This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Misuse of Bible verses

After finding some information regarding a well known international ministry,  and their wrong views on spiritual authority,  I decided to make this post.  These problems show us  how important  sound doctrine is and how much harm wrong doctrines do to the body of Christ.

But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: (#G1249- Servant) And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.   For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Mark 10

There are many bible verses that have been misinterpreted or twisted by some institutions, using them wrongly to exercise lordship over God’s people, & keep them in bondage. The  Word of God says in 1 Timothy 5: 1-2

Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;  The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.  -AKJV.

Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers,  older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.  -NKJV

We are taught throughout the Bible, to honor our father and mother (see Eph. 6:1-3). In saying to intreat him like a father, the apostle Paul is saying, to respect or value him for his old age. The word ‘presbuteros’, is used in these two verses translated as “elders” for a male as well as for a female “elder women”.  Not only that, but the context is comparing “elders” with “younger”.

Some teach that rebuke not an elder refers to a pastor or leader in the church, but the fact that the context of the passage speaks of “elder women” should tell them it’s not referring to a pastor but people of age.

The following commentaries & articles can helps us understand better this bible passage of 1 Timothy 5.

Rebuke not an elder:

Though the Bible uses the term elder in various contexts, it should be obvious to the honest Bible student that here it indicates an older gentleman. In 1 Timothy 5:1, the elder is contrasted with the younger men . It is then contrasted with the elder women in 1 Timothy 5:2. The issue is respect. The scripture is not teaching that believers can never question the actions of an older man, but indicates that the method of this questioning is of the utmost importance. An elder is not to be rebuked, but he can be intreated “as a father.” To intreat a person is to plead with or ask them earnestly. It is an approach of respect, and it is the method by which the Lord demands an elder be approached.

Andrew Ray,

Paul and his readers were aware of the spiritual sense in which Christians were related to one another as brothers and sisters. Continuing the same tone and concern from earlier in the epistle, Paul discusses how Timothy should relate to people of different ages and genders. The instruction grows directly out of the problem Timothy is having with the older elders and out of Paul’s concern that Timothy be on guard against the other problems evident in the Ephesian church. Timothy must treat all believers as members of the same family of God—fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters.

His approach should not be one of domination but one of encouragement, including respect and honor.

An older man is to be treated like a father while an older woman is to be treated like a mother. This would include treating them with respect. ..Leviticus 19:32  says, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.” The “hoary head” is the head that is covered with grey hairs. To rise up before them means to stand and show them honor when they enter the room. I understand that this is the law, but there are many lessons for us here. In the book of Job, Elihu waited to speak until all the older men had their say (Job 32:4 ). …As one of the signs of a society that has broken down and rejected God, “the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient” (Isaiah 3:5).  We are warned against the mistreatment of our parents when they grow old. Proverbs 23:22.

D. Reagan,

Is it Biblical for a Layperson to Rebuke an Elder?

Dr. Paul M. Elliott.

(Dr Elliot holds a doctorate in Biblical exegesis, and has written four full-length books and hundreds of articles and booklets).

“Rebuke Not An Elder”

A passage that is often erroneously used to support the view that a so-called layperson cannot rebuke an elder for doctrinal error is 1 Timothy 5:1. In the Authorized King James Version it reads, “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father…” We need to note three things about this passage:

1.   As always, a single phrase cannot be interpreted out of context. It must be interpreted with regard to the surrounding text, as well as consistently with the rest of Scripture. So we must look at the context of 1 Timothy chapters four and five. The section from 4:12 through 5:16 is, in the main, devoted to instructions on relationships between younger and older people in the church.

2.  While the word used for “elder” in 1 Timothy 5:1 is the Greek presbuteros – the same word that is used to denote the office of elder in other passages – the context makes it clear that the usage of presbuteros here does not refer to the office of elder, but to age relationships between younger and older people. Paul uses the feminine form presbuteras in the very next verse, and the two verses are parallel statements: “Rebuke not a [male] elder (presbuteros), but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women (presbuteras) as mothers; the younger [women] as sisters, with all purity.”

3.  The word translated rebuke” is epiplesso, which means “to chastise with words.” It is used only in this verse in the New Testament. The contrasting word translated “intreat” is parakaleo, which means, literally, “to take someone aside and admonish him with all due respect.

