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Comparative Commentary on 1 Timothy                             Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2020

 

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Qualification 9:

“Not Given to Wine” (3:3)

 

 

            Comparative translations:  Some explicitly take this to refer to drinking above and beyond anything that is responsible by speaking of how one must “not drink excessively” (GW, ISV).  Others convey the same message by “not addicted to wine” (Holman, NASB), “not given to drunkenness” (NIV), “not a hard drinker” (Weymouth), and “not a drunkard” (ESV, ISV).  Occasionally a translation seems to take it to require total abstinence:  “not a drinker” (WEB).

            Marvin R. Vincent, the still popular 19th century pioneer of presenting texts for a Greek literate audience but also for those without that background, implicitly describes the phenomena as what we today would call “not being able to handle their liquor.”  In other words, it leads to excesses of behavior that are unjustified and even absurd:  “Only here and Titus 1:7.  The verb παροινεῖν to behave ill at wine, to treat with drunken violence, is found in Xenophon, Aeschines, Aristophanes, and Aristotle.  Once in lxx [= Septuagint], Isaiah 41:12.  Revision renders brawler, which is not definite enough.  Better, quarrelsome over wine.”[1]

            A. E. Humphreys suggested as a conceptual parallel in meaning “the term so painfully familiar in our police-courts, ‘drunk and disorderly.’ ”[2]

 

            Obviously you don’t want to have someone running around as a church leader who can’t control what they do.  There is no way better to spoil the reputation of a congregation or compromise the message of self-control that is at the root of so many Biblical commandments.  This is true whether you interpret the command as an absolute prohibition of alcohol or an injunction against excessive consumption. 

            Either way, a reputation for lack of self-discipline is going to undermine the credibility of the message you are trying to convey.  Unfortunately there are many who are so convinced that it is acceptable for them to drink, that they—in practice—act as if that also has given them the “right” to indulge to excess.

            Ancient kings were warned of this danger in the book of Proverbs, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law and pervert the justice of all the afflicted” (Proverbs 31:4-5).  The closing words are made clearer in WEB, “lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the justice due to anyone who is afflicted.”

            Alcohol can easily deceive the drinker—both as to how much has been consumed and how it has affected the thinking and behavior without even being much aware of it.  Hence the kind of warning in Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”  “Wine” refers to what is made from grapes.  To make a difference between this and “strong drink” the Pulpit Commentary argues, quite reasonably, that the term “is most frequently employed of any intoxicating drink not made from grapes, e.g., palm wine, mead [made with fermented honey and water, RW], etc.” 

This text has also been interpreted by specialists in ancient habits as including beer; in fact at least some stress it as the primary form of alcohol that comes under the label.[3]  The reasoning is that the parallel references to wine and beer are common in the ancient literature of other nations.  Furthermore, “the Hebrew word shekhar is derived from the Akkadian word šikaru which refers to “barley beer.”[4] 

The biggest obstacle to this scenario is the lack of clear cut beer making equipment having survived, a problem neutralized (it is argued) by the fact that bread making equipment would quite adequately serve both functions.  The disinclination to make the tie-in could also be related to old fashioned snobbery that beer is more likely to be a poorer person’s drink of preference due to its cheapness if nothing else.  Those who do the research on the subject are usually those of a more “elitist” background.[5] 

            Even so, shekhar almost certainly included other alcoholic products than just beer.[6]  The high probability that the ancient Israelites were well acquainted with beer makes the texts from Proverbs even more directly relevant to our own day, however, since it is so massively and popularly consumed in our own age.  And presents the same dangers as back then.  To put it quite concisely in regard to the eldership in particular:  Honorable leadership requires a clear mind; alcohol dulls it and opens the door to behavior that would otherwise be unthinkable.

 

            The principle, however, would seem to be inescapably applicable to other areas of life as well.  “From this qualification we can infer that an overseer . . . should neither be ‘given to,’ or under the control of any food or drink or drug which has the same kind of effect as wine on a man’s speech, conduct, and judgment.”[7]  Even a legal medication that has such side effects would be a logical violation of the principle being laid down.  Even more so mainly illegal drugs--which are legal in a few states--but which produce “uninhibited” behavior and override one’s normal self-control ability. 

            The prohibition certainly directly covers “not [being] an alcoholic,”[8] an addiction to alcohol--and by rationale application, to anything else as well.  The wording also covers having a “problem” with such things far short of this as well.  If it is repeatedly observable, the question becomes not “whether” but “how soon” this excess occurs again.  Being in such a situation disqualifies the man from being an elder.

            There is a quite logical connection between the self-control demanded here and the avoidance of needless conflict that is mentioned next in the qualification list:  The person who has drastically lowered their self-control level through alcohol or any other means, is the individual who is far more likely to physically strike out against others because of it.[9]

 

 

 

Qualification 10:

“Not Violent” (3:3)

 

 

            Comparative translations:  The point is fleshed out a little by the rendition “be a violent person” (GW, ISV).  Some translations allude to what such a person does in his violence:  he should “not [be] given to blows” (Weymouth); i.e., the violent person goes around hitting people.  His mind frame is reflected in the substitution of “pugnacious” (NASB); the person goes around “looking for trouble.”  He isn’t a person who has been egged on into violence, but is one predisposed to it if annoyed.  The wording “not a bully” (Holman) reflects what such a person easily becomes:  he seeks out the opportunity to annoy and intimidate.

            The translation assistance guide of Arichea and Hatton note that the text is using “a Greek verb that means ‘to strike’ and thus describes a quick-tempered individual who does not hesitate to use physical force on those who annoy him.”[10]  (Cf. KJV’s rendering “no striker.”)  Andrew D. Clarke tones down the language a bit to express the same reality when he says that the term describes “the overly assertive person or bully.”[11]  Such a person is going to use physical force if rhetorical force does not get his way.  He is going to “beat you into submission”—one way or another.  

            Both this and the preceding attribute can exist separately and not be related in any manner.  However, as already mentioned, “not given to wine” and “not violent” go naturally together just as “given to wine” and “being violent” go together:  the latter is all too often the outcome of drinking too much.[12]  Of all the people who should never even consider the idea of drinking anything stronger than soft drink, is the person who is temperamental and has trouble containing his annoyance at others.  The “tinder” necessary to light the fire of rage is reduced to the near microscopic. 

            The person who doesn’t drink at all may still have a problem rebuked here because being abusive to others remains wrong whether it is encouraged by other excesses or not.  Hence if your “fuse is too short,” you are not qualified to be an elder whether you overindulge or not.[13]  You have a temperamental or emotional or psychological shortcoming that disqualifies you.

            This trait applies not just to relationships with fellow church members and outsiders, but also to others within our family orbit itself.  The man cannot be a wife or child beater.[14]  These traits were once far more socially acceptable than today.  It may not have been something “one talked about,” but word often still seeped out:  the visible fear of the spouse when her husband was upset; the drawing back as if in fear of being hit.  The loss of control disqualifies a man from exercise of responsibility over other church members as well.  Not to mention betrays the principle of constructive love that should dominate within his family.   

            Psychological intimidation doesn’t technically violate this prohibition but it surely violates the self-control and self-restraint that has to go with it! 

 

            It is hard to imagine a personality fault worse than an inclination to violence with which to portray “Christian character” to the world or one more likely to require police intervention sooner or later.  The spouse may have to appeal to the authorities for protection for themself or the children.  Not willingly but out of desperation.

            Furthermore the behavior is hardly likely to be limited to within his own family!  And what a “can of worms” that can open!  The one who goes around acting in a violent manner is ultimately going to be treated in the same way; the chance of it coming to the authorities’ active attention quickly multiplies.  What better way to encourage the lie that Christianity breeds unstable people?  What more useful tool to hand those who oppose the movement than this one--an individual who can be cited as “living proof” of Christianity’s corrupting nature?          

            If one wishes to destroy a congregation, confrontation and intimidation will work wonders!  But if you wish to preserve and encourage it, restraint and responsible behavior is essential.  Especially since you will run into souls whose enthusiasms outrun their knowledge and whose convictions are based upon preferences rather than scriptures.  Although Paul’s words are addressed to a preacher, they have obvious application to elders and any other Christian attempting to help another out of their self-deceptions and misunderstandings of the truth:

 

22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.  24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2).

 

            It should be noted that a person may not be violent and yet still have a personal temperament incompatible with the responsibilities of being an elder.  “A quarrelsome person, always stalking about with a chip on his shoulder, engaged in heated controversy at the slightest provocation”[15] is also easily destructive to the unity of a congregation.

            His “my way or the highway” mentality is one that can easily tear a congregation apart and destroy any sense of unity and loyalty.  The man may not be physically violent but he engages in psychological intimidation that is so intense that you may wonder whether he is going to “cross the line” into physical action if you don’t shut up or acquiesce in what he has to say.

            Ironically, an elder can be the diametrical opposite of this and yet also be extremely corrosive to the faith of believers and outsiders.  An Australian minister argues it this way:[16]

 

Now some men are anything but quicktempered, quarrelsome, or violent. Instead they are sullen, sulky, incommunicative.  You don’t get a bloody nose or a black eye from them, but you certainly get hurt feelings and become demoralized.  Would we be so foolish to say that because Paul specifies the hot-tempered individual as unsuitable, but fails to mention the other extreme, the stone cold individual, therefore we can make the latter sort of man an elder or deacon?   If a man has any serious fault or flaw in his character, that should disqualify him as an elder or deacon whether Paul actually mentions that particular thing or not.

 

            He goes on from this to argue that the qualifications Paul provides are simply the jumping off point and that we should feel free to supplement these as we deem best.  In light of the all sufficiency of scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17), I think it would be a wiser approach to argue that the principles Paul lays down need to be applied to parallel phenomena and actions.  It then becomes not so much laying down new criteria as the practical application of already existing standards.  

For example, can we imagine Paul being hesitant for a second to consider such a man as was just described as unqualified?  Could he possibly meet the standard of verse 7—of having  a good reputation among outsiders—much less current members? 

