God’s good order for leadership in the church: Part 2

God’s good order for leadership in the church: PART 2

Summary of the learning points from part 1

Learning Point:

These elders were apparently responsible for the welfare of the church (11:30); and with the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (15:28) they made decisions about doctrine and the moral/ethical lives of people in the church (15:6; 16:4).

 

Learning Point:

In these churches they appointed several elders; we don’t know how many. Just note that the title is plural.

 

Learning Point:

The elder’s installation was by appointment, not election, a feature we will find true to elders/overseers/pastors throughout the entire New Testament.

 

Learning Point:

By appointing elders for the church and through prayer and fasting committing them to the Lord, Paul is committing the people to the Lord through the elders he has appointed. This is significant for the elder and the people. The Lord rules through his appointed elders and the people submit to the Lord through Spirit led leadership. This kind of stuff makes independent Americans who want democracy over actual leadership very nervous.

 

Learning Point:

It is clear that for Paul the term “overseer” is synonymous with “shepherd,” since the congregation is pictured as a flock (thereby equating the word “pastor” with overseer and elder). Paul also does this in Ephesians 4:11 when he does not use the title “elder” but “pastor/teacher” for that oversight role.

 

Learning Point:

The elders/overseers are ministers of the word and responsible for feeding the people with the preaching and ADMINISTERING of the Scriptures.

 

Learning Point:

The Holy Spirit appoints the elders/pastors/overseers and this appointment becomes clear through prayer, fasting, worship and adherence to the Scriptures (see Acts 13:1-3). This appointment is made clear through desire on the part of the candidate accompanied by meeting the qualifications.

 

Learning Point:

In this same text, Acts 20:25; there were a larger number of elders/pastors/overseers. It’s these kinds of numbers that allowed for the expansion of the church. As the Spirit appoints men, the purpose is not stock piling, rather continuing the advance of the church of Jesus Christ in sending out new churches.

 

 

4. How About Elders in Paul’s actual writings?

 

“In Paul’s writings the title “elder,” for a church leader, occurs only three times. These three occurrences are1 Timothy 5:17, 19 and Titus 1:5. Keep in mind the nature of the Pastoral letters (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus): they are the last letters Paul wrote and reflect a situation many years after the first missionary journey. Unlike all his other letters they are addressed to individual men and spell out some of their duties.”[1]

 

Let’s look at these passages.

 

1. Titus 1:5-9

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

 

One of the first things we notice is that Paul here uses the terms elder and overseer to reference to the same people. We have seen this already. The function of the elders is summed up as oversight just as it was in Acts 20:17, 28.

 

Also, as in Acts, the emphasis falls on the ministry of the word: the elder/overseer should be well grounded in doctrine (verse 9) and able to “give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (verse 9). Beyond this nothing is said about the task of the elders.

 

Learning Point:

The pastor/elder/overseer must be well grounded in Christian doctrine and be able to give instruction in that doctrine and even be able to correct those who go contrary to that doctrine. This is a lifetime pursuit. We must be continually growing in our understanding of Scripture and the implications of what is there as well as the attacks against God’s good order and be able to recognize those attacks and repel them.

 

Verses 6-8 give the requirements one should meet in order to be an elder/overseer/pastor. In his public life he should be above reproach (blame); his marriage and family should be exemplary. His own personal character should be one of spiritual maturity.

 

Note again that the elders are appointed.

 

2. 1 Timothy 5:17 and 19 (we’ll take them together). In 5:3-16, Paul describes the procedures to follow in caring for widows in the church. “Real widows,” that is, godly, older women who have no relatives to care for them, are to be supported by the church (5:3, 9, 16). That is how the widows are honored. Then in verses 17 and 18 Paul says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ (Deuteronomy 25:4) and, “The laborer deserves his wages.’ (Luke 10:7)”. This is a carry over from the Levitical ministry. Levites received no inheritance from the land and were to be supported by the tithes so they could live and function in serving the people as Father’s representatives.

 

A little side note here, Paul is quoting Luke 10:7 indicating that Luke was already in circulation here in the early 60’s AD meaning the Gospels were written earlier than the late part of the century placing the writings closer to the actual historical events therefore making them more accurate. This refutes the claim that the New Testament was a late first century or early second century document that was edited to validate the claims of the Apostles. Luke’s writing was in circulation before AD 70. History always destroys liberal theology. The text destroys liberal theology!

 

Learning Point:

The appointment to elder/overseer/pastor was an installation to a sacred calling that was performed by the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 5:22; cf. Acts 13:3).

 

The end of appointing of elders in 1 Timothy 5:17 and 19 is the obvious ceremony of installation in the laying on of hands to demonstrate one’s calling to and their reception of the task.

 

Learning Point:

The pastor/elder/overseer should not labor without receiving some reward from their labor.

 

5. What About Elders in the Non-Pauline Churches?

 

There are a number of uses of the title “elder” outside of Paul’s writings. In the Book of Revelation the term occurs twelve times with reference to the twenty-four elders in heaven. There is not much written on the identity of who these dudes are except they are some sort of angelic host. Does that make pastors angel beasts? I don’t think so. That would be kind of cool though.

 

2 and 3 John begin with the designation, “The elder to…” It is believed the author is John and he is so well known that he is known simply by his title, “The elder.”

 

Let’s quickly take a look at these passages.

 

1. James 5:13-15:

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

 

Learning Point:

Elders have a practical ministry of prayer for those who are sick to see if the gift of faith may be given that one may be healed through the prayer and even that sins be uncovered and repented of.

 

2. 1 Peter 5:1-4:

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

 

Peter calls himself an elder although he is also an apostle. This does not mean there is no distinction between elders and apostles. For this unique period of time the apostolic office overlapped with that of elder. Peter refers to this elder status to illustrate the very point he is making, namely, he does not want to “lord it over the elders” but by example and exhortation to help them fulfill their calling.

 

The main point of these verses is to instruct the elders how to exercise their authority. What does Peter say about how elders are to exercise their oversight?

 

Learning Point:

1 Peter 5:2a “not under compulsion”: The pastors/elders/overseers are to make sure they are not being forced to act but rather are acting in desire.

 

Learning Point:

1 Peter 5:2c “not for shameful gain”: The pastors/elders/overseers are not doing what they do because they are getting rich. Rather they are doing this work eagerly. The eager nature of the pastor/elder/overseer is because they are joining with Christ in doing his shepherding work of guiding through teaching/leading/and managing his people not because they are gaining socioeconomic advantage.

 

Learning Point:

1 Peter 5:3a “not domineering over those in your charge”: The pastors/elders/overseers are to set an example in hopes that the Chief Shepherd would move his people to follow the example of the under shepherds.

