“And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

Jer. 3:15

“And He gave some… pastors…”

Eph. 4:11



Order of Contents

Advice for Pastors
Office of Pastor
On the Qualifications of 1 Tim. 3
Female Pastors?
On an Extraordinary Calling
Not All Truths must be Preached in All Circumstances
How Far Pastors are to be Believed



Advice for Pastors

Beeke, Joel – Ten Commandments for Pastors  2015, 10 paragraphs




Alexander, Archibald

Introduction to Pastoral Reminiscences, 1849  5 pp.

On the heart of a pastor.

“Weep with them that Weep”,  a Discourse Occasioned by the Burning of the Theater in the City of Richmond, Virginia on Dec. 26th, 1811  1812  21 pp.

Church of Scotland – A Humble Acknowledgment of the Sins of the Ministry of Scotland  1651

Pastors and Elders, let us grieve and break our hearts over our sins in Christ’s ministry.  May this cause us to look to Christ for all of our righteousness, and may it spur us on to walk more humbly and closely with Him as we work in His Vineyard.  Use this in secret prayer throughout the year.  

Church members, bring reformation to our land and humbly encourage your elders with this article.

Dabney, Robert

What is a Call to the Ministry?  no date or source info

Are you called to the Ministry?  Read this to find out.

The Public Preaching of Women  1879  from the The Southern Presbyterian Review for October 

The argument against women preaching

Girardeau, John

An Address on Behalf of the Society for the Relief of Superannuated Ministers and the Indigent Families of Deceased Ministers of the Synod of South Carolina  1858  24 pp.

The Suffering Seaboard of South Carolina  1876  29 pp.

A chronicle of the sufferings of Charleston, SC, “our Southern Zion”, after its occupation by the Northern army during the War between the States.  Peer here into the sufferings of a part of Christ’s church, and the labors of her faithful pastors. 

Hodge, Charles

“He Preached Christ”, Acts 9:20, Sermon Preached… at the Memorial Services… [for] James Waddel Alexander, D.D.1859  17 pp.

The Teaching Office of the Church  1882  16 pp.

Macleod, William

The Essence of the Ministry  2006 17 paragraphs  The opening address given at the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) Seminary in Sept., 2006.

Macleod helpfully and practically gives eight things that it is not and two things that it is.

The Ideal Minister  2005  11 paragraphs, a public address

What should Christians look for when they call a man to be their minister? What should they pray for God to do in their own minister? What should ministers and divinity students strive to be?  Here are 10 characteristics.

Miller, Samuel – The Importance of the Gospel Ministry  1827  68 pp.





Bernard, Richard

The Faithful Shepherd… with the Shepherd’s Practice  1621  355 pp.

The Shepherd’s Practice: or, the Manner of his Feeding the Flock  1621  56 pp.

Bernard (bap.1568-1642) was an English, puritan clergyman.

Baxter, Richard – The Reformed Pastor  565 pp.



The Office of Pastor

Binnie, William – The Holy Ministry, p. 120 ff.  3 pp. from his The Church



On the Qualifications of 1 Tim. 3 & the Good Order of the Church

There are some who consider the qualifications set forth in 1 Tim. 3 to be of the essence of the offices there described, such that if a person lacks or is deficient in any one of them, then they have no authority as an elder.  Rather, in consistency with much of reformed history, these qualifications are for the good order of the Church (which should be the regular rule).  A deficiency or absence of any one of them may not necessarily disqualify one from the office or remove their authority in the office, especially in extraordinary circumstances.

The difference in interpretation is due to a (1) an unqualified, Biblicist and exclusively divine-command interpretation of the text, versus (2) recognizing natural law and other ethical categories.

(1) is wrong as Paul in 1 Tim. 2:1-12 says that women ought not to hold authority over men in the Church, and yet God extraordinarily called female prophets in Scripture to teach and exercise authority over men.  (2) understands the apostle in 1 Tim. 3 to be setting forth wholesome positive ordinances based on natural law.  Other natural law factors may be (and often should be) taken into account, as virtually every congregation in fact (rightly) considers other natural factors beyond those in 1 Tim. 3 (especially as they are relevant in their circumstances) when considering who to elect for elders.  Such natural qualifications must also be weighed against the whole of other relevant natural factors and principles.  As Rutherford and Gillespie argue, extraordinary circumstances often necessitate extraordinary means; and what is right in extraordinary circumstances by no means warrants the same means to be used in ordinary circumstances.

