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Dr. Ray Pritchard Christian Blog and Commentary

Two Questions from 1 Timothy 5

  • Dr. Ray Pritchard
    Dr. Ray Pritchard is the president of Keep Believing Ministries, in Internet-based ministry serving Christians in 225 countries. He is the author of 29 books, including Stealth Attack, Fire and Rain, Credo, The ABCs of Christmas, The Healing Power of Forgiveness, An Anchor for the Soul and Why Did This Happen to Me? Ray and Marlene, his wife of 39 years, have three sons-Josh, Mark and Nick, two daughters-in-law--Leah and Vanessa, and four grandchildren grandsons: Knox, Eli, Penny and Violet. His hobbies include biking, surfing the Internet, and anything related to the Civil War.
  • 2008 Oct 29
  • Comments

Here are two questions that arrived via email:

1.) “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers” (1 Timothy 5:1 NKJV). I wanted to get your understanding of this verse. How would a younger man deal with confronting an older man who is in sin? How does Matthew 18 apply in this case? If an older man is in sin, does this verse not permit anyone younger to confront him?

Regarding the older man, treating him as a father means treating him with respect because of his age. I think it means that if you were exhorting a close friend of your own age, you could be more direct and forceful. When dealing with an older man, you exhort him (which really means to encourage him) because of his age. It does not mean that you never confront him—just that you do it respectfully, thoughtfully, carefully, not in order to humiliate him, but with a gentle spirit. I can see where a twentysomething could be pretty bold and blunt with a guy his own age. That same twentysomething should be slower to say anything to a man 40 years his senior. In light of Matthew 18, it might mean you take someone else with you.

2.) “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8 NKJV). In what sense can a believer be worse than an unbeliever?

Regarding 1 Timothy 5:8, a believer can be worse than unbeliever in this sense. It is an innate part of human nature to care for our own. Even unbelievers who do not know the Lord know that they should care for their children and grandchildren. That’s built into the human DNA. When a believer does not care for his own family, if he abandons them or abuses them, he has fallen below the standard that unbelievers follow. That may lead them to take potshots at the church, “He calls himself a Christian but look how he mistreats his own family.” Paul is not considering eternal destiny. He’s just saying that believers ought to show at least much concern for their own families as unbelievers do for theirs. And of course he would say much more than that. It’s an argument from the lesser to the greater: “If unbelievers care for their own families, then how much more ought we to care for our families. And if we don’t care for our own families, we are worse off than the unbelievers who at least care for their own.” To ignore your own family and let them suffer when you could avoid it is to deny the faith you claim to practice.

1.) “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers” (1 Timothy 5:1 NKJV). I wanted to get your understanding of this verse. How would a younger man deal with confronting an older man who is in sin? How does Matthew 18 apply in this case? If an older man is in sin, does this verse not permit anyone younger to confront him?

Regarding the older man, treating him as a father means treating him with respect because of his age. I think it means that if you were exhorting a close friend of your own age, you could be more direct and forceful. When dealing with an older man, you exhort him (which really means to encourage him) because of his age. It does not mean that you never confront him—just that you do it respectfully, thoughtfully, carefully, not in order to humiliate him, but with a gentle spirit. I can see where a twentysomething could be pretty bold and blunt with a guy his own age. That same twentysomething should be slower to say anything to a man 40 years his senior. In light of Matthew 18, it might mean you take someone else with you.

2.) “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8 NKJV). In what sense can a believer be worse than an unbeliever?

Regarding 1 Timothy 5:8, a believer can be worse than unbeliever in this sense. It is an innate part of human nature to care for our own. Even unbelievers who do not know the Lord know that they should care for their own children and grandchildren. That’s built into the human DNA. Note that the immediate context deals with caring for widows. Verse 8 uses two different words--one that means "relatives" and one that means "household," indicating that all of us have different levels of relationships. We ought to care for all of "our own," and we ought to give special attention to those closest to us. When a believer does not care for his own family, if he abandons them or abuses them, he has fallen below the standard that unbelievers follow. That may lead them to take potshots at the church, “He calls himself a Christian but look how he mistreats his own family.” Paul is not considering eternal destiny. He’s just saying that believers ought to show at least much concern for their own families as unbelievers do for theirs. And of course he would say much more than that. It’s an argument from the lesser to the greater: “If unbelievers care for their own families, then how much more ought we to care for our families. And if we don’t care for our own families, we are worse off than the unbelievers who at least care for their own.” To ignore your own family and let them suffer when you could avoid it is to deny the faith you claim to practice. 

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com . Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.