Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Who Is Qualified to Be a Deacon? A Careful Analysis of 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (Part 2 of 3)

Deacons are “… not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless” (1 Tim. 3:8b-10).
The requisite “not greedy for dishonest gain” combines mē (“not”) and the adj. aischrokerdēs, also rendered “not greedy for money” (CSB, NKJV) or “fond of sordid gain” (NASB). The only other usage of this expression in the NT is in Tit. 1:7 as a qualification for the eldership, thus comparable to “not a lover of money” in 1 Tim. 3:3.1 Beyond his example, this is particularly relevant when a deacon is responsible for and/or has access to the finances of the church (cp. Matt. 6:21; John 12:6).
The word “hold” is translated from échontas, the present active participial form of écho, denoting a persistent “holding” (cp. 1:19). As a major emphasis of the epistle, “the mystery [mustērion]2 of the faith” is another way of referencing “the [system of] faith” (1:2, 19b; 3:13; 4:1, 3, 6; 5:8; 6:10, 12, 21), “the gospel” (1:11), “sound doctrine” (1:10; 4:6; 6:1, 3), “the truth” (2:4, 7; 3:15; 6:6). Yet the “holding” is insufficient without “a clear conscience” (cf. 1:5, 19; 2 Tim. 1:13). While a deacon’s observable behavior is of utmost importance, “it was absolutely necessary for one occupying such a post to know something of the deeper spiritual life .… the true deacon, whose office it was rather to administer than to preach to the people, must also be especially careful to show that he lived the life he professed to teach …”3  
The provision to “be tested” to “prove themselves” is probably little more than the church observing and identifying those in their midst already active in serving and exhibiting these qualities.4 The adj. “blameless” [anégklētos],5 “beyond reproach” (NASB), “nothing against them” (NIV), is also expected of an overseer (Tit. 1:6, 7) and therefore synonymous with anepílēptos (1 Tim. 3:2). The difference between elders and deacons is role and responsibility but not character. No serious criticism can be validated against them. If prospective deacons pass the test, let them serve as deacons,” the verbal diakonéō descriptive of rendering service but not necessarily leading the church (v. 13; cf. Acts 6:2; Heb. 6:10; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).
Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things” (1 Tim. 3:11). 
On the adv. “likewise” [hōsaútōs], see comments on v. 8a. The first question is whether gunaîkas here refers to women in general, women assisting deacons, female deacons,6 or wives of deacons. While all Christian women ought to exemplify these stipulated characteristics (cf. 2:9-15; 5:5-10),7 the immediate context concerns men serving in the official capacity as congregational deacons, one of the requisites being “the husband of one wife” (v. 12). Contextually, therefore, this seems to be an instructive prelude to affirming that deacons not only have to be married but married to the right kind of spouses. God created marriage as a partnership (Gen. 2:18, 24), and a woman who supports her husband in ministry is a great blessing, especially when ministering to families and lone females. By including this brief segment in the discussion, Paul provides “a reasonable basis for evaluating whether a man under consideration for a leadership role will have the support needed to effectively discharge his duties …. The opposite qualities would hinder her husband’s ministry and limit his influence…”8
These women are to be “dignified,” the adj. semnós also rendered “reverent” (NKJV) and “worthy of respect” (CSB, NIV), a quality required of their husbands as well (v. 8).9 Like older women in the church (Tit. 2:3), they are “not” [] to be “slanderers,” the plural form of diábolos, used of the “devil” in vv. 6-7 and elsewhere in the NT. In the plural the adj. refers to those who are slanderous, false accusers, “malicious gossips” (NASB), or “malicious talkers” (NIV), the kind of ungodly people to avoid in perilous times (2 Tim. 3:3). Honesty and speaking with integrity reveal the character of these wives and that of their husbands (v. 8). They are to be “sober-minded” [nēphaléos], “self-controlled” (CSB), “temperate” (N/ASV, NKJV), “sober” (KJV), also expected of overseers (v. 2; cf. Tit. 2:2). If “free from the influence of intoxicants” is granted as a potential nuance, there are further parallels to vv. 3, 8, and Tit. 2:3. Finally, “faithful in all things,” or “trustworthy in everything” (NIV), as they carry out their duties according to scriptural guidelines and serve as role models for other women in the church. 
