Looking forward into what the
Father is about to do in His church and in the world means first of all that we
need to be cleansed of any bitterness that may have taken root in us as a result
of the hypocrisy or any waywardness we've seen. One thing we need to remember --- what has
happened to the church, has happened over time. The truth was lost a
little here and a little there, we just don't realize it. Because of this;
I do not believe that the average leadership in a church has had a purposeful
intent to control, overlord, or in any way deceive the Lord's people; as many leaders today
have simple inherited a religious system that was already off course.
While the justice of a Holy
God will most definitely require a reckoning from those who have erred in the
faith; we need to remember that the Lord is the one who holds this vengeance in
His hands for those who refuse to repent. He is also the one who forgives and
fully restores those who turn back to Him; and our discussion ought to begin
with an earnestness in our hearts to intercede on behalf of those who may be off course.
I believe it is equally important for us to cry out to God so that we might release any un-forgiveness
that we hold onto for past situations
as this is a hindrance in the path of what the Father has for His people to
accomplish in the future.
I believe then (speaking in the
broadest of terms); that the Lord would first require two things of his people.
One; that we would bring forth the fruits of true repentance; forgiving one
another as Christ has forgiven us.
Secondly; the Lord requires
that we would walk in the light as He is in the light; making sure that we take
the time to address the deficiencies that have hindered biblical community and
to make necessary changes so that we don't continually repeat the same mistakes.
Often any attempt to correct
governance within a church eventually leads to a church split as there is no
framework that allows for grievances to be addressed.
A spiritual dynamic usually develops as a
typical church split occurs. This dynamic
will eventually set the stage for the same events to repeat several years later.
In this painful time when division exists among the body of Christ; members that leave a congregation to begin anew will
typically find that they are biased towards or favor the same framework of
governance they came out of.
We as the body of Christ will
typically gravitate back in the direction we have come out of only to discover
that over a period of several years a cyclical pattern towards the same abusive
tendencies occurs. What has happened? Simply put:
are using the same framework of governance that was prevalent in the old church;
it is the
we have judged, and not the system.
This in itself is a tragic occurrence as the
system we came out of
often lacks biblical checks and balances and enables even the best
intentioned people to stray from the narrow path and it is often these same
deficiencies that are carried forward into a new work, and you end up
perpetuating the problem instead of solving it.
Because this happens; a
and effect that Jesus spoke of comes into play. He
said: "Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and
with the measure you
use, it will be measured back to you."
As a result of this spiritual
and effect a church that has broken off another congregation
will over a period of time begin to manifest the same abusive tendencies they
thought they were leaving behind; in other words; the measurement they have used
has been measured back to them; setting up a scenario where disgruntled members
will now split off of them; reform into a new congregation and begin the cycle
Rather than this cyclical
pattern repeating itself; what should be occurring between brothers and sisters
in Christ is that we ought to begin to ask ourselves what changes need to be
implemented in the framework of our church government? Or another way of
saying this is: Having examined ourselves we need to ask; why does the wineskin keep breaking?
In the inner workings of many
churches; because they are governed through the personality of a singular leader
within a congregation; often there is a tendency to ostracize those who may have
a concern about something that has happened. Instead of
squelching all dissention and calling it rebellion we need to be able to
consider the merits of
concern or complaint on a case by case basis; as it will either be an
opportunity to correct error, or it will be a learning experience for the one
bringing the complaint.
There must be a biblical
framework that consistently allows for due process of any and all grievances as
or are expressed. However
if there is no process that is consistently impartial; allowing for all concerns
to be biblically addressed; then the lack of such a process and a brushing aside
of a grievance; regardless of it's merit will most often have a negative
consequence that affects the unity of a congregation, and causes a grieving of
the Holy Spirit.
If the framework for biblical government
that includes a plurality of elders, deacons
and five-fold ministers is not in place; many times
if members of a church have disagreements with a pastor, and they are legitimate
issues; it will typically
lead to an impasse as there is no one available that would be seen as impartial
in the situation
and therefore able to mediate fairly between both sides.
On the other hand if someone
has a disagreement with a pastor or other five fold minister, and they are wrong
in their assumptions; then having others who truly can serve as impartial
mediators will help a fellow brother or sister accept that they were wrong since
what they were representing as the truth will have been given a full hearing.
These types of
confrontational situations where people can safely and biblically "work out
their salvation" and resolve disagreements are infinitely preferable to the
backbiting that typically occurs, and having a framework for dealing with a
situation before it becomes an emotional flashpoint increases the likelihood of
a successful and peaceful resolution.
In other words; when conflicts between brethren
arise; any resolution must reflect thejustice
of a Holy God; allowing the basic dignity of brothers and sisters in Christ to
be upheld in such a way that it challenges us all to be held accountable as
partakers of His Divine nature. Remember:
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."
As I have learned through the
word of God and through experience; one aspect of all this that is difficult to
address; is that even good earnest men of God will staunchly resist correction
if they are in deception. Jesus said it this way
lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will
be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of
darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is
This one scripture alone
underscores the necessity of biblical governance; for we all know too well the
nature of sin and iniquity will cause it to remain hidden in the heart of a brother or
sister who has stumbled, and the more responsibility you have as a leader in the
body of Christ the more horrifying it becomes to have
any area where
you've fallen short exposed to the light.
Often and yet certainly not
always; the infrastructure that surrounds leadership in a typical church is
predisposed to side in favor of a leader; sadly even if gross sin is involved.
I must concede though that the tendency to have an inner circle that shields a
pastor is understandable as many endure incredible attacks on a continual basis.
But consider this: the more that leaders operate within a framework of biblical governance the more the protection and anointing will be on
a supernatural level.
Consider that where true biblical governance
exists; it removes the heaviest burdens from leaders as there is a
plurality that bear the burden together and if someone errs in the faith; then
there are others on equal footing that will entreat with humility the one who
has fallen into false doctrine or has erred in some way. Or if they are in
sin; then others with clear authority in the local congregation will be able to
While some may say this statement is a personal
observation; I am convinced that a much higher framework of accountability
should exist for leaders, and the only factor to consider when a leader is in
error, and whether they should be openly rebuked or privately entreated is based
on how widespread there actions effect the care of the Lord's flock.
I believe scripture bears this out as the
influence of elders as an example to the flock is obviously why Paul wrote
saying in 1 Timothy 5:19-20 "Do not receive an
accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses. Those who are
sinning rebuke in the presence of all,
that the rest also may fear."
The process of correcting and restoring a brother
according to Matthew 18:15-19 is entirely different from the action Paul took
when he rebuked Peter in Galatians 2:11-21, and while we need to be aware of
this difference; I am convinced that these types of corrective measures
are best decided upon at the local level by a plurality of leaders.
