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1 Timothy 5:2

ESV older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.
NIV older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
NASB to the older women as mothers, and to the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
CSB older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters with all purity.
NLT Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.
KJV The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.

What does 1 Timothy 5:2 mean?

Verse 2 switches from older and younger men to Timothy's treatment of older and younger women. He is to treat "older women as mothers." As was the case in verse 1 with fathers, this is no trivial command. Mothers were worthy of honor (Exodus 20:12). Timothy's own Jewish mother had raised him to know Scripture (2 Timothy 1:5).

As with verse 1, the specific context of this command is Timothy's role as a teacher and church leader. Paul is not telling Timothy (or us) to treat every woman in the church identically to our actual sisters or mothers. Rather, this is the attitude which Timothy is to use when he interacts with these women as their spiritual leader.

Younger women are to be treated "as sisters, in all purity." Paul has already mentioned purity as part of Timothy's example as a young leader in 1 Timothy 4:12. He is to view young women as sisters in his family. This strongly discourages viewing them with lust or sexual impurity. Paul would elsewhere call Phoebe his "sister" (Romans 16:1) though she was only a sister spiritually, and make a similar remark about Apphia (Philemon 1:2). Referring to Christian women as sisters appears to have been a common practice in the early church.

Paul has already spoken about the differing roles of men and women in church leadership (1 Timothy 2:9–15). At the same time, he clearly views women as having equal value and deserving of care and dignity (Galatians 3:28).
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