1 Timothy 5:1
Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brothers;
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(1) Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father.—Two-thirds of St. Paul’s first Letter to Timothy have been taken up with directions, warnings, and exhortations respecting the public duties connected with the office of superintending presbyter, or bishop, of a church like that of Ephesus; from these directions in connection with the public teaching and the official life in the church, the Apostle passes on to speak of the private relations which one in Timothy’s position ought to maintain with individual members of the congregation. And, first, he warns him against a misplaced zeal, which might urge him to unbefitting behaviour towards those older than himself. The enthusiastic and ardent young servant of Christ would see with sorrow and dismay the shortcomings of many an elder member of his flock, and, forgetting to make wise allowance for previous training, thought, and habits, would be likely, unwisely, and possibly unfairly, to find fault. Let him, in the cases of his elders—for the reference is rather to age than to office, as is clear from the reminder of 1Timothy 5:2, addressed to the “elder women”—instead of open rebuke, use respectful and affectionate entreaties, after the manner of a son, not of an official.

The younger men as brethren.—And as regards the younger Christians of Ephesua, let them not be alienated by an assumption of dignity on the part of the chief presbyter of the Church. Let his relations with these younger members of the family of Christ be rather those of a brother and a friend than of a superior in rank and dignity.

1 Timothy 5:1-2. Because it is the duty of ministers to reprove such of their people as err in principle or practice, and because the success of reproof depends, in a great measure, upon the manner in which it is given, the apostle here proceeds to direct Timothy in that important branch of his office. Rebuke not — Or rather, rebuke not severely, the phrase, μη επιπληξης, literally signifying, do not strike, and metaphorically, do not sharply reprove; an elder — Or aged man, as the word πρεσβυτερω here evidently signifies, being opposed to νεωτερους, the younger, in the following clause. So that it is not the name of an office, as it is 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Timothy 5:19, but denotes simply one in advanced age; but entreat him as a father — Or as thou wouldst thy father in the like case; and the younger men — Who sin; as brethren — As if they were thy own brothers; that is, with kindness and affection, and not with a lordly, domineering contempt. The elder women as mothers — With respect and deference; and the younger as sisters, with all purity — With the strictest decorum in thy converse with them, and distance from every thing, in word or deed, that could have the least appearance of levity and wantonness, remembering how many eyes are upon thee, and how fatal any thing in thy conduct, which might bring the least blemish upon thy character, would be to the honour and success of thy ministry, and to the credit of the gospel and its professors.5:1,2 Respect must be paid to the dignity of years and place. The younger, if faulty, must be rebuked, not as desirous to find fault with them, but as willing to make the best of them. There is need of much meekness and care in reproving those who deserve reproof.Rebuke not an elder - The word "elder" here is not used in the sense in which it often is, to denote an officer of the church, a presbyter, but in its proper and usual sense, to denote an aged man. This is evident, because the apostle immediately mentions in contradistinction from the elder, "the younger men," where it cannot be supposed that he refers to them as officers. The command to treat the "elder" as a "father," also shows the same thing. By the direction not to rebuke, it is not to be supposed that the minister of the gospel is not to admonish the aged, or that he is not to show them their sins when they go astray, but that he is to do this as he would to a father. He is not to assume a harsh, dictatorial, and denunciatory manner. The precepts of religion always respect the proprieties of life, and never allow us to transgress them, even when the object is to reclaim a soul from error, and to save one who is wandering. Besides, when this is the aim, it will always be most certainly accomplished by observing the respect due to others on account of office, relation, rank, or age.

But entreat him as a father - As you would a father. That is, do not harshly denounce him. Endeavor to persuade him to lead a more holy life. One of the things for which the ancients were remarkable above most of the moderns, and for which the Orientals are still distinguished, was respect for age. Few things are enjoined with more explicitness and emphasis in the Bible than this; Leviticus 19:32; Job 29; Proverbs 20:20; Proverbs 30:17; compare Daniel 7:9-10; Revelation 1:14-15. The apostle would have Timothy, and, for the same reason, every other minister of the gospel, a model of this virtue.

And the younger men as brethren - That is, treat them as you would your own brothers. Do not consider them as aliens, strangers, or enemies, but entertain toward them, even when they go astray, the kindly feelings of a brother. This refers more particularly to his private conversation with them, and to his personal efforts to reclaim them when they had fallen into sin. When these efforts were ineffectual, and they sinned openly, he was to "rebuke them before all" 1 Timothy 5:20, that others might be deterred from following their example.


1Ti 5:1-25. General Directions as to How Timothy Should Deal with Different Classes in the Church.

