A Word of Rebuke – 1 Timothy 5:1-2
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Tim 5:1,2)
How should we speak to each other as Christians? How should we correct each-other when wrong is done? Here Paul speaks to Timothy about ‘rebuking’. In vs1, he tells Timothy not to rebuke an older man but instead to encourage him.
‘Rebuke’ comes from the word ‘to strike’ or ‘hit’. Here it means to express strong disapproval as a type of punishment. It does not simply mean to tell a person that he is wrong. But to punish them with your words.
No one would ever take a belt or a wooden spoon and start spanking an older man in-front of everyone. Everyone knows that it would be wrong. But have you ever hit an older man with your words? Your voice suddenly changes, you speak very sharply to him, you embarrass him as a child in-front of the people around. In reality, you have used your words to punish, hit, and strike him.
Paul does not want Timothy to hit, strike, or punish with his words. Instead Paul wants Timothy to encourage.
‘Encourage’ it comes from the word ‘to call aside.’ Here it has the meaning ‘to appeal’, ‘admonish’, ‘to ask earnestly’, and ‘to plead with’.
The picture is entirely different. In the first, you are the strong man, hitting and punishing with your words. In the second, you are the weak man, pleading and admonishing.
Instead of suddenly striking an older man with your words in front of everyone, Timothy is to call the man aside and appeal to, plead with, and admonish him about his fault.
Paul gives Timothy the key, speak to him ‘as a father’. Timothy is to think about how he should talk to them if they were his fathers. Treating them as fathers is the right way to speak to them. How would you speak to your father? Perhaps in our age we should ask instead, how ‘should’ you speak to your father? We would answer ‘with respect and love.’
This is the key. Speak to them as your own father, speak to them with respect and love. When rebuking someone it is said ‘never rebuke anyone until you first have a genuine love for them.’
When I was young and was disciplined by my father he would say ‘I’m doing this because I love you.’ At the time I didn’t understand. My thinking was, if you love me then don’t hurt me. But now I understand. It was for my good. Now I can be thankful for the wooden spoon.
Any punishment or rebuke without love turns into simply getting back at someone. But a rebuke with genuine love always seeks the benefit of the other person. It is trying to help them.
Paul tells Timothy not to punish with his words, but to plead with, and admonish older men, as well as, younger men, older woman, and younger woman, as his very own family; i.e, with love and respect.