The Ordained Officers of the Church

1 Timothy

The Ordained Officers of the Church

April 18th, 1982 @ 8:15 AM

1 Timothy 3:1-13

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Timothy 3:1-13

4-18-82    8:15 a.m.



Now was that not just about a pretty a thing as you have ever heard?  And thank you, young people, our orchestra and our choir.  And God bless the great throngs of you who have joined this service on radio.  You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Ordained Officers of the Church; the orders of the Christian ministry, the serving official family of the church.  It is one in the series of great doctrines of the Bible.  The series is divided into fifteen sections, and the section through which we are now preaching is ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church, and the message today on The Ordained Officers of the Church.

In first chapter of Philippians, the first verse, Paul writes in Philippians 1:1, "Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and the deacons," the two there named with the saints, the saved at Philippi: the bishops and the deacons.  So this morning, we shall look at this biblical presentation of these ordained officers of the church in two ways:  what they have in common, the two together; and then the unique assignments of each.

First, what they have in common: they have five things in the Bible in common.  Number one: they are leaders in the congregation, in the church.  This is a New Testament fact: the church must have leadership and the Holy Spirit provides that for His congregation.  When you read a harmony of the Gospels, a harmony of the life of Christ, you will find that when the Lord in His public ministry met difficulty, opposition, it was then that He called out the apostles and ordained them, and sent them forth and gave them authority [Matthew 18:18].  The same condition that called forth, in the wisdom of our Lord, the ordination of those apostles is the same condition that mandates a like leadership in the church [Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5].  We live in a world that is secular; it is not Christian.  And as such, the Lord provides an ordained, called out, set apart, consecrated leadership for the church:  the pastor and the deacon [Philippians 1:1].

A second thing they have in common:  their spiritual qualifications are very much alike.  In 1Timothy 3:1-13, we have the qualifications for that God-ordained pastor and that God-ordained deacon.  See in the eighth verse of 1 Timothy 3, after Paul has written the qualifications for a pastor [1 Timothy 3:17], he starts off in verse 8, Hos autos, "In the same way," in the same manner, likewise, "must the deacons be," and then he gives the qualifications for the deacon [1 Timothy 3:8-13]; the same qualifications that obtain for a pastor obtain for the ordained deacon.  I can categorize them in three: first, they have to be known openly as honest and worthy.  They have to have a public image of integrity, both of them; well spoken of by those on the outside, as Paul says it [1 Timothy 3].  Second, they have to be committed to the – what Paul writes here, "the mysteries of the faith" [1 Timothy 3:9].  They have to be consecrated and dedicated to the great truth revealed to us in the mind and life and ministry of Christ [Titus 1:5-9].  And third, they have the domestic qualifications: interdicted to them is polygamy, deuterogamy; they are mandated monogamists.  They follow monogamy; the deacon as well as the pastor is to be the husband of one wife [1 Timothy 3:2, 12].

A third qualification for both of them: they are not to be ordained hastily. Both of them are to be ordained only after trial and testing [1 Timothy 3:6, 10].  In this pastoral epistle of the apostle to Timothy, 1 Timothy 5, verse 22, he writes, "Lay hands, tacheōs," translated here "suddenly":  "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of another man’s sins:  keep thyself pure" [1 Timothy 5:22].  Lay hands tacheōs, hastily, quickly, upon no man.  He is to be tried and tested before he is set aside for his ministry [1 Timothy 3:6, 10].

I began my pastoral work when I was a teenager, and you have to learn.  In the little open country church where I was the undershepherd, we never had any deacons.  And I read here in the Bible where a New Testament church was to have deacons.  So I brought to the little congregation of eighteen members the ordination of deacons.  So we chose three deacons.  And when time came to ordain them, one wasn’t there, he was too drunk to come; the second one wasn’t there, he was too sorry to come; and the third one came, and we ordained him, and in no time at all he fell away.  God says, don’t do that.

