1Timothy 3 Qualifications of Elders and Deacons


Desire- To reach out to grasp something. One must not desire it for the wrongs reasons like power the title or from pride. The main reason one should desire it is to glorify God and to try and get people to heaven. One should not be an elder if they don’t desire the office.


Blameless- Not sinless this is a big misconception Rom 3:23, 1Jn 1:8. Only Jesus was sinless Heb. 4:15. Peter was an elder 1Pet 5:1, yet he was found in sin Gal 1:11. The word blameless means one who cannot be attacked because of his moral conduct. This is a man who right with God. Its important for an elder to have the characteristic because he is an example to the flock 1Pet 5:3. How can an elder be an effective leader in rebuking someone for a sin that they themselves are entangled in?  It is easy to follow the leadership of the elders when they are not called into question about their about their faithfulness to the Word of God or their righteousness or Godliness. These are the kind of men Elders are to be.


Husband  of one wife-  This simply means a one women man. This means that an elder must be married and he must only have one wife. This verse also shows that its only men that are to be elders because only a man can be the husband of one wife. Some get confused about this idea of what is meant by the husband of one wife. Some think this means a elder can only be married one time, and still be qualified. Is this the case? Rom 7:1-4, 1Cor 7:39. So if his wife dies and he remarries he is still only the husband of one wife. If an elders wife commits fornication and they divorce which is the only biblical reason given for one to divorce his or her mate and be able to remarry without committing adultery. Mat 19 and he remarries he is still only the husband of one wife. However, under this circumstance there could be a number of things which my hinder this man from being an elder in the church. So, even though he may be the husband of one wife it may be unwise to have this man as an elder.


Temperate  -  The original meaning of this word is to abstain from wine but also carries the meaning of one who is not given to excesses. This means that one has the ability to think and reason clearly. A person who drinks intoxicating drink certainly can not do this. This word is very close in meaning to our next qualification.


Sober minded – Sound in their thinking one who is right in his mind. This means that the men who oversee the congregation cannot be impulsive, gullible or unreasonable men. They must have the ability to look at any given situation from all sides and deal with it in a responsible manner. We must remember that one of the major works of the eldership is their decisions that they make in regards to the spiritual growth of the church. These decisions should be given great thought on how they will effect the church and its growth. Decision made by the elders  should not done half heartedly. These men should be able to think on their own without having to ask others how to make their decision. An elder will consider the thoughts of their family and the church members but the decision should be theirs and not someone else’s. This is very important because of Heb. 13:17.



Good Behavior – This means one who is orderly and well mannered is his life. A good word to describe this in our modern language is a gentlemen. He is not rude or rough in his nature. An elder must be of Good behavior in his day to day living that is with those in his family, the world, and with the church members. It is easy for most of us to maintain  good behavior under controlled environments. But one who is an elder must maintain good behavior even under stressful or difficult situations. This can quickly separate those who are qualified to be an elder and who are not.


Hospitable- Literally means lover of strangers. But it goes far beyond that. An elder should hospitable to his neighbors and to the whole church. During the NT times this was very important because people would travel from town to town and the elders  and Christians alike would bring these people into their homes and take care of them during their stay  their even when they did not know them. This is not as critical in our day and time but an elder should spend time with the members of the church and get to know them better so they can be more effective at looking out for the spiritual well being. They could spend time with them over tea or coffee. They should also be willing to entertain or be hospitable to strangers. Heb 13:2.


Being hospitable is one of the best ways an elder or a Christian can open up many opportunities to promote the Word of God. As we exercise hospitality we need to remember the golden rule found in Mat 7:12. (1Pet 4:9 all to be…). You can never tell what may happen from being hospitable. Look at Acts 28:7-8. One last example Mat 25:31-46.


Apt to teach – Perhaps the best definition of this is found in Titus 1:9-11. An elder is one who has the ability and knowledge to teach and to combat false doctrine. Every elder should be able to teach at a level that all the church can be edified. So, many Elders are being put into the office of a bishop who just really and truly don’t know how to teach or how deal with false teachers. Nor do they have good understanding of the scriptures. If a man is going to be the spiritual leader of the congregation he needs to know his stuff. Let me give you an example. Tell about the man about to fly a plane who hasn’t actually done it.


