Pauline Images of a Christian Leader -- By: D. Edmond Hiebert

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 133:531 (Jul 1976)
Article: Pauline Images of a Christian Leader
Author: D. Edmond Hiebert


Pauline Images of a Christian Leader

D. Edmond Hiebert

[D. Edmund Hiebert, Professor of New Testament, Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Fresno, California.]

When seeking to trace the biblical portrayal of the qualities of Christian leadership, one’s thoughts naturally turn to the Apostle Paul, one of the most effective leaders in the entire history of the Christian church. The Scriptures record the challenging example of his own grand achievements, while his epistles contain ample information concerning his concept of the character and work of a Christian leader. His views of the nature and function of the Christian leader are delineated especially in the pastoral Epistles. These letters were directed to Timothy and Titus who, when Paul wrote, occupied important leadership positions in the churches.

Although the common designation “the pastoral Epistles” is somewhat misleading, these letters do offer valuable guidance to men in the pastoral office. But since neither Timothy nor Titus were pastors (much less bishops) in the modern sense of that term, it is fully justifiable to use these letters in seeking to ascertain the qualifications of leaders who may not be directly involved in the pastoral office. In the Lord’s work the precise office does not materially alter the needed qualifications of those engaged in varied types of Christian service. (This statement may be supported by comparing the similarity of the qualifications for bishops and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1–3.)

The purpose of this article is to discover the biblical qualifications for leadership positions in the Christian church. This goal is attempted through an exegetical study of the seven images of the Christian leader which Paul employs in the second chapter of his last letter, 2 Timothy .

A Teacher

“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).1

Though the noun “teacher” does not appear in this verse, the contents of the verse as well as the infinitive διδάξαι (“to teach”) unmistakably establish the fact that Paul has the image of a teacher in mind. The fact that this image stands first in Paul’s series indicates his recognition of the importance of the teaching function in the furtherance of the Christian faith. It was part of his own apostolic work in relation to the gospel (2 Tim 1:11). In both of his epist...

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