Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Qualifications of Elders

Below, I highlight an issue with the Biblical qualifications of elders, which never really resonated with me until I saw the lists from 1 Timothy and Titus side-by-side.

2. The Qualifications of Elders (as given in the KJV)

Immediately you see that the two lists are not identical. A case could be made that some of the last few that don't match up are just differences in wording, but not all of them. For example, Titus has no indication that the work must be desired by a prospective elder, and 1 Timothy does not indicate a need to be holy.

So, how do we explain these differences?

I see the following possibilities.

1. The two lists were, at the time they were given, identical, and have since become corrupted.

2. The two lists are identical even now, but we just don't see the match-ups, for whatever reason.

3. Each recipient of the list already had differing partial lists of requirements, and Paul wrote to each to fill in what each was missing.

4. The requirements were intended to be slightly different in different situations/locales.

5. God intended for each recipient to only get a partial list, to be finished out later by special revelation to each recipient.

6. God did not intend the early church to have a complete list of requirements, waiting instead for the later church to compile the complete list once the New Testament was completed and available in whole.

7. The lists were never intended to be a check-list, but rather as guidelines.

None of these solutions appear totally satisfactory to me, but I tend to find #7 the most intellectually satisfying of the bunch. Of course, that opens up a whole new can of worms.

Why does this matter? Because in my experience, we've treated these lists as check-lists, which has led to great debates and division over the meaning of various items, such as elders who become widowed, or how many children, etc. If the lists were never meant as check-lists, then our human insistence on making them checklists is responsible for a great deal of fighting and division.

Am I missing something?


T. said...

Qualities not qualifications! your #7 is right these are not check lists for us to meet as we select elders for our communities but they are the heart we are to look for. I am sorry they have abused so much.

T. said...

PS - Dr. David Wray is where I was first brought to this understanding... though I had not spent much time analyzing this before then