RULES AS TO
CHURCH, AND THE
1. Translate as Greek, "Faithful is the saying." A needful
preface to what follows: for the office of a bishop or overseer in
Paul's day, attended as it was with hardship and often persecution,
would not seem to the world generally a desirable and "good work."
desire--literally, "stretch one's self forward to grasp"; "aim at":
a distinct Greek verb from that for "desireth." What one does
voluntarily is more esteemed than what he does when asked
This is utterly distinct from ambitious desires after office in the
bishop--overseer: as yet identical with "presbyter"
(Ac 20:17, 28;
good work--literally, "honorable work." Not the honor associated
with it, but the work, is the prominent thought
He who aims at the office must remember the high qualifications needed
for the due discharge of its functions.
2. The existence of Church organization and presbyters at Ephesus is
(1Ti 5:17, 19).
The institution of Church widows
accords with this. The directions here to Timothy, the president or
apostolic delegate, are as to filling up vacancies among the
bishops and deacons, or adding to their number. New churches in
the neighborhood also would require presbyters and deacons. Episcopacy
was adopted in apostolic times as the most expedient form of
government, being most nearly in accordance with Jewish institutions,
and so offering the less obstruction through Jewish prejudices to the
progress of Christianity. The synagogue was governed by presbyters,
(Ac 4:8; 24:1),
called also bishops or overseers. Three among them
presided as "rulers of the synagogue," answering to "bishops" in the
modern sense [LIGHTFOOT, Hebrew and Talmudic
Exercitations], and one among them took the lead. AMBROSE (in The Duties of the Clergy [2.13], as
also BINGHAM [Ecclesiastical Antiquities,
2.11]) says, "They who are now called bishops were originally called
apostles. But those who ruled the Church after the death of the
apostles had not the testimony of miracles, and were in many respects
inferior. Therefore they thought it not decent to assume to themselves
the name of apostles; but dividing the names, they left to presbyters
the name of the presbytery, and they themselves were called
bishops." "Presbyter" refers to the rank;
"bishop," to the office or function. Timothy (though not having
the name) exercised the power at Ephesus then, which bishops in the
modern sense more recently exercised.
blameless--"unexceptionable"; giving no just handle for blame.
husband of one wife--confuting the celibacy of Rome's
priesthood. Though the Jews practiced polygamy, yet as he is writing
as to a Gentile Church, and as polygamy was never allowed among even
laymen in the Church, the ancient interpretation that the prohibition
here is against polygamy in a candidate bishop is not correct. It must,
therefore, mean that, though laymen might lawfully marry again,
candidates for the episcopate or presbytery were better to have been
married only once. As in
"wife of one man," implies a woman married but once; so "husband of one
wife" here must mean the same. The feeling which prevailed among the
Gentiles, as well as the Jews (compare as to Anna,
Lu 2:36, 37),
against a second marriage would, on the ground of expediency and
conciliation in matters indifferent and not involving compromise of
principle, account for Paul's prohibition here in the case of one in so
prominent a sphere as a bishop or a deacon. Hence the stress that is
laid in the context on the repute in which the candidate for
orders is held among those over whom he is to preside
The Council of Laodicea and the apostolic canons discountenanced second
marriages, especially in the case of candidates for ordination. Of
course second marriage being lawful, the undesirableness of it
holds good only under special circumstances. It is implied here also,
that he who has a wife and virtuous family, is to be preferred to a
bachelor; for he who is himself bound to discharge the domestic duties
mentioned here, is likely to be more attractive to those who have
similar ties, for he teaches them not only by precept, but also by
(1Ti 3:4, 5).
The Jews teach, a priest should be neither unmarried nor childless,
lest he be unmerciful [BENGEL]. So in the
synagogue, "no one shall offer up prayer in public, unless he be
married" [in Colbo, ch. 65; VITRINGA,
Synagogue and Temple].
vigilant--literally, "sober"; ever on the watch, as sober men alone
can be; keenly alive, so as to foresee what ought to be done
of good behaviour--Greek, "orderly." "Sober" refers to the
inward mind; "orderly," to the outward behavior, tone, look,
gait, dress. The new man bears somewhat of a sacred festival character,
incompatible with all confusion, disorder, excess, violence, laxity,
assumption, harshness, and meanness
apt to teach--
3. Not given to wine--The Greek includes besides
this, not indulging in the brawling, violent conduct towards
others, which proceeds from being given to wine. The opposite of
"patient" or (Greek) "forbearing," reasonable to others (see on
no striker--with either hand or tongue: not as some teachers
pretending a holy zeal
answering to "not a brawler" or fighter (compare
2Ti 2:24, 25).
not covetous--Greek, "not a lover of money," whether he have
much or little
4. ruleth--Greek, "presiding over."
his own house--children and servants, as contrasted with "the church"
(house) of God
(1Ti 3:5, 15)
which he may be called on to preside over.
having his children--rather as Greek, "having children (who are)
gravity--propriety: reverent modesty on the part of the
children [ALFORD]. The fact that he has
children who are in subjection to him in all gravity, is the
recommendation in his favor as one likely to rule well the Church.
