1 Timothy


4. Directions for ruling a church, 5:1-6:2

i] Dealing with widows


Following a general comment on the importance of a young minister showing respect toward the members of his flock, Paul gives directions on the management of female members who are bereft of a partner.


i] Context: See 4:6-10. In 5:1-6:2 Paul gives general instructions for the treatment of various groups in the church. In the opening verses Paul offers a general instruction to Timothy to show respect to aged and young alike, v1-2, he then addresses the treatment of widows and their code of conduct, v3-16, then the elderly / elders, v17-25, and finally slaves, 6:1-2.


ii] Background: See 1:1-11.


iii] Structure: Instructions on the conduct of widows:

General instruction, v1-2:

Treat all people with respect.

Specific instructions - women without a partner", v3-16:

The support of women who are without a partner, v3-8:

The general responsibility of the congregation, v3;

The primary responsibility of the extended family, v4;

  A description of those worthy of support, v5-6;

  A warning for a failure to extend support, v7-8.

The qualifications for enrolment of a chraV, v9-10.

Instructions concerning a younger chraV, v11-15:

They are not to be enrolled, v11-13;

They should marry, v14-15.

Concluding instruction, v16:

Female relatives should offer primary support to a chraV.


iv] Interpretation:

The passage begins with a general instruction to Timothy on respecting church members, v1-2, then follows instructions on the care of widows, v3-16. Respect shown toward real widows, and thus their care, is first and foremost a responsibility of their family, v3-8, 16. This care must be directed toward a "real" widow, rather than a widow "who lives for pleasure" - a note is given on distinguishing the two in v5-7. Paul next orders the katalegw, "enrolling", of widows, of their being "put on a list" for the purpose of pastoral care / ministry (the order of widows), v9-15. The selection criteria is noted in v9-10, which criteria defines their role in the congregation. Paul then explains why younger widows should not be enrolled, but should rather consider remarriage, v11-15.


The Order of Widows: Women, particularly elderly women, who are bereft of a partner, were a socially disadvantaged group in the ancient world. It is possible that this explains why their recognition and ordering in the church community is given in such great detail, even in more detail than the duties of bishops / elders, deacons. Although the care of these women is addressed in this passage, particularly with respect to the responsibilities of their families, there seems to be another issue at play. Barrett suggests that there is evidence for a formal order of widows acting as officers of the church - female deaconesses / servants of Christ. He argues that there seems to be a conflating of instructions for an order of widows who exist to serve the church in prayer etc. and instructions for widows in general, either aged and in need of support, or the young who should remarry. It is possible that there is some disorder among their number and so they need careful regulation. Marshall suggests that there is indeed a problem, which is why Paul gives so much attention to the issue. Either the order of widows is somewhat out of control, or the care of widows is overwhelming the churches limited resources. Either way, the solution is that the younger widows need to get remarried. Marshall thinks it is unlikely that there is an order of widows - Paul gives Timothy these instruction so "that charitable care is properly directed."

To further complicate the issue, there is some evidence that the word chraV, "widows", covers a wider group than those we would understand as widows. It is possible that the word, with its general sense of "bereft of one's spouse", BAGD, includes divorcees, official or otherwise, possibly including believing women / the spiritual, discarded by their secular husbands, cf., 1Cor.7:1-40 (the "unmarried" specifically may refer to divorcees, v8). Given Jesus' teaching on marriage and divorce, a divorced / separated woman may not be readily accepted within the Christian congregation. Law-bound believers / nomists, those believers who were troubling the church in Ephesus, would particularly find it difficult to offer the hand of fellowship to a divorced / discarded female member bereft of a spouse. A failure to understand the function of Jesus' idealistic teaching on divorce (it serves to expose a person's sin and thus their condemnation under God, rather than impose an ethical imperative) would easily blindside them.


v] Exposition: A simple verse-by-verse exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 5:1

i] Instruction - ministers should show respect toward the members of their congregation, v1-2.

mh epiplhxhV (epiplhssw) aor. subj. "do not rebuke" - do not rebuke, reprimand, censure. Subjunctive of prohibition.

