“[…] 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.
“[…] Just as you are in fact walking, we request you and appeal to you by the Lord Jesus to keep doing it more fully.”
1 Thessalonians 4:1
The members of the Christian congregation in Thessalonica were not perfect.
They had moral standards and love, but could improve on both counts. (1 Thess. 4:3,4,9,10)
That is why Paul commended them while tactfully encouraging them to “pursue what is good toward one another.” (1 Thess. 5:15)
Regardless of how long it has been since we became Christians, ‘making sure of all things’ and ‘holding fast to what is fine’ is something we have to remember to do every day. (1 Thess. 5:4,6,8,21)
We cannot afford to take our faith for granted, and as long as we are imperfect, there will be things we can improve on.
“Working together with him, we also urge you not to accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.
For he says: ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you.’
Look! Now is the especially acceptable time. Look! Now is the day of salvation.”
~2 Corinthians 6:1,2
Serving God is not necessarily easy nor fun. While it is not burdensome, it does entail considerable effort and sacrifice. (Matt. 7:13,14; Phil. 3:12-14; 1 John 5:3)
It may be tempting to take the easy way out and leave drawing closer to God for a future time when life is more “settled” or we feel more “prepared.”
The reason God’s Day has not come is because he wants us to repent. (Rom. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9)
But we do not know what will happen tomorrow or a couple years down the line. (Jas. 4:13,14)
Even if we spent 80 or 90 years studying about Jehovah and Jesus, we would still have so much more to learn about them and all they have done for us. (Job 26:14)
We cannot store up time and return it to God at a later date.
If we meditate on how we can draw closer to him today, we will have fewer regrets when we finally do run out of time. (Is. 30:18; 55:6; Eph. 4:30; Jas. 4:17)
“Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
Paul had just advised Christians who were strong in the faith to selflessly bear the weaknesses of others. (Rom 15:1-3)
This requires a lot of humility and is not an easy thing to nurture in ourselves.
Being imperfect, we tend towards selfishness. (Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 7:18,19; 12:16)
Every day we have to struggle against the negative, discontent, self-centered spirit in the world. (Eph. 2:2; 4:17,18)
We may relate to the following statement: “Our obvious imperfection, standing in sharp contrast with the perfect pattern that Jesus left us, may at times cause us to be discouraged. We may doubt that having the same mental attitude that Jesus had is even possible.”
Despite our inability to carry out everything God requires of us, we can still serve him in a way that pleases him.
We can read about dozens of exemplary people in the Bible who managed to serve him faithfully and be inspired to imitate their humble attitudes.(Rom. 15:4)
“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.
“[…] Give as gifts of mercy the things that are from within, and look! everything about you will be clean.”
What are the things “from within?”
Jesus has been asked to dine with the Pharisees and has reprimanded them for outwardly appearing to be spiritual while hiding greediness and wickedness within. (Luke 11:39)
“The one who made the outside made also the inside, did he not?”
Jesus explains God’s justice and love, which we are capable of imitating, should be our main focus.
Then he further denounces their religious hypocrisy. (Luke 11:40,42,44)
So when Jesus says to give gifts from within, he appears to be alluding to sharing generously from a pure heart, with selfless motives.
The attitude with which we give stems, of course, from the way we choose to think. (Jer. 4:14)
At the end of the day, God is looking at whether or not our love is sincere. (1 Pet. 4:8,9)
“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)