The Book of 1 Timothy Bible Study Chapter 3 Part 1

Our first reading for this week is from 1 Timothy 3:1-7

G-d works mightily in this world (since the ascension of Yeshua) through the local ecclesia – the called-out ones (i.e. the church). As believers we have been called out of darkness, this world, and into His glorious light (1 Peter 2:9-12). We are called to be a testimony for G-d’s truth and His work and, in doing so, we bring glory and honour to Him.  

In this chapter, G-d, through Paul, gives us some more instructions (commandments) for the local congregations. 

v1: Faithful saying: This is a trustworthy word. We can depend on it, as it is true and crucial for the well-being of a local congregation.

  • A man: Written in the masculine and therefore not applicable to females. 
  • Bishop: Overseer. Elder. Shepherd. Someone who pastors (looks after) a local congregation/s. 
  • He desires a good work: This is a good thing to desire or aspire to. However, just because he desires this position does not mean that he should be positioned in it. He needs to meet very specific qualifications before he is placed into this position of service. 

v2: Must be: It is absolutely necessaryIt is an absolute that cannot be changed or altered. 

  • Blameless: Beyond reproach. Nothing in his life should stand out in a negative way. He needs to be a man who has an untainted reputation. 
  • The husband of one wife: This is another highly debated topic. Can a divorced man be a pastor? How many divorces would disqualify him from this position? The ‘husband of one wife’ seems to strongly indicate that he should not be a man who has had multiple marriages (two is a multiple). 

Note 1: Would it make a difference for this man if he divorced his wife/wives before he became a Christian? There are no Scriptures that speak into this particular situation. What we do know is that marriage is a covenant. If someone wants to lead a church it is important that he has a reputation of being known as someone who keeps his covenant. If a congregation goes through a tough time, they want to know that their pastor will stick with them through thick and thin, a pastor who won’t flee at signs of trouble and leave them in the lurch. 

Note 2: Priests, in the Old Testament, could not be priests if they married a divorced woman. Very strict rules governed the priests regarding whom they married. (Lev 21:7, 13-14). This was the foundation for the priesthood as set out in the law of Moses. Paul parallels it here. 

  • Temperate: He is never intoxicated with alcohol.
  • Sober-minded: He has a sound mind and can think through things thoroughly – i.e. according to G-d’s Word and instructions. This also means that he does not make rash decisions based on convenience or popular agendas. He seeks to see things from G-d’s perspective and not from his own vantage point. 
  • Of good behaviour: Fitting or appropriate.
  • Hospitable: A lover of strangers. This implies someone who shows hospitality to those who are passing through.
  • Able to teach: A pastor/overseer/shepherd/leader needs to be able to handle G-d’s Word correctly. 

v3: Not given to wine: Alcohol does not rule his life and nor does it influence his decisions in any way whatsoever. 

  • Not greedy for money: He should not be someone who is always looking for ways to make profit from the gospel. 
  • Gentle: Not argumentative. Not prone to conflict or clashing with people. 
  • Not covetous: He is not a lover of money (and by implication, nor the things that money can provide). He is not greedy. If a man’s character is to be covetous, he will begin to rule in a local assembly with a business/profit mindset. He will also be vulnerable to manipulation from the wealthier members of the congregation. 

v4: Rules (his) own house well: He needs to administrate his own home and children well.

  • All reverence: All seriousness. The children need to have a proper respect for their parents and for others. 

v5: Note: Before a man is allowed to lead a church, his home life needs to be investigated. Does he rule his house properly? Do his children show respect to their parents? Do the children exemplify a testimony of faith as well? Is faith of value to the children? 

v6: Not a novice: Not a new or an immature believer. 

  • Puffed up with pride he fall: Pride comes before a fall (Prov 16:18-19).
  • Condemnation: Judgment. Shame, failure and an ungodly testimony will bring contempt upon a local assembly. 

v7: Those who are outside: It is necessary for this man to have a good reputation with unbelievers. Unbelievers need to respect him and see him as a quality individual who is able to lead – someone that they could see serving within a spiritual capacity in a local community. Someone who demonstrates his faith outside of the believing community is a good candidate for this position. 

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