As we continue our walk through the book of First Timothy, we come now to some basic and practical instructions for the local church. Paul shifts his focus from warnings concerning false teachers to the church and its responsibilities and duties.
The priority of prayer and evangelism (2:1-8). Prayer must and should be a top priority in the life of the local church. Apart from prayer, we can do nothing. Along with our praying, there must be a concentrated effort to win the lost for Jesus.
VERSE 1: Paul begins his instructions to the church concerning its responsibilities and duties by calling the church to prayer. Emphasis is placed on the need to pray for all people. In all of our praying we should make sure that we are giving thanksgiving to the Lord. I am afraid that real fervent and passionate praying is a lost art in many churches. We are so busy doing ‘church stuff’ that we do not have time to pray. However, prayer must be a priority, for prayer is the power behind the church. If a local church is not made up of people of prayer then all the efforts of the church is powerless.
VERSE 2: Paul mentions that praying for all people includes praying for those who have authority over us. How often do we pray for the leaders of our city, county, state, and nation? We need to pray that if they do not know the Lord, that they would come to a saving knowledge of Him. We need to pray that God would give them wisdom as they make crucial decisions concerning our security and livelihood.
VERSE 3-7: Such fervent prayer for all people is good and acceptable in the sight of God. It pleases the heart of God when we pray. Prayer is a beautiful sound in the ears of God. Prayer brings a sweet aroma to the throne of God. However, above all, the thing that pleases God the most is when a lost sinner comes to repentance. It is God’s desire and will that all of mankind be saved and come to know and understand the truth of the Gospel. God does not wish for anyone to go to hell. God did not create or allow someone to be born with the purpose that they may go to hell. God sent His Son Jesus to pay the price of sin for the entire world. If someone ends up in hell, they do so by their own choice. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life.” Since the saving of lost souls is at the very core of God’s Divine will and purpose, it is imperative that the saving of lost souls is a priority for the church. God elected the church for the specific task and purpose to bring the Gospel to all of the world. God has also called the church to pray for the saving of lost souls. Too often we spend our time praying to keep the saved out of heaven rather than praying to get the lost into heaven. We pray for the sick amongst us (and we should), we pray for those who have fallen on hard times (and we should), but do we pray for the lost? Most church prayer meetings our spent praying for sick people. What ever happened to falling on our knees and crying out to God with urgency and fervor on behalf of those who have yet to believe? May God help us to be a church that takes the great commission seriously and that understands the priority and urgency of praying for lost souls!
VERSE 8: It is interesting to note that the term ‘men’ in this verse means ‘males’ and not ‘females’. Paul is referring here to public prayer in the church. It is the men who are to lead the congregation in public prayer. As they pray, they are to do so in faith without doubting. They are also to pray without wrath. In other words, the men who lead in public prayer must be men who are right with God. We also see here from the emphasis on men, that it is God’s design for the church that the men serve as leaders both in the spiritual and the practical matters of the church.
Roles of men and women in the church (2:9-15). These verses deals with what is often times one of the most controversial issues in the church. However, a proper understanding of the roles of men and women in the church is crucial for the health of the church.
VERSE 9-10: Just as men have a certain role in the church, so do the women. In verse 9-10 Paul mentions that women are to behave in the church in a way that is becoming of Godliness and purity. Paul is not saying that wearing jewelry or makeup is a sin; however, he is saying that women are to dress and adorn themselves in way that it does not draw attention to themselves. When women dress in a way that draws attention to themselves it becomes a distraction to the men and it hinders the life and purpose of the church.
VERSE 11-12: The key in these verses is that women are to not present themselves in a way that puts them in a place of authority over the men. Women are to submit to the male leadership of the church and are to stay silent and not speak out against them or usurp authority over them. This does not mean that women cannot teach; as we see later on in the scripture that women are commanded to teach the younger women and to be an example for them. What Paul is getting at here has to do with position. Women are not to be in positons of authority in the church. This brings up a ton of questions. Can women teach a Sunday School class without having authority? Can women teach a class where men are present without having authority? Can women lead the music in church without having authority? These issues, I believe, are up for debate and should be determine by each individual local church. Every situation is different. I have seen women perform various tasks in the church in a way that does not communicate authority. At the same time I have seen women take advantage of certain positions in order to take authority away from the men. I do not think we should be too conservative or too liberal on this issue. The key, that I believe Paul had in mind, is the behavior of women in the church. Are they conducting themselves in a way that honors God and that does not violate their God-given role as a woman?
