Pastoral Epistles - Lesson 8
1 Timothy 3:1–7
Paul gives four basic requirements for the leaders of a church. He begins by emphasizing that leadership is a good thing and insists that leaders must be a certain kind of person, a person's who character is above reproach. To appoint unqualified people to leadership is a sin, and those appointing them share in the responsibiltiy when they fail and damage the church. But elders must also have a proven managerial ability of people, be spiritually mature, and have a good reputation in the eyes of people outside the church.
1 Timothy 3:1–7
“Development of christian ministry”
Nature of the lists
1. Official, but not checklists
2. Are there any other qualities and elder must have?
4. Why are overseers and deacons so similar?
5. Raises authorship issues
Church leadership is a good thing (3:1)
1. Hard work
2. Other impediments
1. An overseer (elder) must be above reproach (3:2–3)
“Husband of one wife”
“One – wife husband”
1. Must be married
2. Prohibition of someone married more than once (death/divorce)
3. Polygamy/Concubines (Grudem)
4. Faithfulness in marriage — “one-woman [type of] man”
Able to teach
What separates elders from deacons
“Able to teach” (ESV) sounds like an elder must be able, but doesn’t have to
Church not led by administrators
2. Proven managerial ability in the home (3:4–5)
3. Spiritually mature (3:6)
Elder (quickly) given power — pride often follow
“Judgment of the devil”
4. Good reputation in the eyes of people outside the church (3:7)
Major error in my commentary
Satan is on a feeding frenzy
How do we raise up elders?
Who are these “elders” today?
What if you are not in a house church?
Dr. Mounce introduces himself and covers the traditional issues in introductions, including his historical reconstruction of the writing and history behind the Pastorals, basic misconceptions people have of the Pastorals, and the survey of the critical issues often raised.
Paul begins by reminding Timothy of an earlier visit, and encourages Timothy to stay on at Ephesus, dealing with the issues in the church. Paul's goal is love, which stands in stark contrast to the work of the false teachers. Throughout 1 Timothy 1, Dr. Mounce is enumerating the ways in which Timothy (and we) should deal with false teaching.
Paul gives the theological argument up front as to why the false teachers were wrong and Timothy needs to silence them. They are legalists, applying the Mosaic Law to all Chrsitians. Rather, salvation is by God's mercy and grace as seen in Paul's conversion. But things have gotten bad in Ephesus, and Paul had to take a firm stance on dealing with two of the leaders of the opposition.
Having looked at the core teaching on why the false teachers were wrong, the class now looks at the other main pasages in the Pastorals that deal theologically with the false teaching.
Paul begins a two chapter discussion on issues of leadership in the Ephesian church. He begins by critiquing their habit of praying only for some people, which shows their legalistic way of looking at salvation. Then he deals with issues of public worship, first men then women. These are issues that the leaderhip should have been dealing with but most likely were being caused by poor leadership.
While this paragraph is not a matter of orthodoxy, it is nevertheless important since there are so many women in the church. Paul lays out the basic principle that women should learn with a submissive attitude, and then restates that principle with an eye to application; they cannot teach certain people in certain situations. Paul looks to the pre-Fall creation and the relationship that Adam and Eve were created to fulfill, and then spells out a consequence of what happens when that relationship is not honored. Because Paul references Genesis 2 and not Genesis 3, this is not a cultural teaching but transcultural.
After dealing with some questions, the class resumes by finishing the last two verses in chapter 2.
Paul gives four basic requirements for the leaders of a church. He beghins by emphasizing that leadership is a good thing and insists that leaders must be a certain kind of person, a person's who character is above repreoach. To appoint unqualified people to leadership is a sin, and those appointing them share in the responsibiiltiy when they fail and damage the church. But elders must also have a proven managerial ability of people, be spiritually mature, and have a good reputation in the eyes of people outside the church.
We conclude our discussion of elders by looking at two other passages on the role, Titus 1:5–9 and 1 Timothy 5:17–25.
We now move into the discussion of deacons in 1 Tim 3:8–13. There is much overlap between elders and deacons, and yet deacons are more involved in the day-to-day service of the church and are not required to be able to teach. The major interpretive decision is in v 11 as to whether it refers to women (i.e., deaconnesses) or wives (of the deacons).
This paragraph is the heart of the letter, putting everything that Paul has been discussing into perspective and giving it context. The church is precious, and we should protect the gospel because of the truths it teaches.
Paul goes back to addressing the needs of the Ephesian church. He deals in summary fashion with people of different ages, with a special note of concern for Timothy in how he deals with young women, which leads him into a discussion of young widows. His concern is that the church care for those who are "truly widows," i.e., who are old, truly alone, and have lived godly lives. Younger widows, however, should remarry and not burden the church. The church has limited resources, and it should initially care for those who are the most vulnerable.
Paul concludes his letter with a series of different and not always related topics. He deals with slaves, and begins to lay the groundwork for abolition, gives Timothy two tests for correct theology and spells out the download spiral and eventual destruction of the false teacher especially related to their love of money, and then encourages Timothy three ways. And in proper biblical fashion, he concludes with a doxology. The final paragraph (skipped by Dr. Mounce, is a final word to the rich in the church and a final plea to Timothy to be careful.
Most of the content of Titus has been covered in the lectures over 1 Timothy. However, the letter does have something to add to the discussion of leadership, and its two salvific hymns raise the issue of the reationship between justification and sanctification.
Paul begins his letter to his best friend by encouraging him to continue in ministry. If ever there were a model for how you encourage someone, especially someone who looks up to you, this is the chapter. The best thing you can do is find how many ways Paul encourages Timothy, and then see how to apply those points in your own life and ministry.
Paul concludes his encouragement to Timothy, and points out examples of faithless friends, and of one faithful friend.
Paul continues to encourage the discouraged Timothy, reminding him of the glorious gospel that he proclaims. Even if Paul himself is bound, the gospel is not.
The false teachers come back into view with a strong emphasis on Timothy's need to remain faithful. But the encouragement is that God's foundation in Timothy's life, and others, is sealed with a promise, and yet Timothy must also pursue righteousness and flee evil. Paul uses his own life as an example of faithfulness, and concludes with a strong admonition to preach the gospel because it comes from the very mouth of God.
Paul concludes his discussion of the role of Scripture in Timothy's life, reminding Timothy of Paul's own life of faithfulness. Paul makes some personal remarks about a few people, and references his final trial. He knows he will die, but death is merely a loosening.
The Pastoral Epistles contain some of the most practical advice in the New Testament. Learn how to handle heresy, appoint qualified leaders, take care of those who may not be able to care for themselves, and especially how to encourage one another in ministry. Titus alone contains two of the most powerful salvific statements in all of Scripture. These 13 chapters are worth studying.
