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1 Timothy 3:1-7 (KJV)

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3:1 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

In introducing this “true” or “trustworthy” saying, we have to consider aspects of the office of bishop [spiritual overseer] coming into play. 

The first is that a man is desiring an office of action and authority. It pertains to an external motivation. Truthfully, because there is a specification of “office of a bishop”, naturally some controversy presents itself. 

Within the church, sometimes the office is viewed as an overly-authoritative position likewise to congregational duties. One is not better than the other; however, one must understand that both delegations have a role to fill. 

The other aspect worthy of notation is that when Paul addresses the bishop as “desir[ing]” a good work”, he is referring to the internal or intrinsic motivation of the external desire. 

Historically, pastors have had a considerably more admirable connotation to their vocation; however looking at today’s political and social climate, those days are declining. 

Often those who pursue this calling will be heavily criticized or face opposition uncommon to the average position. Nonetheless, one should not be discouraged because of this considering that humanity consists of a depraved nature (Romans 8:7). 

As long as moral depravity is elevated within culture above godliness we should all should expect such a fate. But do not grow weary in doing good because this is a good work and God’s word highlights what is true (Galatians 6:9; 1 Timothy 3:1). 

3:2-3 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

The blameless quality has sparked debate for many years on the extensiveness of this requirement. Indeed, we are all blameless in the sight of Christ because of His finished work, however human nature often presents past actions of an individual as irrevocable (Colossians 1:22).

The question is: What do you do?

Perhaps the best understanding of blamelessness in this context is to utilize blamelessness as a subject and allow the rest of 1 Timothy 3:2-14 to explain the specifics of blameless living. 

Live by the following doctrine and you will live blameless before others as we are blameless before God. 

As for a “husband of one wife”, we must be careful to not overstretch doctrine to a place it was never meant to be taken. If only the married were to be elders, pastors, or bishops just know that Paul himself (The writer) and Timothy (The recipient) would be disqualified from this “good work.”

What can be highlighted pertaining to blamelessness however is that being the husband of one wife will sustain one in sexual purity and negate polygamous strife. The Greek in this context literally pertains to a “one-woman man.”

The word “pastor” derives from the Latin word pastus. Pastor means shepherd and spiritual leaders are often cited as a shepherd because they are to be vigilant over a congregation. 

Vigilance is a pastoral duty. They feed, maintain, and protect their church (Acts 20:28-35). 

Being of a sober mind is not quite referring to avoiding a drunken state although that can be included. The Greek word for “sober” is sophron which according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon depicts someone of a “sound mind” or who is “curbing [there] desires or impulse.”

Paul gives a practical sense of a sober mind in verse by speaking against drunkenness and not being “given to wine.”

Good behavior is associated Biblically with an orderly person. God is not a God of chaos or confusion so neither should the Body of Christ reflect it (1 Corinthians 14:33). Saying this, order should definitely reflect the character of a spiritual leader. 

Once again referring to the Greek to explain the extensiveness of these qualifications, hospitality literally is understood within the Greek to be a “lover of strangers.” Overseers are to be an example of Biblical love for strangers and discernment in this realm (Romans 12:13).

This verse is often preached as a “throw caution to the wind” verse yet within context, we are still called to protect our flock and congregation. We must be reasonable stewards of Biblical doctrine in the right division of the Word of God. 

In the same breath I would say, walk circumspectly (cautiously) as you redeem the time (serve God)(Ephesians 5:16-18). 

“Apt to teach” is not merely referring to a good speaker or someone eloquent. To say otherwise would once again discredit Paul as one of pastoral authority (1 Corinthians 2:1-4).

In fact, I dare say that this verse is not talking about a good speaker at all but rather one who is able to present the word of God correctly. The requirements for apt teaching should be someone who comes in humility, in the Spirit, and preaching the Gospel truth (1 Corinthians 2:3-4). 

A final note is that the teacher who is first coming in humility is the teacher who learns in order to teach. As we will later see, the teacher must not be young and unwise in the word of God because deceit will mar their character. 

In furthering my point, Phil Collins once stated, “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”

3:4-5 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

Poor rule of one’s home and personal life is often a good indicator of poor management in other arenas of life. When Paul uses the term “with all gravity” there is a weightedness of the task. It is a very serious qualification and bad management can affect the blameless qualification of an overseer.

3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

As aforementioned, the Greek word for “novice” is neophytos. Neophytos depicts a Christian who is “newly planted”. It is a reference to a neophyte classification of plant life. A neophyte is a plant that is not native to a geographical location and only recently introduced. Therefore a neophyte Christian is a believer who is still foreign to many of the mature principles and dimensions of the Gospel. 

In 1 Corinthians 3:2, Paul explains that some people have not received spiritual “meat” because they are not ready to wean off of the spiritual “milk.” A neophyte would be this classifications of Christians. 

Allowing a novice to become a pastor or overseer is essentially setting them up for failure. Unavoidably, the novice would be tempted into pride. Like the Devil who fell from Heaven because of pride, the young leader would also fall into reproach (Isaiah 14:12-14). 

As well as this, bishops and leadership are public leaders. A new convert of poor report will find difficulty in ministering particularly to unbelievers. Leadership has much to do with influence and negative influence is counterproductive to the Body of Christ. 

With spiritual maturity, a novice will progress and be more apt to serve in an overseer role.

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