VERSE 13-15: In these verses, Paul reiterates and explains the natural roles of men and women. All throughout the Bible we see the theme of men as having the responsibility of leadership and how women are to support the men and care for the home. Paul mentions how that Adam was created first and how he was the responsible party at the fall. Even though it was Eve who sinned first, it was Adam whom God held ultimately responsible because he was the one to whom God gave the responsibility of leadership. There are several ideas as how to interpret verse 15. I believe what is mentioned in the Ryrie Study Bible is the best way to interpret this verse. “A woman’s greatest achievement is found in her devotion to her divinely appointed role to help her husband, to bear children, and to follow a faithful, chaste way of life.” I know this can be a controversial statement in these days, but it is true: Women are built to serve, men are built to lead. God created men in such a way that makes them natural leaders. God created women to be the backbone for the men. It is the woman’s role to support the men in their responsibility of leadership by encouraging them and doing everything they can to help them and make their responsibility easier. This same concept of the roles of men and women is also to be played out in the church just as it is played out in the home. It is my view that women have an equal or even greater role in the home and in the church than the men. As the saying goes, ‘behind every good man is a good woman.’ Without the support, nurture, and love of the women, the men could not fulfill their God given role. When men do not fulfill their God given role, disaster strikes. The reason we have weak churches is because we have weak men. Therefore, we need strong women who understand their roles and who will undergird the men and encourage them to be who God made them to be.
Roles of pastors and deacons in the church (3:1-16). Building upon what Paul spoke concerning the roles of men and women in the church, he now begins to give instruction concerning the leadership structure of the church. According to scripture, there are two basic offices of the church. There is the office of what we call today, the pastor, and there is also the office of deacon. The Bible mentions terms such as bishop, elder, and pastor. These terms appear to be interchangeable. They describe the responsibility of the pastor of the church. The term ‘bishop’ means overseer. The pastor has the responsibility to oversee the life and work of the church. The term ‘elder’ has to do with maturity, namely, spiritual maturity. The pastor has the responsibility as one who is spiritually mature, to teach the church and to instruct them in the Word of God. The term ‘pastor’ has to do with the gift of shepherding. All of the examples of a shepherd’s relationship to the sheep applies here. The pastor is to protect, feed, and care for the flock. The deacons are men who have the responsibility of serving the church by supporting and encouraging the pastor in his pastoral roles, mainly, caring for the needs of the congregation.
VERSE 1: A man who desires to be a bishop or pastor desires a good work. I believe this desire is placed into a man by God. In other words, there is a specific calling by God to be a pastor. In order for a man to hold the position of pastor, he must be called by God. Some will say there is a call to preach and that the call to preach is one and the same with the call to pastor. I strongly disagree with this idea. Technically, every born-again believer is called to preach. We are all called to preach or proclaim the Gospel to all the world. Some have been given the gift of preaching or public speaking. However, just because you have that gift does not mean you are called to pastor. The call to be a pastor is a specific and special calling. One may be able to preach, but cannot pastor. When a man is called by God to serve as a pastor, God puts into him the desire for such a work and with that desire, God develops and molds his life into one who qualifies for the work. With the calling to pastor, God gives the man a pastor’s heart. A pastor’s heart includes a love for God’s people, an urgency to win the lost, and a love for the life and work of the local church. The call to pastor will humble the man who is called rather than puffing him up with pride. The call to pastor often comes with an overwhelming sense of unworthiness and lack of skill and ability. The call to pastor takes away any lust for authority and control and rather, places in the man a servant’s heart.
VERSE 2-7: Paul goes on to give a list of qualification for the pastor. This serves as sort of a test for the man and the church to see if he is truly called to this great work. Notice the qualification listed in these verses:
- Blameless = good character and reputation, not easily accused of wrong doing
- Husband of one wife = must be a man who is faithful to his wife
- Vigilant = prepared and aware
- Sober = mature, taking his responsibilities seriously
- Good behavior = not involved in worldly ways and practices
- Given to hospitality = loving and caring, seeking to help others, friendly
- Apt to teach = constantly looking for teachable moments (understanding there are more ways and places to teach than just the pulpit)
- Not given to wine = he should drink no intoxicating beverages
- No striker = is not a bully, is not controlling, is not easily angered
- Not greedy of filthy lucre = is not in it for money or prestige
- Patient = patient in all ways (prayer, spiritual growth, patient with the church, etc.)
- Not a brawler = not contentious, does not get sucked in to an argument, is not argumentative
- Not covetous = does not covet after fame or money
- One that ruleth well his own house = must be a good father and husband
- Not a novice = not a new convert, a mature Christian
- Be of good report with those who are without = have a good reputation in the community
VERSE 8-13: In these verses, Paul shifts gears to focus on the qualifications of those men who serve as deacons. You will notice that the qualifications for pastor and deacons are very similar.
- Grave = mature and serious
- Not double-tongues = not hypocritical or spreading differing stores among the congregation
- Not given to much wine = should not drink intoxicating beverages
- Not greedy for filthy lucre = does not hold the purse strings tightly
- Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience = knows the truth and lives the truth
- Must be proven = time must be given for a man to prove himself worthy of the office
- Their wives must be mature believers = their wives should not be gossipers and they should be of good mature behavior and faithful to their husbands and in their walk with God
- Husband of one wife = must be a man who is faithful to his wife
- Rules his house well = must be a good father and husband
Verse 13 mentions that those who hold the office of deacon will have a special reward.
VERSE 14-16: Paul concludes this chapter by mentioning his desire to see Timothy and his reasoning for giving him such instruction. He desires that the church is structured properly and that they all behave themselves in a way they brings honor and glory to God.