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1 Timothy 5:1 – As family

03-04-2024 - Posted by Hans

An elderly man you should not be upbraiding, but be entreating him as a father, the younger men as brethren, the elder women as mothers, the younger as sisters in all purity.

A few verses earlier, Paul had advised Timothy not to be intimidated by contempt for his youth (4:12). But there is also an opposite danger where Timothy would not realize that he was still a young man. Because no matter how gifted he may be (4:14), in terms of life experience he cannot match what the seniors ‘have to offer’. That is of course not a reproach, but it is an observation that should make him modest.

The ecclesia is presented here as a family composed of fathers and brothers, mothers and sisters. Timothy would know his place in it. He would approach an older man like a father; to rail against him would be highly inappropriate. Ditto for older women: he would approach them as his mother. Modesty is also appropriate for younger men: he is not their superior, but simply their brother. And younger women are like sisters. He would also act discreetly towards them and not give rise to gossip. Paul not only teaches “sound teaching” but also gives wise advice that corresponds with it (cf. Tit.2:1).