First Timothy 5:1 is not a prohibition against rebuking someone who holds the office of elder. In context, the sum of the phrase, “rebuke not an elder,” is this: Respect for age must govern the way in which a younger person approaches an older person when it is apparent that the older person has sinned. Take him aside, and first attempt to deal with the matter privately, but always with the respect that an older person is due from a younger.

Also, the context shows that the offenses that are in view are principally the private offenses of private people. The wording echoes the pattern of Matthew 18 beginning at verse 15: Confront someone privately first; if he will not listen to you, take witnesses with you and confront him again; if he still will not listen, take him before the church; if he will not listen to the church, treat him as an unbeliever.

Rebuke in the Presence of All”

In contrast to this we have the case of a “public man” – a man who holds the office of elder in the church. First Timothy 5:19-20 instructs us in dealing with the sin or doctrinal error of such an office-bearer: “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are sinning [i.e., are subsequently proved to be sinning, and persist in that sin] rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.” We need to note several things in this passage:

1.   It clearly deals with “the elders who rule” (proestotes presbuteroi, verse 17), not simply older men.

2.   The word translated “accusation” is kategoria, which means “a formal accusation before a tribunal.” If a ruling elder is to be accused of wrongdoing or false teaching, it is to be done in a formal way, because it is a serious matter for the church.

3.   An accusation of wrongdoing or doctrinal error against an elder is to be established “from two or three witnesses.” This echoes a precept found throughout Scripture for the establishment of a charge against someone, and the adjudication of guilt or innocence (cf. Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1, Hebrews 10:28).

4.   The word translated “rebuke” in verse 20 is elegcho, which, unlike epiplesso in the verses we considered above, has both an investigative and an adjudicative sense. This is in keeping with the formality of the handling of the accusation indicated in point two above. Elegcho means both “to call to account and demand an explanation” and also “to convict and refute if found culpable, and thus put to shame.”

In other words, the unrepented public offense or doctrinal error of a ruling elder becomes a matter for public hearing and public rebuke, involving proper investigation and judgment. Also, it is logical to conclude that one or more of the “witnesses” of doctrinal error may not necessarily be a human being, but could be something that the man has written, or has said or done that is on record in some other form (e.g., an audio or video recording). But always, some individual must first bring the accusation.

Private Versus Public Sins

As our reader rightly indicated in his question, Scripture makes a distinction between a ruling elder’s private sin, and public sins such as doctrinal error. The private sins of a ruling elder against individuals should first be dealt with in the spirit of Matthew 18. If the office-bearer is an older man who has sinned against a younger person, the younger person should first approach him in the spirit of entreaty spoken of in First Timothy 5:1. But in keeping with Matthew 18, such a private offense becomes an increasingly public matter if the elder refuses to repent.

The public offense of an elder – violation of one of his basic qualifications to hold the office (1 Timothy 3:1-13) – is clearly not a private matter. This is most emphatically true of doctrinal error. The accusation of error, the adjudication of guilt or innocence, and the rebuke for unrepented error, are all public matters; they must follow the pattern of 1 Timothy 15:19-20. And ultimately, the public rebuke is to come from the church as a body and from its elders – from those who were not partakers in the doctrinal error, or from those who may have at one time been involved in it but have previously repented of it.

 Teaching the Word Ministries


Rebuke not an elder,…. By whom is meant, not an elder in office, but in age; for elders by office are afterwards spoken of, and particular rules concerning them are given, 1 Timothy 5:17. Besides, an elder is here opposed, not to a private member of a church, but to young men in age; and the apostle is here giving rules to be observed in rebuking members of churches, according to their different age and sex, and not according to their office and station; and this sense is confirmed by a parallel text in Titus 2:2. Now an ancient man, a member of a church, is not to be rebuked in a sharp and severe way; the word here used signifies to smite or strike; and so the Arabic version renders it, “do not strike an elder”; meaning not with the hand, but with the tongue, giving hard words, which are as heavy blows; reproof is a smiting, and there is a gentle and a sharp one, Psalm 141:4. It is with the former, and not the latter, that man in years is to be reproved, when he is in a fault, whether with respect to doctrine or practice, as such persons may be as well as younger ones; and when they are observed to err, they should not be roughly and sharply dealt with.

Gill’s Bible Commentary

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