1. an elder—in age; probably not an elder in the ministry; these latter are not mentioned till 1Ti 5:17, "the elders that rule." Compare Ac 2:17, "your old men," literally, "elders." Contrasted with "the younger men." As Timothy was admonished so to conduct himself as to give no man reason to despise his youth (1Ti 4:12); so here he is told to bear in mind his youth, and to behave with the modesty which becomes a young man in relation to his elders.

Rebuke not—literally, "Strike not hard upon"; Rebuke not sharply: a different word from "rebuke" in 2Ti 4:2.


as brethren—and therefore equals; not lording it over them (1Pe 5:1-3).1 Timothy 5:1,2 Directions to Timothy how to admonish persons of different


1 Timothy 5:3-16 Concerning widows.

1 Timothy 5:17,18 Elders, if they do well, are to be doubly honoured,

1 Timothy 5:19-21 and are not to be censured without full proof, and

then openly and impartially,

1 Timothy 5:22 caution not to ordain any one precipitately.

1 Timothy 5:23 Advice respecting Timothy’s health.

1 Timothy 5:24,25 Some men’s characters are more easily discerned that those

of others.

Rebuke not an elder; it appeareth by the next verse, that the apostle by elder here understandeth not a church officer, but an ancient man. The word translated rebuke is translated too softly; it should be: Rebuke not too roughly, as appears by the opposite phrase, and indeed the word properly signifies to beat or lash. Rebuke him not but with a decent respect to his age.

But entreat him as a father; so that thy reproofs may look more like counsels and exhortations than rebukes.

And the younger men as brethren; prudence also must be used as to the yonnger men, ministers in rebuking them should remember that they are brethren, and treat them accordingly, not too imperiously.

Rebuke not an elder,.... By whom is meant, not an elder in office, but in age; for elders by office are afterwards spoken of, and particular rules concerning them are given, 1 Timothy 5:17. Besides, an elder is here opposed, not to a private member of a church, but to young men in age; and the apostle is here giving rules to be observed in rebuking members of churches, according to their different age and sex, and not according to their office and station; and this sense is confirmed by a parallel text in Titus 2:2. Now an ancient man, a member of a church, is not to be rebuked in a sharp and severe way; the word here used signifies to smite or strike; and so the Arabic version renders it, "do not strike an elder"; meaning not with the hand, but with the tongue, giving hard words, which are as heavy blows; reproof is a smiting, and there is a gentle and a sharp one, Psalm 141:4. It is with the former, and not the latter, that man in years is to be reproved, when he is in a fault, whether with respect to doctrine or practice, as such persons may be as well as younger ones; and when they are observed to err, they should not be roughly and sharply dealt with:

but entreat him as a father; as a child should entreat a father, when he is going out of the way; give him honour and respect, fear and reverence, and persuade him to desist; entreat and beseech him to return to the right path of truth and holiness; use him as a father in Christ, that has known him that is from the beginning, and as of long standing in the church: this must be understood of lesser crimes, and not of atrocious and flagitious ones, obstinately continued in, to the great scandal of religion, and dishonour of the Gospel; for then severer methods must be used; see Isaiah 45:20. But though this is the sense of the passage, yet the argument from hence is strong, that if an elder in years, a private member, who is ancient, and in a fault, is not to be roughly used, but gently entreated, then much more an elder in office.

And the younger men as brethren; the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "as thy brethren". Timothy was a young man himself; and as he was to consider an elderly man as his father, and use him accordingly; so he was to consider young men as equal with him, at least in age, and take the more freedom with them, in reproving them for their faults, and use somewhat more authority with them; and yet consider them as brethren in Christ, and reprove them in a brotherly way, and with brotherly love.

Rebuke {1} not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;

(1) Of giving personal reprehensions appropriately, according to the degrees of ages and gender.

1 Timothy 5:1-2. Directions regarding Timothy’s behaviour towards elder and younger church-members of both sexes.

πρεσβυτέρῳ μὴ ἐπιπλήζῃς] Chrysostom rightly remarks: ἄρα τὸ ἀξίωμα νῦν φησίν; οὐκ οἶμαι· ἀλλὰ περὶ παντὸς γεγηρακότος. Otherwise we could not but take νεώτεροι as equivalent to διάκονοι, and understand by νεώτεραι the deaconesses, which, however, would be arbitrary. There is, besides, no ground for Mack’s opinion, that the οἱ νεώτεροι mentioned in Acts 5:6 (1 Timothy 5:10 : οἱ νεανίακοι) were “church servants.” By far the greater number of expositors rightly agree with Chrysostom.