Do we really believe for a second that Paul would have condoned a behavioral extreme such as this that would drive others “up the wall,” whether in the church or outside?  Again, we apply existing criteria rather than inventing new ones.  Ones that may not directly describe something, but which are logical, reasonable, and even necessary inferences and extensions from other texts.

     

 

 

Qualification Omitted by “Critical Texts:”

“Not Greedy for Money” (3:3)

 

 

            Of the translations we have routinely surveyed for these summaries, only the NKJV and WEB retain it, though the former does it with a footnote indicating rejection by critical texts.  The substitution rendering of “not selfish” is used by Weymouth.

            The suspicion is that since the qualification is found in Titus 1:7 that it has been transposed here by some manuscripts in order to provide a more exhaustive list.  Surely the insertion of “covetous” at the end of verse 3 effectively covers the same ground as “greedy for money” but includes far more as well--being greedy of the position, reputation, or wealth that another person may have.  In other words it is not as limited as this specification in regard to the kind of covetousness under consideration, but logically includes it and far more.

            In addition, there is, of course, the question of whether there is sufficient textual evidence from the Greek manuscripts to justify including it.  One detailed commentary on textual variants argues against this being the case because it is “not found in any of the earliest manuscripts.”[17]  It basically comes down to an issue of “critical text” versus “majority text.”  Archibald A. Allison compactly makes the case for the latter.  Conceding that it is not universally found in the various manuscript types,

 

the “Byzantine” manuscripts (the minuscules) which form the vast majority of the extant manuscripts of the New Testament) and “a greater number of” manuscripts, “also out of other groups” (al in Nestle’s critical apparatus), have this word.  Since the vast majority of manuscripts attest to the authenticity of this word, we should accept it as rightly part of this verse.[18]

 

            Being greedy for money is censured in other passages not only in and of itself but in regard to elders in particular.  Peter pled with the elders he wrote to in 1 Peter 5:2 that they “shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly.” 

            The Christian Standard Bible--a revision of Holman--renders it “out of greed for money.”  (Holman opted for “not for the money.”)  The CEV rebukes using the post “merely to make money.”  GW speaks of not “do[ing] it out of greed.”  

            As elders they would have direct or indirect access to the church’s treasury and have a special influence on the members—either of which could easily be abused by the self-serving:  For example, are they elders in order to advance congregational interests or “to make new clients [or] to build up their business”?[19]  Peter urges that they live up to a higher standard and avoid the temptations of financial self-indulgence.   

            A. C. Hervey observes that the Greek term carries the connotation of “indifferent about money,”[20] i.e., it is far from the center of the elder’s life.  He is not obsessed by it; his life is not centered on it.  It is a “need”--so to speak--but not “the holy grail” to be pursued at all costs.  Or as Joseph Sutcliffe describes the mind frame, “Content with what is customary, fair and just, in all his dealings; conceding the disputed penny to the contentious, rather than enter into strife.”[21]

 

 

 

Qualification 11:

“Gentle” (3:3)

 

 

            Comparative translations:  “Patient, not a brawler” are the next two qualifications in the classical KJV.  All of the ten translations routinely consulted for our analysis agree with the substitution of “gentle” for the first of these.  The unanimity bears powerful witness that this is the best wording that can be used.

            Marvin R. Vincent suggests, “From εἰκός reasonable.  Hence, not unduly rigorous; not making a determined stand for one’s just due.  In 1 Peter 2:18; James 3:17, it is associated with ἀγαθὸς kindly, and εὐπειθής easy to be entreated.”[22]

            A. E. Humphreys argues that the emphasis is not on what we do, but on what we are—that inner mind frame that molds and shapes our behavior.  He argues similarly for the next entry on the list, in the NKJV’s wording, “not quarrelsome.”[23]

 

            The “gentle” person is the antithesis of the violent personality that Paul has just condemned.  They are flip sides of the same coin.  One is obnoxious and domineering and the other tries to avoid needless conflict.  One is destabilizing to neighbors, church, and community while the other can strengthen their positive ties.

            This doesn’t mean that he won’t or can’t fight:  to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude verse 3) would be impossible without being willing to vigorously oppose those who have in ignorance or ill intent undermined that heritage.  Just as Timothy is urged in this epistle to oppose such individuals, are we to assume for a second that those designated to the congregation’s top leadership are supposed to be passive bystanders?  Obviously that would be impossible!

            But there is a profound difference between a person willing to fight because other options are unavailable and those who “live for a fight.”  The prerequisite of “gentle” tells us that an elder is to be of the former type:  he has his strength under control.    

 

            The traditional King James Version describes the trait as “patient.”  In a very indirect way this covers much of the same ground as “gentle.”  In neither case is one going to “bull doze” their way over the other person:  Demand change or acceptance now—better yesterday.  They are willing to be stern but aren’t out to merely make the person miserable. 

            They realize that some things take time.  Long rooted practices or beliefs may not be altered immediately—indeed, shouldn’t be until the person has an informed understanding of why the change is both appropriate and needed.  Knowledge backgrounds and even psychological differences will have an impact that varies from person to person:  You work with whatever that person currently is—not should be. . . whether “amenable” or “abrasive.”[24]  You’ll run into both extremes and everything in between as you try to reach others with the redemptive gospel and the need for constructive moral reform.  You give a sustained effort to change them as opportunity arises.

            But the trait of “gentleness” (or even “patience”) is also required to handle the everyday business of the congregation.   There, too, one has the same factor of great personality and knowledge differences that must be worked with in order to keep the congregation on an even keel and away from needless crisis.               

 

 

 

Qualification 12:

“Not Quarrelsome” (3:3)

 

 

            Comparative translations:  The negative imagery is conveyed by such alternatives as “not contentious” (NET) and “not be argumentative” (ISV).  The imagery is reversed from negative to positive when “peaceable” (NASB) is substituted. 

Luke T. Johnson suggests the rendering “neither given to battle.”[25]  The Darby version went with “not addicted to contention.”  Phillips has “must not be a controversialist,” i.e., someone who loves and promotes needless controversies.  The Message has “no belligerent fellow.”

            What we have here is the polar opposite of the personality of the false teachers being faced in Ephesus.  Those were folk who wereobsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings” (1 Timothy 6:4b-5a).  Perhaps Paul includes this requirement specifically because of knowing such people were present.[26]  On the other hand, the person with this kind of temperamental maladjustment is guaranteed to cause destructive problems of one kind or another.  If not in “riding every fad” of religious speculation, then in defining orthodoxy so tightly that it virtually becomes “you and him alone” who are in the right--and he has some qualms about you.    

 

            A far broader range of people are “quarrelsome” as compared to “violent.”  (Though some walk a very narrow line between the two!)  “Quarrelsome” stresses the fact that you would far prefer to fight with words than fists.  Some are simply no good at fighting with their body and know it full well.  Others have learned that words can do their own special harm that a physical injury can not inflict:  Fists do harm to the body, but verbal fistcuffs can defame and undermine the other person’s self-respect. 

            This personality can even be trying to further objective “truth” but is so argumentative and overbearing that he turns opponents into enemies and disagreements into needlessly divided churches.  This mindframe is found in the individual whose “very orthodoxy is measured not by contending for the faith, but by being contentious about the faith.”[27]

            Arguments over doctrinal issues are only the tip of the iceberg.  The person with this kind of personal fault can turn issues as “hum drum” as the color of new church carpeting--or of only modest importance (which of several alternative songbooks should we buy this time?)--into turf wars for influence and dominance.

              Archibald A. Allison rightly points out that this kind of mentality often makes not just others miserable, but the instigator as well:[28]

 

A man who lacks this qualification will continually find fault with people, continually pick apart what they say and do, and will always have a bone of contention with someone.  Consequently, he will find it hard to get along with others and will tend to have many grievances, disputes, and quarrels.  He will always be finding something that is not right.  Such a disposition will make a man very unhappy.    

 

            Hence it is the path of both personal and congregational benefit to follow the advice Paul gave in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”  This is especially true of anyone who is claiming some kind of de facto or de jure church leadership role:  After all, you are the person who is supposed to be setting the right kind of example for others!

            As the apostle Paul cautioned Timothy in the next epistle to him:

 

                        22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with

            those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  23 But avoid foolish and ignorant

            disputes, knowing that they generate strife.  24 And a servant of the Lord must not

            quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those

            who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they

            may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the

            snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.  (2 Timothy 2)          

 

 

 

 

Qualification 13:

“Not Covetous” (3:3)

 

 

            Comparative translations:  “Not greedy” (Holman) is a good substitute.  “Love money” (GW, ISV), “lover of money” (ESV, NIV), and “free from the love of money” (NASB, NET) are right as far as they go.  It doesn’t demand that an elder be of the poorer classes though he might be.  The point being driven at rather is effectively portrayed by Scott Lindsay in this play on words:  The issue is not how much money the elder owns.  The issue is how much elder the money owns.”[29]

 

In all fairness, though, the principle behind “covetousness” need not have a monetary allusion exclusively.  There are other forms that covetousness may take as well.  After all the person who wishes they had (or could take) your job title and position is after something that--to him or her--is just as valuable as cash on the barrelhead.  The person who drools at how influential your advice is while their own gets ignored, is also “coveting” something you have--though he is probably blissfully unaware that his lack of influence likely has far more to do with his own limitations than anything unique to your capabilities.  

 

In its original and more limited sense of “covetousness,” this was definitely a trait that could easily undermine the integrity of the church overseer.  Either in what he does to obtain money for the congregation and so far as potentially diverting some of it to actions that in some manner benefits his personal financial situation.

Indeed, the text’s reference to the bishop not having this attitude has led some to conclude that the original post strictly envolved financial matters and little if anything else.  Marvin R. Vincent points to the weakness of this scenario when he writes:[30]   

 

This admonition is cited by some writers in support of the view that the original ἐπίσκοπος was simply a financial officer.  It is assumed that it was prompted by the special temptations which attached to the financial function.  Admitting that the episcopal function may have included the financial interests of the church, it could not have been confined to these.  It can hardly be supposed that, in associations distinctively moral and religious, one who bore the title of overseer should have been concerned only with the material side of church life.

