Paul's Letters To Timothy
by Greg Williamson (c) 2014, 2019
Featuring the text of the New American Standard Bible *
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Intro | 1 Timothy 1:1-11 / 1:12-17 / 1:18-20 | 2:1-8 / 2:9-15 | 3:1-7 / 3:8-13 / 3:14-16 | 4:1-6 / 4:7-12 / 4:13-16 | 5:1-16 / 5:17-25 | 6:1-2 / 6:3-10 / 6:11-21 | 2 Timothy 1:1-7 / 1:8-12 / 1:13-18 | 2:1-7 / 2:8-13 / 2:14-18 / 2:19-26 | 3:1-9 / 3:10-12 / 3:13-17 | 4:1-4 / 4:5-8 / 4:9-22 ** | Articles & Definitions | Sources

(1 Timothy 3:1-7)

1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.
2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.
4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity
5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),
6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.
7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Being a leader of God’s people is a serious task, and no one should accept an office who is not qualified and willing to use that office to help the church. The title bishop means “overseer” and describes the work of the elder. God’s people are like sheep; they need shepherds to watch over them, protect them, and lead them. Pray for your spiritual leaders that they might more and more be what God wants them to be. - Warren Wiersbe [ref]

QuoteWorthy: Humility
Someone said, "The beginning of greatness is to be little; it increases as we become less and is perfect when we become nothing." [ref]

1 TIMOTHY 3:1 - Overseers: A Reputation Above Reproach (vv. 1-7)
A Profile for Christian Maturity

Leaders who are appointed to serve in shepherding roles in the church are to be selected based on a comprehensive biblical criteria for measuring Christian maturity. (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7) [ref]

"[E]ven though the church is an organism, it must be organized or it will die. Leadership is a part of spiritual organization." [ref] Paul now addresses the topic of church organization, beginning with the overseer/bishop/elder/pastor. "More is required of an overseer than mere willingness to serve." [ref] In fact, there are no less than fifteen requirements. These "Christian virtues" are necessary for effective Christian leadership and also serve as an example or model for every believer. [ref] [ref]

Here we find that "what we call the ‘selection’ of candidates for the pastorate entails according to Paul three essentials: the call of God, the inner aspiration and conviction of the individuals concerned, and their conscientious screening by the church as to whether they meet the requirements which the apostle now goes on to list." [ref]

aspires to ... he desires (to do) (1 Timothy 3:1)
"['Aspires to'] means 'to reach out after.' It describes external action, not internal motive. ['He desires'] means 'a strong passion,' and refers to an inward desire. Taken together, these two words aptly describe the type of man who belongs in the ministry -- one who outwardly pursues it because he is driven by a strong internal desire." [ref]

the office of overseer (1 Timothy 3:1)
The word overseer "is the rendering of episkopos. The verbal form is episkopeō, 'to look over, to oversee, to superintend, to exercise oversight or care over.' The word came originally from secular life, referring to the foreman of a construction gang, or the supervisor of building construction, for instance. Thayer defines the word; 'an overseer, a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian, or superintendent.' The word was taken up by the Church, and designated an overseer of any Christian church. The responsibilities of this office have to do with the oversight and direction of the spiritual life of the local church." [ref]

Overseers/bishops/elders/pastors are responsible for:

  • leading (1 Tim. 5:17)
  • preaching and teaching (1 Tim. 5:17)
  • helping the spiritually weak (1 Thess. 5:12–14)
  • caring for the church (1 Pet. 5:1,2)
  • ordaining other leaders (1 Tim. 4:14) [ref]


The Greek word for “overseer” is episkopos, translated “bishop” in older versions. Of its five occurrences in the NT, one uses the word as a title of Jesus, who lives to guard and guide his church (1 Pe 2:25).

The concept expressed by this term is that of one who is continuously observing, scrutinizing, and watching out for something. In the NT, what is overseen by individuals with this ministry is the Christian community. Two parallel terms are presbyteros (“elder”) and poimēn (“shepherd”). These are so close in concept and so linked in NT usage that they probably should be treated as functional synonyms.

The NT has three passages that indicate multiple leadership among believers (Ac 6:1–6; 20:28; Php 1:1).

Although we do not know the specific duties of the overseer, this very important position involved working with a functioning, local church. The NT gives the specific principles that should guide any church leader in ministering among believers.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]


The nature of leadership in the church is a critical issue in any age. The organizational structures used by the churches today and in history reflect different understandings of leadership and different understandings of the words Scripture uses to identify leaders. “Elder” is one of the critical terms. It has implications for our understanding of the local church and how the church should function today.

Old Testament
No complete picture of the role of the elder can be drawn from Scripture. And that role undoubtedly changed with historical conditions. Yet it is clear that local elders, who assembled at the city gates to do their business in public (Dt 21:19; 22:15), handled both civil matters (Dt 22:15; Ru 4:9, 11) and criminal cases (Dt 19:12; 21:1–9; Jos 20:4).

