THE NEW TESTAMENT PASTOR
1 Timothy 3:1-7
by Cooper Abrams
First we must understand that a church is an organization instituted by God as Acts 2 records on the Day of Pentecost. Any organization must have leadership and in a local church that calling and position God has given to the pastor. The New Testament Greek word that is translated "church" in our English Bibles is the word "ekklesia" and refers a local assembly or congregation of people meeting together in a particular geographical location, for a specific purpose. It cannot by definition refer to a universal church or catholic organization. To proper use the word "ekklesia" it must be applied to a group of people meeting together. The false Roman Catholic and Protestant idea of a universal church which includes all Christians all over the world is a false concept and is foreign to the New Testament.
1 Thess. 1:1..."the church of the Thessalonians"
Gal 1:2..."unto the churches of Galatia"
Gal 1:22...."unto the churches of Judaea"
However, in each case the word "ekklesia" referred to an assembly of believers meeting together in a specific geological location. The use of the word in the New Testament requires that those involved in the "ekklesia" must physically meet together.
b. Denominations holding different doctrines and having hierarchies ruling over them is not known to the New Testament. Denominations are the invention of man. They present a negative picture of Christians in the sense that they represent groups with have differing doctrines and practices. A true church bases it faith and practice on the teaching of the New Testament and all such churches should be in harmony. Sadly, many church organizations hold to false teachings and practices. In this sense being separated into denominations is proper because the beliefs of a group are noted by their denominational affiliation.
c. It is the responsibility of the saint of God to support and be a part in the local church.
3. The make up of the New Testament churches was: Saints, bishops, appointed servants which English Bibles call "deacons." "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons" (Philippians 1:1)
B. BISHOP is the Greek word "Episkopos." Means an overseer as Acts 20:28 shows. The Episcopal Church gets its name from the word.
2. Phil. 1:1, 1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:7, 1 Peter 2:25 all use this title.
3. Literally 1 Tim. 3:1 "If any one seek the [office] of Bishop, or overseership. There is no Greek word for "office." The Greek phrase literally translated states the "ministry or service as Bishop."
4. There is no Scripture that indicates that there was ever a bishop which presided over an area, a district, geographic area or was appointed over multiple churchss. There was no hierarchy among the New Testament churches and certainly no popes, or prophets leading a universal body.
On a subject as important as the organization of His church surely the Lord would have given some instructions or make up of a hierarchy if He desired one to exist.
C. ELDER: "presbuteros" It is an adjective, referring to age as an old man, an elder. Examples of the use of the word:
2. It is use of a person advanced in life, a senior in Acts 2:17 "old men" "presbuteros."
3. The word "elder" refers to the experience and spiritual incite of a pastor rather than the office. When the office is referred to the word "bishop"is used or overseers. Elder refers most often to the spiritual maturity of a pastor. The word "bishop" refers to the work they do whereas "elder" refers to the maturity of their spiritual experience.
2. Pastor: word means "poimen" which refers to a shepherd who takes care of sheep or flocks, It means more than one who feds them, but who protects, looks out for, and will give his life for them. Pastor is to guide as well as fed the flock.
"The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:1-3)
He is to literally, tend the flock, means tender and at times, more sternly guide the flock and vigilantly superintend the group.
3. What should be the title of a leader of a church?
It is improper to use the title "Reverend" and never in God's word is a preacher called "Reverend." Psalm 111:9 is the only time that title is used in God's word and it refers to Almighty God.
This title had its origins in Roman Catholicism which perverted God's word and set a hierachy over God's people. It was a title given to the "clergy" to distinish their high position over the "laity" or the common people. I always correct those who use that title in addressing me. Only God is Reverend.
The answer is yes. Acts 14:23 states ". . . they ordained (appointed) elders in every church." Also in Acts 15:2, the words "apostles and elders" are plural indicating a plurality of pastors.
"When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question." (Acts 15:2)
Romans 16:1, refers to the church at Cenchrea. Cenchrea is the eastern harbor of the city of Corinth. Corinth, is the capitol city of the Roman province called Achaia.
Romans 16:5, makes the specific address to the "ekklesia" meeting in the house of Priscilla and Aquia.
