Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. — 1 Timothy 5:1-2
Most of my childhood memories center around family. It was Dad who popped a big kettle of popcorn for our bedtime snack many nights. It was Mom who regularly set my hair in pink foam curlers and, the next morning, carefully brushed my hair into the ringlets I so loved. One of my grandmothers taught me to bake her own special bread, and my other grandma taught me how to make jam and do Swedish embroidery. An aunt kindly instructed me in the basics of knitting — several times! One uncle taught me to play Chinese Checkers (even letting me win on occasion), and another slipped me a few dollars when I memorized a poem that he particularly liked. Cousins were requisite attendees at birthday parties and occasional sleepovers, and the recipients of many a childish secret. In short, I was blessed with a large, caring family!
A recent national survey of families conducted by the University of Nebraska came up with a profile of a strong family. Some of the characteristics mentioned were showing appreciation for one another, having the ability to deal with crises in a positive manner, spending time with each other, and having a high degree of commitment to each other.
In today’s focus verses, the Apostle Paul clearly had a picture of a strong family unit in mind as he defined the delicate social relationships between members of the Church. As the family of God, the love which unites us is like the love of parents and children, and brothers and sisters. If we regard each other as fellow members of God’s family, we will show appreciation for one another, support one another in times of crisis, spend time with one another, and generally be respectful, committed, and caring of one another.
Today, could your relationship with others in the Body of Christ fit the description of “a strong family”? If we keep this Biblical analogy in mind as we interact with our brothers and sisters in the Gospel, we will enjoy the strength, unity, and freedom from strife that is God’s plan for His family.
In chapter 5, Paul gave specific instructions to Timothy related to his role as pastor and leader of the church at Ephesus. The key concept in 1 Timothy 5:1-16 is the necessity of respecting and serving all ages and groups within the Church.
Verses 1-2 bring out that young people should respect their elders. Part of a minister’s duty is to reprove others, but Paul instructed Timothy to be very tender in correcting elders of the Church. The word “rebuke” in verse 1 has an implication of being harsh; thus, Paul’s admonition did not imply that correction should not take place, but rather, it stressed the importance of tact and prudence. Respect must be shown to those of older age because of the dignity of their years and position.
In verses 3-16, Paul dealt with the responsibility of the ministry toward the widows of the congregation. In the Ephesian culture, there were no pensions or welfare funds to provide for women, and few honorable jobs were available to them. Thus, widows were often unable to support themselves. Paul brought out that the duty of caring for these women belonged first to their families. However, if no family member was able to assume the responsibility, the family of God should step in to provide for the needs of those who were “widows indeed” — widows without relatives to whom they could turn. Clearly, Paul was concerned that those in real need and deserving of the Church’s help should receive appropriate support.
Paul indicated that it was important that the Church’s support be given to those who were destitute. He described a widow who should receive help from the Church as being one who had genuine devotion to God, had been in a lawful marriage, had good moral character, lived a life characterized by good works and hospitality, was willing to do menial tasks, had an active prayer life, was helpful to the afflicted, and had her hope set on God.
Paul concluded this section by reiterating in verse 16 that those in the Body of Christ should assume responsibility for the care of their own, that the “church be not charged.”
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
IV. Charge concerning the ministry of Timothy
B. Concerning relationships with various groups
1. A general axiom (5:1-2)
2. Concerning widows (5:3-16)
a. Older widows (5:3-10)
(1) The principle of honor (5:3)
(2) The obligation of relatives (5:4)
(3) The definition of a true widow (5:5-6)
(a) Positively (5:5)
(b) Negatively (5:6)
(4) The obligation of relatives re-emphasized (5:7-8)
(5) The definition of a true widow expanded (5:9-10)
b. Younger widows (5:11-16)
(1) They become idle (5:11-13)
(2) They should remarry (5:14-16)
As the family of God, members of the Church should support, care for, and encourage one another, especially those who are in need.