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1 Timothy 3:2

Context
3:2 The overseer 1  then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, 2  temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher,

1 Timothy 3:11

Context
3:11 Likewise also their wives 3  must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect.

1 tn Or “bishop.”

sn Although some see the article with overseer as indicating a single leader at the top of the ecclesiastical structure (thus taking the article as monadic), this is hardly necessary. It is naturally taken generically (referring to the class of leaders known as overseers) and, in fact, finds precedent in 2:11-12 (“a woman,” “a man”), 2:15 (“she”). Paul almost casually changes between singular and plural in both chapters.

2 tn Or “a man married only once,” “devoted solely to his wife” (see 1 Tim 3:12; 5:9; Titus 1:6). The meaning of this phrase is disputed. It is frequently understood to refer to the marital status of the church leader, excluding from leadership those who are (1) unmarried, (2) polygamous, (3) divorced, or (4) remarried after being widowed. A different interpretation is reflected in the NEB’s translation “faithful to his one wife.”

3 tn Or “also deaconesses.” The Greek word here is γυναῖκας (gunaika") which literally means “women” or “wives.” It is possible that this refers to women who serve as deacons, “deaconesses.” The evidence is as follows: (1) The immediate context refers to deacons; (2) the author mentions nothing about wives in his section on elder qualifications (1 Tim 3:1-7); (3) it would seem strange to have requirements placed on deacons’ wives without corresponding requirements placed on elders’ wives; and (4) elsewhere in the NT, there seems to be room for seeing women in this role (cf. Rom 16:1 and the comments there). The translation “wives” – referring to the wives of the deacons – is probably to be preferred, though, for the following reasons: (1) It would be strange for the author to discuss women deacons right in the middle of the qualifications for male deacons; more naturally they would be addressed by themselves. (2) The author seems to indicate clearly in the next verse that women are not deacons: “Deacons must be husbands of one wife.” (3) Most of the qualifications given for deacons elsewhere do not appear here. Either the author has truncated the requirements for women deacons, or he is not actually referring to women deacons; the latter seems to be the more natural understanding. (4) The principle given in 1 Tim 2:12 appears to be an overarching principle for church life which seems implicitly to limit the role of deacon to men. Nevertheless, a decision in this matter is difficult, and our conclusions must be regarded as tentative.



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