How many times is “bishop” mentioned in the Bible? (What does the Bible say about Bishop?)

During last Sunday’s service, after our Bishop had finished the sermon, I found myself wondering about what the Bible says regarding bishops, both during the Biblical times and the present. Specifically, I pondered their duties and responsibilities, and later that day, during our Bible study group, I suggested that we delve into this topic. Our discussion commenced with the question, “How many times is the word bishop mentioned in the Bible?”

The word “bishop” is mentioned about 6 times in the Bible, although this number varies depending on the Bible version. Bishops are discussed in-depth, specifically in the books of 1 Timothy, Titus, and Philippians, and these books offer insight into the role of a bishop. Theological studies also support the idea that the Bishop is a key figure in early Christian leadership and church governance.

In this article, I invite you to join me as we delve into this topic and uncover who’s a bishop according to the Bible and what their duties are. Additionally, to learn about who was the first bishop in the Bible and the requirements needed for one to become one, keep reading.

What is a bishop according to the Bible?

In the Bible, a bishop is a leader in the Christian Church responsible for overseeing and guiding the congregation, as implied in Philippians 1:1. The word “bishop” comes from the Greek word “episkopos,” which means “overseer” or “supervisor.” In Acts 20:28, Paul addresses the “elders” of the Church in Ephesus, using the term “episkopos” in some Bible versions, referring to them as overseers. The concept of a bishop as a leader and overseer is further developed in early Christian writings and theological studies, where their role in maintaining unity and sound doctrine is highlighted. It’s worth knowing that the concept of the Bishop has evolved throughout Christian history, but its fundamental role as a leader and guide remains central to the Christian faith.

Where is “bishop” mentioned in the Bible?

What does the Bible say about Bishop?
Bishop in the Bible. Image source: Pixabay

Among the verses that mention “bishop” include 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, where both scriptures describe the qualifications for those aspiring to be bishops in the early Church, suggesting that they need to be of good character, be able to teach, and be able to manage their household. The passages also emphasize the importance of bishops being respected by those inside and outside the Church. As seen before, Philippians 1:1 and Acts 20:28 also mention “bishop,” highlighting their role as overseers and leaders in the Church. Scholars and theologians also argue that the term “pastor” in Ephesians 4:11 refers to the same office as the Bishop, as both are responsible for shepherding and caring for the Church.

Who was the first bishop in the Bible?

The Bible doesn’t explicitly mention who the first bishop was. However, it does provide some insight into the early leadership structure of the Church, with a good example being the apostles, who are described as leaders in the early Christian community, with Peter and John taking on the prominent roles. Additionally, James, the brother of Jesus, is described as a leader in the Church in Jerusalem, as implied in Acts 15:13-21. It’s worth knowing that according to tradition, the apostles appointed bishops in various regions, with Peter being credited as the first bishop of Rome. This tradition is based on the belief that Peter was the leader of the apostles and that he established a church in Rome, although there’s no clear evidence in the New Testament or other early Christian writings to support this claim.

Requirements for a bishop in the Bible

As implied in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, one of the requirements for a bishop in the Bible included having a good reputation and being free from any moral or ethical failures. Also, the Bishop was required to be faithful to their spouse and have a strong commitment to marital fidelity. Bishops were also required to have self-control in all areas of their lives, including their emotions, desires, and appetites, and be sober-minded, and respectable. Bishops were also required to be able to teach and not give to drunkenness. They were to be peaceful and gentle in their interactions with others and not prone to violence or aggression. Finally, they were required not to be motivated by greed or materialism.

What are the functions of a bishop in the Bible?

What does the Bible say about Bishop?
Functions of a bishop. Image source: Pixabay

The primary functions of a bishop, according to the Bible, include overseeing and directing the affairs of the Church, including appointing and overseeing other leaders such as elders and deacons, as well as ensuring that the Church operates according to biblical principles. Additionally, bishops are called to teach the truths of the faith and ensure that biblical doctrine is maintained within the Church.

Bishops are also responsible for caring for the spiritual and practical needs of the members of the Church, including providing pastoral care and counseling, as well as ensuring that practical needs such as food, shelter, and clothing are met.

To add to that, bishops are called to equip the saints for ministry, as implied in Ephesians 4:11-12, and this involves providing resources, training, and guidance to enable the members of the Church to use their spiritual gifts effectively for the sake of the kingdom.

Bishops are also charged with guarding the truth of the gospel, as implied in 1 Timothy 6:20. and this involves identifying and exposing false teaching.

Last but not least, bishops are also called to lead by example, both in their conduct and in their ministry, as suggested in 1 Peter 5:3, modeling the qualities of a mature Christian, including humility, love, and devotion to Christ.

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