SPECIAL TOPIC: ABOVE REPROACH (from Titus 1:6)
This is the key to all of the qualifications for church leaders, both positive and negative, of both 1 Timothy and Titus (cf. Titus 1:6,7; 1 Tim. 3:2,7,10; 5:7; 6:14). This is not the exact Greek term found in 1 Timothy 3, but a synonym used in exactly the same way. The minister must be a good witness to those within the believing community and to the unbelievers in the community (cf. Titus 2:5,8,10; Acts 2:47; 4:4,31; 5:13,42). See notes at 1 Tim. 3:2,3.
These qualifications must be interpreted in light of two purposes: (1) the leaders must be acceptable to believers and unbelievers; evangelism is the ultimate goal and (2) the leaders must be observably different from the false teachers. It is difficult to know exactly how to apply these qualifications to different cultures and time periods. Believers must guard against historically conditioned rules, yet be open to God-given principles. My experience with modern western churches has been that:
1. they proof-text one or more of these qualifications, but ignore or depreciate others
2. they add to these guidelines and claim biblical authority for the additions
3. they interpret these rules in light of our day instead of a first century culture, which was disrupted by false teachers
4. they take ambiguous phrases and turn them into dogmatic rules that universally apply
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