Barclay in his DAILY STUDY BIBLE writes, " The Greek is
'epieikes,' another of these completely untranslatable words. The
noun is 'epieikeia,' and Aristotle describes it as 'that which
corrects justice' and as that which 'is just and better than
justice.' He said that it was that quality which corrects the law
when the law errs because of its generality. What he means is
that sometimes it may be actually unjust to apply the strict
letter of the law. Trench said that 'epieikeia' means 'retreating
from the letter of right better to preserve the spirit of right'
and is 'the spirit which recognizes the impossibility of cleaving
to all formal law.....that recognizes the danger that ever waits
upon the assertion of legal rights, lest they should be pushed
into moral wrongs.....the spirit which rectifies and redresses
the injustice of justice.' Aristotle describes in full the
action of 'epieikeia,' - 'To pardon human failings; to look to
the law-giver, not to the law; to the intention, not to the
action; to the whole, not to the part; to the character of the
actor in the long run and not to the present moment; to remember
good rather than evil, and the good that one has received rather
than the good that one has done; to bear being injured; to wish
to settle a matter by words rather than deeds.'
.......The atmosphere of many a Church would be radically changed
if there was more 'epieikeia' within it."
Is there anyone - would be Church leader - present overseer -
or any Church member - who can say they are ALWAYS patient and
gentle, that they are never impatient? What if a would be, could
be, pastor shows on a few occasions impatience, would that
disqualify him from being considered to such a function and
office within the Church? Now, if it was quite noticeable as a
way of life with him, yes, it would disqualify him, until
overcome. What if a present pastor or elder should become
impatient at some time, should be less than gentle, would that
error cost him his function as elder? If it becomes his life
style - his practice - yes, but otherwise, no. It is rare indeed
for ANYONE never to become impatient with something, somebody,
somewhere along life's road. And again, in dealing with different
people, one person may claim a minister was not gentle with them,
yet another person would consider his manner very gentle. So to
a point, and only to a point, I say, gentleness is in the eye of
the beholder. But I think we all understand what I have stated
as compared to a leader who rides rough-shod over people. Those
who are bombastic, cutting, hard of speech, blunt and untactful,
in conversation with people have no place being in the ministry
of Jesus Christ.
Even with dealing with those who are out of the way, and in
total error, Paul was inspired to say that the true servant of
the Lord had to be gentle, patient, apt to teach, and in meekness
instructing such individuals, if God peradventure would grant
them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth
NOT GREEDY OF BASE GAIN(filthy lucre):
Barclay: "He will never do anything simply for profit's sake.
He will know that there are values which are beyond all money
Albert Barnes: "Greek, Not a lover of silver; that is of
money. A man should not be put into the ministry who is
characteristically a lover of money. Such a one, no matter
what his talents may be, has no proper qualification for the
office, and will do more harm than good."
Now with that said, there is a contention that the above words
are not a part of the original writing of Paul. I refer you to
Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary for that matter. We seek just a
few words later where the Greek word for "not loving money" is
used, the KJV has, "not covetous."
Would this be saying the same thing twice around? Maybe it
would, then again, the first(if we conclude it is in the original
Greek) would be a general statement, and including all one could
imagine as "base gain" while the second pin-points a specific -
the love of money.
COVETOUS(not a lover of money):
See the comments above.
Adam Clarke: "......not desiring the office for the sake of
its 'emoluments.' He who loves money will stick at nothing in
order to get it. Fair and foul methods are to him alike,
provided they may be equally productive. For the sake of
reputation he may wish to get all honorably; but if that cannot
be, he will not scruple to adopt other methods. A brother
heathen gives him this counsel: 'Get money if you can by fair
means, if not, get it by hook and by crook.' "
NOT CONTENTIOUS(not a brawler):
William Barclay: "The Greek means 'disinclined to fight.'
There are people who, as we might put it, are 'trigger-happy' in
their relationships with other people. But the real Christian
leader wants nothing so much as he wants peace with his
Barnes: "Comp.2 Tim.2:24. That is, he should not be a man
given to contention, or apt to take up a quarrel."
