Posted, August 4, 1998



Qualifications of a pastor

Chain of Authority

The Pastor

The following was motivated by the request of a couple of men who wanted to know God's qualifications for a pastor. The study is offered for your edification, and maybe will help some avoid the trap that so many churches (and pulpit committees) have fallen into. I also realize that there is a serious dearth of godly men to lead churches in the ways of the Lord. More often than not, the criteria for selecting a leader is his perceived ability to get along with people, lead the teens and get good offerings.

Christianity, and society in general, is paying a very high price for not following God's established guidelines. The church may be prospering in numbers and in finances, but the degeneration of society shows us that the "prosperity" is not from God.

We must also point out that the qualifications listed by the Spirit for leadership among God's people are identical to the qualifications for leadership among God's Old Testament people. (See Ex. 18:21, Dt. 1:13ff., &c.) This clearly shows us that the Israel of God now consists of the Gospel Church. (Gal. 6:15, 16.)


There were many churches at Ephesus. They were small groups meeting in homes. Paul had to leave Ephesus before he could organize the churches properly, so he instructs Timothy on how to do what Paul had been unable to do.

There were no schools to "train" men for leadership (service) in these local assemblies. So these men were raised up from within the local assemblies -- a man had to display God's qualifications for any kind of place of leadership in the local assembly. One would almost think that God's way of selecting leaders is better than man's way used today -- go to school, learn how to be a "leader" rather than displaying the qualifications that show the Spirit's workings to raise someone up to do HIS work, and then seek a job as a "leader." So how were folks to know who of the local assemblies were qualified to do the work of a bishop? The prospective bishops had to display the gifts qualifying them for the work. We must point out that desire, willingness, sacrifice, abilities, dedication and good works (meeting the qualifications) do not prove that a man is called by God. (Cf. Mt. 7:21ff.) The truth of the "call" must be based in the man's proper understanding and acceptance of the Gospel of Christ.

Paul identifies the offices of the church and the qualifications of those who hold those offices.

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (1 Tim. 1:1.)

Bishop. Though different words, bishop, elder, presbyter and pastor are all used to describe man who holds the office of a bishop the same person. (They all have distinctly Jewish roots. See Fairbairn, Pastoral Epistles, 134-137 [1874], Klock & Klock reprint, and Liddon, Explanatory Analysis of St. Paul's First Epistle to Timothy, 21 [1897]. Klock & Klock reprint.)


The word is episkope -- "oversight i.e. overseership, office, charge ; ... Acts 1:20, fr. Ps. cviii. (cix.) 8 ; spec. of office of a bishop (the overseer or presiding officer of a Christian church : 1 Tim. iii.1, and in eccl. writ." (Thayer, #1984, p. 243.) The title came from the Jewish synagogue.
An overseer. In apostolic times, it is quite manifest that there was no difference as to order between bishops and elders or presbyters #Ac 20:17-28 1Pe 5:1,2 Php 1:1 1Ti 3:1ff. The term bishop is never once used to denote a different office from that of elder or presbyter. These different names are simply titles of the same office, "bishop" designating the function, namely, that of oversight, and "presbyter" the dignity appertaining to the office. Christ is figuratively called "the bishop [episcopos] of souls" #1Pe 2:25 (Online Bible dictionary.)


A name frequently used in the Old Testament as denoting a person clothed with authority, and entitled to respect and reverence #Ge 50:7 It also denoted a political office#Nu 22:7 The "elders of Israel" held a rank among the people indicative of authority. Moses opened his commission to them#Ex 3:16 They attended Moses on all important occasions. Seventy of them attended on him at the giving of the law#Ex 24:1 Seventy also were selected from the whole number to bear with Moses the burden of the people#Nu 11:16,17 The "elder" is the keystone of the social and political fabric wherever the patriarchal system exists. At the present day this is the case among the Arabs, where the sheik (i.e., "the old man") is the highest authority in the tribe. The body of the "elders" of Israel were the representatives of the people from the very first, and were recognized as such by Moses. All down through the history of the Jews we find mention made of the elders as exercising authority among the people. They appear as governors#De 31:28 as local magistrates #De 16:18 administering justice#De 19:12 They were men of extensive influence#1Sa 30:26-31 In New Testament times they also appear taking an active part in public affairs#Mt 16:21 21:23 26:59 The Jewish eldership was transferred from the old dispensation to the new. "The creation of the office of elder is nowhere recorded in the New Testament, as in the case of deacons and apostles, because the latter offices were created to meet new and special emergencies, while the former was transmitted from the earlies times. In other words, the office of elder was the only permanent essential office of the church under either dispensation." The "elders" of the New Testament church were the "pastors" #Eph 4:11 "bishops or overseers" #Ac 20:28 "leaders" and "rulers" #Heb 13:7 1Th 5:12 of the flock. Everywhere in the New Testament bishop and presbyter are titles given to one and the same officer of the Christian church. He who is called presbyter or elder on account of his age or gravity is also called bishop or overseer with reference to the duty that lay upon him #Ti 1:5 -7 Ac 20:17-28 Php 1:1 (Online Bible dictionary.)
Elder implies the nature of the bishop -- spiritual maturity, insight and experience. Elder is also a title used many times in the Revelation to identify those who worshiped Christ.


