Paul was inspired to inform Timothy about the basic
qualifications that a man should meet who desire the office of
OVERSEER in the Church, and also to retain that function.
I have written in a more specific way concerning the
"dis-qualification from the ministry" in another article, which
the reader can obtain upon request. I have also shown elsewhere
that the NT uses the words "episkopos"(1 Tim.3) and
"presbuteros"(Titus 1) to mean the same function within the
Church. This truth can also be found in a long explanation by
William Barclay in his DAILY STUDY BIBLE( 1 Timothy), and also in
BARNES' NOTES ON THE NT. Today we called such men as "minister" -
one who ministers or serves the spiritual need of the Church. In
the NT they were also known by the term "elder."
Paul tells Timothy, chapter three of his first letter, that
there is nothing wrong with a man desiring the function of a
pastor(bishop/elder/minister). He then does not yet have
this function per se but could qualify for it. Paul then relates
to Timothy a number of specific areas in which a man must reach a
certain standard to qualify for such a serious function within
the community of the Church of God. Obviously then, by Paul even
suggesting such standards, it should be clearly seen a man does
not function automatically as a bishop, as a Elder/Pastor, just
because he is "x" number of years in the Church, though not a few
years is required according to a few of the qualifications we
shall be looking at later. These qualifications and attaining
them make it impossible to adopt the ministerial policy that some
have adopted, namely, that all men in the Church can takes turns
in overseeing or pastoring the congregation.
Paul was instructing Timothy with no such ideas or theology.
To him, it was not wrong to desire that function but it was not
automatic, you had to meet a very demanding criterion.
What Paul laid down to Timothy was specific qualifications
BEFORE and leading up to a man's official recognition by other
Elders and the Church, but the principle does carry over after
that Eldership is passed on to him, with a few other principles
involved(which I shall get to later) in handling Elders who were
"to be blamed" (Gal.2:11) after their function had been in place
for some time.
Before we look at each qualification, an over-view I think
would be of benefit to us. For that over-view I shall quote from
the DAILY STUDY BIBLE by Barclay:
"This passage is further interesting in that it tells us
something of the appointment and duties of the leaders of the
(i) They were formally set apart for their office. Titus was
to ordain elders in every Church(Titus 1:5). The office-bearer of
the Church is not made an office-bearer in secret; he is set
apart before the eyes of men; the honor of the Church is publicly
delivered into his hands.
(ii) They had to undergo a period of testing. They had first
to be proved(1 Timothy 3:10). No one builds a bridge or a piece
of machinery with metal which has not been tested. The church
might do well to be MORE STRICT THAN SHE IS IN THE TESTING
of those chosen for leadership.
(iii) They were paid for the work which they had to do. The
laborer was worthy of his hire (1 Timothy 5:18). The Christian
leader does not work for pay, but, on the other hand, the duty of
the Church which chose him for the work is to supply him with the
means to live.
(iv) They were liable to censure (1 Timothy 5:19-22). In the
early Church the office-bearer had a double function. He was a
leader of the Church; but he was also the servant of the Church.
He had to ANSWER FOR HIS STEWARDSHIP. No Christian office-bearer
must ever consider himself ANSWERABLE TO NO ONE; he is ANSWERABLE
to God, and to the people over whom God gave him the task of
(v) They had the duty of presiding over the Christian assembly
and of teaching the Christian congregation (1 Timothy 5:17). The
Christian office-bearer has the double duty of administration and
instruction. It may well be that one of the tragedies of the
modern Church is that the administrative function of the
office-bearer has usurped the teaching function almost
(vi) The office-bearer was not to be A RECENT CONVERT. Two
reasons are given for this advice. The first is quite clear. It
is "in case he becomes inflated with the sense of his own
importance." The second is not so clear. It is, as the Revised
Standard Version has it, "lest he fall into the condemnation of
the devil." There are three possible explanations of that strange
phrase. (a) It was through his pride that Lucifer rebelled
against God and was expelled from heaven. And this may simply be
a second warning against the danger of pride. (b) It may mean
that, if the too quickly advanced convert becomes guilty of
pride, he give the Devil a chance to level his charges against
him. A conceited Church office-bearer gives the Devil a chance to
say to the critics of the Church: 'Look! There's your Christian!
There's your Church member! That's what an office-bearer is
like!' (c) The word diabolos has two meanings. It means devil
and that is the way in which the RSV has taken it here; but it
also means SLANDERER. It is in fact the word used for slanderer
in verse 11, where the women are forbidden to be slanderers. So
then this phrase may mean that the recent convert, who has been
appointed to office, and has acquired, as we say, a swelled head,
gives opportunity to the slanderers. His unworthy conduct is
ammunition for those who are ill-disposed to the Church. No
matter how we take it, the point is that the conceited Church
official is a bad debt to the Church.
But, as the early Church saw it, the responsibility of the
office-bearer did not begin and end in the Church. He had two
other spheres of responsibility, and if he failed in them, he was
bound also to fail in the Church.
