-A. Ralph Johnson


The New Testament reveals a very simple form of early church leadership.  Eph. 4:11 says, “And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” 


The first two of these, Apostles and Prophets, were part of the foundation of the church, with Jesus as the chief corner stone (Eph. 2:20).  Apostles had to have seen Jesus after his resurrection (Acts 1:22; 1Cor. 9:1).  The first apostles were the twelve who walked with Jesus (Ac. 1:22) and were to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:38).  When Judas betrayed Jesus and hanged himself, Matthias was chosen to re­place him (Acts 1:15-26).  Later, apostles were sent, to the Gentiles (Acts. 9:15; 22:21; 26:17; Gal. 2:8; Rom. 11:13).  Just as the earlier apostles, they had to become a witness of the resurrection by Jesus appearing and appointing them (1Cor. 9:1; Ac. 26:16; 1Tim. 2:7; 2Tim. 1:11).  Paul says he was “last of all, as one born out of due time” (1Cor. 15:8, 9).   


The Apostles had special powers (2Cor. 12:12;).  It appears that some of this was to bestow the “manifestations” (1Cor. 12:7) or “signs” (Mark 16:17, 18, 20; Heb. 2:3, 4) of the Holy Spirit through laying on of their hands (Ac. 8:14-19; 19:6; 2Tim. 1:6; Rom. 1:11).  Prophecy was given to provide the word until the New Testament was complete (Jn. 14:25-26; 2Pet. 1:19, 20; 1Cor. 13:8-13).  When it was completed, and the Apostles and prophets died, these special powers ceased (Zech. 13:1-6; 1Cor. 13:8-13), just as occurred when the Old Testament was completed. As part of the foundation, the prophets and apostles, like Jesus, died and went to heaven (2Cor. 5:1-10; Ph'p. 1:23). 


Evangelists appear to have been much the same as our “missionaries.”  The Greek word is, euaggelistes (Strongs #2099, from #2097; a preacher of the gospel: KJV—evangelist).  It literally means a proclaimer of good news.  Unlike elders who were appointed over each church (Ac. 14:23; Titus 1:5), they carried the good news to other places (Acts 21:8 cf. 8:4, 12, 35). 


The meaning of “Teachers” is difficult to determine.  Some believe this is another name for “pastors” (Eph. 4:11) who’s qualifications called for them to be  “apt to teach” (1Tim. 3:2).  Some think they may have been inspired teachers with the special gift of knowledge (1Cor. 12:8, 28; 13:2, 8).  It is possible that some were, but it appears that some were not (Heb. 5:12; James 3:1; Rom. 12:7).  In some passages they appear to be serving in a leadership capacity in the ab­sence of elders.  At Antioch the teachers shared with the prophets in sending out Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1).  In the absence of enough elders I have in the past selected teachers to assist in the leadership.  In 1Corinthians 16:15, 16 we may have just such a case.  It says that the house of Stephanus had set themselves to minister unto the saints and that those at Corinth were to be in subjection to them.  Paul’s omission of any mention elders at Corinth suggests there were none.  Due to their leadership roll, it is possible some teachers were ordained to the office by the laying on of hands.  However, we find no example.


Ephesians 4:11 deals only with the teaching offices.  For our purposes here, we want to consider both elders and deacons. 




In the New Testament, three basic Greek words are applied to the congregational overseers --  elders, bishops, and pastors.  




1.      Elders

This term came from Israel's use of older men as leaders (Num. 11:16).  Two Greek forms are used.


#4244 presbuterion (pres-boo-ter'-ee-on); neuter of a presumed deriva­tive of #4245; the order of elders, i.e. (specifically) Israelite Sanhedrin or Christian “presbytery”:

KJV-- (estate of) elder (-s), presbytery.

1Tim. 4:14.  “of the hands of the presbytery


#4245 presbuteros (pres-boo'-ter-os); comparative of presbus (elderly); older; as noun, a senior; specifically, an Israelite Sanhedrist (also figuratively, member of the celestial council) or Christian “presby­ter”:

KJV-- elder (-est), old.

Ac. 14:23. Elders appointed in every church

Ac. 20:17. Elders from Ephesus called to speak with Paul.

1Tim. 5:17.  Elders to be paid and treated with respect.

Titus 1:5-9.  Elders’ qualifications. (Also called “bishops.”)

James 5:14.  Elders to pray for the sick.

1Pet. 5:1-4.  Behavior of elders

Ac. 11:30.  An offering taken to the elders at Jerusalem

Ac. 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4.  Jerusalem elders participated in decision about circumcision.

Ac. 21:18.  Jerusalem elders present to hear Paul's report.


2.      Bishop

This was the common Greek name for one given oversight.


#1983 episkopeō; (verb) from #1909 and #4648; to oversee; by implication, to beware:

  KJV-- look diligently, take the oversight.

1Pet. 5:2.  taking the oversight, not by constraint


#1984  episkopē; (noun) from #1980; inspection (for re­lief); by implication, superintendence; specially, the Christian “episcopate”:

      KJV-- the office of a “bishop,” bishoprick, visitation.

      1Tim. 3:1. If a man desire the office of a bishop


#1985 episkopos; (noun) from #1909 and #4649 (in the sense of #1983); a superintendent, i.e. Christian officer in genitive case charge of a (or the) church (literally or figuratively):

  KJV-- bishop, overseer.

Acts 20:28.  The Holy Ghost made you overseers (at Ephesus)

Phil. 1:1.  with the bishops and deacons:

1Tim. 3:2.    A bishop then must be blameless

Tit. 1:7.  For a bishop must be blameless

1Pet. 2:25.  Shepherd and bishop of your souls.


3.      Pastors, or shepherds

This seems to have come from Jesus' likening his followers to a flock of sheep.  Four forms of this are so associated. 


#4166 Poimēn; of uncertain affinity; a shepherd (literally or figuratively):

 KJV-- shepherd, pastor.

Eph. 4:11. and some, pastors and teachers


#4165 poimainō (verb); from #4166; to tend as a shepherd of (figuratively, supervisor):

 KJV-- feed (cattle), rule.

Acts 20:28.  Elders at Ephesus told to feed the flock.

1Peter 5:2.  Elders told to feed the church.


#4168 poimnion; neuter of a presumed de­rivative of #4167; a flock, i.e. (figuratively) group (of believers):

KJV-- flock.

Acts 20:28.  Elders at Ephesus told to feed the flock.

1Peter 5:2.   Elders told to feed the flock.

1Peter 5:3.   Elders told to be examples to the flock.




Compare the following:

1.      Titus 1:5. calls them “elders (#4245 presbuteros).

Titus 1:7. calls them “bishops (#1985 episkopos).


Here the two words are used interchangeably.


2.      1Tim. 3:1. calls it the office of a “bishop” (#1984 episkopē).

1Tim. 3:2. calls him a “bishop (#1985 episkopos).

1Tim. 5:17, 19; 4:14. says “elder (#4245 presbuteros) or “presbyter” (#4244 presbuterion)


Note that in giving the qualifications in 1Timothy, only “bishop” is used although it is obviously the same office as in Titus, chapter 1, where the elders (1:5) are called "bishops" (1:7).  Elsewhere in Timothy, “elder” is used.  It seems that he expected them to know it was the same office.


3.      Ac. 20:17. calls them “elders (#4245 presbuteros).

Ac. 20:28. calls them “overseers” or “bishops (#1985 episkopos).

Ac. 20:28. says to “feed (#4165 poimainō) the church.


Note: poimainō is what a shepherd does for a flock.


4.      1Pet. 5:1. calls them “elders (#4245 presbuteros).

1Pet. 5:2. says to take the “oversight (#1983 episkopeō).

Note that “episkopeō” is what a bishop does. He oversees.

1Pet. 5:2. says to “feed (#4165 poimainō) the flock (#4168 poimnion).

1Pet. 5:4. reward promised when the “chief shepherd (#750 archipoimen) returns. Note: 1Peter 2:25 the terms are used interchangeably, saying Jesus is called both “shepherd (#4166 poimēn) and “bishop (#1985 episkopos) of our souls.


5.      Eph. 4:11. In listing the teaching offices, “pastors (shepherds) is speci­fied. Neither elders nor bishops are mentioned.  Since he surely did not forget them, it seems to be the same office.


6.      The Jerusalem church is several times said to have elders.  Neither pastors nor bishops are mentioned (Ac. 11:30; 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4; 21:18).  This would be consistent with Hebrew description of oversight. 


7.      Acts 14:23 speaks of ordaining elders in every church. Tit. 1:5 says to ordain elders in every city.  It never speaks of a bishop ordained in every church.  This suggests both terms are for the same office.  Otherwise, both offices would be men­tioned.


8.      Bishops and deacons (Ph'p 1:1; 1Tim. 3:1, 8) are mentioned together in some churches.  It never mentions bishops and elders as distinct offices.


9.      Other than Jesus, no one is ever said to be a “bishop,” (singular) over either a church or several churches.  Bishops, elders and pastors are generally in the plural as ruling the church, rather than a single one over a church.  When the singular is used it never indicates one man over a church.  He is just one of several.




#4165 poimainō (verb); from #4166; to tend as a shepherd of (figuratively, supervisor):

KJV-- feed (cattle), rule.

Acts 20:28.   Elders at Ephesus told to feed the flock.

1Peter 5:2.    Elders told to feed the church.


#1959 epimeleomai middle voice from 1909 and the same as 3199; verb, King James Version, take care of 3 times; 1) to take care of a person or thing 


1Timothy 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care [epimeleomai] of the church of God?)


#4291  proistemi; from #4253 and #2476; to stand before, i.e. (in rank) to preside, or (by implication) to practice:

KJV-- maintain, be over, rule.

1Tim 5:17.  Let the elders that rule well



Rom 12:8.  ruleth, with diligence;

1Thes 5:12-13.  and are over you in the Lord


Note that they were to hold the same position with regard to the church as does a man with his family (1Tim. 3:4, 5, 12).  Wives and children were to be in subjection (1Tim. 3:4; Eph. 5:22-24; 1Pet. 3:1-6; Col. 3:18).  The members were to obey those over the church (Heb. 13:17; Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20).  


#1983 episkopeō (verb); from #1909 and #4648; to oversee; by implication, to beware:

KJV-- look diligently, take the oversight.

1Pet. 5:2.  taking the oversight, not by constraint


Acts 20:28. “Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops [#1985 episkopos --overseers], to feed [#4165 poimainō] the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.  29 I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.  31 Wherefore watch ye [#1127 grēgoreuō], remembering that by the space of three years I ceased not to admonish every one night and day with tears.”


            It is clear from this that the elders were not only to feed the flock but also to protect the flock both from wolves and from among themselves who would lead away disciples. 