The man of God is an individual who is not prone to enter into
quarrels or contentions with people. He is not going about to see
who he can fight with over this matter or that matter. There is
a difference between having a discussion or even a debate with
someone over a religious matter, and keeping it within the
"spirit" of Christianity, and stepping over the line where it
becomes a "knock down drag out fight" of verbal abuse, where the
evil side of contentions step in.
And there is also a difference between that unrighteous
adoption of verbal fighting, and the now and again time when
righteous indignation and "righteous judgment" must be employed
with some individual.
The true minister of the Lord will know the differences and
will know how and when each is occurring, and govern himself
accordingly. Again, let me say, the servant of the Eternal is not
perfect, he is still flesh and blood, he may make an error some
time, but what makes him a true Elder of the Lord is that he will
repent of it, as soon as he sees it, or when it is pointed out to
Overall, the man of God is, as a person and as a way of
practical life, NOT A BRAWLER. He is not a hard-nosed street
fighter with words or with actions. Anyone who is, and will not
repent and change, cannot and should not be in the ministry of
the Church of God.
ONE THAT RULES WELL HIS OWN HOUSE:
As Richard Nickels has noted: "This qualifications for an
overseer covers two areas of his personal life: (a) management of
the home and (b) training of children. Is his home neat, clean,
orderly? Does he manage his finances well? Does he provide well
for his family? Are his children respectful, eager to learn more
of the Eternal's truth?.........
Here is something that takes time. Obviously, an elder or
overseer is just that, an older man who has had the time to prove
his spiritual maturity........"
Albert Barnes has a lot to say on this point, and I will take
the time and the space to quote much of what he has written.
"One that rules well his own house. This implies that the
minister of the gospel would be, and ought to be, a married man.
It is everywhere in the NT supposed that he would be a man who
could be an example in all the relations of life. The positions
which he occupies in the Church has a strong resemblance to the
relationship which a father sustains to his household; and a
qualification to govern a family well, would be an evidence of a
qualification to preside properly in the Church. It is probable
that, in the early Christian Church, ministers were not
infrequently taken from those of mature life, and who were, at
the time, at the head of families; and, of course, such would be
men who had had an opportunity of showing that they had this
qualification for the office. Though, however this cannot be
insisted upon now.......yet it is still true that, if he has a
family, it is a necessary qualification, and that a man in the
ministry should be one who governs his own house well.......
(Note: We have covered the fact that some in the ministry of
the NT apostolic Church were not married with families, but that
was the exception and not the rule. Remember these are general
rules of qualifications Paul lays down, without going into the
exceptions. He himself knew the words of Christ that some to whom
it was given and could receive it, would make themselves eunuchs
for the Kingdom of heaven's sake - Keith Hunt).
Continuing with Barnes:
Having his children in subjection with all gravity...........He
should be a grave or serious man in his family; a man free from
levity of character, and from frivolity and fickleness, in his
intercourse with his children. It does not mean he should be
severe, stern, morose - which are traits which are often mistaken
for gravity, and which are as inconsistent with the proper spirit
of a father as frivolity of manner - but that he should be
a serious and sober-minded man. He should maintain proper
dignity, he should maintain self-respect; and his deportment
should be such as to inspire others with respect for him.
For if a man know not how to rule.........A Church resembles a
family. It is, indeed, larger, and there is a greater variety of
dispositions in it than there is in a family. The authority of a
minister of the gospel in a Church is also less absolute than
that of a father. But still there is a striking resemblance. The
Church is made up of an assemblage of brothers and sisters. They
are banded together for the same purpose, and have a common
object to air at. They have common feelings and common wants.
They have sympathy, like a family, with each other in their
distresses and afflictions. The government of the Church also is
designed to be 'paternal.' It should be felt that he who presides
over it, has the feelings of a father; that he loves all the
members of the great family; that he has no prejudices, no
partialities, no selfish aims to gratify. Now, if a man cannot
govern his own family well; if he is severe, partial, neglectful,
or tyrannical at home, how can he be expected to take charge of
the more numerous ' household of faith ' with proper views
and feelings? If, with all the natural and strong ties of
affection, which bind a father to his own children; if, when they
are few comparatively in number, and where his eye is constantly
upon them, he is unable to govern them aright, how can he be
expected to preside in a proper manner over the larger household,
where he will be bound with comparatively feebler ties, and where
he will be exposed to the influence of passion, and where he will
have a much less constant opportunity of supervision?......."