(i) His first sphere of duty was his own home. If a man did
not know how to rule his own household, how could he be engaged
upon the task of ruling the congregation of the Church?
(1 Timothy 3:5). A man who had not succeeded in making a
Christian home could hardly be expected to succeed in making a
Christian congregation. A man who had not instructed his own
family could hardly be the right man to instruct the family of
(ii) The second sphere of responsibility was the world. He
must be 'well thought of by outsiders' (1 Timothy #:7). He must
be a man who has gained the respect of his fellow-men in the
day-to-day business of life. Nothing has hurt the Church more
than the sight of people who are active in it, whose business and
social life belies the faith which they profess and the precepts
which they teach. The Christian office-bearer must first of
all be a good man"(Emphasis mine).
End of quotes from William Barclay.
The points Paul gives to Timothy here are points of GENERAL
principle. As I expound each area you will see why I say they are
of general principle. Paul did not go into all and every unusual
situation that could arise within the life of the Church, where
these principles would have to fit.
The Greek word is "anepileptos." The Greeks themselves define
the word as meaning "affording nothing of which an adversary can
take hold." Some would say it means "un-rebukable" or "not open
to attack" or "beyond criticism." This Greek word is used of an
act or technique which is so perfect that no fault can be found
with it. On the surface it would disqualify just about any man
(except the few humanly righteous individuals like Job) from ever
becoming a minister or holding on to such a function.
Thankfully the NT shows through the lives of two of the
greatest apostles that there is a deeper meaning here meant by
the word "blameless." For Paul and Peter could, even after their
start in the ministry, sin, or be "blamed" (Romans 7:14-25;
Galatians 2:11-15), and in Peter's case, that publicly before
others. While 1 Timothy 5:19,20 shows that two or three
witnesses were needed to bring an accusation against an Elder, it
also shows that ministers were not beyond criticism - not beyond
attack - they were rebukable, and if found guilty of sin, it
requires "rebuke before all" as a punishment and as a detriment
to others. Peter was rebuked by Paul before all for his fault
and sin (Gal.2). After a man has become a Christian, is he going
to be a "good man whose life cannot be spoken against" (Living
Bible) 100% of the time? He will somewhere, at sometime, said or
done something to someone in the church or outside the church, in
fact or in the mind of that person, who will feel they can
Some believe that after a man enters the faith and becomes a
Church leader, there can be no reproach worthy of public rebuke
at all of any kind. They say such a man can be forgiven and come
back into the Church, but not as an elder or overseer, because
his Christian life can now be spoken against.
Paul does not go into elaborate detail with this
qualification, so we must not jump to any hasty conclusions and
we must let the rest of the NT throw needed light on any
questions we may have as to what Paul was meaning in laying down
this first qualification.
The whole NT shows that "blameless" here used CANNOT mean he
may never make an error or sin which is worthy of public rebuke.
For when Peter sinned and was to be blamed in front of the whole
Church (and maybe outsiders got the wind of it all as well -
Gal.2) his ministry would have come to a quick END! But we find
Peter years later (about A.D. 63) still calling himself an
Apostle and Elder (1 Pet.1:1; 5:1) under the inspiration of the
Holy Spirit. He was recognized by the Church as a true servant of
There is a way that a man can be "blameless." It is the way
that all true Christians can be blameless. This qualification
was put first because it is probably the most important one. A
man can be blameless when he is fully and totally REPENTANT!
When he exhibits the quality of being humble and always willing
to admit his errors and sins, willing to see himself as a sinner,
and is always in that repentant attitude of mind. When he does
not PRACTICE as a way of life, sins, but repents of them when he
does sin or makes an error, then God can forgive such a person -
he is washed clean in the blood of the Lamb - he is counted as
righteous, he is held is under grace, he is held as in a state of
BLAMELESSNESS! Please read carefully 1 John 1:8-10; 2:1-2. Now
read Luke 1:5,6. Zacharias the priest and his wife Elizabeth had
that right repentant attitude and so it is recorded that as far
as God was concerned they were "righteous" and they were
"blameless." Paul was inspired to say that "all have sinned" and
the NT tells us that only Jesus Christ of all humans NEVER
SINNED, not even once. All other living human beings have sinned
at some point in their lives(of course we are excluding little
babies that die as babies). Zacharias and Elizabeth did sin, but
they were forgiven because of their repentant attitude of mind,
as was the great King David of old, and so they were held under
God's grace and declared as was Abraham - righteous, blameless.
The man who will serve in the overseership of the Church must
be a man of repentance, and the Godly kind of repentance, not the
repentance of the world, needing to be repented of again and
again( Cor.7:8-10). David sinned by committing adultery, his
sin was pointed out to him, and he truly repented, never to
commit that sin again. Peter sinned and led others into sin and
error. He had that missing of the mark shown to him and he
repented, never to fail in that manner again (Gal.2).