--Kevin L. Moore
     1 Cf. Luke 16:14; 1 Tim. 6:3-10; 2 Tim. 3:2; Heb. 13:5; 1 John 2:15-17.
     2 Something once hidden but now revealed, viz. God’s purpose in Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 2:7; 4:1; Eph. 1:9; 3:3-9; 5:32; 6:19). 
     3 H. D. M. Spence, “First Timothy,” in NT Commentary 3:192 (emp. in the text).
     4 Cp. Acts 6:3; 16:2; Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 16:3; 2 Cor. 8:16-22; 13:5-6; Phil. 2:22; 1 Thess. 5:21. 
     5 Occurring five times in the NT: 1 Cor. 1:8; Col. 1:22; 1 Tim. 3:10; Tit. 1:6, 7.
     6 If deaconess were an official position in the early church, this would still be a role of service rather than congregational leadership and would not change her overall function in the community (2:11-15). 
     7 Contrast 5:11-15; 2 Tim. 3:6-7. 
     8 Aubrey Johnson, “Does Paul Give Qualifications for Deacons’ Wives?” in Entrusted with the Faith 362-63.
     9 The same virtue is expected of older men in the church (Tit. 2:2) and should be contemplated by all Christians (Phil. 4:8).
Related PostsDeacons' Qualifications Part 1Part 3
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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Who Is Qualified to Be a Deacon? A Careful Analysis of 1 Timothy 3:8-13 (Part 1 of 3)

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine …” (1 Tim. 3:8a, ESV).
The English word “Deacons” is transliterated from the Greek diákonoi, plural of diákonos, which essentially means “one who renders service to another; an attendant, servant.”1 In its generic sense it is applicable to anyone who renders service (Mark 9:35; John 2:5; 12:26; Rom. 13:4; 15:8), male or female (Rom. 16:1; Eph. 6:21), including Paul (Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23, 25) and his coworkers (1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 3:6; 6:4; Col. 1:7; 4:7). Later in this letter Timothy is called “a good servant [diákonos] of Christ Jesus” (4:6). But here the term is used in a more limited sense to designate an official position in the local congregation with specific qualifications. 
Like the Ephesus church, the Christian community at Philippi also had “overseers and deacons” (Phil. 1:1b). While deacons are not church leaders per se (note 1 Tim. 3:10, 13), they are part of the leadership team serving under the direction of the overseers. In the early Jerusalem church, seven reputable men were chosen to assist the apostles in the daily benevolent diakonía [“service”] (Acts 6:1), and even though the official label diákonoi (“deacons”) is not ascribed to them, the infinitive diakoneîn [“to serve”] (v. 2) is used to describe their work.2
The adverbial “likewise” [hōsaútōs], “in like manner” (ASV), “In the same way” (NIV), is “a connecting link between items in a series of regulations,”3 thus continuing the “must be” of vv. 2, 7. “Deacons demonstrate what spiritual maturity and responsible membership look like. They show the congregation how to love and support their elders. The higher purpose underlying the individual tasks deacons perform is modeling spiritual health, caring relationships, and lifelong growth…. Though some [of the qualifications] are relative, none is optional.”4
Deacons are to be “dignified,” the adj. semnós5 also rendered “reverent” (NKJV), “worthy of respect” (CSB, NIV). The idea of “grave” (ASV, KJV) or “serious” (N/RSV) discounts one who is insensitive, inconsiderate, and flippant, not taking important matters seriously. The deacon must exhibit “reverent decorum” and “quiet gravity,” a quality listed first “because a humble and respectful demeanor affects everything a deacon does.”6
The first of three negative statements preceded by mē (“not”) is “not double-tongued” [dílogos], used only here in scripture and possibly coined by Paul, from dís (“twice”) + lógos (a spoken word”).7 The rendering “not hypocritical” (CSB) is more idiomatic. But “sincere” (NIV) fails to capture the full sense of the expression, which seems to imply deceitfulness, saying one thing but meaning another, intentionally leaving the wrong impression, or saying something to one person and then giving conflicting information to someone else. Deacons work horizontally among a variety of individuals and families of the congregation, and vertically in “an intermediate position” between the overseers and membership, and are thus “exposed to a temptation to speak of the same matter in different tones and manner …”Deacons must be honest men of integrity, exemplified in their speech (cf. Jas. 3:9-10), diplomatic without being deceptive (Col. 3:9; 4:6).