 

            There is a certain frame of mind that sometimes suspects that any effort to financially advance oneself falls afoul of this prohibition—whether in church leaders or members at large since similar prohibitions apply to all Christians.  In extreme cases, the fact that one is successful is manifest evidence that one must have violated this guideline.  How else could they have gained such success? 

I don’t really think we see this attitude much any more, but it certainly remains an available “hatchet” to use against more successful brothers and sisters.  And there are certainly enough cases where gain has been obtained by dishonorable behavior that adequate examples exist to demonstrate it is not uncommon.  But common justice requires that each person be evaluated or their own merits and demerits and not “crucified” by the failures of someone else.

Although poverty can be blessed when endured with the right frame of mind, the scriptures certainly see nothing wrong with one advancing far beyond such.  They even speak of how God’s blessings can accomplish that result:  Of the nation—and the individuals within it—becoming prosperous such things are said in Deuteronomy 8:6-10, Deuteronomy 28:1-14, and Malachi 3:10-11

Of individuals in particular we read how God can reward faithfulness in temporal terms:  “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.  So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10).  Consider also Proverbs 11:24-25 and Proverbs 19:17.  Even in our search for temporal well being we still have to avoid becoming so money obsessed that that is our sole or primary definition of successful living.  As the Hebrews writer urged, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ ” (13:5).

 

 

 

Qualification 14:

“One Who Rules His Own House Well” (3:4)

 

 

            Comparative translations:  The Greek word standing behind the NKJV’s “rules” “includes the sense of ruling over, governing, caring for, being concerned about.”[31]  Hence the word includes both a reference to the authority of the person (“ruling over”) as well as their attitude and emotional envolvement in carrying out those responsibilities (“caring for, being concerned about”).  Power went hand-in-hand with furthering its best interests.  It was not a power seeker’s ego trip.

 

Some versions prefer to modify the language to describe the type of family most often found in the modern world, “manage his own family well” (GW, ISV, NIV).  Assuming that one was even moderately successful in the ancient world, one might easily have one or more servants or even slave attendants and though those persons would not be part of the core family unit itself, they would be part of what we today might well describe as “the extended family.”  That expression, however, risks reading into the ancient situation an intimacy and closeness that would typically be present only in the most loose sense.  They would have thought in terms of the “household” instead.  So, though “house” is the literal meaning of the Greek term used, it often took on this expanded connotation.[32]

            Hence they would have thought far more in terms of “ruling his own household wisely and well” (Weymouth).  Or if one wishes to modify the language slightly, “manage(s) his own household well” (ESV, NASB, NET).  Since “well” indicates the quality of the would-be elder’s skill, “manages his own household competently” (Holman) describes the situation as well.

            The reason he fails to do so, the observer may be unaware of.  The fruit of it, however, is likely to gain the public eye, causing others to recognize that there is a problem.  “Bad mouthing” children.  Children who treat everyone else as “targets”—usually verbal but physical is not impossible in extreme cases.  A sense of barely controlled chaos when social activities occur in his home.  The signs of a malfunctioning father-family relationship.  And his “managerial talents” are supposed to (magically?) get better when the responsibilities are broadened and intensified by becoming an elder?

            Paul E. Kretzmann reasonably suggests:[33]

 

                        In general it holds true that people may rightly draw conclusions as to a pastor’s ability to be an overseer of the flock by the success of his management at    home.  If he cannot take proper care of the small house congregation entrusted to      him, how much less will he be able to give proper attention to the needs of every            member of his larger flock?  If he cannot do justice to the responsibility of      managing those dependent upon him by nature, how will he do justice to the     pastoral care of the children of God in the congregation?

 

            After all family members, in a very real sense, “have to put up with us” while church members don’t.  We are always going to be husband, father, what have you.  However church members can “shake the dust off their feet” and go elsewhere.  In a typical family there are expectations as to what your leadership role gives you the right to anticipate and demand.  (However much they may vary from family to family they still exist among those involved.)  Hence in a practical sense that leadership role typically is “much easier done, and requir[es] less understanding, care, and thought.”  We already know the “established ground rules.[34]  Dealing with a congregation we have a much larger group of individuals, none of whom shares with us the background of the inherent and unique closeness of the family unit.

            One minister suggested four reasons—certainly not an exhaustive list—why failures can occur in a family context:[35]

 

a. He doesn’t know how – lacking the skills to be a true leader.

b. He lacks spiritual integrity, and therefore doesn’t have the respect of his household to rule – lives a duplicitous life.

c. He is not willing or has failed to exercise appropriate discipline to keep his children under control – permissive parenting style.

d. He concedes to the demands or opinions of his wife concerning important family matters (both material and spiritual matters) simply because he knows his decision would make her unhappy or angry.

 

            We may never know for sure which of these is the specific “fail point” in his family relationships or whether it is something else entirely.  On the other hand, accident or misadventure might reveal all too obviously what lies at the root.  Even more so in that kind of case, why would we continue to regard him as a credible candidate for church office?

            This doesn’t mean that the elder candidate may not have had problems.  As one preacher wisely describes it:[36]

 

Nobody can be free of problems.  It is the devil’s job to put us in trouble and give us problems.  What this urges us to observe is how he handles those problems.  Does he evade them by busying himself in his business, or does he tackle those problems?  The text says that this is excellent practice for being an elder in a church.  An elder must not run from problems or refuse to face them. He must learn how to deal with them, and how to work things out in love and grace.

 

            His having had the patience and tenacity to do so argues that he will not throw his hands up in total frustration in his new post—or “bury his head in the sand” and pretend that there are no problems present.  Instead he will take the time to deal with them whether they can be handled immediately or on a longer term basis. 

 

            The household unit might be as narrow as the family or might be as broad as including a large number of subordinates in his employ.  In either case it would be his ethical obligation to assure that the household unit functions effectively and well.  That directly reflects on his management skills or lack of them.  That, in turn, provides an early warning of whether he can handle the responsibilities of the even larger “household” of the congregation.  If he can not live up to the responsibilities and needs of the smaller unit, how could it possibly be wise or prudent to give him authority over a much larger one--one with even wider differences within it than within his immediate “household?”

            He may have made a good faith effort but still failed.  So, in a very real sense, the failure of others--loved ones--may disqualify us from holding a church office.  Think drug addiction or extreme public misconduct by our children, for example.  From one perspective that can be viewed as unfair since it was caused by circumstances (apparently) beyond our control.  On the other hand there is clear Bible precedent for consequences occurring even if we ourselves did not cause the problem:[37]

                       

                        Anyone with a physical deformity could not perform priestly duties

            [Leviticus 21:16-20].  That wasn’t a commentary on the character or spiritual life

            of a deformed man, but simply a matter of God’s selecting a certain kind of man

            to serve as priest.  He wanted unblemished men as models of spiritual service. 

            It’s the same with church leadership.  God wants elders to have an unblemished

            and exemplary home life.

  

            We may even join them in tears over the situation they have, but that would still not qualify them for church office.

 

            Whatever other facilities were available—such as rental/loaned spaces in warehouses (hinted at by the Christians in Troas meeting on “the third story” of a building in Acts 20:7-12?) practicality and initial smallness surely made the use of residences quite common—and that made the importance of a well-ordered household of direct practical importance to many groups.  As Stuart Allen writes:[38] 

 

Three times in the New Testament we have the phrase the “church in the house,” there being no buildings specially erected at this time for meeting and worship (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Philemon, , verse 2).  We can now understand the importance of hospitality and a well controlled household.  One can easily imagine the problems that would have arisen in a home where there was a lack of warm hospitality and a disorderly, undisciplined family.  On the other hand what greater honor was there for a Christian home than to be the meeting place of the house of God. . .?                        

 

            The pagan world was well aware that an incompetent household leader was a warning sign that he would be just as disastrous when given civic responsibilities.  In Sophocles’ Antigone (episode 2, 658-661) Creon remarks, “If then I nurse rebellion in my house, shall I not also foster mutiny without?  For whoever rules his household in worthy fashion, will prove in civic matters no less wise.”[39]  Inevitably so, no.  But as a sound, “rule of thumb” unquestionable.  You simply run a reckless risk by not recognizing it.   

 

 

 

Qualification 14:

First Aspect of It—

Has “Children” (3:4)

 

 

            All consulted translations stick with the wording of “children” though one can imagine someone substituting “offspring” to provide a verbal alteration to the customary text.

            If “husband of one wife” introduced the issue of whether a bachelor could be properly appointed to the post, “children” introduces the issue of how many offspring are appropriate or required.  Since an in depth treatment of both the “single [unmarried] elder” controversy and this additional question will require far more space than seems appropriate in the present context, we will reserve them for discussion in our volume on “Church Leadership Controversies.” 

            Those who wish some initial material on the subject will likely find our Addendum on Titus 1:6 interesting.  It follows between the third and fourth sections of our analysis of the current qualification. 

 

 

 

 

Qualification 14:

Second Aspect of It—

Has “Children in Submission” (3:4)

 

 

            Comparative translations:  Some prefer to alter this to a different form for the last word, “keeping his children submissive”(ESV) or “have children who are submissive” (ISV).  Others prefer to speak of the offspring being “in subjection” (WEB).  It is common to substitute “under control” (Holman, NASB, Weymouth) or “in control” (NET).  Everyday English is perhaps best reflected in those speaking of how the children “obey him” (GW, NIV).

            He should have submissive children.  This does not mean perfect, but it does mean well-disciplined, so that they do not blatantly and regularly disregard the instructions of their parents.”[40]

            The household, in other words, is not in chaos.  The rules are recognized and adhered to.  Tranquility may or may not rule, but things are clearly maintained on an even keel and disruptions bringing chaos and trouble to the household are either missing or are quickly aborted if they arise.  The family members have their “rights” but they also recognize their “responsibilities,” including not making life miserable for everyone else.  

            If they can’t accomplish this in a context where they have biological bonds of kinship existing, how in the world are they going to preserve peace and quiet in the much wider context of a church where the bonds are fewer?

