1 Timothy 5:11
But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
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(11) But the younger widows refuse.—The younger women—younger used in a general sense—must positively be excluded from, and held ineligible for, this presbyteral order.

This direction by no means shuts them out from participation in the alms of the Church, if they were in need and destitute; but it wisely excluded the younger women from a position and from duties which they might in their first days of grief and desolation covet, but of which, as time passed on—as experience had shown St. Paul—they not unfrequently wearied. Those who had put their hands to the plough and afterwards looked back, he proceeds to tell us, would be a hindrance to the Church’s work, and in some cases might prove a subject of scandal and reproach.

For when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ.—The Apostle was looking on to the time when, the first fervour excited by grief and sorrow being past, these younger sisters in many instances would begin again to long after their old pursuits and pleasures. The Greek word rendered “wax wanton” suggests especially the idea of restiveness. They will lose—to use Jerome’s well-known expression—their love for their own proper Bridegroom—Christ.

They will marry.—The sight of domestic happiness enjoyed by other women will affect them. They, too, will long in their poor hearts for home joys; they will weary for the prattle of their own little children.

How much untold misery would have been avoided—how many wasted lives would have been saved for good and useful service, had Churchmen in later times only obeyed the words and carried out the thoughts of Paul, and persistently refused, as did St. Paul and Timothy, to receive the proffered services of women still too young in years for such devoted work, but who, through a temporary pressure of sorrow, dreamed for a moment they would be able to carry out their purpose of a life-long renunciation of the world, its excitement and its joys.

St. Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw how too often such renunciation, made under peculiar pressure of circumstances, undertaken with the hot fervour of youth, in later days would become weary and distasteful.

1 Timothy 5:11-13. But the younger widows refuse — Do not choose; for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ — To whose more immediate service they had devoted themselves; they will marry — And, perhaps, to husbands who are strangers to Christianity, or at least not with a single eye to the glory of God, and so withdraw themselves from that service of Christ in the church which they were before engaged in. On the word καταστρηνιασωσι, rendered to wax wanton, Erasmus remarks, that it comes from στερειν, to pull away, and ηνια, reins, and that the metaphor is taken from high-fed brute animals, which, having pulled away the reins, run about at their pleasure. Le Clerc and some others translate the clause, who do not obey the rein. The apostle plainly means, that the younger widows, who had undertaken the office of teaching the young of their own sex, not being willing to continue under that restraint from marriage which they had laid on themselves by devoting themselves to the service of Christ, and which the nature of their office required, would marry, and desert his service. Having damnation — Condemnation rather, both from God and men; because they have cast off their first faith — Have deserted their trust in God, and have acted contrary to their first conviction, namely, that wholly to devote themselves to his service was the most excellent way; for their first faith here means that faithfulness to Christ which they had virtually plighted, when they took on them the office of teaching the younger women; for by marrying they put it out of their power to perform that office with the attention and assiduity which it required. And withal they learn to be idle — Slothful and negligent in the office they have undertaken, and instead of attending to the proper duty of their charge, wandering about, &c.; tattlers also — Greek, φλυαροι, triflers, foolish talkers, or talebearers; a vice to which women, who go about from house to house, are commonly much addicted; busy-bodies — Concerning themselves unnecessarily and impertinently in the affairs of others; speaking things which they ought not — Things very unbecoming.5:9-16 Every one brought into any office in the church, should be free from just censure; and many are proper objects of charity, yet ought not to be employed in public services. Those who would find mercy when they are in distress, must show mercy when they are in prosperity; and those who show most readiness for every good work, are most likely to be faithful in whatever is trusted to them. Those who are idle, very seldom are only idle, they make mischief among neighbours, and sow discord among brethren. All believers are required to relieve those belonging to their families who are destitute, that the church may not be prevented from relieving such as are entirely destitute and friendless.But the younger widows refuse - That is, in respect to the matter under discussion. Do not admit them into the class of widows referred to. It cannot mean that he was to reject them as members of the church, or not to treat them with respect and kindness.

