This continues the series on choosing leaders.
Continuing from section 3...
Tenth, special job skills that define the nature of the work
There are some skills connected with certain jobs that are required before being appointed or hired. There is no “on the job training” for elders. When I apply for a job, the “interviewer” always asks, “What experience do you have?”
Job skill #10-1:
Not a novice G3504 (1 Timothy 3:6). Not a new convert. This refers to a man who has proven himself to be consistent in fulfilling the qualifications. We need to be careful not to recognize an individual for church leadership too quickly. This would be a protection not only for the church but also for the man himself as he might be tempted to be filled with pride.
The reason for this injunction is lest he would be “lifted up with pride and would fall into the condemnation of the devil.”
Job skill #10-2:
The husband of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). “The husband of one wife” literally means "a one woman man" or "a one wife husband." If this does not forbid unmarried men from servings as elders, what would it means? He must be devoted to his wife. There must not be any adulterous actions or attitudes present in his life. It is argued that a man is not automatically eliminated from eldership by a Scriptural divorce in his past. If he’s Scripturally divorced or is widowed and remarried, he has only one wife. As a prominent preacher once said, “If he has more than one wife, then is he not in adultery and should be disciplined?” It is true that the only other legitimate interpretation would have to be upon translating the word “one” as “first” which position Jameison, Fausset and Brown Commentary takes. Their insistence is based upon the Council of Laodicea's later rule.i However, I would counter that the various translations I have seen, use “one” and not “first” in this passage.ii The important thing then would be the question, “Is he Scripturally married?” which is a good question for his faith.
Job Skill #10-3:
One that rulethG4291 well his own house (1 Timothy 3:4). Manages his household well (1 Timothy 3:4). The word "manage" literally means "to stand before," hence to lead or to attend to. A man who manages his household well is one who provides firm but loving leadership in the home. This good management leads to "keeping his children under control with all dignity" (1 Timothy 3:4). This qualification must eliminate a man if he does not have a household to manage (wife and children at home) unless we understand the stipulation to apply to his history. In our society children of age generally leave home and start their own families. We are not looking at grown children then who are not at home and therefore not available for management. A man's management of the church can be predicted in how he currently manages or has managed a household.
Job Skill #10-4:
Having his children in subjectionG5292 with all gravityG4587 (1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 1:6). Having faithful children not accused of dissipation or rebellion (Titus 1:6). The Greek word for faithful is PISTOS. This word is most frequently translated "faithful." It appears to parallel the qualification in 1 Timothy 3:4 which requires that an elder manage his household well keeping his children under control with all dignity. The children of an elder therefore must be faithful to the leadership and authority of their father. This would be manifested by children who are not being accused of dissipation or rebellion. A parallel qualification in 1 Timothy 3:4 supports this referring to children living at home. Older children living away from and independent from their parents are not likely in view in this passage.
The reason given for this injunction is because “if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?”
Job Skill #10-5:
Apt to teach (didaktikos, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:9). Able to teach. That is, he is qualified to teach the Bible.
He is a man of the Word, not necessarily a gifted public speaker like Apollos, but one who knows Bible doctrine and can use it effectively to exhort and encourage believers and to refute those who contradict the truth of God's Word. In order to teach a subject, he must be knowledgeable in it.
An appropriate question is if a man does not know the Word from the Spirit, how can he pretend to be a gift to the church from the Spirit? Again, a major job of an elder is to protect. He must be able “to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). How can this be obeyed by a novice or one ignorant in the Word?
This qualification to a degree of ability is a goal for all Christians (2 Timothy 2:24). Actually all of the qualifications except experience and being married are required of all. iii
The wisdom of God is to appoint “elders”; that's plural. It can be said that one reason God ordained a plural of “elders” in every church (Acts 14) was that hopefully that someone would hold in check another that may be impulsive to accept error. In order that this might work, no elder should be exclusively in control of the teaching system. Diotrephes was condemned in part because of his controlling power (2 John).
If a problem exists where an offending elder needs to be removed, then it must be done. For a public sin he is to be rebuked before all (1 Timothy 5:20) so that others may fear. If he refuses to repent then he must be withdrawn from: delivered unto Satan. There are examples where leaders were corrected and even withdrawn from. There is no lifetime protection for an elder.
