Church Officers -- 1 Timothy 3:1-13
The purpose of this section from Timothy is to encourage the church to select qualified leaders.
As the church of the New Testament developed it soon became apparent that leadership was most vital.
The apostles certainly led the church in the beginning.
The early followers of the Lord Jesus were for the most part of Hebrew background.
Later on the persecution came and scattered these people through Palestine and beyond.
After Paul's conversion and the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles, the church gradually
lost its Jewish limitations, and became a body much broader in concept and in practice.
As new groups were established, it became necessary to appoint leaders for these.
Acts 6 tells of the rise of deacons who were servants of the church, and in charge of the relief
given to needy people.
As they ministered in material ways, they relieve the apostles for other tasks of prayer
and the ministry of the Word of God.
Acts 14:23 tells of the appointment of elders to take charge of the local congregation after Paul
and his friends had left.
We read of elders alongside of the apostles sharing in leadership.
Acts 11:30 tells of relief being sent to the elders at Jerusalem.
Acts 15 associates the elders with the apostles.
Acts 16:4 tells how the elders and the apostles together acted in a decision.
Acts 20:17 tells how Paul gathered the elders of the church at Ephesus to come to Miletus
where he told them farewell and gave them instructions.
So we get the picture that the church supported its leaders from among its leadership in these
were generally known as elders.
Now in writing to Timothy, Paul speaks of bishops, elders, and deacons, indicating how these terms
have become accepted in the church.
First, we look at the qualifications.
The need for leaders was met by the appointments made to the particular offices.
The standards were set by Paul.
We look at this domestically.
Several times is it recorded that a man should be the husband of one wife.
This should not be interpreted in such a way that it is meant (to mean) what the context does not suggest.
In one church when considering a young man for office, an aged and unbending elder quoted this
to disqualify him on the ground that he was unmarried.
Unknown to the elder the pastor knew that the young man was engaged to be married in the wedding date
set for the next summer, but the pastor said nothing.
Of course Paul did not mean that an unmarried man was not fit to hold office.
The social conditions of that time in the traditional practice would imply that most men were married.
Paul was concerned that any candidate for that office should not be a man of loose morals,
and should not be guilty of polygamy or adultery.
Instructions are set forth here about the home and the family relationship.
The leader should be without reproach, given to hospitality, one that rules well his own house.
This points to a man of faultless character, married only once, a generous host, keeping his children
controlled and respectful.
In those days travelers and visitors would be given a place to rest by the church leader.
This has been true in all periods of history.
Today often a visitor, the missionary or the guest-speaker at the church my stay in the home of the pastor.
The Eastern custom has spread throughout the church.
Of the fifteen items listed for a leader none is more important than his home life.
If a man fails here, his outside ministry can be undone.
The home is the area of demonstration concerning the Christian life and teaching.
The heathen without look in to see what kind of man is this who asks people to believe
in the Christian gospel.
How does he live?
The question is raised.
How can a man take charge of the church family if he cannot rule his own house well?
The analogy of the home and the house of God is well taken.
Paul teaches that the servant of God should be one whose home life is above reproach.
The man should be the ruler of his family, and that his headship is respected; and his wife and children
follow him as a Christian disciple.
Mention is made in this context of "women in lack manner." (Verse 11)
We need not read in that these women were to be officers or leaders in the church as the context
would naturally assume they were the wives of leaders.
These wives were to cooperate with their husbands because of their offices.
The character of the wives and their conduct was to be becoming in their gravity.
They were not to be tale-bearers, but they were to be temperate and trustworthy.
It is true that a wife can undo a man's work and influence.
Given a good Christian wife and one who is dedicated to the service of Christ, the church leader can engage
in his public work with the assurance that in the home everything is well.
Then Paul considers morality.
In a time of low moral standards and sexual laxity, the Christian leader exercises an influence for purity
Part of the ministry lay not in his teaching and preaching, but also in his example and behavior.
This stood out in marked contrast to the society around with its condoning of immorality.
The moral qualifications emphasized that high ethical standards were expected from a Christian leader.
To be "above reproach" touched the entire life.
No man is more under public scrutiny than a leader of the church.
Not only his words, but his acts and habits are seen and weighed by those who are not only friends,
but the critical also look on and judge.