For when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ - There is probably a thought conveyed by these words to most minds which is by no means in the original, and which does injustice both to the apostle and to the "younger widows" referred to. In the Greek there is no idea of wantonness in the sense of lasciviousness or lewdness; nor was this, though now a common idea attached to the word, by any means essential to it when our translation wan made. The word "wanton" then meant "wandering" or "roving in gaiety or sport; moving or flying loosely; playing in the wind; then, wandering from moral rectitude, licentious, dissolute, libidinous" - Webster. The Greek word here used, καταστρηνιάζω katastrēniazō, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The word στρηνιάω strēniaō - however, is used twice, and is in both cases translated "lived deliciously;" Revelation 18:7, Revelation 18:9. The word is derived from στρῆνος strēnos (whence "strenuous"), properly meaning "rudeness, insolence, pride," and hence, "revel, riot, luxury;" or from - streenees - , the adjective - "strong, stiff, hard, rough." The verb then means "to live strenuously, rudely," as in English, "to live hard;" also, to live wild, or without restraint; to run riot, to live luxuriously. The idea of strength is the essential one, and then of strength that is not subordinate to law; that is wild and riotous; see Pussow and Robinson, Lexicon. The sense here is, that they would not be subordinate to the restraints implied in that situation, they would become impatient, and would marry again. The idea is not that of wantonness or lewdness, but it is that of a mind not subdued by age and by trials, and that would be impatient under the necessary restraints of the condition which was contemplated. They could not be depended on with certainty, but they might be expected again to enter into the married relation.

They will marry - It is clear, from this, that the apostle did not contemplate any vows which would prevent their marrying again; nor does he say that it would be absolutely wrong for them to marry, even if they were admitted in to that rank; or as if there were any vows to restrain them from doing it. This passage, therefore, can never be adduced in favor of that practice of taking the veil in nunneries, and of a vow of perpetual seclusion from the world.

11. younger—than sixty years old (1Ti 5:9).

refuse—to take on the roll of presbyteress widows.

wax wanton—literally, "over-strong" (2Ch 26:16).

against Christ—rebelling against Christ, their proper Bridegroom [Jerome].

they will—Greek, "they wish"; their desire is to marry again.

But the younger widows refuse: by the younger widows the apostle seems (by the last words of this verse) not to mean those that were under threescore, but the younger sort of widows, not past child-bearing; he would not have those (that is, being under no extraordinary circumstances of sickness, or lameness, or the want of their senses) be maintained at the charge of the church, because they were able to labour; nor yet to be taken into any employment relating to the church.

For when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ; katastrhniaswsi tou cristou. How the Vulgar Latin comes to translate this, wax wanton in Christ, I neither understand whether with respect to grammar or sense. Erasmus translates the verb, when they have committed whoredom; but Revelation 18:9 confuteth this sense, where we translate it, lived deliciously, (being without the preposition kata), which certainly better expresseth the sense, as also doth our translation, wax wanton; it properly signifies either the lustiness, or the headstrong temper, of beasts, that wax fat.

Against Christ, is against the rule of the gospel, and their profession of Christ; or they disdain the office of serving the saints, as too mean, and laborious, and sin against Christ, in whose name, and for whose glory, and to whose members, the service was to be performed. And then

they will marry, and so put themselves into an incapacity to serve the church in the place of widows. But the younger widows refuse,.... To admit them into the number of widows relieved by the church; partly because they are fit for labour, and so can take care of themselves; and partly because they may marry, as the apostle afterwards advises they should, and so would have husbands to take care of them:

for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ; that is, being at ease, and without labour, live a wanton, loose, and licentious life, and in carnal lusts and pleasures, contrary to the commands of Christ, and to the reproach and dishonour of his name:

they will marry; not that it would be criminal for them to marry, or that second marriages are unlawful; for the apostle afterwards signifies that it was right, fit, and proper that such should marry; but his sense is, that marriage being the effect of wantonness, would not be so honourable in them, and especially after they had made application to the church for relief, and had declared themselves widows indeed, and desolate, and such as trusted in God, and gave themselves up to supplication and prayer; wherefore it would be much better for them, and more to the credit of religion, to marry first, than afterwards and it would be best not to apply at all to the church; and if they should, it would be most advisable to reject them for the said reasons.

{10} But the younger widows {d} refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

(10) The first reason why younger widows are not to be admitted to this ministry, that is, because of the unsteadiness of their age they will at length shake off the burden that Christ has laid upon them, and think rather upon marrying again: and so will forsake the ministry to which they had bound themselves.

(d) Take them not into the assembly of widows.