1Tim. 5:17.  “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor especially those who labor in the word and teaching.”


Titus 1:7 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God;


#3623 oikonomos

1) the manager of household or of household affairs 1a) esp. a steward, manager, superintendent (whether free-born or as was usually the case, a freed-man or a slave) to whom the head of the house or proprietor has entrusted the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, and the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age 1b) the manager of a farm or landed estate, an overseer 1c) the superintendent of the city's finances, the treasurer of a city (or of treasurers or quaestors of kings) 2) metaph. the apostles and other Christian teachers and bishops and overseers

Origin:  from 3624 and the base of 3551; TDNT - 5:149,674; n m

Usage:  AV - steward 8, chamberlain 1, governor 1; 10


KJV-- appoint, be, conduct, make, ordain, set. 


Luke 12:42   42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?


Titus 1:9-11. The elder is to be able to exhort in the sound doctrine and to convict the gainsayers.  They were to stop the mouths of vain talkers and deceivers.


1Pet. 5:2.  “Tend [4165 poimainō] the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight [1983  episkopeō], not of constraint, but willingly, according to (the will of) God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  3 neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock.   4 And when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away.”  


Heb. 13:7.  “Remember them that had the rule [2233 hegeomai] over you, men that spake unto you the word of God; and considering the issue of their life, imitate their faith.”


Heb. 13:17Obey them that have the rule [2233 hegeomai] over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofit­able for you.


OBJECTION: This is speaking of Evangelists.

ANSWER: The fact that these are in the plural more likely refer to Elders or are intended to refer to more than one office (Elders, Evangelists, teachers, etc.).


#2233  hegeomai; middle voice of a (presumed) strength­ened form of 71; to lead, i.e. command (with official authority); figu­ratively, to deem, i.e.  consider:

      KJV-- account, (be) chief, count, esteem, governor, judge, have the rule over, suppose, think.




1Tim. 4:14. It appears that the elders at Lystra had participated in the ordaining of Timothy to be an evangelist.  Similarly, we find teachers participating in appointing Paul and Barnabas to their work (Acts 13:1-3). 


Elders had the oversight of the church, often with no evangelist present.  Evangelists (#2099 “euangelistēs” Acts 21:8; 2Tim. 4:5; Eph. 4:11) carried the good news  (#2097 “euongelizo” Acts 8:12, 35, 40), starting congregations and setting them in order (Tit. 1:5).  However, at Ephesus, for a period of time we find both an evangelist (Timothy) and elders.  How should they function together?


            In such a case there are overlapping responsibilities.  Elders must protect the flock (Acts 20:28-31; Tit. 1:9), and evangelists may receive accusations against an elder “at the mouth of two or three witnesses” (1Tim. 5:19-20).  Timothy was to be “apt to teach” (2Tim. 2:24) and to teach the word “with all authority” (Tit. 2:15) while Elders are also to be “apt to teach” (1Tim. 3:2) and “feed the flock” (1Pet. 5:2).  Indeed, Elders labored in the word and teaching (1Tim. 5:17)


      It appears that the scriptural design was for evangelists to start churches and teach until a plurality oversight could be established, and then move on to carry the good news to others (see the examples of Timothy and Titus).  Today we have switched it to have an evangelist/pastor over every church, sometimes with no real effort to establish a scrip­tural eldership.


      We call him an “evangelist” but he functions as a bishop.  He oversees the church.  If there are "elders" they are expected to go along with his programs, not share in preaching the word to the congregation, without pay.  To do the job of evangelist, we have invented the term, “missionary” (which even includes women) to go to other countries as the bearer of the good news. 


      In many churches, the head man is called a, “pas­tor.”  Since that is what he usually does, it is just as well, except that the church was intended to have a plurality of pastors, not just one.  If a second man is hired, to indicate rank, the first becomes the “Senior Pastor.”  


Elevating one man above the rest is much the same as took place in the post-apostolic period when they established a bishop over each church.  In turn, they placed “arch-bishops” over a region, and eventually one of them over all to sit in the “Chair of St. Peter” as “Vicar of Christ.” He was called “pope,” (Latin for “father”) and ruled in the place of Christ over all of the churches.  So far most of the churches of the Restoration Movement have shunned further moves in the direction of a hierarchical system, except in the Boston Movement and the Disciples Of Christ.  However, we had better beware of this trend.


      In many Churches there has been a tendency to set up church “boards” to govern, composed of both men and women representa­tives from various church programs.  This has been substituted for the Scriptural pattern in which the elders were to rule the church.


      But what if there are too few to provide a legally required number of trustees?  Based on the example of the house of Stephanus (1Cor. 16:15- 17) and the participation of prophets and “teachers” in sending out Paul and Barnabas (Ac. 13:1-3), it seems quite proper to select some teachers to participate as leaders until qualified men may be available.  Since God has established an objective of elders leading the church, we need to understand that such arrangements are temporary.  All too often, even after there are both Evangelists and Elders, the “board” continues to run things.


To try to restore the honor God intended, some now ordain the evangelist into the eldership.  Since in our churches the “evangelist” commonly functions as an elder, I see this as a move in the right direction. 


It may be objected that evangelists cannot also be elders.  There are problems with being able to perform both jobs but there does seem to be scriptural precedent for a man holding two offices.  1Peter 5:1-2 speaks of Peter, who was an apostle, also being an elder. Paul also spoke of himself holding more than one office (1Tim. 2:7; 2Tim. 1:11)


We seem to have great difficulty getting the eldership elevated to the honor God intended for it, and to avoid elevating one man above the rest.  Like Israel at the time of Samuel, who wanted a king like the nations around them, we are strongly influenced to follow the denomi­national pattern of placing a “pastor” over the elders.


      It has been unfortunate that there have been power struggles in churches over whether the preacher (“pastor”/evangelist) or the elders should be in charge.  I do not understand why this must be the case.  Why can they not work together in making decisions like the apostles and elders at Jerusalem? (Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22-23; 16:4)


            I was once told that the idea of a collective ministry cannot work because it is impossible to have more than one leader.  Well, I am here to say they are wrong.  We started this church over 50 years ago and from it has come two others.  Evangelists and elders can work together as equals, especially if the evangelist promotes the office of elder to its full honor in shepherding the flock. 


      We presently have three elders, one paid.  In time we want to pay others (1Tim. 5:17, 18). I see no reason why they cannot be every bit as pro­fessional as an evangelist or why the church cannot continue and grow without a located evangelist.  The Elders can be just as good at speak­ing.  They can even function as Bible College teachers to train people for leadership roles. 


Eventually I hope this church can send fully paid evangelists out to start churches or to give assistance to churches needing help.  Unfortunately, the temptation is to remain located in an established congregation, holding a position of power and preeminence. 


Instead of larger churches paying men to carry the good news and set churches in order, we send Missionaries and forget smaller struggling congregations around us.  Indeed, we even compete with them instead of helping each other.


      This has too many aspects of a “hireling” system.  To get training, young men must leave the local congregations at a time when they could be the most useful, and go off to struggle to survive college (which may have serious false teaching).  If they finish they hire themselves out to the highest bidder and begin the “climb” (or “slide”) in the system as churches switch leadership in the game of “musical preachers.”  Small churches cannot financially compete, and must struggle as they lose some of their best members to larger churches or college, and pay for less competent leaders.  I find no such system in the New Testament. 


      We have determined to train men locally as much as possible, and to teach the people to accept a truly multiple leadership.  Unfortunately, carnal nature seems to seek excellency of speech (1Cor. 2:1-5) and to glory in men (1Cor. 3:3, 4).  Like Israel of old, we want a “king” like the surrounding nations (1Sam. 8:4-20).  Thus, we insist on adopting the patterns of the denominational world around us.  The result is that each preacher must gain a “following.”  People who do not like his style leave.  When he leaves, there is a struggle to replace him, perhaps generated by conflicts in his removal.  In the face of this, the new preacher then must come and build up a new “following.”  The result is often serious compromise of the scriptures, downgrading of the eldership, conflict between the preacher and the elders, and division in the church—and lots of pride.




            Very little is said of the process used for selection of leadership (see notes on Titus 1:5 under “appoint”).  It is mostly left to judgment and expediency.  I have found something like the following works well.


1.      Inform the church of the need and requirements for office.  Present the scriptures on the subject.


2.      Have the people submit suggestions for the leadership to consider.


3.      From the list, choose a few promising candidates and contact each to see that they and their wives would be willing to prepare and accept such a respon­sibility. Include wives because his success is very much dependent on her support and behavior (cf. 1Tim 3:11). 


4.      Submit a list to the congregation requesting their judgment as to whether they are ready for the office.  This gives feedback as to qualifications


5.      Those chosen should be given training.  This may be a period in which they work in the role preparing for ordination.


6.      A final decision should be made by those in leadership as to when they are ready.


7.      Ordination. 


People should be asked to fast.  The candidate should speak to the congregation, concerning his vision in service.  The people should manifest approval in some way such as raised hands or standing. Some form of oath should be administered.  Hands are laid while prayers are given.




1Tim. 5:17-18.  “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and teaching.  For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.  And, The laborer is worthy of his hire.”


Double honor” is here used as a euphemism for being paid.  In verse 3, “honour” is used for support of widows.  The citation of the command not to muzzle the ox that treads out the corn (Deut 25:4) as authority clearly establishes paying elders who serve well in the word.

In 1Cor. 9:9-10 Paul uses the same basis for the right of those who preach the Gospel to live of the gospel (1Cor 9:13-14).  The principle is further applied in Gal. 6:6 where those who are taught in the word are told to communicate to those who teach “in all good things.”  In 2Tim. 2:4-6, Timothy is told not to entangle himself in the things of the world but to eat of the fruits of his labor. 


Some think “double honor” means to be paid twice as much as the others.  That seems doubtful. The first honor would be serving in the office (1Thes 5:12-13).  It seems unlikely that they paid all of the elders, much less that they should pay some double.


How is this to be accomplished?  Certainly it is to be through offerings made by Christians.  However, tithing is a reasonable means and may actually be indicated in Hebrews 7.  Hebrews 6:20 says that Christ’s priesthood was “after the order of Melchizedek.” Chapter 7 cites the fact that Melchizedek tithed Abraham as showing that Christ’s priesthood is superior to the Levitical.  Citation of tithing as a feature of Melchizedek’s priesthood would seem to indicate that tithing is also a feature of Christ’s priesthood.  This may be suggested in verse 8 where it speaks of “one who ever liveth” receives tithes--at least typically referring to Christ, in Melchizedek. 


Paul cited the commandment that those who minister in the sacred things eat of the things of the temple and those who serve at the alter should eat of the things of the alter as authority for those who preach the gospel to eat of the things of the gospel (1Cor. 9:13-14).  This was done through both tithes and offerings (Num. 18:8, 24-26). 




