Category: Church Leadership (Page 1 of 2)

Budiselić, “The Church as a Court: the Requirement for ‘Two or Three Witnesses’”

A new article by Ervin Budiselić does not focus heavily on the Pastorals, but I mention it here because of its obvious relevance for 1 Timothy 5:19, which is discussed on pp. 189–90. The article is available in its entirety at the address cited.

Budiselić, Ervin. “The Church as a Court: the Requirement for ‘Two or Three Witnesses.’” Kairos: Evangelical Journal of Theology 15.2 (2021): 179–94. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.32862/k.15.2.3

Abstract: “The Church in the New Testament is described with various images, and this article argues that one image that is implicitly present in the New Testament is the Church as a “court” or a “community of trial.” First, this can be argued because the God of the Bible – YHWH – is Creator, King, and Judge. That means that YHWH’s community is responsible, per YHWH’s revelation, to maintain the purity of its members in all aspects of life. Second, in the New Testament, we find examples where the Church functions as a court. However, the question is, does the biblical requirement for “two or three witnesses” also support the claim that the Church should function as a court? The purpose of this article is to identify places where the biblical command about “two or three witnesses appear,” to trace its development and to see what role and place it plays in the Church. By doing so, we would demonstrate that the presence of this stipulation in the New Testament is additional proof that we should sometimes view the Church as a “court.” The first part of the article explains that the context for the concept of witness is the Mosaic covenant and underlying assumption that governs the command about “two and three witnesses.” The second part analyzes the appearance of “two or three witnesses” in the Old Testament. In the third part, we will argue that the Church is truly a community of trial. We will so argue by observing selected examples from the New Testament where the Church functions as a court, and by tracking the development of the requirement about “two or three witnesses” in the New Testament. Based on this research, we will end by offering a reflection and a conclusion.”

I might mention that in addition to the literature cited in the article, one might add (though somewhat dated) an early monograph on the topic: H. van Vliet, No Single Testimony: A Study on the Adaptation of the Law of Deut. 19:15 Par. into the New Testament, Studia Theologica Rheno-Traiectina 4 (Utrecht: Kreminck en Zoon, 1958).

Merkle, “The Authority of Deacons in Pauline Churches”

Benjamin L. Merkle has made another contribution to the literature on the Pastorals:

Merkle, Benjamin L. “The Authority of Deacons in Pauline Churches.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 64.2 (2021): 309–25.

Abstract: The New Testament office of deacon is disputed primarily because of the paucity of information. Consequently, many look to the following in order to determine the role of deacons in the church: (1) the lexical meaning of διάκονος and its cognates (διακονέω and διακονία); (2) the function of the Seven in Acts 6:1–6; and (3) the qualifications for deacons in 1 Timothy 3:8–13. Additionally, one’s view of the role of women in ministry can influence how one perceives the function and authority of deacons. This essay argues that deacons held an official and authoritative, yet nonessential and subordinate, position in the Pauline churches. I support this thesis by considering: (1) the official title of deacons; (2) the official function of deacons; (3) the official qualifications of deacons; and (4) the official period of testing and honorable standing of deacons.

I took a class on the Greek text of the Pastorals with Dr. Merkle and benefitted greatly from it. I’m thankful for his commitment to thinking through issues in these letters and publishing the results for the benefit of both church and academy, as well as his work behind the scenes in the ETS Pastorals study group. Other publications of his on the Pastorals include:

“Are the Qualifications for Elders or Overseers Negotiable?” Bibliotheca Sacra 171.682 (2014): 172–88.

“Ecclesiology in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 173–98 in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010.

The Elder and Overseer: One Office in the Early Church. Studies in Biblical Literature 57. New York: Lang, 2003.

“Hierarchy in the Church? Instruction from the Pastoral Epistles regarding Elders and Overseers.” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 7 (2003): 32–43. Reprinted as “Hierarchy in the Church? Instruction from the Pastoral Epistles concerning Elders and Overseers.” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry 2.1 (2004): 45–62.

“Paul’s Arguments from Creation in 1 Corinthians 11:8–9 and 1 Timothy 2:13–14: An Apparent Inconsistency Answered.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49 (2006): 527–48.

