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SCRIPTURE REFERENCES » 1 Timothy 5:1-2

Discussion Questions: 1 Timothy 5:1-2

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AT HOME OR IN GOSPEL COMMUNITY GROUPS

Sermon manuscript available at emmausrbc.org

  • How can it be that Paul says “do not rebuke” here in 5:1, but in 5:20 (and elsewhere) he says, “rebuke”? Is this a contradiction?
  • What does Paul mean when he says, “do not rebuke… but encourage.”
  • Does this mean that a pastor is never to rebuke an older man? Discuss.
  • How is this “encouragement” to be delivered differently to old and young, male and female?
  • What is meant by the words, “in all purity?” Discuss and apply.
  • How might this concept be applied by husbands and wives, parents and children, and church members?

Posted in Study Guides, Gospel Community Groups, Joe Anady, 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions: 1 Timothy 5:1-2

Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 5:1-2; Do Not Rebuke; Encourage

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 23:1–5

“‘Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing’, declares the LORD. ‘Behold, the days are coming’, declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.’” (Jeremiah 23:1–5, ESV)

Sermon Text: 1 Timothy 5:1-2

“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.” (1 Timothy 5:1–2, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

As I was in the early stages of preparing for this sermon I almost took verses 1 through 8 together. It would have been possible. But two things led me to cover only verses 1 and 2 today. One, the subject matter of verses 1-2, and verses 3-8 is not quite the same. And two, as I reflected more and more on what is said here in verses 1 and 2, I grew convinced that we need to give this little passage our full attention.

Before we come to our text for today let me say something about where we are now in Paul’s letter to Timothy. In the previous section Timothy was exhorted to “put” good doctrine before the brothers and sisters — he was told to “command and teach” the scriptures. This he was to do for the whole congregation. He was to preach the word of God to them. But beginning with 5:1 Paul  instructs Timothy concerning how he is to relate to the variety of people within Christ’s church. Here in verses 1-2 Paul mentions older men, and older women, younger men, and younger women. Beginning in verse 3 Paul gives instructions concerning care for widows. In verse 17 Paul says something about how Timothy is to relate to the elders of the church — this is not a reference to the older men, but to those who hold the office of elder. And finally in 6:1-2 Paul says a word about how to care for bondservants in the congregation.  And so you can see that we have just now entered into a section of this letter where Paul is instructing Timothy concerning how he is to relate to the different groups within the church. Before, the instruction was general — “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus…”, and “Command and teach these things.” But here the members of the church are being considered according to their particular situation in life. It is as if Paul said, here is how you are to minister to young and old, to widows, to the Elders of the church, and to bondservants.

Can you see how even the structure and progression of Paul’s letter to Timothy reveals a great deal concerning the nature and proper ordering of the church. Notice three things:

One, we should expect and hope for diversity within the church. Ideally (and things are not always ideal), Christ’s church will be filled with men and women, young and old,  rich and poor, and if the broader community is ethnically diverse, then we should hope for ethnic diversity within the church as well. We should expect Christ’s church to be diverse, for it is faith in Christ that binds the church together, and Christ is reconciling all kinds of people to the Father. Were some other thing binding the church together — some shared interest, or personal friendships — then diversity would not be expected. But since the church finds its unity in Christ, we should not be surprised to see men and women of different ages, experiences, tastes, personalities, and life situations joined together in him.  

Two, though the church is diverse, being made up of all kinds of people, the church is to be unified under Christ and under the ministry of God’s word. Notice that before Paul instructed Timothy concerning how to care for the diverse members of the congregation, he first instructed Timothy concerning how he was to care for them all. Timothy was to put sound doctrine before all the brothers and sisters. He was to “command and teach these things” to the whole congregation. Though the church will be diverse, the church must be unified. Again, what is the unifying factor? It is faith in Christ and belief in God’s word. How important it is, therefore, for all of the members — male and female, young and old, rich and poor — to assemble together to hear God’s word proclaimed, and to commune with one another and with Christ at his table. Though the church is diverse, the church is to be unified under Christ and under the ministry of God’s word.