Ordination sometimes may have been for the period necessary to accom­plish specific responsibilities.  Paul twice reported back to the church at Antioch (Acts 14:26, 27; 18:22) after being sent on missionary trips.  With regard to the office of elders, evangelists or deacons, no time period is specified, except that the requirement to meet qualifications would indicate they should not serve when they are no longer qualified.  Because of this some have maintained that it was for life.  I see no scriptural basis requiring this. 


The matter seems to be left to judgment of those authorizing their terms.  There are some advantages of qualified men being left undis­turbed unless they are removed by a vote of the congregation, or by the other Elders.  However, it is more difficult to remove one if he is negligent of his duties or becomes disqualified. 


To avoid conflict some choose a set number of years with mandatory time out of office.  In large churches this works well.  However, the problem with this is that no matter how good a man is or how needed, he is removed for at least a year while men of lesser experience and competency take his place.  Also, because there is a set number of offices to fill, the pressure is to shortcut on whether he is qualified.  On the other hand, automatic removal from office after a given period avoids the embarrassment and conflict in voting to remove. 


Something between these two extremes seems best.  The office could be automatically vacated after a designated period, at which time a vote could be taken on whether to reinstate him. 


Another alternative would be to have person remain in office and periodically submit to a vote of confidence as to whether he is adequately meeting his responsibilities.  If he fails to get a majority he should resign. 


Of course, any time an elder fails to be qualified he should resign (cf. Ac. 20:30-31).  If he falls into some serious sin he should also be publicly reproved (1Tim. 5:19-20).  If an additional elder is needed, the process could begin to select someone for the job.  In all cases it seems wise to vote by secret ballot to minimize conflict. 




Little is said about removal from office. Timothy was given authority to “receive an accusation” against an Elder and to “reprove those that sin before all” (1Tim. 5:19-20) and from this we conclude that in some manner this could bring about removal.  This could have been through either congregational vote (as in disfellowship and in choosing them in the first place) or through the elders.


Elders were given responsibility to protect the sheep--both from wolves without and from bad shepherds among themselves (Acts 20:28-31).  This indicates the right to expel a bad elder or evangelist.  Likewise, the congregation was to come together to disfellowship members who persisted in certain sins (1Cor 5:4-5; 2Cor 2:6).  This would include leaders.  In any case, the power to remove from office is inher­ent in the power to ordain.


I question the scripturality and wisdom of ordaining men to the ministry and leaving them on their own with no on-going accountability.  If the church appoints to the job it retains the right to rescind the commission.  How else can those who violate scriptural qualifications be removed?



There are two lists of qualifications, the first in 1Timothy, chapter 3 and the second in Titus, chapter 1.  They vary in the choice of words but little in substance. 


Qualifications in Timothy and Titus compared

(Note: Bold lettering across indicates same Greek words)

1 Timothy 3


Titus 1:6-


2 blameless

anepilēpton (423)

6 blameless

anengklētos (410)

the husband of one wife

mias gunaikos andra

husband of one wife

mias gunaikos anēr

vigilant, or temperate

nēphalion (3524)





7 Not selfwilled

authadē (829)

sober-minded, or sensible

sōphrona (4998)

8 sober

sōfrona (4998)

of good behavior, or orderly

kosmion (2887)





8 lover of good

filagathon (5358)

given to hospi­tality

filoxenon (5382)

8 a lover of hospitality

filoxenon (5382)

apt to teach

didaktikon (1317)

9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to  convince the gainsayers

didoskolia (1319)

3 not given to wine

mē paroinon (3943)

7 not given to wine

paroinon (3943)

no striker

but patient (or, gentle)

mē plēktēn  (4131)

alla epieikē

7 no striker

plēktēn (4131)

not conten­tious, or no brawler

amachon (269)

7 not soon angry

orgilon (3711)

no lover of money

afilaguron (866)

7 not given to filthy lucre

mē aischrokerdē (146)

4 ruleth well his own house, having (his) children in subjection with all gravity

idiou oikōkalōs


tekna echonta en hupotagē meta pasēs semnotētos

6 having faithful children, not accused of riot or unruly

tekna echōn pista, mēen katēgoria asōtiasē anupotaka

6 not a novice

mēneofuton (3504)

(covered in verse 9 above)


7 having good testimony from them that are without

marturian kalēn echein apo tōn exōthen




This raises the question as to why the two lists differ.  Surely God had no intention of two different sets of qualifications, one for Ephesus and another for Crete.  The simplest explanation seems to be that the two lists cover the same general areas that the readers from those places would understand, with some special emphasis relating to their individual needs.


These lists are actually not as specific as one might at first assume.  A lot of judgment is left to the individuals seeking to apply them.  For instance, what all is included in “blameless,” “sober minded,” “temperate” etc.?  Even “husband of one wife” and “ruling his own house” leaves a lot of latitude for judgment.


1.   1TIMOTHY 3


1 Timothy 3: 1 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.  2 The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospi­tality, apt to teach; 3 no brawler, no striker; but gentle, not conten­tious, no lover of money; 4 one that ruleth well his own house, having (his) children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)  6 not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  7 Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.  



1Tim.  3:1. (ASV)

Faithful is the saying,

Faithful is










1Tim. 3:1.

If a man seeketh the office of a bishop,

If anyone



Ei  tis







“BISHOP” (OVERSEER) --Vine's Expository Dictionary     


a.      Episkopos #1985, lit., an  overseer” (epi, “over,” skopeō, “to  look or watch”), whence Eng.   “bishop,” which has precisely the  same meaning, is found in <Acts  20:28; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus  1:7; 1 Pet. 2:25>. See OVERSEER.


Note: Presbuteros, an elder,” is another term for the same person as bishop or overseer. See <Acts 20:17> with <verse 28>. The term “elder” indicates the mature spiritual experience and understanding of those so described; the term “bishop,” or  “overseer,” indicates the character of the work undertaken. According to the divine will and appointment, as in the NT, there were to be “bishops” in every local church, <Acts 14:23; 20:17; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:5; Jas.  5:14>. Where the singular is used, the passage is describing what a “bishop” should be, <1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:7>. Christ Himself is spoken of as “the... bishop of our souls,” <1 Pet. 2:25>. See ELDER.


b.      Episkope #1984, besides its meaning, “visitation,” e. g., <1 Pet.  2:12> (cf. the Sept. of <Exod. 3:16; Isa. 10:3; Jer. 10:15>), is rendered “of­fice,” in <Acts 1:20>, RV (KJV, “bishoprick”); in <1 Tim. 3:1> “the office of a bishop,” lit., “(if any one seeketh) overseership,” there is no word representing office.


Note: The corresponding verb is episkopeo, which, in reference to the work of an overseer, is found in <1 Pet. 5:2>, RV, “exercising the oversight,” for KJV “taking the oversight.” See OVERSIGHT.



1Tim. 3:1. If a man seeketh the office of a bishop,

If anyone



Ei  tis







Some have claimed a man must seek the office.  That is certainly commen­dable but is not what it says.  The attitude necessary to receive the office is specified in 1Peter 5:1-4:

Tend [#4165 poimainō] the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight [#1983 episkopeō], not of constraint, but willingly, accord­ing to (the will of) God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;  3 neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making your­selves ensamples to the flock.   4 And when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away.”  




1Tim. 3:1. he desireth a good work.



he desires








#2041 ergon; from a primary (but obsolete) ergo (to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication, an act:e overseer

KJV-- deed, doing, labor, work.

Eph. 4:12. “for the work of the ministry

1Thes. 5:13.     Esteem those having the oversight [1Pet. 5:2 #1983 episko­peō] highly for their works sake.


Some have denied that eldership is an “office.”  Based on the state­ment, “he desires a good work” they claim it is only a work.  It is a work but the fact that hands were laid and the repeated use of the word, “appoint” plus qualifications that exclude others, and even being paid, all show it is also an office.  Everything necessary is present.



1Tim. 3:2. The bishop therefore must














#1163  dei; third person singular active present of #1210; also deon; neuter active participle of the same; both used impersonally; it is (was, etc.) necessary (as binding):

KJV-- behooved, be meet, must (needs), (be) need (-ful), ought, should.

Titus 1:7 “For the bishop must be blameless”


      Acts 4:12. “name given among men whereby we must be saved

Tit. 1:11.    “Mouths must be stopped

Heb. 11:6. “He that comes to God must believe that he is

Jn. 3:7.       “Ye must be born again”



1Tim. 3:2. be without reproach,








#423  anepileptos; from #1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of #1949; not arrested, i.e. (by implication) inculpa­ble:

      KJV-- blameless, unrebukeable.

      1Tim 6:14   unrebukeable, until the

Compare: Titus 1:6, 7 “...bishop must be blameless (#410 anegkletos)”


Without reproach” seems to be the general introductory statement with the things that follow covering what this includes. 




1Tim. 3:2. husband of  one  wife,[1]

of one










#435 aner; a primary word (compare #444); a man (properly as an individual male):

KJV-- fellow, husband, man, sir.


      #3391 mia; irregular feminine of #1520; one or first:

      KJV-- a (certain), + agree, first, one, X other.

Titus 1:6Husband of one wife

Revised Standard Version: “married only once”


1Tim. 3:12. Deacons to be husbands of one (#3391 mia) wife.

1Tim. 5:9. Widows to have been wife of one (#1520 heis) man.


a.   Does, “husband of one wife,” mean he must be married? 


A similar phrase is found in 1Tim. 5:9 concerning widows.   Since all widows have been married, it does not appear that it is saying she must have been married.  Rather, it seems to speak to her moral character – a “one-man woman.” (see below).  If this does not refer to moral character, to what does it refer?  Does it mean that she must only have been married once?  How would remarriage after the death of a previous husband in any reasonable way be a problem for her role as a widow?  In verse 14 Paul tells the younger widows to marry, which by this interpretation would exclude her from any future possibility of being enrolled.


Mias guniakos andra” may be translated, “one woman man,” with the meaning that he must not be a man of more than one woman – not a womanizer or polygamist.


The fact that Paul encouraged men not to marry because of “the present distress” and to avoid “distraction” (1Cor. 7:26-35), seems strange if the elders and deacons were required to be married.


We may note that in Acts 6, those who were chosen to “serve” (diaconia #1247) in the daily “ministration” (diaconeō  #1248) were not required to be married.  These seem to have been at least proto-type deacons.  Some suggest that these may have been proto-type elders.  It makes no difference because the same requirement is said of both.  If it was necessary to be married to be a deacon then it seems that these men, who’s job was to look after the daily ministration of the widows, would surely have needed that qualification as much as those in 1Timothy 3.


