v. 1-13 The Qualifications of local church leaders.
After having dealt with the divine order in the local church gatherings, Paul now turns to a consideration of the qualifications of local church leaders.
So far as Paul is concerned only those who are morally and spiritually qualified should take the leadership role in the local church.
v. 1-7 Paul sets forth the qualifications for a bishop.
v. 8-12 Paul sets forth the qualifications for a deacon.
My reading on this subject has revealed a rather interesting point. … Paul’s chief emphasis is upon the moral and spiritual qualifications of the bishop rather than his work or function in the local church.
v. 1 “If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”
This verse deserves some earnest consideration.
If a young man, exercised before the Lord, and has a desire to be a elder-overseer and is prepared to study, labor and sacrifice in order to equip himself for leadership, Paul says “this is a ‘good’ work”.
“The office of a bishop” is one word in the original.
It is better translated “overseership”.
This word designated the work of the overseer as he cares for and oversees the local church. 1 Peter 5:2. Acts 20:28. Overseers = Oversight of
The word “bishop” and “elder” are used interchangeably to designate the same individuals, but with a difference in connotation.
The word bishop points to the function of the leader specifically as to oversight.
The word elder emphasizes the personal dignity and spiritual maturity of the one holding that office or position.
Paul reminds us that aspirations for this work is good.
It is not easy or lucrative but it is a good work.
It is often a difficult and thankless task full of risk and danger, despite this Paul says that it is “a good work”. Pray for the elders.
The importance of this office is borne out by the fifteen qualifications necessary before one can hold the position, or claim to be an elder.
The list of attributes for eldership fall into three categories.
v. 3 An elder “must be blameless” (1) General character qualifications
1. The husband of one wife – must not have more than wife living at one time.
2. Temperate. In full use of all his faculties.
3. Soberminded. Well balanced, properly regulated mind
4. Of good behavior. Ordering well his outer and inward life.
5. Given to hospitality. He cares for Christian strangers.
6. Apt to teach. The willingness and skill to teach.
The second group of qualifications set forth the elder in his actions toward all.
1. Not given to wine – but rather filled with the Spirit
2. He is a non-violent man. Not quick tempered – not given to fighting- verbally –
3. Not greedy of filthy lucre. The desire for money not the ruling motive in his life.
4. He is patient – gentle – mindful of the feelings of others.
5. He is not a brawler – must be in full control of his tongue and limbs.
6. He is not covetous – free from avarice.
7. One that ruleth his own house well, and has his children in subjection.
8. Not a novice
Qualifications as to community standing.
Then finally v. 7 says that he must have a good report of them that are without.
From the qualifications of elders Paul abruptly passes to the qualifications of deacons.
No statement of the duties is made. Compare Acts 6 “Serve tables” Phil 2:25.
The term deacon in general means one who serves.
Notice that some of the qualifications of the deacons are similar to that of the elders.
1. They are to be grave. i.e. they are to be men of dignified character.
2. Not double tongued – they must speak the truth at all times.
3. Not given to much wine – This not only means that they are not addicted, but have no interest in it.
4. Not greedy of filthy lucre – not their one aim in life.
Paul is not just content with the outward blamelessness in the conduct of the deacons.
They must also possess a vital spiritual life. See v. 9 XX.
They must know the doctrine of the faith, and must conscientiously put the truths into practice in their own lives.
v. 10 The testing of deacons.
And let these first be proved.
Deacons are to be tested like metals to show their genuineness.
Then having met the test, they are to be given the office. Describe the test.
v. 11 This is an interesting verse. Read.
The reading in our KJV somewhat obscures the literal meaning as supported by the majority of scholars.
The literal meaning of the phrase, “Even so must their wives be” is “women in like manner must be”.
The words “must their” in italics is supplied by the translators to give the meaning which they thought was appropriate.
But more recent research into the original language has produced the broadest meaning. “Women in like manner must be.”
The context would determine that this is not women in general, since Paul is here dealing with church leadership. It refers to a certain class of women who were deaconesses.
Let us now consider the two views.
1. That the message is for the deacon wives. The qualifications listed would certainly be required of deacons’ wives since she naturally would help and support him in his work.
2. The preponderance of evidence is in favor of the interpretation that the women referred to were deaconesses or servants of the church.
There is some evidence to support the fact that deaconesses existed in some of the apostolic churches. Phoebe Romans 16:6 ‘Who is a deaconess of the church”
The early church recognized this necessity for special service of women among women. See Titus 2:3. Read.
This is an interesting observation.