Dr. Bill Mounce
1 Timothy 3:1–7
Well, we come now to first Timothy three and we're we've Paul has introduced the whole topic of leadership relative to the women's issue, and now he's in the same topic of leadership. But this time he's moving over into the formal leadership of the church and what kind of person needs to be in the leadership of the church. Tremendously important passage. We're going to look at the passage on Elders and then we'll take a break. We'll come back and we'll look at deacons in the final hymn of First Timothy three. We also tonight need to look at first Timothy five, and then we will have handled all the leadership issues. And as I said earlier, in terms of your position papers, I'd really urge you to do one on leadership. It's I think it's that important, that crucial in the church. Remember, the prophecy in Act 20? The prophecy was that fierce wolves will arise from amongst yourselves the numbers among the leadership in the church, and that prophecy has become fulfilled. That's the mess that the Ephesians Church finds itself in. Paul has been dealing with the theological side of fixing the problem. Now he's full bore into the institutional side of solving the problem. I need to say something about the development of Christian ministry in general, because as you as you start reading this stuff, I remember when I first started reading the commentaries on this, it made no sense to me at all. I didn't even know what arguments people were fighting about. And then I finally, I finally realized this thing that we call the development of Christian ministry. The way is how did Christian ministry develop? Well, it starts with Jesus and the disciples. And then you have apostles who carry the same authority right as Jesus and the disciples, and then you get to X.
Chapter six And in Acts Chapter six, the Church has grown to the point that the apostles can no longer take care of it. And so the specific issue is the Greek and the Jewish widows. They're claiming they're not being fair. And so they needed to appoint and they ended up appointing a bunch of if you look at the names, they're all Greek, a bunch of Hellenistic Christians to oversee the the distribution of the food, the care for the widows. The the apostle said we need to commit ourselves to preaching and to prayer. We need someone to help take care of the day to day running of things. And so they appointed these seven. Now acts six doesn't call them just deacons, but it does deacons. It does use the cognate verb. Deacon No, but so they were they were elected to serve in the church. Most people point to this as the beginning of what we now call deacons, even though the word's not actually used. The odd thing about it is that one of those deacons is Stephen. Who's quite a preacher. So they hired they hired they picked someone to deal with waiting on tables. And he turned out to be one of the better preachers. So but anyway, the apostles wanted to commit themselves to preaching and to prayer, and they needed these other people to take care of the daily work, what we would call deacons. Paul goes on his first missionary journey to Asia minor, and on his way back through, he appoints only elders. And that's important. And the assumption is that when a church is young, it doesn't need deacons. That the church is small enough that whoever is the leader, whoever is the teacher in that church, is able to take care of things.
Deacons come at a growth stage in the church. This is the development part of the Christian ministry. This is why in Titus you. It's a brand new church in Crete. You have him appointing elders, not appointing deacons. All right. So I know with your Southern heritage that these words are kind of backwards from from what you're used to. We'll get to that a second. So you initially appoint elders? There's always structure in the church. It's never purely pneumatic. From day one, there are elders. As the church grows, it appears that they then appoint deacons. It wasn't until the time of Ignatius, who died in about 117 that you have. I never can say this word. Right. Monarchical episcopate and all that is. Is the bishop over a city? So it wasn't until, you know, 67 years later that you start having this, okay, we have elders. There's elders over every house, church. But there needs to be someone over all the elders. Now, it used to be Paul. Right. That was the function that the apostles performed. The apostles die. And you still have all these different churches with all their different elders. And Ignatius, His solution to the problems the early church was facing was a structural fix. He wanted the bishop. We would is the standard term we use to now the the elder who's over all the different elders. The other thing that is really important is that by the time you get to Ignatius, the deacons are stepping stones to. Being an elder in Paul, the deacons are never stepping stones to anything. It's really, really important to keep that clearly in our minds. It's there there. That hierarchy that we so often have is that I'm going to become a deacon and then I'm going to become an elder and then then pastoral staff or whatever, be the case.
That's just not what first Timothy three is about. There's a different set of needs. There are elder needs and there are deacon needs. And and here the qualification for those two positions. They're held in both of them in high esteem. One is not seen as a stepping stone to the other. That's Ignatius and the later church. So that appears to be kind of how the church structure grew. As the church gets bigger, you need more help, more, in a sense, layers. And before we get into the list, let me just say a few things about the list in general. And then as as we go through the specifics, you're going to see why I have these general points. Number one, these lists are official, but I don't think they're checklists. It's not like here's all the qualities and you have to have every single one of these qualities. They're official in that the text says that an elder must be this kind of person. But the problem is, is these lists are checklists. And the part of the problem there's the lists are not identical. So which list is the checklist? You know, they're not they're simply there's a lot of overlap and they're not the same. The problem is, you know, one of the requirements for an elder is that he be a one woman man or a husband or one wife. Well, that means Paul and Timothy can't be elders. They have to have believing or faithful children. Well, again, Timothy and Paul couldn't be older because they do have any children. And that would mean that any single person or a childless married person could be an elder. So if you start if you view these things as checklists, you start hitting some real problems.
And so my position is that these that these different items are the kind of person that an elder needs to be. If he's married, he needs to be faithful. Actually, if he's not married, he needs to be faithful in his relationships with the opposite sex as well. If he has children, then they have to be faithful. But as soon as you have checklist, you got Paul and Timothy no longer can serve as elders. So I think what the lists are doing as we're going to kind of put them all together in the commentary they're all together in one place, is describing the kind of person that is in leadership. And in almost every single situation, the quality that is laid out for the kind of person that can be an elder is in distinction to the falls. Teachers, elders have to have a good conscience. The false teachers consciences are seared. And again, that's that's what that chart that goes on in the I think it's the introduction to the commentary just goes on and on as I'm trying to line up the requirements for elders and their car and description of falls teachers. In other words, the falls, the elders are this kind of person in distinction to the falls teachers. And so why did Paul say that an elder can't be addicted to wine? Because the false teachers were drunkards. Why does it say that an elder has to be faithful? Because the false teachers were sleeping around. So when you put all that together, you got to some way to view the list and you got to ask yourself, you know, can a single person be an elder? Can a childless couple be an elder? So I say these are descriptions, they're official, they're necessary, but they're necessary descriptions of the kind of person that's an elder, which then gives you a little bit of freedom to say, Well, if they're not married, then that's okay.
