I'm teaching one of the adult Sunday School classes on Sunday and I'm going to work through this outline on Titus. Titus teaches us how and why we need to combine public and private ministry, in order to teach and proclaim the gospel fully.
Creator of all that is good,
you have graciously given us grace and mercy.
May we respond to others with the same grace and mercy
in acts of godly goodness
through Christ our Lord.
O God who is faithful,
You washed us with your Spirit to clean us.
May we always turn to you in trust,
Feeding off your gracious provision for us.
We pray this in Christ's name.
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 article continues my look at biblical leadership. The first article in this series, Biblical Leadership is Exclusive, is found here.
One common reason men give for not serving as elders in a congregation is their inability to teach.
In 1 Timothy 3:2, in a list pertaining to elders, Paul tells Timothy than an elder "is to be...able to teach." This verse has commonly been used to disqualify men from serving as elders who are deemed to be not capable of teaching. It has also been used to disqualify men who are newer to the faith--they are not yet ready to be teachers because they don't yet know enough. Sadly, some men disqualify themselves from serving as an elder by viewing themselves as unnable to teach.
But what does this passage mean? Does it require elders to teach?
To answer the second question, we need only look later in 1 Timothy. In a set of instructions about the congregation's obligations to elders, Paul says, "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (5:17, TNIV). This passage describes two possible functions for elders, one primary, the other secondary. The primary task of elders is to direct the affairs of the church well. The secondary task is preaching and teaching.
Paul makes this clear by the word "especially." This clearly implies that not all elders preached and taught. There is a clear distinction in scripture. Ephesians 4:11-12 discuss the evangelists, the pastors, and the teachers; all different functions. Timothy and Titus were evangelists. In the church it's mainly (though not always) the evangelist who preaches and teaches corporately. This task does not fall to all elders. We go beyond scripture when we make it a requirement for all elders to preach and teach.
Paul's letter to Titus sheds further light on this perspective. In the list of "qualifications" for elders, Paul does not say directly that elders must be able to teach. Indirectly, one can infer from Titus 1:9 ("He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine...."; TNIV) that teaching is required, but that is an inference only. The clearer sense of that verse is that elders need to know the core aspects of the faith in order to communicate it to and encourage others.
So what "teaching" is Paul referring to in 1 Tim. 3:2? Obviously, on one hand, he is referring to the corporate preaching and teaching. This is made clear by 1 Tim. 5:17, though it is not a requirement for all elders. On the other hand, elders, in directing the affairs of the church, will be engaged in pastoral care. They will need a knowledge of the faith, through their personal walk with Jesus, and they will need to be able to share that perspective with others, most often in a one-on-one or small group setting.
Two points come to mind:
First, Why are we so quick to want to disqualify men from serving as elders?
Second, if being able to teach publicly and corporately is not a requirement for being an elder (as 1 Tim. 5:17 makes clear), then perhaps we can lighten up a little with our view of elders' "qualifications." Perhaps Paul's list is a general outline of a godly man and not a specific checklist?
What do you think? What questions do you have? Do you agree or disagree with my interpretation?
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.
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