1 Timothy 5:11. Νεωτέρας δὲ χήρας παραιτοῦ] νεωτέρας is not here strictly comparative in reference to 1 Timothy 5:9 (Wiesinger: “widows under sixty years”); it is rather a positive, as in 1 Timothy 5:1-2 (so, too, van Oosterzee).

παραιτοῦ] in opposition to καταλεγέσθω, 1 Timothy 5:9 (and in opposition to τίμα in 1 Timothy 5:3); yet in such a way that, according to the analogy of the passages, 1 Timothy 4:7, 2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:10, Hebrews 12:25, it denotes not only that they are to be omitted from the καταλέγεσθαι, but also that they are to be avoided personally. Luther: “the young widows, however, get rid of.”[181] The reason for this injunction is given by the apostle in the next words: ὅταν γὰρ καταστρηνιάσωσι τοῦ Χριστοῦ γαμεῖν θέλουσιν] The meaning of the verb is variously given by expositors. Several take it as equivalent to “be voluptuous, lust after,” and so refer it to sexual relation, appealing to Revelation 18:9, where στρηνιᾷν is used along with πορνεύειν. But this collocation does not prove that the verbs are related in sense, all the less that in the passage πορνεύειν is not used literally. Even in Revelation 18:3, στρῆνος has not the meaning of sexual desire, but more generally of “wantonness.” There is no justification, therefore, for de Wette’s translation: “to feel sexual desire,” and that of Jerome (Ep. 123, al. 11, ad Agcrochiam al. Gerontiam): quae fornicatae sunt. Others maintain here the more general meaning of the word luxuriari (Wiesinger; van Oosterzee also translates: “if they have become luxurious,” but explains it of voluptuous desire, of the pruritus libidinosus). Since the word στρῆνος also occurs in the sense of violent desire for something (Lycophr. 438, see Pape, 5, s.v.), Plitt explains στρηνιᾷν as equivalent to “go in pursuit of the satisfaction of one’s desires,” but without saying what desires are here meant. In Pape, the word is explained as equivalent to “be insolent” (στρῆνος = “insolence”); so, too, in Stephanus (καταστρηνιάω = insolentius et lascivius me gero adversum); similarly Theophylact: καθυπερηφανεύεσθαι. It will be most correct to adhere to the meaning “be luxurious.” In all these various explanations the prefix κατα is taken in the sense of hostile opposition, and the genitive τοῦ Χριστοῦ regarded as the object to which those widows are opposed by their στρηνιᾷν. This reference of κατα is in entire accordance with Greek usage; comp. in the N. T. the words: καταδυναστεύω, κατακαυχάομαι, καταναρκάω, κατασοφίζομαι. Hofmann’s explanation completely diverges from these: “After such widows have let the Saviour have their whole desire, after they have delighted in Him, they wish to marry.” For this interpretation of καταστρηνιᾷν Χριστοῦ, Hofmann appeals to Psalm 37:4, where the Hebrew הִתְעַנֵּג עַל־יְהֹוָה (“rejoice in God, delight in God”) is translated in the LXX. by καταστρυφᾷν τοῦ κυρίου. But to this there are three objections—(1) This interpretation of καταστρυφᾷν in a good sense is quite singular in nature; (2) καταστρυφᾷν cannot without proof be considered identical with καταστρηνιᾷν; and (3) ὅταν is explained simply by “after that,” whereas it properly means: “in case that, so soon as.” ὍΤΑΝ may indeed be sometimes rendered by “after that;” but whereas the latter only expresses the relation of time, ὍΤΑΝ is only used in such cases of an inner relation. In the present case it shows that the ΘΈΛΕΙΝ ΓΑΜΕῖΝ is something which has its ground or presupposed condition in the ΚΑΤΑΣΤΡΗΝΙᾷΝ of the widows. But how can it be imagined that delight in the Lord gives any ground whatever for the desire of marriage?

