Developing Teachers and Leaders in Our Church

The church’s mission church is simple—make disciples (Matthew 28:18–20). Within this mission, pastor-teachers teach others to teach the Word: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

Teaching takes place formally and includes directly teaching doctrine, but teaching takes place informally as well. A family teaches the leader when he is young, the church instructs him as well, and leaders then train these men to take their place in time. Consider two examples from Scripture.

First, consider Jesus and the disciples. Mark 3:13–15 speaks of how Jesus developed the disciples according to preference (“those whom he desired”), presence (“so that they might be with him”), preaching (“send them out to preach”) and power (“send them out…to cast out demons”). He singled out potential leaders, shared His life and ministry with them, and trained them to serve others.

Second, consider Paul and Timothy. Thanks to the ministry of Timothy’s family and his church (Acts 16:1–2; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15), Timothy earned for himself a good reputation of character and being knowledgeable of the Scriptures. As a result, “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him” (Acts 16:3). Then, Paul’s teaching and example developed Timothy all the more (cf. Philippians 2:19–24). Like Jesus and the disciples, Paul chose Timothy, shared his life and ministry with him, and trained him to serve others.

It is easy to plan formal teaching. Informal training—letting one’s life impact another by spending time together—this training must be planned as well, something formally informal. If our church is going to develop leaders, both formal and informal training are essential. The pastors teach those who can teach, and by building relationships with these men in other settings, they pass on their way of life as well—their character, their wisdom, and more.

Seeing the value of formal and informal training, our pastors will begin a program next year entitled “Entrusting Faithful Men.” Those who teach the church will read through a volume a year of Rolland McCune’s Systematic Theology and meet at least six times each year to discuss what we are learning. Any men besides are welcome to join. Our church has a fund to provide these books to the men in order to invest in them and thus our church. Our pastors will meet informally with these men as well.

As it applies to the church, expect somebody new to try his hand at teaching from time to time. Pray that God would raise up teachers and leaders in our midst. If nothing else, just as we pray for our women to faithfully serve, love their husbands, and raise godly children, pray also for our men to know the Word and be better husbands, fathers, and examples. May the Lord bless our church as we are mindful to develop teachers and leaders in our midst.

A Testimony from Teaching Some Teachers

What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2 ESV).

This past week, I had the privilege of leading six men through a Doctor of Ministry class at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC: “The Theology and Development of Leadership.” They were from Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. The time zones from my location in Rockford, IL, were either two hours back, one hour ahead, thirteen hours ahead, or fourteen hours ahead. While some were just seeing the sun, some had already seen it go down. Their roles as leaders include the following: a “retired” missionary from Paraguay, now serving in the States; an assistant pastor who also presides over a Bible college; an assistant pastor who oversees a counseling center in two locations; a senior pastor who also has a counseling center in his church; an assistant pastor who might become his church’s senior pastor within the next few years; and a pastor who recently relocated from one country to another.

I stayed up late each night, compiling as much as I could for these men. The best resource was simply the Scripture itself. We looked at the Testaments Old and New and especially focused on New Testament passages that taught about leaders and their development. We met together for thirty hours over the course of five days—four hours on Monday, eight on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and two on Friday.  Due to COVID-19, instead of meeting in Greenville, we connected via Zoom, a video program that allowed everyone to see and hear each other at the same time. We could even share our computer screens as desired, which was helpful when the men gave presentations about leaders from church history and when I simply taught through my own notes for the majority of the time.

The presentations and class discussions taught me much as well. I may have been the instructor, but these men had been called by God to teach in their churches and therefore had something to offer themselves. I was especially glad to listen to the “students” crowned with gray.

The greatest thing that prepared me to teach this class was simply becoming and being a pastor. Parents, brothers, pastors, and others invested their lives in me, especially the senior pastor at my previous church. Preaching the Word, pastoring, and being sharpened by others—these things and more go into what makes a pastor a pastor and a Christian leader a leader.

From the missionary now in the States: “This class has transformed my thinking, increased my understanding, and burned in my heart the desire to study God’s Word more.” Teachers should teach teachers. Iron sharpens iron-sharpening iron. All of us have something to teach and learn from one another. All glory be to God.

May the Lord be gracious to raise up leaders in all of our churches, and may we be mindful to teach these men so that they can teach others as well.

Discouraged? Take Courage and Take Heart

Unbelievers persecute Christians throughout the world, and an unbelieving worldview is capturing America and bringing opposition to the doorsteps of our churches. In spite of the difficulties we as Christians face today, I simply want to say this: take courage and take heart.

