Biblical Qualifications for Church Leaders – 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
February 20, 2022

Biblical Qualifications for Church Leaders
1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9


This morning I want to speak on the topic of Biblical Qualifications for Church Leaders. This has been on my mind for some time, and the Annual Church Business meeting after the service pushes its importance to speak about it today rather than sometime in the future. It has been many, many years since I last preached a sermon on this topic. Though the passages I will be covering today, 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9, are listed in the Annual Church Officer Affirmation / Re-affirmation statement and are briefly explained in our Church Constitution, I am aware that few people have taken a close look at them and considered their importance. Those who have gone through our process for becoming an Elder, Deacon or Deaconess here or even just read our policies on them know that we are very serious about our church officers meeting the Biblical qualifications for their respective office. Much of what I will be covering today is presented in detail in those policies.

The first reason then that I want to cover this very important topic is because it has been a long time since I have preached on it. Related to that is my second reason. Our affirmation and yearly reaffirmation of our church officers is based solely on whether the individual meets the Biblical qualifications or not. Yet, over the years, there have been many comments made and occasionally actions taken against some of our church officers because a decision he or she made did not make everyone happy. That shows that there is some ignorance about the Biblical qualifications even among church members. In my own case, the negative comments or votes have been due to either decisions I have made or the interpretation and / or application I have made of a scripture in a sermon or in teaching. Unless my decisions are contrary to the Scriptures and my interpretations and applications are heretical or outside the realm of a historical-grammatical understanding of the Biblical text, then none of those things are relevant to being Biblically qualified to be an Elder.

A third reason for this sermon is that I want to encourage each of you to strive to become qualified to be a church leader. With some exceptions, there is no reason any church member cannot become Biblical qualified to serve in such a role. And frankly, every Christian should be striving for that because the qualifications for Deacon or Deaconess is simply demonstrating godly maturity. How wonderful it would be if every man and woman here did meet these qualifications, for if that was true, then our efforts in the cause of Christ would be exponentially more effective both here and beyond.

The Necessity of Qualified Leaders

I want to stress from the beginning that church leaders must meet the Biblical qualifications for ultimately the only human protection a church has from straying into aberration, heresy and apostasy is such qualified church leaders. A strong doctrinal statement is necessary, but it can easily be either reinterpreted or changed by ungodly men. Accountability both within and without the local church is important, but only those with strong godly character can withstand both the persuasion of a heretic with a charismatic personality or one with an authoritarian bent. Weak men of lesser character will be swayed or yield because it is a lot easier to go along to get along than to stand firm against what is not right before God. Countless churches and even many – most? – denominations have fallen away because of the influence of ungodly leaders.

In addition, every pastor will at some point leave their current ministry because circumstances will remove their ability to handle the demands of ministry or they will simply get promoted to glory. While leaving a body of work is important, the only true legacy a pastor leaves in the church are the godly leaders who will keep the church true to Biblical orthodoxy and on the path of godly living. Whenever the Lord makes it clear that the work He has for me here is done and I need to be replaced, my prayer is that what was said in Judges 2:7 would also apply here. “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the Lord which He had done for Israel.”

Background of 1 Timothy & Titus

In order to understand both the similarities and difference between the instructions Paul gives in 1 Timothy and Titus, it is helpful to have a little background. Both books are written for similar reasons about the same time ~ A.D. 65. Paul has been released from his first Roman imprisonment and is traveling again in ministry. He has sent men whom he has trained to other locations to correct and strengthen the work in those places. Paul sends Timothy to Ephesus and Titus to Crete. Among the issues they will have to address is ensuring that elders in those churches will meet the necessary qualifications.

