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.


[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.

Dealing with False Teachers in the Church

From Paul’s letters to Timothy, leaders in the church can gather quite a bit for how to deal with so-called teachers who profess Christ but deny Him in word and deed.

Be an example in the midst of false teachers.
In in event that one might “despise you for your youth” (or later, for that matter), “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim 4:12). In the presence of false teachers, a godly example of a teacher is worth a 1,000 words in and of itself. The difference between right and wrong will be all the more obvious.

Keep away from the influence of false teachers (2:20–21).
When Paul speaks of the one who “cleanses himself from what is dishonorable” (2 Tim 2:21), he uses the picture of honorable vessels being cleansed by separating themselves from dishonorable vessels (cf. 2 Tim 2:20). Instead, we should pursue what fits our faith “along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22).

Tell false teachers to stop teaching different doctrine (1 Tim 1:3–4).
Timothy’s task was clear. He was to “charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies” (1 Tim 1:3–4).

Confront and correct false teachers in a proper manner (2 Tim 2:24–26).
Speaking of “the Lord’s servant” as one who is “correcting his opponents,” Paul requires this servant to be “kind to everyone…patiently enduring evil” (2 Tim 2:24). With this kindness and patience, he also corrects “with gentleness” (2 Tim 2:25). The goal is never to simply shut down the opposition and destroy them. Their souls, too, are at stake. With a proper rebuke, “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Tim 2:25–26).

Use witnesses when dealing with false teachers publicly before the church.
In the event that the false teacher is an elder in the church, we should “not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses” (1 Tim 5:19). Should such a one “persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Tim 5:20).

Hand them over to Satan (1 Tim 1:19–20).
Along with this public rebuke, the persistently unfaithful are put out of the church, which is Paul’s meaning when he speaks of Hymenaeus and Alexander and said, “I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Tim 1:20). These men likely led others in “rejecting this, that is, “faith and a good conscience” (1 Tim 1:19), creating spiritual warfare in the church (cf. 1 Tim 1:18).

A Quick Biography of Timothy

Raised in Lystra (Acts 16:1–5), “from childhood,” Timothy had “been acquainted with the sacred writings” (2 Tim 3:15), thanks to his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice who had “a faith that dwelt first” in them (2 Tim 1:5). Eunice was “a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1), and likely an unbeliever as evidenced by his opposition to Timothy being circumcised according to Mosaic Law (cf. Acts 16:3).

Minus his father, Timothy’s family likely accepted Paul’s gospel when he came to Lystra during his first missionary journey (AD 47–49; cf. Acts 14:5–23). Paul had there healed a cripple, provoking an attempt to worship him (Acts 14:8–18), and he was soon thereafter opposed, stoned, and left for dead (Acts 14:19–20). Shortly after, however, Paul was “strengthening the souls of the disciples” and left them in the hands of their newly-appointed elders (Acts 14:22–23).

Likely among those who followed Paul at that time, it is no surprise that Timothy matured and was later “well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium” (Acts 16:2). Thus, “Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him” (Acts 16:3) during his second missionary journey (AD 50–52), which may have been when Timothy was formally set aside to use his “gift” of preaching and teaching, “given” to him “by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on” him (1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6).

Luke’s Acts and Paul’s letters give but a few snippets from his life of missionary service. Timothy would at times be separated from Paul (Acts 17:14–15), sent to churches with specific tasks (Acts 18:22), such as checking up on them (1 Thess 3:1–10), helping in handling their problems (1 Tim 1:3), and doing so in a manner that mirrored Christ (1 Cor 4:15–17). He would join Paul for his third missionary journey (AD 53–57; cf. Acts 20:4–5; Rom 16:21; 2 Cor 1:1) and then encourage him in a Roman prison (AD 59–61; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; Phm 1). He joined him again for a fourth journey (AD 62–66), finally to be left at Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3) where he remained until the death of Paul (cf. 2 Tim 4:6–8), except for perhaps an occasional trip to Paul or elsewhere (cf 2 Tim 4:9, 13, 21).

Some suggest that Timothy was timid since the Corinthians had to be told not to despise him (1 Cor 16:10–11) and the admonition to use his gift in Ephesus implied that he may not have been doing so (2 Tim 1:6). Some add to this weak persona his occasional sickness (1 Tim 5:23). At the same time, we remember Paul’s glowing commendations of Timothy (1 Cor 4:17; Phil 2:19–22) and that he dealt with problems in Corinth, Ephesus, and elsewhere, and his last mention in the NT is having been freed from being imprisoned for the gospel (Heb 13:23). Whatever his flaws may have been, he is an excellent example of Christlike service for us today (1 Cor 4:15–17).

How to Read Scripture Out Loud in a Service: One Pastor’s Advice

Timothy was sent by Paul to preside over the church in Ephesus and restore it to order in light of a problem with its elders (cf. 1 Tim 1:3–5). In doing so, his attention to the weekly assembly was to ensure the presence of several components, three of which are mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:13. Paul commanded, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Tim 4:13).