Review, The Ideal Bishop: Aquinas’s Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles

Michael G. Sirilla. The Ideal Bishop: Aquinas’s Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles (Washington, D. C., The Catholic University of America Press, 2017)

This book makes a valuable contribution to Pastoral Epistles scholarship even though its aim is really toward a theology of pastoral ministry. Sirilla says this work fills “a lacuna in the scholarly work on St. Thomas’s theology of the episcopacy” (4) because scholars have tended to overlook Aquinas’s exegetical work. This has impoverished previous work because “many of St. Thomas’s theological reflections on the grace of the bishop’s office are found exclusively in his commentaries on the PE” (5). Sirilla says this is the first study to “substantively examine the theology of the episcopacy” found in Aquinas’s lectures on the Pastorals (5).

I am no scholar of Thomas, so I don’t have the background to evaluate such claims, but they struck me as parallel to what has happened with Calvin, where for many years scholars examined his theological writings and commentaries but neglected his sermons. With Calvin, the academy forgot that Calvin was first and foremost a preacher. With Aquinas, Sirilla argues, scholars seem to have forgotten that “Thomas Aquinas was, by profession, a biblical commentator” (85). In fact, he says that “Neo-Thomists too often neglected the biblical foundations of Aquinas’s theology” (84).

Here are a few representative quotes from Sirilla on the significance of the theology in Aquinas’s lectures on the PE:

 “The theology that Aquinas develops in his PE lectures is unique both with respect to that of his peers and with respect to what he says about the episcopacy in his other writings.” (20)

“Aquinas’s writings constitute a monumental development in the history of the theology of the episcopacy.” (29)

“It is only in Aquinas’s commentaries on the PE that we find a comprehensive treatments of the intellectual, moral, and spiritual qualifications required of one suited for the episcopal office, along with a nearly exhaustive treatment of the dangers and lofty duties that this office entails.” (69)

Then he cites Ceslas Spicq’s assessment of these lectures:

“The commentary of the Pastoral Epistles…dates from the last years of St. Thomas’s life, and it constitutes not only one of the best scriptural works that he had composed, but a masterpiece of medieval exegesis…. Undoubtedly, from a philological and historical point of view it is outdated, but it will always be consulted fruitfully for its psychological observations and above all for its theological elaboration.” (70)

As a Protestant, I do not follow various aspects of the view of the bishop Aquinas expounds, but there is much else with which I heartily agree and found helpful such as the strong emphasis on personal holiness and the centrality of teaching to the pastoral office. Aquinas also echoes Gregory’s important points about the need to a pastor to know his people individually and to tailor his instruction to their needs (159; commenting on 1 Tim 5:1-2). Sirilla summarizes Aquinas as teaching that “the bishop’s teaching and governing duties… ought to be expressions of loving service and not of a domineering spirit” (234).

Then, pertinent to this blog, this monograph is very useful as a guide to one aspect of the history of interpretation of the PE. I have a copy of Aquinas’s lectures (Commentaries on St. Paul’s Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, trans. Chrysostom Baer [South Bend, IN; St. Augustine’s Press, 2007]), but having a guide walk me through the commentary noting where Aquinas differed with contemporaries and providing explanation was immensely helpful. Precisely because Aquinas stands outside contemporary discussion, I am keen to see what questions the text prompts for him and where he goes with application.

For example, I was quite interested in Aquinas’s overall view of each of these letters. He wrote:

“[Paul] instructs the prelates of the churches…on the foundation, construction, and government of ecclesial unity in 1 Timothy, on firmness against persecutors in 2 Timothy, and on defense against heretics in the letter to Titus” (100). Aquinas then expounds 1 Timothy as focusing on qualifications for pastoral ministry and specific aspects of fulfilling that ministry such as teaching diverse people, correcting elders, etc. In dealing with false teachers in 2 Timothy, Aquinas also focuses on the need for a bishop to care so much for his flock that he is willing to die for them and he reminds his readers that such martyrdom was no mere abstract consideration in the early days of the church. Then, though Titus discusses qualifications for pastors as 1 Timothy does, Aquinas understands the focus here to be on finding successors in ministry as well as dealing with false teachers once more (Sirilla gives a nice summary on p. 100). Whether or not we agree with this synthesis, here is a serious and influential approach to these letters which deserves consideration.

This book is also a helpful guide to pithy comments from Aquinas on certain texts. Commenting on 2 Tim 2:15, a “laborer unashamed,” Aquinas says of a pastor, “He must confirm in his deeds the doctrine he preaches with his mouth; if he does not, he deserves to be embarrassed” (190). On 2 Tim 2:17 concerning false teachers, Aquinas says, “For heretics say true and useful things in the beginning; but when they are heard they mix in deadly doctrines, which they vomit out” (190).