Let’s take the pastor.  In the beginning years of my ministry here, we would ordain men to the gospel ministry, and we never heard of them again; we don’t know what became of them.  They wanted to come here to be ordained in order that they could say, "I was ordained by the First Baptist Church in Dallas."  God says don’t do that.   "Lay hands tacheōs, hastily, quickly, on no man."  Then he writes in that verse something for us to consider, "Neither be partaker of other men’s sins" [1 Timothy 5:22].  Well, what has that to do with a hasty ordination of an unworthy man?  God is saying to us that when we do that, what that man does we have done.  If he teaches heresy in error, we are part of it; we ordained him.  If he is unfaithful, we are unfaithful; we ordained him.  If he’s not true to the gospel and he leads others astray, we are not faithful to the gospel.  "Lay hands suddenly on no man; do not be a partaker of other men’s sins."

In reading the life of Augustine, one of the most unusual prayers I ever read, he prayed.  It was this:  "O Lord, forgive me my other men’s sins."  Well, when you read that, you couldn’t help but think, what could he mean, "Lord, forgive me my other men’s sins?"  Then as you read the Scriptures and think, it is apparent:  I am not only guilty of my own sins, but I am guilty of my children’s sins, and I am guilty of my church’s sins, and I am guilty of my neighbor’s sins, and my friends’ sins.  We all are bound up together before the Lord and are judged by the Lord.  How that man does is also a part of my accountability.

A fourth thing that they have in common:  they are both servants of the Lord and of the church, both of them.  Our Lord taught, "Who would be greatest among you?  Let him be the diakonos, the servant of all" [Matthew 23:11].  The apostles, all of them, in 2 Corinthians, are called diakonos, "servants" [2 Corinthians 11:23].  Paul himself, several times in Ephesians and in Colossians, refers to himself as "I, Paulus, the diakonos, the deacon" [Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:25].  The deacon is the servant; his name diakonos, deacon, means "servant."  And the pastor, the apostles are deacons; they are called servants of the Lord and of the church.

A fifth and a last thing that they have in common:  they are given especial rewards from the hand of the Lord.  It says here of the deacon, "They that have used the office of a deacon in a worthy way purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith" [1 Timothy 3:13].  Then there are degrees in heaven.  This isn’t the only passage that refers to that; not everyone is going to be the same in heaven.  There are degrees in heaven, and this reward of a faithful deacon is, in this life, in this church, they have a place, a degree of honor and acceptability and reverence.  But it also refers to the future life in heaven; Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 3, men build upon that foundation of their salvation, sometimes a wonderful building – gold, silver, and precious stones – some of them build "wood, hay, and stubble."  In the great judgment day, every man’s work shall be tried by fire, and if his work abides, he receives a reward; if it is burned up, he has nothing.  He shall be saved "as though by fire," that is, as though he were naked, without anything, without even clothing, running out of a burning house [1 Corinthians 3:11-15].  Don’t ever persuade yourself that heaven is going to be a bland, without degree, without differentiation; it’s going to be vastly different for different people.  So it is with the deacon:  the deacon that is worthy shall have a high and wonderful degree in heaven, a reward.

And so with the pastor: "The elders which are among you," Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:1 and following, "I, who also am an elder, exhort," then he speaks of his pastoral ministry, then of his oversight, then the word, "And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" [1 Peter 5:1-4].  The pastor who is worthy, who does these things that Peter writes in chapter 5, shall receive a crown of glory.  There are five crowns spoken of in the Bible: the victor’s crown [1 Corinthians 9:24-25], the soulwinner’s crown [1 Thessalonians 2:19], the martyr’s crown [Revelation 2:10], the advent crown, those who love His appearing [2 Timothy 4:8], and the pastor’s crown [1 Peter 5:4].  And a faithful pastor shall receive a crown of glory in heaven.  These are the things that the two officers ordained in the church have in common.

Now we’re going to look at their unique assignments; first the pastor, then the deacon.  There are three words in the New Testament that refer to the office of what we call a pastor.  One is presbuteros, the second is episkopos, and the third is poimen.  The three are used interchangeably; they are three different words that refer to the same officer.  For example, in Titus 1:5-6 – now you look at this:  "For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every church" – ordain elders in every church. Now look at verse 7:  "For a bishop must be blameless" [Titus 1:7], and then on and on, the qualifications of a bishop [Titus 1:7-9].  Well, he just got through calling him an elder, then in this verse, he calls him a bishop.  Then in the fifth chapter of Peter, he is called a pastor [1 Peter 5:2], and so in Ephesians [Ephesians 4:11].  The three words refer to the same officer:  a presbuteros, an episkopos, and a poimen.

