1 Timothy 3:3

Thursday, 7 December 2017

…not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 1 Timothy 3:3

Paul’s list of qualifications for those in a leadership position within the church continues now. He says that they are not to be “given to wine.” The single Greek word so translated is used just twice – in 1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7. It signifies one addicted to wine; a drunk. It comes from two words indicating “near” and “wine.” Thus it is someone who is always consumed with drinking wine.

Next he says a leader should be “not violent.” This is again used only in 1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 1:7. It signifies a brawler or a contentious person. This person would be quarrelsome, and one who prefers using his fists to settle a disagreement. It would be wholly unsuited to the position of an overseer to come out of the pulpit and beat up everyone in the church who disagrees on doctrinal matters.

After this, Paul says he shouldn’t be “greedy for money.” These words are left out of many manuscripts, but whether it is an erroneous insert or mistakenly left out, it is something which is important for leaders in the church to be aware of and stay away from. Those greedy for money have their priorities in the wrong place from the start. Paul’s example of working with his hands is an important lesson for all, especially those who are called to lead in the church. There is to be more, not less, output from leaders. And the output should be because of a love of Christ, and a love of those who are pursuing Christ. If money is the objective, then this will never be the case. As Christ said, “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

Instead of these things, Paul next says, “but.” A contrast is now made to those things. First in his contrasts is that the overseer is to be “gentle.” The word properly means “equitable.” It signifies “‘gentle’ in the sense of truly fair by relaxing overly strict standards in order to keep the ‘spirit of the law’” (HELPS Word Studies).

Along with that, he is to be “not quarrelsome.” It is a single word in the Greek which is again used only here and in Titus. It gives the sense of “peaceable.” He is to abstain from fighting and not be contentious.

Paul’s list for this verse finishes with “not covetous.” This is another single compound word with signifies “not fond of silver.” Silver is used in the sense of financial gain. Thus, the leader is to not be one who is materialistic or dominated by the thought of getting rich. If an overseer understands the heavenly rewards of his work, then earthly gain will have far less importance to him. The word is used just one more time in the Bible, in Hebrews 13:5. There it is applied to all believers, not just leaders. How much more then should leaders display this attitude.

Life application: Look at those who are in church leadership positions, and evaluate them based on the words of Paul. If you see a defect in the conduct of such a leader, it should be addressed and corrected. If the disobedient behavior continues, either he will have to go, or you should find a new place to worship.

Lord God, be with our church leaders, and help them to apply to their lives an attitude which is appropriate to their position. Keep them from harmful temptations which arise, and keep their hearts free from all things which could cause division or distraction. It is a tempting, frustrating, difficult world in which we live. And so how much more so for our leaders who face a daily onslaught of attacks by the devil. Protect them and defend them, O God. Amen.

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