Paul first visited Ephesus at the end of his second missionary journey ~ A.D. 51 (Acts 18:18-21). He was there only a short time and had gone to the Synagogue to reason with the Jews. Though they asked Paul to stay longer, he was not willing, but he did leave Priscilla & Aquila there. He would return on his third missionary journey and he spent two years teaching there (~ A.D. 53-54 – Acts 18:24-20:1). This was a church with a history of good teachers from its founding, and Paul had written them ~ A.D. 61 while in prison in Rome to strengthen both their position and practice in Christ. When Timothy arrives there about four years later the church was battling some false teachers and his ministry was to strengthen the church by giving them Paul’s instructions concerning those who were teaching false doctrines, the qualifications and practices of church leaders, and dealing with particular issues that had developed. Timothy makes it clear what is expected of those that desired to be church leaders in both terms of qualifications and ministry practices.

Paul first came to Crete on his way to Rome ( ~ A.D. 59) after he had appealed to Caesar in his defense of himself before Festus and King Agrippa (Acts 26). Paul was in Fair Havens in Crete until a “considerable time had passed,” which would have been weeks or a month or so (Acts 27:7-9). Since the Centurion Julius had allowed Paul off the ship at previous ports (Acts 27:3), it is probable that he allowed the same thing at Fair Havens, and Paul being Paul, he would have preached the gospel and started a church there. The additional churches to which Paul is sending Titus on Crete would have been started by others. The churches in Crete did not have the benefit of strong teachers over a long period of time as had the church in Ephesus. Paul instructs Titus to “set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). The churches there were not well established and lacked the needed leadership structure to battle both the false doctrine that was being proclaimed and the lax lifestyle of the Cretans.

These factors account for both the similarities and differences between 1 Timothy & Titus. Titus only gives qualifications for Elders while 1 Timothy includes qualifications for Deacons and Deaconesses. The qualifications for Elders in both letters are almost the same with many qualities described by the same word or a synonym for the same quality and a slight emphasis in each list of what would have been more important in that location.

Before I dig into the specific qualities for each office, I must emphasize that none of these lists are requiring perfection since that is simply an impossibility for humans. It is looking for qualities that exist and characterize the individuals at the present time. Whatever they were in the past, Christ is glorified in the changes that have been made in them the present. Before Paul was saved he was Saul, a persecutor of the church and an accomplice to murder. Christ makes alive those who were spiritually dead in trespasses and sin to make them new creations (Eph. 2:1-10; 2 Cor. 5:17). Jesus redeems sinners and makes them into saints. In addition, just because someone is qualified at the present time does not mean they will stay that way. Paul warned the Ephesian Elders that wolves would arise even from among themselves who would call away disciples after themselves (Acts 20:29-30).

Finally, just because a person stumbles in an area does not mean they are characterized by it. We must remember that our God is a God who delights in restoration. Peter utterly failed when he denied Jesus three times and at least once that included cursing and swearing (Mark 14:66-72). Peter was devastated by his failure, but Jesus restored him to ministry (John 21:15-19). John Mark failed during the first missionary journey and left (Acts 13:13), yet Paul later specifically asks for Mark to be brought along to him because he would be useful to Paul (2 Timothy 4:11). Perhaps part of that was that Paul was no longer as contentious about John Mark as he had been with Barnabas (son of encouragement). It was the “sharp disagreement” between them that caused the division between them at the start of the second missionary journey (Acts 15:37-41). Timothy was apparently timid and had to be encouraged to fulfill his responsibilities in ministry and not succumb to either fear or temptations. My point is simply that all of these qualifications are the character of the individual being considered at the present time.

Qualifications for Elders  : 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9

Let’s look at both passages and then examine each qualification.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 1“It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. 4He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (NASB

Titus 1:6-9 6if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self willed, not quick tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. (NKJV)

I am going to combine these two passages together and divide the particular qualifications into four categories. 1) Desirable personal character traits. 2) Absence of undesirable personal character traits. 3) Social qualifications. 4) Spiritual qualifications. Again, the specifics in each passage apply to the particular situation. Titus is given the minimum requirements for the Elders he would appoint in the less mature churches of Crete. Timothy is given the minimum qualifications that should characterize those that desired to be a church leader in the more mature church in Ephesus. We combine both lists in our requirements for church leaders here at GBC.

