The Qualifications of Elders 1Timothy 3:1-7 Titus 1:5-16 1Peter 5:1-5
Qualifications of Elders: Introductory Points for Consideration We often “see” what we want to see: >How many heads/horns/tails do deer hunters “see” before daybreak? >How many women go “looking for a bargain” and don’t find one? Point? -If we want to disqualify some or all potential Elders, we will likely “see” reasons to do so. -And if we want to qualify a particular candidate, we likely will “see” interpretations to allow it.
Qualifications of Elders: Introductory Points for Consideration So, for what should we be “looking”? Qualified Men to serve us as Shepherds for God! What’s your attitude? “Find the qualified man/men” or “Eliminate all we can!” ??? What are you “looking for” in this process? Many wise men have pointed out that attitude is usually much more important to success in meeting a goal than ability or obstacles. Our “Goal” is to be pleasing to God by continuing to be scripturally overseen by qualified Shepherds!
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. What does it mean to “Desire the Office”? There is a difference between “desire” and “motivation”. One can “desire” with wrong motivations. -honorary title or position -to be “lord over the flock,” 1Pet.5:3 -Or, one can humbly want to serve the Lord and the Lord’s people to the best of his abilities. Both “desire” the office, but for very different reasons.
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. Let’s illustrate “Desire the Office” One says, “Hey, you know I think I meet most of those qualifications- most folks like me and I want to be an Elder so everyone will respect me too and know how smart I am.” He desires the office, but for the wrong reasons, cp. 3John 9-10. Another says, “Perhaps I meet the qualifications and I see the need for scriptural leadership- I’m willing help if I can by serving in this capacity.” He desires the office for the good of the Cause!
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. Defining “Desire the Office” “Desire” is defined as a “stretching of oneself toward a goal; extending oneself”. So “desire” is not just “want”- it is a willingness to stretch oneself toward attaining the goal of usefulness to the Master through preparation and service, cf. 2Tim.2:20-26. If the candidate’s “desire” is not properly motivated, he is not and cannot become “qualified”.
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. Compulsed to Serve? The sad lament of far too many Elders today is, “There was no one else who could qualify- I had to do it.” Even among the apostles, there were great reluctant leaders- men who achieved more than they ever thought possible. But, one should never be forced to serve, 1Pet.5:2! “Not under compulsion” does not mean that he lacks a sense of duty (Gal.5:10), but that he isn’t forced to perform it- he accepts as a volunteer.
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. One final point on ‘Desire the Office” Do you know who “Barsabbas” was? Not “Barabbas,” but “Barsabbas”? He was the one not chosen to replace Judas. But note something interesting from Acts 1:21ff: -Barsabbas was apparently equally “qualified”. Point? There may be several men who appear to be qualified. But if we will seek God’s will in this matter, the “right” man/men will be selected!
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. Having “Faithful Children” Some suggest that this refers to “faithful to the candidate as their father- to be respectful to him.” Perhaps, but if so, it wasn’t how Paul chose to express it elsewhere, cf. Eph.6:1-3. And we nowhere else make that assumption. When we see (or use) the word in spiritual connections, it implies a baptized believer, cf. Gal.5:22; Eph.1:1; 2Tim.2:2; Rev.2:10. Men in the world have children who respect them- it does not make them Elders!
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. How long do they have to be “Faithful”? Obviously, a man who’s children never depart the Lord are an indication of his leadership. But consider this: “A man’s offspring will always be his, but they will not always be children.” Question: Who was Adam’s & Eve’s father? Did there come a time when they were unfaithful? Why? “They chose to disobey what He taught them.”
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. How long do they have to be “Faithful”? Will we indict God as their Father for the failures of His adult offspring who chose to disregard His teaching? cf. Hosea 7:15 “But what about Proverbs 22:6?” >What about Prov.18:22? “Proverbs” are, by definition, general truths and were not intended as absolutes, cf. Prov.16:13.
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. How long do they have to be “Faithful”? A man whose children were shown and taught how to be pleasing to God, and who did so while under his control, do not disqualify their father if they return to world as adults. God never holds anyone accountable for things truly beyond their control. Once children become adults on their own, they are beyond his control and do as they please- just as Israel did to their father, God!
