1 Timothy 3:8 New International Version

In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

New Living Translation

In the same way, deacons must be well respected and have integrity. They must not be heavy drinkers or dishonest with money.

English Standard Version

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.

New King James Version

Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money,

New American Standard Bible

Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not insincere, not prone to drink much wine, not greedy for money,

προσέχοντας (prosechontas)
Verb - Present Participle Active - Accusative Masculine Plural
Strong's 4337: From pros and echo; to hold the mind towards, i.e. Pay attention to, be cautious about, apply oneself to, adhere to.

We know that drinking wine is okay. How should one go about translating προσέχοντας here?


3 Answers 3


If you look at how προσέχω is translated in the 24 occurrences in the New Testament, it is little help with 1 Tim. 3:8, but only adds to confusion. Thus, the lexical meaning becomes essential. The complete BADG entry is at the end. However, A.T. Robertson records the specific meaning related to this verse, to set the mind on. Thus, rather than meaning indulgence or addiction, it is the mental precurser to these. While this would include the previous, it is more. It is the precurser to such. Thus, given or prone is pretty good. Perhaps, preoccupied with another good translation.

Not given to much wine (μη οἰνῳ πολλῳ προσεχοντας [mē oinōi pollōi prosechontas]). “Not holding the mind (τον νουν [ton noun] understood as usual with προσεχω [prosechō], 1 Tim. 1:4) on much wine” (οἰνῳ [oinōi], dative case). That attitude leads to over-indulgence. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (1 Tim. 3:8). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

προσέχω impf. προσεῖχον; 2 aor. προσέσχον (1 Cl 4:2=Gen 4:5); pf. προσέσχηκα (Aeschyl., Hdt.+; inscr., pap., LXX, Philo, Joseph., Test. 12 Patr.).

  1. act. turn one’s mind to ...

a. pay attention to, give heed to, follow—α. w. dat. of the pers.... β. w. dat. of the thing ... γ. abs. pay attention, be alert, notice ... δ. ἐπὶ ταῖς θυσίαις αὐτοῦ οὐ προσέσχεν he (God) took no notice of his (Cain’s) sacrifices 1 Cl 4:2 (Gen 4:5).

b. be concerned about, care for, pay attention to w. dat.

c. occupy oneself with, devote or apply oneself to w. dat.

  1. mid. cling τινί to someth. -- Arndt, W., Gingrich, F. W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (1979). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature : a translation and adaption of the fourth revised and augmented edition of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-deutsches Worterbuch zu den Schrift en des Neuen Testaments und der ubrigen urchristlichen Literatur (προσέχω). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

μη οινω πολλω προσεχοντας [TR undisputed]

'Not to wine much given' (the literal translation given by the Englishman's Greek New Testament interlinear translation) is a contrast to 1 Timothy 4:13 :

Till I come, give attendance (προσεχε) to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

The word is elsewhere translated (KJV and YLT) 'beware''give heed to' and 'have regard to'.

It is to be conscious of something. To be 'ware' of it or to be 'aware' of it.

It is there in the mind. Always.

That is the problem with alcohol dependancy, or with any addiction. It is always there, lurking in the mind, a constant feature of the life, a need that must be constantly catered for and around which the life and the behaviour must be constructed, so great a feature of the person is it.

Deacons are not to have such a problem in their life. They would be unable to serve the church properly if they had such a 'regard' such an 'attendance' on alcohol.

Let them first rectify that situation, then let them be deacons.

Other renderings :

Gloss: to watch out, be on guard, beware; to pay attention, devote, apply oneself

Definition: to have in addition; to hold to, bring near;, absol. to apply the mind to a thing, to give heed to, attend to, observe, consider, Acts 5:35; Heb. 2:1; 2 Pet. 1:19; to take care of, provide for, Acts 20:28; when followed by ἀπό, μή, or μήποτε, to beware of, take heed of, guard against, Mt. 6:1; 7:15; to assent to, yield credence to, follow, adhere or be attached to, Acts 8:6, 10, 11; 16:14; to give one's self up to, be addicted to, engage in, be occupied with, 1 Tim. 1:4, 3:8


I would therefore see 'give one's self up to' or 'be addicted to' as the most suitable translation of the word in 1 Timothy.

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    +1 Eph. 5:18 We have a choice of what we should put ourselves under the influence. Oct 22, 2021 at 11:53

The operative word for how to understand this is πολλῳ. In conjunction with the other word προσέχω it conveys the idea of drinking a lot of wine to the point of being unproductive, obnoxious, etc. in life. Paul writes to Timothy about drinking a little wine for one's stomach sake. The Eastern Orthodox Christian view this runs as follows:

The real gist of what Paul is saying in 1 Tim 5:23 is, “When dealing with annoying people all day, drink a little wine to calm down and relax.” The reference to Timothy’s “stomach and frequent ailments” is likely the feeling we get in our stomachs when we are stressed. So, if the wine does anything in Paul’s mind, it helps Timothy deal with the stress.

The Catholic church has no problem with drinking wine. And in the Lutheran tradition, Martin Luther himself was a vintner, who worked with the grapes grown by his wife Katie (who also made beer). In one of his letters, he writes:

I said to myself what good wine and beer I have at home, and also what a pretty lady or (should I say) lord. You would do well to ship the whole cellar full of my wine and a bottle of your beer to me here, as soon as you are able; otherwise I will not be able to return home because of the new beer. (Luther’s Works, 50, 81)

On the other hand, Luther did have to confront people in his day that were drinking too much wine:

For drunkards suffer physically from this evil. In addition, they shout, blaspheme, curse, and make much noise in the wineshops, as can be seen among our citizens and peasants, whose taverns resound far and wide with shouts and yelling even during our sermons. They howl and bellow when they drink beer. On the other hand, spiritual drunkenness makes them joyful and proud, so that they praise God, give thanks, and proclaim God’s blessings. (LW 8:260)

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