21 Bible Verses About Respecting Our Elders

Throughout history, people have been taught to respect and honor the elderly members of their societies. As people get older they typically gain experience which leads to knowledge and understanding from life’s lessons learned by others who have gone before them.

In many societies, family traditions and important life lessons are passed down from the old to the young. Unfortunately, this is being lost by the younger generations of today. As a result, these children may grow up navigating life without the wisdom of elderly to help them navigate the coming seasons of life they will face.

More importantly, the elderly serve to help in solidifying a Godly foundation in the family.

Here are 26 Bible Verses About Respecting Our Elders to help you understand the importance of the elderly in our lives.

elderly man sitting on a couch laughing with his grandson

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What Does the Bible Say About Honoring the Elderly

The concepts of honor and respect can be found all throughout the Bible. It is important to understand that we are not just called to honor our elders but to honor everyone in humility.  

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 ESV

Not only does God call us to honor others – all others – in humility, but He also calls us to outdo each other in showing that honor!

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10 ESV

When we honor the elderly, we are practicing the teachings of Jesus in our lives.

Elderly Defined

Before we look at what the Bible says about honoring the elderly, let’s define some terms. 

Elderly means someone who is aging or showing signs of age. Elders are either people of greater age or leadership within a group. 

When we define what is the meaning of elders we see that it applies to a large number of people we may interact with each day.  There will always be someone older than you and we are almost always under someone else’s leadership.  This is why it is important to better understand what the Bible says about respecting elders. 

Bible Verses About Respecting the Elderly

The Bible is filled with scripture about honoring and respecting the elderly in our society. It tells to embrace them and the wisdom they carry so we can benefit from it in our own lives.

Bible Verses Honoring Old Age

Honor is another term 21st Century people understand differently.  Our ancestors however would have had a working definition that applied to various situations and relationships.  Standing up when an elder enters a room was one way to show honor.  

“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:32 ESV

“Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” Proverbs 16:31 ESV

Embracing gray hair is another way to show honor.  Whether it is your own gray hair or that of your loved ones, it is wrong to bash them for it.  Vanity can get to us here, but gray hair is a beautiful thing in God’s Kingdom.  

“The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.” Proverbs 20:29 ESV

Remember that though there may not be physical strength, there should still be honor given.  If there are ways to help your elders without making them feel less than, do that. 

  • Rather than pointing out all the things they can no longer do, sit a spell and listen to stories of their glory days. 
  • Listening and helping are great ways to honor your elders.

They know about Spiritual Warfare and can teach us so much if we only listen. These are just a few things Bible verses honoring old age teach us!

Bible Verses About Respecting the Wisdom of Elders

Age brings wisdom.  The Bible is clear that the longer you live, the more of life you experience.  We learn from our experiences whether they are good or bad.  In ancient times, as the younger generation was going about life, the elders shared advice and stories to help them learn as they journeyed.  

“Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” Deuteronomy 32:7 ESV

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” Job 12:12 ESV

Again, age brings wisdom and understanding.  Maybe not in all things, but in some things.  We could stand to bring back the tradition of listening to our elders share their stories. To respect the wisdom of elders is to listen and learn.   

The Elderly Are Important to God

“Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.” Isaiah 46:4 ESV

The prophecies of Isaiah are awe-inspiring! He continually points us to God to help center our lives in righteousness.  The reminder is that even when we are old, God is still carrying us.  So don’t count out the elders who seem done in life. God always has a plan for us.

“Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were older than he.” Job 32:4 ESV

Another tradition of our ancestors was to allow the elders to speak first. We see this many times in scripture but most notably in Job.  Elihu waited to address Job, listening intently to his elders.  It is often wise to listen before we speak, especially if we are in the company of elders.  

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.” 1 Timothy 5:17 ESV

To respect our elders we often need to remember that they have needs.  It is respectful to pay them well for their labor so they do not struggle.  

