The Apostolic Standard for Ministry
By B.E. Echols
I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:4-9 and I Peter 5:1-11
I am not coming to you with some new revelation as to what the requirements would be for those who desire to qualify for the ministry, according to “The Apostolic Standard.” I am only, by God’s help and grace, going to present and explain what has been specifically set forth in the Scriptures concerning this subject. It is one thing to attain unto those qualifications or requirements and another to maintain them in our daily lives. It seems that the failure to maintain them has been the greatest problem of all.
This message is not going to be one that is altogether a basis for our officials to be governed by, in their accepting or excluding “prospective ministers” into our fellowship. It is going to be something by which we older ministers can reexamine ourselves and see if we still measure up to these qualifications by which we entered the ministry. If we have failed and come short of “The Apostolic Standard” in any way, it has certainly affected our standing with God and His Church. “Prospective Ministers” should also give serious consideration to everything the Bible demands of them, as we rehearse and emphasize the “Scriptural Qualifications” in this article, for an “Apostolic Standard Ministry.”
Brethren and all concerned, if we will–by’ God’s help and grace–attain to and maintain “The Apostolic Standard for the Ministry” as set forth by the apostles, we shall see the same results and experience the mighty manifestations of God’s power as they did in the beginning of this church age: to stop the mouths of gainsayers, (Acts 6:1-10); to convict sinners, (Acts 2:37-41); to save the lost by the thousands, Acts 4:4; 5:12- 14); to heal the sick, (Acts 3:1-9; 5:12 & 15; 9:3235; 14:8-10); and even to raise the dead to life again, (Acts 9:36-42; 20:7-12 with Hebrews 13:8). We shall now proceed to list and examine the qualifications for an “Apostolic Standard Ministry” as set forth mainly by the Apostle Paul and more briefly touched on by the Apostle Peter. Will you prayerfully and sincerely read with care and attention what they had to say about these “Special Requirements for the Ministry” — in their Scriptural order, as follows.
THE OVER-ALL INTRODUCTORY QUALIFICATION
“A bishop (elder, pastor or ‘overseer’ Berkeley) then must be blameless” or he “must give NO grounds for accusations, but MUST BE above (REPROACH–editor clarification). (Someone) had this to say; “He should be a person against whom NO EVIL can be proved, one who is EVERYWHERE invulnerable”– and I say, “Amen!” The parents of John the Baptist were known to be “walking in ALL the commandments and ordinances of the Lord BLAMELESS”–without failing even in ONE point. If they were able to do this during the “law dispensation,” certainly we ministers under grace should be able to do likewise, by God’s help. See Philippians 4:13 and 2 Corinthians 12:9.
A ONE point failure is more serious with God than many people ever realize or take into proper consideration. Remember, Jesus turned, the ‘wealthy ruler’ of Luke 18:18-24 away because ‘of “one thing thou lackest” (Mark 10:21). Then, as Bishop James informs us, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in ONE point he is guilty of ALL.” Or “has become guilty of (breaking) ALL of it”, Amplified N. T. So it is, concerning our qualifying for the ministry, we can disqualify by failing in ONE point or requirement. A ONE point failure concerning our “Ministerial Qualifications” might not always keep a District or National Church Board” from accepting us; but what about God, Who is very particular about everything–even small things? If “ONE title shall in NO wise pass from the law, till ALL be fulfilled,” (Matthew 5:18 & 26), you and I had better be more concerned than ever about these “All-time Qualifications” for an “Apostolic Standard Ministry.”
Brethren, the Lord is very much concerned about our qualifying for this noble calling according to His Word, and we should be more concerned than ever, can you say, “Amen?”
(I.) MINISTERIAL QUALIFICATIONS AS GIVEN TO TIMOTHY (I Timothy 3:1-7)
1. “A Bishop then MUST BE…the husband of one wife” (Verse 2). Since this point is first on the list to both Timothy (3:2) and Titus (1:5-6) it surely must be very, very important–and it is! It is so important that it alone can disqualify any man from being a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in any capacity. “The Assemblies of God” Trinitarian (so-called, editor) Pentecostals passed a resolution some thirty-one years ago (1937), (Now 72 years, editor) in effect, NOT to issue license or credentials to any more “Prospective preachers” who had more than ONE living wife, regardless of their “marriage status quo.” They have stayed with this decision until this day, thank the Lord. My dear brethren, will we “Oneness Pentecostals” ever attain to this “Apostolic Standard” of ONE wife for a scripturally qualified ministry? If not, we need not expect to see the signs, wonders, healings, miracles, etc., being wrought among us as recorded in the Book of Acts.
We should accept Paul’s instructions in this matter of only ONE living wife as a definite qualification for an “Apostolic Standard Ministry.” He felt SURE that God was going to judge both laymen and preachers by what he had preached and written about this (Romans 2:2 & 16). “A bishop then MUST BE…the husband of ONE wife!”
2. “A bishop then MUST BE…vigilant” (V. 2) or “circumspect” (Amp. N.T.), which means one, must be discrete and possess good judgment to avoid error: also to be cautious, observant, and keenly watchful to avoid evil. Then, as Berkeley translates it, “Be on your guard.” So there is more involved in this requirement of being vigilant than is often taken into consideration. Who would want anyone for their pastor, overseer, or general superintendent who is not vigilant or circumspect? Then, would you expect God to be putting His approval upon some preachers (1) when he did not meet the approval of His people and (2) did not qualify for the ministry according to His Word? I hardly think so! Job was a vigilant person and very prompt to eschew evil. He became a great man of God and an “all-time example” for all of us preachers and laymen–praise the Lord!
