Skip to main content
Bible Q

What does it mean to be “truly a widow”?

This question is based on 1 Timothy 5:3-6

Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God.  She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.

Some translations have “who are really in need” instead of “who are truly widows” (e.g., 1 Timothy 5:3, NIV). While this is an interpretation rather than a translation, it seems to have captured the meaning quite well. “True” widows are those who have no children or relatives to care for them. Paul makes this clear by saying he is referring to those “left all alone”. His concern for them is that they will not be neglected in their old age and he suggests that if they have children or grandchildren it is their responsibility to look after their aged and lonely relatives. In verses 9 and 10 he suggests that the church should care for those widows who are over 60 years old and have lived a God-fearing life.

In practice, there are an enormous number of complexities in family arrangements and the Bible makes no attempt to provide recipes for dealing with the various possibilities. But it strongly emphasizes the principle that it is necessary to love and care for those who have been left without a husband.

No Comments yet!