presbuterw/ (oV) dat. "an older man" - an elder / elderly man. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to rebuke." Possibly referring to a person holding the position of an elder in the church, but more likely an older member of the church.

alla "but" - Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction; "not ...., but ...."

wV "as if he were" - [encourage, exhort, entreat] as [a father]. Here the comparative particle is adverbial, expressing manner; "encourage him in much the same way as you would encourage your father." "Appeal to him as you would to a father", Barclay.

newteroV adj. treat [younger men]" - [encourage younger men as brothers]. The adjective serves as substantive, accusative direct object of the assumed verb "to encourage"; "Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers", ESV. The instruction to Timothy, with regard to the members of his congregation, is don't "censure severely" (Guthrie), but "appeal" to them in the same way you would appeal to a member of your family. Presumably the instruction to older men applies in the same way to younger men, and older and younger women. Paul is simply advising Timothy on a classic people-management technique, one overly developed in How to Win Friends and Influence People. We are best to avoid techniques that manipulate the weak-minded.


en + dat. "with [absolute purity]" - [elderly women as mothers, younger women as sisters] in [all purity, chastity]. The preposition is adverbial, introducing a modal construction, expressing manner, as NIV. The adverbial phrase most likely modifies the "appeal" to "younger women", reminding Timothy that his dealings with young women must be performed with "all = absolute" "purity = chastity", ie., identifying the inherent danger of sexual attraction.


ii] Managing women in the congregation who are without a partner, v3-8: a) The principle - show respect, in the sense of extending practical care, to those women in the congregation who are genuinely in need.

tima (timaw) pres. imp. "give proper recognition" - honour. Respect, in the terms of extending practical care and support; "take care of any widow who is really in need", CEV.

chraV (a) "widows" - See "Interpretation" above.

ontwV adv. "who are really in need" - [that are] truly, really [widows]. The adverb is being used as an attributive adjective, as NIV. Women bereft of a spouse and without extended family are "truly" widowed and are in need of the church's support, they are "widows who are such in the full sense", NEB


b) Under normal circumstances, the practical needs of a woman bereft of a spouse should be met, where possible, by her family.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a contrasting point in the argument.

ei + ind. "if" - if, as is the case, [a certain widow has children or grandchildren, then]. Introducing a conditional clause 1st. class where the condition is assumed to be true.

prowton adv. "first" - [let them learn] first. Modifying the verb "learn" by establishing precedence - what they should learn first. With the sense "before anything else"; "they should learn as their first duty", NEB. "Learn" with the sense "to become proficient in", TH.

eusebein (eusebew) pres. inf. "to put their religion into practice" - to show piety, reverence [to the one's own household and to render recompense]. "Show piety" in the sense of "be dutiful toward." As with apodidonai, "to give back", the infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they must learn, namely, "to discharge what is a religious duty to their family", Barclay.

toiV progonoiV (oV) dat. "parents" - to the parents. Dative of indirect object.

gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why they (the family / household) should be dutiful toward individual members of their household, "for this is the very thing that finds acceptance in the sight of God", Cassirer.

enwpion + gen. "[this is pleasing] to [God]" - [this is acceptable] before [god]. Spacial; "before" in the sense of "in the sight of." "Acceptable" is a far better sense, given that there is little we could ever do that would "please" God.


c) Those women bereft of a spouse, who rightly qualify for the care of the church, are now described, v5-6. They are worthy of care because they are on their own / without family support, and are involved in the life of the Christian community, v5, unlike those who are "given over to self-indulgence", NEB, v6; "she is a person who in her destitute state, and lack of human support, has placed her trust in God and is shown to do so by her continual prayer", Marshall.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument.

ontwV adv. "really in need" - [the widow] truly, really. The truly widowed / widowed indeed = "real widows", RSV, "a genuine widow", those who qualify for the church's support.

kai "and" - Probably epexegetic; "that is, left alone."

memonwmenh (monow) perf. mid. / pas. part. "left all alone" - the one having become alone. The participle, although anarthrous, probably serves as a substantive; "the true bereft, ie., a woman left alone.". The "real widow" is a woman not only bereft of a spouse, but bereft of a supportive family.