The next negative requirement [mē oínō pollō proséchontas] is variously rendered, “not addicted to ” (ESV), “not given to …” (ASV, N/KJV), “not drinking …” (CSB), “not indulging in …” (NIV), “much wine. This is perhaps a less ambiguous expression of what is expected of the overseer (vv. 2-3),9 who is to be nēphaléos (“sober-minded,” or in the primary sense, “free from the influence of intoxicants”) and the negated pároinos (lit. “not near wine”), <see previous discussion>. Deacons “must show an example of the strictest sobriety …”10 The directive speaks for itself, but before we move on, it is important to appreciate what the apostle is saying here, and what he is not saying. 
Paul simply affirms that a man preoccupied with wine does not qualify to serve as a deacon. The text does not say a deacon is to drink a little wine in moderation.11 Neither does it sanction anyone else in the church being addicted to wine, nor does it advocate social drinking. To suggest otherwise is to read too much into the injunction and its original purpose. 
The present participial form of the verbal proséchō, meaning to “bring near to,” “be attentive to,” “apply oneself to,” “be given or addicted to,”12 corresponds to the verbal doulóō (to “be enslaved” or “be in bondage”) in the comparable admonition in Titus 2:3 concerning older women, who are “not given to much wine” (NKJV), “not enslaved to much wine” (NASB), “not … slaves to much wine” (ESV). In the very same epistles, using a form of proséchō, stern warnings are issued about those who “give heed to” or “devote themselves to” the leavening influence of false teachers and false doctrines (1 Tim. 1:4; 4:1; Tit. 1:14), yet surely no one would suggest moderate involvement is being encouraged. Scripture also alludes to the non-Christian life as enslaved [doulóō] under the sinful elements of the world (Gal. 4:3) and enslaved [doulóō] to corruption or depravity (2 Pet. 2:19), so does this implicitly support a moderate amount of worldliness and degradation in a person’s life?
A challenge for a number of interpreters is Paul’s inclusion of the adj. “much” [polús] in the prohibition, which seems to imply the acceptability of a “little” wine. Are deacons, older women, and by extension all other Christians indirectly granted permission to drink alcoholic beverages in moderation as long as “much” is not consumed at one time? Such an interpretive approach is not only irresponsible but is impossible to apply consistently. Is it reasonable to conclude that a Christian must not be addicted or enslaved to much wine, but to be addicted or enslaved to a moderate amount of wine is okay? The word “much” is an apt qualifier in the context of excessive indulgence, addiction, obsession, or distraction,13 but it does not automatically suggest the acceptability of a lesser amount (however that might be measured?). In fact, when the apostle does make explicit reference to using “a little wine” [oínō olígō chrō] (5:23), it is for medicinal reasons rather than for personal enjoyment or socializing.14
Later Paul mentions Alexander who had done him “much” [polús] harm (2 Tim. 4:14). Does this indicate that Alexander would have been justified in only doing a little harm to Paul? When Yahweh told Israel their sins could not be washed away with “much” soap (Jer. 2:22), would it be valid to infer they could have been spiritually cleansed with a moderate amount of soap? When the Bible says a mighty man is not delivered by “much” strength (Psa. 33:16), does this imply he is delivered by a little strength? Was Ahab exonerated because he only served Baal “a little” in comparison to Jehu who served him “much” (2 Kings 10:18)? Since Manasseh was condemned for shedding “much” innocent blood (2 Kings 21:16), would it have been fine for him to shed a moderate amount of innocent blood? Manasseh also did “much” evil in the sight of Yahweh (2 Chron. 33:6), but would a smaller amount of evil have been permissible?
The observation is made in 1 Pet. 4:4 that the sinful world is “surprised when you do not join them in the same flood [anáchusis, “excess of overflow”] of debauchery …” Is Peter sanctioning a reduced amount of debauchery, including the vices listed in v. 3? Condemning and forbidding extreme folly does not equate to a positive endorsement of participating to a lesser degree. There were 1st-century Christians who had previously engaged in all sorts of sinful excess, including sexual promiscuity, idolatry, theft, greed, and alcohol abuse. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). How close or how far would they now have been distancing themselves from these former vices? 
