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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament
1 Timothy 3

 

 

Verse 1

1 Timothy 3:1. πιστὸς λόγος: This refers to the exegesis of Genesis which has preceded. (So Chrys.). We may compare Barnabas, § 9, where, after an allegorical explanation of Abraham’s 318 servants, the writer exclaims, οὐδεὶς γνησιώτερον ἔμαθεν ἀπʼ ἐμοῦ λόγον· ἀλλὰ οἶδα ὅτι ἄξιοί ἐστε ὑμεῖς. See note on 1 Timothy 1:15.


Verses 1-13

1 Timothy 3:1-13. The qualifications of the men who are to be ministers; and first (a) of the episcopus (vv.1-7) secondly (b) of the deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13) with a parenthetical instruction respecting women church-workers (1 Timothy 3:11).

εἴ τις ἐπισκοπῆς, κ. τ. λ.: Having given elementary directions concerning the scope of public prayer, and the ministers thereof, St. Paul now takes up the matter of Church organisation. He begins with the office of the episcopus, or presbyter, because that is of the very essence of Church order. On the question as to the terms presbyter and episcopus, it is sufficient here to state my own conclusion, that they represent slightly different aspects of the same office, pastoral and official; aspects which came naturally into prominence in the Jewish and Greek societies respectively which gave birth to the names. This seems the obvious conclusion from a comparison of Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:5; Titus 1:7; 1 Timothy 3:1-2; 1 Timothy 3:4-5; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Peter 5:1-2; Clem. Rom. 1 Cor. 44; Polycarp, 5; Clem. Al. Quis Dives, § 42.

ὀρέγεταιἐπιθυμεῖ: The R.V. (seeketh … desireth) indicates to the English reader that two distinct Greek words are used; a fact which is concealed in the A.V. (desire … desireth). So Vulg. has desiderat in both places; but (263)47, cupit … desiderat. ὀρέγεσθαι, which occurs again in 1 Timothy 6:10 of reaching after money, is not used in any depreciatory sense. Field (in loc.) notes that “it has a special application to such objects as a man is commonly said to aspire to”. The sanity of St. Paul’s judgment is nowhere better seen than in his commendation of lawful ambition. A man may be actuated by a variety of motives; yet it is not inevitable that those that are lower should impair the quality of the higher; they need not interpenetrate each other. In any case, St. Paul credits the aspirant with the noblest ideal: He who aspires to be an episcopus desires to perform a good work, “Est opus; negotium, non otium. Acts 15:38, Philippians 2:30” (Bengel).

καλοῦ ἔργου: καλὸν ἔργον and καλὰ ἔργα (see reff.) are not peculiar to the Pastorals (Matthew 5:16; Matthew 26:10 = Mark 14:6; John 10:32-33); but, as the references show, the phrase is found in them only of the Pauline Epistles. On the other hand, ἔργα ἀγαθά occurs six times in the Pastorals. See reff. on chap. 1 Timothy 2:10. We perceive in the use of it a qualification of the earlier depreciation of the works of the Law, induced by a natural reaction from the abuse of that teaching.


Verse 2

1 Timothy 3:2. With the qualifications of the episcopus as given here should be compared those of the deacons, 1 Timothy 3:8 sqq., and those of the episcopus in Titus 1:6 sqq.

δεῖ οὖνἀνεπίλημπτον εἶναι. The ἐπισκοπή being essentially a good work, “bonum negotium bonis committendum” (Bengel). The episcopus is the persona of the Church. It is not enough for him to be not criminal; he must be one against whom it is impossible to bring any charge of wrong doing such as could stand impartial examination. (See Theodoret, cited by Alf.). He must be without reproach (R.V.), irreprehensible (Trench), a term which involves a less exacting test than blameless (A.V.); the deacon (and the Cretan episcopus) must be ἀνέγκλητος, one against whom no charge has, in point of fact, been brought.

No argument can be based on the singular τὸν ἐπίσκοπον, here or in Titus 1:7, in favour either of the monarchical episcopate or as indications of the late date of the epistle; it is used generically as χήρα, ch. 1 Timothy 5:5; δοῦλον κυρίου, 2 Timothy 2:24.

The better to ensure that the episcopus be without reproach, his leading characteristic must be self-control. In the first place—and this has special force in the East—he must be a man who has—natural or acquired—a high conception of the relations of the sexes: a married man, who, if his wife dies, does not marry again. Men whose position is less open to criticism may do this without discredit, but the episcopus must hold up a high ideal. Second marriage, which is mentioned as a familiar practice (Romans 7:2-3), is expressly permitted to Christian women in 1 Corinthians 7:39, and even recommended to, or rather enjoined upon, young widows in 1 Timothy 5:14.

μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, of course, does not mean that the episcopus must be, or have been, married. What is here forbidden is digamy under any circumstances. This view is supported (a) by the general drift of the qualities required here in a bishop; self-control or temperance, in his use of food and drink, possessions, gifts, temper; (b) by the corresponding requirement in a church widow, 1 Timothy 5:9, ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, and (c) by the practice of the early church (Apostolic Constitutions, vi. 17; Apostolic Canons, 16 (17); Tertullian, ad Uxorem, i. 7: de Monogam. 12; de Exhort. Castitatis, cc. 7, 13; Athenagoras, Legat. 33; Origen, in Lucam, xvii. p. 953, and the Canons of the councils, e.g., Neocaesarea (A.D. 314) Song of Solomon 7. Quinisext. Song of Solomon 3).

On the other hand, it must be conceded that the patristic commentators on the passage (with the partial exception of Chrysostom)—Theodore Mops. Theodoret, Theophylact, Oecumenius, Jerome—suppose that it is bigamy or polygamy that is here forbidden. But commentators are prone to go too far in the emancipation of their judgments from the prejudices or convictions of their contemporaries. In some matters “the common sense of most” is a safer guide than the irresponsible conjectures of a conscientious student.

νηφάλιον: temperate (R.V.). A.V. has vigilant here, following Chrys.; sober in 1 Timothy 3:11, and Titus 2:2, with vigilant in margin. As this quality is required also in women officials, 1 Timothy 3:11, and in aged men, Titus 2:2, it has in all probability a reference to moderate use of wine, etc., and so would be equivalent to the μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας of the diaconal qualifications, 1 Timothy 3:8. ἐγκρατῆ is the corresponding term in Titus 1:8. The adj. only occurs in these three places; but the verb νήφειν six times; in 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:8, and in 1 Peter 4:7, it is used of the moderate use of strong drink.

σώφρονα: soberminded (R.V.), serious, earnest. See note on 1 Timothy 2:9. Vulg., prudentem here and in Titus 2:2; Titus 2:5; but sobrium in Titus 1:8. Perhaps σεμνός (1 Timothy 3:8) is the quality in deacons that corresponds to σώφρων and κόσμιος in the episcopus.

κόσμιον: orderly (R.V.), perhaps dignified in the best sense of the term. ordinatum ((264)47). “Quod σώφρων est intus, id κόσμιος est extra” (Bengel). The word is not found in Titus.

φιλόξενον: This virtue is required in the episcopus also in Titus 1:8, but not of the deacons, below; of Christians generally, 1 Peter 4:9, 1 Timothy 5:10 (q.v.), Romans 12:13, Hebrews 6:10; Hebrews 13:2, 3 John 1:5. See Hermas, Sim. ix. 27 (“Bishops, hospitable persons ( φιλόξενοι), who gladly received into their houses at all times the servants of God without hypocrisy”). This duty, in episcopi, “was closely connected with the maintenance of external relations,” which was their special function. See Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, p. 368.

διδακτικόν, as a moral quality would involve not merely the ability, but also the willingness, to teach, such as ought to characterise a servant of the Lord, 2 Timothy 2:24. The notion is expanded in Titus 1:9. The deacon’s relation to theology is passive, 1 Timothy 3:9


Verse 3

1 Timothy 3:3. μὴ πάροινον (no brawler, R.V., quarrelsome over wine, R.V. m.), and μὴ πλήκτην are similarly coupled together in Titus 1:7. παροινία means violent temper, not specially excited by overindulgence in strong drink. In the time of Chrysostom and Theodoret manners had so far softened that it was felt necessary to explain the term πλήκτης figuratively, of “some who unseasonably smite the consciences of their brethren”. But see 2 Corinthians 11:20.

ἀλλʼ ἐπιεικῆ, ἄμαχον: gentle, not contentious. This pair, again of cognate adjectives is repeated in the general directions as to Christian conduct, Titus 3:2. Compare 2 Timothy 2:24 (of the servant of the Lord). The corresponding episcopal virtues in Titus (1 Timothy 1:7) are μὴ αὐθάδη, μὴ ὀργίλον.

ἀφιλάργυρον: In Titus the corresponding episcopal virtue is μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ. See note on 1 Timothy 3:8 and Titus 1:7.


Verse 4

1 Timothy 3:4. τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου: Although ἴδιος commonly retains in the N.T. the emphatic sense own, yet there can be no doubt that examples occur of the later weakened sense in which it means simply αὐτοῦ, e.g., 1 Corinthians 7:2. We are not therefore justified in insisting on the emphatic sense, own, here or in 1 Timothy 3:12, 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:5; Titus 2:9. See J. H. Moulton Grammar, vol. i. p. 87 sqq., and Expositor, vi., iii. 277, and Deissmann, Bible Studies, trans. p. 123 sq. οἶκος also means household, 1 Corinthians 1:16 and in the Pastorals.

