I Timothy 3 Part 2
New King James Version 3. not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous;
The Resultant Version 3. Not parallel with wine, not a striker, not greedy of money, but lenient, not a brawler, not a lover of money,
Now we have three negative criteria, or things an over-watcher should not be. First is not “given to wine.” The Greek word is paroinos. The first part of this word is para, from which we get our idea of “parallel lines.” Parallel lines are lines that are beside each other. The idea is that if you drew the lines out as long as you could in either direction, they would never intersect. In other words, the lines are truly beside one another. The one who is paroinos then is always beside wine or parallel with wine.
I was at the home of some friends once and was looking over the pictures they had on their walls of their son and daughter-in-law. As I looked at this set of pictures, I noticed that in these pictures their daughter-in-law, in every one of them, was holding a can of beer. While it was not that large a set of pictures and so I could not tell for certain that it meant anything, this did not seem like a very good sign to me. If these pictures were any indication, this woman was often beside alcohol.
The question is: are you the kind of person who might always be found with an alcoholic drink in his hand? This is not the way an over-watcher should be, and this is not the way a follower of Jesus Christ in general should be. We are not in line with those who indulge in alcohol. We are not to be paroinos.
Next we have “not violent,” or “not a striker.” The idea of plektes is of a bruiser, or one who is always ready to throw a punch. Certainly such violent tendencies would be a bad influence on those being watched over. It can also mean one who is always ready for a quarrel or who is eager for an argument. An over-watcher is to help his fellows, not get into a fist fight with them. Therefore, Paul urges that an over-watcher should not be a striker or a bruiser.
Next he proclaims that an over-watcher should not be greedy for money. The Greek aischrokerdes has to do with being eager for dishonorable gain. We can easily see that it would be bad for one who was greedy for dishonest gain to have the task of over-watching the believers. Such a person might well watch over people for the motive of his own personal gain, rather than for the motive of the good of those he is watching over. He might act to favor the rich and those from whom he could benefit over the poor and those whom he sees no gain in benefiting. Such a person would not make a Godly over-watcher.
Instead of people greedy of money, an overwatcher should be gentle. The Greek word is epieikes. The basic word is eikos, which speaks of that which is reasonable, with epi prefixed to it. It seems to indicate gentleness and mildness, or, as The Resultant Version has it, “lenient.” Certainly one who was given to wine, violent, and eager for dishonest gain would not be very fair, lenient, or gentle with those whom he is tasked with over-watching. Yet lenience would be necessary for one who was to over-watch over his brothers and sisters who in Christ are saved by His grace.
Returning to negative criteria, an over-watcher should not be quarrelsome. The Greek word is amachos, and speaks of one who abstains from fights or quarrels. This seems quite similar to “not violent” that we had earlier in the verse, and Paul may be making use of repetition for emphasis, which is common in the pages of Scripture. Those who are always ready to get involved in an argument are generally more interested in winning the argument, or at least in enjoying engaging in the argument, than they are in helping the person they are arguing with. Yet the whole idea of an over-watcher is that he is going to help those he is watching over. This does not fit with an argumentative type of person. Therefore, an over-watcher should not be a quarrelsome person.
The final criteria in this verse is that an over-watcher not be covetous. This is not the typical word for “covetous,” however. The Greek is aphilarguros, which means not a lover of money. The word for “love” here is from the Greek phile, which is a friendship love or a fondness. The word arguros literally means “silver,” though since silver was a common metal used in money of that day, “lover of money” is probably a better translation than “lover of silver.” So this is telling us that an over-watcher should not be fond of (or love) money (or silver). This is again very similar to “not greedy of money” or “not eager for dishonest gain,” which we had earlier in the verse. Again, God is repeating these things for emphasis. In an over-watcher, these things are very important!
New King James Version 4. one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence
The Resultant Version 4. One who controls well his own house, having his children in subjection with all seriousness,
An over-watcher needs to be one who controls well his own household. The idea of the Greek word for “rules,” proistemi, is not so much of ruling as it is of controlling or piloting. It also can speak of giving proper attention to a thing, caring for a thing, or acting as a protector for a thing. This only makes sense. If a man does not have his own family in good order, how in the world is he going to watch over others in order to help them have their families in order? His failure in his own family is a clear indication that his own ideas and ways of doing things are not successful. Why go to an incompetent person for advice? Find a competent one, one who has an obvious example of success in his own affairs, and you might well find one who can help you in yours. Thus Paul insists that only one who has his own family in good order should have the position of watching over the families and lives of his fellow believers.