So it must be, at the top of the list, the servant of the Lord
and the Church must be in such a repentant attitude of mind at
all times that he will be held by God as a blameless man.
THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE:
There is no secret meanings to the Greek words used here. The
literal Greek means and reads, "the husband of one wife."
William Barlay has a long section on this matter in his Daily
Word Study. It is good for us to record some of his words.
"......Some few take it to mean that the Christian
leader cannot marry a SECOND TIME, even AFTER his wife's
death......But in its context here we can be quite certain that
the phrase means that the Christian leader must be a loyal
husband, preserving marriage in all its purity. In later days the
APOSTOLIC CANONS lid down: 'He who is involved in two marriages,
after his baptism, or he who has taken a concubine, cannot be an
episkopos, a bishop.'
We may well ask why it should be necessary to lay down what
looks obvious. We must understand the state of the world in which
this was written. It has been said, and with much truth, that the
only totally new virtue which Christianity brought into the world
was CHASTITY. In many ways the ancient world was in a state of
MORAL CHAOS, even the JEWISH world. Astonishingly as it may seem,
certain Jews still practiced POLYGAMY. In the Dialogue with
Trypho, in which Justin Martyr discusses Christianity with a
Jew, it is said that 'it is possible for a Jew even now to have
four or five wives' (Dialogue with Trypho, 134). Josephus can
write: 'By ancestral custom a man can live with more than one
wife' (Antiquities of the Jews, 17:1,2).
Apart altogether from these unusual cases, DIVORCE was
tragically easy in the Jewish world. The Jews had the highest
ideals of marriage.......For all that, the Jewish law allowed
divorce. Marriage was indeed the ideal, but divorce was
permitted......(Note: the two main schools of the Pharisees had
different views on divorce, the one held it was only possible
under very strict circumstances, while the other school said you
could divorce for just about any reason, large or small. You can
imagine which school was the more popular - Keith Hunt).
.......The tragedy was the that the wife had no rights
whatsoever. Josephus says, 'With is it is lawful for a husband to
dissolve a marriage, but a wife, if she departs from her husband,
cannot marry another, unless her former husband put her away'
(Antiquities of the Jews, 15:8,7).
In the case of a divorce by consent, in the time of the NT,
all that was required was two witnesses, and no court case at
all. A husband could send his wife away for any cause; at the
most a wife could petition the court to urge her husband to write
her a bill of divorcement, but it could not compel him even to do
In the HEATHEN WORLD things were infinitely WORSE. There, too,
according to Roman law, the wife had no rights. Cato said: 'If
you were to take your wife in adultery, you could kill her with
impunity, without any court judgment; but if YOU were involved in
adultery, she would not dare to lift a finger against you, for it
Barclay goes on to give more examples and historic words from
the Roman Empire to show how bad the state of affairs was for
marriage under their system. He ends by saying, "Happy marriage
was the ASTONISHING EXCEPTION. Ovid and Pliny had THREE WIVES;
Caesar and Antony had FOUR; Sulla and Pompey had FIVE; Herod had
NINE; Cicero's daughter Tullia had THREE husbands. The Emperor
Nero was the third husband of Poppaea and the fifth husband of
Statilla Messalina. It was not for nothing that the Pastorals
laid it down that the christian leader must be the husband of one
wife. In a world where even the highest places were DELUGED in
IMMORALITY, the Christian Church must demonstrate the CHASTITY,
the stability and the sanctity of the Christian home" (Emphasis
We know from the words of Christ Himself(Mat.19 etc) that
divorce is allowed for sexual unfaithfulness. Paul was also
inspired to state other situations where divorce and re-marriage
is acceptable and allowed by God(1 Cor.7). I have covered that
very fully in my 70 page study called "Divorce and Re-Marriage,
What the Bible Really Teaches." So this here cannot be saying
that a man in the ministry can only be married once, and can
never marry again under any circumstances, not even the death of
his wife. This here is not saying that such men must remain
single until their death. Paul, once said that they (Barnabas and
himself) had the power or authority to carry about a wife as did
Peter. Most scholars agree that Paul was a married man at one
time, but nothing is said what happened to her. Not allowing
servants of the Lord to marry when within the law of the Lord to
do so, has brought many sad and terrible consequences upon the
largest of all the Christian Churches. Every day it seems to
hear or read about single men in the ministry of that large
Christian denomination that have fallen into sexual abuse with
those they were sent to serve and care for.
It is also obvious that here the allowable "polygamy" life
style that was found under the Old Covenant, was not to be
allowed for the NT minister.