epi "[has set her hope] in [God]" - [has set hope] on, upon [god]. Spacial. Virtually a belief statement, ie., she is a believer; "she trusts in God completely", TH. The use of the perfect tense of the verb elpizw, "to hope", expresses a "settled attitude that looks to God", Marshall.

taiV dehsesin (iV ewV) dat. "to ask God for help" - [and continues in] the = her supplications [and the = her prayers]. As with taiV proseucaiV, "prayers, entreaties", dative of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to continue in, stay with." The presence of the article may specify, so "the prayers and supplications of the church" = "the worship of the church" = "church services", contra Barrett. If a distinction exists, "supplications" are prayers for oneself, while "entreaties" are prayers for others. She is not only a believer, she is a prayerful / pious believer; "the activity of prayer has become the widow's regular habit", TH.

nuktoV (ux uktoV) gen. "night" - night [and day]. The genitive is adjectival, of definition / temporal.


de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step to a contrasting point. The "real widow / widows who are such in the full sense" stand apart from the self-indulgent widow.

hJ ... spatalwsa (spatalaw) pres. part. "the widow who lives for pleasure" - the ones living in luxury, living a life of self-indulgence, living voluptuously, ostentatiously. The participle serves as a substantive. Sexual immorality may be implied, but an independent and abundant life-style is probably the sense intended. She is probably one of the rich women referred to in 2:9b. In contrast to the "real widow", she is of someone who lives an indulgent worthless life; a real widow is not like this. "The woman described here is not left alone economically, but can afford a life of luxury and idleness", Johnson.

zwsa (zaw) pres. part. "[is dead] even while she lives" - [has died] living. The participle is adverbial, taken either as temporal, "is dead while living", or concessive, "although living ("living it up", Knight) she is dead ("spiritually dead", Marshall). "Though she supposes she is enjoying life, she might as well be dead, since she is of no use to anyone (as good as dead)", Barrett.


d) Instruction to relatives regarding the care of a family member who is bereft - to deny care is to deny the faith, v7-8.

kai "-" - and. Here probably adjunctive, "also", assuming that Paul is now addressing the children and grandchildren. Some commentators think he is still addressing the widows, particularly the order of widows (if such ever existed!!), in which case kai is simply serving as a connective. The point of the instruction would be that as an order of the church, the widows must behave in a way that is above reproach. The instructions are possibly to both widows and their families, so Guthrie.

tauta pro. "these instructions" - these things [charge]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to charge." Referring back to the instructions in v4, or if the instructions are to the widows, then v5-6 are in view.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [they may be]. Here introducing a purpose clause. "The children and grandchildren are blameworthy if they do not care for their parents", Knight.

anepilhmptoi adj. "open to blame" - blameless, irreproachable. Predicate nominative.


ei + ind. "-" - if. Introducing a 1st. class conditional clause were the condition is assumed to be true - indefinite due to tiV, "a certain person"; "if anyone, as is the case, does not provide for one's own, especially household members, then he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever"

twn idiwn gen. adj. "their relatives" - [anyone does not provide for] the one's own relatives. As with oikeiwn, "household", genitive of direct object after the proV prefix verb "to take care of, provide for."

malista adv. "[and] especially" - [and] especially [household members]. Superlative adverb, possibly introducing an appositional construction, "namely", cf., Marshall; "if anyone fails to make provision for those who belong to them, namely / I mean their family, then ....."

hrnhtai (arneomai) perf. mid. / pas. "has denied" - he has denied [the faith]. The perfect expresses ongoing implications for the denial, repudiation, disowning. The denial is of thn pistin, "the faith", obviously objective = the Christian faith, all that Christianity stands for. The thought is not of actually rejecting Christianity, but of acting in a way that denies what Christianity stands for, ie., "not formal apostasy, but practical denial", Marshall.

xeirwn comp. adj. "worse [than an unbeliever]" - [and is] worse [than an unbeliever]. The comparative adjective is used with the genitive of comparison apostou, "unbeliever", to express the the point that a believer who fails to care for their family is acting in an openly reprehensible way, given that even godless people have the innate sense to care for their family, cf., Rom.2:14-15.