How, you ask? Consider the Lord’s dealings with Paul in Acts 27:1–28:16.

In Acts 23:11, Jesus commanded Paul, “Take courage” (tharseō) and promised him that he would “testify also in Rome” concerning “the facts about Me.” This idea of “taking courage” is similar in concept to “taking heart” (eutheumeō) as it is found in Acts 27:1–28:16 (cf. Acts 27:22, 25, 36).

As the story goes, Paul and 275 other passengers found themselves in a “tempestuous wind, called the northeaster” (Acts 27:14). An angel appeared to Paul and promised that the only loss would be the ship itself (Acts 27:22–26). The passengers would live, likely something God “granted” to Paul in response to his prayers (Acts 27:24). As Jesus promised in Acts 23:11, so also the angel repeated in Acts 27:24: “you must stand before Caesar.” For these reasons, Paul twice told the men to “take heart” (eutheumeō; Acts 27:22, 25). After encouraging them again that God would save their lives, “they were all encouraged” (Acts 27:3). “Encouraged” here is the adjective eutheumos, related to the verb eutheumeō. It seems these men now shared Paul’s confidence that Paul’s God would save their lives despite their looming shipwreck.

And save their lives He did. Just as Paul promised that eating food would give the men “strength,” or better, “deliverance” (sōteria, a word often translated “salvation”), the food gave them strength to swim and float to the Malta shore where they were “brought safely” to the island (Acts 27:44; 28:1). “Brought safely” is from diasōzō, another word from the family of words for “salvation.”

But Paul’s trials were not over. A viper bit him, and the shipwreck left him and the rest without any provisions (Acts 27:41–28:4). But Paul miraculously survived and even healed many others (Acts 28:6–9). As a result, the islanders happily honored Paul and his companions with the provisions they needed for the journey ahead (Acts 28:10).

Paul sailed along the Italian coast and finally made it to Rome by land. Just before getting there, however, fellow Christians came down to Paul in order to escort him to Rome (Acts 28:11–15). As a result, “Paul thanked God and took courage” (Acts 27:15). “Courage” here is from tharsos, a noun related to the verb tharseō that Jesus used to command Paul to “take courage” in Acts 23:11. From salvation from shipwreck to the faces of fellow Christians, Christ kindly provided Paul with what he needed to possesses the courage He commanded him to have.

While Paul’s situation was unique, we can still learn something from him today: when we trust in the promises of God, we take courage and take heart to persevere. That may sound too simple to grab your interest, but it can be difficult to do in a world run by the devil, especially when the devil is in the details.

Consider just two promises for now. Christ promised that He will build His church, and He promised that our souls are secure in Him. Whatever this world may do to oppose the church and each of its Christians, like Paul, we should take courage and take heart that God and the gospel will always prevail. The church will go on, and come what may, we will one day be in heaven. Whatever you face today, and whatever the church faces as a whole, trust in the promises of God, and take courage and take heart.

How to Recognize and Rebuke a False Teacher (Titus 1:10–16)

A church appoints qualified pastors because, if not, false teachers will gladly take their place. Pastors should be godly and gifted to teach (Titus 1:6–9). Many men are the opposite, and Titus 1:10–16 shows us how to recognize and rebuke them.

Realize that there are many false teachers (Titus 1:10).

“For there are many,” Paul warned, and he characterized them in three ways: (1) “insubordinate,” refusing to obey God and His word; (2) “empty talkers,” saying things that lack any Christian substance; and (3) “deceivers,” telling what is not true. These characterizations rang “especially” true “of the circumcision party” (Titus 1:10), those who required adherence to the Mosaic Law for salvation and sanctification (cf. Acts 15:5).

They must be silenced (Titus 1:11).

“They must be silenced,” Paul demanded. “Silenced” literally means “to put something on the mouth.” The reason is clear—these men were “upsetting whole families” with false doctrine, much like Hymenaeus and Philetus who were “upsetting the faith of some” concerning the resurrection (2 Timothy 2:18). In Titus’s situation, they were “teaching…what they ought not to teach” (Titus 1:11), “Jewish myths and the commands of people” (Titus 1:14). These “myths” were likely esoteric stories about people found in the genealogies of the Old Testament (cf. 1 Timothy 1:4), and “the commands of people” may have been denials of good things that God meant for people to enjoy (cf. Colossians 2:16, 21–22; 2 Timothy 4:3–4). These false teachers were motivated by “shameful gain” (Titus 1:11), something that would have immediately disqualified themselves from becoming pastors (cf. 1 Tim 3:3; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 5:2).

