“[…] I desire the younger widows to marry, to bear children, to manage a household, to give no opportunity to the opposer to criticize.”
~1 Timothy 5:14
I have mixed feelings every time I read this passage.
Why did Paul’s advice differ from that given to the women in Corinth ten years earlier? (1 Cor. 7:8,9)
Why did Paul assume that a younger woman was incapable of controlling her sexual desires to the point of remaining single? (1 Tim. 5:11)
Christian women in the first century did not have less help from God’s holy spirit to exercise self-control, so it seems to me he made a rather sexist assumption. (Gal. 5:22-24)
While I can understand that some women who had originally felt hopeless and asked for the congregation’s material assistance might eventually backtrack on their choice and decide to remarry, it is a bit irritating that Paul would state that choice as a matter of fact. (1 Tim. 5:12)
It does seem that he was more concerned with protecting the congregation’s reputation than he was with advocating women’s rights.
While I struggle to see beyond my scope of modern millennial culture, the 2011 Watchtower, July Study edition, points out: “Paul’s words are directed to certain ‘younger widows,’ but the principles he mentions apply to all of us.”
The article goes on to explain that when we keep ourselves busy with good works, we are less likely to do harm to others, for example through gossip. (1 Tim. 5:13)
Paul also stressed the need for extended family members to care for each other first. (1 Tim. 5:16)
So whatever Paul’s reasons were for wording his instructions the way he did, the principles underlying his advice are timeless.
“Although those things have an appearance of wisdom in a self-imposed form of worship and a false humility, a harsh treatment of the body, they are of no value in combating the satisfying of the flesh.”
Is it wrong to fast?
Paul asked the Christian congregation at Colossae why they continued subjecting themselves to the man-made decrees: “Do not handle, nor taste, nor touch.” (Col. 2:20-22)
Although it is true that Paul himself fasted on occasion while praying, Jehovah expects his servants to serve him cheerfully and enjoy food.
(Eccl. 3:12,13; Acts 13:1-3; Acts 14:23; 1 Tim 1:11)
Furthermore, fasting itself does not help us combat other carnal desires.
And the Bible makes it clear that we cannot make up for our shortcomings through fasting. (Is. 58:3-7)
Whether a Christian chooses to fast or not is an entirely personal, private matter. (Matt. 6:16-18)
“All those who became believers were together and had everything in common, and they were selling their possessions and properties and distributing the proceeds to all, according to what each one needed.”
Were the first Christians practicing an early form of Communism?
The story of the first Christian congregation relates that they went from 120 members to over 3,000 people in a single day. (Acts 2:41,47)
Many of those people were from far away and had not originally planned to extend their stay in Jerusalem, but that is what they ended up doing in order to learn more about Christ. (Acts 2:5-11,42)
The generous Christians knew that very soon, they would be persecuted and eventually, Jerusalem would be destroyed, so their possessions would be lost. (Acts 8:1)
Their material things were put to better use because they had a sense of urgency, not because of a philosophical ideology.
While donations were administered by the congregation, property owners could choose how to manage their own assets. (Acts 2:46; 5:1-4)
Later on, a formal distribution was arranged for the benefit of widows only. (Acts 6:1-3; 1 Tim. 5:16)
Christians were always encouraged to share, even after the congregation had been well established. (Acts 20:35; Jas. 2:15-17)
But the fact that there were still class distinctions indicates that the congregation did not redistribute wealth as a rule. (Rom. 12:13; 15:26; 2 Cor. 9:7)
“At that time the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was wintertime, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the colonnade of Solomon.”
Should Christians celebrate Hanukkah?
Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the temple by Judas Maccabaeus after it had been desecrated and dedicated to Zeus three years earlier.
Unlike the previous two temple dedications, (Solomon’s and Zerubbabel’s), the Jews established a law which required everyone to celebrate the anniversary of this event.
They were not required to travel to Jerusalem, but in this particular case, Jesus did go to the temple for the celebration.
