March 26, 2017
1 Timothy 3
1 Timothy 3
Shawn Bumpers / General
Bishop; Elder in the NT; Pastor; Deacon; Church at Ephesus; Ability; Order; Church: Leadership
The Book of Acts closes with Paul in prison in Rome.
Paul probably arrived there about 59 a.d.
Acts 28:30–31 NKJV
Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.
Romans 15:24 NKJV
whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.
As much as Paul wanted to preach the Gospel, he wanted the Gospel to be heard.
The expanding Roman empire made it possible for him to expand his ministry further west.
Then came a series of events that unleashed opposition to Christianity throughout the empire.
A suspicious fire broke out in Rome, clearing enough land for Emperor Nero to begin construction of his huge new Palace.
The Jewish believers in Israel were beginning to leave, sensing that something bad was about to happen.
2 Peter 3:16 NKJV
as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
First, Paul will discuss elders, who have the role of oversight, spiritual guidance and sound teaching in the local church.
Serving in the role of an Elder, Paul will say, is a good work. (3:1)
Paul will also say that those who meet the physical needs of the church (Deacons) also are to be “worthy of respect.”
No man is qualified to be a spiritual leader in the church just because of his gender.
What Paul presents here in regards to qualifications and virtues is not unique to this letter OR to the Bible.
Lists of qualifications and appropriate virtues for various leadership positions appear in both Jewish and Gentile sources outside of the Bible.
It’s just common sense that positions, whether worldly or spiritual are better served by those with the proper credentials.
Also in our chapter, Paul explains that the church godliness, that is, “The truths of salvation and righteousness in Christ, which produce holiness in believers”
The church of God is a special fellowship, … the very household of the Lord.
“Bishop” here is the Greek word ἐπισκοπή Episkopos, which means overseer.
Depending on the translation that you are using, you may see the word “elder,” “overseer,” “shepherd,” or “guardian.”
1 Peter 2:25 NKJV
For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Acts 20:28 ESV
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
“Elder” is the translation of the Greek word πρεσβυτης Presbutes, which means, “an old man.”
Acts 20:27 NKJV
For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.
The first thing that Paul says is that a man who desires the position of a Bishop desires a good work.
There is a parallel passage in Titus 1 that covers this same list of qualifications, with elders in mind.
You might remember that in Philippians Paul greeted the bishops and deacons of the church in Philippi.
But these men had to be qualified.
Very often, what man looks at as qualifications don’t match up with what God says.
It was good for a growing believer to aspire to the office of bishop, but the best way to achieve it was to develop Christian character.
A person’s character is the sum of his or her disposition, thoughts, intentions, desires, and actions.
And it is good to remember that character is gauged by general tendencies, not on the basis of a few isolated actions.
In the church, becoming an elder is a serious decision, one not to be treated lightly.
Paul gave 16 qualifications for a man to meet if he expected to serve in this function.
This word literally means “Nothing to take hold upon.”
That is, he should strive to have nothing in his life that Satan or the unsaved can take hold of to criticize or open the church up to attack.
This doesn’t mean that nobody WILL accuse this man.
Joseph was blameless and yet accused and jailed by Potifer.
Jesus and His disciples were also accused.
The husband of one wife:
An elder’s home-life is very important, and especially his marital status.
The idea is that his love and affection and heart is given to one woman, and that being his lawful and wedded wife.
This means “careful” and “deliberate.”
Sober or Sober-minded:
The Greek word σώφρων Sōphrōn means “prudent, self controlled.”
Of good behavior:
It is the same Greek word that is translated “modest” in 1 Timothy 2:9, referring to women’s clothing.
Given to hospitality:
Literally, the term means, “Loving the stranger.”
Apt to teach:
He should be skilled enough in the Bible to teach others … not just the milk, but the meat of the Word.
2 Timothy 2:2 NKJV
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Phillips Brooks, famous American bishop of the 1800s, said about being Apt to Teach, “It is not something to which one comes by accident or by any sudden burst of fiery zeal.”
Not be given to wine:
The Greek word means “addicted to wine.”
Ephesians 5:18 NKJV
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
You might remember that Paul criticized some of the members of the Corinthian church for getting drunk at the love feasts that accompanied the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:21).
Romans 14:21 NKJV
It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
Not be violent:
The Greek word πλήκτης Plēktēs means “violent, bully.”
Not be greedy for money:
John Calvin wrote, “The man who will not bear poverty patiently and willingly will inevitably become the victim of mean and sordid covetousness.”