One who tends the herd, or flocks (found only in Eph. 4:11). Not merely one who feeds them -- he guides and cares for them. The word clearly carrys forward the Old Testament word meaning of pastor to describe the overseers of God's Israel -- the presiding officer, manager, director, overseerer, of any assembly. It is used to describe Christ as head of the church. (Thayer, #4166, p. 527.) Used of Christ, the head of the church. (Jn. 10:16; 1 Pet. 2:25; Heb. 13:20.) Thus, the human leader, the pastor, is identified by the same word as is Christ, the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

In Acts 20:17, Paul gives the elders instructions as pastors of churches. V. 28 makes it clear that Paul considers the elders the spiritual leaders (all areas are spiritual) of the churches, the overseers. Titus 1:5, outlines the same qualifications for elders as he does for bishops in 1 Timothy 3. The elders were appointed as they give divine evidence of their qualifications, 1 Peter 5:2. A problem today is that churches appoint elders on: a) hearsay, b) word of mouth, c) availability, d) personality, e) personal opinion, f) expediency, g) availability and every other reason one can think of, other than the God-given gifts displayed and evidenced in the life.

Paul considered himself an elder, clearly fitting that job description.


One should note that none of the terms for the office of a bishop hint of "Democratic Rule," i.e., Congregationalism. Congregationalism was formed not on theological basis, but in reaction to the Church of England -- Separatist churches. Its basic belief is that a local assembly is locally controlled. What has been called "the first Congregational Church" was pastored by Richard Fitz, who was arrested in Plumber's Hall, London, 19th June, 1567. However, the first careful theoretic exponent of Congregationalism was Robert Browne (c. 1550-1633), and it became known as Browneism. It is closely united with the Puritans, e.g., John Smyth (?-1612, who adopted Baptist principles), William Brewster (1560-1644), Richard Clyfton, John Robinson (1590-1625), and William Bradford (1590-1657). Congregationalists enjoyed the cordial favour of Cromwell. The "New World" basically followed Congregationalism. (James Hastings, Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, IV.22.)

Accordingly, Congregationalism brought in the "Democratic Rule," or "oversight of the flock by the flock."(Most Baptists operate as Congregationalists.) Though any godly pastor will seek advice (Pro. 1:5), the oversight of the flock was never give to the flock. The rise of civil "Democracy" can, no doubt, be traced to the rise of religious "Democracy" in local churches. Biblical rule, even in local assemblies, must be a republic -- that is, rule under law, the law of God. The pastor is controlled by the law of God, as are the people. (I believe Scriptural requires that if the pastor departs from God's word, then the assembly is responsible before God to run him off, e.g., 1 Cor. 5, &c.) Either the word of God is the final authority for all matters of faith, truth and practice or it is not. (See "Chain of Authority" below.)

Writing to Timothy, Paul gives instructions to pastors. He points out that the Law-Word of God is both the pastor's and the church's instructions. (2 Tim. 3:1ff.) The vote of the congregation is not the final word; God's word is. Paul also warned Timothy that in the last days there would be men rise up and say, "Here is a better way." These men have a form of godliness. They look just like godly men. They sound just like godly men, (3:5) and they will even be accepted as godly men. But they deny the power of God, the word of God.

Paul gives instructions for those who occupy the office of a bishop:

1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Tim. 3:1-7.)
First, there must be a desire to do the work of the office. Desire -- "to stretch one's self out in order to touch or to grasp something, to reach after or desire something... 1 Tim. iii. 1, Heb. xi.16." The word is also used in 1 Timothy 6:10, "to give one's self up to the love of money." (See Thayer, #3713, p 452.) That is, to be possessed with the desire to obtain money:
This is a true saying, If a man desire [3713] the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (1 Tim. 3:1.)
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after [3713], they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Tim. 6:10.)
But now they desire [3713] a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Heb. 11:16.)
Accordingly, the same drive is required of a pastor as is required of those possessed by the love of money (possessed by their love for their occupation). Note that those possessed by covetousness will not heed the cost of gaining that money. However, that drive for the work of a pastor must be kept within the bounds which will be given by Paul as he proceeds. (Cf. Jn. 21:15.)

To stretch one's self out in order to touch or to grasp something -- that is, put everything into obtaining that goal, or discounting the cost of obtaining that goal. The man desiring to be a bishop cannot pay any cost as one might do to obtain worldly wealth, v. 2ff.

desire --literally, "stretch one's self forward to grasp"; "aim at": a distinct Greek verb from that for "desireth." What one does voluntarily is more esteemed than what he does when asked (#1Co 16:15). This is utterly distinct from ambitious desires after office in the Church. (#Jas 3:1). (JFB, Online Bible.)
This desire willingly goes beyond what is expected of the man seeking the office. He is exalted to the office because he is already doing the work expected of the office. His motivation, desire, causes him to do the work whether he is in the office or not.

