Thursday, October 20, 2022

2022.10.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 3:1–2

Read 1 Timothy 3:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: How does 1 Timothy 3:1 begin? What may a man desire? What type of work is this? What is the first qualification for this good work (1 Timothy 3:2)? What is the second? The third? Of what sort of mind? What behavior? What sixth characteristic? With what skill/aptitude?  

What should an overseer be? 1 Timothy 3:1–2 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that overseers must be of such character and attributes as to be ready and equipped for a good work.

The qualifications of an elder are an important point of doctrine. This isn’t just a “how-to” for having a nicely running church. 1 Timothy 3:1 begins by telling us that “this is a faithful saying.” This is part of that sound theology upon which Timothy must insist if the backsliding in Ephesus is going to be reversed. Because there is so much diversity (not a good thing!) in the organization/authority structure of congregations today, we might foolishly conclude that this is a matter of indifference or tolerance or lack of clarity in Scripture. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The position of a bishop is one of beneficial activity. In that position, one is called to “a good work.” He must exert himself in laboring for the good of the flock. The overseer (“bishop”) is in a position of authority, but he is to focus upon the purpose and labor that belong to his position. This is why the qualifications are primarily character qualifications and not effectiveness qualifications. There are many ways that a household could be kept in check (cf. 1 Timothy 3:4). The qualified man will be doing so by being a man of certain qualities (1 Timothy 3:2) and by not being a man of certain defects (1 Timothy 3:3).  Thus, he will demonstrate these qualities in his home (1 Timothy 3:4-5), in the church (1 Timothy 3:6), and in the community (1 Timothy 3:7).

Blameless. Above reproach. Nothing in his manner or conduct gives accusers something to latch onto. Such a man might be unfairly slandered, and it would require investigation to clear him. Another man might have a good reputation, but it isn’t particularly well-deserved; those who are closer to him have legitimate concerns. The qualified man maintains his integrity.

A one-woman man. He is committed to monogamous marriage, and especially to his own, if he is married. He is faithful, honors marriage, and is committed to the purity of the marriage bed.

Temperate. This is a man who does not indulge his senses in his tastes and habits. He doesn’t live for pleasures of the body. He lives for the deeper, lasting, steady joy of the Lord. He is a serious (not the same as “somber”) person. Earnest not superficial, and steady not always coming with something new.

Sober-minded. The word means that he is controlled by wisdom. He learns and grows. He is a theologically principled man, not a pragmatist who changes with the situations, nor an impulsive man who changes with his feelings or inclinations.

Of good behavior. The inner goodness of the man is actually worked out in the things that he does.

Hospitable. Literally, a friend of strangers. The sort of person who helps according to his ability in a way that exposes his desire to be a help and refreshment to others.

Able to teach. This is someone who has been taught, who doesn’t just know truth but has mastered it in its connections and proportions and has skill in building others up in the same. There are some (cf. 1 Timothy 5:17) who are better at this than others, but all elders must have this. Teaching is the great part of shepherding, which is the good work that is a function of this office.

Not all are called to be elders, but growing by the grace of Christ and by knowing Christ ought to grow a Christian man in that direction. Indeed, the longer a man is a Christian, the more he ought to be filling out the profile that 1 Timothy 3:2 has begun to sketch. A man who is not has good reason to tremble at the condition of his soul.

What character qualities in this list do you most need to work on? Which ones seem to be most lacking in the churches and in their leadership? How are you praying/laboring to see this improve?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us Christ to be our Chief Overseer and Shepherd. Forgive us for how much our own characters fall short of His. Grant unto us undershepherds that are qualified according to Your Word and good examples to the flock, for we ask it in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1B “How Blest the Man” 

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