Sunday, 27 May 2018
For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, Titus 1:7
In verse 1:5, Paul used the term presbuteros (from where we get “Presbyterian”), translated as “elders.” Here he uses the term episkopos (from where we get “Episcopal”), an overseer. It is then obvious that the two terms are being used synonymously here. The overseer is an elder. Paul says that such a man “must be blameless.” The Greek word signifies one who is not convictable when properly scrutinized, as if in a court of law. He is to be found without reproach, and is therefore suited to the job. As Paul says of this, “as a steward of God.” As his service is to the Lord, and as judgments about the Lord will be made based on His stewards, being blameless is a necessary qualification.
Next, he is not to be “self-willed.” This is a new word in Scripture, to be found only here and in 2 Peter 2:10. It signifies one who sets out to gratify himself; to be indulgent. Such a person is only interested in self, and would use the job to meet that end, not to glorify the Lord.
Paul then says that a bishop should not be “quick-tempered.” This is another new word, found only here in the Bible, orgilos. It signifies one who is “prone to anger and harbor resentment, nurturing long-standing anger (prejudice, bitterness)” (HELPS Word Studies). Such an overly angry and bitter soul is wholly unsuited to the job of a bishop.
Next, Paul says, “not given to wine.” The single Greek word so translated is used just twice – in 1 Timothy 3:3 and here in Titus 1:7. It signifies one addicted to wine; a drunk. It comes from two words indicating “near” and “wine.” Thus it is someone who is always consumed with drinking wine. It does not mean that a bishop (an elder) cannot drink. Total abstinence for such a position is never taught in Scripture.
Paul then proceeds to, “not violent.” This is again used only in 1 Timothy 3:3 and then here in Titus 1:7. It signifies a brawler or a contentious person. This person would be quarrelsome, and one who prefers using his fists to settle a disagreement. It would be wholly unsuited to the position of an overseer to always be jumping out of the pulpit and beating up everyone in the church who disagrees with him on doctrinal matters.
Paul’s words of this verse end with, “not greedy for money.” It is another rare word found only in 1 Timothy 3:8 and then again here. However, the principle is found in other verses of Paul’s instructions concerning church leadership. Those greedy for money have their priorities in the wrong place. If money is the objective in one’s life, then he will never be effective in the ministry. The heart must be devoted first, foremost, and with the greatest zeal to being an effective leader, not one concerned about getting rich off of the flock.
Life application: Those chosen for leadership within the church must be carefully evaluated, and they must be held to the highest of standards. The Lord’s name is upon them, as it is upon all Christians, but as representatives of the Lord in the church, these qualifications are especially necessary and important. Having said that, all Christians should strive to meet these high standards as we walk before the Lord.
Heavenly Father, You have laid out high and exacting standards which are expected of those in church leadership positions, but would You expect any less from any of Your people? Help us to consider this, and then to apply the highest standards of morality, fidelity, and uprightness to our own lives. May each of us be faithful representatives of the high and exalted Name which rests upon us. Amen.