It is not sound exegesis to draw positive affirmation of alcohol consumption out of a censure of its abuse. If Paul were wanting to endorse social drinking, this is a strange place and obscure way of doing it. The intent of the proscription is simply to affirm that a man distracted by wine cannot be a public servant in the church.15
--Kevin L. Moore
     1 H. K. Moulton, Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised 91.
     2 H. D. M. Spence also finds “deacons” in 1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:11 (“First Timothy,” NT Commentary 3:192). Polycarp, in a letter to the Philippi church (ca. 115), offers the admonition “to be subject to the presbyters and deacons.” The Didache (ca. 130-150) confirms that during this time the church was administered by elders and deacons (cf. Sec. 15). Justin Martyr, in the mid-2nd century, also alludes to “those with us who are called deacons” (Apology 1.65, 67).
     3 N. J. D. White, “First and Second Timothy and Titus,” EGT 4:107. Note 2:9; 3:8, 11; 5:25; Tit. 2:3, 6; elsewhere in Paul to make a comparison (Rom. 8:26; 1 Tim. 5:25) or extend a thought (1 Cor. 11:25).
     4 A. Johnson, Dynamic Deacons 6, 19. 
     5 Appearing only four times in the NT: 1 Tim. 3:8, 11; Phil. 4:8; Tit. 2:2. The verbal sébomai (to “revere” or “adore”) occurs ten times but not in Paul’s writings. 
     6 H. D. M. Spence, “First Timothy,” Ellicott’s NT Commentary 3:192; A. Johnson, Dynamic Deacons 19. 
     7 Bill Mounce notes the rarity of this term in Greek literature, occurring only one other time, in the 2nd century AD, in the sense of “repeating.” He accepts “two-faced” as a functional metaphor but favors “gossip” as a better option (“Double-Tongued Deacons,” Monday with Mounce [4 Oct. 2020], <Link>).
     8 N. J. D. White, “First and Second Timothy and Titus,” EGT 4:114. 
     9 Ibid. 4:115. 
     10 H. D. M. Spence, “First Timothy,” in NT Commentary 3:192.
     11 For the prospective deacon: “Will drinking make me a better deacon? Will it improve my thinking? Will it strengthen my character? Will it expand my influence? Will it add value to my ministry?” (A. Johnson, Dynamic Deacons 24).
     12 H. K. Moulton, Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised 349. Paul uses the same verbal proscriptively in regard to “myths and endless genealogies” (1:4) and “deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (4:1); positively with respect to “the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (4:13). In the context of 4:1, “the verb denotes at a minimum the depth of interest or attention that leads one to be convinced … in the case of wine, the term denotes what amounts to addiction …” (P. H. Towner, Letters to Timothy and Titus 109).
     13 “It was common practice in antiquity to dilute wine with water so that one would retain the enjoyment but refrain from getting drunk too easily…. in most cases the water was proportionately more than the wine” (Myrto Theocharous, Lexical Dependence and Intertextual Allusion in the Septuagint 140). See also Everett Ferguson, “Wine as a Table-drink in the Ancient World,” ResQ 13 (1970): 141-53. 
     14 Without the adj. “much” in 3:8, there would be an apparent discrepancy with the words of 5:23. 
     15 “In the first century, wine was used for reasons besides amusement or escape. Issuing a blanket policy was not the answer to wine’s ill effects. Exercising spiritual discretion was. In our day and culture, with pharmacies and convenient stores on every corner and the benefits of preservatives and refrigeration, wine is not the product of choice for hydration, water-purification, or medication” (A. Johnson, Dynamic Deacons 25). 
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Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Who Is Qualified to Be an Elder? A Careful Analysis of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (Part 5 of 5)

He must not be a recent convert, or he may
 become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6-7, ESV).
