The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

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1 Timothy 5:8: "he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever"

To see an example of how Paul meant faith and that for him it was not just a confession but a way of living, let’s go to 1 Timothy 5. There Paul is writing to Timothy about the widows and the obligations that children and grandchildren have to them. Verses 3 and 4 tell us:

1 Timothy 5:3-4
"Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God."

God cares for the widows and He commanded that first children and grandchildren take care of their needs. This is the declared will of God. Now let’s suppose that a believer with widows in his family, denies to do this. Paul speaks about this case in no unclear terms in 1 Timothy 5:8:

"But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

I do not think anybody would speak like this today. People today are afraid of speaking the truth, lest they offend somebody. But Paul did not have such problems and I am sure he loved the people probably more than all of us. In fact I believe he did not have such concerns exactly because he loved them. Paul and the other apostles and first and foremost the Lord Himself, never considered faith as something that cannot be denied, nor did they consider someone faithful just because he said so. When Paul said to the Corinthians to examine themselves whether they were in the faith, he was not referring to people who had verbally denied the Lord. These were definitely not in the faith. Instead he was referring to believers, to people who thought that they were in the faith and yet perhaps denied to practice it, denying for example to take care of the members of their household, including their widowed mother or grandmother. Such ones were not in the faith and though they had never verbally denied the Lord, they did so practically, by their acts. Therefore, denying the faith does not mean I stand up and make a confession with my mouth against the faith (though this can happen too). More frequently it means I deny to practice it, to do - consistently and habitually - what accompanies the faith, living it out. Paul, using the case of a so called believer who denied taking care of his household, said that he had denied the faith and he was worse than an unbeliever.

Next section: Go and sin no more: what the Lord expects from forgiven sinners.


Author: Anastasios Kioulachoglou