On Violent Elders Vs. Forceful and Righteous Leadership

1 Timothy 3:3, Violent. This passage (vv. 3–7) lists the qualifications of an elder or leader of a congregation. One of the of character traits that he is not to possess is that of being a brawler (KJV),violent (NKJV) or pugnacious (NAS). What do the words brawler, violent or pugnacious mean here? When an elder preaches, rebukes, exhorts his congregation, as Paul instructed Timothy and Titus do to (2 Tim 4:2; Tit 1:13; 2:15), or “warns his congregation (Col 1:28), is this being “violent,” as Paul warns against in his first letter to Timothy (1 Tim 3:3)? We will discuss these issue below and what the biblical definition of violent is.

The word violent as found in 1 Tim 3:3 is the Greek word amachos meaning one who is by nature “a fighter, brawler, contentious, quarrelsome, one who causes strife, or one who is combative.” In modern terms, he’s a bully. Perhaps you remember the neighborhood bully from your years as a school child. By contrast, an elder, overseer or shepherd of a congregation is not to be such a person. This is what Paul had in mind when he gave these instructions concerning the qualifications of an elder.

So let’s now explore this issue a little further. Is there ever a time when spiritual leaders may need to resort to forceful words or even to forceful actions to protect YHVH’s spiritual sheep? What, for example, did David mean when he asks the following question in Psalm 94:16?

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

Let’s answer this question by asking another question? What did Yeshua mean when describing a good shepherd versus an evil hireling shepherd, and when he said that unlike the evil shepherd, a good shepherd lays his life down for the sheep and protects them from those who come to kill, steal and destroy the sheep? He goes on to say that the good shepherd defends the sheep, while the evil shepherd is a coward who runs away in the time of danger and fails to protect the sheep (John 10:7–15). Another example of an evil shepherd is found in Ezekiel 34 where such a shepherd fails to protect the sheep from the beasts of the field (Ezek 34:7–10). 

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