Calvary Church of the Nazarene Huntsville, Alabama
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Qualifications for Ministry
This analysis of biblical passages addressing qualifications for ministry has resulted
from consultation with numerous resources. The sources will be noted throughout the analysis.
I Tim. 3:8-13
This list for deacons overlaps the list for bishops, indicating how closely interrelated the
two offices were. Both say little about duties but rather focus on personal characteristics.
1.ASerious@ - worthy of respect; men of high principle (cp. Phil. 4:8; Tit. 2:2) (Broadman Bible Commentary, Hinson, 319).
AMen of high principle@ (New English Bible) ADignity . . . inviting reverence@ (Expositors Greek Testament, Nicoll, 114)
ABecause they had to deal w/ all classes, all ages, all types of people in their work,
sensible, steady men were needed@ (Lenski, 594).
2.ANot double-tongued@ - says one thing & thinks something else - or - says one thing to
one person and another to someone else (Hinson, 319);AInsincere@ (Nicoll, 114)
ATale-bearing@ or Acharacter assassination@ (Beacon Bible Commentary, Gould, 585)
AThis is bad in any person; it would be especially bad in an officer of the church, who
had constant rounds to make and would talk with many members@ (Lenski, 595).
3.ANot addicted to much wine@ - does not drink to excess
Adoes not forbid the use of wine, the common drink of the day, but the love of too
much of it@ (Lenski, 595).
4.ANot greedy for gain@ - avoids greediness (lovers of money) - cp. Tit. 1:7
AThe setting of gain before one as an object in entering the ministry - the acquisition
of it, rather than the glory of God, his prime object@ (Nicoll, 115)
Alike pilfering Judas. The point of the disgracefulness of such an act whether it be by
embezzlement of the alms entrusted for distribution or by otherwise currying favors
for mercenary ends@ (Lenski, 595).
5.AHold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience@ - Amystery@ means the eternal
purpose of God which has been hidden but now is revealed in Jesus (cp. Col. 1:26-27)
Aclear conscience@ - free from feelings of guilt as a consequence of God=s grace
(cp. 1:5, 19; I Pt. 3:21)
AUtter sincerity and without mental reservations@ (Gould, 586) - Aspiritual integrity@
AThe mystery of the faith@ - a synonym for Xnty . . . Any man who is not careful of the truth, or who is enamored of wine, or who allows money to stick to his fingers, cannot hold to Xnty, to this blessed mystery of the faith, >in connection w/ a clean conscience,=
and is certainly not the man to be made a deacon in the congregation@ (Lenski, 597).
6.ATested@ - a trial period for caring for the needy, visiting the sick, comforting the bereaved Cp. 3:6 - a bishop Amust not be a recent convert@
AProven worth@ - AWe insist upon spiritual maturity and educational qualifications; but
we insist equally that a man must have carried on with a promising measure of success
in some practical phase of the ministerial office. And no candidate should receive the
church=s ordination who has not, in the apostle=s word, been found blameless@
(Gould, 586).AUntil a man has proved his suitability - one whose fitness is a matter
of common knowledge@ (Nicoll, 115)
7.AThe women@ - Deaconesses or wives of deacons (women ministers: baptism, caring for
sick women, etc.). Deaconesses -Athey performed for the women of the early church
the same sort of ministrations that the deacons did for the men@ (Nicoll, 115)
ASerious@ - cp. above
ANo slanderers@ - not double-tongued (Hinson, 320)
ATemperate@ - self-controlled AFaithful in all things@ - entirely trustworthy (Hinson,
8.AHusband of one wife@ - monogamy
AManage their children and household well@ - Apresides well over his own household@ (An American Commentary on the NT, Harvey, 39)
9.AGood standing . . . @ - the position of respect attained by good service; AAn assured
position in the esteem of their fellow-Christians . . . [or] gain in the eyes of God@ (Nicoll, 115)
10.AGreat confidence . . . @ - which arises from commitment to or trust in Christ Jesus (Hinson, 321)
II Tim. 4:5
1.ASteady@ - sober . . . AIn the background stands the image of the athlete (v. 7) who abstains
from wine in order to stay alert and vigilant. Avoid the nebulous world of fantasy in
which Christian opponents live -Aswollen w/ conceit@ (3:4), Aof corrupt mind@ (3:8),
Afoolish@ (3:9), Adeceivers and deceived@ (3:13)@ (Hinson, 355-356)
AClarity of mind and of sound judgment that is not blinded and carried away by follies,
fables, and morbid opinions - a clear eye, a balanced judgment@ (Lenski, 856)
AKeep calm and sane@ (NEB)
A3 directions in which soberness is to manifest itself@ (Lenski, 856):
2.AEndure suffering@ - Preaching the gospel will always evoke harassment and persecution
(2:9; Phil. 1:7, 13-14, 17) because it involves participation in Christ=s sufferings (2:11-13)
ASuffering is not to becloud one=s soberness@ (Lenski, 856)
3.ADo the work of an evangelist@ - preaching the gospel
AThis charge seems to suggest that in the gospel war it is well to apply the military
principle that the best defense is to attack. Proclaim the message of salvation in all of its
purity, power, and rigor, and thus confuse and defeat the enemies of the Lord. Thus, as
Phillips renders it, you will>carry out to the full the commission that God gave you=@
4.AFulfill your ministry@ - as Paul himself had done (cp. 4:17) - cp. Acts 12:25
ALet nothing be lacking in your service@ (Lenski, 857)
The majesty of the ministry requires that its ministers be of such qualitative character that potential fear of not measuring up to its requirements does not quench the call of the Spirit to the awesomeness of the office. Lack of integrity and uprightness is dreadful enough in any one. But for those called to the ministry, it is inexcusable. Thus, the qualifications here emphasized indicate such a high calling that those whose livesAmake men think less of sin is a menace to Christianity and to mankind@ (Barclay, 207). AA solid character and a pure life@ will compensate for any deficiency in Ahigh culture and brilliant gifts@ (Harvey, 44). The latter may be desirable and sought after, but the former will add such brightness and intensity to one=s life that even the latter will somehow be made to shine.
In II Timothy 3:1-5, Paul=s characterization of Athe last days@ may be summed up in three words: confused, complacent, and conceited. God=s call to the ministry is to be Aa highly dedicated and highly trained group of persons who are unabashed and unapologetic in the face of opposition and ridicule. They must be able to out think as well as outlive all attacks on the central faith which we so sorely need as an alternative to confusion,@ conceit, and complacency (A Place To Stand, Trueblood, 20). God does not guide where He does not provide. By His enabling grace, may the call be answered with an AI can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me@ (Phil. 4:13) response. The consequences of the alternative are far more dreadful than is imaginable. After all, Awe have this treasure [of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ] in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not of us@ (II Cor. 4:7).
Dr. Morris Murray, Jr.
Content copyright July 2010 jmhall. All rights reserved.