In a patriarchal society in which women ‘belonged’ to a man, a widow was in a very exposed and vulnerable position. She was on her own—outside normal relationships. Hence in the OT widows (and orphans) were an especial charge on the community's care (Exod. 22:22 ff.) and of concern to God (Ps. 68:5). The OT prophets frequently appealed to the nation's conscience on their behalf (e.g. Isa. 1:23). The apostles arranged for charitable distributions to widows (Acts 6:1 ff.). Some of the younger widows took advantage of this (1 Tim. 5:9 ff.) and restrictions had to be imposed. Paul, though reluctantly (1 Cor. 7:40), thought it reasonable that marriageable widows who had the opportunity might remarry and later this liberty seems to have been positively accepted (1 Tim. 5:14) but with a sly innuendo (5:11).

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