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1 Timothy 3English Standard Version (ESV)

Qualifications for Overseers

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer[a] must be above reproach, the husband of one wife,[b] sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Qualifications for Deacons

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued,[c] not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise[d] must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The Mystery of Godliness

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He[e] was manifested in the flesh,
    vindicated[f] by the Spirit,[g]
        seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
    believed on in the world,
        taken up in glory.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Timothy 3:2 Or bishop; Greek episkopos; a similar term occurs in verse 1
  2. 1 Timothy 3:2 Or a man of one woman; also verse 12
  3. 1 Timothy 3:8 Or devious in speech
  4. 1 Timothy 3:11 Or Wives likewise, or Women likewise
  5. 1 Timothy 3:16 Greek Who; some manuscripts God; others Which
  6. 1 Timothy 3:16 Or justified
  7. 1 Timothy 3:16 Or vindicated in spirit
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

1 Timothy 3The Voice (VOICE)

People are more concerned about their outward appearance than their inner beauty. Paul wants women to pursue the right kind of beauty, the beauty of an inner life fashioned after godliness. That includes proper respect for their husbands, a willingness to learn the truth, and—unlike Eve—avoiding enticing claims. Paul then turns to childbirth. Childbirth is a particularly precarious time in the life of a woman; in that day, many women died trying to deliver their babies. While Paul is not promising lack of pain or assurance of safety in childbirth, he is speaking of God’s faithfulness and spiritual rewards to those women who live in faith, love, and holiness, supporting the family and the church in which God places them.

Here’s another statement you may trust: if anyone is seeking a position as overseer in the church, he desires an honorable and important work. Here are the qualifications to look for in an overseer: a spotless reputation, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, sensible, respectable, welcoming to strangers (allowing them into his home), and gifted to teach. Disqualify any drunk or violent man. Look for a gentle man; no belligerent fellow can follow this calling. And he should be free from money lust. He should exert good control over his own household, and his children should obey and honor him. (If someone can’t manage his own household, then how can he take care of God’s family?) He mustn’t be someone recently converted; otherwise, he may become arrogant and fall into the devil’s condemnation. He should also be respected for his character and known as an honorable person by people outside of the church so as to avoid the trips, traps, and pitfalls of the devil.

The same standards apply to deacons: they should be dignified. Double-talking hypocrites, heavy drinkers, and those greedy for ill-gotten gain should not be considered. They should be people who hold tight to the great mystery of faith with a clear conscience. 10 Put these deacon-candidates to the test first; and if they come through without stumbling, then send them out to serve.

11 Again the same applies to women in key positions; they should also be dignified, not backstabbing gossips but self-controlled and faithful to the core.

12 Now deacons should live faithfully as the husband of one wife and be in control of their households, including their children. 13 Those deacons who serve well will achieve a good standing for themselves in the community and have great confidence to walk in the faith that is in Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King.

If the church lacks qualified, positive leaders, then it will not succeed in its mission. Paul never provides a job description for “overseers” and “deacons.” What he does offer is a list of character traits or qualifications that challenge even the most outstanding disciple. Essentially they are servant-leaders of the church. They give themselves to the church’s well-being by teaching the truth, living a life in imitation of Jesus, and defending the church from false teaching. Paul knows firsthand how important it is to discover, train, and empower capable leaders. Everywhere he goes, he invests a lot of himself in coworkers like Timothy. Now it is Timothy’s turn to train the next generation.

14 I am writing all this to you, hoping I can come to you before too long; 15 but in case I am delayed, you will know how one ought to behave as a member of God’s family—the assembly of the living God, the pillar and foundation that support the truth— 16 and I think you will agree that the mystery of godliness is great:

He[a] was revealed in the flesh,
    proven right in the Spirit;
He was seen by the heavenly messengers,
    preached to outsider nations.
He was believed in the world,
    taken up to the heavens in glory.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:16 Some manuscripts read “God.”
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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