“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.

The Geographical Spread of the Witness of the Gospel in the Book of Acts

The words of Jesus in Acts 1:8 announce where the witnesses of Jesus and His resurrection would go—to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the end of the earth. Acts 1–7 records the witness to Jerusalem, Acts 8 the witness to Judea and Samaria (cf. Acts 8:1, 14), and Acts 9–28 the witness to the end of the earth.

Looking at Acts 9–28 more closely, we see a progression of this witness moving further and further away from Jerusalem. Saul (Paul) is called to be an apostle to the Gentiles in Acts 9. Peter takes the gospel to the Gentile Cornelius in Caesarea in Acts 10. Peter reports back to Jerusalem in Acts 11 to confirm that God is saving the Gentiles. Then, the church is relieved from persecution through the death of Herod in Acts 12. In this way, Acts 9–12 functions to give us an apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9), Jerusalem’s preparation for the salvation of the Gentiles at large (Acts 10–11), and God’s protection of Saul and the church while he was in Jerusalem at the time of Herod’s persecution (Acts 12; cf. Acts 11:27–30, 12:25).

Acts 13–14 then tells of Paul going to the Gentiles in Galatia, the beginning of the ends of the earth (cf. Acts 13:47). After a clarification by Jerusalem in Acts 15 that they were indeed accepting that God was saving the Gentiles through the gospel, Paul returned to the Galatian churches and planted others even further away from Jerusalem in Acts 15:36–18:22. Paul returned to these churches again for his third journey in Acts 18:23–21:16, spending much of his time in Ephesus (cf. Acts 20:31).

During this third trip, we are prepared for Paul’s witness to go even further. After a return to Jerusalem, Paul would go to Rome. Paul resolved to do just this (Acts 19:21; cf. 20:22–24; 21:4, 10–11), and Acts 21–28 tell us of Paul’s witness in three locations—Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome. In Jerusalem, Paul was arrested, leading to an address before the people and then the Jewish leaders (Acts 21:15–23:10). Acts 23:11 reports the Lord’s words to Paul, capping of his time in Jerusalem and preparing us again for Rome. God protected Paul (Acts 23:12–35), and before getting to Rome, Paul stood before three leaders in Caesarea—Felix (Acts 24:1–20), Festus (Acts 25:1–12), and Agrippa (Acts 25:13–27). Finally, they sent Paul to Rome.

Experiencing God’s protection in travels once again (Acts 27:1–28:16), Paul arrived in Rome and spoke before the Jewish leaders and a larger group of Jews as well (Acts 28:17–31). Paul’s final words and actions in Acts indicated that the witness to Christ would continue yet further. The Gentiles would hear the gospel, which kept Paul preaching it to all who listened (cf. Acts 28:28–31).

Luke somewhat leaves the readers hanging to wonder what took place after Acts 28. It’s as if he meant for his readers to keep on going from where Paul had stopped (though the NT seems to indicate Paul’s release and further travels)—taking the gospel even further, making disciples, and glorifying God that many would listen. May God help us and our churches as we continue this Great Commission!

Prophecy Is Not… Prophecy?

There is a prominent view of prophecy that God can apparently presently give revelations or visions but then leaves the interpretation of such to the prophet, potentially resulting in errant prophecy that was only partially correct. Explaining this view in brief, 1) if the term prophets in Ephesians 2:20 and 3:5 is simply an appositional title for the apostles (meaning they are one and the same), 2) if these apostles act as the NT counterpart to the OT prophets, and 3) if any other prophets in the NT can merely be a prophet like the pagan prophets in Crete (Titus 1:12) or someone who might know something about you (cf. John 4:19) or might know who did some unseen thing (cf. Luke 22:29), then we can identify all of the other NT prophets (that is, in all other instances besides Eph 2:20 and 3:5) as something other and less than the OT prophets and have them speak from some mere “spiritual influence of some kind.”1 This influence could be the Holy Spirit, but (hopefully not) one’s “own interpretation” could muck the revelation up, maybe getting at least some of the details right along the way. In fact, Agabus in Acts 21:10–11 is an example of just that—though he said the Jews would bind Paul and deliver him to the Romans, it was the Romans who took Paul from the Jews and delivered him to their courts (so says Acts 21:33; 22:29). But he got the general idea of Paul’s arrest correct.2

A biblical view of NT prophecy, however, is to see all of it (whether by apostles or their fellow recipients of revelation, the prophets; cf. Eph 2:20; 3:5) as parallel to OT prophecy, and furthermore, as something that ceased once the Scriptures were complete (cf. Rev 22:18–19). There was obviously a loose sense of the word prophet (cf. Titus 1:12) and a narrow, biblical sense that referred to men who infallibly spoke for God, such as Agabus in Acts 21. The narrative of Acts 21:10–11 (and Acts 21:4 for that matter) would have perfectly fit with the revelation given by the Spirit to Paul in Acts 20:22–23—that imprisonment and afflictions were awaiting Paul in Jerusalem. And in keeping with Acts 19:21, Paul’s Spirit-given resolve in Acts 21:1–6 and 21:7–14 was to go obediently to Jerusalem despite what waited for him there. The resistance to Paul in the abbreviated narrative in Acts 21:4 was most likely the same in the more detailed and clearer Acts 21:10–14—inerrant prophecies of affliction were given, resulting in the human resistance of the brethren to Paul’s resolve to go to Jerusalem, much like Peter’s human resistance to Jesus once he understood that Jesus would likewise suffer (cf. Mark 8:31–32).3 As for Agabus and the fallout of his prophecy, his summary version of the events could simply be explained as the Jews and Paul described the matter later—that the Jews seized Paul, resulting in his being taken by the Romans (Acts 24:6; 26:21; 28:17).4

