Thinking Again About 1 Tim. 3:1-7
I always find it interesting how we arrive at our conclusions. Do we take into account the differences of languages. When there is a question do we do some research on the original language. By research I do not mean checking Strong’s (the least accurate ‘dictionary’), but looking in as many Greek-English dictionaries we can and checking to see what various scholars think. Do we consider history and culture of the time? Do we check what the early churches were doing 300-600 years later? Are we on the alert for idioms? Do we consider the differences in Greek thinking and Hebrew thinking of the Biblical era? Or do we just believe our local leaders because they are leaders and should know. Are we open to the possibility that no one may know the answer to our questions for certain because it was 2000 years ago and some things have changed beyond comparison?
1 Tim. 3 starts off with pistos ho logos – faithful is the saying. And continues with ei tis – if anyone (anyone means ANYone, not just men) – episkopE oregO kalos ergon epithumeO - supervision is craving, of ideal work he is desiring.
OK, so the faithful saying (is that referring to a local well known saying, a slogan or colloquialism?) is that anyone who desires to minister in supervision is desiring a good thing. Its ideal work; it may even imply that it speaks well of the person who desires to serve thus. So, if someone wants to serve thus, we should be proud of him/her. They deserve a pat on the back for such servantmindedness. Yet, many today would say that if a woman desired to serve in her church in either supervision or ministry (diakonos = transliterated today as deacon), people assume and infer that she is seeking to grasp power. But Paul specifically said “anyone who desires”. So what do we make of that.
Then we have a list of qualifications for those who are desiring the good work of supervision.
Bruce C.E. Fleming in “Familiar Leadership Heresies Uncovered”, lists the furst 12 qualifications as such:
1. Above reproach – the overarching requirement
2. Faithful spouse – as applicable, some were single
3. Temperate – self-controlled (cf. Titus 2:2,5)
4. Sensible or sober – found here and in 2:9a, 15b.
5. Orderly – also used in 2:9a, 15b
6. Hospitable – a wordless ministry (1 Peter 4:9-11)
7. Apt at teaching – ministry of the word (2 Tim. 2:24)
8. Not excessive drinker – or not quarrelsome over wine
9. Not a striker or not pugnacious or a bully
10. Forbearing or gentle – (Phil. 4:5)
11. Uncontentious or not a brawler – (Titus 3:2)
12. Not-avaricious or no lover of money (Heb. 134:5)
Verses 4-7 are qualities showing spiritual maturity:
1. one who leads, manages, guides own household (proistemi – before standing, leading, presiding)
2. having own children in subjection with gravity
3. not a novice (lest he become puffed up with pride and fall into condemnation)
4. having a good testimony (reputation) among unbelievers (outsiders) so as not to fall into disgrace and a snare of the devil.
If we look at the qualities as a list we see they are a list of inner, spiritual characteristics that every believer should aim for. Even being an apt teacher is something every believer can achieve as they mature in their relationship with the Lord. Let the older brethren minister to the younger, let us look out for one another, etc. is a common theme in Scripture. It is not terribly difficult to look up the meanings of words, do the cross references and see this is a reasonable list we can likely all agree upon with the exception of one phrase in vs. 2.
Interpretively translated as ‘husband of one wife’ in most bibles, the Greek is simply “of one woman, man” – heis gunE anEr. Different church denominations and different nations have interpreted this differently. Some have said it meant one had to be a husband, but it seems to me to be a really circuitous route to say that, plus there is nothing anywhere in the Scriptures that requires one to be married in order to serve the Lord. Another meaning has been that a man must have only one wife versus two or more wives, yet while this is a reasonable requirement for ANY married man, it is not one addressed as such in Scripture elsewhere. Another interpretation is that a husband must have married only once, not divorced and then remarried. This I find very far fetched as there were specific requirements for divorce both before and after Christ and divorce was not considered a stigma against the divorcee. And then we have the interpretation that because it is mentioning a husband, then it must mean that one who wishes to be an overseer must be a man. However, taking that interpretation would also mean tagging all the other ideas of being married, and not twice, and having only one wife versus two or more, along with it. But the direct problem with that interpretation is that it would make Paul first words of “anyone who desires” of non effect. It is my opinion that we should read the Scriptures in such a way as to not “strike out” things in other parts of Scripture. If we understand Scripture correctly, it should not be a matter of striking out or nullifying other parts but of all fitting together in a reasonable manner.
”According to Lucien Deiss (notes to the French
Bible, the TOB, Edition Intégrale, p. 646, note a), this
Greek phrase was used in Asia Minor, on both Jewish
and pagan gravestone inscriptions, to designate a woman
or a man, who was faithful to his or her spouse in a way
characterized by “a particularly fervent conjugal love.”
When I read Deiss’ comment about how this phrase
was used on ancient grave inscriptions in Turkey, where
Paul and Timothy ministered, I confirmed it with him
myself, reaching him by telephone in Vaucresson, France.
Some might find this insight into 1 Timothy 3:2
surprising because modern versions of the Bible
translate this Greek phrase as – “husband of one wife” –
making this qualification appear to be restricted to men
only! Instead, rightly understood, this qualification is
about faithfulness in marriage by a Christian spouse. It is
not saying that oversight is “for men only.”
Think Again about Church Leaders by Bruce C. E. Fleming (Think Again Series)
or pg 128 in ‘Leadership Heresies” http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A3FYPTYWIELEZD”
So, I’m only addressing one question of why some think women cannot be elders or deacons. I’ve shared a few of my reasons why I say that Biblically women can serve in any ministry. My question to you is how do you arrive at your conclusions for this section. How do you take into consideration chapter One and Two. How about chapter Four where Paul is admonishing Timothy not to neglect his gift (11-14). How about chapter Five where Paul speaks of elders (neither male or female) presiding well (proistEmi).
Perhaps, someone can look up proistEmi, episkopE, and presbuteros and tell us what they find.
Please share what you think.
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