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Believing Bible Study in the 21st century

All About Dispensational Truth

The New Testament Bishop

 The bishop is an elder who shepherds (or leads) the local flock of born-again believers by example. A bishop, therefore, is the overseer in the local New Testament Baptist church.

The New Testament Bishop [Pastor]

Old Paths Baptist Mission © 2011 Richard St.James

 New Testament BishopWhat is a bishop? Who is he?

A bishop is the overseer in the local New Testament Baptist church.  A bishop is:

1. An elder. "The elders (plural) which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed" [1 Peter 5:1].

2. A shepherd.He is a shepherd working under the chief Shepherd (Jesus Christ the Son of God). "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" [1 Peter 5:4].

3. An example.He is to lead the flock by example. "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" [1 Peter 5:3].

4. One who nourishes.  He is to feed the flock. "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind" [1 Peter 5:2].

The bishop then is an elder who shepherds (or leads) the local flock of born-again believers by example. The scripture even goes one step further.

In 1 Peter 5:5-6, it reveals that the New Testament bishop is to be submissive in some respect with regard to his relationship with the other believers in the local assembly.

"Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time."

The bishop is to be "clothed with humility" and is included in the "all" of the reference of being "subject one to another." God said it. Do you believe it?  Hello!

Now, a man that desires this office, "he desireth a good work". This isn't my opinion, or the opinion of men. This is God's opinion! It is inherently built within every true born again believer who came to salvation through faith, to have this relationship "to good works." The fruit of faith is good works. Read the book of James.

Now don't get confused with what I am saying here. It is by grace through faith that we get saved! Works have nothing to do with salvation, but if a person gets saved, he will produce good works. They will result! Why? It is because God's workmanship was involved right at the very moment of our new birth. We are quickened (or made alive, Ephesians 2:1,5) and set free from the bondage of sin. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." [Ephesians 2:8-10] We are created unto good works. Do you see that?

Therefore "if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." If the desire is there, he then desires a good work, but to desire a good work is not enough, he must now qualify. There are then things that "must be" and things that "must not be" in a man's life in order to qualify for the office of the bishop.

1. He Must Be: Blameless

"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless..." [Titus 1:5].

Blameless? Blameless implies "without fault" or "not meriting censure." Now who could ever fill that bill?

If "blameless" or "faultless" means "without sin," then we are in big time trouble. For no man, but one man, could ever hope to qualify to become a bishop. This one man is the Son of God, even Jesus Christ who is a Prophet, a Priest and a King. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" Hebrews 4:15].

Jesus Christ is our Shepherd!

Jesus Christ is our Bishop! "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" [1 Peter 2:25]. And yet we must get this down right! If the Apostle Paul gave this criteria of being "blameless" (signifying a state of being) for the first qualification needed to be met by a sinful man (albeit saved by grace) in order to become a bishop, then "blameless" can not mean "sinless". "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" [1 John 1:8].

The man who could be termed "blameless" still has an old nature that has to be "put off." Amen! "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts:" [Ephesians 4:22].

 And yet a sinner saved by God's grace has all the potential to be blameless. Well, how? Well, he must "put on" the new man. "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" [Ephesians 4:24].

A man who "puts on" the new man is clear before God. He has the green light thus far. But this "blameless" also implies "faultless" before men. Now watch out! This is where people get fouled up. A man can be blameless, and yet have many enemies (even they of his own house...see Luke 12) who bring railing accusations, which are false accusations. Do you not think this is possible? Can you not think of someone to whom this happened. (I mean being falsely accused.) What about our Lord Jesus Christ? Did he not endure false accusations, and was condemned to death, to suffer, and to die on the cross, and yet, was not He, The SON Of GOD "blameless?"

Yes! Brethren, it is possible for a man to be controversial (and lied about) and to have accusations placed against him and still be found blameless. It is possible for a man "under attack" to "not merit censure". This man will be a man who, in verity, could be breathing with his every breath Acts 16:24. "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men." His light should shine! "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world" [Philippians 2:15].

2. He Must Be: The husband of one wife

First note: this verse has a verb, which is in the present tense. The verb "must be" implies "the state of being" a husband to one wife. Now the Holy Ghost did not make a mistake here with His grammar. And no man should be so presumptuous as to presume there is an error here. I have heard many men say this verse means: "having had only one wife all his life" or "married only one time."

Can you see it? They have changed the tense to do what they want to do. It does not matter what their motive is for doing this (though it may be as noble as promoting the purity of the leadership in the local church). Yes, in a day when divorce is "for any reason", in total violation to God's Book, some Christians feel they can not accept this particular verse in the present tense because it would seemingly lower the standard for the qualifications for the bishop. But whatever their motive, it is never right to do wrong in order to do right.

