Biblical Leadership Traits - Not Pugnacious

Masters Men: Leadership

Biblical Leadership Traits

Not Pugnacious

1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7



Pugnacious is not exactly a household word in today’s English. Many other translations have “not violent” (NIV, ESV, RSV, NKJ) while the KJV has “no striker”. It even sounds bad in the Greek – mh πλήκτης. These are the only two uses of the term in the NT. It is used once in verb form (πλήσσω) in NAS Revelation 8:12 And the fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun and a third of the moon and a third of the stars were smitten, so that a third of them might be darkened and the day might not shine for a third of it, and the night in the same way. The verb is used several times in LXX – for instance: NAS Exodus 22:2 "If the thief is caught while breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there will be no blood guiltiness on his account.

So, the basic meaning is strictly “strike” leading some lexicons to render it a bully or brawler. We should think of fist fights. But perhaps more appropriate is the more general description of a quarrelsome and contentious person, maybe even quick-tempered.

Thus, God’s leaders should not be those with a short fuse, or those with a fighting attitude, or those who always take shots at someone else. This is the original “anger management” discussion. Commentators (Lenski 585; Hendrickson 125) refer to one who carries a chip on his shoulder.



  1. Is your outlook basically positive or negative? Does the requirement to avoid being quarrelsome or contentious speak to this issue or not?

Not necessarily

Having a positive disposition is helpful but not required

  1. How do you deal with the tension between not being contentious on the one hand and the requirement for leaders to expose heretical teaching and deviant conduct on the other hand? (for instance: NAS Titus 1:12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." 13 This testimony is true. For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith)

The key may be motive – whether we enjoy exposing and rebuking

  1. Ask your wife or someone close to you if they believe you have a problem with anger. If the answer is “yes” probe for specific examples, determine if there is common cause, and seek counsel as appropriate. 

© Copyright. Joseph Flatt. 2018. All rights reserved. May be used for educational purposes without written permission but with a citation to this source.