End quotes from Albert Barnes.
Again, I must emphasis that Paul gives here a "general" rule.
To insist that a man MUST have children or MUST even be married
to qualify for the ministry, is to lift this instruction
completely out of the context of the NT. For what about a man
and his wife who were unable to have children(I guess some would
argue they could adopt children)? What about those who lost their
children in some terrible accident(I guess some would argue they
could have more or adopt)? What if a man was on the verge of
being ordained to the ministry(say in one week) and through a car
crash he lost his wife and children? Would that mean his
ordination was on an indefinite hold? Oh, no indeed not, for he
had already proved himself qualified and called to the ministry
of Jesus Christ.
This is an important matter, a man ruling well his own house.
Many variables come into play, and must be taken into
consideration by the ministers and Church as this qualification
is acted out in a man's life. I will give some examples to
(1) A man has six children. Five are model children, well
behaved, respectful and a pleasure to know, but the sixth one,
that is another story altogether, a long way to go to catch up to
the other five. Does that one out of six children disqualify him
from being ordained to the ministry? I am not saying that sixth
child has murdered someone or anything of that nature, and we are
talking about "children" - under the age of 18 in North America.
The whole situation would have to be looked at I know, but my
general opinion would be that the one unruly child out of six
would not disqualify him from the ministry.
(2) A man raises his children well(I realize his wife is
probably just as much or even more responsible for this). They
are young teenagers. He is ordained to the ministry. Then a few
of his children some years later as older teens, go wild and
become a disgrace, yet most of his family stay true and strong in
the Christian faith. He and his wife did the very best with all
of them in very way, but a few got in with the wrong company.
Some could contend he did not do enough and he failed. He did not
have 100% complete success. Is he now to resign from the
ministry, or have this function taken away from him? Again I
realize each situations would need to be looked at within its own
context. But do you see that Paul was giving a general principle
qualification, without going into all the fine points.
(3) Now here's one for you to think about. A man raises his
children very well. They are all say under the teenage line, but
the oldest is not far away from 13. The youngest we shall say is
10 years old. And we shall say there are three children. This man
for many years, since the children were babies, has ruled well
his own house in every way. He and his wife have been model
parents, and tried to do things by the book. The husband/father
has proved himself in all the qualifications Paul here lays down.
He is ordained to the ministry.
Then as the years slowly roll by and the children become
teens, the troubles really start. All three children start to get
into troubles, and troubles, and more troubles. It becomes quite
obvious to all in the Church, these three children from one of
the Elders are way out of control, and they finally do things
that bring open disgrace on the congregation and community.
Should that Elder step down from the function of the ministry?
Should other Elders and the congregation ask/demand that he step
Don't think this never happens, for it indeed does. I have
witnessed it personally with men I knew.
The above is something like an overseer who, during his
ministry becomes controlled by wine/alcohol for whatever reasons.
Is such a man to be allowed to continue in the function of a
Church leader while being an alcoholic? Or should he not step
down until at least the problem is overcome?
Let's remember, Paul here gives general over all principles of
qualifications without going into all the varying details of
exceptions and individual specific cases that could possible
arise in the life of people and the Church of God.
It's something like what God established with ancient Israel.
They were given basic laws and regulations to live by, but the
answer to every specific situations that could arise in Israel
was not all written down and answered in hundreds of books to be
kept in the Tabernacle for reference when needed. God set up
"judges" in Israel who had the job of deciding all the various
specifics of the many variants that could arise within the lives
of people - see Deuteronomy 17:8-13.
What must govern is that a man shows he has all these points
of qualification under basic control, way more control than not
for sure. He must have shown he has passed the exam on these
points, scored a very good grade, very close to the top of the
class, along with other men who could qualify with him, if there
are any others of course(remember Jesus said we should pray the
Lord of the harvest to send more laborers into the harvest, for
the harvest is ripe and ready to be gathered in). This man
is not ruled by covetousness, impatience, wine, money, etc., but
has the mastery over these. And he has shown that he leads his
own home well. He does all these things well, very well in fact,
notwithstanding the errors and slips he may make sometimes on
account that he is still flesh and blood.
