In this 4 minute audio, I look at 1 Timothy 5 and explain how you cannot adequately serve and love others if you have not first loved and served your own family.
You don't grow spiritually merely by thinking about it; you must take action on biblical principles to grow spiritually.
We are exhorted to treat and view others as though they were members of our family (1 Timothy 5:1-2). When we do this, we overcome selfishness in order to serve.
This is the bible study guide for 1 Timothy 6 (for Sunday). It completes our study in 1 Timothy. You can find previous study guides starting at the guide for 1 Timothy 5.
You may download the study guide (with answers!) at the link below.
1. What is to be the core of Timothy's teaching (3)?
2. What about people who disagree with this teaching (4-5)? Why are they destructive? Why are they teachers?
3. What is a greater gain than money (6)? Why (7)?
4. What are we to be content with (8)? Is this easy or difficult? Why?
5. What is the problem with wanting to get rich (9-10)? What is the most tragic thing that can happen to people who are eager for money?
6. What instructions are given to Timothy in 6:11-12?
7. How is a Christian to view their life or term of service for the Lord (14)? How does or should this affect how we live?
8. What commands are to be given to the rich (17-19)? Why? Is it right to "command" rich people to be generous and willing to share (18)?
9. What is the "true life" (19)?
10. What are the final instructions to Timothy (20-21)?
11. What did you learn from the bible study? What should we think or do differently as a result?
12. What are your top three insights from 1 Timothy? Why?
This is the study guide for upcoming lesson from this passage in 1 Timothy. You may view it online or download it by clicking the download button.
Follow this link to find previous study guides for 1 Timothy.
This study guide contains questions for 1 Timothy 3:14-4:16. Links to the previous study guides, for chapters 1, 2, and 3:1-13, are here.
You may download this study guide by clicking on the download link below.
This continues my series on biblical leadership. To read more in this series, start with my most recent post, Do You Lead "From Above" or "From Below"?
[Note: In this post, I use the terms "elder" and "elder-candidate" interchangeably.]
Elders, and elder-candidates, must be spiritual leaders in their own households. As Paul writes to Timothy, "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family [household], how can he take care of God's church?" (1 Timothy 3:5, TNIV).
Looking at the instructions about elders in 1 Timothy 3:2-5 in terms of "household responsibilities" provides a fresh perspective on how to understand these instructions. In the ancient world, the responsibility to lead and direct a household fell to the males, and, in particular, the father. Households included both males and females, children and slaves. The father was over all and responsible for moral instruction and making sure that members of his household did not bring disgrace upon the household. Fathers would rule their households by authority and discipline.
Paul gives attention to this cultural norm but also subverts it in his instructions to Timothy. He begins by stating that an overseer is to be "above reproach" (1 Tim. 3:2). This is the leading thought for the entirety of the instructions about elders; the remainder of the teaching (1 Tim. 3:2-7) describes what it means or how it looks to be "above reproach."
For good reason, the first block of teaching (there are three blocks, each detailing an area of character) is devoted to household relationships. Being above reproach means, first of all, leading one's family well.
But how is the elder to be above reproach in his family? He is to be "faithful to his wife" (1 Tim. 3:2). Here, the original language refers to a "one-woman-man." To translate it as "husband of one wife" is to interpret the phrase, and a better understanding of the phrase is seen in the TNIV, "faithful to his wife."
Thus, the elder is above reproach in his family by being faithful to his wife. Theologically, this carries more freight than the legal question about marital status. It recalls the Old Testament teaching about faithfulness to God and the covenant, seen, in particular in the prophetic book of Hosea, where faithfulness in marriage is a sign of faithfulness to the covenant.
But faithfulness in marriage contains a lot more than sexual faithfulness. This is clear by Paul's emphasis to Timothy that elders are to be "temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money" (1 Tim. 3:2-3). The key is to see these things evolving out of the elder's responsibilities to his household.
These instructions tie together Paul's teaching about faithfulness to one's wife within the household context by linking instructions about how the elder is to treat his wife with instructions about his children. The emphasis on "managing" the household in 3:4 is intentional. The word sometimes translated as "family" in 3:4-5 should be translated as "household." How an elder deals with the entirety of his household responsibilities is what's important. How he loves, leads, cares for, manages, and handles anything that comes up in the household, from relationships to business arrangements, pertains to his leadership of the church.
The principle is this: the household is a microcosm of the church, which is the macrocosm. Thus, "If anyone does not know how to manage his own [household], how can he take care of God's church?" (3:5) The character traits Paul lists in 3:2-5 pertain to oversight of the household.
We do not fully understand this passage when we appoint elders based on whether a man has been divorced and whether he has "good" kids. This passage teaches us to probe deeper, that we ought to get into an elder-candidate's life, to see how he really is around his family. We need to see how he loves his wife, how he treats his children, how he handles his finances, how he acts towards friends of his children, how he contributes to household chores and business. It's in these concrete and visible things that we see the true (spiritual) leadership of an elder.
Church leadership books typically take one of two tracks. The first track discusses the senior pastor's leadership of the church. These books examine leadership techniques, sometimes from a theological perspective and sometimes not, that the senior pastor can use to lead a congregation. This may or may not include elders or deacons, who, if considered, are extensions of the senior pastor. This type of leadership book is the prominent of the two types.
The second track of leadership books discusses congregational leadership. Exemplified by Alexander Strauch's Biblical Eldership, these books discuss a team approach to leadership, where congregations are led by a group of multiple elders who are co-equals in the congregation. There may be a preacher, but he is a co-equal with the rest of the elders, not a sole leader.