 

Learning Point:

The promise to these pastors/elders/overseers is that they will receive glory (crown of glory) from the Chief Shepherd when he returns. Not exactly sure what that glory is other than in the Kingdom they will be given charge of is “much” if they have been faithful with little and the weighty nature of being in charge of “much” will be the reward of faithfully discharging their duty while waiting for the Chief Shepherd to return.

 

Learning Point:

Jesus is the pattern for the elders/overseers/pastors. This is seen clearly not only from the allusion to his earthly teaching in 5:3, but also from 1 Peter 2:25. In these passages Peter says, “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Christ is the “chief shepherd” as 5:4 says, but he is also the “chief overseer” (2:25) and he is the “the chief elder”.

 

This is the highest statement that can be made of the role of elder in the church. It is a summons from Christ (by his Spirit) to do his work under him in his likeness and for his sake.

 

1. How good of God to give us such good order

 

2. How good of God to give us his leading of us as the example of how we are to lead his people

 

3. How good of God to give us a record of his instructions so we would know what to do

 

4. How good of God to have rewarded the faithful administration of his word with an abundance of pastors/elders/overseers

 

[1] Piper, Elders

Pain in the life of the Christian

Here is a great article http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2009/11/26/being-thankful-for-pain/ on the role of pain in the life of the Christian. Read this and think on how Father has used pain to grow you closer to him. Could it be that by not having a proper theology of suffering we actually spend ourselves out of sanctification and into more delusion? I don’t think we are to not take advantage of the common graces of God for the betterment of humanity, but I also don’t want to fail to be made more like Christ either. So, if suffering is a way for becoming more like Christ, then I have to find a way to fit this into my theological framework.

Here is an appetizer from the article: “Charles Spurgeon once said, “Health is a gift from God, but sickness is a gift greater still.” Throughout his time in this world, Spurgeon suffered with various physical ailments that eventually took his life prematurely. He longed to be well but he recognized the supreme value of being sick and he thanked God for it because it was his pain that caused him to desperately draw near to God.” – Tullian Tchividjian

May the Lord grace your pursuit of him with everything needed to grow into Christ.

God’s good order for leadership in the church: Part 1

1 Timothy 3:1-7

God’s good order for leadership in the church: Part 1

 

All week I have feared that this sermon feels more like a classroom lecture than “preaching”. However, what I have reminded myself of this week, and hopefully this has been the work of the Spirit as opposed to a self-convincing job, is that preaching is not just passionate talking with some points of action but it is also teaching. I’m a teacher. I teach. There are times in the bible when we need to do some survey work. This week is one of them. If a teacher leaves information on the table that will help a student to succeed, that teacher fails. How much more so when the one I’m worshiping now in word will judge me more strictly due to what I say and even what I don’t say.

 

All that to say: I’m not apologizing for the “feel” of this sermon. This sermon will be exhaustive. I don’t want to fail to teach when it comes to the leadership of Christ’s bride, the church.

 

I grew up in Baptist churches with congregational/democratic governance structures and never really thought about it until I got to seminary, and even there it wasn’t because it was taught, but because I started reading my Bible and asking critical questions I hadn’t asked before.  I think sometimes in our Baptist tribe we have a blind spot of being Americans first and superimposing American and democratic ideas onto the church rather than first asking what does the text say and how do we model that.[1]

I have read more on church leadership and the biblical roles of pastor/elder/overseer in the past 2 years than I ever dreamed I would read. I have read at least 5 books and countless journals and blog posts from theologians I trust and agree with and even some I don’t agree with just to check our thinking.

 

Disclaimer: The words of this sermon are all ripped off to some degree, I’m certain, because I’m simply summarizing the content of the bible passages that mention the roles of pastor/elder/overseer. I’ve done exhaustive Scripture searches on the words overseer, elder, pastor etc., so there are multitudes Scripture references in this sermon, and to be truthful, most people’s articles and books revolve around these same texts, therefore, what I have here and what you can read outside of here are just different organizations and summaries of the same biblical material coming to the same conclusions if they are honest in their assessments. There is nothing new and nothing unique here, but I’ve tried to footnote what is directly borrowed from others as best I can.

(Gospel Centered Leadership, Steve Timmis; Biblical Eldership, Alexander Strauch; The New Testament Deacon, Alexander Strauch; Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders; Eldership, John MacArthur; Biblical Eldership, John Piper)

 

When TRCC was but in the conceptual stages we knew, due to having been exposed to church government gone wrong for most, if not all, of our Christian experience and having read some on the subject, that we wanted to pursue a system of government that resembled what we read in Scriptures. We did that as best we could. As the Father led part of our team away we had the need to add help for the sake of sheer need and for the sake of stewarding the work.

 

I wish I could tell you there was a well thought out plan to raise up more men, but the truth[2] is that Father had already been at work preparing men due to the discipleship that was taking place in the preaching of the word and relationships formed so that when the time was right men would rise to the invitation of 1 Timothy 3:1. As we prayed, fasted, asked men we were led to, and then observed Holy Spirit work, we saw him (Holy Spirit) cause all of this to happen.

 

I’d like to walk you through the background to this wonderfully noble and yet difficult role of shepherding before we exegete the actual verses of 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

 

Paul begins 1 Timothy 3 by introducing some language that was not uncommon to the hearers of Ephesus but is quite uncommon for us apart from, perhaps, our denominational upbringing. Paul uses the title “overseer”, and in Titus 1:5 & 7 Paul equates the titles of “elder” and “overseer” helping the reader of the New Testament see that these titles are synonymous.

 

So, we want to preface our exposition of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 with a survey of these titles, and we’ll discover next week what the character and skill qualifications are for this noble and challenging task.

 

We will use the title “elder” in this sermon because it’s the most common word used.

 

1. Lets start with the title “Elder” in the Old Testament[3]

From the very beginning leadership of a people has been accomplished through some sort of elder system in which the older, wiser and experienced men led and trained other men to lead. According to Genesis 50:7 there were “elders of Egypt” and according to Numbers 22:7 there were elders of Moab and Midian. So there is nothing unique or unusual about having elders in positions of authority.

 

The church in the New Testament was made mostly of Jews. King Jesus was an ethnic Jew. Therefore it is understandable that the church, as it grew out of Judaism, would pattern its life and structure on the life and structure of God’s people in the Old Testament.

 

The “elders of Israel” are referred to in the Old Testament from the beginnings of the nation in Egypt (see Exodus 12:21) down to the period of the rebuilding of the temple after the Babylonian exile (see Ezra 6:7).

 

In Ezekiel 7:26 they are grouped together with prophets and priests, each group having its own special function, “They seek a vision from the prophet, while the law perishes from the priest and counsel from the elders.”

 

In Leviticus 4:15 the elders serve the ministry of worship. In Numbers 11:16 they are described as “officers over the people”.