The Preliminary Requirement – 1 Timothy 3:1

Without going into the detail, I must point out that an ejpiskopoV / episkopos – translated as an overseer or bishop, presbuvteroV / presbuteros – translated as an elder, and a poimhvn / poimān – translated as a pastor or shepherd, all refer to the same person (an elder) holding the same office (an overseer) and doing the same work (pastoring). The simplest proof of this is that the elders Titus is to appoint are overseers (Titus 1:5, 7), and in 1 Peter 5:1-2, the apostle exhorts the elders to shepherd / pastor the flock of God among them. (See Elders – PluralityElder, Bishop, Pastor Word StudiesElder Duties).

Notice that the first requirement for an overseer in 1 Timothy 3:1 is the aspiration to the office and the desire to do the work. Aspire (ojrevgw / oregō) is to stretch / reach for. It is to strive to attain. Desire (ejpiqumiva / epithumia) is often translated as “lust” and it means to greatly desire. Those who want to become church leaders have to be willing to stretch themselves to attain the qualifications and must desire to do the work of that office.

In verse 2 Paul states that “An overseer must . . .” The verb “must” here (dei: / dei) expresses the “character of necessity or compulsion” whether what is compelled is internal or external. This is the main verb for the passage. It is followed by a series of descriptive nouns, adjectives, participle and infinitive phrases. It is the supplied verb in verse 8 concerning Deacons and verse 11 concerning women neither of which have a verb which is why it appears in italics in most translations. The point is simple. These qualifications are not optional.

Has Six Desirable Personal Qualifications

1. Above Reproach (ajnepivlhmptoV / anepilāmptos) in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Blameless (ajnevgklhtoV / anegklātos) in Titus 1:6-7 are the first characteristics listed. The same word for blameless is used for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:10. Combining the two, Elders and Deacons are to be of such character and conduct that accusations are not made against them, and if accusations are made, they are found to be false after fair investigation. Note carefully here that this is not a requirement of perfection. Also, church leaders can expect to be falsely accused (Matthew 5:11) which is why 1 Timothy 5:9 states, “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses

2. Temperate or Vigilant, nhfavlioV / nāphaloios, in 1 Timothy 3:2 is next on our list. Its literal meaning is “holding no wine,” so it is a description of a character that is sober, restrained and orderly. He is not self-indulgent. He remains stable & steadfast with clear & focused thinking. The same word is used in 1 Timothy 3:11 for the women who serve, and in Titus 2:2 as a quality that should exist in older men.

3. Self-controlled or disciplined, ejgkrathvV / egkratās, in Titus 1:8 is next. This is someone who has the ability to rule over himself. It is a quality that good athletes have if they are going to compete well in the games (1 Cor. 9:25).

4. Prudent, Sensible, swvfrwn / sōphrōn in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8 is to be wise, discerning, mature and sensible in behavior having a sound mind and judgment with self-control. It is a quality that both older men are to have (Titus 2:2) and that older women are to teach to younger women (Titus 2:5).

5. Respectable, kovsmioV / kosmios, in 1 Timothy 3:2 refers to an orderly, well mannered life-style that adorns the teachings of the Bible. The NKJV translates it as “of good behavior.” The same word is used in 1 Timothy 2:9 to describe the modest and discreet clothing a godly woman will wear.

6. Gentle, ejpieikhvV / epieikās, in 1 Timothy 3:3 is the last in this list. It is related to being gracious and forbearing (Titus 3:2). It another quality that is to be developed in every Christian (Phil. 4:5) and is a mark of maturity being one of the qualities of wisdom from above in James 3:17.

Does not have Six Undesirable Personal Characteristics

These are stated from the negative to both reinforce the opposite and make clear the six characteristics that would disqualify someone.

1. Not Given to Wine, mh; pavroinon / mā paraoinon, in 1 Timothy 3:3 & Titus 1:7 is the first in this list. Its literally meaning is “not beside wine” and refers to someone that does not sit long at his wine, is not given to wine. To state it in a broader way, he has no proclivity to alcoholic drinks. Many churches change this to abstention from alcoholic drinks, and while there are many good reasons to abstain from alcohol and that is my own practice, this is not a requirement for total abstention. It is a description of what characterizes the man, and this is a man that has little to no association with wine / alcohol.