That makes sense. Suggestive? Yeah, they're suggestive. I mean, some of them, though, are like, you can't be a drunk. Well, that means you can't be a drunk. Or that there's no if, ands or buts about that one. But there are some of these qualities that the main ones are being married and having children. That kind of makes you stop and think about, well, how do I view these lists? So that's one thing I wanted to say, that that these are mandatory descriptions. They're official, but we can't treat them as checklists, although as we have all kinds of problems. Second of all, are there any other qualities that an elder must have? This is a really, really hard question. You look at the you know, the the the description of the elders and you go. That's pretty hard to find that kind of person, isn't it? And I will tell you, I will tell you this is one of the huge mistakes in the commentary that definitely will be changed in second edition. One of the charges against the against Pauline authorship is that these requirements are so basic, they're so substandard there. They're the same standards that secular society holds out. There's there's nothing. For the most part, overtly spiritual about them. Paul would never have listed these as a requirements. My experiences are instead of these things being really low, these standards are really high. I think it's really hard to find. This kind of person. So I think when it when it when in the real world, when it gets right down to it, finding a man that is absolutely faithful to his wife is not is a rare commodity fighting one that is truly self. That's a that's a high order. And I succumbed in the commentary to saying, yeah, these are very low standards.
Then I became a pastor and I realized these are very high standards. So. All right. But so the question number two is, are there any other qualities that an elder must have? And I am as I said, I'm really hesitant to add to Scripture. And maybe this is me just speaking out of experience. And there's maybe there's the Wesleyan influence on me is. You know, if it were just a house church, it's not a problem. Right. These qualities are great in a house church. And if you can find someone that truly matches these things, you don't want them meeting in your small group. You want them in another small group. And if they're in your house, church, you want them to start their own house. CHURCH Because this is a good person that's able to lead a group of people. But my experience is that you can have a very good person who is very good with ten people. That is a miserable failure with a thousand people. And again, this is just a decision you're going to have to make. I'm thinking of a person is is truly one of the best people I've ever met. And one on one, one on two, one on ten. This guy was fabulous. I would trust anything to this man. But you make him an elder of a church of love, of a thousand people, of 1200 people. And he was just a deer in headlights. It was just it was way outside of his giftedness and he knew it. And no need to go into that. But. If you're going to run a church of a thousand people, you're going to have to decide whether your elders really need a good dose of organizational leadership or not.
And again, I'm really hesitant to add to Scripture. Um, but again, if you if you have a large church. I'm not sure that these will cut it. And again, Paul didn't have a large church, did he? He didn't have to address the issue of a thousand people meeting together because there was no place you can meet other than maybe the the Hippodrome or, you know, the amphitheater, too. That many people. Ancient churches, ancient homes. Everything was a house. Church. I mean, I've stood in these ruins. You can fit 20, 25 people. Maybe they're really short 30 people, very small, into these ancient houses. These house churches were not big. The biggest house in Jerusalem was Kiev. Is this home. They say you could fit about 150 people in this home. So, I mean, that's the mansion on the Hill, That's the mega-church in Jerusalem is 150. And so Paul just doesn't have to deal with the issue that many of us have to deal with, and that is, um, big churches. So one of the questions you're going to have to decide is, in your situation, is this really enough? And I'll just leave it as a question. Number three, what are the duties of an elder? What's frustrating is that Paul doesn't ever say what the duties are. I wish he did. It'd been so much easier. These are descriptions of the kind of person. These are character traits, right? But what does an elder actually do? Part of it. Part of it is in the name. The word the TV translates as I'll shoot. What's it called? Ministry leaders. Yeah, they're ministry leaders and ministry workers, something like that. The very name Elder means they are providing some sort of general oversight. So we know that whatever their specific responsibilities are, that certainly they were responsible for the oversight of the church.
They were the the final of human authority in their church. That's assuming that there's not an apostle over them, but they're provided oversight. We know that they were responsible for hospitality because they're told that they have to be hospitable. In that day and age, there weren't hotels and inns. It wasn't a comfort in use. People had guest rooms in houses if there was a larger house. And so when traveling missionaries or traveling evangelists or visitors would come through, they would stay in your home. And so they had the gift of hospitality. And based on first Timothy five, we know that the elders are responsible at some level for church discipline. That's about it from what we can tell. Okay, So again, it'd be nice if Paul would say, Here's the kind of person an elder has to be. Now here's what you have to do. And he doesn't do that. But it's oversight. It's oversight by teaching. It's hospitality. It's church discipline. And the rest is fill in the blank. But again, in your position paper, I would encourage you to write out what those responsibilities are. I heard about one. One elder was looking for election time. They were looking for another elder. And this one guy said, This is too much work. I don't want to be an elder. And the current elder said, Oh, it's not that hard. We just meet once a month to make decisions. That was his understanding of what an elder did meet once a month and make decisions. Yuck. All right, Question number four. Why are overseers and deacons so similar? What's remarkable in these lists is the deacons and overseers are there. There's a lot of overlap in their qualities. And the and the answer is they both have to be the same kind of person.
Paul is concerned about their character, and both elders and deacons have to be people of high Christian character. What we're going to see is that the one real difference is that elders have to be able to teach. Deacons don't. Now, again, I know we come from different church traditions. In my tradition, if someone's a deacon, what it really means is that they're a trustee. The deacons were responsible for fixing the leaks. That is not how the word deacon is used. And first, Timothy three. Maybe they dealt with leaks in the roof, but that's not the essence of what a deacon is. But the deacons are not trustees. The deacons and elders both have to be the same high caliber kind of person in terms of their character, their Christianity and that kind of stuff. So that's why the lists are going to be so similar. So we'll spend the bulk of our time describing the characteristics of elders, and then you'll see all the overlap when it comes to deacons. Those were just all introductory comments. Let's jump into first Timothy 312, seven. He starts by. This is the second of the of the faithful sayings in the past was the trustworthy sayings. So the saying is trustworthy. In other words, what I'm about to say is important. If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. In other words, Paul starts by saying, This is a really big deal. No, it's not the desire to be an elder. That's the noble task. It's the office of Elder. That's a noble thing. All right. I've known people that deeply desire to be an elder. And they said, Well, it's a good thing I got. No, no, Your attitude is not a good thing.