iii] Qualifications for the enrolment of bereft women for the purpose of their care / for the purpose official service to the church - Over sixty, not married, and of good character, v9-10. As already noted, the purpose of this enrolment is unclear. Fee, Barrett, ....., hold that the enrolment was for a regular order of widows to act as officers of the church, contra Marshall, Knight, Jeremias, Towner, ...., who hold that the list simply establishes those who can properly expect charitable relief.

katalegesqw (katalegw) pres. pas. / mid. imp. "may be put on the list" - let [a widow] be included = enrolled. Hapax legomenon / once only use in the NT.

gegonuia (ginomai) perf. part. "she is" - having become. The participle is adverbial, conditional; "if she is not less than sixty years old", ESV.

etwn (oV) gen. "[over] sixty" - [not less than] years [sixty]. Genitive of comparison. "Widows for your church list should be at least sixty years of age", Phillips.

androV (h droV) gen. "[has been faithful to her] husband" - [a wife] of [one] husband, man. The genitive is adjectival, relational. The sense is not overly clear - see "husband of one wife", 3:2, 12, Tit.1:6. It seems unlikely that Paul means she has only ever been married once, since he suggests that younger widows should consider remarriage. It is similarly unlikely that a widow who has been partnered in a former polyandrous relationship, or is a remarried divorcee now widowed, or who had married a divorcee and is now widowed, would be unable to receive help from their Christian community, now that they are converted and living a faithful life. It is possible that the phrase conveys a moral sense, as NIV; "she has been a faithful wife." This sense is accepted by most commentators, even as far back as Theodore of Mopsuestia, but is also problematic in that a person may well have lived an immoral life, but having found Christ, can turn their life around. Now widowed, are they to be denied Christian care because of their former indiscretions? What happened to divine grace? This problem supports those who contend that at this point Paul is giving instructions for a church order of bereft women / deaconesses. As an order of the church, they must be above reproach. It is possible that the sense is technical, known to Timothy but not to us, eg., a woman who is not remarried following the death or divorce of her partner. This is bit obvious, but can be properly stated; "she is over sixty and not married."


marturoumenh (marturew) pres. mid./pas. part. "and is well known" - being attested. The participle is adverbial, conditional.

en "for [her good deeds]" - by [good works]. Instrumental, expressing means, "by reason of", but possibly local, "in the sphere of." "Is able to produce evidence of her Christian works." These "works, deeds" are then listed, "such as", NIV, in a series of conditional clauses. Often taken as a list of examples rather than requirements.

ei + ind. "-" - if. Introducing a conditional clause 1st. class where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, she raised children, ............, then ......." Technically, the apodosis, the then clause, is v9a; "then let the widow be put on the list." This apodosis applies to the list of coordinate protases which serve as examples of the "good deeds."

eteknotrofhsen (teknotrofew) "bringing up children" - she brought up children. Hapax legomenon, once only use in the NT. If "she has raised children" is intended, then is Paul suggesting that a childless widow has no right to the care of the church? If she had raised children, there would be no need for the church to care for her. A literal rendering would support the contention that an order of widows / deaconesses is intended, ie., she can demonstrate her management gifts by her offspring. Possibly the raring / care of orphaned children and foundlings is intended, so Marshall, D/C, Q/W. Possibly the quality of her raring is in mind; "when she was married, she performed honourably the duties of wife and mother", Towner, cf., Johnson. As with "a wife of one man / husband", a technical sense possibly applies, known to Timothy, but not to us. "A reputation for helping out with children and strangers", Peterson.

aJgiwn adj. "of the saints / of the Lord's people" - [if she showed hospitality, if she washed feet] of saints. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, possessive. A descriptive used of humble service, but quite possibly a technical phrase for hospitality; "welcoming God's people into her home", CEV.

qlibomenoiV (qlibw) pres. mid./pas. dat. part. "those in trouble" - [if she gave assistance, helped] the ones in trouble, oppressed, crushed, distressed. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to give assistance to." "Reached out a helping hand to those in distress", Cassirer.

panti dat. adj. "all kinds of" - [if she dedicated, devoted, gave herself to] every good work. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to devote oneself to." This protasis is a catchall, generalising the particular examples already given; "in short, by doing good at every opportunity", REB.