Even their own people know how bad they are (Titus 1:12–13a).

“A prophet of their own” from Crete (likely Epimenedes) said that his fellow “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Interestingly, Crete was not known for its wild beasts, so Paul basically said that they had been replaced by the false teachers—lying, evil men who were given to their passions.1 Paul agreed with the so-called “prophet”: “This testimony is true” (Titus 1:13).

So, rebuke them sharply (Titus 1:13b–14).

Given this negative influence, Paul commanded, “Rebuke them sharply” (Titus 1:13). Pastors were to rebuke (cf. Titus 1:9), and to rebuke “sharply” meant to not spare anything when using the Sword of the Spirit to tear apart their character and heresy (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:1–2, 10). The hope was that these men would no longer “turn away from the truth” but instead become “sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13, 14; cf. 2 Timothy 2:24–26).

Whatever they might say, they are evil inside and out (Titus 1:15–16).

Paul gave one more description of false teachers by contrasting them with believers. All things that believers do are pure because they are “pure” within (Titus 1:15). To those inwardly “defiled and unbelieving,” however, “nothing” they do “is pure” because “their minds and their consciences are defiled” (Titus 1:15). So, even though these false teachers claim “to know God,” they show otherwise “by their works” (Titus 1:16; cf. 2 Timothy 3:5). At the end of the day they are “detestable” in their character, “disobedient” to God, and therefore “unfit for any good work” (Titus 1:16).

No true church wants a false teacher to worm his way into people’s homes and lead them astray, taking their money in the process. Should we ever detect such a one in our churches, may we rebuke him sharply, realizing his works deny his profession of faith. May God help us to appoint pastors according to Titus 1:6–9 so that our churches are not misled by men described in Titus 1:10–16.

  1. William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (Word Biblical Commentary 46; Dallas: Word, 2000), 398. []

An Essential for Every Pastor: Being a Man of the Word (Titus 1:9)

Titus 1:6–9 is a key passage for determining who may or may not be a pastor in a church. Titus 1:6 describes how a pastor leads his family, and Titus 1:7–8 describes his character. Titus 1:7 lists five character traits that a pastor should not have, and Titus 1:8 lists six that he should. In the Greek, Titus 1:9 continues the sentence from Titus 1:7–8 and assumes the imperative verb “must” (dei) to give us a seventh positive requirement for the pastor: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

We could generally sum of Titus 1:9 with this—a pastor must be a man of the word. More specifically, we could explain this verse with four statements.

A pastor has been taught the trustworthy word.

New Testament Greek sometimes uses whole prepositional phrases to describe a noun. Literally put, a pastor must be “holding fast to the according-to-the-teaching trustworthy word.” So, when Titus 1:9 requires that a pastor hold fast to the word, it’s a word that is described in two ways. It is according to the teaching, and it is trustworthy. And if it is according to the teaching, the pastor himself has been taught this word so as to be able to hold fast to it and teach it himself. Churches and their pastors should teach men who are able to teach. Bible colleges, seminaries, and institutes can aid this teaching, but however it is done, a pastor is someone who has been taught the trustworthy word.

The phrase “the trustworthy word” uses the same Greek words (pistos, logos) that Paul uses in the Pastoral Epistles when he says “This saying is trustworthy” (1 Timothy 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8). These “sayings” always refer to a summary statement about the gospel or to a statement about the one who proclaims it. These passages show us that the “trustworthy word” is the gospel that leads sinners to salvation in Christ and to subsequent life of godliness.

Similarly, Paul commends Timothy as a “good servant of Christ Jesus” for teaching the brothers in that which he had been trained, “the words of the faith,” a phrase which uses these words again (1 Timothy 4:6). Timothy was an example of someone who preached the trustworthy word because he was trained to do so. Like Timothy, pastors must know this trustworthy word inside and out and all of its related doctrines as best they can. A pastor is someone who has been taught the trustworthy word.

A pastor holds firm to the trustworthy word.

“Hold firm” is technically a participle, an “-ing” kind of word in the English. Mentioned earlier, the main verb of Titus 1:7–9 is “must,” so the pastor “must” be “holding firm.” This same verb (antechō) is used to describe one being “devoted” to a master (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13) and how we should “help” the weak (1 Thessalonians 5:14). It literally means to “hold against” one’s self whatever the object may be. As Titus 1:9 demands, a pastor must firmly hold the trustworthy word to himself. By doing so, he will save himself and his hearers (cf. 1 Timothy 4:15–16).

