Today's Devotions

Showcase: Forgiveness

  • Total Forgiveness, RT Kendall +

    This was a valuable resource for me in a time of hurt from a brother in Christ. I could not Read More
  • Forgiveness: Desmond Tutu +

    Nobel Peace Prize Winner Desmond Tutu explains how love and forgiveness kept post-apartheid South Africa from tumbling into anarchy. Read More
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Don  Carson

2 Kings 6; 1 Timothy 3; Daniel 10; Psalm 119:1–24

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, there are two explicit church offices.

On the one hand, there are pastors (the word comes from the Latin expression for "shepherds"), who are also called elders or overseers (the word rendered "bishops" in older translations). On the other hand, there are deacons. It was not until the second century that bishops became a kind of third rank of ecclesiastical authority, supervising several pastors/elders under them.

So when Paul briefly outlines the criteria for becoming an "overseer" (1 Tim. 3:1–7), he is in fact providing the criteria of the pastoral office. Brief reflection on some of his points may be of help:

(1) At one level, the standards Paul provides are not particularly elevated or difficult. There is nothing about an elite education, a certain kind of personality, belonging to the aristocratic sectors of society, or displaying a certain kind of leadership capability. The list includes things like not getting drunk, not being quarrelsome, and the like.

(2) With the exception of only two qualifications, everything else in this list is elsewhere mandated of all Christians. For instance, if the overseer is to be "hospitable" (1 Tim. 3:2), the same thing is laid on all Christians in Hebrews 13:2. If Christian pastors are not to be "given to drunkenness" (1 Tim. 3:3), neither should any other Christian be. In other words, what must characterize the Christian pastor, in the first instance, is that he display the kinds of graces and signs of maturity that are being imposed on all believers without exception. So the Christian elder is to be a model of what Christian living should look like. In that sense the standards as a whole are high indeed.

(3) The two that are distinctive are as follows: (a) The Christian pastor must be "able to teach" (1 Tim. 3:2). That presupposes both knowledge and the ability to communicate it. That is the distinctive function of this office. (b) Christian pastors must not be recent converts (1 Tim. 3:6). Obviously that excludes some Christians. What "recent convert" means will doubtless vary according to the age and maturity of the church, as the criterion is necessarily relative to how recently others have been converted.

(4) The tight connection between the home and the church (1 Tim. 3:4–5) is quite startling. Not every Christian father is eligible to be an elder in the church; every Christian father is nevertheless presupposed to have elderlike functions to discharge in his own home.

(5) Several of the qualifications are bound up with the distinctive responsibility of this office. If he is to teach, the elder must be hospitable, maintain a good reputation with outsiders, not prove quarrelsome, and be untouched by money's attractions. A merely bookish theologian with no love for people will not do.

Reflections to Consider

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Audio & Video

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  • Prayer by Alex Kirk, Chatham Community Church +

    What role does prayer play in our lives? What is prayer, anyway? Alex Kirk, pastor of Chatham Community Church, gives Read More
  • How to be Mary in a Martha world by Jim Abrahamson, Chatham Community Church +

    Jim Abrahamson spoke at Chatham Community Church on an essential of the Christian walk Who/what is our savior? What is Read More
  • Christ the King Sunday by Art Going (Holy Trinity Chatham) +

    A thoughtful discussion of how we function as colonizers for Christ the King.  Read More
  • MY STUPID MOUTH by Steve Tamayo of Chatham Community Church +

    Tremendous sermon on the liabilities of our tongue, both in what we say and don't say. Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • My Soul Cries Out in Worship +

    Over the past ten years, Vicki Yohe has written some of the most popular songs sung in churches. This song Read More
  • Worship Matters: A blog by Bob Kauflin +

    Worship Matters is a blog by Bob Kauflin. Good, inspired food for one's soul. Read More
  • Worship Wars in Bethany +

    Jim Abrahamson preached on the worship wars in Bethany in 2003. Read More
  • The Greatest Treasure Remains: Come, Now is the Time for Worship +

    Come, now is the time to worship Read More
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