I Timothy

I Timothy 3:1-7 Qualifications Of An Overseer.

It is not wrong to desire the office of an overseer or bishop (v. 1). Some have also been called who it could be said didn’t desire it. In any case, it is more than an office, it is a good work. Paul’s “faithful saying” is one which we can “take to the bank.” It is even better than gold. However, it is not enough to desire the office, there are certain qualifications which must be met. First of all, a bishop must be blameless. This obviously doesn’t mean sinless-that is a state which will not be reached till we all pass from this life. Blameless means not condoning and thus justifying sinful behaviour, such as suggesting it is perfectly alright to have more than one wife. This does not mean one must be married, as neither Jesus nor Paul were. The context helps define the meaning. Temperate does not mean abstinence, temperate means one who exercises self-restraint or moderation. Being sober-minded means one who is alert to danger, someone who is serious and studious in their thinking (Cf. I Th. 5:6). A bishop must also be one known for their good behaviour and hospitality. A bishop must also be able to teach.

Someone who is sober minded need not abstain from alcohol, but they should practice moderation, “not given to wine” (v. 2). A bishop must not be violent, which should not suggest he would not defend himself if so required. A bishop must not be greedy for money, but this also does not mean that he does not merit being paid for his labour. A bishop must be gentle, but this does not mean he is a doormat or pushover. A bishop is not quarrelsome, but he is called upon to defend the truth. A bishop must not be covetous, but be content with what he has. If he is a husband and father, then he must rule his own house well. “(For if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)” (v. 5) A bishop must not be a novice, which has less to do with chronological age than with how long and rigorous one has been in the faith. Finally, a bishop must have a good reputation among those outside the church, which is not to say that like Paul he may not have some enemies. This echoes the need to be blameless. Sinful pride is the devil’s snare.

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