Two things about the early elder system are worth nothing. First, supervision of the life of the community was placed in the hands of a group of elders, not in the hands of a single elder. The wisdom of several rather than of one was considered necessary for those matters that an elder team had to deal with. Second, the elder system settled matters within the community. The elders were members of the community; their judgments would flow not only from knowledge of law and custom but also from intimate knowledge of the persons who might stand before them. This community aspect of the elder system stands in contrast to modern bureaucracy, which tends to create increasing distance between individuals and those who decide civil or criminal issues that might affect them.

New Testament
The role of the biblical elder is indistinct to us, but a number of features are clear. These men were spiritual leaders of a congregation and of the wider community. They functioned in teams rather than individually in directing the affairs of a local community. They were carefully selected to meet specific moral and personal criteria.

Personal and moral requirements. Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus outline personal requirements for leadership in the church (1 Ti 3, “overseer”; Tit 1, “elders”). In each passage, demonstrated Christian character is emphasized. Spiritual leaders are to provide living examples of the truths they teach. Leaders are to be models of that Christlikeness to which all believers are called.

Appointment of elders. The appointment of elders is mentioned in both Acts and Titus. The term “appoint” need not imply apostolic selection of elders; but it does indicate official apostolic recognition and installation. Apparently elders were appointed only on subsequent visits of the missionaries to congregations they had established (Ac 14:21–23; Tit 1:5). It was necessary for a congregation to exist for some time before those whose growth toward maturity and whose gifts could be recognized by the local community could properly be appointed as elders. The religious con man might temporarily deceive with smooth words. But within a community that shared life intimately, time would reveal true character and motivations.

Tasks of elders. Scripture gives no well-defined job description for elders. We do know that elders functioned within local congregations and assembled with other elders to consider matters that affected Christians everywhere. The word “elder” probably suggests age, and certainly indicates spiritual maturity.

The role of elder requires distinctive spiritual gifts, as well as developed Christian character. After all, every one of God’s people is called to spiritual maturity. But not every mature believer is called to serve as an elder.

One critical ministry of elders is mentioned in 1 Ti 5:17: “The elders who direct the affairs of the church are well worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” Some elders preached and taught. But all “directed the affairs of the church.” A hint about this directing role is found in the concept of overseer (episkopos). By the way it was used in the secular society, this word, often translated “bishop,” suggests both administrative and judicial functions. The same meaning seems applicable to the church, particularly when the concept is linked by Peter with the image of shepherding (1 Pe 2:25).

Although we have no detailed description of the tasks of an elder, the hints found in the NT are suggestive. The church is a body, with its own unique organic kind of life. Gifts of overseeing are needed to understand and to guard those processes and relationships that permit the local community to function in an organic way. Thus, being an elder calls for insight into the nature of the church and an understanding of how the body functions and the way the gift of administration operates.

It is apparent that several aspects of governing or leadership by elders has been maintained throughout the ages and carried into the NT era. The significant characteristics of elder leadership that remain constant seem to be the following:

  • Mature members of the local community, whose age and character have won respect, were recognized as elders.
  • Elder-style leadership was not exercised by individuals but entrusted to groups of men who served as a team in overseeing community life.
  • Elders of the church were drawn from the local community and were required to have a character that merited respect. Elders in the church also functioned in teams: one-man oversight is not biblical, though gifted individuals may make significant contributions to the life of a local congregation.
  • While the specific tasks entrusted to elders remain undefined, the Bible’s teaching on the function of leadership within the body of Christ provides clues not only to the elder role but also to the gifts required for effective team leadership.
  • No passage in either the OT or the NT suggests that women have historically functioned as elders.
  • Whatever we may call our local church leaders and whatever form of government our tradition may involve, harmony with Scripture suggests that (1) there should be a team (2) drawn from the local congregation (3) that functions to guard the processes that make for a healthy, spiritually growing local expression of the body of Christ.
- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]



The moral philosopher's of [Paul's] day routinely condemned those who "aspire" to political office because such ambitions were typically motivated by greed and power grabs; likewise, they also condemned those who "desire" a work because they were often prompted by a lust for power or sexual conquest. Paul challenges this more negative reading of human nature, suggesting that divine grace can transform the motives behind the actions.

- The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary [ref]

Regarding Paul's praise for the one who aspires to the office of overseer, one Bible commentator notes:

Though it is nevertheless true that praise for the aspirant is implied, it must be borne in mind that in the early history of the church willingness to serve as an overseer meant sacrifice. Again and again persecution would rage, from the side of the Jews, of the Gentiles, or, as often, of both. False teachers did their utmost to undermine the true foundation. Truly, in such a time and amid such circumstances an incentive to overseership and a word of implied praise for the man who indicated a willingness to serve in this high office were not at all out of place. And the office itself was surely “a noble work.” It still is, but it was never more so than in the early decades!

