1 Timothy 3---all about the House
1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. 14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:1-15, KJV).
These verses in 1 Timothy are very often taken at a glance to be speaking about the "church" as we know it. We believe that these are rules for church leaders (and they certainly are!) but the church which they are leading is believed to be the type of "church building" that we function in in our day and age. WE believe that these are rules for the 'some" who are called to be ministers in the church--that these are the rules for the operation of a large church---a "building downtown" in which we gather every Sunday morning to worship God.
But the truth of the matter is that these are instructions for the leaders of "home church". How do we know this? Well, first of all it is an historical fact that at the time of the writing of this letter--the young church was only meeting in their homes. This is proved in the Bible and by historical record.
Secondly, when we look carefully at these verses we see that these are instructions on-
" how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church"
For hundreds of years we have called the large building in which we meet on Sundays "the house of God"--and in a way it is--yet at the time of this writing, the "house of God" was just that--a person's home.
Well then, why does it seem to be saying that there are "officers" in the church who preside over the group with the assistance of deacons--a "sub-ministry" of people who help the leader of the church?
This is because the language has been tampered with by the translators in order to fit what the church was at the time of this translation.
By the time the New Testament Bible was translated and assembled, there was already a strong tradition in place of a central meeting place for Christians--under the strict authority of the priest/bishop/pastor/emperor--all under the strict guidance of the Roman form of government.
In the above verses the words translated as "office" are in fact the Greek "diaknoia" which is almost everywhere else translated as "minister"--the meaning of which is servant--not ruler (see Luke 22)
"office of a bishop" is saying that there is a ministry--that there are some people who are called to serving God by being leaders in the church--servants--not rulers--as Jesus says in Matthew 20--Mark 10 and Luke 22. And the "church" that they are leading is the house of God--their own houses--the meeting place for the church--the body of Christ. This is why it is stressed to these leaders that they be good "rulers' within their own houses. These verses are simply talking about how to conduct a home meeting--(a home Bible study!)---yet a place from which God could easily and effectively rule His people, and operate in a quick and effecient manner. People gathered together in small groups, praying in the Spirit and thus receiving God's instructions---and immediately carrying out His instructions. They met like this daily---as often as possible--because God had a lot of work to be done--just as He has today!!
There ought to be a leader (bishop)---and then there are "the deacons". The word here is a word that is used only here--and is simply the non-translated form of the Greek word "diakonia". Once again we see the translators creating titles for people to bear by not translating the Greek (as in apostles--prophets-evangelists--and Christ!). It we were to translate the word into the English word "servant" which is the meaning of diakonos" , we see that there are leaders in the group and then there are the servants--the ministers---basically the rest of the saved --born-again--Spirit-filled people who are at the meeting!
When we understand what is really being said here it now lines up with the instructions in 1Cor 12-14 about how we ought o conduct ourselves when we meet--and also with the fact in Ephesian 4 that tells us the gifts of ministry are "given unto every one of us"--and also with the convenant command of Jesus to set up His kingdom in the earth (the church) not as the "kingdom of the Gentiles" with one person having authority over another---but rather as a kingdom of service-- to all by all.