Besides, the whole context compels us to take ΚΑΤΑΣΤΡ. in a bad sense.[182]

γαμεῖν θέλουσιν] We must not overlook the fact that Paul does not say simply γαμοῦσιν; he wishes here to bring out the direction in which their thoughts turn. If a widow received the honourable distinction of καταλέγεσθαι, she had to recognise it as her duty to devote her life henceforth to her office, to her works of love for the church. These she must regard as her life-vocation. But in young widows the worldly desire was roused only too easily, so that they put aside their life-vocation, and sought only their own satisfaction in forming a new marriage, thereby withdrawing themselves from the work for the church. Their thoughts were therefore turned to something else than the things to which their position in the church directed them.[183]

[181] Baur at an earlier period (Die Sog. Pastoralbriefe, p. 47) construed νεώτεραι χῆραι grammatically together, and only—very arbitrarily, it is true—maintained that these χῆραι are distinguished from those in ver. 9 by being only virgins (and not ὄντως χῆραι) bearing the name of χῆραι. Later (Paulus, d. Ap. J. Chr. p. 497) he expressed the opinion that νεωτέρας and χήρας are not to be taken together, that the one is the subject rather, the other the predicate, and that the words accordingly have the sense: “Younger persons of the female sex do not receive into the list of the χῆραι.” This only adds to the arbitrariness of the historian, the arbitrariness of the exegete.

[182] Even earlier expositors rejected the strange opinion which Heydenreich adopts, that “στρηνιᾷν in its root-signification and origin παρὰ τῷ στερεῖν καὶ ἀποσπᾷν τὰς ἡνίας means, cast off the reins, he or become unbridled.”—Quite as wrong is the inversion of thought which Heinrichs takes up, saying: clarius mentem expressisset Ap. inverso ordine: ὅταν γὰρ γαμεῖν θέλωσιν, καταστρηνιῶσι τοῦ Χριστοῦ; for γαμεῖν θέλουσιν is a consequence of the καταστρηνιᾷν, not vice versâ.

[183] It is to be noted that Paul does not speak of the θέλειν γαμεῖν on the part of the widows as necessarily a καταστρηνιᾷν τοῦ Χριστοῦ. He is not uttering any general principle; he is dealing only with the actual circumstances which were occurring among the widows under discussion.1 Timothy 5:11. There are two main factors in the interpretation of this verse: (1) a general Church regulation—not laid down by St. Paul but found in existence by him—that a widow in receipt of relief should be ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή; and (2) his determination to make provision that no scandal should arise from broken vows. The notion was that there was a marriage tie between Christ and the Church widow. This would be her first faith, her earliest and still valid plighted troth. Cf. Revelation 2:4, τὴν ἀγάπην σου τὴν πρώτην ἀφῆκες (of the Church at Ephesus).

νεωτέρας may be rendered positively, young.

παραιτοῦ: reject. This verb is used of “profane and old wives’ fables” (1 Timothy 4:7), of “foolish and ignorant questionings” (2 Timothy 2:23), of “a man that is heretical” (Titus 3:10); so that, at first sight, it seems a harsh term to use in reference to “young widows”. But the harshness is explained when we remember that St. Paul is speaking, not of the widows in themselves, but as applicants for admission to the roll of specially privileged Church widows. In a Church still immature as to its organisation and morale the authorities would be only courting disaster were they to assume the control of young widows, a class whose condition gave them independence in the heathen society around them.

καταστρηνιάσωσιν: Cum enim luxuriatae fuerint [in deliciis egerint, [280]110] in Christo (Vulg.).

[280] Speculum

The word denotes the particular character of their restiveness. It was understood with this sexual reference in Pseud. Ignat. ad Antioch. 11, αἱ χῆραι μὴ σπαταλάτωσαν, ἵνα μὴ καταστρηνιάσωσι τοῦ λόγου. στρῆνος (over-strength), wantonness or luxury occurs Revelation 18:3; στρηνιάω, Revelation 18:7; Revelation 18:9, to wax wanton, live wantonly, or luxuriously. The preposition κατά, with the genitive, has the sense against, of opposition, as in καταβραβεύω, καταγελάω, καταδικάζω, κατακαυχάομαι, κατακρίνω, etc.

For ὅταν with the subjunctive or indicative, see Winer-Moulton, Grammar, p. 388. The subjunctive, as in the text, is the normally correct way of expressing a contemplated contingency.

τοῦ Χριστοῦ: Here only in the Pastorals.

