This is the tenth sermon in a series covering marriage, family, and the church. This message was delivered on the evening of August 5, 2012 at Hillcrest Baptist Church. This message deals with the pastors and deacons in the church. Of special interest are the family experience and gender requirements. You will find the sermon notes, and the audio. Please note that the sermon notes are NOT a full transcript. Typically, as I preach, I add to what is in my notes. So, for the full sermon, please listen to the audio version.
1 Timothy 3:1-13
The office of a pastor is a “good” work, and not to be taken lightly. This is why so many qualifications are listed.
Blameless, a far reaching, generalized qualification which will be detailed in the list to follow.
*At the top of the list is “husband of one wife” This is literally “one woman man” This heads the list, because it is probably the easiest place for a man to fall.
Note that this command excludes women, without question, it is directed toward men and men alone.
There is much debate over whether or not this command refers to divorce or polygamy.
Some say that it cannot refer to polygamy because it was uncommon in the Greek culture, and forbidden by the church. Therefore, a polygamist could not even be a member of the church, let alone a leader.
Some would argue that it cannot refer to divorce because of there are situations where some may be divorced even before becoming a Christian, and have since been forgiven and remarried, and showing evidence of a well run household.
Would such a person really be barred from leadership?
Or what about a Christian who divorced on Biblical grounds? This does not necessarily mean a failure in the home because of someone else’s sinful decision.
I lean toward the polygamy interpretation, but the one thing that is clear (despite the opinion of some of my favorite commentators), marriage IS a requirement.
The only reason anyone argues that marriage is not a requirement, despite the clear wording of the passage (especially when we get to verse 4), is due to 1 Corinthians 7:8
However, we must remember that Paul was not a permanent pastor of any church. He planted churches, helped them get established, and moved on. Because of his nomadic lifestyle, being unmarried was certainly best for him.
Paul simply was not in a position to be charged with the day to day care of a congregation, so the analogy does not apply.
**Marriage most certainly is a requirement.
The next three all have a similar meaning:
Temperate – This is someone who is self controlled and orderly. Certainly a necessary quality for the leader of a congregation.
Sober-minded – Literally sensible and moderate.
Good behavior – again we come back to self control.
This tells us that behavior is of utmost importance.
Able to teach – of course, that is one of his primary functions.
Not given to wine – literally not a drunkard or heavy drinker. This command in ad of itself, is not completely prohibitive. Having said that, there is plenty of scripture to make the case for total abstinence.
not violent – literally quarrelsome, quick to argue and / or fight, demanding or bully.
Greedy for money (not in the newer Greek manuscripts) – certainly a person who is in the ministry for money is not in it for Christ!
The rest of this verse is a recap.
*Must have children. Family experience is essential for the leaders in a church.
Since the church is in the model of a family, it only stands to reason that family experience is required.
In light of verse 2, and what we’ve learned thus far about the relationship between family and the church, it would be totally nonsensical to infer that marriage and family would not be a requirement for the eldership of the church.
Paul makes the case right here, that a man must have provable family experience prior to being qualified for church leadership as a pastor or deacon.
Spiritual maturity must be demonstrated and proven prior to being ordained.
The ordination of the spiritually immature is nothing short of disastrous. 1 Timothy 5:22 warns against premature ordination, and for good reason.
A good testimony with those outside the church is essential. If one does not have a good testimony, how can he expect to lead anyone to Christ?
The qualifications for deacon are nearly identical to those of a pastor.
Reverent – literally honorable, worthy of respect.
Not double tongued – not hypocrites or two-faced.
More like “revelation” of the faith. That is “the Word of God”
This is implying one who strives to be obedient to the Word.
This verse simply establishes that a test is necessary, in fact, why wouldn’t it be?
Their wives should exhibit similar behavior as is required of them. This only makes sense, because a wife that is contrary would hinder the ministry of the deacon.
Just as the pastor, verses 11 and 12 imply that marriage and family are a requirement.
Despite the trend today, the offices of pastor and deacon are clearly reserved for men.
What about women deacons and pastors? Let’s start by saying that there is no Biblical support for that. In fact its clearly prohibited.
Some would point to Galatians 3:28
That verse, and entire passage of Scripture is talking about nothing more than our common salvation in Christ. There is absolutely no justification for stretching it beyond that meaning.
Women have a call to minister to and teach other women
It is not uncommon for Paul to recognize the work of faithful women
Phoebe was one of these women (Romans 16:1), and Paul even entrusted her with the delivery of this letter.
The underlying Greek is the same word for deacon, but it is used just as often in a generic sense to simply mean servant.
There is no indication that she held the official position of deacon in the church. She was a faithful servant as so many women are.
To call her a Deacon reads much more into the text than is actually there. That is always dangerous.
Our text makes it clear that the office of deacon is reserved for men. Any interpretation of Phoebe as a deaconess creates an unnecessary and unwarranted contradiction in Scripture.
Further, the entire doctrine of male headship and accountability, and the family foundation for the church, necessitate that it is a male’s position.
Some eastern churches at around 110ad had deaconesses to specifically attend to the needs of female members.
Their role was limited, but still a step into the unbiblical (it doesnt take people long to start trying to do things their own way instead of Gods way).
Their duties were to take care of the sick and poor, to minister to martyrs and confessors in prison, to instruct catechumens, to assist at the baptism of women, and to exercise a general supervision over female church-members.
Even this was in violation of Scripture.
We have no first century evidence of the office of deaconess. The Deacons of acts were specifically men, yet part of their ministry was to women.
There is no BIBLICAL justification for women deacons.
Even IF Phoebe were an actual deacon (big if), Paul simply introduces her according to he title she’s been given, and acknowledges her work.
He doesn’t suggest that we follow suit, in fact it is he who gives us the BIBLICAL requirements for a deacon.
It would be no different than me introducing female pastor as the pastor of _______ church. That doesn’t mean I’m condoning it, I’m simply acknowledging her position.
The clear fact is that the listed biblical requirements include being a married man.
As for pastor, some may try to reference Deborah.
First, Deborah was a judge – civil leadership which does not pertain to the church.
Deborah was a prophetess. God sometimes used women as prophets, there are a few mentions in Scripture.
Prophets; however, did not lead congregations. That was the role of a priest in the Old Testament. Priesthood was reserved for men. (being a priestess was not a good thing).
The office of a prophet no longer exists, so that is a moot point.
There is no Biblical evidence of female pastors.
The truth of the matter is, that NO female pastor or deacon is called by God, because it contradicts His word.
Any female pastor or deacon is self-called, and is no legitimate pastor or deacon.
It is simply an effort to make church conform to the culture, and we must always strive to maintain purity.
Paul concludes this passage with a beautiful promise to those who execute their offices well.
Good standing and boldness are something we should all strive for.