 

While its clear that the role changed over time we do know elders were the older men of the community who, because of their wisdom in counsel and the honor that would be given to them (Leviticus 19:32), became the official leaders of the people of God.

 

In Jesus’ day the elders of Israel were still leading. The most frequent use of the word “elder” in the New Testament refers to the Jewish elders who opposed Jesus during his ministry. May that never be the pastors/elders/overseers of TRCC!

 

Within the gospels and Acts “elders” are most often viewed as forming an alliance with the “chief priests.” We read about “the chief priests and elders of the people” (Matthew 21:23; 26:3, 47; 27:1, etc.). More than likely the term “elder” included groups like these.

 

This familiar role in Jewish society was no doubt where the early church got the title “elder.”

 

Whatever this role of “elder” was, the Christian function of “elder” carried over into the church can only be determined by studying the New Testament texts.

 

“It would be wrong to assume that the Jewish concept was taken over with no modifications, because the church is not simply a carbon copy of Judaism or of Old Testament Israel.”[4]

 

2. Elders in the Church at Jerusalem (dealing with Luke’s writing)

 

The elders of the early church appear in three places in the Book of Acts.

 

1. Acts 11:30. The disciples of Antioch had decided to send an offering to help the famine ravaged church in Jerusalem “and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.” No mention is made of deacons or apostles here. The elders are apparently the men responsible for the general welfare of the church. We know nothing about how they became elders, and we can only deduce that the reason they were elders is because of the order already set carrying over from Judaism into practice in the church at Jerusalem made of mostly Jews.

 

2. Acts 15 (Jerusalem Council). Elders are mentioned five times—verses 2, 4, 6, 22 and 23. Some Jewish Christians had gone to Antioch preaching that you had to be circumcised in order to be saved (15:1). Acts 15:2 says, “And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.”

 

When Paul and Barnabas arrived in Jerusalem “they were welcomed by the church, and the apostles and the elders” (15:4). After they were welcomed the apostles and elders went to work on the theological challenge of adding circumcision to salvation by faith in Christ alone.

 

In the debate that follows, Peter, Barnabas, Paul, and James speak in favor of not requiring circumcision. This theological discussion is limited to the apostles and the body of elders.

 

Verse 28 adds that it also seemed good to the Holy Spirit that circumcision shouldn’t be required. When the letter was delivered in Acts 16:4, Luke comments that the decision about circumcision had been reached by the apostles and elders. This confirms 15:6 that says, “the apostles and elders were gathered together to consider this matter.”

 

3. Acts 21:18. The third situation in Acts where the elders appear is Paul’s final visit to Jerusalem. Paul goes to James (Jesus’ brother) and with all the elders present he tells all that the Lord had been doing in his ministry to the gentiles. The elders encourage Paul not to give offense to the Jewish Christians, so Paul accepts their advice and follows the instructions of the law.

 

Here the function of the elders is to receive the distinguished apostle and hear his report. They take pains to see that there is a good rapport between Paul and the whole church. This is what we seek to do when we have our team in from the field and hope to accomplish when we host PAN this year.

 

We know nothing about how the elders of Jerusalem were chosen unless we equate the seven of Acts 6:3 with the elders. I believe that is clearly not the case and should not be done. We may conclude they emerged naturally in the community because they were taken for granted in Jewish society.[5]

 

Learning Point:

These elders were apparently responsible for the welfare of the church (11:30); and with the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (15:28) they made decisions about doctrine and the moral/ethical lives of people in the church (15:6; 16:4).

 

3. Elders in the Churches of Paul

 

Paul only used the title “elder” three times (1 Timothy 5:17, 19 and Titus 1:5). Its lack of use should NOT be thought of as a lack of importance. Rather, it indicates a level of understanding Paul knew his audiences possessed.

 

Even though Paul does not use the title regularly, other writers of the New Testament used the title in relation to churches Paul was instrumental in. This fact implies that Paul had established this order and these inspired writers of Scripture are recording what was done. Although Paul does not use the title much he was obviously establishing the order of elder/overseer/pastor.

 

Let’s look at elders in Acts in the churches of Paul.

 

There are two references in Acts to elders in the churches of Paul. Let’s take a look at these one at a time.

 

1. Acts 14:21

Here Paul starts back toward Antioch of Syria, retracing the steps of the first missionary journey to the churches of south Galatia. While visiting the churches Paul had recently founded he was “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith” (14:22). Then Luke tells us in 14:23 about Paul and Barnabas’ work, “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

 

We don’t know if Paul called the leaders “elders”. These are Luke’s words. “Elder” is Luke’s word for a church leader appointed by Paul in the churches planted by Paul. But whether Paul called them elders or not, Luke saw them filling the same function as what he knew as elders, therefore, calling them “elders”.

 

Learning Point:

In these churches they appointed several elders; we don’t know how many. Just note that the title is plural.

 

Learning Point:

The elder’s installation was by appointment, not election, a feature we will find true to elders/overseers/pastors throughout the entire New Testament.

 

Learning Point:

By appointing elders for the church and through prayer and fasting committing them to the Lord, Paul is committing the people to the Lord through the elders he has appointed. This is significant for the elder and the people. The Lord rules through his appointed elders and the people submit to the Lord through Spirit led leadership. This kind of stuff makes independent Americans who want democracy over actual leadership very nervous.

 

Finally regarding Acts 14:21; a missionary observation is in order. These “elders” must have been relatively new Christians, since the churches had just been founded. This shows that the principle given in 1 Timothy 3:6 (no new convert as overseer) is not an absolute in the missionary context. This is why we trust the Spirit with his Church. When a church is well established it makes sense to have no new converts because there ought to be some mature believers to lead, but when the church is brand new among a people group and the organizing of the church is necessary, elders still need to be appointed.

 

Nothing at all is said here about the function of the elders. Luke apparently assumed that in his day the office was so common that it needed no explanation.

 

2. Acts 20:17

Paul is now on his way to Jerusalem at the end of the third missionary journey. He stops off at Miletus, just south of Ephesus, and calls the elders of Ephesus to come and meet with him.

 

In verse 28, Paul says, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”

 

Paul does not call these men elders, but rather “overseers” (v. 28). The Greek word is (episkopous) which means literally “overseer” and is sometimes translated “bishop.” So, the elder/overseer is entrusted the task of spiritual oversight. This task has immediate relevance because the next verse warns of wolves that will come, not sparing the flock.

 

Learning Point:

It is clear that for Paul the term “overseer” is synonymous with “shepherd,” since the congregation is pictured as a flock (thereby equating the word “pastor” with overseer and elder). Paul also does this in Ephesians 4:11 when he does not use the title “elder” but “pastor/teacher” for that oversight role.

