What does 1 Timothy 3:3 mean?
ESV: not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
NIV: not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
NASB: not overindulging in wine, not a bully, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money.
CSB: not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy.
NLT: He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money.
KJV: Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
NKJV: not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous;
Verse Commentary:
This continues Paul's list of qualifications for a church elder, shown in verses 1 through 7. Here, Paul adds that an elder cannot be a "drunkard." Drinking wine was common among Jews and Gentiles—especially before refrigeration existed. It should be noted that Paul does not prohibit the drinking of all wine, or all alcohol, but very specifically rules out drunkenness. Those prone to this kind of addiction are considered disqualified from being an elder.

Likewise, Paul says elders cannot be argumentative or temperamental. He uses the term plēktēn, literally meaning a "brawler," also a reference to someone who is confrontational or hot-tempered. This could be construed as those who are eager for a fist-fight. However, the use here seems more broadly applied to include a man's entire attitude. This is further supported by the next remarks Paul makes.

In contrast to being argumentative or aggressive, an elder is to be "gentle." The Greek term epieikē implies one who is patient and fair-minded. Paul also connects this to being "not quarrelsome," echoing his comments on praying without quarreling in chapter 2 (1 Timothy 2:1–2, 8).

Finally, for this verse, an overseer is not to be a "lover of money." Paul addresses this more specifically in 1 Timothy 6:6–10. There, he points out that greed leads to all kinds of other sins, including an abandonment of the faith. This means elders must serve voluntarily, not out of greed. As 1 Peter 5:2 states, church leaders are to be those who help others "not under compulsion, but willingly" This does not mean elders or other leaders must serve without being compensated (1 Timothy 5:18), but that financial gain is not to be their motivation for service.
Verse Context:
First Timothy 3:1–7 describes the requirements of church elders. Those who are placed in high leadership positions within the church are to be men of a good reputation, known for self-control and fairness, as well as have an ability to teach spiritual truths. They cannot be known as drunkards, bickerers, or prone to greed. Those who are married must demonstrate faithfulness to their wife and respectable control of their children. Paul also specifies that new converts cannot be elders: this presents a high risk of arrogance and failure.
Chapter Summary:
First Timothy chapter 3 expresses requirements for two different levels of church leadership. The first are ''elders'' or ''overseers.'' These men are to be experienced Christians, respectable, capable teachers, with a good reputation and a well-ordered family life. The second group are ''servants,'' or ''deacons,'' who share many of the same expectations. Unlike elders, however, deacons are not necessarily called on to teach. And, they are expected to be ''tested'' prior to taking on their role.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 3 concludes Paul's general statements about church structure and behavior. In chapters 1, 2, and 3, he has laid out some broad concepts which Timothy needs to enforce in his congregation. This chapter specifically deals with the qualifications for leaders, including both elders and deacons. The next chapters will transition to Paul's warnings about certain dangers lurking around the Christian church.
Book Summary:
First Timothy is one of Paul's three ''Pastoral Epistles.'' Paul's other letters, such as Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians, are meant for a broader audience. First Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are written to specific people whom Paul is advising on how to best lead their local churches. These three letters present a close look at the form and function of church leadership. First Timothy, like 2 Timothy and Titus, is less formal and systematic, and more personal. This gives great insight into the way pastors, deacons, and elders ought to prioritize their time and energy.
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