προϊστάμενον: προΐστασθαι is perhaps used, here and in 1 Timothy 3:12, because it would naturally suggest church government. See reff., and Hermas, Vis. ii. 4; Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 65. A different use is found in Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14, καλῶν ἔργων προΐστασθαι, where see note. The domestic qualification, as we may call it, of the episcopus, also applies to deacons (1 Timothy 3:12) and to the Cretan episcopus (Titus 1:6).

τέκνα ἔχοντα: Alford cannot be right in supposing that τέκνα is emphatic. It would be absurd to suppose that a man otherwise suited to the office of an episcopus would be disqualified because of childlessness. The clause is parallel to μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα: if the episcopus be a married man, he must not be a digamist; if he have children, they must be ἐν ὑποταγῇ.

ἐν ὑποταγῇσεμνότητος: with the strictest regard to propriety, see note on chap. 1 Timothy 2:2. Most commentators join these words closely together. The σεμνότης of the children in their extra-family relations being the outward and visible expression of the ὑποταγή to which they are subject in domestic life. This is a more natural reference of σεμνότ. than to the general household arrangements, “ut absit luxuria” (Bengel). On the other hand there is much force in Dean Bernard’s remark that “ σεμνότης is hardly a grace of childhood.” He connects ἔχοντα μετὰ πασ. σεμν. This seems to be supported by 1 Timothy 3:8, διακόνους ὡσαύτως σεμνούς and 1 Timothy 3:11. Von Soden takes a similar view.


Verse 5

1 Timothy 3:5. The argument is akin to that stated by our Lord, Luke 16:10. “He that is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much, etc.” It is all the more cogent inasmuch as the Church is the house of God. The point is resumed in 1 Timothy 3:15. Alf. quotes a sentence from Plato in which both προστῆναι and ἐπιμελεῖσθαι are used of the government of a family; nevertheless it is not fanciful to suppose that we have here a deliberate interchange of terms, προστῆναι being, as we have seen above, almost a technical term to express Church government; while ἐπιμελ. expresses the personal care and attention of a father for his family. See the use of the verb in Luke 10:34-35, and of ἐπιμέλεια in Acts 27:3.

ἐκκλησία θεοῦ is also found in 1 Timothy 3:15. ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ occurs nine times in Paul (1 Thess.; 2 Thess.; 1 Cor.; 2 Cor.; Gal.). The omission of the article before θεοῦ is characteristic of the Pastorals. The phrase is found also in St. Paul’s apostolic charge to the episcopi of Ephesus in Acts 20:28.


Verse 6

1 Timothy 3:6. 1 Timothy 3:6-7 have nothing corresponding to them in Titus, or in the qualifications for the diaconate in this chapter.

μὴ νεόφυτον κ. τ. λ.: not a recent convert. νεόφυτος in O.T. is used literally of a young plant (Job 14:9; Psalms 127 (128):3; 143 (144):12; Isaiah 5:7). For its use in secular literature, see Deissmann, Bible Studies, trans. p. 220.

The significance of this qualification is apparent from its absence in the parallel passage in Titus. It is evident that Church organisation in Crete was in a very much less advanced state than in Ephesus. On the first introduction of the Gospel into a country, the apostles naturally “appointed their first fruits to be bishops and deacons” (Clem. Rom. i. § 42; Acts 14:23), because no others were available; and men appointed in such circumstances would have no temptation to be puffed up any more than would the leaders of a forlorn hope. But as soon as there came to be a Christian community of such a size as to supply a considerable number of men from whom leaders could be selected, and in which office might be a natural object of ambition, the moral risk to νεόφυτοι of early advancement would be a real danger. It is difficult to avoid at least a passing attack of τύφωσις, if you are promoted when young.

τυφωθείς: τυφόω comes from τῦφος, the primary meaning of which is smoke or vapour, then conceit or vanity which befogs a man’s judgment in matters in which he himself is concerned. The R.V. always renders it puffed up. Vulg. here, in superbiam elatus.

