I have a question regarding the wording of 1 Timothy 5:8 and 2 Thessalonians 3:10:

First, 1 Timothy 5:8: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of
his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
" In the context of 1 Timothy 5, Paul is specifically referring to providing for the needs of one's own widow. My question is this: Does "anyone," "his own," and "his household," refer to only the man or men of the family, or do the Greek words point toward both the husband and the wife?

Second, 2 Thessalonians 3:10: "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." In the context of 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul is addressing the problem of brethren not working, but being "busybodies." Such unruly brethren, not
obeying the words of the epistle, were to be marked. Do the Greek words translated as "anyone" and "he" refer to the male gender or do the words point to either male or female.

Greek, like English, uses the male gender as a generic for both male and female. The context must be examined to determine if a male term refers only to men or to both men and women. In I Timothy 5:8 this is fairly straight forward. Jump down to verse 16 and you will find that both the male and female form for "believer" is being used. "If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows." Hence, it is appropriate to read I Timothy 5:8 as being addressed to men and women.

In II Thessalonians 3:10, "anyone" is the Greek word tis, which my dictionary marks as "nominative, singular, masculine or feminine." "let him eat" is the Greek word esthieto, which is marked as "third person singular, imperative, present tense, active." Given that both men and women are commanded to work (Genesis 3:19; Titus 2:5; Ephesians 4:28; I Thessalonians 4:11), it is appropriate to read the verse as generic.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Work

March 15, 2005