            Our reference to “biological bonds,” however, brings us to a question far more common today than two or three generations back:  What about adopted children?  Even more so children who entered the family from his spouse’s previous marriage . . . whether ended by death or scriptural divorce?  Paul does not say, “he has proved his biological ability to father children.”  Rather he says he must oversee them effectively and well.  That would cover children whether biologically linked or not.[41]    

 

            This requirement is not intended to give the father carte blanche to act in any high handed, insulting, or even physically abusive behavior.  Note some of the qualifications listed in verse 3:  not given to wine, not violent, . . .but gentle, not quarrelsome . . . .”  It is hardly likely that he is being given tacit permission to act in that very manner in regard to the members of his own household!  There is to be not only an insistence on his own authority but it is to blended in with the good faith effort to exercise that authority in a manner that avoids such excesses.

              

 

 

Qualification 14:

Third Aspect of It—

“With All Reverence” (3:4)

 

 

            Comparative translations:  The relationship of this to the subject of children’s obedience is taken two ways by translations.  The first is that it describes the father’s own attitude and manner in enforcing childhood discipline: 

                        with all dignity keeping his children submissive” (ESV)

                        “keeping his children under control with all dignity” (NASB)

                        “having his children under control with all dignity” (Holman)

                        “children kept under control with true dignity” (Weymouth)

                        “keep his children in control without losing his dignity” (NET)

            In modern colloquial English it would be “keeping his children under control without loosing his cool.”  Not enforcing his demands by bitter growlings, ranting and raving or excessive punishments.

 

            The second major approach by translations is that it refers to the attitude and manner of the children themselves in how they react to the household discipline:

                        “keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way” (ISV)

                        “having children in subjection with all reverence” (WEB)

                        “his children should respectfully obey him” (GW)

            They aren’t having a mini-riot.  They aren’t cursing out the father.  They aren’t trying to find a 101 ways to undermine his authority.  They may not like what he has required, but they recognize it is his prerogative and restrain their mouths and actions accordingly.           

            As of the early 1980s at least, the bulk of translations rendered the wording in a manner to make the behavior of the children the subject being in Paul’s mind.[42]  That still leaves the question of who that respect is being given to—to the father or to others in general?  Although it has to include the father in either case, it seems best to make this a broad rule of how they conduct themselves with whatever adults they encounter.[43] 

 

            Finally, there is at least one translation that seems to imply that the point is that he enforces child discipline in a manner that would gain the esteem of other parents and church members:  “he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect” (NIV).  The result, the tools, the attitude manifested in carrying it out and describing it wins the respect of fellow church members—quite possibly because every one knows just how difficult it can be to keep children “in line” and “out of trouble.”

            This would be true whether he has only one or several children.  (See the “Church Leadership Controversies” volume for a detailed discussion of the matter of how many are required.)  The Greek New Testament has just as much flexibility in the expression “children” as does the English language usage--to refer to either just one or to having several.  Furthermore the “context” in 1 Timothy is on the man’s success in keeping his children “in submission with all reverence” (1 Timothy 3:4) and not on how many he has.  The “center of gravity” is on how well he handles his children—which would be equally applicable regardless of their number.

 

 

 

Addendum:

The Description Found in Titus 1:6--

“The Husband of One Wife,

Having Faithful Children Not Accused of Dissipation or Insubordination”

 

 

            It is possible that my hope to ultimately write a commentary on Titus will be fulfilled and that would unquestionably be the most appropriate place to put this material.  On the other hand, my age ever grows greater--76 and counting upwards--and the future is far from assured.  We will limit our discussion drastically because this is not intended to be a commentary on Titus except to the extent that it “fleshes out” our discussion on the Timothy qualification list.  Remember that much more than this could reasonably be said.

            Although a vast amount of ink—literal and electronic—has been spilled over the meaning of “husband of one wife,” among churches of Christ this qualification creates an equivalent amount of internal controversy.  There are two related issues:  (1)  Must an elder have a multiple number of children?  (2)  Is “faithful” to the parent or “faithful” to the Lord that is in mind? 

 

            An obvious starting point is that in a first century context the singular/plural children argument approaches irrelevancy:  If you had a child at all you were likely to seek and have a multiple number of them.  Especially for Christians brought up in the Jewish tradition—it was automatically sought and taken pride in.  As the ancient Psalmist said:

 

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate (Psalm 127).

  

            Children are viewed here as family protectors--note the image of them as “arrows in the hand of a warrior” in verse 4.  They will be there to provide encouragement and support in age and in controversy just as you were there to provide similar support to them while they were yet young.

            Bob Deffinbaugh provides a concise but useful commentary on the text’s implications:[44]

 

                        The children born in a man’s youth are strong and well established by the           time he has reached old age.  His quiver full of children will look after the aged            man and his wife.  The city gate (verse 5) was the place of business.  It was also        the place where justice was administered (cf. Genesis 19:1; Genesis 34:20-21; Deuteronomy 17:5). 

                        The Scriptures assume that the widows and the orphans were more       vulnerable and in need of greater protection since they had no one (but God) to   safe-guard their interests (Exodus 22:22; Deuteronomy 10:18; Deuteronomy             14:29; Psalms 94:6; Isaiah 1:23).  The parents of many children had no such      worry.  Their children saw to it that their parents were treated with respect and        with honesty and justice.  Let their enemies try to take advantage of them!

 

            Of course there were single child families, but that was not looked upon as the ideal.  The perils of childbirth could discourage multi-pregnancy among some and many children died in their early years from disease.  But the Biblical ideal was still to have a significant size family.  Hence though the single child situation surely arose, it is hard to see how it became as large an issue as in the late twentieth century when the often unspoken societal question was:  Will there be enough children born to even have a “next generation?”  (Immigration has become the de facto “solution” to population stabilization or decline.)

            That doesn’t rule out the propriety of single child elders.  If you are asked whether you “have children” you inevitably respond in the affirmative even if you have only one.  Similarly if a restaurant offers free meals for “children” or a generous percentage off, people would be shocked if they wanted verification that you have more than one.

Bradley Cobb argues this is true in the New Testament as well and provides these examples:

            1.  In Genesis 21:7 we see the casual interlockage of plural and singular to cover only one child, her son:  Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?  For I have borne him a son in his old age.”  The only “children” she had was the single offspring Isaac.  Of the eight comparative translations we are using that cover the Old Testament, all change the reading but retain the same contrast.  Six (ESV, GW, NASB, NET, NIV, WEB) use both terms, contrasting “children” with “a son.”  Two  (Holman and ISV) substitute “sons” (plural) and “a son” (singular). 

            2.  In regard to helping needy female relatives 1 Timothy 5:3-4 stresses the obligation to help related “widows” (plural) but it is applied to the obligation of that child’s children and grandchildren to show good to their mother, a specific woman, one particular woman:  Note though that the plural is applied to that single parent:  Honor widows who are really widows. But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.”

            Cobb reasonably argues:  IF ‘children” must always mean multiple children, then--   1) The widow’s only son has no responsibility to care for his mother.  2)  In fact, the widow’s one son, by inference, would be sinning by taking care of her, because the command is for CHILDREN (plural) to take care of her.”[45]

            3.  He points out that the same problem arises in regard to the qualifications of church supported widows:  Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works:  if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.”

            If the plural “children” does not do double duty and cover the case of the single child as well—regardless of whether being the only one who has survived to adulthood or the only one ever born to her—there are serious consequences that flow from it:  If it must be that the plural rules out the application to the only born child, “then the church SINS by supporting a widow who only had one child.”[46] 

           

            At this point you get into an intricate argument as to whether the Greek text is amenable to such a reading—and we will leave that to others.  A “common sense” reading of the English text naturally makes one suspicious of those efforts since few are fluent in Greek--especially if one is going to push the finer points of its usage.  (If few are all that “polished” on detailed English language usage, is this any surprise in regard to an ancient foreign language?)  Detailed analyses based on the Greek from the obligatory multiple children viewpoint can certainly be found on line.[47]     

 

            The second issue that arises from the Titus “addendum” is in regard to whom is the child “faithful”?  We use the term most commonly in regard to being faithful to the Lord, but when we read the text it actually says “faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.”  “Dissipation” certainly fits a defiance of the Lord’s moral instruction, but are there many parents alive who haven’t ordered . . . instructed . . . even begged their children not to make fools of themselves by their behavior.  Furthermore “insubordination” is a term we normally find used of the violation of the instructions of our earthly superiors rather than the Lord. 

Hence the text is quite amenable to the “faithful to the parent” reading; less so to the “faithful to the Lord” interpretation.  If anything the former is even more obvious here in 1 Timothy 3:  one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.”  We could argue that Titus adds additional qualifications, but read together the two verses more easily appear an interpretation . . . a re-wording of what is said in 1 Timothy.

It should also be noted the time frame in which they are required to be this way:  The elder is to be one who “rules his own house well” (1 Timothy 1:4).  Hence it is the time when they are within his “kingdom,” under his control.  Not when they have left and established their own households and they are on their own.  (Cf. Genesis 2:24:  You leave your home and establish your own.)

 

Bradley Cobb dissents and effectively argues that the term “faithful” is commonly used as equivalent to being a faithful Christian.  Furthermore, “When using this word to describe a person, Paul never applied it to a non-Christian.”[48]  However when Paul delivers his instructions in 1 Timothy on the same subject of an elder’s children, he writes that the elder must be “one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence” (3:4).  Same subject, same writer as Titus . . . doesn’t that equate to the same meaning?  Obedient/faithful to him and his rules as a parent?  

If Paul is telling Titus that the children must be both Christians (“faithful”) and obedient to his father’s disciplinary and moral restrictions (“not accused of dissipation or insubordination”) . . .

But only tells Timothy that the father must have them under respectful obedience to himself (“having his children in submission with all reverence”) . . .

Don’t we really need a good explanation of why the obligation of being a Christian is totally omitted in Timothy?  Why should it be so important in Crete that it must be explicitly mentioned, but not in Ephesus?  Reading the two instructions as synonymous removes the problem.