κρίμα ἐμπέσῃ τοῦ διαβόλου: κρίμα is best taken in the sig. condemnation, as in Romans 3:8, Revelation 17:1, and τοῦ διαβόλου as objective genitive: “Lest he be involved in the condemnation which the devil incurred,” or, the judgment pronounced on the devil, whose sin was, and is, pride. See Sirach 10:13, 2 Peter 2:4. So most commentators, especially the ancients. On the other hand, τοῦ διαβόλου in 1 Timothy 3:7 is the subjective genitive, a snare laid by the devil; and it is possible to render κρίμα τ. διαβ. the accusation brought by the devil, or a judgment effected by the devil, who may succeed in this case, though he failed in that of Job. This is however not a natural translation; and it is to be observed that ἐμπίπτειν in reff. expresses a final doom, not a trial, such as that of temptation or probation. Dean Bernard takes τοῦ διαβόλου as subjective genitive in both verses; and in the sense of slanderer: the judgment passed by the slanderer; the snare prepared by the slanderer.

τοῦ διαβόλου: St. Paul uses this name for the Evil Spirit three times in the Pastorals and twice in Eph. (see reff.); πονηρός in Ephesians 6:16; σατανᾶς elsewhere eight times. διάβολος, without the article, means slanderer in 1 Timothy 3:11 and reff. there.


Verse 7

1 Timothy 3:7. τῶν ἔξωθεν: οἱ ἔξω in Mark 4:11 ( ἔξωθεν, W.H. m.) means those who came into contact—more or less close—with Jesus, but who were not His disciples. In the Pauline use (see reff.) it means the non-Christian Society in which the Church lives. St. Paul’s attitude towards them that are without is one of the many proofs of his sanity of judgment. On the one hand, they are emphatically outside the Church; they have no locus standi in it, no right to interfere. On the other hand, they have the law of God written in their hearts; and, up to a certain point, their moral instincts are sound and their moral judgments worthy of respect. In the passage before us, indeed, St. Paul may be understood to imply that the opinion of “those without” might usefully balance or correct that of the Church. There is something blameworthy in a man’s character if the consensus of outside opinion be unfavourable to him; no matter how much he may be admired and respected by his own party. The vox populi, then, is in some sort a vox Dei: and one cannot safely assume, when we are in antagonism to it, that, because we are Christians, we are absolutely in the right and the world wholly in the wrong. Thus to defy public opinion in a superior spirit may not only bring discredit, ὀνειδισμός, on oneself and on the Church, but also catch us in the devil’s snare, viz., a supposition that because the world condemns a certain course of action, the action is therefore right and the world’s verdict may be safely set aside.

We cannot infer with Alford and von Soden, from the absence of another preposition before παγίδα, that ὀνειδισμόν also depends on τοῦ διαβόλου. It would not be easy to explain satisfactorily ὀνειδ. τ. διαβόλου.


Verse 8

1 Timothy 3:8. διακόνους ὡσαύτως: s.c. δεῖ εἶναι.

For ὡσαύτως, see on 1 Timothy 2:9.

σεμνούς: grave. “The word we want is one in which the sense of gravity and dignity, and of these as inviting reverence, is combined” (Trench). See note on 1 Timothy 3:2. The term is used in reference to women workers and old men.

μὴ διλόγους: Persons who are in an intermediate position, having in the same department chiefs and subordinates, are exposed to a temptation to speak of the same matter in different tones and manner, according as their interlocutor is above or below them. So Theodoret, ἕτερα μὲν τούτῳ ἕτερα δὲ ἐκείνῳ λέγοντες. Polycarp (§ 5) has the same phrase of deacons. Lightfoot there suggests the rendering tale-bearers. Perhaps insincere. Cf. δίγλωσσος, Proverbs 11:13, etc.

μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας: Less ambiguously expressed than νηφάλιος in the case of the episcopus. A similar direction is given about women, Titus 2:3, μὴ οἴν. πολ. δεδουλωμένας.

μὴ αἰσχροκερδεῖς: This negative qualification is demanded of the episcopus in Titus 1:7. See reff. The rendering not greedy of filthy lucre is unnecessarily strong; the αἰσχρότης consists, not in the source whence the gain comes, but in the setting of gain before one as an object in entering the ministry. Not greedy of gain expresses the writer’s meaning. The κέρδος becomes αἰσχρόν when a man makes the acquisition of it, rather than the glory of God, his prime object. On the other hand, the special work of deacons was Church finance; and no doubt they had to support themselves by engaging in some secular occupation. They would thus be exposed to temptations to misappropriate Church funds, or to adopt questionable means of livelihood. If such circumstances were contemplated, not greedy of filthy lucre might be an allowable rendering. In Crete, the episcopus would seem to have also performed the duties of the deacon; consequently he is required to be μή αἰσχροκερδής.

ἔχοντας: See note on chap. 1 Timothy 1:19.


