1 Tim 5.3-16 defines which women may be registered for financial support at church expense. It is integrated around four ‘household rules’, but is not concerned to regulate an ‘order’ or ‘office’ of widows. Rather, it clarifies that the church should not supplant households in financial matters, and should be responsible only for destitute widows who have no other network support. Since χήρα can mean ‘woman without a man’, the instructions in 5.11-15 are best interpreted as directed against young women who have chosen celibacy. By contrast, the author conceives of the church as a network of Christian households connected by mutual economic support.
Barclay, J. (2020). Household Networks and Early Christian Economics: A Fresh Study of 1 Timothy 5.3–16. New Testament Studies, 66(2), 268-287. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0028688519000456