A pastor instructs in sound doctrine.

To fully understand this point and the next, we should note that a pastor will not be “able” (dunatos) to instruct in sound doctrine or rebuke those who contradict unless he first holds firm the trustworthy word. The two small words “so that” indicate that one action leads to two others—the pastor holds firm the trustworthy word “so that he may be able” to “give instruction” and “rebuke.” A pastor cannot instruct something that eludes his grasp, let alone know how to rebuke someone who is contradicting.

The translation “give instruction” is an interesting choice for the ESV since it is the only one of 109 instances of parakaleō to be translated this way. To be fair, parakaleō has a range of translations, shaped by context, varying quite a bit—comfort, urge, beg, invite, ask, appeal, exhort, entreat, plead, and encourage. So, when the action of parakaleō involves “sound doctrine,” it would mean at the least to “give instruction,” but these other choices are not far behind. “Sound doctrine” comes from the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:3), “follows… the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13), and thus “accords with godliness” (1 Timothy 6:3). It opposes sin (1 Timothy 1:10; cf. 1:9–10), rebukes sinners (Titus 1:13), and cannot be endured by those who are ruled by their passions (2 Timothy 4:3). Thus, sound doctrine must be instructed and exhorted, and those who hear it should be urged, invited, and asked to submit thereto.

A pastor rebukes those who contradict sound doctrine.

A pastor who is taught, holds firm, and instructs the word of God will be opposed by unbelievers. In Titus’s context, some of these unbelievers professed to know God, upset families in the churches, used the church for personal gain, and needed to be silenced through rebuke (Titus 1:10–16; cf. 1:9, 13). Titus was to do so “with all authority” (Titus 2:15) and avoid those who persisted in strife (Titus 3:10–11; cf. Romans 16:17–18; 2 John 10–11). Titus was to name the sinner and the sin, just as John the Baptist did with Herod for his unlawful marriage “and for all the evil things that Herod had done” (Luke 3:19).

Summary

Titus 1:9 is just one verse, but it teaches much about how a pastor is to be a man of the word. A pastor must have been taught the word, hold firm thereto, and instruct others in sound doctrine. When opposed, the pastor must rebuke those who contradict. May God help all of us as pastors and Christian leaders to live according to Titus 1:9.

“The Mandates and Mystery of Marriage” – Ephesians 5:22–33

Understanding Ephesians 5:22–33 is essential for every marriage. Paul commands wives and husbands how to relate to one another in marriage and explains how and why they must do so. What follows below is a brief summary of this passage.

Wives: Your mission is submission (Ephesians 5:22–24).

Wives are commanded to “submit to your own husbands” (Ephesians 5:22). Technically, Ephesians 5:22 does not have a verb but assumes the verb “submit” used in Ephesians 5:21. Submitting in Ephesians 5:21 is an example of how to obey the command to be filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. A wife’s submission is only properly possible when she is filled with the Spirit, and the same could be said for the husband’s love for his wife in Ephesians 5:25–31. The grammar and makeup of the verb “submit” in Ephesians 5:21 means something like “to choose to put yourself under someone else.” In context, the wife chooses to put herself under the authority of her loving husband just as she submits to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22). The reason to do is because he is the head of the family, which is pictured in how Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:23). Just as the church submits to Christ, so also it should be in every way for the wives to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:24).

Husbands: You must love like Christ above (Ephesians 5:25–31).

Husbands are commanded to love their wives in the same way that Christ loved and died for the church (Ephesians 5:25). This act of love by Christ was to make His church holy, and husbands should likewise love their wives in such a way as to protect and keep them from sin (Ephesians 5:26–27). Husbands should also love their wives in the same way that they love their own bodies (Ephesians 5:28). No husband neglects his body but feeds and takes care of it, a picture of how Christ spiritually feeds and cares for His body the church (Ephesians 5:29–30). A quotation from Genesis 2:24 clarifies that this love and care are only truly possible when a husband and wife have completely left their immediate families to create a new family together, depending upon one another for what had previously been provided to them (Ephesians 5:31).

Your inspiration is revelation: marriage pictures the revealed mystery of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32).

The mystery revealed here is that the relationship of the husband and wife pictures the relationship of Christ and His church, the body of Christ. We better understand Christ and His church when husbands love and wives submit.

Summing up what God expects—husbands, love, and wives, respect (Ephesians 5:33).

