Someone once said that “everything rises and falls with leadership.” This is certainly true in the home and in the church. One of the greatest gifts God gave to the church was gifted men such as pastors and deacons. In this chapter Paul writes to Timothy and reminds him that there are certain requirements that must be met by these men.
The Office of Bishop
Paul first deals with the office of Bishop. The word “bishop” in verse one means to be an overseer or a superintendent. In the early church the pastor was called by several names. He was called an elder, a pastor, shepherd, bishop and minister. It is interesting that he was never called “reverend” which actually means “terrible, that which incites terror.” This was a name describing God not the pastor.
The office of a bishop is a wonderful office and for a man to desire such an office is to desire something good. When we ask our children what they want to be when they grow up they may say “a baseball player or a doctor.” I wonder if we admired the man of God like we do our favorite ball player if it would change their minds?
Beginning in verse 2 and extending through verse 7 Paul gives a list of positive and negative requirements a man must meet to hold this office. So tighten your boot straps and follow along if you dare.
A bishop must be blameless. This word means “nothing to take hold upon.” A man cannot stop people from spreading rumors and lies about him. A bishop must live in such a manner however that they do not give these people anything to talk about.
A bishop must be the husband of one wife. It is unrealistic to believe that the church would think about appointing a man who is a polygamist as their pastor therefore the only logical explanation is that the bishop is to have only one living wife at a time. For a bishop to be divorced and remarried it only opens himself up to criticism. How could a young couple confide in their pastor about marital trouble when the pastor couldn’t keep his own marriage together? I could spend many paragraphs explaining this, but I will not, for the sake of time. Let me just say before moving on that a man and woman are bound together as long as they both live. Should one of them pass away then the living spouse is free to remarry in the Lord. This is the only time in the Bible when remarriage is permitted.
Next we are told he is to be vigilant which means to be temperate or calm. A pastor should be able to keep his cool in all situations. He is to be sober meaning that he is serious. And he is to be of good behavior. Careless conduct will get you into trouble (even if you are innocent).
Verse three tells us that a bishop is not to be given to wine, he is not to have a love for money and he is not to be a brawler. God’s man cannot be a drunkard, he should not preach just for the money and he is not to go around looking for a fight all the time. A preacher that wants to fight all the time is just as bad as the man who is a drunkard.
In verse 5 we are told the bishop must be able to control his own home. How can a man take care of God’s house when he can’t take care of his own? In verse six we are told the bishop should be a man of experience and in verse seven he is to have a good testimony in the community. To have a good testimony in the community means that he pays his bills, he is honest with his neighbor and he lives what he preaches.
The Office of Deacon
Just as there are requirements for the bishop there are similar requirements for the office of a deacon. The word deacon means a “minister, or servant.” The first deacons were called in Acts chapter 6 to assist the man of God. The first deacons were called to care for the needs of people, namely the widows, so that the man of God would have time to study and pray. The office of deacon is an office that handles material matters mainly. That does not mean they do not have to be spiritually qualified as well.
Beginning in verse 8 the deacon is to be grave which means he is to be a man of dignity. The deacon is not to be double tongued or two faced. A deacon cannot be the type of man who tries to please everyone. He must have the courage to stand up for what is right. A double tongued man is a liability to the church.
A deacon is not to be given to much wine. God expects us to use temperance in everything we do. In Paul’s day, wine was used for medical purposes (I Timothy 5:23). When people want to use alcohol as a beverage they are asking for trouble. Lastly in this verse the deacon is to not be greedy, or not controlled by money.
In verse 9 the deacon is to be doctrinally sound and in verse 10 he must be proven. A man must never be placed into this role until he has first proven himself to the church. If you study the scriptures you will see that on many occasions God required men to prove themselves before they were used.
- · Joseph was a servant in Egypt for 13 years before he was the second ruler of the land.
- · Moses cared for sheep for 40 years before God called him to deliver the children of Israel.
- · Joshua was Moses’ servant before he took his place.
- · David was tending sheep in the field when Samuel came to anoint him king.
- · Jesus was raised up laboring in a carpenter shop before he began his ministry.
- · Paul worked as a tent maker.
In verse 11 the deacon is to have a godly home. Not only is the deacon to be qualified, but his wife must be as well. A deacon’s wife is to be grave, meaning serious. She is to not be slanderous, meaning she is not a gossiper and she is to be faithful to her husband, children and to her God.
Lastly the deacon is to have a good standing. He is to be a bold witness for Christ. He is the kind of man that you can look up to.
You may have read the above paragraphs and thought to yourself, “These are mighty high requirements.” May I submit to you that these are mighty high offices? God’s standards are high, but if a man lives up to them the reward is worth it.
Our churches desperately need godly men to step forward, stand for the truth and be a moral compass for the people in the church to follow.
My prayer is: “God please give some of these godly men to the church. In the dark day that we live in, we need men who will be a bright light. Thank you Lord for the godly men you have placed in my life to shine the light, showing me the path of righteousness.”