 Now, those three words have profound meaning.  Number one, presbuteros, the pastor is the presbuteros; your word Presbyterian comes from that, presbuteros.  The pastor is the presbuteros of the church.  Presbuteros means "older," "an older one."  It comes out of the background of Hebrew history, a patriarch; and it came to refer to the reverence, and the respect, and the devotion that the church has for its undershepherd, its presbuteros.  And that is one of the signs of a great church.  I’ve been a presbuteros over half a century.  And I’ll tell you something that I have observed:  wherever there is a church that respects, and reveres, and loves its pastor – it’s a great congregation; may be very small, but it’s a great people.  And the obverse of that is no less true: wherever there is a church that looks upon its pastor as a hireling, a hired hand, it’s a weak and anemic and unblessed congregation.  I could tell any church anywhere in the world, "If you have a pastor that you don’t like, and he’s sorry and no-count, pray for him, intercede for him, ask God to bless him.  And God will answer that prayer, and make him so wonderful a pastor and so glorious a preacher that another church will call him, and take him off of your hands."

For forty-seven years, this church loved and revered Dr. Truett.  When I came here I was forty-three years younger than Dr. Truett, but I inherited the same love and reverence and respect that they accorded Dr. Truett.  This is a great church; it deserves its worldwide fame.  You will rarely hear anyone pray that they don’t pray for the pastor of the church; that pleases God, and God answers prayer.  He’s a presbuteros; he is the respected patriarch of the congregation of the Lord.

He is also the episkopos; he is the bishop of the church.  That word episkopos is a very plain Greek word: Epi means "upon" or "over"; skopos refers to looking.  So the episkopos is the one who oversees; he over-looks the entire congregation.

Now in the Bible – I didn’t invent this – in the Bible, he is constantly referred to as "the ruler" of the church.  For example, in 1 Timothy 3, verse 4, this man who is your episkopos is to be one "that ruleth well his own house; For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he" epimeleomai, translated here "take care of the church of God?"  How’s he going to take charge of it, be responsible for it, if he doesn’t know how to rule? [1 Timothy 3:4-5]. Well, look again in chapter 5 of 1 Timothy, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor" [1 Timothy 5:17].  And when I turn over here to the thirteenth chapter, the last chapter of the Book of Hebrews, three times in that one chapter is the pastor, the bishop, the presbuteros, the elder, referred to as "the ruler of the church."  Now, chapter 13, verse 7, in Hebrews, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God" [Hebrews 13:7], the preacher.  Look again at verse 17, "Obey them that have the rule over you:  for they watch over for your souls as they that must give account to God" [Hebrews 13:17].  And then the last, verse 24, "Salute them that have the rule over you" [Hebrews 13:24].  There is a leader in the church, very definitely set apart by the Lord, by the Spirit of God.  And that bishop, that episkopos in the church, is the ruler over the congregation of the Lord.

Now there’s something else that the Bible says about that bishop, about that presbuteros, about that pastor.  In 1 Timothy 5, verses 17 and 18, Paul writes:


Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.  And, The laborer is worthy of his hire.

[1 Timothy 5:17-18]


Now let’s look at that.  This is beautifully translated, but let’s look at it as Paul wrote it, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of," translated here "double honor" [1 Timothy 5:17], diplēs – twofold, twice – that’s a good translated "double."  Now, timē has two meanings.  The first meaning is "stipend," wages, a price paid for something; its second meaning is "honor and esteem."  Well, which one of those meanings is he referring to here?  The next verse describes it:  "Let that bishop, that elder, that does well, let him be counted worthy of double salary, double stipend.  For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.  And, The laborer is worthy of his reward, misthos, wages" [1 Timothy 5:17-18].  So if the preacher does well according to the Word of God, you’re to double his salary – man, I like that!  Did you hear that? [Yeah, I heard.]  Did you see that?  That’s in the Book!  We have a deacons’ meeting tomorrow night; I tell you, isn’t that something?