Bible Verses About No Rebuking Your Elders

Children even 200 years ago had a much firmer grasp of respecting their elders than we do today.  I can’t tell you how many times my children slam a door, cursing the ground I walk on.  The truth is, elders are usually wiser.  They know things we don’t know yet. They have a reason for what is said or requested.  If only kids got that…

“Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.” Exodus 21:17 ESV

“Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1-2 ESV

As a non-confrontational person, I kind of love this aspect of showing respect to our elders.  It ties into the idea of age bringing wisdom and a need to respect that wisdom. 

Growing up I remember wanting to tell an elderly person they were wrong many times, only to have my mom give me “that look”.   If they are elderly often they don’t hear things or misunderstand things which is hard on them.  Respect leaves them with their dignity if it can.  

If You Have A Good Reason To Rebuke Elders

“Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.” 1 Timothy 5:19 ESV

I was raised to believe you never correct an elder without good reason.  Let’s face it, there are times there is good reason to correct an elder (or an elderly person).  So with this need comes the need to weigh what you have to say. 

  • Check yourself for pride or unforgiveness. 
  • Make good and sure you are right and have witnesses. 
  • Then, approach that elder or elderly person with love and respect as you present your case.  It can be done well if you act in love.  

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”” 1 Peter 5:5 ESV

We submit to our elders with humility to show respect.  Humility means we don’t roll our eyes, we don’t mentally tick off a list of ways we’d have done it and we don’t harbor bitterness.  Humility surrenders to God and serves others with a grateful heart.  

Related Post: Complete Surrender to God Is Hard Without This

Bible Verses About Respecting Your Parents

There are countless Bible verses about respecting our elders that refer specifically to our parents.  As Christians, we are called to honor our parents.  What does that look like?  

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 ESV

“Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” Proverbs 23:22 ESV

  • Listening to our parents is a way to honor them. 
    • We can listen to them as they give us advice and listen to them as they share their stories.  
  • Do not despise our parents.  This is another way to honor them. 
    • When our parents give us advice that is tough to hear, it is easy to be angry with them.  We can honor them by listening even if we need to respectfully disagree or walk another path.  

Honoring Parents Pleases God

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV

I love that Paul reminds us that honoring our parents comes with a promise.  Life is better and lasts longer when we obey God in this.  And it is not a one-sided topic.  We obey our parents and they are to work hard not to provoke us.  

“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” Colossians 3:20 ESV

And again we see a reminder to obey our parents because it pleases God.  Here I have to say there have been times that honoring my parents meant I had to put firm boundaries in place.  There are times parents go too far, act unwisely, or are destructive.  When they cross a line it is not dishonoring to set boundaries to protect yourself and your family. 

Related Post: Knowing God as a Loving Father

Submission To Elders

Submission is a word we flat-out hate in the 21st Century, at least in Western Culture.  We are strong and independent and want no one telling us what to do.  This strong-willed independence pushes back at the idea of submission.  However, when we look at Bible verses about respecting our elders we see submission is clear.  

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Romans 13:1-2 ESV

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17 ESV

How do you submit to your elders?  Obedience.  Whether your elders are government leaders, church leaders, parents, grandparents, or some other elder, God has set a hierarchy.  There are leaders set in place by God (even if they are not good or godly) and God expects us to respect them.  

Respect Elders Who Lead

How do you respect your elders in leadership?  Again, this depends on humility.  Humility agrees with God and acts in obedience even when we don’t understand.  

“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 ESV

“I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.’” Job 32:7 ESV

Again, the book of Job reminds us that age should lead to wisdom.  When we submit to our elders, we allow them to teach and speak into our lives.  Many of our elders are great prayer warriors and when we allow them to teach us we grow in faith!

Scripture Teaches Us To Respect Our Elders

The Bible offers excellent advice for how we should treat the elderly in our society. It is clear that the Bible expects us to respect and honor those who have reached a certain stage of life, so we can learn from them.

We are grateful for the wisdom that can be found in our elders. It is our duty to not only respect them but also learn from what they have been given over their lifetime. Be kind and respectful of your loved ones who may need some extra care as they grow older – you never know how much knowledge could be lost if no one takes time to listen!

Additionally, there are many benefits to embracing your elders as well! These include everyone being able to live longer lives, communities feeling more connected with one another, and an increased sense of wellbeing among all generations.

in HIS love, Tiffany

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