An Overseers Responsibility

1 Timothy 3:1-7 SCC 11/18/12


Trustworthy Statement: introduces something important. Paul uses that phrase five times. He uses it in 1 Timothy 1:15, he uses it here in 3:1, he uses it again in chapter 4 verse 9, he uses it in 2 Timothy 2:11 and he uses it in Titus 3:8. Several of those five times it also says this is a true saying, or this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance. But the main idea is this is a true saying. Now what that means is it is a trustworthy statement, or to put it simply, this is the truth and everybody knows it. This is axiomatic. This doesn't need proof. This is obvious.

Assumption: (if) The point is that this is assume to be true

One supplying ‘oversight’ is on who has responsibility of caring for spiritual concerns. Being an overseer (Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:1-2) was one of the functions Paul and Peter saw for the Elders. The elder simply refers to his spiritual maturity; he is older in the spiritual dimension. Bishop or overseer refers to his leadership responsibility. Shepherd or pastor, same word, refers to his feeding responsibility. He is a mature spiritual person who leads and feeds the church. And so whether you call him elder, bishop, pastor, overseer, it's all the same.

Good Work: It is a worthy calling. It says in it is a good work. It is a noble excellent honorable high quality work. It is of great value. This is the most worthy task, a glorious task. The work of the ministry is a demanding thing. The work is never done. You don't turn it off at five o'clock. It never goes away. And there's no assembly line that stops and you can walk away. It is a demanding calling. It is based on the desire to do it.

Verse 2: He must be in a present state of blamelessness. It doesn't mean that he never committed a sin in his whole life. It doesn't mean that in the past there wasn't something that was wrong. What it means is in the present he is blameless. No one has been blameless all his life. It is not a question of what did he do years in the may be a question of what he did a few months or weeks ago or maybe even a few years ago that is still a blight on his life, but the idea is present blamelessness. It doesn't mean he had to be perfect before he was a Christian. No one could do that. Everyone before they came to Christ lived in sin. This man must have a life without blame. That is the overarching requirement. In fact, everything else that comes after that really in a sense defines what is meant by blameless. This is the general basic overall requirement. Their moral character is absolutely the bottom line.

There are four areas of life in which he is to be blameless:


1. He is to be a onewoman man. That is singly devoted to the wife that he has, a onewoman man.  It is not an issue of whether or not he is married, previously married, divorced, or widowed. It isn't status and it isn't circumstance; it is attitude.  It is moral character and it is that he is to be a man who is singly and wholly and totally devoted to the woman who is his wife, if indeed he does have a wife.  So it's speaking about his moral character.

2. He is temperate. The word temperate means literally wineless. That is, his mind is not clouded by taking in drink.  It came also metaphorically to mean alert, watchful, wary, aware, sensitive, wide-awake.  This is a man who is alert to what's going on. He senses what's happening.  He is a watchful person.  He knows how to read the signs of the times.  He understands what's going on around him.  He is perceptive. 

3. He is soberminded. That means well-disciplined in his mind.  His mind is ordered.  He has a sure steady thoughtful earnest welldisciplined, wellordered mind.  He has control of his pleasures.  He has control of his passions.  His mind is an ordered mind. 

4. He is of good behavior. That is a wellordered life.  A wellordered mind produces a wellordered life.  A chaotic mind produces a chaotic life.  So you have an ordered life flowing from an ordered mind.  Because everything in his mind has its priority ranking, because everything in his mind has its time and place. His life is orderly. (Priorities)

5. He is given to hospitality.  He is characterized by being given to hospitality, which means he loves strangers.  He has the ability to love strangers.  He is not at all a respecter of persons.  He does not hold one race as superior to another.  He is able to love strangers.  He goes beyond the circle of his own friends and his life is open. He's not a closed person.  He's not a recluse.  He's not private.  He is public in the sense that he opens his life and his heart and his arms and his home and his world to people in need, whether he knows them or whether he does not. 

