This continues the series on choosing leaders.
Elders must be mature Christians
The word elder translates the Greek word presbuteros that means according to Thayer: "advanced in life, an elder, a senior.” That's the meaning of the word. So we can immediately see the relevance of maturity. Timothy was called a "youth” and he was thought to be in his thirties.
An elder must be old enough to bear observable fruit. The tenet advised by Jesus concerning teachers is applicable to any would-be-leader: “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:19,20).
“By their fruits you will know them.” This axiom is true in this choosing elders. Obviously, the fruit we are to look for in mature Christians is the single fruit of the Holy Spirit in order for the elder to be the Spirit's gift. Shouldn't an elder magnify this fruit so that the Spiritual life can be seen in its glory? A mystery man can not be considered; one should be able to identify the fruit of the tree.
THE FRUIT STANDARD
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23).
This list along with the stated qualifications of elders (1 Timothy 5 and Titus 1) give us invaluable help for evaluating and proving potential elders as well as judging those that serve. I will endeavor to match the ripe fruit to the qualifications of the elder.
“The fruitG2590”(Galatians 5:22).
The word “fruit” is that which originates or comes from something, such as an effect or result. In this passage it is singular. That is, the fruit is not made of various kinds on the “Christian tree.” I have a citrus tree in my back yard. There's at least two kinds of “fruits”: oranges and tangerines (the root stock was used for grafting these two onto this tree). But the fruit of the Spirit is a single type of fruit. It is, however, multifaceted. In other words, a person cannot have only one of its aspects and be said to have the fruit of the Spirit any more than an object can be called a "red delicious” apple just because its color is red.
Perhaps, a gem could picture it to us.
1: LOVE slice
First, their fruit must show love
Love shines as beautiful, good works (Matthew 5:16). The Greek word is agapeG26 (intrinsic affection for; benevolence). 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that this fruit is seen in how one behaves with good toward others. This love "fulfils the Law” (Romans 13:8). Love covers the territory.
Stated Requirement for bishops:
“Lover of good” (Titus 1:8i). Loving what is good (philagathosG5358) is a fondness for a commitment to what is helpful, beneficial and worthwhile. This type of man is visibly committed to the things that promote the pursuit of righteousness. See also the sixth facet, goodness.
2: JOY slice
Second, their fruit must show joy
Joy (charaG5479) is a sincere rejoicing that exudes from a senior saint because his sins are forgiven; there is an happy anticipation of the return of Jesus to give us a home in Heaven (Titus 2:10f). A Christian is to "rejoice always”, even in the face of trials (James 1:2). Joy is "gladness, exultation from mercy and view toward eternity.” ii There doesn't seem to be a specific correlated requirement in the list in either 1 Timothy 3 or Titus 1.
"And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Acts 5:41).
3: PEACE slice
Third, their fruit must show peace
Peace (eireneG1515) emanates a quietness, calm, order, satisfaction from the soul. This facet of fruit would be seen in one's behavior.
Stated Requirement for bishops #3-1:
“Not a brawler” (1 Timothy 3:3). Uncontentious. The word is amachosG269 which literally means "not fighting." This is a man that is peaceful. He is one who is not given to struggle with others, consistently debating, arguing, or quarreling.
Stated Requirement for bishops #3-2:
“Of good behavior ” (kosmios, "discreet, composed, orderly”, 1 Timothy 3:2). Orderly. A well-ordered life style is one that reflects Biblical principles and doctrines in matters such as dress, speech, appearance of home and manner of doing business. An orderly man is honorable, decent, dignified, and modest, according to the cultural norms in which he ministers.
Fourth, their fruit must show longsuffering
“Longsuffering” is seen in patience; i.e., bearing with frailities and provocations of others.
Stated qualification for bishops #4-1:
PatientG1933 (1 Timothy 3:3). Gentle. The word "patient" or "gentle” in Greek is EPIEIKES from EIKOS, which means "reasonable, gentle." A gentle man is therefore not unduly rigorous. It isn't "my way” or "no way.” The word is found in secular Greek and is frequently applied to a person who will be fair-minded and does not tend to throw the book at someone just because it is in his power to do so.
Stated Requirement for bishops #4-2:
Just (Titus 1:8). To be just is to be upright, honest, fair, and impartial in dealing with people. The just man is able to make mature and proper judgments in his relationship with others.
Fifth, their fruit must show gentleness
Gentleness is shown in a pleasing temper, moral excellence, calmness, politeness, and affability (warm friendliness).
Stated Requirement for bishops :
No striker (plēktēs, 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). Not pugnacious. Pugnacious literally means "a striker." This is a man who does not strike out at people either with his fists or with harsh, angry words, but remains calm and gentle even in difficult situations.
Stated Requirement for bishops:
soon angry (orgilos,
tempered. An elder must not be inclined to become angry, especially
easily angered. In other words, he must not be given to
outbursts of anger.
Sixth, their fruit must show goodness
Goodness is demonstrated toward God and man in being kind with a disposition to do good to others. Compare this to facet of love above.
