THE OFFICE OF DEACON & BISHOP
The two positions in the local Assembly are those of bishop (I Tim. 3.1) and deacon (I Tim. 3.10). The duties of bishops are spiritual while those of deacons are physical. There are strict requirements for both positions and all of them must be met by the men who seek them.
The Office of Deacon
Deacons have no authority for all authority rests with the bishops and them alone. Deacons handle all non-spiritual matters in the assembly. Their duties are described in Acts 6.1-6. They are chosen by the assembly and confirmed by the bishops. Most men who seek to be bishops should serve first as deacons to prove themselves.
The reference to the office of deacon is an improper translation. The Yavan (Greek) word "diakoneo" that is translated "office" means "to be an attendant, i.e. wait upon (menially or as a host, friend or [fig.] teacher) Strong's 1247. It is the word that deacon comes from. It should be translated the ministry of deacon, not office. Rather than an office of authority as most assemblies teach -- it is a lowly position of serving. Deacons have no authority in an assembly and are the men who do most of the menial/manual work. It is a humbling position that most men who seek to be bishops should hold to prove themselves.
The qualifications of deacons are almost as strict as those of bishops (I Tim. 3.8-13). They must:
Know and hold to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience;
Be the husband of one wife;
Be good managers of their children and households;
Be men of dignity;
Not be given to double-talk;
Not be addicted to much wine; and
Not be fond of sordid gain.
The wife of a deacon must be dignified, temperate, not a malicious gossip and faithful in all things.
Before a man can become a deacon he must be tested (I Tim. 3.10). This testing is up to the discretion of the bishops. This period of testing would rule out a man who is a new convert. It also takes several years for a man to learn and understand the mystery of the faith (Scriptures).
Some argue that women can be deaconesses, but when this passage is studied in context the part pertaining to women refers to the wives of deacons and not women who seek to be deaconesses. There is no example of female deacons in the Scriptures, and it is foolish to argue that they can meet the qualifications for no female can be the husband of one wife.
Office of Bishop
The structure of a local assembly is clearly defined and the qualifications and duties of bishops (overseers, elders, pastors) are explained in minute detail in the Holy Scriptures and they must be followed to the letter.
There is one position of the rulers of a local assembly and the words that are used to describe them are bishop, elder, overseer, and pastor. These words are interchangeable and are used that way by YAHWEH. Compare I Tim. 3.1,2 ("episkope" bishop/overseer) with Titos 1.5 ("presbuteros" elder) and Titos 1.7 ("episkopos" elder). As you can see "episkope" and "presbuteros" are used interchangeably. They are the same position -- different titles.
The proper title for this position is bishop while the title elder is also used to denote his maturity and is used when speaking to him or of him during informal times of fellowship. During fellowship they should be addressed as elder while all other members of the assembly should be addressed as brother or sister. The words overseer and pastor are descriptions of what a bishop does -- they are not proper titles. These four words can be used but the rulers of local assemblies (Ibriy-Heb. 13.17) should be called bishops.
The Yavan word "episkope" that is translated "office" means "inspection" (Strong's 1984). It comes from "episkeptomal" which means to "inspect" (Strong's 1980). When the word is broken down into its two root forms "epi" and "skopos" its meaning becomes clearer. "Epi" is a preposition having to do with time, place, order, etc. i.e. upon or over. "Skopos" which means "scope" comes from "skeptomal" which means "to peer about" with the idea of being concealed as you watch -- to be a scout or sentry (Strong's 4649).
Bishops have the responsibility to watch over the souls of believers (Ibriy 13.17). This is why the word overseer is used for bishops. Bishops have authority in a local assembly and they rule over the flock. They must give an account to YAHWEH for how they ruled and watched over the souls of their flock (Ibriy 13.17). They should not lord their position over those allotted to their charge, but serve through example (I Keph-Peter 5.2,3). If they rule properly and watch over the souls of the flock those in their charge should obey and submit to them (Ibriy 13.17).
Plurality of Bishops in a Local Assembly
Every local assembly should have three or more bishops. Three bishops are necessary so decisions can be made. If there are just two bishops they may disagree and there is no way to resolve the matter. With three or any odd multiple of bishops decisions can be made.