To clarify this further; in dealing
with the sin of Ananias & Sapphira; clearly it was the authority of
the Holy Spirit working through the yielded vessel of Peter and not the
authority of Peter himself that dealt with that situation. Peter's
apostolic authority was blended within a plurality of other leaders in that
When we couple this example of authority with
the need for accountability among leaders; Peter is probably the best
example as he walked in incredible authority not only in this situation with
Ananias and Sapphira, but also in the accounts of healing others in the passing of
his shadow over the sick. The point is even with all that authority;
since he was still in corruptible flesh; there was still a need to
rebuke him in Galatia; as Peter then - like all of us today; still needed a
framework of accountability.
Bringing correction to a leader who may have sin
in his life is just one of the reasons why it is
so critical that we re-examine and discuss the realm of authority that
leadership has in the body of Christ so that we do not carry our past
In establishing a framework
for biblical governance; we must have the fortitude to
launch into what may be experientially unknown to
many; trusting in the Spirit of
the Lord to lead us into truer expressions of His government
as it is found in His Word, and
NOT in the framework of ecclesiastical traditions
that have choked the life out of the body of Christ for years. I have been thoroughly convinced over the years that where
biblical government does not exist; the justice of the Lord's ways becomes
perverted in the hearts of men.
Understand the bottom line in all of this is that when this
justice of the Lord is perverted; the Holy Spirit will withdraw the anointing of
God ... every time. This anointing for victory spoken
about in the part 1 on governance clearly requires a biblical order
that allows for due process when grievances between brethren arise.
As we endeavor to move
towards a biblical framework of government within the church; we need to
recognize that if our response in dealing with these issues simply attempts to
fix what is broken; without addressing foundational concerns then we will end up
justifying much of what is wrong.
The problem hindering the
application of necessary changes lies with the fact that once you build the house, you can't lift the
house in the air in order to replace the foundation. In other words it is
more than the typical tendency to resist change.
While the obstacles hindering
biblical government in an existing church have more to do with what is already
established or accepted practice; the tendency of many within the house
church movement has been
to totally throw out any attempt at true biblical structure.
While one obviously cannot
include all house churches in this statement; I believe most house churches
include some people who have been severely wounded in the traditional churches
they have left. Since this is true; we should be careful not to
blame them for wanting to avoid any semblance of what they came out of.
Like those believers in the
institutional church; their resistance to the government of Jesus Christ is not
purposeful or willful; instead it is simply a sign that they
are tired of the political posturing they have endured. However; not
moving towards a biblical framework leaves them exposed to other spiritual
realities and they will over time also fall prey to the schemes of satan.
As I have been in the house
church movement for several years; I truly do have compassion for those in the
house church movement in there reluctance to partake in any form of governance;
as I like them have been run through the mill and sifted like wheat.
When I talk about resistance
to the government of Jesus Christ;
what I mean is simply this:
satan cannot create anything; he can only counterfeit what God has ordained or
created. Over the centuries the devil has crafted many counterfeits of
biblical government. Believers all over have been wounded by these
imitations of Christ's government...
For many; the extent of these
wounds is such that genuine expression of biblical government is also resisted
as it feelstoo much like the counterfeit they have been
wounded in. Walking outside the framework of biblical government causes
the Lord's people to typically gravitate towards one of two extremes:
1) We either find ourselves in the rigid
traditions of the "old wineskin"
2) We take the
"new wine"of our recently discovered freedom and set our
own ground rules.
Whether we structurally operate within an
old wineskin or we have no wineskin at all; the tragic result is the same:
wine is spilled."
The only solution we have
alluded to already is that which Jesus instructed: "New wine must be put into new wineskins."
This graphic representation below shows that
believers in Christ are operating somewhere within one of the two extremes
The word from Amos 7:8 says
"Behold I am setting a plumb line In the midst of My
people Israel; I will not pass by them
The following examples show the spiritual consequences
that manifest as a result of moving away from the Lord's Plumb Line.
Some may rightly argue that these prevailing conditions while
obviously falling short of biblical standards have been allowed by God literally over a
period of centuries, yet the time we are living in could also be
compared to the time when Paul stood on Mar's hill
in Athens... and declared: "Truly, these times of
ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent..."
The one extreme represents
the Religious Bondage¹
that is present in every church that has not
built according to the pattern"
seen in the book of Acts.
Only a house built on the Rock of
Christ will withstand the wind and the rains that are coming.
More specifically a
congregation that is experiencing Religious Bondage¹
no apostolic / prophetic foundation
2. is pastor dominant
3. haslimited or no exposure to other five fold equipping ministries
4. has no
plurality of elders who genuinely meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3
5. has no deacons
present to oversee or look to the welfare of
those in need.
Historically or over time; these congregations have resisted the increase of
Christ’s government and the pattern established by the apostles of the first century. They stand in violation of the Word of God
they claim to follow; holding the truth in unrighteousness.
a result of the spiritual realities in this present age; these leadership structures regardless of their affiliations or 'spiritual' claims
will many times govern thru control and manipulation and are
part of the spiritual infrastructure that is, or is becoming mystery Babylon.
THE FALLING AWAY
On the opposite
end of the spectrum; there are also those who have
‘come out of her’
who are in many ways experiencing a False Freedom
from Religion.²These should be
commended for seeing the truth of the religious harlotry they were part of.
However in their
zeal to leave the bondage of man made religions; they have moved beyond the
plumb line of God's word where they
"reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries."
In resisting biblical governance because of the
abuse they've experienced in the past; the are still reacting to the religious
bondage they were under; hence the observation that they are now experiencing a False Freedom
Freedom in Christ ³
thenis experienced by those who
are able to receive the increase of Christ's government; as the Spirit of the Lord is
THE WISE MASTER-BUILDER of
Remember; we have all been
sheep going astray..."
(but now we are being called to return)
"...to the Shepherd and Overseer of
The adherence to biblical
governance is in fact a recognition of this "plumb line that the Lord is once
again setting forth as a standard for building His house. Spiritually
speaking; if the army of the Lord is not set within the framework of HIS design;
and if we do not take our place on the battlefield according to HIS command; we
will find ourselves continually harassed and confused by the schemes of the
As was previously stated: another way of looking at the
governance by the Spirit over the church;
is again reflected in the genius of the U.S.
constitution as there is a clear separation of powers between the three branches
of government holding abuse by one branch in check. While some of the details
of this were already shared in the
section on governance; remember the wisdom the framers of the constitution
drew from was in fact found in the Word of God.
In recalling this; it is my contention that the most
effective secular government in history up to this point has been that of the
U.S.; at least from the perspective of securing liberty and at the same time
insuring the rule of law. In stating this I am not only acknowledging
the wisdom of the framers of the U.S. constitution; I am emphasizing the
anointing that flowed from the word of God and blessed this country as a result
of drawing from the deep well of His Word.
