Was Paul forgetful?
October 27, 2009
In 1 Timothy 3:2-7 Paul explains the qualities of a man who may serve as an elder. The list is familiar and most churches would at least say they look for such men. One question, however, which I have not heard discussed is whether this list is exhaustive. In other words, should a church consider this list, and this list only, when appointing an elder?
The reason I ask is because recently I have become aware of the fact that churches actually make their own lists of what qualifies an elder. Apparently, Paul forgot to mention some qualifications, or at least his list is not good enough for “modern day” congregations.
What’s worse, churches that make their own “elder qualifications” often do so divisively. What I mean is this: such and such a church happens to believe in the pretribulational rapture. Therefore, they write into their constitution that any man who serves as an elder in that church must affirm this position. Another church happens to beleive in Arminianism, and another in calvinism. Thus, each church restricts their eldership to that viewpoint.
Doesn’t it seem, however, that Paul limited the qualifications to a man’s character? Paul in other places recognized that there would be disagreements among Bible-believing Christians (1 Corinthians). His response was that each should be fully convinced in his own mind.
Paul does not say to Timothy, “An elder must believe exactly as you believe.” Rather, he seems to say, “An elder must live in this manner.”
Congregations who wish to become divisive over issues that are secondary would do well to remember God’s qualifications for an elder. It is no coincidence that one such qualification is “He must not be divisive” (1 Timothy 3:3).