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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 3

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

Faithful is the saying (πιστος ο λογος). Here the phrase points to the preceding words (not like 1 Timothy 1:15) and should close the preceding paragraph.

If a man seeketh (ε τις ορεγετα). Condition of first class, assumed as true. Present middle indicative of ορεγω, old verb to reach out after something, governing the genitive. In N.T. only here, 1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 11:16.

The office of a bishop (επισκοπης). Genitive case after ορεγετα. Late and rare word outside of LXX and N.T. (in a Lycaonian inscription). From επισκοπεω and means "over-seership" as in Acts 1:20.

Verse 2

The bishop (τον επισκοπον). The overseer. Old word, in LXX, and inscriptions and papyri. Deissmann (Bible Studies, pp. 230f.) has shown it is applied to communal officials in Rhodes. See Acts 20:28 for its use for the elders (presbyters) in verse 1 Timothy 3:17. So also in Titus 1:5; Titus 1:7. See Philippians 1:1. The word does not in the N.T. have the monarchical sense found in Ignatius of a bishop over elders.

Without reproach (ανεπιλημπτον). Accusative case of general reference with δε and εινα. Old and common verbal (α privative and επιλαμβανω, not to be taken hold of), irreproachable. In N.T. only here, 1 Timothy 5:7; 1 Timothy 6:14.

Of one wife (μιας γυναικος). One at a time, clearly.

Temperate (νηφαλιον). Old adjective. In N.T. only here, verse 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2. But see νηφω, to be sober in 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

Soberminded (σωφρονα). Another old adjective (from σαος or σως, sound, φρην, mind) in N.T. only here, Titus 1:8; Titus 2:2; Titus 2:5.

Orderly (κοσμιον). See on 1 Timothy 2:9. Seemly, decent conduct.

Given to hospitality (φιλοξενον). Old word (see φιλοξενια in Romans 12:13), from φιλος and ξενος, in N.T. only here, Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9.

Apt to teach (διδακτικον). Late form for old διδασκαλικος, one qualified to teach. In Philo and N.T. only (1 Timothy 3:2; 2 Timothy 2:24).

Verse 3

No brawler (μη παροινον). Later word for the earlier παροινιος, one who sits long at (beside, παρα) his wine. In N.T. only here and Titus 1:3.

No striker (μη πληκτην). Late word from πλησσω, to strike. In N.T. only here and Titus 1:3.

Gentle (επιεικη). See on Philippians 4:5 for this interesting word.

Not contentious (αμαχον). Old word (from α privative and μαχη), not a fighter. In N.T. only here and Titus 3:2.

No lover of money (αφιλαργυρον). Late word (α privative and compound φιλ-αργυρος) in inscriptions and papyri (Nageli; also Deissmann, Light, etc., pp. 85f.). In N.T. only here and Hebrews 13:5.

Verse 4

Ruling (προισταμενον). Present middle participle of προιστημ, old word to place before and (intransitive as here) to stand before. See 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Romans 12:8.

In subjection (εν υποταγη). See verse 1 Timothy 3:11.

Verse 5

If a man knoweth not (ε τις ουκ οιδεν). Condition of first class, assumed as true.

How to rule (προστηνα). Second aorist active infinitive of same verb προιστημ and with οιδεν means "know how to rule," not "know that he rules."

How (πως). Rhetorical question expecting negative answer.

Shall he take care of (επιμελησετα). Future middle of επιμελεομα, old compound (επ, direction of care towards) verb, in LXX, in N.T. only here and Luke 10:34.

The church of God (εκκλησιας θεου). Anarthrous as in verse 1 Timothy 3:15, elsewhere with article (1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Corinthians 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:13). The local church described as belonging to God. No one in N.T. but Paul (Acts 20:28) so describes the church. This verse is a parenthesis in the characteristics of the bishop.

Verse 6

Not a novice (μη νεοφυτον). Our "neophyte." Vernacular word from Aristophanes on, in LXX, and in papyri in the original sense of "newly-planted" (νεοσ, φυω). Only here in N.T.

Lest (ινα μη). "That not."

Being puffed up (τυφωθεις). First aorist passive participle of τυφοω, old word (from τυφος, smoke, pride), to raise a smoke or mist (a smoke-screen of pride). In N.T. only here; 1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 3:4.

He fall into (εμπεση εις). Second aorist active subjunctive with ινα μη, negative purpose, of εμπιπτω, old verb, to fall into. Note both εν and εις as in Matthew 12:11; Luke 10:36.

The condemnation of the devil (κριμα του διαβολου). See Romans 3:8 for κριμα. Best to take του διαβολου as objective genitive, though subjective in verse 1 Timothy 3:7, "the condemnation passed on or received by the devil" (not just "the slanderer," any slanderer).

