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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - 1TIMOTHY 3
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    CHAPTER 3

    1Ti 3:1-16. RULES AS TO BISHOPS (OVERSEERS) AND DEACONS. THE CHURCH, AND THE GOSPEL MYSTERY NOW REVEALED TO IT, ARE THE END OF ALL SUCH RULES.

    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 (1Co 16:15). This is utterly distinct from ambitious desires after office in the Church. (Jas 3:1).
    - bishop--overseer: as yet identical with "presbyter" (Ac 20:17, 28; Tit 1:5-7).
    - good work--literally, "honorable work." Not the honor associated with it, but the work, is the prominent thought (Ac 15:38; Php 2:30; compare 2Ti 4:5). 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 presupposed (1Ti 5:17, 19). The institution of Church widows (1Ti 5:3-25) 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, "elders" (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 1Ti 5:9, "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 (Tit 1:16). 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 example (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 (1Th 5:6-8).
    - sober--sober-minded.
    - 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 (Php 4:8) [BENGEL].
    - apt to teach-- (2Ti 2:24).

    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 Php 4:5).
    - no striker--with either hand or tongue: not as some teachers pretending a holy zeal (2Co 11:20), answering to "not a brawler" or fighter (compare 1Ki 22:24; Ne 13:25; Isa 58:4; Ac 23:2; 2Ti 2:24, 25).
    - not covetous--Greek, "not a lover of money," whether he have much or little (Tit 1:7).

    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) in subjection" (Tit 1:6).
          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 difficult?

    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"; luxuriantly verdant (Ro 6:5; 11:17; 1Co 3:6). The young convert has not yet been disciplined and matured by afflictions and temptations. Contrast Ac 21:16, "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 (1Ti 6:4; 2Ti 3:4).
    - condemnation of the devil--into the same condemnation as Satan fell into (1Ti 3:7; 2Ti 2:26). Pride was the cause of Satan's condemnation (Job 38:15; Isa 14:12-15; Joh 12:31; 16:11; 2Pe 2:4; Jude 6). It cannot mean condemnation or accusation on the part of the devil. The devil may bring a reproach on men (1Ti 3:7), 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 companion (Ac 16:2).
    - of them which are without--from the as yet unconverted Gentiles around (1Co 5:12; Col 4:5; 1Th 4:12), that they may be the more readily won to the Gospel (1Pe 2:12), 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 (1Ti 5:14) proving the occasion of his falling into the snare of the devil (1Ti 6:9; Mt 22:15; 2Ti 2:26). 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 (Jer 18:12). 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 Spirit (1Ti 4:14) and true faith, which he desires to be evidenced outwardly; also he requires qualifications in a bishop not so indispensable in others.

    8. The deacons were chosen by the voice of the people. CYPRIAN [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, 1Ti 4:6; Phm 13; and John Mark, Ac 13:5). 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 [19], Homily on Acts; THEOPHYLACT on Luke 19; and BALSAMAN on Canon 22, Council of Laodicea). The appointing of "the seven" in Ac 6:1-7 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, thinking another" (Pr 20:19; Ga 2:13). 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 [ALFORD] (1Pe 5:2). 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 (Ro 16:25; 1Co 2:7-10), 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 (1Ti 5:22), whether they be "blameless"; then when found so, "let them act as deacons."
    - 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

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