Leadership of the Local Church: Philosophy of Elders and Deacons

The structure of the local church leadership must be a biblical structure. What do I mean by biblical? Essentially, church leadership is patterned after the examples and explanations within Scripture. The closer the structure of biblical patterns the more biblical the implementation. In other words, when the structure of church leadership looks like the pattern set forth in Scripture, then the structure of church leadership is biblical.

So what pattern of biblical church leadership do we see?

Elders

1) Plurality of Elders (aka. Pastors, Overseers, Presbyters, Elders – these titles are interchangeable)

Note, for example, (“appoint elders”), followed by v. 7 (“for a bishop must be blameless”). The very fact that the sentence in v. 7 begins with a “for” shows a connection: bishops are elders. Otherwise, why would Paul mention the qualifications of a group that were not whom Titus should appoint? In Paul calls the “elders of the church” of Ephesus together for a final meeting. Then, in v. 28 he addresses them as “overseers” (or bishops). Thus, any passage that deals with bishop is equally applicable to elders.

2) The leadership of the church from the earliest period always had elders, even if it did not have deacons. Young churches only had elders; more mature churches had both elders and deacons.

But the consistent Biblical pattern in the New Testament was for a plurality of elders. Note the following passages where either elder or bishop is used:

–elders at the church of Antioch

–Paul and Barnabas appoint “elders in every church”

–elders at the church in Jerusalem

–elders/bishops at the church of Ephesus

–elders at the church in Jerusalem

–the church at Philippi has bishops and deacons

–elders at the church of Ephesus

–Titus is to appoint elders in every town

Jas 5:14–“the elders of the church”

–“the elders among you”

And if there is any question as to what the role of these elders are, consider the book of Hebrews:

Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.

Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Elders are a team of men who are set apart by God to shepherd the church, the Bible refers to these men as bishops or overseers or elders (terms used interchangeably). They have biblical qualifications as outlined in 1Tim3v1-7 and v6-9. Functionally, I like to break down what they do by the 4 D’s:

Doctrine – Elders govern, teach & guard the doctrine that the church holds to.

Direction – Elders seek to shepherd the church in the direction that God is leading them.

Discipline – Elders seek to ‘discipline in love’ wayward church members to win them back to repentance and restoration.

Display – Elders seek to display a Christ-like character worthy to be copied.

A biblical church must have a biblical pattern of leadership- multiplicity of Elders. This also means, when a church plant is established, there must be a plurality of Elders/Pastors (meaning at least two). We can infer that a team of Elders are establishing the church plant- not a single Pastor. We can further infer a Lead Pastor with Support/Assistant Pastors. The point is there must be a plurality of Elders.

What are the qualifications of the Elders?

1) Blameless – A general requirement followed by specific areas in which the Overseer must be blameless. To be blameless is to be irreproachable. No one should be able to lay a charge against an Elder and make it stick.

John Calvin explains an Elder “must not be marked by any infamy that would lessen his authority. There will be no one found among men that is free from every vice; but it is one thing to be blemished with ordinary vices, which do not hurt the reputation, because they are found in men of the highest excellence, and another thing to have a disgraceful name, or to be stained with any baseness. In order, therefore, that a bishop may not be without authority, he enjoins that there shall be made a selection of one who has a good and honorable reputation, and not chargeable with any remarkable vice. Besides, he does not merely lay down a rule for Timothy what sort of person he must select, but likewise reminds every one of those who aspire to that rank, to institute a careful examination of himself and of his life.”

2) The Husband of One Wife – Better understood as a “one woman man” It is not a requirement for Elders to be married but men who are married to be married to one wife. This is an express prohibition of polygamy for an Overseer/Elder.

I believe Paul has in mind. The language establishes the issue of “one woman man”. Paul confirms the Old Testament teaching that God’s command from the time of creation is a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and the two shall become one flesh. The Elder must be blameless with respect to the law of God concerning marriage.

3) Vigilant – Sober, not drunk, clearheaded, self-controlled, frugal, prudent, reasonable.