And then he says another thing, "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses" [1 Timothy 5:19].  You’re not to criticize the pastor; now, isn’t that something?  How many times do people go home and they have "roast preacher" for dinner?  God says don’t do that.  If you have anything to say about that pastor by any wise that is accusatory or condemnatory, do it before two or three witnesses who will look into it, and look at it.  Ah, the attitude of the church toward its pastor largely makes the church itself.  But I must hasten.

He’s also called "the pastor," which is the word that we use, not episkopos, bishop.  In our congregation – though I’ve been pastor of churches where I was called "elder," not presbuteros, but poimēn – an elder, a shepherd, a pastor.

I think one of the most beautiful sentences I ever heard in my life was said by Dr. Truett.  When Baylor University came up here and asked the pastor of this church to be president of Baylor University, Dr. Truett answered in a sentence that I say is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard.  He told the committee representing the university, when he declined their invitation, he said, "I have sought and found the shepherd’s heart."  That’s great!  That’s great, "I have sought and found the shepherd’s heart."

I’m not interested in being president of a university; I have been asked several times to be president of a university.  I have been asked many times to be an executive in the denomination.  I have never been interested.  When I was a boy, I mean a child, I wanted to be a pastor.  And I think of this word of the apostle Paul, in 1 Timothy 3:1: "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work."

I listen to men all the time who, in their testimony, say they ran away from the call of God to be a preacher, and did so – "surrendered," they call it – only after sometimes trauma, and distress, and sorrow, and heartache.  It was the opposite with me.  When I look at these little kids, I can hardly believe such a thing could have been.  When I was in grammar school, when I was in elementary school, I was studying to be a preacher, to be a pastor.  As far back as memory will take me, I’ve always wanted to be a pastor.

I’d rather be a pastor of this church than to be president of the United States.  I would feel I was stepping down if I resigned this church to be president of the United States, or to be prime minister of the British Empire.  To me, the greatest calling in the world is to be a pastor, to me.  And when I read the Book, I don’t read that there’s a crown given to the British prime minister or the president; I don’t even read that there’s a crown given to the bank president or the head of the corporation.  But I do read there is a crown God has prepared for the fine, dedicated, wonderful pastor [1 Peter 5:4].  I’d rather be a pastor than anything else in the world; I still feel that way after fifty-four years.

Now, we must hastily conclude.  The deacon, the deacon:  there are so many things to be said about the deacon.  I just take one of them: his historical origin.  In the sixth chapter of the Book of Acts, there is the story of the beginning of the office of the deacon.  Acts chapter 6, "And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring" [Acts 6:1]. That’s an "onomatopoetic" word – onomatopoetic.  An onomatopoetic word is one that sounds like what it refers to, like "cuckoo."  Cuckoo; that’s an onomatopoetic word, "cuckoo."  He sounds like he’s saying "cuckoo." 

Mrs. C. loves antiques, and she had an antique cuckoo clock in our house, in the hall.  And we were having the most beautiful wedding out there you ever saw in your life.  And as I stood before that couple, and I turned to him and said, "Will you take this woman to be your lawful and wedded wife?"  That thing cuckooed eight times!  I said to her, "We’re going to take that out of the house!"  Cuckoo, that’s an onomatopoetic word.  "Whippoorwill" is one, "bobwhite," that’s one; the word sounds like where it comes from.  "Buzz" would be one; "hiss" would be one.  Well this is one:  goggusmos, that’s an onomatopoetic word: "There arose a goggusmos, goggusmos, goggusmosgoggusmos-goggusmos," they’re having troubles in the church [Acts 6:1].  And that’s where the deacon comes from:  he’s to see to it that there are no problems and troubles in the church, that things go along beautifully.

The second one there, it says that they are to relieve the apostles – which we’d say "pastors" now – of all of the details that make the church beautiful and happy.  "And they are to be men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint over this business," chreia [Acts 6:2-3].  Twenty-five times is that word translated "needs"; only here is it translated "business."  There are to take care of the needs in the church, and they are to be men full of faith, and of the Holy Spirit, and a wisdom that comes from God – that’s not knowledge.