Albert Barnes in his commentary on this has what I consider
some good logical words of understanding, he writes in part:
"......There has been much difference of opinion on the
question whether the passage means that a minister should not
have more than one wife at the same time, or whether it prohibits
the marriage of a second wife after the death of the first...That
the former is the correct opinion seems to me to be evident from
the following considerations;
(1) It is the most obvious meaning of the language....At a
time when polygamy was not uncommon, to say that a man should
'have but one wife' would naturally be understood as prohibiting
polygamy. (2) The marriage of a second wife after the death of
the first, is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as wrong. The
marriage of a widow to a second husband is expressly declared to
be proper (1 Cor.7:39)and it is not unfair to infer from that
permission that it is equally lawful and proper for a man to
marry the second time. But if it is lawful for any man, it is
also right for a minister of the gospel........Marriage is
as honorable for a minister of the gospel as for any other
man......(3) There was a special propriety in the prohibition, if
understood as prohibiting polygamy. It is known it was
extensively practiced, and was not regarded as unlawful. Yet one
design of the gospel was to restore the marriage relation to its
primitive condition; and though it might not have seemed
ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to require of EVERY MAN who came into the
Church to divorce his WIVES, if he had MORE THAN ONE, yet, in
order to fix a BRAND on this IRREGULAR practice, it might have
been deemed desirable to require of the ministers of the gospel
that they should have but one wife. Thus the PRACTICE of polygamy
would GRADUALLY come to be regarded as dishonorable and improper,
and the example and influence of the ministry would tend to
introduce correct views in regard to the nature of this
relation........" (Emphasis his).
It is more than interesting to note that the NT is SILENT in
any specific way as to the subject of polygamy. What I mean is,
you cannot find any verse in the NT that addresses it in a direct
way such as : "We know under the OT God allowed polygamy, but
from this moment on all men wanting to come into the Church must
divorce all but one wife." For starters, how would you determine
which wives to divorce? The man may have married two or three at
the same time, and a few others later. They were legal
marriages, and God had laws governing such allowances. Then, what
would happen to these women who had been cared and provided for?
Would the Church just coldly cast them aside and say "tough luck,
your own your own." What if the wives to be divorced had
children? Where would they go and with whom? Ah, there is much
we have not given thought to concerning how the NT Church dealt
with the very real issue of polygamy. The Church today can face
the same situation as it goes into certain parts of the world
where it is still practiced. Certainly it would be taught that
under the NT polygamy is not the marriage ideal God wants for His
children, but to immediately cut families apart who have known no
difference would probably bring more evil and harm on them than
allowing the situation to continue until nature or death takes it
course, with the understanding that such men now coming into more
light, will not acquire to themselves any more wives.
As Barnes said, with the ministers setting the NT example on
marriage, and the process of time taking its natural course, the
Church would eventually only have a man married to one wife at
one time, and polygamy would be a thing of the distant past.
Certain things under the NT did not just come to an end
over-night. The use of the Temple and sacrificial laws continued
within the Church for decades, note Acts 21. The process of time
and correct teaching, with physical circumstances, eventually
ruled the day. Even the truth about the OT doctrine of
"circumcision" took many years before it prevailed, together with
some big theological battles along the way, as recorded in Acts
Do we here find that a pastor is to be a married man? Or at
least a man who had been married at one time, if not at the
Paul is giving GENERAL principles without introducing all the
exceptions to the rule, without going into all the various
different specifics that could arise within the life of a
Church or those being selected for the Eldership. Overall then,
he is instructing Timothy and the Church, that for a man to be a
wise and understanding overseer in the Church, for a man to be
able to give wise and helpful service to the married, with all
the problems marriage can bring, it would be better for him to be
a married man, or a man who has experienced marriage at some time
in his life. In verses 4 and 5 Paul once more, practically
taking for granted, automatically assumes the men chosen to
oversee the Church will be married men.
Certainly, some of the men in the ministry of the first
century were by all indications, living as SINGLE men. Jesus said
there would be some, to whom it was given, who would make
themselves without sex(eunuchs) for the Kingdom of heaven's sake.
These men would be the exceptions and not the rule. Paul may have
been such a "eunuch for the Kingdom's" sake, as his writings
indicate at times.
If such men had wives at home, or if they had lost them
through death, or had never been married(being eunuchs for the
Kingdom from the beginning) is not made clear.
The GENERAL principle of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 is that a
minister should be married. It is hard for me to imagine and to
understand how a man pastoring a flock of the Lord's could do so
effectively (with all the married couples it would undoubtedly
contain) if he himself was not married or had at least been
married at some point in time. The most effective instruction is
given by those who have experienced what they are instructing. Of
course this does not hold true to the !00% mark. A man should not
MURDER in order to teach someone not to murder. But for
counselling married couples with their various trials and tests
and problems, it sure does help to have been there.
If a man looses his wife in death during his ministry, does
that mean he is then taken out of the Eldership? Of course not!
All indications are that Paul, during his service in the ministry
lived as a single man. There is no indication he had a wife, and
some sentences of his give strong teaching that he was living as
a eunuch - sexless, and not married.