Second, the desire MUST be placed there by the Spirit of God -- For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure, a most sure grounded argument against pride. The willingness to stretch one's self out in order to grasp the ministry, the willingness to leave everything else behind for the work of a bishop is placed in the heart of the man by God. The desire to do the work of a pastor is God's free grace at work in the man; it makes him willing to have more dedication to the ministry than the covetous man has for money.(Phl. 2:13. See John Gill.)

Third, the desire is to work.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (1 Tim. 5:17.)

Labour: of the toilsome efforts of teachers in proclaiming and promoting the kingdom of God and Christ: 1 Cor. 15:10 (Paul points out that it is the Lord working through him, giving him strength for the toilsome effort he puts forth for the Kingdom of God, ed.); 16:16; 1 Tim. 5:17... (Thayer, #2872, p. 355.)
The desire is not for a "life of ease," but a desire to work for the Lord regardless of the sacrifice and money. That work requires the same dedication as one controlled by the love of money, covetousness. However, those controlled by Spirit of God (to do the work of the ministry) and those controlled by the spirit of money is that those controlled by grace will conform to the requirements given in 1 Timothy 3:2-7. The Spirit speaks expressly that one qualification of a bishop is that he is not controlled by the love of money, v. 3. He will have the same drive as the covetous, but the drive will be contained by Scripture. The God-called bishop will covet God's blessings, so he will abide by vv. 2-7.

In other words, the God called bishop will put in the same, if not more, hours and hard work as do those controlled by money. More than a few pastors "pay" for the privilege of doing the work of a bishop -- they support themselves and many times even place what money they have into the ministry God has called them to.

Fourth, a desire to be a bishop -- a leader of a local Christian assembly -- may be present, but how do the people and the man know the desire is the workings of God's Spirit of Grace? Paul leaves no doubt -- the one in whom grace is working in the call will have the points listed in vv. 2-7, including the grace to study and teach.

Qualifications of a pastor

Observe the following order of the points, and that they are the workings of God's Spirit of Grace in the one whom he has called to be a leader in the local assembly. These qualifications must be present before any man is allowed to lead a congregation; violation of 1 Timothy 3 disqualifies one from any leadership in the church. Note that there is no human authority (civil or otherwise) given by God to deal with those who violate these qualifications. The judgment of God's men is left up to God. (See also 5:19.) The only other New Testament church office mentioned by the Lord is the office of deacon, i.e., servant, and his qualification, v.8, is identical to the pastor's except for one statement -- For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

1) Blameless--to speak against. (Ac. 13:45.) No charge of immorality or of holding a false doctrine, irreproachable character of truth, honesty, chastity, &c. Check with those the man works with and for. Check with his family, neighbours, friends, bank, credit rating (to see if he has kept his bills paid). Can someone point a finger at him and say, "He did me wrong and never made it right." His background needs to be checked very closely concerning money, women and pride.

Example: I know of at least two pastors who left their churches tremendously in debt. One in Indianapolis left the small group of people over $400,000 in debt, plus many personal loans from the people. He borrowed at least $100,000, and no one knew why he borrowed it.

The church in Louisiana where I was an associate pastor: The former pastor "floated a bond program" to build with, and the contractor gave him a NEW Cadillac as a kick back on the building. He had borrowed money from many different banks and people. No one knew where it was, and the church was left paying for a very shabby building. The man could draw a crowd.

Both of these men went to the new churches, where the one from Louisiana did it again. What is the answer? Restrict the activities of the pastor in his leadership, or check him out very closely before calling him? The Lord says to check him out; it does not call for forming committees to control him. If churches would do what Paul told Timothy to do, many problems would be taken care of, for the men would be selling used cars rather than destroying churches. (There is nothing wrong with selling used cars, if the sales person is honest.)

Must be blameless, not sinless, but honest and sincere. How has he acted in the past? When God's instructions are ignored, not only are churches destroyed, but the churches' testimony is destroyed and so is the testimony of preachers in general.

Placing Blame

Certainly, every person will answer for his own sin, but the Spirit places the primary responsibility with the church for not acting according to the Spirit's instructions. Humanism says, "Pass a law, and you will change the man." The result is that unscriptural restrictions are placed upon the bishop. God says, "Check the man out. If he is not blameless, then leave him alone."

Example: A deputy sheriff ran a stop sign East of Linden some years ago. In doing so, he killed a woman in a car that had the right of way. The county solved the problem on that road by installing a stop sign so it is now a 4-way stop in the middle of no where. They should have charged the man with manslaughter, but he was not charged with anything. In other words, they passed a law to solve the problem rather than deal with the problem.

Many churches do the same thing -- rather than enforce the law (1 Tim. 3), they pass new laws. Then the same people complain against the civil government for passing new laws rather than enforcing existing laws.