- Baker's New Testament Commentary [ref]

It would be easy for us to look at Paul's list of qualifications for overseer/elder and feel relieved that we are not called to be one. But the fact is that in one form or another nearly all of these qualifications apply to every Christian.

above reproach

  • "above reproach" (1 Timothy 5:7)
  • "without stain or reproach" (1 Timothy 6:14)
  • compare: "blameless ... above reproach" (Philippians 2:15)


  • "temperate" (1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2)
  • compare: "sober spirit" (1 Peter 4:7; 5:8)


  • "sensible" (Titus 2:2, 5)


  • "proper" (1 Timothy 2:9)


  • "Be hospitable" (1 Peter 4:9)
  • compare: "practicing hospitality" (Romans 12:13)
                   "show hospitality to strangers" (Hebrews 13:2)

able to teach

  • "able to teach" (2 Timothy 2:24)

not addicted to wine

  • compare: "strong drink" (Isaiah 5:11-12)
                   "drunkards" (Matthew 24:45-51)
                   "dissipation and drunkenness" (Luke 21:34-36)
                   "drunk with wine" (Ephesians 5:18)
                   "enslaved to much wine" (Titus 2:3)


  • "gentle spirit" (Philippians 4:5)
  • "gentle" (Titus 3:2; James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18)
  • compare: "gentleness" (Galatians 5:22-23)


  • "peaceable" (Titus 3:2)
  • compare: "quarrels and conflicts" (James 4:1)
                   "peace" (Galatians 5:22-23)

free from the love of money

  • "free from the love of money" (Hebrews 13:5)
  • compare: "... food and covering ... the love of money ..." (1 Timothy 6:8-10)

one who manages his own household well

  • "leads" (Romans 12:8)
  • "engage" (Titus 3:8, 14)
  • compare: "love your wives" (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19)
                   "do not exasperate your children" (Colossians 3:21)

a good reputation with those outside

  • compare: "wisdom toward outsiders" (Colossians 4:5)
                   "behave properly toward outsiders" (1 Thessalonians 4:12)


1 TIMOTHY 3:2 - Overseers: A Reputation Above Reproach (vv. 1-7)

"The ordination of leaders was primarily the selecting of individuals of proven maturity and character to lead so the whole church could function effectively in worship, service, outreach, and the fulfillment of individual spiritual gifts." [ref] Thus what we find in 2 Timothy 3:2-7 is an intertwining of personal self-discipline, personal maturity, and the ability to relate to and lead others. [ref]

above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2)
This means "[h]e must be blameless in his behavior." [ref] "This is the overarching requirement for elders; the rest of the qualifications elaborate on what it means to be blameless"/above reproach. [ref] (See also: [ref] [ref] [ref])

This literally refers to "one who cannot be laid hold upon." The overseer "must be of such a spotless character that no one can lay hold upon anything in his life which would be of such a nature as to cast reproach upon the cause of the Lord Jesus. He presents to the world at large such a Christian life that he furnishes no grounds for accusation." [ref]

This does not mean that he will never be accused of wrongdoing, "but these charges are proved to be empty whenever fair methods of investigation are applied. With the church and in accordance with the rules of justice, this man not only has a good reputation but deserves it." [ref]

the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2)
Renderings include:

  • "committed to his wife" - The Message
  • "faithful in marriage" - CEV
  • "faithful to his wife" - NIV
  • "He must be faithful to his wife" (margin: Or must have only one wife, or must be married only once; Greek reads must be the husband of one wife) - NLT
  • "he must have only one wife" (margin: have only one wife; or be married only once) - GNB
  • "married only once" (margin: Gk the husband of one wife) - NRSV
  • "the husband of one wife" - AMP/ESV/HCSB/KJV/NKJV/NASB/NET/RSV

There has been, and continues to be, much debate over this particular requirement. As one source explains:

["The husband of one wife" is,] literally, a “one-woman man.” This ambiguous but important phrase is subject to several interpretations. The question is, how stringent a standard was Paul erecting for overseers? Virtually all commentators agree that this phrase prohibits both polygamy and promiscuity, which are unthinkable for spiritual leaders in the church. Many Bible students say the words a “one-woman man” are saying that the affections of an elder must be centered exclusively on his wife. Many others hold, however, that the phrase further prohibits any who have been divorced and remarried from becoming overseers. The reasoning behind this view is usually that divorce represents a failure in the home, so that even though a man may be forgiven for any sin involved, he remains permanently disqualified for leadership in the congregation (cf. 1 Timothy 3:4-5; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27). [ref]

In support of the view that Paul is referring to marital faithfulness and not remarriage (following either divorce or widowhood): "The qualification is a requirement of faithfulness in marriage. ... The flow of thought in the list moves from personal to church life, from domestic to official functions. Implicit in this movement is an important axiom: what one does or is in one's private life has consequences for the church. It follows that within Paul's holistic outlook, which brings together personal and domestic qualities, it is far more likely that he would stress fidelity in marriage. So the point of the phrase is probably not how often one can be married, nor precisely what constitutes a legitimate marriage (that the marriage of the candidate is legitimate is assumed), but rather how one conducts oneself in one's marriage." [ref] (See also: [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref] [ref])

