About Jesus Steve Sweetman
1 Timothy 3
Overseers And Deacons (ch. 3:1 - 16)
opens chapter 3 by saying for the second time that “this is a
Once again, remember that he is writing this instructive letter to
Timothy so he will know how to carry out his duties in
have suggested with some validity that there may have well been two
different formats for the church.
They were the Jewish format promoted by men like James and the
Gentile format promoted by Paul. It
appears that James might have been a one man leader in the church in
tend to think that there was a transitional period of time where the
church moved from a specific style of Jewish leadership, as in the high
priest being in charge, to more of an elder based style.
This elder based style was in effect in the
also that Paul says that if you desire to be one of these overseers, you
desire a good “task”.
This is in striking contrast to the KJV that says if you desire
“the office of a bishop…”
The word office cannot be found in the original Greek.
This phrase in the KJV was most likely translated this way for
It has been suggested that this is what King James wanted since the
“office” was very important.
But Paul does not speak in terms of an “office of overseers”.
He speaks in terms of the “task” of overseers.
The emphasis is actually on doing the job of an overseer, not
merely holding an office.
Just because you have the title of pastor, or you hold the office
of pastor, does not mean you are a real pastor as Paul would view it.
Paul is not interested in the office of a pastor or overseer but
doing the work of a pastor or an overseer.
that Paul says that "if anyone sets his heart…"
The task of overseeing is a matter of the heart.
It is not a career choice as is the case with many pastors today.
A real pastor cares for God's people as a loving father cares for
One should not be a pastor without this heart-felt caring for God's
Paul says that if you want to do the work of an overseer, then you want to
do a good thing.
Yet merely having the desire to be an overseer is not sufficient
are certain qualities you must possess in order to be an overseer.
verses 2 and 3 Paul states these qualities. The first quality is being
This means that your life must be seen as holy and Godly by those
you are serving.
Nobody should be able to say that you are doing wrong and be able
to prove it.
Paul says that “he” must be the husband of one wife”.
I believe that this means one wife at a time, not one wife in a
lifetime. The reason for this is because an overseer must be a faithful
he is not faithful to his wife, then he can’t be trusted to care for the
might be another reason for Paul saying that an overseer must be the
husband of one wife and that is in the Roman world in which these
Christians lived, polygamy was a well established practice.
This would have been a problem as it is for missionaries today in
certain parts of the world.
What should a man do when he becomes a Christian when he has more
than one wife and children born from these wives?
The Scriptural norm is for a man to have just one wife, but how
does he express agape love to all of his wives.
Should he divorce all but one wife?
What would happen to these women if he did that?
They would be in a very bad way. It might be possible that these
men kept their wives, but since they had more than one wife, which would
be unbiblical, then they couldn't be an overseer.
goes on to say that an overseer must be “temperate (not excessive in all
you do), self controlled (able to control yourself and have nothing
control you), respectable (hold the trust of those you serve), hospitable
(friendly, welcoming others into your personal space), able to teach
(teaching being very important in leading a church), not given to
drunkenness (Greek, not given to excessive drinking, suggesting that it is
okay to drink, but not to get drunk), not violent but gentle (a certain
measure of gentleness should be the mark of a mature Christian), not
quarrelsome (like the false teachers who like to argue, causing
divisions), not a lover of money (money should not be the reason why you
want to be an overseer, you should want to serve).
4 says, “He must manage his own family well and see that his children
obey him with proper respect”.
Why is this important?
Because if anyone cannot manage his household, how can he manage,
or care for the church.
Like the family, the church itself is a family.
Being an overseer is similar to being a father.
There are characteristics in both tasks that are the same. Thus an
overseer must be a good father.
verse 6 Paul says that he must not be a “recent convert” so he will
not be overtaken by pride and ‘conceit”.
Being an overseer is a visible position in the church and it is
clear that over the centuries that pride has crept in and destroyed not
only the overseer but the church as well.
One must remember that an overseer is a servant, not a lord.
Paul uses some strong language on this point.
If one gets overtaken by pride then “he will fall into the same
judgment as the devil”.
How many so-called Christian leaders will be thus judged in the
same way the devil is judged?
This should be a serious reminder to all who are in leadership in
also says that “he must also have a good reputation with outsiders”.
"Outsiders" mean those who are not part of the church.
Not only should Christians respect him, but outsiders should
respect him as well.
If outsiders do not respect him because of the offense of the
gospel, that is okay, but they should not have occasion to bring true
The gospel should be offense enough.
People should not have to be offended by the way we preach or share
specific reason why Paul wants overseers to be respected by outsiders is
so that “they will not fall into disgrace and the trap of the devil”.
For one who has authority over the devil, Paul is still concerned
that people behave properly so that they will not fall under his influence
or be trapped by him.