Emerging Elders fits into this second track of books. Emerging Elders, by Ron Clark, a minister with the Agape Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon, is even more unique because it is written from a Restoration Movement perspective, which means it includes particular concerns that matter to those within the Churches of Christ.
The title is interesting and indicates what Clark's main idea is for the book: that congregations ought to continually develop men to be elders. In this way, elders "emerge" over time, through regular study and identification. (In Clark's vision, men serve as elders but also serve with their wives; husband-and-wife teams mentor, minister to, and serve members of the congregation together.)
There are three sections in Clark's book. In section one he examines the concept of developing elders and why this is crucial to the long-term ministry of the church; in section two he looks at good shepherding; and in section three Clark offers his reflections on "issues facing today's good shepherds."
Section two is well-supported with scripture study. Clark visits all of the main passages of scripture that deal with elders and leadership, paying special attention to God's modeling of leadership in the Old Testament, God's criticism of the bad shepherds in Ezekiel 34, and the traditional texts on elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
One special note that I found particularly insightful was Clark's description of what "oversight" actually means. Typically, we would say that elders are charged with the oversight of the congregation. This plays out many times such that elders make decisions about who may or may not teach classes, what material will be taught, what the Sunday morning worship style will be, how much the preacher will be paid, and what the overall congregational budget will be.
Drawing from the Old Testament, Clark points out that oversight has a relational element to it. Oversight includes paying attention, both individually and organizationally, to who or what is being overseen. It requires accountability to both God and the church (Ezekiel 34:10; 1 Peter 5:4), awareness of what is going on among congregants (Acts 20:28, 31), visitation of church members to aid awareness (Acts 20:28), and empowerment of church members for ministry and maturity (Ephesians 4:11-16). Much different than what often passes for oversight. ;)
In section three, Clark discusses some issues that are vital to the future of our churches, from promoting unity, to dealing with dysfunction and abuse, to why and how elders needs to shepherd ministers, to who the real predators are in churches.
In this final topic, he examines our history (in the Churches of Christ) of interpreting the phrase "sound doctrine" in a doctrinal-teaching sense. We have labeled those who teach differently (erroneously or not) "false teachers." Clark correctly demonstrates that "sound doctrine," in both the ancient world and the New Testament, corresponds to moral living. We are to lead others by our moral example. The real predators in churches, then, are not those we might label false teachers but those who abuse members (and non-members) sexually, mentally, physically, or doctrinally (through control). This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.
Clark concludes this book with recommendations for training elders. He suggests six modules which include scripture study and study of books on leadership, coinciding with a theme. This appears to be a sound strategy for identifying and training candidates for elders. Coupled with solid mentoring from existing elders, this system will go a long way towards maintaining a cycle that produces "emerging elders."
I cannot say enough good about this book. It lays a biblical foundation for elders and shepherding and covers topics that are vital to today's church. Because if focuses on areas of interest that are unique to Churches of Christ, it is set apart from many leadership books that are useful but must be adapted to our particular circumstances. I highly recommend it.
This post continues my look at biblical leadership. Previous articles include Must All Elders Teach? and Biblical Leadership is Exclusive.
One of the words used to describe biblical church leaders in the New Testament is "overseer" (1 Tim. 3:1). Traditionally, we've understood the word "oversight" to refer to physical matters (the legal, financial, and operational concerns of the church) sometimes referred to as the ABCs--attendance, buildings, and cash.
While this emphasis has truth behind it, is has also led to an over-emphasis on physical things, meetings, and the "order" of/within the congregation. Relational shepherding has taken a backseat, sadly, in many of our churches. Sure, we may refer to our leaders as shepherds (instead of elders, overseers, pastors, or bishops), but they typically do less shepherding and more overseeing.
But what is oversight? In his excellent book, Emerging Elders, Ron Clark states that the role of the elders is to tie together both oversight and relational shepherding. Oversight is much more than administration; it is modeled on God's oversight of his people, Israel (in the OT), and seen in Jesus' leadership of people (in the NT; John 10).
Clark discusses four categories of oversight that he draws from God's and Jesus' examples of oversight: accountability to the God and the church (Ezekiel 34:10); awareness of people and movements within the congregation (Acts 20:28); visitation of members to identify problems and build awareness of ministry needs (Acts 20:31); and empowerment of members to grow in maturity and ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16).
Oversight is relational. Certainly, physical needs and administration are part of oversight. Sometimes administrative tasks can be delegated to competent people within the congregation (deacons, perhaps) as an act of empowerment. Sometimes meetings are useful to discuss how to bring greater awareness of people's needs to the elders.
But oversight must begin and be maintained relationally.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? How else can elders engage in relational oversight?
On Sunday, we'll be moving into 1 Timothy 3:1-11 in our bible study. Below are two audios, each about 10 minutes long, where I introduce some of the main topics we'll discuss along with my ideas on some of these. They're off the cuff without notes, so cut me a little slack if parts of them sound a little disorganized!
Click here for some study questions for 1 Timothy 3:1-11.
Click here for a recent post I wrote about whether all elders need to be able to teach.
Audio Summary of 1 Timothy 3:1-13 Part 1
Audio Summary of 1 Timothy 3:1-13 Part 2
This blog is for articles and book reviews. I post my sermons at my Sermons page, where you can listen to sermons online or download them in MP3 format.
Although I work for the Otisville Church of Christ in Otisville, Michigan, this blog represents my own thoughts and does not necessarily correspond to the views and workings of the Otisville Church of Christ.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.