It is the goal. What you're looking for, the the the position of responsible leadership. It's a good thing. And you sit there and you scratch your head and go, What do I. Paul had to say that. Why does Paul have to affirm that that leadership is a good thing? And the only assumption is, is that in Ephesus it wasn't seen as the good thing is that there was so much trouble in the church that that so many of the elders were bad and the other elders were having to do all the work of with Timothy fighting the bad elders and dealing with the false teaching and I mean the mess that's in the Ephesians Church. You could see how people would look at that and go, Nah, I don't want anything to do with that. So I think it's pretty easy to imagine why Paul felt the necessity of saying, Hey, this office of Elder, this was a good thing. You know, sometimes I wonder, where are all the gifted pastors? Some of them are right here. But, you know, the there's a real shortage of powerful prophetic preachers in the American church. And where are they? I tell you, we're their doctors. They're lawyers. They're running companies. They've my guess is they've looked at the church. They go, I don't want anything to do with that. I'm going to go somewhere else and just make some money. Um. Slightly tongue in cheek, but I. You know, God gives the diversity of gifts to meet the diversity of needs in the body. And the church needs a lot more really good prophetic preachers, preachers. And I just think they've looked at the task and go, I don't want to do it. And I saw it make sense to me why Paul starts and he says, like, this is a good thing.
You all it's it's it's it's something you should you should strive to if it is your calling. If it is your gifting. So it says because the office of Overseer is such a it's a noble thing. It's a good thing therefore. Okay. So we see you there for what do you tell your people? Ask what is there for? So therefore, because it's a noble task, therefore here's what an elder must be like. Here's what an overseer must be like. And it breaks down into four basic categories. You notice on the phrasing, when I put stuff in curly brackets, it's my way of saying I'm adding to the text because sometimes I'll want to add in a word or something like that. And I go, Oh, I don't want it to look like I'm adding to Scripture. So I just put curly, curly brackets around mostly numbers, but sometimes words to kind of help me see. And there's four basic categories of characteristics that make up an elder. The first is that he has to be above reproach. And if I had had my way in the translation, there would be a colon after the word reproach. Because I think what the title of the section is an elder. An elder, an overseer must be above reproach. And now let me tell you how you can be above reproach. I think what follows is an explanation of the phrase above reproach. Couple of things. Notice that the text is explicit and overseer must be must. We don't have the option of appointing non qualified elders. We simply don't. The Greek is explicit, the English carries it through, writes the day. It is. It is absolutely essential. That elders must be a certain kind of person. And if you take that most seriously, then you will institute a leadership development program in your church.
Because if you don't have some kind of leadership development program in your church, you're not going to have people that are truly qualified would be my take. It just takes hard work, it takes mentoring, it takes walking side by side, it takes time, it takes relationship. But it takes a while to help identify and to train and to raise up and encourage your future elders. Right. But if you take the most seriously, you have no choice. You have to be involved in leadership development. We had at our church, we did a we got to this point and we merged with another church. And the two churches had a really, really different culture. And so a lot of my task early on was trying to meld the culture with valuing both, but trying to bring everyone into a cohesive whole. And this whole thing of leadership was a big deal. And so we did our leadership, our elder position paper. That's what that's what raised up this whole issue. And so I got all the verses together and I put it down and I said, Here's what I think it means. You know, does an elder's children have to be faithful or do they have to be believers? Okay, two different ways to interpret the verse. And Titus, you got to make up her mind. So we set about and we talked about it. We spent a long time on this, and then we agreed our interpretation. We understood that we could be wrong, but we said this is the best that we can do. We presented it, we voted on it, we presented to the church, and then it became the standard by which we picked future elders. What was really interesting is that we went through this day after day process and took a long time, and we finally got to the point when we voted on it.
And there were two reactions after we voted that just just shocked me. Number one was one of the guys. And he's a good guy. He was a good friend. He said, You know what? I think we're just being legalistic. Oh. Well, okay. I hadn't heard this from me before, so share with us why you think we're being legalistic, as are all these rules and restrictions. I just think we need to find a good person is able to make decisions. That was his qualifications for an elder. I said, really just a just a good old job and able to make decisions. And that's all that matters. Yeah. I said, Well. Give you his name Blank. The Bible says that an overseer must be these things. How do you put that together? And he could. As interesting. Another person. This was the first real painful thing that happened to me in ministry, that it was a guy that was from the other church that we merged with. And he was a neat person. I mean, I really, really enjoyed him. And and we went through this and we voted. And, you know, the whole thing about your the children have to be believers, you know. Okay, well, what happens if, uh, you know, the elder became a Christian after the kids left home and, you know, all those kinds of issues. And we wrestled through that. And I think we said that half the kids. Had to be Christians. And I mean, we went through all that. And when it was all done, this one particular person, uh. Evidently thought that we weren't going to use this paper for anything. And when we started looking at Elders, future Elders and we started using the paper, he got very angry with me.
Turns out he had multiple children, none of whom were walking with the Lord. And so he voted on a position paper that negated his ability to be an elder. He just didn't think we were going to use it. I mean, that was my understanding. And unfortunately, we couldn't resolve the conflict. And he left the church, as is I. It was the first real painful thing that happened to me in the past year. But I kept going. But, you know, so-and-so, it's just an elder has to be this. And we don't have a choice of knowing. Not we can go back and reevaluate our interpretation of the verse, but we have to stick to the position paper. And you know, when it says must, it means must you all, doesn't it? I read the other day, there's a great thing in the Fast Company magazine where they interviewed 80 CEOs and they said, give us a one sentence summary of what you learned last year that's going to change how you run your company this year. It was a fascinating article. And one of those was never compromise because you forget why you compromised. And I know it's so easy to compromise as well. He's a good person. But yeah, he's boy, he he screams at his kids. He has zero dignity when it comes to dealing with his kids. But no, everything else is great. So let's ask him to be an elder. Well, it's the tech says that an overseer must be this kind of person. So I'm just. It's really hard, isn't it? This whole issue is really hard, but it's what the tech says. And I would really encourage you to put a plan in place. You can't just snap your fingers and have this happen, but encourage you to put a plan in place so you can be moving towards this this goal.
An overseer must be above reproach. It doesn't say that the elder has to be perfect. The elder has to be flawless. One of the interesting things I learned in the Chinese church is that because of their the basic culture there, they're not willing to say that any of them really qualify to be elders because they're not above reproach, because they there's such a performance based culture they see. They see their flaws and they go, Well, I'm not perfect, so I can't be an elder. Um, and it doesn't say you have to be perfect. It doesn't say you have to be flawless. Says you have to be above reproach. It has to be above reproach. And sometimes being above reproach as being the kind of person that when you make a mistake, you apologize. No. Was David above reproach? King David? Yeah, made some horrible mistakes. But there's a God, a man after God's own heart. Because he knew how to apologize. You know, uh, you're going to have to come to your own understanding. But I think this is the overarching kind of quality for elders. They really have to be above reproach. One of John Piper sayings that I've picked up one too many is that you cannot impart what you do not possess. If you go to the desiring God's children's curriculum, you'll see this over and over again that a son, a school teacher cannot help a third grader grow up unless the Sunday school teacher himself or herself is growing up in Christ. You cannot impart to others what you do not possess yourselves are the truths that change the hearts of others must, first of all, change yours. And if people are going to be leaders in the church, are going to be involved in a transformational ministry where their lives are truly fundamentally being changed from one degree of glory to the next, then the people who are leading that likewise have to have been changed above reproach.