Not given to wine- The first thing we must realize is that  the meanings of words change through out time. When we think of wine we think of an intoxicating drink. If you look up wine in a modern day dictionary it will define it a fermented drink. But, the further you go back in time you will find that the word wine was defined as having 2 meaning. 1 It was simply fruit of the grape 2 It was intoxicating. In the Bible the Greek Word for wine (oinos) simply means fruit of the vine and has a dual meaning. It could mean grape juice or intoxicating wine. The same thing is true for the word wine in the Hebrew language. Sometimes we can determine from the context of the verse if the wine being spoken of is mere grape juice or intoxicating. Prov. 23:31-35 (Pro 20:1, Isa 5:11) vrs Isa 65:8. (Jer. 40:10,12, Gen 49:11).


A NT example of wine not being intoxicating is Mat 9:17 where it is referred to as new wine which is freshly squeezed grape juice. So in our verse here Paul was teaching to abstain from wine completely because there was nothing wrong with drinking non intoxicating wine. In the OT it was made clear that a person that had taken a Nazarite vow was to abstain from any form of wine that there was in Numbers 6:3. If Paul had in mind to abstain from wine in all forms he would of made it crystal clear here. I think  all of you would agree  that one should stay far away from intoxicating drink. Some my point out that Paul told Timothy to take wine for his stomachs sake in 1 Tim 5:23 so its ok drink intoxicating  beverages in moderation. However, it would be very difficult for someone to prove from this verse that the wine here was intoxicating or just plain grape juice. I have some information found outside of the bible that can show that grape juice can be used for stomach ailments.


Atheneaus, the Grammarian (200AD) in his book the Banquet recommends for the dyspeptic (someone with digestive problems) “let him take sweet wine, either mixed with water or warmed.. As being good for the stomach, for sweet wine does not make the head heavy”. Notice this was a wine that did not make one heavy headed but was good for the stomach. Welchs also has a pamphlet out that tell how grape juice is good for ailments and one of those listed is stomach problems. While this does not prove that Paul was prescribing grape juice it definitely shows it as a possibility. In our day and time I don’t know of any good that can come from intoxicated alcohol and an elder being an example should not be one that every touches the stuff. Being drunk is a sin Eph 5:18, 1Cor. 6:9ff


Not violent, Patient, Not quarrelsome – One who is easily provoked into anger has no business being an Elder. Lets consider a few verses james 1:19, Prv 14:17, 29,  Prv 15:18 Prv 19:11.  


Rules his household well children in submisson.


Read the verses. These two statements here are the most controversial found in the qualifications of an elder. I don’t expect everyone to agree on what I will present on this topic. I just ask you to listen to what I say and study it out on your own and make up your own mind on this topic. Many questions can be spawned from these to statements. For instance.

  1. Does this passage teach that an elder must have children or does it simply teach that if they do have children this is how they should be?


I believe the answer to this question is that elders must have children to be qualified. When a man properly disciplines his children and trains them up right having their respect one can have a glimpse of his ability to take care of the church of God. A man will gain great experience in training and rearing his children that he can apply and use in as he leads the flock in the church. Read vrs 5.


Who is going to be able to relate more to a family who is going through hard times because of their rebellious child? The man who has been through and dealt with it before. So many people who don’t have children think they are experts  on how to deal with children. One preacher made this statement. “ On the Sunday immediately following the birth of our first child, I announced to the congregation at Adamsville that I had resigned my position as an authority on rearing children”.  In Titus 1:5 it says having faithful children. This strongly suggest that a may must have children to be qualified as an elder.


  1. How many children does and man have to have? Can he have one child and still qualify?


The language here does not demand a plurality of children. Now I would agree that an man who has 2 children has more experience in rearing children. So is a man  who raises 3 children over the man who has 2. We even use the word children today to mean just one child. For instance if I ask you if you have any children and you have one you will answer yes. Or ask a new grandmother who only has one grandchild if she has any grandchildren and she will say yes. Bible example Mat 22:24 – Deut 25:5 , Mat 19:29, Gen 21:7 luke 14:26.


  1. Do these children have to be faithful Christians or do they simply have to be faithful and loyal to the father?


My answer is that the children should be faithful Christians. It would be hard determine how a child who was faithful to his father not be faithful to Christ. I would suggest in my own personal judgment that before a man be elected an elder that his children should be well in their teens. Its not that difficult to rear your children in the early years. But, it’s a whole new ball game when they become teenagers. Read Titus 1:5. Now this does not mean that his children do not sin. It means that they are not out of control.