In contrast to the plain words of 1 Tim. 3, that elders be married to one wife, the Church of Scotland during the First and Second Reformations often allowed, on occasion, gifted men who were single to be ordained as ministers (consider Mt. 19:12 and the apostle Paul’s calling to the ministry, who was likely single at the time).

Can simply physical circumstances, of themselves, determine one’s fitness to hold the authority of an elder?  Must an elder, whose wife dies, resign the eldership?  According to Titus 1:6, must an elder step down if a child, grown and out of the house, in a distant place, becomes an unbeliever or is riotous in their living?  Some would argue that this is a communication of God’s will through providence that the elder should step down, and that he is no longer a fitting example to the flock.  But, while providence may indicate God’s will in our changes of circumstances, must providence always be interpreted this manner?

There is quite a difference in how this informs our interpretation of Scripture:  Are the happenstances of providence always determinative of one’s calling, such that the spiritual is inevitably tied and constrained to the physical (and other people’s actions which we cannot control), or is the spiritual, and the call of God, often more fundamental than the changing physical circumstances which God has placed in our lot?  While the apostle was setting down fundamental guidelines for Church governors in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1 to be a rule of good order for us throughout the ages, yet even when the apostles spoke, natural and spiritual qualifications apply.




Homily 10 on 1 Timothy, on 3:1-4

“A Bishop then, he says, must be blameless, the husband of one wife. This he does not lay down as a rule, as if he must not be without one, but as prohibiting his having more than one.”


Peter Martyr Vermigli

Common Places (1583),  4th Part, ch. 1, ‘Of Calling, and Especially unto the Ministry’

“19.  But the election of Paul [who was likely unmarried at the time] and such other[s] ought not to move us but that in choosing the ministers of the Church we must follow the doctrine of the same apostle taught us in the epistle unto Timothy, where he will that those which be novices in religion should not be chosen, but they which have a good testimony. But it must be considered that the rules described unto Timothy were given unto men, from whom, seeing other men’s minds be hidden and that they be utterly ignorant what is in them, it behoves that they use the cautions described by the apostle, lest they err in their elections.

But God rightly chooses his without those rules (Ps. 7:11; Jer. 11:20; Apoc. 2:23), “For He trieth the reigns and the hearts, and changeth the wills of men at his own pleasure.” Albeit some have said, that Paul in Judaism was of very honest conversation, as he himself testifies unto the Philippians (Phil. 2:6). And in the latter epistle to Timothy he writes that he had served God from his forefathers with a pure conscience. But I hold not with these men. For I will not diminish his fault in persecuting of the Church, seeing Paul did so greatly after a sort reproach himself with the same.

Wherefore when I allow of the solution now brought, this comes to mind that the canons which the apostle delivered unto Timothy are not always kept even as touching men. For Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, when he was yet a novice, and youngling in the faith, was placed in the See of the Church. For he was sent from the emperor to execute the office of Praetor.

(Margin Note: The commandments of God so far as sometime one gives place to another)

Here the adversaries vaunt against us, that it is lawful sometimes to deal against the holy Scriptures, and that the words of God are not most steadfast. But we must note that the precepts of God sometime have not their own strength, neither in very deed be precepts. For when two precepts meet together so as they cross one another, whereof the one is more excellent than the other, and God would have that chiefly to be done than the other which is of less excellency, and as touching the will of God, inferior, gives place unto the first and has not the [obliging] authority of a commandment [in that situation]: because God would not have it to be done in that place and at that time. Even as Christ taught as touching the drawing of an ox and an ass out of a pit on the Sabboth day (Lk. 14:5). By which means He excused his disciples who had plucked off the ears of the corn on the Sabboth day (Matt 12:1) and had rubbed out the grain. And He often times testified that He would have mercy and not sacrifice. (Ibid., v. 7).

The Church of Milan therefore was greatly molested by the Arians: it had need of a bishop and specially of a teacher that should be of great authority. These things were perceived to be in Ambrose. Neither was there any other fit man presented. Whereby that Church was quit from the other precept which was of less excellency, wherein it was commanded to beware of novices, or those which were not fully instructed. And of this matter it seems to be enough to have spoken somewhat by the way.”


Westminster Annotations  1st ed. 1645

On 1 Tim. 3:2

“He that is to be chosen a bishop must not necessarily be a married man, but necessarily be no polygamist…”


David Dickson

An Exposition of All St. Paul’s Epistles, on 1 Tim. 3:2

”Of one’  2. Property:  It behoves him to be the husband of one wife: which property is not laid down by way of precept, as if it was necessary for a pastor to be married, but by way of limitation, because if he purpose to marry, he ought to content himself with one wife so long as she lives and to keep himself from polygamy, which was frequent in those times.”