The concept of a senior bishop or lone bishop is not Biblical and must be avoided at all costs. YAHWEH makes it explicitly clear that every local assembly must have more than one bishop. Every time the subject of bishop is dealt with in a local assembly it is always in the plural form (Acts 14.23; 20.17; Tit. 1.5; Yaaqob-James 5.14; I Keph-Peter 5.1,5). There is no example of a local assembly having just one bishop. When Paulos appointed bishops in every city (Acts 14.23) he didn't appoint one elder to the numerous assemblies in that city. There was only one local assembly in a city in the First Century. There were not enough believers in any city in the First Century to have more than one assembly and there is no mention of multiple assemblies in any city.
If a local assembly is too poor to pay three bishops, it can pay one and the other two can serve with little or no pay until the assembly can support them. Yet all three bishops are of equal rank and the paid bishop is not the senior bishop who has final say on all matters.
There will always be one bishop who is considered the senior bishop or lead bishop by the other bishops, but that is by consensus not by designation. That bishop has no more authority than the others.
Qualifications of Bishops
From I Timotheos 3:1-10 and Titos 1:6-9 the qualifications of a bishop are spelled out. He must:
Be upright and holy;
Be above reproach;
Be the husband of one wife;
Be wise, sensible, respectable, hospitable, just, devout;
Be able to teach, exhort and refute those who contradict;
Not be addicted to wine (or any alcohol or other drugs);
Not be quick tempered;
Not be argumentative;
Not love money;
Not seek after dishonest gain;
Not be self-willed;
Not be overbearing;
Manage his household well keeping his children under control with dignity and have children who believe;
Not be a new believer;
Understand the Scriptures;
Have a good reputation with non-believers; and
Be a lover of what is good.
From other passages a bishop must:
Avoid worldly talk and arguments of worldly knowledge (I Tim. 6:20,21);
Reject those who persist in causing factions (Tit. 3:10,11);
Suffer as a good soldier of YAHSHUA (2 Tim. 2:3; 3:12; 4:5);
Not be quarrelsome (2 Tim. 2:24,25);
Flee from the lusts of the world and pursue righteousness, faith, love, gentleness, perseverance and peace with those who call on YAHWEH from a pure heart (I Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22); and
Be sober at all times (2 Tim. 2:2).
All candidates for the office of bishop must meet all of these requirements. For the men who have met these qualifications and hold the office of bishop they continual meet these qualifications. Any bishop who fails to meet these qualifications on a continual basis must step down until he convinces the other bishops he has rectified the problem.
Failure to maintain some of the qualifications can permanently disqualify a man from holding the office of bishop. No bishop or candidate can have two or more wives at the same time nor can he have been married more than once. YAHWEH is sovereign. If He wants a man to be bishop He can keep him from remarrying if he divorces.
Divorce does not automatically disqualify a bishop or candidate. It is possible for the wife to abandon him or seek a divorce due to her worldly lusts. In that situation a man can be a bishop as long as he does not remarry.
If a candidate or bishop initiated the divorce that would disqualify him from holding the office. It is possible for him to repent of his action and seek reconciliation. If his wife has not married another man or lived with another man they can remarry. He can then be permitted to serve as bishop. If his wife has remarried or is living with another man he can hold the office of bishop again as long as he does not remarry.
It can be argued that the qualifications of deacons can be applied to bishops which means any man who seeks to be a bishop should also be tested first. This testing would be done by other bishops with the purpose of seeing if the candidate meets the qualifications and can perform the duties of a bishop. It is foolhardy to make a man a bishop without knowing if he meets the qualifications of the office and can perform the duties.
Few bishops in America meet the qualifications set out in the Scriptures. Most are unqualified or have disqualified themselves because of their love of money, being divorced, lack of self-control and inability to manage their household. It is highly unlikely bishops of large assemblies perform their duties as prescribed by Scripture. They are too busy doing other things.
