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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.