Scripture’s Role in Church Leadership (1)

According to Paul, Scripture should play at least two primary roles in the life and ministry of church leadership—formation and communication. That is, Scripture is given by God for the personal and spiritual formation of church leaders. As the church leader is being formed spiritually by God through Scripture, he communicates it in various ways in various situations to members of Christ’s Body. In the following posts, I aim to explain these two roles more thoroughly by looking at a few select passages in Paul’s two epistles to Timothy, but primarily 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5.

Formation
The first significant way in which Scripture serves in the role of spiritual formation is noted by Paul when he tells Timothy that the sacred writings are able to make him wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.[1] In other words, Scripture can lead to the “knowledge of the truth.”[2] It has the power to bring its readers and hearers to faith.[3] Paul tells Timothy that the Scriptures which he learned and firmly believed, leading to his conversion, are to be that which he should continue to learn and believe.[4]

A second way in which Scripture serves in the role of spiritual formation is training for godliness. Paul tells Timothy if he communicates certain things to his brothers and sisters in Christ, he will be trained in the Scriptures.[5] He will be trained in these things by communicating them to the Church. By his next command, Paul shows Timothy that such training in the Scriptures produces godliness.[6] Godliness is one of the goals God has in mind by giving the Scriptures to his church leaders.

A third way in which Scripture plays a spiritually formative role in the life of the church leader is that it is to be practiced or lived out in his own life. Paul tells Timothy, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them.”[7] “These things that Timothy is to practice and immerse himself in are the things commanded in vv. 12-13, encompassing his behavior and teaching.”[8] The things which encompass his behavior are reflective of what Timothy would have learned in Scripture concerning his speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. For Paul, behavior itself was an inevitable and natural overflow of how one is formed spiritually. He knew that as Christ was being formed more and more in Timothy, all would see his progress in both his behavior and his teaching.[9]

A fourth way in which Scripture serves as a means of spiritual formation in the church leader’s life, is as a sort of mirror by which he can reflect on the congruity of his own life and ministry. Even though Paul acknowledges Timothy will progress in his faith and life as he practices the things discussed in the previous section, he urges him to keep a close watch on himself and on his teaching.[10] Paul knows the human heart can so easily be deceived and in effect deceive others. He knows and trusts in Scripture as the trustworthy safeguard against this. By persisting in keeping a close watch on himself and on his teaching, Timothy will save both himself and his hearers. “Timothy’s perseverance in sound doctrine and practice will save him, i.e., it will lead him to persevere in the faith,  confirming his salvation. This type of ministry will be effective in preserving his hearers as well.”[11] “Sound doctrine” or Scripture is that which church leaders should persevere in believing and practicing in all of life and ministry. They will know whether they are doing so or not by keeping a close watch on how they live and what they teach, as they reflect on its accordance with Scripture.


[1] 2 Tim. 3:15

[2] 2 Tim. 2:25; 1 Tim. 2:4

 [3] See also, Rom. 10.17; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23.

 [4] 2 Tim. 3:14; See also, 1 Cor. 15:1-2, in which Paul tells the Corinthians the gospel is that which they stand and are being saved, given they hold fast to the word he preached to them. That is, he called them to continue believing in that word, as he is to Timothy.

[5] Paul uses the phrases “the words of the faith” and “the good doctrine” to describe that in which Timothy will be trained. Here, I take him to refer either to summaries of Scripture or Scripture itself.

[6] Hence, “have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7).

[7] 1 Tim. 4:15.

 [8] ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton: Crossway), 2332.

 [9] See Galatians 4:19.

[10] 1 Tim. 4:16. See also, Heb. 4:12-13; James 1:19-25.

[11] ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton: Crossway), 2332.

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2 thoughts on “Scripture’s Role in Church Leadership (1)

  1. JT

    Can’t seem to find “church leadership” in my antiquated KJV. 😉

    Where are you with the use of the word “leader” for a“Disciple of Christ?” 😉

    Jesus always took and recommended the **low place.** Yes?
    The word “leader” seems like a “high place.” Yes?

    Seems Jesus has a unique take on “Leaders” for **His Body.** “ONE”

    As man – Jesus humbled Himself, made himself of NO reputation,
    and took on the form of a **Servant.** Php 2:7-8. 😉

    How do “you” reconcile the use of the word “leader”
    when “Jesus” told **His disciples** NOT to be called “leader?”

    Jesus, in Mat 23:10 KJV, told **His disciples** “NOT” to call themselves
    “Master / Leaders,” for you have “ONE” “Master / Leader” “The Christ.”

    King James Version –
    Neither be ye called masters:
    for “ONE” is your Master, even Christ.

    New American Standard Bible
    Do not be called leaders;
    for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.

    The Interlinear Bible –
    Nor be called leaders,
    for “ONE” is your leader the Christ.

    Phillips Modern English –
    you must not let people call you leaders,
    you have only “ONE” leader, Christ.

    Today’s English Version –
    nor should you be called leader.
    your “ONE” and only leader is the Messiah.

    Jesus told **His disciples** NOT to be called **leaders** and NONE did.

    Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,
    Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ,
    Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,
    Tit 1:1 Paul, a servant of God,
    Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God
    2Pe 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant

    **His Disciples** all called themselves **Servants.**
    None called themselves “Leaders.” None? None.
    None called themselves “Servant-Leader.” None.

    If Jesus instructed **His Disciples** NOT to call themselves “leaders”
    and someone calls them self a “leader” or thinks they are a “leader;”

    Are they a “Disciple of Christ?”
    Or, are they NO LONGER a “Disciple of Christ?” Oy Vey!!! 😉
    Or, are they just a **disobedient** “Disciple of Christ?” 😉

    Why isn’t what Jesus said important? 😉

    And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
    them also I must bring, and they shall **hear MY voice;**
    and there shall be “ONE” fold, and “ONE” shepherd.
    John 10:16

    One Fold – One Shepherd – One Voice – One Leader

  2. Amos, keep looking.

    For example, check out: Hebrews 13.7: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”

    Here’s the breakdown of the word from the inspired Greek New Testament.

    Contextual
    English: leaders

    Greek: τῶν
    Translit: tōn
    Gloss: the
    Parsing: RGPM— Article, Genitive, Plural, Masculine

    Greek: ἡγουμένων
    Translit: hēgoumenōn
    Gloss: consider, regard, lead, rule
    Parsing: VPGPMPD— Verb, Participle, Genitive, Plural, Masculine, Present, Deponent

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