We must never doubt God's word. We must never change it for any reason. We must accept what it says, whenever it says it, or we will be guilty of disobeying God. As one great preacher said: "Obey God! And leave the consequences of obeying God...with God!" I have seen this waffling by Christians with other Scriptures.

For example, Louis Entzminger did it with the word "pneuma" in I Corinthians 12:13. He rejected the AV1611 Bible in this instance because he did not like the reference in this verse to the capital "S" in the word "Spirit."

He ran cross-wise to THE BOOK because of his preconceived notion on the doctrine of the church. "The capitalizing of the word "spirit" (pneumati) is utterly misleading..." (The New Testament Church, Louis Entzminger, page 92.) Bill Gothard and Theodore Epp are both guilty of not accepting what THE BOOK says here in I Timothy 3. They have not been honest with God in this matter. Christians do have two natures! "A bishop then must be ...the husband of one wife."

A man needs to be married to one woman. He cannot have more than one wife, and be a bishop in the local New Testament Baptist church. Abraham, Jacob and David would not, therefore, be qualified to become a bishop. God-fearing Elkanah had two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. Even though he loved the Lord God and walked according to the precepts of God, he could not qualify for this office, which was for a future dispensation. The Lord in Exodus chapter 21 sets judgments through His servant Moses that would legislate concerning "another wife" and there is no divorce in the context here. It shows there is now more than one wife allowed. "If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish”. (Verse 10)
This is the word of God! The average fundamentalist will just go "buggy" here with this verse. Amen! What God allowed Israel God will not necessarily allow the local New Testament church. God is God! The Bible reveals:

"That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ---." [Ephesians 1:10]

Read the whole chapter. In the dispensation of the church God has seen fit to disallow a man from having more than one wife (like Elkanah), and thus, resets the perfect biblical pattern found in Genesis 1-2 for marriage. This would be "one man for one woman."

3. He Must Be: Vigilant

The bishop (or pastor) must take the oversight of the flock, just as the shepherd who ever watches for the safety of his sheep. He must guard against all dangers. He must steadfastly stand at his duty station in all watchfulness no matter what the personal cost. The pastor is to frame in his heart's mind I Peter 5:8. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

4. He Must Be: Sober (or grave)

Sober implies being serious. A bishop cannot be hot headed and emotionally out of control in tight situations. The local New Testament Baptist church is "a mixed multitude", just as the congregation in the wilderness was termed that came up out of Egypt with Moses. The saints will murmur and complain, and surely will "tax" the patience of the bishop. Through it all, he must be sober, or grave, or calm in his dealings with the saints. They certainly can be a hard bunch to work with, and can be very unthankful!

5. He Must Be: Of good behavior (or temperate)

When I think of good behavior, I think of wise behavior. I think of the way David behaved himself "whithersoever Saul sent him." Four times in one chapter of God's Book it is recorded David "behaved himself wisely." [1 Samuel 18:5,14,15,30]

"And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants. And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him. Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him. Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by."

 The bishop's behavior must be above reproach and provide the example for others to follow.

This will minimize the successful forays and cunning work of the master of sleight, the Devil, and his army of fallen angels (devils). Paul, as revealed in his letters to the Corinthians, wisely conducted himself in a sacrificial manner in his dealing with these believers concerning their carnality. In his race for them he said, "we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man" [2 Corinthians 7:2]. A pastor must behave in such a way so as to have this very same testimony as Paul. "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man; for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself." [2 Corinthians 11:8-9]
Why did he do this? Verse (12) shows why. "But what I do, that will I do, that I may cut off occasion from them that desire occasion---." Paul would "keep himself," by doing whatever he had to, in order that whatever needed to be done in the brethren's lives would be done. He had good behavior!

6. He Must Be: Given to hospitality

A man that is disposed to hospitality is one who has embraced the highest form of love ever shown to man. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Charity is this kind of love. Charity in the heart promotes hospitality. Why is there such a link between these two? It is because the Spirit of God associates charity and hospitality together.

"And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging" [1 Peter 4:8-9]. A bishop must be given to hospitality and charity will be the promotion of it.

7. He Must Be: Apt to teach

A bishop must be fit to teach. "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" [2 Timothy]. To be fit (or apt) to teach, a man must be faithful, able in meekness to instruct all men.

"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..." [2 Timothy 2:24,25a].

8. He Must Be: Patient

Patience is an attribute that is related to the quality of being apt to teach. (See the above verse: apt to teach, patient!) According to Noah Webster's, American Dictionary Of The English Language, 1828, patience is "the quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge", and again, "persevering; constant in pursuit or exertion; calmly diligent."

