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Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

~Timothy 5:1-2

Lesson15-image001Materials Needed: None

Notes to the Leader: This lesson addressed one of the more formal aspects of the Christian church, the selection and ordination of officers. It also reviews the roll of each Christian with respect to the elderly and widowed. While the topics may seem to be quite diverse, the Apostle Paul found it important to group them together in his letter to Timothy.


Why don’t we share our most intimate and private feelings with our friends and family?

  • Human nature is not trustworthy.
  • We ask others to share their most private feelings in response to our own selfish interests.
  • Confidentiality is a rare thing to find.

What can we do about it?

  • Recognize that our relationships with our family and friends are under God’s watchful eyes. We are to hold private those areas of sharing held in confidence. When we ask someone to open their soul, we must also accept the responsibilities that go along with our request. Knowledge, information, even shocking truths collected under the auspices of Christian love and shared indiscriminately are against God’s will.
  • How many of you meet regularly, as a friend would meet, with someone over 65, with someone who is single, with someone who is divorced, someone with a handicap, or with someone who is a widow by death? What is it that we all fear from these types of relationships?
  • There is no answer to the questions above. Our God holds us responsible for such relationships. Yet most people have a compelling list of reasons why they cannot maintain relationships similar to those described above. The Apostle Paul is telling us that this is not acceptable. Each one of us is to look at each other with a new eye, the non-judgmental, loving, forgiving, and accepting eye of Christ.

Section One: Our Families

Have someone in your group read 1 Timothy 5:1:2

What is the difference between a member of a family and a member of a group?

  • The depth of the relationship. As group members, we are given rules and excluded when we fail to adhere to them. However, as members of a family, we find support in failure, not condemnation.

Do you think that our society today respects the elderly? Why or Why Not?

  • Society has relinquished the value of experience to the worldly standards of power, position, wealth and pleasure. In essence, we have given up on God’s standards and measure success on worldly standards. All this says that our goals are wrong. We should not be in pursuit of pleasure, position, or power. This is the folly of the young.

Section Two: Widows of Today

Have someone in your group read 1 Timothy 5:3-16

How would you describe the biblical definition of a widow?

Re-read 1 Timothy 5:5 The term “left all alone” reflects the true New Testament meaning of “deficient” or “destitute.” A widow of today is someone who has been left all alone, whether by death or by divorce.

What are the two key points of our relationships with widows that Paul is trying to tell us in these verses?

  • Each of us has a responsibility to make a widow part of the Christian family.
  • The widow, if young, has a responsibility to assure that she does not separate herself from the Christian family in pursuit of the world.

Note to the leader: If you have a brief history of Timothy and Ephesus, a review would provide background information to add clarity to this next section of the study.

How do you think that the times and problems of Ephesus and Timothy relate to today’s society?

  • The mixture of worldly religions (faiths), false gods, and Christianity no doubt placed great pressure on the family. Many of these same trends can be seen today, manifested by the ease and availability of abortion, the high divorce rates, crime and abusive relationships within many families today.

Section Three: Dealing with the Elderly

Have someone in your group read 1 Timothy 5:17:25

The word used for elder is the same as for older man. Do you think that Paul is suggesting that our church leadership be filled with only older people?

  • Paul describes a spiritual maturity not a physical maturity. We are being instructed to appoint only those who know God’s word and have experienced the struggle of faith in life’s journey.
    Why do you think that Paul discusses widows and elders in the same chapter/verse of the Bible?
  • Both are to be respected and cared for.

Read the following statement to the group: “Through good works, man earns his way into Heaven.”

What do you think about it?

  • It is not correct. Men/women do not earn their way into Heaven. Our faith in Christ, His work on the cross and God’s grace open Heaven’s gates.

What is your responsibility when you hear a church leader make a statement that you believe is not correct?

Read Galatians 6:6 to your group.

How do you interpret this Bible verse?

  • We are not to be quiet about what we hear. When in Bible study, we are encouraged to share our knowledge and experience with not only the class but the instructor. Paul knows that while the intentions of teaching may be noble, often the road to knowledge is rocky. If you do not understand what you hear in a Bible study class, or you disagree with what you hear, our Bible tells us that it is our duty to interact with our class leader.

What happens when you are faced with real conflict over an issue of Church doctrine as presented by an elder or other church officer?

Have someone in the group read 1 Timothy 5:19-20, Deuteronomy 19:15-20. Re-ask the question.

  • Paul’s advice of verification is first and paramount. One witness is never sufficient. Be sure that several others (of Christian maturity) agree with your conclusions. Notice that Paul is not against public disclosure of the error.
  • However, Paul’s objective is the education of others, not revenge. Confrontation is best handled via the steps outlined in Matthew 18:15-20.
  • Confront the brother with the truth;
  • If he will not listen, take one or more with you and confront him again;
  • If he refuses to listen to the two or three, tell the Church;
  • Let the Church decide what to do; and
  • If he still refuses to make the changes (accept the truth), consider him an outsider who needs to be loved and won back to the Lord.

Section Four: Appointing Church Leaders

Have someone in your group read 1 Timothy 5:22

What caution do you think Paul is giving us in this verse?

  • Do not be hasty in appointing Church leadership. Take time to get to know them.

Have someone in your group read 1 Timothy 5:24-25

What further advice does Paul give us?

  • While some people’s good qualities and spiritual problems are obvious, some are not so easy to detect.

How should we make our decisions on Church leadership?

Read Acts 13:1-3, 14:23 to your group. Re-ask the question.

  • With prayer
  • Fasting, and
  • They should be full of the Holy Spirit.

Use 1 Timothy 3:6-10 as a reference guide. This is a list of attributes to look for in church leadership. Any one of the attributes can be used to open up discussion.

Do you think that fasting has a place in the modern Church?

  • All of God’s words and advice has a place in the modern Church. Fasting removes worldly distractions and causes one to focus. Fasting, however, should be done only by those who are healthy enough to do so.

Why do you think that Paul put a discussion of family, the elderly, widows, and church leadership in the same chapter/ section of his letter to Timothy?

  • While Paul did not specifically tell us the answer to this question, we might conclude that all three of these topics are somehow related.
  • We are a family, just like the blood of our ancestors links our genetic past, Christ’s own blood ties us to each other.
  • Age has no significance, only the maturity of our faith.
  • Whether a widow or not, all have equal stature in the Church. We are all called to serve, be served, uphold the purity of our faith and chose responsible leadership for our Church.

Bible Truth Being Taught

God sees the human heart without gender, color or age and that each of us is given the opportunity to grow in faith and trust.

Our Response

To develop loving, responsible, mutually helpful relationships with other Christians regardless of age, sex, or circumstances while upholding the truths of our faith.