The prospective pastor, bishop, must be checked out and found blameless.


Paul defines blameless. He tells us what the congregation must look for in a bishop. The best thing that can be done ins to go ask, face to face. 1 Timothy 5:19 says to take a witness with you.

Example: When I was in the service, I was stationed for a short time at a top security radio base in the mountains of Puerto Rico. Before I was allowed to go to that base, the Navy sent two men to my home area to check on me. They questioned my neighbours to find out what kind of a person I was. It is a shame that a closer check is made on a person who is going to drive a car or truck in the military than a church will check concerning a man who is responsible for the well-being of countless people, a community and family. Churches get in trouble with whom they appoint to lead them by not knowing who the man is. How many will hire a baby sitter on the same grounds that many churches hire ("call") pastors on?

[H]e should be a man against whom no charges of immorality, or of holding false doctrine, is alleged. (Barnes' Notes, Thes.-Phil.142. Baker Book House.)
I should mention that when the modern dispensational system was introduced in the early 1800s, it was considered serious heresy by orthodox Christianity of the day. However, because the new doctrine appealed so much to the natural man, churches allowed pastors in who held to what was then considered false doctrine and doctrines of demons.

2) Husband of one wife. Marriage is not a requirement, but he should be married -- the bachelor will be out of balance. The qualification of one wife would virtually rule out divorced men and women preachers. (See also 1 Cor. 14:34, 35 & 1 Tim 2:9-12.) However, different people go different ways on this statement -- some say he cannot be divorced. Others say he can only have one wife at a time (polygamy was not uncommon at that time). Still others say the man must be married to be an elder. One thing is for sure: A woman cannot be a pastor, elder. It is also a sure thing that a man who desires more than one wife is too crazy to be a pastor.

Therefore he that shuts out married men from the office of bishops, only because they are married, is antichrist. (Geneva, Online Bible.)
It is implied here also, that he who has a wife and virtuous family, is to be preferred to a bachelor; for he who is himself bound to discharge the domestic duties mentioned here, is likely to be more attractive to those who have similar ties, for he teaches them not only by precept, but also by example(#1Ti 3:4,5). (JFB, Online Bible.)
3) Vigilant. Sober, temperate, abstinent, sober-minded, watchful, circumspect -- a watchful eye over his own conduct, on guard against sin in any form. "Watchful care over his own conduct. (Barnes.) Implied here also is self-controlled use of the gifts and callings of God (Rom. 12) for God's work, and not for self-advancement.

Example: I like to study, write and teach, which is a gift of God according to Romans 12. Do I use it for the maturing of the saints or for my own advancement? Those examining a prospect for the office of bishop must have a spirit of discernment in this area. How is the man using his God-given gifts?

3. He must be vigilant and watchful against Satan, that subtle enemy; he must watch over himself, and the souls of those who are committed to his charge, of whom having taken the oversight, he must improve all opportunities of doing them good. A minister ought to be vigilant, because our adversary the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, #1Pe 5:8. (MH, Online Bible.)

4) Sober. Sound mind -- one who is in control of his passions and is not controlled by them. "The idea here is that he should have his desires and passions well regulated. Perhaps the word prudent would come nearer to the meaning of the apostle than any single word we have." (Barnes.) He is in control of his tongue and of his appetites. The tongue will reveal one's control of his heart and mind. (Pr. 4:23, Mt. 15:19, &c.) Implied here is that if one area is out of control, others will be also, e.g., uncontrolled tempter and tongue will also permit uncontrolled thoughts, &c.

5) Of good behavior. Modest, mannerly, a gentleman -- a good appearance, not rough nor boorish in his manners. A minister of the gospel should be a garnished gentleman in his manners. His refined and gentlemanly manners should allow him to fit in anywhere: courteous and polite. "Inattention to personal neatness, and to the rules which regulate refined intercourse, is indicative neither of talent, learning, nor religion..." (Barnes.)

A modest, well-ordered life -- well-arranged. Are his priorities in the right place? Paul became all things to all men. Paul could reach the prisoners and he could reach the prison keepers.

Many of us fail to properly train our children in manners, especially in the House of God and with respect to older people.

6) Hospitality. This is the duty of all Christians (Heb. 13:2) -- readily and cheerfully entertains strangers (primarily speaking of strangers). In Timothy's time, the Believer carried a letter of communion to testify of the purity of his faith, which would get him a warm reception wherever he went. (The original church letter.)

3 John seems to be this kind of letter, and, of course, Philemon is. 3 John 12, Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. If this were required today, how much church-hopping would be avoided?

Does he get along good with strangers?

7) Apt to teach. No one should continue on the ministry who has not enough industry, self-denial and the love of study of God's word to lead him constantly to endeavor to increase in knowledge -- he must be qualified to teach others the God's word. For a man to teach people, he must keep ahead of them. (See Eph. 4:11 where pastor and teacher are used together, making it one qualification; see also 2 Tim. 2:24-26, 1 Pet. 5:1-3. It is unbelievable how many offers I receive to supply "sermons" for a fee, e.g., "For the busy pastor who does not have time to put together sermons for his people." Garbage! Such a man with no time nor talent to put together sermons from God's word is totally disqualified from the ministry.)