Temperance and sober mindedness suggests that he be a man of balance and not given to frivolity.
This does not mean there is no sense of humor ‚Ä“ rather the reverse as a man in leadership needs this
-- but that his bearing and outlook on life is balanced and mature so that others can trust him
for guidance and counsel.
Surprisingly, Paul tells Timothy to be "orderly."
Regular habits contribute to a disciplined life.
Is this what he means?
The bishop and elder in his teaching and preaching functions must of necessity give time to study
and to meditate.
Perhaps, Paul has something else in mind when he speaks of being orderly.
Certainly a leader should have everything in his life well arranged so that his conduct is decent
and seemly to others.
Other items include verse 3, "no brawler, no striker, but gentle, not contentious, no lover of money"
The ethical qualities are spelled out one by one.
Drunkenness was one of the sins of that day, and overindulgence in wine was common.
In the home and in society, it ill became the leader of the church to fall to this temptation.
The other admonitions deal with the faults allied to intemperance.
Wine, anger, and avarice are associated with a person over-indulging, and loud of mouth.
The drunkard usually gives vent to his feelings in this way.
He does not see himself, but others find him objectionable.
A constant peril to the servant of God lies in the handling of money.
Greed can readily overtake him.
Gentleness and peace must characterize God's man.
He must not be contentious but gracious in spirit and action.
Then, he deals with the spiritual.
He would be a rash man to engage in the service of God without some spiritual qualifications.
Paul sets high standards for those who would be leaders of the church.
He who desires the office of a bishop or elder desires a good work.
This is not better than some other work, but suggests that it is the most important and the most beautiful
task to be done.
To be an overseer of others require spiritual strength.
To be without reproach and bear an excellent character demands spiritual power.
His chief power is seen in that he is not a novice, and not given to pride.
He is to be a teacher of others.
Here the qualifications are revealed.
One of the demands upon the minister is that of teaching.
Without that gift, trained and disciplined, a man should not engage in this ministry.
If he cannot speak properly and clearly, if he does not care to study, he is handicapped and limited.
This has always been a requirement.
The warning is given that no novice should be elected to this office.
A beginner in the Christian life is not ready to be a leader with mature spiritual grace and judgment.
It is tragic to see new converts unduly given prominence because of their conversion story
out of some lurid past which is supposed to appeal to the public by its dramatic occurrence.
This has often brought pride and disaster to the individual.
Paul had a cataclysmic conversion, but he spent three years in Arabia before venturing on his life-work.
The novice is inexperienced and untried.
He is easily inspired by the evil one, and has known little of the discipline of the spiritual life.
He has need to be taught instead of becoming a teacher of others.
The smoke-screen of pride is a peril to the young convert.
Paul suggests that a good testimony from without is a requirement for one who would be a leader in the church.
A man tested and tried in the world of business and of society is one whose spiritual strength is ready
for leadership in the church.
Beyond the domestic and moral standards there is the spiritual ever demanding that a leader be
of the highest caliber.
As indicated for deacons (verse 9) the leader must also hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
What a man believes is vital.
One of the tests of a leader is his spiritual experience and faith.
Is he a shepherd or a hireling?
Is he a sound believer?
Does he hold the faith in the revelation of Christ?
Then, Paul looks at responsibilities
First, Paul deals with administration.
This word covers so much.
It would include the overseeing of a congregation as a local pastor or bishop.
Whatever development came later for some as a bishop, the office was linked to a local group of people.
To rule a congregation did not mean something harsh and dictatorial (although some have been guilty
of such ill-behavior) but kindness of spirit and action.
Even as a man ruled his family as a father should rule with grace and yet firmness, so the pastor-bishop
should oversee his congregation with the same spirit.
He should not be pugnacious or aggressive, and thus offend sensitive souls.
There should be a consideration and patience.
A knowledge of people as well as a love for people is expected.
An able leader has the respect and confidence of those under him.
This is a requirement for spiritual leadership.
Examples of Christian faith and living are expected.
Forbearance with others, and yet loyalty to the truth do what is right are requisites.
He who runs his home and family should be able to be a steward of the household of faith in the church.
He takes charge of the affairs of the church.
Many demands are now made which were not in the earlier church history.
The pastor or bishop has administration duties which, if allowed to become out of balance,
will rob him of his other essential responsibilities.