Another nonnegotiable is that a congregational overseer must not be “a recent convert” or “novice” (ASV, NKJV).1 Although no particular length of time from his conversion is specified and must therefore be assessed on a case-by-case basis,2 it ought to be “obvious” or “clearly evident” (5:25) when a man is mature enough in the faith to be ready for church leadership. Otherwise, if appointed prematurely, he may become puffed up with conceit,” “lifted up with pride” (KJV), “become arrogant” (ISV).3 From the noun tûphos (“smoke”), the literal sense of the verbal tuphóō is to blow smoke and cloud up the air, used metaphorically of having a muddled mindset, moral blindness from poor judgment that obscures spiritual perception. It blinds with prideful conceit, rendering a person unwise and foolish.4 “Pride gives a false sense of altitude, making the subsequent fall seem all the greater.”5
The all-too-common aftermath of arrogant pride is to “fall into the condemnation of the devil.” The noun kríma (28 occurrences in the NT) generally applies to “a condemnatory sentence” or “a penal judgment,” so the question is whether this (and the parallel or contrasting statement in v. 7) refers to the condemnation the devil enacts (subjective genitive), or the condemnation the devil receives from God (objective genitive)? Here in v. 6 (in contrast to v. 7), the condemnatory judgment seems most likely to be that which God metes out against the devil and those who follow his lead.6
Further, the overseer “must be well thought of by outsiders,” or “have a good report” (KJV), “a good testimony” (ASV, NKJV), “a good reputation” (CSB), “with those outside the church” (NASB), “so that he may not fall into disgrace ” This is vital to protect the Lord’s body from harmful allegations and unnecessary disruptions, “for the non-Christian world has generally respected the noble ideals of Christian character, but has persistently condemned professing Christians, particularly ministers and leaders, whose practice is at variance with profession”7 (cf. 1:19-20). 
All the listed qualities in this section relevant to observable behavior serve as a commendable example for fellow believers, but also a compelling testimony to the world.Disreputable leaders damage not only their own reputation but also the influence of the church, thereby falling “into a snare of the devil,” or “into the devil’s trap” (NIV).9 “It is a trap set by the devil when the behavior of the church’s leaders is such that outsiders will be disinclined to hear the gospel.”10
As shepherds of God’s flock (Acts 20:28), congregational overseers have the solemn duty of keeping watch over precious souls and will stand accountable on the day of judgment (Heb. 13:17). Such a daunting task is less daunting when members of the church are respectful, cooperative, and peaceable (1 Thess. 5:12-13). 
--Kevin L. Moore
     1 This is the only occurrence in the NT of the adj. neóphutos (lit. “newly planted,” or “neophyte”). Contrasting the established Ephesus church with the supposedly “new work” in Crete, Robert Utley tries to explain the absence of this qualification from the corresponding list in Titus by claiming it was unnecessary where “they were all new converts” (Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey 45). However, Utley not only reads too much into the silence of a single passage, he brushes aside the detrimental pitfall when the requirement is unheeded. 
     2 The fact that elders were appointed in every church near the end of Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary campaign (Acts 14:23) is not at variance with this requirement if the length of the campaign is estimated according to biblical data rather than the unfounded guesses of commentators. The first missionary journey, like those that followed, was an extensive church-planting mission involving approx. six years of preaching the gospel, making disciples (incl. households), and establishing autonomous churches. See K. L. Moore, “The First Missionary Journey,” Moore Perspective (10 Feb. 2013), <Link>. 
     3 This verbal tuphóō occurs in the NT only three times: 1 Tim. 3:6; 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:4. Cp. phusióō, to “be puffed up” with pride (1 Cor. 4:6, 18, 18; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; Col. 2:18). On the detrimental effects of prideful arrogance, see Prov. 11:2; 13:10; 14:3; 16:18; 29:23.  
     4 The usage of this word in antiquity seems “to show that the idea of a ‘beclouded’ and ‘stupid’ state of mind must be associated with that of pride. Obnubilation [a clouded mental state], however produced, seems the primary notion; that produced by pride or vanity …” (C. J. Ellicott, Critical and Grammatical Commentary 59, emp. in the text).
     5 D. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles 82, emp. in the text.
     6 Cf. 5:11-15, 24; John 8:44; 9:39-41; 16:11; Rom. 2:2-3; Gal. 5:7-10; Jas. 3:1; 1 Pet. 4:17; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; Jude 4. See G. D. Fee, 1-2 Timothy, Titus 85; H. D. M. Spence, “First Timothy,” in NT Commentary 3:191; N. J. D. White, “First and Second Timothy and Titus,” EGT 4:114.  
     7 D. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles 83.
     8 Cf. 1:16; 2:1-7; 4:15-16; 5:25; 6:1; also Matt. 5:13-16; Luke 2:52; John 13:35; 17:21; Acts 10:22; Rom. 2:24; 13:12-14; 1 Thess. 4:11-12; Tit. 2:5. 
