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1 Timothy 3:1-7

1 “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, skillful in teaching, 3 not overindulging in wine, not a bully, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.”

Verse 1: The word overseer is also sometimes translated as bishop or elder. Paul is affirming the desire to be a leader within the church. The key is choosing people who are stable in Christ and anchored in the gospel of grace. If people are not established in Christ, then selfish ambition can surface. So, elders or overseers ought to be people who are safe and healthy. This verse highlights that aspiring to be an overseer or leader in the church is a noble task. It is a calling that should be approached with reverence and a desire to serve others.

Verse 2: Paul warns against choosing elders whose lifestyles are conducive to accusations from the congregation. Those who lack self-control or love ought to first focus on better understanding the gospel of grace before taking the office of an overseer. These qualities describe the character of an overseer. They should live in a manner that is blameless and free from major moral failings. They should be faithful in their marriage, exhibit self-control, and be respectable and hospitable. Additionally, they should be able to teach, as they are called to guide and instruct others in the faith.

Verse 3: Leaders should avoid behaviors that are contrary to their new hearts. They should not be given to drunkenness or violence, but instead should exhibit gentleness and avoid quarrels. 

Verse 4: Paul is talking about the lifespan of raising children. This is not a prescription for perfect parenting but rather expressing the need for elders to be people who invest in their families first. Elders need to be responsible people and if they do not show responsibility for their own family, then they will not do so for the church.

Verse 5: This verse emphasizes the connection between leadership within the family and leadership within the church. If someone is unable to effectively lead and care for their own family, it raises questions about their ability to lead and care for the church.

Verse 6: Paul is not speaking about age here. Rather, he is speaking of choosing mature Christians to be elders. Otherwise, if a believer is selected too early, then they may develop a prideful attitude because of their position in the church. Those with pride can be condemned easily by the devil should they fall into moral failure.

Verse 7: Elders ought to have good reputations in the church and community which arise out of their trust and dependence on Christ. It would be unwise to choose an elder who is abrasive towards outsiders. This would likely repel people from the gospel.

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