I must say that by the grace of God one of the best decisions we ever made as a congregation was to keep our children with us in the worship service to sing, to pray, and to hear God’s word proclaimed. It has its challenges, especially  for parents of very young children. But there are solutions to those challenges. And the rewards have been great. Being almost 10 years old now as a church, we are reaping a rich harvest as many of our children are emerging into adulthood. I give thanks to God for our multigenerational church.    

Three, though we enjoy unity in Christ, this unity does not obliterate the reality of our diversity. There are in fact a diversity of people and a diversity of needs within Christ’s church, and ministers must be mindful of them all. And this is why Paul wrote to Timothy concerning pastoral care for old men and young men, old women and young women, widows, Elders, and bondservants. Ministering to a great diversity of people who have a diversity of needs can be challenging (especially for a young minister), but it is a wonderful challenge and a great blessing. How wonderful it is to converse with a small child in one moment, and then to speak with someone advanced in years in the next. Thanks be to God. 

In the passage that is before us today Paul considers the congregation as diverse in regard to gender and age. Timothy as a minister of God’s word was to provide pastoral care to men and women, young and old, in a way that was fitting. And ministers today must be prepared to do the same. 

Let us now consider the text. 

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Do Not Rebuke; Encourage

First of all, notice that the command which governs this entire passage is “do not rebuke… but encourage.” We must ask what this means. And we will get to that in a moment. But for now, understand that the  command, “do not rebuke… but encourage”, governs all that is said in verse 1 and 2.  

I’m afraid that when some read this passage they think the words “do not rebuke… but encourage” apply only to Timothy’s interaction with the older men in the congregation. And upon first reading, this does seem to be what Paul has in mind. Timothy,  “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him…”, Paul says. It does sound like Paul has only Timothy’s relationship to older men in view when he says, “do not rebuke… but encourage.” But we must pay careful attention to the rest of the passage. Picking up at the end of verse 1 we read, “younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1–2, ESV). You’ll notice that when I read only that portion of the text, it doesn’t sound right. And why doesn’t it sound right? It is because there is no verb in that portion. Again, from the end of verse 1: “younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” When we read only that portion of the text we are left to wonder what ministers are to do with these who are mentioned? And the answer is, “do not rebuke… but encourage.” The passage only makes sense when the verbs, “do not rebuke… but encourage” are applied, not only to the minister’s interaction with the older men, but also to the minister’s interaction with  the younger men, the older women, and the younger women also. 

The meaning is this: Timothy, do not rebuke, but encourage the congregation. Encourage the older men as you would a father. Encourage the younger men as you would a brother. Encourage the older women as you would a mother. And Encourage the younger women as you would a sister, with all purity. Do not rebuke them, but encourage them in a way that is fitting, taking into consideration their age and gender. The command, “do not rebuke… but encourage” governs the entire passage, as I have said. 

Now, some of you are thinking, but doesn’t Paul command in other places that ministers are to rebuke, upon occasion? Yes he does, as we will see. And so then you will ask, then doesn’t Paul contradict himself? Here he says, “do not rebuke”, and in another place he says “rebuke”? No, there is no contradiction if we understand this passage correctly. 

The clear teaching of the New Testament is that ministers of the gospel must be prepared to deliver a rebuke, on occasion. Jesus rebuked some. The Apostles were known to deliver rebuke. They even rebuked one another, on occasion. Even if we were to stick only to Paul’s letters we would see that this is the case.

Consider Titus 1:9. There Paul lists qualifications for pastors or elders, one of them being, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9, ESV).

In Titus 1:13 Paul was referring to people who were living sinfully within the congregation when he said, “This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith…” (Titus 1:13, ESV). Titus was to rebuke these sinful people in the church, and the rebuke was to be sharp. 

In 2 Timothy 4:2 Paul encouraged Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2, ESV)

And finally we return to 1 Timothy and we notice that Paul instructs Timothy to rebuke even later in this very chapter. Look down to verse 20. There we read, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20, ESV). Rebuke them, Paul says. And rebuke them in front of the whole congregation if they persist in their sin. Who is Paul referring to here in verse 20? Who is he telling Timothy to rebuke? As we will see in the weeks to come, Paul is here commanding Timothy to rebuke elders who persist in sin — elders here being a reference to those who hold the office of elder. If an elder is found to be living in sin and is unrepentant, even he is to be rebuked in the presence of all. No exceptions are to be made on account of office or age. 