If it was found necessary to have deaconesses in the early church why don’t we have them today?
Why do we send all our young sisters to the foreign fields when there is so much for them to do at home? Gosepl work among women and children. Visitation- helping the sick. Counseling young sisters, etc.
Then that brings to mind a second question.
Why is it that most assemblies recognize the scriptural authority for elder, but do not see the need for deacons? See Phil 1:1 Saints-bishops-deacon.
1. One reason is that the elder person a dual task.
2. Another reason is that the so called elders are not really elders… but deacons.
3. The thirdly the elders are forced into this dual role because of the lack of exercise of the brethren for this kind of work.
Note the qualifications of these deaconesses.
1. They must be grave or dignified. See v. 8
2. They must not be slanderers. Throwing accusations at others
3. They must be sober, i.e. temperate in all things.
4. Finally, they must be faithful in all things. This emphasizes faithfulness to the Word, and trustworthiness in all matters entrusted to them confidentially.
v. 12 The verse gives the domestic qualifications of deacons. Emphasize.
These correspond with the high standard laid down for the elder. See v. 1-5
v. 13 For they that have used the office of a deacon will purchase to themselves a good standing.
Our KJV limits the reference of this verse by rendering “have served well as deacons”.
Most commentaries believe that since the discussion has encompassed elders and deaconesses as well as deacons, that what is in view here is the spectrum of church leaders.
Those who have served well as ministered excellently purchase for themselves a “good standing”, that is they gain the respect, confidence and favor of the believers because of their excellent ministry or service among them.
Furthermore they give “great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus”.
That is, as they function in their God appointed office they mature spiritually and speak and act with boldness for Jesus Christ.
v. 14 “these things write I unto you.” “These things” refers to the instructions contained in chapters 2 and 3.
The purpose of writing this personal message to Timothy is contained in v. 14-15a.
Paul hoped to return to Ephesus to see Timothy and to talk to him about current difficulties.
There was the possibility that he might be hindered so he wrote out these instructions in order that he might know how he ought to behave in the house of God.
This verse also lends itself to a wider interpretation.
That thou mayest know how men, i.e., the church leaders, out to behave or conduct themselves in the house of God.
The “house of God” does not mean the church building, but rather the believers in whom Christ dwells. “Household” speaks of the family aspect.
v. 15b. Paul next reveals to us the nature of the church.
“The church of the living God.” Called out ones.
“The pillar and ground of truth”.
Because when assembled we are the church of God (locally) we ought to conduct ourselves reverently and becomingly because of the high honor that is ours.
This, no dobut, is in contrast to the behaviors in the pagan temples. Describe.
The figure changes, “The pillar and ground of truth”.
The church becomes “the troth”, i.e., it becomes the depository of the birth and revelation of God, and the vehicle through which the revelation is dispensed to the world.
“Pillar and ground” indicates, the function of the church in relating to the Gospel. The church as a pillar of the truth holds up and supports the Gospel. Display of the Truth.
As “the ground” or better interpreted stay or buttress it supports God’s truth in the face of opposition and attack.
v. 16 This verse contains the substance of Christian truth.
What is “the truth” which the church displays and supports?
Paul summarizes “the truth” in thy name. “Without controversy” without a doubt.
“Great is the mystery of godliness”.
Mystery means a truth once secret but now fully revealed
The mystery is godliness or godlikeness which is Christ. “He is the visible expression of the invisible God.”
“The Godhead is revealed in Him in bodily form” “He is the brightness of God’s play.”
“He is express image of God’s substance.”
These facts were never known before but now are in Christ.
It is the privilege, responsibility and duty of the Church to present, preach and teach Him to every creature.
“God was manifest in flesh” speaks of His incarnation.
Next “He was justified in the Spirit.”
He was justified in the Spirit from His birth, right through life and death and resurrection and until He took His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
He was conceived in the Virgin’s womb.
He was in due time anointed by the Spirit
Finally He was marked out to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by resurrection. Roman 1:4.
“Seen of angels.” Angels watched Him during His earthly sojourn.
“He preached among the Gentiles”. Thank God for this.
“Believed on in the world”
Every eye shall see Him … every knee shall bow to Him… every tongue shall confess Him.
All peoples, nations will serve Him.
His kingdom shall be everlasting.
“Received up in glow.” In glow and into glow.
This was God’s answer to the death of Christ on the Cross.
This majestic summary of Christian truth forms a fitting climax to the second division of the Epistle dealing with Church order.
It also forms a fitting setting for the grim subject of the coming apostasy introduced in the next chapter.