This qualification, apt to teach, is one of the most self-evident -- if the man does not love to study God's word to find God's truth for his fellow-man, then he has no business in the ministry.

8) Not given to wine. (Marginal reading: not ready to quarrel, and offer wrong, as one in wine.) It cannot be inferred here that wine was absolutely and entirely prohibited -- he does, however, avoid the habit of drinking wine and sitting with those who do indulge. (Barnes) He does not act like one "given to wine." Implied here is that the bishop, minister of the Gospel, should consider wine dangerous, avoiding it altogether. He will do no injury to others by avoiding it, but many ministers have done great damage to themselves, others and the gospel by using it. (Lev. 10:8-9, the priests were forbidden wine when they went in to minister, lest they should drink and pervert the law. MH.)

Timothy was the one urged by Paul to drink a little wine for his stomach's sake (5:23). The advice here seems to be that the Bishop should stay away from alcohol completely, except as a medication. He is not (nor is any Christian) to be under any social pressure to use it, and if he feels he is under pressure, then he is unqualified as a bishop.

9) No Striker. Peaceful, not quarrelsome -- he avoids contention and strife. Do contentions and strife follow him? (Note the connection with wine and strife.)

10) Greedy. Not controlled be covetousness (greedy desire to have more, and willing to violate God's word to gain) of money -- controlled by his love of the Gospel, the Lord, and people rather than by money. (See Col. 3:5.) "Not desirous of base gain." The love of money is the world's motivation. The preacher should display an independence from that love. But then again, it is the flock's responsibility to see he has no needs (not wants). (1 Cor. 9.) He needs to avoid fast buck schemes, &c. (E.g., Greater Ministries. Also, Rodger and his cousin who was the associate pastor at the big SB church in Shreveport La.) See notes under desire above.

The order Paul gives is interesting: not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient... Implied here is that Matthew 6 33 must be one of the bishop's "life's verses." He must fulfill the responsibilities he has been assigned by the Spirit as a bishop, and depend upon the Lord to add the necessities of life to him. Now, the Lord may see fit to add those things through "tent making," but the man must avoid "get rich quick" schemes and compromises for money.

11) Patient. Modest, mild, gentle -- mild, gentle and kind demeanor, as was Christ. (Moses did not defend himself when he was accused of taking too much upon himself, Num. 12:3. See 1 Ti 6:11. Note the contrast with greed of money. I suppose Matthew 6:33 would explain this contrast about the best.)

12) Brawler. Not given to contention nor quarrel -- not disposed to fight. Some pastors seem to carry a chip on their shoulders, anxiously waiting for someone to knock it off; they seem ready to punch someone who does not agree with them.

Example: I know of a pastor, a little short fellow, who, when someone disagreed with him, would take a couple men with him to the person's home and threaten the person.

13) Not covetous. Not a lover of silver -- it could be defined as a strong enough desire for more that he is willing to compromise God's word to get it. A man should not be put in the ministry who is characteristically a lover of money. He will do more harm than good to the ministry. Check the man out.

Example: The former pastor (I never met him) in Louisiana was raised in a poor home; he was determined he would never be poor like that, which became his obsession. He was determined that he would always have the money for a nice house and car. It led to many problems.

Covetousness has been and is one of the biggest pitfalls for pastors. It is wise for a pastor to have nothing to do with the finances, although it is not really laid out in Scripture. Money is the god of this world, and it is very easy for a pastor to get caught in its service. The church is to see to it that the pastor has no financial need. Paul later tells us how much a pastor is to be "paid:" double honour, especially those who labour in the word and doctrine. (5:17.) Using an Old Testament illustration, Paul shows that anything less is fraud against the pastor -- he should receive double what the average layman in his church receives. If a church would follow Biblical instructions, then the pastor might not have to do some of the things he does to get money. Included here is the people's faithfulness in giving. (Mal. chap. 3.) There is an obvious lack of any responsibility understood by the average laymen to finance God's work and man.

Moreover, the early church had no financial burdens of buildings, utilities, &c.

14) Ruleth will his own house. Implied here that the minister ought to be a married man -- he is governing his own house well, both as a husband and as a father before he becomes a bishop. This speaks very strongly against divorced men; they did not rule their own house well, or they would not be divorced. How is the bishop going to instruct others in home and family life if he is not setting the example? Remember that these pastors came from within the small groups meeting in homes. These men were well known from their home life as mature men -- loving, patient, self-governed heads of their homes.

15) With his children in subjection with all gravity. (gravity, the characteristic of a thing or person which entitles to reverence and respect, dignity, majesty, sanctity, honour, purity.) Are his children under control? Is he, the prospective bishop, fickle -- not necessarily stern and harsh with his kids, but serious and sober minded? Does he have proper dignity and self-respect, inspiring others to respect him? (Does he yell and scream at his family in his attempt to keep them under control?)

