The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Sep 30, 2017

Looking for a Pastor? Hire a Doctrinally-Sound Teacher! The Potential Practical Implications of my Recent Article in The Bible Translator

I am looking forward to blogging about my awesome ministry trip to Kenya soon (with pictures!). I think I'm just about over jet-lag. However, for now I'd like to focus briefly on the qualifications of a prospective pastor (since I've never been a pastor, of course I have all the answers [note to impressionable readers: that was self-deprecating sarcasm])

I was blessed recently to have an article of mine published in the prestigious journal The Bible Translator entitled "Rethinking the Translation of Didaktikos in 1 Timothy 3.2 and 2 Timothy 2.24" (vol. 68.2, 2017). Although somewhat technical, the article tries to make a strong practical suggestion for ecclesiology and the calling of pastors. 

In a nutshell, my proposal is that "apt to teach/skilled in teaching" (which is what most translations have--that or a similar equivalent) might be missing the point. If the word should be translated "experienced in teaching" or "a teacher" (as I try to argue) then this has the potential to impact how churches evaluate prospective pastors.

Granted, you don't want to hire a boring preacher or teacher for your pastoral staff! However, my point is that I don't think Paul is telling us that we should look at a preacher's skill in teaching, but rather the fact that he has been teaching. Consequently, since the prospective pastoral candidate has a track-record of teaching, it becomes much easier to analyze just what he has been teaching. This then does away with the oddity of didaktikos being the only word in those lists that would not, technically, be a moral qualification.

What would this mean practically? Students in ministry, if you wish to pastor, then start teaching first! Gain experience in teaching and establish a track-record of solid doctrine. Gain a reputation as a solid expositor of God's Word (this will take time, obviously, but why not begin with primary or teen Sunday School?). As for churches: don't be dazzled by raw pedagogical skill! The flashy preacher and teacher you're considering may be hiding a lack of doctrinal soundness or, even worse, heresy.

I should note, however, that there is an alternative interpretation of didaktikos favored by my doctoral advisor David Alan Black, namely that the word means "teachable," i.e., "humble" (although I am not yet fully swayed, I did find support for this view in the writings of Cyprian of Carthage). This view would also solve the conundrum of why didaktikos would seemingly be the only word in the lists that isn't a moral qualification. The practical takeaway here would be that churches should only call potential pastors that have a track-record of humility. There is no place in the ministry for a prima donna!


  1. Excellent point, Paul. Thanks for posting this. I have recently plowed through a study of the pastor and deacon roles in NT teaching. Apart from the internal strong desire of 1 Tim 3:1, I am reminded that the ability to teach (by experience and understanding, not necessarily eloquence) is the factor that distinguishes between pastor and deacon qualifications. http://www.shepherdthoughts.com/baptistchurchny/pastors-and-deacons/

    1. Thanks, Pastor Overmiller, I trust your ministry is going well!