Friday, April 6, 2007

In writing to young Pastor Timothy in Ephesus, Paul tells him that an elder must not be:

1 Timothy 3:6-7 6 and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

It is amazing to do word studies on these words and the wealth of information that can be gathered when studying these characteristics. What I want to focus on today is the sin of pride.

Paul commands Timothy that an elder must not be a neophutos (that is, a "new convert" or a "new sprout; newly planted one"). Timothy must abstain from this because this elder then may be tempted to become conceited (Gk. tuphotheis - from the Greek tuphoo meaning "to be filled with smoke;" thus meaning metaphorically to be "clouded with pride"). Then Paul notes that this one may then fall into the condemnation incurred tou diabalou (of the Devil).

The question here with this phrase is what kind of genitive is this? Is it an objective or subjective?
1) Objective - the condemnation received by the devil
2) Subjective - the condemnation produced by or incurred by the devil.

In other words, is this the kind of condemnation that Satan brings about or is this the kind of condemnation by which Satan himself was condemned?

To answer this, some feel the need to go to verse seven and show that the exact same phrase occurs as a subjective genitive (that is, that the elder may not fall into the reproach and snare produced by the devil). So if this is a subjective genitive, then it would make sense for it to be the same construction one verse earlier. However we must not be so quick to come to this conclusion.

I am to the persuasion that the genitive in verse six is an objective genitive (that is, the condemnation received by the devil). Permit me to quote Hendricksen to help me with the explanation:

The idea that diabalou (devil) when in verse six it is used in the expression "condemnation of the devil" must be a subjective genitive because this same word when in verse seven it occurs in the phrase "snare of the devil" is a subjective genitive, impress me as being superficial. In determining the nature of these genitives, one question is paramount. It is this: What is the Scriptural Usage? Is it more scriptural to represent the devil as pronouncing a sentence of condemnation, or to represent him as being condemned? Of course, the latter! See the following passages for support: Gen 3:15; Isa 14:12 (by implication); Zech 3:2; Matt 4:10; 12:29; Luke 10:18; John 12:31; Rom 16:20; Eph 6:11; James 4:7; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6; Rev 12:7-9; 20:10. Hence, "the condemnation of the devil" means "the condemnation pronounced (and executed upon the devil" (objective genitive) (Thessalonians, The Pastorals and Hebrews, p.127, n.63).

Therefore, what happened to Satan could easily happen to an immature Christian elevated to eldership. For that matter, it could happen to anyone. The antidote to pride is humility, which is the mark of a spiritually mature leader. May we be those who are humble:

1 Peter 5:6 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God

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