(These same qualifications are required of the deacons, v.6. Only v. 5, rule the house of God, is not given for the deacons. Thus the "officers" of the local church have no Biblical authority in the church; their authority is limited to advise and example.)

Paul compares the church to a family (3:5.) -- a large group of people bound together as brothers and sisters in Christ. They have many various and differing needs, wants and desires. If a man cannot show loving concern and self-discipline in his own family, then he will not in the family of God. His attitude in his family will be reflected in his attitude in the church. If he lets his kids run wild at home, he will have lax standards in the church, &c.

Notice the words used by the Spirit:

Rule his own home -- presiding over it.

Care of the church -- having a tender care for the church.

Working with (not over) the people of the household of faith takes much more patience and loving care than can be allowed with one's children.

What will happen if one does not properly rule his own house? The picture here is of a man governing his house, yet tender loving care toward his church. Governing & tender loving care -- the terms are comparable, but they are not the same. The bishop cannot 'dictate' in the church as he does in his home. His word must be law at home, but he can only guide the church. The pastor/father rules his home, but cares for the church, v. 5.

Even though the responsibility may be different, rule vs. care, the system of authority is the same. The leader must be in authority over his house, or he will not be in authority in the church. If he allows his wife and/or family to usurp authority over him in the home, overrule him, then he has also compromised his authority in the church:

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (Eph. 5:21-33.)
Hebrews gives a third party in the chain of authority between the body of believers (church) and Christ: i.e., the ruler, pastor. (Heb. 13:17, 1 Tim. 3:5.)


A) Christ is the head of the man -- the head of the church is the pastor.

B) The man is a husband under Christ, and is to be the loving ruler of his home -- he is the 'caretaker' or the leader (shepherd, if you please) of the church under Christ.

C) The man's family must stay under his authority for their own protection (1 Tim 2:9ff.); the father/pastor can (and must) enforce his authority in his home -- the father/pastor's church is under his authority for their own protection. (Heb. 13:17.) However, the father/pastor cannot enforce his authority in the church as he can (and must) in the home; God must establish his authority in the hearts of the people as he did for Moses. Actually, the pastor holds two positions of authority under God: his family, and his home. (See Chain of Authority below.)

16) Not a novice. (Marg. "one newly come to the faith.") This means "Newly Planted," and is the only place this word is used -- a man young in the faith, a plant not yet strong that has not had his roots firm in the ground yet. He has not yet had his faith tried and proven faithful. (It is interesting that many of those presenting the newly developing millennial doctrines were clearly novices, e.g., D.L. Moody.)

17) Lifted up with pride. A man who has not yet had to face the total wickedness of his own heart -- flattery could easily catch him in the pride of his own heart in the highest office in the church.

18) Fall into the condemnation of the devil. The same kind of condemnation which the devil fell into -- the condemnation of pride, that is, lifted up, meaning to smoke, to fume, to surround with smoke; then to inflate like the hot-air balloons. Filled with hot air, and then lifted up; there is no solid substance to them, and they will come down.

19) Good report. (1 Cor. 6:12) What do the heathen think of the man? They have a higher standard for a preacher (and for a Christian) than the word of God has. Does the man live up to that standard? Here the church must go and check on the man they are considering for the office of bishop. They must speak face to face with his unsaved neighbours, and those with whom he has had any dealings. (See above.)

Paul opens and closes these qualifications of a bishop with the necessity of a blameless report. It just does not matter how much the man prays, how much he studies, how well he preaches and how large of a following he has, if he does not have a good report among the heathen, he will make no "dent" in them. Even if the heathen hate the Lord, they must not be able to point a finger at the pastor and say, "A Christian should not do that."

Reproach... devil. Does his life give the heathen the chance to point a finger at him? The devil will sure have a snare there to see that someone does point the finger of reproach at him. Paul covered all three major areas of downfalls of the bishop: 1) GOLD (money, filthy lucre); 2) GLORY (lifted up with pride); and 3) GALS (above reproach, ruling family well, blameless, one wife). Paul says more, really, about the girls, but covers all three very well.

Any church considering a bishop (pastor, elder) must invest the money and time to check the man out. He must be blameless, above reproach. A church who fails to do this deserves what they get.

(2 Tim. 4:5, Timothy was also told to do the work of an evangelist.)

Chain of Authority

(Called in the military, "The Chain of Command.")

Let me preface the following with this statement: I cannot be strong enough in saying that every father should seek advice, from their wife especially: God made them one flesh, so she will see things that he is blind to -- God made it that way so the two must work together as one. The father should heed the feelings of the children and take into consideration what is best for them. The father should seek the advice of his pastor in his decisions. But the final decision is the father's, and that decision cannot be based on a democratic vote, or he has yielded his authority. So too must a bishop seek advice from the family given to him by the Lord.