Not perfect, but above reproach. Then he starts his list and on the phrasing, I just got tired of using up space, but they probably should all be a long line so it's easier. But he starts going through what does it mean to be above reproach? And the first is the hardest the husband of one wife. So let's let's talk about that a bit, because this is this is one of those central things, right? This is, by the way, one of the arguments that elders must be male only males or husbands. But again, the egalitarian position would say that that's a cultural thing. We've already talked about that. The fact of the matter is this is really, really bizarre. Greek. He's Paul's used some unusual words, but this construction is a bizarre construction. In fact, we can find no parallel in all Greek literature to this construction. Now, the your government, your taxes. Thank thank you. Made it a grant through the National Endowment for the Humanities years ago to take all Greek literature up through about six or seven century A.D. and type it into a computer. Thank you. I have no idea how they got the money for this, but it's called the Perseus Project. And so when we say there is no parallel to this in all of Greek literature, we can search it and we can find it. There is nothing. So Paul is using a bizarre expression. Uh, why? I don't know. But what it simply is in Greek is one woman man. Or one wife. Husband. Same ambiguity we saw in chapter two. And what on earth does that mean? And as you get into the discussions of this, people's decisions seem to be made up more based on their view of marriage, divorce and remarriage than it does on what the text says.
But the text doesn't say a whole lot. So we have to go elsewhere to kind of make up our mind. What does it mean to be a one woman man? Now, when you hear that, you're hearing an English expression, right? I'm a kid. That's not a Greek expression, that's English. So we're going to come back to that. But you need to kind of move that out of your mind, because if I if I said, hey, I'm a one woman man, you know exactly what I mean, right? It means I'm really faithful to Robert. But that's that's an English expression, not a Greek expression. This is one woman, man, one wife, husband. All right. What are the positions? Number one, the Eastern Orthodox Church says that it means they must be married. Is this was the divide one of the divides between the eastern and the western church When it split, the Roman side said that priests had to be single. The Eastern Orthodox said the priests had to be married. It said one wife, husband. Number two. Second position on this phrase is that it's a prohibition of someone who's been married more than once. So the emphasis is on the one. It's the one. Wife. Husband. Excuse me. And in Greek, when you want to emphasize the word, you move it to the beginning of the sentence. So there is an emphasis on one. One woman man, one wife, husband. And that means you can only been married once. And as you can imagine, there's many subcategories of this position. Can a person who is remarried after the death of a spouse be an elder? Most people say yes. Romans seven makes it very clear that the covenant marriage is broken to death. I don't like that, by the way, I drove and days before I do, I'm still wearing my ring.
I'm staying married. But that's just me. But we know that in terms of the covenant of marriage that is broken and deaf and and most people are comfortable allowing a person who is in his second marriage with the first one ended in death to be an elder. Now, not everybody. So some people are uncomfortable with that. It's much harder, isn't it, when there's a second marriage after a divorce, and then you have all the different subcategories where they divorce before, after they became a Christian. Are we going to hold them responsible for what they did before? They're a Christian. 18 year old kid, got high on pot, ran to Vegas, got married a year later, got divorced because his for whatever reason and went ten years, became a Christian, went 20 more years, has been absolutely faithful to his wife. Can he be an elder? Yeah. So those are those are all decisions that you have to make in your position paper. But anyway, the basic position is the prohibition. Someone who's been married more than once. This is why the in the Old Navy, said the husband of but one wife. There is no but in the Greek. But the but is in there because it's trying to emphasize the word one. One woman man. Husband of but one wife. That's. That's where it comes from. A third position is that this is the prohibition of polygamy or concubines. When I first read this, I kind of, yeah, whatever, put it in the book and went on and then I was shocked in reading Wayne's systematic that this is what he believes. And I went, Oh, that's strange. And I started reading his stuff. And what I did not know is that polygamy was very common in Judaism.
You're aware of that? Very, very common. In fact, it was so common in Judaism that the Romans had exemption laws relative to the Jews, polygamy and concubines. I had no idea. The the counter argument is that while polygamy was evidently very common in Judaism, there is simply no record of polygamy being in Christianity. So if polygamy were not a problem in Christianity, why would Paul make of prohibition of polygamy? Part of being an elder? I mean, the assumption is when he says a one woman man is addressing a real issue in the church. I mean, out of deference to Wayne, I'm going to leave the argument in, but I'm not overly convinced by it. It's a real problem. Three fold concubines were the issue in Greek culture. Yeah. Yeah. In fact, it was very, very common that you would have a wife if you were rich. Now, if you're rich is a whole different set of rules. It's always been the case, right? If you were a rich Greek person, then you would have a wife to raise up your legal heirs, and then you'd have concubines for fun. I guess I just don't see how concubines could be fun. But that's something. That's just me. But yeah, the use of concubines was quite rampant in the wealthy Greek culture. Um, not. Not. Not polygamy, though. The fourth interpretation is that it's a phrase that means faithful in marriage. In other words, it's the interpretation that what you hear in English when you hear a one woman man, that that's actually what the Greek means. It actually is the majority position today in commentaries. Almost every major commentary takes this position. Fact I was reading Howard Marshall's my doctoral supervisor, wrote the comment during the past rules in the ACC series, and when it came out, I was so excited because I wanted to see his argument for it.
I wanted to see why he why he thought that. And as I recall, it's just one sentence. Well, this refers to faithfulness to marriage. And then he goes on, I want Professor Marshall. Tell me why. What are your 37 reasons why? Well, that's not the function of the ICC commentary series, but it is very much the commentary position today. It explains both the naive and the adult translation, which is he must be faithful to his wife. Now, here's here's what I did. I settled on position two when I first wrote the commentary. I said, I think this is a prohibition of four elders. After a divorce. That was the position I settled on. And then I got to first Timothy five. And in first Timothy five, they're talking about all the qualities that are required for a widow to be officially sponsored by the church. And they use the exact same phrase in reverse. A widow has to be a one man woman, a one husband wife. And so whatever it means for elders, it has to mean the main thing but flipped for widows. So. Okay. But then what is Paul's advice to the young widows? Get married again. And I looked and I went, Well, there's no way that Paul is going to say, if you're going to be enrolled by the church, you can only be married once. By the way, go get married again. And I go, Yeah, doesn't work. And I actually it's really frustrating to go back and redo your work. But I had to go back to my discussion of three and I had to change it, and I changed it to the faithfulness position. Um, so anyway, that's, that's where I ended up on that. The, the advantage, if that's the right word, the advantage of the faithfulness in marriage position is that it, it covers things that I think should be covered.
