First in a series of studies in 1 Timothy 5
“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, the younger men as brothers,
“the older women as mothers, the younger as sisters, with all purity”
(1 Timothy 5:1-2).
Referring to age and not to an office in the church, Paul here begins a series of instructions about relationships, the first of which is about social relationships. He instructs the young evangelist about how he is to approach people in different age groups.
“Rebuke” means “to strike at” or “to smite.” Since Paul places no limitations or restrictions on the word, his teaching includes striking at physically and/or verbally. In no situation is a younger man to attack an older man.
Rather, he is to approach an older man with respect, such as he would do if he were approaching his own father. The custom of the day was to show respect for fathers.
As well, Paul continues his discussion about the treatment of older and younger women—he does so by, once again, using family relationships as a guide.
What Paul teaches here about relationships is no different from what Jesus teaches about our treatment of others nor from what other scriptures teach throughout the Bible: in all relationships, we are to show the utmost in love, care, and respect.