      The fact is that it may not actually be saying he must be married.  However, many will insist that in order to be the “husband of one wife” it presumes he has a wife.  One may “presume” this but a careful consideration of the case raises some question. 


If the Greek means “a one woman man” then it is speaking of a man who is faithful to his wife. It excludes men who have more than one.  However, if I say that men of the church must be faithful to their wives, I am not assuming that all men must be married.  Whether married or not, all men should be “one women men.” 


b.      Does it mean he can be married to only one woman? 


It would seem to exclude polygamy, but many commentators think that is not the focus.  The culture of the times did not accept multiple wives.  Of course, God could have included it because He knew there would be places and times in the future when it would be relevant. However, the claim that polygamy was not practiced is in serious doubt.


McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia

POLYGAMY "...The practice of polygamy nevertheless still existed; Herod the Great had no less than nine wives at one time (Josephus, Ant. 17, 1, 3); the Talmudists frequently assume it as a well-known fact (e.g. Ketub. 10, 1; Yebam. 1, 1); and the early Christian writers, in their comments on 1 Tim 3:2, explain it of polygamy in terms which leave no doubt as to the fact of its prevalence in the apostolic age.  Michaelis (Laws of Moses, 3, 5, § 95) asserts that polygamy ceased entirely after the return from the Captivity; Selden. on the other hand, that polygamy prevailed among the Jews until the time of Honorius and Arcadius (cir. A.D. 400), when it was prohibited by an imperial edict (Ux. Ebr. 1, 9)." (Also, see Barnes on 1Tim 3)


It is further argued that the same phrase, in 1Tim. 5:9 concerning widows would seem unlikely to mean that she should not have more than one husband at a time.  Polyandry was entirely unknown, though again it may be that God was including the possibility that in some situation that could be the case.  Minucius Felix, 210 AD, Chap. 24 says: “Some sacred places are crowned by a woman having one husband, some by a woman with many; and she who can reckon up most adulteries is sought after with most religious zeal.”


While the statement may not clearly require marriage, the context relating to ruling his house etc. may presume it.  Because it could be either way, I would not ordain an unmarried man. However, neither would I call for a widowed elder's dismissal on that ground.  If he is morally and spiritually above reproach and rules compe­tently, I feel the basis for removal is insufficient, unfair to him, a loss to the church, and possibly divisive. 


c.       Does it mean he can have been married only one time?


It seems that if it meant he was only to have been married one time it would have more clearly specified, perhaps by use of the past tense.  It also seems that if it were requiring both marriage and excluding more than one, it would have been more specific.  In any case, the primary intent of specifying, “one” seems to be that the man must not have more than one woman.


These problems are mostly resolved if the requirement is viewed as a matter of moral uprightness under the general introductory requirement, “without reproach.”  He must be a “one woman man” --not a womanizer.  This also fits with the requirement for widows – “of good moral character.”


If we press the issue beyond morality we run into many problems.  Is a man the husband of one wife if his wife has died?  Is he husband of one wife if he remarries after his wife’s death?  In such cases, some would require an elder to resign, but that does not seem to be encompassed in the introductory requirement “without reproach.” There is no reproach in being widowed or remarrying after his wife has died.  The require­ment is in the present tense.  If he remarries after his first wife dies, he still has only one.  This would not seem to violate the requirement.


Would a previous divorce, perhaps before he became a Christian, bar him from being an elder either while his first wife was still living or after she was dead?  Could a man who remarried after an unfaithful wife divorced, qualify?  Since the present tense is used, it is questionable whether it was intended to exclude a past marriage. 


However, the divorce situation can become a point of conflict.  Since some of these issues are less than conclusive, many honest people sincerely disagree concerning the full intent of some of these requirements.  Mostly, it seems best to be conservative and not to force issues, except where the qualification is being clearly and fundamentally violated. 


Peace in the church should be preserved.  It is best to proceed with caution.  Paul warns us to avoid striving about words to no profit (2Tim. 2:14).  In any case, a minority view should abide by the decision of the majority.  However, unless dealing with factionalists, many times, it is wise for the majority to respect the concerns of the minority (see Romans 14).


Because there is a doubt, and strong question in the minds of many which may result in strife, my judgment is that it is prudent not to ordain unmarried or divorced men.  On the other hand, neither would I ask a man who’s wife had died to step down.


      #1135 gune; probably from the base of #1096; a woman; special­ly, a wife:

      KJV-- wife, woman.



1Tim. 3:2.  temperate,





#3524  nephaleos; or nephalios; from #3525; sober, i.e. (figuratively) circumspect:

      KJV-- sober, vigilant.

      1Tim 3:11.  wives must be sober, faithful in all

      Titus 2:2.   Aged men sober, grave, temperate,



1Tim. 3:2. sober-minded,





#4998  sophron; from the base of #4982 and that of #5424; safe (sound) in mind, i.e. self-controlled (moderate as to opinion or passion):

      KJV-- discreet, sober, temperate.  ***. ta. See #3588.

      Titus 1:8.  Bishop must be... sober,

      Titus 2:2.  Older men to be sober, grave, temperate,

      Titus 2:5.  Younger women to be discreet,



1Tim. 3:2. orderly,

good behavior,




      #2887  kosmios; from #2889 (in its primary sense); orderly, i.e.  decorous:

      KJV-- of good behavior, modest.

      1Tim 3:2    good behavior

      1Tim 2:9    women dress in modest apparel

   (cf. 1Pet. 3:1-6)



1Tim. 3:2. given to hospitality,





#5382  philoxenos; from #5384 and #3581; fond of guests, i.e.  hospitable:

KJV-- given to (lover of, use) hospitality.

Titus 1:8   But a lover of hospitality,

1Pet 4:9    Use hospitality one to another



1Tim. 3:2.  apt to teach;

able to teach;




 #1317 didaktikos; from #1318; instructive (“didactic”):

      KJV-- apt to teach.

      2Tim 2:24   apt to teach, patient,


How “apt” should he be?  Titus 1:9 says, “holding the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers.” 



1Tim. 3:3.  no brawler


given to wine





#3943  paroinos; from #3844 and #3631; staying near wine, i.e.  tippling (a toper):

KJV-- given to wine.

Titus 1:7. not given to wine,


What is being prohibited?  The Greek word, “paroinon” here is a combination of two words—“par” and “oinos.”  “Par” means, “with,” and oinos means, “wine.” Thus it literally means, “Not with Wine.”  The basic Greek etymology seems to exclude being with or beside wine.  However, many translations render it as “brawler,” “drunkard” etc.  Such a translation would seem redundant since the words that follow specify that he is not to be a smiter, but gentle.


To prevent drinking too much and angering Jehovah God, when serv­ing at the altar Priests were prohibited from drinking wine (Lev. 10:9).  As priests of God in the church (1Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6), should we abstain from drink?  While wise and commendable, there is no allusion to this in the New Testament, and without it the analogy is questionable.  The priests were required many things not applicable to us.


Nazarites likewise were dedicated to God and drank no wine.  Lest some try to manipulate the command, they were even prohibited from eating grapes or raisins (Num. 6:3).  Again, the analogy is questionable.


Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; And whosoever erreth there­by is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). Solomon warned his son that kings should not drink wine because it distorts judgment (Prov. 3:4-5).  The warning is good but does not preclude the many passages where wine was permitted. 


It seems best to approach the problem from the perspective of Christian love as Paul did in 1Corinthians 8-10 and Romans 14.  Today, in view of the fortified high alcoholic nature of wine, and the common use of distilled spirits, the matter of Christian example and expediency should put all indulgence in alcohol beyond any consideration.  Alcohol is a powerful drug and today the most destructive of all drugs.  Small quantities may be used legitimately for medicinal purposes but it has no place in our lives as a beverage. 


This principle is sustained by Paul in 1Corinthians concerning eating meats sacrificed to idols.  In chapter 8 he answers their objection that they knew that an idol is nothing.  He says that “knowledge puffs up but love edifies” (I Cor. 8:1). 


Then he says,

I Cor. 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. 10 For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; 11 And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? 12 But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. 13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.


He also said,

“It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbles or is offended, or is made weak. ” (Romans 14:21). 


In 1Corinthians, chapter 9, Paul answers their objection that in Christ they were free to do as they pleased.  He responds that he was free to take their money but for their sakes he did not.


In chapter 10, he responds to their claim that it would not hurt them because they were “strong.”  He warns them, 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 


In verse 14 he tells them that the way to avoid falling is to flee temptation. He goes on to warn them that sitting in the idol’s temple is inconsistent with eating at the Lord’s table.


So, it is certainly relevant to ask, how can a Christian sit in a bar and drink?  Is this not the same sort of thing that Paul warns against?  Does not such behavior pose a problem for the weak?


Deacons were prohibited from “much wine” (1Tim. 3:8).  Such an example would undermine their ministry and damage the church.  Certainly elders were required to be as above criticism as deacons.  “Paroinos” may not require total abstinence but at least it prohibits from being “beside” it--that is, social drinking. 


Some say they only use it in the privacy of their homes.  They maintain that it is better to teach one's children to “drink properly” than for them to learn it outside.  This rationalizes around the fact that we are dealing with a dangerous drug.  Even non-Christians recognize and warn of the danger of teaching young people to drink.  We must be good examples to our children. 


In Bible times it was difficult to preserve juices without them becoming wine.  It could be done by making them into jelly, or dried, which could be reconsti­tuted by adding water or boiling.  However, wine was a natural product. Those wines were low in alcohol because even with honey added the alcohol created by the yeast would kill the fermentation at a maximum of around 14%.   Adding alcohol to make wine “fortified” may bring the content up to 24%.  Natural wine  normally as probably around 8%.


Note that even though this wine was low in alcohol, the Bible warns of its danger and indicates abstinence as an ideal, particularly with regard to leadership roles and example.  One could get drunk on it.  Because of this there is historical indication that it was commonly diluted with water. 


To exclude all drinking, some have sought to show that wine in the Bible drunk by Christians was nothing but grape juice.[2]  There is some evidence that unfermented grape juice was also called, “wine” (Matt. 9:17; Jer. 48:33) but much Biblical mention indicates the possibility of drinking too much, clearly indicating the effect of alcohol. 


Why tell elders not to be “with wine” and warn deacons against “much,” if it could not intoxicate?  Why would Timothy be reluctant to drink grape juice (1Tim. 5:23)?  Why else warn people to not be drunken with wine (Eph. 5:18)?  Why, if wine was not intoxicating, would Paul be concerned about causing people to stumble by drinking it (Rom. 14:21)?


The purpose is well meaning but such claims do more harm than good.  The attempt is to answer the claim that drinking wine is Biblically justifiable.  However, a “little wine” never was the problem.  The problem is “MUCH” wine and HIGH ALCOHOL content.


