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1 Timothy 3:1-13 – Bishops, Elders, and Deacons

Summary

The author sets forth the qualities required of bishops, elders, and deacons, and he makes some remarks concerning their functions and duties.

Analysis

The offices spoken of here and at 1 Timothy 5:17–21 seem to be in existence already, and so the original readers presumably know what the author is talking about. Concerning the office of bishop (episkopos, meaning “overseer”), the author speaks of qualities of those seeking that office, but does not actually outline the responsibilities of the office. It includes some kind of administrative leadership, since the person is supposed to be able to manage his own household as a prerequisite for his work in the church. There is more specificity for the duties of the presbyter (presbyteros, meaning “elder”). Presbyters have leadership functions of some kind, since at least some of them should be honored because they “rule well,” and some of them teach. There is a “council of elders” or presbytery (presbyterion, which the NRSV translates as “council of elders”) to which the elders belong and is responsible for ordinations (4:14). Whether the bishop belongs to the presbytery is not clear. The office of deacon (diakonos, “minister” or “servant”) appears to be assumed and may have to do primarily with social ministry, but the duties are not elaborated.

1 Timothy 3:1-13

Qualifications of Bishops

3The saying is sure:* whoever aspires to the office of bishop* desires a noble task. 2Now a bishop* must be above reproach, married only once,* temperate, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an apt teacher, 3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way— 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.

Qualifications of Deacons

8 Deacons likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not indulging in much wine, not greedy for money; 9they must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. 11Women* likewise must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12Let deacons be married only once,* and let them manage their children and their households well; 13for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

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10 February 2011

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