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1 Timothy 3:7

ESV Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
NIV He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
NASB And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.
CSB Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the devil's trap.
NLT Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.
KJV Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

What does 1 Timothy 3:7 mean?

This is the last verse regarding the qualifications of overseers, which began in verse 2. The church overseer or elder must be one with a good reputation outside of the church as well as inside it. Again, as with new converts, Paul's concern was that a church not appoint a person prone to moral or personal failure in such an important role. Those with a good reputation, both within and without the church, are those more likely to be stable and equipped for leadership.

This idea of the "snare of the devil" is that of an animal trap. Just as animals could be lured to a certain spot, then suddenly caught by an unseen danger, a church leader with a bad reputation in the community could be disgraced. This is something Paul considered a trap for church leaders and likely also for the local church. Such a fall damages the reputation of the local church, as well as the faith they represent.

Contrary to some claims, Paul never commands either a single overseer per church or a plurality of elders. He seems to assume congregations would choose more than one as needed, based on the given qualifications. In a smaller house church, one elder may have been sufficient, while other congregations may have had several qualified leaders. Further, no distinction was originally made between bishop, overseer, or elder. Later, the church would create the role of bishop as being over multiple local churches and their elders, but this did not yet exist when Paul wrote this letter.
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