In this chapter Paul deals with the qualifications of officers and leaders of the churches and points to the principal reason for writing this epistle (I Tim. 3:15), "that you may know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God, which is the church."
(Vs. 1) The apostle, having denied to women the work and office of teaching, proceeds to observe that though this belongs to men, yet NOT TO EVERY MAN, but to those whom the Lord is pleased to call and equip for this ministry (Eph. 4: 11-12; Acts 20:28; 13:2). He gives to the church some qualifications and directions in regard to men who desire the office and indicates that God has set them apart for this ministry. We know that the call to pastor and teacher involves much more than a desire to do so, but it certainly begins here. "He desireth a good work." It is not a desire for an office, a mere title of honor, and a place of profit; but the man called of God desires and delights in a LABORIOUS WORK. Elders are called "Laborers together with God" (I Cor. 3:9). It is an excellent labor, a useful labor, and an honorable labor, but one which involves full and complete dedication.
(Vs. 2) "BLAMELESS." No man is entirely free from sin nor blameless in the sight of God; but the meaning is that be should be a man of excellent reputation among men, a man of honesty, integrity, and upright conduct and conversation.
"THE HUSBAND OF ONE WIFE." It is not required that he be married (Paul was not) nor that he not have a second wife after the death of the first, but one wife at a time! Polygamy and divorce were prevalent at that time. The elder is to be married to one woman only.
"VIGILANT," watchful over himself and the souls of those whom he leads. He must be alert to the wiles of Satan, the dangers of false doctrine, and to the leadership of the Spirit of God.
"SOBER." A better, more extensive word is temperatein eating, drinking, hobbies, and all things pertaining to the flesh.
"OF GOOD BEHAVIOR," modest, humble, considerate, and kind.
"GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY." The elders minister words of truth and doctrine, but they minister to PEOPLE; therefore, they must love and be concerned for individuals. Their hearts and hands and homes must be open to all men, especially to the household of faith.
"APT TO TEACH," one who has considerable knowledge and is able to explain, illustrate, and communicate the truth of the gospel, one who can refute error. A teacher should have the gift of public speaking.
(Vs. 3) "NOT GIVEN TO WINE." The elder is not intemperate in the use of wine, is not addicted to the use of it nor a follower of it.
"NO STRIKER," either with his hands or his tongue! He is not a bully nor a harsh person, but gentle and considerate.
"NOT GREEDY OF MONEY" (Titus 1:10-11; I Tim. 6:6-10). Covetousness and greed are distasteful in any believer, but especially in a minister of the gospel.
"PATIENT, NOT A BRAWLER, NOT COVETOUS," one who can bear trials, reproaches, and injuries patiently rather than quarrel and contend with men; one who is gentle in his rebuke, reproofs, and corrections of those who fail and falter; not covetous of the praise and acclaim of men.
(Vs. 4-5) How can a man preside over the church, provide for it, and see that everything is in its proper place and done according to the Word of God if he does not have the courage, will, and determination to rule over his own household (his wife, children, servants, and all who are under his roof), which is a responsibility of far less importance, much easier done, and requiring less understanding, care, and thought? No man can be what the term "pastor" involves if he is not in his home what the word "father" involves. He must be a good father, a kind father, but one who is determined that God will be honored and served in and by his house.
(Vs. 6) "NOT A NOVICE." He must not be a new convert, a babe in Christ. Time is not only necessary for the acquiring of-knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, but for the subduing of temper, pride, and impulsiveness. A new convert in such an important and honored position is liable to be lifted up with pride and self-importance, which was the downfall of Satan (Isa. 14:12-15).
(Vs. 7) He must have a good reputation with men outside the church; for though they despise what we preach, we must not give them occasion to blaspheme our gospel because of our inconsistent and hypocritical conduct. Involvement in questionable activities and behavior will bring reproach from men and open the door for Satan to take advantage and tempt us to greater sin.
These characteristics and traits ought not be reserved only for elders and pastors, but should be the character of every believer!