9. He Must Be: One that ruleth well his own house(which includes "having his children in subjection")

This may be the most visible test for the man who desires the office of a bishop. This will make or break the man! If a man cannot control (or govern) they of his own household, how can he expect to take care of the church of God? The test will be in the home. These are perilous times that we live in, and it will take a tremendous amount of spiritual leadership to be a successful husband to the wife and a godly father to the children. The husband must be to his wife, as Jesus Christ is to the church.

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" [Ephesians 5:25].

The man who loves the Lord should be a husband and a father that will live and lead by example. If this will be a true condition (and if the Lord prosper him), he will be blessed with a "grave" wife and children in subjection. Test complete!!!

10. He Must Be: Having a good report of them, which are without.

They who are without are those outside the body of Christ. These are the unsaved. A good report will come from the lips of the unregenerate, if a man who is in Christ will live honestly (see Hebrews 13:18). If he will give: "no offense in anything" so that "the ministry be not blamed" [2 Corinthians 6:3]. This does not mean that the world will be pleased when we preach the cross of Jesus Christ. To see this, and how mad people can get over this, just read the account of Demetrius’ tirade, and the city of Ephesus’ reaction in the book of Acts, chapter 19. The admonition is this!

"But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters" [1 Peter 5:15].

11. He must not be: Given to wine

This should be obvious. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" [Proverbs 20:1].

12. He must be: No striker

He must be a man who restrains himself from striking another. "Also to punish the just is not good, nor to strike princes for equity" (Proverbs 17:26). Can you think of anyone who is a prince, and was struck by a bunch of strikers? "And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands" [Mark 14:65]. Need we say anymore?

13. He must not be: Greedy of filthy lucre.

A pastor cannot be taken up with gain in worldly goods or in profit making, and still be aiming heavenward. He will be thrown off track in a heartbeat! Remember the true and tried principle that is only found in the English language in the A.V. 1611 Bible. You will look in vain for this truth in the over 200 translations out since the corrupt Westcott and Hort RV (Revised Version) of 1881. It is this! "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" [1 Timothy 6-10].

14. He must not be: A brawler

This one really took me by surprise. The conventional thought that comes to mind (concerning this word brawler) is in reference to a bunch of sailors in a riotous melee, "duking" it out! But the Old Black Book straightened me out on this! The word "brawling," as shown in the book of Proverbs, is associated with a woman. (It's not my opinion, ladies.)

"It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house" [Proverbs 21:9].

Then the Spirit of God reinforces this same truth by repeating it again in Proverbs 25:24. The term brawling means to be quarreling noisily and indecently. Striking, hitting or punching is not implied here. In Titus chapter 3:2, the word brawlers is used by the Apostle Paul in his command (through Titus) to the aged men, aged women, young men and servants "to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men." The bishop then, must be the opposite of a brawler...which is gentle and meek.

15. He must not be: Covetous

A bishop cannot be inordinately desirous of worldly possessions, or anything his neighbor may have. Being covetous, if unchecked, will lead down the road to being greedy of filthy lucre.
16. He must not be: A noviceA man who desires to be a pastor must not be a new Christian, or young in the faith.

To Summarize:

The bishop is an elder who shepherds (or leads) the local flock of born-again believers by example. A bishop, therefore, is the overseer in the local New Testament Baptist church. He is:

1.An elder.

2.A shepherd.

3.An example.

4.One who nourishes.

Remember, the Scripture admonition found in Hebrews 13:17 is a description of a shepherd watching over his sheep and he will be held accountable to God for his rule (spiritual rule). By the above, it can now be seen, that there are then things that "must be" and things that "must not be" in a man's life in order to qualify for the office of the bishop.

The Scripture gives them equal weight. However, the sad tendency is for the old nature in Christians to accentuate (or minimize) the importance of the qualifications (or the lack of) in a man's life. This ought not be, brethren.

If we believe the BOOK, we will accept what the BOOK says! It is a faithful saying! A faithful saying is a saying that comes from having "a more sure word."

Now how more sure can a word be but that which came "in old time" by "holy men of God" as they spake? They spake "as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Therefore, "a true saying" is God's word, The Holy Bible.

We can go to no other, and to no other source for the truth. If we are to be made clean from the stench of our sin, we must believe the word of God concerning the Word of God.

Amen! Amen! Amen!

"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."

A bishop, therefore, is the overseer in the local New Testament Baptist church.

He is:

1.An elder.

2.A shepherd.

3.An example.

4.One who nourishes.

Next: The Falling Away.