So you see we do have a difficulty in interpretation. 1 Timothy 5:1: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father…” (1 Timothy 5:1, ESV). 1 Timothy 5:20: “As for those [elders] who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20, ESV).

By the way, what do you do when you run into apparent contradictions like this in the text? Well, one thing you should not do is assume that the contradiction is real. This is God’s word we are handling. Also, it would be a very blatant contradiction for Paul in one verse to say “don’t rebuke” and then only a few verses down to say “rebuke”. If the contradiction were real, that would be a very big blunder. No, we should assume that there is a reasonable explanation, and we should search for it. 

In this case, the answer is found by looking at the original language. In all of the passage that I just read to you the english word “rebuke” is the translation of the Greek word, ἐλέγχω. That word is found 17 times in the New Testament and it means to “bring to light, expose, set forth”. It is translated in a variety of ways in the ESV: reprove, rebuke, expose, tell, convict. But the Greek word translated as “rebuke” in verse 1 is different. It is the word ἐπιπλήσσω. This is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament. It too means “rebuke”, but the word is stronger. It might also be translated as “to strike” or “to snap at”. And I think that is the meaning here. It has to be! Or else we have a contradiction in this chapter. 

 What does Paul mean, then, when he says “do not rebuke… but encourage.” He means that Timothy, and all who are ministers, must not be harsh, short tempered, and snippy. Instead they must resolve to encourage the brothers and sisters, young and old. In fact, the word “encourage” in verse 1 does help us to understand what “rebuke” means, for the two ways are set in contrast to one another —  “do not rebuke… but encourage.” The word translated as “encourage” means “to ask for [something] (earnestly), to request, to plead for, to appeal…” (Louw Nida, 407)

And so when you put it all together the meaning becomes clear. Timothy was not to be harsh with the members. He was not to be short tempered. He was not to “strike” them verbally. Instead he was to come alongside the brothers and sisters, young and old, and patiently call them to faith and repentance through encouragement. He was to plead with them earnestly and appeal to them.

As you can see, in no way does this contradict those other passages that speak of rebuke, even sharp rebuke, and public rebuke. Rebuke, if it must be delivered, is to be delivered purposefully, with care and precision, and, ordinarily, only after the way of patient encouragement has failed.     

Brothers and sisters, I think our current elders have excelled in this. But it is good for us to be reminded that there is a ditch on both sides of the road of pastoral care. On the one side there is the ditch of negligence, and pastors who ignore sin within the congregation due to fear, laziness, or some other thing, do slide into that ditch. And on the other side of the road there is the ditch of harshness, and pastors who allow their hearts to grow hard and impatient towards the congregation do slide into that ditch. Brothers, it is important for us to hear the command, “do not rebuke… but encourage” and to be sure we stay on the straight and narrow. 

And it is also important for all who desire to hold the office of elder, or to minster the word of God to the congregation to hear this command. To hold the office of elder or overseer a man must meet the moral qualification set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and he must also possess the gifts required for ministry. And one of the things he must demonstrate is the ability to shepherd. Brothers and sisters, a negligent shepherd, and a harsh shepherd will both do damage to the flock of God. Let us be sure to appoint men to the office of overseer who have demonstrated that they are able to care for the flock of God (1 Timothy 3:5).

And this command,  “do not rebuke… but encourage” is also applicable to husbands and wives, parents and children — indeed, to all of the members of Christ’s church. This rule should govern all of our interpersonal relationships — “Do not rebuke… but encourage”.

 Husbands, is it your habit to rebuke your wife, or to encourage her

Wives, is it your habit to rebuke your husband, or to encourage him? 

And what about parents? Do you rebuke or encourage your children? Please do not forget the meaning of these words! I am asking, do you snip and strike verbally out of impatience? Or do you come alongside them to plead with them and to earnestly appeal to them to do what is right in God’s eyes. Fathers and mother, there is a ditch on both sides of the road of parenting too. Avoid the ditch of negligence. Do not fail to instruct and to discipline. And be sure to avoid the ditch of harshness and impatience too. 

