Also available as MP3: More Makings of a Pastor – 1 Timothy 3:4-7
For a pastor to rule his house well (v.4) he must love his wife as Christ loved the church (Eph.5:23). Christ would never harm the church and always acts in her best interest, and that’s how pastors must love their wives. A pastor must be willing to give himself for his wife like Christ gave Himself for the church (Eph.5:25). He must love her even before she washes away the things in her life that he hates, as Christ loved us (Rev.1:5).
If a pastor’s wife doesn’t submit to him he must love her anyway, do what he’s supposed to do even though she isn’t doing what she’s supposed to do (cf. IICor. 12:15). It’s called grace, and pastors must give it to rebellious wives because this is what God gives us “very gladly.”
Of course, a pastor’s house also consists of “children” he must rule well (I Tim. 3:4). This doesn’t mean his children never get into trouble, it means he disciplines them when they do. The problem with Samuel wasn’t that his sons got into trouble, it was that he “restrained them not” (ISam.3: 13). You’d think David would have been a better father, but the reason his son Adonijah plotted to take over the throne was because David never restrained him (IKings 1:6).
The Bible is clear that children must be restrained by spanking them with “the rod of correction” (Pr.22:15; 23:13; 29:15). When Paul says that pastors must rule their children “with all gravity,” that tells you how serious a matter it is for a pastor to rule his children “well” by spanking them. The word “gravity” is related to the word grave, and it doesn’t get any more serious than that!
How does an ability to rule his own house show an ability to rule God’s house (v.5)? Well, there are ways a pastor must rule the church as he rules his wife, and there are ways he must rule the church as he rules his children. Pastors must love the house of God as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. Pastors give themselves to their people by giving themselves to studying and teaching the Word. If he feels like he is giving more to them than they are giving to him, he must continue to do give himself for them “very gladly” (cf. II Cor. 12:15).
But sometimes the people in the pastor’s congregation act like children (ICor.3:1). The Corinthians were acting so childishly Paul had to threaten to come to them “with a rod” (ICor.4:21). What kind of rod? The kind Paul used in Acts 13:9-11, the kind he talked about in II Corinthians 12:21—13:2. This wasn’t a power Paul liked using. He wished they’d obey his words so he didn’t have to (IICor. 13:10). Paul had the power to inflict destructive chastening on the saints, the kind a father uses on his son with a rod.
Of course the only chastening power pastors have today is that of disfellowshipping. But if a pastor wasn’t man enough to spank his son, do you think he will man up and put a man out of the assembly? Do you see how ruling his own house well helps a pastor rule the house of God?
A pastor also can’t be a “novice” (v.6), a beginner. Paul didn’t ordain pastors in the churches he founded until he left for awhile and let men be proved faithful (Acts 14:21-23). This is why Paul said to “lay hands on no man suddenly” (ITim.5:22). In those days they’d lay hands on a man to ordain him to the ministry (ITim.4:14).
The problem with ordaining a novice is that he’ll be “lifted up with pride” (3:6). “Look where I’m at, and I didn’t have to prove myself, they thought I was good enough without proving myself.” The “condemnation of the devil” is the condemnation the devil fell into when he was lifted up with pride, the loss of his office (Isa.14:12-14).
Pastors must have a good report of them that are “without” (ITim.3:7), i.e., without Christ (Col.4:5) lest he fall into “reproach (3:7), i.e., the disapproval of the world. Since unbelievers tend to voice their disapproval of believers, all Christians should “give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” of them (ITim.5:14). The “snare of the devil” are the traps Satan sets in our lives to snare us into doing things of which the lost can speak reproachfully.