Again, husbands must love their wives. Wives should respect their husbands. The change from “submit” to “respect” captures the same idea, and similar terms are used by Peter when he commands wives to “be subject to your own husbands” with “respectful and pure conduct” (1 Peter 3:1–2).

The Kind of Behavior by Children That Disqualifies Their Father for Pastoral Ministry

A pastor’s children are to be kept “submissive” according to 1 Timothy 3:4. They should obey their father and follow his instruction in the home. Titus 1:6 requires the same of the children, and depending on whether one translates pistos as a noun or an adjective, they must be “believers” or “faithful.” Either way, they must follow the teaching of their father.

Titus 1:6 goes further, however, to describe what must not be characteristic of the behavior of these children. They must not be “open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination” (ESV). This is the kind of behavior by a father’s children that disqualifies him for formal pastoral ministry. What follows below is an attempt to explain exactly what kind of behavior this is.

First, for whatever “debauchery or insubordination” may be, the children are to not be “open to the charge” that they do such things. Literally put, they are “not with accusation” by another in these matters. This behavior is uncharacteristic of their lives, which seems to imply that their friends and close associations are free of the same, leaving them altogether in the clear.

Second, the term debauchery comes from asōtia, a combination of a- (“without”) and sōzō (“to save”). The etymology itself gives the idea that this behavior is reflective of a child without salvation. Debauchery is equated with being “drunk with wine” (Ephesians 5:18), and Peter’s “flood of debauchery” describing unbelievers includes “living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry” (1 Peter 4:3–4). A related word describes the prodigal son in Luke 15: “He squandered his property in reckless (asōtōs) living,” which included having ravenously “devoured” his father’s “property with prostitutes” (Luke 15:13, 30). Of both asōtia and asōtōs, “The original meaning is… ‘incurable’” and thus “denotes… ‘one who by his manner of life… destroys himself’.”1

Third, a pastor’s child cannot be guilty of insubordination. The etymology of this word likewise indicates something lacking in the child, combining a- (“without”) with hupotassō (“to be subject, subordinate”). Whereas 1 Timothy 3:4 requires the child to be “submissive,” Titus 1:6 requires the child not to be the opposite, a child guilty of “insubordination.” The idea is a willful and rebellious refusal by the child to be subject to the rule of the father in the home. This word describes false teachers in Titus 1:10 and is translated “disobedient” in 1 Timothy 1:9, one item in a list of descriptions that are contrasted with someone who is “just” or “righteous” (dikaios). The insubordinate, disobedient child is unjust, unrighteous, and a defiant unbeliever.

If debauchery and insubordination are characteristic of a man’s children, he cannot be a pastor. If he cannot manage his house so that his children are free from this behavior, then neither is he able to care for the household of God (cf. 1 Timothy 3:4–5).

May we as pastors and Christian leaders lead our homes well in order to better care for the church today. And may God be gracious to our children to truly believe the gospel and grow in Christ.

  1. Werner Foerster, TDNT, 1:506. []

The Children in a Pastor’s Home: Must They Be Saved?

Two verses describe the children in a pastor’s home, and it is debated whether or not the descriptions in these verses require that a pastor’s children must be saved. This post is a quick look at both sides of the matter and attempt to give my personal answer to the matter.

First, Paul positively states in 1 Timothy 3:4 that a pastor “must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive” (ESV). “With all dignity” could describe how the father managed his household, how the children submitted to their father, or perhaps both.1 If describing the children, this phrase would be similar in construction to Titus 1:6 in which Paul adds a phrase of description to explain how a pastor’s children are “believers” or “faithful” (pistos; see below).2 However, if deacons are described with the similar word “dignified” (semnos) in 1 Timothy 3:8, Paul’s use of Paul uses “dignity” (semnotēs) in 1 Timothy 3:4 could likewise describe how the pastor manages his household in 1 Timothy 3:4–5.3 This being the case, only “submissive” (ὑποταγή) describes the children in 1 Timothy 3:4. This submission is clearly with reference to the children’s father, meaning they obey him in the home. Because this submission is to a Christian father in the context of whether or not this man should be a pastor, the child’s personal faith may be assumed,4 but 1 Timothy 3:4 is not altogether conclusive on the matter.

Titus 1:6, however, is more descriptive: “his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination” (ESV). As one can see from the ESV’s translation of the plural use of pistos as a noun this verse (“believers”), many conclude that this verse explicitly requires a pastor’s children to be believers.