Beware of the trap of getting maneuvered into using arguments that undermine our cred­ibility and make us look foolish.  My message is not that all drinking is a sin but that Jesus calls for us to show the kind of love that will not bring injury to others.  Faithful Christians will not exploit their “liberty” to the spiritual damage of others (Rom. 14:21) -- especially not those who are to be “examples to the flock.”


In ancient times, with its natural preservation as a food and low alcoholic content, the use of wine was reasonable. However, with the numerous varieties of drinks and fruit juices available to us through improved transportation and modern methods of preservation, there is no need for beverage consumption of alcohol.  With the fast pace of modern society, even Biblically acceptable quantities become inconsistent with Christian ethics of concern for the welfare of others. 


In our modern drug-dominated society with alcohol the most damaging of all, trying to justify alcohol seems worse than folly.  In old times when a man mounted up to go home, at least one of the two still had a little “horse sense.” Today, when a man climbs behind the wheel and kicks in 180 blind “horses” under the hood, he needs all the sense he can muster to keep control.  Alco­hol, even in small quantities, slows responses and there is nothing good about the peril it brings.  The same may be said of involving it in the use of power tools and work for an employer, in our fast-moving environment.  Drinking any amount puts others and us at risk.  That is not consistent with Christian love.



1Tim 3:3. no striker;







#4131  plektes; from #4141; a smiter, i.e. pugnacious (quar­relsome):

      KJV-- striker.

Titus 1:7.  Elders ...no striker



1Tim. 3:3. but gentle,








#1933  epieikes; from #1909 and #1503; appropriate, i.e. (by implication) mild:

      KJV-- gentle, moderation, patient.

      Phil 4:5.      Let your moderation be

      Titus 3:2.   gentle

      James 3:17.      gentle,

      1Pet 2:18.        gentle



1Tim 3:3.  not contentious,

no brawler,




#269  amachos; from #1 (as a negative particle) and #3163; peaceable:

      KJV-- not a brawler.

      Titus 3:2.   to be no brawlers,

cf. 2Tim. 2:23-25



1Tim. 3:3. no lover of money;

Not greedy of filthy lucre,




#866  aphilarguros; from #1 (as a negative particle) and #5366; unavaricious:

      KJV-- without covetousness, not greedy of filthy lucre.

      Heb 13:5.  without covetousness;


This requirement is often the least considered in choosing elders.  If a man dresses well, has a nice car and home, and is well-educated, his qualifications are rarely questioned.  Unfortunately, I have known men to seek leadership in the church who have had terrible business reputations --even to exploiting handicapped brethren out of thousands of dollars.                       

1Tim. 3:8; Tit. 1:7; 1Pet. 5:2. cf. Acts 20:33; 1Tim. 6:5-10; 2Tim. 3:6-7



1Tim. 3:4.  one that ruleth well his own house,


of him



One that rules,












 #4291  proistemi; from #4253 and #2476; to stand before, i.e. (in rank) to preside, or (by implication) to practice:

      KJV-- maintain, be over, rule.

      Rom. 12:8Let him that rules, do it with diligence

      1Thes. 5:12-13Know them that are over you and esteem them highly



1Tim. 3:4.  having  (his)  children  in  subjection














#5292  hupotage; from #5293; subordination:

      KJV-- subjection.



·        Is this saying he must have children, or is it saying that his children must be well behaved? 

·        Must he have more than one? It says, “children” (plural).

·        Must his children be young enough to still be “in subjection” (1Tim. 3:4)?  What if a child leaves the home and is no longer under his authority?

·        May an adopted child be counted as his? 

·        May a child from a previous marriage (such as if he marries a woman with children) be counted? 

·        Must he resign if he has two children and one dies after he has been ordained?


There is reasonable doubt that the above statement requires children.  The requirement that his children must be in subjection is related to the preceding statement that he is to rule his house well, and the following question,  “if he cannot rule his own house, how shall he take care of the house of God?”  However, again, the peace of the congregation is more important than pushing someone in over honest objections. 



1Tim. 3:4. with all  gravity;











      #4587  semnotes; from #4586; venerableness, i.e. probity:

      KJV-- gravity, honesty.

1Tim 2:2.  That we may live quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and honesty.

      1Tim 3:4.  Bishop's children in subjection with all gravity;

      Titus 2:7. in doctrine  shewing incorruptness, gravity, sincerity,


Note: #4586  semnos; from #4576; venerable, i.e. honorable:

      KJV-- grave, honest.

Note that there is nothing in this passage that requires children to be believers. 

Compare with Titus 1:6.



1Tim. 3:5. (but if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house,





of them
























#4291  proistemi; from #4253 and #2476; to stand before, i.e. (in rank) to preside, or (by implication) to practice:

      KJV-- maintain, be over, rule.

      Rom 12:8.    ruleth, with diligence;

      1Thes 5:12.  and are over you in the

      1Tim 3:4.    elder...One that ruleth well his own house

      1Tim 3:12.   deacons ..ruling their children

      1Tim 5:17.   Let the elders that rule well receive double honor



1Tim. 3:5. how shall he take care of the church of God?)



of God

will he care for?










#1959  epimeleomai; middle voice from #1909 and the same as #3199; to care for (physically or otherwise):

KJV-- take care of.

NOTE: Here, #1959, “take care of,” is used as synonymous with #4291, “rule”

1Tim. 5:17. Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor.

Luke 10:34.  The Samaritan took him to an inn, and took care of him.



1Tim. 3:6. not a novice


new convert





#3504  neophutos; from #3501 and a derivative of #5453; newly planted, i.e. (figuratively) a young convert (“neophyte”):

      KJV-- novice.

      (Note: found only here.)

      See 1Tim. 5:22. “Lay hands hastily on no man.”


This term did not deal with age but with Christian experience.  How much experi­ence is not specified.  It seems to presume that this is sufficient caution for those appointing him.


However, there is the question raised by the word, “elder” that, at least in its original concept, indicated an older person.  Had it come to mean just senior in position?  If age is in view, how old? Older than who?  Again, this seems to be left to those making the choice but it is difficult to see this as being applied to anyone less than 30 years old--the age Jesus began his ministry.  While in Jewish usage it would have been around 60, the lack of setting any age restrictions would seem to indicate the age is left to local judgment.



1Tim. 3:6. lest being puffed up he fall  into the  condemnation of the devil.  



puffed up



he fall

of the


















This seems to suggest that he must beware lest pride lead him into the same condemnation as was the case with the devil.



1Tim. 3:7. Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without





























      #3141  marturia; from #3144, Feminine Noun

Evidence given (as before a judge):

KJV-- record, report, testimony, witness.



1Tim. 3:7.  lest  he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil





he fall,


a snare

of the























Titus 1:5 “For this cause I left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that  were wanting, and appoint elders in  every city, as I gave  thee charge; 6 if any man is blameless, the husband of  one  wife,  having children that believe, who are not ac­cused of riot or unruly. 7 For the bishop must be blameless, as God's  steward; not self-willed, not soon angry, no brawler, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; 8  but given to hospitality, as lover of  good, sober-minded,  just, holy, self-controlled; 9 holding to the faithful word  which is according to the teaching,  that  he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers.”



Titus 1:5. For this cause left I thee in Crete,



I left



















Titus 1:5. that thou shouldest set in  order  the things that  were wanting,



things lacking

you set in order,












Titus 1:5. and appoint elders in  every city,




in city













#2525  kathistemi; from #2596 and #2476; to place down (permanently), i.e. (figuratively) to designate, constitute, convoy:

      KJV-- appoint, be, conduct, make, ordain, set. 

      Matt 25:21,23.  Steward: I will make thee ruler over many things

Acts 6:3.  Deacons (?): appoint over this

Heb 2:7.   Man: didst set him over the works of thy hands

Heb 7:28. Priests: For the law maketh men

Heb 8:3.  High Priest: ordained to offer gifts


Another word translated, “appoint” is found in Acts 14:23, when Paul and Barnabas returned from their first missionary journey.  It says they appointed elders in every church.  Because it indicates the outstretched hand, some have suggested it was a vote of the congregation. I consider it both scriptural and wise for the church to take a vote, but it appears that such a meaning presses this passage too far.  Paul and Barnabas were the ones who “stretched out their hands” to appoint elders. 


#5500  cheirotoneo; from a comparative of #5495 and teino (to stretch); to be a hand-reacher or voter (by raising the hands), i.e. (generally) to select or appoint:

      KJV-- choose, ordain.

      Acts 14:23.  Paul and Barnabus ordained elders

      2Cor 8:19.  chosen of the churches to carry the collection


Acts 6:1-6 provides an excellent example of how choices might have been made.  It concerns those chosen to relieve the apostles.  There were three steps. 

1.      The apostles authorized the action and specified the qual­ifications for serving (#1247  diakoneō). 

2.      The people did the choos­ing, based on those qualifications. 

3.      The Apostles then did the appointing by laying on of hands. 


This system is ideal since it meets the need and yet has good checks and balanc­es against overloardship by leaders, or of a popularity vote by people without considering qualifications. The “multitude” knew these men personally, perhaps better than the Apostles.  The Apostles knew the word and had the final say.  There is no excuse for power struggles between the congregation and the leadership.  Surely, this was included in scripture as a pattern for us.


The pattern was set with Jesus who admonished that those who wished to lead, be “servants of the rest” (Matt. 23:1-12).  Peter specifically states that elders are not to function as lords over God's heritage but to be exam­ples to the flock (1Pe. 5:2-4).  Those who lead should be seeking to serve the Lord in meeting the needs of the church.


New Testament congregations are repeatedly spoken of as participating in decisions.  How did they do this?  Was it a secret or open ballot?  Did they use a written vote, or a show of hands?  Did they poll the people individually and privately or was it at a general meeting?  It appears that the choice of method is irrelevant, so long as it is agreed among the people. 


Acts 9:30. The brethren at Jerusalem sent Paul to Tarsus. 

Acts 11:29-30. The people of the church at Antioch sent an offering. 

Ac. 15:2.  The Antioch church appointed Paul and Barnabas to go to Jerusalem about the dispute over whether circumcision should be bound upon the gentiles.

Acts 15:22. At Jerusalem the people are said to have agreed in sending the message to the churches of the Gentiles. 

Acts 15:40 the church at Anti­och commended Paul and Silas to the second missionary Journey. 

Acts 17:14 the brethren at Berea “sent” Paul away. 


In the matter of discipline the people clearly share in the matter.  Matthew 18:17 says that if a problem could not be resolved between the individuals it was to be told to the church. In 1Corinthians 5:4, instead of telling the leaders to put the offender out, Paul says for the church to be gathered together for that purpose.  2Cor. 2:6 says it was done by the many. This was no back room action.   


