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Life-Study of 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemonby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-87083-155-0
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 5 of 28 Section 1 of 5

LIFE-STUDY OF FIRST TIMOTHY

MESSAGE FIVE

OVERSEERS AND DEACONS FOR THE CHURCH’S ADMINISTRATION

Scripture Reading: 1 Tim. 3:1-13

In 3:1-13 Paul speaks of overseers and deacons for the church’s administration. In verses 1 through 7 he covers the overseers, and in verses 8 through 13, the deacons.

I. OVERSEERS

A. Aspiration for Oversight

In verse 1 Paul says, “Faithful is the word: If anyone aspires to oversight, he desires a good work.” Paul begins with the expression, “Faithful is the word.” This expression indicates that what he is about to say is very important.

In verse 1 Paul speaks of oversight, and in verse 2, of overseers. The Greek word rendered oversight is episkope, from epi meaning over and skope meaning sight; hence, oversight, denoting the function of an overseer. The Greek word translated overseer is episkopos from epi and skopos meaning seer; hence, overseer (bishop, from Latin episcopus). An overseer in a local church is an elder (Acts 20:17, 28). The two titles refer to the same person: elder, denoting a person of maturity; and overseer, denoting the function of an elder. It was Ignatius in the second century who taught that an overseer, a bishop, is higher than an elder. From this erroneous teaching came the hierarchy of bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and the pope. This teaching is also the source of the episcopal system of ecclesiastical government. Both the hierarchy and the system are abominable in the eyes of God.

In verse 1 Paul tells us that if anyone aspires to oversight, he desires a good work. Aspiration with a pure motive differs from ambition with an impure motive. It is the Lord’s desire that many brothers have the aspiration spoken of here. For the Lord’s recovery and for the building up of the local churches, there is the need of the proper leading ones. Hence, aspiration for oversight is not only justifiable, but even admirable. On the one hand, we condemn ambition; on the other hand, we appreciate the fact that many brothers have the aspiration for oversight. A brother with this kind of aspiration truly desires a good work.

B. Qualifications of an Overseer

1. Without Reproach

In verse 2 Paul says, “The overseer then must be without reproach, husband of one wife, temperate, of a sober mind, orderly, hospitable, apt to teach.” Paul first mentions the qualification of being without reproach. This does not denote perfection in the eyes of God, but an irreproachable condition in the eyes of man. An overseer must be one with a good reputation. There should be no ground for others to speak evil of him.

2. Husband of One Wife

An overseer should be the husband of one wife. This implies the restraint of the flesh, which is necessary for an elder. It keeps an elder in a simple and pure married life, free from the tangle of a complicated and confused marriage.


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