Let not a widow be taken into the number
That is, of widows, to be maintained by the church; though some choose to understand these words of the number of such who were made deaconesses, and had the care of the poor widows of the church committed to them; and so the Arabic version renders it, "if a widow be chosen a deaconess"; but the former sense is best, for it appears from ( 1 Timothy 5:1 1 Timothy 5:6 ) that the apostle is still speaking of widows to be relieved: now such were not to be taken under the church's care for relief, under threescore years old: for under this age it might be supposed they would marry, and so not be desolate, but would have husbands to provide for them; or they might be capable of labour, and so of taking care of themselves. The age of sixty years was by the Jews F24 reckoned (hnqz) , "old age", but not under.
Having been the wife of one man;
that is, at one time; for second marriages are not hereby condemned, for this would be to condemn what the apostle elsewhere allows, ( Romans 7:2 Romans 7:3 ) . Nor is the sense only, that she should be one who never had more husbands than one at once; for this was not usual for women to have more husbands than one, even where polygamy obtained, or where men had more wives than one: this rather therefore is to be understood of one who had never put away her husband, and married another, which was sometimes done among the Jews; see ( Mark 10:12 ) , and this being a scandalous practice, the apostle was willing to put a mark of infamy upon it, and exclude such persons who had been guilty of it from the number of widows relieved by the church.
F24 Pirke Abot, c. 5. sect. 21.