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. Does he have to have more than one child? “After all, it plainly says, ‘Children’ which is plural.” A couple of questions: >Are fathers with one child exempted from Eph.6:4? >Is the woman who only bears one child not preserved in 1Tim.2:15? >Are widows who only had one child disqualified from benevolent assistance by 1Tim.5:10? The qualification concerns leadership, not fertility! We, and the Bible, use “children” to mean “one or more” offspring. And, “Yes” adoption counts too!
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. The Point of “Faithful Children” is the same as all of the qualifications: to identify & select men of wisdom and leadership! Ask yourself this question: Did he, in the rearing of his children, demonstrate spiritual leadership? If his children are unfaithful, is it because of or in spite of him? If children are faithful, is it because of or in spite of him?
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. The “Husband of One Wife” “What if he’s been divorced and remarried? Does he have more than one wife?” >Neither adultery nor polygamy are approved by God. >If he’s scripturally divorced and remarried, he only has one wife, cf.Matt.19:9 and Mark 10:11-12. “What if his wife dies- it’s in the present tense?” >Does this in any way disprove his leadership??? >Surely his wife’s death was beyond his control! Will we hold him responsible for what was beyond his ability to control?
Qualifications of Elders: Let’s start where most of the difficulty lies. The “Husband of One Wife” “But what about “hospitality”- wouldn’t his wife’s death prevent him being hospitable?” >Can he no longer buy food and shelter for someone? Can he not hire someone to clean his house? “But he wouldn’t be able to properly Shepherd women anymore- it would be improper to go to their homes alone!” >Is this the only solution? Are their no other trust- worthy women who could accompany him? What about another Elder- couldn’t they go with him???
Let’s be honest about the Qualifications of Elders: Most of our difficulties discerning them come from our own: >failures to be fair & consistent with scriptures, >failures to be honest in our evaluation of them, >desires to foster pet theories regarding them, and>desires to disqualify qualified men, or>desires to qualify disqualified men, Instead of: seeking to be pleasing to God by being overseen by the men the Holy Spirit selects through them.
The Qualifications of Elders 1Timothy 3:1-7 Titus 1:5-16 1Peter 5:1-5 Part 2
Now that we’ve dealt with: The Desire (properly & improperly motivated) for the Office, and Having “Believing/Faithful Children,” and The “Husband of One Wife” (more related later), Let’s move on to the rest of the qualifications of Shepherds.
Comparative Lists of the Qualifications: If one had either the list from Timothy or Titus, but not the other, qualified Elders could still be selected and appointed. Surely such was done in both Ephesus and Crete. Though not identical, each of the lists do give a comprehensive picture of the qualified man. The separate lists then are very comparable. The following arrangement of the qualifications, though not directly in the order in which they are found in the text, shows them to be very much the same.
A Man (hence not a woman) Blameless (without reproach) Husband of One Wife Vigilant Sober Given to Hospitality Apt to Teach Not Given to Wine No Striker Not Greedy of Filthy Lucre Not a Brawler Rules House Well Of Good Report (reputation) Not a Novice (puffed up) Not Covetous (contentious) Patient (gentle, lenient) Of Good Behavior Desire for the Office A Man (not a woman) Blameless (without reproach) Husband of One Wife Temperate (self-governed) Sober Lover of Hospitality Hold Faithful Word to Teach No Brawler (not given to wine- R.V.) No Striker Not Greedy of Filthy Lucre Not a Brawler Having Believing Children Holy, Saintly, Religious Man Not Self-Willed (arrogant, presumpt.) Not Soon Angry Just (upright, justice to all) Lover of Good Men (of good) Desire implied by other qualities Timothy’s List: (from “Scriptural Elders & Deacons” by Phillips) Titus’s List: (ibid; both lists from the KJV, or RSV + margin / footnote)
The Qualifications Are very much alike, if not identical in the two lists. So will not expend the time and effort to deal with the two lists separately. We will however try to explain each separate qualification. Some will obvious and easy, so brevity will prevail. Others make take more time, but are not to be deemed more important because of it. Due to the previous lesson on this topic, some can be skipped completely in this discussion.
The Qualifications: A Man, 1Tim.3:1 -Obviously male- cannot properly otherwise be a “husband” or “a father”. -Why? God’s appointed role for women is different, cf. 1Cor.11:3,8-9,16; 1Tim.2:11-15. Desire the Office (covered previously) Blameless / Above Reproach, 1Tim.3:2 Some say that this is the only qualification and the others merely list the areas in which his is “blameless”. This is nonsense! One can be “blameless” and be a bachelor, and without children, cf. 1Cor.7:1. But he isn’t qualified as a Shepherd because he is blameless in those areas!