This reminder would have been necessary in view of the profoundly pervasive sexual immorality of that day (much like our own day) -- a sin against which Paul warned repeatedly in his letters (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:13, 18; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Timothy 1:10). [ref] As is often noted, the two most common reasons pastors fall are sex and money.

temperate (1 Timothy 3:2)
This refers to "be[ing] clear-headed or vigilant." [ref] He appropriately balances the many priorities in his life. [ref] Being temperate would help prevent being carried away by false teaching. [ref]

prudent (1 Timothy 3:2)
The basic idea is that of self-control. "As a fundamental aspect of the new existence in Christ (Tit 2:12), it is the ability to take charge of the mind, and Christians have this possibility opened to them. This allows control over impulses (to overindulge the physical appetites, to think wrong thoughts about others and ourselves) which without control would drive us to excessive behavior." [ref]

This does not mean, however, that "he has no sense of humor, or that he is always solemn and somber. Rather it suggests that he knows the value of things and does not cheapen the ministry or the Gospel message by foolish behavior." [ref]

respectable (1 Timothy 3:2)
This "refers to observable behavior that corresponds to inner self-control. It is behavior of all kinds (1 Timothy 2:9) marked by self-discipline, order and balance." [ref] "Prudent" concerns what is inward and "respectable" concerns what is outward.

hospitable (1 Timothy 3:2)
Literally, this is being "a friend of, or kind to strangers." [ref] In Paul's day it meant "taking in trustworthy travelers as guests. Such hospitality was a universal virtue, but because inns in antiquity usually functioned also as brothels, Jewish people in the Diaspora were especially willing to take in fellow Jewish travelers, as long as the travelers bore letters of recommendation certifying their trustworthiness." [ref]

As one commentator explains a bit further:

[T]he hospitality referred to here is not of the kind which says, “Come over for dinner and let us have a good time. Some day you will return the favor and I will enjoy your hospitality.” The hospitality spoken of here found its occasion in the fact that in the days of the great Roman persecutions, Christians were banished and persecuted, and rendered homeless. Or, in the case of travelling preachers and teachers, ministering from church to church, these servants of God were to be received and cared for by the bishop. Or, because in the early centuries, the local churches had no church edifice in which to worship, the church met in the home of an individual. The bishop should be glad to thus open his home for this purpose. [ref]



In the ancient world, inns were notoriously bad. In one of Aristophanes' plays Heracles asks his companion where they will lodge for the night; and the answer is: "Where the fleas are fewest." Plato speaks of the inn-keeper being like a pirate who holds his guests to ransom. Inns tended to be dirty and expensive and, above all, immoral. The ancient world had a system of what were called Guest Friendships. Over generations families had arrangements to give each other accommodation and hospitality. Often the members of the families came in the end to be unknown to each other by sight and identified themselves by means of what were called tallies. The stranger seeking accommodation would produce one half of some object; the host would possess the other half of the tally; and when the two halves fitted each other the host knew that he had found his guest, and the guest knew that the host was indeed the ancestral friend of his household.

In the Christian Church there were wandering teachers and preachers who needed hospitality. There were also many slaves with no homes of their own to whom it was a great privilege to have the right of entry to a Christian home. It was of the greatest blessing that Christians should have Christian homes ever open to them in which they could meet people like-minded to themselves.

- William Barclay [ref]

There was much travel everywhere in the empire, which helped the spread of the gospel immensely. Christian travelers would want to lodge with Christians and to receive their trustworthy aid in whatever business they had. Christian hospitality was a great blessing to them. Persecution made fugitives who were often in great need. Then other cases such as poverty, sickness, the need of some widow and some orphan would afford opportunity for hospitality. The elders in the church, to whom all these cases would generally come first, did what they could and then appealed to others.

- R. C. H. Lenski [ref]

able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2)
"[H]is duty is 'to preach to the unconverted and to teach the converted.'" [ref] The thought here is that of being skilled at teaching truth and refuting error. [ref] [ref]

Effective, Spirit-empowered teaching begins with "prayerful meditation in the Word of God and the practical application of its truth to oneself." [ref] As the 1800s American bishop Phillips Brooks said, "'Apt to teach -- it is not something to which one comes by accident or by any sudden burst of fiery zeal.' A pastor must be a careful student of the Word of God, and of all that assists him in knowing and teaching that Word. The pastor who is lazy in his study is a disgrace in the pulpit." [ref]


1 TIMOTHY 3:3 - Overseers: A Reputation Above Reproach (vv. 1-7)

not addicted to wine or pugnacious (1 Timothy 3:3)
"His self-control is to extend to his appetites and his anger." [ref] To be pugnacious is to have "a quarrelsome or combative nature" [ref] which would include "blustering, bullying, irritable, bad-tempered speech." [ref] A pugnacious person "exhibits an argumentative personality. Such a person tends to be defensive, insecure, and insensitive. This type of leader may undermine the legitimate gifts of others because he or she feels threatened by someone else's abilities, even though these abilities may be complementary to their own." [ref]

