1 Timothy 3:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Timothy 3:1, NIV: Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.

1 Timothy 3:1, ESV: The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

1 Timothy 3:1, KJV: This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

1 Timothy 3:1, NASB: It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

1 Timothy 3:1, NLT: This is a trustworthy saying: 'If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position.'

1 Timothy 3:1, CSB: This saying is trustworthy: "If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work."

What does 1 Timothy 3:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

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."