1 Timothy 3:8-9 (NIV) 8 Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
On verses 8-9: In these verses Paul describes the qualifications that deacons must meet. Deacons were special helpers to the overseer/pastor. They would assist the overseer/pastor in caring for the flock and possibly also leading certain ministries in the church.
The qualifications of a deacon are similar to those expected of overseers:
– “worthy of respect”: This is a general term that means carrying yourself in a way that others can admire and look up to.
– “sincere”: To be more specific, it means don’t be a person of “double talk”; that is, don’t be someone who cares for people to their face but then gossips about them behind their back.
– “not indulging in much wine”: This means being someone who is in control of his passions and appetites.
– “not pursuing dishonest gain”: Like the overseer, a deacon must not be a lover of money or who finds shady ways to make money.
– “keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience”: This means that a deacon must believe in the truths that make up the Christian faith and also live them out with integrity.
1 Timothy 3:10 (NIV) 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
On verse 10: Before elevating a person to the role of deacon, Paul recommended to Timothy that potential candidates must first be tested to make sure that they were a good fit for the role. What exactly that testing entailed is not clear, but the principle of testing potential leaders is an important one. A leader should be tested over a period of time before they are officially elevated to their role in the organization.
1 Timothy 3:11 (NIV) 11 In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.
On verse 11: The Greek word for “wives” here (gynē) is the same word that is translated “women” elsewhere in 1 Timothy (for example, in 1 Timothy 2:9-12). So Paul is probably not talking so much about the wives of deacons per se as much as he is talking about female deacons (deaconesses). These female deacons were to exhibit the same excellent character traits that were expected of their male counterparts:
– “worthy of respect”, a required trait for both male and female deacons
– “not malicious talkers”, similar to how the male deacons are to be sincere and not “double tongued” (v8)
– “temperate”, similar to how the male deacons are not to indulge in much wine (v8)
– “trustworthy in everything”, similar to how the male deacons are not to pursue dishonest gain (v8).
When looking for leaders in an organization, whether male or female, always start with character. Character is the foundation of a person’s leadership.
1 Timothy 3:12 (NIV) 12 A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.
On verse 12: Like the overseer, a deacon must manage his family and home well. How well you manage your own home is an indication of how ready you are to manage God’s people.
1 Timothy 3:13 (NIV) 13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
On verse 13: Paul is saying that when you serve God well, you gain two benefits:
– The first is “excellent standing”. Excellent standing doesn’t refer so much to position or power as much as it refers to a good reputation in the church community and the pleasure of God in heaven.
– The second benefit is “great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus”, meaning confidence and joy in God’s presence.
1 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV) 14 Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
On verses 14-15: Paul was writing all this to guide Timothy on how to lead the church in Ephesus. From this I learn two lessons:
1. We all need mentors who are more experienced than we are to advise us and to guide the way. Who is someone godly and wise you can go to for advice when you need it?
2. Notice how Paul describes the church. First, the church is God’s house, God’s family. Second, the church is “the church of the living God”. In other words, the church is not just about people. God is alive in the church and the church is His! Third, the church is “the pillar and foundation of the truth”. It is the place where the truth is found, proven, preserved and protected.
1 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) 16 Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.
On verse 16: Here Paul makes 6 statements, all referring to Jesus.
– “He appeared in a body” is referring to Jesus’ incarnation, how God’s Son became human.
– “was vindicated by the Spirit” refers to Jesus’ resurrection, how by the power of God’s Spirit Jesus was raised from the dead.
– “was seen by angels” may be a reference to how angels were the first to testify of Jesus’ resurrection (Luke 24:4-8)
– “was preached among the nations” refers to how Jesus, a carpenter’s son from an inconspicuous town like Nazareth, would be proclaimed among the nations
– “was believed on in the world” refers to how people would respond to Him in faith and worship Him as God
– “was taken up in glory” refers to Jesus’ ascension into heaven
Each of these 6 facts are incredible statements of God’s power at work in Jesus’ life. May we never lose sight of “the mystery of godliness”, that is, the wonder that is Jesus.
Heavenly Father, may we never take for granted how amazing Your Son Jesus is and how amazing is His life, death and resurrection. May our lives reflect the excellence and worth of Jesus Your Son. In Jesus’ name, AMEN