The letters to Timothy are full of advice and instruction we can use for ourselves. Paul tells Timothy that, “I hope to come to you soon. but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church (assembly) of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15). Paul explains how each community of believers should have overseers, or elders. He goes into great detail about the qualities such persons ought to have.

He must be married and have brought up children for if he cannot run “his own household” how will he properly “care for God’s church” (verse 5)? Also “he must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil” (verse 6).

How can an overseer be condemned by a devil? The translators are inconsistent – the Greek word diabolos translated here as devil occurs again in verse 11 about what the wives of deacons should NOT be! They translate diabolos as “slanderer” in this case! Where diabolos occurs in 2 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 2:3 the translators have rightly rendered it as slanderer or similar word.

Jesus said “Have I not chosen you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil (diabolos)?” (John 6:70). It is to be regretted that the Church over time, built up a fictitious story of an evil supernatural spirit being. So it makes sense to understand Paul’s advice that they should not make a recent convert an overseer or elder until he has developed godly wisdom to prevent the possibility that he could “fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil” (diabolos).

Those who take any position of responsibility in God’s church “must be dignified, not double tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy … They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:8,9). Timothy is told that he should, “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (4:12).

We should all take Paul’s advice as to “how one ought to behave in the household of God”. Yes! God’s household!