Author Topic: Worse Than An Unbeliever? Understanding 1 Timothy 5:8  (Read 60 times)

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Worse Than An Unbeliever? Understanding 1 Timothy 5:8
« on: April 14, 2021, 10:35:38 PM »

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1 Timothy 5:8 - Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8 is another commonly misinterpreted scripture. Oftentimes, this scripture is taken out of context and used to encourage Christians to seek after worldly employment instead of seeking the Holy Spirit, preaching the gospel and receiving God?s provision.

Provision is not just limited to money. It means whatever assistance is needed, whether physical, emotional, financial, etc. This would also include helping to pay a family members? bills or having them live with you, if needed.

This scripture is often taken out of context, as it seems like it contradicts Jesus? commandment for every follower to give up all in order to be his disciple.

Luke 14:33 - In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

The Context of 1 Timothy 5:8

If we read all of 1 Timothy 5, we see that Paul is mainly speaking about caring for women who are truly widows, meaning those who have no children to rely on for assistance. Although this chapter also speaks about the relatives in a man?s household, the main focus is about widows.

Paul is stating that a true widow who needs financial assistance from the church, is one who has no children or grandchildren. For if a widow has children or grandchildren, it is their responsibility to look after the widows in their family, whether it is financially or anything else they may require (spending time, physical assistance, etc).

1 Timothy 5:16 - If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

This is the focal point of 1 Timothy 5. The basis of this chapter is for believers to assist the widows in their own family, so that the church can help those widows who are truly in need and do not have family to turn to.

1 Timothy 5:5 - The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.

Now we can see the context and main focus of 1 Timothy 5:8. Paul states that anyone who has a widow in their family and does not assist them, whether financially or otherwise, is worse than an unbeliever.

When you understand the context behind 1 Timothy 5:8, you will realize that in no way, shape or form, does this scripture contradict Jesus? commandment in Luke 12:33 & Luke 14:33.

In Luke 12, Jesus tells us not to seek after money and possessions such as clothing and food. Our Lord assures us that if we put seeking and keeping the Holy Spirit first priority in our lives, God will add to us all the things that we need without us seeking for it or even asking Him for it. Luke 12:22-28

The first century church understood this concept clearly:

Acts 4:34-37 - that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles? feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Jesus states that the flowers neither toil nor spin (labor), yet God provides for them. The birds do not sow, or reap, nor do they have store houses or bank accounts, yet God provides for them. So then, how much more will God provide for his children?

The pagan world spends most of their time working at a job for the reasons of earning money for eating, drinking, clothing and shelter. On the contrary, as a child of God, our priority should be different. We are meant to be about our Father?s business. This is achieved through preaching the word of God, putting receiving and keeping the Holy Spirit first priority in our lives, and God will provide for us and our families.

If we do nothing but worry and seek after money, possessions, food and clothing through an earthly job, what difference is there between us and an unbeliever? This is where we find the connection between Paul?s statement and Jesus?.

If a person claims to be a believer, he will seek the Holy Spirit as first priority, preach the gospel and receive his provision from God. However, if he does not provide for his household and the widows within his family with the provision God has given him, then he is worse than an unbeliever. This is because even though unbelievers make their lives about seeking after money, eating and drinking, they still look after their families and the widows in their family through the provision they worked for.

During Biblical times, there was no Government safety net or pension, so a widow?s family took the responsibility of caring for her. However, after the first century church came about, the church began to care for the widows in the church.

Acts 6:1 - In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

Some believers thought this was a good way to shirk the responsibility of looking after the widows in their family by burdening the church. This is the context behind Paul?s remarks in 1 Timothy 5:8.

Paul is not stating that all believers should stop preaching the gospel so that they can find worldly jobs and be like pagans in the pagan world. On the contrary, Christians should not be making their lives about seeking after money for food, drink and clothing like the pagans. Instead, he is stating that with the provision you receive from God, you are to look after your own household, relatives and the widows in your family without burdening the church.

On numerous occasions, Jesus states that we are not to be like unbelievers:

Matthew 6:31-32 - So do not worry, saying, ?What shall we eat?? or ?What shall we drink?? or ?What shall we wear?? 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

The Apostle Paul is not telling us to be like unbelievers who have no faith in God?s provision at all. He is stating that they at least still provide for their families out of their worldly provisions. Refusing to provide for our relatives and widows with the provision we have received from God makes us worse than an unbeliever - as even the unbelievers look after their families and widows with the provision they seek.

