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Monday, August 12, 2013

1 Timothy 3: Self-controlled and Respectable

Self-controlled and Respectable

1 Timothy 3:2

What has gone before...

Paul introduced and summarized the qualifications required for a person to be considered for the office of overseer: above reproach and well thought of. First on the list was faithfulness in marriage, followed by sober-mindedness, meaning alert and ready.

Moving on...

The next requirement for the office of overseer is that of self-control.

"An overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled..." 1 Timothy 3:2 (ESV)

This seems related to sober-mindedness, with both characteristics focusing on remaining out of danger, maintaining caution. Being sober-minded means a person is alert and prepared, and self-control is the consequence of that vigilance: safe from harm or loss.

Paul uses the same word three more times, all as part of a description of godliness:

"[Elders must be] hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled...older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled...[older women likewise are] to be self-controlled..." Titus 1:8; 2:2-5 (ESV)

The definition of "self-controlled" includes a reference to being moderate in opinion or passion. This seems directly connected with Paul's final concluding summary: overseers must be well thought of by outsiders.

"Respectable" is Paul's next description of a person who is above reproach:

Paul also previously used "respectable" in his description of a godly woman, the only other instance of this word in The Bible:

"Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness - with good works." 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (ESV)

Here, Paul was using "apparel" figuratively for a woman's outward behavior, describing "respectable" behavior as being characterized by good works. The essence of "respectable" is that of proper, well-tended appearance which portrays honestly an inner godliness.

The root word of "respectable" is often translated as "world":

"The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man." Acts 17:24 (ESV)

The world created in the beginning by God was the epitome of "respectable", an orderly arrangement. Light and darkness, waters above and below, dry land, plants and fruit trees; stars, sun and moon; sea creatures, birds, land animals...all created for the sustenance and stewardship of the first man and woman and their children. Male and female, God created them, so very alike to one another, but critically and essentially different, made to match and complement. God thought of everything, and it was good.

It was very good.

The world and all that it contained was given as a blessing to Adam and Eve, to favor them with goodness. God created man, male and female, in His image, to have dominion over the world in the same way the God has dominion over all universes. Adam and Eve were to begin with the model shown them in the Garden of Eden and multiply, spreading God's "orderly arrangement" over all the earth.

Such a noble task would require the people to be above reproach, with faithfulness to God's image and purpose, sober-mindedness and self-control. Overseeing the world requires a person to be "respectable".

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