What does 1 Timothy 3:7 mean?
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.
NKJV: Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Verse Commentary:
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 Further, no distinction was originally made between bishop, overseer, or elder.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.
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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