Question:

We have been in several small congregations and my wife has been asked to lead woman's classes or has started one where there wasn't one. The problem is that she feels a little strange about it because she is a young woman teaching older women some twice her age and Titus 2:3-4 says it should be the other way around. She does it because the older women need to be taught and are either unwilling or unable to teach. What are your thoughts and advice on this, scripturally?


Answer:

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:12-14).

Age alone doesn't make a person qualified to teach. Yes, older women ought to teach younger women because older women ought to know more about God's Word and have the experiences to pass on to the younger generation. "The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things -- that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed" (Titus 2:3-5). However, there is nothing in what Paul said that restricts teaching to the oldest in a group.

As an example, older men ought to teach younger men. "So Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, answered and said: "I am young in years, and you are very old; therefore I was afraid, And dared not declare my opinion to you. I said, 'Age should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom'" (Job 32:6-7). Elihu understood this. That is why you don't see him speaking until almost the end of Job. But Elihu knew something else as well. "But there is a spirit in man, and the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding. Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged always understand justice. Therefore I say, 'Listen to me, I also will declare my opinion'" (Job 32:8-10). Elihu had wisdom to impart -- a wisdom that did not come from himself but from the Lord Almighty. "Bear with me a little, and I will show you that there are yet words to speak on God's behalf. I will fetch my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker. For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you" (Job 36:2-4).

What gave Timothy the right to teach men older than himself? It wasn't his age but his knowledge. "These things command and teach. Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (I Timothy 4:11-12). It is no different among the women. It is God who gives wisdom and those able to teach it ought to do so.

But you don't force someone to teach just because they are older. "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment" (James 3:1). Not everyone is qualified to teach. Older people ought to be qualified, but ought and reality are at times two different things.