Robert McWard

The Banders Disbanded (1681), p. 47  McWard was a protege of Rutherford and leader of the Scottish covenanters.

“XXV.  As every escape, error, or act of unfaithfulness (even known and continued in) whether in a minister’s entry to the ministry, or in his doctrine or deportment, does not non-minister him, nor give sufficient ground to withdraw from, or reject him as a minister of Christ: So neither does every enormity, mis-demeanure or act of tyranny, injustice, perfidy or profanity etc. in the civil magistrate, whither as to his way of entry to that office, or in the execution of it, or in his private and personal behavior, denominate him a tyrant or an usurper, or give sufficient ground to divest him of his magistratical power, and reject him as the lawful magistrate.

XXVI. Though such a minister may lawfully be withdrawn from and disowned as a minister of Christ’s mission and institution, who either enters to the ministry by the window (i.e. in a way unwaranted or condemned in the Word of God) preaches erroneous and damnable doctrine, is grossly scandalous and vicious in his conversation, or is utterly insufficient for such a sacred function:”



Female Pastors?

While there were blessed women prophets in both the Old Testament (Ex. 15:20; Judges 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22; Isa. 8:3; Joel 2:28) and New Testament (Lk. 2:36; Acts 2:16-18; 21:9) there is no Scriptural example of a female in any other Church office.

Pastors, though, are of a different office than a prophet.  Prophets were extraordinarily called of God (who is able to read the hearts, and retains his sovereignty), they prophesied by inspiration and the office was not prescribed to be regularly and successively conferred by human instrumentality on others for its perpetual continuance.  A pastor, on the contrary, is ordinarily called and ordained through the Church, and regular guidelines are given in Scripture for their qualifications and regular continuance through the Church age.  While prophets could perform and lead acts of public worship, yet the regular administration of the public worship of the Church was given to priests in the Old Testament, and pastors in the New Testament.

The requirement that pastors be male stems not only from 1 Tim. 3:2, but also from the equity of the Old Testament precedent that the regular prescribed requirement for priests was that they were male; hence the regularly ordained ministry was all male.  This is inline with the regular rule of natural law, which teaches, as Paul says regarding the Church, that women ought not to teach or usurp authority over men (1 Tim. 2:11-15; see also Isa. 3:12).

Women prophets were an exception to this, as extraordinarily and immediately called by God.  They exercised their office righteously, without sin, and were a blessing in their circumstances, though such women officers were never the norm or to form a regular rule.

There is a distinction between that which is sinful and that which is valid.  A person may sinfully enter and remain in an office, and yet still have the valid authority of the office.  Not every sin entering into, or in, the office takes away the validity of the office.

While it is always wrong for a woman to be an ordained pastor due to the Scriptural teaching (which is a rule to us), yet if the woman is in a valid Church, she may yet be a valid pastor with valid pastoral authority (her baptisms being valid, etc.).  This is because the sex of the minister is not of the essence of the ministerial office.  This is seen in that there were blessed women prophets in Scripture, who were valid ministers of the Word.

The case of women pastors is similar to the case of women being civil magistrates.  While natural law and Scripture teaches that women ruling in a nation is a curse (Isa. 3:12), yet Scripture also clearly upholds the validity of women civil magistrates in many places, even as magistrates are the servants and ministers of God who bear his authority.

Thus, the only case where women may rightly enter the ministry of the Word is when they are immediately called by God and supernaturally gifted to the extraordinary office of prophetess, which is now ceased.

The following quotes below by Rutherford and Vermigli uphold the viewpoint taught here.


Samuel Rutherford

Due Right of Presbyteries  1644  The context is Rutherford arguing against congregationalists that election by the people is not always necessary, as in extraordinary circumstances.

1st Part, p. 202

“And why not (say I) electi­on [is extraordinary] also in another case, if as Peter Martyr says well (on Judges 4:5) a woman may be a preacher of the Gospel;”

[For Rutherford a ‘preacher’ was not the same as a pastor.  The word ‘preacher’ may include anyone who incidentally preaches, such as a woman (by the extraordinary motion of God, and moral necessity) proclaiming the message of Christ in a place where there is no settled Church (Jn. 4:28-29).  This is far distinguished from a regular ordained pastor of a congregation.  That Rutherford is against women pastors, see Due Right of Presbyteries, 1st Part, p. 475; 2nd Part, p. 303).]

