Summary: By God's design the church is supposed to be lead by elders who are older, spiritually mature men who meet important qualifications. In this sermon, we examine the qualifications for elders from 1 Timothy 3.


A. How many of you have enjoyed the Disney film, “The Lion King?”

1. You remember, then, that Mufasa was the king of the Pride Lands.

2. He had a son named Simba, and an evil brother named Scar.

3. Scar usurped the throne by murdering his brother, and driving Simba, the king’s son and rightful heir, out of the land.

4. Scar gave free reign to the bitter enemies of Mufasa - the hyenas - allowing these scavengers to roam and ravage the countryside - that was their reward for helping Scar kill the king.

5. Scar’s leadership caused death and destruction to creep over the land.

6. Though Scar had the title of king, he didn’t qualify for the position.

7. He used the throne to feed his appetite for power and position rather than to care for his kingdom.

B. Abusive and irresponsible leadership exists in the real world too, not just in the movies.

1. A quick scan of history reveals a whole list of people who were just like Scar, including: Jezebel, Herod, Nero, Hitler, Castro and Hussein, just to mention a few.

2. These were people who had power, but did not have noble character.

3. Instead of caring for the people of their kingdoms, they used their kingdoms and power to serve themselves.

C. Unfortunately, the secular world is not the only place with leadership problems.

1. The body of Christ has had its share too.

2. Insecure and manipulative preachers, elders and other leaders, have ravaged congregations and split churches.

3. Some leaders have trouble controlling their own passions, and so, they can’t lead themselves, much less others.

D. The apostle Paul understood the importance of good leadership.

1. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul instructed Timothy to organize the church with the right positions, and to fill those positions with qualified men.

2. The New Testament pattern for leadership was, and still is, quite simple: it includes evangelists, deacons and elders.

3. There are three words used interchangeably for the role of Elder.

a. There is the word “bishop” which means “overseer”

b. There is the word “elder” which simply means “an older man”

c. And there is the word “pastor” which simply means “shepherd.”

d. From these three terms and other instruction in the NT, we understand that the role of elders is one in which spiritually mature men, filled with wisdom and experience, lead and care for the family of God.

3. As we take a look what 1 Timothy 3:1-7 says about elders, let’s notice three important facts.

a. First, we must understand that this list applies to male candidates for the role of elder.

1. It’s not that women don’t or shouldn’t demonstrate many of the same qualities, but scripture limits the office of elder to men.

2. The verses we studied last week come just before these verses, and as we saw, the verses prohibited a women from teaching or having authority over a man, which would not allow her to be an elder.

3. Also, the references to being the “husband of one wife” (3:2) and a manager of “his own household”(3:4) indicates that Paul has men in mind for the role of elders.

b. Second, we must understand that these qualifications are essential, not optional.

1. Note the imperative, “An overseer…must” have these qualities (v. 2, 4 and 7).

2. This passage presents an overall profile of a leader, not a pool of qualities from which to pick and choose, like a cafeteria line.

3. To qualify to be an elder, an individual must meet all the criteria.

4. Third, the role of elder is a noble task with heavy responsibility.

a. Every man aspiring to the role needs to be sure that such a desire is not an expression of carnal pride or a need for power, but rather a deep dedication to the work of the church.

b. The role of an elder is indeed an honorable position and a noble task, but it is a heavy responsibility because this is God’s church and God holds elders accountable.

5. With all this in mind let’s look at the qualifications for elders.

a. The qualifications fall nicely into four categories.

I. Category 1: The Personal Life of the Man

A. First, an elder must be above reproach.

1. This doesn’t mean he must be perfect, but that he must have no flaw in his conduct that would be grounds for any kind of accusation.

2. The word literally means “nothing to take hold upon.

3. This is a man who has a good reputation among believers.

B. Second, an elder must be the husband of one wife.

1. The text literally reads, “a man of one woman”, or a “one-woman man.”

2. This has been one of the most sticky of the qualifications, because it is an interpretive challenge.

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