NOT A NOVICE:
Richard Nickels: "A minister cannot be a recent convert, lest
he become proud and conceited at his authority and fall into the
same sin as Satan did. Any organization that send young men fresh
out of school to be 'spiritual leaders' of Churches is heading
the way of satan. A true elder has been trained for years under
another man. He knows life's problems because he has lived many
years, and worked with a great number of people."
I understand fully the comment by Nickels, as I have
first-hand experience in being, at one time, a part of an
organization that did send young men fresh out of Theological
School to be "spiritual leaders" of Churches. Most of them had
never experienced walking as a Christian in the world, with all
its trials, temptations, job problems for those who keep the
Sabbath and Feast days, and all the other things that life in
society can bring. Most were young in marriage with no children
or very young children, having little experience in this aspect
of life. And indeed, many did become inflated with pride and
vanity, until the whole organization eventually became filled
with the cancerous way of the deceptions of Satan. It was only
the few that remained faithful and had to pull away from the body
of sickness, to learn from the errors committed and move forward
in spirit and in truth. It is a hard way to learn. They say
experience is the best teacher, but it is often not the most
pleasant, as those who have gone through the experience I mention
above will quickly assert.
It should be obvious to most Christians that a man serving as
a Church overseer should be well grounded in Biblical knowledge,
understanding, and PRACTICE. The average person wanting the best
possible job done on his house plumbing, electrical work,
carpentry, or his children's dental work, eye care etc., is going
to find someone who he knows is WELL QUALIFIED in that area of
work. with many years of study, knowledge, and PRACTICAL
experience behind them. It should be no different for those
entrusted with the care and guidance of the Church of God. If he
lacks knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and practical experience
in the things of God, and living as a Christian in the world, how
easy it would be for Satan to catch him and reap havoc within
the flock of the Lord. To try to save-guard this happening, Paul
was inspired to lay down a basic qualification for the ministry -
no novice to Christianity was to have the function of overseer
within the Church. This would help to guard against the attack of
Satan, but as we see from Acts 20 it would not guarantee complete
elimination of false seduction from Elders within the Church.
Paul knew well that even Elders who were not novices could go
astray and be caught in the web of Satan. There is much the NT
has to say about apostasy entering the Church from WITHIN the
Church itself via ministers who would fall away from the truth of
the word of God. That is another subject for another time.
Here is what Albert Barnes writes:
".....The Greek word, which occurs nowhere else in the
NT, means, properly, that which is NEWLY PLANTED. Thus it would
mean a plant that was not strong, or not fitted to bear the
severity of storms; that had not as yet struck its roots deep,
and could not resist the fierceness of a cold blast. Then the
word comes to mean a new convert; one who has had little
opportunity to test his own faith, or to give evidence to others
that he would be faithful to the trust committed to him. The word
does not refer so much as to one young IN YEARS, as one who is
young IN FAITH. Still, all the reasons which apply against
introducing a very recent convert into the ministry, will apply
commonly with equal force against introducing one young in years.
Lest being lifted up with pride. We are not to suppose that
this is the ONLY reason against introducing a recent convert into
the ministry, but it is a SUFFICIENT reason.........He fall into
the condemnation of the devil. That is, the same kind of
condemnation the devil fell into; to wit, the condemnation on
account of pride.......
The idea of Paul is, that a young convert should not suddenly
be raised to an exalted station in the church. Who can doubt the
wisdom of this direction? The word rendered LIFTED UP, is from a
verb which means, to smoke, to fume, to surround with smoke; then
to INFLATE - as a bladder is with air; and then to be conceited
or proud; that is, to be LIKE a bladder filled, not with a solid
substance, but with air" (Emphasis his).
A GOOD REPORT OF THEM THAT ARE WITHOUT:
Richard Nickels has truly written: "Last but certainly not
least, is this important must for a would-be elder or overseer.
Those outside the Church are the best judge of religious
hypocrisy. They are quick to detect the fakes who don't practice
what they preach......"