It should be noted from 1 Timothy 1:8 that there is a similar requirement of Deacons who are not to be addicted to much wine (mh; oi[nw/ tollw/: prosevxontaV / mā oinō toll prosexontas). The English word “addicted” used here now carries the wrong connotation. The Greek word means “holds onto,” “attends,” “devoted.” A deacon can have a greater association with wine than an elder, but he is not someone who will allow himself to slip into “much wine.” A deacon will heed both the commands not to get drunk (Eph. 5:18), and the warnings in many Proverbs about the dangers of wine and strong drink (Proverbs 20:1; 21:17; 23:29-35; 31:4-5).

2. Not Pugnacious / violent, mh; plhvkthn / mā plāktān in 1 Tim. 3:3 & Titus 1:7 is next. An elder is not someone that is physically or verbally abusive. He is not a striker, or quarrelsome. He is not a bully.

3. Not in Love with Money, mh; ajfilavrguroV / mā aphilarguros in 1 Timothy 3:3 and Not Fond of Sordid Gain, mh; aijscrokerdh / mā aischrokerd , in Titus 1:7 and 1 Timothy 1:7 are near synonyms with both addressing the attitude of elders and deacons toward money. He neither has a love / friendship with money nor is pre-occupied / greedy in amassing material possessions. This is a quality that all Christians are to develop since this same term is used in the general exhortation in Hebrews 13:5 to have a “character free from the love of money, being content with what you have.” The importance of this is seen in Paul’s warning in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

4. Uncontentious / Not quarrelsome, a[macoV / amachos in 1 Timothy 3:3 is next. The NASB 95 version translates this as peaceable, but the word here is the negative of quarreling and being contentious. Peace is more than an absence of conflict for it includes elements of tranquility and harmony. The point of this qualification is not to remove all conflict and proper argument for those can be handled sensibly with self-control, temperance, respect and gentleness. It is to disqualify someone that is quarrelsome and combative when there is a conflict of ideas and opinions. According to the usage of this same term in Titus 3:1-2, being uncontentious is another characteristic that all Christians should strive to develop.

5. Not Quick Tempered, mh; ojrgivlon / mā orgilon, in Titus 1:7 is related. Those who are easily given to anger, short fused, unable to control their temper, are usually also those who are contentious and combative. Proverbs 29:22 explains, “An angry man stirs up strife, And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression, “ while Proverbs 22:24–25 warns, 24 “Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, 25 Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself.” A quick tempered man is the opposite of the model of maturity that should exist in a church leader and so is not qualified to be one.

6. Not Self-willed, mh; aujqavdh / mā authadā , in Titus 1:7 is the last of the undesirable personal traits that would disqualify a man as an elder. An elder cannot be someone that is arrogant as a result of self-will and stubbornness or demanding to have his own way. That is a characteristic listed in 2 Peter 2:10 of the unrighteous who are kept under the Lord’s punishment for the day of judgment. An elder should not be stubborn or insensitive to other people and their ideas. A mature man is humble and desires to learn while at the same time knows how to gently correct those who are in error (2 Tim. 4:24-26).

Has Four Social Qualifications

These four social qualifications demonstrate both the man’s character and how it demonstrates itself in normal social situations since these give insight into how he would fulfill similar responsibilities as a leader in Christ’s church.

1. Husband of One Wife, mia:V gunaiko;V a[ndra / mias gunaikos andra, occurs in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 in regards to elders and 1 Timothy 3:12 in regards to deacons. There has been a lot of spilt ink on this qualification especially in relationship to whether a man who is divorced can be a church leader. I have complied a paper on that issue myself (See: Divorce & Church Leaders). I am going to reduce this to the most salient points of my study of this issue. First, a literal wooden translation helps to understand the character quality being described – “a one woman man.” Second, Paul is not excluding single men, otherwise he excludes himself, Timothy and Titus, and it is the one who is of higher spiritual qualifications that appoints those of lower spiritual qualifications. Jesus appointed the apostles (John 15:16). The apostles appointed those who would serve (Acts 6). Paul appointed his ambassadors (Acts 16). Titus appointed elders. Third, as already pointed out, the qualifications are about present character not past sins forgiven and cleansed by Christ. Fourth, this quality applies regardless of marital condition. He is devoted to only one woman. If married, it is his wife. He does not have a roving eye. If single, he dates / courts only one woman at a time. Making this the equivalent of “not divorced” as it is in many churches is contrary to the text and makes it a marital status issue instead of a character issue.

