Elder Qualifications – Temperate

An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…
1 Timothy 3:2 (emphasis mine)

Nēphalios (temperate) literally means wineless, or unmixed with wine.1

In a metaphorical sense, nēphalios means alert, watchful, vigilant, or clear-headed. That may be its primary sense in this passage. A leader must be one who thinks clearly. He must possess the inner strength to refrain from any excess that would dull his alertness.2

This specific word is also used in relation to other believers who are not elders:

Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.
1 Timothy 3:11 (emphasis mine)

Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.
Titus 2:2 (emphasis mine)

The overseer is to maintain command of his reason, to be watchful and observant of things going on around him, and balanced in his assessments.3

To be temperate shows that the church leader had to be free from rash actions. The word describes self-control with regard to use of intoxicants, but it can also be used to describe a mental self-control that rules out all forms of excess. Paul dealt with the use of alcohol in 3:3. He was not covering this same subject here. Paul’s term here referred to someone who was sober and balanced in spirit.4


1 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (p. 105). Chicago: Moody Press.
2 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (p. 106). Chicago: Moody Press.
3 Towner, P. H. (2006). The Letters to Timothy and Titus (p. 251). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
4 Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). 1, 2 Timothy, Titus (Vol. 34, p. 110). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Rocky Wyatt

Rocky Wyatt came to know the Lord as a young teenager and began working in youth ministry when in college. After serving in churches in Utah, California and Colorado, Rocky moved to Texas to serve as Youth Pastor at Countryside Bible Church. He served there for 26 years where he eventually moved from youth ministry to serve as an Associate Pastor.

Over the course of his ministry, Rocky has always had a desire to train men for pastoral ministry in the context of the local church. In 1992 he started XL Ministries, an organization that is committed to helping churches establish intensive internships for pastoral training. In 2020 he left his position at Countryside Bible Church to become the Executive Director of XL Ministries and now works full time assisting churches in training men for ministry.

He is co-author of The Youth Ministry Training Manual, a textbook for training youth pastors, and has also written multiple other resources for use in various local church ministries. He is currently working on a book to encourage churches to take the primary responsibility to train pastors.

Rocky is married to Pamela, has two sons and daughters-in-law, and ten grandchildren. 

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.1 Corinthians 15:58