 

Here the responsibility of the elder/overseer/pastor is to “feed the church,” no doubt in the sense in which Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep,” (John 21:17). In context, the food is “the word of his grace, which is able to build you up” (20:32), or “the whole counsel of God” (20:27). In other words, preaching the Scripture and leading from the Scripture is how the elder/pastor/overseer leads.

 

Learning Point:

The elders/overseers are ministers of the word and responsible for feeding the people with the preaching and ADMINISTERING of the Scriptures.

 

Learning Point:

The Holy Spirit appoints the elders/pastors/overseers and this appointment becomes clear through prayer, fasting, worship and adherence to the Scriptures (see Acts 13:1-3).

 

Learning Point:

In this same text, Acts 20:25; there were a larger number of elders/pastors/overseers. It’s these kinds of numbers that allowed for the expansion of the church. As the Spirit appoints men, the purpose is not stock piling, rather continuing the advance of the church of Jesus Christ in sending out new churches.

 

This fills out the picture somewhat when we add to it the fact that Paul appointed elders in all the churches. Paul’s appointment of elders/pastors/overseers no doubt occurred after the manner of his own appointment by the prophets and teachers in Acts 13:1-3. Through prayer and fasting the Holy Spirit makes plain who should be appointed, and then the leaders lay hands on them and appoint or install them. Paul’s appointments were not capricious or merely a reflection of his own desires.”[6]

 

The same can be said of the men at TRCC.

 

END OF PART 1

 

4. How About Elders in Paul’s actual writings?

 

“In Paul’s writings the title “elder,” for a church leader, occurs only three times. These three occurrences are 1 Timothy 5:17, 19 and Titus 1:5. Keep in mind the nature of the Pastoral letters (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus): they are the last letters Paul wrote and reflect a situation many years after the first missionary journey. Unlike all his other letters they are addressed to individual men and spell out some of their duties.”[7]

 

Let’s look at these passages.

 

1. Titus 1:5-9

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.”

 

One of the first things we notice is that Paul here uses the terms elder and overseer to reference to the same people. We have seen this already. The function of the elders is summed up as oversight just as it was in Acts 20:17, 28.

 

Also, as in Acts, the emphasis falls on the ministry of the word: the elder/overseer should be well grounded in doctrine (verse 9) and able to “give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (verse 9). Beyond this nothing is said about the task of the elders.

 

Learning Point:

The pastor/elder/overseer must be well grounded in Christian doctrine and be able to give instruction in that doctrine and even be able to correct those who go contrary to that doctrine. This is a lifetime pursuit.  We must be continually growing in our understanding of Scripture and the implications of what is there as well as the attacks against God’s good order and be able to recognize those attacks and repel them.

 

Verses 6-8 give the requirements one should meet in order to be an elder/overseer/pastor. In his public life he should be above reproach (blame); his marriage and family should be exemplary. His own personal character should be one of spiritual maturity.

 

Note again that the elders are appointed.

 

2. 1 Timothy 5:17 and 19 (we’ll take them together). In 5:3-16, Paul describes the procedures to follow in caring for widows in the church. “Real widows,” that is, godly, older women who have no relatives to care for them, are to be supported by the church (5:3, 9, 16). That is how the widows are honored. Then in verses 17 and 18 Paul says, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,’ (Deuteronomy 25:4) and, “The laborer deserves his wages.’ (Luke 10:7)”. This is a carry over from the Levitical ministry. Levites received no inheritance from the land and were to be supported by the tithes so they could live and function in serving the people as Father’s representatives.

 

A little side note here, Paul is quoting Luke 10:7 indicating that Luke was already in circulation here in the early 60’s AD meaning the Gospels were written earlier than the late part of the century placing the writings closer to the actual historical events therefore making them more accurate. This refutes the claim that the New Testament was a late first century or early second century document that was edited to validate the claims of the Apostles. Luke’s writing was in circulation before AD 70. History always destroys liberal theology. The text destroys liberal theology!

 

Learning Point:

The appointment to elder/overseer/pastor was an installation to a sacred calling that was performed by the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 5:22; cf. Acts 13:3).

 

The end of appointing of elders in 1 Timothy 5:17 and 19 is the obvious ceremony of installation in the laying on of hands to demonstrate one’s calling to and their reception of the task.

 

Learning Point:

The pastor/elder/overseer should not labor without receiving some reward from their labor.

 

4. What About Elders in the Non-Pauline Churches?

 

There are a number of uses of the title “elder” outside of Paul’s writings. In the Book of Revelation the term occurs twelve times with reference to the twenty-four elders in heaven. There is not much written on the identity of who these dudes are except they are some sort of angelic host. Does that make pastors angel beasts? I don’t think so. That would be kind of cool though.

 

2 and 3 John begin with the designation, “The elder to…” It is believed the author is John and he is so well-known that he is known simply by his title, “The elder.”

 

Let’s quickly take a look at these passages.

 

1. James 5:13-15:

“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

 

Learning Point:

Elders have a practical ministry of prayer for those who are sick to see if the gift of faith may be given that one may be healed through the prayer and even that sins be uncovered and repented of.

 

2. 1 Peter 5:1-4:

“So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

 

Peter calls himself an elder although he is also an apostle. This does not mean there is no distinction between elders and apostles. For this unique period of time the apostolic office overlapped with that of elder. Peter refers to this elder status to illustrate the very point he is making, namely, he does not want to “lord it over the elders” but by example and exhortation to help them fulfill their calling.

 

The main point of these verses is to instruct the elders how to exercise their authority. What does Peter say about how elders are to exercise their oversight?

 

Learning Point:

1 Peter 5:2a “not under compulsion”: The pastors/elders/overseers are to make sure they are not being forced to act but rather are acting in desire.

 

Learning Point:

1 Peter 5:2c “not for shameful gain”: The pastors/elders/overseers are not doing what they do because they are getting rich. Rather they are doing this work eagerly. The eager nature of the pastor/elder/overseer is because they are joining with Christ in doing his shepherding work of guiding through teaching/leading/and managing his people not because they are gaining socioeconomic advantage.

 

Learning Point:

1 Peter 5:3a “not domineering over those in your charge”: The pastors/elders/overseers are to set an example in hopes that the Chief Shepherd would move his people to follow the example of the under shepherds.

 

Learning Point:

The promise to these pastors/elders/overseers is that they will receive glory (crown of glory) from the Chief Shepherd when he returns. Not exactly sure what that glory is other than in the Kingdom they will be given charge of is “much” if they have been faithful with little and the weighty nature of being in charge of “much” will be the reward of faithfully discharging their duty while waiting for the Chief Shepherd to return.

