1Ti 3:1-2 “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;”
Webster’s Dictionary of American English from 1812 gives on of the definitions of the word “office” as follows: a duty, charge or trust of a sacred nature, conferred by God himself; as the office of priest, in the Old Testament; and that of the apostles, in the New Testament. For a man to truly long for (desire) the office of a bishop, that desire must come from God. Such a man desires a good work. Strong’s describes the word translated as work to mean labor or action.
We often think of office as a place of authority. However, anyone who holds an office well understands that it is more a place of service and responsibility. To desire the office of a bishop is to desire to be a servant to God and to all that God sends us to. It requires a willingness to work with hands and heart.
It is necessary that a bishop be blameless. This word literally carries the idea of not being arrested. Clearly, if we look at Paul’s life, we realize that this is not just an injunction against jail time. Rather, it implies that the man who would be a bishop must never be halted in his labor to serve God, even if it means serving from a prison cell or being on house arrest.
From a practical standpoint, we can apply this to having to have a secular job or having a family. If we are going to be a bishop, we must serve Him in a way that honors Him even in our workplace and our home. Being a bishop is not just something that happens on Sunday morning or at a religious function. It is a part of our daily existence.
A bishop cannot be married to more than one wife. While the physical aspect of this seems straightforward, we must understand that as a bishop we cannot be “married” to anything that is going to deter us from our office. We must always be on guard against the craftiness of our adversary. Our mind should be sound (sober) in the way that we serve God and His people.
To be a bishop, we need to live an orderly life. Our lives cannot be full of riotous living during the week and then try to appear decorous on Sunday. We must have a genuine affection for others and have a keen desire for their good. There must be a genuine love for sharing the wonders of God’s grace and mercy in our lives.
If we truly stop to look at the requirements that Paul sets forth here, we might be moved to wonder why anyone would want the job or think they could do the job. I have no delusions as to my being fit for this office on my own. The key to true desire is that it must come from God according to His grace and mercy. The fulfillment of the requirements can only be met in putting on Christ.
May God deliver us from any delusion that we, in and of ourselves, are ever fit to be a bishop in His house!