Verse 9

1 Timothy 3:9. τὸ μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως: the faith as revealed, is the same as τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον, 1 Timothy 3:16. In the earlier epistles of St. Paul τὸ μυστήριον is a revealed secret, in particular, the purpose of God that Jew and Gentile should unite in one Church. The notion of a secret is still prominent, because the revelation of it was recent; but just as revelation passes from a phase of usage in which the wonderful fact and manner of the disclosure is prominent to a stage in which the content or substance of what has been revealed is alone thought of, so it was with μυστήριον; in the Pastorals it means the revelation given in Christ, the Christian creed in fact. See Dean Armitage Robinson, Ephesians, p. 234 sqq., and Lightfoot on Colossians 1:26. It was not the function of a deacon to teach or preach; it was sufficient if he were a firm believer. ἐν. καθ. συνειδ. is connected with ἔχοντας. Hort (Christian Ecclesia, p. 201) approves of the expl. given by Weiss of τὸ μυστ. τ. πίστ., “the secret constituted by their own inner faith”. This seems unnatural.


Verse 10

1 Timothy 3:10. δοκιμαζέσθωσαν: Chrys. notes that this corresponds to the provision μὴ νεόφυτον in the case of the episcopus. This testing of fitness for the office of deacon may have been effected either by (a) a period of probationary training,—if the injunction in 1 Timothy 5:22, “Lay hands hastily on no man,” has reference to ordination, it is another way of saying δοκιμαζέσθωσαν πρῶτον,—or by (b) the candidates producing what we should call testimonials of character. Such testimonials would attest that a man was ἀνέγκλητος, i.e., that no specific charge of wrong-doing had been laid against him (unblamed is Hort’s rendering). Until a man has proved his suitability for a post by administering it, this is the most that can be demanded. Each step subjects a man’s character to a fresh strain. If he comes out of the trial unscathed, he is entitled to be called ἀνεπίλημπτος. It is significant that in Titus 1:6-7, where the ordination of presbyters, or episcopi, with no antecedent diaconate is contemplated, this elementary and superficial test, that they should be ἀνέγκλητοι, is mentioned. See note on 1 Timothy 3:2. In a normal condition of the Church, episcopi are chosen from those whose fitness is matter of common knowledge.

διακονείτωσαν: For instances of this absolute technical sense of the word see reff.


Verse 11

1 Timothy 3:11. γυναῖκας: Sc. δεῖ εἶναι, not governed by ἔχοντας (1 Timothy 3:9). These are the deaconesses, ministrae (Pliny, Ep. x. 97) of whom Phoebe (Romans 16:1) is an undoubted example. They performed for the women of the early Church the same sort of ministrations that the deacons did for the men. In confirmation of this view it should be noted that ὡσαύτως is used in introducing a second or third member of a series. See on 1 Timothy 2:9. The series here is of Church officials. Again, the four qualifications which follow correspond, with appropriate variations, to the first four required in deacons, as regards demeanour, government of the tongue, use of wine, and trustworthiness. And further, this is a section dealing wholly with Church officials. These considerations exclude the view that women in general, as R.V. apparently, are spoken of. If the wives of the deacons or of the clergy were meant, as A.V., it would be natural to have it unambiguously expressed, e.g., by the addition of αὐτῶν.

διαβόλους: slanderers. While men are more prone than women to be δίλογοι, double-tongued, women are more prone than men to be slanderers. See Titus 2:3. The term is predicated in 2 Timothy 3:3, not of men, but as characterising the human race, ἄνθρωποι, in the last days.

νηφαλίους: see note on 1 Timothy 3:2.

πιστὰς ἐν πᾶσιν: It may be that, as Ell. suggests, this has a reference to the function of deaconesses as almoners, a possible inference from Constt. Apost. iii. 16. But more probably it is a comprehensive summary with a general reference, like πᾶσαν πίστιν ἐνδεικνυμένους ἀγαθήν, Titus 2:10.


Verse 12

1 Timothy 3:12. As the episcopi were naturally drawn from the ranks of the deacons, the diaconate was a probation time, in the course of which the personal moral qualifications for the ἐπισκοπή might be acquired. See notes on 1 Timothy 3:2; 1 Timothy 3:4.


Verse 13

1 Timothy 3:13. From what has been noted above on St. Paul’s teaching in relation to men’s lawful aspirations, it will appear that it is not necessary to explain away the obvious meaning of this clause in accordance with a false spirituality which affects to depreciate the inducements of earthly rewards. The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:21), implies Christ’s approval of reasonable ambition. Nor is this to be answered by a statement that “the recompense of reward” to which we are permitted to look is heavenly and spiritual. For the Christian, there can be no gulf fixed between the earthly and the heavenly; at least in the category of things which are open to him, as a Christian, to desire. The drawing of such distinctions is akin to the Manichaean disparagement of matter.

