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1 Timothy 3:1

ESV The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.
NIV Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.
NASB It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.
CSB This saying is trustworthy: "If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work."
NLT This is a trustworthy saying: 'If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.'
KJV This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
NKJV This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.

What does 1 Timothy 3:1 mean?

This verse begins a new section, extending through verse 7. Here, Paul discusses the qualifications of "elders," also known as pastors, bishops, or overseers (1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Peter 5:1; Ephesians 4:11). In this verse, Paul begins by stating that his words are "trustworthy," a formula he used in the Pastoral Epistles before giving an axiomatic quote. He also uses this term in 1 Timothy 1:15 and 4:9, as well as 2 Timothy 2:11 and Titus 3:8. Each time, the phrase emphasizes a particular point or quote Paul wants Timothy or Titus to remember.

Many observations can be made. First, in this context "anyone" does not mean "any person." Though this particular word is in a neuter (genderless) form, the following verses specify that only men could serve as elders. All of the following pronouns in this section are specifically male, with qualifications including the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2) and managing his own household (1 Timothy 3:4).

Second, the focus is on the position more than the person. An overseer or elder is a position of top leadership in the church. Those who desire it desire a good thing. Two Greek words for aspire/desire are used here. The first is oregetai, emphasizing an internal or private desire. The other is epithymei, emphasizing an external or overt desire. This task was seen as "excellent" or "commendable": a kalou ergou, or a "fine work."
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