 

Learning Point:

Jesus is the pattern for the elders/overseers/pastors. This is seen clearly not only from the allusion to his earthly teaching in 5:3, but also from 1 Peter 2:25. In these passages Peter says, “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” Christ is the “chief shepherd” as 5:4 says, but he is also the “chief overseer” (2:25) and he is the “the chief elder”.

 

This is the highest statement that can be made of the role of elder in the church. It is a summons from Christ (by his Spirit) to do his work under him in his likeness and for his sake.

 

1. How good of God to give us such good order

 

2. How good of God to give us his leading of us as the example of how we are to lead his people

 

3. How good of God to give us a record of his instructions so we would know what to do

 

4. How good of God to have rewarded the faithful administration of his word with an abundance of pastors/elders/overseers

 

5. Conclusion: How do we respond?

 

1. Obedience by seeking a biblical model rather than a pragmatic model derived from the corporate world or one derived from one’s experience of suffering at the hands of others (Baptist model).

 

2. Observe what the Spirit has done and learn to receive his “how” regarding the biblical model.

1. We can’t manipulate his processes of putting desires in right hearts

2. We can do things his way and trust his ways and timing

 

3. As men, we will be prepared for a rising of Spirit given desire to do this most noble and difficult task in the advance of the Kingdom in planting churches as the Lord would lead (see Acts 13).

 

In the church at Antioch they had an abundance of teachers, so the Spirit set apart Barnabas and Saul and sent them to plant. When the Lord has given us an abundance of teachers it will be time to plant. Men, be prepared for this.

 

This was the Lord’s promise to us in December of 2001: Ezekiel 36:37-38 “Thus says the Lord God: This also I will let the house of Israel as me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. Like the flocks for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. They will know that I am the Lord.”

 

This is part of the stated DNA function of this church. We talk about it in membership class. We are only going to do this, however, as the Spirit leads by raising up men. He has been doing that, and we will obey him.

 

4. We will worship the Lord for his glorious activity among us to raise up leaders and to fulfill his word to us.


[1] Emmett Long, Sermon: Elders and Elder Structure, October 2013.

[2] This was a statement made to me by Brad Poston while thinking on the men who will lead our fellowship

[3] The outline/order of this sermon is taken from Piper’s article in 1976 from a work done while teaching at Bethel University and Seminary.

[4] Piper

[5] Elders, MacArthur

[6] John MacArthur, Elders

[7] Piper, Elders

Preserving God’s Good Order 1 Timothy 2:11-15

Preserving God’s Good Order

1 Timothy 2:11-15

 

All systems of thought have a metanarrative, that is a larger story that determines meaning and action on the part of that metanarrative’s adherents. Naturalism and atheism’s religion of evolution has a metanarrative. These competing metanarratives answer questions. One central question that must be answered by any system is: “who is mankind?”

 

Notice that even how that question is asked has implications. What if I asked the question: “what is mankind”? What is the difference? “Who” implies that mankind has being that goes deeper into their identity than “what”. “What” implies they are a thing. “Who” implies they are a person; I would even say it implies they are more complex than biological entities having some part of their nature that is non-tangible and transcendent, if you will.

 

Illustration: when my boys bring in a stick that they have been using as a makeshift sword or gun, I ask the question, “what is that?” When my boys talk about a friend or introduce me to a buddy, I may ask the young man, “who are you?” Why? They are both nouns, but one has personhood and the other does not. Therefore I designate a different word in my question based upon my evaluation of that, hopefully, obvious fact. The boy is highly distinct and has a different function than the stick.

 

When we come to answer the question: “who is mankind?” we have to answer that question with our metanarrative contained in the bible.

 

1. Man is first a creature, created by the God of the bible.

2. Man is the highest creature, the pinnacle of creation, distinguished by being created in the image of his creator. (notice I didn’t say “it’s” creator)

3. Man has a role, and that is to manage creation and fill the earth with other image bearers. Mankind has a purpose or vision for existence.

4. Man was given a helper, out of himself not the dirt, equal in image bearing and importance, but a helper to assist him in stewarding creation and filling it with other image bearers.

5. Mankind, then, was made male and female, each with their own uniqueness and created function that is different (helper fit for Adam) although equally image bearing.

6. Mankind, particularly Eve, rebelled against their Creator and suffered the consequences of such rebellion.

7. Mankind’s consequences of rebellion include: 1. The man would have to face difficulty in subduing creation (Genesis 3:17) 2. The woman would face difficulty in bearing children (unique to woman and perhaps even also metaphorical for facing difficulty in maintaining womanhood as a proper and distinct quality from manhood) and this difficulty to maintain distinction would be seen in the desire for her husband’s role (Genesis 3:16)

8. Mankind (male and female) is distinct in created function with distinct roles yet equally image bearers and yet, due to rebellion, difficulty would be had in fulfilling those roles.

 

From before the foundation of the world, and realized in the Garden, the God of the bible began the work of redeeming the rebellious creatures and the creation that was subjected to futility from its fallen state.

 

In the fullness of time the Second Person of this Trinitarian God comes and takes on flesh and dies in the place of these rebels and rises from the dead to secure their salvation from this difficult existence.

 

This Jesus establishes his church as the “beachhead”, the outpost, the advancing force for the re-establishment of his rule in Eden and his good order in Eden. This Jesus sets out to re-take Narnia, so to speak.

 

However, Narnia has been under the spell of one contrary to the King’s order, and the re-establishment of Jesus’ rule will take work and clear instruction and severe intentionality because the King’s good order is opposed by the forces of disorder disguised as “freedom” and “liberty” and “equality without any distinction”.

 

The church at Ephesus is an outpost, a beachhead and force for advancing the re-establishment of Jesus’ rule. Paul has written so that these folks would know how they ought to conduct themselves as citizens of God’s kingdom, in the church, a pillar and buttress of the truth (3:14-16).

 

In God’s Kingdom, the preservation of the good order, particularly in our text today, womanhood, is vital.

 

The church is a pillar and buttress of the truth, therefore, the church must be about the work of preserving and restoring the good order of mankind.

 

Man (Adam) was appointed to lead. Therefore, in the church, men must lead. It is the result of rebellion for men to be passive and relinquish leadership to their brides. Women’s sinful tendency, from the fall, is to take the leadership role from the man. How sad when men give it up and sit under the doctrinal instruction of the women.

 

Contextually, our passage precedes instruction on church eldership and is part of the previous passage dealing with prayer and hindrances to prayer: men not being in unity and women seeing approval by external means.

 

Therefore, in light of 1 Timothy 3:14-16, Paul is seeking to preserve the good order of God’s kingdom. The prohibition is for the sake of preservation. Illustration: I prohibit my sons from being passive and from passive activities in order to preserve manhood and leadership in them. Prohibition can produce preservation. It’s not because I’m trying to withhold good from them, but I’m seeking to give them what is best. I am seeking to preserve the ability to lead in them.