The word "vigilant" as in the KJV is not in the Greek. The
Greek word for "sober" is NEPHALIOS. It means, sober, watchful,
vigilant. His mind is "sound." He is not "double-minded" as
James wrote about, one day this way and the next day that way,
one day spiritually hot and the next day spiritually off the
wall, and out in left field. He is not easily swayed from truth
to error, not easily tossed about with every wind of doctrine
that floats by his mind. He is not ruled by his emotions or
outside pressure or circumstances, that do not pertain to the
solid truth of the matter. He certainly will have emotions as did
Jesus, but he knows how and when to use them. He will not be
perfect in this area, as he is still human, but most of the time
his mind is sober and sound.
He will be decorous and know how to act properly towards
people. He will have a sound and sober mind in this very
important area of life, as much of his work is related to dealing
with people, to talking to people. He will know the customs and
etiquette of the people he serves, or he will endeavor to learn
them and use them when conversing with different people from
different nationalities and races.
Can a man desiring the office of pastor or one who is now a
pastor, not ever make an error in knowing how to deal with
people? Again, if we are looking for 100% perfection in the men
called to oversee the Church, then we would have no overseers or
pastors in the Church. We strive for perfection but fully and
complete perfection waits for the resurrection.
The overall general principle is that the Church leader
basically and for most of the times, by far most of the times,
knows how to deal with people. He is generally very sober minded
in his thoughts which translate into actions as he leads and
takes care of the Church of God.
DISCREET, WELL BEHAVED:
Two Greek words are found here whereas the KJV has "of good
behaviour." The Greek words are SOPHRON and KOSMIOS.
I will use the words of William Barclay to describe and
expound what these two words relate to us.
" We have translated 'sophron"'by 'prudent,' but it is
virtually untranslatable. It is variously translated 'of sound
mind, discreet, prudent, self-controlled, chaste, having
complete control over sensual desires."' The greeks derived it
from two words which mean 'to keep one's mind safe and sound.'
The corresponding noun is 'soophrosunee,' and the Greeks wrote
and thought much about it. It is the opposite of intemperance and
lack of self-control. Palto defined it as ' the mastery of
pleasure and desire.' Aristotle defined it as 'the power by
which the pleasures of the body are used as law commands.'
Philo defined it as 'a certain limiting and ordering of the
desires, and which adorns those which are necessary with
timeliness and moderation.' ........Jeremy Trench describes
"soophrosunee" as 'the condition of entire command over the
passions and desires, so that they receive no further allowance
than that which law and right reason admit and approve.'
Gilbert Murray wrote of 'soophroon' : 'There is a way of
thinking which destroys and a way which saves. The man or woman
who is 'soophroon' walks among the beauties and perils of the
world, feeling love, joy, anger, and the rest; and through all
he has that in his mind which saves. Whom does it save? Not him
only, but, as we should say, the whole situation. It saves the
imminent evil from coming to be.' E.F. Brown quotes in
illustration of 'soophrosunee' a prayer of Thomas Aquinas which
asks for the ' quieting of all our impulses, fleshly and
The man who is 'soophroon' has every part of his nature under
control, which is to say that the man who is 'soophroon' is the
man in whose heart Christ reigns supreme.
The companion word is 'kosmios,' which we have translated
'well-behaved.' If a man is kosmios in his outer conduct it is
because he is 'soophroon' in his inner life. Kosmios means
ORDERLY, HONEST, DECOROUS. In Greek it has two special usages.
It is common in tributes and inscriptions to the dead. And it is
commonly used to describe a man who is a good citizen. Plato
defines the man who is 'kosmios' as 'the citizen who is quiet in
the land, who duly fulfils in his place and order the duties
which are incumbent upon him as such.' This word has more in it
than simply good behaviour. It describes the man whose life is
beautiful and in whose character all things are harmoniously
The leader of the Church must be a man who is 'soophroon,' his
very instinct and desire under perfect control; he must be a man
who is 'kosmios,' his inner control issuing in outward beauty.
The leader must be one in whose heart Christ's power reigns and
on whose life Christ's beauty shines."
This is what Albert Barnes has to say: "........he should be a
gentleman. He should not be slovenly in his appearance, or rough
and boorish in his manners.......A minister of the gospel should
be a finished gentleman in his manners, and there is no excuse
for him if he is not.......He has usually received such an
education as ought to make him such, and in all cases ought to
have had such a training.......He should be an example and a
pattern in all that goes to promote the welfare of mankind, and
there are few things that are so easily acquire that are fitted
to do this, as refinement and gentility of manners. No man can do
good, on the whole, or in the 'long-run,' by disregarding the
rules of refined intercourse; and, other things being equal, the
refined, courteous, polite gentleman in the ministry, will always
to more good......."
Wow! Now if we read all that again, I guess we could question
if any man is fit for the overseership in the Church of God. Let
us remember a leader must have a large dose of those qualities,
but perfection in those areas will not come until he is no longer
human but divine, and carnal human nature is no more. Still, the
man who would qualify for Eldership in the Church will have
proved that such qualities are a big part of his character here
and now as he conducts himself within the congregation and those
on the outside in the world.
GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY:
I like what Richard Nickels (founder of "Giving and Sharing")
wrote on this: " to 'enjoy having guests at his home' (Living
Bible). Certainly this means more than putting up with people who
drop by. It means having a great care for serving others, getting
to know and appreciate others, listening to their problems,
lending them help when in need, and so much more. Care and
concern for other people is certainly a major criterion for a
Barnes writes: "This is often enjoined on all Christians as a
duty of religion......It was a special duty of the ministers of
religion, as they were to be examples of every Christian virtue."
William Barclay says: "This is a quality on which the NT lays
much stress. Paul bids the Roman Church to 'practice hospitality'
(Romans 12:13). 'Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one
another,' says Peter (1 Peter 4:9). In the Shepherd of Hermas,
one of the very early Christian writings, it is laid down: ' The
episkopos must be hospitable, a man who gladly and at all times
welcomes into his house the servants of God.' The Christian
leader must be a man with an open heart and an open house....The
ancient world had a system of what were called 'guest
friendships'. Over generations families had arrangements to give
each other accommodation and hospitality. Often the members of
the families came in the end to be unknown to each other by sight
and identified themselves by means of what were called 'tallies.'
The stranger seeking accommodation would produce one half of some
object; the host would posses the other half of the tally; and
when the two halfs fitted each other the host knew that he had
found his guest, and the guest knew that the host was indeed the
ancestral friend of his household.
In the Christian Church there were wandering teachers and
preachers who needed hospitality. There were also many slaves
with no homes of their own to whom it was a great privilege to
have the right of entry to a Christian home. It was of the
greatest blessing that Christians should have Christian homes
ever open to them in which they could meet people like-minded to
themselves. We live in a world where there are still many who are
far from home, many who are strangers in a strange place, many
who live in conditions where it is hard to be a Christian. The
door of the Christian home and the welcome of the Christian heart
should be open to all such."
Coming back to the local town and congregation that Elders
serve in, a minister I once knew very well, being a part of his
congregation, would, during the cold winter months on the
Canadian prairies, have three couples or couples and singles,
over each Saturday night to his home. He and his wife and the
other six, would simply play table games together and fellowship.
This way he said he could really get to know the people he
served, in an informal relaxed manner. He himself was "down to
earth" as they say, and with his friendly hospitality, he built a
warm and loving Church. I well remember the day he and his wife
went back to the USA, where they were from. The whole
congregation felt that a part of them had been ripped away.
Indeed he was a fine example of a minister "given to
Sorry to say I have also known ministers who were not
hospitable at all. Ministers who were cold, distant, never had
anyone in their homes unless it was on "official church" business
of some kind. Obviously and as a natural outcome of this type of
personality, they tended to be harsh and dictatorial in their
conversations and in their sermons. People wanted to avoid them
as much as possible. Few were sorry to see them "saddle up and
move along" except they did feel sorry for the next congregation
who would have to endure such a minister.
They were probably "ministers falsely so-called" who should
never have been ordained to the ministry in the first place, but
somebody was taken in by their "good looks" - "bright education"
- "charisma" - "powerful preaching" - "gift of the gab" or some
other Hollywood attributes. And then they may have been ordained
by some "politicking" going on the their church organization. I'm
sorry to say but such evil has and does exist in some quarters of
some Church denominations.
The true servant and minister of the Lord will be a man who is
"given to hospitality."
APT TO TEACH:
Adam Clarke in his Bible commentary says: "Seventh - He should
be APT TO TEACH; one CAPABLE OF TEACHING; not only WISE himself,
but READY to communicate his wisdom to others. One whose delight
is, to instruct the ignorant and those who are out of the
way.......the bishops have been in general men of great learning
and probity, and the ablest advocates of the Christian system,
both as to its AUTHENTICITY, and the PURITY and EXCELLENCE of its
DOCTRINES and MORALITY........" (Emphasis Clarke).
Albert Barnes writes: " Greek, DIDACTIC; that is, capable of
instructing, or qualified for the office of a teacher of
religion. As the principle business of a preacher of the gospel
is to TEACH, or to communicate to his fellow men the knowledge of
the truth, the necessity of this qualification is obvious. No one
should be allowed to enter the ministry who is not qualified to
impart INSTRUCTION to others of the doctrines and duties of
religion; and no one should feel he ought to continue in the
ministry, who has not industry, and self-denial, and the love of
study enough to lead him constantly to endeavour to INCREASE in
knowledge, that he may be qualified to teach others. A man
who would TEACH a people, must himself keep in ADVANCE of them on
the subjects on which he would instruct them." (Emphasis Barnes).
William Barclay writes in his Daily Study Bible: ".......It is
one of the disasters of modern times that the teaching ministry
of the Church is not being exercised as it should. There is any
amount of topical preaching and any amount of exhortation; but
there is little use in exhorting a man to be a Christian when he
does not know what being a Christian means. Instruction is the
primary duty of a Christian preacher and leader. The second
thing is this. The finest and most effective teaching is done not
by SPEAKING but by BEING.......that in him men see the reflection
of the Master......" (Emphasis his).
