Older men must live lives of observable respectability or dignity. To emphasize this, Paul uses language that, as we have seen elsewhere (1:8; 1 Tim 3:2-3), belongs to the constellation of terms borrowed from secular ethicists. Temperate, worthy of respect (or "respectable," "serious") and self-controlled (or "sensible") tend to overlap in meaning. But the implication of a dignified lifestyle that is free from overindulgence, dissipation and foolish behavior in general is clear. As Paul's use of common terms suggests, this lifestyle would be readily recognizable. Christianity does have a mystical, incomprehensible element to it, but its manifestation in life communicates in a language understood by all.
The rest of verse 2 suggests, however, that Christian respectability has a deeper source. What the NIV has interpreted as three additional aspects of acceptable behavior (and sound in faith, in love and in endurance) could, by virtue of the participle "being sound," express instead the cause or means of the behavior described above. For Paul the most basic constituents of Christianity are faith and love (see notes on 1 Tim 2:15): the vertical, personal relationship with God through Christ and the horizontal dimension of "good deeds" characterized by love (compare Gal 5:6). Endurance here speaks of commitment to this life. The more traditional triad was "faith, hope, love" (1 Cor 13:13; Col 1:4-5); but if the situation called for it, endurance might occur as a fourth virtue (1 Thess 1:3) or replace "hope." Given the presence of heresy in these churches, endurance gave this instruction the emphasis on perseverance that Paul wanted to express.
Within the social structure, older men are to be the models of dignity, respectability and wisdom. Paul knew that if this does not hold within the church as well, Christianity cannot hope to compete in the world. At the same time, the language of this instruction suggests that the absence of respectability means divergence from the faith.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
You've successfully created your account! For the best Bible Gateway experience, consider an upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus. For less than the cost of a latte each month, you'll get reduced banner ads and a huge digital Bible study library. Try it free for 30 days!