Sunday, March 1, 2015

Paul's Letters to Timothy - Session 4 - Who Can Lead?

The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG) Sunday morning adult bible study group is studying Paul's pastoral Epistles (Letters) to his protege, Timothy.  These posts are my notes for each session. Please study with us. You can participate by asking your questions or making comments in the comments below. We welcome your thoughts and prayers


Last week in chapter 2 Paul gave Timothy instructions on worship and specifically how members of the church should relate to each other in worship.

He said that the first thing that Timothy should do is to lead the Christians to pray for everybody including governmental leaders.

And when they prayed the men should do so with a clear conscience, no dissension or arguments among themselves and the women should dress appropriately and not be out of order.

These things would be distractions and barriers to worship and prayer and since Paul was writing about them these things were apparently happening in Ephesus and probably because of the false teaching, that we talked about at the beginning of our study.  This false teaching was causing confusion, disagreements, and disorder.

Who Can Lead? - 1 Timothy 3:1-16

In Chapter 3 of 1 Timothy Paul now give Timothy on the qualifications of those who are or who desire to be leaders of the church in Ephesus and the basic direction of their leadership.  


Some churches and fellowships have a few people who are willing to lead. Those people may end up feeling burdened and alone. Other churches have people who are willing to lead, but not ready. If there are not enough leaders, however, the work of the church will not get done.

Our congregation falls into this category.  We have people willing to lead and in some cases are in leadership who are really not ready.  The church of Ephesus seems to have been the same way.. Those who were willing to lead were immature. And Timothy could not hope to carry out his mission against false teachers unless the leadership was healthy.

1. What are the qualities you look for in Christian leaders?

Here are a few to get you thinking; Kind, confident, knowledgeable of the bible, good reputation, speaks well, calm diplomatic.  We'll look at these later in light of what Paul says should be qualities or qualifications of Christian leaders.

2. Read 1 Tim. 3:1 is often misread. Which is "noble": the desire to lead or the task of leading? Why?

1 Timothy 3:1 (HCSB) This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.”

The Greek word that Paul uses is episkopos translated bishop or overseer

Christian officer in general charge of a (or the) church (literal or figurative) :- bishop, overseer.-
Strong's Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary.

The title bishop of overseer in this letter is just a leader of the church in Ephesus. It doesn't have the same meaning as it does for us today.

Here are some dictionary definitions for bishop/overseer:

In some Christian churches, a person appointed to oversee a group of priests or ministers and their congregations. In the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Roman Catholic Church, bishops are considered the successors of the Twelve Apostles.
A senior member of the Christian clergy having spiritual and administrative authority; appointed in Christian churches to oversee priests or ministers; considered in some churches to be successors of the twelve Apostles of Christ
The noun episkopos  appears five times in the New Testament and means overseer, guardian, bishop. It is used in reference to Jesus in 1 Peter 2:25

1 Peter 2:24-25 (KJV)24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

In other places episkopos is used of individuals who have a function of leadership in the church

Acts 20:28 (KJV)  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 

Philippians 1:1 (KJV) Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

Titus 1:7 (KJV) For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; 

James was a bishop or overseer of the church at Jerusalem 

Acts 15:13-21 (KJV) 13  And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14  Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15  And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16  After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17  That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 18  Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19  Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21  For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. 

The office itself was restricted to men.

The first responsibility God has given the overseer is to watch over the flock. Overseers watch for the souls of those entrusted to them in the Lord. They know that to protect them, constant attention is necessary.

A second responsibility of the overseer is to shepherd the flock of God 

1 Peter 5:2 (KJV)  Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 

Although the qualifications that Paul mentions certainly apply to church leaders whether they are for leaders of a local church, or a district, or overseeing the affairs of a number of churches.   These are also characteristics that all believers should strive to have.

The task of leading is noble because It is their job to take care of all the members, to teach them and to lead them. The desire must be for the good of the church and not for selfish reasons.