Once more we shall hear from Albert Barnes: "Who are without
the Church; that is, of those who are not Christians......The
idea is he must have a FAIR REPUTATION with them.....He must be
true, and just, and honest in his dealings with his fellow
men.....He must not give occasion for scandal or reproach
.....with the other sex......The reason for this injunction is
too obvious. It is his business to endeavor to do such men good,
and to persuade them to become Christians. BUT NO MINISTER OF THE
GOSPEL CAN POSSIBLE DO SUCH MEN GOOD, UNLESS THEY REGARD HIM AS
AN UPRIGHT AND HONEST MAN......Go to a man whom you have
defrauded, or who regards you as having done or attempted wrong
to any other, and talk to him about the necessity of religion,
and he will instinctively say, that he does not WANT a religion
which will not make its professor true, honest, and pure. It is
impossible, therefore, for a minister to over-estimate the
importance of having a FAIR CHARACTER in the view of the world,
and no man should be INTRODUCED INTO the ministry, or SUSTAINED
IN IT, who has not a fair reputation.......
Lest he fall into reproach......His life will be such as to
give men occasion to reproach the cause of religion.
And the snare of the devil.......The snare to which reference
is here made, is that of BLASTING THE CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE OF
THE MINISTRY OF THE GOSPEL......If there is anything of this kind
in the life of a minister which they can make use of, they will
be ready to do it......Satan is constantly aiming at this thing;
the world is watching for it; and if the minister has any
PROPENSITY which is not in entire accordance with honesty, Satan
will take advantage of it, and lead him into the snare"
(Emphasis his and mine).
Paul is saying that generally, overall, a man chosen for the
ministry must be well liked and respected by the overall
neighbors, business associates, etc. To be sure, given enough
time, and enough people, someone you rub shoulders with in the
world is not going to get along with you for one reason or
another(sometimes it's just personality clashes), and would be
happy to blackball you if asked about you. Often such may be
due to misunderstanding, or not getting what they wanted from
you, disagreeing with you over some issue, maybe it is pure
jealousy. Whatever, there is probably someone, somewhere, that
you have crossed paths with, that has it in for you and will be
glad to speak evil of you if given the chance. This Paul I'm
sure knew very well, from his own personal ministry and the
enemies he had. This is not the point Paul was addressing.
What he was stating is the overall points that Albert Barnes
talked about in his comments.
We must also remember this report comes from "those without"
the Church, not from those within on this particular
qualification. The general opinion must come from the
world, without any influence from the Church. The world must
speak for itself fair and square.
This point of qualification also shows forth the truth that in
the mind of the apostle Paul, a man fit for the ministry was a
man who had working experience within the daily life of the
working world. He was not a man straight from High School into
Theological School and out to pastor a Church or serve as
assistant pastor for a year or two before moving on to full
pastorship. He was a man who had served in the working world for
quite some time, because he was able to have built up a
reputation among the people of those without the Church.
Again, what better way to serve those in the Church who have
to deal with and live as a Christian on a daily shoulder rubbing
basis, with the world, than having the personal experience of
"being there." They will truly know what it is like and can be a
faithful helper, guide, comforter, and server of their needs,
because they have walked the same road at one time.
Jesus, it is written, is a faithful High Priest for us,
because He became flesh and blood. He was tempted in all points
as we are, yet was without sin. He knows exactly our
needs, our pains, our trials, our fight against Satan and his
world, as well as the pull of human nature. He has been there,
experienced it all in an overall way, and so it fitted Him
to be a better High Priest in heaven above.
QUALIFICATIONS IN TITUS
Paul was inspired to tell Titus the qualifications needed for
a man to attain the function of Elder or Overseer in the Church.
Below I give the list of comparisons between Timothy and Titus,
as drawn up by Richard Nickels in his study paper on this
1 Timothy 3 Titus 1
(1) Blameless. (1) Blameless as the steward
(2) Husband of one wife. (2) Husband of one wife.
(3) Vigilant, sober, good behavior.(3) Sober, just, holy,
(4) Given to hospitality. (4) Lover of hospitality,
lover of good men.
(5) Apt to teach. (5) Holding fast the faithful
word as he has
been taught, that he may
be able by sound
doctrine both to exhort
(6) Not given to wine, no striker, (6) Not self-willed, not soon
patient, not a brawler. angry,not given to wine,
(7) Not greedy of filthy lucre... (7) Not given to filthy lucre.
(8) Ruling well his own house, (8) Having faithful children
having his children in not accused of riot or
subjection with all gravity. unruly.
(9) Not a novice. (9) Holding fast the faithful
word as he has been
taught.....elders in every
(10) A good report of them which (10) .....(absent).