Because the author’s aim is specifically the theology of episcopacy found in these lectures he skips a few portions of these lectures. However, this is a stimulating foray into the exposition of the PE by one of the leading teachers in the history of the church. As such we are indebted to Sirilla and can be enriched by attention to this work.

Wedgeworth, “Good and Proper: Paul’s Use of Nature, Custom, and Decorum in Pastoral Theology”

An interesting article which could be considered a “hidden contribution to Pastorals scholarship“:

Wedgeworth, Steven. “Good and Proper: Paul’s Use of Nature, Custom, and Decorum in Pastoral Theology.” Eikon: A Journal for Biblical Anthropology 2.2 (2020): 88–97.

Eikon is the journal of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, formally known as the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Wedgeworth’s article uses 1 Tim 2:8-15 as its primary text, thus contributing to the ever-increasing literature on that passage.

The essay does not have an abstract, but an excerpt from the beginning will serve to summarize: “This essay will investigate to what extent the Apostle Paul uses a sort of natural-law reasoning in his argument against women teaching or holding an office of authority in the church. The primary textual subject will be 1 Timothy 2:8–15, but parallel New Testament passages will be considered insofar as they provide additional support for understanding the logic of Paul’s argument. I will argue that Paul is making a kind of natural law argument, by way of custom and decorum. This is not a simple appeal to human intuition, neither is it a generalized observation of empirical data taken from nature. It is, however, an argument based on the concepts of basic honor to authority figures, an element of the natural law, and the social power of decorum, of what is proper or fitting for social relationships between men and women. These are concepts grounded in a particular philosophy of nature and the morally formative role of custom. While appropriately using language and categories from the creation order, Paul is indeed employing a particular kind of natural-law application of this biblical account in order to prescribe customary social relations between men and women in the church.”

The full issue of Eikon which includes Wedgeworth’s article is here, and an online version of the full article is here.

Recent Work on the Pastoral Epistles

I am aware of four books related to the Pastorals that have just come out, and thought it would be useful to mention them here.

First is the new volume on the PE in the Baylor Handbook series. The series as a whole has been very well done so I look forward to seeing this PE volume by Larry Perkins.

 

 

Second, is this new edition of Aquinas’s commentaries on the PE, Michael G Sirilla, The Ideal Bishop: Aquinas’s Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press. 2017).

I have only glanced at it so far. Here is the table of contents:

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Theology of the Episcopacy in the Writings
  3. St. Thomas’s Lectures on the Pastoral Epistles
  4. Lectures on 1 Timothy: Ut gubernet populum
  5. Lectures on 2 Timothy: Ut pro populo subdito patiatur
  6. Lectures on Titus: Ut malos coerceat
  7. Conclusion

 

This will be fascinating in terms of the history of interpretation.

Third, Baylor has also published a new monograph on the Pastorals, Civilized Piety: The Rhetoric of Pietas in the Pastoral Epistles and the Roman Empire by T. Christopher Hoklotubbe. Here is the table of contents for this book:

Introduction: The Politics of Piety in the Pastoral Epistles

  1. Piety in Caesar’s House
  2. Piety in God’s House
  3. Honoring Piety in the City
  4. Honoring Piety in the Ekklēsia
  5. The Mystery of Philosophical Piety
  6. The Mystery of Pastoral Piety

Conclusion: A Pious and Civilized Christian in the Roman Empire

 

Fourth, the Pastorals are dealt within this interesting new book, Paul as Pastor, edited by Brian S. Rosner, Andrew S. Malone, and Trevor J. Burke (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. 2018). The PE are dealt with by Bob Yarbrough in chapter 11 (which can be viewed at Amazon)

