Word of the Week
August 12, 2023
Anegklētos: No Accusations
For the overseer must be beyond reproach as God’s steward. . .
Titus 1:7 NASB2020
Imagine that you have been selected to serve on the search committee to find a new senior pastor for your church. One of your first tasks is to write a job description outlining the requirements for the position. What would you include in that list?
A degree from a seminary that you respect?
Years of experience as a senior pastor?
Connections to your denomination?
Excellent speaking skills?
A track record of church growth?
All these factors enter the conversation when you are trying to decide who is best qualified to lead your church into the future. None, however, are mentioned in the New Testament lists of qualifications for church leadership. You can find the most important lists in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, and you will find that almost every item is a character quality.
One particular trait leads the list, and it is expressed in an important Greek word: anegklētos (ahn-EHN-klay-tahs).
- After completing a tour of ministry in the island of Crete, Paul moved on, leaving behind his younger associate Titus, who had the task of appointing elders to lead all the small congregations. The apostle opened his letter to Titus with advice about the kind of man who would be qualified for such a leadership position, and the very first item is anegklētos – “if any man is beyond reproach (Titus 1:6).
- He explained this requirement by pointing out that “the overseer must be beyond reproach as God’s steward. . . .”(Titus 1:7).
- Not only elders/overseers, but also deacons should be selected from men who are anegklē Paul says, “These men must also first be tested, then have them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach” (1 Timothy 3:10).
Paul adds long lists of virtues to help us see in detail what it means to be “beyond reproach,” but the word itself describes the target that should always be uppermost in the minds of a search committee.
Just what does anegklētos mean?
In classical Greek, it was a term that came from the courtroom. It was a person who was innocent of any crime, so upright that you couldn’t even bring a serious charge against him. A grand jury would have no cause to indict him.
In the New Testament, it means “blameless, irreproachable.” The leaders you select for your church should exemplify the maturity and godly lifestyle that God desires for every believer. No one should be able to point a finger and accuse him of behavior that is incompatible with the life of holiness and love that Scripture prescribes for every follower of Jesus.
Perfection is not the standard, but we can expect church leaders to provide a good example of Christian living – growing in maturity, demonstrating love, avoiding immorality, and practicing ready repentance as needed.
It’s one thing to say that leaders should maintain a clean record before the watching world, but the New Testament also uses anegklētos to describe an even higher goal. Two other passages announce that every one of us is going to stand before the Lord one day, and when we do, we are going to be “beyond reproach.”
- Paul tells the church in Corinth that he thanks God for them as they eager wait for Christ’s return, because He “will also confirm you to the end, blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:8).
- He encourages the Colossian believers to rejoice in the fact that Jesus Christ has reconciled us to God by His death on the cross, “in order to present you holy and blameless and beyond reproach” to the Father (Colossians 1:22).
When we stand in the presence of God Himself, no one will bring an accusation against us. Satan can’t, and Christ won’t. After all, He is the one who intercedes for us – not because we had a perfect track record, but because His death on the cross paid the penalty for every sin we have ever committed. Because of His sacrifice for us, we will be able to stand before the One who knows every detail of every sinful act and corrupt thought in our life – without fear, because His Son has made us beyond reproach in the throne room of the King!
Q – Is it true that there are differences in the writing styles of the different men who penned the New Testament books?
A – Yes, you can definitely tell the difference between the writings of Luke and the writings of Peter, and each writer has distinctive characteristics. That’s why I always have my Greek students start their New Testament translation with John’s writings. John uses short, simple sentences using the more common words in Greek. Paul, on the other hand, tends to write long sentences where a basic statement is surrounded by a cluster of participles and other clauses that run on for several verses. You find more complex, literary Greek in 1 Peter, Luke, Acts and Hebrews.
This does not represent a problem for the doctrine of inspiration, because the Holy Spirit oversaw the writing process so that the end result is exactly what God wanted to convey. We just recognize that He shaped each human writer – even their writing style – so that they would be precisely prepared to produce an inerrant message.
When we read the stories of Jesus healing people, it’s easy for us to be impressed by the numbers involved, overlooking the pain each individual carried. Next week we will examine a Greek word that shows us the level of misery that Jesus removed from a needy woman.
©Ezra Project 2023