1 Timothy 5:1-2

In 1 Timothy 5:1-2 Paul reminds Timothy of his age and standing among the Body. It is likely that Timothy is in his early 30’s at this time, and age definitely played a very important role in the church in that day. “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” Timothy was shepherd of the entire flock of God’s people in the church, but has to treat each group a bit differently. Older men needed to be respected, but also Paul is warning Timothy that if he rebuked them it may not be received well at all.

Guzik explains “The ancient Greek verb for rebuke is not the normal word for “rebuke” in the New Testament. This is the only place this word is used, and it means literally “to strike at.” Timothy was told not to lash out at older men, but to treat them with respect – as he would treat the younger men with respect as brothers.” Apart from being a somewhat severe word, rebuke is an important duty of a pastor. It is the simple, clear, presentation that someone is wrong, either in their conduct or thinking. Its main goal is not encouragement as much as to clearly confront someone with their wrong behavior or thinking.

The problem is that most people put up all their defensive ability at a rebuke – if not at the time, then later, after having time to think and listen to their pride. Some become experts at criticizing the one who brought the rebuke, and consider their hurt feelings more important than the truth of the words they heard. No one likes to be rebuked; but the wise person uses the rebuke as a valuable means to growth. Spurgeon said, “A sensible friend who will unsparingly criticize you from week to week will be a far greater blessing to you than a thousand undiscriminating admirers if you have sense enough to bear his treatment, and grace enough to be thankful for it.”

Paul lays out the Body as being like a family and gives Timothy a means of how to relate to each of the four different groups he describes:

  • Old men – fathers
  • Younger men – brothers
  • Older women – mothers
  • Younger women – sisters

It’s about relationships and treating one another with respect. That’s what works in the family, and works equally as well in the Body of Christ as well!

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