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

  1. The Household Setting of Paul’s Pastoral Practice and its Biblical and Jewish Roots — Brian S. Rosner, Ridley College, Australia
    2. Paul as Pastor in Acts: Modelling and Teaching Perseverance in the Faith – Alan J. Thompson, Sydney Missionary and Bible College, Australia
    3. Paul as Pastor in Romans: Theological Foundations – Colin G. Kruse, Melbourne School of Theology, Australia
    4. Paul’s Pastoral Sensitivity in 1 Corinthians – Matthew R. Malcolm, Trinity Theological College, Australia
    5. Paul as Pastor in 2 Corinthians – Paul W. Barnett, Macquarie University, Australia
    6. Pastoring with a Big Stick: Paul as Pastor in Galatians – Michael F. Bird, Ridley College, Australia and John Anthony Dunne, St. Andrew’s University, UK
    7. Paul and Pastors in Ephesians: The Pastor as Teacher – Peter Orr, Moore Theological College, Australia
    8. Paul and Pastors in Philippians: When Staff teams Disagree – Sarah Harris, Carey Baptist College, New Zealand
    9. Paul as Pastor in Colossians? – Andrew S. Malone, Ridley College, Australia
    10. Mother, Father, Infant, Orphan, Brother: Paul’s Variegated Pastoral Strategy Towards His Thessalonian Church-Family – Trevor J. Burke, Cambridge Theological Federation, UK
    11. Paul as Working Pastor: Exposing an Open Ethical Secret – Robert W. Yarbrough, Covenant Theological Seminary, USA
    12. The Pastoral Offices in the Pastoral Epistles and the Church of England’s First Ordinal – Tim Patrick, Bible College SA, Australia
    13. Augustine of Hippo on Paul as Pastor – Andrew M. Bain, Queensland Theological College, Australia
    14. ‘He Followed Paul’ Whitefield’s Voice: Heroic, Apostolic, Prophetic – Rhys S. Bezzant, Ridley College, Australia

 

Lastly, I have also just received a copy of a recent article, “The Rhetorical Strategy of 1 Timothy,” by Tim O’Donnell published in Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 79:3 (July 2017): 455-475. I look forward to reading this soon.

 

These are encouraging signs for work on these important letters.

3rd edition of Women in the Church

In 2016 a third edition of Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner was published. Although Baker published the first two editions, this version is published by Crossway. Scott Baldwin’s chapter on αὐθεντέω has been replaced with a chapter by Al Wolters on the same word. Dorothy Patterson’s chapter has been replaced by a roundtable discussion.

The chapter summaries below are taken from the introduction, with permission from Crossway.

The team of contributors, all leading experts in their respective fields, scrutinize in the following pages the various aspects of a responsible interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9–15: the historical background of first-century Ephesus; the meaning of the word αὐθεντεῖν; the Greek syntax of v. 12, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man”; the exegesis of 1 Timothy 2:9–15; the cultural context for applying the passage; matters of Bible translation; and vigorous, spirited interaction on the implications of the reading offered here for women’s roles in the life of the church today.

In chapter 1, S. M. Baugh discusses the first-century background. For more than a century, excavators have been digging in the city of Ephesus, and in the course of that time, archaeologists and ancient historians have unearthed, examined, and evaluated a very large amount of original source material, which makes a fairly intimate knowledge of the city and its inhabitants possible. Unfortunately, this material is not always easily accessible, and misunderstandings sometimes continue for people who look for accurate explanations of the Ephesian background to interpret texts such as 1 Timothy. Hence, while the earlier forms of this essay provided much technical information, this version has been revised to make the subject matter clearer to the nonspecialist. The overall goal is to draw an accurate, brief portrait of the institutions of Ephesus as they relate specifically to the interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 and illumine its message.

In chapter 2, Al Wolters examines the meaning of the verb αὐθεντέω, which occurs in 1 Timothy 2:12 and is commonly translated “have authority.” His main point is that the verb here does not have a pejorative meaning (as in “domineer”) or an ingressive meaning (as in “assume authority”), although in recent decades a number of scholars, versions, and lexica have ascribed these connotations to it. An exhaustive survey of all known occurrences of the verb in ancient and medieval Greek shows that actual usage does not support these lexicographical innovations. While the translation “assume authority” (or the like) is sometimes justified, this is the case only where an ingressive aorist is used, not in other tense forms of the verb, such as the present tense in this passage.

In chapter 3, I examine the essential syntax of what is probably the most contentious section of 1 Timothy 2:9–15: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man” (v. 12 ESV). In particular, based on syntactic parallels in both Scripture and ancient Greco-Roman literature, I argue that the two activities joined by the conjunction οὐδέ in 1 Timothy 2:12 (teaching and exercising authority over men) must be, in Paul’s consideration, either both positive or both negative. Paul’s positive view of διδάσκω (teaching) as an activity thus points to his positive view of αὐθεντέω ἀνδρός (exercising authority over a man) as an activity, over against interpreters who have assigned to αὐθεντέω ἀνδρός a negative meaning. In addition, I argue that the two activities of teaching and exercising authority, while related, ought not to be merged into a single idea that is more restrictive than either one is separately (e.g., “seizing authority to teach a man”), an interpretation that some scholars have strenuously advanced in recent years.

In chapter 4, Thomas Schreiner sets forth an interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:9–15. While not every contributor would agree with everything argued for in this essay—especially the interpretations offered for 1 Timothy 2:14–15—the interpretation proposed draws upon the conclusions reached in other chapters of this book (especially Baugh, Wolters, and Köstenberger) and interacts extensively with existing scholarship.