Of course, if one is compelled to explain the modern phenomenon of errant prophecy as a biblical phenomenon, one might find examples of such in the Bible as well. Or, if one simply lets the OT be the context for the NT, the prophets are in a class all their own from one testament to the next. According to the brief explanation above, this is the better and more biblical option of the two.

  1. Wayne Grudem in his Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 1050. []
  2. This argument can be found by Grudem in his Systematic Theology, 1050–53. []
  3. David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (PNTC; Grand Rapids, MI; Eerdmans, 2009), 579–81. []
  4. See Bruce R. Compton, “The Continuation of NT Prophecy and a Closed Canon: Revisiting Wayne Grudem’s Two Levels of New Testament Prophecy” (paper presented at the Conference on the Church for God’s Glory in Rockford, IL on May 19, 2014), 11. Available online: http://ccggrockford.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Compton-Bruce.-A-Critique-of-Wayne-Grudems-Two-Levels-of-Prophecy.pdf. []

The Requirements for a Pastor

Is your church looking for a pastor? If it is not doing so right now, it will be in the future. Pastors resign, retire, move, or pass away, leaving churches with the need to find their next pastor. The Bible is not only sufficient to help a church figure out who that next man should be (and hopefully the church is training these kind of men already; cf. 2 Tim 2:2), but it helpfully gives specific instruction on exactly what kind of man the pastor should be.

While many passages help us understand the character and role of a pastor, 1 Timothy 3:1–7, Titus 1:5–9, and 1 Peter 5:1–4 are especially helpful in listing out what is required of men who are pastors. 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9 primarily inform the readers as to the character and abilities of a pastor, and 1 Peter 5:1–4 primarily exhorts pastors as to the manner and motives for their ministry. What follows below is a comprehensive list of the twenty-two requirements in those passages. The list below primarily follows the list in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and adds what is left from Titus 1:5–9 and 1 Peter 5:1–4. The list is categorized into four types of requirements—family, character, ability, and circumstances. The list of character requirements is further categorized into positive and negative character traits.

Circumstantial Requirements

  1. A pastor must first desire to be a pastor (1 Tim 3:1), and this desire should be guided by proper motivations (cf. 1 Pet 5:2, 4).
  2. He must not be a recent convert because a newborn Christian appointed to leadership could fall into pride and condemnation (1 Tim 3:6).
  3. He must be well thought of by outsiders, that is, unbelievers (1 Tim 3:7).

Positive Character Requirements (What He Must Be)

  1. He must be above reproach in both his character (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:7) and family (Titus 1:6, 9), a description which functions as somewhat of a headword for all of the character traits to follow in both 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. The pastor is naturally an example for others in all of the items in the list (cf. 1 Pet 5:3).
  2. He is the husband of one wife, which means he is faithful and pure, whether married or not (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:6).
  3. He is sober-minded (1 Tim 3:2).
  4. He is self-controlled in his thoughts (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8) and disciplined in his bodily appetites as well (Titus 1:8).
  5. He is respectable (1 Tim 3:2).
  6. He is hospitable (1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8).
  7. He is gentle (1 Tim 3:3; cf. 1 Pet 5:3, “not domineering”).
  8. He is a lover of good (Titus 1:8).
  9. He is upright (Titus 1:8).
  10. He is holy (Titus 1:8).

Negative Character Requirements (What He Must Not Be)

  1. He is not a drunkard (1 Tim 3:3; Titus 1:7).
  2. He is not violent (1 Tim 3:3; Titus 1:7).
  3. He is not quarrelsome (1 Tim 3:3).
  4. He is not a lover of money (1 Tim 3:3) and not greedy for gain (Titus 1:7; cf. 1 Pet 5:2).
  5. He is not arrogant (Titus 1:7).
  6. He is not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7).

Family Requirements

  1. He manages his household well, which, if he has children, is seen in part by having submissive children, meaning at the least that his children are not openly rebellious and engaged in riotous living (1 Tim 3:4–5; Titus 1:6).

Ability Requirements

  1. He is able to manage and care for the church as a whole (1 Tim 3:5) as the overseer of the church (1 Tim 3:1; Titus 1:7).
  2. He is able to teach (1 Tim 3:2), which Titus 1:9 elaborates as the pastor being 1) “taught,” 2) one to “hold firm to the trustworthy word,” 3) “able to give instruction in sound doctrine,” and 4) “able… also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

 

All quotes ESV

The “Golden Chain” of Salvation in Romans 8:29–30

Romans 8:29–30 states, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

Highlighted in bold above are the five “links” that make up what the Puritan John Arrowsmith (1602–1659) famously spoke of as God’s “golden chain…. a chain which God lets down from heaven that by it he may draw up his elect thither.”1

For the sheer sake of encouraging us in our salvation, I just want to briefly look at these five links in the “golden chain” of salvation. Each of the highlighted words above are verbs, and their actions are by God. The one who loves God knows himself to be recipient of these five actions, and the listing of these actions together explains how God works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Let’s define each link of the chain in the order as they are listed by Paul.