 

The NIV renders the text “whose children believe” and D. A. Carson takes issue with it, arguing that the terminology used is found in ancient virtue lists in the sense of having the proper submissive attitude toward parents:[49] 

 

            In fact, the particular term that is used there, ‘must believe,’ is an adjective

that in many places is rendered ‘must be faithful.’  And in fact, in contemporary

first-century lists of social virtues, where moral characteristics are laid out, the

word always has that force. . . .  If it becomes obvious that the man has lost

control of his dependent children entirely, if the kids are thirteen years old and the

terrors of the neighborhood, the man is disqualified from public ministry in the

church.  That is what the text says.  

  

If one believes that “faithful children” means “faithful to the Lord,” then one might argue, as Bradley Cobb does, that the obligation can not be met until after the child has left the household.  This doesn’t rule out them being Christians earlier but they must remain such afterwards:[50]  He must be old enough for his children to have shown themselves to be faithful (and this really cannot be proven until they move out of the house).”  In turn this leads him to conclude that we have a serious hint of a minimum age for being an elder:  “It is not often the case that this qualification could be met by someone under the age of 50.”[51]           

            Even if being a faithful Christian is under discussion, it seems extremely hard to square this with the injunction about “rules his own house well:”  Doesn’t that require the interpretation that the children under discussion--whether Christian or not--are those within his current household?  Essentially, to use the language of today, still a “minor”?

           

If “faithful” means obedient to the parent then the command is obviously intended to be time limited—to the time they are under your supervision and control within your household.  Only in the most limited sense can one imagine “ordering” grown children living elsewhere to do one thing or another, unlike when they were living with you at home. 

If it refers to being “faithful to the Lord,” then one must consider the practical limitations of that.  Does it mean that some must be Christians prior to your appointment or that all must be?

Then there comes the question of what if they depart from the faith after they leave home.  Does that require that the elder leave office?  If so, does that apply if any of his children depart?  Or does it hinge on whether they all do? 

Bradley Cobb argues that the requirement is “have” children—i.e., currently they must meet the standard set by the verse and that applies whether they are in or out of the parents’ household.  They never cease being your children.  Furthermore certain obligations of the “children” don’t come into play until after they leave the household:  The support of the mother after she has become a widow for example (1 Timothy 5:4).

But what if some but not all drift away from the faith?  That issue he comes to later in the same analysis.  He points out that we would have no difficulty answering that such is the obligation if the question were shifted from “faithful children” to “having children in school”--they would all have to fall in that category.  Hence if they must be “faithful to the Lord,” then, in a similar manner, all must be for their father to meet this qualification for church office.[52]   

 

 

 

Qualification 14:

Fourth Aspect of It—

It Serves As Precedent for His Ability to

Manage the Church Well (3:4-5)

 

 

            One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (verse 5:) for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?

            As we went into detail above, how  one makes sure the family/household unit functions well is a test of the man’s ability to get others to work together comfortably in behalf of shared goals and a shared agenda.  If he can’t do that without acting like a tyrant or falling apart under the stress, how in the world is he likely to handle the much bigger—and far more diverse—pressures of a congregation?  Even a relatively small one.  (This factor obviously gets magnified by however much larger the church may actually be.)

            The question Paul raises is clearly rhetorical—the answer implied by the very question being asked.  It is taken for granted that incapacity in regard to one demonstrates incapacity in both personal and congregational leadership ability.

                       

Comparative translations of “how will he take care of the church of God?:”  Other translations normally retain the “take care of” and vary only in regard to the object of the effort:  “God’s church” (GW, ISV, NASB, NIV), “church of God” (NASB), and “assembly of God” (WEB).  Those who depart from this pattern typically prefer “care for” rather than “care of:”  “care for the church of God” (NET) and “care for God’s church” (ESV).

 

Although elders have a rulership over the congregation, Paul shifts in this verse from “rulership” language (of the household unit) to “caring” language for the church.  This may well be in order to stress that the degree and nature of direct “authority” shifts from one to the other.  Not the least element in this is that the scriptures speak of congregational elders in the plural, of there always being more than just one: 

 

“So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed” (Acts 14:23).              

“For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you (Titus 1:5).

 

            The shift to “caring” language is especially appropriate since the eldership is not a matter of accumulating glory, honor, and praise, to oneself; it is a position through which to serve others.  It envolves power, but power to a purpose—to benefit others and to accomplish shared goals. 

            It is of interest that the word for “care” that Paul chooses to use here is found in only one other passage, the description of the assistance given by the Good Samaritan:  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Luke 10:34).

 

 

 

 

Qualification 15:

The Requirement--

“Not a Novice” (3:6)

 

            Not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.”  Comparative translations of “not a novice:”  A novice is someone who is new or relatively unskilled at whatever subject that is under discussion.  In this religious context, it would mean not being “a recent convert” (ESV, ISV, NET, NIV) or, saying virtually the same thing, not being “a new convert” (Holman, NASB, WEB, Weymouth).

Some would substitute new convert to what, by translating “not be a new Christian” (GW).  This preference raises the rightful question of the propriety of inserting into the text a term that is conspicuously not in the original.  On the other hand, what do we expect these people to be—a new convert to Buddhism?  From that approach also, the identification is actually unneeded. 

 

            There is nothing wrong with being a “novice,” of course.  Everyone has to begin somewhere!  But who particularly wants such a person in any serious decision making position requiring perceptivity and insight?  Good intentions will carry one far, but until one has an adequate personal experience and scriptural knowledge basis--from being a Christian for a good while--how will one have any credibility when the decisions must be made that may try the talents of one who has been a believer for many years? 

            You are the proverbial “new kid on the block.”  For that reason some may well be concerned whether you have the good judgment that would otherwise have been established by years of faithfulness.  Hence requiring someone who is not a beginner represents an elementary safety precaution against strife and conflict.

            The same is true in regard to interpretive issues that a few or many of the brethren may be “agitating.”  Your pre-existing track record will allow your own Biblical insights to be taken far more seriously than that of someone without it.  (Don’t argue with me whether that is right or wrong.  It simply is, whether it “should be” or not.)

            Look at the subject from the standpoint of what typically happens in the workplace when such individuals are given authority:[53] 

           

Novices make ineffective leaders:  How many of you have worked at a place and they hired a new man, fresh out of college, to come be the manager?   These people usually act as if they know everything, and try to implement programs and changes within the company which rarely work.  They quickly lose any respect from the people under them (if any existed in the first place), because they don’t understand how to be effective in leadership.

 

            But true as this is, Paul has a very different concern at the front of his mind—not that he wouldn’t be concerned about this other possibility as well, but he has a different one dominating his thinking.  He proceeds to explain in the words that follow:  He is afraid that the quick appointment of a recent non-believer will lead to it “going to his head” (“being puffed up with pride”) and producing behavior that grows out of pride rather than knowledge and good judgment.

            An established track record of experience minimizes this danger.  If he is “someone who is seasoned by life’s triumphs and failures, joys and disappointments”[54] he will have existing knowledge of the kinds of problems and difficulties that can easily arise--and have experience (by personal involvement or observation) of the best strategies to deal with such.

            One unidentified commentator implies that the underlying point of Paul is made even more emphatic if we transfer the negative wording of the requirement into a positive form:  A pastor must be spiritually mature.  Positions of authority without spiritual maturity lead to the trap of pride.  When pride grows in a man, sin abounds.”[55]  (And the danger of pride is exactly what Paul emphasizes in the rest of the verse.) 

 

            Some things take time.  It takes time for a convert to mature in the Lord. . . . to pass beyond the stage of being a novice.  Likewise, if one had been guilty of some of the sins mentioned by Paul in his list in 1 Timothy 3, there must have been time to make credible one’s claims (and hopes) to have permanently left them behind.  On this theme Randy Alcorn writes:[56]

 

Don’t we agree that a man can be an elder who once was a drunk, a murderer, a violent man, lacked self-control, etc.?  Of course, we believe he must have demonstrated clear change, and this change—by implication—must have been borne out over a significant period of time.

In the same sense that an elder should not be a recent convert (no matter how genuine his conversion), so he should not be—regardless of how long he’s been a Christian—a recently-transformed drunkard, murderer, fornicator, etc. (no matter how genuine his transformation).  There must be time for sanctification to have taken place and be proven out. . . .

Granted, the reasonable or required time period is subjective.  He may not be quarrelsome today, may not be a lover of money today, but if 18 months ago he punched somebody or embezzled from his company, as pure as his repentance may be, I doubt that 18 months is long enough to demonstrate the change is truly long term.  Nearly all of us would agree that if it happened last month, it’s too soon to be an elder, but if it happened thirty years ago, especially before he came to Christ, most of us would probably agree it isn’t sufficient to keep him from being an elder today.  The key isn’t the time period per se, but the demonstrated change in character, which does in fact require significant time.   

 

            Although the primary point in “not a novice” must surely have been length of Christian persuasion since conversion, one can’t help but have considerable sympathy with the view that chronological age is also covered:  “Immaturity of age,” to use the words of one commentator, is ruled out.[57]  The very word “elder” itself--in distinction from words connoting youth--requires a proven “track record” that can only be gained from extended experience of both life and faith.[58]  Elders need to have both to assure that they are beyond the stage of being “children, tossed to and from and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14).[59]

            Furthermore, right or wrong, chronological age and experience plays a role in how one’s credibility is evaluated by others.  Timothy himself faced this danger and so was reminded by Paul to be extra conscientious in how he acted:  Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).  Timothy was going to be faced with a degree of “uncertainty” as to his spiritual bonafides until local experience proved it to be present.

            Preachers—especially young ones—“come and go.”  But elders tend to “stay put.”  So it was even more important that they have a well established local “track record” so that the congregation would have no legitimate grounds to doubt the practical wisdom and “savvy” that normally come with age and spiritual development.

