Setting

After instructing the believers in general, Paul provides guidance on the appointment of church ministers. The qualifications Paul outlines serve as exhortation to existing church ministers and help preachers such as Timothy in the selection and ordination of new ministers. The qualifications can be categorized into four areas, i.e., personal character, family life, church life, public or social life.

Key Verse

(3:15)

Did You Know...?

  1. “Bishops” (3:1): “In the Greek culture the word was used of a presiding official in a civic or religious organization. Here it refers to a man who oversees a local congregation. The equivalent word from the Jewish background of Christianity is ‘elder.’ The term ‘overseer’ and ‘elder’ are used interchangeably in Acts 20:17,28; Tit 1:5-7; 1Pet 5:1-2.” [ref]
  2. “Deacons” (3:8): “The word deacon comes from the Greek diakonos. The simple meaning of this word is ‘servant,’ and it is used that way many times in the Gospels. Specifically, it was used by Josephus and other writers of that period for those who wait on tables.” [ref]
  3. “Their wives” 3:11: “The Greek for this phrase simply means ‘the women.’” [ref]
  4. “Church” (3:15) translates the Greek word “ekklesia,” which means assemblies of people. In the Biblical context, it refers to the congregation of believers, who are chosen by God and redeemed by His blood (Acts 20:28).

Outline

  • Qualifications of Bishops
    (3:1-7)
  • Qualifications of Deacons
    (3:8-13)
  • Church of the Living God
    (3:14-16)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Considering what we have studied thus far in the epistle, why is it so important for the church to pay special attention to the qualifications of bishops and deacons?

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    The mission of the church is to reach out to the world through the truth of the gospel. To that end, believers must have godly conduct that befit the message of the gospel. In the previous chapter, Paul gave instructions to the men and women in the church concerning their respective duties in church. In this chapter, he outlines specific qualifications for the selection of bishops and deacons. In order for the church to exemplify the truth, it is paramount for the ministers in the church to be above reproach in their conduct.

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Segment Analysis

  • 3:1-7

    1.

    What functions of bishops are mentioned in the list of qualifications?

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    1. Teaching (2).
    2. Taking care of the church of God (5).

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  • 2.

    Go through these references and record the other functions of bishops: Acts 20:28-31; 1Pet 5:1-3; Jas 5:14; 1Tim 4:14; 5:17; Tit 1:9

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    Based on the Bible, the other functions of a bishop (also known as “elder”) include the following:
    1. He is to oversee, watch over, and set an example for the flock of God (Acts 20:28; 1Pet 5:1-3).
    2. He is to direct the affairs of the church (1Tim 5:17)
    3. He is to exhort by sound doctrine and convict those who contradict (Tit 1:9).
    4. He is to be involved in making decisions on doctrinal issues (Acts 15:6).
    5. He is to pray for the sick (Jas 5:14).
    6. He is to ask God to impart gifts to God’s workers through the laying of hands (1 Tim 4:14).

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  • 3.

    How does Paul consider the position of a bishop?

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    It is a good work. It is a good desire for a man to serve God in this capacity (1).

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  • 4.

    What personal qualities must a bishop have? Elaborate with examples and cross-reference from other Bible passages.

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    1. Temperate (2)—similar to self-control (Gal 5:23),
    2. Sober-minded/not given to wine (2,3)—understanding the will of God, filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:17-18)
    3. Not violent/gentle/ not quarrelsome (3)—not hot-tempered (Gal 5:23) but to love with patience. It takes more than one person to quarrel and it happens usually when one feels wronged. As holy workers, one would often face criticisms and unappreciative people and it is important to remain gentle and patient, even under such circumstances
    4. Not greedy for money/not covetous (3)—greed and covetousness are common human weaknesses which has caused the downfall of many, such as Judas Iscariot (Mt 26:14-16) and Gehazi (2Kgs 5:20- 27)

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  • 5.

    What qualities must a bishop have in terms of his family life?

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    1. Husband of one wife (2)
    2. Rules his house well, having reverent, godly children (4,12)—this is in contrast with the children of Eli, who were irreverent (1Sam 2:12- 17)

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  • 6.

    What qualities must a bishop have in terms of his church life?

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    1. Hospitable (2)
    2. Able to teach (2). This is possible only if he has the previous quality highlighted, that is, faithfulness to the truth.
    3. Not a novice/or a new convert (6), lest he becomes proud. Also, it takes time to build up one’s spiritual maturity and a new convert is like a new born baby who may not be stable in faith and may be inexperienced in handling church matters

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  • 7.

    What qualities must a bishop have in terms of his relation to the society?

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    1. Good behavior (2)—this means having good, exemplary Christian conduct.
    2. Hospitable (2)—this means being unselfish, helpful, compassionate and full of love for others.
    3. Have a good testimony among those who are outside (7).

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  • 3:8-13

    8.

    Explain the following requirements for deacons: a. “Not double-tongued” (8); b. “Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience” (9); c. “Be tested” (10)

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    a. “Not double-tongued” (8):
    Being double-tongued means saying one thing to person A and then twisting it when telling it to person B. Such behavior creates misunderstanding, anger, and division.

    b. “Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience” (9):
    The word “mystery” in the Bible often denotes the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, a mystery that has been revealed to believers (Eph 1:9-10; 3:4-6; Col 2:2,3; 1Tim 3:16). A deacon must be faithful to the gospel message and uphold the truth. He must have the right understanding of the truth and his conduct should conform to the truth. Such faithfulness to the truth comes from a sincere desire to please God.

    c. “Be tested” (10):
    This requirement suggests that the deacons, like the bishops, ought not be new converts. They must be rooted in the faith and proven by various circumstances that they are fit for this important task.

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  • 3:14-16

    9.

    How does Paul describe the church? What do these descriptions mean?

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    1. The house of God—Believers are members of God’s household (Eph 2:19). Thus, collectively, they are the house of God (Heb 3:6), the spiritual temple, and the dwelling place of God’s Spirit (Eph 2:21-22).

    2. The pillar and the ground (foundation) of the truth—When a pillar crumbles, the part of the building that the pillar supports will fall. If the ground (foundation) crumbles, the entire building will fall. This illustrates the important role that the church plays, that is to uphold and support the truth, just as the pillar and ground (foundation) support and uphold a building. The world will come to the knowledge of the truth through the witnessing of the church.

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  • 10.

    How does verse 16 relate to verse 15?

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    The mystery of godliness is the truth of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. Since the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (15), her mission is to proclaim the gospel message, the essence of which is found in the hymn of verse 16.

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  • 11.

    How was God “justified in the Spirit” (16)? ( cf. Mt 3:16-17; Lk 4:18-21; Acts 10:38)

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    The Lord Jesus was “justified” or “proven” by God during His earthly ministry through the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit.

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  • 12.

    Why is this paragraph a climax in the epistle and a fitting conclusion to chapters 1-3?

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    In chapter one, Paul writes about the ministry of the gospel that has been entrusted to him, recalling his sinful past and thanking God for His mercy. His charge to Timothy is based on this divine commission. For the sake of the true gospel, Timothy must defend the sound doctrine. In chapters 2 and 3, Paul speaks of the mission of the church through prayer and proper conduct. By the good examples of men and women in the church, especially those of the church ministers, the church can proclaim and uphold the truth of the gospel. Thus, the first part of the epistle concludes with the present paragraph on the church and her noble function. The primary mission of the church is to make known the great mystery of godliness, the wonderful message of Jesus Christ and His salvation.

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