If you have a man who's addicted to pornography, is he going to be an elder? Should he be an elder? No, but. But he's faithful to his wife. He hasn't actually committed the act of adultery. But would he be characterized as a one woman man? No, of course not. I mean, if you are if you are consciously, deliberately, repetitively visiting porn sites, you cannot be characterized as faithful. I think that's that's a fair statement, I think. Even things like flirting. I think. Come in. Come under this umbrella at this point. Um, you know, I've seen pastors take liberties in, in ways that they shouldn't. And I think that somehow because I guess they think that somehow because they're a pastor, that they can comment on a woman's body or or talk about her skirt or or do whatever. And it's like, that's just not. First of all, it's stupid. It's dangerous. And I think it violates this prescription. I if I did that to to Robin. I just after after she beat the living daylights out of me, I would feel miserable not because my arm was broken, but because I had. I betrayed my marriage vows to my wife. I mean, that's just me. But I'm real comfortable with this definition. Faithfulness in marriage. It it it handles the how weird the expression is. It gives strong emphasis to the word one. Um, you know, polygamy is one at a time. If this were a prohibition against polygamy, the emphasis would be, you know, one wife at a time. But by the demand to be absolutely faithful to your spouse, it really puts the emphasis on the one where the Greek does. And it it's it's much more fuller. Or did I like that? And it's I don't want to be a Pharisee, you know, pushing the commandments into an act.
I want to be like Jesus and talk about the attitudes that lead up to the act. And so anyway, but that's where I came up. Lot of a lot of this is a difficult topic, though, isn't it? And a lot of it is social and your religious heritage. Any comments you want to make on that? You know, I mean, there are people that are saying, like the Bible says an elder cannot be divorced. And it simply doesn't say that. But it's, um. It's a hard it's a hard issue. I mean, I. I know of men that are divorced that, um, were remarried. Faithful for long to the day their spouse died. Um. Obviously blessed by God. And and I look at that and I can't explain that if, in fact, this text says that a divorce that it's wrong for a divorced person under any circumstances to be an elder, why is God blessing the ministry of this person? And again, here's the Calvinists moving towards Western ism. My, my, my Wesleyan friend Tim attended the president of Asbury Seminary. Goes Harville, there's hope for you. There's hope for you. Um, but it's I look at that. I can't explain that, but I can't. If it says faithful in marriage, I can. It explains things for me and it allows me the freedom. And I think it's the right freedom to take someone who's been faithful for 30 years, no matter what they did when they were 18 and, um, move them in. I mean, church leadership is not a right. It's a, it's a gift. It's. And it's, uh. It's not nothing. No one deserves to be an elder, but there are people that obviously qualify for it. Despite what happened 40, 50 years ago, an overseer has to be above reproach.
The first way in which a person is above reproach is that he's faithful to his spouse. The list continues on. He's sober minded. Um, he's self-controlled, respectable, hospitable. There's your requirement that Elders would have been responsible for the entertaining of the visitors and the guests able to teach. Let's say something about that. This is what separates elders from deacons. There is no, like, requirement for deacons. And I go to Titus one nine to define what it means to be able to teach in Titus one nine. Speaking of elders, Paul says he must hold firm to the trustworthy word is taught so that he may be able to give instruction and sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. So what does it mean to be able to teach? There's there's three components based on Titus one nine. Number one is that he has to be emotionally committed to it. I mean, there has to be a deep commitment to the truth of of scripture. So he's he's is holding firm. I always thought it should be firmly. But I was told that firm was the right part of speech. But anyway, he must hold firm the trust through the word, so committed to the text, committed to the Bible. Secondly, he has to be able to teach it. And thirdly, he has to be able to rebuke those who contradict it. In other words, you've got to be committed to the Bible. You've got to be able to explain the Bible and you got to be able to argue with the people who disagree with the Bible. That's what it means to be an apt teacher. That's really hard, isn't it? Now I've got a little bit of experience is a little easier for me to do this.
You guys have training is a little easier for you to do it. But I think this terrifies people. I think this is probably the one requirement that makes people not want to be elders because they look at that and they go, I can't do that. I'm a I'm a mechanical engineer. I've got a job and a family. I don't I don't have time to learn these things. And that's why in your preaching and your leadership development, you have to really take this seriously. But those are those are the three qualities of what it is to be able to teach. Committed to it emotionally, teaching it, and then being able to argue against those who disagree. The ESV translated is able to teach, and I didn't like that translation because it sounds like you could be able to teach, but you don't have to be teaching. And I know there's some allowance and first Timothy five that you can be an elder and perhaps going through a period of time where you maybe your job requires more attention or something, but you weren't able to teach for temporarily. But I remember one church I was in and I asked the pastor about this because they liked the phrase able to teach. And he said, Well, we don't we don't hold that. An elder has to teach all the time. He just has to be able to. And the pastor is one of my very best friends, so I can be blunt. And I said, Yeah, but the problem is that none of your elders ever teach. So I don't like the translation able to teach. I like the phrase skilled in teaching. I don't know where I picked it up. I'm sure it's some translation. They had to be skilled at teaching.
They have to really know their stuff. The church is not led by administrators and it's not led by businessmen. The church is led by gifted teachers. That is the clear message of the pastoral. That's where your leadership comes from. Those that know the truth are committed to the truth and can defend the truth. Now, hopefully you're going to have good businessmen that can can help you put together your your business plan and your your yearly budgets and that kind of stuff. But that's being a good businessman is or being rich is not a criteria for being an elder, but being skilled in teaching is. The question, of course, is how? How good do they have to be or how much do they have to know? And this is what we talked about. I talked about the other day. We did not say that an elder had to have a degree or a Bible school major or to be able to explain Birkoff, systematic theology or whatever. We said, An elder has to know the statement of faith inside and out has to be able to teach the statement of faith, whether it's in a Sunday school setting or sitting down with the New Believer has to be able to teach the statement of faith and has to be aware enough of what's going on in culture so that where that statement of faith is attacked, you can defend it. So the statement faith says that that I am the way the truth that I've known comes to the father by me. The elders had to be familiar enough with postmodern philosophy so they could see that that was going to be attacked and to be able to argue against the uniqueness of Christ and then as a spiritual person knows what he's talking.