In chapter 5, Robert Yarbrough deals with the hermeneutics of this passage and what the interpretation means for church practice. He denies that this passage asserts the abolition, prevention, or curtailment of women’s leadership in church or society, or women’s exclusion from all teaching and ministry in any capacity whatsoever. Rather, this chapter explores the meaning of the biblical precedent and precept of men’s primary leadership responsibility as pastoral teachers and overseers (cf. Paul’s “teach” and “exercise authority” in 1 Tim. 2:12) in God’s household, the church.

In chapter 6, Denny Burk investigates the claim, advanced by Linda Belleville, that a nonpejorative rendering of αὐθεντεῖν is an innovation of English Bibles produced in the twentieth century. He also examines the shift in translation of αὐθεντεῖν from “have authority” in the NIV 1984 and TNIV 2002 to the ingressive “assume authority” in the TNIV 2005 and NIV 2011. Is the NIV translators’ explanation for the new rendering compelling? Or is it potentially misleading in light of Philip Payne’s pejorative understanding of “assume authority,” which the findings of Al Wolters and Andreas Kӧstenberger in the present volume contravene?

Chapter 7 is devoted to the application of the teaching of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 to women’s and men’s roles in the church today. To this end, we gathered a virtual roundtable of several women and men with a proven track record of speaking out intelligently and knowledgeably on this issue. While diverse in background, these women and men concur in their essential interpretation of the passage as laid out in the present volume. At the same time, while the original meaning of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 is firm, the significance of Paul’s teaching in this passage is multifaceted. The various participants in the roundtable provide a series of perceptive observations on the text and its application as women and men strive to apply the teaching of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 to their lives today.

 

Taken from Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9–15 by by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner, © 1995, 2005, 2016, pp. 21-23. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.

2014 ETS Section Overview

We had a great meeting in the Pastoral Epistles study group at ETS this year, with good attendance and discussion.

The first paper was by David Pao of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School who is currently working on a commentary on the Pastoral Epistles for the Brill Exegetical Commentary series. His paper was titled, “Let No One Despise Your Youth: Church and the World in the Pastoral Epistles”. Examining the cultural background of honor and shame, Pao argued that in 1Timothy Paul’s stance is neither accommodation to the culture nor subversion; “instead he calls for a transformation that both transcends the accepted ideals that Christians could share with the dominant culture and challenges practices and social norms that Christians should abandon.” This was a careful study which helpfully pushes back against those who see in the Pastorals merely cultural accommodation or who think the only other option is complete cultural subversion. This paper is scheduled to appear in JETS soon. Look for it.
Greg Beale from Westminster Theological Seminary adapted a portion of his biblical theology for his paper, “The Origin of the Office of Elder and Its Relationship to the Inaugurated Eschatological Tribulation.” Beale gave a particularly rousing presentation. He argued that the office of elder is rooted in the foretold rise of false teaching in the last days. Elders are part of God’s provision to help the church endure. I appreciated the biblical theological connection and was glad to hear him clarify in the Q&A that the office also had roots in Jewish synagogue practice. Without that clarification, it sounded like he was saying the office arose without precedent.

Dillon Thornton, who has just finished writing his dissertation at the University of Otago, presented his paper titled, “Satan as Adversary and Ally in the Process of Ecclesial Discipline: The Use of the Prologue to Job in1 Cor 5:5 and 1 Tim 1:20.” Thornton argued that in the two passages in view Paul drew from the prologue of Job portraying Satan an enemy of God who can nevertheless play a role in the process of church discipline. I had never thought of a connection with Job in these texts and was skeptical at first. However, Thornton made a compelling case with helpful implications and applications. We will look for more from Thornton in days ahead.

Mark Overstreet from T4 Global, a frontier mission organization, presented a paper titled, “Διδακτικόν: Rethinking the Qualification of Elders after Years in the Bush: Theological Education Among Peoples Who Have No Access to the Written Scriptures.” This was a helpful concluding paper from a practical theology angle. Literacy is assumed in the way we think of education, but what does it look like to equip elders in existing churches in settings where no one has access to written Scriptures? While affirming the great blessing of literacy, Overstreet presented a method of oral instruction being used to equip and serve the church in such settings.

We are currently working on plans for next year’s session. If you would be interested in presenting a paper sometime contact us at pastoralepistles at gmail dot com. And join us for the conversation next year in Atlanta.

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