 

In our text today, the sphere of this preservation is the church. By implication the Christian home should be a place where the men lead and instruct good order, and the church should be a beneficiary of this male leadership.

 

Men, you must lead your home, and it’s the job of qualified men to lead the church and thus preserve womanhood.

 

(What does it say about a fellowship’s men when they cannot produce from within qualified men to take the role of pastor/elder/overseer and have to seek that from without?)

 

So, let’s take a look at what instructions Paul gives the church at Ephesus, and us today at TRCC, about re-establishing his good order through the church, a pillar and buttress of the truth. Let me be clear. This good order is established here. What we hope to do is continue to advance, as the Lord will advance it, this good order (build the church both local and global).

 

1. Men are to fill the role of pastor/elder/overseer v. 11-12

“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.”

 

Due to the context of the passage, Paul is setting out the good order of God’s kingdom in the church. He is about to give instruction on the leadership of the body of Christ and so there is no mistake on the good order of God’s church, he leaves the discussion about how women are to engage in effective prayer and lays out the order and place for the daughters of Eve.

 

First, lets note some creative ways folks have sought to continue the rebellion in the Garden against God’s good order by rejecting this instruction.

 

First, some argue that Paul was just wrong. Some have said that Paul is wrong because his teaching is appealing to mythical accounts and rabbinical misinterpretation of Genesis 2. Paul K. Jewett (Man as male and female, 1975 and professor at Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, CA) made this assertion. He was disciplined for that assertion at his school.

 

Second, some have argued that Ephesus was a bastion of feminist supremacy. Roman history shows Ephesus to be a very conventional Roman provincial city with no women magistrates and a cult hierarchy controlled by men.

 

Finally, (there are more, but for the sake of time) some say that since Paul said “I do not permit” he used the indicative and not the imperative and therefore is not issuing a command but rather a temporary arrangement. However, Paul often uses present indicatives to give universal instruction (Romans 12:1 etc.), but even further here Paul cites creation as his ground for this instruction.

 

What does Paul mean here in verses 11-12?

 

The word “to teach” and it’s noun forms “teaching” and “teacher” are used in the New Testament to describe the work of the pastor/elder/overseer in teaching the authority of Scripture and public doctrinal instruction (1 Timothy 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2). So, what is prohibited is preaching and the teaching-elder role of authoritatively defining and expositing the deposit of the Apostles (1 Timothy 3:2). Our text is also clear that attitude is important. She must learn in quietness and full submission. This prohibits an argumentative attitude.

 

Therefore, this role is preserved for the man as the role of leader. But, let’s be clear, if we have not been clear yet, this is not prohibiting to keep women down, rather, this is prohibiting in order to preserve the good order of womanhood. This will be clear as we get to verse 15.

 

Let me share 6 evidences with you that men are to lead and preserve womanhood.

1. God created Adam first and then Eve

2. God gave the command not to eat of the tree to Adam rather than Eve

3. Adam named the “woman”, who was taken from him, just as he named the

animals, signifying authority (Genesis 2:19-23).

4. Eve is designated as Adam’s “helper” (Genesis 2:18).

5. The serpent deceived Eve rather than Adam, thereby subverting male headship

(Genesis 3:1-6). (If Satan subverted male leadership, shouldn’t we be alert and

watch for any such subversion?)

6. God came to Adam first for accountability, even though Eve sinned first

(Genesis 3:9; Romans 5:12-19).

 

2. God’s good order is a creation issue not a cultural adaptation v. 13-14

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

 

I suppose the question many may ask is regarding whether this prohibition is still in force today. Many have contended that Paul’s prohibition from women serving as pastors was due to them being uneducated and therefore not able to teach well and therefore they were the one’s responsible for the false teaching Paul instructed Timothy to deal with.

 

Attempts to root Paul’s prohibition in cultural norms of the day fall short. Paul could have written, “I don’t want women to teach or exercise authority over men because they are uneducated,” or “I don’t want women to teach or exercise authority over men because they are spreading false teaching.” As a matter of fact, the one’s propagating the false teaching were men!

 

Paul appeals to created order, to God’s good and perfect intention when he formed humans in his image before the fall!

 

We must see that distinction in created purpose is not cultural; rather it is created and intentional.

 

“It is imperative to see that the reference to creation indicates that the command for women not to teach or exercise authority over men is a transcultural word, a prohibition that is binding on the church at all times and in all places.”[1]

 

Paul grounds this prohibition in created order to preserve the good order in the creation account of Genesis. As a side note, this grounding of current order in the narrative of Genesis implies that Adam and Eve are not mythological people who serve as story only but rather in a real and historical event called creation that dictates to the modern reader of the biblical text that the narratives of the bible are true and do not affirm anything contrary to fact and must be the ground of our practice.

 

To take it a step further, Paul gives another reason that the women must not teach or exercise authority over the men, and that is that Eve was deceived and became a transgressor. The point is not that women are given more to sin than men. Paul will tell us in Titus 2:3 and 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:14-15 that women are to teach other women and children, which he would not do if the women were more prone to sin than men.

 

Paul’s point is that Satan’s temptation of Eve instead of Adam subverted male leadership. Satan came after Eve in spite of Adam’s presence as it was happening. And though Eve was deceived and rebelled, God calls Adam to account and man’s sinfulness is traced to Adam (Romans 5:12-19) not Eve. Therefore, to preserve the good order of the Kingdom the Father prohibits the women from taking the role of the man because it would be to follow after the original deception and sin and to give in to the fallen tendency the fall introduced into the good created order.

 

Part of the function of the church is to bring the values of God’s kingdom to bear on the fallen world and truly liberate image bearers through the preaching of the Gospel and their belief in and transformation by this Gospel and expositional doctrinal instruction. We do the Gospel nor ourselves no favors by giving up key values that Father holds in order to gain acceptance from those who are weeds rather than wheat – fake branches rather than branches remaining in the vine.

 

We are to fight for the preservation of our wives and our daughters by holding to God’s good order.

 

3. We are to preserve womanhood through observing God’s good order v. 15a

“Yet she will be saved through childbearing…”

 

Paul’s use of “childbearing” here is not so clear on the surface. What about women who have died in childbirth? What about women who have been unable to conceive? What about single women?

 

Paul is most likely referring to childbearing because it is a universal example of the God-given differences in the roles of men and women. I believe what Paul has in mind here is that womanhood and God’s good order are saved through being distinctly what Father made woman to be rather than seeking to be what Father made men to be.

 

I also believe that Paul could have in mind by not seeking the role of the men, women are more likely to have a heart attitude that attends salvation and all it’s blessings. That means women who seek their proper good function are in an attitude reminiscent of women who are truly Christian. The opposite of that would be true. Women who seek the role of men as head are in an attitude reminiscent of women who are not seeking to be truly Christian and propagating the lie of the garden all over again.