3. Consider two categories of qualification—character and ability. How do the qualities mentioned in these verses divide into these two categories?

1 Timothy 3:2-4 (HCSB) An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher,3 not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy—4 one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity.

Definition of character - the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
synonyms - personality, nature, disposition, temperament, temper, mentality,makeup;

Definition of ability - possession of the means or skill to do something.

synonyms - capacity, capability, potential, potentiality, power, faculty, aptness,facility;

Qualifications: Character/Ability

Blameless C

One wife C

Vigilant C

Sobor C

Of Good Behavior C

Hospitable C

Ability to Teach A

Not a heavy drinker C

Not a brawler C

Not covetous C

Patient C

All the qualifications for leadership are in the category of character—with the exception of the ability to teach. Ability is very important but obviously not as important as character.

That’s why Paul says in verse 6 not to make a new convert a leader because you must to be able to test their character by observation.

1 Timothy 3:6 (HCSB) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil.

He makes the point again in verse 10.

1 Timothy 3:10 (HCSB) And they must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons.

There needs to be some sort of track record before making someone a leader. Promises don’t cut it and sometimes recommendations for other sources other than your congregation don’t cut it.

4. Compare Paul's list to yours. What is alike and what is different?
This is Paul's list;

  • without fault.
  • one wife (In those days men sometimes had more than one wife) 
  • He must not drink too much 
  • He should be ready to give a welcome to strangers
  • he must be able to teach.
  • not quarrel or fight. 
  • he must be kind and gentle 
  • he must not love money. 
  • He must lead his own family well. 
  • not proud 
  • Must be respected by those outside the church
Really not that far off.  Both lists put character above mere ability.

5. What do you think is Paul's reason for insisting that a leader's relationships must work in the spheres of both church and family ?

1 Timothy 3:5-6 (HCSB)5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil.

It is easier for a man to control his own family than to lead the church. So, if he does not control his family, he will not be able to take care of the church.

6. How is this principle of leadership exercised in your own church or fellowship?

We have sometimes made people leaders who are not ready because of lack of experience or in some cases character issues that need modification. We have a tendency to look only at a person’s ability to quote scripture, or pray, preach, or do specific things well but we don’t look at the totality of the person. By doing that we put people in positions that they shouldn't be in. We may make them the leader of the Jewels when they shouldn’t be a leader at all or they would be better suited as a Greeter.

7. Have you ever seen a new Christian take a leadership position with the kind of results described in these verses? Describe what happened.

Yes in our church perhaps not a new Christian but one who is not mature. When you are small there is a tendency to do this. It must be avoided. 

We had an example here in this congregation before any of you that are in this group were members.  A man was made a deacon within a month of joining this congregation and was ordained as a pastor within a year.  The story quickly goes sour because this man almost immediately became involved with a widow in this congregation while still married.  He may or may not have been separated, we don't really know. To shorten the story it became a big mess and the woman, who is a wonderful person and who was a great member of the congregation, left our congregation.  Thankfully she did not leave the church, which could easily have happened given what happened.  The reputation of this congregation was obviously sullied and we were embarrassed.   The lesson here is that we never tested this man's character and took his word.  He was very knowledgeable of the bible, could preach, and sing was also willing to participate in church activities.  His motives were obviously not all for the cause of Christ.  

There were members of the congregation who had the spiritual gift of discernment who did warn the leadership but were not heeded.  That is the kind of thing that can happen when the character of a person desiring to become a leader is not tested over time.

Other examples are not as extreme.  Paul's example is that a new convert may become proud and pride is a sin that often results in others, in this case, member of the church being harmed 

1 Timothy 3:6 (HCSB) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil.

Proverbs 16:18 (HCSB)  Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.

8. What is Paul teaching here? How have you seen this principle obeyed or disobeyed?

1 Timothy 3:7 (HCSB Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.

A leader must have a very good character. Then those who do not come to the church will respect him. Where the people do not respect the church leaders, it will spoil the work of the church. It may stop people from believing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It could be a cause and a reason for them to oppose the church.