He can only trap us, if we let him. We have seen Christian leaders
over the years fall into such a trap and have been disgraced before the
whole world. With
today's media who jump on every fallen pastor, this is more important than
some parts of Evangelicalism today, the devil is not spoken of much.
I don't suggest that we should talk about him, but we can't ignore
is a living reality, but we're not always treating him in that way.
are two main Greek words that are translated as “servant” in the New
They are “doulous” and “diakanos”.
“Diakonos” means a bond servant, that is a servant by choice.
The word relates more to the master the person is serving than the
job he is doing.
“Diakonos” means a servant as well, but is more related to the
task of serving than to any individual.
Paul often calls himself a “doulos”, a servant of Jesus by
in verse 8 we see the English word “deacons”.
The Greek word that it comes from is “diakonos”, meaning a
servant, relating to a task, not a person.
Paul lists the qualities that a deacon should have in the next few
are similar to that of the overseers.
Therefore by definition, a deacon is one who serves.
Acts 6 we see the apostles being overworked and they decided that the
local church should pick 7 men full of the Holy Spirit to distribute food
to the poor saints, and to do other such work.
The apostles felt that they did not have the time to do these jobs
as well as preach the gospel.
Although the text in Acts 6 does not call these men deacons, it
appears by what they were doing they were deacons.
says that these men should be worthy of respect (they should live a life
that would make people think well of them), sincere (take their faith and
work seriously), not indulging in much wine (could drink some but not to
get drunk), not pursuing dishonest gain (not being greedy for money and
trying to get it in wrong fashion), must keep hold of the deep truths of
the faith with a clear conscience (a love for the truth with a conscience
that cannot tell him he is doing wrong).
verse 10 Paul goes on to say that “they must first be tested and if
there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons”.
What kind of test these men had to go through, we don’t know.
Probably Paul left that up to the individual church or to Timothy.
The point is that these men had to be counted worthy by some
standard in order to serve the church.
verse 11 we note that wives of deacons must behave as women of the Lord.
They too must have similar qualities as their husbands, because
they reflect him in his ministry, and possibly even help him.
a deacon’s family, like overseers, they had to be a husband of one wife,
who was properly submitted to him. His children had to respect him as
again, caring for the church is similar to caring for a family.
for a family is a requirement for both overseers and deacons, therefore I
would think that job of these duties would have to be done by a married
is something that I believe the Catholic Church as really gone astray on.
I don't see the idea of priest being single as being Biblical.
I am speaking here of elders, those who care for those in the local
would have preferred people to be single in order to devote their time
more to Jesus and not to a family.
He says this in 1 Cor. 7, but I think his words here give an
exception to what he said in 1 Cor. 7.
verse 14 Paul wanted to come and visit with Timothy, but in case he is
delayed he says that he is writing these instructions for him to put into
practice in “God’s household, which is the church of the living God,
the pillar and foundation of the truth”.
For many reasons the church in our society is not looked upon with
Much of that is due to our own doing.
Yet in reality, the church is supposed to be the "pillar and
foundation of truth” in the world.
That is not the case in our day.
It may have been the case in times past, when people looked to the
church for their education, as well as other things.
the Old Testament the tabernacle and the temple were the centre of Jewish
The same is meant to be true of the church.
The church should be the centre of our culture, which would include
such things as education, the arts, health care, morals, and so on.
When I use the word "church" here, I'm not speaking of a
denomination, or a building. I'm speaking of people, a community of people
properly and Biblically relating and working with each other in the
service of our Lord.
the word "household" in verse 15.
The church is God's family.
We are God's children.
We belong to Him.
Therefore we should obey Him in matters of church life.
We should follow His instructions, but for the most part we don't.
Another thing to note concerning this, I often hear pastors calling
those in the church "his people".
The people belong to God, not to the pastor.
The pastor only works on behalf of God to care for God's people.
closes this chapter in verse 16 with some very lofty words about Jesus.
He says, “Beyond all question (beyond any shadow of a doubt), the
mystery of godliness is great; He (Jesus) appeared in a body, was
vindicated (approved) by the Spirit (because of his signs and wonders),
was seen by angels (as He lived His life out on earth), was preached among
the nations (both by Himself and His apostles), was believed on in the
world, was taken up into glory (the ascension).
You can certainly see by these words how Paul viewed Jesus.
Jesus was very personal to Paul.
He had a very high esteem for Him, and came from the deepest depths
of his heart.
phrase "He (God) appeared in a body" is extremely important.
This speaks to the Deity of Christ.
Jesus being God is the most fundamental truth that Christians
should hold dear to their hearts. If
Jesus is not God in a human body, then for many reasons, our Christian
faith is in vain.