What Does the Bible Say About Respecting Elders?

Respecting our elders is an important biblical principle that we as Christians should take to heart. The Bible has a lot to say about how we should treat older people, especially those in authority over us. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the key Bible verses about respecting elders and gain insight into how we can honor them well.


As Christians, the Word of God should be our guide for how to live. When it comes to relating to those older than us, the Bible gives clear instructions that we are called to follow. Respecting our elders is beneficial for us, good for society, and honors God.

Here are some key takeaways we will cover:

  • God commands us to respect elders
  • Elders have wisdom we can learn from
  • We should submit to elder’s authority
  • Honoring elders reflects our heart attitude
  • Respecting elders brings blessing

Understanding and applying these biblical principles can strengthen our families, churches, and communities. Join me below as we explore what God’s Word says about respecting elders.

What Does the Bible Say About Respecting Elders?

God Commands Us to Respect Elders

One of the clearest messages in the Bible regarding elders is that God commands us to respect them. This goes back to the 5th commandment where God instructs:

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12 NKJV)

This commandment carried great importance, as it was the first one with a promised blessing for obedience. God said honoring parents would lead to prolonged life in the land he was giving Israel. While this specifically applied in that context to obeying parents, the principle extends to respecting all elders.

The apostle Paul references this command in Ephesians 6:1-3:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” (NKJV)

He equated obeying and honoring parents with the 5th commandment. These verses apply the promise of long life in the land not just to Israel but to all of us. If we want to live a full life, honoring elders is key.

In 1 Timothy 5:1-2, Paul instructs:

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” (NKJV)

We should not confront elders sharply but appeal to them respectfully. Speaking to older men and women as we would our parents demonstrates the honor we are called to show them.

1 Peter 5:5 also emphasizes this point:

“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’” (NKJV)

As younger people, God wants us to submit ourselves to those older than us out of humility. This pleases Him and attracts His grace.

Overall, the Bible clearly reveals that showing respect for elders is not optional – it is a command from God we must obey. He promises blessing when we honor them well.

Elders Have Wisdom We Can Learn From

A major reason God wants us to respect elders is because of the wisdom they have gained through years of life experience. If we listen and remain humble, there is so much we can learn from older believers that will help us in our own walk with God.

In Job 12:12, we read:

“Wisdom is with aged men, And with length of days, understanding.” (NKJV)

Advanced age often brings increased wisdom and discernment. Older people have a perspective we lack, so we should value their insight.

Proverbs 16:31 describes the honorable status elders should have:

“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.” (NKJV)

Grey hair is like a glorious crown, signifying the honor of an elder living righteously. Their conduct makes them worthy of respect.

In Titus 2:1-8, Paul instructs Titus to have older men and women teach and model godliness to the next generation:

“But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 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.

Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” (NKJV)

Wise elders have so much to teach us through their exemplary lives. We should seek their guidance and learn from their spiritual maturity.

The wisdom of older believers is a gift to the church. Respecting our elders allows us to benefit from their God-given discernment and understanding.

We Should Submit to Elder’s Authority

In addition to general respect, the Bible calls Christians to submit to those elders who are in positions of spiritual authority over us. This includes church leaders like pastors as well as secular authorities.

Hebrews 13:17 says:

“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (NKJV)

Church leaders deserve our respect because they care for our spiritual well-being. Submitting to their authority enables them to lead joyfully and benefits us.

1 Peter 2:13-17 explains how we should relate to secular authorities:

“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (NKJV)

Out of reverence for God, we are called to honor governmental leaders by submitting to their laws and authority structure. The only exception is if obeying them would require disobeying God (Acts 5:29).

Even Jesus modeled submission to human authorities. In Matthew 17:24-27 when asked about paying taxes, he submitted and had Peter catch a fish with money for the tax rather than cause offense over it. And Jesus willingly surrendered to unjust authorities at his arrest and crucifixion.

As Christians, our respect should extend to submitting to elder authorities, even if they are flawed. We honor God and dignify the gospel message when we do this.

Honoring Elders Reflects Our Heart Attitude

Most importantly, the way we treat elders reveals our heart before God. If we dismiss or dishonor them, it exposes pride, arrogance and rebellion in us. But sincerely respecting them demonstrates humility, wisdom and obedience to God.

In 1 Samuel 15, Saul disobeyed God’s instructions to destroy the Amalekites. When confronted by the prophet Samuel, Saul refused to take responsibility. He blamed the people for his actions. Samuel responded:

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22 NKJV)

Samuel rebuked Saul because obedience is far better than religious duty. Honoring elders begins in our hearts. God cares more about our attitudes than empty actions.

Proverbs 3:34 says:

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (NKJV)

If we want to walk in God’s grace and blessing, humility is required. Avoiding pride means respecting our elders well.

1 Peter 3:8-9 gives this instruction:

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” (NKJV)

Treating elders with compassion, courtesy and blessing reflects Christ in us. This will lead to lasting, godly inheritance.

Our motivation makes all the difference. Do we respect elders out of sincere love or just outward show? God sees our hearts. As we honor Him, respecting elders appropriately will follow.

Respecting Elders Brings Blessing

As we have seen, the Bible repeatedly connects respecting elders with receiving blessing. When we honor older people in our lives, families, churches and communities, we pave the way for God’s favor.

In Isaiah 3:1-5, lack of respect brings judgment:

“For behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, takes away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stock and the store…The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor; the child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable.” (NKJV)

By removing elders from authority, God allowed society to crumble. When there is no honor for elders, relationships dissolve into oppression and insolence.

Conversely, Proverbs 16:31 says this about elders:

“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness.” (NKJV)

Honoring righteous elders literally crowns our communities with glory. It invites God’s approval and empowering presence.

The apostle John understood this principle well. In 3 John 1:2 he wrote:

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (NKJV)

John connected prosperity and health to the condition of one’s soul. Respecting elders reflects a mature soul ready to receive spiritual and material blessing.

God rewards those who honor elders with long, fruitful life according to His principles. If we want to walk in spiritual and natural prosperity, respecting elders appropriately is key.


To summarize, respecting elders is a biblical mandate with attached promises. The Bible gives elders an honored place because of their spiritual authority, life experience and the wisdom that comes with age. God commands us to submit to both spiritual and secular elder authorities He establishes. Most importantly, how we treat elders reflects the condition of our hearts before God. When we honor them with the right attitudes, we position ourselves to inherit blessing. I hope these principles from God’s Word inspire us to value and respect elders, whether in our families, churches or society. Let’s pray for grace to honor elders well and perpetuate the godly wisdom they impart.

Key Takeaways:

  • God commands us to respect elders
  • Elders have wisdom we can learn from
  • We should submit to elder’s authority
  • Honoring elders reflects our heart attitude
  • Respecting elders brings blessing

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