These same principles need to be applied by children as they relate to their siblings within the home — “do not rebuke… but encourage”. And these same principles need to be applied by all of the members to Christ’s church as we relate to one another — “do not rebuke… but encourage”

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Older Men As Fathers

Well, let us now return to the text and to the main point. Paul was instructing Timothy as a minister within Christ’s church to not be impatient and snippy, but to patiently, and even earnestly, appeal to the members of the congregation to walk in a manner that is worthy. That was the general command. But in the rest of the passage Paul does inform the minister that he will need to do this being mindful of the diversity in the congregation. He is to minister to each group in a way that is fitting or appropriate. 

Older men are to be encouraged as fathers. 

We are beginning to study the 10 commandments with the help of our catechism and in the evening service. And you know that the 10 commandments are divided into two parts. The first four commands have to do with our relationship to God, and the last six have to do with our relationship to our fellow human beings. And what is the first commandment of that second table of the law? “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12, ESV). This commandment is the first commandment of the second table of the law for a reason — in fact, for many reasons. 

Where do we first learn to “love our neighbor as our self” except in the home? The very first thing we must learn to do as it pertains to relating to other human beings is to show honor to our parents. And when we learn to honor our parents, we also learn to honor others who have authority over us. And as we learn this lesson, we also come to see that particular kind of honor is to be shown even to our peers and to those who may in some way be inferior to us. It is in the home that we learn to show honor to other human beings. And it is in the home that we learn to “[preserve the honor, and [perform] the duties, belonging to everyone in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals” (Baptist Catechism 69).  

This order of honor ought to be maintained within the culture. There is a special kind of honor that those who are young ought to give to those who are old. This is a part of God’s moral law. In general, men know this. Most will be repulsed by the thought of a young person taking advantage of or assaulting someone who is old. But we do seem to be losing this sense of respect for the elderly in our culture, and it is lamentable. 

Again I will say that the church must be countercultural. In the church the young should honor the old. The church should be eager to show a special kind of love, care, and respect to those who are advanced in years. And those who are old should not despise their age, instead they should own it! Maybe you have noticed how I am using the words “old” and “elderly” unapologetically. It is interesting how those terms have almost become offensive in our culture. It is considered rude to ask an older person their age. If you think of it, that’s really strange. But it makes sense given the way that our culture foolish values youth over age. I cannot be this way in the church. The young should be eager to show a special kind honor to the old, and the old should not despise their age, but fulfill God’s calling upon their lives in their later years. 

“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:2–5, ESV).

Honor is to be shown to those who are advanced in years, and that also is true for the minster. Ministers who are young must be careful to “not rebuke an older man but encourage him as [they] would a father…”

And this is one of the challenges that young ministers face! They must shepherd, not only those who are younger than them, but also those who are older. It will not do to have a large portion of the congregation without a pastor, will it?! But this must be done with a special kind of tactfulness and care. The guidance is this: “encourage him as you  would a father…” Paul assumes that Timothy understands how a father should be treated. If an adult child (or even a younger child) feels that their father needs to be exhorted in some way, they are to do it with tactfulness and care. This does not rule out the possibility of a pastoral rebuke. But it does show how young ministers are to shepherd older men in the congregation, generally speaking. 

I will say, one thing I am grateful for is a diversity of ages amongst our elders and deacons. I do believe that the pastoral care provided by the eldership and the diaconal care provided by the deacons of this church has been greatly strengthened over the years by the presence of older officers, thanks be to God.   

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Younger Men As Brothers

As we continue on, notice that Paul  commands that young men be encouraged as brothers. Timothy was to address the younger men in the congregation as brothers. 

This is interesting. Paul does not say, address them as sons, but as brothers. We know that Paul referred to Timothy as his child in the faith. By that he meant  he led Timothy to the Lord, or he nurtured Timothy in the Lord. But here he says encourage the young men as brothers.