2. There are three statements made regarding an elder’s or deacon’s household and family. 1 Timothy 3:4 applies to elders, “His own household well managing, children being under subordination, with all dignity,” while 1 Timothy 3:12 applies to deacons, as “children well managing and his own household.” Both emphasize the character quality of being good managers (kalw:V proi>stavmenon / kalōs proistamenon), of their own households with the children as a specific example. The term for managing here refers to being over, superintending, ruling over as well as protecting, guarding and giving aid. The household includes all under his authority with how he deals with his children being a prime example of his character and abilities. Paul adds in 1 Timothy 3:5 that his management of his household will reflect how he will take care of the church.

Titus 1:6 deals with the same issue of character but is more focused on the result of his management as expressed in the behavior of his children, “having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.” I used the NKJV here because I find it more accurate in translating pistav / pista as faithful instead of as “believe” in the NASB & ESV for three reasons. First, that is the common meaning of the word as seen in it being translated that way in verse 9 – “the faithful word.” Second, the contrast being made is with the behavior of children who can be accused of dissipation or rebellion and not unbelieving children. Third, the issue is one of the character of the man to be appointed elder and not whether his children are saved or not. A godly parent seeks to do all they can to influence their children to turn from sin and place their faith in Christ, but ultimately salvation is in God’s hands, not that of the parents.

I must also point out as I did in regards to him being a “one woman man,” the man is being examined for character qualities, not marital status. In the same manner, if he is not married or does not have children, you examine how he manages his household or anything else he may manage. Those that think these qualifications are about status instead of character end up with some dilemmas. First, not only is there the problem of Paul, Timothy and Titus not being qualified to fulfill the offices to which they are appointing others, but since these are all present participles, the elder or deacon is not qualified until they have at least two children since it is plural, and they become disqualified when they have less than two children in their home whom they are managing.

Elders and deacons are to make provision for those over whom they have responsibility and lead them righteously. They are to keep their families in order though application of Biblical principles. Their children, if they have them, are faithful to his leadership and not accused of debauchery or rebellion

3. Hospitable, filovxenon / philoxenon, in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8 is next. The word means a “lover of strangers.” It means he is friendly and gracious with an attitude of sharing the blessings God has given him with others. This attitude is often expressed in practical terms by hosting people in their home if possible or sharing meals. This is another characteristic that all Christians should develop since 1 Peter 4:9 gives the general command to all believers, “be hospitable to one another without complaint.”

4. Good Reputation with those Outside, marturvan kalh;n / marturian kalān, in 1 Timothy 3:7 is added with an emphasis since this is a full sentence with its own verb. “And he must have a good reputation with those outside [the church], so that he will not fall into reproach or the snare of the devil.” An elder must have a good testimony of integrity and witness among the unsaved. A chameleon who acts one way in the church and another way with unbelievers will bring insult upon himself when the hypocrisy is discovered, and such hypocrisy makes them vulnerable to Satan’s traps to cause even more damage. We are all to strive to have as good testimony with everyone.

Has Five Spiritual Qualifications

1. A Lover of What Is Good, filavgaqoV / philagothos, in Titus 1:8 is self explanatory. Church leaders should be marked by having a strong affection for what is morally good in every area of life.

2. Not a New Convert / Not a Novice, mh; neovfuton / mā neothuton, in 1 Timothy 3:6. An elder must have been a believer long enough to demonstrate maturity in his lifestyle, and the warning given is serious, “so he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation of incurred by the devil” which is a reference to pride. Any position of authority comes with the danger of it inducing pride. That is bad enough in the secular world, but it devastating in the church for it corrupts and destroys the ministry of that individual and harms those around him and the church.

