x338.......The "Officers" of the church in 1 Timothy

The Apostle Paul wrote to his bother-in-Christ Timothy in this letter. One of the purposes of the letter was this: "These things write I unto thee......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 3:14-15)

The purpose stated by Paul in writing this part of his letter is to describe how to "behave" (that is how to conduct oneself) in the house of the Lord. In the description, he speaks of two types of people in the church--"bishops" and "deacons" and states the requirements for each....

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. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:1-16, KJV).

Again, when we read these verses, we see the purpose is to let us know how we ought to conduct things amongst oursleves. Now, there are two kinds of people spoken about in this chapter--"bishops" and "deacons". Instead of taking what we think we know about these words, why don't we first look at the definitions of these words in the Greek......


diakonew diakoneo {dee-ak-on-eh'-o} v

-----minister unto 15, serve 10, minister 7, misc 5; 37

1)) to be a servant, attendant, domestic, to serve, wait upon

1a) to minister to one, render ministering offices to

1a1) to be served, ministered unto

1b) to wait at a table and offer food and drink to the guests,

1b1) of women preparing food

1c) to minister i.e. supply food and necessities of life

1c1) to relieve one's necessities (e.g. by collecting alms), to provide take care of, distribute, the things necessary to sustain life

1c2) to take care of the poor and the sick, who administer the office of a deacon

1c3) in Christian churches to serve as deacons 1d) to minister 1d1) to attend to anything, that may serve another's interests

1d2) to minister a thing to one, to serve one or by supplying any thing


episkopov episkopos {ep-is'-kop-os} n m

-----bishop 6, overseer 1; 7

1) an overseer

1a) a man charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others are done rightly, any curator, guardian or superintendent

1b) the superintendent, elder, or overseer of a Christian church

Now, the first section of this chapter speaks about bishops. It is clear that these people who are bishops are to be leaders in the church. It is clear from the Bible that the early church had bishops and elders--a group of people who were leaders of the church. Certainly the leaders could perform ministry functions--

(Jas 5:14* Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:)--

However we also know that the gift of healing was for all believers and not limited to just leadership--

7* But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8* For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9* To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; (1Corinthians 12:7-9)

Certainly the recommended qualifications for being a bishop are well stated and of course we should use these qualifications for church leadership today as well. But also it is important to note that there were always more than one leader in a church--there were groups of elders who lead the early church--the word elder is never used in the Bible to describe a single leader of a church (nor bishop), in fact in chapter 1 of 1 Timothy, Paul had asked Timothy to--

"...... ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:" (1Timothy 1:5)

He did not say "appoint an elder in every city" but rather "elders in every city". Also, another thing to note is the word "office" This word is not contained in the Greek, but has been added by the translators. Why? I believe that the King James translators were fitting the original Greek translation to the times they lived in. Certainly at the time of the King James translation, Christian churches had been "organized" in a different form than is simply described in the Bible. The simplicity and fairness of the Bible system of leadership and anointing had by then been replaced with the Medieval idea of hierarchy. The "pastoral system" had been put in place and the leadership functions of most churches were generally under the direction of one man. The word "office" perhaps gave more emphasis to the required leadership skills that were being described.

The word or concept of an "office of ministry" is in fact purely an Old Covenant concept. The translators were trying to make their experience fit the Bible. The fact was that the church had been operated by leaders who exercised strict and very powerful authority and rule over entire nations. This misdefinition of ministry had been originated by the Roman emperors, who, in the period of time when they controlled the Bible, defined the church by the old testament Levitical priesthood (and it is very ceratin they did this in order to collect a tithe--the OT Levites the tithe-collecting priests). This was the system of the church at the local level for hundreds of years in the age of catholic rule in Europe, and was carried over into the protestant era (the "priest" now called a "pastor" but having basically the same function as the local, tithe-collecting, "ruling authority" within the church).

It is interesting to note how even modern translators try to "fit" the word of God to their own experience. One modern translation substitutes the word "pastor" for the word bishop in these verses. Of course this is ridiculous--the Greek word for pastor is "poimen" meaning shepherd and has nothing to do with the word bishop "episkopos" Whether we like it or not, the early church had bishops and elders who were simply organizers of the rest of the church and not by pastors. Bishops were servants every bit as much as anyone else. Jesus defined leadership as ministry (service)--and specifically NOT as authority over others. The greater leader was the greater servant. Finally let us notice that there is no limit on the number of bishops that are allowed in a church and it is certain that there were many--and also, any person could "desire" the role of a bishop--it was something that needed to be attained to with sincerity and Godly leading, but not by going to Bible school with ambition to make a living in church. It was service, since the church in the Bible understood completely that a living Christ was the Head of the church. A Christ who sat at the right hand of the Father with all authority and power, and was the Head of the body---and the Head of every man.