Rolling out the red carpet - Microsoft
Stated Requirement for bishops #6-1:
Given to hospitality (philoxenos, 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). Hospitable literally means "loving strangers."iii A hospitable man has a willingness to reach out in love and to use his resources to minister generously and compassionately to others, without complaint, especially to those who he does not know well. This attribute is so important that it was written into the Mosaic Law for Israel to practice it. Jerusalem was noted for its hospitality, especially at the special holy days. The establishment and strenghtening of the church was aided at Pentecost by the hospitality custom of the Jewish community.
Stated Requirements for bishops #6-2:
(1) Free from the love of money; (2) not covetous; and (3) not greedy of filthy lucreG146 (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7).
These three statutes have one thing in common: a desire for material acquisitions. So then, an elder should manifest himself as being "Free from the love of money.” This is the quality of "not fond of sordid gain." Money must not control the man's life causing him to be sidetracked from pursuing true spiritual riches. Nor should it distract from duties to the church and his fellowman. A man can be lured by money in several ways. A medical doctor confided in me years ago that he had sought help from a friendly and influential clergyman in a legislative matter, but he refused to speak out to help him because of the opposition of the money people in his church. The doctor felt that the clergyman had traded his principles for keeping his boat steady. This can be true with elders yielding to the money power group in making spiritual decisions.
Seventh, their fruit must show faithiv
Faith is beheld in the strength of conviction and constancy in the tenets he claims to believe in.
Stated Requirement for bishops #7-1 :
“A bishop then must be blameless” (1 Timothy 3:2). ...Blameless, [anepilēptos] INCULPABLE , not arrested, unassailable, without reproach.” Without reproach. Their lives can be emulated by the congregation (1 Peter 5:3) resulting in ever increasing maturity in respect to the spiritual things of the Lord. There can be no glaring faults that would discredit them and undermine their leadership. Of course, anyone can be accused falsely (Matthew 5:11-12), but the point is that the elder’s life would in fact not give a basis for a charge. If an individual charge or charges cannot be established clearly to the church then the person would be considered "above reproach."
Stated Requirement for bishops #7-2:
A good reportG3141 of them which are without G1855 (1 Timothy 3:7). Good reputation with outsiders. The man must be recognized by non-Christians in the community as a man of high moral character and proper conduct. He must live in such a way that he brings no dishonor on the Lord or His church.
The reason for this injunction is given as lest "he would fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” There is without doubt a reason for each qualification, but this one is explained for us.
Stated Requirement for bishops #7-3:
Devout (Titus 1:8). Devout refers to a man's holy life, his faithfulness to what God would have him to be and do. It involves a commitment to becoming more like Christ in daily life and conduct.
Meekness is the opposite to anger. There would be indulgence to those weak and the erring. Moses was said to be meek when he did not take personally the attack by his siblings upon his authority, but let God judge the matter (Numbers 12:3).
Stated Requirement for bishops:
Not self-willed (Titus 1:7). Not self-willed. To be self-willed is to please yourself. An elder must not stubbornly insist on having things his own way. He is willing to consider others and willing to yield his own rights. He is a man who is responsive to authority (2 Peter 2:10).
Temperance is controlling oneself.
sober: sound mind, sober-minded
Stated Requirement for bishops #9-1:
Prudent (sober, sōphrōn, 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). "Prudent”, according to Vine's Dictionary, denotes a "sound mind,” hence "self-controlled.” The NIV and the Amplified Bible use the same English word to translate the Greek word sophrona. We understand it, therefore, to be speaking of one who thinks before speaking or acting, and then speaking or acting discreetly and appropriately with one's impulses under control.
Stated Requirement for bishops #9-2
Not given to wine (paroinos, 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). Not addicted to wine (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). This quality describes someone who does not abuse intoxicating substances.
Stated Requirement for bishops #9-3:
Self-controlled (Titus 1:8). For a man to be self-controlled he must have his passions, appetites, impulses and desires in check.
vigilant :"watchful; temperate; calm; discreet” (Strong's G3524)
Stated Requirement for bishops #9-4:
"Temperate” (nēphaleos nēphalios, 1 Timothy 3:2). Temperate literally meant "unmixed with wine" (the nepho base). In cases such as this it meant "clear headed, mentally alert, well balanced and able to make sound judgments." It is one who does not lose proper physical, mental, and spiritual orientation. An example of this type of usage is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 where we are directed to be "alert and sober" (temperate) in light of the coming day of judgment.
"The shepherd’s task was not only constant but also dangerous because he had to guard his flock against wild animals and against thieves and robbers. Constant vigilance, fearless, courage, and patient love were necessary characteristics of the shepherd.” vi
The final article in this series deals with the job skills qualifications.
Throw Out the Lifeline
i "lover of good” (translations: ASV, BBE, Bishops, Darby, EMTV, ERV, ESV, Geneva, GNB, GW, LEB, LITV, MKJV, Murdock, RV, WEBA, WNT.
ii -abbreviated from Clarke's Commentary.
iii Hospitable: Greek> phileo (lover of) ; xenos (alien)
iv fidelity (Barnes, Clarke)