5. For--Greek, "But."
the church--rather, "a church" or congregation. How shall he who
cannot perform the lesser function, perform the greater and more
6. not a novice--one just converted. This proves the Church of
Ephesus was established now for some time. The absence of this rule in
the Epistle to Titus, accords with the recent planting of the Church at
Crete. Greek, "neophyte," literally, "a young plant";
(Ro 6:5; 11:17;
The young convert has not yet been disciplined and matured by
afflictions and temptations. Contrast
"an old disciple."
lifted up with pride--Greek, literally, "wrapt in smoke," so that,
inflated with self-conceit and exaggerated ideas of his own importance,
he cannot see himself or others in the true light
condemnation of the devil--into the same condemnation as Satan fell
Pride was the cause of Satan's condemnation
Joh 12:31; 16:11;
It cannot mean condemnation or accusation on the part of the
devil. The devil may bring a reproach on men
but he cannot bring them into condemnation, for he does not
judge, but is judged [BENGEL].
7. a good report--Greek, "testimony." So Paul was
influenced by the good report given of Timothy to choose him as his
of them which are without--from the as yet unconverted Gentiles around
that they may be the more readily won to the Gospel
and that the name of Christ may be glorified. Not even the former life
of a bishop should be open to reproach [BENGEL].
reproach and the snare of the devil--reproach of men
proving the occasion of his falling into the snare of the devil
The reproach continually surrounding him for former sins might
lead him into the snare of becoming as bad as his reputation.
Despair of recovering reputation might, in a weak moment, lead
some into recklessness of living
The reason why only moral qualities of a general kind are specified is,
he presupposes in candidates for a bishopric the special gifts of the
and true faith, which he desires to be evidenced outwardly; also he
requires qualifications in a bishop not so indispensable in
8. The deacons were chosen by the voice of the people.
[Epistle, 2.5] says that good bishops never departed from the old
custom of consulting the people. The deacons answer to the chazzan of
the synagogue: the attendant ministers, or subordinate coadjutors of
the presbyter (as Timothy himself was to Paul,
and John Mark,
Their duty was to read the Scriptures in the Church, to instruct the
catechumens in Christian truths, to assist the presbyters at the
sacraments, to receive oblations, and to preach and instruct. As the
"chazzan" covered and uncovered the ark in the synagogue, containing
the law, so the deacon in the ancient Church put the covering on the
communion table. (See CHRYSOSTOM ,
Homily on Acts; THEOPHYLACT on Luke 19; and
BALSAMAN on Canon 22, Council of
Laodicea). The appointing of "the seven" in
is perhaps not meant to describe the first appointment of the
deacons of the Church. At least the chazzan previously suggested
the similar order of deacons.
double-tongued--literally, "of double speech"; saying one thing
to this person, and another to that person
[THEODORET]. The extensive personal intercourse
that deacons would have with the members of the Church might prove a
temptation to such a fault. Others explain it, "Saying one thing,
I prefer the former.
not greedy of filthy lucre--All gain is filthy (literally,
"base") which is set before a man as a by-end in his work for God
The deacon's office of collecting and distributing alms would render
this a necessary qualification.
9. the mystery of the faith--holding the faith, which to the
natural man remains a mystery, but which has been revealed by the
Spirit to them
in a pure conscience
(1Ti 1:5, 19).
("Pure," that is, in which nothing base or foreign is intermixed
[TITTMANN]). Though deacons were not ordinarily
called on to preach (Stephen and Philip are not exceptions to this,
since it was as evangelists, rather than as deacons, they
preached), yet as being office-bearers in the Church, and having much
intercourse with all the members, they especially needed to have this
characteristic, which every Christian ought to have.
10. "And moreover," &c. [ALFORD].
be proved--not by a period of probation, but by a searching inquiry,
conducted by Timothy, the ordaining president
whether they be "blameless"; then when found so, "let them act as
blameless--Greek, "unexceptionable"; as the result of public
investigation unaccused [TITTMANN].
11. their wives--rather, "the women," that is, the deaconesses. For there is no reason that special rules should be laid down as to the
wives of the dea