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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.


  1. 3:16 Some manuscripts read “God.”

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