     9 Cf. 2:14; 6:9; 2 Tim. 2:26; cf. 2 Cor. 4:4; 11:3, 14; 2 Pet. 2:18-21. 
     10 G. D. Fee, 1-2 Timothy, Titus 83.
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Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Who Is Qualified to Be an Elder? A Careful Analysis of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 (Part 4 of 5)

He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? (1 Tim. 3:4-5, ESV).
An overseer must (v. 2) “manage his own household well …” The Greek oîkos (“house”) is used here as a metonymy for “household” or “family,”1 which in ancient Mediterranean societies consisted of a male head (paterfamiliasand those in his home subject to his authority, including his wife, children, sometimes slaves,2 along with extended family members as well (cf. 5:8, 16; 6:1-2). Specific instructions are given in the NT for Christian households,3 a number of which would have formed the nucleus of local congregations.4
The word translated manage” [proïstámenon] is the present tense (conveying current, ongoing action) middle voice (implying personal responsibility) participial form (“managing”) of proïstēmi,5 followed in v. 5 by the aorist active infinitive form [prostēnai] (“to manage”), viewing the action as a whole, then paralleling the verb epimelēsetai, the future passive indicative form of epimeléomai,6 meaning to “take care of” or “care for.” The only other usage of this latter verb in the NT describes the compassionate caring for the wounded victim in the Lord’s parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:34, 35). Despite inevitable family issues, a man is to manage, lead, and care for those of his household “well” [kalōs]7 (cf. vv. 12, 13; 5:17), serving as a pattern for others to follow. Whether in the home or in the church, thoughtful concern without managing, or managing without thoughtful concern, is not biblical leadership.8 He is neither an oppressive dictator nor a placid bystander but a wise, benevolent leader, guardian, and provider deserving respect and loyalty (cf. 5:8; 1 Thess. 2:11-12).
The particular focus here is “keeping his children submissive,” or “having his children in subjection” (ASV), “see that his children obey him” (NIV), “keeping his children under control” (NASB). The parallel text in Titus 1:6, “and his children are believers [faithful] and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination,” concerns the reputation in the community of his older children.9 Notwithstanding the unfortunate circumstance of a rebellious son or daughter going astray despite the parents’ best efforts,10 the requirement here is that of a man who fulfills his fatherly duties as God intends.11 One does not qualify as a congregational leader whose children in general are undisciplined, insubordinate, and out of control.12
The noun semnótēs signifies worthiness of respect, descriptive of how Christ-followers ought to be perceived (2:2; Tit. 2:7), not necessarily “with all gravity” (ASV, KJV) in the sense of sternness but “with all dignity” in the sense of “natural respect.”13  Whether this pertains in the current text to the children (N/RSV), the father (NET), or the way he manages his children (ESV, NIV), the ambiguity allows application to all these, “keeping his children under control with all dignity” (NASB). The dignified development of dignified children comes through dignified parenting rather than forceful intimidation or neglect.
Demonstrated family leadership is a necessary quality for a church leader, because “if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? The presumption is that a man will lead and care for the church in the same manner he leads and cares for his family. “The man who is a failure at one (family) is thereby disqualified for the other (church).”14 As noted above, a qualified leader is to “manage” [proïstēmi] those for whom he is responsible, whether his immediate family or his church family (5:17), but not as an uninvolved observer or an authoritarian ruler.15 He is instead to “care for” [epimeléomai] them as the divinely-appointed head of his own household,16 and as caregiver of “God’s church,” i.e., “the household of God” (3:15). His authority is subject to divine authority. He is “God’s steward” (Tit. 1:7a), along with his fellow-elders, divinely commissioned “to care for17 the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
--Kevin L. Moore
     1 Note also v. 12; 5:4; Luke 11:17; Acts 7:10; 10:2; 11:14; 16:31; 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:16; 2 Tim. 1:16; 4:19; Tit. 1:11; Heb. 11:7. 
     2 J. D. G. Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle 591 n. 128; W. A. Meeks, The First Urban Christians 75-76. A household inclusive of slaves would only be relevant to society’s upper echelons, not many of whom were connected to the church (1 Cor. 1:26), but enough to justify specific instructions concerning this established economic arrangement of the 1st-century Roman world (1 Cor. 7:20-24; 12:13; Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22–4:1; 1 Tim. 6:1-2; Philem. 10-16). See K. L. Moore, “The Sociocultural Context of the NT (Part 5): Households and Slavery,” Moore Perspective (24 July 2019), <Link>.
