QUALIFICATIONS FOR A BISHOP/PASTOR
I Tim. 3:1-7
According to the Apostle Paul’s declaration in I Tim. 3:15, the local New Testament church is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” The local N. T. church is the divinely instituted organism God established for the twin purposes of the defense and dissemination of the faith. It is the Biblical instrument God has ordained for the protection and propagation of Biblical truth that has been committed to the saints (Jude 3).
According to the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:1 there are two Scriptural offices God instituted for the benefit and edification of those churches: bishops (pastors) and deacons. In I Timothy chapter 3:1-14, Paul delineates the spiritual requirements for both these Biblically instituted offices.
THE DISTINCTIONS IN THE TWO N. T. OFFICES
From other N. T. passage and from these verses it is apparent that both offices of pastor[s] and deacons are imperative offices for the smooth functioning of a N. T. assembly. It should be clearly noted that there is no Biblical dichotomy between these two offices. These two offices were not given for the purpose of competition, but for the purpose of cooperation and correlation.
The office of bishop/pastor is the administrative office, while the office of deacon is the assisting office. The functional leadership of a N. T. rests clearly on the shoulders of the bishop/pastor who needs the faithful loyalty of deacons who labor as assistants, advisors, and ambassadors on behalf of his ministry. When these functions are reversed, the local church is hampered and suffers in its Great Commission tasks.
THE MISTAKEN VIEW OF SOME SINCERE BELIEVERS
There are some sincere saints who adhere to the hypothesis that there are three separate offices: bishop[s], (pastor), elders and deacons. However, the N. T. Scriptures do not support this belief. In Acts 20:17 & 28, Titus 1:5-7 and I Peter 5:1-2, the terms of bishop and elder are used interchangeably for the same office! [The word “feed” means “shepherd” [pastor-verbal form].
This study, however, specifically deals with the three divine requirements set forth for the office of the bishop/pastor, concentrating on the third requirement as delineated in I Tim. 3:2-7. In his writings, the Apostle Paul sets forth three necessary qualifications for this office. (l) An Appointing by the Spirit; (2) An Aspiration for Service and (3) An Adherence to Standards.
An Appointing by the Spirit
It is intriguing to note that the entire Triune God, Father, Son and Spirit are involved in the divine calling of a bishop/pastor. The (a) assignment comes from the headquarters of God the Father-Gal. 1:15: “But it pleased God…who called me from my mother’s womb.” The (b) apportionment comes from the heart of God the Son-Eph. 4:7-12: “according to the measure of the gift of Christ…he gave some…pastors and teachers.” The (c) appointment comes from the hand of God the Spirit—Acts 20:28: “the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.”
Concerning the imperative hand of the Third person of the Triune God, it is important to recognize the Holy Spirit has three divine activities in the pastor’s divine call: (1) the Holy Spirit’s appointing—Acts 20:28: “over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers”; (2) The Holy Spirit’s anointing—Eph. 5:18: “be filled with the Spirit,” and (c) the Holy Spirit’s approving—I Cor. 2:4: “my preaching was…in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
An Aspiration for the Service
An aspiration for service is the second qualification for a genuine God-called bishop/pastor: “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work”—I Tim. 3:1. This “good” work is an excellent or noble work.
The pastorate is a good/excellent/noble work because it is (1) an exalting work, a Christ-exalting labor—I Tim. 1:17: “unto the King eternal,” (2) an evangelizing work—II Tim. 4:5: “do the work of an evangelist,” (3) an edifying work—I Tim. 1:4: “godly edifying,” (4) an exhorting work—I Tim. 6:2: “these things teach and exhort,” (5) an expositing work—II Tim. 4:2: “preach the Word,” (6) an exposing work—I Tim. 1:18-20: “of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander,” and it is (7) an exemplifying work—I Tim. 4:12: “be thou an example of the believer.”
An Adherence to the Standards
God sets high standards for those servants whom He calls to serve as a bishop/pastor. The ministry is no place for those who have low level spiritual and moral ideals. In I Tim. 3:2-7, Paul delineates the rigorous standards that pastors must meet: Regarding (1) accusations, the pastor must be “blameless”; regarding (2) affections, he must be “the husband of one wife”; regarding (3) alertness, he must be “vigilant”; regarding (4) attitude, he must be “sober”; regarding (5) actions, he must be “of good behaviour”; regarding (6) ardor, he must be “given to hospitality”; regarding (7) abilities, he must be “apt to teach”; regarding (8) abstinence, he must “not be given to wine”; regarding (9-10) animosities, he must be “no striker” and “no brawler”; regarding (l1) affluence, he must be “not greedy of filthy lucre”; regarding (12) aggravations, he must be “patient”; regarding (13) aspirations, he must not “be covetous”; regarding (14) authority, he must be “one that ruleth well,” that has “his children in subjection”; regarding (15) age, he must be “not a novice,” and finally, regarding (16) approval, he must have “a good report of them that are without.”
SOME OBSERVATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS
Being the pastor of a N. T. local church is indeed a blessed and a unique calling and privilege, but it involves serious character and conduct qualifications. A Christian man who genuinely desires this office is truly aspiring to a “good work.” In the midst of a materialistic oriented, secular crazed world, God is still calling men to be heavenly minded “shepherds” of local flocks.
Also in this issue:
|Editorial – APRIL - MAY 2010 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given.|