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“The Leaders and Servants of the Church” (1 Timothy 3:1-13)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

God has a good design for all of His creation. That’s where we started last week’s sermon, and we want to continue to acknowledge that wonderful reality as we move into today’s sermon.

Last week, we learned that God had roles for men and women in the worship setting.

One of the realities that I kept coming back to last week is that God has placed someone in an authority position over the life of the church and over the worship service of the local gathered church.

Church, God has a design for the church and how it should operate.

Paul is writing to Timothy in these verses to tell him about the qualifications for two positions, or offices, in the church. These two positions are pastors and deacons.

So, let’s talk a little bit about those qualifications this morning.

First, let’s pray together and ask God to supernaturally speak to us.


Ok, let’s look at these two positions in the church, which Paul discusses in

1 Timothy 3:1-13


First, let’s look at the position of pastor.

‌I. Pastors must be godly leaders.

In a nutshell, what Paul is telling us from these first few verses is that pastors must be godly leaders.

How do we know that? Well, let’s look at the passage and go from there. Look at verses 1-7.

1 This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” 2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. 4 He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and incur the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.

First of all, notice that in the CSB, we have the word “overseer.”

The Greek word that Paul is using here is episkopos, which can be translated as overseer or bishop.

Elsewhere, the New Testament uses the word presbyteros to refer to pastors. Presbyteros translates literally as elder.

It’s clear from their usage in the Bible that these titles for pastors are used interchangeably. The terms elder, shepherd, overseer, bishop, and pastor all refer to what we know of today as the leader of a local church, a pastor.

Notice in the passage that Paul spends most of his time focusing on character traits of a pastor. Let’s walk through these quickly but succinctly.

An overseer is to be “above reproach.”

This means that no one can bring a credible accusation against a pastor.

For example, I hope that if someone claimed that I was a raging alcoholic who doesn’t love his family, most of you would say, “That doesn’t sound right. Pastor Matt seems to be different than that.”

Also, we see that a pastor should be the husband of one wife.

This literally means that a pastor is to be a “one-woman man.”

Although some think that this verse means a pastor cannot be divorced, it more likely means that a pastor must be exclusively devoted to his wife.

Now, there are some other items in this passage (and the rest of the Bible) that have implications for divorce, but if Paul was speaking primarily about divorce in this verse, he probably would have just said, “An overseer should not be divorced.” But Paul didn’t say that. So, even though a divorced man may raise concerns about being a pastor, that’s probably not what Paul means here.

Next, we see Paul say a pastor must be “self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable.”

Each of these speaks to the character of a pastor. Let’s just be clear; a pastor should not be a jerk. He should be kind. He should have common sense. He should be well thought of by others.

Next, Paul says a pastor should be “able to teach.”

Pastors are clearly supposed to be teachers. The Bible points to this time and again.

Although a pastor doesn’t have to teach two or three times a week, a pastor ought to be able to understand the truths of the Bible, and then communicate the truths of the Bible to others.

Next, Paul speaks about character again. A pastor should not drink excessively, not be a bully, not be quarrelsome, and not be greedy.

This is pretty easy to understand, right? Do you want your pastor to be a drunk, greedy, hard to get along with bully? Or, would you rather have a pastor who understands moderation, who is kind, helpful, and generous?

Also, in verse 4, Paul says a pastor must “manage his own household competently.”

Now, this doesn’t mean that a pastor should be a perfect parent, or that his family should be perfect. However, a pastor should be able to lead his family well, and respond well when things don’t go according to plan.

Paul points out why in verse 5. He says, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?”

Trust me: children do not always follow the leadership of their parents, and church members do not always follow the leadership of their pastors. However, just as a father must generally lead his family well, so also a pastor must generally lead the church well.

Paul goes on to say that a pastor must not be a new convert.

A pastor needs to be mature and established in his faith, not someone who is still figuring out the basics of following Jesus.

Finally, he must have a good reputation with others.

This fits with what Paul has already said. A pastor must have good character. If he is known as a man of poor character, it will reflect poorly upon the church, and perhaps upon the name of Jesus.

Also, it’s important to point out that when we notice all the masculine emphases in this passage, as well as what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2, as well as the totality of the rest of the Bible, it seems clear that the role of pastor is reserved for men.