This also speaks of him having his children in subjection with all seriousness. A parent whose children are out of control has done something wrong somewhere. Such a person is not the one to go to for advice on raising children. In our country, many children of the 1960s with their rebellious spirit decided that parents should not discipline their children, for this would risk squelching their personalities. While some parents are too regimented and strict with their children, this overreaction led to children who were out of control and ultimately unhappy. A parent who fails to discipline and therefore has children who are not in subjection is a good example of someone who should not be followed due to the failure of his ideas in his own life and family.
This subjection should be obtained with all seriousness. The idea is not that his children should not be able to play, be happy, and have fun. Of course such things are important for children. Yet a child does need to take his father and his parents seriously. A parent who does not have the serious respect of his children has not demanded it of them as he should have done. Children should have fun with their parents at times, but they should know when their parents are serious that they must be listened to and respected. If parents do not enforce this, if they fail to have the serious respect of their children, then they are not the sort of people who should seek to over-watch others and have their advice to them respected.
New King James Version 5. (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?);
The Resultant Version 5. Because if a man does not know how to control his own house, how shall he take care of the outcalled of God?
The Lord offers justification of His previous statement here. He explains that if a man does not know how to control his own household, how shall he know how to take care of the out-called of God?
Here we come upon this word “church” in the New King James Version. The Greek word is ekklesia, and is the equivalent of the Hebrew word qahal. This word has to do either with a company marked out by or for some specific thing, or with an out-positioned company of representative leaders. In the epistles, it can refer to all those who are marked out by their faith in Jesus Christ, or it can refer to those who are positioned out of the rest of the believers as leaders. The question arises, then, if this over-watcher was watching over the leaders among the believers, or whether he was watching over the common, everyday believer?
This is a difficult question to answer. Some have suggested that this role of the over-watcher was based on the position of ruler of the synagogue among the Jews. If so, then he was the one tasked with seeing that decorum was kept and all the proper rules were followed within the synagogue. Since a synagogue was a community center, this would give him power over leadership in the community. Since this assertion cannot be confirmed, however, we cannot say for certain that this was indeed the over-watcher’s role. Yet it would seem likely that he did have the task of watching over all his fellow believers, whether they were leaders like himself, or whether they were believers without a leadership position.
The word for “rule” is again proistemi, indicating to control or pilot. The word for “take care,” epimeleomai, is the same word used of the “good Samaritan” taking care of the wounded man by the roadside. This man had been beset upon by enemies, and was in a helpless and wounded condition. How often will a leader among believers come upon one of his fellows in much the same condition! God’s people are often subject to attacks by the enemy, and whether due to ignorance or false teaching they are left helpless by his assault. An over-watcher is tasked with taking care of such people. Yet how could he do this with the ekklesia of God if he has not proven himself able to do it with his own household?
New King James Version 6. not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.
The Resultant Version 6. Not a beginner, lest being conceited he fall into the judgment of the devil.
The next criteria for being an over-watcher is that one not be a beginner. This means that he should not be a new believer. This has nothing to do with age. It is one thing when one comes to faith in Christ at a very young age, as I myself did. However, some people first come to faith in Christ when they are already adults. Some of such people might be very accomplished people from before they came to faith. Perhaps they are leaders in the community, perhaps they are entrepreneurs who have built their own company, perhaps they are very successful doctors or lawyers, and so forth. Such people are naturally used to taking leadership, and it might seem natural for them to immediately step into leadership roles among the community of believers whom they have recently joined.
Such a rapid advancement of someone with many qualifications and worldly credentials is contrary to what God commands here. It does not matter that such a young believer has management or leadership experience in the world. God is not looking for qualified leaders according to the world’s qualifications. The fact is that in the things of God, such a person is still a beginner. If he, then, becomes an over-watcher of other people, where is he going to lead them? What experience is he going to draw on for telling them what God would have them to do or for guiding them how to live? Such people are beginners, and have nothing to offer when it comes to over-watching. They are ones who need over-watching themselves. They are not capable of properly over-watching others. Their worldly accomplishments mean nothing regarding the things of God. They need to become experienced in the things of God before they will ever be qualified to lead.
