The “My Three Sins” Section of 1 Timothy 2-3. 1 Timothy 2:8-3:13 – Overseers Corrected and Restored by Jesus the Faithful Word

by Bruce C. E. Fleming, author of Back to Eden and Speaker and Host on The Eden Podcast

This passage uses the prophetic rhetorical template also known as the jump, jump, high jump pattern.[1]

First Timothy is written in three Sections: about Paul (1:1-17), about Sinners (1:18-3:13), and about Timothy (3:14-6:21). The key phrase in each Section is pistos ho logos (1:15, 3:1, 4:9). Jesus, the faithful Word,[2] made the difference in the ministries of all these. Paul’s three sins, listed in 1:13, serve as the outline for the second Section of the letter.

People are VERY interested in the verses in Section 2. Because word patterns convey meaning as well as word definitions it is absolutely necessary to take into account the prophetic rhetorical template, or the jump, jump, high jump pattern used in this Section.

In JUMP number one, Paul deals with severe punishment for blasphemers (1:18-20). Because he was a 2nd degree sinner and blasphemer he was treated more leniently (1:13).

In JUMP number two, Paul deals with actual and potential persecutors (in 2:1-7). He too had been an official persecutor but was saved. He wanted this for them too (2:4).

In the HIGH JUMP, Paul takes up the overseers who were disrupters in 2:8-3:16. Paul had been a 2nd degree disrupter. So too were some overseers where Timothy was. Just like Jesus the faithful Word had made Paul faithful, so Jesus could restore them too.

The center portion of the HIGH JUMP is located in 3:1-10. It deals with the restoration by Jesus of the retrained men and women who had been wayward overseers. On either side of the center are verses on the men in A and A’ (2:8 and 3:12) and the women in B and B’ (2:9-15 and 3:11).[3]

In verse 8, the phrase “in every place” points to the disruptive activity of the wayward men overseers who were causing anger and disputes “in local assemblies.” This was to cease.

In verses 9-15, “woman” (2:11) indicates the subgroup of women overseers who needed instruction as part of their restoration process. Paul ordered Timothy to “let [them] learn! Why retrain and restore these women to ministry? They had been 2nd degree sinners like ignorant Paul had been, and like deceived Eve had been (2:13-15a).

In 1 Timothy 3:1-10 Paul writes inclusively of women and men overseers and deacons.

In verse 11 he encourages the restored female deacons.

In verse 12 he encourages the restored male deacons. Both groups are in view in verse 13.

[1] Identified and named with these two descriptors in other passages by Kenneth E. Bailey.

[2] Only in the first instance does Paul make a word play, adding a “saying.” There is no “saying” added in the other two instances. All three times the main idea of Jesus the faithful Word is in play.

[3] Many have been puzzled at Paul’s discussion of “women” and “men” at the end of chapter 3. In part, this is Paul’s completion of the B’ and A’ section of the parallelism which began with “men” and “women” in A and B.

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