6. He is apt to teach. He is skilled in teaching. The essence of all teaching is in example and it is what he is that is the priority in his ability to communicate to others.  So the heart of the task of teaching is his character. You cannot separate what a teacher is from what he says when the whole content of his teaching is moral. 1 Timothy chapter 4 verse 6, Paul says to Timothy, "If you put the brethren in remembrance of these things you'll be a good minister of Jesus Christ.". A good spiritual leader is a good teacher. Verse 11, "These things command and teach." Verse 16, "Take heed to yourself and unto the teaching." Chapter 5 verse 17, "Work hard in the Word and teaching." The same thing is true in 2 Timothy chapter 1 verse 13, "Hold on to sound words." Chapter 2 verse 15, "Study to show yourself approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of truth." Know how to interpret it properly. Chapter 3 verse 14, "Continue in the things you've learned." Pass them on to others. The essence of everything is teaching. That's why 2 Timothy 2:2 says, "The things you've heard from me commit to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also." It's all about teaching.

7. He is not given to much wine. It isn't a reference to someone who drinks unto drunkenness. Whether he drinks to drunkenness or not isn't the issue, the issue is whether he has a reputation as a drinker. 
Anybody in spiritual leadership stays away from anything that blurs their personal and spiritual vision.

8. He is not violent. He doesn't punch people when he gets upset.  By the way, this is connected to the guy who is a drinker, usually.  Drinkers often resort to violence.  The idea is here is a person who is not quick tempered, one who doesn't resort to physical violence. 

9. He is to be considerate and genial and forbearing and gracious and gentle. He is a person who easily pardons human failure. There's something wonderful about having a bad memory. You don't want a person who holds grudges.

10. He is not a brawler. It means a quarrelsome person. Not to be who strife’s and argues but to be gentle and patient, peace making.

11. He is not covetous. There's a simple principle: if you seek for nothing you can take whatever comes as from the Lord. Free from the love of money. He doesn't have any earthbound desires.


1. Not only have an exemplary personal life but an exemplary home life. It says that as he rules at home, he is to rule well.  So the idea is that here is a man who is to be leading his family in such a way that his leadership is inherently good and it is manifestly good to all those who perceive and see his leadership there. The home then becomes the proving ground where a man's administrative leadership capability is nurtured, made visible and thus qualifies or disqualifies him from spiritual leadership.  How he handles the home, how he handles the assets. The stewardship of his possessions is critical.

2. He must have his children in submission with all dignity. In submission means literally, it's sort of a military term, to line up in rank under those over them in authority. His children are to be subject, lined up in proper control.  They are to be respectful and controlled and disciplined children. His children must be under control and respectful. 

3. Now notice that it says at the end of verse 5, "How shall he take care of the church?" There is no better place to see whether a man has a life committed to meeting needs then to take a look at what he does with the people in his household.  Does he care about them?  Is his life committed to them?  Does he work hard to meet their needs?


He should not be newly planted.  That means a new convert. Why?  "Lest being lifted up with pride". If he's relatively new in the faith, the tendency is going to be for him to feel proud about having been elevated to that level of leadership occupied by older more mature godly men who have been leading spiritually for many years. It means to puff up like smoke.  We don't want them to get puffed up like a a big cloud, a false sense of spirituality. Why?  "Lest being lifted up with pride, puffed up, he fall into the condemnation of the devil." He falls into the judgment God pronounced on the devil.  It is the judgment that God brought on the devil.  He falls into the same condemnation the devil fell into. He fell into pride and God cut him down. Leadership must involve humility. 


He is to be tested as to reputation. It means not only good inwardly but good outwardly.  It not only means that he's got character but it means he has a reputation that is good.  There is an excellency on the outside as well.  He is to have an excellent testimony.  The report means testimony. Why?  "lest he fall into disgrace and the trap of the devil." This is a trap sent by Satan to catch us. That we are going to be tempted and we are weak and we have those areas where Satan works on us and we are going to stumble.


Why does God want these kind of men in leadership?  Because they are the models all these qualifications are not just for them, they are for them to model so they can become true of all of us.