Verse 7

From them that are without (απο των εξωθεν). "From the outside (of the church) ones." Paul's care for the witness of outsiders is seen in 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 10:32; Colossians 4:5. There are, of course, two sides to this matter.

Reproach (ονειδισμον). Late word from ονειδιζω. See Romans 15:3.

The snare of the devil (παγιδα του διαβολου). Here subjective genitive, snare set by the devil. Παγις, old word from πηγνυμ, to make fast. So a snare for birds (Luke 21:35), any sudden trap (Romans 11:9), of sin (1 Timothy 6:9), of the devil (1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26). Ancients used it of the snares of love. The devil sets special snares for preachers (conceit verse 1 Timothy 3:6, money 1 Timothy 6:9, women, ambition).

Verse 8

Deacons (διακονους). Accusative case of general reference like the preceding with δε εινα understood. Technical sense of the word here as in Philippians 1:1 which see (two classes of church officers, bishops or elders, deacons).

Grave (σεμνους). See Philippians 4:8. Repeated in verse 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2.

Not double-tongued (μη διλογους). Rare word (δισ, λεγω) saying same thing twice. Xenophon has διλογεω and διλογια. In Pollux, but LXX has διγλωσσος (double-tongued, Latin bilinguis). Only here in N.T. One placed between two persons and saying one thing to one, another to the other. Like Bunyan's Parson "Mr. Two-Tongues."

Not given to much wine (μη οινω πολλω προσεχοντας). "Not holding the mind (τον νουν understood as usual with προσεχω, 1 Timothy 1:4) on much wine" (οινω, dative case). That attitude leads to over-indulgence.

Not greedy of filthy lucre (μη αισχροκερδεις). Old word from αισχρος (Ephesians 5:12) and κερδος (Philippians 1:21). "Making small gains in mean ways" (Parry). Not genuine in verse 1 Timothy 3:3. In N.T. only here and Titus 1:7 (of bishops).

Verse 9

The mystery of the faith (το μυστηριον της πιστεως). "The inner secret of the faith," the revelation given in Christ. See for μυστηριον in Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:26; Ephesians 3:9).

In a pure conscience (εν καθαρα συνειδησε). See 1 Timothy 1:19. "The casket in which the jewel is to be kept" (Lock).

Verse 10

First be proved (δοκιμαζεσθωσαν πρωτον). Present passive imperative third plural of δοκιμαζω, old and common verb, to test as metals, etc. (1 Thessalonians 2:4, and often in Paul). How the proposed deacons are to be "first" tested before approved Paul does not say. See Philippians 1:10 for the two senses (test, approve) of the word.

Let them serve as deacons (διακονειτωσαν). Present active imperative of διακονεω (same root as διακονος), common verb, to minister, here "to serve as deacons." Cf. διακονειν in Acts 6:2. See also verse 1 Timothy 3:13.

If they be blameless (ανεγκλητο οντες). "Being blameless" (conditional participle, οντες). See 1 Corinthians 1:8; Colossians 1:22 for ανεγκλητος.

Verse 11

Women (γυναικας). Accusative with δε εινα understood (οσαυτως, likewise) as in verse 1 Timothy 3:8. Apparently "women as deacons" (Romans 16:1 about Phoebe) and not women in general or just "wives of deacons." See Pliny (Ep. X. 97) ministrae.

Not slanderers (μη διαβολους). Original meaning of διαβολος (from διαβαλλω, Luke 16:1), the devil being the chief slanderer (Ephesians 6:11). "She-devils" in reality (Titus 2:3). "While men are more prone to be διλογους, double-tongued, women are more prone than men to be slanderers" (White).

Faithful in all things (πιστας εν πασιν). Perhaps as almoners (Ellicott) the deaconesses had special temptations.

Verse 12

Of one wife (μιας γυναικος). At a time as in verse 1 Timothy 3:2.

Ruling well (προισταμενο καλως). As in 1 Timothy 3:4.

Verse 13

Gain to themselves (εαυτοις περιποιουντα). Present middle indicative of περιποιεω, old verb, to make besides (περ, around, over), to lay by. Reflexive (indirect) middle with reflexive pronoun (εαυτοις) repeated as often happens in the Koine. In N.T. only here, Luke 17:33; Acts 20:28 (Paul also, quoting Isaiah 43:21).

A good standing (βαθμον καλον). Late word from βαινω, in LXX for steps at a door (1 Samuel 5:5). In plural the steps of a stair. In the inscriptions it means a good foothold or standing. The ecclesiastical writers (Theodoret) take it to be a higher grade or rank, but it is doubtful if Paul means that here.

