Relative terms like “young” require definition because they are comparative. If we say, “Youngest,” we know what that means. In some way of identifying a person, the others in that identification are older. If we say, “Younger,” we are comparing a person identified in some way with one other person. When we say, “Young,” we open a can of worms.
Paul sends Timothy to represent him. This the context in which Paul to Timothy says, “Do not allow anyone to dishonor you because you are young.”
So, Timothy is young. Paul identifies him as a leader leading people older than he is. “Do not rebuke an elder” does not refer to someone older than Timothy but a fivefold ministry leader whose role in leadership requires entreaty equal to honor given that role.
How young is Timothy? We do not know. We do not need to know. We should not speculate. We cannot build anything on the silence of the Bible. He is younger than some of the people his leading when compared to their chronological age on a personal basis.
Paul sends Timothy to represent his apostolic metron. In the same context, Paul says, “Do this and that until I arrive.”
These words put the role of Timothy into context: Timothy represents Paul so that the role of representation is the basis for him not allowing dishonor for his leadership upon the basis of his chronological age. At the same time, Timothy would respond to an elder according to the honor due to an elder, without respect to chronological age.
To eliminate dishonor, Timothy reveals his spiritual maturity in several denoted ways. Paul being confident of Timothy’s capacity to do this serves his admonition to not allow dishonor. Paul knows Timothy’s character and lifestyle. He says, “You model maturity that chronological age cannot diminish. If someone challenges your representation of me, your character and lifestyle serve as your context to shut down the dishonor. Do not be overruled as my representative when someone attempts to usurp based upon chronological age. Stand your ground. Preach. Teach. Exhort. Read the Old Testament publicly. Command and train. Be a strong leader, Timothy! You have the authority to do this because you represent me.”
“Timothy, you received an imparted gift when elders laid hands upon you. Honor that impartation and it will answer dishonor of your age. It is an impartation for your leadership role. Do not dishonor it by neglect,” Paul says.
The young reveal they are mature when they have a submission to the eldering leaders who imparted the gift. This is evidenced by the fact that they do not rely upon their own power or throw their weight around to air an opinion. They represent a fathering leader and manifest a gift received from eldering leaders. (Not that this is two different things. Elders are fathering.)
Paul makes it clear that youngest and younger or young do not provide leadership without representing a fathering leader or represent leadership without an eldering leadership impartation and validation. They operate in a defined role so that the honor they show elders and fathers is the basis for others honoring their leadership.
“I am called” won’t do that. “Jesus told me to” won’t cover that. “I am being fathered by Jesus directly” won’t provide that. “I’m got the Holy Ghost and a bunch of power gifts” isn’t the basis for that. “I have my own ministry” is not the foundation for this.
To be honored as young leaders, young leaders must function on the basis of honoring fathering leaders and eldering leaders.
So, when Paul says, “Do not allow anyone to dishonor you on the basis of age,” he is telling Timothy to command, train, teach, preach, and make it stick because he represents Paul and elders who valid him, not that Timothy gets to throw his weight and opinions around while name-dropping someone he once saw at a conference who laid hands upon him for thirteen seconds along with 1200 others.
Timothy does not get to be honored because he can prophesy or film himself healing people on the street in a hit and run evangelism stunt or because he “really love Jesus a lot.”
The basis for kingdom leadership is the kingdom. Kingdom has protocols because kingdom leaders all represent the King.