Regarding this requirement one Bible commentator notes well:

The Old Testament contains several solemn warnings to leaders about the damaging effect of alcohol. Priests were forbidden to drink while on duty, for this was evidently the cause of the presumption of Nadab and Abihu (Aaron’s sons) in offering ‘unauthorised fire before the LORD’ (Leviticus 10:1ff). Kings and other rulers were not to drink, or they would forget their country’s laws and ‘deprive the oppressed of their rights’ (Pr. 31:4ff.; cf. Pr. 20:1; 23:19ff. and 29ff). Magistrates also, if ‘heroes at drinking wine’, would pervert justice, acquitting the guilty and punishing the innocent (Is. 5:22–23). And prophets, when ‘befuddled with wine’, would find that they were unable to teach (Is. 28:7ff).

Against this background, it is hardly surprising that Paul should issue a similar warning to Christian overseers. He did not require them to be total abstainers, since Jesus himself changed water into wine and made wine the emblem of his blood. Yet there are strong social arguments for total abstinence, since much reckless, violent and immoral behaviour is due to excessive drinking. What Paul requires, however, is moderation, as an example of the self-mastery already mentioned, not least because pastors are invited to many social functions at which wine flows freely. [ref]



There are two Hebrew words translated “wine” in the NIV and the NASB: tîrôš and yayin. Tîrôš is “new wine,” the unfermented product of grape vines. It is associated in the OT with blessing (e.g., Dt 7:13; 11:14; 2 Ki 18:32) and was an important product for the agricultural economy. Yayin is fermented wine, which in Bible times contained about seven to ten percent alcohol. In the NT era the rabbis called for dilution of this wine when it was used at the Passover. But fermented wines were drunk at feasts, given as gifts (1 Sa 25:18; 2 Sa 16:1), and used in offerings to God (Ex 29:40; Lev 23:13; Nu 15:7). Yet the OT calls for moderation and rejects both drunkenness and a love for drink (Pr 20:1; 21:17; 23:20). The two sides of the use of wine -- abuse and proper use -- are both seen in Amos: God’s people were condemned for sins associated with wine (Am 2:8, 12; 5:11; 6:6) and, in the later chapters, which are filled with promise of restoration, they were promised that wine would “drip from the mountains” (Am 9:13) and that they would “plant vineyards and drink their wine” (v. 14).

The Greek word for wine is oinos. References in the NT show the same appreciation of wine and the same condemnation of its abuse as the OT. Wine is associated with the joy of the marriage feast at Cana (Jn 2), but drunkenness is condemned as characteristic of a pagan lifestyle (1 Pe 4:3; Eph 5:18). Wine was also recommended by Paul to Timothy for medicinal use (1 Ti 5:23). Probably Eph 5:18, which calls on believers not to “get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery,” but rather to “be filled with the Spirit,” puts the issue in perspective. The Christians’ bubbling joy is produced by the Spirit of God, who lifts all of life beyond the ordinary. If we are filled with the Spirit, there is little need for wine’s artificial stimulation.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref]

The NT maintains a similar attitude to wine as the OT. On the one hand, it is one of God's gifts of creation to be enjoyed. On the other hand, to refrain from drinking wine may be necessary for the sake of the gospel. Drunkenness (oinophlygia) is a characteristic of the Gentile way of life (1 Pet. 4:3). "It is not right to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble" (Rom. 14:21). The disciples are exhorted to "take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare" (Lk. 21:34). Timothy, on the other hand, is exhorted to drink a little wine for his stomach's sake (1 Tim. 5:23). Moderation must not be confused with licence. Bishops and deacons must not be drunkards (1 Tim. 3:3, 8; Tit. 2:3). Eph. 5:18 warns against excessive drinking: "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit" (cf. Prov. 23:31). At Pentecost the bystanders made the opposite mistake, concluding that the disciples were filled with new wine (gleukos), whereas in fact they were filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:13).

- New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology [ref]

but gentle (1 Timothy 3:3)
"But" conveys the idea of "on the contrary." [ref]

Impossible to translate precisely, to be "gentle" is to possess "[t]he qualities of yieldedness, fairness, sweet reasonableness, helpfulness, and generosity." [ref] It is to be "[g]racious, kindly, forbearing, considerate, magnanimous, [and] genial." [ref]