A second understanding is that, even if pistos is understood to be an adjective, one effectively reaches the same conclusion. When used with reference to a person, pistos never describes unbelievers but instead describes one who is actively believing. The sense of pistos, then, would be “children who believe.”5

Or, a third option, it could be that “faithful” is analogous to “submissive” in 1 Timothy 3:4 and is described further in Titus 1:6 by how the children abstain from “debauchery or insubordination.” “But since the following phrase is assumed to probably reflect unbelieving conduct, we end up nearly at the same point.”6

Given these three options, a pastor’s children are either understood to be believers or, as best as one can tell, it looks very much as if they are. It seems unlikely that the early church in a patriarchal context would have allowed for anything less. A father with an unruly home was incapable of ruling the house of God.7

Being a pastor’s child does not automate the child’s faith. And, as with Judas, Demas, and others, just because a pastor’s child makes a profession of faith does not mean that it is sincere. But, at least to me, what seems to be clear is that a pastor’s children should be believers or at least seem to be so. If children are born into a pastor’s home, it seems there should be grace and patience by the church to let the pastor “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) without unduly pressuring the children into a false profession or requiring more of them than Scripture. And if a church detects a problem, they should approach the pastor and father first as the requirement is for him to manage his children and not for the children to make sure their father can remain a pastor. At the least, the children should not be able to be accused of flagrant sin (Titus 1:6). At the most, they are submissive in the home and faithful to their father’s instruction, which one would hope stems from saving faith. May God be gracious that all of our children should believe, whether the children of a pastor or anyone else.

  1. George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 161. []
  2. Ibid. []
  3. Ibid., 161–62. []
  4. Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (NICNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006), 255. []
  5. John F. MacArthur, Jr., Titus (MCNT; Chicago: Moody, 1996), 30. []
  6. J. C. Laansma, “2 Timothy, Titus,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2009), 236–37. []
  7. I. Howard Marshall and Philip H. Towner,  A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (ICC; New York: T&T Clark, 2004), 158; Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 255. []

The Exemplary Character of a Pastor: Positive Character Traits

The pastor is to be an example in all ways to others (1 Pet 5:3; cf. Phil 3:17; 2 Thess 3:9; 1 Tim 4:12; Titus 2:7). So, when Paul requires a certain character of pastors in 1 Tim 3:2–3 and Titus 1:7–8, if a pastor is to have exemplary character for others, this character is in principle a character required for all Christians. What follows below is an explanation for each of the  positive character traits listed in Titus 1:7–8. I hope to follow up later with an explanation of the other positive traits from Tim 3:2–3 that are not listed here.

In both 1 Tim 3:2 and Titus 1:7, pastors are to be “above reproach.” In 1 Tim 3:2, Paul uses the word ἀνεπίλημπτος as a headword or “overarching characteristic”[1] that is further defined by all the character, family, and ability requirements to follow.[2] ἀνεπίλημπτος is a combination of the alpha privative (ἀ-) and ἐπιλαμβάνω (ἐπιλαμβάνομαι), “to grasp,”[3] giving a clue towards its meaning, “irreproachable.”[4] In all the requirements to follow in 1 Tim 3:2–7, others should not be able to grasp upon an obvious flaw in the man’s character so as to demonstrate that he should not be a pastor.

In both Titus 1:6 and 1:7, Paul uses the word ἀνέγκλητος, a word stems from ἀνεγκλησία (“blamelessness”),[5] which itself is a combination of the alpha privative (ἀ-) and ἐγκαλέω, “accuse.”[6] As ἀνέγκλητος likewise functions as a headword for what follows in Titus 1:6 and 1:7–9,[7] a pastor must be blameless with respect to what is required of him concerning his family and children (Titus 1:6), as well as his character and ability to teach (Titus 1:7–9).

First, a pastor is sober-minded (1 Tim 3:2). Based on the historical use of this word with reference to the absence of wine,[8] “sober-minded” (νηφάλιος) could sit in direct contrast to “not a drunkard” (1 Tim 3:3) and thus mean “being very moderate in the drink of alcoholic beverage.”[9] Or νηφάλιος could generally refer to “being restrained in conduct,” whether in relation to alcohol or anything else.[10] Since Paul already says elsewhere that the pastor is to be “not a drunkard” (1 Tim 3:3; Titus 1:7), the general meaning is preferred,[11] indicating that meaning involves the pastor having “the clarity and self-control necessary for sacred ministry in God’s work.”[12]

Second, he is self-controlled. “Self-controlled” in 1 Tim 3:2 and Titus 1:8 is translated from σώφρων, a compound word stemming from σῴζω (“to save”)[13] and φρήν (“the process of careful consideration”),[14] placing an emphasis on the mind.[15] Thus, the overseer is one who is given to careful consideration and thus makes sound decisions. Similarly, while “disciplined” (ἐγκρατής) from Titus 1:8 overlaps in meaning with σώφρων to some degree, the word family of ἐγκρατής can be used with reference to sexual desire difference (cf. ἐγκρατεύεσθαι in 1 Cor 7:9).[16] Thus, ἐγκρατής may deal more directly with the baser passions.[17] The pastor is to be “disciplined” in this area as well.