The devil is always trying to stop the spread of the gospel. He will use anything that he can to do this. If there is anything in a leader of the church that he can attack, he will. As a hunter makes a trap to catch an animal, so he tries to catch the church leaders. He tempts them to do what he wants. If they do this, it will have a bad effect on the church.

Examples of major prominent leaders being caught in adultery, theft, homosexuality after denouncing it, other examples…..

9. "Deacon" simply means "servant." In the passage it seems that deacons deal with the more practical affairs of church life, rather than with teaching. Given that, why do you think the point about doctrine in 1 Tim. 3:9 is made with so much emphasis?
Sherman Hemsley as the deacon 

1 Timothy 3:8-9 (HCSB)8 Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money,9 holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

diakonos: a servant, minister

Definition: a waiter, servant; then of any one who performs any service, an administrator.

Merriam Webster

  • subordinate officer in a Christian church:
  • Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Orthodox cleric ranking next below a priest
  • one of the laymen elected by a church with congregational polity to serve in worship, in pastoral care, and on administrative committees
Because they are leaders they will be asked by those in the church and outside about our belief and why they are true so they must be prepared to answer. They must believe that Jesus is the Messiah and that he came not as a king of the nations that they expected but as a humble servant who died on a cross and because of it salvation is available to us if we believe. This is central to the Christian faith. Deacons must be firm in their belief in this and their consciences must be clear. They must not, because people inside and outside the church, are watching them, allow sin to spoil them and if they do sin they must repent. What they believe must show in how they live.

10. Why do you think Paul included the instructions of 1 Tim. 3:11?

1 Timothy 3:11 (HCSB) Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything. 

Especially after earlier saying that they should be quite and not usurp leadership roles.

The Greek word that Paul uses is the one for women not wives as in some translations.

There were women in the church who did the work of a deacon. For example, there was Phoebe who was a deacon in the church at Cenchrea. 

 Romans 16:1 (HCSB)  I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae. 

The Greek word Paul uses that is translated servant is  dee-ak'-on-os the same word he uses in 1 Timothy 3:3.  

So the women here are those who take part in the work of the deacons. Some of them may have been the wives of deacons. Some of them could have been women that the church members had appointed to do this work.

Just as the deacons had to live good lives, so must these women. They must not gossip or find fault with other people. They will know about things that should be kept private. They must not talk about these things. People must be able to trust them. They must not drink too much strong drink. They must be steady and honest in all their work.

11. What are two benefits of "serving well," according to 1 Tim. 3:13?

1 Timothy 3:13 (HCSB) For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves, and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

  • They will gain the honor or respect of the people in and outside the church 
  • They will gain the confidence to be more bold in their witness 
How have you experienced this?

12. What does 1 Tim. 3:14-16 tell us about Paul's purpose in writing this letter?

1 Timothy 3:14-16 (HCSB)14 I write these things to you, hoping to come to you soon.
15 But if I should be delayed, ⌊I have written⌋ so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
16 And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

These are instructions to Timothy for the church. One of the major emphases of the epistle is right conduct in worship and in leadership as a testimony to the truth. So the behavior of Christians in the government of the Church is very important, because the Church is the support and foundation of the truth; that is, in its sphere of testimony to the world. Christ, himself the truth, is the one foundation of the Church. The word truth in the New Testament is often equivalent to "the gospel" or "the message
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.

13. 1 Tim. 3:16 was probably a hymn sung in the church at Ephesus. The word translated as "deep truths" in 1 Tim. 3:9 is rendered "mystery" here. We can say that the result Paul wanted from good Christian leadership was that these truths would be revealed. Therefore, when people look at our fellowship, what should they see?
1 Timothy 3:16 (HCSB) And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

They should see a reflection of Jesus and a picture of salvation.

Next Week Chapter 4 - True and False Ministry

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