by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 5 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6 Lincolnton, NC November 20, 2005
9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
10 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.
1901 ASV Translation:
9 Let none be enrolled as a widow under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
10 well reported of for good works; if she hath brought up children, if she hath used hospitality to strangers, if she hath washed the saints' feet, if she hath relieved the afflicted, if she hath diligently followed every good work.
I. Paul's Statement of "Blamelessness".
A. In 5:7 Paul exhorted Timothy to "command" this teaching so that "they" might be without reproach: the issue is the "qualifications" of those widows who are to be provided for by the church as well as the responsibility of those who are related to the widows.
1. The implication is strong that Paul didn't think women would "get to" this kind of maturity without the insistence of the pulpit.
2. Another implication is that Paul did not feel that the church should shoulder the responsibility of taking responsibility off the people of God.
a. There is no escape from the bottom line: God has addressed people so that they can come to godliness of character.
b. Being "under grace" does not mean being free from responsibility; it means being enabled by God to meet it.
1) Paul pointedly declared that the "grace of God" appeared for the express purpose of teaching men how to live "soberly, righteously, and godly" in the present world: Titus 2:11-14.
2) It is a fundamental rejection of "grace" to live any other way because "grace" is, by definition, "God in action" by reason of the faith of the people of God. Where there is no "godliness", there is no "grace".
3) Teaching that there is no "responsibility" is both a perversion of "grace" ("turning it into lasciviousness" -- Jude 4) and an effective mechanism to guarantee that people will be irresponsible.
c. Being "under Law" is not essentially being "under necessity"; it is essentially being "under necessity without provision".
1) Paul taught in Romans 5:13 that "sin is not imputed" when there is no law, but he did not teach that death does not reign where sin exists [Note Romans 5:14].
a) How does this work?
b) "Imputed" sin has to do with relational realities -- how relationships are affected in respect to vengeance -- whereas "sin" simply has to do with consequential realities -- what is going to happen downline from a choice/action because we live in a cause/effect universe. God can sustain a relationship with an individual to whom He does not "reckon" sin without lifting any of the consequences of their behavior off their shoulders in terms of the things they have set in motion. God does not impose "wrath" upon those to whom He does not "reckon" sin, but that does not free them from the reality that one reaps what he sows.
2) The only way one reaps good is by sowing it. The only way a human being can sow good is "by the Spirit" (Galatians 6:8 compared with Galatians 5:25).
a) The implication of the Galatians 5:25 text is that one can be "alive" and not be experiencing the benefits of "life" to some degree. This implies a sharp distinction between having life as a "union between spirit and Spirit" and experiencing life as the expression of the Spirit in action. The point is that "experience" tends to be "generally comprehensive" with the predominant focus being upon the dominant reality (a person can be in perfect health but in great pain because of a nail stuck in one's foot--the predominant "experience" is of pain even though there is nothing wrong with 99% of the body involved). Just so, one can be in union with the Spirit of God and in great pain because the flesh is generating all manner of downline pains.
b) Paul never lifted this reality from us in all of his teachings: the only way to experience good is to sow it.
3) The "mixed bag" of a person's "reaping"...
a) Because all sow both kinds of seed (to the flesh/to the Spirit), all reap a mixture in the current harvest. It is only at the final judgment, when Christ sits to reward, that there will be no mixture after the fact.
b) Because all share the same "this-world" space, everyone is affected by the sowing of all others also -- both good and evil -- so the mixture continues.