The Qualifications: Blameless / Above Reproach (continued) So what does blameless / above reproach mean? -In Timothy the word translates to one who will not be accused of evil, while in Titus it seems to indicate one who cannot be accused of evil. -Perhaps this is a distinction without a real difference- but we get the point, don’t we? -It refers to a man who cannot be impeached. -It does not mean a man who has never done anything wrong, just that there is nothing that remains uncorrected- nothing current and unforgiven. -see also 1Tim.3:10; 6:13-14; 5:7; and 1Cor.1:8; Col.1:22 where deacons, preachers, widows, and all Christians were also to be above reproach.
The Qualifications: Husband of One Wife (previously covered, excludes bachelors) Father of Faithful Children (previously covered) Temperate / Vigilant, 1Tim.3:2 -The word is also variously translated as sober, and reserved. -Temperate gives the idea of not excessive. -Sober means free from anything that would cause intemperance. -And vigilant refers the watchfulness and circumspectness that comes from both the previous, cf. 1Thess.5:1-8 -Surely we see the need for this quality.
The Qualifications: Prudent, or Sober (KJV), or Self-Controlled (NIV), 1Tim.3:2 -This is very closely related to the previous, but is listed separately in the text and so must imply something in addition. -It means, in any translation, one who is in control of his faculties physically, emotionally, and mentally- he is not wishy-washy or flighty in thought. -It required the candidate to be a clear-thinker. -His convictions are carefully and logically thought out and because of this he is not easily swayed, Eph.4:14.
The Qualifications: Respectable / of Good Behavior, 1Tim.3:2 -His conduct is evidence of the previously mentioned tempered spirit and prudent thoughtfulness. It manifests both his goodness and his integrity to all who witness it, cf. 2Tim.2:24. -Leaders who are impolite, unnecessarily harsh, tactless, rough, and rude cannot lead volunteers for such they will not follow nor willfully subject themselves, cf. 1Pet.5:3 > Matt.20:25-28.
The Qualifications: Hospitable / Given to Hospitality, 1Tim.3:2; Titus 1:8 -This is usually taken to mean “he often has church members into his home.” 1Pet.4:9 -While it may include such, that is not the exact meaning. Philoxenos literally refers to one who is fond of strangers. cf. Gal.6:10 -The disposition this requires is one that is warm and generous even to strangers, Heb.13:2. -The congregation may not see his hospitality to strangers if he doesn’t advertise it, but a kindly disposition will be seen toward every stranger to the assembly! And so it should be.
The Qualifications: Able to Teach / Holding Fast the Faithful Word, 1Tim.3:2; Titus 1:9ff -Based on what we’ve already learned, his ability to teach should have been previously manifested through his own family- “having children who believe,” Titus 1:8. -And from the standpoint of the duty of a Shepherd, feeding the flock is a big part of it as well, Acts 20:28. -So, what does “able/apt to teach” mean? +has the ability or knowledge- is prepared +is capable physically and mentally +possesses the disposition and attitude to teach and therefore will teach. He is instructive.
The Qualifications: Able to Teach / Holding Fast the Faithful Word, (continued) -But Titus 1:9ff provides an additional reason this qualification is vital, “to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict... rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers…who must be silenced…” -The “sword of the Spirit” is the only weapon afforded the Shepherd and he must be willing to use it, and be proficient with it to protect and defend the Truthand those who follow it. see Acts 20:28-32 -Those unwilling or unable to “contend earnestly for the faith” are the “hirelings” of whom Jesus spoke in John 10:12-13 and are not qualified Shepherds.
The Qualifications of Elders 1Timothy 3:1-7 Titus 1:5-16 1Peter 5:1-5 Part 3
The Qualifications Previously Covered: -Desiring the Office -Faithful / Believing Children -Husband of One Wife -Blameless / Above Reproach -Temperate / Vigilant -Prudent / Sober / Self-Controlled -Respectable / of Good Behavior -Hospitable / Given to Hospitality -Able to Teach / Holding Fast the Faithful Word Now let’s see if we can conclude the list.
