1 Timothy 3:4-5 – In the next couple of verses, we see that the way a prospective elder manages their household, and the state of their family life is an aspect that must be observed when judging whether or not they qualify.
(See also Titus 1:6)
1 Timothy 3:4a - “He must be one who manages his own household well,”
Proistemi – To cause to stand before, or to set over.
In most cases this word has the send to not only lead, but also carries the idea of caring for.
The administrative ability required to cause a home to function smoothly will also be necessary if one is to superintend a church.
1 Timothy 3:4b – “…keeping his children under control with all dignity…”
Semnotes – Decency, dignity, seriousness.
Aristotle defined this word as the average of virtue that lies between two extremes: arrogance and pleasure.
Aristotle further describes it as the balance between caring to please nobody and endeavoring at all costs to please everybody.
This is a tricky balance for the elder to lead and care for his family in the way they need caring for regardless of what others in the church may think.
Kids know when Dad or Mom is just correcting them in order to make themselves look good (i.e. the extreme of trying to please everyone else).
At the same time, Dad and Mom have the freedom before the Lord to lead and care for their family as they choose, regardless of what others may think.
Titus 1:6 adds to this by saying the elder’s children should not be accused of dissipation or rebellion.
“Dissipation” (asotia) describes a prodigal, or one who spends to much, or who falls under the influence of temptations in which he spends freely on his own lusts and appetites.
This describes a person who engages in a debauched and profligate manner of living.
“Rebellion” (anupotaktos) describes someone who refuses to sit under someone else in an orderly manner.
This is someone who is rebellious, disorderly, and outside of someone else’s control.
Although children have a mind of their own, and make decisions of their own free will, a child exhibiting these types of characteristics may indicate a lack of leadership and care by the father.
It is interesting to note that Paul seemed to view this as an insightful way to see how a man might care for the church (See also the deacon’s qualifications in verse 12).
How does a father deal with his erring or rebellious child?
Does he scold him or her?
Does he belittle him or her?
Does he bully him or her?
Does he drone on and on and on…?
This type of father typically drives his children away from him into further rebellion, although some children will have the temperament to respond positively.
The point is, however the father treats his own children will probably be his go to means of dealing with those in his flock.
Hence, this qualification is a good tell-tale sign.
1 Timothy 3:5 - “(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),”
The leadership role in the divine institution of the family is training grounds for leading the divine institution of the church.
The word translated “manage” is the same word translated “manages” in verse 4 and it means to not only led, but also to care for.
With all of the demands and pressures on husbands/fathers, it take a man who is walking by means of the Spirit of God to lead well.
Stress/pressure typically causes men to want to retreat and relax when they get home, and thus they have no desire to “love their wives as Christ loved the church,” and they snap at her and their kids.
Thus, they grow distant and cold in their relationship with their wives, and their children and cannot lead or care for them well, because neither their wife or their kids want to follow him.
Additionally, if the man does not know how to manage his own household, Paul asks a question that really has two implications.
“Take care of” (epimeleomai) means to have concern for, or take care of or care for.
The first implication is if the man cannot manage or lead his household well, which is just a microcosm of the church, how could he manage the church which is much more complicated and involving more people?
The second implication seems to be if the man has the stresses of an unruly household or a household in disarray he would be distracted and therefore how could he have any time to focus on leading or caring for the church properly?
1 Timothy 3:6a – “…and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.”
Neophutos – Newly sprung up, or newly planted.
This word is used elsewhere of newly-planted palm trees, but here it refers to someone who is recently converted and newly implanted in the church.
There are two potential pitfalls for appointing a new convert as an elder.
First, he could become “conceited,” meaning to swell up with pride.
A new believer is more likely to see such a position of leadership as an opportunity for personal advancement.
He is likely to make the position more about him and his authority, than about shepherding and truly caring for others.
He may be tempted to bring in worldly managerial wisdom from the business world instead of biblically centered wisdom of shepherding.
Second, he could “fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil” referring to the devil’s original fall from heaven due to his pride (Isaiah 14:12-14).
The Bible clearly teaches over and over again that pride goes before a fall and ultimately causes destruction (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5, Psalm 138:6, Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; 13:10; 14:3; 16:18; 21:24; 29:23).
The church should not only protect the church from appointing new converts to lead them, but they should also protect the new converts from themselves by appointing them too quickly to a leadership position.
1 Timothy 3:7 – “And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
Kalos Marturia – A constitutionally good witness or testimony.
There is something blameworthy in a man’s character if the consensus of outside opinion is negative towards him even if he is greatly admired amongst his own group.
Not having a good reputation with those outside the church opens the man up to being reproached and accused by men without and could be a target of the traps set by the devil to trip him up in these areas.
In summary, the elder must have a good reputation in the community so as to avoid bringing reproach and disgrace upon himself and subsequently the local church, and ultimately the Lord.