The word “blameless” as a requirement for bishops and deacons occurs 5 times in I Timothy and Titus. It means unaccusable, unreprovable, not open to censure. The requirements for this office consist entirely of character qualities and family management, except that bishops must be able to teach. The term bishop and elder are used interchangeably for those who have oversight over a congregation, while the deacon deals primarily with physical needs. The term “priest” is never used to describe any New Testament church leader.
Note that the qualifications for church leaders are almost entirely based on character, except that the bishop (overseer) must be able to teach. How many times do you see churches led by a gifted leader who has serious character flaws? In the New Testament churches, brothers with various gifts participated in the services, but the positions of authority were reserved for those of proven character.
General principle: Philipians 1:27,28
Qualifications for Bishops (overseers), also referred to as Elders : I Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9; Titus 3:1,2; 3:8-9
Qualifications for Deacons (literally, servants) I Timothy 3:8-12; Acts 6:3
Leaders must not engage in quarrels, be gentle and patient, interpret Word correctly – 2 Timothy 2:15-16; 23-24
Leaders who teach must be prepared at all times, persuasive and willing to correct with patience 2 Timothy 3:2
Leaders in the New Testament were chosen in a variety of ways, by different types of church leaders or by consensus.
1) When the choice is between two qualified men, the lot is used. Acts 1:23-26 (See also Proverbs 18:18).
2) By consensus of the church: Acts 6:1-7
3) By divine revelation: Acts 9; Acts 13:2-3; I Timothy 1:18
4) Appointed by an individual in authority (these cases seem to be churches that weren’t well established yet) Acts 16:1-3; 2 Timothy 2:1; Titus 1:5; I Corinthians 4:17
5) By apostle and others choosing together: Acts 14:23; Acts 15:22
Following these principles will help keep you from going wrong in interpreting scripture after thorough prayer for understanding and insight through the Holy Spirit:
1) Find ALL verses related to the subject you are interested in. What if the subject didn’t exist in bible times–such as dating, television etc.? Find verses related to principles such as purity, appropriate speech, attitudes etc.
2) Study the context for each verse on your list. Note who is speaking, who they are speaking to and the immediate situation surrounding the verse.
3) If some verses seem to contradict one another, look more into the context. Perhaps the situations addressed are different. Perhaps our behavior and attitude has to incorporate both extremes.
4) Use the early Christian writers as a resource. Greek was their language, and they discuss many verses from the bible. Sometimes their writings clarify confusing passages. They were also much closer to the age of the apostles.
5) Compare your understanding of the verses with general Christian principles. Does your interpretation contradict principles such as humility, purity, loving enemies etc.?
6) If Old Testament verses seem confusing, consult the Greek version, the Septuagint. The apostles and Jesus used that version. The best version is the NETS translation of the Septuagint which can be read on line. If you know NT Greek, the Septuagint can help clarify the meanings of words used just a few times in the NT. However, there is no concordance of the NETS version yet.
7) Consult commentaries and other Christians, but always be careful not to be swayed by group pressure or the prestige of the commentator. Even the wisest men of God have made errors in interpreting scripture.
Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, John 6:51, Acts 20:7, I Cothinthians 10:16-32
Correction is a vital part of New Testament church leadership and participation by the Body of Christ. To understand this category, we need to turn to the Old Testament as well. Here is a listing of the verses.
Leviticus 19:17, Proverbs 9:8, Proverbs 15:32, Proverbs 17:10, Proverbs 19:25, Proverbs 27:5,6, Luke 17:3, I Timothy 5:1, I Timothy 5:20, 2 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:13, Titus 2:15, 2 Thess. 3:14-15
Today we hear a lot of different ideas about what a church should do and be. There are teaching churches, soul winnning churches, purpose driven churches, big box churches run on consumer demand etc. The New Testament gives some clear teachings about what the church is and how it is to conduct itself. These teachings are scattered in different epistles, addressing different situations. Yet there is no bible study tool to help a person put these teachings side by side to compare them to get the big picture of God’s plan for the church. I hope this site can help you get the answers you need.