I emphasize this anointing and blessing because it is also equally my assertion that the most effective form
of church government was the one found in the book of Acts. Interestingly
this government also had a clear separation of authority into the biblical roles
of elders, deacons, and five-fold ministers; and
also flowed from the same scripture; the
pattern again being set forth in Isaiah 33:22
Most importantly... in drawing from this; there was a clear
recognition of the Messiah of Israel as believers in
the book of Acts had a clear vision
of WHO the KING IS! They understood the AUTHORITY of JESUS CHRIST as the HEAD of the body.
In addressing the subject of
biblical governance among the Lord's people in the earth; we must always
acknowledge the fact that we are dealing with aspects of God's character as
reflected or formed within the heart of His people as each of us have by the
Spirit been given a measure of Him.. And while we can discuss the diverse aspects of the Lord as our Judge, Lawgiver,
we must also understand the overlap of each aspect as first and foremost we need
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is
one! You shall
love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all
So then even though we can
see a separation of oversight or authority in the roles of
elders, deacons, and
five fold ministers; we need to remember
"For by one Spirit we
were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or
free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit"
(1 Corinthians 12:13).
In other words: while there
may be a range of responsibilities handled by different leaders within a local
church; Christ is not divided, and neither should leadership of a congregation
The Intent of Spiritual Authority
While the stratum of authority that was shown
earlier as we briefly examined the Anglican Church of England should indeed
be seen as legitimately existing in a biblical community; we should remember
that this should be a flexible wineskin; not
the rigid lording over that was demonstrated, and most assuredly not in a
form that wrests spiritual authority away from the
As there clearly are echelons of authority
within the government of a local ecclesia; we need to first understand the
purpose and intent of leadership if we are to make disciples as Jesus
commanded us to do.
As we consider the tremendous population
explosion of the last 100+ years we can see that one failure of the church
has been the inability to multiply leaders in a way that keeps pace with the
sheer numerical growth. This failure to multiply and equip leaders
directly contributes to the inability of the church in fulfilling the "great
commission" of Christ.
Hopefully this statement will help simplify what I
am saying: The greater the perceived authority ascribed to an
individual; the greater the responsibility of that individual to
1) be a servant of all, and
2) be an example to the flock.
This type of leader will make room for other leaders to be developed and
released, and as this numerical and spiritual
growth in leadership occurs; the perpetual nature of this kind of disciple
making will continually cause multiplication within the body and facilitate
the spreading of the gospel at a pace that rivals that of the early church.
Like any other leader spoken of in the New
Testament including Paul; there role becomes one primarily of advice and
consent; not one of dictating decisions and strategy to others with less
So then as we take a snapshot of biblical
governance in the local ecclesia; we need to understand that while various
levels exist within this governing counsel; they serve in separate roles and
yet are brought together under one common
objective, and that being the
feeding or shepherding of the flock of the Lord.
This shepherding role of tending to the needs
in the body of Christ is shared by all servant leaders within a local
assembly; whether one is a bishop, elder, five-fold minister (apostle,
prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher), or deacon. And as previously
shared; each of these roles fall within the governmental attributes of the
Lord as our judge, lawgiver and king.
Qualifications for Biblical Servant-Leaders (Part One)
As we continue this dialogue and the various
areas of responsibility within leadership becomes even more apparent; it is
also necessary to address the different requirements for a believer to be
set into a governmental servant role.
If we are to accurate represent this; any
successful attempt must be willing to set aside pre-conceived ideas,
traditional models, and prejudices. The only factors determining
qualifications for servant-leaders would be 1)
textual evidence within scripture, and 2)
any event recorded in the text of scripture that sets a precedent.
Such an event would be weighted against any restrictions or qualifications outlined in the text in
order to determine whether we have a true precedent or merely an exception
to the textual evidence.
ELDERS / BISHOPS
For the LORD is our
Paul in dealing with fleshly contentions in
the Corinthian church made this distinction in addressing the need for
"For there must also be factions among you, that those
who are approved may be recognized among you."
(1 Cor. 11:19)
So then the first general principle is that
God has given leaders to help bring direction to the body of Christ,
and believers have been encouraged to allow themselves to be persuaded by
the prayerful counsel of these leaders.
As previously alluded to; biblical leadership
should reflect the various aspects of the Lord's governance spoken of
in Isaiah 33:22 and made mention of throughout the old and new testament.
While the terminology describing the leadership roles that men have
walked out have changed over the years; the primary functions
have remained the same.
Because of the layers of tradition
surrounding what constitutes an elder or bishop which stem from multiple
denominational and non-denominational expressions; much effort will be
devoted to outlining the qualifications of elders / bishops. Before
taking a look at what the biblical qualifications for these roles are; there
should be a general sense also drawn from the Word of God concerning the purpose
of this role.
Deuteronomy 16:18-19says "You
shall appoint judges
in all your gates, which the LORD your
God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people
with just judgment. You shall not pervert justice; you shall not
show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise
and twists the words of the righteous."
In short the purpose of elders / bishops in the body of Christ is to work
along side five fold ministers and deacons to insure that the justice of the
Lord is not perverted. They
are part of the biblical framework that will insure due process of any and
all grievances as they arise or are expressed. They are
also a resource that provides advice and consent to the local body of Christ
as we seek to walk in the command to love one another, and fulfill the great
commission of Christ.
'judges' is the Hebraic word
(Strong's H8199) "a primitive root; to judge, that is, pronounce
sentence (for or against); by implication to vindicate or punish; by
extension to govern; passively to litigate"
means (Strong's H7860) "active
participle of an otherwise unused root probably meaning to write;
properly a scribe
that is, (by analogy or implication) an official superintendent or
magistrate:—officer, overseer, ruler."
Whether the phrase was
of Israel, elders
of my people, elders
of Judah, or some other context for
eldership in the Old Testament; the roles all point to the same Hebraic word;
"zấgấn"which means (Strong's H2205) "old:—aged,
ancient (man), elder (-est), old (man, men and . . . women), senator."
The reason for bringing the word
"elder" into the
discussion is that while there are numerous references to
of Israel, elders
of my people..." a substantial number
of references to elders in the old testament places them in (this, that, or
his) CITY... [in all your gates](See Deuteronomy 19:12, 21:1-6, 21:19-20,
22:15-18, 25:7-9, Joshua 20:4, Judges 8:16, 11:5-11, Ruth 4:1-11, 1
Samuel 11:3, 16:4, 1 Kings 21:8-11, Lamentations 5:14.
In the context of being elders in certain
cities; these elders judged matters
of that city. Also in the times when Israel or Judah had a king then
you see the reference to elders
(of Israel, of my people, of Judah)
advising or consulting with the king in
matters where judgment
was called for. Whether it was the judgment of a criminal or civil
matter in a city or whether the context was advise and consent serving with
a king; one of the overall function of elders throughout the Old Testament
was to serve as judges
over a wide variety of matters.
