by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 8 Lincolnton, NC January 9, 2005
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
1901 ASV Translation:
6 not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
There are no differences between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26.
I. Paul posits a very significant danger to a "novice".
A. Interestingly, it does not have to do with how much he "knows", or how "skilled" he is in a/any household.
B. Rather, it is related to the "probability" that he will be "puffed up".
C. Then, it is related to what happens when one is "puffed up" -- he "falls" into the "condemnation of the devil".
II. What is a "novice"?
A. The word so translated is only used here in the entire New Testament.
B. By etymology, it refers to someone who is "newly planted" -- implying, perhaps, that Paul has a relatively new believer in mind.
C. According to its use in the LXX, it refers to a new sprout or bud -- just beginning to grow.
D. The "problem" with the term is that it is indeterminate: how "new" is "new"?
III. What is the danger?
A. The term used is only used by Paul in his letters to Timothy (1 Timothy 3:6; 6:4; and 2 Timothy 3:4).
B. It is etymologically linked to "giving off smoke".
C. The only extended text is 1 Timothy 6:4 where Paul goes beyond the word to describe a person who loves to "engage" over disputed words which cause envy, strife, railings, and evil surmisings. The picture is of someone who seeks only to exalt himself by sophistry.
D. The "problem" as Paul seems to see it is that one given too much privilege too soon will try to make himself to be seen as "wood" (something substantial) instead of "smoke" (the particles left over from wood consumed by fire).
1. How does this correlate with the reality that it is often the older believers who are "puffed up" and, basically, incorrigible?
2. The answer may be back at their beginnings...
a. They may have gotten too much privilege too soon.
b. They may not have gotten enough grounding in Truth so that they developed "pride" as a defense against their ignorance.
IV. What is the Consequence?
A. It is called "the condemnation of the devil".
B. The word translated "condemnation" is, perhaps, not as strong a term as "condemnation" tends to be in our use.
1. It is not used consistently to refer to "damnation", but, rather, of the decisions people make about others, or that God makes about people.
2. There is a stronger word, which is a composite of this word plus a prefix that functions as an intensifier, that typically functions in contrast to "justification" as the term for "condemnation unto eternal death".
3. The issue, then, is not that a new believer who gets "puffed up" will be cast out of the life of God as was the devil; rather, it is that he will be treated with the same opposition from God as was the devil. [God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble].
C. The questions continue...
1. What is the "condemnation of the devil"?
a. Is it the "condemnation" which the devil manages to produce by leading a person into the "smoke-life" (self-exaltation)?
b. Is it the "condemnation" which has its original form in that to which the devil was subjected when he adopted the "smoke-life" (as intimated in IV.B.3. above)?
c. Is it the "condemnation" that has its degree of intensity in the example given of God's dealings with the devil (cast down and reserved for the deepest regions of Eternal Death)?
d. Conclusion: Since no one "newly planted" is without divine justification on the basis of Christ's attitude and work, the warning is not that the person who becomes "puffed up" will lose that justification, but, that he/she will lose the "fellowship of the Spirit" as an experience of daily life as it flows from God. God's response to the devil was "distance", and He also generates an oppositional distance from all who adopt the vacuous "smoke-life" of the proud.
2. Why does a too-soon promotion of a new believer seem to automatically lead to the "smoke-life"?
a. Partly because the sense of "status" that comes from the Gospel is too much of a "faith" issue to be able to overcome the longing men have to be "important" when their "faith" is weak. In that condition, men use "promotion" as a statement about their "superiority" rather than as a statement of their growth in servanthood.
b. Partly because the ability to make decisions that affect others is a heady experience for those who do not understand servanthood, and a too-soon promotion will simply feed the lust for that experience.
c. In the corruption of humanity and angels, a most fundamental issue is the consuming lust to be superior and to be able to experience the fruits of that superiority.
3. Why doesn't the internal ministry of the Spirit counteract the tendency toward the "smoke-life"?