Well, I tell you, if you have a pastor that you can love and revere and if you have a deacon to hold up his hands, you have an unbeatable team.  God blesses it and the congregation.  When I was a youth, I was in Washington D.C., and I heard James. L. Kraft – cheese man – I heard him say, "I had rather be a layman in the North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago than to head the greatest corporation in America."  I preached in that church and was guest in his home.  I could understand why; the wonderful spirit that God blessed in that great deacon and layman.  Edgar A. Guest wrote:


Leave it to the minister, and soon the church will die,

Leave it to the sewing club, and the young will pass it by.

For the church is all that lifts us from the coarse and selfish mob,

But a church that is to prosper, needs a layman on the job.


Now a layman has his business, and a layman has his joys,

But he also has the rearing of his little girls and boys;

And I wonder how he’d like it if there were no churches here

And he had to rear his children in a godless atmosphere.


When you see a church that’s empty, though its doors are open wide,

It’s not the church that’s dying – it’s the laymen who have died.

For it’s not by song or sermon that the church’s work is done;

It’s the laymen of the country who for God must carry on.

["It’s the Laymen,"  Edgar A. Guest]


That pleases God, for a man, for a woman, to dedicate himself, to dedicate herself to the Lord and to walk in the light of the blessedness of our dear Savior.  When you do that, God does something in the church.  Now may we stand together?

Our Lord, there’s so many wonderful things that God says to us in His inspired and holy Word.  And when we heed the voice of God, how the Spirit of the Lord works with us; in amazing outpouring of grace and power does the Spirit bless us.  And in this moment that we wait before God, a family, a couple, or just one you, coming to the Lord, coming to us, as the Spirit shall press the appeal, make that decision now in your heart; and when we sing, down that stairway, or down this aisle, "Here we come, pastor, we have decided for God, and we’re on the way."  And thank You Lord, for the sweet harvest You give us.  In Thy saving and keeping name, amen.  Welcome, while we sing, while we sing.


Dr. W.
A. Criswell




I.          Bishops and deacons – what they share
in common

A.  Leadership
in the church

1.  A
basic New Testament fact

2.  When
Christ began to meet difficulty and opposition in His public ministry, he
ordained and gave authority to the apostles

B.  Spiritual
qualifications(1 Timothy 3:1-8)

1.  Public
acknowledgement of ethical character

Interdiction of polygamy, deuterogamy – only monogamy

3.  Holding
the mystery of faith in pure conscience

Ordination only after proof of worth(1 Timothy

1.  My
first pastorate, the three deacons we ordained

Preachers come here just to say they were ordained at our church

3.  When
we ordain a deacon or preacher, we are thereby placing a seal of approval upon
what he does

Augustine – "O Lord, forgive me my other men’s sins…"

Servants of the Lord and of the people(Mark
9:35, 10:43-44, 2 Corinthians 6:4, Ephesians 3:7, Colossians 1:23, 25, Matthew


1.  The
deacon(1 Timothy 3:13)

Boldness in the faith

Businessman in Dallas about a deacon in our church – never knew he was even a

"A good degree" – honor in this life, degree of reward in heaven

The idea of rewards in Scripture – what the bema is all about (1 Corinthians 3:11-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew

The pastor(1 Peter 5:2-4)

a. The five crowns


II.         Bishops and deacons – what is unique to

A.  The

Three words used interchangeably to describe him(Titus
1:5, 7)

a. Presbuteros,
"elder" – place of dignity, respect

I inherited from Dr. Truett loving respect and reverence

Any church that looks upon pastor as a hireling is a cheap, weak and unblessed

"How to get rid of your pastor"

Episkopos, "overseer", translated "bishop" – oversees all of the work of
the Lord

Ruler of the church(1 Timothy 3:4, 5:17-18,
Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24)

c. Poimen,
"shepherd" – cares for the souls of the people

Dr. Truett – "I have sought and found the shepherd’s heart…"

There has never been anything that pulled me away from my desire and love of
being a pastor

B.  The

Historical origin (Acts 6:1-6)

Selected to meet needs

The laymen

James L. Kraft – "I had rather be a layman…"

b. Edgar
A. Guest’s "LayPeople"