Historically and biblically as we move from
the time of the Hasmonian dynasty (the silent years to the church); to the
time period including Christ and on until the end of the second temple
also served within the Sanhedrin in a higher
court over the affairs of the Jews. One does not need to look any
further than the illegal trial of Christ or the authority the Sanhedrin attempted to wield
over the apostles in order to see their role as
fact; the phrase "scribes and Pharisees"
is even reminiscent of the earlier term
earlier in Deuteronomy 16:18.
While the role of elders serving within the
Sanhedrin is a departure from the original intent; it is nonetheless worth
mentioning in order to demonstrate the consistency in which the Jews looked
for or relied upon this type of leader.
AS we come then to the New Testament we find
that the English word "elder"
in Greek isthe word --
G4245) Comparative of presbus (elderly); older; as
noun, a senior; specifically an Israelite Sanhedrist (also
figuratively, member of the celestial council) or Christian
"presbyter":—elder (-est), old.
While we will look at a number of references
we should begin with one that shows forth a
biblical pattern in both the old and new testaments. In Titus 1:5 the
apostle Paul tells Titus "For this reason I
left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking,
and appoint elders in every city
as I commanded you..."
This reflects back to the command given by
Moses "You shall appoint
officers in all
your gates, which the LORD your God gives you,
according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just
In all your gates... in every city...
Clearly the pattern is the same; the
only difference being that instead of the elders serving as judges over an
entire city of Israel; the appointing of elders by Titus as instructed by
Paul was for the governing of the church in each city; their oversight and
specifically for the ecclesia in a limited geographic area.
Bishops - ep-is'-kop-os
- a superintendent, that is, Christian officer in
general charge of a (or the) church (literally or figuratively):—bishop,
Out of all the definitions given in this
study; this one is I believe driven more by traditional thinking than by the
meaning of the word. While the Greek word Epi
(G1909) speaks of a distribution of authority that touches many others; the
next part of the word is skopos (G4649)
speaks of concealment.
the traditional viewpoint of this word; we are left with a governmental role
of clear authority having the ability and liberty to touch many lives, and
yet one that remains hidden in the midst of a larger plurality; again in a
role that encourages and exhorts through example; not by lording over
enough; the traditional
viewpoint given as the definition for ep-is'-kop-os is more reminiscent of what Jesus observed in
the leaders of Israel: "But
all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries
broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best
places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the
marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not
be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all
Before we dig into each of the details
concerning the qualifications for a bishop; let us first make sure that we
do not set aside or overlook what Paul's instruction to Titus made obvious;
and that is - a bishop was an older man: Ch. 1:5-7
"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should
set in order the things that are lacking, and
appoint elders in every city as I commanded
you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful
children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.
For a bishop must be
blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not
given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of
what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the
faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine,
both to exhort and convict those who contradict."
'Appoint elders...' - (Hebrew)
ancient (man), elder (-est), old (man, men and . . . women), senator."
"presbuteros" Comparative of presbus (elderly); older; as
noun, a senior; specifically an Israelite Sanhedrist or Christian
"presbyter":—elder (-est), old.
'For a bishop must be...'
the implication of this phrase in Titus 1:7
as it is clearly connected in the text with the directive to appoint elders
obviously indicates that a bishop is
elderly. How old is
determined as we look at the rest of the qualifications. We will in an
attempt to look at various nuances in the qualifications for a bishop draw
from the qualifications that Paul outlined for two younger apostles;
Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3. I will list parallel references from
Titus in red and
from Timothy in blue;
followed by any applicable comments.
"if a man is blameless..."
"A bishop then must be blameless..."
When I think of blameless; I think of the
description of Job "...and that man was
blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil."
"the husband of one wife"
(same wording in both references)
This is plain enough and yet I share it to
reinforce the point that a bishop MUST
only be an (older)
MAN. While we must be careful to
stay within the confines of scripture alone; allowing scripture to interpret
scripture; I offer this note as an aside: My personal belief in
researching extensively the second temple period of Israel is that Paul was
not only reinforcing the requirement that a bishop is male, but he was also
interested in excluding a certain sect of Jews who were continually trying
to make a case for circumcision of the gentiles. They were from the
school of a certain prominent teacher named Shammai and according to
historical records; they also believed in and practiced polygamy.
"...having faithful children not accused of
(indulgence in sensual pleasure; intemperance) or insubordination
(rebellious, mutinous, factious, seditious)."
"...one who rules his own house well, having his
children in submission with all reverence. (for if a man does not know
how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)"
Ask yourself this question: What does
younger children behaving a certain way have to do with being able to stand
before a congregation as a leader among them. Answer:
Nothing... (since the grace to stand as a leader
in your family has really not been tested fully until your children are
dealing with life issues themselves). I believe this scripture hints
towards age again as a man's fathering of a seven year old is vastly different
from the role of advice and consent that a father has with a son or daughter
in their twenties or older. Being able to mentor and offer guidance to
adult children about there decisions in life is clearly more related to
being able to take care of the church of God than it is to being able to
ground a ten year old from riding their bike. The point is I
believe the requirement is related to adult children; making anyone walking
in the role of a bishop
as one who is an elderly married man.
vigilant - KJV
(Strong's G3524) neôphalios
sober, that is, (figuratively) circumspect
(exercising moderation and self-restraint)
(sound in mind) just, holy,
sober-minded, of good behavior,
These denote a seriousness or steadfastness
in the faith of Christ
same in both references -
(Strong's G5382) philoxenos fondof
guests, that is, hospitable:—given to (lover of, use)
Another very plain meaning; you love having
people in your home; whether it be for ministry, simply to build
relationships, for home church services... what I think of is the
"son of peace"
houses Jesus told the disciples to stay and minister from when he sent them
out (see Luke 10:1-9). These types of men who will (along with
their wife) open up their homes are the kind of men who will be used to
build the kingdom of God in an area.
See "son of
not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money
(same wording in both references)
greedy - excessively
desirous of acquiring or possessing, especially wishing to possess more than
what one needs or deserves.*
that is, arrogant:—self-willed.
(see G2237) hēdonē sensual
delight; by implication desire:—lust, pleasure.
not a novice, lest being
puffed up with pride he fall into the same
condemnation as the devil. "novice"
(Strong's 3504) neophutos newlyplanted, that is, (figuratively) a youngconvert.
Being self-willed speaks of one who for all
intents and purposes may have tremendous vision from the Lord, but lacks the
restraint necessary to seek the wisdom of a greater counsel before
proceeding with an assignment that even the Lord may have given. Now I
realize that sometimes in the heat of a battle it is not possible to seek
the counsel of others and in those situations a brother must react quickly;
not always having time to seek insight from others. I am also not
speaking about getting permission from others. If the Lord has spoken
to you then clearly; you must obey the Spirit of the Lord. However
being self-willed speaks of an arrogance that one continually operates from
where they deem the advise of others as having little value; never
considering that such counsel may help them walk out what they are called by
the Lord to accomplish.
Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who
are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
These speak of a self restraint that has been
displayed over the years in the community at large; not having excessive
personal debt would be one example.
holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught,
that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who
able to teach
While I do not think one can be too dogmatic
about this; the general sense is that this part of the qualifications hints
at a bishop having served in the role of a five-fold minister at some point;
otherwise how would one know if one being considered in this role is
"able to teach"
As we have carefully examined this; the only
difference one can see between an ep-is'-kop-os (bishop) and a
to be details of their life circumstance. Some examples that do not
necessitate a review of the above qualifications are: Both
are older men and yet bishops are married
with children, while an elder for the sake of the gospel may have been
called by the Lord
to remain single, or perhaps he was married and him and his wife remained
childless. The point of this is to simply say that there appears to be
no authoritative difference between a bishop and elder; rather the
difference appears to be experiential, or the circumstances of ones life .
to be in a governmental role of elder or bishop calls for some of the
qualifications applying to both as for example you would not want an elderly
man serving in a governmental role if he was a novice or new believer in the
faith. Just as obvious an elder or
must also be blameless; demonstrating that the old nature does
not dominate his life; as it would clearly be unacceptable to have an elder
taking part of the oversight of a church who was
We must also remember to recognize or defer
to the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit concerning the appointment of
governing elders. Even if someone appears to meet the
qualifications of an elder or bishop; they are not automatically set forth
as a governing elder. According to all textual evidence given; the
biblical pattern set forth in the appointment of elders appears to have been through an apostolic or foundational five fold ministry
as they labored
among a local congregation.
In other words foundational five fold ministry
appointed elders in every city. In direct contrast to this;
established elders or bishops who were know as the "presbuterion"
imparted to, prayed over and released five fold ministers as
1 Timothy 4:14 says "Do not neglect the gift
that is in you, (Timothy - a five fold
minister) which was given to you by prophecy
with the laying on of the hands of the eldership
This word "presbuterion"
(G4244 Strong's) simply means "the order of
While we will discuss the apostolic call and
function in greater detail in the next section; suffice it to say for now
that this one clear check and balance helped to curtail abusive leadership
as one aspect of leadership could not perpetuate itself, but required the
advice and consent of the other in order to numerically grow its ranks.
Qualifications for Biblical Servant-Leaders (Part Two)
FIVE FOLD MINISTERS
For the LORD is our
While we will discuss the purpose of five
fold ministers in greater detail in a separate section; I believe a basic
statement concerning their purpose should be put forth at this point. As
Ephesians 4:12 says that the Lord gave these gifts for
"the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry;"
I believe it is a straightforward enough text
to say that the tools necessary for the body of Christ to fulfill
"the work of ministry"
involves giving the word of God rightly
divided to those believers in need of being discipled. In the process
of five fold ministers being "lawgivers"
there is also the impartation of necessary
disciplines so that the one being trained learns to rightly divide the word
of God for themselves; thus making the transition from a disciple to a
disciple-maker. I believe it is these disciple-makers who
IF they are continually obedient
in this role; they will gravitate towards a role within the five fold
ministry as they will have been counted
faithful (see 1 Timothy 1:12)
Since the criterion allowing someone to serve
the body of Christ as a five fold
ministers is less rigid; we should be certain that the textual
evidence allows for a differentiation between five fold ministers and
elders; especially since there is clear textual evidence within the New Testament
an overlapping in these roles. For
example: while Peter and John were counted among the Lords initial twelve
apostles (i.e.; five fold ministers); they both in their respective epistles referred to themselves as
elders (see 1 Peter 5:1, 1 John 1:1 & 2 John 1:1).
Just as clearly though; there is distinction
made between apostles
in the counsel of Jerusalem (see Acts 15:2, 6, 22, and 16:4). And even
though Timothy appointed elders; as a five fold minister sent by Paul to
various churches; we must acknowledge that Timothy clearly was not
an elder himself since the apostle Paul encouraged this younger minister in 1
Timothy 4:12 "Let no one despise your youth..."
So then: while not required by the textual evidence; elders
can be five fold ministers, and five fold
ministers are not required to be elders.
As this subject is departing from accepted traditional viewpoints; I must
stress again the authority of textual evidence within Holy Scripture; yet
hopefully in a way that still invites dialogue.
While I cannot dogmatically state this first
point; I ask that you would consider that because we are dealing with the
equipping gifts of the Lord Jesus Christ; as they were measured unto
mankind; my first inclination is to say
that even Christ - as He was "in all points
tempted as we are, yet without sin"
- even Christ waited on His ministry until He was thirty years of age.
Do not misunderstand; I am not saying that a
young person should forego an accredited education within the community of
faith, and I am not even holding out the age of thirty as a rigid threshold.
I am only stressing that such an education (whether it is accredited
according to the world or not); does not automatically qualify
one for a governmental role of leadership within the ecclesia. I
believe the focus after education should be that of fulfilling the role of a
servant within the body of Christ; as it is the very nature of this choice
to serve, and the experiences that come as a result of serving others that
will equip one to lead.
This I believe lines up with Christ's
definition of leadership found in Mark 9:35, and as one allows the Holy
Spirit to grow them into leadership through service to others; they will
in their leadership role later in life; equip others to serve.
season of service to others and growth in the ways of the Lord is I believe
what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he wrote in 1 Timothy 1:12 -
"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me,
because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry..."
I believe then that first characteristic of a
five fold minister is that they would be counted faithful by the Lord Jesus
Christ. (This faithfulness I believe
will also be recognized by the body of Christ locally).
Secondarily I see that according to Paul's
admonishment to Timothy that a five fold minister should
"Be diligent (study)
to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does
not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
The second characteristic of a five fold
minister is that they are clearly a student of the Holy Scriptures; ones who
take heed to themselves and to the doctrine.
Thirdly a five fold minister should be set forth in ministry as a direct
result of being separated into this calling by the Holy Spirit (see Acts 13)
and because in recognition of their faithfulness they have been set forth
and imparted to by the "presbuterion"
as again 1 Timothy 4:14 says "Do not neglect the gift
that is in you,
which was given to you by prophecy with the
laying on of the hands of the eldership
Now let us examine the call of God on a five fold
minister as a member of the community of faith, and how this calling appears to transcend a
number of barriers. After making the point that we as a result of
being justified by faith are no longer under the tutor of the law; Paul in
Galatians 3:26-29 says "For you are all sons of
God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized
into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there
is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all
one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are
Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise."
In other words; members of the body of
Christ with a heavenly calling as a five fold minister we are not limited
based upon our station in life before we knew the Lord as someone who is a
Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female can have equipping roles in
the body of Christ.