An Elder must be on guard and alert, just as a shepherd must always be watching for wolves and anything else that might endanger the flock. An Elder who is not vigilant in his private and public life will not be watchful over and care for the people of God.

4) Prudent – Thoughtful and self-controlled. The greek word refers to wisdom, good sense, a sound mind, and good jugdement.

5) Respectable

6) Hospitable – The meaning of the word means “One who loves to be a host” – whether for friends or strangers. It’s all inclusive. He loves to be a host regardless of who he is hosting.

7) Skillful in Teaching

8) Not given to much wine

9) Not a violent man – Does not strike, wound or cause harm due to a blow.

10) Not fond of shameful gain – Shameful gain is anything that a man gets by dishonest means, or which itself is shameful or wicked.

11) Gentle

12) Not Quarrelsome – Not given to quarrels, disputes, or strife, uncontentious, not a brawler.

13) Not loving money

14) Ruling his own house well

15) Not newly converted

16) A good testimony to those outside (the church)

Deacons

What are the qualifications for Deacons?

1) Reverent – The qualifications for Deacons follow on the heals of the qualifications for Elders. Grammatically of depend upon . “Reverent” is the first of five qualifications in the first sentence, which covers 8 & 9.

2) Not double-tongued – Also known as talking out of both sides of your mouth. He must not say one thing but mean something else. He must not say one thing to one person and the opposite to another person.

3) Not given to much wine – Paul uses the same word here as he wrote to Timothy saying, “to devote oneself to reading, exhortation, and teaching in . Deacons are not to devote themselves to wine as they would to the important things mentioned previously.

4) Not fond of shameful gain

5) Holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience – Deacons like Elders must be instructed in right doctrine, should know the Scriptures well, live according to them, and be able to use them kindly in all situations that occur in daily life.

6) First be tested – Both Deacons and Elders must be tested prior to taking office in the church. This testing can take many forms but it must not be done in haste. The office of Deacon must NOT be looked upon as the bottom of the church leadership ladder, as it were. A Deacon is NOT a “Junior Elder”. It is not wise to put a man in the office of Deacon to “try him out” and see if he does well. And if he does well, let him continue in that office or move on to Elder.

7) Blameless – Different word than , but meaning is identical.

Differences between Elder and Deacon

In essence, the qualifications for both Elder and Deacons are virtually the same- even described with different words, but the meaning is the same. The significant difference is Elder is skilled at teaching. The deacon is the servant of the Elders and by extension the servant of the congregation at large. The deacons are given charge for specific duties to spread the burdens of the Elders and make the burdens light.

provides us with good detail as to the nature of the office of Deacon.

“It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Deacons are appointed to serve. They are to lead by serving. They are the ones which exude servant leadership most. To put it in common language, they are the table waiters of the church. This is not derogatory or demeaning. This is glorious and wonderful- to exude Christ-likeness in serving others.

Who should be a Deacon? Look for those who are faithfully serving others above and beyond the rest. The test prior to taking the office of Deacon? Are they serving?

An important note to make here. The “Deacon Board” is not a competing board of power versus the “Elder/Pastor Board” – It is the Elders who oversee the Deacons- giving them direction. The Deacons then make their decisions based within and upon the direction the Elders have given them.

This brings us to my question of “Trustees” – Trustees, as related to legal issues, should be the Elders, not the Deacons. Why?

Elders rule over the congregation in general and Deacons more specifically. The Deacons do not have ruling power, other than to serve and appoint others to help serve in the “table waiter” functions of the church- today we would classify this as grounds, building, fellowships, meals, finances, etc… But at the same time there are Elders over these areas to give direction for the overall implementation of the tasks.

This means Elders must be Trustees. Because those outside the church (i.e. government with legal requirements) see the Trustees as the leaders of the church. The Elders are those who are the leaders and rulers of the church and must be recognized as such outside the church.

In typical form, there is the pastor, the deacons, and the trustees. The trustees really should be called “deacons” and the deacons “elders” in such a model and trained to be so accordingly. If a deacon functions as an Elder/Pastor, then they should be called as such.