 

Feminism is such a soothing poison. The lie propagated by feminism is that distinction is somehow less. This is Satan’s lie. And no doubt unregenerate men have done no favors to the idea of distinction and submitting to authority.

 

Submission, as a word, generally carries a negative stigma. However, submission is not negative. Submission has its roots in Trinity. Jesus submitted to the Father (John 5:19). Spirit submits to the Son (John 14-16). Father lovingly shows off the Son and Spirit. Yet each member of the Trinity is equal in deity and importance yet distinct in function and specific in submission to the other members of Trinity.

 

This is how submission must be understood by Christians, and as a result, practiced in the home and in the church.

 

As Adam stood passively by and watched as Satan berated his bride with the lie that Father was holding out on us, he allowed the good order of creation to be subverted, and equality and distinction and submission have been under attack ever since.

 

As men, we must take up the mantle of leadership to make sure we preserve the good order of creation and the good order of the coming Kingdom.

 

This is not male domination for the sake of some evil agenda. Any man who dominates in sinful harshness using God as his excuse, sins. A man must lead under Christ like love. This passion and pursuit is part of what it means to be masculine.

 

At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.[2]

 

We propagate wrong and disorder if we don’t uphold distinction inside equality between men and women and particularly inside the church that is a pillar and buttress of the truth.

 

How are women and men to fight for this good order? The answer is in verse 15b

“…if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”

 

Observing God’s good order requires:

1. Faith

And without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

 

We must fight for faith that Father is good and working for our good and that his word is truth.

 

Paul tells the church at Ephesus to take the shield of faith to extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Why? Because Satan’s darts are doubts. Therefore, those doubts are extinguished with faith.

 

In 1 Thessalonians 3:5 Paul sent to find out about their faith for fear that Satan had tempted them. What is the temptation? The temptation is to not believe.

 

If we somehow give in to the cultural and satanic pressure to cave on God’s good order we quit the fight.

 

2. Love of God and love of his order

We can fight for Father’s good order by loving him and his good order. If we really love God we must fight against the lie that somehow he is holding out on us. We must believe that his order is good and good for me and that order is to be loved, and I would argue, enjoyed.

 

The desire to take the role of head over the men is as broken as other sinful tendencies and it must not be given into.

 

3. Holiness

Women, seek to be like Christ. Be holy as he is holy. Don’t be ok with sin no matter how benign it may sound compared to men’s sins.

 

4. Self-control

We can fight for God’s good order by exercising the fruit of self-control. If the Gospel has transformed us, we have Holy Spirit and we can exercise self-control.

 

4. Worship!

 

When we worship together in the public gathering of the body of Christ we enter into a submissive state where we all come together to sing to and hear from and be led by the Triune God of the universe.

 

When we worship we are in a submissive state of admitting he is above and we are below but that this submission is good and Father is good. When we worship we are open to his leadership and we are made ready to do his good will. When we are ready to do his good will we are empowered to bring the good order of his Kingdom to bear on our world.

 

Come and worship the King and live out his good and joyful order.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Thomas Schreiner, May Women Serve as Pastors?, 9 Marks, p. 1.

[2] Grudem, Piper, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood, p. 29.

How one ought to behave in the household of God, part 1

1 Timothy 2:1-10

How one ought to behave in the household of God…a pillar and buttress of the truth

 

Paul starts off his next instructions to Timothy with the words “first of all…”. This is strange considering he has written some fairly hefty instructions already. One would think Paul would say “first of all” at the beginning of verse 3 of chapter 1, “first of all…charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.” But Paul does not do that.

 

Paul has had some more pressing matters to deal with before he begins to get to “how one ought to behave in the household of God…(3:15)”. We have dealt with those pressing matters already.

 

But now Paul launches into the instructions on what to teach and work toward. Paul begins with prayer.

 

First, the issue is not that they should begin praying. Praying is assumed. Jesus said, “when you pray.” Even people of other religions and cults “pray”. The assumption was that theses folks are praying. Note that Paul does not tell them to begin praying but to expand who they are praying for.

 

The problem was their scope and their sin issues that was hindering their praying.

 

These introductory verses to chapter 2 help us to see that, perhaps due to the false teaching, they had narrowed their prayers down to themselves, missing the world and they were definitely having some sin issues that he will address in verses 8-10.

 

The church at Ephesus was praying, but they were praying too narrow and has some sin issues that were hampering.

 

Second, these Ephesians had, perhaps, gone internal and forgotten that God desires all nations not so much their bloated and error filled additional bible studies full of myths and endless genealogies.

 

Third, these Ephesians needed to remember who their first love was (Revelation 2:4), the one mediator who ransomed them, and crave again his desires.

 

Fourth, these Ephesians needed to remember the mission.

 

Finally, these Ephesians needed to repent and walk in holiness.

 

These facts would then empower their prayer life as individuals and their prayer life together.

 

What doe we gather from Paul’s instructions on how we ought to behave in the household of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth?

 

 

1. It is vital that we pray for and give thanks for those who oppose our message and mission v. 1-2a

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions…”

 

There is not a significant difference in the various words used for prayer (supplications – request for benefits for, intercessions – meeting with on behalf).

 

The key in verses 1-2a is that these prayers are to be made for all people, (specifically) kings, all in high positions as well as thanksgivings be made for these people.

 

Already application of that command may cause some of us consternation. Perhaps we get so testy about our national politics because we forget we are not natives here but aliens and strangers. Perhaps we forget that some of our national challenges are not reasons to get testy but rather to offer supplication and intercession and prayers to Father.

 

Even deeper; Paul urges that thanksgiving be made for these people.

 

Why? Romans 13:1-2

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”

 

Its important to note that its likely these in high positions are not all friendly, therefore, the need to pray specifically for what Paul tells them to pray for in verse 2b.

 

Do you see the instruction on how one ought to behave themselves in the household of God, the church, a pillar and buttress of the truth?

 

1. Pray for benefits for and meet with the Lord on behalf of those who may be

your enemy

2. Give thanks to Father for placing those who may be your enemy over you

 

This is not just feel good we ought to be praying business. Praying is assumed. The question is what is being prayed for.

 

It is likely the Ephesians have narrowed the scope of their praying from the mission centric focus Paul is displaying in verse 7 down to themselves and their private matters and lost focus on the mission of Jesus glory in Ephesus and the globe and begun to be more concerned with their internal workings.
Paul reminds them they are to widen their praying to include those who Father has placed over them and to give thanks.

 

1. Pray for workers to be mobilized by Chief Shepherd Jesus for the harvest

2. Pray for our President and our Congress

3. Pray for our local officials

 

2. We are to pray for peace to propagate the gospel in and for our holiness and growth in the gospel v. 2b

“…that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

 

Verse 2b is either a purpose clause or an additional item to pray for.