It is the opposite of "harshness, sternness, or violence." [ref] While the gentle overseer "never compromises with respect to the truth of the gospel, he is willing to yield when it comes to his own rights." [ref] Being gentle would include listening to people and being "able to take criticism without reacting," as well as permitting "others to serve God in the church without dictating to them." [ref]

peaceable (1 Timothy 3:3)
This refers to the man who does not walk around with a chip on his shoulder. [ref] "Pastors must be peacemakers, not troublemakers. This does not mean they must compromise their convictions, but that they must 'disagree' without being 'disagreeable.' Short tempers do not make for long ministries." [ref]

free from the love of money (1 Timothy 3:3)
Knowing that we are called to be faithful stewards of God's resources, the overseer must be a model of generosity and simplicity of lifestyle, having a healthy detachment, but not irresponsibility, regarding material wealth. [ref] What's more, a lover of money might be tempted to abandon the ministry for a higher paying secular position. [ref]

Regarding this requirement one Bible commentator notes well:

[T]hroughout history bad men have tried to make money out of ministry. In the ancient world there were quacks who made a good living by posing as itinerant teachers. In the Old Testament Micah fulminated against Jerusalem because her judges took bribes, her priests taught for a price and her prophets told fortunes for cash (Mi. 3:11). In the New Testament Peter urged the pastors to be ‘not greedy for money, but eager to serve’ (1 Pet. 5:2), while Paul renounced his right to support and earned his own living in order to demonstrate the sincerity of his motives (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:4ff). In our day there are still some disreputable evangelists who make themselves wealthy by financial appeals, whereas wise Christian leaders publish audited accounts of their enterprise. As for pastors, although Paul requires them to be paid adequately (1 Tim. 5:17f.), their salary in most countries is too low, in comparison with other professions, for them to be tempted to seek ordination for financial reasons.

Samuel was able at the end of his life to challenge Israel: ‘Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken?… Whom have I cheated?… From whose hand have I accepted a bribe …?’ ‘You have not cheated or oppressed us,’ the people replied (1 Sa. 12:1ff). Somewhat similarly, Paul was able to challenge the Ephesian elders: ‘I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions’ (Acts 20:32ff.; cf. 1 Thes. 2:5ff). Would that all of us could make the same claim! [ref]

And of course greed and covetousness can manifest themselves in other ways, as well: the need for "popularity, a large ministry that makes you famous, denominational advancement, etc." [ref]

QuoteWorthy: Deception
Every man or woman who violates the law of God is deceived as to the happiness which is expected from the violation, and as to the consequences which will follow it. - Albert Barnes  [ref


I am persuaded that the Bible teaches a form of Christian capitalism -- in other words, responsibility associated with wealth. It does not promote the possession of money for the sake of money, but instead encourages us to use money for the sake of the kingdom. In short, a biblical view of wealth involves an eternal perspective. 

First, it is crucial to realize that “the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). God is the Landlord; we are just tenants. We did not arrive with anything, and we will not take anything with us when we leave. Just remembering this fact of life will save us from a world of hurt. 

Furthermore, poverty does not equal piety; nor do riches equal righteousness. God prospers some, and he puts others in more humble circumstances. If there were a one-to-one ratio between godliness and wealth, the godliest people in the world would be the wealthiest. A quick check of the Forbes 500 will quickly dash such an illusion. 

Finally, it is important to view wealth with eternity in mind. In other words, lead your life here below as a responsible steward—whether you have a little or a lot -- so that one day, at the judgment, God himself will richly reward you (Matthew 25:21). It is your bank statement in heaven that counts (Matthew 6:19–21); if you fix your hope on the one you have down here, you are bankrupt no matter how many digits you count next to your name. 

- Hank Hanegraaff (source)

Also see: The Myths Christians Believe about Wealth and Poverty


1 TIMOTHY 3:4 - Overseers: A Reputation Above Reproach (vv. 1-7)

"[A]s the early Church saw it, the responsibility of the office-bearer did not begin and end in the Church. He had two other spheres of responsibility, and if he failed in them, he was bound also to fail in the Church. His first sphere of duty was his own home. The second sphere of responsibility was the world." [ref]

one who manages his own household well (1 Timothy 3:4)
This requirement reflects the normal family dynamics of Paul's day: "Men in Paul’s day exercised a great deal of authority over their wives and children. That children’s behavior reflected on their parents was a commonplace of ancient wisdom (for society’s view, see also the public shame reflected in Lev 21:9; Prov 19:13; 27:11; but contrast Ezek 18:9–20 for God’s view when normal means of discipline failed). This factor may have been especially important for leaders of churches meeting in their own homes; but again, it is based on a premise of patriarchal ancient culture (where properly disciplined children usually obeyed) not directly, completely applicable to all societies." [ref]

"One who manages" (Greek proistēmi) combines "the concepts of ‘rule’ and ‘care’" [ref] and refers to "compassionate governing, leading, and directing (see 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:17), not stern, cruel, tyrannical, and authoritarian dominance." [ref]

This requirement assumes, but does not demand, that the overseer has a family -- that is, a wife and children of his own. [ref

"Normally the authority structure of the household was strictly patriarchal, and at each level subordination to the householder was expected. Anything less than this kind of obedience to the householder was taken as a sign of disorder and even political subversion, for the stability of the household was regarded as fundamental to the well-being of society as a whole." [ref]


