that she hath lodged strangers, that she hath washed the saints’ feet, that she hath relieved the afflicted, that she hath diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows reject; for when they cannot endure Christ’s rein, they will marry; incurring condemnation, because they have put away their first fidelity." - 1 Tim. v:9-12.
Thus, widows of a certain class are represented as entering into an engagement for life, subsequent departure from which involves condemnation; not necessarily eternal condemnation, but at the least such as involves the displeasure, for the time being, of the church and of God.
What then is that office, work, or number, into which only certain widows are to be admitted, and from which all under sixty years of age are excluded? It cannot refer to church-membership, nor can it apply to the number of those who receive pecuniary aid from the church, for any believing widow, of good conduct, is entitled to membership, and any such one, when in need, is entitled to help without consideration as to age.
The chapter from which the foregoing verses are quoted, by stating certain requirements and prohibitions, and giving certain qualifications, and certain intimations of work to be accomplished and evils to be avoided, places fairly before us the widow-ministry of the church of God. Let us note a few particulars in regard to this service, and let the reader say whether the church does not suffer immense loss by allowing this appointment to remain in disuse.
"The number," or band, referred to, consists of widows who are "widows indeed," or, in other words, destitute, not having "children or nephews" (grandchildren) to support them - not of all the widows of this class who enjoy the fellowship of the church, but only of those of "three score years" "well reported of for good works," who have "brought up children," "lodged strangers," "relieved the afflicted," etc.
Here, then, is a provision for destitute widows of a given age and character. It is not merely a question of relief, but of work by a duly appointed band - into which band young widows may not be admitted, however great their piety and need, and into which aged widows are not received unless their lives are known to have been such as to make the examples to the flock, in which they undertake to devote the remainder of their days to Christ, and incur condemnation if they cast off the obligation.
Preachers and pastors are scarcely, if at all, more necessary than are such mothers in Israel. The younger sisters need them as teachers. We mean, not teaching which finds place in the public assembly, but homely private instruction in those things of every day doing which the young have to learn and the aged to teach.
Protestants, generally, do not give even a passing thought to this service; Romanists only caricature it. When will the church restore it? What is needful to its restoration? In churches of the primitive order no extraordinary discussion or commotion are to that end called for. It is not so much a matter of resolutions (moved, seconded and carried), as of quiet growth and easy adoption. Destitute widows of sixty, will generally need pecuniary aid from the church. The church cannot make widows, and would not desire so to do. But widows will be found in its membership. Let the church which possesses one or more, duly qualified, undertake to provide plain, comfortable lodging, with what is needful for necessity and comfort (the cost will be little), and let those widows take their proper office and work. There are churches that would gladly do this, but the required women are not in their membership. Widows they have, and widows they help, but the required qualifications are not there, the widows whom it would be a relief and a charity so to support, are not adapted for the work, and would be useless if called into it, and, therefore, must not be so called. This is to be regretted. But where is the remedy? It lies chiefly with the female members of the churches, not excepting the young and unmarried. Each should aim to possess all that is required in those who may be, if in the providence of God brought to widowhood and need, set apart to labour so useful and honourable. But those who shall teach when old, must learn when young - consequently each sister should so study to become wise in the lessons of the scripture, and to obtain what the religion of Jesus requires to be possessed by Christian daughters, sisters, wives and mothers, servants or mistresses. So let it be. We shall then have widows in the church fully qualified for this important service.
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