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Daily Scripture Reading1 Timothy 3

Verse of the Day
Acts 14:23 – So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

Acts 6:2-3 – Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

1 Timothy 3:1-13 – This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Titus 1:5-9 – For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you– if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

Devotional Thoughts
The Seventh Mark of a Sound Church: Church Government and Leadership as Instituted by the Apostles is Established

Let’s start with a few facts. Plain, hard truth. Are you ready?

The church is not a democracy. The majority does not always know the will of God. Actually God usually uses a small remnant to accomplish His will. And as we have already learned, He expects us to do things the way in which He ordained it to be done. So how does the Scripture tell us that the church is to be lead, or “run?”

The Bible is clear and specific that God gives as a special gift to His church its leaders. That’s right. He gives them to each church. They should not be randomly selected, or voted in and out of office by popular vote. They should not be elected for a term and then replaced by a younger, fresher face. They should not be chosen for their people skills or natural abilities. They are chosen by God based on their calling and qualifications to fill the job that He assigns to them. He gives them to the church.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastor and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, – Ephesians 4:11-12

Those He has given in the past who still minister to the church today are the Apostles and Prophets. These offices were filled and no longer exist in active practice in the church today. These were men who spoke specifically for God to the nation of Israel and to the church, sharing direct revelation from the mouth of God.

The Apostles (the word means “one sent on a mission”) were chosen by Christ, physically saw Him after the resurrection (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 15:7), numbered 12 in total (Rev 21:14) including the Disciples (Matthew 10:2-3), with Paul (1 Cor 9:1) replacing Judas.

Apostles served these three purposes in the church:

1. Laid the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20)
2. Received, Wrote, and Declared God’s Word (Eph 3:5; Acts 11:28; 21:10-11)
3. Confirmed the Word by miracles and signs (2 Cor 12:12; Acts 8:6-7; Heb 2:3-4).

Prophets also comprise the foundation of the church, along with the Apostles, and Jesus, Who is the Cornerstone. They served both in the Old and New Testament (Hebrews 1:1-2), were called by God (Jeremiah 1:5, etc) and given direct revelation of truth by His Spirit to convey to His people and to others (Jeremiah 7:25). Prophets often foretold future events and were judged by a strict criteria. If a prophet gave one false prophecy then he was branded a false prophet and was never to be trusted (Deut 18:21-22).

In the New Testament church prophets were to have what they preached tested by the Apostles (1 Cor 14:32) and proclaimed truth from the Old Testament in order to aid the church in spiritual growth.

Those He gave then and continues to give now are evangelists and pastor-teachers. Evangelists are called and tasked specifically with preaching the gospel to those in need of conversion (Acts 21:8). While pastors are to do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim 4:5), there is also the sense in which evangelists have a separate calling and office within the church. This would be seen today as missionaries and church planters.

Pastor-teachers (the word pastor literally means “shepherd”) are responsible to lead the church in preaching and teaching, applying proper doctrine and exhortation to equip the saints for the carrying out of the ministry in their own daily lives.

Another term for these leaders is “elder.” Those who are called in the Bible elders, bishops, or overseers are those men who are called and qualified to serve as loving shepherds in His church. Christ is Lord of the church and He rules with authority through godly elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12; Hebrews 13:7; Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-2).

The elders and the body itself are aided by deacons, literally “servants” or to be more specific, “table waiters.” The deacons serve the body in whatever ways are needed. Distributing to the poor and needy those resources given through the church, taking care of widows and orphans, and freeing the elders for the works of prayer and preaching. This is not a position of authority or leadership, but a position of humble service to the church. There is no specific or official responsibility listed in the Scriptures for the deacon to carry out but we are told that they are to do whatever tasks the elders assign them to do in aiding them in the ministry of the church (1 Timothy 3:8-13; Acts 6:1-4).

In summary I would like to share a brief Scriptural look at these offices of leadership and service within the church. A church must have these offices functioning according to the Scriptures if they are to be sound in their doctrine and church life.

