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1 Timothy 5:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And withal they learn to be idle - They do not love work, and they will not work.

Wandering about from house to house - Gadding, gossiping; never contented with home; always visiting.

And not only idle - If it went no farther, this would be intolerable; but they are tattlers - tale-bearers; whisperers; light, trifling persons; all noise and no work.

Busybodies - Persons who meddle with the concerns of others; who mind every one's business but their own.

Speaking things which they ought not - Lies, slanders, calumnies; backbiting their neighbors, and everywhere sowing the seed of dissension.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And withal - In addition to the prospect that they may marry again, there are other disadvantages which might follow from such an arrangement, and other evils to be feared which it is desirable to avoid.

They learn to be idle - That is, if supported by the church, and if without the settled principles which might be expected in those more aged and experienced, it may be feared that they will give themselves up to an indolent life. There would be a security in the age and established habits of these more advanced in life, which there could not be in their case. The apostle does not mean that widows are naturally disposed to be idle, but that in the situation referred to there would be danger of it.

Wandering about from house to house - A natural consequence of supposing that they had nothing to do, and a practice not only profitless, but always attended with mischief.

Tattlers also - Literally, “overflowing;” then overflowing with talk; praters, triflers. They would learn all the news; become acquainted with the secrets of families, and of course indulge in much idle and improper conversation. Our word “gossipers” would accurately express the meaning here. The noun does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The verb occurs in John 3:10; rendered, “prating against.”

And busy-bodies - see the notes on 2 Thessalonians 3:11. The word means, probably, “working all round, overdoing,” and then “an intermeddler.” Persons who have nothing to do of their own, commonly find employment by interesting themselves in the affairs of their neighbors. No one likes to be wholly idle, and if anyone is not found doing what he ought to do, he will commonly be found engaged in doing what he ought not.

Speaking things which they ought not - Revealing the concerns of their neighbors; disclosing secrets; magnifying trifles, so as to exalt themselves into importance, as if they were entrusted with the secrets of others; inventing stories and tales of gossip, that they may magnify and maintain their own consequence in the community. No persons are commonly more dangerous to the peace of a neighborhood than those who have nothing to do.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Every one brought into any office in the church, should be free from just censure; and many are proper objects of charity, yet ought not to be employed in public services. Those who would find mercy when they are in distress, must show mercy when they are in prosperity; and those who show most readiness for every good work, are most likely to be faithful in whatever is trusted to them. Those who are idle, very seldom are only idle, they make mischief among neighbours, and sow discord among brethren. All believers are required to relieve those belonging to their families who are destitute, that the church may not be prevented from relieving such as are entirely destitute and friendless.
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