Timothy 3.7

 

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In the course of an instruction on what the qualifications are for being a good “bishop” (episkopos), Timothy is told two things involving Devil:

1) He must not be a recent convert.  For he might become puffed up, and thereby fall into the judgment of Devil.

2) It is also necessary for him to have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he will not fall into reproach, and into a snare of Devil.  (1 Tim. 3.6-7)

“Judgment” in the first sentence is usually taken to mean “the same judgment as that by which Devil was condemned”; and “reproach” in the second sentence is often translated as “disgrace,” meaning the punishment suffered by Satan as the result of “his condemnation.”

Whoa, wait a minute!  What condemnation are we talking about?

So far we have heard of only one judgment made against Satan.  That’s the one in the Gospel of John:  the Paraclete has judged the Ruler of this World (John 16.7-11).  But the Paraclete’s judgment against the Ruler is not the condemnation of Satan that such interpreters are talking about.  It’s too recent, and still has to take effect–like Satan’s envisaged fall like lightning in Luke 10.18.  (There is also the consideration that the Gospel of John may well have been written after the First Epistle to Timothy.)

No, these interpreters are the people I warned against at the beginning.  They are conscious or unconscious RETRO-SMUGGLERS.  They have got ahead of themselves, and are assuming a too early currency of the idea that God had kicked the rebellious Satan out

 

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of heaven, and that it happened a long time ago, way back before the creation of Adam, or at least in time for Satan to dress up as the Serpent.

No way, José.  Not yet, Josette.

In my translation of 1 Timothy 3.6-7, given above, I understand Devil to be not the “judgee,” but the judge, and not the one reproached but the reproacher.  He also engages in dirty tricks, for he sets snares.  He is a proactive District Attorney who arranges set-ups and practices entrapment.  Not a nice person at all.  Maybe almost as bad as Satan, if he is not in fact Satan.

Does Devil have any natural or “supernatural” assistance, any hench-men or hench-spirits, to help him in his dirty work?  It is interesting to see that “Paul” goes on to caution the “deaconnesses” (deacons’ wives or female helpers) in the church not to be “devils,” or “diabolical,” diaboloi, but rather to be grave, sober, and faithful in all things (1 Tim. 3.11).  This word, diaboloi, which is of common gender, as discussed above (chap. 3.4), is usually translated as “gossipers” or “slanderers,” but it should doubtless be given the “accusatory nuance” attending ho Diabolos (Devil).

Whether the references to “deceiving Spirits” and the “teachings of Demons” in the next chapter (1 Tim. 4.1) have any reference to the supra-human world of spirits is not clear, but no overt connection is made to Devil or Satan.