 

If it is the purpose clause, then the reason we pray for all people and specifically those who are in high positions, including the king, is so that we can have peace and quiet from persecution.

 

If this is another item, then Paul is urging that the people also pray that regardless of the people in positions of authority and their response that the people of God would be at peace and rest and be godly and dignified in their handling of the situation.

 

I believe it is both. The Greek text actually carries the purpose clause here. The “that” in verse 1, “I urge that supplications…” is supplied in English to make sense of the sentence. The “that” here in verse 2b is actually in the text as the purpose clause (“ina”). Therefore, the peace and quiet are to be sought in prayer for a purpose and these are accompanied by the request that they live godly and dignified in every way.

 

Peace and quiet provided avenues for the believers at Ephesus to practice the faith in public showing love toward others in service and in an active demonstration of godliness and dignity, some of humanity’s best qualities.

 

Peace and quiet are good and right. After the fall peace and quiet were assaulted with war and chaos. To seek out the good of peace and quiet is preferable and right.

 

However, often those who may be our enemies seek war and chaos. And even if peace and quiet are not given the opportunity to seek out godliness and dignity are not taken away. Rather the need for godliness and dignity would increase.

 

So, I believe the purpose clause allows us the room to ask for peace. Peace is far better. However, it also allows us the room to pray for godliness and dignity to handle chaos should chaos be deemed as better.

 

As the core here is an faithful trust that Father is in charge of the authorities and that whatever he decides is for our good and his glory in the advance of the gospel.

 

1. We pray for peace and quiet to propagate the gospel in

2. We pray for godliness and dignity to put on display whether in peace or in

persecution

 

3. It is good to seek the salvation of all people because that is God’s desire v. 3-4

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our savior, who desires all people to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

 

Paul reminds the Ephesians that it is good to seek the salvation of all people.

 

Don’t mistake this passage or suppose this passage, as some do, as an argument for universalism (that all people will be included in God’s kingdom regardless of their response to him).

 

The church as been sidetracked by some false teachers and their teaching. They have lost sight of the mission. Paul reminds them of God’s desires.

 

“It could be argued that what God wants must surely come to pass. But it is important to remember that both the OT and the NT speak of God’s ‘desire’ or his ‘will’ in quite varied ways, determined by the context. Sometimes God’s ‘will’ cannot be distinguished from his decree: what he wills to happen, happens. At other times God’s ‘will’ is his command (e.g. 1 Thes. 4:3). At still others, it refers to his stance. The God who cries, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of anyone … Repent and live!’ (Ezk. 18:32) is also the one of whom it is said that he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

It is of course possible to array these statements in some sort of contradictory pattern. In fact, they are part of a consistent biblical picture in which God is presented as simultaneously utterly sovereign and distinctly personal. To set his sovereignty over against his personal interaction with us his image-bearers is to destroy the biblical portrayal of God. In the context of 1 Tim. 2, Paul is anxious to stress divine compassion towards all people irrespective of race, status or condition. Probably he is combatting a tendency towards elitism that tries to limit God’s compassion inappropriately. Whatever Paul and other NT writers say about election, certainly it is integral to early Christian preaching that God desires all to come to a knowledge of the truth.”[1]

 

Paul is seeking to refocus the Ephesians on the mission. He wants them to keep the salvation of Ephesus and the nations front and center.

 

1. We must not be sidetracked by false teaching and inferior ministerial goals.

 

4. We pray for those who don’t believe because God is their only hope to overcome their unbelief v. 5-6

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.”

 

Why pray for all these people? We pray because their only hope is God.

 

1. There is only one God (the God of the bible)

2. There is only one way to the God, Jesus (Jesus, the mediator who goes to and makes a way to reconcile man to God)

3. Jesus ransomed man from his state of bondage to Satan

4. Jesus’ work is the testimony of whom God is and how he has sought to save

man

 

Why pray? We pray because their only hope is Father must over come their unbelief.

1. Prayer presupposes that man is in a state of incapability. (otherwise why ask

God, just spend time convincing)

2. Prayer for all people presupposes that only God can overcome their unbelief.

3. Prayer presupposes that God can overcome their unbelief.

4. So we ask!

 

5. Our prayers primary focus is on the mission and the work given to do the mission v. 7

“For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

 

Paul’s statement here causes us to see that he is super aware of his mission.

 

The intent is that the church would regain its focus and begin preaching the gospel in Ephesus and the greater outreach to the world.

 

Paul wants the church at Ephesus to stay on task.

 

We loose sight of the purpose and effectiveness of prayer when we turn prayer into an internal comfort tool rather than the wartime weapon it is.

 

1. Prayer is a wartime walkie-talkie not a domestic intercom. – Piper

 

6. We are to pray with God as our object not us v. 8-10

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works.”

 

It is apparent that due to the false teachings and distractions of those who needed correction the men have defaulted to their fallen tendencies and the women have done likewise.

 

The men are just arguing and one-upping each other.

 

The women are trying to gain their self-worth from her external looks and acceptance from others rather than her internal worth before God as a precious image bearer.

 

As a result, prayer had either become non-existent or powerless due to these distractions of the world system.

 

Paul calls them both back to the point…seek the Lord.

 

1. Prayer and quarreling can’t exist together

2. True prayer can’t exist with unrighteous anger

(the lifting of the hands is an outward expression that together they were seeking he Lord)

3. Our attitude with others affects our approach or lack thereof to Father

4. External distractions prevent the internal preparation for meeting with Father

 

7. Concluding applications:

1. Whenever you gather, pray

2. When you pray, obey Jesus’ instruction

3. Make sure public prayer is NOT the only prayer you are participating in

4. Pray without ceasing 1 Thessalonians 5:17

5. Make sure you are praying for kingdom / mission specific things as much as for

personal matters. Prayer is a mission tool not an income generator.

6. Check your attitude and agenda at the closet door. Take people and situations

to the Father and let him be sovereign over people (this brings peace)

7. Do not draw attention to yourself in praying. Beware. You will have received

your reward. Make sure your worship in deed goes before your prayers in public.

8. Before you accuse someone or pick a fight with someone, pray for them. Jesus

may correct you.

9. Spend as much time listening as you do asking / communicating

1. Remember that prayer is communication with Father, but it’s not

intelligence sharing. Matthew 6:32 (Jesus knows what you need before

you ask)

2. Remember prayer is two way. We must listen and know his voice

distinct from our own thinking.

3. Remember Psalm 84:11 when we get a “no”

10. Pray in faith, remembering, you may be the answer to the prayer.

1. If you ask for laborers, he may send you.

 

 


[1] D. A. Carson et al., eds., New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1297.