Again in order to hold this discussion and
maintain integrity; we must remember that the only factors determining
qualifications for servant-leaders should be 1)
textual evidence within scripture, and 2)
any event recorded in the text of scripture that sets a precedent. Such an
event would be weighted against any restrictions or qualifications outlined in the text in
order to determine whether we have a true precedent or merely an exception
to the textual evidence.
Since there is no apparent controversy with
one being Jewish or Gentile in order to be a five fold minister, and the
issue of being a slave or a free citizen is a highly unlikely scenario; we
will address the obvious controversy surrounding gender.
First we must
look at applicable scriptures to see if a woman is explicitly or even
implicitly excluded from this role and then we must examine whether there are any
precedent setting textual evidences. The first scripture that should
be considered is located in Ephesians 4:4-12 as these verses actually
introduce the thought of the five fold ministry as ones with an equipping
function in the body of Christ:
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were
called in one hope of your calling; 5one
Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God
and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7But to each one of us grace was given
according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
8Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”
this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended
into the lower parts of the earth? 10He
who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He
might fill all things.)
11And He Himself gave some
to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and
teachers, 12for the equipping of the
saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ..."
As we look at the tenor of this text in
verses 4-6 and see the references to "one
body, and one Spirit, one
Lord, one faith, one
baptism, one God and Father of all, who
is above all,
and through all,
and in you all;
we understand that Christ is not
divided, and we can see through the Greek word for
Strong's G3956) which means - the whole... as many as... whatsoever, whole,
whosoever - that verses 4-6 have the same thought as Galatians 3:28 -
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither
slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are
in Christ Jesus." This
being clearly obvious; there is only one phrase within Ephesians 4:4-11 that
even hints at gender; at least in English:“When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and
gave gifts to men.”
The Greek word for
men in this reference is Strong's
"man-faced, that is, a human being:—certain, man."
In other words Jesus gave these gifts to mankind, and more specifically He
gave these equipping gifts to certain ones within mankind i.e., the body of
Christ. While there are over 500 New Testament references to the word
translated into English as men
or man; I will only share a few
applications of the word in plural form: (Matthew 4:19) -
"Then He said to them,
"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."
- (Matthew 5:13, 16, 19) -
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses
its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be
thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."
--- "...Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
--- "...Whoever therefore breaks one of the
least of these commandments, and teaches men
so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and
teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
(Matthew 6:14a, 18a,) -
"For if you forgive men
their trespasses..." --- "...so that you do not
appear to men to be fasting..."
While there are singular uses of the Greek
translated as man
in English; the general tenor is still a
being:— or a certain man.
In contrast to
this is the Greek word
meaning - "A primary word (compare G444); a man (properly as
an individual male):—fellow, husband, man,
sir." This word is used almost 200
times in the New Testament and scriptures that directly contribute to this
discussion and yet show the general tenor of the word would be:
"But I want you to know that the head of every
man is Christ, the head of woman is man,
and the head of Christ is God."
(1 Corinthians 11:3)
scripture that indirectly impacts this discussion; is 1 Timothy 3:2a
"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband
of one wife..."
The explicit liberty which makes room for a
woman to serve in a leadership role as a five fold minister cannot in my
estimation allow us to side step the equally explicit limitation placed on a
woman where the role of bishop is concerned. In simple words; based on
the overwhelming authority of the textual evidence; a woman could
never be appointed to the role of
a bishop (ep-is'-kop-os)
I personally do not fully
understand why this limitation is clearly given; I nonetheless must settle
my thoughts concerning this and submit to the word of God.
Since I have
made a distinction between bishops and elders based on textual nuances; let
me clearly state that all evidence points to only men serving in the role of
elders as well. When we look at the function of elders serving in a
role as judges;
certainly we cannot ignore Deborah in the book of Judges. However with
the overwhelming textual evidence repeatedly
pointing to elders (judges)
as men; I must conclude that the service of Deborah as a judge in Israel
should be viewed as an
exception to the textual evidence; not a precedent setting event.
Before examining any possible textual
restrictions to this conclusion concerning biblically acceptable roles for
women; let's briefly list again what must be part of a five fold minister's
1. They would be counted faithful by the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. They have been diligent to present themselves
"approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing
the word of truth."
3. They have been separated by the Holy Spirit for the ministry and this
calling has in turn been affirm or verified by the "presbuterion"
Gender - Apostolic Authority & Local Autonomy
As there is one scripture which could sway
any conclusion concerning women five fold ministers; it would be an insult
to all reading this to simply bypass it. However in light of the
overwhelming textual evidence repeatedly showing Jew and Gentile, slave and
free, male and female as being one in Christ, and having equal value in our
Father's Kingdom; we must ask ourselves is this one scripture simply an
exception to the textual evidence or does it set a precedent? Or is it
as I suspect simply the counsel of a wise apostolic minister who is
cognizant of the
that surrounded him and limited even his authority as an apostle of the
Silence in the Church
1 Corinthians 14:26-35
it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a
teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things
be done for edification. 27If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there
be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.
28But if there is no interpreter,let
him keep silent in church, and let him speak to
himself and to God. 29Let two or three prophets speak, and let the
others judge. 30But if anything is revealed to another who
sits by, let the first keep silent. 31For you can all prophesy one by one,
that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32And the spirits of
the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33For God is not the
author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
your women keep silent
in the churches, for
they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the
law also says. 35And if they want to learn something, let them
ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
First of all the context of
the above verses concerns the gift of prophecy, & the context of what is
underlined were guidelines so that the prophetic moving of the Spirit within the
meeting were not interrupted.
To explain verse 34-35 we
need to look at historical setting as well. At the time Paul wrote this, the
church met publicly and from house to house. In the public meetings the people
often met in synagogues as at that time there were “many
myriads" or tens of thousands of Jews who have believed on the Lord.”
In a synagogue setting the
men sat on one side of the room and the women on the other; copying the basic
pattern of the temple as there was a court for the women.
Also at this time the
practice was to send only the males to school for formal religious education.
The only thing Paul was
communicating to the women was (paraphrasing) ‘don’t
interrupt the moving of the Holy Spirit in the meetings… if there is something
you don’t understand wait and ask your husband at home.’ What was
shameful was also that the more a woman asked questions of her husband, the more
it brought shame as it exposed the husband’s neglect in sharing the truths that
he would have learned in school.
This thought also
demonstrated Kingdom order concerning the authority of the husband as head of
the house and can be clearly seen as we look at Ephesians 5:25-29:
“Husbands, love your wives,
just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26that
He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing
of water by the word, 27that He might
present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such
thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28So husbands
ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves
himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and
cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
Back to 1 Corinthians 14:
part of a husband's obligation in loving his wife was such that he was to teach
her at home. Jesus in John 17 prayed in part "Sanctify
them by Your truth. Your word is truth..." As
addressing the spiritual obligation of a husband; it is clear that part of this
to wash her with the water of God's word; showing forth his love for her;
imitating Christ's love for the church.