This matter of being vigilant could also apply to one’s prayer life, since no preacher can be as watchful as he should be unless he is very prayerful and spiritual (Luke 21:36; Jude V. 20; I Corinthians 2:14), to his devotions to God (Ephesians 5:14-18), to his Bible study periods (2 Timothy 2:16), to his manner of dress and general demeanor (Matthew 10:5) and any time out in the public view. The apostles delegated other chosen men to see after the needs of POOR widows, in order that they might give themselves “CONTINUALLY (1) to prayer and (2) to the ministry of the Word.” Brethren, until we WATCH OURSELVES (be thus vigilant) and follow their all-time example we are not going to be preachers of “The Apostolic Standard;” neither are we going to witness God’s approval upon our ministry as they did. There is a GREAT price to pay to qualify for this type and standard of God-ordained ministry, which is a “full-time assignment” here one is “subject to call” at any time day or night.
3. “A bishop then MUST BE…of SOBER” (Verse 2). How could anyone qualify for the ministry, and fill such a responsible position in God’s Church without being sober? To be sober means that one MUST BE serious-minded (sober-minded, Weymouth), solemn and grave, which is opposed to being lighthearted, gay frivolous, giddy or jesting. Paul admonished the Ephesian church-folk to NOT LET such things as foolish talk and jesting (joking) “be once named among (them)…as becometh saints.” This business of dealing with the eternal destiny of souls is a very important and serious matter. What a preacher is out of the pulpit is generally what he is when he stands behind the sacred desk. Therefore, we ministers of the gospel MUST BE serious and sober-minded so that the Holy Ghost can conduct, woo, and draw lost men and women to God through us (John 6:44).
4. A bishop then MUST BE…of GOOD behavior” (verse 2 or “well-behaved” (Weymouth and Berkeley) in or out of the Pulpit, anywhere, everywhere and ALL of the time. Moffatt translates this point, “A bishop…must be…MASTER of himself,” of course, by God’s help and grace (John 15:5). We are further informed by the Apostle Paul (I Corinthians 13:5), that “CHARITY (God’s love and Spirit operating in our hearts)…Doth not behave itself unseemly” (unbecomingly, indecently or improperly) and “is NEVER RUDE” (Moffatt). Therefore, charity is never impolite, never discourteous, never harsh or lordly, nor is it easily provoked or irritated into doing unseemly things–praise the Lord! A Little misconduct or improper behavior will spoil much of the good a preacher has done and disqualify him for that highest position one could ever be privileged to fill. Therefore, “good behavior” is a MUST, if one wishes to qualify and STAY qualified for an “Apostolic Standard Ministry.”
5. A bishop then MUST BE…given to hospitality” (I Timothy 3:2; Romans 12:13) or a “LOVER” of hospitality” (Titus 1:8). Any person or preacher who LOVES to be hospitable, generous in receiving and entertaining friends and strangers, takes pleasure in doing such things as Abraham did (Genesis 18:1-8). Hospitality in action has helped many people to the Lord and it works wonders in keeping them in the church after they are saved. Hospitality is something that people do not shun or run from. It helps to bring folk into tent meetings, our churches, or what have you and keeps them attending.
6. A bishop then MUST BE…apt to teach (Verse 2) Moffatt translates it this way, “a SKILLED teacher” and Berkeley, “QUALIFIED to teach.” When God put Joshua in Moses’ place, to lead the Israelites into the “Promised Land,” He instructed him to be a ‘zealous student’ of His Word and to “meditate therein day and night,” in order that he might “have good success (Joshua 1:8). For further information along this line of being prepared or “apt to teach,” see 2 Timothy 2:15; Proverbs 2:1-5; 24:27; I Peter 3:15; Psalms 1:1-4; James 1:1-6 & 4:2-3.
Being “apt to teach” does not necessarily mean that every preacher of the gospel has to qualify to be a “specialized and gifted teacher.” Being “apt to teach” means that preachers in general should study God’s Word and seek Him for the understanding they need in order to impart it to others; a pastor should be able to instruct new converts as well as those already in the church. A bishop must be apt, or able, prepared, and ready to teach or he is in a pitiful condition to appear before any audience to preach or to instruct them. A preacher cannot teach about something that he knows nothing about. Casual Bible reading is not Bible study!
Some preachers and teachers act very much like WILD HORSES when they become frightened. They get a text or subject and RUN AWAY with it. You never know where they are going or when and where they may stop, they run by, through, and over everything in their path, the Word of God included. It is VERY DANGEROUS to ride with or listen to them; they often ride into false doctrine and fables. Some folk get lost in such places and never find the way out! Scripturally mentioned people like “silly women,” backslidden people, and scripturally ignorant church folk are the only ones who will listen to such preachers. The reason we have so many “isms” in Pentecost today is because many men do not humbly and prayerfully study their Bibles.
7. A bishop then MUST NOT BE GIVEN TO WINE (Verse 3), “neither a drunkard,” (Berkeley). Please read I Corinthians 6:9-10; Isaiah 28:1-4; Proverbs 20:1; and Proverbs 23:29-35. A good Bible rule to follow in this respect is, Col. 2:21-22 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;  which all are to perish with the using 😉 after the commandments and doctrines of men?
8. A bishop then MUST BE…NO striker Verse 3, “in any quarrelsome or contentious manner,” (Matthew Henry), and “NOT combative (with tongue or fist), but GENTLE and considerate,” Amplified N. T.
2 Tim. 2:24-26, And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
From, “Apostolic Standard”/ Page 6-8, by B.E. Echols
This material is copyrighted and may be used to study & research purposes only