Jesus is stating not to make our lives about eating, drinking and clothing through seeking after money for these things, and spending the little time we have on this earth on worldly jobs. We should be about our Father?s business.

Luke 2:49 - And He said to them, ?Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father?s business??

Instead, our focus should be on seeking the Holy Spirit, and God will provide the things that we need, as He knows we need these things. We seek and keep the Holy Spirit by remaining repentant and not compromising the teachings of Jesus.

God knows that we need these things and we must have faith that He will provide. God will provide enough for us, our families and the widows in our family. He will provide for all of our needs.

Paul is comparing the unbelievers' way of providing for his family out of his provision to the professed believers, who should be doing the same and more, out of his provision from God. If he is not doing so, he is even worse than the unbeliever since at least an unbeliever looks after his family and widows with his provision. 1 Timothy 5:8 is not telling Christians to make sure they are seeking after money, food, drink and clothing, by keeping worldly jobs. Instead, this scripture is instructing believers on how to administer the provision they receive from God.

Paul is referring to work and provision as preaching the gospel and allowing God to provide for you. When Jesus sent the disciples out two by two to preach the gospel, he said:

Luke 10:7 - Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

Jesus is referring to preaching the gospel as ?work?, and anything that is given to the disciples as God?s provision or ?wages?.

1 Corinthians 9:14 - In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Paul is speaking of working for a living in a literal way. He claims that the other apostles and preachers of the gospel did not physically work for a living. Instead, they preached the gospel for a living and this was the work that Jesus was speaking of.

Peter also confirms this in:

Acts 6:2 - So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, ?We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program.

The work of God is preaching the word of God. Some people believe that Paul is stating that he worked a worldly job while he preached. At one point early on, Paul did work at a worldly job. However, when we look into Paul?s financial situation further, we see that this was only temporary. Acts 18:2-4

This changed once provision and assistance came from the church of Macedonia.

Acts 18:5, 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 & 1 Corinthians 9:3-12 & 18

Paul is stating that preachers of the gospel have the right not to work for a living as the world does, since they are working through the preaching of the gospel.

Preachers of the gospel have the right to be provided for their needs through the preaching of the gospel which is their work.

continued...1 Corinthians 9:12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn?t we have it all the more?...18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

For a moment in verse 12, it seems that Paul is also contradicting himself. But we must look elsewhere within Paul?s letters to gain context in regards to his financial situation. The church in Macedonia gave financial aid and other provisions to Paul.

2 Corinthians 8:1-7

The Phillipian church, which was another Macedonian church also sent financial aid to Paul.

Acts 16:12 &  Phillipians 4:14-18

As we can see, Paul was provided for through other churches,so now we understand why Paul stated:

1 Corinthians 9:12 -  If others have this right of support from you, shouldn?t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

In order to preach the gospel free of charge to the Corinthians, Paul used the aid he received from other churches. This does not mean that Paul did not receive wages for his work in the preaching of the gospel.

Continued...1 Corinthians 9:13-14 - Don?t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Paul is clearly stating that preachers of the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. Paul also speaks of this in 1 Timothy 5:17-18.
And so in no way has this concept been nullified which Jesus stated in Luke 10:7.

It has always been this way for preachers of the gospel of God. We are a nation of priests in God?s eyes. We must all preach the gospel whilst God provides for our needs.

Revelation 1:6 - He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

We now do the work of the Levites spiritually. In the Old Testament, the Levites were spoken of in the same fashion.

Pastor Amos

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Re: Worse Than An Unbeliever? Understanding 1 Timothy 5:8
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2021, 03:16:58 AM »
We now do the work of the Levites spiritually. In the Old Testament, the Levites were spoken of in the same fashion.
That is, all Christians do the work of Levites. We can't all be financilly dependent on other Christians, or even a sizeable minority of us, for that would be to turn the working believers into slaves, not brethren (which is the distinct attitude issue I have with many "ministers" lecturing to others as if slaves).

Today widows have some provision from the State and in the form of pensions. The burden of looking after the elderly can be extremely large, given the standard of living that they expect (e.g. homes heated 24 hours a day + medical care which could also be very expensive). That is not to disburn the Christian but to contextualize the matter that social security for the aged will be practically impossible unless the Christian is in paid work.

Not every self-appointed preacher has a "right" to receive anything from a church. There are the thorny questions of appropriate qualification, of the discretion inherent in every believer to choose whom to give to, and the period of the maintenance. When I was young, becoming a minister was a very attractive proposition to so many. There was a long waiting list, e.g. in the Baptist churches, for ministerial appointment. Competition was intense for the profitable livings.