iv] Instructions concerning younger bereft women, v11-15: a) The reasons why a young bereft woman should not be enrolled in the order / list of widows, v11-13. If the purpose of the list is to specify those who should rightly receive the support of the Christian community, then the instruction cuts across a believer's responsibility to care for their brother or sister in need. It may take years, if at all, for a young woman to find another partner, and so, in the meantime, is she to starve to death? This again supports the contention that the list is for a church order of elderly women without a partner. Of course, the list may be just a more formal way of recognising those women in need of permanent care. The younger "widow" would still be cared for, but only until she finds a partner. Paul's words seem to imply that younger women were once enrolled but "discontinued because of its unfortunate results", Marshall.

de "as for" - but/and. Transitional connective, indicating a step in the argument.

newteraV adj. "younger [widows]" - [but refuse] younger [widows]. Accusative direct object of the verb "to refuse." "Younger", rather than "newer".

gar "for" - Introducing causal clause explaining why the younger women should not be enrolled.

oJtan + subj. "when" - Introducing a temporal clause, as NIV.

katastrhniaswsin (katastrhniaw) aor. subj. "their sensual desires overcome" - they lustfully desire against. The word may well have been coined by Paul and used by him to express lustful desires and passions that work against a person's commitment to Christ.

tou Cristou (oV) gen. "their dedication to Christ" - christ. Genitive of direct object after the kata prefix verb "to lustfully desire against." The sense is that her desire for sexual fulfilment, and thus her desire to marry, will work against "Christ", ie., it will work against her commitment / pledge to serve Christ as a woman enrolled in the order of women without a partner / unmarried women / women bereft of a man / "widows".

gamein (gamew) pres. inf. "to marry" - [they want] to marry. The infinitive may be classified as complementary, but better as introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they desire, namely, to marry.


ecousai (ecw) pres. part. "thus they bring [judgment on themselves]" - having [judgment]. The participle may be taken as attendant circumstance, "they want to marry and become guilty of breaking their prime engagement", Berkeley, or adverbial, consecutive, expressing result, "they desire to marry and so incur condemnation", ESV. The verb "have" here leans toward the sense "to cause something to happen", so "incur".

oJti "because" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why they "incur condemnation", "because ....."

pistin (iV ewV) "pledge" - [they violated the = their first] faith, pledge. Accusative direct object of the verb "to violate." It is usually held that the word here takes the rather specialised sense of "oath / solemn promise", Knight, D/C, Q/W, "commitment", Johnson. "It is implied that a woman, when enrolled as a widow, gave an undertaking - as it were, to Christ himself - not to marry, but to engage herself wholly to the Church", Barrett. None-the-less, the sense "faith" in Christ may well be intended. Of course, remarriage of itself doesn't necessarily undermine a person's faith in Christ, but it certainly can do so if one's partner is not a believer. This possibility is high in a predominately pagan society, so Marshal, Towner, Mounce.


aJma adv. "Besides" - [but/and] at the same time [also]. Together with the coordinative de and the adjunctive kai "denoting the coincidence of two actions in time", BAGD. Most translations opt for "besides".

periercomenai (periercomai) pres. mid. part. "going about" - [they learn to be idle] going around to [the houses]. The participle is adverbial, possibly temporal, but better modal, expressing the manner of the idleness, ie., house-hopping, gadding about - an abuse of a visitation ministry, D/C???. Better, "being idle time-wasters"; "frittering away their days on empty talk, gossip and trivialities", Peterson (One does have to admit that this is not necessarily a female problem, given the mundane level of conversation reached when mates get together for a few beers!!!).

ou ... alla "and not only ....., but ...." - [and not only idle] but [also gossips and busybodies]. A counterpoint construction, as NIV.

lalousai (lalew) pres. part. "saying" - The participle, although anarthrous, may be taken as adjectival, attributive, limiting by describing the two substantival adjectives "gossips and busybodies", "who say what they should not." Better adverbial, instrumental, expressing means, so Perkins; "by saying ....." "Chattering about things they should not be talking about at all", Barclay.

