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Choosing a Pastor

Church Leadership in the New Testament, Part 5

Qualifications of an Elder, I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9

“A bishop then must be ... vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality,…”

It is important to realize that we are not only looking at character traits required for an overseer, but that most of these qualities are God's plan for every believer. The issue presented in I Timothy and Titus is that unless a man possesses these traits, he is not to be appointed as an elder. Most of these traits are also commands to believers who do not hold this office. Please study the verse references presented here in their context as most of them apply to believers in general.

Vigilant: to be sober, not intoxicated, figuratively to be vigilant, discreet, circumspect. Translated “sober” in I Thess. 5:6,8; I Tim. 3:11; I Pet. 1:13; 5:8.

Sober: literally, safe or sound mind. Of a sound mind, sane, in one’s senses. Translated “discreet” in Titus 2:5, and temperate in Titus 2:2 (in contrast to “temperate” in 1:8 which emphasizes self-control).

Of good behavior: literally, Orderly. Well arranged, seemly, modest, decent conduct. The word is found twice in I Tim. 2:9; “...that woman adorn (infinitive) themselves in modest apparel.

Given to hospitality: Friendly or kind to strangers, generous to guests. Titus 1:8; I Pet. 4:9. This is translated from one word in the Greek which is a combination of two words, “phileo” (brotherly love, fondness, or kindness) and “xenos” (stranger). In Titus 1:8, a parallel passage, the elder is required to be “a lover of hospitality” (philoxenon), and “a lover of good men” (philagathon), literally a lover of goodness or good things.” (10)


(10) Some passages in which “phileo” and “agape” are used:

“Phileo” friendly, affection, is used in the following passages:

I Cor. 16:22; “if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema”

Titus 2:4; “the young women... to love their husbands, to love their children,”

Titus 3:4; “love (philanthropy) of God our Savior toward man appeared...”

Heb. 13:1; “Let brotherly love (philadelphia) continue.”

“Agapeo” divine love, is measured by sacrifice for benefit of the one loved.

Matt. 5:44; “love your enemies”

Matt. 19:19; “love your neighbor as yourself”

Mark 12:20; “love the lord thy God”

John 3:16; “God so loved the world” (also I Jn. 4:7-21)

John 14:15; “if you love me you will keep my commandments”

II Cor. 5:14; “the love of Christ constrains us”

Gal. 5:22; “the fruit of the spirit is love...”

Eph. 5:25; “Husbands love your wives even as Christ also loved the church”

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