The days of the apostles were unique, where dependency on the apostles was absolute, and every church owed its existence to the apostles. The apostles went on missionary journeys. They were intinerant. They didn't suddenly turn up and demand wages for life, like so many ministers. Yet of supreme importance was that they offered a quality of preaching that most "preachers" today would find difficult to attain to.

The days of the apostles were a concerted missionary activity of limited duration, requiring a lot of finance and commitment for perhaps a short period from the initial believers. Is the preacher of today really engaged in concerted missionary activity, or is he just enjoying a comfortable lifestyle?

The temptation nowadays is for Christian ministers to use coercive control on congregations to augment their wages: to threaten their congregations with divine punishments for not donating amount "X." Hence the rise of the mega churches, with far too much money going to the preachers, and the numerous scandals, with questionable leaders. Many preachers do not preach unpopular doctrines, like women's head coverings, or abstinence from TV and cinema etc, with a similar eye to their financial welfare.

OTOH, those that do urge their congregations to surrender the worldly pleasures can find themselves out of a paying church role in no time. Therefore it pays to have a trade too, as Paul the apostle did.

A church has to careful these days to make sure it is not being robbed (of both material and spiritual benefits) by a preacher / pastor ensconced in his office for a long time. No Christian should contemplate a life entirely free of secular work, unless they are especially gifted or called.

Quote
159. Seven years lasted the famine, but it came not to the artisan's door (Sanh. 29a; D. 622).

Cf. also "It is a father's duty to teach his son a trade" (Kiddushin. 29a), and "He who does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal" (ibid.). A man without a regular occupation was not permitted to act as judge or even give testimony (Sanhedrin. 24b).
(https://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/ajp/ajp09.htm)
(http://www.halakhah.com/)

https://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/ajp/ajp09.htm
http://www.halakhah.com/

Offline Amos Ministries

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Re: Worse Than An Unbeliever? Understanding 1 Timothy 5:8
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2021, 05:00:55 PM »
That is, all Christians do the work of Levites. We can't all be financilly dependent on other Christians, or even a sizeable minority of us, for that would be to turn the working believers into slaves, not brethren (which is the distinct attitude issue I have with many "ministers" lecturing to others as if slaves).

Today widows have some provision from the State and in the form of pensions. The burden of looking after the elderly can be extremely large, given the standard of living that they expect (e.g. homes heated 24 hours a day + medical care which could also be very expensive). That is not to disburn the Christian but to contextualize the matter that social security for the aged will be practically impossible unless the Christian is in paid work.

Not every self-appointed preacher has a "right" to receive anything from a church. There are the thorny questions of appropriate qualification, of the discretion inherent in every believer to choose whom to give to, and the period of the maintenance. When I was young, becoming a minister was a very attractive proposition to so many. There was a long waiting list, e.g. in the Baptist churches, for ministerial appointment. Competition was intense for the profitable livings.

The days of the apostles were unique, where dependency on the apostles was absolute, and every church owed its existence to the apostles. The apostles went on missionary journeys. They were intinerant. They didn't suddenly turn up and demand wages for life, like so many ministers. Yet of supreme importance was that they offered a quality of preaching that most "preachers" today would find difficult to attain to.

The days of the apostles were a concerted missionary activity of limited duration, requiring a lot of finance and commitment for perhaps a short period from the initial believers. Is the preacher of today really engaged in concerted missionary activity, or is he just enjoying a comfortable lifestyle?

The temptation nowadays is for Christian ministers to use coercive control on congregations to augment their wages: to threaten their congregations with divine punishments for not donating amount "X." Hence the rise of the mega churches, with far too much money going to the preachers, and the numerous scandals, with questionable leaders. Many preachers do not preach unpopular doctrines, like women's head coverings, or abstinence from TV and cinema etc, with a similar eye to their financial welfare.

OTOH, those that do urge their congregations to surrender the worldly pleasures can find themselves out of a paying church role in no time. Therefore it pays to have a trade too, as Paul the apostle did.

A church has to careful these days to make sure it is not being robbed (of both material and spiritual benefits) by a preacher / pastor ensconced in his office for a long time. No Christian should contemplate a life entirely free of secular work, unless they are especially gifted or called.
(https://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/ajp/ajp09.htm)
(http://www.halakhah.com/)

None of what you have said is biblical, all of it is just your worldly opinions. But I have been over all this with you before and I can see it was a waste of time.
https://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/ajp/ajp09.htm
http://www.halakhah.com/
Pastor Amos

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