Instead of being the pastor and preacher, he now runs an office.
The word "bishop" speaks of an overseer, one who looks over and superintends the life and work
of the people.
The word "elder" tells of a presbyter, one who rules and governs by his leadership.
The word "deacon" suggests the servant of the people, one who is ready to bear their burdens
and give assistance.
Today, the words have received new applications in the ever-expanding life of the church
throughout the world.
Some Christians have enlarged the bishop' s role in that of an overseer of more than one church
and to mean being over many churches.
Elders and deacons are usually related to man within the local church with the elder in a two-fold function
and relationship -- one who rules and the other teaches.
The teaching elder is the pastor or bishop whereas the ruling elder is the representative of the congregation
who rules with others in similar election.
Whatever the use of these terms today, the early church spoke of them as we have indicated.
Fundamentally, the words for bishop and elder were the same.
The former was Greek and suggested function in that office.
The latter was Hebrew and spoke of the man in the office.
Secondly, Paul deals with the pastoral.
The needs of congregations impelled Paul to stress this above all.
The chief tasks of leadership was pastoral in its function.
Sheep need a shepherd.
Our Lord spoke of Himself as the Good Shepherd (John 10) and how He called the sheep by name
and led them.
The Eastern shepherd had this outstanding gift in contrast to shepherds in Western countries
‚Ä“ he knew each sheep by name and they knew his call.
There was an intimacy and closeness that that has not been developed anywhere else.
This has become the standard for the spiritual relationship of the church leader in the people under him.
They are not really under him in one sense, as there is an equality of all God's people as believers
We are all one in Christ Jesus, yet because of work to be done and service to be rendered,
there is the recognition of the office of the pastor -- the shepherd of the flock.
Call him bishop or elder or simply pastor, the fact remains that this man stands in relation to his congregation
as the shepherd stood to the sheep of the flock.
In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul has referred to this task of the pastor-shepherd.
He is to lead his people and so order his relationship and function that they will be built up as part
of the whole church of Christ.
Church leaders or officers are given this superlative task.
This is the most difficult thing today.
Men measure a church's success by worldly standards of statistics, budgets, members, status,
prestige, and correlated ways.
But Paul's measurement is that of spiritual life.
This is where the pastoral function is most vital.
Thirdly, there is preaching-teaching.
These are related to the pastoral.
The ministry of the church leader includes this above all.
The Word of God is expounded, interpreted, applied to life and conduct.
The leader is the medium through whom God brings divine revelation by the Bible to the minds of the people.
The leader must be specially qualified for the task.
The proclamation of the Gospel is important to win new converts, but thereafter the ministry
of the pastor-teaching is most important.
The novice must become mature.
The disciple must advance.
The lamb must become a sheep.
Thus the church leader has his work indicated in this manner.
No work is more rewarding than this
If the church leader is to measure up to the high and holy standards set by Paul,
he becomes a disciplined person.
First, he addresses behavior.
His behavior is the outlet of his belief.
His conduct expresses his creed.
His life adorns the doctrine.
He finds snares and traps if unwary, but he must watch and be an example to others.
He is a marked man.
His whole life is always under scrutiny.
Timothy was a young man, and youth lacks experience.
Paul counsels here that by a disciplined life Timothy would grow and mature, and in the meantime
exercise a godly influence.
There are failures as well as misfits in the ministry of leadership.
Paul knew those who love this present world more than Christ.
There are defections in the church, but over against these is the vast army of loyal, devoted, unshaken,
spiritual men who lead by life and ministry.
Timothy was one of these as Paul knew him.
Secondly, a double honor.
This was a high commendation for a leader.
The presbyters (elders) of Chapter 5 and the overseers (bishops) of Chapter 3 referred to
the same leadership.
They were to be given honorable support. and taken care of materially.
Double honor is sufficient for their needs.
The Old Testament is quoted in support of this principle.
Thus the leaders of the church were to be set free from other occupations to devote their whole time
to this ministry.
Ordination could be given to those who were fit and ready.
By this the church has always recognized her leaders and followed.
The godly life expresses goodness and grace in its leadership among people.
A church moves forward by the quality of its leaders.
This concludes Chapter 3
Next is Disciplined Christians -- 1 Timothy 3:14-16