I also like what Richard Nickels has to say: " A keen ability
to teach is not something one picks up overnight. It takes
patience to be a teacher, being gentle unto all, 2 Tim.2:24,25.
It is not an erudite scholar......Teachers need to adapt what
they say to each individual pupil........Some ministers are on an
'authority binge,'......not recognizing the fact every good
teacher should know that some of his pupils have more potential
than their teacher. One apt to teach helps each student fulfil
his or her potential. Also, any real teacher teaches so well that
his students are able to master the subject and teach others
as well, 2 Tim.2:2. show me a true minister, and he will be
surrounded by faithful men he has trained, who are able to teach
You will notice Paul does not say a man qualified for the
ministry must be a "great preacher." There is a difference
between "preaching" and "teaching." A man may have a wonderful
gifted voice for preaching, he may be able to "spell bind" his
audience with oratory and the inflections of the voice, he may be
able to put together a great message with words and examples, but
out of that "preaching mode" he may be a dismal failure at
"teaching" the heart and core of Christianity to anyone.
All ministers of the Lord must be apt to teach, but they do
not all have to be apt to preach. Preachers are needed in the
Church and in the Evangelistic field, but be assured those gifts
will be given to those ministers whom the Lord chooses to receive
those gifts. The one requirement for all in the Eldership is that
they are able to "teach."
Does a man need a Ph.D. in "Bible teaching" before he can be
ordained to the ministry? Of course not! He will no doubt make
teaching errors of one sort or another before his ordination, and
no doubt after it also, during his ministry. No human, except
Christ Jesus, had perfect knowledge in his physical life time.
Knowledge is something we are to continually grow in and seek
for. The teaching of true Bible knowledge and the Christian way
to live is a life time commitment and vocation. The man for the
ministry must certainly show he has ability to teach the words of
the Lord to others, but he must also show within that ability
that he has the attitude of mind to be willing to be corrected,
to admit errors, to prove all things, to love the truth, and to
ever seek for it, to stand on it when found, so in all that he
can continue to teach it to others.
NOT GIVEN TO WINE:
The Greek word is PAROINOS. From the DAILY STUDY BIBLE by
Barclay we read:
" In the ancient world wine was continually used. Where the
water supply was very inadequate and sometimes dangerous, wine
was the most natural drink of all. It is wine which cheers the
hearts of gods and men (Judges 9:13). In the restoration of
Israel she will plant vineyards and drink the her wine (Amos
9:14). Strong drink is given to those who are ready to perish,
and wine to those whose hearts are heavy (Proverbs 31:6).
This is not to say the ancient world was not fully alive to
the dangers of strong drink. Proverbs speaks of the disaster
which comes to the man who looks on the wine when it is red
(Proverbs 23:29-35). Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler
(Prov.20:1). There are terrible stories of what happened to
people through over-indulgence in wine. There is the case of Noah
(Gen.9:18-27); of Lot (Gen.19:30-38); of Ammon (2 Sam.13:28,29).
Although the ancient world used wine as the commonest of all
drinks, it used it most abstemiously. When wine was drunk, it was
drunk in the proportion of two parts of wine to three parts of
water. A man who was drunken would be disgraced in ordinary
heathen society, let alone in the Church........
'Paroinos' means ADDICTED TO WINE, but it also means
QUARRELSOME, and VIOLENT. The point that the Pastorals make here
is that the Christian must allow himself no indulgence which
would lessen his Christian vigilance or soil his Christian
conduct" (Emphasis his.
Adam Clarke writes: "An eighth article in his character is, he
must not be given to wine. This word not only signifies one who
is INORDINATELY ATTACHED TO WINE, A WINEBIBBER or TIPPLER, but
also one who is IMPERIOUS, ABUSIVE, INSOLENT, whether through
wine or otherwise. KYPKE contends for this latter acceptation
here. See his PROOFS and EXAMPLES." (Emphasis Clarke).
Banes' Notes on the NT says: "......The Greek word occurs in
the NT only here and in Titus 1:7. It means properly, BY WINE;
i.e., spoken of what takes place BY or OVER wine, as revelry,
drinking songs, etc. Then it denotes, as it does here, one who
sits BY wine; that is, who is in the habit of drinking it. It
cannot be inferred, from the use of the word here, that wine was
absolutely and entirely prohibited; for the word does not
properly express that idea. It means that one who is in the HABIT
of drinking wine, or who is accustomed to sit with those who
indulge in it, should not be admitted to the ministry......"
I think we can get the true picture of what Paul was saying
and laying down here as one of the qualifications for the
ministry. Anyone who is controlled by wine or alcohol, who
cannot live without it as we say, who must have it on a regular
basis, and/or who must always be in the company of those who sit
by wine, etc. to partake of it and their revelry, cannot be in
the Eldership of the Church.
