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1 Timothy 3:8-13

Context

3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, 1  not two-faced, 2  not given to excessive drinking, 3  not greedy for gain, 3:9 holding to the mystery of the faith 4  with a clear conscience. 3:10 And these also must be tested first and then let them serve as deacons if they are found blameless. 3:11 Likewise also their wives 5  must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect. 3:12 Deacons must be husbands of one wife 6  and good managers of their children and their own households. 3:13 For those who have served well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves 7  and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. 8 

1 tn Or “respectable, honorable, of serious demeanor.”

2 tn Or “insincere,” “deceitful”; Grk “speaking double.”

3 tn Grk “not devoted to much wine.”

4 sn The mystery of the faith is a reference to the revealed truths of the Christian faith.

5 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.

6 tn Or “men married only once,” “devoted solely to their wives” (see the note on “wife” in 1 Tim 3:2; also 1 Tim 5:9; Titus 1:6).

7 sn The statement those who have served well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves is reminiscent of Jesus’ teaching (Matt 20:26-28; Mark 10:43-45) that the one who wishes to be great must be a servant (διάκονος [diakonos], used here of deacons) of all, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve (διακονέω [diakonew], as in 1 Tim 3:10, 13).

8 sn In the phrase the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the term faith seems to mean “what Christians believe, Christian truth,” rather than personal trust in Christ. So the whole phrase could mean that others will come to place greater confidence in them regarding Christian truth; but the word “confidence” is much more likely to refer to their own boldness to act on the truth of their convictions.



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