TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14
SCRIPTURE: 1 TIMOTHY 3
The chapter before us today is a most important chapter because it lays out part of God’s organizational plan for the local church. The first and most important thing to remember about this is Jesus is the head of the church (Colossians 1: 18). The church belongs to Jesus because, according to Matthew 16, He is the one who builds the church. So, first and foremost, the church is to be led by and dictated to from Jesus.
But there are also some other organizational structures that the Scripture puts into place for the local church. One of those is the office of the overseer or bishop. In other places, this office is referred to as an elder. The original word for this office is episkopos. Obviously in Baptist life, we don’t refer to men as overseers or bishops. There are a growing number of Baptist churches that do refer to certain men as elders. But in most Baptist churches, the term we use for this office is pastor.
Elders or pastors are tasked with the responsibility of leading the local church. Elders are not dictators but men who have leadership authority within the church. This is such a great responsibility, that the Scripture lays out some rather strict qualifications for who can be an elder. These qualifications deal with how he should lead himself first, how he should lead his family second, and how he should lead his church third. And verse 7 adds to the list of qualifications that he must have a good reputation with those outside the church.
Next, this chapter speaks of the office of deacon. Biblically a deacon is a servant. The Greek word diakonos literally means servant. As a result, deacons do not have Scriptural authority to rule a church. They are to serve. As they serve, relationships are built which means that deacons who fulfill their Biblical role will necessarily be seen servant leaders in the church. But they are not the ultimate decision makers in the church.
You might think that anyone could be a servant. But the Bible gives us a list of specific qualifications for men who are to serve as deacons in a local church. If you look at the list, it is not an easy one to fulfill. Isn’t it interesting that God would have such specific requirements for servants?
The New Testament church that works as God has ordained will have a plurality of elders leading, a body of deacons serving, and a church body that is not only caring for one another but is also reaching out in a variety of life changing ways to those who are not Christ followers. When the church operates in this way, there is no other organization on this earth that is more beautiful, captivating, inspiring, or powerful. And people on the outside can’t wait to become a part. (See Acts 2)
May we be such a church.