It would seem the days of Paul were not unlike our days today
in some regards. Then as today, certain individuals must meet
together in the local taverns/night-clubs or pubs(as they call
them in Britain) to drink and socialize, or their day was not
complete. I have know people in my immediate family of relatives
in Britain, who organized their day around the local evenings
drinking fellowship in the pub. A huge tidal wave had to come
before they would miss that daily sitting by the wine.
A Christian minister cannot be such a person in the daily
habits of his life.
We note here that Paul is NOT prohibiting the use of wine per
se. Jesus was called a "winebibber" by some of the religious
leaders of his time, not because he regularly drank Welch's Grape
Juice from the corner store. If that was all Jesus drank, simple
grape juice, they would have had no reason to try to claim He was
over-indulging in alcohol. They really were trying to claim he
was an alcoholic, because they knew He did partake of fermented
juice of the grape - wine.
Jewish theology (the main common theology) from way back when,
has always taught and understood the words of God to allow the
consumption of alcohol in moderation. They have always understood
that God condemns getting DRUNK, or being an alcoholic, and not
the drinking of alcohol per se.
A man wanting to be an overseer, or a man who is already one,
cannot exhibit a way of life that shows he is under the control
of alcohol. If that is the case, then such a man cannot be
ordained to the ministry and if he is already a minister, he must
be asked to resign. He must have all ministerial duties removed
from him and should himself seek help, be encouraged to seek
help, to overcome his problem. I do not say he may not at some
point in the future be allowed back into the ministry, but that
is another matter I will not take up here, but leave to be
covered under the subject of "Church Discipline for the Members
and the Ministers."
Suppose a man who could be ordained to the ministry should,
under some trial or temptation, fall and become on one occasion
"given to wine" - become under its control - in plain language,
DRUNK. Does that single error of sin FOREVER disqualify him from
being considered for the ministry? I think not! Oh, sure there
may have to be help given to him. He certainly will have to
repent. A number of things may have to be looked into to see if
this was just a one time fault, or if other underlying weaknesses
of character are included and part of a larger problem. Yet
finding this is not the case, we must realize then that this is
not his way of life, alcohol does not control him as a practice.
He is not one who sits by wine. Giving the man time, proving the
man, could still lead to him being called to the ministry.
If he is an ordained minister who gets drunk one day, he has
indeed sinned, just as Peter sinned in his error (Gal.2). If it
is clearly shown that it is not a life style of sin with wine,
and upon deep repentance as I'm sure Peter exhibited over his
sin, then he should be allowed to function in his office as an
Elder, just as Peter did. If his error was in public, he may need
a public rebuke or at least a rebuke before the Church
congregation, again as in the example of Peter.
Does that single sin disqualify him from the ministry? I think
not! Not anymore than Peter's single error disqualified him.
NOT A STRIKER:
Banes: "He must be peaceable, not a quarrelsome man. This is
connected with the caution about the use of wine, probably,
because that is commonly found to produce a spirit of contention
Adam Clarke: "He must be no striker; not QUARRELSOME; not
READY TO STRIKE A PERSON who may displease him; no PERSECUTOR of
those who may differ from him; not prone, as one wittily said,
'To prove his doctrine orthodox by apostolic blows and
It is said of Bishop BONNER, of infamous memory, that, when
examining the poor Protestants whom he termed heretics, when
worsted by them in argument he was used to SMIGHT THEM WITH HIS
FISTS, and sometimes SCOURGE and WHIP them......from such a
scripture as this he might have seen the necessity of
surrendering his mitre" (Emphasis his).
Barclay says: "That this instruction was not unnecessary is
seen in one of the very early regulations of the APOSTOLIC
CANONS: ' A bishop, priest or deacon who smites the faithful when
they err, or the unbelievers when they commit injury, and desires
by such means as to terrify them, we command to be deposed; for
nowhere hath the Lord taught us this. When He was reviled, He
reviled not again, but the contrary. When He was smitten, He
smote not again; when He suffered, He threatened not.'
It will not be likely that any Christian leader will nowadays
strike another Christian, but the fact remains that blustering,
bullying, irritable, bad-tempered speech or action is forbidden
to the Christian."
We have had some religious leaders in the very real present
age lead their followers by words and actions to their very
death, as if they were pleasing to God, and would somehow be
rewarded even more on the other side, for killing themselves
under the order of their physical leader. That of course is the
ultimate in striking someone down.
Far more religious abuse in this area has taken place through
the "mouth" and certain "actions" on the part of Church leaders.
Members have been raked up one side and down the other, called
out, marked and slandered from the pulpit, given orders to
have certain persons removed literally from the Church service.
Orders have been issued that not even family members in the same
congregation speak to those so cast out. Some ministers have
acted like Hitlers towards their congregations. So great has been
this kind of abuse in the last half of this 20th century that it
prompted an investigation by Ronald Enroth, out of which came his
book called " CHURCHES THAT ABUSE." It is still in print and
obtainable in paperback from your Bible Book store.
To be continued in another article, see link below
First written in 1986, re-written and expanded in January 1998.