Paul reasons from the less to the greater, in this twofold sense:

a. If a man cannot even preside over or manage, how will he be able to take upon himself (that is, upon his heart) the care of anything? The latter activity indicates a watchful regard that is even more solicitous and incessant than the former.

b. If a man cannot discharge his responsibility with respect to his own family, how will he do this with respect to God's family, that is, the church (the local congregation), the family which has God as its Father? [ref]

keeping his children under control (1 Timothy 3:4)
"The most reliable (though not infallible) means of determining the quality of one’s potential leadership is by examining the behavior of his children. Do they respect their father enough to submit to his leadership?" [ref]

with all dignity (1 Timothy 3:4)
This applies to the father, not the children, meaning "[h]e acts in a dignified way when he secures due obedience." [ref]

His behavior should inspire respect. More specifically, "the father's firmness makes it advisable for a child to obey, that his wisdom makes it natural for a child to obey, and that his love makes it a pleasure for a child to obey." [ref]


1 TIMOTHY 3:5 - Overseers: A Reputation Above Reproach (vv. 1-7)

his own household ... the church of God (1 Timothy 3:5)
While there are some obvious differences between the pastor's natural family and his church family, there are also a number of similarities:

  • Members are related by blood. In the case of the church, it is the blood of Christ.
  • There is a common purpose. In the case of the church, its members seek to glorify God by ministering to one another and by sharing the Gospel in both word and deed.
  • There are common needs, including the need to give and receive sympathetic support in times of distress and affliction.
  • There is the need for loving headship in which there is no room for prejudice or partiality. [ref

"The ability to handle his family forms a training ground for a man's ability to handle the family of God in a local congregation. The same love, compassion, firmness, and mercy are needed for both duties. ... If a man is not willing to care for, discipline, and teach his children, he is not qualified to lead the church." [ref]

That said, it is also important to remember that the church is God's family. Meaning that God, and not the overseer, is the Father within the church. [ref] In that respect, we might think of the overseer as the eldest sibling in a family whose father is away temporarily. Being the oldest, he is responsible for the rest. And he acts with the father's authority, as his representative.

take care of (1 Timothy 3:5)
"[A] pastor is the one who directs the business of the church. (Not as a dictator, of course, but as a loving shepherd -- 1 Peter 5:3.) The word translated 'take care of' in 1 Timothy 3:5 suggests a personal ministry to the needs of the church. It is used in the Parable of the Good Samaritan to describe the care given to the injured man (Luke 10:34–35)." [ref]


1 TIMOTHY 3:6 - Overseers: A Reputation Above Reproach (vv. 1-7)

"Ancient leadership ideology required leaders to be tested in lower offices, to demonstrate their skills before being promoted; the church in Ephesus had existed for over a decade, hence the Ephesians could insist on more seasoned leaders than some other churches could (the requirement is missing in Titus). The ever-present danger of false accusation required leaders to do everything in their power to avoid scandal; a solid reputation was helpful for church leaders, as it was for public officials." [ref]

not a new convert (1 Timothy 3:6)
"New faith needs time to mature. New believers should have a part in God's service, but they should not be put into leadership positions until they are firmly grounded in their faith, with a solid Christian life-style and a knowledge of the Word of God." [ref]

Even if a man possesses all the qualities mentioned to this point, he cannot be an overseer if he is a new Christian. [ref] Why? Because, lacking in maturity, there is the very real possibility that "his rapid advancement to leadership [would] fill him with pride and conceit." [ref]

"New believers should become secure and strong in the faith before taking leadership roles in the church. Too often, in a church desperate for workers, new believers are placed in positions of responsibility prematurely. New faith needs time to mature. New believers should have a place of service, but they should not be put into leadership positions until they are firmly grounded in their faith, with a solid Christian lifestyle and a knowledge of the Word of God." [ref]

become conceited (1 Timothy 3:6)
"Become conceited" (Greek typhoō) "is a colourful verb meaning to ‘becloud’ (from typhos, ‘cloud’ or ‘smoke’). It describes people like the false teachers (1 Tim. 6:4) who live in ‘cloud-cuckoo-land’, a realm of self-centred fantasy." [ref] Thus to be conceited is to have "a beclouded and stupid state of mind as the result of pride." [ref] [ref]

the condemnation incurred by the devil (1 Timothy 3:6)
"Pride was the cause of Satan’s condemnation (Job 38:15; Isaiah 14:12-15; John 12:31; 16:11; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6)." [ref]

"New believers who are too quickly promoted can be easy targets for the devil's powerful temptation: pride. Pride can seduce emotions and cloud our reason. It can make those who are immature susceptible to the influence of unscrupulous people. Pride and conceit were the devil's downfall, and he uses pride to trap others." [ref]



Arrogance and pride describe an attitude that Scripture carefully analyzes -- and condemns. Both the OT and NT add to our understanding of the nature of these self-exalting traits, which draw us away from godliness.

