1 Timothy 3:1-5
1 Tim 3:1 (KJB)
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
Bishop - Overseer
Now Paul begins the section of qualifications for church office. The Bishop was an overseer or he was the Chief Elder of the local congregation. There was no such thing as Bishops in charge of denominations or groups of area churches. That concept came from the Roman Catholic Church which was adopted by the Protestant Churches. The pastor is not a ruling office in the church but is given to the local church as a spiritual gift. (Eph 4:11 KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; He is not the ruler of the local church because if he begins to preach a false gospel, then the chief elder or bishop can remove them. Unfortunately, the Protestant church saw the power the Roman Catholic Priests had over their congregations and therefore adopted the same method. The Pastor has been made the ruler in the local congregation which is not the biblical way and they have absolute authority in the churches. According to the Scriptures, they, like any other Christian are to be in subjection to the Bishop and Elders which are the legitimate ruling offices in the church. The Pastor is to have spiritual oversight in the congregation but is to be subject to the ruling elders.
1 Tim 3:2 (KJB)
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
Paul gives the qualifications for being a Bishop:
Blameless - He must be “beyond reproach” in all matters of his life and that includes not only spiritual business but business with unbelievers. He is even to avoid the appearance of evil so he cannot even be accused, never mind convicted.
The husband of one wife - This means that a person who desires to be a bishop must be married to only one wife, he cannot be single. This also means he cannot be divorced and remarried because then he would be married to two women at the same time which would be adultery. (Luke 16:18 KJV) Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. He is not even to be married to a woman who is divorced. If he becomes divorced while being in office, then he is to resign from that office.
Vigilant - He must be sober and in this case it speaks to not being drunk. In fact the word carries the meaning of “drinking NO wine” and he is to be temperate in all areas. This means by not drinking any wine he will remain “clearheaded” for the purpose of doing the work of God properly in the church.
Sober - He must be sober minded which means he must be a serious minded individual concerning the ministry to which he is aspiring to. The word also carries with it the meaning of him being a very prudent individual. One who will not waste the resources of the church on frivolous things.
Of good behavior - They must be a person who is well behaved. They are not to be long faced on Sunday and then out in the bars the night before. They are to be respectable and virtuous in their daily living. Their lives must be a continuum of their Christian testimony and not riotous or party people.
Given to hospitality - They must be a person who is willing to meet the needs of others to the best of their abilities. In fact the Greek word carries with it the meaning of “friend of strangers or guests.”
Apt to teach - They must also be a person who is well versed in the Scriptures so they will have the ability to teach. They need to have some type of skill in teaching and if their lives are ordered properly, then they will create an orderly way in which to teach the Scriptures.
1 Tim 3:3 (KJB)
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
Not given to wine - The man must not be addicted to wine or a steady drinker of any alcoholic beverage. This will cloud any judgment they have to make and one of the requirements for this office is to be clear headed. The word also carries with it the meaning of being abusive or a brawler, one who likes to fight. These two are companions to drinking alcohol. (Prov 23:31 KJV) Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. The admonition from Proverbs 23:31 is that we are not even to look upon the wine, never mind drink it.
No Striker - The man must not be a violent or a fierce person. They must not be quick to get into a fight with someone. They must not be a contentious person because people will be approaching them asking them questions concerning different teachings they come across and the Bishop must be able to discuss rather than become angry very quickly.
Not greedy of filthy lucre - They must not be men who are greedy of dishonest gain. If they see evil people prospering, they must never be envious and desire to make money or any type of gain by any other manner than legally. They must not pursue anything dishonest.
Patient - The man must also be a patient man which means he must be gentle. He must be able to be tolerant of sincere people who approach him about biblical things. He must not be a man of haste knowing that biblical things are eternal things.
Not a brawler - This man must also have a peaceable nature and not ready to be argumentative in a moment. He must not be quarrelsome so he can be approached with biblical questions and be able to rule the church well without people being afraid to bring their concerns to him.
Not covetous - This man must not be envious of the things others have and must not have a lust for money which could lead to an illegal way of gaining funds. He must not possess an insatiable desire for wealth for many have stolen from churches by paying themselves mutli-million dollar salaries. His eyes must be on spiritual things and not the things of this temporal world.
1 Tim 3:4 (KJB)
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
The testing ground for anyone who wishes to hold the office of Bishop is their own home. If this man is able to rule his own house and keep it an orderly home with his children being in subjection and being obedient to him, then this would give evidence that he has the ability to rule and to manage other people which is what the church is. The family relationship is a revealing way of gauging how well a parent or parents are able to control and rule their houses.
1 Tim 3:5 (KJB)
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Then the Scripture gives a very practical assessment. If a man desires to rule an entire flock of God’s people and is inept at ruling his own house, then he will only bring problems to the church in a leadership position. This is why the family is the best revelation of leadership ability there is, either you have ability to lead or you do not. I know ministers who have failed to rule their families and you can tell their lack of leadership in the way they run the church. There always seems to be some type of problem or confusion or contentions. Those who cannot rule their houses must be ruled out as rulers for God’s house. If a person cannot handle temporal things, how can they handle eternal things?