"Qualifications for Office"
May 10, 2024, 11:33 AM

Qualifications for Office

The Rev. Louis B. Tiscione

Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Every job, every position in both the church and the secular world has certain qualifications that a candidate must have in order to effectively fulfill his office. Since I have been a pastor for thirty years, I am most interested in laying before you the qualifications God requires for a man to hold the office of presbyter (elder) in the church.


Per 1 Timothy 5:17, our denomination understands that there are two types of elders in the church. One is called a ruling elder, and the other is referred to as a teaching elder. Both officers have equal authority but fill different roles. Teaching elders are ordained by the court — the Presbytery — to preach the word in worship and to administer the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.


As the two types of elders are taken from Scripture, so are the qualifications. First Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 list the behavioral qualifications. The list is comprehensive and should humble any man who desires to fill the office of elder, which is a “noble task.” The elder is to “be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, must manage his own household well… not as recent convert… well thought of by outsiders” (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Titus 1:6-9 has a similar list.


Since teaching elders have the responsibility to preach the Bible and administer the sacraments, they must also be tried and examined in a list of required areas. From providing personal testimony of their conversion they are also tested in their knowledge of the Bible, theology, the sacraments, church history, and what is called our Book of Church Order. Further, all candidates for the gospel ministry are required to have obtained a degree from an approved seminary which supports appropriate study of the original biblical languages of Hebrew and Greek. The tests for examination are both written and oral. Candidates for the gospel ministry stand before the entire Presbytery, which is a court comprised of elders both ruling and teaching from the congregations in our Presbytery, the North Texas Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).


Much more can be said regarding God’s requirements for ordination. Not the least of which is a personal commitment to adhere to the constitution of our denomination which consists of the Westminster Standards, namely the Confession of Faith the Larger and Shorter Catechisms and our Book of Church Order.


These requirements may seem stringent, and they are intended to be so. We take God’s call to “preach the word in season and out of season seriously” (2 Timothy 4:2). We understand that teaching elders will be held by God to a high standard (James 3:1). We know that the word of God in concert with the Spirit of God changes lives for eternity. The man who holds this office in the church must clearly hold to the inerrancy, infallibility, perspicuity, and sufficiency of Scripture. These attributes of the Bible are always in my mind as I seek to exposit the Word of God each Lord’s Day.


All of this causes me to bow before God’s throne of grace. I depend upon the Holy Spirit and live under His conviction to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). More and more, I know that apart from Christ, I can do nothing.


So, what’s the point of rehearsing the qualifications that a man must meet to fill the office of teaching elder? I am not intending to elevate my worth or any other Pastor’s value. I am singularly intent on emphasizing God’s love for the peace and purity of His Church. The Psalmist expressed the priority of worship when he said, “I was glad when they said to me let us go to the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1). He was glad because in worship he knew that he was meeting God with God’s people!


I love the visible church even with all her warts. I also know that I am in the invisible church for whom Christ died (Ephesians 5:25). I love the church so much that I seek to be faithful to my office for Him (Matthew 25:14ff). I do it for His glory.


I pray that you will likewise love the church; that you will insist on hearing the word of God preached in your church. May you be glad every Lord’s Day to go to the house of the Lord!