We can see from the above that in nine of ten qualifications,
Titus 1 agrees with Timothy 3.
As we evaluate the guidelines for those called to the ministry
of the overseership in the Church, as given by Paul to Timothy
and Titus, we must be very careful to always put those basic
qualifications within the context of the whole NT. This can be
the only correct way if we are to avoid a distorted view of those
We must keep firmly in our mind that Paul is giving GENERAL
statements only, without going into all the various variables on
each, that could arise within the context of any particular
Church, as it moves through time.
There is of course little problem in applying these
qualifications to a specific man if he refuses to accept the call
to the ministry, or if he himself wilfully resigns from the
Eldership. The difficulty for the individual member of the Church
arises when a minister has sinned and continues to sin, but will
not step down from the function of overseer/elder. I hope this
study and my paper on "When Does a Minister Disqualify Himself
from the Ministry?" will help the inquiring mind regarding this
important doctrinal topic.
The overall determining factors I believe can be broken down
into THREE basic areas or points:
1. Repentance 2. Practice 3. Doctrine
I have covered these points in some detail in my article on
"Disqualification" mentioned above. But I think it is
appropriate to briefly summarize them again here.
A minister does sin. Sometimes his sin may be open before
others and correction may need to be given before others(the
example of Paul with Peter - Gal.2). A true servant of the Lord
will repent with real repentance as exhibited by people like Job
This covers an undetermined amount of time. What must be
watched for and noted is a wrong attitude towards the weaknesses
a man possesses(ignoring them, denial of them,
self-justification, lying about them etc.) and repeating or
practicing of them, as a way of life.
A man who has or is presented with the facts of truth and
given time to digest them, who is confronted and debated with,
but refuses to repent of teaching clear and obvious
error, as established on the plain word of the Lord, is a man who
is no longer being led by the Holy Spirit. For the simple
teaching of Jesus was that, ".....when he, the Spirit of
truth is come, he will guide you into all truth....."
Jesus said He would build His church, and He also said the
gates of hell would not prevail against it, meaning death would
not overcome it. His NT Church would never die out. Then Christ
inspired Paul to say that God had put certain functions within
the Church. The ministry would have men working within it that
would have different gifts and responsibilities, some would be
apostles, some would be evangelists, some prophets, and
some pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11,12).
Jesus also told his followers to pray to the Father to send
more laborers into the harvest to reap because the harvest is
great. certainly every Christian can be a harvester for the Lord,
but the flocks gathered in from the harvest do need to be guided,
led, pastored. All flocks must have a least one shepherd to
oversee them, to help them, to serve them.
True Godly men who can be called to the Eldership in the
Church is needed in a HUGE way. It is a vital part of the health
of the Church of God. A calling to the ministry of Jesus Christ
is a tremendous responsibility. When that calling is accepted it
should be a life time commitment. I was just reading in one of
the Sabbath keeping Church of God publications, that a certain
Elder just died last September 1997. He was 95 years old, and
upon his death he was still an active overseer/elder in his local
Church. If health of body and mind holds to the end, then this
is how it should be in the ministry. This does not mean a man is
an Elder till death regardless of how he lives etc. We have seen
that a man can disqualify himself from the ministry(certainly my
study paper on that side of the topic shows it).
We need as individuals to pray that more men will become
qualified to enter the calling of the overseership in the Church.
We need to pray once they are functioning in that capacity, that
they will remain true and faithful to the end. For out of all of
them who start out correctly with the Lord on this road of
service, some will go astray, fall into apostasy, be caught in
the snare of Satan (Paul knew it would be so - see Acts 20).
All individual Christians have a personal responsibility.
They are never to give their mind over to any man, or any
organization of men. They are to have a personal relationship
with the Lord, which means in part, that they search the
scriptures daily, prove all things, and personally keep their
nose in the Bible, so they will always know who speaks the truth
of the word of God.
The Eternal DOES have and WILL have, His true faithful
ministers on this earth. Hopefully this study article will help
you determine who they ARE, and who they possibly CAN be.
Written first in 1986. Re-written and enlarged in January 1998.
Permission is granted to photo copy, print, publish, distribute
all studies by Keith Hunt, as the Spirit of the Lord leads. Mr.
Hunt trusts nothing will be changed without his consent.