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1 Timothy 3 Reading Guide

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Chapter Summary

  • v1-7 - This chapter begins with a major assumption: that there are some men in the church who aspire to be elders (overseers - v1). Just as young boys often aspire to be professional athletes or big time farmers, our young men ought to be aspiring to serve the Lord's church and preparing themselves to do so with the same intensity that they practice playing ball or working to build up the farm.

    • Most of the qualifications listed here have to do with a man's character, not his ability.

      • The ironic thing is that in asking men to serve as an elder or deacon, the most common objection is along the lines of "I don't know how," or "I'm not very good at..."

      • The Bible's answer is that if a man is showing faithfulness in all aspects of his life then God will show faithfulness to him as he serves the church by giving him the strength and ability to do so.

    • This passage does have one ability based qualification: a man must have the ability to teach (v2). Certainly some knowledge about what the Bible teaches is necessary to teach other Christians, but at the same time, a man need not be an expert. In fact, sometimes the best way to grow in your own knowledge of a subject is to teach it to others!

  • v8-13 - The qualifications for deacon are very similar to that of the elders.

    • Interestingly, deacons, which are often thought of as the 'get it done' guys in the church, are expected to "keep hold of the deep [mysterious] truths of the faith with a clear conscience (v9)."

    • Paul's instructions to the wives of deacons (and elders' wives in v2) is the source of much consternation in our modern culture, as it seems to conflict with our ideas that men and women are equal and therefore should have equal opportunities.

      • As we've noted before, since this is a topic that comes up often as we read the Bible's instructions for the Church, God does view men and women as being fully equal, but with a wisdom that transcends our present cultural values, God has reserved the offices of the church to men.

      • The teaching Paul presents here and elsewhere is completely consistent with the Bible's teachings, literally from the beginning, when Eve was created as an equal image bearer of God, but yet Adam was given headship and responsibility.

  • v14-16 - These letters to Pastor Timothy are part of a genre of Biblical books called the Pastoral Epistles, written "so that... you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God (v15)."

    • Even though we're always in God's presence, it's clear that we come before God in a closer, more intimate way when we come into His house to worship Him.

    • This doesn't mean we can conduct ourselves one way on Sunday and other ways the rest of the week, rather it means that God has ordained a certain order in the way the church is to be run (just like He ordained so many details for how things were to go in the tabernacle and temple). Elders and deacons are the primary way that God has designed to maintain that order.

OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE: God's commands for how things must be done in His house are not mere suggestions. Consider the unsettling story of how Aaron's sons lost their lives because they offered worship in a different, "unauthorized" way in Leviticus 10:1-3.


Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:

  1. EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: At the end of this chapter, Paul mentions “the church of the living God.” What else does he say in describing the church? (See verse 15.)

  2. What is keeping so many young men from "aspiring to be elders" in our society? What can we do to change this?

Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament

Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our loving and faithful Father, who calls us into His household, the Church, to live in fellowship with Him

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that your life reflects these qualifications whether or not God has called you to church leadership.



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