           

            The requirement that an elder not be a recent convert lies in tension with the fact that in at least some first century congregations elders were appointed in less than a handful of years.  Some have thought that the presence of miraculous gifts made that feasible, though one can’t help but wonder why such gifts did not also make it possible in Ephesus (with Timothy) and in Crete (with Titus)!  While dealing with the supernatural explanation as a rationale to permit one person elderships today, J. W. McGarvey effectively argued that the Jewish background of many converts provided an immediate partially prepared body of potential elders.  This was in contrast to Gentile converts who had no spiritual grounding in what God had previously revealed about how to live and how to conduct oneself:[60]

 

It is sometimes argued that the plurality of Elders found in the primitive churches is to be accounted for by the fact that the gifts of the Spirit caused those churches to abound in men possessed of the proper qualifications; but that we should not expect modern churches, which are devoid of these gifts, to always possess a plurality of members thus qualified.  It is therefore concluded that modern churches need not have a plurality of Elders. . . .

It is not true that gifts of the Holy Spirit qualified men for the Elder’s office, except in the one matter of imparting to them the information necessary for teaching and government.  They gave no men the moral, social and domestic qualifications which the apostle prescribes.  Indeed, if miraculous gifts had supplied the requisite qualifications, there would have been no need of prescribing them so carefully; it would only have been necessary to say to Timothy and Titus, “Ordain men who are filled with the Holy Spirit.”

It is true that Paul and Barnabas found a plurality of qualified men in the churches of Asia Minor, in a comparatively short time after these churches had been planted, probably in from two to three years, four years being spent on their first missionary tour.  But it must be remembered that in all the Jewish synagogues, which formed the starting point of Christian Churches, there were men already holding an office almost identical with that of the Christian Eldership, and that when these men came into the church, as did Crispus the chief ruler of the synagogue in Corinth, they brought their qualifications and experience with them.

Moreover, other aged, pious and experienced Jews who were not in office, were found competent to fill the office of Elders as soon as they received the gospel; and Gentiles, who, like Cornelius and the Centurion of Capernaum, had become devout worshipers of God through Jewish influence, were often possessed of all the qualifications for the office as soon as they were fairly established as members of the church.  These facts are sufficient to account for the ordination of Elders in churches so newly planted, without supposing the imaginary fact that qualifications for the office were imparted by miraculous endowment.  

The intellectual qualifications, which alone were thus imparted, were then, and are now, the qualifications most easily found. I  can go through the churches to-day and point you out two men, at a moderate estimate, with mind enough and speaking talent enough for the Eldership, where [only] one can be found with the other prescribed qualifications.    

 

 

 

 

Qualification 15:

The Reason For Thie Qualification—

Lest He Fall into Divine Condemnation (3:6)

 

             “Not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.  Comparative translations of “lest being puffed up with pride:”  A few, apparently realizing that “puff up” virtually has to imply pride, are content with leaving out any explicit reference to it--reducing the reading to, “lest being puffed up” (WEB).  Seeking, a synonym for “pride,” “conceit” is invoked in such readings as “may become puffed up with conceit” (ESV) and “become conceited” (Holman, NASB, NIV).  Others express one of the forms that conceit can easily take, “become arrogant” (GW, ISV, NET).  Choosing to emphasize the bad judgement that can come with pride, Weymouth prefers “should be blinded with pride.” 

            Marvin R. Vincent suggests that the idea behind “puffed up” is that which Weymouth explicitly renders--a person whose good judgement has been bent and distorted:  “The verb means primarily to make a smoke:  hence, metaphorically, to blind with pride or conceit.  Neither A.V. nor Revision, puffed up, preserves the radical sense, which is the sense here intended--a beclouded and stupid state of mind as the result of pride.”[61]  Or, as John Stott, puts it, they “live in a ‘cloud-cuckoo-land,’ a realm of self-centered fantasy.”[62]

            J. W. McGarvey rightly suggests why this danger is linked to holding the position of elder,[63]

 

the office was one of high honor and responsibility; otherwise, the occupant of it would incur no danger of being lifted up with pride. . . .  A new convert would be more likely to fall into this sin than an experienced Christian, because he would more recently have escaped the habitual service of Satan, and would have less power to resist temptation.  In assigning this qualification, the apostle shows how important it is that pride of office shall not characterize the Eldership.  It is the same important lesson that Jesus taught the disciples when he said, “He that would be greatest among you, let him be servant of all.”

 

            Some have suggested that this image--of a smoke filled individual whose good judgement has been blinded--is invoked because it is a primary means by which individuals fall into serious error . . . not merely in personal behavior but in doctrinal matters as well.  This leads one individual to suggest:  The smoke of false doctrine can be blinding.  Very likely, one of the problems with the false teachers in Ephesus was that they were new believers.  A church governed by neophytes will probably end up in a theological fog.”[64] 

I must admit a hesitancy that any current elders were having that problem but it is clear that if a person does not have the good religious judgement and spiritual discernment that often takes years to develop, he is far, far more likely to be the victim of such foolishness.  In other words, it seems far more likely that Paul is realistically dealing with a potential future problem rather than a existing one.  Especially since they already had a problem with twisted teaching within the congregation that lay the ground work for such happening (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

 

            There is a delightful film (and theater) musical comedy from the 1960s entitled How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying that traces one young man’s 30 day rocket propelled journey from the mailroom to the executive offices of his company.  He has absolutely no background in the business of course.

            In real life, however, those who thrust rapidly upwards are exposed to the real danger that their knowledge and experience base is so modest that they make bad decisions based upon their ignorance or lack of skill.  Even when the decisions turn out reasonably well, their very success can easily produce the kind of pride and conceit that Paul does not want in church leadership.  Such a person is too easily blinded by the prestige of his post into believing he is smarter than he is and that people have a far greater obligation to yield to his preferences even when they are weakly argued and ineptly presented.  After all, he has the “authority!”  

            But there is a particular example Paul uses to point this out, that of the Devil. . . .

 

            Comparative translations of “he fall into the same condemnation as the devil:”  Our text can be read—both in the English and the Greek—in two different ways.  It can be read as the devil delivering the condemnation of the believer or it can be read as the believer receiving the same condemnation as the devil, of becoming a sharer in it.[65]  The first approach seems a tad foolish:  Why should the devil be condemning a person for doing what Satan wants done in the first place? 

I suppose it could mean that one would receive the mockery of Satan for falling into his snares, but how in the world would that ever be much of a concern since such a person would already have forfeited his own salvation by antagonizing the Lord?  Would not the Lord’s condemnation be what he would be horrified by?

The ambiguity of the original is maintained by the ESV and Holman’s “the condemnation of the devil.”  Similarly imprecise is the ISV’s “fall into the devil’s condemnation.”

In favor of the identicalness of both’s destiny are these:  “the condemnation incurred by the devil” (NASB); “arrogant like the devil and be(ing) condemned” (GW); “fall under the same judgment as the devil” (NIV); “the same condemnation as the devil” (WEB, Weymouth).

            All of these speak in terms of being punished for the same reason as Satan.  Only   NET shifts the meaning.  That translation makes Satan the punisher by speaking of how the failing elder would “fall into the punishment that the devil will exact.”  Although the Greek permits this rendering, it is clear from the other translations that it is not widely adopted.  Most commentaries as well as translations hold to the “condemnation” being identical with that given to Satan himself.[66]

 

            Paul could hardly have made more emphatic the danger of pride—and the inappropriateness of appointing someone who might be peculiarly vulnerable to it—than by invoking the example of the greatest embodiment of evil, Satan himself.  If he had messed up all his once existing potential for good by pride, what terrible mischief might a spiritually inexperienced church leader cause by misguided arrogance?  (To give only two interlocking examples:  Like not listening to advice or even considering it before making a final decision.) 

 

            As to the “judgment/condemnation” given to the Devil, does this refer to something that had already occurred, something that was yet future—or both?  The statement that the elder candidate’s pride could lead him into suffering the same condemnation as the Devil seems to make far more sense if the Devil is already under that proven condemnation--or at least a major part of it. 

            Hence our text attributes the already existing condemnation of the Devil to “pride.”  We certainly read of his condemnation for deceiving Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, but that is far from all of the condemnation coming his way:  We also read of his being cast into the eternal fire in the book of Revelation.  These are two occasions that are crystal clear and many find in the story of Lucifer (Isaiah 14) a parallel condemnation narrative.

However many prior condemnations of Satan one may locate in the Scriptures, the pattern is clear and consistent:  It never changes.  He will never be “the good guy” in any scenario.  He has been condemned before for his actions and will yet be condemned again.  In its own way, one might even say that his initial condemnation(s) are behavioral “predictions” of his future ones since he has locked himself into the unbreakable vice of his own pride.  His past is his future:  condemnation until the ending of this cosmos and his unending plunge into the great lake of fire (Revelation 20:10)--which permanently and forever ends his destructive pattern.       

 

            Some attempt to take Satan, personally, out of the picture entirely in our text and, if you will, substitute the person who acts as if he or she were Satan . . . acts in a Satan-like manner.  The logic of “redefining” the Satan that is in mind is explained by J. B. Bernard:[67]

 

Who then is διάβολος?  It means the devil in 2 Timothy 2:26, as in Ephesians 4:27; 6:11, these being the only places where the word is found in St. Paul’s writings with the definite article prefixed.  But διάβολος, without the article, occurs three times in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 3:11; 2 Timothy 3:3; and Titus 2:3) in the sense of slanderer or accuser. . . .  It seems therefore, despite the general usage of the N.T. according to which διάβολος = the devil, legitimate to take it here as equivalent to the accuser.

This rendering alone preserves the parallelism of clauses in 1 Timothy 3:6-7, and alone gives sequence to the thought of the writer.  The accuser or slanderer is one of those people, to be found in every community, whose delight is to find fault with the demeanour and conduct of anyone professing a strict rule of life; that such opponents were known in the Apostolic Churches, the language of the Epistles repeatedly indicates.  If the words be thus taken, there is no allusion to the fall of the devil through pride, or to the judgement passed on him (Jude verse 6); and we translate: no novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the judgement passed by the slanderer.

