A Study ofTheology IV – Part 3


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A Study of Theology IV – Part 3 (Dr. Thomas Figart)

Dr. Figart continues his study of the structure and leadership of the Church.

A Study ofTheology IV – Part 3

Dr. Thomas Figart

C. Qualifications of the bishop/elder, 1 Tim. 3:1-7.

1). Personal:Blameless, good behavior, righteous, not a brawler nor a drinker; good reputation and good judgment.

2). Family: A “one woman man,” a good ruler of his household.

3). Spiritual: Settled and faithful in doctrine; an experienced teacher, not a novice.

4). Only men qualify; “a one woman man.” Also, a woman elder would violate the divine order of 1 Cor. 11:8-9; 1 Tim. 2:11-14.

D. Duties of the bishop/elder.

1). To oversee or superintend the church, Acts 20:28.

2). To shepherd (poimaino) the church, which involves all the work of the pastor as shepherd. When the verb poimaino or the noun poimenas is used in connection with the church, it is always in reference to the bishop/elder.Acts 20:28, Ephesian elders; Jn. 21:16; 1 Pet. 5:2, Peter as an elder;Eph. 4:11 “pastors and teachers” who were to prepare the church for the work of ministering. Thus, a woman could not be a pastor-teacher.

3). To teach, 1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24; Titus 1:9.

The Greek word didaktikos, means “apt and skillful inteaching” Thayer, p. 144; Arndt & Gingrich, p. 190. See also, Pastoral Epistles, by Homer A. Kent, Jr., Chicago: Moody Press, 1958, pp. 131-132.“The adjective does not mean ‘teachable,’ but ‘apt at teaching.’… It refers to the imparting of knowledge to others…. Any man who shows himselfincapable of successfully teaching others is not qualified for the eldership.”

4). Question: Were there two classes of elders; teaching and non-teaching? (1 Tim. 5:17).

            a). Kent, (ibid, pp, 181-182) “This versedoes not give sufficient warrant for the Reformed view of two classes ofelders, those who ruled and those who taught.Every elder engaged in teaching (3:2).However, some would do so with more energy and excellence than others.

            b). Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 1, pp. 496-497, “The distinction of “teaching presbyters” or ministers proper, and “ruling presbyters” or lay-elders, is a convenient arrangement of Reformed churches, but can hardly claim apostolic sanction, since the one passage on which it rests only speaks of two functions of the same office…. Paul expressly mentions ability to teach among regular requisites for the episcopal or presbyterial office.

            c). J. B. Lightfoot, Philippians, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1953, pp. 194-195; “The duties of the presbyters were twofold.They were both rulers and instructors of the congregation….there is no ground for supposing that the work of teaching and the work of governing pertained to separate members of the presbyterial college.

  1. The Deacon, 1 Tim. 3:8-13

a.) Definition:Diakonos, “One who executed the commands of another; a servant, a minister; to raise dust by hastening”See Thayer, p. 138.

1). General usage:As a minister or servant ofChrist; Paul used the word diakonos ofhimself, 2 Cor. 3:6; 6:4.In this sense it is also used of Christ, Rom. 15:8.

2). Official usage:A church officer, Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8,13.

b.) Qualifications of the deacon.In 1 Tim. 3:8-13 note the similarity of his qualifications to those of the bishop/elder; notably missing is “apt to teach,” yet he must be settled in the faith and know doctrine.He is also to be “proved” which indicates a period of time for growth of his faith and character.

c.) Duties of the deacon

1). Though there is no actual list of duties, it is basically service or ministry of some kind, so the deacons should relieve the burden of the bishop/elder in whatever ways possible.

2).This can include spiritual matters:prayer, visitation, serving communion; because the deacon must be spiritually and morally qualified, 1 Tim. 3:8-9.

3). It can also include financial matters; he is not to be greedy of gain, v. 8, and is to be proved and blameless, v.10.

d.) What does Acts 6 actually teach?

          1). The word diakonos (deacon) does not occur, even though diakonia (ministration) and           diakonein(to attend) are used in vv. 1,2, and in v, 5 diakonia is used of the ministry of the word by the apostles.

          2). The seven men were appointed to meet a specific need; this does not mean that they were appointed as church officers.

          3). The titles of bishop and deacon may not have been developed until after Acts 6.They are not mentioned until later, in Acts 14:23, 20:28; Phil. 1:1 and I Tim. 3; Titus 1:9.

e.) Are “deaconesses” in I Tim. 3:11; Rom. 16:1?

          1). The word “deaconess” never occurs in the N.T.

          2). In I Tim 3:11 it is simply gunaikas, “women.”

          3). The word used of Phoebe in Rom. 16:1 is diakonon “deacon” (masculine or feminine), thus it is the general usage of “servant” not deaconess. Phoebe was a “servant” of the church in the general sense of that term.

          4). The context of I Tim. 3:11-12 shows it is speaking of the family relationships of a deacon, not of another church officer.Thus it must be referring to their wives.

          5).The fact that women are to remain silent in the church (I Tim 2:12) indicates submissiveness, not rulership as officials.However, deacons’ wives could very well share the ministrations of their husbands without being church officers.

          6). If a special office of deaconess had been intended, Paul could have used a more specific designation, such as the word diakonos with a feminine article (see Thayer, p. 138), or even a feminine ending, such as diakonissa.Either of these would have beengrammatically acceptable. Furthermore, there would certainly be a list of qualifications and duties for such an office.

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