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Advice about Widows, Elders, and Slaves

Never speak harshly to an older man,[a] but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers. Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.

Take care of[b] any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God.

Now a true widow, a woman who is truly alone in this world, has placed her hope in God. She prays night and day, asking God for his help. But the widow who lives only for pleasure is spiritually dead even while she lives. Give these instructions to the church so that no one will be open to criticism.

But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.

A widow who is put on the list for support must be a woman who is at least sixty years old and was faithful to her husband.[c] 10 She must be well respected by everyone because of the good she has done. Has she brought up her children well? Has she been kind to strangers and served other believers humbly?[d] Has she helped those who are in trouble? Has she always been ready to do good?

11 The younger widows should not be on the list, because their physical desires will overpower their devotion to Christ and they will want to remarry. 12 Then they would be guilty of breaking their previous pledge. 13 And if they are on the list, they will learn to be lazy and will spend their time gossiping from house to house, meddling in other people’s business and talking about things they shouldn’t. 14 So I advise these younger widows to marry again, have children, and take care of their own homes. Then the enemy will not be able to say anything against them. 15 For I am afraid that some of them have already gone astray and now follow Satan.

16 If a woman who is a believer has relatives who are widows, she must take care of them and not put the responsibility on the church. Then the church can care for the widows who are truly alone.

17 Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well,[e] especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”[f]

19 Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. 20 Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others.

21 I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the highest angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing favoritism to anyone.

22 Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader.[g] Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.

23 Don’t drink only water. You ought to drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach because you are sick so often.

24 Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later. 25 In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious. And the good deeds done in secret will someday come to light.

Footnotes

  1. 5:1 Or an elder.
  2. 5:3 Or Honor.
  3. 5:9 Greek was the wife of one husband.
  4. 5:10 Greek and washed the feet of God’s holy people?
  5. 5:17 Greek should be worthy of double honor.
  6. 5:18 Deut 25:4; Luke 10:7.
  7. 5:22 Greek about the laying on of hands.

16 Send lambs from Sela as tribute
    to the ruler of the land.
Send them through the desert
    to the mountain of beautiful Zion.
The women of Moab are left like homeless birds
    at the shallow crossings of the Arnon River.
“Help us,” they cry.
    “Defend us against our enemies.
Protect us from their relentless attack.
    Do not betray us now that we have escaped.
Let our refugees stay among you.
    Hide them from our enemies until the terror is past.”

When oppression and destruction have ended
    and enemy raiders have disappeared,
then God will establish one of David’s descendants as king.
    He will rule with mercy and truth.
He will always do what is just
    and be eager to do what is right.

We have heard about proud Moab—
    about its pride and arrogance and rage.
    But all that boasting has disappeared.
The entire land of Moab weeps.
    Yes, everyone in Moab mourns
for the cakes of raisins from Kir-hareseth.
    They are all gone now.
The farms of Heshbon are abandoned;
    the vineyards at Sibmah are deserted.
The rulers of the nations have broken down Moab—
    that beautiful grapevine.
Its tendrils spread north as far as the town of Jazer
    and trailed eastward into the wilderness.
Its shoots reached so far west
    that they crossed over the Dead Sea.[a]

So now I weep for Jazer and the vineyards of Sibmah;
    my tears will flow for Heshbon and Elealeh.
There are no more shouts of joy
    over your summer fruits and harvest.
10 Gone now is the gladness,
    gone the joy of harvest.
There will be no singing in the vineyards,
    no more happy shouts,
no treading of grapes in the winepresses.
    I have ended all their harvest joys.
11 My heart’s cry for Moab is like a lament on a harp.
    I am filled with anguish for Kir-hareseth.[b]
12 The people of Moab will worship at their pagan shrines,
    but it will do them no good.
They will cry to the gods in their temples,
    but no one will be able to save them.

13 The Lord has already said these things about Moab in the past. 14 But now the Lord says, “Within three years, counting each day,[c] the glory of Moab will be ended. From its great population, only a feeble few will be left alive.”