1st Part, p. 454-5

“But a woman in no case is capable of administrat­ing baptism or the Lord’s Supper, except she were extraordinarily and immediately inspired to be a prophetess…”


Peter Martyr Vermigli

Common Places (1583), 4th Part, ch. 1

‘Of Diverse Ministries of the Church’

“(In Judges 4:4)

10.  But when as God chose Deborah unto the ministry of judging, being weak in sex, He straightway made her very famous and honorable through the gift of prophesying.  By which grace, and perhaps many other miracles more, she was constituted by God and confirmed by miracles as a woman chosen to so great an office.

Neither was only this woman endued with the spirit of prophesy, for in the holy Scripture we read of other women also which were in such sort instructed by the Holy Ghost.  Mary the sister of Moses, Hannah the mother of Samuel, Hulda in the time of Josiah the king were prophetesses (Ex. 15:20; 1 Sam. 2:1; 2 Kings 22:14).  And in the New Testament (to speak nothing of Mary the virgin, of Elizabeth the mother of John and of Anna the daughter of Phanuel, Lk. 1:42 & 46; 2:36) the daughters of Phillip the deacon (as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles) were prophetesses.

(Margin Note: That women prophets did openly teach the people)

Neither think I [that] it ought to be denied that some of those women, endued with the gift of prophesy did openly teach the people in declaring of those things unto them which had been showed them of God: seeing the gifts of God are not therefore given that they should lie hidden, but to the intent they should further the common edifying of the Church.

And yet hereby it follows not that what God does by some peculiar privilege, we should forthwith draw it into an example unto us: because according to the rule of the apostle we are bound unto an ordinary law,

(Margin Note: 1 Tim. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:34; Why women were commanded to be silent in the Church)

whereby both in the epistle to Timothy and in the first epistle to the Corinthians, he commands that a woman should keep silence in the Church.  And of the silence commanded, he assigns causes, namely, for that they ought to be subject to their husbands.  But the office of a teacher does declare a certain authority over those which are taught, which must not be attributed unto a woman over men.  For she was made for man, whom to obey she ought always to have a respect; which thing is also appointed her by the judgment of God, whereby He said unto the woman after sin was committed, (Gen. 3:16) “Thy disposition shall be towards thy husband.”  Further, the apostle derived a reason from the first fault, (1 Tim. 2:14) wherein he says that Eve was seduced and not Adam.

So as if women should ordinarily be admitted to the holy ministry in the Church, men might easily suspect that the devil by his accustomed instrument would deceive the people, and for that cause they would the less esteem the ecclesiastical function if it should be committed unto women; wherefore by the ordinary right and by the apostolical rule, it ought to be appointed unto men.  Howbeit if God do otherwise sometime, yet can He not be justly accused, for so much as all laws are in his power. If then sometime He send a prophetess, and adorn her with heavenly gifts, the same woman speaking in the Church must undoubtedly be hearkened unto, but yet so as her state be not forgotten.

(Margin Note: Two places of Paul are reconciled)

Therefore, the two testimonies of Paul, which seem to be repugnant one to another, may easily be reconciled.  In the first epistle to Timothy he writes that “a woman ought to be silent in the Church,” which, toward the end of the first epistle to the Corinthians, he most manifestly confirms. Howbeit in the same epistle he commands that a man prophesying or praying should have his head uncovered, but the woman while she prophesies should have it covered (1 Cor. 11:5): whereby doubtless he teaches that it is lawful for a woman both to speak and also to prophesy in the Church.  For it would not seem that so doing she should have been commanded to cover her head if she were utterly to keep silence in the holy assembly.

(Margin Note: Why the women that prophesy are commanded to be covered on their head)

After this sort the matter must be expounded, namely, that the precept of silence is a general precept, but the other, which is for covering of the head when they pray or prophesy, pertained only to those which were prophetesses.  They verily are not forbidden to prophesy for the common edifying of the Church: but lest they, forgetting the property of their own state (by reason of the extraordinary office committed unto them), should wax proud, they are commanded to have their head covered: whereby they might understand that they have yet the power of man above them.”


‘Of Calling and Especially unto the Ministry’

“18….  As touching the holy women and other prophets which exercised the ministry without attending till they were called, those we say had extraordinary vocations [callings], the Church either being as yet not planted, or else so fallen to decay as it might not otherwise be repaired.”