The temple had to be fully functional in Jehovah’s service in order for Bible prophecies to be fulfilled in Jesus. (Da. 9:27; Ps. 69:9; John 2:16,17)
But the Bible does not clarify whether those who had fought to reclaim the temple for Jehovah had accomplished this through divine intervention.
Either way, the temple sacrifices carried out in Jesus’ day served their purpose of being archetypes of Jesus’ sacrifice. (Gal. 3:23-25; Col. 2:13,14,17)
While early Christians were not to judge their brothers and sisters in matters of Jewish tradition, the Greek Scriptures far from encourage the continued observance of traditions relating to Jewish worship. (Col. 2:16; Gal. 4:10,11; Heb. 8:6)
Jesus had foretold the temple’s destruction and the end of traditional Jewish religion as they practiced it.
His prophecy was fulfilled 37 years after his death. (Luke 21:20-24; John 4:21-24; Awake. December 8, 1990. “Hanukkah—Is It a ‘Jewish Christmas'”?)
“In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.”
While Jesus was asked about the earthly resurrection, his answer seems to apply to the heavenly resurrection, a new concept to his audience.
The earthly resurrection will be in the flesh, much like that of Lazarus or the little girl he rose from the dead. (Luke 8:53-55; John 12:9-11)
But here Jesus speaks of a spiritual resurrection, likening those resurrected to angels.
This begs the question: can angels not die?
In order to die, Jesus had to leave his angelic body and become a man.
When he was born again as a spirit, death no longer had power over him. (Rom. 6:9)
God’s Word never refers to angels as being immortal, the way faithful anointed servants hope to be. (1 Co. 15:53)
Nor does the Bible ever mention the death of an angel.
As my husband pointed out, it is only fallen angels, or rather, demons, who await God’s judgment. (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6)
I personally would like further insight into this topic, but it is clear angels who remain faithful to God cannot die.
“And the Twelve were with him, as were certain women who had been cured of wicked spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had come out […].”
“As Jesus got out onto land, a demon-possessed man from the city met him. For a considerable time he had not worn clothing, and he was staying, not in a house, but among the tombs.”
How does a person succumb to demon possession and why did it seem to be so commonplace in Jesus’ day?
“Insight On The Scriptures” defines it as “the captive control and influence of a person by an invisible wicked spirit.”
That influence may manifest itself physically, emotionally or mentally through the victim.
Luke’s account demonstrates that it is possible for a person to be possessed by more than one demon, and it is possible for a demon to possess an animal.
When a person opens a portal into the occult, be it by superstitious practices, trying to communicate with the dead, diabolic entertainment, or through witchcraft, he makes himself vulnerable to demon possession.
In the case of King Saul, a demon began to attack him when he became arrogant and defiant in his service to Jehovah and lost God’s holy spirit. (1 Sam. 15:10,11,22,23; 16:14-16,23; 18:10-12)
When Jesus walked the earth, many Jewish leaders in particular had strayed from true worship and their attitude was heavily influenced by demons. (John 8:44)
Modern Christians do not practice exorcism, which tends to combine rites and chants or a combination of words, as if a person could be liberated from demons through magic.
Rather, they put on “the complete suit of armor” of Christian lifestyle and outright reject evil practices. (Eph. 6:11-18; Jas. 4:7)
“Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured from that hour.”
Does the Bible teach that illnesses are induced by demons?
While the boy in this story did exhibit symptoms of epilepsy, his sudden convulsions were actually being controlled by a demon. (Matt. 17:15)
Jesus’ disciples had Holy Spirit to cure the ill (Matt. 10:8)
The Bible differentiates between those who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. (Matt. 4:24)
Still, Jesus’ disciples could have expelled the demon from the boy’s body had they had sufficient faith. (Matt. 17:19,20)
In Bible history, there was someone who developed a disease as a result of a direct demonic attack.
But in the case of Job, he was being specifically targeted by Satan to try to prove points against Jehovah and against humankind. (Job 2:4-7)
It is not the standard in the Bible that illnesses or diseases are direct results of demon activity. (Rom. 5:12)
But regardless of the origin, God promises to do away with all suffering under Christ’s kingdom. (Isa. 33:24; Rev. 21:3,4)