It also refers to particular assembles meeting with the city. In Romans 16:1,5 Paul refers to two churches in the same city of Corinth. Corinth had two sea ports with the one on the east called Cenchrea. The is the church where Phebe served the Lord. On the southern coast was Achaia where the assembly met in Priscilla and Aquila's homes. The word "ekklesia" in all but two places refers to a local congregation meeting in a specific place. The only time all believer are referred to universally is when they are called the, "the body of Christ." (Matt. 16:18, I Cor 10:32, I Tim. 3:15, Eph. 5:25)
Only once in God's word is Christians spoken of in a universal way is at the Rapture when the Lord will "catch up" all believers on earth and the dead who were saved since the "ekklesia" began on the Day of Pentecost.
"Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the "ekklesia" of God." (1 Corinthians 10:32)
"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the "ekklesia" of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15)
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the "ekklesia", and gave himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25)
3. Does this mean a church must have several elders in the church and that was God's plan? Read the Epistles to Timothy and Titus. They are being instructed on how to pastor their respective churches. Timothy: Ephesus, Titus: Crete.
If overseership was to be by plurality while not address the epistle to the "elders" at Ephesus and Crete, rather that the pastors Timothy and Titus.
In Revelations 2 and 3, Jesus addressed His pointed instruction not to the "lampstands" but to the "lampstand" (singular) of the various churches. Point is well made that anything with more than one head is a 'monster'.
4. There is no concept of a higher order in the church made up of elders, bishops,pastors.
Revelation 2:6, 15. Jesus states he hated the doctrines of the Nicolaitans which meant these people set up a hierarch to control the congregation. The word means "to conqueror the people" and they promoted a clerical hierarchy.
a. 1 Peter 5:3, The pastor is not to Lord over the congregation, but set an example. (1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1) Verse 2, He is to "feed the flock" means to shepherd or pastor.
b. Hebrews 13:7,17 instruction the congregation of the church that they should follow him, by obeying and submitting to the pastor's authority as God overseer and shepherd.
The church as an organization needs to have leadership, and God's chosen and appointed way is the pastor. The New Testament teaches the pastor is appointed and called by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 20:27-28)
Some may question "How do you know if a man is truly called or not?" The answer is in reading the New Testament. It gives the qualifications and what to look for. Therefore a church members should:
 Read the Bible and know the word of God. (2 Tim 3:15) How do you know if a preacher is preaching God's word if you do not know it yourself or do not follow the messages in the Bible?
 Gal. 1:6-10 Paul said let the man who preaches any other doctrine be accused. Make sure what the preach says is biblical.
 1 Tim. 6:3-5 Says believers are to withdraw from false teachers and men who raise themselves up in pride.
It is not a business! It is not a organization run by conservative principles. The pastor should not be intimidated by the church members. As a pastor there are certain areas in which the congregation does not have voting rights. One is the pulpit. Who preaches, what is preached.
Pastors should not have to get a committee to vote on ever penny he spends, FOR THE CHURCH. Any pastor with wisdom, goes go to the congregation on larger matters, to get their cooperation. Many times a church feels this gives them the right to object or past judgment on the matter. However, useless the request or matter is unbiblical or outrageous, the church should carefully guard its response. If the pastor is being lead of Lord, and is hindered or opposed them, Christ the head of the church is being opposed.
In choosing the pastor for the church Christ, through the Holy Spirit, brings the right man with the right spirit, background, temperament and etc to lead the church. The church should consider this. Romans 16:17..."they watch for your souls. There is absolutely no Scripture to uphold any kind of "board" being over the pastor, whether it be of deacons or trustees, treasurers, or any one. All these operate under the pastor as his fellow helpers.
We will talk about the office of deacon next.
However, all who desire to be a pastor are not called or qualified. That is why God then gives a list of qualifications so that the congregation can make sure that the man is called of God to the position. This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (1 Timothy 3:1)
The instruction is to Timothy, who will be leading a church, thus it also is instruction is to the pastor of a church to discern if he is truly called. If the person does not meet these qualifications then, it is certainly God has not called him. Verse 2, the one who desires to be a bishop "MUST" be and list the qualification! These requirements must be met.
B. The task of being a pastor is considered to be a good work, of a "noble task" and is an honorable calling.
III. THE QUALIFICATIONS:
1. Does it mean he must be married? Paul had been married, but was not when saved. To be a member of the Sanhedrin he must have been married. In 1 Cor. 7:7 Paul is expressing his personal feelings on the matter, however was not telling others what they should do. In other words a person can do as they desire. The New Testament does not say is person must be married, or Paul, Timothy, Titus, and others would have be disqualified.