  1. What if a the mans children after they leave home fall away from the faith?

One might look at Prov 22:6 and say that if a child falls away then it has something to do with the way the parents raised their children. While it is true that if one rear a child in the Lord more than likely this child will remain faithful in their adulthood. But this is not a guarantee. To say that under no circumstance can they fall away from the Lord would be a false statement. So the answer to the question is that once a child leaves the home the parents are no longer responsible for their actions. So if a child falls away after he or she has left the home this does not disqualify them from being an elder. The qualification is focused on how he ruled his household which would mean how the children were while they were under his control.


Again, I cant emphasize it enough, if anything even a child that has fell away after they have left the home in some way hinders or would hinder his ability to Shepard the flock then it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for him to be an elder.








Not a Novice.


 The literally meaning of this word means newly planted. This simply means that one who is has newly became a Christian should not be an Elder. There are no shortcuts to becoming spiritually matured. Notice what our text says what will probably happen to a novice if he is given such a position vrs 6.


Have a good report / just / Holy


Vrs 7 Now this is an interesting qualification. Its not enough that members of the Church respect this man but he must also be respected by those outside the church. This is very necessary quality to look for in an elder. First of all, we as individual members of the church rarely get to really know each other that well. But, when we are around each other we put on our best face and on the surface we may seem like an honorable person. But, if you want to learn about the real person just talk to that persons neighbors or with the people they work with and you will soon find out if they have a good reputation outside the church. An elder should have a good reputation with those outside the church in being just or honest in his dealing with others. One who is both just and holy is going to be dedicated to serving God in our out of the church. He will have the spirit of Christ and he will stand out as honorable man in society. If a man seeking the office of a bishop deals harshly or unfair with those on the outside he does not need to be an elder. Just think of what people think about the Church of Christ when they know that a man they appointed an elder is harsh or dishonest man. It wouldn’t be good.


Not self willed


An elder can not be one who is self centered or arrogant. This is the kind of person that things they are very important and that what they say is more important that what anyone else says. For instance in matters of opinion  like what color the carpet should be this type of person would insist on a certain color no matter what anybody else thought about it. If they were to go to an Elders meeting they would want the other Elders to agree with everything they say  and if they didn’t they would get mad. Decisions are to be made by the majority of the eldership not one elder. We all know that that bible teaches that we are to have more than one elder but sometimes within elderships one man will be running the show. It will be one man that really make the decisions instead of the eldership making it. A good example of such a person is found in 3rd John vrs 9-10. One who is self willed should defiantly not be an elder. Philp 2:3-4 puts it best on how not to be self willed.


Lovers of good


This means that elder is someone who loves all those things that are good. This is a broad statement that can encompass a great deal of things. But the main point here is to lovers of good rather than lovers of evil. Perhaps a better explanation of this is found in Philp 4:8.


Self controlled- keeping your emotions under control.

The workings of an elder and his authority.


To be an Elder is a good work but is it one that takes some serious commitment. Being an Elder can be very hard at times and Elders are sometimes perceived as lazy and not doing anything when they are. There are a lot of times that Elders are working in the background with individuals or doing things that will spiritually strengthen the church that we as whole simple are not aware of. 1Thess. 5:12-13. We as congregation need to remember what great responsibility these men have and from time to time we should tell them how we are thankful that they have taken on this task. Heb 13:17. These men have to give an account for how they have dealt with the flock. This is why its important for us to obey them when it comes to spiritual matters. For instance the elders have agreed that we are to meet here at this building on Sunday morning and night and Wednesday night. This is what they deem necessary for us to be spiritually feed by the word and strengthened in fellowship. So when we don’t show up when we could make we are disobeying the eldership. This can cause the Elders to have a great pain when they see that part of the flock is missing.