Any believer who has been divorced cannot be a bishop! Once a man divorces his wife he is for all time disqualified to be a bishop. He does not have to remarry to be disqualified. The act of divorce is final as far as serving YAHWEH as a shepherd of His flock. YAHWEH can forgive a bishop for divorcing his wife, but he cannot continue to be a bishop. A man who has divorced his wife before he was born anew cannot be a bishop either. YAHWEH is sovereign and if He desired to raise up a man to be a bishop He would have kept that man married until he was saved.
Even though a bishop who divorces his wife must be removed from office he can serve YAHWEH as a teacher, missionary or an evangelist. Every local assembly should have a full time evangelist who teaches the men how to share the gospel and trains them to give an answer to everyone who asks them of their faith (I Keph 3.15). He should also hold special meetings where the lost are brought to hear the gospel preached. This is the job of the evangelist -- it is not the job of the bishops. Bishops who preach the gospel every week are not bishops -- they are evangelists. Many assemblies in America have no bishops -- they just have evangelists.
These strict qualifications should have eliminated thousands of bishops over the centuries, but in most cases it has not, because of ignorance of the people and the stubbornness of bishops.
If any of the bishops of your local assembly have failed to meet all the qualifications of the office, including having one wife, or if they have disqualified themselves, find another assembly to be part of. If you watch a TV bishop or listen to one on the radio who has been divorced turn them off. Most preachers on TV and the radio should not be on the air and you are far better off not listening to any preacher on the air unless he is one of the bishops of the local assembly you are part of.
A single man can be a bishop. We know this because Paulos encouraged men to remain single (I Kor. 7.7-9; 24-27; 32-35). He would not have done this if being single disqualified a man from holding the office of bishop. He would have clarified it.
Spiritual Maturity of Bishops
It is also against the Scriptures for young men fresh out of Bible college or seminary to start a local assembly or be made a bishop (I Tim. 3.6). They need to spend several years as a deacon and an assistant bishop before they become a full bishop. Young men who desire to be a bishop should not attend a Bible college or seminary. They should be trained by the bishops of the local assembly they attend.
Leadership Qualities of Bishops
The leadership qualities of bishops is also clearly defined:
"Elders, as a fellow elder and witness of Mashiyach's sufferings and one who will also share in the glory to be revealed, be shepherds of YAHWEH'S flock which are under your care. Watch over those in your charge not because you are forced to, but because you want to for this is what YAHWEH wants you to do. Don't do it for the lust of money, but be eager to serve. Don't lord your position over those entrusted to your care, but be an example to them. When the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away." (I Keph 5:1-4, DOV Ministries translation)
Bishops are to truly care for the believers YAHWEH has placed in their care (Yochanan- John 21:16,17; Acts 20:28; Ibriy-Hebrews 13:17). They are to willingly care for YAHWEH'S children--not do it as an obligation. They are not to be bishops to make money (2 Yahshua-Isaiah 56:10-12; Yirmeyah-Jeremiah 6:13; Miykah 3:11; I Timotheos 3:3) for the "love of money is the root of all sorts of evil" (I Tim. 6:10). No bishop in any country should make more than the national average wage. Bishops who make more than what the average man makes are setting themselves up to take a fall.
Bishops are to serve those YAHWEH has placed in their care and not rule over them as a dictator (Yirmeyah-Jer. 23:2; 50:6; Yechezqel-Ezekiel 34:1-4; Leviy-Matthew 20:25-28; Loukas 22:26). Bishops must lead by example (I Tim. 4:12) and those who do so in love will receive the crown of glory when YAHSHUA, the Chief Shepherd (I Keph-Peter 2:25; Psalm 23:1; 2 Yahshua-Is. 40:11; Yochanan-John 10:11; Ibriy 13:20; Apokalupsis-Rev. 7:17), returns for His flock.
Duties of Bishops
The job of bishops is clearly explained in several passages. They are to study the Scriptures diligently (2 Tim. 2:15), preach and teach them to the believers placed in their care (I Tim. 4:6,11,13-16; 5:17; 6:17-19), exhort them (2 Tim. 4:2; Titos 1:9; 2:15), train young men to be bishops (2 Tim. 2:2; 3:16,17), refute-correct those who contradict their teaching (2 Tim. 2:25; 3:16,17; 4:2; Tit. 1:9,13; 2:15) or continue in sin (I Tim. 5:20), watch over them (Ibriy-Heb. 13.17; I Keph 5.1), enable them to exercise their gifts for the common good (Rom. 12:6; I Kor. 12:7), train them to be able to "be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks" them "to give the reason for the hope that" they "have" (I Keph 3:15), and teach them to obey civil authorities, do good deeds and not slander anyone or be contentious (Tit. 3:1,2,14).
