J.N.D. Kelly has observed that the world often judges the church by the character and conduct of the clergy. In 1 Timothy 3:1–7, Paul gives instructions regarding the essential characteristics required for a man to hold the office of elder. Paul highlights the importance of these qualifications by beginning and ending his list with the same Greek verb meaning “it is necessary” (1 Tim. 3:2, 7). All of the attributes listed in verses 2–7 are absolute essentials for elders.
Paul also begins and ends his list by focusing on reputation. Verse 2 instructs Timothy to look for a man who is “above reproach,” and verse 7 returns to this theme by requiring that an elder candidate be “well thought of by outsiders.” The article will focus on this last qualification given in 1 Timothy 3:7.