[A. Duane Litfin states, Bible Knowledge Commentary, NT edition, Walvoord & Zuck, editors, Victor Books, USA; 1988, p. 742]:

"Paul offered instruction on how Timothy [as a pastor and the congregation as a whole] must deal with the widows in the congregation. Throughout the Old and New Testaments widows, along with aliens and orphans, are viewed as special objects of God's mercy. As such they are to be taken under the wing of the congregation (cf. Deut. 10:18; 14:29; 24:17-21; Acts 6:1-7; James 1:27)."

[Compare Jas 1:27]:

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

[1 Tim 5:3]:

(v. 3) "Give proper recognition to widows who are left all alone.

["recognition" = lit., "honor"

In other words, the local church is to give proper help to widows who are in real need, i.e., who are all alone and dependent and cannot provide for themselves]


Just as all believers have the responsibility to care for those needing help, so much the more for widows and orphans and even more for family members in need:

[1 Tim 5:4-8, 16]:

(v. 4) "But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these [children and grandchildren] should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.

[Notice that a primary responsibility of the believer is to take care of his/her parents who are really in need. And notice that it was not just the sons, but also the daughters - the women who had the means to provide for their parents and grandparents]:

(v. 5) The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.

(v. 6) But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

(v. 7) Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.

(v. 8) If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever

(v. 16) If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need."

[Compare Mk 7:9-13 (cf. Mt 15:1-9)]:

(v. 9) "And He [Jesus, (v. 5)] said to them: 'You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

(v. 10) For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' [Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16 & Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9]

(v. 11) But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God),

[The Pharisees were accused of allowing the setting aside of an individual's wealth as 'Corban', i.e., as a 'gift devoted to God' but in actuality the donor retained much of the value of it under false pretenses and thus avoided having to provide for their needy parents]

(v. 12) then [Jesus goes on to say] you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother.

(v. 13) Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that."

[Notice that our Lord is chastising this false practice and supporting the obligation of children to take care of their needy parents]

[Hampton Keathley III states, (]:

"There are several passages that bear on the question you asked about caring for our parents. The first one deals with the oneness of a husband and wife along with the husband's responsibility to care for his wife as though she were his own flesh or body (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:28-32). The implication here is that the concerns and responsibilities of either spouse become that of the other spouse. Because of their union, the husband becomes biblically responsible to help in the care of his wife's parents according to their ability along with any other children that might and should be able to help. After my father died, we asked my mother who had several health problem to move in with us so we could care for her. My precious wife cared for her as though she were her own mother. My mom is now with the Lord, but several years ago, we built a duplex together with my wife's mom and dad so we could be close and when needed, be able to help, etc. They are now both in their eighties and they are beginning to need our help and input. I feel responsible also in this.

The second passage is Mark 78-13 where the Lord Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of Israel for the slick way they had sought to by pass their responsibility to honor their father and mother, which obviously included the responsibility to care for them in their older years.

A third passage is 1 Tim. 5:3-8, which deals with the care of one's own family members, especially widows, but his would naturally apply alto to widowers.

5:3 "Honor widows who are truly in need.

5:4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, they should first learn to fulfill their duty toward their own household and so repay their parents what is owed them. For this is what pleases God.

5:5 But the widow who is truly in need, and completely on her own, has set her hope on God and continues in her pleas and prayers night and day.

5:6 But the one who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.

5:7 Reinforce these commands, so that they will be beyond reproach. 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."

To fail to care for one's own is to act like an unbeliever rather than one who honors God's Word and one's own father and mother. Note that this even applies to grandchildren taking responsibility here. Scripture does not go into detail as to what this care involves, but certainly it includes the basic necessities of life along with loving and intimate attention. They need to know they are loved and honored and that they are not seen as a liability. Honoring them includes, as Paul mentions above, repaying one's parents for the care given when we were children. Because of the debilitating kind of things that can overtake our parents, they may need outside help, but they should never be just stuck in a acute care facilities or old folks homes, etc., and ignored. "