It is not the duty of bishops to counsel the flock, raise money, use pagan festivals (Christmas, Easter, Halloween) to bring people to YAHSHUA. It is also not the duty of bishops to have the flock bring the wicked to services so they can preach the gospel and hope they get saved. These traditions of men are partly responsible for the apostasy we are living in.
It is unfortunate, but most bishops abuse their position and fail to perform their duties in accordance with the Scriptures. Rather than feed those under their care with the Scriptures they spend most of their time raising money and seeking more members by using the world's customs and idols (Easter, Halloween, Christmas, rock noise). They also indulged in all the pleasures of the world.
The primary duty of all bishops is to train young men to be throughout their ministry to be bishops.
"And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2).
The main failure of virtually all bishops is the training of faithful men to be bishops. Shipping young men off to Bible college is not what YAHWEH commands bishops to do. Bishops should have their own schools where they personally train young men to be bishops.
Bishops who do not personally train young men to be bishops are out of the will of YAHWEH! They are ignorant of their duty, they are backslidden or they are apostate! No bishop can ever be too busy serving YAHWEH in his way, to serve YAHWEH in His way!
Bishops who argue that young men need to get a college degree at an accredited Bible college or seminary to qualify as a bishop have been brainwashed by the world. YAHWEH did not command men to get accredited degrees before becoming a bishop. He said: "If any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do" (I Tim. 3:1). He then lists the qualifications for a bishop and a degree from an accredited college is not among them.
Bishops who start a Bible college or seminary should take part in training the students. They are not to hire teachers to train them. They are to divide the teaching among themselves and only train men who are part of their assembly. There is no place or need for Bible colleges and seminaries. Eventually they all become corrupt institutions which brainwash men to teach false doctrines and turn out thousands of apostate and backslidden preachers. Bible colleges and seminaries have contributed greatly to the apostasy we are living in.
Wages of Bishops
Bishops who rule well should "be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at their preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, `You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,' and `The laborer is worthy of his wages'" (I Tim. 5:17,18).
Bishops who perform their duties as YAHWEH commands them should be given a double portion--paid more than the average wage given to bishops. There are only a handful of bishops in America who are "worthy of double honor." The few who are worthy and are paid more than the average wage will give that extra money to YAHWEH. They will not consume it upon their lusts.
Bishops who are not doing what YAHWEH has commanded them deserve no pay! If the flock withheld pay from bishops who are not doing their duty they would either start doing it or get job.
Much of the blame for the wretched condition of the Assembly must be placed on the flock and not entirely on the shepherds who "have led them astray" (Yirmeyah-Jer. 50:6). Even though the shepherds "have been feeding themselves" and not the flock (Yechezqel-Ezek. 34:2,3), the flock should have dismissed them and found shepherds who are willing and capable of feeding them. They haven't done this because they no longer care to "endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled," they have accumulated "for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires;" and have turned "away their ears from the truth," and have turned "aside to myths" (2 Tim. 4:3,4).
The sad condition of most local assemblies is to be expected in the era of the apostasy of the last days (2 Thes.2.3). The apostasy we are living in has caused many believers to become physically sick, lose their faith, be scattered and be devoured by the devil (Yech-Ezek. 34:4-6; I Keph-Peter 5.8). The bishops who have sought after their own pleasures will be judged by YAHSHUA and their works will be burned up at the judgment seat of Mashiyach (I Kor. 3:12-15; 2 Kor. 5:10).
Every TV preacher is out of the will of YAHWEH and 99% of all bishops in America are not doing what YAHWEH commanded them to do! Any TV preacher who thinks he is doing the will of YAHWEH can ask himself why he isn't personally training young men to be bishops and why he isn't watching over the spiritual welfare of those placed under his care (Ibriy-Heb. 13.17). TV preachers can't do these things because they have never seen their TV flock.
