A study of 1 Tim.3:1-13
Paul presents Timothy with the qualifications of Bishops (Pastors, Elders) <1 Tim.3:1-7>, and begins with another of his “commendable precepts”; “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.” <1 Tim.3:1 (NIV)>. Anyone desiring to become an overseer, or elder, or bishop; desires an honourable undertaking; for this position in the Church is demanding upon the person that accepts this calling; it is indeed a self-sacrificing position. It is one in which personal characteristics must include; freedom from accusation; moderation; self-discipline; morality; hospitality; not given to alcoholic or such intoxication; gentleness; not argumentative; not devoted to the accumulation of wealth. Abilities should include the aptitude to teach and to cope with family members, which would be required to administer the affairs of the Church, since the bishop is required to preach, and teach <1 Tim.5:17>; to direct the affairs of the Church; to lead the flock of God; and to guard the church from erroneous teachings <Acts 20:28-31>. “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” <1 Tim.3:6 (NIV)>; Christian experience is very important as Paul expands on this characteristic; arrogance will certainly bring about the same judgment as the devil <see Ezek.28:11-17; 2 Pet.2:4>. Finally, Paul says that the bishop’s general characteristic should have “a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” <1 Tim.3:7 (NIV)>; “outsiders”, is a reference to those who are not members of the local church. He specifies that the bishop should have a good repute with such people so that disgrace and condemnation will not be a consequence. If there is no good reputation, the bishop (Pastor, Elder) will become subject to the accusations of the outsiders and to the trap of the devil. The devil’s trap is one that Satan sets for those whose lives are not consistent with their Christian calling, and once caught in this trap, Satan upholds them to ridicule, scorn and contempt.
Therefore, those that accept this position should not do so simply because of persuasion by others in the Church; prayerful consideration is necessary. One has to consider all the qualities of the office, and whether or not it is God’s calling, selfish aspiration, or not just the request of associates.
Paul continues with the qualifications of Deacons <1 Tim.3:8-13>, expressing that “Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.” <1 Tim.3:8 (NIV)>. In similarity, Deacons should have the same basic qualifications as Bishops (Pastors, Elders), they should not be “lovers of money” <1 Tim.3:3>, they should “not pursue dishonest gain” (proceeds or earnings); that is, there should be no paybacks or reimbursements for their dealings with members or outsiders for the business of the Church; they should be mindful of the original reason for Deacons <see Acts 6:1-4>. “They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” <1 Tim.3:9 (NIV)>; and this is necessary in order that they will not fall into the Devil’s trap by becoming lovers of money and pursuance of dishonest gain. Adherence to the deep truths of the faith is a necessity for all believers whether we be Bishops, Deacons or mere members of the Church, for that is how we will become mature Christians, otherwise there will be a departure from a true following of Christ <see Heb.5:11-6:1>. “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” <1 Tim.3:10 (NIV)>. Before any appointments of Deacons are made, there should be some form of “testing” so as to be sure that all appointees display the qualifications that have been laid out <see Acts 6:5-6>. “Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” <1 Tim.3:13 (NIV)>; those that are faithful in their duties as Deacons will most likely progress in their service for God in the Church, as we see the examples of Philip and Stephen, two of the original Deacons, both advancing to become evangelists in the early Church as described in the Book of Acts.
Do you consider yourself to be qualified that you could be appointed to a leadership position in your local Church?
“The foundation of ministry is character.
The nature of ministry is service.
The motive for ministry is love.
The measure of ministry is sacrifice.
The authority of ministry is submission.
The purpose of ministry is the glory of God.
The tools of ministry are the Word of God and prayer.
The privilege of ministry is growth.
The power of ministry is the Holy Spirit,
and the model for ministry is Jesus Christ.”
(Citation: Warren W. Wiersbe and David W. Wiersbe, Making Sense of the Ministry (Moody Press, 1983) Source: Perfect Illustrations)
Many have been appointed, or have been self-appointed, to the office of Bishop (Elder, Pastor, Deacon) in their local Church, and have brought disgrace to the “office”, to the Church, but most of all to our Lord Jesus Christ; because they have fallen into Satan’s trap. There are, however, many more who have been appointed to a leadership position and have served our Lord and the Church faithfully. If you are in a position of leadership do your best, with the help of The Holy Spirit, to serve as the Lord Jesus Christ would have you serve.