 

            The obvious problem is the very one he concedes:  when the Accuser is referred to, Paul explicitly makes it Satan . . . makes it personally such . . . and not one who acts in a similar manner.  Will the alleged parallelism in verses 6 and 7 permit us to shift the meaning to the individual acting in a Satanic style way?

 

not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

 

            Bernard clearly sees “the devil” in verse 7 as being a human accuser who has laid a snare for the believer.  Hence to make “the devil” in both verses refer to the same person it follows, to him, that both must refer to the human opponent.  I find it very hard to see why anyone other than Satan should be taken as under consideration in either verse.  On verse 7 he insists “the context requires us to take it in the more general sense of the slanderer or accuser.”[68] 

            With all respect, it would be at least just as much true if both refer to Satan:  he receives Divine condemnation (verse 6) and lays “snare(s)” to harm and injure us as well (verse 7).  Or are we to deny that he actively seeks our harm and is under ongoing Divine condemnation for rejecting the will of the heavenly Father?

I readily concede that this is possibly a fine sermonic point:  Prudence argues that we want no one in the eldership whom the world can easily discredit or undermine through baseless slander.  But that remains profoundly different than the point Paul is actually making.

 

 

 

Qualification 16:

Having a Good Reputation

Among Nonbelievers (3:7)

 

            Comparative translations of “have a good testimony among those who are outside:”  Retaining of “good testimony” is uncommon (though still found in WEB, for example), perhaps because the term “testimony” is most often thought of in a judicial context--of hearing first hand evidence.  Use of “a good reputation” eliminates this potential misunderstanding (Holman, NASB, NIV).  “Well thought of” presents a similar concept (ESV, ISV, NET) though arguably not as emphatically.  “Speak well of him” is open to a similar skepticism (GW).  “Bear a good character” (Weymouth) perhaps reflects early 20th century usage in England rather than the States:  You “bear” a reputation rather than “have” one?  

 

            Comparative translations of “have a good testimony among those who are outside:”  Some translations amplify by explaining outside what is under consideration; hence the text becomes “outside the church” (NASB, Weymouth) or “outside the faith” (NET).  Others are content to modify the existing wording only slightly, from “outside” to “outsiders” (ESV, Holman, ISV, NIV).  Others prefer to explain what these outsiders are, “people who are not Christians” (GW).  

 

            Outsiders see Christians in a dramatically different setting than a church service, which often is the only time that most believers see each other.  At church, one is interacting primarily on religious matters.  Outside that setting, one is interacting on basically everything else that exists.  Also to be factored in is that there are those who may feel more “flexible” in how they act among and treat the non-Christian.  They may be willing to give in to dishonest or dishonorable behaviors that would automatically be rejected when dealing with fellow believers.

            In short, social, business, and cultural interactions with non-Christians reveals how we behave when dealing with a thoroughly different “audience.”  It reveals what our behavior and preferences are when dealing with the distresses and challenges of everyday life.  These contacts will also be far more numerous.  How can one consider whether an individual is qualified for church office by only being concerned with how he acts at church activities?  How can one know what a person is like beneath that religious veneer without considering his actions in different social and business interactions of life?

 

            If reported conduct reveals a pattern of back-biting, dishonesty, obnoxious behavior (and how great a multitude those can come in!), those are warning signs of just how much trouble this man might fall into if elevated to church leadership.

            Furthermore why in the world would a church want a man who is considered by his neighbors and associates to be dishonorable and spiteful?  Would not the very appointment needlessly lower the reputation of the church?  Outsiders may not know much about the “theological niceties” but they certainly can recognize behavioral styles that drive others to distraction and needless rage.  Although their judgment is not conclusive, it would be folly to ignore it when the opinion is widespread and repeated.  As the older scholar, Newport J. D. White, advises:[69]    

                                   

St. Paul’s attitude towards them that are without is one of the many proofs of his sanity of judgment.  On the one hand, they are emphatically outside the Church; they have no locus standi in it, no right to interfere.  On the other hand, they have the law of God written in their hearts; and, up to a certain point, their moral instincts are sound and their moral judgments worthy of respect.

In the passage before us, indeed, St. Paul may be understood to imply that the opinion of “those without” might usefully balance or correct that of the Church.  There is something blameworthy in a man’s character if the consensus of outside opinion be unfavourable to him; no matter how much he may be admired and respected by his own party. 

The vox populi, then, is in some sort a vox Dei:  and one cannot safely assume, when we are in antagonism to it, that, because we are Christians, we are absolutely in the right and the world wholly in the wrong.  Thus to defy public opinion in a superior spirit may not only bring discredit, ὀνειδισμός, on oneself and on the Church, but also catch us in the devil’s snare, viz., a supposition that because the world condemns a certain course of action, the action is therefore right and the world’s verdict may be safely set aside.                                     

 

            Having a man without a quality reputation as church leader inevitably has to have a “rub off” effect on the members—not only in lowering the congregation’s status in the eyes of the world but in handicapping, crippling, and even destroying the elder’s ability to get things done within the congregation.  Unlike the government, elders have no police force to enforce their policy.  They rely completely on “the consent of the governed.”

That requires credibility, especially when a decision is a “close one” on its merits.  You put trust in their judgment and accept it not only because they have the position they do, but also because they have an established record of good judgment.  If their behavior has exposed them—or does expose them while an elder—as lacking such, how in the world will they be able to keep a congregation united in policy and actions?

           

            Of course this does not mean that one has always been this way.  There is a “little thing” we call conversion that can cause one to thoroughly alter one’s lifestyle for the better.  Although “past mistakes should not be allowed to veto present ability,”[70] the change must have been long enough in the past that the new manner of life has clearly taken root and is well established.  And not only among friendly insiders (church members) but also among those they come in regular contact with in daily life.  Indeed the fact that they have been able to carry out such a radical transformation and maintain it will be a powerful evidence of their sincerity and depth of religious conviction.      

 

            This does not necessarily mean that all outsiders particularly like us, but that they do respect us in spite of this.[71]  Universal liking can be a warning with a vengeance that we are morally or doctrinally astray.  As Christ warned, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).  But if they concede our honesty and our efforts at moral integrity, their reservations on other matters are totally irrelevant to our capacity to hold church office.

           

 

 

 

Qualification 16:

The Reason For Requiring A Good Reputation—

Lest He Fall into Discredit

and the Devil’s Temptations (3:7)

 

 

            Comparative translations of “lest he fall into reproach:”  “Lest” widely gets altered into “so that” (ESV, Holman, NASB, NET, NIV).  “Reproach” often is substituted with “disgrace” (ESV, Holman, ISV, NET, NIV).  Since the point is that having a good reputation among outsiders is required “lest he fall into reproach,” the point must be that improper behavior and actions breeds criticism from others.  GW paraphrases this deduction by rendering the language, “become the victim of disgraceful insults” (GW), “disgraceful” because the actions he has done are disgraceful--rather than the condemnation itself being uncalled for.

            Instead of being looked upon as an exemplar of long-standing honorable behavior, the excesses undermine their personal recognition as responsible men among neighbors, friends, and associates.  It undermines the credibility of their teaching:  “he says such and such but he does that???”  It makes outsiders wonder whether the congregation that appointed him is gullible or doesn’t really care, thereby creating additional detriments to outsider conversions. 

            In other words, the church will be defined by most of the world in light of the nature and character of its leadership.  Though Christopher R. Hutson is speaking of a first century context, his point remains applicable in the modern world as well:[72]      

 

The concern for reputation in the Pastoral Epistles is both defensive and offensive:  to deflect attacks against what would appear to outsiders as a deviant religion, and to enhance evangelistic opportunities.  The ability of Christian leaders to distinguish between good and bad teachers in terms of their behavior will also be essential. 

This is so because outsiders will not be concerned about the fine points of Christian doctrine; rather, they will be attracted or repelled by the ethical behavior of Christian leaders.  Interestingly, this concern about social criticism is found throughout 1 Timothy and Titus and all but disappears in 2 Timothy.  In 2 Timothy we meet another type of outside opposition[--official opposition].  

 

Associated with this general theme is the self-protective aspect of caution in choosing who we select.  (Never the “live body who is willing” approach!)  When an easily detectable problem for the membership is only noticed afterwards, the church faces the self-produced problem of:  “How in the world are we going to deal with it?”  Like a man or woman choosing a spouse—choose carefully and with every ounce of wisdom the good Lord has given you.         

 

            Comparative translations of “lest he fall into . . . the snare of the devil:”   Some speak of “the devil’s trap” (Holman, NET, NIV) or “the trap set for him by the devil” (ISV). 

            Although GW’s rendering of “disgraceful insults” makes sense, as we noted earlier, if the behavior the insults target is disgraceful in itself.  But as it fleshes out the verse, the natural implication is that the insults themselves becoming the devil’s trap:  “disgraceful insults that the devil sets as traps for him,” reads their full translation.  The better approach would seem to be that the behavioral faults the elder has fallen into . . . those were “the devil’s trap.”  Not the insults.  The insults were the consequences rather than the cause of entrapment.  

            Whichever way one takes it, Paul had just words before in verse 6 stressed the danger that being full of pride could lead to spiritual shipwreck just like it had with Satan.  Now he emphasizes that not only was Satan himself shipwrecked, he is quite willing to put obstacles and snares in the path of others to assure that they will be as well. 

            Elders—preachers, too, for that matter—are “marked men:”  as particularly active agents for the gospel cause, it is in the Devil’s interest to undermine and discredit them by enticing them into behavior that even nonbelievers will recognize as dishonorable.  And, when really successful, into behavior the world is appalled by as outright abhorrent. We have been reminded that “[t]his is basic military strategy. . . .  The best way to defeat an army is to attack its command and control.  What better way to frustrate God’s plans for the church of Jesus Christ than to overthrow the elders he has appointed to lead it?”[73]

 

            Even when the elder is salvaged before outright disaster, his personal ability to be a credible leader may have been damaged not just in the short term but also indefinitely into the future.  After all, it is a hundred times harder to rebuild a reputation than it is to maintain an existing one.  However sincere the repentance, the worst you do is more likely to be remembered than the best.  If it took you years to establish your credibility in the first place, you will be extraordinarily fortunate if it takes less to re-establish it.