The Qualifications: Not Addicted to Wine, 1Tim.3:3; Titus 1:7 -This qualification has unnecessarily been the center of much debate/discussion. -Does it demand abstinence? -The Greek term is paroinos; literally means not subject to wine; not drunken. -It occurs twice in the N.T. (here and Titus 1:7) and the NASV accurately translates it in both places as “not addicted”. -Drunkenness is certainly condemned in both the Old and New Testaments; and addiction would obviously disqualify. -So, is this the same as abstinence? No, but...
The Qualifications: Not Addicted to Wine, (continued) -Ask yourself this question: Why would one who is commanded to be vigilant in the watching for souls, being an example to the flock, and feeding and tending God’s own people, partake of anything that would impair his judgment and watchfulness??? -Elders, and all Christians, should be examples to one another as well as an “example of those who believe” to the world (cf.1Tim.3:12). -Alcohol doesn’t do a thing for us in that endeavor! -Why bother with it at all?
The Qualifications: Not Pugnacious, or No Striker (KJV), but instead Gentle, and Uncontentious, 1Tim.3:3, Titus 1:7 -Plektes refers to one who is ready with a blow, a quarrelsome person; a contentious or belligerent person. -It probably is associated with the former qualification regarding wine because they often are found together! -The Shepherd, in opposition to these, needs to be mild, gentle, moderate in disposition and activity, and patient in his life and in dealing with others, cf. Prov.15:1; 25:8-15; 2Tim.2:24-25.
The Qualifications: Free from the Love of Money, 1Tim.3:3; or Not Fond of Sordid Gain, Titus 1:7 -This does not mean that he must be financially poor. Poverty is no more a virtue than wealth is a vice. The poor can love/desire money just as the rich. A man of means can be freer from the need of long hours to provide for his family and therefore have more time to serve the congregation. -But neither does it mean that a man should be wealthy to be qualified. His love of money may well have caused him ignore his duties to God to attain it, cf. Matt.6:19-33. (also see 1Tim.5:17-18) -Money, much or little, is not the point- it is his attitude toward money that counts, 1Tim6:9-10, 17-18.
The Qualifications: Good and Dignified Manager of His House, 1Tim.3:4-5 -The need of this qualification is clearly given, v.5. -If the potential Shepherd cannot tend his own house, he certainly is not qualified to tend the Lord’s! -But again, this does not mean that his household is perfect, or that his children never misbehave- just that he deals with these situations constructively and properly (with dignity). -Certainly, if he is the cause of these problems that is a different matter! -Has he demonstrated leadership at home and with his family? This is the point.
The Qualifications: Not a New Convert, 1Tim.3:6 -Neophutos means newly planted and denotes a neophyte or novice. -Again, the reason for this is clearly stated, v.6. -But what does the reason mean? If a novice is given position and influence disproportional to his experience and abilities, he is likely to become excessively proud and get himself, and those whom he leads, into trouble! cf. 1Kings 12:1-11. -By the very nature of the names for the office, we should determine that a man of wisdom, experience, and maturity is required. “But….
The Qualifications: Not a New Convert, (continued) “...weren’t those appointed in Acts 14:23 relatively new converts, having only been converted on the previous missionary journey a few months before?” -Yes. But they were likely also blessed by Paul with a miraculous impartation of spiritual gifts which would include knowledge. Today men must study God’s written word to become a mature meat- eater, cf. Heb.5:12-14. -How much time does it take? Some who have been Christians 20 years know less than those who have been 20 months. Time is not the issue- maturity is!
The Qualifications: Have a Good Reputation outside the Church, 1Tim.3:7 -Care must here be given. Certainly a godly man will incur favor from those who respect goodness and right conduct in the world. -But it is also true that godliness is often hated by those who are of the world, Luke 6:26; 1Tim.3:12. -Shepherd must have a good reputation to properly influence and lead others to Christ. If his reputation is ungodly, why would anyone follow? -Then too, he is to be respected, 1Thess.5:12-13. If he has an unsavory reputation outside, this become difficult and brings reproach upon the Church.
The Qualifications: Conclusion While we may not have covered each of the qualifications individually, it is hoped that we have given the essence and the spirit of them all. These are serious matters for serious people who desire to be serious about serving the Lord and His cause. As members here, we all have a responsibility to study, know, and understand the qualifications set forth in the New Testament so that we may “select from among” ourselves men who may oversee, shepherd, watch, and lead us to heaven. May God help us to do just that, whether it be one or a dozen! We have good men who already serve- they think there are others who can help. Let’s find them!