When the father/pastor allows his family to make his decisions, he has yielded his authority to his family. (1 Tim. 3:5 & Heb. 13:17.) What does this do to the chain of command or authority in the church? Paul compares the two, the family and the church, telling Timothy that the two interchange. (Vv. 4, 5.) The relationship in the home will 'spill over' into the church. Note the danger:

The proper chain of authority is God - Christ - Bishop/Husband (father/pastor) - Congregation (Wife or children). (1 Cor. 11:2, 3; Eph. 5:21-24)

However, the proper chain of authority is changed to God - Christ - Congregation (Wife or children) - Bishop/Husband (father/pastor). (Congregationalism, is it Biblical?)

Using Paul's analogy, i.e., the father/pastor, note what happens when the authority is turned over to someone other than the man whom God's has ordained for that place:

First, Christ loses his authority over the local church, as well as over the family, because he works and leads primarily through the man he has placed in the office, husband/bishop or pastor. (1 Tim. 2:10-15.) The authority has been usurped by the wife over her husband, therefore, over the bishop (pastor) of the church.

Second, when the husband/bishop yields his God-ordained office, he leaves the church open to deception by the enemy, for God works through his ordained chain of authority. (1 Tim. 2:14.)

Third, my personal opinion (for what that is worth) is that a breakdown of the proper chain of authority will also hinder the Spirit of God from working in the hearts of the people in the church to make them submissive to proper authority in other areas.

If the husband/pastor allows himself to be placed under the authority of his wife/congregation (e.g., Congregationalism), or under the authority of a denomination, then can he be under the Lord's authority? Can God protect and lead a family/church who has rejected God's proper chain of authority? The issue is authority! The root of all sin is the refusal to glorify God as God in every area, including the family and the church, i.e., rebellion against proper authority. (Rom. 1:21.)

When a man allows his wife to usurp his authority in the home, or a pastor allows the congregation to take the authority over him, has he not removed himself from God's authority? Was not the chief complaint against the church in Thyatira that they allowed the proper authority of the pastor to be destroyed? (Rev. 2:20.)

Admittedly, at times the wife (or children) may not realize what she is doing. The husband may realizes what has happened to his authority, but he does not want to put up with the battle to reclaim his authority; therefore, he may even deny that it has happened or is happening. I must also add here that pastors know when their proper authority under God has been destroyed in their churches, but a very large percentage are unwilling to put up with the fight to regain the proper authority required of them by God's word. The ones that I know about are afraid of losing faithful givers if they take authority over the church from those givers.

Adam's fall resulted in those under authority naturally seeking to be in authority. We are seeing this move toward Democracy all around us, e.g., in the work place, on the national and international scene. As it grows outside the church, we can fully expect the Democratic spirit to seek to take over the church, i.e., Congregationalism.

I must admit that one of the most respected authors in my library is Joseph Parker (1830-1902), who was a Congregationalist pastor. I highly treasure, and often use, his material for my own edification, and even preach some of it. (Preaching through the Bible, 28 volumes. Baker Book House.)

Far too often, we (churches) compare ourselves to the business world, and forget that we (churches) are not a business. Our goal becomes to have sound business practices while ignoring sound Scriptural practice; the two may not be the same. It is very tempting to compare ourselves to the world (even in the education field) rather than to God's Word. (2 Tim. 3:16.) The result is two-fold:

1. We feel that we are doing a good job when compared to the world.

2. We have God's judgment against us because the world is the standard instead of God being the standard. (2 Cor. 10:12.)

The Spirit of God points to the fact that once the man allows his godly authority to be usurped in even the smallest areas, he has opened a can of worms -- he has removed his wife and children, and if he is a pastor, his church, from under God's authority and placed them under another authority.

For rebellion (against proper authority) is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Sam. 15:23 )

God help us to remain true to the principles of his word, and stay under the proper authority that he has established. It is for our own protection.

The Pastor:

1. he must keep the people well informed as to what is going on. Everything Christ did and said was public knowledge.

2. as with any family situation, the pastor should seek the advice of his family (his church), but the final decision is his, whether he seeks their advice or not. God makes it clear in the book of Proverbs that there is safety in a multitude of counsel. (Pro 11:14.)