ἐπιπλήσσειν] only occurring here, properly “strike upon,” then “scold, make violent reproaches.” The opposite: Galatians 6:1, καταρτίζειν ἐν πνεύματι πραότητος. It is presupposed in this and the next exhortations that the church-members named had been guilty of some transgression or other.

ἀλλὰ παρακάλει ὡς πατέρα κ.τ.λ.] It is not to be forgotten that Timothy was still a νεός. As such he is in his office to deal in childlike respect with the elder men and women, if they had rendered themselves liable to his correction.

νεωτέρους ὡς ἀδελφούς] supply only παρακάλει; still Bengel is right in meaning when he remarks on μὴ ἐπιπλήξῃς: hoc pertinet etiam ad ea, quae sequuntur. By ὡς ἀδελφούς and ὡς ἀδελφάς it is implied that Timothy was not to exalt himself over those who were of the same age as himself or younger, but that he was to deal with them in brotherly love as his equals.

The addition ἐν πάσῃ ἁγνείᾳ, which follows ὡς ἀδελφάς, may grammatically be referred to all the members; but Chrysostom[170] and most expositors since, connect it closely with the words immediately preceding. Rightly; since, even when taken in the more general sense of “purity of morals” (1 Timothy 4:12), it cannot rightly be referred to the preceding relations; but it is very appropriate to the last, all the more if it be taken in the more special sense of “modesty, chastity.”[171]

[170] Chrysostom: μὴ μοί, φησὶ, τὴν τῆς μίξεως μόνον εἴπῃς ἁμαρτίαν, ἀλλὰ μηδὲ ὑποψίαν, φησὶ, δῷς· ἐπ ιδὴ γὰρ αἱ πρὸς τὰς νεωτέρας γενόμεναι ὁμιλίαι δυσκόλως διαφεύγουσιν ὑποψίαν, δεῖ δὲ γίνεσθαι παρὰ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου καὶ τοῦτο, διὰ τοῦτο ἐν πάσῃ ἁγνείᾳ προστίθησι.—On the words ὡς ἀδελφάς, Bengel briefly and aptly says: hic respectus egregie adjuvat castitatem.

[171] Comp. Athenagoras, Leg. pro Christ. p. 36: καθʼ ἡλικίαν τοὺς μὲν υἱοὺς καὶ θυγατέρας νοοῦμεν, τοὺς δὲ ἀδελφοὺς ἔχομεν καὶ ἀδελφάς· καὶ τῆς προβεβηκόσι τὴν τῶν πατέρων καὶ μητέρων τιμὴν ἀπονέμομεν.1 Timothy 5:1-16. The wise Church ruler must understand how to deal with his people individually. Each age and condition needs separate treatment: old men, young men; old women, young women. Widows in particular need discriminating care; since some of them may have to be supported by the Church; and we must not let the Church be imposed on, nor give occasion for scandal. Accordingly Church widows must be at least sixty years old, and be of good character.1, 2. Timothy’s demeanour generally towards his flock

1. Rebuke not an elder] The Greek for ‘rebuke’ occurring only here in N. T. is a strong word implying roughness and sharpness. Timothy was not to go so far as St Paul went in his rebuke of St Peter, Galatians 2:11, ‘I resisted him to the face because he stood condemned;’ much less to copy his rebuke of Ananias, Acts 23:3, ‘God shall smite thee, thou whited wail.’ See in the Prayer-Book Order for the Consecration of Bishops, the prayer that the new bishop may be ‘earnest to reprove, beseech and rebuke, with all patience and doctrine.’ This seems exactly to cover the ground held by the next word ‘intreat,’ again (as in 1 Timothy 1:3, 1 Timothy 2:1) to be rendered exhort. The word ‘elder’ is here used of age, ‘your seniors,’ and later of office, ‘your presbyters,’ as the contexts shew.