I will build upon what I said a moment ago. The fifth commandments, when properly understood, not only establishes that children are to show honor to their parents, but that honor is to be shown to all people in a way that fits your relation to them. And I hope you would agree that it is right for a brother to show honor to his brother, and for a sister to show honor to her sister. If you think that it is ok to treat your brother or sister with disrespect given that they are your equal, then you have believed a lie. You have not understood the command of God. It is true, a child is to show a special kind of honor to their parents. But it is also true that a child owes a kind of honor to their siblings. You are flesh and blood, after all. Sadly, we do sometimes treat the members of our own household worse than we treat strangers. Friends, this should not be. Instead, we should be eager to show honor to our siblings. This is true when we are young, and when we are old. And Paul assumed that Timothy knew this. And so he urged Timothy to encourage the younger men in the congregation in the way that way that he would encourage a brother.

There is a lot that could be said about this. But let me make this one point: I think it is important that we do not talk down to the young people in this church. Instead, we should show a special kind of love, concern and appreciation for our young people. Perhaps you have noticed that in the next 5 years we will see a lot of young people emerging into adulthood. Let those who are older encourage them as brothers and as sisters. That will be my aim as a pastor. I think we have some very exciting years ahead of us.  

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Older Women As Mothers

Paul then says that Timothy is to encourage older women as mothers. 

I don’t know that I have much to add here beyond what I have already said concerning the honor that is to be shown to older men. The same is true in regard to older women. 

I will add this one thing: for as much as we have said regarding the responsibility that men have to lead within the church and home, I do hope it is understood that we have tremendous love and respect for the women of this congregation. At the risk of sounding as if I am sucking up to the women, I will say that there is something particularly impressive about females. There is in them a wonderful mixture of strength and tenderness. And the men of the congregation, young and old, would be wise to acknowledge this, to encourage its development, and to give thanks to God for it. 

Whenever the topic of gender comes up in the scriptures I do wonder what the world would think if they were listening to the preaching. I’m sure they would think that the men of this church are chauvinistic, and the women are beat down and kept low. But then I say to myself, if only they would come and see the beauty of it! If only they would come and see how the men of this church honor their wives, and how strong the women of this church are! I do not claim that we are perfect in this. But in general, I do see in this congregation a deep love and appreciation for the fairer sex. And yes, I understand that phrase is very much out of style, but I don’t care. We will do it God’s way, and the world will do it their way, and we will see which way is better in this life and in the life to come.    

Brothers and sisters, those who are advanced in years are to be honored, and the older women are to be particularly cared for, as we will see in the next section. 

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Younger Women As Sisters, In All Purity

 Lastly, and very briefly, Timothy was called to encourage the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Again, I don’t have much to add beyond what I have said in that section concerning the younger men. The same applies here. But I will say a word about the phrase, in all purity. 

Timothy, being a younger minister, was to be especially careful in his interaction with the younger women of the congregation. He was to care for them as sisters. But he was to be sure to guard his heart and to keep his way pure. I don’t need to tell you about the dangers. And I don’t need to tell you about how many have made a shipwreck of their faith by stumbling in this way. Ministers must  be very careful when ministering to the young women of the congregation. Boundaries must be set and kept. For example, never should a minister be alone with a woman of the congregation, and this is especially true of the younger women.   

But this phrase, “in all purity”, does apply to all of us, and not just to ministers. All are to walk in purity. It does not matter if you are young or old, if you are married or single, if you are a pastor or member. All are to walk in purity in thought, word, and deed, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, ESV). “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV). Obey God law, brothers. Follow the path of wisdom, “So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God; for her house sinks down to death, and her paths to the departed; none who go to her come back, nor do they regain the paths of life” (Proverbs 2:16–19, ESV).

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Conclusion

I do love to think about the diversity in Christ’s church. Truly, the church is like a family. You don’t choose your family. You’re born into it. And neither have you chosen your spiritual family. You have been born into it. And there is great diversity, by God’s design. 

Let us be sure to love one another in Christ despite our differences, giving honor to whom honor is due. And as we walk together in this world, let us not snip at one another, but encourage one another faithfully. 

Ministers are to remember that they are servants in Christ’s church. They are to care for Christ’s bride; for Christ’s flock. Negligence will not be tolerated, and neither will a harsh domineering disposition. Christ will judge the man who treats his bride in this way — his bride who has washed with his own blood.   

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: 1 Timothy 5:1-2; Do Not Rebuke; Encourage


"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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