No, he knows what he's talking about. Oh, the footnote in Holman Christian is skilled. All right. Knows what he's talking about. Okay. In certain contexts, yeah. Oh, the adult is a wonderful translation. You. I read it. I don't read it as a Bible. I read it as what A lot of very, very bright people think the Bible means. And because there's there's some words and stuff that's added in. But it's it's very faithful to the intent of the Bible. And so I really enjoy reading the multi. So anyway, whatever you come up with able to teach, you're going to have to define teach what? Teach how much you know, you will find really good elder candidates that are so terrified to stand up in front of the church that you just can't them, you can't get them. They're so able to teach what small groups? Are you comfortable with that? Able to teach new believers. And we explicitly said, you know, you don't have to be able to stand up in front of 500 people and preach for me when I'm not available. Something like that. We have other people that can do that. We had some elders that could do it, but other elders that would rather die than do it well, they're perfectly gifted. They were just terrified of people. I mean, isn't it strange that the number one fear that people have is public speaking? People are more fearful of public speaking than they are of dying? You've seen those polls. Um, my son said to me the other day, he said, Dad, do you ever get nervous standing in front of people? No. And at all, I was terrified the first time I preach. I still remember I had a gold shirt on and a sleeveless gold sweater, and it was all baggy.
And I'll sit there gripping and thanking the Lord that I had not been called to any form of public speaking. The sweat was just pouring down my back. I was terrified of public speaking. I got over it. But my son hasn't gotten over it. But I just I don't know. Elders don't have to be able to speak to the whole church, but they they really need to be able to speak to sunny schools, I think. And they certainly need to be able to speak to small groups, especially of new believers. That's what I would say. Any comments or questions on that? Those are the hardest things in this passage. The established ownership required to find opportunity for the German owner himself had an opportunity to meet. I like the seven minute manager. This is total leadership stuff. I'm not going to use the Bible stuff because I don't think the answers there. 7 minutes, Manager. I mean, what happens is somebody comes in the church or they become a new Christian or a great you want to teach third grade, right? And they go, and what do they do? They fail. It's too hard. It's too much. And the seven minute manager says, you you give someone a little bit of responsibility, you watch them, you stay involved, you encourage them, you debrief them, you evaluate them. If they do well, you give them a little more, a little more, you find out where their comfort zone is and so you know where to release them into ministry. So, I mean, again, depending on the size of the church, I think that's one of the primary functions of the lead pastor, is to help them. And hopefully all the elders are looking for their future replacements and are looking to build relationships and to guide and to encourage and to instruct, but especially in a smaller church.
I think that's one of your most important qualities or responsibilities to prove themselves. Yeah. Yeah. There's no it's really frustrating. But again, that's the nature of the list. I think if you said okay, Paul, you said you didn't say there had to be a proving time for elders, but there has to be a proving time for deacons. Didn't you mean also to have a proving time for elders? I think you would say, Oh yeah, I just forgot to say it like, Well, yeah, this is scripture, Bill. It's not a checklist. I'm just going through thinking the things I could say, you know, I think that's how Paul would respond. So if there's a proving time for Deacon, certainly there should be a proven time for, um, elders. It does say they can't be a recent convert. So you could, I think, get out of that some kind of you got to give them time. You got to help grow up, you got to watch them, you got to nurture them and that kind of stuff. Was I had a I had a great secretary when I was pastoring. And Clarissa, was she just she was the kind of secretary, I could say, you know, John Piper said somewhere, Mark Driscoll said somewhere in some sermon this. Could you find it for me, man? It was she would find it. She was really good, too. She and her husband are missionaries in Africa now. A God and, well, God. I almost said God gave her a miss. God allowed her to get me right before she went on the mission field. Isn't God. Doesn't he do some strange things? Eagle, Lord, here's this young couple. They're just married. They want to give themselves to you. He's an airplane mechanic.
He fixed a lot of the planes. The missionaries fly in Africa, and Clarissa gets em straight before she goes. Really? God. Really? That's the best you can do. God says, Bill, your brain weighs £3. Can you trust me? Yes, sir. Anyway, Clarissa was a great secretary, but then she came to me once. She said, You know, You know what you should do? Yes. Yes, ma'am. She said, you know, this whole elder training thing, there are there are 20, 22, 25 year old kids, and they go to this church that would die to meet with you once a week. Just forget your current elders and just pour yourself into these young kids and they're not going to be your elders, but they're going to be someone's elders. And she was dead, right? I should. I didn't do it. I should have done it. And I just think you just got to pay for yourselves into the next generation of leaders. It's the only way to build the future leadership of the church. Okay. Able to teach that next course that you're preaching. It happens in preaching. It happens in Sunday school. It happens in book studies, happens in biblical training and the materials we're producing for you. I'll put that in there so those come. Okay. The list goes on. Able to teach. Not a drunkard. The false teachers are drunkards, not violent. They're gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. The elder. The false teachers were in it for the money. So that's his understanding of what it means to be above reproach. The second category is that he is verse four that he must manage his household well. In other words, an elder has to have proven managerial ability, proven managerial ability. And you know what? It just occurred to me when I say that, you know, there needs to be some organizational leadership skills in your elders.
I guess you could pull that out of verse four. That's not completely foreign to the techy. You have to, you know how to manage people. And then and I think that's the point in my mind. I keep coming back to it's proven managerial ability, but it's managing people. Okay. This is managing people. And managing corporations are different things, aren't they? And the the home is the microcosm that shows the elders ability or lack of ability to manage the household of God. So he must manage his own household well. One way in which you can see that he is a good manager is how does he treat his children? Does he act with dignity as he keeps his children submissive? I had a run in with one elder once who was standing in one room in the church and screaming at kids in the other part of the church to tell him to quit running. And I pulled him aside and said, Can't you find some way other than screaming from one room at the other? Well, they're going to hit the old people, knock them down. I said, Can't you find some way? Is there any way in your scope of abilities to try to not scream at a kid from the other room? And he didn't. He didn't know how to do it. Uh, that's not. And he was yelling at his own kids. But that's. That's the idea. You keep your children submissive. You keep your children in a proper relation, but you do with dignity. You do it with dignity and screaming one room to the other isn't that way. Uh, it must manage this household well with without dignity, keeping his children submissive. Then he adds, If someone doesn't know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? In other words, the home is the microcosm.
