The Nature of an Overseer

1 Timothy Bible Background

New Testament: 1Ti 3.2a

To read the Bible in a year, read First Timothy 3 on October 23, In the year of our Lord Christ 2020

By Don Ruhl

If a man desires to be an overseer (“Bishop” in some translations), Paul indicated that such a man desires a good work. In other words, desiring such a position does not inherently mean he is power hungry, nor that his desire is evil. However, if a man desires that work, he has to have the right character. Paul said,

A bishop then must be blameless…

– 1 Timothy 3.2a

Others translations say that he must be “above reproach,” that is, he does not live in sin, or a particular sin. If someone makes an accusation against him, the people who know him would find it hard to believe that it is true. Yes, he sins, “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Ecclesiastes 7.20), yet, sin is not typical of him.

Paul went on to list some things that show the kind of man an overseer (also known as “elder”) is.


  • Does a man have to be perfect to serve as an elder?
  • How would you describe him?

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