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1 Timothy 3:8-16 (KJV)

3:8-10 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

The word “likewise” places deacons in a similar position as a bishop. The credentials are similar and the position itself is of a similar gravity. As all should be, deacons are to be ministers of the Gospel as well.

Deacons first appeared in Acts 6:1-6 and were delegated tasks that were taking away from the early apostles’ responsibilities, particularly caring for Greek widows.

Many of the attributes qualifying deacons are indistinguishable from bishops such as “not given to much wine,” “not greedy of filthy lucre,” and “blameless.” 

The reader is presented with some unique attributes as well although carry a similar essence to the character of a bishop or overseer. 

A deacon who is grave is similar to a bishop who rules over their house in all gravity as Paul stated in 1 Timothy 3:4. Being grave means that they take God-ordained positions in a serious manner and understand the weightiness and importance of their work. 

Being “not double-tongued” requires a consistency of character. It goes back to what it means to be “blameless” and of good reputation. A deacon is consistent in upright speech and reflects the tongue of a believer.

This speech reflects the language and teaching of Jesus and of James when they tell their readers to let their answers be “yes” or “no” (Matthew 5:37; James 5:12).

In leadership, honesty of speech is important. How we present our speech is also important as Paul  teaches that speech should “be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6). 

“Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience” simply means to be faithful ministers of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, the reader learns that a faithful minister of Christ is likewise a steward of the mysteries of God. We have many of the mysteries of God revealed through His Holy word and we are a part of one brilliant mystery revealed- The Body of Christ. 

Faithfulness is required in order to possess a pure conscience. In fact, the Greek term for “holding” is “echo” which means “to possess.” It is a very firm word.

Deacons (and all believers for that matter), as the Body of Christ, must possess a pure, undefiled consciousness that focuses on the Gospel of Jesus Christ and ministerial duties. 

Being “proved” is a crucial component of deaconship and was so from the initial installation of the position in Acts 6. In Acts 6, the apostles were looking for men of “honest report” who were faithful, of a pure conscience, and apt to the work that God had called them to.

A deacon or servant in this capacity is a “hands-on” work position within the structure of the church and for this position particularly, such a qualifying component is illuminated. 

3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

Men in a deacon position are homed in on but also are their wives. The term, “even so,” implies an equality of perspective and importance. Women are to understand the weight and importance of their position within this dynamic and are similarly called to faithfulness in everything that they do. 

Because as a husband and a wife are called to oneness with each other and in Spirit, the two are a reflection of faithfulness unto Christ Jesus. 

3:12-13 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Contrary to the popular belief that humans are simply animals instinctively geared towards polygamy (Exemplified by the ungodly, pagan relationships and rituals of Paul’s era and setting), Christians are called to be different. 

Deacons, like a bishop or pastor, should be able to present an example of a healthy, Godly marriage. Like a bishop also, a parent who manages a family well could be apt to manage a local congregation. 

The position of a deacon is a good position to desire, much like a bishop or pastor. Once again, Godly behavior is noted as using the office of deacon leads to a well purchase. Proving oneself for this position is usually absurdly twisted into a legalistic pursuit as often people expect the responsibility to be proven to man. This is inaccurate as pursuits are proven to God and only possible by His Son who made a way for our justification.

Godly work must have Godly pursuits or it can no longer rightly be called Godly.

Regardless of Christian position, we can have all boldness in Jesus (Ephesians 3:12). A good minister is bold and proclaims the Gospel boldly in word and in action (Acts 28:31). 

3:14-16 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Reading Paul’s letters with their context in mind is important. The historical context a letter brings with it, lives with the Scripture which is alive. When Hebrews 4:12 refers to the Word of God being “quick,” this is what it means. 

Paul wrote this letter to Timothy who was tasked with handling serious issues within the Ephesian church. Many of these problems are still relevant today and are why we need to take Paul’s charge to Timothy (And the Body of Christ) extremely seriously. 

Paul is laying and reiterating foundational doctrine. His general practical instruction is to simply teach no other doctrine.

Additionally within the historical context of this letter, Paul was possibly writing from Macedonia and did not delay in giving much needed instruction. The Apostle Paul issued this letter of edification despite being hopeful of visiting Timothy soon. 

This fact in itself could be a message to the modern church of avoiding hesitancy in sharing the Word of God because of poor circumstance or inconvenience. The Gospel and its crucial components are a message that direly needs to be shared with the unbeliever and believer alike. 

Paul’s concern for a possible hindrance in seeing Timothy was a provocation to have this letter delivered. There was direction in Paul’s personal ministry and forethought as to the things that God deems important. Follow this example (1 Corinthians 11:1-2).

There are expectations as to how to act within the Body of Christ and Paul highlights the expectations of the structural leadership. Christ freed us and sanctified us into His Church. As the Church we should esteem truth above all the vainglories of the world. As His Body, we possess the knowledge of the truth and we are a pillar and ground for truth within the world. We are not the truth but simply a pillar of it. 

There are many controversies regarding the mystery of godliness. This can be easily seen by the many religions who claim that god is anything but the description provided in 1 Timothy 3:16. 

1 Timothy 3:16 defends the deity of Christ which was under siege by heresy’s of that day such as Gnosticism and polytheism. False religions still try and demean it today.

Nonetheless, with such fleshly and evil controversy, Christ’s Gospel is still great and supreme. It broke down the boundary that sin had formed between man and God. The Gospel stands and it is the only thing that can save this depraved world. We are a pillar and ground of this truth.

4 thoughts on “1 Timothy 3:8-16 (KJV)”

  1. Once again a well done breakdown of scripture, but I really enjoyed the last paragraph. I appreciate how passionate you are about sharing the gospel and it’s importance!

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