The βαθμὸν καλόν which the man may acquire who has served well as a deacon is advancement to the presbyterate or episcopate. So Chrys. The R.V., gain to themselves a good standing, does not necessarily imply an advance in rank, but an assured position in the esteem of their fellow-Christians. We know that among the many who possess the same rank, whether in church or state, some from their character and abilities gain a standing that others do not.

Some modern commentators follow Theodoret in giving a purely spiritual force to βαθμόν, i.e., ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι βίῳ, “a good standing place, viz., at the Great Day” (Alf.); “the step or degree which a faithful discharge of the διακονία would gain in the eyes of God” (Ell.). Alf. lays emphasis on the aor. part. as viewing the διακονία from the standpoint of the Day of Judgment; but it is equally suitable if the standpoint be that of the day on which they receive their advancement. There is more force in his emphasis on the present, περιποιοῦνται, they are acquiring. This interpretation does not seem to be in harmony with the context. The qualifications that are noted in 1 Timothy 3:12 have relation to the effectual administration of the Church on earth. It would be harsh to affirm that one who was a digamist and who could not keep his household in order would suffer for it in the Day of Judgment, however unsuitable he might be for office in the church.

πολλὴν παρρησίαν: a Pauline phrase. See reff. In these passages παρρ. means confidence, without reference to speech.

Although Ell. renders the clause “great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus,” he explains the boldness as resting on faith in Christ Jesus, and as descriptive of the believer’s attitude in regard to, and at, the Day of Judgment. See 1 John 4:17. If we reject his explanation of βαθμόν, it would be natural to interpret παρρ., κ. τ. λ., of a confident public expression of the faith, such as would belong to an experienced Christian who had gained a good standing, and had, in consequence, no temptation to be δίλογος. Von Soden connects ἐν πίστει with περιποιοῦνται, cf. 2 Timothy 1:13.


Verse 14

1 Timothy 3:14. This verse makes it clear that Timothy’s position was a temporary one; he was acting as St. Paul’s representative at Ephesus to “put them in remembrance of his ways which be in Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:17).

ταῦτα has a primary reference to the preceding directions regarding public prayers and Church officers; but it naturally includes the following supplementary remarks. For this use of γράφω, in place of the epistolary aorist, see especially 2 Corinthians 13:10, also 1 Corinthians 14:37, 2 Corinthians 1:13, Galatians 1:20.

ἐλπίζωνβραδύνω is parenthetical; and expresses at once an excuse for the brevity and incompleteness, from one point of view, of the directions, and also an expectation that they are sufficient to serve their temporary purpose.

ἐν τάχει: τάχιον, which is read by Tisch., is, according to Blass (Grammar, pp. 33, 141, 142), an instance of the intensive or elative use of the comparative: cf. βέλτιον 2 Timothy 1:18. This view is rejected by Winer-Moulton (Grammar, p. 304) and Ellicott; but their explanations are far-fetched: “More quickly, sooner, than thou wilt need these instructions,” “sooner than I anticipate”. See also J. H. Moulton, Grammar, vol. i. pp. 78, 79, 236.


Verses 14-16

1 Timothy 3:14-16. These general directions will serve you as a guide in the administration of the Church until you see me. Your charge is one of transcendent importance. The Church is no human institution: it is the household of God, and also the means whereby the power of the Incarnation is available for man’s use.


Verse 15

1 Timothy 3:15. ἵνα εἰδῇςἀναστρέφεσθαι: It is a matter of indifference whether we render how men ought to behave themselves (R.V.), or how thou oughtest to behave thyself (A.V.; R.V. m.). It was Timothy’s duty to carry out the apostle’s directions, directions relating to the life, ἀναστροφή, of the Church. His ἀναστροφή would necessarily react on that of the Church. See the Western interpolation in apparat. crit.

οἴκῳ θεοῦ: the household, perhaps, rather than the house, of God. In view of the prevailing paucity of articles in these Epistles, one cannot lay stress on the absence of τῷ before οἴκῳ, so as to render, a house of God such as is the Church, etc. οἶκος τοῦ θεοῦ is always found elsewhere. The Church is God’s οἶκος, Hebrews 3:6; God’s κατοικητήριον, Ephesians 2:22; a ναὸς ἄγιος, Ephesians 2:21; ναὸς θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 6:16; a μεγάλη οἰκία, of which God is the δεσπότης, 2 Timothy 2:20; an οἶκος πνευματικός, 1 Peter 2:5.

