This is an interesting chapter and one where you can see that Paul has very specific advice for the church in Ephesus which may or may not apply to other churches with different demographic groups. He addresses the church and their treatment and their approach to widows. Verses 1-16 deal with the widows and those who are “real” widows and those who may not be as real. The way that Paul distinguishes them is really by age. Those over 60 are real widows and they have to have been married only once. The reason why the younger ones are not real is because they have sexual desires that will move them away from a life of purity. I’m thinking there was a problem in Ephesus which we don’t know about and which Paul felt like he had to address.
I can’t imagine using this as a guideline for us today. I can understand that Paul is thinking that the younger widows have the opportunity to marry again and so be taken care of materially in that way. The older widows, well, their opportunities in the first century would have been much more limited. They would not have men who would want to marry them which would have made them desperate to have their material needs met. The church had to rally around them to make sure they were taken care of.
He then switches gears and talks about pastors, he calls them elders which is the technical term for a pastor. You see, I’m officially called a teaching elder and those on session who are lay people are called ruling elders. I like the term Minister of the Word and Sacrament better but teaching elder is more biblical. Anyway, Paul tells the church to treat the pastors well. Make sure their needs are taken care of as well. So really, this chapter is all about making sure that the church not overlook its duties to take care of people who are under their care.