TEXT: Textual; 1 Timothy 3:1-7
INTRO: The primary leaders in a local church are “elders,” leaders who were, by experience, abilities, and spiritual maturity, able to teach church members the truth of the Lord’s commandments and to offer sound guidance for the body to prosper.
I. ELDERSHIP BECAME A CHURCH OFFICE AND REQUIRED CERTAIN QUALIFICATIONS.
A.Acts 2:41-42, “about 3,000 people were added to [the church]. And they devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching.” Acts 6: a problem within the church : “It would not be right for us to give up preaching about God to handle financial[stewardship matters. Therefore, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, who we can appoint to this duty.” So the church chose men they could trust and obey to take are of the problem.
Around 49 AD, the “office of elders” had been established in the local church..
1 Timothy3, and Titus 1, definite qualifications for elders are specified to help the church select its leaders.
B. Our point is simple: by the time of Paul’s death, there were two requirements for leaders of the church:: 1.)In the earliest churches, the founders of the churches appointed elders (see Titus 1:5), but after this the church was responsible to choose its leaders (as our passage indicates); and 2.) only those qualified could be appointed or chosen.
II. CHURCH LEADERSHIP QUALIFICATIONS ARE ABOUT CHARACTER NOT HISTORY.
A. An elder is to be called according to his present and growing character, not the kind of past he or she had lived.
1.) 2 Cor. 6:17 says, “[I]f anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.”
2.) It is spiritual devotion and maturity that prepares a person to serve Christ by serving others.
B. If a person’s history was part of the qualifications or negates a consideration of a candidate, Many early and able believers would have been ineligible.
C. Why this matters today. Jn. 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
We are all in the process of spiritual growth. Thus, these qualifications are about character not history. Otherwise, no one could qualify!
III. THE QUALIFICATIONS.
Vs. 2: 1.) ”above reproach” (anepilempton): Living honestly and respectfully.
2.) “husband of but one wife” ( mias gunaikos andra ) Lit: “a one woman man.” There generally 5 ways this term is interpreted. a.) Not polygamous (having several wives at once); b.) Not married twice, either due to divorce or c.) death of a spouse. ; d.) Must be married. ; e.) Not a womanizer. women , but, rather to be an example of devotedness to one woman/wife.
3.) “sober/temperate/self-controlled” (nephalion): well-balanced.
4.) “sensible/ self-controlled/ prudent “ (sophrona). To think straight. Not given to irrational impulses.
5.) “respectable / well behaved / orderly” (kosmion). “A good citizen.” An explamhoe of good behavior.
6.) “hospitable” (philozenon). Always ready to welcome and make others comfortable. Generous.
7.) “an able teacher” (didaktikon). Able to grow in understanding of the faith and to teach it to any who desire to learn about.
Vs. 3: Four (4) traits the overseer must avoid:
8.) “not addicted to wine “ (me paroinon). Not a prisoner to his indulgences.
9.) “not a bully/ not violent / not a fighter or assaulting others” (me plekten). Not one who tries to dominate others or to intimidate others to do his bidding
10.) “gentle: (alla epieike). “making room for others.” Meek, not weak.
11.) “peaceable” (hamachon). Desiring harmony and unity between people. Not easily offended.
Vs. 4-5: Good Personal stewardship.
12.) READ VSS. 4-5. A person who teaches his family God’s truth and is accountable for their understanding and response. (See Eph. 5:22-6:4)
Vs. 6: READ. “Not a new convert. . . .” Should be experienced in the ways of the church, in the study of God’s word, learning from the examples of godly leaders. WHY?
Authority and the power that comes with it are difficult things to master wisely.
“The condemnation incurred by the devil”: PRIDE!
Vs. 7) READ. The growth and understanding and approach to people must be something even non-believers can see in the overseer. One must be alert and cautious, diligent to walk in godly discipline and truth.
Every overseer/pastor/elder will fail in different areas at different times. He will need the church body to hold him up in prayer, to encourage him in word and deed, and to exhort him to walk uprightly when he begins to stray from the calling. Criticism is harmful, but honest and positive input, even when it is a call to discipline, must be offered by those whom God has given the role of church family.