γαμεῖν θέλουσι: θέλειν has here an emphatic sense, as in John 7:17; and its association here supports the view that it “designates the will which pro-deeds from inclination,” as contrasted with βούλομαι, “the will which follows deliberation” (Thayer’s Grimm, s.v.). γαμεῖν is used of the woman also, 1 Timothy 5:14, Mark 10:12; 1 Corinthians 7:28; 1 Corinthians 7:34.11. But the younger widows refuse] There is no article, ‘younger’ than 60 years; but also more generally, ‘comparatively young.’ ‘Refuse,’ i.e. decline to put on the roll of maintenance.

when they have begun to wax wanton] Rather, when they have come to wax wanton. The aorist subjunctive which has the support of א should be retained, though Alford follows A in reading future indicative. The verb takes up the ‘prodigal living’ of 1 Timothy 5:6, seeming to be connected with strenuus, ‘strong,’ and so like ‘lusty’ and ‘lustful’ having the idea of wanton licence. The simple verb is used in Revelation 18:7; Revelation 18:9 of Babylon, ‘She glorified herself and waxed wanton,’ ‘the kings of the earth committed fornication and lived wantonly with her.’ With the compound form used here may be compared similar compounds, to laugh against, Matthew 9:24, ‘and they laughed Him to scorn;’ to witness against, Mark 14:60, ‘what is it which these witness against thee?’

against Christ] The only place in the Pastoral Epistles where ‘Christ’ is used alone, ‘Christ Jesus’ being the most common title employed.

they will marry] Rather, they choose marrying. Their mind is set on husband hunting, with no limitation now of ‘only in the Lord.’1 Timothy 5:11. Παραιτοῦ, refuse) Do not take up their case. The same word occurs, Titus 3:10 (reject, παραιτοῦ).—ὅταν γὰρ καταστρηνιάσωσι τοῦ Χριστοῦ) when they have begun to wax wanton (to indulge in luxury) against Christ, viz. with regard to ecclesiastical benefits. The genitive is governed by κατὰ; what στρῆνος is, see Revelation 18:3 (“The abundance,” or “power,” of her delicacies, στρήνους). Extravagance (wantonness) and Christ are by no means compatible.—τοῦ Χριστοῦ, Christ) to whom they had entirely devoted themselves.—θέλουσιν, they will) the matter being no longer undecided.Verse 11. - Younger for the younger, A.V.; waxed for began to wax, A.V.; desire to for will, A.V. Refuse. Note the wisdom of Paul, who will not have the young widows admitted into the roll of Church widows, lest, after the first grief for the loss of their husbands has subsided, they should change their minds, and wish to return to the world and its pleasures, and so incur the guilt of drawing back their hands from the plough. Would that the Church had always imitated this wisdom and this consideration for the young, whether young priests or young monks and nuns! Waxed wanton against (καταστρηνιάσωσι). This word only occurs here, but the simple στρηνιάω is found in Revelation 18:7, 9, and is used by the Greek poets of the new comedy in the sense of τρυφᾶν, to be luxurious (Schleusner, 'Lex.'). Trench ('Synonyms of New Testament'), comparing this word with τρυφᾶν and σπαταλᾶν, ascribes to it the sense of "petulance" from fullness, like the state of Jeshurun, who waxed fat and kicked (Deuteronomy 32:15); and so Liddell and Scott give the sense of "to be over-strong." The sense, therefore, is that these young widows, in the wantonness and unsubdued worldliness of their hearts, reject the yoke of Christ, and kick against the widow's life of prayer and supplication day and night. And so they return to the world and its pleasures, which they had renounced. Younger (νεωτέρας)

Almost in a positive sense, young. Not, under sixty years of age.

Have begun to wax wanton (καταστρηνιάσωσιν)

Not, have begun, but rather, whenever they shall come to wax wanton. Comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:10. The compound verb, signifying to feel the sexual impulse, only here, and not in lxx or Class. The simple verb, στρηνιᾶν to run riot, Revelation 18:7, Revelation 18:9 and the kindred στρῆνος luxury, Revelation 18:3. See note.

Against Christ (τοῦ Χριστοῦ)

Their unruly desire withdraws them from serving Christ in his church, and is, therefore, against him.

This is the only instance in the Pastorals in which the Christ is used without Jesus either before or after. In Paul this is common, both with and without the article.

They will marry (γαμεῖν θέλουσιν)

Better, they are bent on marrying, or determined to marry. The strong expression wax wanton makes it probable that θέλειν expresses more than a desire, as Rev. See on Matthew 1:19. Γαμεῖν to marry, in the active voice, of the wife, as everywhere in N.T. except 1 Corinthians 7:39.

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