There is a corresponding qualification for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:10. “These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.”

3. Just, divkaioV / dikaios, in Titus 1:8 is also self explanatory. Since elders are responsible in making policy, guiding others in walking with the Lord and helping to resolve conflict, they must be fair-minded, impartial, and objective without any favoritism. They must be able to make objective judgments based on principle, not prejudice.

4. Devout / Holy, o{sioV / osios, in Titus 1:8 refers to living a life of personal holiness, separated from sin and unto God. He must have a mind committed to God if he is going to be able to fulfill his responsibilities.

5. The final qualification is one related to being spiritually gifted to be able to carry out the responsibilities of his office. 1 Timothy 3:2 puts this simply as Able to Teach, didaktikovV / didaktikos. This is the ability to communicate scriptural truth so that others can understand and make application. This requires maturity because you cannot do this if have not first learned the Bible and then developed the ability to teach it to others. Since the danger of false teachers was even higher in Crete, Titus 1:9 expresses this as “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” Again, this is not something you can do unless you are already mature. An elder must be stable in his faith and obeying the Word of God in all respects. He must also be knowledgeable and wise enough to both accurately teach the Scriptures by encourage others to live according to them and correcting those who oppose sound teaching.

One note of caution I want to add here. Too often ordination councils focus on just this last qualification. A bishop / elder / pastor must meet all of these qualifications. A young pastor will develop his abilities to teach God’s word, and he will also continue to mature in character, but if these basic qualities are not already present, he will be in danger of both failing himself and harming the church.

(Other Scriptures concerning Elders: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; 1 Timothy 5:1, 17-19, 22; Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Peter 5:1-5)


I want to briefly mention the qualifications for Deacons and Deaconesses before I end. They are much shorter.

Qualifications for Deacons – 1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12-13

First, the word for deacon, diakonoV / diakonos, simply means “table waiter.” Deacons are servants, and they assist the elders by doing whatever ministry is needed in the church as a whole and to people individually according to their own spiritual giftedness. (See Deacon Qualifications & Word Study).

The qualifications for deacons are very similar to those of an elder. I have already pointed out that deacons are not to be addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain (vs. 8), are to be tested and be beyond reproach (vs. 10), be a “one woman man” and good managers of their children and own households (vs. 12). They do not have to be able to teach, but they are to “hold to the mystery of faith with a clear conscience.” So while they may not be able to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict, they are to know what they believe and hold fast to it.

While elders are to specifically be temperate, prudent and respectable, deacons are told to be dignified, semnovV / semnos, in 1 Timothy 3:8. Deacons are to be serious minded, steady, solid individuals who behave in an honorable manner. And while elders are to be just and devout, deacons are not to be double tongued, m;h dilovgouV/ mā dilogous, in 1 Timothy 3:8. A deacon does not say one thing to one person and something else to another. Deacons are to be consistent and righteous in what they say and not malicious gossips.

The only real significance difference then between elders and deacons is the ability to teach and deacons can have more wine. Being a deacon is a good training ground for becoming an elder.

Qualifications for Deaconesses – 1 Timothy 3:11

Deaconess is simply the feminine form of the word for deacon. They are to be godly women who are servants of the church that assist the Elders as directed. They must meet certain general qualifications of being a godly woman such as demonstrating the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23; being modest, discreet and humble in 1 Timothy 2:9-15; reverent in behavior, sensible, pure, kind, not enslaved to much wine nor malicious gossips, subject to their own husbands and having the correct priorities at home in Titus 2:3-5; and being chaste, respectful with a gentle and quiet spirit in 1 Peter 3:1-6. In addition, 1 Timothy 3:11 list four specific character qualifications for women that they must “likewise” have as do the deacons in verse 8. (I take the context here to refer to women who are servants and not restricted to the wife of a deacon since it is sandwiched in between the two sections dealing with deacons, there is no reference to an “elder’s wife,” and Paul could have easily stated “wife of a deacon” if he meant that instead of using just the generic word for women.  See: Deaconess Qualifications).

