1 Timothy 3:1-13 – Bishops, Elders, and Deacons


1 Timothy 3:1-13


The author sets forth the qualities required of bishops, elders, and deacons, and he makes some remarks concerning their functions and duties.


The offices spoken of here and at 1 Timothy 5:17–21 seem to be in existence already, and so the original readers presumably know what the author is talking about. Concerning the office of bishop (episkopos, meaning “overseer”), the author speaks of qualities of those seeking that office, but does not actually outline the responsibilities of the office. It includes some kind of administrative leadership, since the person is supposed to be able to manage his own household as a prerequisite for his work in the church. There is more specificity for the duties of the presbyter (presbyteros, meaning “elder”). Presbyters have leadership functions of some kind, since at least some of them should be honored because they “rule well,” and some of them teach. There is a “council of elders” or presbytery (presbyterion, which the NRSV translates as “council of elders”) to which the elders belong and is responsible for ordinations (4:14). Whether the bishop belongs to the presbytery is not clear. The office of deacon (diakonos, “minister” or “servant”) appears to be assumed and may have to do primarily with social ministry, but the duties are not elaborated.