ta mh deonta (dei) pres. part. "things they ought not to" - the things not necessary. "Things that are not fitting." The participle serves as a substantive, accusative direct object of the participle "saying".


b) Young women bereft of a partner should marry, v14-15. This instruction seems to run counter to Paul's instructions in 1 Corinthians 7. It is likely that in his letter to the Corinthians Paul is dealing with ascetics in the church who spurn marriage and so, although he expresses agreement with them, he reinforces the right to marry - "it's better to marry than burn!" Paul tackles the problem of tongue-speaking in the Corinthian congregation in much the same way. He affirms the gift, even pointing to his own tongue-speaking aptitude, but as his argument develops in chapter 14, he establishes the priority of prophecy over tongues.

oun "So" - therefore. Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion.

newteraV comp. adj. "younger widows" - [i counsel] younger widows. The comparative adjective serves as a substantive with the context implying "widows". There is no indication that by marrying, the younger widow has a lower status than "the enrolled pensioner and servant of Christ", Barrett.

gamein (gamew) pres. inf. "to marry" - to marry [to bear children, to rule the house]. The infinitive, as with "to bear children", "to run the household" and "to give .......", introduces a dependent statement of perception expressing what Paul "wills, wants"; "I would prefer that young women get married, have children and look after their families", CEV.

didonai (didwmi) pres. inf. "and to give" - to give [no occasion, opportunity]. The infinitive as above. The sense seems to be that if a woman marries, has children and manages her home well, then she will give no opportunity to the enemy; "I would have the younger women marry again, have children, and keep house, leaving our enemies with no opportunity of pouring abuse upon us", Cassirer, so Knight.

tw/ antikeimenw/ (antikeimai) dat. pres. mid. part. "the enemy" - to the one opposing, against = the adversary. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object. The one who opposes may well be the antichrist / satan, but it may refer to humans who oppose the Christian church and are looking for an opportunity to do damage it.

carin + gen. "for [slander]" - on account of, for the sake of, on behalf of [cursing, reviling, insult, reproach]. Here expressing end goal, "for the purpose of", but possibly reason, "because of"; "providing no pretext for the purpose of slander."


gar "in fact" - for. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul encourages young widows to marry, "because ....", although often treated as explanatory, as NIV; "as it is some widows have already strayed after Satan", Moffatt.

hdh adv. "already" - already [some turned aside]. Temporal adverb. The temporal hdh added to the logical gar reinforces the immediacy of the problem.

opisw + gen. "to follow [Satan]" - after [the adversary (Heb.) = satan]. Spacial. The sense "gone to the devil", NEB, may mean nothing more than flirting with a single life-style that is inappropriate for a believer; "although some, alas, have already played into the enemy's hands", Phillips.


v] Concluding instruction to the female relatives of a woman bereft of a partner / husband / man, v16.

ei + ind. "if" - Introducing a conditional clause 1st class where the condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, a certain faithful woman has a widow, then let her care for her"

tiV pro. "any woman [who is a believer]" - a certain [faithful, believing] woman. The pronoun tiV, "a certain", nominative subject of the verb "to have", serves as a substantive, feminine, "a certain woman", modified / limited by the adjective pisth, "faithful", so "a certain faithful woman" = "a female believer". Variant pistoV h] pisth, "a certain male or female believer", is not well attested, but at least makes sense, so Barrett. Knight suggests that "a female believer" is intended because she is the one who would manage the care of a widow in the family.

exei (ecw) pres. "has [widows in her care]" - has [widows]. Somewhat elliptical / short-talk; "if a woman has relatives who are widows, let her care for them."

autaiV dat. pro. "[she should continue to help] them" - [let her care for, assist, help] them. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to care for." The verb, being present tense, is treated as durative by the NIV, "continue to help."

bareisqw (barew) pres. mid./pas. imp. "be burdened with them" - [and not] let [the church] be burdened, weighed down. Presumably the burden is financial.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that [it (the church) may assist]. Introducing a purpose clause; "in order that ....."; "so that the church is free to care for those who are genuinely widows."

taiV .... chraiV (a) dat. "those widows who are [really] in need" - the ones [really / truly] widowed. Dative of direct object after the epi prefix verb "to assist."


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