by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2 Lincolnton, NC January 30, 2005
8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
1901 ASV Translation:
8 Deacons in like manner must be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
Textual Notes:There are no variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 textual traditions in verses 8-9.
II. Paul's Requirements Upon Those Who "Would be" the Slaves of the Church.
B. Then, there is "not double-tongued".
1. The biblical picture is that of James 3:10-11.
2. Another aspect of that picture is that of the "politician" who tells his hearers what they want to hear, and as the audiences change, so does what comes out of the mouth.
3. But, perhaps more significant is the fact that the word that is translated "double-tongued" signifies the presentation of two different life "messages".
a. The biblical picture of man is that he has two contrary life messages written upon his heart(s) and it takes one who is deliberate to be able to squelch the one in order to present the other in a consistent manner. The immature have no such skill, so out of their bodies come two different lives and off of their tongues come two different "words".
b. The commitment to a legitimate kind of honesty that was introduced by "gravity" is now carried further with "not double-tongued".
C. Then, there is "not given to much wine" -- a concept that is not generally too hard to grasp among tee-totallers, but is somewhat of a burden to those who wish to use "some" wine. After all, "much" is a very relative term.
D. Then, there is "not greedy of filthy lucre".
1. There are those who think it "fine" to be "greedy" as long as the "gain" is not "filthy", but they do not get that idea here.
2. The word, as it was used in the Greek language, treats "greediness for gain" as "sordid". Liddell-Scott says the verb means "to be sordid, greedy of gain". In other words, "greed for gain" is "sordid" -- it's the greediness that is sordid, not the "gain".
E. And then there is "holding the mystery of the faith in a clear conscience".
1. This requirement has two basic parts.
a. There is the content of the faith -- called a mystery.
b. There is the clarity of conscience.
2. That the "faith" is a mystery implies that having a "clear" conscience may also be a "mystery" ("I am aware of nothing against me, but I am not by that justified" -- a loose translation of 1 Corinthians 4:4).
a. Paul claimed that he had to "exercise" himself to maintain a clear conscience (Acts 24:16) -- implying that such maintaining was neither automatic, nor easy, nor, perhaps, even "simple".
b. That there is "mystery" involved implies that "deacons" need to have enough maturity to realize how complicated a "clear conscience" requirement is and how really necessary it is. [Men and women who have been "in ministry" for many years often show how easy it is to dismiss this requirement by how their ministry lives "blow up" in their faces after a certain amount of time goes by -- "I gave her time to repent, but she doesn't want to repent" (Revelation 2:21; again, loosely translated).