Friday, 12 January 2018
Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 1 Timothy 5:1
The term translated here as “older man” is the same Greek word used to speak of an elder within the church. Though there is disagreement, the NKJV is probably correct in stating “older man.” The word can mean either; and the likelihood, based on the feminine word being used of an older woman in the next verse, surely settles the matter.
Timothy is being asked to not rebuke an older man, using a word which signifies “to strike at in a vulnerable place.” Thus it figuratively means to sharply rebuke someone with insensitive or brutal words. The older men in the church may have come from a long life of debauchery or licentiousness. Old ways are hard to let go of, and so Paul asks Timothy to be sensitive towards an older man, and to “exhort him as a father.”
Unless one is perverse, he will not lash out at his own father. Instead, he will be kind to him and willing to put up with his failures. He is, after all, the one who raised the son, even if in a failing manner. To establish this now, at the beginning of the church age, Paul writes this to Timothy, and it is expected to be followed though with by all pastors at all times.
Finally, he directs him to exhort “younger men as brothers,” In other words, just as a normal person would treat their own brother, so should pastors treat the younger men of the church. There is no point in being harsh to brothers in Christ, because we truly are “brothers” in Christ. It is for this reason that Paul now admonishes Timothy.
Having said this, if someone is openly sinning in the church, there are other guidelines which are to be followed in order to bring them back into the fold, or have them excommunicated.
Life application: If you have a pastor who openly rebukes people in church for no valid reason, you should probably find a new pastor. He is not being careful to follow the guidelines laid out here by Paul.
Heavenly Father, it truly is a delight to fellowship with other Christians, but there are those who can wear us down as well. Grant us patience to deal with them, and not to become unhinged too quickly. Help us to be gracious, patient, and thus pleasing in Your eyes as we deal with those who are a bit rough around the social edges. Amen.