The church's "board" will not, according to God's Word, give an account to God for the spiritual well-being of the church. The pastor will:

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. (Heb. 13:17.)
"These leaders as good shepherds recognize keenly their responsibility for the welfare of the flock... (RWP, Online Bible.)
Ver. 17. Obey them that have the rule over you, &c.] Not the ecclesiastical rulers among the Jews, for to these they were no longer obliged, they being no longer under such tutors and governors; nor civil magistrates, though it was their duty to obey them, even Heathen ones; for as for Christian magistrates, as yet there were none; but their spiritual guides and governors, the same that are mentioned #Heb 13:7 these the apostle exhorts them to "obey": by constantly tending upon the word preached by them, and hearkening to it; by receiving it with faith and love, as it appears agreeable to the Scriptures; for a contrary behaviour is pernicious to souls, and highly resented by God; and by being present at, and joining with them in the ordinances of Christ, as administered by them; and by regarding their admonitions, counsels, and advice:
and submit yourselves; to the laws of Christ's house, as put in execution by them; and to their censures and reproofs, as delivered by the authority of the church; for they are spiritual fathers, and children should obey their parents, and submit to them; they are the ambassadors of Christ, stand in his stead, and represent him, wherefore their authority is great; and they are pastors or shepherds of the flock, whom the sheep should follow:
for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account: they watch not for themselves, for their worldly gain and advantage, and for the estates of men; but for the souls of men, to do them good, to comfort and edify them, to feed them with knowledge and understanding, and for the salvation of them; as such that must give an account to their own consciences, that they discharge their work aright, or they cannot be satisfied; and to the church, to whom they minister, to whom they are accountable, if they are dilatory and negligent; and especially as such as must stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give an account to him of their ministry, of their use of talents committed to them, and of souls that are put under their care and charge; how they have discharged their duty to the souls of men, and how these have behaved towards them under the ministry of the word: the Alexandrian copy and the Vulgate Latin version read, "for they watch, as those that must give an account for your souls": the sense is much the same:
that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; either do their work with joy, cheerfully; which they do, when they are obeyed and submitted to; when men attend upon the word and ordinances administered by them, and receive advantage, and grow in grace and spiritual knowledge; when they abide by the Gospel, and walk worthy of it; otherwise they do their work heavily, and with sorrow: or else give up their account with joy, and not with grief; either at the throne of grace, where they either rejoice or complain; or at the great day, when they will be witnesses, either for or against those that have been committed to them:
for that is unprofitable unto you; for whose souls they watch; that is, the latter would be so, either to do their work sorrowing, or to give up their account by way of complaint; either of them must be to the disadvantage of such persons that occasion grief and sorrow. (John Gill [1696-1771], Online Bible CD.)
We must obey the warnings and admonitions of our ministers and elders, who watch for the salvation of the souls that are committed to them. (1599 Geneva Bible note.)
Note how "impossible" it is to voluntarily submit to those we cannot agree with, or who do not meet Scriptural standards.

3. the pastor will be held accountable before God for remaining under God's authority -- for how he led under God's authority and the decisions he made under God's direction. Moreover, he will not always be right any more than is any husband's decisions will always be right in his home.

4. God will hold the ones under authority (wife, children, congregation) accountable for how well they served God under godly leadership, not for how well they advised and led the one whom God placed in authority. There can be only one leader in a family, whether the family is the church family or the families that make up the church.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10.)

5. the Lord calls a pastor to lead, not to follow the wishes of the congregation; however, the godly pastor will take into serious consideration the people's wishes. The Biblical duty of the pastor is not as a CEO who carries out the wishes of a board of directors; rather, his duty is to train and lead the people of God in their service to God in reaching the world around them. (Eph 4:12.)

What kinds of problems will the sheep get themselves into if the shepherd allows them to lead, and he simply follows along behind them. Certainly, a "following pastor" will draw the crowds and money to himself as he gives his God ordained responsibility to others. But a pay day will come when he stands before God. (Heb 13:7, 17.)

There is no doubt that most church government today is Congregational. This is the way I was taught in the Baptist churches I have been in. But is it Scriptural?

A few points in closing:

1. 1 Corinthians 5 says that anyone who is involved in the listed sins must be dealt with and removed (after being confronted and they refuse to make them right, Mt. 18).

2. 1 Timothy 6:5 tells us to withdraw from any teacher that connects gain with godliness.

3. 2 Peter 2:1 warns about the false teachers and their damnable heresies, indicating that we are to separate from them. Their heresy is a denial of the Lord that bought them, and could refer to a false gospel, among other things.

4. 1 Timothy 5:19 implies that the Lord is the one who must deal with the elder.

Clearly, there are only two ecclesiastical offices established by God, i.e., elders (pastors, bishops) and deacons. (Thayer, #4245, p 536 & #1245, p 138.) Equally as clear is that the pastor is the one accountable to God for the well-being of his church, as a shepherd is accountable to his employer for the well being of the flock that is not his. Moreover, the office of deacon is clearly the office of a servant -- the deacon is a servant to the pastor and the people. There is no hint that part of his responsibility is to advise the pastor any more than is the average church member responsible to advise the pastor. What is the Scriptural justification for offices other than pastor and deacons, e.g., trustees?

Responsibilities of the elder, pastor are also found in Ephesians 4:12. The only place where any responsibilities are mentioned for deacons is Acts 6, where v. 2 also mentions the responsibilities of the pastor, i.e., study God's word and prayer. The responsibility of the layman (deacon) is to meet the needs of the people in order to free up the pastor so he can fulfill his responsibility.

And of course, the responsibilities for both the pastor and laymen as Christians are found throughout Scripture.