A deaconess is to be dignified, semnovV / semnos, same qualification as for a deacon (1 Timothy 3:8). She is to be a serious minded, steady and solid individual who behaves in an honorable manner.

She is to be temperate, nhfavlioV / nāphaloios, the same requirement as an elder in 1 Timothy 3:2. She is sober in judgment, self-controlled, stable and steady in her thinking. She is not given to anger, or outbursts nor is she “flighty,” “scatter-brained,” or addicted to anything that would make her so.

She is not a malicious gossip, mh; diabovlouV / mā diabolous. She controls her tongue and does not slander or falsely or ignorantly accuse other people. diabovloV / diabolos is usually translated “devil” and is a name given to Satan because he is a slanderer.

She is faithful in all things, pista;V ejn pa:sin / pistas en pasin. She is faithful in her commitment and walk with the Lord and can be trusted to do whatever she says she will do.


Most of the qualifications for being a church leader are in essence the character qualities that should be seen in any mature Christian. A few qualifications are related to an individual’s spiritual giftedness, but even those abilities that can be learned from those that have those gifts. If you do not yet meet the qualifications for a deacon or deaconess, then continue to strive to mature in your walk with Christ, and you will. Identifying the areas of currently deficiency lets you know what areas to work on in your life.

Sermon Notes – 2/20/2022
Biblical Qualifications for Church Leaders – 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9


Qualifications for being in a church leadership are determined by the ___________and personal preferences

Every Christian should _____to meet the qualifications for a Deacon or Deaconess since they mark maturity

The Necessity of Qualified Leaders

Biblically qualified leaders are the only human __________a church has from aberration, heresy & apostasy

Every pastor is eventually replaced, his legacy is in the _________leadership he leaves behind

Background of 1 Timothy & Titus

Both books written for similar reasons ~ A.D. 65 to correct & strengthen a church / churches

The Ephesian church was founded ~ A.D. 51 and had a long history of good teachers & was mostly ________

The churches on Crete were younger and without good teachers & had a lot of ____________

Timothy gives qualifications for those that _______to be Elders while Titus personally ___________Elders

Neither list of qualifications requires perfection – God continues to bring people to ever greater maturity

Stumbling in something does not mean being characterized by it – God delights in ____________

Qualifications for Elders : 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9

The Preliminary Requirement – 1 Timothy 3:1

Bishop / Overseer ( ejpiskopoV / episkopos); Elder (presbuvteroV / presbuteros); Shepherd / Pastor (poimhvn / poimān) refer to the same person (elder) holding the same office (bishop) doing the same work (pastor)

A man must ________- to stretch / reach – for the office of an overseer with a strong _______to do the work

The verb “must” (dei: : / dei) in 1 Timothy 3:2 applies to the ___of the passage – for deacons & deaconess too

Has Six Desirable Personal Qualifications

  1. Above Reproach (1 Tim. 3:2) and Blameless (Titus 1:6-7 & for deacons – 1 Tim. 3:10)

Cannot be accused, and if accused will be found blameless in a _____investigation

  1. Temperate / Vigilant, nhfavlioV / nāphaloios, (1 Tim. 3:2) – “holding no wine” – sober, ___________
  2. Self-controlled / disciplined, ejgkrathvV / egkratās, (Titus 1:8) – ability to rule over ___________
  3. Prudent / Sensible, swvfrwn / sōphrōn (1 Tim. 3:2 & Titus 1:8) – ____, discerning, mature, sound mind
  4. Respectable, kovsmioV / kosmios, (1 Tim. 3:2) – ordered, well ___________life
  5. Gentle, ejpieikhvV  / epieikās, (1 Tim. 3:3) – related to being gracious & forbearing – a mark of _________

Does not have Six Undesirable Personal Characteristics

  1. Not Given to Wine, mh; pavroinon / mā paraoinon, (1 Tim. 3:3 & Titus 1:7) – “not _________wine”

Deacons (1 Tim. 3:8) – Not addicted / attending to much wine. Deacons can have more wine than Elders

  1. Not Pugnacious / violent, mh; plhvkthn / mā plāktān (1 Tim. 3:3 & Titus 1:7) – not a striker, not a _____
  2. Not in Love with Money (1 Tim. 3:3), Not Fond of Sordid Gain (Titus 1:7 & deacons – 1 Tim. 1:7)

Hebrews 13:5 – a character free from the love of money and being _________with what you have.