God foreknew—this the action of God in eternity past whereby He placed His special affection upon some in order for them to receive the benefits of salvation.

God predestined—this is the action of God in eternity past whereby He sovereignly and graciously made certain that those upon whom He had placed His eternal love would indeed receive salvation and its blessings.

God called—this is the action of God during the life of the sinner whereby He effectively and imperceptibly brings the sinner to Himself through the general call of the gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit, an effectual calling, which, as best I can understand, is simultaneously joined by the faith of the sinner.

God justified—this is the action of God at the moment of faith whereby God declares the believer righteous and forever treats Him accordingly.

God glorified—this is the action of God in the future wherein God will eternally deliver the believer from the presence of sin in the entirety of his being.

Paul does not list out every item in the order of salvation in Romans 8:29–30.2 What he does list, however, are some of the key actions of God related to our salvation to explain how all things ultimately work together for our good (cf. Romans 8:28). Knowing that we love God and that our salvation is secure from eternity past to future, we are encouraged that nothing can ever separate us from the saving love of God in Christ to us (Romans 8:31–39, especially 8:35 and 8:39). An unbreakable chain, indeed!

 

All quotes ESV.

  1. Armilla Catechetica: A Chain of Principles (1659; Edinburgh: Thomas Turnbull, 1822 reprint), 242. Available on Google Books. []
  2. Not listed are regeneration, repentance, faith, union with Christ, adoption, sanctification, preservation, or perseverance. []

An Overview of Romans

Romans was written in A.D. 57 during Paul’s three months in Corinth (“Greece”) in Acts 20:2–3. He had apparently received the funds promised by the Corinthians to help relieve the famine for believers in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25–26; cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1–4; 2 Corinthians 8–9). Paul hoped to visit the Romans on his way to Spain (Romans 15:28), and, in his eagerness to preach the gospel to them, gave them a letter explaining the gospel in full (cf. Romans 1:15–17).

After an introduction (Romans 1:1–17), Paul begins to explain the gospel in that all men naturally reject what they know of God’s power through His creation, resulting in God’s handing them over to sin (Romans 1:18–32). But, the Jews are no more faithful because they were given the Law—all men have sinned, something made obvious by the law and even by the conscience of the sinner (Romans 2:1–3:20).

The sinner can only be declared righteous by God through faith, whether he is a Jew or Gentile (Romans 3:21–31). Abraham believed and was declared righteous, and he didn’t even have the Law (Romans 4:1–25). So, one can have peace, grace, and rejoicing to know that he is reconciled to God through Christ (Romans 5:1–11). Just as death came to all through Adam’s sin, so also life and righteousness are to all who believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:12–21).

Having this saving grace, the believer is a slave to righteousness and should not think that he can just sin because he saved or because Christ has fulfilled the Law (Romans 6:1–21). The Law makes the believer very aware of his sin (Romans 7:1–25), but the Spirit enables him to live as pleasing to God (Romans 8:1–17). Since God’s salvation work for him from eternity past to future is certain, so also is his sanctification and perseverance (Romans 8:28–39).

Applying the gospel to national Israel, though Israel was given many privileges, her present unbelief is in line with the purposes of God (Romans 9:1–33). Rather than trying to secure eternal life by the Law as Israel has done, righteousness comes by faith and confessing Christ, which requires preachers of the Word (Romans 10:1–21). So, while Israel is presently rejecting Christ, the nation was yet chosen for salvation, and there is a remnant who believes right now (Romans 11:1–10). Israel’s rejection is not permanent—God will save and bring her back to the place of blessing just as He is doing for the Gentiles in this present age (Romans 11:11–36).

Those who know this saving mercy of God are responsible to live righteously in a variety ways: by presenting themselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1–2); by thinking of themselves according to their measure of faith (Romans 12:3–8); by loving, serving, being patient, and blessing others (Romans 12:9–21); by submitting to their authorities and paying their taxes (Romans 13:1–7); by loving each other and their neighbors (Romans 13:8–10); by living in light of Christ’s coming (Romans 13:11–14); and by welcoming each other as Christ has welcomed us, and doing so in spite of differing convictions in matters of Christian living (Romans 14:1–15:13).

In concluding his letter, Paul stated that he wrote boldly as an apostle of Christ and clarified his mission to preach where Christ was not known (Romans 15:14–21). He clarified his travel plans and asked for prayer (Romans 15:22–33). He commended Phoebe and gave greetings to many in Rome (Romans 16:1–16). Paul warned them to stay away from false teachers (Romans 16:17–20), and greetings were sent from his company to the Romans (Romans 16:21–23). Finally, Paul closed with a doxology (Romans 16:25–27).