To really get this to sink in think about it this away. Lets say that someone is running a business and they are receiving no pay for it. Yet they are going to be held accountable for how they run the businesses. Now on Monday 500 workers show up but on Tuesday only 300 show up and on Wednesday only 350 show up. Can you imagine the stress and the disappointment you would have as this unpaid business owner. This is the same feelings the elders get went so many show up on Sunday morning but only 60% show up on Sunday night and about 70% show up on Wednesday night. So let us remember how much a strain this puts on elders when so many neglect church attendance. Of course this would be the case with any decision the eldership has made. If they want us to be involved in a work to help spiritually grow the church we should do it. Now an eldership will not ask us to do something they are not willing to do themselves. There authority is based upon the word of God. This means that an elder cant tell you to go wash his car or mow his lawn and you have to obey that but instead its in regards to spiritual matters.


Elders do not rule a congregation so that the members will serve them, no instead the rule the congregation that they might serve the lord. 1Peter 5:2-3. An elder or eldership has earned the respect of the church members and people follow their lead. If the Elders want a work done but they themselves don’t bother to show up for it the work will fail because them flock will think if its not important enough for the elder to do it than I’m not going to do it. Read Acts 20:28-31.  A watchman and an example of their duties -Ezek 3:16-21.


The best example I can show you of how a Shepard and the flock work together is by using the master example Jesus. John 10:1-15.  Example of a bad eldership Ezek 34:1-10.


Finally 1tim 5:17-20.  






The word deacon comes from the greek word diakonos which is usually translated as minister but here in 1 Tim 3 and Philp 1:1 it is translated as deacon. A deacon is a willing servant one who willing to take on the task assigned to him. Every Christian is to be a deacon in the general sense. Mark 10:43, John 12:26. However there is also a specific office that one can hold as deacon of the church. These men that that take this office are recognized with the elders and must meet certain qualifications as we will  read about in verses 8-13. The only place we have recorded in the bible of these specific deacons is here in Timothy and in Philp 1:1 (Read this saints, elders and deacons).


Vr8 Likewise. Just like the elders have to be  qualified for their office a deacon must be qualified for his office.


Reverent/ grave This means someone who is respectable. One who serious about serving God. This rules out those that are childish, disrespectful or smart-alec. This does not mean they are so serious that they never smile or laugh but simply that they are mature enough to carry out the work of the Lord.


Doubled Tongued. This literally means to speak twice. A doubled tongued person is one who will say one thing in one crown and something different in another. A good term of this today is two faced. These kind of people will tell you what you want to hear and even agree with you  on certain issues but when they go talk to the friend Joe they will talk about you and how dumb you are about those same issues. This kind of person doesn’t take a stand on a issue instead they take both sides. James describes a doubled tongue Christian well in James 3:10.


Not be given to much wine. Already covered this in a previous class.


Not greedy for money.  You may remember this is one of the same qualifications  of an elder. A deacon cannot be focused on material gain. Nor can he be a person that gains his money by dishonest measures. A deacon is one who is going to put God first in his life and is dedicated to serving the Lord.


Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. The mystery of the faith was one Pauls favorite ways to describe the scheme of redemption for mankind that was conceived in the mind of God. Thayer describes this way “Gods plan of providing salvation for men through Chirst which was once hidden but now is revealed. Rom 16:25, 1Cor 2:7, Eph 3:9 Col 1:26.  It was through the inspired men of the 1st century that the mystery of the faith was revealed. This of course refers to the word of God that we know have.


So to hold the mystery of the faith means to understand and be steadfast in the truth. This is parallel with the qualification of an elder in Titus 1:9 to holding to the faithful word. So this  means that a deacon can not be one who is unsound in the faith no matter how kind or wealthy they might be. The pure conscience in this verse means that they practice the truth. A deacon cannot just be someone who is knowledgeable in the word of God but he must also be one who lives a pure life.


Let them be tested.  This means that these men will stand the test before the church as being those who meet these qualifications. For example some names may be submitted before the church as those who might become deacons. There should be a period of time for people to come forward and let people know if this individual does not meet the qualifications. If no one has anything they know that would keep this person from becoming a deacon of the church then they indeed will be considered blameless. Of course the word blameless doesn’t mean sinless as I pointed out earlier in regards  to the qualifications of an elder. 


11 women or wives.


  Those who so aver usually do so on the basis of three passages: (1) the reference to Phoebe in the context before us (Rom. 16:1), (2) the description of certain women in the midst of the qualifications for elders and deacons (1 Tim. 3:11), and (3) the discussion of the "enrolled" widows in Ephesus (5:9-10).


