Thursday, September 25, 2014

08 - 1 Timothy 5:1-16 - Lessons for Leaders

Lesson 08                                             “Honoring Widows”                          1 Timothy 5:1-16
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context: Read 1 Timothy 4:12-5:25 to understand the context of this passage.  Then read 1 Timothy 5:1-16 in a more literal or more dynamic version than you usually use.
1.     WS:  (5:1-2) What is the difference between rebuking (epiplēssō) and exhorting (parakaleō)?  What should our tone be when addressing the older? (Leviticus 19:32)  To the younger?
2.     ID: (5:3-4) Which widows should the church not need to “honor” (timaō Matthew 15:4-6; Acts 28:8-10)?  What reasons does Paul give for children and grandchildren to care for their parents and grandparents?
3.     WS/CR: (5:8) How does Paul describe those who do not care for their own? How does this compare with other teaching about caring for parents? (Exodus 20.12; Proverbs 20:20; 28:24; Malachi 6:1; Ephesians 6:2; Mark 7:9-12; Matthew 5:46-47; 15:4-6; Acts 6:1-4)
4.     ID:  (5:5-7, 9-10) What were the qualifications and activities of a widow the church was to care for?  How are we to understand “washed the saint’s feet” in our modern western culture?
5.     ID:  (5:11-15) What cautions did Paul give about younger widows?  What advice did Paul give to younger widows?  
6.     Note:  It is interesting to observe that the assistance described was not given to all the widows who had a financial need.  This raises some interesting questions.
The WALK: What should I do?
1.     Why do you think the Holy Spirit led Paul to give so many instructions about caring for widows?
2.     What are some challenges and joys of caring for an older relative?
3.     How has someone who does not care for his own become an infidel (apistos) and denied his faith?  How does the “social safety net” affect the family and church’s responsibility to widows?
4.     Do you know or know of any “1 Timothy 5:10 women”? 
5.     CSBI: What is the doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration?  Does it affect our understanding of what the Bible is and how we respond? How or why not?
Going Beyond: 1. What areas of theology are touched on in this passage?
q   The Bible (Bibliology)   q  God (Theology Proper)   q  The Father (Paterology)   q  The Son (Christology)   q  The Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)   q  Man (Anthropology)    q  Salvation (Soteriology)   q  The Church (Ecclesiology)   q  Angels & Satan (Angelology)    q  Future Things (eschatology)

Inspiration is the way in which God gave his Word to us through human authors, but how he did is a matter not fully understood.  In this section of the Articles of Affirmation and Denial the framers of the document explicitly deny understanding the mode of inspiration.  But they affirm, as Scripture itself also does (2 Tim. 3:16), that the Bible is the product of divine inspiration and that this work extended through the human writers to each section and even each word of the original documents.  The process of inspiration did not make the biblical writers automatons, for their books reveal differences of vocabulary, style and other matters of variation be human author and another.  But inspiration did overcome any tendency they may have had to error, with the result that the words they wrote were precisely what God, the divine author, intended us to have.

We affirm that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.
We deny that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.
What is in view in Article VI is the doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration.  Plenary inspiration means that the whole of Scripture is given by divine inspiration.  Because some have maintained that the whole has been given by inspiration but some parts of that whole are not of divine inspiration we are speaking of the origin of Scripture, which does not begin with the insights of men, but comes from God himself.
In the affirmative section of Article VI we read the phrase “down to the very words of the original.”  The clause “down to the very words” refers to the extent of inspiration, and the words “of the original” indicate that it is the autographs that were inspired.  The limiting of inspiration to the autographs is covered more fully later in Article X, though it is plain in this article that the verbal inspiration of the Bible refers to the original manuscripts.
The fact that Article VI speaks of divine inspiration down to the very words of the original may conjure up in some people’s minds a notion of dictation of the words of Scripture by God.  The doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration has often been charged with carrying with it the implication of a dictation theory of inspiration.  No such theory is spelled out in this article, nor is it implied. In fact, in Article VII the framers of the statement deny the dictation theory.
The issue of dictation has raised problems in church history. In the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century the Roman Catholic Church did use the word dictante, meaning “dictating,” with respect to the Spirit’s work in the giving of the ancient texts.  In the Protestant camp, John Calvin spoke of the biblical writers as being amanuensesor secretaries.  Added to this is the complex fact that there are portions of Scripture which seem to be given by some form of dictation, such as the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. However, in the modern era dictation as a method carries with it the canceling out of human literary styles, vocabulary choices, and the like. This article does not mean to imply such a view of inspiration that would negate or vitiate the literary styles of the individual authors of the biblical documents. The sense in which Calvin, for example, spoke of secretaries and even in which Trent spoke of dictating could hardly be construed to conform to modern methods of dictating using sophisticated equipment such as dictaphones and secretarial transcriptions. The historical context in which these words have been used in the past has specific reference to the fact that inspiration shows some analogy to a man issuing a message that is put together by a secretary. The analogy points to the question of origin of the message. In the doctrine of inspiration what is at stake is the origin of the message from God rather than from human initiation.
The mode of inspiration is left as a mystery by these articles (cf. Article VII).  Inspiration, as used here, involves a divine superintendence which preserved the writers in their word choices from using words that would falsify or distort the message of Scripture. Thus, on the one hand, the Statement affirms that God’s superintendence and inspiration of the Bible applied down to the very words and, on the other hand, denies that he canceled out the exercise of the writers’ personalities in the choices of words used to express the truth revealed.
Evangelical Christians have wanted to avoid the notion that biblical writers were passive instruments like pens in the hands of God, yet at the same time they affirm that the net result of the process of inspiration would be the same.  Calvin, for example, says that we should treat the Bible as if we have heard God audibly speaking its message.  That is, it carries the same weight of authority as if God himself were heard to be giving utterance to the words of Scripture. (Institutes, I, vii, 1; Sermons on Gospel Harmony XLVI, p. 164 and passim).  That does not mean that Calvin believed or taught that God did in fact utter the words audibly.  We do not know the process by which inspired Scripture was given.  But we are saying that inspiration, however brought it about, results in the net effect that every word of Scripture carries with it the weight of God’s authority.

Learn more about verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible at

Leader Notes:

1.  I would encourage you to flesh out the meaning of these two words and use this opportunity to promote civility and gentleness in our dealings with each other.
2.  It would be worthwhile to spend some time discussing how piety, gratitude, and pleasing to the Lord apply to caring for family.  This answer lays the foundation for questions  #3 in the Word and #3 in the Walk.
5. This is an interesting question about whether we take the passage literally or see it as a first century cultural thing that would have other equivalents today.
2. This will be a good opportunity for those who care for or have cared for an older family member to share and be affirmed and encouraged by the rest.  It can also be a good mentoring time toward younger men who will have this responsibility someday.
3. Why is caring for your own such a fundamental part of being a Christian?  It could seem very “works” oriented.
6.  The doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration is very important.  Take a couple minutes to make sure your men understand the “basic bones” of what it is.

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