            It should also be noted that there is a “rub off” effect too:  If you make yourself look a fool or morally discredited in the eyes of a world with minimal standards, it rubs off on the church as an “institution” as well:  “Look at what they tolerate in their leadership!  And they want to teach us?  This danger is avoided by requiring that they already have a good reputation (“he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into”).  It is always easier to maintain what you already have rather than attempt to create a totally “new” image and it will take years for the new one to be recognized as the real “you.”

            Some see this admonition as targeting new converts, providing a major reason for them not to be appointed:  they are specially vulnerable to temptations of the Devil and their behavior will bring discredit to everyone.[74]  But Paul’s stress here is on their character rather than how recent was their conversion.  It affects equally the new convert and the morally slack longer term member as well.  (Yes those ought not to be given anything more than a polite rejection in the first place, but that isn’t always how things work out in church affairs.) 

      

            Paul makes two references to the devil in our current context:  in verse 6, “the same condemnation as the devil” and here in verse 7, “the snare of the devil.”  In verse 6 the emphasis is on how shameful is the fact that we have done wrong:  we undergo “the same condemnation as the devil.”  In verse 7 it is on the cause of our falling into that condemnation . . . we have fallen into “the snare of the devil.”  Huther:  ‘It is a figurative name for the lying in wait of the devil, who is represented as a hunter.’ ”[75]

            Having fallen from God’s good favor, Satan has no interest in doing better and takes positive joy in undermining the character of others.  If he is to be in misery, then the whole world must be as well!  (A devious and dangerous human foe often acts in a similar manner as well.)

            What the devil is counting on is that our failure will cause us to despair and give up hope.  “Your folly has doomed you forever!”  Or you have so embarrassed every one, there is no way your shredded reputation can be salvaged.  Think the rebuke to David in 2 Samuel 12:14:  you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.”

This doesn’t necessarily have to be the permanent, ongoing outcome however; not if you don’t want it to be.  That fact was explicitly pointed out to Timothy in Paul’s second epistle to him:

 

24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.  (Chapter Two)

 

            There is a profound difference between “making a fool of yourself” and staying one.

 

 

 



[1] Vincent, Word Studies. 

 

[2] Humphreys on 3:3.

 

[3] For example, the introductory textual summary of Michael Homan, “Did the Ancient Israelites Drink Beer?,” Biblical Archaeology Review 35:05 (September/October 2010), at:  http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?Volume=36&ArticleID=4&Issue=5.  (Accessed:  September 2016.)

 

[4] Since I did not have access to the text of the BAR article just referred to at the time of my research, this is based on the summary of it in John A. Peck, “Did Ancient Israelites Drink Beer?,” (part of the Preachers Institute website), at:  http://preachersinstitute.com/2012/12/26/did-ancient-israelites-drink-beer/.  (Dated:  December 26, 2012; accessed:  September 2016.)  

 

[5] Ibid. 

 

[6] Kyle Pope, “Beer in the Bible?,” at:  http://ancientroadpublications.com/Studies/BiblicalStudies/BeerintheBible.html.  (Accessed:  September 2016.)  He seems to regard the effort to make the “strong drink” to be beer as a plot to encourage evil; hence his emphasis on the Hebrew term being far broader than just that one type of alcoholic beverage.  

 

[7] Allison, “Elders.”  For a similar view see Thomas Constable, Expository Notes.        

 

[8] [Unidentified Author], “What Qualifications Does the Bible Give for Elders and Deacons?,” (part of the Compelling Truth website), at:  https://www.compellingtruth.org/qualifications-elders-deacons.html.  (Accessed July 2019). 

 

[9] Paul E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary, online at:

https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/1-timothy.html.  (Accessed:  July 2019). 

 

[10] Arichea and Hatton, 68.

 

[11] Andrew D. Clarke, A Pauline Theology of Church Leadership, in the Library of New Testament Studies, volume 362 (London, England:  T & T Clarke, 2008), 50.

 

[12] Bernard, Greek Testament, on 3:3.  Also S. Lewis Johnson, “The Office of the Deacon.” 

 

[13] S. Lewis Johnson.  “The Office of the Deacon.” 

 

[14] Steve J. Cole, “What Does An Elder Look Like?”    

 

[15] Kretzmann, Popular Commentary online. 

 

[16] Ron Graham, “Qualifications of Elders—Part 2” (part of the simplybible.com Australia website), at:  http://www.simplybible.com/f691.htm (accessed:  September 2016).  

 

[17] Philip W. Comfort, Text, 662.

 

[18] Allison, “Elders.”    

 

[19] Rich Cather, “1 Timothy 3:1-7,” at: 

http://www.calvaryfullerton.org/Bstudy/54%201Ti/2018/54%201Ti%2003a.htm.  (Preached:  February 2018; accessed:  July 2019). 

 

[20] A. C. Hervey, “1 Timothy.” 

 

[21] Joseph Sutcliffe, Sutcliffe’s Commentary on the Old and New Testament, at:  https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/1-timothy.html.  (Accessed:  July 2019).  

 

[22] Vincent, Word Studies. 

 

[23] Humphreys on 3:3.

 

[24] Bradley Cobb, “Qualifications for Elders (Part 3).”        

 

[25] Luke T. Johnson, Letters, 215.

 

[26] Phil Ryken, “Qualifications for Elders.”  

 

[27] D. A. Carson, “Defining Elders.”    

 

[28] Allison, “Elders.”       

 

[29] Scott Lindsay, “1 Timothy 3:1-7.” 

 

[30] Vincent, Word Studies. 

 

[31] Arichea and Hatton, 69.

 

[32] Ralph Earle, “1 Timothy,” 366. 

  

[33] Kretzmann, Popular Commentary, online.    

 

[34] Henry Mahan, Commentary. 

 

[35] [Unidentified Author], “Overview of Qualifications, Selection and Appointment of Elders:  Lesson Five” (part of Rose Street Church of Christ, Anchorage, Alaska website), at:  http://www.rosestreetcofc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Elders-Lesson-5-Handout.pdf.  (Dated 2014; accessed:  September 2016).

 

[36] Ray C. Stedman, “The Lord’s Leaders,” at:  http://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/timothy/the-lords-leaders.  (Preached in 1981; accessed:  October 2016.) 

 

[37] John MacArthur, Church Leadership:  A Study of Elders and Deacons:  A Study Guide.  This is divided into nine files; all are linked together through one location and without different http identification for each.  At: 

https://www.gty.org/library/study-guides/187/church-leadership-a-study-of-olders-and-deacons.  (Part 6 accessed:  July 2019.)    

 

[38] Allen, 279.

 

[39] Quoted by Witherington, Letters and Homilies, 238.

         

[40] Piper, “Eldership.”        

 

[41] [Unidentified Author], “Overview of Qualifications, Selection and Appointment of Elders:  Lesson Five.” 

 

[42] Bratcher, 29.

 

[43] Cf. Arichea and Hatton, 69.

 

[44] Bob Deffinbaugh, “Psalms 127:  A Word For Workaholics” (part of the series “A Psalm For All Seasons:  Studies in the Book of Psalms”), at:  https://bible.org/seriespage/psalm-127-word-workaholics.  (Accessed:  November 2019.)

 

[45] Bradley Cobb, “Qualifications for Elders (Part 10)” (part of the Gravel Hill Church of Christ website), at:  http://www.gravelhillchurchofchrist.com/sermons/elders15.pdf.  (Accessed:  August 2016.) 

 

[46] Ibid. 

 

[47] For example Don Martin, “Elders.”    

 

[48] Cobb, “Qualifications (Part 10).”   

 

[49] D. A. Carson, “Defining Elders.”   

 

[50] He makes this earlier discipleship explicit in “Qualifications (Part 10).”   

 

[51] Cobb, “Qualifications (Part 1).”         

 

[52] Cobb, “Qualifications (Part 10).”   

 

[53] Cobb, “Qualifications for Elders (Part 8).”   

 

[54] Brian Bell, Commentary.  

 

[55] [Unidentified Author], “Biblical Qualifications of a Pastor” (part of the Acts 29 website), at:  http://www.acts29.com/biblical-qualifications-of-a-pastor/.  (Preached January 6, 2015; accessed:  August 2016.)   

 

[56] Randy Alcorn, “Meaning of ‘The Husband of One Wife’ in 1 Timothy 3,” at:  http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Feb/23/meaning-husband-one-wife-1-timothy-3/.  (Accessed:  September 2016.)   

 

[57] Allen, 279.

 

[58] Cf. Lawrence R. Eyres, The Elders of the Church (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:  Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1975), 38.

 

[59] Ibid.

 

[60] J. W. McGarvey, The Eldership (1870), 68-70, at:  http://www.christianlibrary.org/authors/J_W_McGarvey/atote/ATOTE00.HTM.  (Accessed:  October 2016.)

 

[61] Vincent, Word Studies. 

 

[62] Stott, Guard, 98.

 

[63] McGarvey, Eldership, 52-53.

 

[64] Phil Ryken, “Qualifications for Elders.”   

 

[65] Bratcher, 29, and Luke T. Johnson, Letters, 217. 

 

[66] Arichea and Hatton, 70.

 

[67] J. H. Bernard, Greek Testament on 3:6.

 

[68] Ibid, on 3:7.

 

[69] Newport J. D. White (online) on 3:7. 

 

[70] Rhoderick D. Ice, Bible Study New Testament, at: 

https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-timothy.html.  (Accessed:  July 2019.) 

 

[71] Ron Daniel, “1 Timothy 3:1-13.”   

 

[72] Christopher R. Hutson, “Ecclesiology in the Pastoral Epistles,” in The New Testament Church:  The Challenge of Developing Ecclesiologies, edited by John P. Harrison and James D. Dvorak (Eugene, Oregon:  Pickwick Publications, 2012), 174-175.    

 

[73] Phil Ryken, “Qualifications for Elders.”     

 

[74] Witherington, Letters and Homilies, 239-240.

     

[75] Humphreys on 3:7.