1 Timothy 5:1-2
The Church as Family
As is the case with most all of Paul’s letters, the latter part is taken up with practical matters, in this case dealing with different groups within the church. The first couple of groups concern the elder and the younger, and those two groups are further separated by gender.
Paul writes: “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” What stands out in this brief instruction is how the Apostle views the church as a family using such terms as father, mother, brother, and sister. This is all in a spiritual rather than a physical sense to be sure, but the reality is just the same as we are bound together in Christ. And the blood of Christ is thicker than even familial bonds. The church on earth is a type of the church in heaven where our brotherhood shall be even closer in a way that we can hardly imagine now.
And as a family, pastors should treat older men as fathers—with respect and honor. Any sort of correction is to be done in the way of encouragement. (Do bear in mind that we are not here dealing with the false teachers in the church who, regardless of age or gender, must be rebuked and if need be subjected to church discipline.) The same goes for older women; they too should be paid the utmost respect as dignifies advanced womanhood and motherhood. Younger men, or men the same age as Timothy, he should disciple as men who shall one day lead the church. He should treat them as soldiers and train them in the godliness in which he is training himself, that they may endure temptation and trial. He must steel them against the days ahead knowing that they shall likely be evil.
And a pastor must treat younger women as sisters and, the Apostle adds, “in all purity.” It is incumbent that pastors and all Christians not give reason for scandal, even in appearances. Feminists are quite hostile to this idea thinking that it paints women as predators, an interpretation which is entirely unnecessary. Sensible people understand that no one is above temptation and that pastors must not place themselves in compromising situations. Indeed, such is the case for all Christians, but especially those in leadership both inside and outside the church. In this way, Christian men and women treat one another with the respect (and unbelievers as well), honoring themselves and their spouses or future spouses; after all, “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27 KJV).