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The Apostle here enters upon the Subject of the Ministry. He shows how the Office should be sacredly observed: with their Connections. The Chapter closeth most blessedly, concerning the great mystery of Godliness.
(1) ¶ This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (2) A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; (3) Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; (4) One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (5) (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) (6) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. (7) Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (8) ¶ Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; (9) Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. (10) And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. (11) Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. (12) Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. (13) For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus. (14) ¶ These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: (15) But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
I do not think it necessary, in a work of this kind, intended for the poor in spirit, and the humble in Christ's flock; and not likely to fall under the notice of the high in rank, and dignity; the bishops, and shepherds of the fold; to enter into an account of their offices. Indeed, the Apostle hath said all that can be necessary, on the subject. One point only I venture to remark, in what Paul hath here said; namely, he calls the office of a bishop a good work. And a good work, or labor, it most assuredly is, if well followed. The close of the service will show, that the highest, and the lowest office of the ministry of souls, is alike an accountable trust, where men will be answerable as servants, not as lords. Among men, it may be proper, to preserve distinctions of rank, and honor. But in the sight of God, these things lose their very name. Usefulness, diligence, faithfulness, and honesty, are the qualifications then to be accounted for; and none else will stand the examination. It were well, if all who minister in holy things, of whatever rank they move up and down in, among men, were every day, before they enter upon their sacred function, or mingle in family duties, of reading the scriptures, and prayer; to read over in private, what Paul hath here marked down, from the inspiration of God the Holy Ghost. This would serve, under the same Almighty Teacher's influence, to show, how all ought to behave themselves in the house of God. That as Christ himself, is both the foundation, and pillar of his Church; so, his servants, which minister faithfully in his name, may be found as monumental pillars, bearing inscriptions, to his truth and glory.
(16) And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
What a rich cluster of mysteries is here! All blessedly hanging together, like some large bunch of the richest grapes, on the most luxuriant Vine! The mystery begins with, God manifest in the flesh: and the verse ends with, Christ received up into glory. God the Son, tabernacling in a body of flesh! Justified in the Spirit; both in the formation of that pure portion of human nature, wrought by his miraculous impregnation, in the womb of the Virgin, in testifying at Christ's baptism, in all his miracles; when he offered himself through the eternal Spirit on the cross; when risen from the dead, when returned to glory; and when, in exact conformity to the Lord's most sure promise, God the Holy Ghost came down at Pentecost; in an open display of his Person, and Offices; and now in a private manifestation in the hearts of all Christ's seed, from the first moment of regeneration, until grace is finished in glory. In all these, and numberless other instances, Christ is justified in the Spirit, when he takes of Christ, and shows to the people. And seen of angels, who saw him at his birth, attended him in his temptations in the wilderness, in his agonies in the garden, at his resurrection, ascension, and return to glory. Preached to the Gentiles. And this became a mystery to the Jewish Church, that God should also to the Gentiles, grant repentance unto life. Acts 11:18 , And what was yet, and is now, and ever must be, a greater mystery still, that Christ should be believed on in the world. For such is the natural enmity of every man's mind by the fall; that nothing short of sovereign grace can gain acceptance for Christ, in a single heart. And there must be the concurring operation of all the Persons of the Godhead, in the drawings of the Father, John 6:44 , the manifestations of the Son, 1 John 5:20 . and the quickenings of the Holy Ghost, to induce belief in the soul. Ephesians 2:1 . And the Lord's being received up into glory, closeth the wonderful account, in this precious mystery of godliness, which, without controversy, must be acknowledged great! Reader! what a mercy is your's, and mine, if through grace, we can both subscribe to the blessed contents? Great as the mystery of godliness is, God hath revealed the truth of the whole to our spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:10 .
Oh! Lord the Spirit! do thou in mercy to the Church, ordain Pastors after thine own heart: and make all such, as thou hast called to the ministry, however known, or distinguished among men, more anxious to win souls, than to gain kingdoms.
Precious Jesus! let the mystery of thine incarnation be the constant, unceasing subject of my meditation! Oh! the love of Christ which passeth knowledge! Didst thou, dear Lord, who when rich beyond all the calculation of riches, condescend for our sakes to be made poor, that we through thy poverty might he made rich! And, oh! the sweet testimony of God the Spirit, in justifying all the works of Christ, both to the Person of Christ, and in the heart of his people, in his finished salvation. Angels, behold; Gentiles, believe; yea, my poor blind and stony heart is made willing in the day of God's power. And God the Father hath given assurance unto all men of the mystery of godliness, in having raised Christ from the dead, and received him up into glory. Blessed, blessed forever, be God for Jesus Christ!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18