Likewise, the need for knowledge of the qualifications of elders and deacons, suggests that in some way the people were communicating in the process.  Whether or not they voted formally, they must have expressed their knowledge of the candidates.




(King James Version)

Mark 3:14 Jesus ordained (poieō) the apostles

Acts 1:22 The disciples ordained (ginomai) Matthias to replace Judas

Acts 14:23 The apostles ordained (cheirotoneō) elders in every church

Titus 1:5. Titus was to ordain (kathistēmi) elders in  every city.

1Tim. 2:7 Paul was ordained (tithēmi) a preacher and an apostle. 

Heb. 5:1; 8:3 High priests were ordained (kathistēmi)


Luke 10:1 The seventy were appointed (anadeiknumi) by Jesus. 

Acts 6:3 The seven were appointed (kathistēmi)  to look after the widows.

2Tim 1:11 Paul was appointed (tithēmi) a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher


Why ordain men into the ministry?:

1.  Because Jesus and the Apostles did.  It must be right and good.

2.  Those who enter the ministry need a formal commitment to the work to which they are called.(as marriage is a formal commitment)

3.   Those who enter the ministry need to know that they have the official backing of leaders.

4.   Others need to know that they have been officially authorized to serve.

5.   If they shame their charge they may also be officially removed. (As in marriage, if there is no formal writing of divorcement how do we show a legitimate divorce?)


How should the ordination be done?


Acts 6:6.  After praying apostles laid hands on the those appointed to look after the widows.

Acts 13:3.  Paul and Barnabas were sent out by fasting, praying and laying on of hands.

Acts 14:23 They prayed with fasting in ordaining elders in the churches.

2Tim 1:6.  Paul laid hands on Timothy

1Tim. 5:22. The admonition not to hastily lay on hands indicates Timothy laid hands on the elders.


May a person preach who has not been ordained?

1Cor. 16:15 At Corinth, the household of Stephanas set themselves to minister to the saints. No elders are mentioned.

Acts 18:24-28; 19:1; 1Cor. 1:12; 3:4-6.  Apollos taught without being ordained. 





Titus 1:5.  as I gave  thee charge














#1299  diatasso; from #1223 and #5021; to arrange thorough­ly, i.e.  (specially) institute, prescribe, etc.:

      KJV-- appoint, command, give, (set in) order, ordain.

Matt 11:1.        commanding his twelve

      Luke 3:13.        which is appointed you.

      Luke 8:55.        commanded to give her   

Luke 17:9.        commanded him?

      Luke 17:10.      commanded you

      Acts 7:44.        appointed

      Acts 18:2.        Claudius had commanded

      Acts 20:13.      he appointed

      Acts 23:31.      was commanded them

      Acts 24:23.      And he commanded

      1Cor 7:17.       And so ordain I

      1Cor 11:34.     rest will I set in order

      Titus 1:5.   I had appointed thee:



Titus 1:6. if any man is blameless,

If anyone



ei  tis







#410  anegkletos; from #1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of #1458; unaccused, i.e. (by implication) irreproachable:

      KJV-- blameless.

      1Cor 1:8.   may be blameless

      Col 1:22.   unreproveable

      1Tim 3:10.  Elders: blameless.

      Titus 1:6.    Bishops: If any be blameless

      Titus 1:7.   Bishops: must be blameless



Titus 1:6. the husband of  one  wife,

of one










      (See 1Tim. 3 concerning elders, above)



Titus 1:6.   having children








 #2192  echo; including an alternate form “scheo”, used in certain tenses only; a primary verb; to hold (used in very various appli­cations, literally or figuratively, direct or remote; such as possessions; ability, continuity, relation, or condition):


KJV-- be (able, X hold, possessed with), accompany, + begin to amend, can (+-not), X conceive, count, diseased, do + eat, + enjoy, + fear, following, have, hold, keep, + lack, + go to law, lie, + must needs, + of necessity, + need, next, + recover, + reign, + rest, + return, X sick, take for, + tremble, + uncircumcised, use.


A question arises as to whether this requires him to have children. Most of our brethren read it that way, and that may be the safest view.  That choice generally avoids conflict with those who read it as requiring children and for this reason, if no other, it may be best to leave it that way.


However, it may be that it simply means that any children he has must be well behaved.  That is the best understanding of the parallel statement in 1Tim 3 and it raises fewer problems about things that do not seem to relate to whether a man can successfully do the job.


For example:

·        Must he have more than one child? It says “children.”

·        Must he have a plurality of children “in subjection” (1Tim. 3:4). Is a child that has grown up, still viewed as in subjection?

·        May a child who is adopted be counted as his child?

·        May a child from a previous marriage be counted? (such as if he is widowed and remarries a woman with children)

·        Must and Elder resign if a child that would qualify him dies? 


It may seem incredible to most but there have been some nasty church fights over such things.



Titus 1:6.faithful children,” (King James Version)

that believe” –A.S.V.




4103 pistos {pis-tos'} ¤ from 3982; TDNT - 6:174,849; adjective

¤ AV - faithful 53, believe 6, believing  2, true 2, faithfully 1, believer 1, sure  1; not tr 1; 67 times

1) trusty, faithful

1a)  of persons who  show themselves faithful in the  transaction of business, the  execution of commands, or the  discharge of official duties

1b) one  who kept his plighted faith, worthy of  trust

1c) that can be relied on

2)      easily persuaded

2a) believing,  confiding, trusting

2b) in the NT one  who trusts in God's promises

2b1)  one who is convinced that Jesus has  been raised from the dead

2b2) one  who has become convinced that  Jesus is the Messiah and author of  salvation


a.       Places where pistos is translated “faithful


Matt 24:45; Luke 12:42.  Who then is a faithful and wise servant

Matt 25:21.  thou good and faithful servant:

Matt 25:21, 23; Luke 16:10.  thou hast been faithful over a few things

Matt 25:23.  good and faithful servant;

Luke 16:11-12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?

Luke 19:17.  because thou wast found faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Acts 16:15.  if you have judged me to be faithful

1Cor 1:9.  God is faithful

1Cor 4:2.  a man be found faithful.

1Cor 4:17.  and faithful in the Lord,

1Cor 7:25.  of the Lord to be faithful.

1Cor 10:13.  God is faithful,

Gal 3:9.   faithful Abraham.

Eph 1:1.  to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Eph 6:21. Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord

Col 1:2.   faithful brethren

Col 1:7.   who is a faithful minister

Col 4:7.   beloved brother, and a faithful minister

Col 4:9.   With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother

1Thes 5:24.  Faithful is he that

2Thes 3:3.   But the Lord is faithful,

1Tim 1:12.  counted me faithful,

1Tim 1:15.   This is a faithful saying

1Tim 3:1.   This is a true saying,

1Tim 3:11.   faithful in all things

1Tim 4:9.   This is a faithful saying

1Tim 6:2.  they are faithful and    

2Tim 2:2.  commit thou to faithful men

2Tim 2:11.  It is a faithful saying:

2Tim 2:13.   abideth faithful: he

Titus 1:9.  Holding fast the faithful word

Titus 3:8.   This is a faithful saying

Heb. 2:17.  that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest

Heb 3:2.  Who was faithful to him

Heb 3:5.  faithful in all his

Heb 10:23.  is faithful that

1Pet 4:19.  unto a faithful Creator.

1 John 1:9.  he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins

3 John 1:5.   Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest

Rev. 1:5.  Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness

Rev. 2:10.   be thou faithful unto death,

Rev. 3:14.  the faithful and true witness

Rev. 17:14.  they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Rev. 19:11.  he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True,

Rev. 21:5.  Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Rev. 22:6.  These sayings are faithful and true:


b.      Places where pistos is translated to indicate belief

John 20:27.  be not faithless, but believing.

Acts 10:45.  believed were astonished,

Acts 16:1.  Jewess, and believed; but

2Cor 6:15.  believeth with an unbeliever

1Tim 4:3.  which believe and know the truth

1Tim 4:10.  specially those that believe.

1Tim 4:12.  example of the believers,

1Tim 5:16.  believeth have widows,

1Tim 6:2.  believing masters, let

      Rev. 2:13.  and hast not denied my faith,




Does the Greek word, pistos (Strong: #4103) require an elder's children to be believers?  The King James Version translates it, “faithful child­ren.”  Most others use some equivalent to “believing.”  It is clear from the above passages that pistos does not always mean, “believing,” and indeed, out of 66 times in the King James Version, it is translated with some form of “believe” only 10 times.  Lightfoot (p. 157 on Galatians) indicates the meaning must be determined by the context and that it means a responsible person.  Barnes Notes agrees.


The first thing that raised a question in my mind was when I tried to match the two lists of qualifications in Timothy and Titus.  I found that many of the words were the same.  Nearly all the rest were synonymous. There were some different words but the meanings generally roughly corresponded.  However, in this instance the letters to Timothy and Titus seemed to differ greatly.


1Timothy 3:4 says, “One that rules his own house well, having his children in subjection with all gravity.” 

Titus 1:6  (in the A.S.V.), “having children that believe, who are not accused of riot or unruly.”

Titus 1:6  (in the K.J.V.), “having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.”


Why did Timothy not require believing children?  It does not seem logical that qualifications for elders at Ephesus should differ substantially from those in Crete.  Further checking shows that “faithful” is repeatedly used in the sense of being loyal, trustworthy or responsible.  In fact, in the same chapter of 1Timothy (3:11) it says that their wives must be “faithful in all things” and every translation I have on my computer translates it this way, or as “trustworthy.” 


If that is the meaning intended it resolves the difficulty.  If not, then it would appear that in some way the words in 1Timothy must convey the necessity that their children are believers.


The only possibility seems to be that “with all gravity” means his children must believe.  Examination of the dictionary definition and uses, both of the word itself and its related forms, fails to substantiate this.  At least, it is not what Timothy would seem to convey from ordinary sense of the words.


“Faithful,” rather than “believing,” avoids a number of problems. 

·        Must he have more than one child that believes?

·        Must they all be believers? 

·        If a man has another child after he becomes an elder, would he be unqualified until the child became a believer? 

·        If he has two believing children and one dies, is he still qualified?  

·        What if a man has several children--must they all become believers before he can serve? 

·        What if, after leaving home, one falls away from the faith? 


A man can control the behavior of children in his home but how can he be held accountable for the free choice of his children to believe?  A child has a free will.  If the parent is to be held responsible for a child not believing, that seems to make conversion nothing but a clever manipulation by parents.  Can children's faith simply be programmed?  I would dread laying that kind of blame on parents who have a child that failed.  I know a number of godly men who have been highly successful with several children and had one to fail.  Was God to blame for Adam and Eve's fall?


