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Monday, April 8, 2013

1 Timothy 3: Aspiration and Desire

Aspiration and Desire

1 Timothy 3:3

What has gone before...

An overseer must be hospitable, one who is fond of guests, one who enjoys meeting new and different sorts of people, regarding new acquaintances as new friends.

In the same breath, Paul cautions Christians to avoid grumbling, grudgingly attempting to show hospitality to others while inwardly complaining of the cost or discomfort.

Hospitality is sharing with others what God has given us.

Entertaining others at our home, or together at a restaurant, can easily connect with another characteristic of the ideal overseer: one who teaches others. More than being willing to teach others, Paul describes an overseer as one who is competent to teach, one who himself loves to learn and joys in helping others to learn.

Teaching is to be more than a duty...it is to be a lifelong calling.

Moving on...

Following the seven broad categories of character qualities introduced in verse 2, Paul now lists specific behaviors that can either under-mine or under-gird a person's aspiration and desire to be a leader. Notice the difference between the two translations:

"Not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money." 1 Timothy 3:3 (ESV)

"Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous." 1 Timothy 3:3 (KJV)

The ESV uses five distinct descriptors, broken in two sections by a word of contradiction:

  • Not a drunkard
  • Not violent
  • But
  • Gentle
  • Not quarrelsome
  • Not a lover of money

The KJV uses six descriptors, again broken in two sections:

  • Not given to wine
  • No striker
  • Not greedy of filthy lucre
  • But
  • Patient
  • Not a brawler
  • Not covetous

What are the original Greek words?

  • Me paroinos (not staying near wine)
  • Me plektes (not a smiter, not pugnacious)
  • Me aischrokerdes (not sordid, not with shameful gain)
  • Alla (contrariwise)
  • Epieikes (appropriate or mild)
  • Amachos (peaceable, not in battle or controversy)
  • Aphilargyros (content, not fond of silver)

The Greek text does indeed use six descriptors, each corresponding to those found in the KJV, with the passage broken into two opposing groups, separated by a word that means "contrariwise" or "other". Let's attempt to match the descriptors with those the original:

Greek ESV KJV
Not staying near wine Not a drunkard Not given to wine
Not a smiter Not violent No striker
Not sordid, not with shameful gain   Not greedy of filthy lucre
Appropriate or mild Gentle Patient
Peaceable, not in battle or controversy Not quarrelsome Not a brawler
Content, not fond of silver Not a lover of money Not covetous

The ESV is missing one descriptor: Not greedy of filthy lucre: Me aischrokerdes (not sordid, not with shameful gain).

Most likely the translators consider "Not a lover of money" to include the missing descriptor, since both have to do with "gain" or money:

  • Me aischrokerdes (not sordid, not with shameful gain)
  • Aphilargyros (content, not fond of silver)

WHAT DO YOU THINK? In what ways could each of the character qualities seen in verse two be eroded, or enriched, by the behaviors described in verse three?

Look at the distinction between "aspiring", "desiring" and "being":

"If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be..." 1 Timothy 3:1-2 (ESV)

ASPIRES: orego "or-EG-om-ahee" (to stretch oneself, to reach out after or long for); related to oros (a mountain)

DESIRES: epithymeo "ep-ee-thoo-MEH-o" (to set the heart upon, to long for); from epi (superimposition, distribution, over, upon) and thymos (passion, as if breathing hard); from thyo (to rush, breathe hard, blow, smoke, sacrifice, immolate or slaughter)

MUST BE: dei einai "die I-NAHEE (it is necessary, as binding, to exist); from deo (to bind) and eimi (I exist, I am)

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is "aspiration and desire" the cause, or is it the result, of these seven character qualities?

If a person desires the "noble work" of overseeing a church, yet lacks an essential quality, what should change? The desire or the personality?

By presenting these characteristics as pre-requisites for the office of overseer, is Paul suggesting they are optional, or different, for Christians who are not seeking leadership roles? Do you believe that you are qualified for leadership? Why or why not?

Photo credit: Laura Griffiths02 via photopin , Creative Commons License