I talked about this a lot last week, so I don’t want to spend too much time on this issue, but it’s important to realize that God has a design for the church, and that design includes the reality that the highest level of leadership in the church (pastors) are to be men.

Now, you might say, “Pastor, where does this passage say that the pastors are the leaders of the church?” Well, it’s certainly implied when Paul says in verse 5 that a pastor must take care of the church. However, there are other passages that support this idea of the pastors being the leaders of the church.

Consider 1 Peter 5:1-2 “I exhort the elders among you as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory about to be revealed: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but willingly, as God would have you . . .”

Also, consider Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

Later in the letter that we’re studying, Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:17 “The elders who are good leaders are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.”

So, clearly, the Bible paints a picture of the pastors/overseers/elders as the leaders of the church.

By the way, let’s not walk away from this passage without acknowledging that Paul says in verse 1 that it is a “noble work” to be a pastor.

Being a pastor is an honorable task, and it’s a good task. If God is calling you to be a pastor, consider it an honor, and be faithful to the calling.

Others who are not pastors, remember that what your pastors are doing is noble and honorable, and treat the task and the position as such: noble and honorable.

So, pastors must be leaders with godly character; they must be godly leaders.

Next, . . .

‌II. Deacons must be godly servants.

Now, we’re not going to spend nearly as much time in this section because there are a lot of similarities here between the characteristics that a pastor is to have and the characteristics that a deacon is to have.

Let’s look at the passage. Look at verses 8-13:

8 Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons. 11 Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything. 12 Deacons are to be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently. 13 For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

Ok, we see many similarities here between overseers and deacons.

First of all, we need to point out that the word used for “deacon,” diakonos, means servant, or minister.

A deacon is to be known primarily as a servant; not a leader, not a board member, not a governor of the church, but a servant.

So, these servants are to have a lot of the same character traits as the overseers.

They are to be respectable, self-controlled, generous, not controlled by alcohol, knowledgable about the faith, tested for spiritual maturity, husbands of one wife, and good fathers.

We see that verse 11 is dedicated to “wives.”

The word that Paul uses here actually means “women.”

Some believe that Paul is speaking here about women deacons. That’s entirely possible, but not definitive.

In either case, women are certainly allowed to be servants in the church, but the role of leaders of the church (the pastors), as stated earlier by Paul, are clearly to be men.

By the way, Paul would not say that the other members of the church are not to serve. Rather, the deacons are to be the primary servants of the church.

Also, if you go back to Acts 6 (on your own time), you’ll see that the earliest deacons actually came on board to make it easier for the leaders of the church (at that time, the apostles) to focus on the most important ministry.

So, deacons are supposed to serve the church and serve alongside the pastors, in order to make it easier for the pastors to minister.

When churches allow deacons to have authority over the pastors, or to give the pastors a hard time, you now enter into a completely unbiblical situation. That is actually the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

So, deacons are to be godly servants.

Let this bottom line summarize what we are learning from this passage:

‌Bottom Line: God has designed the church to be operated by godly people.

God has designed the church to be led by godly pastors, and to be served by godly deacons.

Listen, church: God has changed our lives through the work of Jesus, Amen? Since God has changed us, we have the wonderful opportunity to discover God’s design for us and for the church. So, let us pursue Him, and His design.

A church full of godly people will be operated by godly people.

Here are a couple of ways you can take action this week, as a result of what we’re learning from 1 Timothy 3:1-13:

‌Weekly Challenge #1 – Honor godliness in others.

Godliness is so important for all of us, especially those who lead and serve the church.

So, we should honor those who are godly. Likewise, those who are in roles of leadership and service in the church who are not godly should be called to repentance and we should pray for them.

The Bible says to show honor where honor is due, so let us honor godliness in our church.

‌Weekly Challenge #2 – Pursue godliness in yourself.

Not only should pastors and deacons be godly, all of us should pursue godliness.

By the way, in case you didn’t catch this, most of these characteristics are traits that every Christian should display, not just pastors or deacons.

So, let us pursue God by pursuing godliness in our lives.

As we pursue God, we must remember that beautiful reality that God pursued us first.

(Gospel presentation)

(closing prayer)

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