1 Timothy 5:8 MEANING

1 Timothy 5:8
(8) But if any provide not for his own.--This repeated warning was necessary in the now rapidly widening circle of believers. Then, in those early days, as now, men and women were attempting to persuade themselves that the hopes and promises of Christians could be attained and won by a mere profession of faith, by an assent to the historical truths, by a barren reception of the doctrine of the atonement, without any practice of stern self-denial, apart from any loving consideration for others; there were evidently in that great Church of Ephesus, which St. Paul knew so well not a few professed believers in the Crucified who, while possessed themselves of a competence, perhaps even of wealth, could calmly look on while their relations and friends languished in the deepest poverty.

And specially for those of his own house.--The circle of those for whose support and sustenance a Christian was responsible is here enlarged: not merely is the fairly prosperous man who professes to love Christ, bound to do his best for his nearest relations, such as his mother and grandmother, but St. Paul says "he must assist those of his own house," in which term relatives who are much more distant are included, and even dependents connected with the family who had fallen into poverty and distress.

He hath denied the faith.--Faith, considered as a rule of life, is practically denied by one who neglects these kindly duties and responsibilities, for "faith worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6). Faith here is considered by St. Paul, not as mere belief in the doctrine, or even in a person, but as a rule of life.

And is worse than an infidel.--The rules even of the nobler Pagan moralists forbid such heartless selfishness. For a Christian, then, deliberately to neglect such plain duties would bring shame and disgrace on the religion of the loving Christ, and, notwithstanding the name he bore, and the company in which he was enrolled, such a denier of the faith would be really worse than a heathen.

Verse 8. - Provideth for provide, A.V.; his own household for those of his own house, A.V. and T.R.; unbeliever for infidel, A.V. Provideth (προνοεῖ). Elsewhere in the New Testament only in Romans 12:17 and 2 Corinthians 8:21, where it has an accusative of the thing provided; here, as in classical Greek, with a genitive of the person; frequent in the LXX., and still more so in classical Greek. The substantive προνοία occurs in Acts 24:2 and Romans 13:14. His own household; because in many cases the widow would be actually living in the house of her child or grandchild. But even if she were not, filial duty would prompt a proper provision for her wants He hath denied the faith; viz. by repudiating these duties which the Christian faith required of him (see Ephesians 6:1-3).

5:3-8 Honour widows that are widows indeed, relieve them, and maintain them. It is the duty of children, if their parents are in need, and they are able to relieve them, to do it to the utmost of their power. Widowhood is a desolate state; but let widows trust in the Lord, and continue in prayer. All who live in pleasure, are dead while they live, spiritually dead, dead in trespasses and sins. Alas, what numbers there are of this description among nominal Christians, even to the latest period of life! If any men or women do not maintain their poor relations, they in effect deny the faith. If they spend upon their lusts and pleasures, what should maintain their families, they have denied the faith, and are worse than infidels. If professors of the gospel give way to any corrupt principle or conduct, they are worse than those who do not profess to believe the doctrines of grace.But if any provide not for his own,.... Not only for his wife and children, but for his parents, when grown old, and cannot help themselves:

and specially for those of his own house; that is, who are of the same household of faith with him; see Galatians 6:10, and so the Syriac version renders it, "and especially those who are the children of the house of faith"; for though the tie of nature obliges him to take care of them, yet that of grace makes the obligation still more strong and binding; and he must act both the inhuman and the unchristian part, that does not take care of his pious parents: wherefore it follows,

he hath denied the faith; the doctrine of faith, though not in words, yet in works; and is to be considered in the same light, and to be dealt with as an apostate from the Christian religion.

And is worse than an infidel; for the very Heathens are taught and directed by the light of nature to take care of their poor and aged parents. The daughter of Cimon gave her ancient father the breast, and suckled him when in prison. Aeneas snatched his aged father out of the burning of Troy, and brought him out of the destruction of that city on his back; yea, these are worse than the brute creatures, and may be truly said to be without natural affections; such should go to the storks and learn of them, of whom it is reported, that the younger ones will feed the old ones, when they cannot feed themselves; and when weary, and not able to fly, will carry them on their backs. The Jews (w) have a rule or canon, which obliged men to take care of their families, which runs thus:

"as a man is bound to provide for his wife, so he is hound to provide for his sons and daughters, the little ones, until they are six years old; and from thenceforward he gives them food till they are grown up, according to the order of the wise men; if he will not, they reprove him, and make him ashamed, and oblige him; yea, if he will not, they publish him in the congregation, and say such an one is cruel, and will not provide for his children; and lo, he is worse than an unclean fowl, which feeds her young.''

(w) Maimon. Hilchot Ishot, c. 12. sect. 14.

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