by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 9 Lincolnton, NC January 16, 2005
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
The Nestle/Aland 26 omits the emphatic "he" that the Textus Receptus includes.
I. The "Devil" Possibilities.
A. In 3:6 Paul suggested that one who has only recently begun to grow is highly subject to the temptation to seek his status from his ability to exercise authority -- and if he should yield to it, he would come under the judgment "of the devil".
B. Now, in the follow-up verse, he suggests that if one does not have a good reputation in the eyes of those "without" and he is yet given the responsibility of "oversight", the result is highly likely that he will succumb to the "snare of the devil".
II. The Implication.
A. These statements bring the "devil" into the picture for the first time in Paul's "pastoral" letters.
1. Interestingly, it is not the typical "spiritual warfare" thesis.
2. Rather, it is the possibilities that permission of ungodly motives for being involved in leadership will lead to a personal sharing in the "judgment" that the devil can bring about in the deceitful way of "snares".
3. Also interesting is that Paul addresses the way "out" of the snares in 2 Timothy 2:25-26...and it is not a complicated "spiritual warfare" process; it is simply "repentance" out of a gentle confrontation of teaching.
B. The impact of such "leaders" upon the church is inescapable, but it is not even mentioned by Paul -- his focus is upon the individual, not the group.
III. The Details.
A. "Moreover he must..."
1. The word used refers to an inescapable necessity.
2. There is no way around this requirement.
B. "...have a good report/testimony..."
1. This is a very complicated requirement. Paul, himself, spent a lot of time being involved in conflicts that involved whole communities; he spent a lot of time in jail; his preaching produced what several New Testament texts acknowledge will happen -- slander; malicious character assaults; reviling; etc.
2. Apparently, Paul believed that if a person faced these kinds of things in a way that reflected Christ, the reputation of a person over time in a local community would ultimately "settle" into respect.
3. Also, Paul was not setting out to establish the qualities required of an "apostle" in 1 Timothy 3 -- but, rather, local church leadership which would be in the same community for a relatively long period of time.
4. That Paul, in another place, disallows an "accusation against an elder" by only one person, and requires that multiple witnesses actually establish the legitimacy of any charge against such, is abundant testimony of his awareness that not all will give a good report of a man who actually deserves one.
C. "...of/from them which/that are without..."
1. In spite of Paul's doctrine of the depravity of man, he claims here that unbelievers will acknowledge the superior character of mature believers.
2. In spite of the inevitable upheaval that the preaching of the Gospel in a local area will create, apparently it is also inevitable that those who are mature in Christ will have a good reputation in the eyes of most who live in and through that upheaval.
D. "...lest he fall into reproach..."
1. The book of Hebrews (10:33; 11:26; and 13:13) openly declares that faithful believers will often "fall into reproach" as those who are stung by their witness attempt to destroy the strength of that witness through the old tried and, at least somewhat, successful method of character assassination. "Reproach" is to accuse someone of an evil.
2. Paul, obviously, is looking at the probability of an errant believer being exposed by his errors -- not the probability of a faithful believer being accused of errors of which he is not guilty. God resists the proud by exposure and humiliation. Real flaws of character will show up sooner or later and no one should be put into place as an elder of a local church who has no "community recognition".
a. What, then, of an unknown coming into a community?
b. How do we deal with "community recognition" in our mobile and unstable communities?
E. "...and the snare of the devil."
1. The "snare" is a well laid trap for the unsuspecting.
2. Paul uses the same terminology in 2 Timothy 2:26 with the additional phrase "...who are taken captive...".
3. Paul expects the devil to be involved in "laying snares".
a. His address is about the "devil" -- which focuses upon slander.
b. The scenario seems to be that the "slanderer" will actually use slander as a part of the "snare".
1) How one responds to slander is often a revelation of character. If a person is mature enough to be drawing his sense of status from God's love, slander will not affect him overmuch.
2) When Christ was reviled, He did not revile in return.
4. The only people who are susceptible to such "snares" are those who have not matured sufficiently to be qualified to help others escape them.
a. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy about those who "oppose themselves" and how they have been snared by the devil.
b. Thus, it is gentle teaching that delivers and that brings us back to the requirement of a "good reputation" being tied to "gentle teaching".