I believe that this command is prescriptive for the church today. The text literally reads “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, the exhortation, the teaching.” The definite article for each item assumes their regular place at the weekly assembly. Other texts assume and example the reading of letters as well (e.g., 1 Thess 5:27; Col 4:16; Rev 1:3).

A Scripture reading may look very different from one church to the next. Some have a single person read. Other churches engage the congregation by reading responsively, alternating between the lead reader and everyone reading together, typically alternating at each verse. Some churches use overhead screens to project the text. Some use only Bibles. Some congregations stand. Some do not. Some read whole chapters. Some read shorter texts. Some read a chapter of a book each week to go through the Bible. Some churches pick a text related to the sermon or the sermon text itself.

For our church, I usually pick a text somehow related to our sermon. We have a handful of men who rotate for the Scripture reading. My advice in such a situation is that the reader needs to read well―not in a flowery manner, but does well to emphasize appropriately. He should practice out loud beforehand and make sure he knows how to pronounce every word properly. Personally, I find that responsive reading is distracting because I am always waiting for when to read rather than focusing wholly on the import of what is being read. With a good reader, people can follow along and grasp the reading well.

By no means does our manner of Scripture reading stand as a prime example for others. Whatever the case, I do think Paul’s command to Timothy stands for leaders of the church today. Devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, whether it is you as the pastor, or someone else to whom you have delegated this responsibility.

The Conduct and Confession of the Church

One of the first sermons I preached at my church was entitled “The Conduct and Confession of the Church,” a sermon from 1 Timothy 3:14–16. This post is a simple summary of that sermon.

Paul emphasizes the conduct of the church in 1 Timothy 3:14–16a. This conduct is noted in his statement that specifies his purpose for writing the entire letter of 1 Timothy: “I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God” (1 Tim 3:14–15). The immediate context of this statement shows that this behavior at least involved how to pray as a church (2:1–8), who was to teach and exercise authority (2:11–15), and the requirements for pastors and deacons (3:1–13).

This conduct is also emphasized in the phrase Paul uses to describe the gospel, “the mystery of godliness” (3:16a). A biblical mystery is some truth that was previously unknown but has now been revealed to God’s people (cf. Col 1:25–26). The mystery of the gospel was revealed more fully with the preaching of Christ and the apostles. Understanding what a mystery is, we can better understand what Paul meant when he called the gospel “the mystery.” What is important for the moment, however, is that it called the gospel “the mystery of godliness.” One could say the gospel is inherently tied to godliness because those who believe the gospel will inevitably reflect this belief by living a godly life (cf. Eph 2:8–10).

Paul also emphasizes the confession of the church in 1 Timothy 3:16b. He gives six lines from what appears to be a fragment of a hymn sung by the early church. There are several ways one could suggest as to how one should understand the cadence and theological ties between each line, and it seems the best understanding is to see the first five lines as a chronologically ordered summary of the gospel and the sixth line as how we should emphasize Christ today. God the Son (1) became human (cf. John 1:14; Rom 1:3; Phil 2:7–8), (2) was vindicated by the Spirit concerning His claims about Himself and His resurrection in that the Spirit brought Him to life from the dead (cf. Rom 1:4; Heb 9:14; Rom 8:11), (3) ascended into heaven where He was seen by angels (cf. Heb 1:6), was proclaimed among the nations (cf. Acts 1:8) which (5) brought about the belief of many in the world (cf. Rom 16:25–26). In all of this, we could say that (6) Christ was taken up in glory, that is, He ascended to be exalted and proclaimed to all so that many could believe in order to worship and glorify Him (cf. Acts 1:2, 11, 22; Eph 1:20–21). These six lines summarize some of the core truths of the gospel and were part of the confession of the church. Such a confession would lead to godliness.

False Teachers, Heresy, and Women in 1 Timothy

A recurring theme in 1 and 2 Timothy is how false teachers and their heresies affected women. We see this theme come up in at least three ways.

First, some women disdained marriage and refused to remarry (1 Tim 5:14–15). This disdain for remarriage likely stemmed from false teachers’ heresy of forbidding marriage (1 Tim 4:1–3). The church needed to be reminded that God created marriage as good and as something for which to be thankful (1 Tim 4:4–5).

Second, other women were weak in their faith and were led astray by sinful passions. Their downfall took place in part by the sinful encouragement of false teachers who took advantage of them (2 Tim 3:1–7). These false teachers and women should have been like Timothy who followed Paul’s teaching and example of godliness (2 Tim 3:10–12).

Third, some women were attempting to teach and exercise authority over men, something Paul forbade (1 Tim 2:11–14), but the heresy behind these actions is not as clear as what we have seen described above. It is possible that this heresy was similar to what Paul dealt with in 1 Corinthians 15. It seems the Corinthians thought that the resurrection was complete since it was only spiritual in nature and would not include a physical resurrection in the future (1 Cor 15:12). If this was the case, they would have seen marriage and gender roles as insignificant, perhaps because they exaggerated the fact that people will not be married or given in marriage after the resurrection (Matt 22:30).

