The pastoral epistles are the letters that Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus in the New Testament. These books include 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. The title “Pastoral” comes from the instructional nature of the letters themselves. Timothy was an assistant to Paul during his ministry. He was taught the scriptures as a child by his mother who was named Eunice. Both Timothy and his mother were probably converted during Paul’s first missionary Journey. There is also evidence supporting that Paul led Timothy to the Lord because he calls Timothy his “son in the faith. Timothy was highly recommended by the Christians in Lystra and Iconium at a young age. Titus was also a minister who accompanied Paul on at least one of his missionary trips. During Paul’s ministry in Crete, he raised new churches that Titus would have direct influence over. These letters are primarily instructions for the general functions within the church. Collectively they provide guidelines for all forms of leadership within the local church body. Paul touches on the subjects of women, elders, deacons, and overseers in relationship to authority and function.
Before discussing the restrictions and responsibilities of each of these, I’ll briefly provide the historical setting for the pastoral epistles as well as the different views of Paul’s Authorship. Historical Setting These three letters were written after Paul was first imprisoned in Rome at the conclusion of Acts. The order and dates of Paul’s ministry between the release of his first imprisonment and his second imprisonment are not known. It is commonly accepted that he wrote the bulk of the pastoral epistles between A. D 60 and his death around A. D 67 to 68.
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Most believe that he began writing his first letter to Timothy within a year of being released from prison in Rome around A. D. 63. Paul informs Timothy that he left him in Ephesus so that he could go into Macedonia. There’s no evidence that he went anywhere else so he probably began writing the pastoral epistles there. Pauline Authorship Paul’s authorship of the pastoral epistles has been challenged by critics on four grounds. The first is the Historical Argument. This argues that the letters do not fit into the history of the book of Acts. The Second is the Ecclesiastical Argument.
This claims that the organization of the local church as taught in these letters is to advanced for Paul’s lifetime. The the third argument is the Doctrinal Argument. This claims that the false teaching attacked in the letters is Gnostic heresy that took place during the second century. This argument also contends that the authors theological outlook is different than the outlook expressed by Paul in his other writings. The last argument is the Linguistic/stylistic Argument. This argues that the authors style, linguistics, and vocabulary differs from the writing in Paul’s other letters. Each of these arguments have recognizable flaws.
Apart from those, the external evidence for Paul’s authorship is significant. Early church fathers such as Inatius, Polycarp, and Irenaeus concerned them as written by Paul. The evidence both internally and externally appears to supports the Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles.
Nature of Leasership in scripture
Servant Leadership Jesus completely turned the table when there was no servant to wash feet as was custom. Under normal circumstances, a servant was expected to wash the dirty road-worn feet of guests. In John 13:1-17 Jesus provides his disciples with an excellent example of leadership.
Jesus humbled himself to a position of servitude and washed his disciples feet. He says in 14-15, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. ” The most effective leaders are those people who are servants to others. Servant leadership is a leadership style that has gained a large amount of popularity in recent years. Jesus modeled it perfectly in this example. Jesus got on his knees and washed the dirt of His disciples feet even though this act of kindness was customarily views as custom fit only for servants.
Philippians 2:5-11 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. ” Christ was the ultimate example of servanthood. In his book The Leadership Genius of Jesus, William Beausay says, Servant leadership was the core of Jesus’ style. We see it reflected in the actions of his followers. His disciples were not docile little robots. They often asked him for help.
They needed guidance and clearly felt comfortable approaching him for personal support. ” (Beausay 23)Jesus He, being God, humbled himself to the point of death on a human-made cross and showed us a perfect example of want it means to be a servant leader. All the pain He endured was for our sake. Paul, the author of the pastor epistles, understood this importance in leadership and lived in a way that showed servant leadership qualities. Not only did Paul write to train and instruct the early church, but he preached the gospel boldly and was persecuted for his devotion.