Third, he is respectable (1 Tim 3:2). “Respectable” (κόσμιος) involves a person’s “having characteristics or qualities that evoke admiration or delight.”[18] “Respectable” is used in the NT only elsewhere to describe the apparel of women, further described “with modesty and self-control” (1 Tim 2:9). A pastor, then, behaves in such a way as not to bring undue attention to himself but is “moderate” and “well-ordered.”[19]

Fourth, he is hospitable (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8). “Hospitable” is translated from φιλόξενος, a compound word from φίλος (“loving”) and ξένος (“stranger”).[20] The etymology itself gives the idea of loving strangers, and, in the context of the church, pastors are expected to help and house traveling Christians as need may be, something expected of all Christians (cf. Rom 12:13; Heb 13:2; 1 Pet 4:9; 3 John 5–10).[21]

Fifth, he is gentle (1 Tim 3:3). “Gentle” (ἐπιεικής) immediately follows “violent” and is introduced with the strong adversative “but” (ἀλλά), showing a direct contrast between the two.[22] “Gentle” is likewise contrasted with being “unjust” (1 Pet 2:18) and “quarrelsome” (ἄμαχος; Titus 3:2), the latter of which immediately follows “gentle” in 1 Tim 3:3. A contrast may be intended here as well.[23] “Gentle” is an expression of godly wisdom alongside being “peaceable… open to reason, fully of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

Sixth, he is a lover of good (Titus 1:8). “A lover of good” is translated from φιλάγαθος, a compound word combining φίλος (“loving”) and ἀγαθός, “good.” In this case, the etymology of the word matches its meaning. [24] What is “good” should obviously be defined by Scripture (cf. Phil 4:8)[25] and could have reference to both “things and people that are virtuous, inherently good.”[26]

Seventh, he is upright (Titus 1:8). “Upright” (δίκαιος) could be translated “righteous,” but the context indicates the word’s “ethical sense of just behavior” is in view,[27] and “is used here of one who lives in accordance with God’s law.”[28] An “upright” pastor deals fairly with others.[29]

Eighth, he is holy (Titus 1:8). “Holy” (ὅσιος) is used almost seven hundred times in the NT and could also be translated “devout, pious, pleasing to God.”[30] A pastor’s “calling” is “holy” (2 Tim 1:9), and a pastor is an honorable vessel whose use is “set apart as holy” (2 Tim 2:21). Just as Paul place “upright” and “holy” together here in Titus 1:8, they are also joined to describe how believers are to live before God (Luke 1:75), the manner whereby “the new self” was “created after the likeness of God” (Eph 4:24), and Paul’s conduct among the Thessalonians (1 Thess 2:10).[31]

 

 

[1]George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 156.

[2]Gerhard Delling, “λαμβάνω, ἀναλαμβάνω, ἀνάλημψις, ἐπιλαμβάνω, ἀνεπίλημπτος, κατα-, μεταλαμβάνω, μετάλημψις, παρα-, προ-, προσλαμβάνω, πρόσλημψις, ὑπολαμβάνω,” TDNT, 4:9.

[3]BDAG, s.v., “ἐπιλαμβάνομαι,” 374.

[4]BDAG, s.v., “ἀνεπίλημπτος,” 77.

[5]BDAG, s.v., “ἀνέγκλητος,” 76.

[6]BDAG, s.v., “ἐγκαλέω,” 273.

[7]William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles (WBC 46; Dallas, TX: Word, 2000), 388

[8]Otto Bauernfeind, “νήφω, νηφάλιος, ἐκνήφω,” TDNT, 4:939.

[9]BDAG, s.v., “νηφάλιος,” 672.

[10]Ibid.

[11]George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 159; Philip H. Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus (NICNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006), 251.