     3 Eph. 5:22–6:9; Col. 3:18–4:1; 1 Tim. 3:4; 5:4, 8; 6:1-2; Tit. 2:1-10; 1 Pet. 2:18-20; 3:1-7. In the absence of a male head, the household would naturally be managed by a woman (e.g. Acts 12:12; 16:14-15; cf. Rom. 16:1-2; 1 Cor. 1:11). 
     4 Christians assembled in the homes of Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19) and later in Rome (Rom. 16:5), Gaius in Corinth (Rom. 16:23), Philemon in Colosse (Philem. 2), Nympha/s in Laodicea (Col. 4:15), Mary in Jerusalem (Acts 12:5, 12), and Lydia in Philippi (Acts 16:40). While the nucleus of house churches was often the household itself, this does not mean every person in the home was converted (e.g. Philem. 2, 10-17). New converts would have been added to the household communities. See K. L. Moore, “The Sociocultural Context of the NT (Part 6): House Churches,” Moore Perspective (24 July 2019), <Link>. 
     5 This verb occurs eight times in the NT with nuances including “preside over,” “superintend,” “rule,” “lead,” “give attention to” (Rom. 12:8; 1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 3:4, 5, 12; 5:17; Tit. 3:8, 14). 
     6 The verbal epimeléomai is a combination of the intensifier epí (“upon”) + mélei (to “care about” or “have regard for”).
     7 Nuances of this adverb include “rightly,” “nobly,” “honorably.” The CSB renders it here, “completely.” 
     8 G. D. Fee, 1-2 Timothy, Titus 82.
     9 Seeing that one of the descriptive terms for this leadership position is “elder” [presbúteros] (5:1, 17, 19; Tit. 1:5), implying an advanced level of maturity and experience that typically comes with age, an older man with older children could be assumed – still somewhat subjective but informative nonetheless. 
     10 Gen. 4:1-16; Deut. 21:18-21; Prov. 19:26; 28:7; Luke 15:11-32; cf. Isa. 1:2. 
     11 Gen. 18:19; Josh. 24:15; Prov. 22:16; 29:17; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21. See K. L. Moore, “Train Up a Child,” Moore Perspective (7 Oct. 2015), <Link>. The plural “children” can simply mean one or more and apply to a single child (cf. Gen. 21:7). If an audience were asked, “Raise your hand if you have children,” surely the single-child parents would be expected to raise their hands. Some would argue that a man with multiple children is more qualified to deal with differing personalities and inter-personal conflicts than a man with only one child. But this is a subjective perception rather than a biblical mandate. One could reason that a man with ten children is more qualified than a man with two children, but obviously the two-child man is not biblically disqualified. While perhaps less than ideal, a man with only one child could still be biblically qualified to serve as a congregational overseer.
     12 Cf. 1 Tim. 1:9; 1 Sam. 3:13; Prov. 29:15; Rom. 1:29-32; cp. Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20. Some maintain that the only children in view here are those currently in the home, excluding adult children no longer living under the same roof (G. W. Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles161). However, this does not take into account antiquity’s societal concept of “household,” and surely it is a glaring indictment on a man’s leadership ability if all his children are insubordinate as adults.
     13 D. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles 81-82.
     14 G. D. Fee, 1-2 Timothy, Titus 82.
     15 “There is a fine line between demanding obedience and gaining it. The church leader, who must indeed exhort people to obedience, does not thereby ‘rule’ God’s family. He takes care of it in such a way that its ‘children’ will be known for their obedience and good behavior” (G. D. Fee, 1-2 Timothy, Titus 82-83).
     16 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22–6:4; Col. 3:18-21; cf. also Acts 10:34-48; 11:14; 16:25-33; 18:8.
     17 The present active infinitive poimaínein lit. means “to shepherd” (NASB, NKJV), in view of the metaphoric description of the church as “the flock” (vv. 28a, 29b). This would include decision-making and problem resolution (Acts 15:6, 23), overseeing and mentoring (Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:1-4), watching over souls (Heb. 13:17), and equipping the saints (Eph. 4:11-12).
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