Ultimately, he was more than likely killed for his faithfulness to God. It is from this perspective that Paul instructs the early church leaders in the pastoral epistles. Responsibility To Teach Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 4:11-12 that God has directed some as evangelists, pastors, and teachers. He writes that the purpose of this is “for the building up of the body of Christ. ” He also writes in 1 Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. To devote oneself is to give up everything for that one cause. It doesn’t take much research to see that our society does not like responsibility nor do we tend to enjoy accepting blame for our mistakes. In many cases to accept responsibility and and accountability is considered foolish. Paul thought it important that our church leaders devote themselves to such things. I, for one, believe that all of us are called to the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel. It is our responsibility as Christ followers to share the truth about who Jesus is with those around us.
Certainly the presence of God can be experienced through nature and other visual stimuli, but something can be missing without a clear representation of the truth. 4 Knowing the truth is simply irreplaceable. 5 Just as God expects us to put forth this effort, Paul expected Timothy and Titus to abide by this principle and to teach it to their local congregations. We should take seriously the responsibility to present truth in our teaching and witnessing.
Deacons Deacons provide a ministry in the church that is associated with service of some kind. This service varies among theological and denominational customs.
The word “deacon comes from the Greek word diakonos, meaning “servant. ” Other uses of the word are diakonia, which means “service” and diakoneo, which means “to serve. ” Broadened, it has come to mean any kind of service. Specifically we can find in scripture where these phrases were used applied to general service and spiritual service. Paul addresses the qualifications of deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8-13: Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. He says first that deacons must be men of dignity. This stresses the importance of deacons to be men worthy of respect.
This does not mean that they lead with a strong hand and enforce others to respect them. Instead, they are to live lives that bring honor to God. Thus, gaining them respect from others. Paul also says that deacons are not to be double-tongued. This means that they are to be self-controlled in speech. Any form of Gossip or slander should not be a part of his nature. Instead, he should speak out for righteous causes while being slow to anger. They also must not be deceitful. Deacons should not be addicted to much wine nor should the enter the position for what they can get out of it.
Paul may have written this because of the pagan influence in first century world. He knew that every single deacon would be under the careful watch of non-Christians. It would be possible for a deacon to hurt his family and lose his witness if he was bondage to different excesses. Next, Paul writes that these men should hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. This means that they should hold a certain reverence for the soul purpose of service and honoring God. The Christian faith truly is mysterious. Sometimes people have to walk into situations where there are no clear certainties.
Deacons must be confident and do with a genuine character. Those wishing to be deacons must also be tested to see if they are beyond reproach. Just as Athletes wishing to be on Olympic teams have to prove themselves as disciplined competitors, so Paul believed that a person must have proven a spiritual maturity before serving as a deacon. 8 Attaining any spiritual maturity only comes from seeking to be more like Christ. Next, Paul writes that deacons are to be husbands of one wife, and good managers of the children and households.
Though this verse is one of the most controversial of deacon qualifications, at least three things are clear. First, he must acknowledge and embrace the biblical emphasis on marriage and view of the home. Second, the deacon is to be devoted to only one wife. Third, there is a theme behind the passage that should remind the deacon of the absolute rejection of divorce. Overall, Paul’s experience with young and growing churches taught him that deacons must be people with a strong spiritual character. Elders and Overseers Elders and Overseers share many of the same qualifications as deacons.
Paul also lists their qualifications in 1 Timothy 3: It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable,hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity. but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God? and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Though Elders and Overseers are two distinct words, they seem to be used for the same role throughout scripture (Acts 20:17,28). “Elder” may be reserved for someone who deserves the respect that someone of an older age would attain. “Overseer” may lean more towards the function of the person in that position.
The qualifications that are mentioned here vary only slightly. Paul makes it a point to warn them to be free from the love of money. This may give evidence that elders were held responsible for financial matters within the church. In all matters they are to serve as unto the Lord. 10 Paul also says that elders and overseers are to be able to teach. This provides evidence that they were held responsible for teaching theology as well as doctrine in the church. Paul makes it a point to mention that elders and overseers are not to be new converts. New Christians can fall quickly to temptation and become prideful.