The nature of arrogance and pride
The root of arrogance and pride is refusal to consider God or respond to him. Instead, the arrogant supposes that human beings can live successfully apart from an obedient relationship with the Lord. The dangers of arrogance and pride are well documented. Even the godly can be drawn away from God when success stimulates pride (e.g., 2 Ch 26:16–17). According to Proverbs, pride is an evil to be hated (8:13), leads to disgrace (11:2; 29:23), breeds quarrels (13:10), and goes before destruction (16:18).

But pride is not only dangerous; it is sin. Pride and arrogance involve a denial of our place as creatures, living in a world shaped and governed by the Creator, who has given a Word that is to govern our lives. Thus the OT makes it clear: God is committed to punish pride and arrogance. ... The theme of judgment is often associated with this sin, which involves not only a basic denial of the significance of God but also the foolish exaltation of the individual or the human race (e.g., Da 5:20; Lev 26:19).

The ultimate example: Satan’s fall
Many Bible scholars believe that two OT passages describe the fall of Satan. Each passage refers to a “king,” who may be the unseen spiritual power behind the pagan ruler (cf. Da 10:12–15). In Eze 28:11–19, this king is described as a guardian cherub who was created blameless but sinned and was expelled from the presence of God. The cause? “Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor” (Eze 28:17).

Isaiah describes a morning star fallen from heaven and points out the swelling pride that led to its downfall: “You said in your heart, `I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High’ ” (Isa 14:13–14).

The pride of the creature who seeks to displace God as the center of the universe and deny the Lord the glory due him may well be the root cause of all the evil that mars the universe and, specifically, of man’s original sin (Ge 3:4–5).

[The "proud" or "haughty"] presumptuously rest their confidence in something other than God himself [see Romans 11:20 and 1 Timothy 6:17].

Pride puffs us up, making us arrogant and conceited. Believers are warned against becoming puffed up about following one leader over another or for belonging to one particular group rather than another. The Corinthian church was warned against being puffed up while sin was permitted in the fellowship. Paul goes on to teach that love never puffs up (1 Co 13:4). The seriousness of being puffed up is seen by its association in Scripture with quarreling, jealousy, anger, factions, slander, and gossip (2 Co 12:20).

Not all pride is wrong. .... [P]ride can be good or bad, depending on its object. Paul wants the believer to take pride, not in externals, but in what God is doing in men’s hearts (2 Co 5:12). Paul himself takes pride in the progress of the Corinthians in the faith (2 Co 7:4; 8:24). We believers can all take pride in ourselves, without comparing ourselves with others, when we lovingly support one another (Gal 6:4). Both poor and rich believers -- for very different reasons -- can take pride in their new position in the faith (Jas 1:9–10).

Pride as a self-exalting attitude is wrong. But God wants us to take a healthy pride, and to find joy, in what he is doing in our lives. As arrogance, pride is a source of sin, for only the humility that keeps us responsive to the Lord and his Word is appropriate in our relationship with the one who is truly the living God.

- Lawrence O. Richards [ref] (condensed/extracted from longer article)

Also see: 10 Ways to Recognize Our Arrogance


1 TIMOTHY 3:7 - Overseers: A Reputation Above Reproach (vv. 1-7)

a good reputation with those outside (the church) (1 Timothy 3:7)
The word for "reputation" (Greek martyria) is closely related to our word "martyr," and "a good reputation" is "an excellent testimony." [ref]

"Paul’s thought here seems to be that church leaders, as representatives of the congregation, are constantly susceptible to the snares of the devil (cf. 2 Tmothy 2:26). Satan likes nothing better than to disgrace God’s work and God’s people by trapping church leaders in sin before a watching world. It is important therefore that overseers achieve and maintain a good reputation before unbelievers." [ref]

Those "outside the church should speak well of those who would lead in the church. The good reputation with outsiders that Paul required is realized when Christians act as dependable friends and good neighbors. How we carry out our duties as citizens, neighbors, and friends facilitates or frustrates our ability to communicate the gospel. ... As the church carries out its mission in an increasingly secular world, the church needs those who build bridges with unbelievers in order to bring them the gospel." [ref]

This testimony from outsiders would not include how a candidate lived prior to coming to Christ. If it did, not even Paul himself would be qualified. [ref]

reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:7)
Satan invented the politics of personal destruction. "That is, in his malicious eagerness to discredit the gospel, the devil does his best to discredit the ministers of the gospel. It is an old trick with a long history. The devil has used it for centuries; it remains an effective stratagem today." [ref]

"[T]o fall into the devil’s snare = into his deadly power like an animal that is caught and then killed." [ref]

We need to remember that "[l]eading a congregation is not like managing a business or holding public office. The Adversary doesn't care whether someone grows rich or powerful [in a business or in public office], but he does try with all his might to thwart the spread of the Good News and the advance of the Kingdom. For this reason his trap is ever set to disgrace those who are committed to doing God's work." [ref]


*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. ( | **This outline is from The Bible Exposition Commentary, by Warren W. Wiersbe