Wednesday 21 April 2021


            1 Timothy 3

In the previous chapter, Paul has stated his guidance for women in the Church and now in this chapter he turns to speak to men.

He begins by referring to the accepted understanding that whoever wants to hold ministerial office within the Church is seeking to perform a noble cause, but also an important and responsible one, and indeed a holy one.

This passage refers to ‘overseer’ , and elsewhere the term bishop is used which suggests that the Office refers to those who oversee what we call dioceses. But such Office would not equate to what we know as a bishop, with sitting in a palace wearing robes.   

Paul did not want a recent convert to be appointed as he might become conceited and be influenced by the devil. Such is wise and care taken. Recently an advertisement was placed on Facebook asking for people to offer themselves  to lead worship and become local preachers in the Methodist Church, a Church which has a history of profound evangelical preaching.  Apart from the fact the Ministry is not like a secular post, it demands a pre=held belief and faith in Christ, and most people who offer themselves because they believe God calls them, not Facebook.

You did not choose me, I chose you’  John 15 (16)

Many are called, few are chosen  (Matthew 22 (14)    

To make a Facebook offer is opening up the opportunity for people to offer who are totally unsuitable, and may be doing so for self-     aggrandizement, or even some mischievous reason.

I appreciate any person offering would be interviewed and assessed, but whilst some people are nervous at interviews, others are adept at deluding. 

Even interviewers can look to the wrong points.  When I was first interviewed the main interest was to know at which University I went to, and the interviewer appeared to lose interest when I said I was just a grammar school student. If the Apostles had to appear before a modern selection board, I doubt if any would have been accepted.

This passage calls for a man of honor and integrity, and whilst I believe standards have fallen from what the position was in past years, many people still largely expect a clergyman to be of the highest character, and look the part. I have memories of the times when the local Vicar was an important person in the community who would be recognized with respect; the manner in which they dressed and conducted themselves was a huge contributory factor.

I am sure we would all concur with Paul’s demand for a man above reproach, having no unworthy habits such as drunkenness, presiding over a happy united family of his own, courteous and able to exercise self-control, and of a patient temperament.

People do take extra notice of how a Minister acts in a community, indeed some take particular notice.  It does not help when people see a Vicar engaging in a sexual relationship which is condemned in Scripture.  I have known and heard uncomplimentary remarks, about clergy being hypocrites for not practicing what they are supposed to  preach.

The Church has had a bad press with sexual abuse charges being made, which brings the whole Church into disrepute and causes massive embarrassment to those who conduct themselves honorably

An essential ability is being able to teach the gospel in a way that people can fully appreciate the meaning.   There was an Archbishop, who I readily accept was a very clever man, but when he preached his words were so convuluted few people could understand  him or what he was talking about.

Paul states he must be the husband of one wife, and whilst most men would shudder at having more than one, what seriously he means is not divorced.  Jesus did however make provision for divorce when he said if it was on the grounds of infidelity by the wife.  In addition, if a man’s wife died he would be justified in marrying again

This exposes a weakness in the Catholic Church.  It is sometimes claimed that Peter was the first Pope, (a dubious) one as James became leader of the Church subsequently, but Peter was a married man. Irrespective of such, the ability of being able to have a wife is a great advantage, as it may also help to avoid the indiscretions which are endemic in the Church and cost a lot in reparations. The reason for not allowing marriage was due simply to cause the priest to give all time and energy to the Church.

God made a woman because he thought man should not be on his own and be lonely, and needed a suitable companion, so making a woman. God therefore we are told created woman from the rib of the man, but it was more likely to be his side, as the bible tells us she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, and in the image of God as the man. She is equal to live side by side, not subservient or lesser, and together they would form a beautiful and perfect friendship, as God had given different natures so as to fully complement the partnership.

From personal experience I think a wife makes the man’s ministry so much more effective, as she helps him by moral and loving support, and essentially providing some of the caring gifts God has given to women which are not so evident in man.  

A leader in the Church should not use his Office to earn money for himself.  A list of men in the Church and their earnings, reveals how this order has been massively ignored. Granted a person who has the gift to write helpful books is entitled to benefit from his talents, but I doubt they can earn the amounts held on writing books.  I know one American Church offers a package of cd;s, videos and books on a subject as well as advertising the same on its television programme.

I am also opposed to the practice of having sabbaticals for Ministers, which members of the congregations indirectly contribute to.  There are many stressful careers outside the Church, one of which I personally had, which make a Church position look comfortable.

Before closing I want to consider verse 9 ‘they must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience’. I would suggest that any clergyman who knowingly contradicts the teaching of the bible, must not have a conscience, for we all vow at ordination to keep the teaching of Scripture.

The Church depends on the blessing of God and Jesus, and we will never have that blessing whilst those holding prominent position of authority in the Church, persist in making pubic utterances telling people to ignore what the bible states, and colluding with secular organizations, which are in opposition to the Church.

We can sum up by accepting that anyone seeking any role of leadership in the Church should so order his life in a manner that never brings an adverse comment against the Church, but on the contrary seeks to bring worthiness.    

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