A Message about Damascus and Israel

17 This message came to me concerning Damascus:

“Look, the city of Damascus will disappear!
    It will become a heap of ruins.
The towns of Aroer will be deserted.
    Flocks will graze in the streets and lie down undisturbed,
    with no one to chase them away.
The fortified towns of Israel[d] will also be destroyed,
    and the royal power of Damascus will end.
All that remains of Syria[e]
    will share the fate of Israel’s departed glory,”
    declares the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

“In that day Israel’s[f] glory will grow dim;
    its robust body will waste away.
The whole land will look like a grainfield
    after the harvesters have gathered the grain.
It will be desolate,
    like the fields in the valley of Rephaim after the harvest.
Only a few of its people will be left,
    like stray olives left on a tree after the harvest.
Only two or three remain in the highest branches,
    four or five scattered here and there on the limbs,”
    declares the Lord, the God of Israel.

Then at last the people will look to their Creator
    and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
They will no longer look to their idols for help
    or worship what their own hands have made.
They will never again bow down to their Asherah poles
    or worship at the pagan shrines they have built.
Their largest cities will be like a deserted forest,
    like the land the Hivites and Amorites abandoned[g]
when the Israelites came here so long ago.
    It will be utterly desolate.
10 Why? Because you have turned from the God who can save you.
    You have forgotten the Rock who can hide you.
So you may plant the finest grapevines
    and import the most expensive seedlings.
11 They may sprout on the day you set them out;
    yes, they may blossom on the very morning you plant them,
but you will never pick any grapes from them.
    Your only harvest will be a load of grief and unrelieved pain.

12 Listen! The armies of many nations
    roar like the roaring of the sea.
Hear the thunder of the mighty forces
    as they rush forward like thundering waves.
13 But though they thunder like breakers on a beach,
    God will silence them, and they will run away.
They will flee like chaff scattered by the wind,
    like a tumbleweed whirling before a storm.
14 In the evening Israel waits in terror,
    but by dawn its enemies are dead.
This is the just reward of those who plunder us,
    a fitting end for those who destroy us.

A Message about Ethiopia

18 Listen, Ethiopia[h]—land of fluttering sails[i]
    that lies at the headwaters of the Nile,
that sends ambassadors
    in swift boats down the river.

Go, swift messengers!
Take a message to a tall, smooth-skinned people,
    who are feared far and wide
for their conquests and destruction,
    and whose land is divided by rivers.

All you people of the world,
    everyone who lives on the earth—
when I raise my battle flag on the mountain, look!
    When I blow the ram’s horn, listen!
For the Lord has told me this:
“I will watch quietly from my dwelling place—
    as quietly as the heat rises on a summer day,
    or as the morning dew forms during the harvest.”
Even before you begin your attack,
    while your plans are ripening like grapes,
the Lord will cut off your new growth with pruning shears.
    He will snip off and discard your spreading branches.
Your mighty army will be left dead in the fields
    for the mountain vultures and wild animals.
The vultures will tear at the corpses all summer.
    The wild animals will gnaw at the bones all winter.

At that time the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will receive gifts
    from this land divided by rivers,
from this tall, smooth-skinned people,
    who are feared far and wide for their conquests and destruction.
They will bring the gifts to Jerusalem,[j]
    where the Lord of Heaven’s Armies dwells.

Footnotes

  1. 16:8 Hebrew the sea.
  2. 16:11 Hebrew Kir-heres, a variant spelling of Kir-hareseth.
  3. 16:14 Hebrew Within three years, as a servant bound by contract would count them.
  4. 17:3a Hebrew of Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.
  5. 17:3b Hebrew Aram.
  6. 17:4 Hebrew Jacob’s. See note on 14:1.
  7. 17:9 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads like places of the wood and the highest bough.
  8. 18:1a Hebrew Cush.
  9. 18:1b Or land of many locusts; Hebrew reads land of whirring wings.
  10. 18:7 Hebrew to Mount Zion.

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