1 Tim 3:1-7 Office of a Bishop CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
There are only two offices in the church: bishop and deacon [Phil 1:1]. Paul qualifies a bishop in 1 Tim 3:1-7 and a deacon in 1 Tim 3:8-13.
A bishop is a pastor, Titus 1:7. They are men. Pastors are also called elders, Acts 14:23; 20:17; 20:28; 1 Pet 5:1. They feed the flock. A bishop, therefore, is the presiding elder, called the senior pastor, today. In other words, there are not three separate offices of bishops, elders and pastors. The reason some churches make them separate offices is that everyone likes to be in charge. The term, bishop, refers to the pastor’s office [Titus 1:7]. The term, elder, refers to the pastor’s oversight [1 Pet 5:1-3]. The term, pastor, refers to the pastor’s ministry [Eph 4:11-12].
Paul gives Timothy sixteen qualities of a bishop, by which Timothy could determine a man’s suitability and aptness for this office. These concern his character (including his reputation), his conversation, his convictions, his control, and his capability.
His character – “blameless,” Paul was blameless [Phil 3:6]. However, he was, nevertheless, unjustly criticized by his adversaries [Acts 21:28]. Yet, they couldn’t prove their accusations [Acts 24:12-13]. So, Paul is not referring to allegations here; rather, he’s addressing factual violations. “Not a brawler,” see Rom 13:13, for instance. “Having a good report of them which are without,” refers to his reputation. He should have unquestionable character among the brethren and also among those in the place he is called to minister. For example, his bills should be paid on time. Otherwise, he leaves an opening for the devil to ensnare him.
His conversation – “vigilant,” see 1 Pet 5:8; Acts 20:29-30 and Eph 5:11-16. “Sober,” see 1 Thes 5:5-8 and Titus 1:8. “Of good behavior,” his speech and demeanor are good [Eph 5:3-4; 1 Thes 2:10]. “Given to hospitality,” he’s friendly and kind, see Rom 12:13.
His convictions – “the husband of one wife” (see note below). “Not given to wine,” see Prov 31:3-5, 20:1; Rom 14:21.
Note: The question of divorce concerning a man who has been called to preach is controversial. The controversy arises from the statement, the bishop must be “the husband of one wife.” Those who believe that a divorced preacher is disqualified from the pastorate read that verse to say he has two wives if he has remarried. They quote Rom 7:1-4, which deals with adultery committed by a wife who is married to her husband. Keep in mind that this passage doesn’t address divorce. Divorce is covered in Matt 19:3-9. Rom 7:1-4 illustrates the death of our old man so that our soul may be married to Christ. Those who believe he’s not disqualified understand that he only has one wife, though the former spouse is still alive. See Hos 2:2, which says that a man and woman, who are divorced, are no longer husband and wife.
So what does, “the husband of one wife” mean? From reading the Bible, you would see that a pastor is not be a polygamist. You would conclude that because of the many Old Testament men who had more than one wife [i.e., Lamech, Jacob, Esau, Elkanah, Ashur, Shaharaim, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Abijah, Ahab, Jehoram, Joash, Jehoiachin, and Belshazzar]. Today, among certain religions and cultures, polygamy is still common.
This lesson is continued on May 14, 2017. It is titled, Office of a Bishop, Continued.