The body of the Church, τὸ σῶμα ὑμῶν, is a ναὸς ἁγίου πνεύματος (1 Corinthians 6:19); and the human body of Jesus was a ναός (John 2:21); but it is not in accordance with Scriptural language so to describe the body of any individual Christian.

οἴκῳἥτις: “The noun which forms the predicate in a relative sentence, annexed for the purpose of explanation ( ὂςἐστίν), sometimes gives its own gender and number to the relative, by a kind of attraction” (Winer-Moulton, Grammar, p. 206).

θεοῦ ζῶντος: A constant phrase, occurring again 1 Timothy 4:10.

στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα κ. τ. λ.: The view of Gregory Nyssen and Greg. Naz. that στύλος here refers to Timothy does not need refutation, although an early reference to this passage in the Letter of the Churches of Lyons and Vienne (Eus. H. E. 1 Timothy 3:1) applies στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα to the martyr Attalus. στύλος has of course a personal reference in Galatians 2:9; cf. also Revelation 3:12; but it is childish to suppose that metaphors have a constant value in the Bible. Holtzmann’s suggestion that στύλος is in apposition to θεοῦ is rightly rejected by von Soden.

The clause is, of course, in apposition to ἐκκλησία which is by a kindred metaphor called in 2 Timothy 2:19 στερεὸς θεμέλιος τοῦ θεοῦ. This latter passage suggests that we should here render ἑδραίωμα ground or basis rather than stay (R.V. m.). ἑδραῖος is rendered steadfast elsewhere. See reff. and especially Colossians 1:23 ( τεθεμελιωμένοι καὶ ἑδραῖοι), ctr. Hort, Christian Ecclesia, p. 174.

The truth, ἀλήθεια, has, as has been already stated, a technical Christian connotation in the Pastorals, and has not a wider reference than the Christian revelation, which is the truth in so far as it has been revealed. The Church, of the old covenant or of the new, is the divinely constituted human Society by which the support and maintenance in the world of revealed truth is conditioned. Truth if revealed to isolated individuals, no matter how numerous, would be dissipated in the world. But the Divine Society, in which it is given an objective existence, at once compels the world to take knowledge of it, and assures those who receive the revelation that it is independent of, and external to, themselves, and not a mere fancy of their own.

Bengel puts a full stop at ζῶντος and removes it after ἀληθείας, making τὸμυστήριον the subject of the sentence, and στύλοςμέγα the predicate.

The mystery, etc., is the pillar, etc., and confessedly great,” μέγα being used as in 1 Corinthians 9:11, 2 Corinthians 11:15, the whole expression being equivalent to πιστὸς λόγος καὶ πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος. He quotes from Rabbi Levi Barcelonita and Maimonides parallel expressions concerning precepts of the Law, “fundamentum magnum et columna valida legis,” and a striking phrase from Irenæus, Haer. iii. 11, 8, Columna autem et firmamentum ecclesiae est evangelium, στύλος δὲ καὶ στήριγμα ἐκκλησίας τὸ εὐαγγέλιον.


Verse 16

1 Timothy 3:16. The connexion of thought lies in a feeling that the lofty terms in which the Church has been just spoken of may demand a justification. The truth of which the Church is στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα is not a light thing nor an insubstantial fabric; the truth is, more expressly, τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον, the revelation to man of practical religion; and, beyond yea or nay, this truth, this revelation, is great. Whether you believe it or not, you cannot deny that the claims of Christianity are tremendous.

μέγας is rare in Paul: (Romans 9:2; 1 Corinthians 9:11; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 11:15; Ephesians 5:32; 1 Timothy 6:6; 2 Timothy 2:20; Titus 2:13). The nearest parallel to the present passage is Ephesians 5:32, τὸ μυστήριον τοῦτο μέγα ἐστίν. See note on 1 Timothy 3:9. On εὐσέβεια, see chap. 1 Timothy 2:2.

If we assume that ὅς is the right reading, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that what follows is a quotation by St. Paul from a primitive creed or summary of the chief facts to be believed about Jesus Christ. And one is tempted to conjecture that another fragment of the same summary is quoted in 1 Peter 3:18, θανατωθεὶς μὲν σαρκὶ ζωοποιηθεὶς δὲ πνεύματι. ὅς, then, does not form part of the quotation at all; it is simply introductory, and relative to the subject, Jesus Christ, whose personality was, in some terms, expressed in an antecedent sentence which St. Paul has not quoted.

As the passage stands, there are three pairs of antithetic thoughts: (1) (a) the flesh and (b) the spirit of Christ, (2) (a) angels and (b) Gentiles—the two extremes of the rational creation, (3) (a) the world and (b) glory. In another point of view, there is a connexion between 2 b and 3 a, and between 2 b and 3 a. Again, we may say that we have here set forth (1) the Incarnation in itself, (2) its manifestation, (3) its consequence or result, as affecting man and God.

