8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man,
10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.
provide (v.8) = perceive before, anticipate, think of beforehand, care for, provide
his own (v.8) — relatives
household (v.8) — living in his house
denied the faith (v.8) — in a practical sense. Under grace, works are an outpouring of love and thanks for what Christ has done. To neglect that response is to deny that part of the equation, that part of the faith. It does not mean that the person loses their salvation, or that the person was never saved to begin with. All Christians neglect the proper response at times. But to neglect it in the area of caring for one’s own, the person is more a fault than unbelievers who do care for their own naturally.
number (v.9) — those mentioned in verses 3 and 5, who receive church support
wife of one man (v.9) — There is some disagreement about this. Some commentaries say that it excludes women married more than once. I think it is just an injunction against those who have been divorced and remarried (or perhaps involved in polygamy) and so may still have a living husband. In verse 14, Paul recommends that widows under 60 remarry, and I find it difficult to believe that he was recommending them to enter into a condition in which they would never be eligible for church support in the future.
good (v.10 — 2x) — The first use is kalos = intrinsically good, fair, noble — The second use is agathos = beneficial
brought up (v.10) = reared, nourished
washed the saint’s feet (v.10) — at that time, in that culture, a necessity (indicated by the Greek), not a ritual
saints’ (v.10) = set apart for God, so, believers’ feet
I’m not sure that verses 9 and 10 are intended to be a checklist which a widow has to complete in full to be eligible. I think it probably means that she has to have performed well in any of these areas in which she had an opportunity to minister or act. So, a woman unable to bear children would not be excluded, but a woman who had children but did not care for them properly would be excluded. Perhaps it should be understood with the final clause first, like this:
A widow must have followed up every good work that she had an opportunity to act on in any of these categories:
- if she has brought up children
- if she has lodged strangers
- if she has washed the saints’ feet
- if she has relieved the afflicted
With the added understanding that she would not refuse any opportunities that arose.
But that’s just my opinion at this point. I could be wrong.