This text in I Timothy 3:5 makes clear certain things about God's church:
- God has charged some men with responsibility for "taking care" of His church.
Therefore, assertions that God has not invested any authority in man for overseeing His church are false. Likewise, claims that the Holy Spirit replaces any need for man's leadership in the church are also false. God has given us His Holy Spirit as well as Godly leadership for the care & development of His people; therefore, we obviously need both.
- These caretakers' responsibility is to be a servant to those who are broken, imparting healing to restore them to wholeness by the power of God.
The word for "taking care" is epimeleomai and is used in Scripture for only one other instance; the story of the Good Samaritan who tended to the injured man on the side of the road:
"And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed , he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee." Luke 10:34-35
This is a picture of the caretaking role, tending to those who were lost. He is a servant to those in his care by helping to bind up their wounds with oil and wine (types of the Holy Spirit) until they are made whole. Like the Good Samaritan, the church caretaker oversees this restoration, delegating responsibilities to others when necessary in providing such care. What happens once these have been made whole? They in turn become healers of others (Matthew 10:8; Luke 4:18, 9:2, 10:9, 22:32).
- God requires that these caretakers be patriarchal in heart.
The criteria (in part) for being a caretaker of God's church is that one be the husband of one wife, ruling his own house well with his children also in subjection to that authority (I Timothy 2:12-14, 3:2-5, 12; I Corinthians 11:3; Titus 1:6). We know that only a man can be a husband and only a man is charged by God for being the head of the home. Very obviously then, the oversight God provides for His church is reflected in patriarchal authority. Why patriarchy? Because such is a reflection of God's authority as our Everlasting Father and He raises up men as caretakers after His own heart (Jeremiah 3:15).
This also tells us that God sees His Church as a family. The family unit was the first reflection of authority God established in the earth. The care of God's people is just that important & personal to Him so as to trust it to nothing less. He ensures that those in charge of leading earthly families have His authoity and He does the same for the church. Just as a man is to demonstrate his love for his family by laying his life down for them, those called to be caretakers in the church likewise lay their lives down for the flock.
caretaker: a person who is in charge of the maintenance of a person, place or thing, esp in the owner's absence.
God selects men to be servants in His Church by equipping them to oversee the restoration of souls in the Body of Christ. This is the calling of elders in the church. When we respect that authority, it is not because the man is some great one; it is because we are honoring the God whose authority is being reflected in that vessel. The caretaker doesn't replace the One to whom we belong (we have been bought with a price), but we recognize that Jesus is using the caretaker to help us mature in Him.
Jesus told Peter that unless he allowed Jesus to serve him in washing his feet, he would have no part in Christ (John 13:8). Someone who has been called by Jesus will understand this and seek to be a servant in order to lead because he has been given the nature of a caretaker. Likewise, others who understand it will allow themselves to be so served.