Re: The DEI in I Timothy 3:2

From: L. E. Brown (
Date: Tue Feb 18 1997 - 21:44:41 EST

On Mon, 17 Feb 1997 23:48:39 EST, you wrote:

>The majority of commentators I read on this passage tend to reflect
>personal, denominational or peer bias when dealing with this word
>exegetically, so I find them dubiously helpful in answering this
>question: grammatically, contextually and objectively, to which of the
>items listed in I Timothy 3:2-7 (note it is repeated in verse 7) does
>the DEI apply?
>Can of worms anyone?
>Fred Nofer


Let me take a stab at this. I've got a couple of very cursory

        [Bear in mind that, as an extrovert, ideas don't become clear in
        my head until I speak (or, in this case, type!). I therefore
        reserve the right to say, "Oops! That was a boneheaded statement,
        let me retract that." 8^) ].

#1 - The adjective (anepilhmpton) in the independent clause is a
predicate accusative (so einai) which modifies the noun (episkopon).

#2 - The "generic" article [so Wallace, p. 229], here distinguishes
one class (elders) from another (deacons, but in v. 8 the noun is
anarthrous). If the noun in the independent clause *is* generic (a
whole other debate regarding who wrote the pastorals and when), then
Paul here articulates *generic* description of "an overseer" (English
indefinite article here is deliberate).

#3 - Verses 2-6 are a series of hypotactic clauses, the finite verbs
for which are all elliptical [with the exception of the rhetorical
excursus in verse five]. All are subordinate to the independent
clause. The adjectives in each of these adjectival clauses is
accusative, indicating that all of the clauses modify "ton episkopon
anepilhmpton einai" in v. 2.

#4 - Paul uses the same adjective in 1 Tim 5:7; 6:14 in the sense of
"being above/beyond criticism." Of this adjective Louw Nida say,

        It may be necessary in some languages to restructure
        ajkatavgnwstos and ajnepivlhmptos [our word] as complete clauses,
        so that ....őAbove reproach‚ in 1 Tm 6.14 may be rendered as őin
        such a way that no one can criticize it.‚

If Paul were articulating an EXHAUSTIVE list of qualifications that
would make one above criticism, then he sure left a lot out!


        1. ton episkopon is the subject of the finite verb dei.

        2. anepilhmpton einai is a predicate adjective use of the

        2. The clauses in vv. 2-6 modify the predicate adjective
                anepilhmpton einai.

        3. Paul is here offering a *general* list of qualifications
                for overseers. As such it is suggestive ("Look for these
                KINDS of qualities), not an exhaustive checklist.

        4. When you wake up at 4:00 a.m. after a sleepless night, this
                is not the sort of question you want to tackle.

In His Service,
        Bud Brown

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