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Leaders in the Church

If any of you[a] aspires to be an overseer[b] in the church; you have set your heart toward a noble ambition, for the word is true! Yet an elder needs to be one who is without blame before others.

He should be one whose heart is for his wife alone and not another woman.[c] He should be recognized as one who is sensible, and well-behaved, and living a disciplined life. He should be a “spiritual shepherd” who has the gift of teaching,[d] and is known for his hospitality.

He cannot be a drunkard, or someone who lashes out at others,[e] or argumentative, or someone who simply craves more money,[f] but instead, recognized by his gentleness.

His heart should be set on guiding his household with wisdom and dignity;[g] bringing up his children to worship with devotion and purity. For if he’s unable to properly lead his own household well, how could he properly lead God’s household?

He should not be a new disciple[h] who would be vulnerable to living in the clouds of conceit and fall into pride, making him easy prey for Satan.[i] He should be respected by those who are unbelievers, having a beautiful testimony among them[j] so that he will not fall into the traps of Satan and be disgraced.

And in the same way the deacons[k] must be those who are pure and true to their word, not addicted to wine, or with greedy eyes on the contributions.[l] Instead, they must faithfully embrace the mysteries of faith while keeping a clean conscience. 10 And each of them must be found trustworthy according to these standards before they are given the responsibility to minister as servant-leaders without blame.

11 And the women[m] also who serve the church should be dignified,[n] faithful in all things,[o] having their thoughts set on truth, and not known as those who gossip.

12 A deacon’s heart must be toward his wife alone, leading his children and household with excellence. 13 For those who serve in this way will obtain an honorable reputation[p] for themselves and a greater right to speak boldly in the faith that comes from Jesus Christ!

14 I’m writing all this with the expectation of seeing you soon. 15 But if I’m delayed in coming, you’ll already have these instructions on how to conduct the affairs of the church of the living God, his very household and the supporting pillar and firm foundation of the truth.

The Mystery of Righteousness

16 For the mystery of righteousness is beyond all question![q]
He was revealed as a human being,
    and as our great High Priest in the Spirit![r]
Angels gazed upon him as a man
    and the glorious message of his kingly rulership
    is being preached to the nations!
Many have believed in him
    and he has been taken back to heaven,
    and has ascended into the place of exalted glory
    in the heavenly realm.
Yes, great is this mystery of righteousness!


  1. 3:1 Some translations have “men,” however, the Greek word is not gender specific.
  2. 3:1 There are a number of terms that are synonymous for elder, such as: pastor, shepherd, presbyter, bishop, overseer, or guardian. These all describe the one office of pastor mentioned in Eph. 4:11.
  3. 3:2 This literally means “a one-woman kind of man” or “faithful to your woman [wife],” which implies much more than simply not being a polygamist. It was culturally common for men to have more than one wife or concubines in that era.
  4. 3:2 Or “able to teach.”
  5. 3:3 The Aramaic can be translated “not swift to strike.”
  6. 3:3 The Aramaic can be translated “merciful to money.” Some see in this the concept of not showing favoritism because of someone’s economic status.
  7. 3:4 Literally “beautifully.”
  8. 3:6 The Aramaic can be translated “a new plant,” which implies shallow roots.
  9. 3:6 The Greek literally means “fall into Satan’s court of law.”
  10. 3:7 As translated from the Greek. The Aramaic uses a metaphor, “a beautiful testimony from the wilderness.” This means he has passed through his wilderness journey and is now seen as tested and proven.
  11. 3:8 The Aramaic can be translated “ministers.”
  12. 3:8 Or “corrupt profits.”
  13. 3:11 The word used here can mean “women” or “wives.” This may refer to women deacons. Phoebe is called a deacon in Rom. 16:1.
  14. 3:11 As translated from the Greek, the Aramaic can be translated “modest.”
  15. 3:11 Or “temperate.”
  16. 3:13 Or “a good rank.”
  17. 3:16 This is the only place where this phrase occurs in the New Testament. The “mystery of righteousness” (godliness) is Jesus Christ living within the believer. The word mystery (secret) is found twenty-seven times in the New Testament. We “must faithfully embrace the mysteries of our faith while keeping a clean conscience” (v. 9). Although Paul did speak Greek, his native language was Aramaic, which is difficult to translate into Greek. The Aramaic word used here for mysteries is ‘arza. This is the Aramaic word for a cedar tree. A cedar tree has deep, firm roots. So must our faith be rooted inside these mysteries.
  18. 3:16 As translated by the implication of the Aramaic. The Greek says, “justified in the Spirit.” Although some interpret it to mean his resurrection, that seems indefinite and with little meaning to today’s reader. There is deep and beautiful poetic artistry here in this passage. The word order of the Aramaic lines is convincing that glorious and hidden truths are tucked into these verses; they are full of Jewish word plays and symbolism and read like a poem. Many have concluded that this passage was an ancient hymn sung by the early church. Two different Aramaic words for “righteousness” are used in v. 16. The first word is kanota which is clearly connected to the word for “priest” or kahna. An Aramaic or Hebrew reader would clearly connect this “righteousness” to the priestly ministry. In poetic and perhaps subtle linguistic form, this points us to the High Priest of our faith. The second word used that is most often translated “righteousness” is atzaddaq; the word in the line before used for messenger (angels) is malaka, which is a form of the word for king (malak). To summarize, you have the words “great [high] priest,” “king,” and “righteousness,” which is the name for Melchizedek, (King of Righteousness). Truly, this mystery of righteousness is great!