To reiterate the bottom line, when government interacts with the “Trustees,” they should be interacting with the Elders since the Elders are truly the leaders and rulers of the church.

I have not addressed every issue nor every word or verse regarding the roles of Elders and Deacons. That is beyond the scope of this note. You may find “holes” in this note, but it may be my intention not to address that point at this time. I have written this quickly and wanted to present the case for the conclusion that I see naturally flowing from Scripture.

With that in mind, comments welcome!

Further thoughts – responses to people’s questions.

from what I see in Scripture, the Elders are the leadership and the Deacons are, as you say, leaders of teams/committees. I would not classify them as a “board” since there is nothing for them to discuss. In we see that the Deacons were appointed to specific tasks- at that time it was to help provide food and possibly other things to the widows.

I would see this in practical application today in the following ways:

An Elder would be Overseer of various ministries of the church- grounds and technology for instance. I see the Elders appointing Deacons to a specific task- a Deacon of Grounds, a Deacon of Technology..

The congregation would then affirm who the Elders have appointed.

I see the Elders appointing people and the congregation affirming the appointments (this is also key). The Deacons would then set up teams to fulfill the duties (with approval of the Elders).

An aside, if the congregation can not trust the appointment (or anything) the Elders have made, then maybe the congregation should replace those Elders with Elders they trust. Hence, the appointment / affirmation helps keep the Elders accountable (hence Steve Camp’s article on keeping Pastor’s accountable is key).

Further, I see Deacons as “team leaders” who specialize in their particular area. You want a Deacon who knows technology to be the Deacon of technology. You want someone who knows something about grounds keeping to be the Deacon of Grounds. And so on….

The Elders, then can Oversee things give direction to the Deacons. The Deacons do not need to meet as a board b/c their duties do not intersect for the most part-

Maybe they can meet to discuss how they implement their duties- but that would be once a year at most? That’s up to the Elders on how they want to implement that.

The point is to free up as much time for the Elders to devote to prayer, teaching and the Word. This does not mean they have no more administrative duties. They must administrate, but the actual carrying out of the duties are done by the Deacons. Further the Elders would listen to the Deacons and what they suggest as the means to carry out duties (budget, tools, etc..) but the Elders would appoint budgets and significant expenditures with congregational approval and give direction to the Deacons.

The Presbyterian form of gov’t is a good guide, really- even for non-Presbyterian churches. A church (with the structure I’ve outlined) plants a church with a Lead Pastor (Evangelist) and the other Elders of the Parent church help fulfill the plurality of Elders for the church plant.

I would further say, once the church plant becomes its own identity (officially becomes a church), that church should have a plurality of Elders inherently.


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This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— (ESV)


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On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. (ESV)


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30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. (ESV)


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23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. (ESV)


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And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.

Acts 15:4 (Listen)

When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them.

Acts 15:6 (Listen)

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.

Acts 15:22 (Listen)

22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers,

Acts 15:23 (Listen)

23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings.

Acts 16:4 (Listen

And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.

Acts 15:4 (Listen)

When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them.

Acts 15:6 (Listen)

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.

Acts 15:22 (Listen)

22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brothers,

Acts 15:23 (Listen)

23 with the following letter: “The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings.

Acts 16:4 (Listen)

As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. (ESV)


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17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.

Acts 20:28 (Listen

17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.

Acts 20:28 (Listen)

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (ESV)


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18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. (ESV)


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1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: (ESV)


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17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. (ESV)


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This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— (ESV)


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5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; (ESV)


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Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. (ESV)


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17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (ESV)


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1:1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

To Titus, my true child in a common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. 12 One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (ESV)


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Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (ESV)


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2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (ESV)


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And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (ESV)


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3:1 The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11 Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13 For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory. (ESV)


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Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (ESV)


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13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. (ESV)


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through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, (ESV)


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6:1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (ESV)


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6:1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10 But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, 13 and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.” 15 And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (ESV)

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