    First, let us consider the case of Phoebe in Rom. 16:1.  Admittedly, the Greek word [@diakonon] (from which our English word deacon derives (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8,10,12-13)) is the word translated "servant" in this verse.<4>  However, Paul also used [@diakonos] to describe civil rulers, who, he said, are "ministers" of God (Rom. 13:4,6).  It is most unlikely that any of them were even Christians, much less deacons.


    Even nearer the context of Rom. 16:1, Paul calls Christ a [@diakonon] (Rom. 15:8, "minister"), but would anyone argue on this basis that He was a deacon in the church?  Furthermore, Paul often referred to himself as a [@diakonos] (cf.1 Cor. 3:5; 2 Cor. 3:6; 6:4; et al.), but we must understand this to be only in a general sense; not being married (so far as we know), he was not qualified to be a deacon in the church (cf. 1 Tim. 3:12).  Why then assume an official use for the term concerning Phoebe?


    If the term has reference to "official" deacons in the church in Rom. 16:1, it is the only place in the letter where it does.  The 149 scholars who produced the KJV and ASV render the term "servant" instead of "deaconess" in Rom. 16:1, indicating their conviction that Phoebe was no "official" deaconess.  Burton Coffman illustrates well the fact that sometimes inspired writers use the same word in both a general sense and a specific sense, which can only be determined by the context:


    "The New Testament word apostle is used in its both official and limited sense and also in a secondary and more general sense when applied to men like Barnabas and Silas, who were not, strictly speaking, "apostles."  The view here is that "deaconess" as applied to Phoebe, in the same manner, does not mean that she was officially a deacon in the church of the Lord."<5>


    Second, if Paul had been intending to list the qualifications for another specific class of workers in the church besides bishops and deacons (the subjects of 1 Tim. 3:1-13), he could have as easily used [@diakonous] to refer to the women he mentioned in 1 Tim. 3:11 as he did to identify the men he described in 1 Tim. 3:8,12,13.  Instead, he used a generic term which may be translated either "women" or "wives."  If there were deaconesses in the first century church having to meet certain qualifications similar to those of bishops and deacons, 1 Tim. 3:11 would surely have been the most appropriate place thus to indicate.  Hendriksen offers the following sensible argument on this point:


    "On the other hand, the fact that no special and separate paragraph is used in describing their necessary qualifications, but that these are simply wedged in between the stipulated requirements for deacons, with equal clarity indicates that these women are not to be regarded as constituting a third office in the church, the office of "deaconesses," on a par with and endowed with authority equal to that of deacons."<6>


    Paul's reference to the women in the midst of the qualifications of elders and deacons is just that -- a reference to women (or wives) (1 Tim. 3:11).  I suggest that he is referring to the wives of both elders and deacons, since both must have wives to be qualified (1 Tim. 3:2,12).  But would merely a wife of just any sort meet the demands of the qualifications and responsibilities of these men?  Would not the women described in this verse be peculiarly suited to complement the work of an elder or deacon? Are not many men, otherwise-qualified to serve as elders or deacons, disqualified on account of their unsuitable wives?


    Third, the "enrolled" widows in 1 Tim. 5:9-10 were just that, and to assume that they were deaconesses is eisegesis rather than exegesis.  As with Phoebe and Cenchrea, so is the case of these women and Ephesus -- they were servants of these respective churches.  The mere fact that one serves a church in some capacity does not make one an "official" of any sort in that church.


    We have clear orders concerning the qualifications of elders and deacons.  That they were to be appointed and that they existed in the early church is a matter of record.  We have none of the above for deaconesses. Therefore, with Barclay, Whiteside, and Lipscomb, respectively, I agree: "Sometimes she is called a deaconess, but it is not likely that she held what might be called an official position in the church."<7>  "But the use of the word [@diakonos], here translated servant, does not prove that she occupied an official position."<8>  "Some think she was a publicly recognized deaconess, but we find no recognition in the Scriptures of any such class."<9>


A good standing For a deacon to be qualified he has already established a good standing but through laboring as servant for lord he will obtain even a higher standing of respect. Being a deacon is a good step toward becoming an Elder. Many good elders were once serving as deacons. But, this does not mean that one must be a deacon before they become an Elder and it does not mean that a deacon will become and Elder. The bible doesn’t really tells us what the work of an deacon is specifically. But here in our verse we can see that a deacon is one who serves and will serve well no matter what task is put before them. We have one possible example of deacons and their work found in Acts 6. However one would be hard pressed to prove that these men were actually deacons. But this is certainly a work a deacon could  do. We must always remember that the elders and only the elders oversee the church. The deacons do not have any authority and they to are under the eldership. Now the Elders should give task to the deacons to do so that they office is not wasted. The deacons can help take care of writing checks, organizing visitation, selecting people to serve during the worship service, supervising the care of the building and things of that nature.