2. Does it mean he must not have more than one wife? This rule applies to everyone. God never condoned or approved of polygamy. The Bible says a couple becomes "one flesh" (Matt. 19:5) Thus monogamy is demanded by Scripture and it demands indissolubility.(the next point to be addressed) Picture is this: Christ is the Bridegroom, married to one church. Monogamy represented in Old Testament was a symbolic of the union of God with Israel. (Hos. 2:19, Jer. 3:14, 31:32, Isa. 54:5)
Polygamy is represented in the Old Testament with idolatry. Cainites in Genesis 4:23. Problems in life of David and Solomon are attributed to polygamy. (2 Sam. 5:13, 1 Kings 11:1-3)
3. Does it mean he must not be divorced? The Bible gives adultery as the only basis of divorce. (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:3-9, Mark 10:2-12, Luke 16:18) However, Jesus said in Mark 10:4-5 that God allowed Moses to give divorces because of the hardness of their hearts. Jesus further said, "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh." (Mark 10:6-8)
Matthew 19:8 states it was never God's intent that a marriage in which a couple become one flesh be dissolved. 1 Corinthians 7:39 used the phrase "married in the Lord". This set the pattern for marriage. Marriage is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Tim. 4:4-5)
In Genesis 2:24, Adam made the vow in marriage to Eve and that they would be one flesh.
Divorce does not set a good example for marriage. It is to be a life time commitment. A pastor is to set the example, and be followed as Paul says, and to be divorced is to set a bad example and not properly portray marriage as God intended it to be. God does not call those as pastors who do not reflect God's truth. You always interpret Scripture in the analogy of the faith.
According to God's principles and what God instituted marriage to be, He would not call a man to be a pastor of a church, who has been divorced. Further, if a man who is called, gets a divorce he loses his testimony and example and thus is not qualified to be a pastor. The key is his position of leadership and setting an example.
D. SOBER: Refers to self-controlled, sober minded, of sound mind. In touch with reality. Seriousness of purpose. The pastor should not be a "comic" or a jokester. Humor is okay if done respectfully and it fits the message. But should not be the rule of his life. I cannot find in the New Testament Jesus or any of the Apostles or men of God telling jokes and trying to be comical.
E. OF GOOD BEHAVIOR: He doesn't do questionable things. He is not careless in his actions. His conduct should always be above reproach. Doesn't joke and even innocently kid around with women. Does not put himself in the place of there being a question of what he was doing.
F. GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY: He is the type of fellow who can be cordial. He likes to fellowship and extend hospitality. He can meet new people and they fill at ease with him. It also means one who will offer help. "is their something I can do?" Literally it means "a love for strangers." He an get along with those he meets.
G. APT TO TEACH: It is impossible for a pastor of a church to not have the ability to teach. God would not call a man to teach who could not teach others. To be able to teach you have to know something. You have to be a learner! He must be one who seeks training and continues his education in the Scriptures. (One regret I have in coming here is I have not been financially able to continue to my formal studies)
B. NO STRIKER: Not violent, does not resort to physical force and controls his temper.
C. NOT GREEDY OF FILTHY LUCRE: Must not love money, or be money hungry. The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10) Context, not greedy, but patient to wait on God. Speaking of false prophets whose mouths must be stopped and who subvert whole households with their false teachings Paul said, "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake." (Titus 1:10-11) The TV evangelists and faith healers all use their "ministries" for the money they make. They are all millionaires and the lie to deceive people into sending them money. There are numbers of pastors and preachers whose also fall into the category. Large salaries, high positions and notoriety are lucrative reasons to aspire to preach. Look at what is the man's life style and you will see what motivates them.
D. NOT A BRAWLER: Doesn't go around looking for a fight or trouble. He should not be a person who stirs up trouble in a churches and among the brethren. Some men are continually looking for a fight and condemning other preachers.
E. NOT COVETOUS: Again a reference to money, this time with reference to idolatry. He should not be a person who put the pursuit of wealth above everything else. He should not be a person who loves flashy cars and extravagance.
2. A young boy is a novice. He is not even physically and mentally mature, how can he be spiritually mature and ready for job of leading others. It takes time and study to mature in the Lord. It is a serious matter to lead a congregation of people. Maturity and experience are important. This does not mean that young pastors are not qualified. The statement here is about a novice which is someone who is not trained or experienced. To Timothy Paul instructed "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12) Timothy was young, but he was dedicated and mature and thus qualified.
3. The devil will use one's lack of maturity to cause pride and a fall into sin.
The man who is qualified to preach treat his family well, be a hard and responsible worker. A man who complains constantly, grips about things and is a braggart has not creditability among others.