The qualifications given by the Spirit are to be enforced continually. What qualifies can also disqualify. Someone has aptly pointed out that a leader must have someone willing to follow. However, having someone willing to follow does not re-qualify an elder either. If there's any question that threatens the peace and harmony of a work, whether he be an elder, a preacher, a deacon, etc., that person should humbly step down, at least during the crisis. A preacher was “fired” and no adequate reason was given to the congregation. Yet the preacher quietly left and began attending services at another place. I have some trouble with this secretive procedure; however, I use it to point out that although the preacher was popular and could have caused a “fuss”, he did not. That to me, illustrates the priority one should place on peace in matters of judgment.
Now, some Scriptures for guidance in correcting and/or “removing” leaders.
“Some of them were supposed to be important leaders, but I didn't care who they were. God doesn't have any favorites! None of these so-called special leaders added anything to my message” (Galatians 2:6, Contemporary English Version).
God doesn't have any favorites. This includes any man appointed to serve the church. None of these so-called special leaders can add or change the gospel either by teaching or practice. In the context of Galatians 2, the apostle Peter sinned publicly and was rebuked publicly by Paul. The necessary inference is that Peter repented since he continued in the apostolic work. Someone flippantly may suggest that Peter could “not” be removed from being an “apostle” because Jesus had appointed him. But Jesus expected Peter to repent from his earlier sin of denying Jesus before he could serve in the “ruling”(G4165) capacity (Luke 22:32; John 21:15). Without his conversion and confession of love for Jesus, he could not serve Jesus.
The Spirit through Paul gave the apostle authority to employ punitive measures (cf. 1 Corinthians 5). Peter needed only the rebuke. But, what about Hymenaeus and Alexander? Hymenaeus and Alexander were teaching hurtful things about the Lord.
“Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan,iv that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20).
What about Diotrephes? He prated against the apostle John with wicked words and was “putting some out of the church”. John was going to “advertise his works” when and if he were able to get to the church where Gaius worshipped.
“I wrote to the church. But Diotrephes likes to be the number-one leader, and he won't pay any attention to us” (3 John 9,10, CEV).
This does not mean that private accusations against elders are to be issued lightly. Elders, just as any member, are to be treated as being “innocent until proven guilty,” so to speak. The apostle Paul commands, “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses” (1 Timothy 5:19). A Bible teacher once commented that those in the public eye tend to be in open season for “pot shots.” And this is especially true if they are working at the job. The Holy Spirit warns against anyone wanting to unduly criticize the elders. If there are not enough witnesses, the matter should not be brought up.
The flock of God are to be protected. The watchmen of the souls in the congregation must first look unto themselves. They will be good stewards if they are Spirit qualified. If one is a Diotrephes, he has to be rebuked; if he does not repent, then the congregation must “deliver him unto Satan” just as they would the immoral impenitents of 1 Corinthians 5; i.e., anyone that “sins sexually, is greedy, worships idols, abuses others with insults, gets drunk, or cheats people” (Easy-to-Read Version). Finally, the elders should themselves (1) “build up” themselves on the most “holy faith”, (2) “pray” in the Holy Spirit, and (3) keep themselves “in the love of God,” while (4) looking “for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 20, 21).
Looking among you for those qualified by the Holy Spirit (Acts 6), the thrust of our search criteria should be, “Do these candidates have the positive characteristics given by the Holy Spirit?” Hence, the criteria is, by their fruit you shall know those qualified.
The target of the gifts of Christ are “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13, ESV). Hence, we would expect the elders chosen to model the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The following chart shows that what the Holy Spirit expects in the mature elder is expected of all of us. On the left are listed the qualifications for the eldership. To the right are the qualifications for a mature Christian which is the goal of every Christian man and woman.
Throw Out the Lifeline
iThe Council of Laodicea was a regional synod of approximately thirty clerics from Asia Minor that assembled about 363–364 AD in Laodicea [note:uninspired men who made their preferences law].
iihEIS, MIA, and hEN are respectively the masculine, feminine and neuter nominative forms of the same word which is equivalent to English "one." http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/2005-July/035017.html. Note: the feminine word MIA is used in 1 Timothy 3.
iiiTHERE IS NO ONE QUALIFIED" THE TENURE OF ELDERS by Annil Jenkins
iv“Delivered unto Satan” is the same expression that describes the withdrawal from the immorality case in 1 Corinthians 5.