Vrs 14-15


Paul had plans of returning to Ephesus one day but he knew that his plans may not happen or that it might be a great while before he could get there. So we find out the purpose of this letter, why it was written to Timothy. He has written this letter to Timothy so that when it was read people would know how it was they were to conduct themselves in the house of God. These are things that we have looked at in our previous classes. We looked at the role of man that he is to be the spiritual leader and is to lead the service of the church the women are not. He specified the qualifactions of elders and deacons to show how the church was to organized and conducted. This goes right in the face of those who believe they can set the church in their own way with their own structure. The Word of God is our pattern that we go by and not by some man made structure. God has always given a pattern to follow after even in the OT. Look at Acts: 7:44 Exodus 25:40, Heb 8:5.


Paul taught the same pattern of teaching in every church. 1Cor 7:17 and what he taught came from the Lord 1Cor 11:23. Look at what Paul says in 1Cor 11:2, 15:1-2 , 2Thes 2:15.  In Acts 14:23 Paul and Barnabas had appointed elders in every church they were visiting and we have here in 1Tim and Titus this same Pattern of doctrine being taught by which the church is regulated by. This pattern originated with Christ and came to the apostles which then spread out to the prophets, ministers and people. There is no time limit on this as we see that Paul commended Timothy in 2Tim 2:2 teach others these same patterns of truth so that they would in turn pass on down through the ages the pattern we strive to follow today as we worship God in spirit and truth John 4:23-24. We want to be just like those on the day of Pentecost and continue steadfastly in the apostles doctrine Acts 2:42.


The house of God is a metaphor of describing the family of God. We are his Children and he is our father. Notice that the church is described as a pillar and the ground of truth. This means that the church is to be strong and to be holders of the truth. The church can only be strong when its foundation is grounded in the truth. Everyone know that if the foundation is weak the structure is unstable.




Vrs 16


Here we have 6 statements made about the mystery of Godliness. 3 of which belong to our realm (flesh, gentiles, world) and 3 of which belong to the heavenly realm (spirit, angels, glory). These six points are a miniature view of the gospel.


Manifested in the flesh.

This refers to the incarnation of our Lord. 1John 1:1, 14. I really like how Paul captures what Christ was willing to do for us as he became flesh in Philp 2:5-8.


Justified in the spirit


The idea here is that Jesus was vindicated his righteousness was declared by the Holy Spirit by the raising of him from the dead. Rom 1:4. (HS raised him Rom 8:11, 1pet 3:18.


Seen by angels


The word angels here can simply mean either a earthly messenger or a heavenly messenger. I believe this is referring to the heavenly angels all though he was seen by both. The heavenly angels were a part of his life as grew as man. They announced his birth and protected his life by telling Joseph to flee to Egypt. They ministered to him in the desert after satin tempted him. An angel strengthened him in the Garden of Gesemeny and the pronounced his resurrection. They also told the disciples how Jesus would return when he comes back at his second coming. So there is no doubt that he was seen by angels.


Preached amoung the Gentiles


Preaching to ever nation which would include both the gentiles and the Jews was an important part of the mystery of Godliness. Part of this mystery was that both Jew and Gentiles were to be a part of Gods kingdom. It was the plan all along as Jesus gave the great commission that the Word should be taught to every creature in the world. They had accomplished this goal by the time Colossians was written according Col 1:23. Of course this in continual task as new generations grow up not knowing the Lord or his truth.


Believed on in the world.

We know this to be true as many from the day of Pentecost till now have put their faith in Christ and what he represents for all of us.


Received up in  Glory.


This is in reference to his accession into heaven. Remember Acts 1 when ascended into heaven on a cloud. Peter referred to this in his sermon in Acts 2:32-36.