Accusations Against A Bishop
The assembly should never receive an accusation against a bishop except on the basis of two or three witnesses (I Tim. 5:19). Bishops are just like all believers in that they are not above the laws of YAHWEH. If they violate His laws they must be disciplined just as they discipline those under them. No believer is to be disciplined unless there are two or three witnesses (Levy 16:18).
Appointment of Bishops
Bishops are not chosen and confirmed by the assembly. They are chosen and confirmed by other bishops (Titos 1.5). Most assemblies choose their bishops and fire them. This is not Scriptural and it is a leading cause of the apostasy of the last days (2 Tim. 4.3). Apostate believers have accumulated (hired) apostate bishops to tickle their ears with nonsense. Bishops who are at the mercy of the assembly, for the most part, will not have the courage to stand up to them.
Any assembly that loses a bishop should not seek to hire a bishop. They should go to the bishops of another assembly nearby and ask them to hire bishops for them. The bishops who are chosen cannot be fired or dismissed by the congregation. They can only be dismissed by each other.
There should be three or more bishops in every assembly to avoid corruption. It's easy for a lone bishop to become corrupt. With two bishops it is much harder for them to become corrupt and with three or more it is extremely difficult. If all of the bishops become corrupt the assembly can remove them by not giving them money. Once the people stop giving corrupt bishops money they will get the message and get right with the Lord or leave.
Giving to the Lord
All monies given by the people are given to the bishops (I Kor. 9.1-14). They can keep it all or give some back to the deacons to care for the needy within (Acts 6.1-3) and without the assembly (Rom. 15.26; I Kor. 13.3; Gal. 2.10), and for missionaries (3 Yochanan-John 7,8).
No one gives money to an assembly. All monies are given to the bishops who distribute it among themselves and the deacons. There are some exceptions in which a plea for money to help the poor can be made (Rom. 15.26). That money is to be given to the deacons who distribute it.
When we give to the Lord we are not to keep records or let anyone know what we give, including the bishops (Leviy-Matt. 6.1-4). We should always give anonymously. Assemblies that hand out envelopes with names of the members on them are violating the Scriptures (Leviy-Matt. 6.1-4). Most bishops want to know how much people give so they can show favoritism to the big givers. This is dead wrong (Yaaqob-James 2.1-7).
There is also no reason to let the wicked know how much you give. I cannot understand the reasoning people use to justify writing off donations on their income tax form. They claim they can give more if they deduct what they give, but few do. Even the handful who do are giving with the wrong motives. They think it is their duty to figure out how to give the maximum amount to the Lord. He doesn't ask us to do this. He asks us to give hilariously from a joyful heart (2 Kor. 9.7).
We must remember that YAHWEH is sovereign and doesn't need our money. We are to give as He commands us not as we think we should. When YAHSHUA said, "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your alms may be in secret" (Leviy-Matt. 6.3) that is exactly what He meant.
If a local assembly erects buildings they are the property of the bishops if their money is used or they are the property of the assembly if the deacons' money is used. If both groups share the expense they must designate what percentage the bishops own. When the bishops leave it may be determined that they are to be compensated for all or part of what they gave for the buildings.
Partnership with the Wicked
Believers are commanded to not be unequally yoked with the wicked (2 Kor. 6.14-16). This applies to a local assembly as well. Bishops of a local assembly should never become partners with a city, county, state, or federal government. The practice of local assemblies and ministries cutting a deal with the IRS to become a 501(c)(3) corporation is not Biblical. Once an assembly does this it places itself at the mercy of the federal government which can impose any law it wants on them.
Bishops of 501(c)(3) corporations are prohibited from talking about politics. The federal bureaucrats can prosecute any bishop who violates that rule or any other rule. Only bishops who have not cut a deal with the IRS can be politically active.
Local assemblies can operate without being a 501(c)(3) corporation. Believers who give to the Lord and want a tax deduction can be given one from assemblies and ministries that are not 501(c)(3). The Scriptures prohibit this (Leviy-Matt. 6.1-4), but most believers are ignorant of the doctrine of giving.
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