There are those who use the ministry with the aim of fleecing the sheep.
1 Peter 5:2 NKJV
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;
The pastor must listen to people and be able to take criticism without lashing out.
Pastors must be peacemakers, not troublemakers.
A godly family:
This does not mean that a pastor must be married, or, if married, he must have children.
The word “rule” in verse 4 &5 means “to preside over, to govern,” and suggest that a pastor is the one who directs what goes on in the church.
1 Peter 5:3 NKJV
nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;
Not to be a novice:
This is the Greek word νεόφυτος Neophytos (nay-OH-phoo-tohs) meaning “newly converted.”
Age is no guarantee of maturity, but it is good for a man to give himself time for study and growth before he serves in any leadership role in the church.
A good testimony outside the church:
These characteristics should be evident to all, even unbelievers.
The English word deacon is a transliteration of the Greek word διάκονος diakonos, which simply means “servant.”
With regard to the Christian church, it is likely that the origin of the deacons is recorded in Acts 6.
In fact, the first deacon, Stephen, later became the first martyr of the church.
In churches today deacons relieve the pastors/elders of other tasks so that they may concentrate on the ministry of the Word, prayer, and spiritual oversight.
The Deacon must be reverent
The Greek word means, “Dignified and worthy of respect.”
The Greek word here is δίλογος Dilogos (THEE-lohgohs) and means insincere.
He does not say one thing to one member and something entirely opposite to another member.
Not given to much wine:
Like with the elders, the deacon should be given over to the Spirit of God and not addicted to alcohol.
Not greedy for money:
Deacons may at times help with the offerings and lead benevolence ministries.
Paul uses the Greek word mysterion to mean, “Truth once hidden but now revealed by God.”
The doctrines of the faith are “hidden” to those outside the faith, meaning they cannot be understood by them.
A man demonstrates his fitness for office in the church by his conduct.
This implies watching their lives and seeing how they conduct themselves.
Matthew 25:21 NKJV
His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Quite a few leaders mentioned in the Bible were first tested as servants.
• Joseph was a servant in Egypt for 13 years before he became a second ruler in the land.
• Moses cared for sheep for 40 years before God called him.
• Joshua was Moses’ servant before he became Moses’ successor.
• David was tending his father’s sheep when Samuel anointed him king of Israel.
First a servant, then a ruler.
In verse 11, like he did with overseers, Paul now directs attention to the homes of deacons.
The deacon’s wife is a part of his ministry … godliness must begin at home.
Many churches do have deaconesses and it is Biblical.
Perhaps in some of the churches, the wives of the deacons did serve as deaconesses.
It is not necessary to hold an office to have a ministry or exercise a gift.
There Paul closes out this section on leadership roles in the church with a requirement.
The Deacon, and I believe this holds to the higher offices as well … elder and pastor … are to USE the office, not just FILL the office.
It is a serious matter to serve in church.
Elders, deacons, and church members need to be reminded of what church is.
In this brief paragraph, Paul gave 3 pictures of the church.
1. House of God
The Greek word for house here is οἶκος oikos which means “House, Home, and Household.”
God’s church is a family, and I believe that “household” is the better translation, as captured by the ESV, NLT, NASB, and NIV.
John 1:12 NKJV
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Now, because the local church is a family, it must be fed; and the only diet that will nourish the people is the Word of God.
Matthew 4:4 NKJV
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”
Hebrews 5:12–14 KJV 1900
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Psalm 119:103 NKJV
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
The Word of God is our bread, milk and meat, and honey.
Also like a family, a church needs discipline in love.
The next picture of the church that Paul gives is:
The church, or assembly:
The word church is a translation of the Greek word ἐκκλησία ekklesia (ek-klay-SEE-a), which means “Called out assembly.”
Acts 20:28 NKJV
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
The pillar and ground of the truth
1 Corinthians 3:9–15 NKJV
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
But here Paul also says that the church is itself a pillar and defense for the truth.
It’s a pillar in that the church’s ministry relates primarily to displaying the truth of the Word, like a work of art might be put on a pedestal so all can see it.
As a defensive wall, the church protects the truth and makes sure it does not fall.
When churches turn away from the truth of God’s Word and allow false doctrines and compromise in their ministry, then the enemy makes progress.
According to verse 16, the main truth to which a church should bear witness is the person and work of Jesus Christ.
One interesting thing about this text is that overseers, elders, and deacons are all normal ordinary people.
They are not super-people or special in some way, except that by grace they have been saved through faith.