      The purpose of the qualifications seems to be primarily to put in men who can do the job and avoid problems that would hinder their service or injure the testimony of the church.  Interpreting this to mean they must have believing children excludes a great number of competent people for many years, and perhaps forever, especially if they have children later in life.  There seems to be no really compelling gain in this.


On the other hand, if it is saying that the elder's children must be well-behaved, it goes right to the core of successful leadership.  If not, he would not have the respect and trust of the people in leading the church.


Saying that the men of the church should have children that are well-behaved is not the same as saying that all men in the church must have children.  


The next phrase (“not accused of riot or unruly”) suggests it is explanatory of what is meant by “faithful” or being well behaved.


One final thought—Deacons, were not required to have children that believe.  Why would the children of elders, and not deacons have this requirement?  Would it not be important for them to have set the same example?


For a more extensive discussion of the pro’s and con’s of this question





Titus 1:6. who are not accused of riot or unruly.  (cf. 1Tim. 3:4)




of looseness















#810  asotia; from a compound of #1 (as a negative particle) and a presumed derivative of #4982; properly, unsavedness, i.e. (by impli­cation) profligacy:

      KJV-- excess, riot.

      Eph 5:18.   wine, wherein is excess;

      Titus 1:6.    not accused of riot or

      1Pet 4:4.    excess of riot, speaking


#506  anupotaktos; from #1 (as a negative particle) and a presumed derivative of #5293; unsubdued, i.e.  insubordinate (in fact or temper):

      KJV-- disobedient, that is not put under, unruly.

      1Tim 1:9. disobedient,

      Titus 1:6.  unruly.

      Titus 1:10.  For there are many unruly

      Heb 2:8.  for there is nothing that is not put under him.



Titus 1:7. For the bishop must be blameless,






to be














 #410  anegkletos; from #1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of #1458; unaccused, i.e. (by implication) irreproachable:

      KJV-- blameless.

(see verse 6 above)





Titus 1:7. as God's steward;


of God

a steward,








#3623  oikonomos; from #3624 and the base of #3551; a house-distributor (i.e. manager), or overseer, i.e. an employee in that capacity; by extension, a fiscal agent (treasurer); figuratively, a preach­er (of the Gospel):

      KJV-- chamberlain, governor, steward.

Luke 12:42.  wise steward,

      Luke 16:1.   had a steward;

      Rom 16:23.   chamberlain of the city

      1Cor 4:1.    Apostles: stewards of the mysteries of God

1Cor 4:2.  it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful

      Gal 4:2.     governors until the time

      1Pet 4:10.  stewards of the manifold grace of God


Titus 1:7. not self-willed,








      #829  authades; from #846 and the base of #2237; self-pleas­ing, i.e. arrogant:

      KJV-- self-willed.

      Titus 1:7.   of God; not self willed,

      2Pet 2:10.   self willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries


Titus 1:7. not soon angry,







       #3711  orgilos; from #3709; irascible:

      KJV-- soon angry.

(Found only here but orgē (#3709 noun), and orgizō (#3710 verb) forms, have many references on anger)


Titus 1:7. no brawler,


given to wine,





#3943  paroinos (par'-oy-nos); from #3844 and #3631; staying near wine, i.e.  tippling (a toper):

      KJV-- given to wine.

1Tim 3:3. Elders: Not given to wine,

(See discussion at this verse above)

Titus 1:7.  Elders: not given to wine,


Titus 1:7. no striker,

not a






      #4131  plektes; from #4141; a smiter, i.e. pugnacious (quar­relsome):

      KJV-- striker.

      1 Tim 3:3.   no striker,

      Titus 1:7.   no striker,


Titus 1:7. not greedy of filthy lucre;


greedy of ill gain,





#146  aischrokerdes; from #150 and kerdos (gain); sordid:     

KJV-- given to (greedy of) filthy lucre.

      1Tim 3:8.   elder: not greedy of filthy lucre

      Titus 1:7.   elder: given to filthy lucre;


Titus 1:8.  but given to hospitality,


a lover of hospitality






      #5382  philoxenos; from #5384 and #3581; fond of guests, i.e.  hospitable:

      KJV-- given to (lover of, use) hospitality.

1Tim 3:2.   elder: given to hospitality,

Titus 1:8.   elder: a lover of hospitality,

1Pet 4:9.    to everyone: Use hospitality one to another



Titus 1:8.  a lover of  good,

a lover of good,




      #5358  philagathos; from #5384 and #18; fond to good, i.e. a promoter of virtue:

      KJV-- love of good men.

      Titus 1:8.   a lover of good men


Titus 1:8.    sober-minded,





#4998  sophron; from the base of #4982 and that of #5424; safe (sound) in mind, i.e. self-controlled (moderate as to opinion or passion):

      KJV-- discreet, sober, temperate.  ***. ta. See #3588.

      1Tim 3:2.    elders: sober,

      Titus 1:8.   elders: sober,

      Titus 2:2.   aged men: sober,

      Titus 2:5.   younger women: To be discreet,



Titus 1:8.    just,





#1342  dikaios; from #1349; equitable (in character or act); by implication, innocent, holy (absolutely or relatively): 81 times

KJV-- just, meet, right (-eous).

Matt. 1:19.  Joseph was a righteous man

Acts 10:22.  Cornelius was a righteous man

Rom. 1:17.  The righteous shall live by faith

(Many passages)



Titus 1:8.  holy,





#3741  hosios; [8 times] of uncertain affinity; properly, right (by intrinsic or divine character; thus distinguished from #1342, which refers rather to human statutes and relations; from #2413, which denotes formal consecration; and from #40, which relates to purity from defilement), i.e.  hallowed (pious, sacred, sure):

      KJV-- holy, mercy, shalt be.

      Acts 2:27.   Jesus: thine Holy One

      Acts 13:34.  give you the sure mercies of David

      Acts 13:35.  Holy One to see

      1Tim 2:8.    lifting up holy hands, without

      Titus 1:8.   Elders: holy, temperate;

      Heb 7:26.   became us, who is holy,

      Rev 15:4.   holy: for all nations




Titus 1:8.  self-controlled;





#1468  egkrates; from #1722 and #2904; strong in a thing (masterful), i.e. (figuratively and reflexively) self-controlled (in appe­tite, etc.):

      KJV-- temperate.

      Titus 1:8.    Elders: temperate;



Titus 1:9.  holding to the faithful word  which is according to the teaching,


to the


to the



















 that  he may be  able  to  exhort 



he may  be


to exhort











in  the sound doctrine,




of the











and to convict the gainsayers.



to convict.












1Timothy 3:8 

8 Deacons in like manner  (must be) grave, not double- tongued, 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 serve as deacons, if they be blameless.  11 Women [or “wives”] in like manner  (must be) grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling (their) children and their own houses well.  13 For they that have served well as deacons gain to themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus



1Timothy 3:8. 

      Deacons   in like  manner  (must be) grave,











      #4586  semnos; [4 times] from #4576; venerable, i.e. honorable:

      KJV-- grave, honest.

      Phil 4:8.      whatsoever things are honest,

      1Tim 3:8.   Deacons: be grave,

      1Tim 3:11.  Wives: be grave, not slanderers,

      Titus 2:2.   aged men: grave,


1Tim. 3:8. not double tongued,







      #1351  dilogos; [1 time] from #1364 and #3056; equivocal, i.e. telling a different story:

      KJV-- double-tongued.

(Only one use in N.T. in this form)

cf. James 5:12



1Tim. 3:8. not  given to much wine,




attendance to,









3631 oinos {oy'-nos} [33 times] ¤ a primary word (or perhaps of  Hebrew origin 03196); noun masculine ¤ AV – wine 32, winepress + 3125 1;  33 ¤ 1) wine 2) metaph. fiery wine of  God’s wrath 

Luke 1:15; 7:33.  John the Baptist did not drink wine

Luke 5:37-38.  New wine is not put in old wineskins lest they burst

Luke 10:34.  Wine used to cleanse wounds

John 2:9-10; 4:6.  Jesus made wine for the feast

Rom. 14:21.  It is good not to drink wine which may cause a brother to stumble.

Eph. 5:18.  Not to be drunken with wine.

1Tim. 3:8.  Deacons not to be given to much wine.

1Tim. 5:23.  Timothy told not to be only a drinker of water but to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake and his often infirmities.

Tit. 2:3.  The aged women are not to be given to much wine

cf. Tit. 1:7 Bishop must not be given to wine,



1Tim. 3:8. not greedy of filthy lucre;


greedy of ill gain





      #146  aischrokerdes; [3 times] from #150 and kerdos (gain); sordid:

      KJV-- given to (greedy of) filthy lucre.

      1Tim. 3:3.  Bishops: not greedy of filthy lucre;

1 Tim. 3:8.  Deacons: not greedy of filthy lucre;

Titus 1:7.   Elders/Bishops:  not given to filthy lucre;



1Tim. 3:9.   holding the mystery of the faith in  a pure  conscience.




of the



a clean



















      #2513  katharos (kath-ar-os'); of uncertain affinity; clean (literally or figuratively):

      KJV-- clean, clear, pure.



1Tim. 3:10.  And let these also first be proved;




let be tested













#1381 dokimazo; [28 times] from #1384; to test (literally or figura­tively); by implication, to approve:

      KJV-- allow, discern, examine, X like, (ap-) prove, try.

      Rom 12:2.  that ye may prove what is

      1Cor 11:28. But let a man examine himself

      2Cor 8:8.  to and prove the

      2Cor 8:22.  have oftentimes proved

      2Cor 13:5.  faith; prove your own

      Gal 6:4. But let every man prove

      Eph 5:10.   Proving what is

      1Thes 5:21.  Prove all things; hold

      1Pet 1:7.  be tried with fire, might

      1Jn 4:1.  every spirit, but try the spirits


“Proved” may mean merely that a check is made of their credentials. As in the case of elders, it may suggest the need that they should not be a “novice.”  It may also indicate a period of time to test how they would do in the job before formal ordination.  I have found that a trial period is wise. 



1Tim. 3:10. then let them serve as deacons,


let them minister,






1247 diakoneo  {dee-ak-on-eh'-o}

¤ from 1249; TDNT - 2:81,152; v

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


Luke 22:26-27.  but he that is chief  among you, let him become as… he that doth serve.

Acts 6:2.  The seven were chosen to “serve tables” – to see that the widows were not neglected in the daily ministration.

1Tim. 3:10. let them use the office of a deacon

1Tim. 3: 13. they that have used the office of a deacon gain to themselves a good standing,

1 Pet. 4:11.  if any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God;  if any man ministereth, let him do it as of the strength which God supplieth:




1Tim. 3:10.    if they be blameless.

without reproach







#410  anegkletos; [5 times] from #1 (as a negative particle) and a derivative of #1458; unaccused, i.e. (by implication) irreproachable:

      KJV-- blameless.  

