Qualifications of Preachers

Like elders, preachers are referred to by different terms in the Bible.  Each of these terms reveal much about their role.  They are called: (1) Ministers or servants – Rom. 15:16; 1 Cor. 3:5; 4:1; 2 Cor. 3:6; 6:4; Eph. 3:7; 6:21; Col. 1:7; 1:23; 1:25; 4:7; 1 Thes. 3:2; 1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:24.  The word means “a servant” (Vine’s).  These men are ministers of Christ (Rom. 15:16; 1 Cor. 4:1; Col. 1:7; 1 Tim. 4:6), the Lord (2 Tim. 2:24), God (2 Cor. 6:4; 1 Thes. 3:2).   (2) Evangelist – Acts 21:8; Eph. 4:11; 2 Tim. 4:5.  The word means “a bringer of good tidings” (Thayer), “lit. a messenger of good” (Vine’s).  They proclaim the Gospel. (3) Preacher – Rom. 10:14; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11; 2 Pet. 2:5.

Timothy is called a minister (1 Tim. 4:6 cf. 2 Tim. 4:5), and an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5).  He is also told to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).  The three words can be used interchangeably.

Maybe, you haven’t thought about it.  However, there are qualifications (or maybe characteristics is a better term) that should be met and maintained by a preacher.

Positive Qualifications

  1. His is to be “apt to teach” KJV, “able to teach”  NKJV/NASB (2 Tim. 2:24).  The word in the original language means “skilled in teaching” (Vine’s).  The man is to know the book and be able to convey it to others.  This same word is used of elders (1 Tim. 3:2; Tit. 1:9).
  2. He’s to be “gentle unto all men” KJV, “kind to all” NASB (2 Tim. 2:24).  This word means “affable… mild, gentle” (Thayer), “mild, gentle, was frequently used by the Greek writers as characterizing a nurse with trying children or a teacher with refractory scholars, or of a parent toward children” (Vine’s).  Paul employed this term saying, “we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children” (1 Thes. 2:7).
  3. He’s to be “patient” KJV, “patient when wronged” NASB, “forbearing” ASV (2 Tim. 2:24).  The word means “patiently forbearing evil, lit. patient of wrong” (Vine’s), “patient of ills and wrongs, forbearing” (Thayer).  Denny Petrillo has written, “Every preacher is going to be wronged, and it is hard to be patient with those guilty of committing this wrong.  The word for this expression… has to do with bearing evil without resentment” (Commenting on this verse in his commentary on 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, p. 130).  He is to gently correct those in the wrong (2 Tim. 2:25).
  4. He is to be a good representation of Christianity (1 Tim. 4:12).  He’s to be an example in word (speech NASB), in conversation (conduct NASB/NKJV), in charity (love NASB/NKJV), in Spirit (attitude, energy B.H.), in faith (trust, reliance upon God B.H.), in purity (holiness B.H. – sometimes connected with sexual purity cf. 1 Tim. 5:2).  In other words, he’s not just to preach a good message.  He should be striving to live by that same message.  It has been said, “He is a poor preacher who cannot preach a better message than he lives, but he is a poorer preacher who does not strive hard to live up to what he preaches” (read Rom. 2:1-3, 21-24).
  5. He is to “flee” sinful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22).  The word “flee” means “to flee i.e. … to flee away, seek safely by flight… to flee (to shun or avoid by flight” (Thayer).  He needs to be as Joseph (Gen. 39:1-15).  He needs to look for that way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13).  The word “flee” is the root from which the word “fugitive” is derived.  He should have the determination not to be caught by sin, that a fugitive has about the ones pursuing him.
  6. He is to “follow” (pursue NKJV/NASB) the right things (2 Tim. 2:22).  Things like: righteousness, faith, charity (love NKJV/NASB), and peace are to be pursued.  The word “follow” means “to run swiftly in order to catch some person or some thing, to run after… to pursue i.e. to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire” (Thayer).  He should be pursuing these things as a hunter does his or its prey (think of a cheetah after a gazelle).

Negative Qualifications

  1. He “must not strive” KJV, “must not quarrel” NKJV, “must not be quarrelsome NASB (2 Tim. 2:24).  The word means “to fight, to quarrel, dispute” (Vine’s), and can be used of “those who engage in a war of words, to quarrel, wrangle, dispute” (Thayer).  Clearly, he’s to be one who contends for the faith (Jude 3), and defends the Gospel (Phil. 1:17).  However,In context, it is speaking of striving over words to no profit (2 Tim. 2:14).  While a man is to contend, he is not to be contentious.  Some people just love to argue.  Such will not help the church to grow.
  2. He is to avoid “foolish and unlearned questions” KJV, “foolish and ignorant disputes” NKJV, “foolish and ignorant speculations” NASB  (2 Tim. 2:23).  Such hobbies “gender strifes” KJV, “generate strife” NKJV, “produce quarrels” NASB.  The books of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus speak of “fables” (1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:4; Tit. 1:14), “genealogies” (1 Tim. 1:4; Tit. 3:9), and “questions” (1 Tim. 1:4; 6:4; 2 Tim. 2:23; Tit. 3:9).  Evidently some were obsessed about Jewish fables, and genealogy and questions which perhaps God hasn’t answered (cf. Deut. 29:29).  Timothy was to avoid such needless controversy.

Family Qualifications

While a preacher need not be married, if he is married the wife is to be “a sister,” that is a Christian (1 Cor. 9:3-6).  I can’t imagine being without the help of a Christian wife, much less preaching with a non-Christian wife.

Implied Qualifications

One thing that is clearly implied is that the man is to be courageous.  He is to “preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).  He is to preach it when they like it and when they don’t, when it’s in style and when it is out.  He is to hold back nothing that is profitable (Acts 20:20).

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
This entry was posted in Church Organization, Preachers, Preaching and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Qualifications of Preachers

  1. W. Wayne Hodge says:

    Good study on qualifications…. Elders, Deacons, and Preachers… ‘appreciate your hard work.

  2. Bryant Perkins says:

    It is remarkable to me that perhaps the most clearly stated characteristic the preacher should possess, both positively and negatively, is a patient, peaceful attitude. And yet so many are not only contentious, but they actually celebrate it as a positive good.

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