[12]Bauernfeind, TDNT, 4:941. Deacons are likewise to be “not addicted to much wine” (1 Tim 3:8, μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας) and to be “sober-minded” (1 Tim 3:11; νηφάλιος). With both pastors and deacons, Paul seems to require a general sobriety in addition to addressing the abuse of alcohol.

[13]John F. MacArthur, Jr. Titus (MNTC; Chicago: Moody Press, 1996), 41.

[14]BDAG, s.v., “φρήν,” 1065.

[15]BDAG, s.v., “σώφρων,” 987, lists “prudent” and “thoughtful” as alternate translations.

[16]Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 391.

[17]Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 690. Attempting to find parallels between 1 Tim 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9, Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 292–93, suggests ἐγκρατής is “virtually equivalent to νηφάλιος in 1 Tim. 3:2.”

[18]BDAG, s.v., “κόσμιος,” 561.

[19] L&N, s.v., “κόσμιος,” 1:747. Hermann Sasse, “κοσμέω, κόσμος, κόσμιος, κοσμικός,” TDNT, 3:896, notes that in secular Greek, “The concept always contains the idea of control of the body and its movements and impulses.”

[20]BDAG, s.v., “φίλος,” 1059, and “ξένος” 684.

[21]Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 173–74.

[22]Ibid., 176

[23]Ibid.; Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 160.

[24]Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 391. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 292, suggests that φιλάγαθος may be analogous to Paul’s use of κόσμιος (“respectable”) in 1 Tim 3:2. If so, a love for good behavior is in view. See the explanation of “respectable” above.

[25]MacArthur, Titus, 40–41.

[26]Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 689.

[27]Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 391

[28]Knight, The Pastoral Epistles, 292.

[29]Towner, The Letters to Timothy and Titus, 689–90; MacArthur, Titus, 41.

[30]BDAG, s.v., “ὅσιος,” 758.

[31] Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, 391.

Three Accounts of Paul’s Conversion and Commission in the Book of Acts

We find three accounts of Paul’s conversion in the book of Acts—Acts 9:1–19a, 22:1–21, and 26:9–23. Why? And what are the primary differences among them?

In answering why, if nothing else, Luke wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit, so we can conclude that Paul’s conversion was important to God and that He wanted it to be remembered by His people. In keeping with the book of Acts, Acts 1:8 announced the spread of the witness to Christ and His resurrection to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and then to the ends of the earth. In taking the gospel beyond Samaria, Acts 9 records the history of Paul’s conversion through the pen of Luke. Acts 22 presents Paul’s conversion and commission from his own lips to the Jews, and Acts 26 does the same to the Gentiles in Caesarea. So, one might say Acts 9 introduces us to the primary apostle to the Gentiles, and Acts 22 and 26 gives us his witness to this conversion and commission before the Jews and Gentiles in keeping with the theme of the spread of the gospel in Acts.

In discovering the differences among the three accounts, we might first notice that each account details Paul’s encounter in Christ on the road to Damascus and his commission to be an apostle. Beyond that, what follows is a summary of the primary differences between these three accounts.

The difference in contexts was already noted. Acts 9 is a third-person account of Paul’s commission, Acts 22 and 26 first-hand accounts from Paul, and that to Jews and then Gentiles.

Acts 9:1–19a brings out the hesitation of Ananias to see Paul, something the reader himself might have had (Acts 9:9–16). But, knowing that he, too, spoke to the Lord and accepted Paul would have built the anticipation that others would as well (e.g., Barnabas and the apostles; cf. Acts 9:26–30).

Acts 22:1–21 contains a number of choice details by Paul to connect with his Jewish audience. He gives his Jewish background (Acts 22:1–5) and focuses on Ananias’s good repute, God’s revelation through him to Paul, and his miracle in curing Paul’s blindness (Acts 22:12–16), as if to give a Jewish witness to his commission. Tying Jesus to the Jewish God of the Old Testament, Ananias describes Paul as called by the Father (God) to know His will and see and hear the Righteous One (i.e., the Messiah). Paul also recalled a second commission by Jesus in the temple, as if to say that God through Jesus called him to the Gentiles from the most important place in the Jewish nation.

Acts 26:9–23 leaves out Ananias and Paul’s blindness altogether and summarizes Paul’s commission in terms of Jesus alone. In recalling this commission, this account gives the most detail for the gospel that he was to preach (Acts 26:18–23), a necessity in light of his Gentile audience.

We can only thank God for Paul and his role in taking the gospel to the world. May our lives as Christians be as his—radically transformed by Jesus from walking in darkness to spread the light of the glorious gospel of Christ.