1Cor 1:8.    may be blameless

      Col 1:22.   and unreproveable

      1Tim 3:10.  blameless

      Titus 1:6.   If any be blameless,

      Titus 1:7.   blameless, as the steward





11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.


1Tim. 3:11. Wome/wives n in like manner








Translated “wives”    KJV, RSV, GNV, KJG, MRD, NIV, NIB, NKJ, NLT, PNT, RWB, TNT, WEB

Translated “women” ASV, RSV, BBE, DEY, DRA, NAB, NAS, NAU, NTB, NRS, YLT.


      #1135  gune; [221 times] probably from the base of #1096; a woman; special­ly, a wife:

      KJV-- wife, woman.

      Eph 5:28.  their wives as their own

      Eph 5:31.  joined unto his wife, and

Col 3:18.   Wives, submit yourselves

Col 3:19.   love your wives,  

      1Tim 3:2.    husband of one wife,,

      1Tim 3:11.  Even so must their wives

      1Tim 3:12.  husbands of one wife,

      1Tim 5:9.    having been the wife of

      Titus 1:6.   husband of one wife,




Some have suggested that this has reference to deaconesses.  This does not seem likely. 


      In the first place, the word, “gunee” is the same one used for “wives” (1Tim. 3:2; 11, 12).  In the absence of any specification of these “women” being deaconnesses the contextual association would indicate they are wives.


Since no qualifications are given for the wives of elders, and these qualifications for wives would certainly be necessary to the elder’s success in his work, it seems likely that it was intended for wives of both elders and deacons.  The roles of elders and deacons differed, so their qualifications differed.  However, the requirement of a good example of their wives did not.  There was no need to repeat the qualifications for the wives in both cases.


Note how the statement concerning women is sandwiched between two specific sets of qualifications for deacons. 


The fact that it speaks concerning deacons, then turns to the women, and then back to the deacons indicates that the women in verse 11 are distinct from the deacons. “Deacons” clearly were men because 3:12 says “Let deacons be husbands of one wife…” 


The strongest argument for it meaning deaconesses is that it specifies a series of qualifications.  Qualifications could indicate an office.  However, the things cited (“grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things”) omit the parallel qualification to verse 12, “wife of one man” (Compare 5:9), as well as other things that would seem to be just as important in the qualification for office by women. 


Also, the qualifications of the women include some restatements of qualifications for the deacons.  If “deacons” referred to both men and women there would be no reason to restate any qualifications other than those that applied to different genders.  On the other hand, if it is speaking of wives of the deacons, this harmonizes perfectly.  


The strongest passage for woman deaconesses is Rom. 16:1. 

I  commend unto you Phoebe our  sister, which is a servant [diakonos” #1249]  of the church which is at Cenchrea:  2  That  ye receive her  in the Lord,  as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath  need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.


However, nothing in the passage clearly indicates she was an ordained officer in the church.  All of the words used for various offices were also used in a generic sense.  This may just as well refer to her in the general sense of one who serves, or one sent to take care of some business for the church.


Are there any other indications of paid female servants of the church?  There does seem to be in case of the “widows indeed” (1Tim. 5:3-16), and it is possible that Phoebe belonged to this class.  They were paid (5:16).  They were “enrolled” (5:9).  They met specific qualifications (5:5, 6, 9, 10).  They performed service for the church (5:5, 13).


One statement that may suggest a formal commitment is that if they were enrolled and then decided to marry they were considered as “waxing wanton against Christ, … having condemnation, because they have rejected their first pledge.”  This sounds like they took some kind of pledge to spend the rest of their lives serving Christ. 


This is the nearest thing we find that suggests a paid office for women in the church.  However, this is certainly nothing like Catholic orders of nuns and has little in common with the “women/wives” mentioned in 1Tim. 3.  It exclusively refers to widows over 60 years of age who have reared children but have no family to provide support.


      I have no particular objection to the church appointing and paying women to lead or work in areas God ordained for them to serve.  However, these arguments are commonly made to empower women to office in order to preach in the church, contrary to (1Cor. 14:34-35; 1Tim. 2:11-15).  Nothing in the work of a deacon indicates they were teachers in the church.  Also, we find no instance in the New Testament of laying hands on women to ordain them to office.  Jesus himself did not include any women among the twelve apostles.


However, historically, as early as the second or third century A.D., women were recorded as being servants in the church.




1Tim. 3:11.   (must be) grave,





      #4586  semnos; [4 times] from #4576; venerable, i.e. honorable:

      KJV-- grave, honest.

Phil 4:8.   whatsoever things are honest,

      1Tim 3:8.   be grave, not

      1Tim 3:11.  be grave,

      Titus 2:2.   grave,



1Tim. 3:11.   not slanderers,







      #1228  diabolos; [38 times] from #1225; a traducer; specially, Satan (compare #7854):

      KJV-- false accuser, devil, slanderer.

Eph 6:11.  wiles of the devil.

1Tim 3:6.    devil.

1Tim 3:7.    snare of the devil.

1Tim 3:11.  be grave, not slanderers,

2Tim 2:26.  snare of the devil, who

2Tim 3:3.   false accusers,

Titus 2:3.  false accusers, not given

1Pet 5:8.   the devil, as a roaring

1Jn 3:8.  devil sinneth from the

1Jn 3:10.   children of the devil:

Jude 1:9.   contending with the devil

Rev 12:9-10 Devil, and Satan, which is the accuser of the brethren



1Tim. 3:11.     sober,





#3524  nephaleos; [3 times] or nephalios (nay-fal'-ee-os); from #3525; sober, i.e. (figuratively) circumspect:

      KJV-- sober, vigilant.

      1Tim 3:2.    Bishop ...vigilant,

      1Tim 3:11.  Wives ...sober,     

Titus 2:2.   Elders... sober,



1Tim. 3:11.  faithful in all things.



all things.








      #4103  pistos; [67 times] from #3982; objectively, trustworthy; subjective­ly, trustful:

      KJV-- believe (-ing, -r), faithful (-ly), sure, true.

      1Thes 5:24.      Faithful is he that

      2Thes 3:3.        But the Lord is faithful,

      1Tim 1:12.        counted me faithful,

      1Tim 1:15.        This is a faithful

      1Tim 3:1.          This is a true saying, If

      1Tim 3:11.        wives...sober, faithful in all

      1Tim 4:3.          which believe and know

      1Tim 4:9.          This is a faithful saying

      1Tim 4:10.        that believe.

      1Tim 4:12.        example of the believers,

      1Tim 5:16.        believeth have widows,

      1Tim 6:2.          believing masters, let

      1Tim 6:2.          they are faithful and

      2Tim 2:2.          commit thou to faithful

      2Tim 2:11.        It is a faithful saying:

      2Tim 2:13.        abideth faithful: he

      Titus 1:6.   having faithful children

      Titus 1:9.   Holding fast the faithful

      Titus 3:8.   This is a faithful



V. DEACONS (continued)

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.


1Tim. 3:12. Let deacons be husbands of one wife,


let be

of one














   #3391.  Husband of one wife see “bishops” above (1Tim. 3:2)


Mias guniakos andra” may be translated, “one woman man,” with the meaning that he must not be a man of more than one woman – not  polygamous or a womanizer.


We may note that in Acts 6, those who were chosen to “serve” (diaconia #1247) in the daily “ministration” (diaconeō #1248) were not required to be married.  These seem to have been at least proto-type deacons.  This seems to decisively dispose of the claim that being married was necessary because it would pose temptations or raise questions for unmarried men to minister to women.


1Tim. 3:12.     ruling (their) children and their own houses well.






of  them

















#4291 proistemi (pro-is'-tay-mee); [8 times]  from #4253 and #2476; to stand before, i.e. (in rank) to preside, or (by implication) to practice:

      KJV-- maintain, be over, rule.

      Rom 12:8.   ruleth, with diligence;

      1Thes 5:12.  and are over you

      1Tim 3:4.   One that ruleth well

      1Tim 3:5.   how to rule his own    

1Tim 3:12  ruling their children

      1Tim 5:17.  Let the elders that rule


This does not actually say they must have children.  However, the requirement to rule their children well is usually presumed to indicate that.  It is much like Titus 2:4 which says that the older women are to teach the younger women to love their husbands and children.  That does not require women to have husbands and children. Those who have them are to love them.




1Tim. 3:13. For  they that have served  well as deacons




having ministered










gain to themselves a good standing,

a grade

for themselves












      and great boldness in the faith

















which is in Christ Jesus













With the above, concerning deacons, Acts 6:1-6 should be considered.

1 “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration [#1248 diakonia].  2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve [#1247 diakoneō] tables.  3 Wherefore, breth­ren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.  4  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry [#1247 diakoneō] of the word.  5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Ni­canor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.”


     These appear to be deacons or a prototype of the office for the following reasons. 

1.      They were to “serve” (Acts 6:2 #1247 “diakoneō,” verb form of the word, deacon).   

1Tim. 3:10. This word is translated “let them use the office of a deacon.”

1Tim. 3:13. It is translated, “they that have used the office of a deacon.


Their work was the daily “ministration” (Acts 6:1 #1248 diakonia) of caring for the widows while the Apostles were to care for the “ministry of the word. (Acts 6:4 #1248 diakonia)


2.      This seems to best fit the distinction in roles of bishops and deacons.  

Just as in 1Tim. 3, bishop must be apt to teach (3:2. cf. 1Tim. 5:17) and deacons serve (1Tim. 3:10, 13), this passage compares the ministry of the word and the ministry of tables.


The main objection against this is that the qualifications are not the same as in 1Timothy 3.  That may be due to the fact that it was only a prototype, with the office not yet being fully formalized.  However, the general specifications of being of good report, does generally cover the moral qualifications in 1Tim 2.  Specification of being full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom suggests divine guidance and competency to do the job. 


One of these men, Philip, exercised miraculous powers and was later called an “evangelist” (#2099 “euangelistēs” Acts 21:8.  Cf. #2097 “euongelizo” Acts 8:12, 35, 40).



[1] Suggested reading: Article by Carl Ketcherside in Don DeWelt's Bible Study Textbook com­mentary on the letters of Timothy and Titus, 1961 ed., College Press, under Special Studies, p. 289.

[2] Bible Wines, booklet by Farrar Fenton, M.R.A.S, M.C.A.A. etc., Translator of the Complete Bible into Modern English. Reprinted by Don DeWelt in his commentary on Timothy and Titus, College Press, Bible Study Textbook series, Joplin Missouri, 1961.