Now, let's consider the second person described in the church--the "deacon". This word unfortunately does not exist! At least not as we may think of it. This word that has been translated as "deacon" is in fact the same word that is nearly everywhere else translated as "minister". You see, one of the worse things that tradition has done to the church that we live in today is to make the anointings of ministry, the "gifts of Christ" into titles that people hold. These gifts are not people--they are gifts! They are gifts sent to us to serve God with--they were given "unto every one of us" (see eph 4:7) and are to equip the saints (see eph 4:12) and are to "every man" (see 1Cor 12) --they are not titles for people to hold as we see in the world and our experience might tell us!

Now let's notice how Paul gives instructions for the requirements for these "deacons" or rather ministers. First we see that he speaks about the "deacons"--there certainly must be more than one of them. It is never stated that these deacons (ministers) are leaders in the church--it rather states that they should have good Christian behavior--not drinkers or liars--they should have a stable home life--It is interesting to note that women can be deacons/ministers also--(in verse 11 it says "their wives" which can readily be translated as the "women deacons/ministers")

Now it does say that they must be "proved". What does this word mean in the Greek?

dokimazw dokimazo {dok-im-ad'-zo} v

----- prove 10, try 4, approve 3, discern 2, allow 2, like 1, examine 1; 23

1) to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals

2) to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy

This word "proved" means to be tested. Now again, if we were to take this concept out of context, we might think that this means that in order to be a minister/deacon, one must pass a rigorous test. In fact. once again I have seen in many modern Bible translations this verse on testing translated by experience rather than by the original intent of the writer in the Greek. Many modern versions say that "a deacon should be given work to do around the church to see if they have the character and ability to become deacons". Doesn't this go completely by experience and ignore the original words?

So just what is the "test" of a deacon/minister? Well, did not the apostle just describe his conditions of what requirements should be asked of a deacon/minister? (honorable, not liars, not drinkers, not greedy for money--etc.) Isn't it completely reasonable that these are the basic requirements to be a deacon/minister? The Bible does not apparently contain any more than is listed here--by what authority do we add to these? Another point to consider is that the "tests" shown here do not give the ability to be a minister. The "how" of being of minister comes from the anointing gift--the "gift of Christ" described in Ephesians 4. It is Jesus who ascended and gave these gifts unto every one of us and to all the saints in order to work the ministry.

Let's remember one other point. The "church" which is being described here is NOT an offical building of assembly for which all meembers are required to meet in every Sunday. The church in operation here are the homes of Christians. This is why most of the requirements are about the home life. These requirements are speaking to people who are actively serving God in their own homes (on a day-to-day basis)- Christiasn meeting together in small groups, often, which is the apostolic operational plan of the church in the Bible.

Perhaps this one truth will make you understand how our concept of ministry has been corrupted by time and tradition. It is the "deacons" which are the "5-fold ministers"! How can we say this?

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, (diakoneo) for the edifying of the body of Christ:
(Ephesians 4:11-12, KJV).

The Bible says that these annointings, the gifts of apostle-prophet-evangelist-pastor-teacher---are "for the work of the ministry,". The word translated as ministry is the Greek "diakoneo"---the same word arbitrarily translated as "deacons" in 1Timothy. What the Bible is saying is that when Christians are operating in these annointings (yes including pastor!) they are servants of God and others and certainly NOT rulers---not even church organizers like the bishops---just servants--a servant gift for any to operate in.

One very important final point. There is something missing--right? When you read these verses all about the instructions on how to conduct ourselves in church, there is only mentioned "bishops" (leaders) and "deacons" (ministers). There is absolutely no mention of another group of people we might think should be called the "congregation"!! Why didn't Paul give any instructions on how to handle the "congregation"? What about the instructions for the "congregation"? Once again we must open our eyes and study church tradition. In the past, it was thought that most of the new testament Bible was instructions for the leaders. Once someone became a "minster" a "ruler with authority"--they were then the governor of God's people directly, and whatever they said, was the absolute will of God. The idea was that the minister (clergyman) received the word from God and dished it out tothe "lay-people"--no questions asked--since whatever he said was "from God". These instructions were for the church hierarchy--not for all the church--(along with many other parts of the new testament)--and the minister was the ruler of the rest--certainly NOT the servant of all

But is it possible that within the church there should only be leaders--- and everyone else should be ministers? Remember, Paul did not say that "a man seeking to be a deacon"--(he did say that a bishops job could be desired or sought after)--he just says "likewise the deacons"--"likewise the ministers"--as if to say that the church consisted of leaders (bishops) and everyone else was a minister! Everyone else could operate in the gifts of ministry! Wow--what a concept!!