The antithesis between the σάρξ and πνεῦμα of Christ is drawn, in addition to 1 Peter 3:18, also in Romans 1:3-4. τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος δαυεὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης. We cannot leave out of account in discussing these passages the parallel in 1 Peter 4:6, εἰς τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ νεκροῖς εὐηγγελίσθη ἵνα κριθῶσι μὲν κατὰ ἀνθρώπους σαρκί ζῶσι δὲ κατὰ θεὸν πνεύματι. The πνεῦμα of Christ, as man, in these passages means His human spirit, the naturally permanent spiritual part of a human personality. See also 1 Corinthians 5:5.

ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί: He who had been from all eternity “in the form of God” became cognisable by the limited senses of human beings, ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας (Romans 8:3), became manifest in the flesh, σὰρξ ἐγένετο (John 1:14). φανεροῦν is used in connexion with Christ in four associations in the N.T.:—

(1) as here, of the objective fact of the Incarnation: John 1:31 (?), Hebrews 9:26, 1 Peter 1:20, 1 John 1:2 (bis), 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 Timothy 3:8.

(2) of the revelation involved in the Incarnation: Romans 16:26, Colossians 1:26; Colossians 4:4, 2 Timothy 1:10, Titus 1:3. N.B. in Rom. and Col. the verb is used of a μυστήριον.

(3) of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ, which were, in a sense, repetitions of the marvel of the Incarnation, as being manifestations of the unseen: Mark 16:12; Mark 16:14, John 21:1 (bis), 14.

(4) of the Second Coming, which will be, as far as man can tell, His final manifestation: Colossians 3:4, 1 Peter 5:4, 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:2.

ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι: proved or pronounced to be righteous in His higher nature. The best parallel to this use of δικαιοῦν is Psalms 50 (51):6, ὅπως ἂν δικαιωθῇς ἐν τοῖς λόγοις σου, also Matthew 11:19 = Luke 7:35. We are not entitled to assume that the ἐν has the same force before πνεύματι that it has before σαρκί; the repetition of the preposition is due to a felt need of rhythmic effect. If we are asked, When did this δικαίωσις take place? we reply that it was on a review of the whole of the Incarnate Life. The heavenly voice, ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα, heard by human ears at the Baptism and at the Transfiguration, might have been heard at any moment during the course of those “sinless years”. He was emphatically δίκαιος (Acts 3:14; Acts 22:14; 1 John 2:1. See also Matthew 3:15; John 16:10.) It is enough to mention without discussion the opinions that πνεύματι refers (a) to the Holy Spirit, or (b) to the Divine Personality of Christ.

ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις: Ellicott points out that in these three pairs of clauses, the first member of each group points to earthly relations, the second to heavenly. So that these words ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις refer to the fact that the Incarnation was “a spectacle to angels” as well as “to men”; or rather, as Dean Bernard notes (Comm. in loc.), ὤφθη and ἐκηρύχθη mark the difference in the communication of the Christian Revelation to angels—the rational creatures nearest to God—and to the Gentiles—farthest from God. “The revelation to Gentiles is mediate, by preaching …; the revelation to the higher orders of created intelligences is immediate, by vision.” It was as much a source of wonderment to the latter as to the former. See 1 Peter 1:12. The angels who greeted the Birth (Luke 2:13), who ministered at the temptations (Matthew 4:11, Mark 1:13), strengthened Him in His agony (Luke 22:43), proclaimed His Resurrection and stood by at the Ascension, are only glimpses to us of “a cloud of witnesses” of whose presence Jesus was always conscious (Matthew 26:53).

ὤφθη is usually used of the post-resurrection appearances of Christ to men. See reff.

ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ: This was in itself a miracle. See 2 Thessalonians 1:10, John 17:21.

Winer-Moulton notes (Grammar, p. 326) that ἐπιστεύθη cannot be referred to πιστεύειν χῷ but presupposes the phrase πιστ. χόν. Cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:10.

ἀνελήμφθη ἐν δόξη: This is the verb used of the Ascension. See reff. Cf. ἀνάλημψις Luke 9:51.

ἐν δόξῃ: ἐν has, in this case, a pregnant sense, εἰς δόξαν καὶ ἐστὶν ἐν δόξῃ (Ell.). See also reff., in which ἐν δόξῃ is a personal attribute of the glory that surrounds and transfigures a glorified spiritual person; but in this place δόξα means the place or state of glory; cf. Luke 24:26, ἔδειτὸν χριστόνεἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ.

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-timothy-3.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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