Ezekiel, Jonah, and Pastoral Epistles by Patrick Fairbairn - 1 Timothy 5:12 - 5:12

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Ezekiel, Jonah, and Pastoral Epistles by Patrick Fairbairn - 1 Timothy 5:12 - 5:12

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Ver. 12. Hence the severe judgment pronounced on their case: having condemnation, because they made void their first faith—not broke their vow or promise to the church to remain in perpetual widowhood, and which, if it had been referred to, could at most have been designated their former, not their first faith; but their simple faith in Christ and consecration to His service when they first assumed the Christian name, and were admitted by baptism into the church. Bengel: Prima fides, primi temporis fides, quam initio habebant, priusquam viduis adscribebantur. So also Calvin, who, with reference to the other view, justly remarks, it affords too tame a sense, and asks, why the apostle should in that case have said first faith? He therefore holds that the charge is of a much heavier kind—namely, “that they had fallen away from the faith of their baptism, and from Christianity. For so is it wont to be the case, that they who once overstep the bounds of modesty prostitute themselves to all manner of shamelessness.” The greater part of modern commentators follow Tertullian, Chrysostom, and others of the ancients, whose ascetic tendencies naturally led them to see here the breach of a promise of widowhood, coupled with active service to the church. But of such a promise and of such service nothing whatever (as we have seen) is said by the apostle, and indeed it belongs to a much later period. If the placing of the persons in question on the church’s list of widows proceeded on a sort of tacit understanding or purpose that they would continue in widowhood, it is the whole that can fairly be supposed. And to represent a simple departure from such an understanding or purpose as of itself inferring a renunciation of their Christian faith, and an incurring of divine condemnation, had been a severity which it seems impossible to reconcile with the genius of the gospel, or with the liberty conceded and sanctioned by the apostle himself. It is not, therefore, we conclude, the simple question of adherence to a state of widowhood, or of departure from it, but such a course of defection from the decorum and purity becoming the gospel of Christ as argued a virtual abandonment of the faith.