Summary: # 10 in series on 1 Timothy this message deals with how we are to honor those who serve in leadership of the local church.
Living for Christ in a Confused and Confusing World
A Study of Paul’s Letters to Timothy
Sermon # 10
The Office of Pastor
In our last study we examined the first part of chapter five (5:1-16). This part of the text looked at the third major topic of the letter, that of church leadership. The first sixteen verses of chapter five dealt with the office of the deacon and now the remainder of the chapter (vv. 17-25) deals with the office of pastor.
Paul has previously talked about the role of the pastor in (3:1-7). You will remember that in our study of that portion of the letter that we noted that the New Testament uses several different words to describe the function of the same office we call, Pastor. Whether referred to as Pastor (poimen-literally meaning Shepherd), Elder (presbuterus- referring to maturity) or Bishop (episkopos – meaning overseer) they are all functions of the same office!
Paul begins this section of the letter by telling the church, “Let the elders (presbuterus) who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”
It is unfortunate that word “rule” is used here to describe the pastor’s work. That word in our world implies that these men are the bosses, that they have to be obeyed, and that they are governors over the congregation. But actually the word (prosestates) means “leads” and it is the common word for leadership. So the verse would read “Let the pastors who lead well be worthy of double honor.”
Paul goes on to say “… especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” Although it little understood by someone who has never had the responsibility to prepare messages, it is hard work if it is done correctly. Sometime this is seen in that church members are sometimes hard pressed for the right thing to say to the pastor after the service have.
One pastor said that the following have been said to him.
•“You always manage to find something to fill up the time.”
•“I don’t care what they say, I like your sermons.”
•“If I’d known you were going to be good today I’d have brought a neighbor.”
•“Did you know there are 243 panes of glass in the windows?”
•“We shouldn’t make you preach so often.”
One of my personal favorites; was when someone told me, “Preacher that wasn’t half bad.”
One who’s responsibility is to break the word of God to his people should come to the pulpit prepared. I love the story that was told that, “One pastor never prepared during the week, and on Sunday morning he’d sit on the platform while the church was singing the hymns desperately praying, “Lord, give your message, Lord give me your message.” One Sunday, while desperately praying for God’s message, he heard the Lord say, “Ralph, here’s my message. You’re lazy!” [www.bible.org/illus/pastoring]
Paul has said in verse seventeen that the one who is worthy of honor is the one who “labors in word and in doctrine.” The word “labor” (kopiao) means to toil or work hard.
Paul having set out the reason why pastors should be honored he now sets out to explain how this honor is to be displayed.
First, we honor them by deeming them worthy of Financial Support (vv. 17-18)
“Let the elders (presbuterus) who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”
I have to admit that I am a bit uncomfortable addressing the part of the verse that says “let pastors (elders) who rule well be counted worthy of double honor.” A pastor who speaks to his congregation about honoring church leaders seems about as tacky as Congress voting themselves a raise.
Be that as it may, Scripture says that the church leader is to be counted worthy of double honor. But what does that mean? As a pastor it might be tempting to interpret this to mean “double pay.” But actually it means “twofold honor” or honor shown in two ways.
First, there is to be an attitude of honor, as in 1 Thess. 5:12-13 where Paul says, “And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, (13) and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake….”
But beyond this attitude of honor, secondly there is to be literally financial support for them as they work. That is those who’s calling is communicating the truth of Scripture are worthy of the church’s financial support. In fact from this Greek word we get our English word “honorarium,” which refers to money given someone to honor them. In support of his claim that pastoral leadership should be paid he quotes from two unden-iable sources. First he appeals to the Old Testament in verse eighteen, “For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages." Paul first quotes Moses from Deuteronomy 25:4. The principle here was that when the farmer brought his oxen onto the threshing floor to separate the wheat from the chaff they were prohibited from muzzling the ox. Instead they were to allow the ox to eat some of the wheat as he works. Although the comparison of pastors to oxen may not be very flattering to us, he is that even the oxen has the right to benefit from his labor, so a leader called to full-time leading and teaching in the church has the tight to the financial support of the church.