“Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,” 1 Timothy 3:2 -> me: Well, I have decided to camp out a bit here in the first 7 verses of 1 Timothy 3. As an elder candidate (in training) I think it is good if I take the time to let these verses sink in and expound on my understanding of them to my accountability group….YOU!
Let’s start with ‘Above Reproach’ – A person who is not only of good report but also deservingly so. This means that even if an action or activity is allowed, if the partaking in that activity can be suspect or interpreted negatively, this individual avoids it or executes it in such a way that their stance and intent is clear. This also means that the private version of this person matches the public version. It means that the uprightness of the individual permeates into and through their character; not for pleasing men, but to be who God desires them to be in their conversion and grafting into God’s family and inheritance.
‘Husband of one wife’ – There is some disagreement on what this is pointing at 1) One woman through one marriage – that a person who has been married twice to 2 different women would be disqualified. 2) That polygamy is forbidden in the Christian church and men of monogamous marriages only. I side with the later and here is why: The Greek word used here is gune (long e) which is used for woman, wife, or even ‘my lady’. However, when the word for husband precedes it, it appears to refer to ‘wife’ specifically. So, from my perspective and ‘light’ study, Paul likely means ‘wife’ and not the other definition ‘woman’; which brings in the one wife in a marriage.
‘Temperate, Self-Control, and Respectable’ – These belong together because they are all closely related -> They describe an orderly life. Temperate is only used in the Pastorals and denotes an even approach to all situations. Doesn’t get riled up easily and is not complacent. Self-Control also means prudent and of sound mind. This person is not easily swayed back and forth in their thinking. They have a gauged approach to problem solving and maintain a healthy internal dialog that keeps them upright in their thinking. Respectable also means ‘proper’. This attribute brings a character that is dignified. A perception managed by the bearer that supports the aspect of being above reproach.
‘Hospitable’ – Someone who not only accepts and takes in all, but also fights for the feeling of all to be welcomed and at home in their church, in the overseer’s home, or in their sphere.
Finally, ‘Able to Teach’ – I would go further to say that an overseer must be so acquainted with the word of God that they can instruct and re-align the flock. This really comes down to Guarding, Guiding, and Growing the church body.