He was tolift her up; having a total
commitment to raising her up in the faith to stand beside him. A wife who had
to continually ask her husband questions at a meeting of the church exposed her
husband’s neglect in this area and brought shame upon him. While this situation
of neglect needed to be addressed, I believe Paul’s comment reflected that the
Holy Spirit did not want to shame a man publicly over this.
In light of this Kingdom order and the
cultural inclinations that existed in the time of Paul and have been present
during most of the history of the church; we can now look at some scriptures
that reflect upon Paul's counsel as an apostle. Remember; these
cultural realities not only surrounded him, but they were also part of the
daily lives of the people in the churches he was planting.
As we examine this; let me also interject
that there were places in Paul's letters where he taught irrefutable &
unchangeable doctrine, and there were other places where he interjected his
sincere opinion with the full wait of his experience as an apostle and yet
left room for the people to work through situations and find the heart of
God for themselves concerning a matter.
Let us look further at what Paul says about
women and their liberty; or lack thereof as five fold ministers. In 1
Timothy 2:8-13 Paul writes - "I
desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands,
without wrath and doubting; 9in like manner also, that the women
adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with
braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10but, which
is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11Let
a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12And
I do not permit a woman to teach or to
have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13For Adam was
formed first, then Eve.
Clearly; as you shall soon see; the phrase
I do not permit
reflects Paul's assessment concerning the limits of his apostolic authority.
Even though it may seem like a total twist; I
must state clearly that I agree fully
with what is stated as I do not permit a woman to teach either. Let me
work through the text a little deeper to present a full picture.
Going back to the scripture in Galatians 3:28
we read in part "...there is neither male nor
female; for you are all one in Christ
Jesus." The Greek word for
female is "thēlus"
(Strong's G2338) which simply means —"female,
woman." In contrast to this the phrase
"I do not permit a
woman to teach or to
have authority over a man..."
the word woman
in Greek is the word
— "a woman; specifically
In light of this
textual evidence I believe it is easy to see that Paul was saying that even
as an apostle he did not have the authority
to permit another man's wife to teach. As he explicitly taught in
Ephesians 5:22-24 -- "Wives,
submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For
the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ
is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24Therefore,
just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be
to their own husbands in everything."
Can you imagine the turmoil that would have
been created had Paul called forth women into ministry without the consent
of her husband? Clearly no minister of the gospel has the liberty to
step into a marital relationship in this fashion, and by saying
"I do not permit"
Paul was removing himself from those types of scenarios and
communicating this same caution to Timothy.
As we continue to examine this issue;
remember; according to textual evidence presented thus
far; one conclusion that can be stated is that elders / bishops in the
body of Christ must be men, and yet based on what has just been presented
five-fold ministers can be either men or women. This conclusion
carries additional weight when we consider that the following event recorded
in the text of scripture does in fact set a precedent.
Romans 16:7 says
Andronicus and Junia, (a female name)
my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who
also were in Christ before me."
Cambridge annotated Study bible commentary on Romans 16:7 is as follows
and Junia. Mentioned only here in the New Testament. Junia is a common
Roman name for a woman, while "Junias" as a man’s name apparently is completely unknown.("my
= My relatives.
I.e. fellow-Jews, as in
Romans 9:3.Prominent among the apostles.
This phrase can mean that this man and this woman were counted to be among those
who were called "apostles."
The question then is simply
this: If the apostles of the early church recorded a woman "among
the apostles" who are we to exclude a fellow
minister of the Gospel from important decisions facing a congregation? The
question of a woman's leadership function in a congregation should
never be determined by social norms, but only by guiding principles in God's
Word and by the witness of the Holy Spirit.
In light of this text we can
see that modern examples of female leadership would be Aimee Semple
McPherson, who the Lord used in the early 1900's to begin a move of God leading
to the founding of the Four Square Church (some say she was an evangelist,
others say she was apostolic - the point is she was definitely a five-fold
minister). Another modern era example of this would be Kathryn
We have now examined textual evidences that
demonstrate an overlap of male five fold ministers who can also serve in an
additional capacity later in life as elders or bishops provided they meet
the strict qualifications for these roles. Remember though that elders
are not required
to be five-fold ministers, or this requirement would be in 1Timothy 3 and
We have also looked at less stringent and yet
clearly marked out qualifications for the role of five fold ministers that
provide a framework for younger believers to be separated into a life of
service to the body. At the risk of being redundant we will list these
again with additional comments that reflect what has been documented
concerning the restrictions and liberty placed upon women serving as five
1. They would be counted faithful by the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:12).
- If you are a single woman then the Lord
Himself is your Husband. If you live in your father's house then
according to Numbers 30:3-5 you are still subject to his authority. If
you are married; then obviously as has just been discussed your husband's
authority in this matter carries great weight.
2. They have been diligent to present themselves
"approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing
the word of truth."
(2 Timothy 2:15). - Male or female,; married
or single; this obviously is an absolutely clear precept for a five fold
3. They have been separated by the Holy Spirit for five fold ministry and
this calling has in turn been affirm or verified by the "presbuterion"
(1 Timothy 4:14) - In examining this; let's
look at another aspect of 1 Timothy 2:12 as it uncovers one other check and
balance concerning the setting forth of women as fivefold ministers.
Again Paul says - "And I do not permit a woman to teach
or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.""To have"
is the Greek word
(Strong's G831) is which is a combination of a word meaning
"a worker andto act of oneself, that is, (figuratively)
dominate:— usurp authority over."
This additional criterion for a five fold
minister accomplishes two objectives: 1)
It preserves the autonomy of a local congregation and
2) if the
candidate is a woman; being affirmed by a "presbuterion"
that can only be men; makes it
impossible for a woman to usurp especially
since governmental authority (and
responsibility) within a local assembly is according to 1 Timothy is
weighted towards a plurality of elders / bishops.
Qualifications for Biblical Servant-Leaders (Part Three)
deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not
greedy for money, 9holding the mystery of the faith with a pure
conscience. 10But let these also first be tested; then let them serve
as deacons, being found blameless. 11Likewise, their
wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all
things. 12Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their
children and their own houses well. 13For those who have served well
as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith
which is in Christ Jesus.
As the last two segments were I believe quite
exhaustive concerning qualifications for bishops / elders and five fold
ministers; I believe we can safely say that the term
us that the threshold for serving as a deacon is every bit as stringent as
it is for a bishop. I believe though that any significant variances in
textual evidence between the two calling of bishop and deacon should be
noted for the sake of capturing the fullness of what the Holy Spirit
initially birthed in Jerusalem after Pentecost.
The first significant variance is the phrase
"let these also first be tested; then let them
serve..." This speaks of
the congregational input necessary to appoint deacons as Acts 6:3 also shows
the first deacons were chosen by the people and set in place by the
apostles. The phrase also implies youth as older brothers or sisters
in Christ would not need to be tested
as their conduct over the years would have
already proved their worthiness.