They often hold on to their pride, while a more mature Christian has come to understand the importance of humility. Older leaders are more likely to have a servants mindset ingrained in their character. These leaders have a unique role in that they oversee the affairs of the church body. One of these roles included protecting the church from false doctrine. Some of the false teaching during this time was sparked from gnosticism and Jewish speculation. There were a number of different variations to the gnostic doctrine, but the main emphasis claimed that gnostics acquired a knowledge normal believers did not have.
Thus, Gnostics believed their faith was superior to others. It was the responsibility of all the church members to know the truth and speak out against it. That is why it is vitally important that elders spoke the truth against different forms of heresy. This type of leadership is a critical factor related to how well the church is doing in reaching the goal of spreading God’s word. 12 Women in leadership Paul makes it clear in the pastoral epistles that women play a key part in the church. They are vital in the raising and teaching of Children.
He writes concerning them so that they will understand proper submission. He writes this in in the second chapter of 1 Timothy: Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.
And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. First, Paul informs the women of the church to present themselves in a modest fashion. Paul, again new that non-christian eyes would be on believers. He did not want women to cause offense to anyone outside the Christian community. He says that it is important they make a claim to Godliness. He then says that they should receive instruction submissively.
This stresses the importance of male leadership in the church. Paul clearly points out that women are not to have any type of authority over other men. He reminds Timothy that Adam was created first, and then Eve. Paul stresses that women keep silent because it give a concrete and essential reason for the submission of women that is grounded in the creation story. 14 There are three major views when it comes to the role of women in the church. The first is total silence. There are surprisingly a large number of churches who practice this view. Second, is that they not teach Doctrine in the Assembly.
Third, They may teach anything allowed by male overseers. The third view is what most churches use today.
What Does This Mean For The Church Today?
Church’s today should strictly follow the biblical qualifications for deacons, elders, overseers, and women in the church. In light of a church’s specific situation, each church must decide what leadership roles will be as they seek to live out the biblical conception of that role. Church’s today should seek to find men who can serve well. Men should be chosen only if they are well qualified and have developed skills in witnessing and other types of ministry.
The most important qualities are found in those men who “hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience,” and are committed to serving other people. The ability to work well with others should also be a key quality desired by churches looking for deacons or elders to serve. In today’s world, much of the work by the deacon involves a great deal of patience and understanding. 18 Church’s want to be able to trust that their deacons, and elders will exercise sound judgement in all matters concerning the well being of the assembly. It is clear that women were highly important to Jesus as well as Paul.
There is no argument to be made that women are inferior to men. Jesus severed social and religious customs to show his high regard for women. 19 Women should strive to be excellent examples of Godliness in our church’s today. This is a very important role within our church’s. While they are not to exercise authority of men, they play a key role in teaching our children what it means to live godly lives.
Paul has outlined specific qualifications for the office of deacon, elder, and overseer as well as restrictions for women in regards to leadership.
It is our job to strive for obeying these qualifications and restrictions in our own churches. Paul writes this in the fourth chapter of Ephesians: Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
It is God’s desire that we be unified. It his is intention for us to be moving as one unit towards one common goal. We need men who are faithful to serve in the role of deacon, elder and overseer to achieve this goal.
- Beausay, William II. The Leadership Genius of Jesus (Ancient Wisdom for Modern Business). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1197
- Brindle, Wayne A. The Pastoral Epistles (Notes and Outlines). Liberty University School of Religion, 1996
- Chartier, Jan. Developing Leadership in the Teaching Church. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press 1985 Dale, Robert D.
- Leadership for a Changing Church (Charting the Shape of the River). Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press 1998
- Foshee, Howard B. The Ministry of the Deacon. Nashville, TN: Convention Press 1968
- House, H. Wayne, The Role of Women in Ministry Today. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1990.
- Howe, E. Margaret. Women & Church Leadership. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1982.
- Naylor, Robert E. The Baptist Deacon. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1955.
- Samra, Jim. The Gift of Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan 2010.
- Stendahl, Krister. The Bible and the role of Women. Stockholm: Fortress Press, 1966.
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