1 Timothy

Gary North

We live in a series of covenantal hierarchies: family, church, and civil. We also face economic hierarchies. There are endless debates about who owes how much allegiance to whom.

Paul here sets forth a basic principle of law: men who break god’s civil laws are not covenant-keepers (1:9-10). Paul makes it clear that God’s Bible-revealed law is God’s standard for all civil governments.

As for church elders, they must run their homes well and be hospitable (3:1-6). What a man does in his home will be what he does in the church. If he performs poorly in his home, he is not to be allowed to become a church officer.

The church must be charitable, but the first institution of welfare is the family. Thus, no widow who has relatives to support her is to receive funds from the church (5:4).

Paul says nothing about the state as a source of charity. Neither does any other writer of a biblical text. Yet modern Christian socialists and welfare statists go on endlessly about the need for higher taxes on the rich and more money government spent to assist the poor. They take what they were taught in college by God-hating socialist professors and impose this worldview on the Bible.

I Timothy makes it clear that no poor person has a legal claim on anyone else’s money. If the church is not allowed to support a poor widow unless she is at least 60 years old, has been married only once, and has no relatives to support her, there is no way to make a New Testament case for the welfare state.

I Timothy


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