The second phrase which is a
departure from the scripture concerning elders is the phrase
"Likewise, their wives must be..."
This clearly indicates that the role
of deacon could also be fulfilled by a woman. I will leave it
to you the reader to take note of the many servants (deacons) which Paul
addresses in his various epistles usually in the salutation towards the end of
Many of these greetings to deacons or
deaconess (see Phoebe in Romans 16:1) do not mention spouses which is also the
case for the initial seven deacons appointed in Acts 6:3. I believe the textual evidence suggests
that a deacon could either be single or as the text of 1 Timothy 3:11
married couples could also serve in this calling together.
For the Lord is our King
We must remember at the outset of this
section on deacons that in the days of the monarchs in Israel; it was the
were responsible for the common welfare of the people. In turn they
appointed ones who would serve
in the court of the King; administering the affairs of the kingdom...
In like manner; the KING of KINGS
has also appointed servants to administer
mercy in His kingdom as well.
The old saying 'last but not least' is a
gross understatement when it comes to the importance of the biblical role of
deacons in the body of Christ. James wrote that
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father
is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep
oneself unspotted from the world."
If we as God's people are not showing forth
His Mercy to the fatherless and widows; then everything
we do is somehow defile or impure in the eyes of the Father.
Let me clearly say that taking everything into account concerning biblical governance;
if there are not deacons and deaconesses who are
"ofgood reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom"
administering the resources of the local
church; then no matter how qualified the elders are... no matter how
visionary the five fold ministers are... the
merciful attributes of a Holy God
will be perverted. If we lack biblical governance where deacons are
concerned; we all will stand at the threshold of the Lord's unbridled fury
and we will see "the children and the infants
faint in the streets..." even as the
Prophet Jeremiah lamented.
Let us now
at the end of the age learn the lesson of
Remember; after years of
apostasy and spiritual harlotry; Jerusalem stood at the brink of destruction
with the Babylonian armies of King Nebuchadnezzar outside the gates of the
It was at this moment that
the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob offered to establish His people as
overcomers in the face of certain destruction. I believe the Lord once
again is willing to offer a reprieve to His people.
Understand I am not
saying that the Lord will delay the judgment
that is coming; I am only stressing what was said earlier that only those of
us who are obedient to His ways will find protection under the shadow of HIS
wings as we "thoroughly amend (our)
ways and your doings"
Again the Lord require four things:
1. "Execute judgment
between a man and his neighbor"
"Do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow"
3. "Do not shed innocent blood..."
4. Do not
"...walk after other gods to your hurt"
Again the tenor of what the
prophet spoke to the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Jeremiah 7 leads one to
conclude that had the children of Israel
"thoroughly amend their ways and your doings..."
then it is
highly probable according to what
is written;that the Babylonian captivity would have
never happened and the dispersion of
Israel throughout the nations would have never taken place. Verse 7
"Then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the
land that I gave to your fathers
forever and ever."
THAT is how important the Lord considers
HIS MERCY being displayed in the earth.
A Question: How should
this lesson of Jerusalem and the
captivity of Judah govern our response today
as we see the world teetering on the brink of end time events?
As a more complete vision for
is put forth in the Mercy Ministries section of this website;
we will briefly address the scope of authority that deacons have in this
Very clearly the apostles in Jerusalem
recognized the need to correct the injustice being done to the widows of the
Hellenists in Acts 6. These widows were being treated unfairly having
been neglected in the daily distribution of provision. According to
all we've read; this was an extremely serious violation of The Lord's Justice.
While it cannot be irrefutably proven I believe the Apostles sensed a
certain swift punishment from the Lord had they not immediately set in
motion a solution that would cause this injustice to not be overlooked
clearly committed the authority to
administer the financial resources of the ecclesia into the hands of the
deacons as they said "seek out from among you
seven men* of
full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom,
whom we may appoint
over this business."
original seven were men; according to precedent setting scriptures already
outlined; women can serve in this role as well.
This authority over financial matters in the
church seems to override authority given to elders or five fold ministers as
various missions within the body could potentially compete for resources.
However this is not the case as the authority
given is clearly an administrative authority where the deacons work closely
with other aspects of governance in a role of advise and consent.
Remember where all aspect of biblical
governance are concerned it was Jesus who set the tone for how they related
to one another with these words:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles
lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.26Yet it
shall not be so among you; but whoever
desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.27And
whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28just
as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His
life a ransom for many.”
Deacons then are not there to
financially allow or disallow what the Holy Spirit is birthing in various
ministries. There role is one of stewardship of what the Lord has supplied
so that ALLthat the Holy Spirit is calling for will be
accomplished; while at the same time not neglecting the daily needs of all who
should receive of the "daily distribution."
Again; for more
concerning the role of deacons and how they are to administer the "daily
distribution" please refer to the section on Mercy
Deacons are also not 'elders in training.'
They also do not serve in a subordinate role to elders, rather elders and
deacons have different roles within the body of Christ.
It is also clearly evident that (similar to
elders); it appears there is scriptural precedent for some
deacons to have an overlapping five fold ministry call just as
are also five fold ministers. Consider the power and boldness of
Stephen who was one of the original seven deacons as he testified in Acts 6
& 7. Remember also that Philip the evangelist was also
"one of the seven"
according to Acts 21:8.
Like other aspects of biblical governance; as
deacons work within the framework outlined in God's word; fivefold ministers
are able to give themselves - "continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word"
(Acts 6:4). As the early church was obedient to the Holy Spirit concerning
these thing; this was the result: "Then
the word of God
spread, and the
number of the disciples multiplied greatly
in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith."
the following reflection concerning fivefold ministers, elders / bishops, and deacons is
at the beginning of this web site; it bears repeating in the context of this
discussion before we continue on to part 3 of biblical governance:
Matthew 19:12 Jesus said "For there
are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are
eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made
themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept
it, let him accept it."
In the Old Testament, eunuchs are
mentioned in a number of accounts - there were several characteristics I
1) Eunuchs served in the
presence of the King
2) They prepared the bride
to meet the King
3) Because they had been altered, they had no
the bride and they did not
seek the adoration of the bride
4)They protected the realm
of the Kingdom
5)They protected the future
In these last days the Lord is
calling His people into intimate relationship with Him. He is also calling His
servant-leaders into an additional role - friend of the Bridegroom.
As we conclude part two of this discussion; the best advice or encouragement
I can share is the simple thought that Paul shared in his
apostolic role in the churches...
"Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you
understanding in all things."
For the LORD is our Judge,
(Elders / Bishops)
The LORD is our Lawgiver, (Five Fold
The LORD is our King; (Deacons)
He will save us;
To continue reading the
discussion on Biblical Governance in the Body of Christ; Click on of the