  1. Uncontentious / Not quarrelsome,  a[macoV / amachos (1 Tim. 3:3) – not __________in conflict of ideas
  2. Not Quick Tempered,  mh; ojrgivlon / mā orgilon (Titus 1:7) – not short fused, unable to control ________
  3. Not Self-willed, mh; aujqavdh / mā authadā (Titus 1:7) – __________, demands own way

Has Four Social Qualifications

  1. Husband of One Wife (1 Tim. 3:2 & Titus 1:6) also deacons (1 Tim. 3:12) – “____________________”

A character quality of the present that applies regardless of __________status

  1. Managing well household & children (1 Tim. 3:4) & deacons (1 Tim. 3:12). – rule, protect, aid

Titus 1:6 – faithful children ____________with children accused of dissipation or rebellion

Neither marriage or children required – otherwise disqualified if not at least _______children under his rule

  1. Hospitable, filovxenon / philoxenon (1 Tim. 3:2 & Titus 1:8) – love for __________, freely shares
  2. Good Reputation with those Outside (1 Tim. 3:7) – good witness & integrity among ____________

Has Five Spiritual Qualifications

  1. A Lover of What Is Good, filavgaqoV / philagothos (Titus 1:8) – strong affection for _______goodness
  2. Not a New Convert / Novice (1 Tim. 3:6) – Deacons must be tested (1 Tim. 3:10) – maturity takes ____
  3. Just, divkaioV / dikaios (Titus 1:8) – fair-minded, impartial and ____________without any favoritism
  4. Devout / Holy, o{sioV / osios (Titus 1:8) – personal life marked by being ___________from sin unto God
  5. Able to Teach (1 Tim 3:2), Hold fast faithful word, ______in sound doctrine, refute those who contradict (Titus 1:9) – can communicate Scriptural truth so others can understand and apply.

Qualifications for Deacons – 1 Tim. 3:8-10, 12-13. (Note above underlined deacons)

A Deacon, diakonoV / diakonos (table waiter) is a _______assisting the Elders serving the church & people

Dignified, semnovV / semnos (1 Tim. 3:8) – _____________________, steady, behave in an honorable manner

Not to be double tongued,  m;h dilovgouV / mā dilogous (1 Tim. 3:8) – _____________& righteous in speech

Only significance difference between Elder & Deacon: Elder’s ability to _____; Deacon can have more wine

Qualifications for Deaconesses – 1 Timothy 3:11

A deaconess ___________the Elders & Deacons as directed ministering to the church & congregation

General qualifications of a ______woman -Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Timothy 2:9-15; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-6.

1 Timothy 1:11 – a woman servant is dignified & temperate as noted above.

Not a malicious gossip,  mh; diabovlouV / mā diabolous – does not __________or falsely / ignorantly accuse

Faithful in all things, pista;V ejn pa:sin / pistas en pasin – she _________________/ commitments

KIDS KORNER – Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – 1) Count how many times the word “qualified” or “qualification” is used. 2) Talk with your parents about the importance of church leaders meeting God’s requirements.

THINK ABOUT IT! – Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why is it important to have Biblically qualified church leaders? Explain the background of 1 Timothy & Titus. Are the qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 absolute statements of descriptions of character? Explain your answer? Why is the aspiration to be an overseer and strong desire to do its work preliminary to all other requirements? Define / describe each of the qualifications listed. Evaluate yourself on how well you meet each quality listed. Have a friend evaluate you on each quality listed. Compare the evaluations. What areas do you need to work on to become qualified? Develop a plan to work on those areas and share it with a friend to hold you accountable and encourage you? Why is it important for every Christian to meet the qualifications for a deacon / deaconess?

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