In explaining the purpose, function, and duty of elders and deacons we will see that there are rigorous requirements and qualifications for those who would be appointed to lead and serve the Body of Christ. The elders (pastors, overseer) and deacons (servants) both serve distinct purposes, though the qualifications are closely matched. The elders are given one additional requirement in that they are to be “able to teach.”

Scriptural Terms for the Elders1 Peter 5:1-2; Acts 20:17, 28; Ephesians 4:11

1. Episkopas – translated “bishop” in most Bibles, the word means an “overseer, guardian, decision maker, or manager.”

a. 1 Peter 2:25 – Christ is the “overseer” of our souls
b. Philippians 1:1 – the leaders of the church at Philippi are called “bishops”
c. 1 Timothy 3:1 – The position of “bishop” is a good one to be desired by qualified men
d. 1 Timothy 3:2 – A “bishop” must meet qualifications listed in vs. 2-7
e. Acts 20:28 – told to shepherd the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made them “overseers”

In Romans and Greek usage culturally, the “overseer” (episkopas) was an authority figure representing Caesar in a conquered territory (Pontius Pilate was the Roman episkopas in Jerusalem). The term signified the person’s authority, their accountability to a higher authority above them, and their task of introducing a new order of life to a conquered people.

2. Presbuteros – translated “elders” it means one who is older or mature. It also refers to a “council of elders” (plural).

a. Acts 14:23 – a new church is planted by appointing elders
b. Acts 20:17 – Paul sent for the elders at the church in Ephesus
c. 1 Peter 1:1; 5:1-2 – the churches scattered over Asia had elders

Biblically, the elders (plural) “rule” the church by unanimous decision led by the Spirit and guided by the Word of God. (1 Cor 1:10; Eph 4:3; Phil 1:27; Phil 2:2).

3. Poimen – translated “pastor” , the word means shepherd, one who cares for, protects, and leads.

a. Hebrews 13:20-21 – Christ is our shepherd
b. 1 Timothy 5:17 – the labor of shepherding refers to effort, not amount
c. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 – They must be qualified men
d. Titus 1:6-9 – Restatement of qualifications
e. Ephesians 4:11 – they are given by Christ to His Church

The imagery of shepherding is used throughout Scripture to indicate the role of a caretaker. The shepherd is responsible for the health and well being of the flock. He provides both protection from harmful foods, situations, and from predators.

Of these three terms, the word “overseer” refers to what he does (job). The term “elder” refers to who he is (identity). The word “pastor” refers to his heart as he does the job (character).

Scriptural Terms for DeaconsActs 6:1-7; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:8-13

1. Deaconien Trapedzais – translated “table waiters” in Acts 6:2

The Apostles were finding their time consumed with the demands of those needing to be ministered to by the church, but they saw as their calling to be about the ministry of the Word and prayer, so they oversaw the appointment of these first servants of the church. They were to assist in the everyday operations of ministry, especially in the area of provision of basic needs for widows and others in the church.

The deacons (lit. servants), submitting to the rulership of the elders, serve the local church in order to free up the elders to devote themselves to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1-6). Their delegated duties can include caring for the church finances (1Tim.3:8), ministering to the physical needs of the church (Acts 6:1-6), and assisting in areas of church administration (1Tim.3:12).

2. Diakonous – translated “deacon” the word literally means “servant.”

a. Philippians 1:1 – they were identified with the elders as representatives of the local church.
b. 1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12-13 – the qualifications for deacons are given.

The deacon is a servant of the body assisting in ministry as directed by the elders.

3. Gunaikas – translated “women”, this word in 1 Timothy 3:11 refers to women who are to serve as deaconesses within the body.

Some translations see this as the “wives” of deacons, but there are no requirements for elders wives given and in the Greek text the use of the word “likewise” suggests an introduction to another group of servants, distinct from the men. The qualifications for these deaconesses are given in 1 Timothy 3:11. It should also be noted that Phoebe is referred to in Romans 16:1 as a “deaconess” in a church near Corinth.

Recommended Songs for Worship
The Church’s One Foundation
Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us


August 2010

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright
© 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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