On an Extraordinary Calling to the Ministry


Martin Chemnitz

Examination of the Council of Trent (1565-73), 9th Topic, Concerning Holy Orders, from the 23rd Session, Section 4, ch. 4, in Chemnitz’s Works, vol. 2: Examination of the Council of Trent (1978; St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2007), in ed. Littlejohn & Roberts, Reformation Theology: a Reader of Primary Sources with Introductions  (Davenant Institute, 2017), p. 501

“22.  But they say:  ‘Those who have not been called, ordained, and sent by the usual ecclesiastical authority are thieves and robbers.’  That will make thieves and robbers of the apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers, presbyters and deacons of the apostolic church, who were not ordained by the chief priests, who at that time had the regular ecclesiastical power.

That is the same question which the chief priests once attacked the ministry of the Baptist (John 1:19-25) and of Christ Himself, (Matt. 21:23): ‘Who gave You this authority?'”



Thomas M’Crie

‘On the Right of Females to Vote in the Election of Ministers and Elders’, p. 5  from Miscellaneous Writings, Chiefly Historical  (1841), pp. 669-76

“…I believe it is generally allowed that the choice and call of the people, in certain extraordinary cases, forms a valid and sufficient warrant for exercising the pastoral office.”



Not All Truths must be Preached in All Circumstances

James Durham

Treatise on Scandal, pp. 358-359

“Neither can it be ground enough to plead for such decisions in preaching, that the thing they preach-for is truth, and the thing they condemn is error.  Because:

1.  It is not the lawfulness of the thing simply that is in question, but the necessity and expediency thereof in such a case: Now, many things are lawful that are not expedient, 1 Cor. 10:23.

2.  In these differences that were in the primitive times concerning meats, days, genealogies, etc. there was a truth or an er­ror upon one of the sides, as there is a right and a wrong in every contradiction of such a kind, yet the apostle thinks fitter, for the Church’s peace, that such be altogether refrained, rather than any way (at least in public) insisted upon or decided.

3.  Because no minister can bring forth every truth at all times, he must then make choice; And I sup­pose some ministers may die, and all do so, who have not preached every truth, even which they knew, un­to the people.  Beside, there are (no question) many truths hid to the most learned.

Neither can this be thought inconsistent with a minister’s fidelity, who is to reveal the whole counsel of God; because, that counsel is to be understood of things necessary to men’s salvation, and is not to be extended to all things whatsoever; for, we find the great apostle expound­ing this in that same sermon, Acts 20, verse 20, ‘I have keeped back nothing that was profitable unto you;’ which evidenceth that ‘the whole counsel of God,’ or the things which he showed unto them, is the whole, and all that was profitable for them, and that for no by-respect or fear whatsoever he shunned to reveal that unto them.

[4.]  Also, it is clear, that there are many truths which are not decided by any judicial act; and amongst other things, sparingness to decide truths that are not fundamental judicially has been ever thought no little mean[s] of the Church’s peace, as the contrary has been of division.”



How Far Pastors are to be Believed

Richard Baxter

A Christian Directory: a Sum of Practical Theology and Cases of Conscience  Buy  (1673), pt. 3, Christian Ecclesiastics, Question 132, ‘Is it unlawful to obey in all those cases where it is unlawful to impose and command?  Or in what cases?  And how far pastors must be believed and obeyed?’, p. 889

“…Whether pastors are to be believed or obeyed any farther than they show a Word of God revealing or commanding the particular thing?  Divine faith and obedience is one thing, and human is another:

1.  If as a preacher he say, ‘This is God’s Word, believe it and obey it as such,’ you must believe with a human faith that it is likelier that he knows what he says than you do (unless 1. you see evidence, 2. or the consent of more credible persons to be against him, and then you are not to believe him at all).

Even as a child believes his teacher in order to learn the things himself, so you are so far to take his word while you are learning to know whether it be so or not.  But not to rest in it as certain, nor to take your belief of him and obedience to him, to be a believing and obeying God formally, though a duty.”




“The pastor teaches sound doctrine (1 Tim. 3:1), often thrice in the week, which is in season and out of season (1 Tim. 4:2)…  The pastors, besides public preaching and praying in our church, are also to catechize the flock (Gal. 6:5; Heb. 5:12-13; 6:1-3; 1 Cor. 3:1-3), visit the flock (Cant. 7:11- 12; Eze. 34:4; Rom. 1:13; Acts 14:22-23,27; 20:17-18), are especially to exhort and pray over the sick (Jam. 5:14) and to strengthen the exercised in conscience (Job 33:23-24), and that in every house (as Acts 10:34; 5:42).”

Samuel Rutherford

A Defense of the Government of the Church of Scotland, 1642




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