the younger men as brethren] Supply a general verb recalling both the previous verbal notions, such as ‘treat,’ ‘admonish;’ cf. Mark 12:5, ‘and many others (they ill-treated), beating some and killing some,’ Romans 14:21, ‘It is good not to eat flesh nor to drink wine, nor (to do anything) whereby thy brother stumbleth,’ Winer, § 64, 1. 1. c.1 Timothy 5:1. Πρεσβυτέρῳ, an elder) The word here denotes age.—μή ἐπιπλήξῃς, do not rebuke) This belongs also to the words which follow.—ὡς ἀδελφοὺς, as brethren) So an old man ought to exhort the young men as children.Verse 1. - Exhort for intreat, A.V.; and omitted. Rebuke not (μὴ ἐπιπλήξης); only here in the New Testament for the more usual ἐπιτιμάω (2 Timothy 4:2, and frequently in the Gospels) or ἐλέγχω, as Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15; Revelation 3:19, and elsewhere. In classical Greek it expresses a sharp castigation with words. Compare the "patruae verbera linguae" (Hor., 'Od.,' 3. 12:3). It answers to the Latin objurgo. An elder (πρεσβυτέρῳ). The context shows that the meaning is not a "presbyter," but "an old man." The precept has relation to Timothy's youth (1 Timothy 4:12). See the same order in respect to the persons to be admonished (Titus 2:1-6, where, however, we have the forms πρεσβύτας and πρεσβύτιδας with νέας and νεωτέρους). The direction is an instance of that admirable propriety of conduct, based upon a true charity, which vital Christianity produces. A true Christian never forgets what is due to others, never "behaves himself unseemly." Exhort (παρακάλει); certainly a much better rendering than intreat in the A.V. The younger men. This and the other accusatives in this and the following verse are governed by παρακάλει; the prohibitive μὴ ἐπιπλήξῃς Is con- lined to the πρεσβυτέροι. As brethren. This phrase shows that Timothy was still a young man himself. Observe, too, how even m reproving the sense of love is to be main- mined. The members of the Church over which he rules are either fathers and mothers, or brothers and sisters, or, it may be added, as his own children, to the faithful pastor. Rebuke not an elder (πρεσβυτέρῳ μὴ ἐπιπλήξῃς)

The verb N.T.o. olxx. originally to lay on blows; hence to castigate with words. Πρεσβύτερος elder, oP., but frequent in Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. Modern critical opinion has largely abandoned the view that the original Christian polity was an imitation of that of the Synagogue. The secular and religious authorities of the Jewish communities, at least in purely Jewish localities, were the same; a fact which is against the probability that the polity was directly transferred to the Christian church. The prerogatives of the Jewish elders have nothing corresponding with them in extent in the Christian community. Functions which emerge later in the Jewish-Christian communities of Palestine do not exist in the first Palestinian-Christian society. At the most, as Weizscker observes, it could only be a question of borrowing a current name.

Modern criticism compels us, I think, to abandon the view of the identity of Bishop and Presbyter which has obtained such wide acceptance, especially among English scholars, through the discussions of Lightfoot and Hatch. The testimony of Clement of Rome (Ep. ad Corinth.) goes to show that the Bishops (ἡγούμενοι or προηγούμενοι) are distinguished from the Presbyters, and that if the Bishops are apparently designated as Presbyters, it is, because they have been chosen from the body of Presbyters, and have retained the name even when they have ceased to hold office. for this reason deceased Bishops are called Presbyters. In Clement, Presbyters signify a class or estate - members of long standing and approved character, and not office-bearers regularly appointed. Among these the Bishops are to be sought. Bishops are reckoned as Presbyters, not because the Presbyter as such is a Bishop, but because the Bishop as such is a Presbyter. In the Pastorals, Bishops and Deacons are associated without mention of Presbyters (1 Timothy 3:1-13). Presbyters are referred to in 1 Timothy 5:17-19, but in an entirely different connection. The qualifications of Bishops and Deacons are detailed in the former passage, and the list of qualifications concludes with the statement that this is the ordering of the church as the house of God (1 Timothy 5:14, 1 Timothy 5:15). The offices are exhausted in the description of Bishops and Deacons. Nothing is said of Presbyters until ch. 5, where Timothy's relations to individual church-members are prescribed; and in Titus 2:2 ff. these members are classified as old men (πρεσβύτας) old women, young men, and servants. In 1 Timothy 5:17 are mentioned elders who rule well (οἱ καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι). Assuming that Presbyters and Bishops were identical, a distinction would thus be implied between two classes of Bishops - those who rule well and those who do not: where as the distinction is obviously between old and honored church-members, collectively considered, forming the presbyterial body, and certain of their number who show their qualifications for appointment as overseers. Presbyters as such are not invested with office. There is no formal act constituting a Presbyter. The Bishops are reckoned among the Elders, but the elders as such are not officers.

Thus are to be explained the allusions to appointed Elders, Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23. Elders are to be appointed as overseers or Bishops, for the overseers must have the qualifications of approved Presbyters. The ordination of Presbyters is the setting apart of Elders to the position of Superintendents. The Presbyterate denotes an honorable and influential estate in the church on the ground of age, duration of church membership, and approved character. Only Bishops are appointed. There is no appointment to the Presbyterate. At the close of Clement's letter to the Corinthians, the qualifications of a Presbyter are indicated in the description of the three commissioners from the Roman church who are the bearers of the letter, and to whom no official title is given. They are old, members of the Roman church from youth, blameless in life, believing, and sober.

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