Friday, October 12, 2012

1 Timothy 3

Listen to the podcast below (or right click this link for the mp3 file)

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Qualifications for Overseers (v. 1-7)

There was a footnote in my bible that says overseer is something like a bishop, so we are talking about someone overseeing matters of the church.

Overseer is a noble position, so those who seek it must be above reproach. He should be the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violet but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

The interesting item in this list is husband of one wife, this seems to imply that other people in the church can have multiple wives. I suppose you could argue that this is saying he can't be a bachelor, but then why not say "a husband" rather than specifying "one wife"? (I was going to put this in the bad section, but then I realized that as long as everyone consents, I don't have a problem with polyamory)

He must manage his household well, keeping his children submissive. For if he can't manage that how can he manage the church?

It makes sense that you need to have you own shit together before taking on a big responsibility, but why is the measure of that having your kids be submissive? Having your kids listen to you is important, but it seems to be the only measure of good parenting that comes up in the bible. (Colossians 3, Ephesians 6)

He must not be a new member to the church and he must be well thought of by outsiders, otherwise he might fall into disgrace, or a snare of the devil.

I suppose the snare of the devil could easily enough be interpreted as metaphor or something. The rest here seems reasonable.

Qualifications for Deacons (v. 8-13)

Similar rules as for the Overseer but the qualifications seem a touch lower. Example, "not addicted to too much wine", and "not greedy for dishonest gain" as opposed to "not a lover of money" for the overseer. But basically the same idea, he needs to be an upstanding guy with one wife.

There was one interesting thing though, v9 "they must hold the mystery of faith with a clear conscience" What is the mystery of faith? The phrasing just seems weird to me.

The Mystery of Godliness (v. 14-16)

Paul says he's writing this in case he is later than he intends, Timothy will know how to act in the church. He then says that the mystery of godliness is that God was manifest in flesh, vindicated by the spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on the world, taken up in glory.

I think the real mystery is what the hell Paul is talking about.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


3:2 implies that bigamy [-edit thanks TWF- or perhaps divorce] is acceptable (or at least tolerated) among the rank and file of the church

"Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach"


  1. It is quite a mystery, isn't it!

    Besides polygamy, one alternate interpretation of "one wife" could also be that no one can remarry if divorced or if their spouse dies. Of course, with Jesus condemning divorce, that would leave only the latter option as being above reproach.

    1. That's really interesting, I hadn't considered divorce or widows. I see no reason why they would be against a bishop getting remarried after their wife died, but I can definitely see them being unwilling to let someone who had been divorced a bishop.

      Also, I didn't think of this yesterday, perhaps having the divorce rather than polygamy in my head helps. But maybe they don't condone divorce, but as a matter of practicality accept it in their congregation. But they will absolutely not accept it in their leadership.

  2. That's interesting.. Growing up Catholic, I was told that priests, Nuns etc were "married to the church." After reading the stuff with the children, I'm not so sure. I guess this could refer to the congregation, maybe? But if that was the case, then why are they referred to almost everywhere else as sheep? I remember reading a good point somewhere, that the church is more like "the church of Paul" since most of the teachings and traditions we get seem to be from "his" letters.

    1. Church of Paul is interesting, after reading the new testament up to this point, I can definitely see that the roots of a lot of the things in the church I grew up in are out of the letters from Paul.

      I didn't grow up Catholic, so I don't know their hierarchy very well, but this seems to be talking about bishops and deacons. Are those guys allowed to marry? I have heard that priests and nuns are not supposed to be, as you mentioned, but I don't know about the other positions of the church.

    2. From my understanding, and someone could correct me, I think that the Priests and Bishops, cardinals, nuns etc could not be married. I think that deacons could, as I am pretty sure I remember one having a wife from my church, but that was over twenty years ago and I could be wrong.

  3. They talk about the mystery of faith all the time in the Catholic Church as if its a good thing.

    I'm listening by the way, I think this was the podcast asking if people were listening. I imagine you'd want to know that you aren't completely wasting your time. I must admit that I either listen or read...not both. And when I listen I'm usually a day or two behind.

    1. I wasn't actually sure what mystery of faith means, to wikipedia! Apparently it is a mystery that is hidden by God which can only be understood by men if God reveals it to you. What a pile of nonsense.

      Thanks for letting me know you are listening :) It is great to know I'm talking to someone other than myself. Before I started I was worried I might waste my time if no one listens, but after doing it a few times, I realized it was making the blog better, because preparing for reading it forces me to prepare a little better. I catch things I think I might have missed otherwise. That being said, it is definitely nice to know that they are being listened to.

      It's funny you mention that you read or listen, but not both. A few days ago I was worried that the blog and podcast were too similar, leaving people no motivation to both read and listen. I was trying to think of something I could add to each that the other wouldn't have, but couldn't come up with anything that wasn't gimmicky or contrived. But now I'm thinking I should consider this a feature not a bug. It doesn't matter to me whether people want to read or listen, and now that you mention it, I like the idea that you can mix and match.

    2. Most podcasts' only text component are show notes, so you area ahead of the game. I still have to come to the blog to comment, and I usually at least skim over the post even after listening.


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