“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work” (1 Timothy 3:1).
The closing verses of 1 Timothy chapter two began a discussion related to leadership roles within the church. We can understand those verses to mean that a man (or men) who are called of God should hold the office of a primary congregational leader. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that any man is right for this position. Nor does it mean that any man should hold that office simply because he is a male.
Here now in chapter three, Paul the Apostle will continue this discussion by examining the qualities that should characterize those who seek to fulfill this responsibility. One scholar sets the foundation for our look at this chapter with the following commentary…
“Paul now turns to the subject of leadership in the church, continuing his instructions for behavior befitting the church as God’s household (v. 15). He first discusses overseers (vv. 1–7; v. 1 text note) and then discusses deacons (vv. 8–10, 12, 13, with a digression on women in v. 11). Paul focuses more on the personal qualities of those who are qualified to serve in these positions than on their duties. This emphasis indicates his concern to install the right people, perhaps because some of the false teachers in Ephesus had come from, or were selfishly seeking, positions of leadership.” (1)
The New Testament uses the terms bishop, elder, and overseer to identify this important role. Today we might use the word “pastor” to describe this position as well. These words describe those who serve God’s people in a position of spiritual oversight.
As we’re told in the passage quoted above, a man who aspires to this responsibility is someone who seeks a good, honorable, and noble work. Those who serve in these leadership roles have an opportunity to experience the fulfillment and satisfaction that comes from having a positive impact for Christ in the lives of others. However, this position also carries a great degree of responsibility.
As with any important job function, a man who seeks to become an overseer, elder, bishop, or pastor must meet certain qualifications in order to be considered for the position. Paul will go on to list many of those qualifications in the following verses. Everyone can benefit from studying these qualifications, including those who do not serve in positions of spiritual leadership…
“All believers, even if they never plan to be church leaders, should strive to follow these guidelines because they are consistent with what God says is true and right.” (2)
(1) Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2158). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
(2) Life Application Study Bible NKJV [1 Timothy 3:1-13] Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc., all rights reserved.