This shows your managerial ability before you're put over the household of God. The third quality is that he must not be a I guess I'll, I'm sure, thinking of all the things I'm skipping. And it's really frustrating. It's it's all in the position paper. So, um. You know, this particular question that he raised is it's like this like there's so many scenarios that you're going to have to deal with. But we can't we can't deal with in class. I need to get through this. Okay. All right. Thirdly, he must not be a recent convert. So the third quality for elders is spiritual maturity. Okay. You just don't take a young Christian and make him an elder. And of course, this has to be somewhat relative, doesn't it? Uh, Paul and Titus goes through Crete. It's about the church's brand new. Titus is appointing elders. I mean, we see this in China. Somebody becomes a Christian, and three months later, they're leading a house church of 15 people. The growth of the church is so explosive and you can't just say, Oh, I'm sorry, you got to be a Christian for ten years before you can lead your house church. You know, China will be nowhere if you have that kind of quality. So it has to be a relative thing. So if you got a whole bunch of new Christians, what you want the leader of that group to be someone who's been a Christian at least as long, if not longer than most of them. Something along those lines. But that can't be a reason. They can't be a brand new Christian, or he may become conceited, puffed up with conceit, and fall into the condemnation of the devil. You take someone and you make them a leader in an organization and they become very prideful.
And. And that's Satan likes that, doesn't he? And there's a question as to whether is the condemnation the devil received when he was prideful or whether it's the devil condemning them. Either way you go, the ideas only appoint spiritually mature people to leadership in your church. Otherwise, you're running a real increased risk of arrogance and pride, sitting it setting in, and then Satan is going to grab hold of that arrogance and pride and drag the person down and probably the church with them. Power is intoxicating and it almost always corrupts. So this is the closest thing we have to the period of testing for the deacons applied to the elders. Do you think this is maybe what happened with Paul's teachers? Maybe more. Yeah. I don't, you know, I mean, it is. I mean, V is true that this thing is just thoroughly in first century physician context. So, uh, you know, he may be thinking of again, what's prompting Paul to think of these things? There's many things he could have said. What prompted these? Well, you know, maybe that was the case. Maybe it's, you know, or maybe it's just a general understanding that it has to be some spiritual maturity before you move into leadership. And the fourth quality then, is that he must have a good reputation. You got to have a good reputation by those who are on the outside. If he doesn't have a good reputation, he will fall into disgrace and into the snare of the devil. And I think in that case, the devil is pictured as as an agent of God's work that the devil is not. No. Let me say that differently. That the eight that the devil is setting snares. He's looking for ways to trap the leadership in the church.
And one of them is the trap of a really bad reputation and the implications of that in the church. We had a I heard heard a story. It's a true story of a a pastor. And he was a good person. He wasn't a bad person, but he became schizophrenic at sporting events. And I mean, he just screamed at the refs. Now I've screamed at the refs, too, so I understand this. When I when I see my son playing in a high school basketball game where the refs letting the point guard and the other team take five steps over and over and over again, I just started screaming at the ref. How many steps? How many steps? I must say yelled at 50 times before the guy called traveling on this kid. I got in real trouble for that. By the way, there were people in my church that didn't like it. So I understand yelling at sporting events. Okay. Having made my confession, I'll get back to my point. This particular pastor was just violent at sporting events, screaming and yelling. And one of the youths, a staff member, was in the back of the church one morning and a new person walked into the church and. It was kind of shocked by what she saw up on the platform. And she said to the man standing there who happened to be the staff member who's there up on the stage. And the staff member said proudly, Well, that's our pastor. She goes, I was at his son's sporting event yesterday. Turn around. Left the church. He had a terrible reputation by those who were on the outside and it seriously impacted his ministry. So those those are the. So you got to you got to be aware of what are the people's reputation.
I mean, if you're looking at a businessman, I mean, the best thing to do is talk to his competitors. So what do you think? A job. You know, he's a fierce competitor. But you know what? He always behaves in waves that are he acts with integrity. What a wonderful recommendation for a future elder to have a competitor say, you know, we got a better product, we got a better price. But, you know, he's a good person. So you got to have a good reputation on the out side. Two quick things I want to mention and we'll take a break. Number one, how do you identify future elders? This is this keeps me up at night. I mean, it's really, really hard. And if you guys have found the key to doing this, I'd really like to hear it. A break. You know, the Acts 2028 passage, The Holy Spirit has made you overseers. That doesn't help me at all. That's of no help at all to me, Paul. You know, and my guess is that the process is that, as you know, your people and as you're involved in the people's lives and you see things, you're going to see people bubbling to the top. That's what one pastor told me. Your future elders will simply bubbled to the top. You start looking for people who are already performing the function of the elders. They just don't care to be called elders. They're doing visitation. They're greeting people there. They're involved in the church. They're they're nurturing other people. They're doing the work of the elders. And I think what our responsibility as leaders in the churches is to be involved enough in our people's lives that we can see these people and then we can start building relationships and get to know them over a period of time.
And first, Timothy five, it talks about this is supposed to take time. This is not a quick thing. It takes time. And so I think it's something like that. But boy, is is it's really a hard thing. And the final question then we're going to stop for break is who are the elders today? And this is a fascinating discussion. Remember the house, the churches were all house churches. And the assumption is that every house church had an elder. Every house church would have formed around someone that could lead, who could teach. Right. Do the things that an elder is supposed to do. I go to a church of a thousand people. Um, this is a little different than ten. So who are the elders? Well, in this particular, it's a foursquare church. There's only one elder. He's a senior pastor. There's things I like about that. It's dangerous as all get out. But at least I know the person making the decisions. And I can see that in. He is the teaching elder in the church. Um, what about staff? What's the relationship to staffs have to be elders? You know, a lot of people say, you know, only a minority of the board can be a staff, which is. Which is a desire to take care of potential power problems. Right? Because you can't be the senior pastor if your staff has the same voting power that you have and on the on the elder board. And so. But what's the relationship of staff to elders and or are you going to have elders in general? Is the senior pastor going to be one among equals, if that even works? Is it? You know what, honey? Who are the elders today? Small group leaders Or are they elders? I know a church of about 7000 people and there they have a strong it's incredible church.
It's a strong preaching pastor, a heavily committed group of elders. But they train their small group leaders almost as if they're elders because it's a heavily missional church. It's it's it's a church of small groups and not a church with small groups. And so they're really serious at training the leadership and all their different missional communities. And my guess is the vast majority of these leaders of small groups would equal any elder in a regular church. That's my guess. But who? Who does? Who does the elder have to be? The senior pastor? The preacher obviously has to meet these qualifications. And then do you have an elder board or not? Now, I understand in the Southern traditions it's deacons, isn't it? It's more Baptist year. And I had a friend explain to me that churches are so small that they couldn't support a single preacher. So there'd be a a preacher would go from church to church to church. And then when the preacher wasn't there, there had to be someone there to kind of help do the work of the church. And those became deacons. And so the deacons grew up in as the churches grew up. The deacons really had the power of the church and not the elders or the pastor, because historically, that's how the church was reformed. So that a very and broad stroke. Is that accurate in your context? And. So. I just think it's hard. It's one thing to look at this. Okay. We're going to make sure we have biblical elders. Oh, who does this apply to? It's it's really hard. It's really hard.