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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

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describes the natural process of human beings growing older and, according to the Bible, gaining respect.

Old Testament References to aging persons in the Old Testament stress the physiological changes of aging (1 Kings 14:4; 2 Samuel 19:35; Ecclesiastes 12:1-5; Zechariah 8:4 ), the wisdom of the aging (Deuteronomy 32:7; Job 12:12 ), the honor due the aging (Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:32 ), and the continuing service of the aging (Genesis 12-50 , the patriarchs; Joshua 13:1; Joshua 14:10; Psalm 92:14; Joel 2:28 ). Aging is presented as a normal part of the biblical view of the life cycle (Psalm 90:10; Isaiah 46:4 ). See Elder .

New Testament References to aging persons in the New Testament focus on the responsibility of children or the family of faith to care for dependent or disabled aging persons (Mark 7:1-13; Matthew 15:1-6; 1 Timothy 5:4 , 1 Timothy 5:8; James 1:27 ). The young are urged to honor the aging (1 Timothy 5:1-2 ), and the aging are encouraged to be worthy examples (Titus 2:2-3 ). Christians are expected to care for widows (Acts 6:1-7 ), and the aging are expected to serve God as did Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, and Anna in Luke 1-2 . Such service by the aging can bring blessings to their families, as did Timothy's grandmother and mother (2 Timothy 1:5 ).

Practical Concerns The biblical view of aging is unequivocally positive, though allowing for foolish elderly (Ecclesiastes 4:13 ). Generally older persons have a reservoir of wisdom and understanding based on past experience (Deuteronomy 32:7 ). They can experience new family joys, even after many previous sad experiences (Ruth 4:13-17 ). Both youth and age have their unique worth; they are not in competition (Proverbs 20:29 ). While advancing age results in diminishing strength (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 ), God's grace and help are ever the same (Isaiah 46:4 ).

Many promises of the New Testament have special meaning for older persons (John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 15:55-58 ).

Douglas Anderson

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Aging'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hbd/​a/aging.html. 1991.
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