“older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:2).
Much like older and younger men within the Christian community, 1 Timothy 5:2 instructs us to adopt an attitude that views women as if they were literal family members. One means of implementing this idea involves the act of “exhortation” as mentioned earlier in 1 Timothy 5:1. This refers to the practice of encouraging someone to do something that must be done. A person who exhibits this characteristic is not unlike a coach or teacher who seeks to help an athlete or student achieve his or her best.
Since the following verses of 1 Timothy chapter five will begin a lengthy section that addresses widows and older women within the church, we will consider the benefit of this approach with younger women first. We can start by observing that a man who treats “…younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters” (NLT) is naturally constrained from engaging in any type of conduct that may be inappropriate. These boundaries also serve to protect the vulnerable from various forms of manipulation or exploitation.
It was important for Timothy to set the right example in this area, for this type of behavior was characteristic of those who sought to introduce false teachings into the church at Ephesus. For instance, Paul the Apostle’s next Biblical epistle to Timothy will provide us with an apt description of those individuals…
“They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires” (2 Timothy 3:6 NLT).
So a man who observes these parameters from 1 Timothy 5:2 is someone who is sure to set the right kind of example for others to follow in this regard.
Finally, we cannot deny the pain and disappointment that accompanies reports of modern-day authorities who manipulate, exploit, or take advantage of others under the guise of religion. However, a leader who adopts the perspective given to us in 1 Timothy 5:2 is certain to approach such relationships in a manner that is Biblically appropriate, honorable, and ethical.
As one commentary concludes, “Men in the ministry can avoid improper attitudes toward women by treating them as family members. If men see women as fellow members in God’s family, they will protect them and help them grow spiritually.” (1)
(1) Life Application Study Bible [1 Timothy 5:2] Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc., all rights reserved.