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The Office of Overseer in the Church

The Office of Overseer in the Church

Geoffrey R. Kirkland 


First Timothy 3:1 gives a simple statement regarding key ingredients of the office of overseer in the local church.  Here are a few of the key takeaways from the verse. 


1 Timothy 3:1 -- It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 

It is a trustworthy statement! In a technical phrase that Paul uses in the Pastoral Letters, this emphasizes a particularly important section that deserves special attention and careful understanding. What Paul will say about church leaders should carefully impact Timothy and his leadership and delegation of godly elders. The local church — and the role of church officers — calls for special care and humble obedience to what God says through His Word. 

If any man aspires to the office, it is a good work. The role of elder and overseer is reserved for men only. Only males can fulfill the role of pastor, or elder, or overseer. God does not permit a woman to serve in this role. It is for men only. It is God’s good design. 

The man must aspire to the office of overseer. This speaks of the formal, God-ordained office of ‘overseer’ and leadership position of the Church. God’s plan consists in a plurality of godly men to serve in this role. But the office of overseer speaks of one who leads, oversees, governs, makes decisions, and presides over the congregation of believers according to the Bible, with patience and grace, with biblical fidelity, and with heartfelt resolve to honor Christ.

It is a good work he desires to do. The office of overseer demands work. It is a toilsome work. It is a blessed burden. It is a heart-consuming ambition. It is a tireless responsibility. And the work of ministry is, to be sure, a good and noble work. It is a blessed work. It is a fine and glorious and beautiful role that God bestows upon qualified men to serve in this leadership capacity in His church. 

Men of God serving as shepherds should not be coerced into ministry nor should they be pressured to fill a role because of some need. Rather, the man of God must have an intense passion, a craving, a longing, a God-given aspiration to serve in this role in the Church of the Lord Jesus.


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