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1 Timothy 3:6 – No novice

11-12-2023 - Posted by Hans

No novice, lest being conceited, he should be falling into judgement of the Adversary.

The overseer Timothy had to look for would not be a novice either. This ties in closely with how overseers are also called elsewhere: ‘elders’ (Tit.1:5,7; Acts 20:17,28). Just like our word ‘senior’, this characteristic mainly indicates maturity and experience. Someone who has recently become a believer or is still too young lacks these qualities, no matter how gifted and qualified he may be.

The reason given here why the overseer should not be a novice is that he would be in danger of becoming conceited as a result. He would imagine himself to be something and draw attention to himself and would thus fall into “the judgment of the adversary”. What does the latter mean?

“Adversary” here is the rendering of the Greek ‘diabolos’, the word from which our concept of ‘devil’ is derived. This word can indeed refer specifically to “the old serpent” or Satan (Rev. 12:9), but that does not necessarily have to be the case (see e.g. 3:11 or 2 Tim. 3:3). From its elements, ‘diabolos’ means ‘confuser’ and refers to someone who distorts, suspects and slanders things. He’s out to sue. A conceited overseer could give “the judgment of the adversary” an appearance of being right.