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.
- Timothy was to treat an older man like a father.
- Timothy was to treat older women like mothers.
- Timothy was to treat younger women like sisters.
- Timothy was to treat younger men like brothers.
- Timothy was to honor widows who had no one left.
We all do wrong. We all need correction. All includes you and all includes me. Paul here reminds us that when we need to correct someone we are not to be harsh. He recommends Timothy use gentleness and moderation correcting the errors of others. Correction is like a medicine. There is always some bitterness to it. By its nature it is disagreeable.
In chapter 1 Paul warned Timothy about false teachers. And here we see Paul telling Timothy to treat everyone with respect. This gives us some insight into how Paul must have preached. It adds some insight to 2 Corinthians 10:1. “I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!” It appears Paul’s letters were more pointed than Paul was in person. This was not because he was meek. Paul could be bold in person. The next verse indicates he can. He also demonstrated his capability in Galatians 2:11. There he confronted Peter face to face.
We should not confuse respect with meekness. They are different things. We are to show respect to everyone. To older men we are to respect as fathers. Older women we are to respect as mothers. The younger men and women we are to respect and treat as brothers and sisters.
As believers and adopted into the family of God we are all one family.
Paul distinguishes between older persons and younger. We are to treat the older with respect. We are to treat the younger as equals and with gentleness.
The phrase all purity relates to younger women. Men are not to use young women for sport. Paul tells Timothy not to give wicked men any opportunity to mishandle for these young women. They are not to use the young women for their own amusement.