Ephesus knew this same type of heresy. The false teachers Hymenaeus and Philetus taught the resurrection had already taken place (2 Tim 2:18). This heresy may have been present earlier before Paul wrote 1 Timothy. If so, we may be able to see why gender roles would have been dismissed and why women would have felt the right to teach and exercise authority over the church. If they thought the resurrection was complete in every way, they may have also assumed that how men and women were relate to each other had changed as well.

Whatever their reasoning may have been, Paul answered this dilemma in two ways from Genesis 1–3. First, God created man and then woman (Gen 2:18–25). This order implied that Adam was the head of the home and that Eve was created to be his helpmeet. This male headship was to be reflected in authority structure of the church as well (1 Tim 2:13). Second, when Eve exercised headship over Adam, sin was the result (Gen 3:1–7), an illustration of what could take place when men and women do not follow the roles that God has given them (1 Tim 2:14).

Heresy creeps into the church in many ways. The false teachers in Ephesus especially took advantage of women. Let us all be on our guard to watch our lives and doctrine for the sake of our own salvation and others (1 Tim 4:16).

Do You Really Want to Be a Pastor? (part 1)

I am presently preaching a series through 1 Timothy at my church, and I have thought quite a bit about one of the passages I will be preaching through in a few weeks, 1 Timothy 3:1–7. Actually, I’ve thought quite a bit about one verse in particular, 1 Timothy 3:1: “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.”

The question I keep mulling over in my mind is what it really means to aspire and desire this office and task. Perhaps a look at those two verbs can be helpful―aspires and desires.*

(I assume that an overseer is the same as an elder or pastor. See how these terms and related terms apply to the same office in Acts 20:17, 28 and 1 Peter 5:1–2.)

Do you aspire to be a pastor?

The verb for “aspires” is found in two other places in the NT. One context is negative, the other positive. First, “craving” for money has led some professing Christians to wander away from the faith (1 Tim 6:10). Second, while faithful people like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah wandered as “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb 11:13; cf. 11:4–12), they “desired” or “longed for” their heavenly home to come.

From these references, we could more generally state it like this: an aspiration could be something strong enough to pull someone from the faith and something strong enough to pull someone towards heaven. To aspire to be an overseer is to strongly desire such an office.

Do you desire to be a pastor?

The verb for “desires” is more common in the NT than the verb for “aspires.” It likewise indicates a strong desire for something. The prodigal son “was longing” to eat pig’s food (Luke 15:16), and Lazarus “desired” to eat the rich man’s crumbs (Luke 16:21). Angels “long” to understand the salvation of man (1 Pet 1:12), and Paul “coveted” neither silver nor gold (Acts 20:33). The rebellious “long” to die at the end of the age to escape the wrath of God (Rev 9:6).

From these references, we could say this: whether food, death, gold, or an experiential knowledge of salvation, all of these things can be strongly desired. Likewise, to desire to be an overseer is to strongly desire such an office.

Before laying down any concluding remarks, I’ll just note that there’s more in the NT on this topic. In the future, I will look at other passages that connect the concepts of desire and the pastoral office.


*These words in the Greek are ὀρέγω and ἐπιθυμέω.

How to Pray for Unbelievers (part 3 of 3)

See part 1 and part 2.

Many miss the salvation emphasis in Paul’s command and see 1 Timothy 2:1–2 as a general command to pray for our civil leaders. While we should certainly pray for these men and women, the grammar and context indicate that we pray for them with respect to their role as it concerns God’s desire for the salvation of all.

As to grammar, “for kings . . .” continues immediately after “all people” (2:1–2). Since all people include kings and authorities, we can conclude that Paul is giving a parenthetical comment and focusing on a subset of people. In context, we pray for kings and authorities along the lines of how we pray for all people – we should pray for their salvation.

As their role affects society at large, however, Paul does indicate how we can specifically pray for these leaders so that all people might be saved.

First, pray that the leaders would lead in such a way that our lives could be lived in peace and quiet.

The peace and quiet does not refer to the decibel level of our personal households but for peace and tranquility within society as a whole. A peaceful society allows for the spread of the gospel. A hostile society leads to persecution and keeps us from proclaiming God’s Word as much as we would like.

Second, pray that we would live in this peaceful society in such a way that our lives are marked by godliness and dignity.

Godliness is part and parcel with the gospel, so much so that Paul refers to the gospel as “the mystery of godliness” (3:16). The presence of godliness in our lives assures us of our eternal life now and promises eternal life is to come (4:7–8), is based upon the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ (6:3), is a means of eternal reward (6:7), and is something we must pursue (6:11). It is a tangible expression of the gospel in our lives.

“Dignity” carries some overlap with godliness. Pastors must manage their house “with all dignity” (1 Tim 3:4). Paul uses “dignified” (a word related to “dignity”) as a headword to summarize the requirements of deacons and their wives in 3:8 and 3:11. It is a broad term indicating “a manner or mode of behavior that indicates one is above what is ordinary and therefore worthy of special respect.”*

Putting these requests together, we should pray that we would continue to live in a society where we can freely interact with unbelievers, and as we interact with them, we should pray that we would live godly lives so others will not reject the gospel.


* BDAG, s.v., “σεμνότης”