FOUNDATIONS

Lessons designed to promote the integrity of scripture and church!

I Corinthians 3:11“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is    JESUS CHRIST  

All articles are written using the NKJV, unless otherwise noted! All articles are written by David Hicks, unless specified otherwise.

 

THE BODY OF CHRIST

THE ORDER OF THE BODY OF CHRIST – PART 13

The Elders – Qualifications

In these lessons, we will look at the Divine qualifications for the ones who would be shepherds of the Lord’s body. Please note, and use the “Quick Glance chart of the Qualifications of Elders” also provided with this portion of this study.

We will look into these qualifications in a semi-organized way; looking at some of the basic elements first (A Man, Desires the Work), then the domestic qualifications (Husband of one wife, rules his own house well, number of children required, and faithful children), and finally all the other qualifications.

With these things in mind, let’s get started!

Domestic Qualifications –

Before we discuss the domestic qualifications of elders in detail, it would be well to notice that these qualifications have given rise to more discussion and disagreement than any or perhaps all the remaining qualifications. There are some practical reasons why this situation arises:

  1. - The domestic qualifications of an elder are sometimes easier to see than whether they are covetous, greedy of filthy lucre, etc…
  2. - The man’s domestic qualifications demonstrate his ability to serve as an elder to a greater extent. In short, how a man rules his own house gives a congregation of God’s people a gauge by which they have a clear indication of how the same man will oversee God’s family.

1 Timothy 3:5(for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?)”

So, while we are justifying thorough consideration of a man’s family qualifications, and rightly so for the valid reasons given, let us equally give diligence of the qualifications of justice and self-control, and especially to the qualification of being blameless.

Husband of One Wife –

1 Timothy 3:2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach”

Titus 1:6if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.”

The Apostle Paul demands in both passages of qualifications given that the elder is the husband of one wife; literally meaning a ‘one woman’ man. It does not speak to marriages, as we will see in this simple exercise.

There are five types of practice that we will consider to see the simplicity of Paul’s instruction.

  1. - A man who is married to his wife, the only wife he has ever had to date. This man would be the husband of one woman!
  2. - A man who loses his wife by death, and then remarries has but one woman, and additionally has no conflict with the present tense of Paul’s teaching.
  3. - A man who has remarried after the scriptural divorce of a previous wife and has remained blameless has but one woman, and is additionally not in conflict with Paul’s teaching.
  4. - A man who has many wives and is practicing polygamy (still acceptable in many cultures), is not a one woman man and cannot serve as an elder by Paul’s instruction.
  5. - By omission, a bachelor is not a one woman man, and is thus disqualified by not having a household in subjection, a wife in subjection, or a demonstrative ability to rule his own house well.

The term one woman man means just that, not more than one, but must have one (which in God’s wisdom completes him). In everyday language we would use this terminology in similar understanding without issue; for example: “a one farm man” – the owner of a single farm in the present tense (which does not speak in the present tense if he has ever owned any other farms, but that right now he has one), or “a worshipper of one God” would in the present tense exclude atheists (a no god man), or polytheist (a many god man).   

So, it is with the elder in the context of these qualifications, which demands the elder to be a family man with a single scriptural wife; anything else will not satisfy the language of the Apostle of Christ.

Rules Well His Own House –

As we continue our study of the domestic qualifications of an elder we must realize that the term “House” would include his wife as well as his children, and all other dependents (this later group not being as familiar in our practices today, but still applicable).

This qualification means that his household is operated efficiently, kindly, gently, true (to God’s standards), and right. The reason for this qualification is expressly stated: for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?”

This is simply saying that if a man doesn’t rule his own house will, he will not rule the Body of Christ well.

This is a test we all use in every field of human endeavor. If a man cannot manage a minor league sports team, there is no reason to think that he could manage a major league team. If a man cannot manage a small furniture store, there is no evidence that he will be capable of managing a large furniture store. If one cannot handle the responsibility of superintending a small school district, why would anyone think he could serve as the superintendent of a large one?

God has given us a concrete measure of a man’s ability to rule the house of God (whose house we all are in Christ – Hebrews 3:6). If looking at the potential elder’s home and there is no communication, the children are bitter towards their parents, the father domineers, and the family is wracked with all kinds of dysfunction; you could anticipate that this would translate into the Body of Christ (not to mention that he is in need of severally preaching to himself concerning his role as head of the family).

The term “Rule” means, “To stand before”; hence, to lead, attend to, or indicating care with diligence. “Well” means, “Beautifully, finely, excellence, well, rightly, and with great effectiveness”. 

Two final things to discuss before we move forward; first, we see why it is mandatory that these men be chosen from among brethren. We cannot possibly be aware of these qualifications from men who would come in from the outside, or are only among us a short time. We the brethren are tasked with knowing the qualifications and then being able to know who among us is truly qualified.

Second, so often we simply consider the question, “Are his children Christians?”, or “Are his children faithful?”

It is entirely possible that a man might have faithful children who are Christians, and not have this qualification at all. Perhaps his children are faithful because of his wife’s efforts. Perhaps the household is orderly in spite of him (a discussion I have with my own wife often, in jest of course). We should not contemplate the appointment of a man who has not demonstrated that he cannot perform this duty with respect to his own house, for we can vividly imagine what would happen to the Body of Christ under such leadership.  

Finally, not just with this qualification, but in all other aspects of these qualifications - subjectivity, feelings, traditions, and any human derived thought process must be rejected. Only God’s wisdom is to be considered in this endeavor, and we will spend a great deal of time on this when we get to the qualification of “Blameless”.

Next: “His Children!”