3:1 This saying is trustworthy: “If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a good work.” 3:2 The overseer then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3:3 not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. 3:4 He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity. 3:5 But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? 3:6 He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact. 3:7 And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil’s trap.

3:8 Deacons likewise must be dignified, not two-faced, not given to excessive drinking, not greedy for gain, 3:9 holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 3:10 And these also must be tested first and then let them serve as deacons if they are found blameless. 3:11 Likewise also their wives must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect. 3:12 Deacons must be husbands of one wife and good managers of their children and their own households. (NET Bible)

Is Paul saying here that only honorable men that know how to properly handle the affairs of their own family can be a pastor or deacon in the church? Also are the wives deacons too?

  • 2
    This is a good question IF you remove the last sentence(Also, are the wives deacon(esses) too). Since the text you quoted doesn't specifically address the 'wives' ordination, it is entirely a different question than the one you posed.
    – Tau
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 3:24
  • 1
    Yes. One point of clarification though: the first part of the passage describes the qualifications for "overseers" (i.e. elders) -- not "pastors".
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 23:57
  • @Jas3.1 Wouldn't a pastor usually be an overseer? Speaking of pastors as in Eph 4:11 (are there any others?). Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 12:19
  • @RalphM.Rickenbach That is a common assumption made by many modern Western Protestants. As to whether Scripture agrees, that is debated. Personally I think not; Shepherd is a gift, like Prophet or Apostle, determined solely by the will of God, irrespective of character. Elder, in contrast, is an office, to be sought after, based on character and experience -- not gifting. Totally different on all three counts. (Caveat being that Elders have to do some "shepherding", just as fathers do, whether they're gifted as a Shepherd or not.)
    – Jas 3.1
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 2:33
  • Your question is /much/ broader than the one answered here. However as a supplementary you might find this helpful: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/19525/…
    – LiamM
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 20:54

2 Answers 2


The Idea in Brief

The New Testament is explicit that women do not hold the "office" of teaching (or pastoring), but they may nonetheless have the "gift" of teaching. In the case of the "office" of deacon, there is no explicit expectation or reference that such people need teach the Word of God (as is otherwise the case with the overseer in the same context); therefore women appear qualified to hold this "office," especially in light of two passages in the Christian New Testament that indicate women were hosting local church meetings in their own homes.


The "office" of teaching appears to be exclusive to men in the Christian New Testament (1 Cor 14:34 and 1 Tim 2:12), however the "gift" of teaching does apply to women, who may be teachers in the local congregation.

Titus 2:3-5 (NASB)
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

That is, such women hold no "office" of teaching, but they nonetheless have the "gift" of teaching.

There are also two examples in the Christian New Testament where women appear to be hosting the local church in their homes, and so they appear to hold the "office" of deaconess, because they appears as servants (= διάκονος in Greek).

Colossians 4:15 (NASB)
15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house.

2 John 1:1 (NASB)
1 The elder to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not only I, but also all who know the truth,

The women in the above two verses appear to be servants (deaconesses) because the passage of 1 Tim 3:8-13, which discusses this "office," makes no mention concerning the exercise of authority (as is the case of the "office" of overseer in 1 Tim 3:2, who must be able to teach). The context at hand provides more insight in this regard.

1 Tim 3:11-12 (NASB)
11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.

The same Greek word for "woman" in the above verse (in regard to the "office" of deacon) is the same word used for "woman" in the verse below (in regard to the "office" of teaching) in the same epistle.

1 Tim 2:12 (NASB)
12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

In other words, the "office" of deacon may be held by women, but there is no expectation that such persons --whether men or women-- teach anyone as would otherwise be the case of the overseer (or even the pastor), who is male, and who is expected to teach as part of their "office." Again, the exclusion of women from the "office" of teaching does NOT imply that they do not have the "gift" of teaching.

  • 1
    There is no such thing as an office of teaching. It's an office of oversight. Both offices of overseer and service (deacons) are tangential to gifting.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 0:40
  • @curiousdannii - do women occupy the office of oversight?
    – Joseph
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 12:53
  • I don't think the Bible indicates they should, but that's not what my comment was addressing.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 12:57
  • In this passage, their is no office of teacher, but there is the teacher's office in Eph 4:11. As with women: remember that there is no more man or woman according to Paul - not talking women's lib and equality here, but would that change the discussion about women becoming teachers? Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 12:15
  • @RalphM.Rickenbach - Eph 4:11 doesn't mention the term 'office' anywhere, though. Joseph's error is to separate teaching into a 'gift' and an 'office', and this certainly can't be done based on a single ambiguous verse, right? Paul teaches both that 'there is no man/woman' and separate rules for men and women. We can't supersede one in favour of the other, but need to understand them in parallel. As you say though, that's getting out of scope of this question and would require a new one.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 15:05

Qualifications for deacons and pastors in 1 Timothy 3:1-12

1 Timothy 3:1-2 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Is Paul saying here that only honorable men that know how to properly handle the affairs of their own family can be a pastor or deacon in the church?

There can be some confusion when considering various terms in English especially considering that some of these terms come with traditional usage that is not necessarily what was meant in the Greek.

The word “office” is not in the Greek. One might make a case that it could be implied as episkopē (overseer) in the Greek was a position held to represent the interests of a group. It is slightly different that we are familiar with. For example, if a group of people wanted a building constructed, they would appoint an overseer. However, this person might be thought of as an auditor.

We can get a broader perspective of oversight through the negative use of episkope;

1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.

The word “busybody” is allotriepiskopos (one who takes the supervision of affairs pertaining to others).

Our word “pastor” is used for the Greek word poimēn (shepherd) and is used as a noun in the New Testament in Ephesians 4:11 where it is grammatically joined to teacher (didaskalos) to convey the idea that pastoring (shepherding) is accomplished by teaching.

While an overseer should be “apt” to teach, the role of teacher and overseer cannot be made equivalent.

The term “elder” (presbuteros) might be considered similar to overseer. Some denominations favor a single pastor, some multiple elders, some a single bishop.

The word deacon (diakonos) simply means servant or one who serves.

The qualifications Paul gives are to help remind Timothy there are dangers not only in selecting leaders who are unsound, but even those in serving positions cannot be those whose shortcomings might harm the body of Christ.

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