Paul does not leave it at this, but explains the danger if a beginner is promoted to a position of leadership and over-watching. He may well become lifted up with pride. The word tuphoo can also mean that he is blinded by pride. It can mean he is besotted or made foolish by pride. Most accomplished people, we would assume, are proud of their accomplishments. This pride may be appropriate enough in the worldly things they have accomplished, but it is not appropriate for them to carry over into their newfound faith in Christ. If they quickly become leaders and are lifted up by pride in what they imagine they have accomplished as over-watchers, they might well become entirely blinded to the fact that what they have actually accomplished is very little, and that their supposed accomplishments in leading their fellow believers have not at all taken them down the right path. Yet accustomed to success, they will be blinded to their inadequacy to serve God in their own power, and will be blinded to the futility of their own efforts. For this reason, a new believer should not be given a position of over-watching, a position for which he is not at all ready.
Being lifted up with pride, the new believer thus promoted to leadership will quite naturally fall into the judgment of the devil. This does not mean that he will receive the same condemnation that the devil does, as it would seem to indicate in English. We know that the devil’s original sin was pride, and so the novice would be emulating him in this. Yet the meaning of this would seem to be that he would fall into judging with the devil’s judgments. The idea of “judgment” in the Bible is of determining what is right, and then setting things right according to that determination. The devil has set up this world a certain way as he sees fit. He makes certain judgments about the way things should be and should operate, and this world is largely set up according to those judgments of the devil. The new believer in a position of over-watching is likely to know these judgments of the devil far better than he knows the judgments of God as they are set forth in His Word. A new believer over-watching others, then, and acting in pride is almost certain to fall into the judgment of the devil and start setting things up according to the devil’s way of doing things.
We can see a perfect example of this in the way the so-called “church fathers” set up the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. They came to Christ and probably did so sincerely, yet their minds and hearts were filled with ideas they had inherited from paganism. They knew little of the Word of God. Therefore, their judgments were largely the devil’s judgments, and not those of God. Acting from what they knew, they set up the so-called “Christian Church” according to pagan ideas and ways of doing things. The religion they created was according to the judgment of the devil, and was not in line with the way that the Word of God would judge things to be. Those originators of the “Christian Church,” then, are excellent examples of what can happen when one who is new to the works and ways of God is put into leadership. He can mess things up according to the judgments of the devil. Sadly, many of these judgments are still followed by many in so-called “Christianity.” Therefore, we should learn this important lesson: not to allow a new believer to have the role of an over-watcher.
New King James Version 7. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
The Resultant Version 7. But also he must have a good report of them who are without, let he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
The over-watcher also must have a good testimony among those who are outside. These would be those who are not among the believers. The word “testimony” is also the word for a “witness.” Basically this is saying he should have a good reputation. If he instead has a poor reputation among those who are not believers, he might well fall into reproach. What would the outsiders think when they learned that a man with a poor reputation among them was given an important leadership role among the believers? Would this not cause them to reproach not only him but all the believers as well, along with their Lord? This might also lead him into the snare of the devil.
It is clear here that this means the devil’s snare, and not the same snare that trapped the devil. The Greek is more or less parallel with the last verse, and so this clearly shows us that it is the devil’s judgments, not the judgment that falls on the devil, that was meant there.
What the trap of the devil might be here is not overly plain, but it is clear that it would have to do with him being a leader among the believers when he has a bad reputation among those outside. Perhaps the trap would be that that reputation might follow him into the group of believers as well and lead to mistrust and division among them.
The trap could also be that he give in to the very human tendency to live down to a bad reputation. I had a friend in junior high and high school who was a very nice young man, but since he was a large person and a strong farm boy, everyone expected him to be a tough guy. I never believed that that was actually his temperament at all, but I watched him struggle with wanting to live down to what people expected him to be. Another time I was friends with a Godly young lady who was very good looking. I think simply because she was unusually attractive people expected her to be a flirt, and they were constantly accusing her of that. She shared this fact with me with some consternation, asserting that she did not believe she was a flirt. My advice to her was to ignore what they were saying, and to be very careful not to live down to their expectations. This can be a very easy thing to do. When people expect you to be something that you could be but would rather not, it can be very easy to fall to the temptation to be that thing since everyone already believes you to be it anyway. Such a tendency could trap even a well-meaning and sincere believer who wanted to be an over-watcher, if indeed he had a bad reputation among those outside. Thus Paul advises them simply not to give the over-watching position to such a person.