Much boldness (πολλην παρρησιαν). A Pauline phrase (2 Corinthians 3:12; 2 Corinthians 7:4; Philippians 1:20).

In the faith which is in Christ Jesus (εν πιστε τη εν Χριστω Ιησου). Pauline phrase again (Acts 26:18; Galatians 3:26; Colossians 1:4; Ephesians 1:15; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Timothy 3:15).

Verse 14

Shortly (εν ταχε). Old idiom (locative case of ταχος, quickness, speed). See Romans 16:20. A pseudonymous writer would hardly have put in this phrase. Paul's hopes were not to be realized, but he did not know that.

Verse 15

But if I tarry long (εαν δε βραδυνω). Condition of third class with εαν and the present active subjunctive of βραδυνω, old verb, to be slow (usually intransitive), from βραδυς (slow, dull, Luke 24:25), in N.T. only here and 2 Peter 3:9.

That thou mayest know (ινα ειδηις). Final clause with ινα and second perfect active subjunctive of οιδα, to know.

How men ought (πως δε). "How it is necessary for thee" (supply σε more naturally than τινα, any one). Indirect question.

To behave themselves (αναστρεφεσθα). Present middle (direct) infinitive of αναστρεφω, old verb, to turn up and down. See 2 Corinthians 1:12; Ephesians 2:3.

In the house of God (εν οικω θεου). Probably here "household of God," that is "the family of God" rather than "the house (or temple) of God." Christians as yet had no separate houses of worship and οικος commonly means "household." Christians are the ναος (sanctuary) of God (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16), and Paul calls them οικειο του θεου (Ephesians 2:19) "members of God's family." It is conduct as members of God's family (οικος) that Paul has in mind.

Which (ητις). "Which very house of God," agreeing (feminine) with the predicate word εκκλησια (church).

The church of the living God (εκκλησια θεου ζωντος). Probably here the general church or kingdom as in Colossians and Ephesians, though the local church in verse 1 Timothy 3:5.

The pillar and ground of the truth (στυλος κα εδραιωμα της αληθειας). Paul changes the metaphor again as he often does. Those words are in apposition to εκκλησια and οικος. On στυλος, old word for pillar, see Galatians 2:9; Revelation 3:12 (only other N.T. examples). Hεδραιωμα, late and rare word (from εδραιοω, to make stable) occurs here first and only in ecclesiastical writers later. Probably it means stay or support rather than foundation or ground. See Colossians 1:23; 2 Timothy 2:19 for similar idea. See also Matthew 16:18.

Verse 16

Without controversy (ομολογουμενως). Old adverb from the participle ομολογουμενος from ομολογεω. Here only in N.T. "Confessedly."

Great (μεγα). See Ephesians 5:32. "A great mystery."

The mystery of godliness (το της ευσεβειας μυστηριον). See verse 1 Timothy 3:9 "the mystery of the faith," and 1 Timothy 2:2 for ευσεβεια. Here the phrase explains "a pillar and stay of the truth" (verse 1 Timothy 3:15). See in particular Colossians 1:27. "The revealed secret of true religion, the mystery of Christianity, the Person of Christ" (Lock).

He who (ος). The correct text, not θεος (God) the reading of the Textus Receptus (Syrian text) nor ο (neuter relative, agreeing with μυστηριον) the reading of the Western documents. Westcott and Hort print this relative clause as a fragment of a Christian hymn (like Ephesians 5:14) in six strophes. That is probably correct. At any rate ος (who) is correct and there is asyndeton (no connective) in the verbs. Christ, to whom ος refers, is the mystery (Colossians 1:27; Colossians 2:2).

Was manifested (εφανερωθη). First aorist passive indicative of φανεροω, to manifest. Here used to describe the incarnation (εν σαρκ) of Christ (an answer also to the Docetic Gnostics). The verb is used by Paul elsewhere of the incarnation (Romans 16:26; Colossians 1:26) as well as of the second coming (Colossians 3:4).

Justified in the spirit (εδικαιωθη εν πνευματ). First aorist passive indicative of δικαιοω, to declare righteous, to vindicate. Christ was vindicated in his own spirit (Hebrews 9:14) before men by overcoming death and rising from the dead (Romans 1:3).

Seen of angels (ωφθη αγγελοις). First aorist passive indicative of οραω, to see, with either the instrumental or the dative case of angels (αγγελοις). The words were probably suggested by the appearance of Jesus (ωφθη, the usual form for the resurrection appearances of Christ) of the angels at the tomb and at the ascension of Christ. See Philippians 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22 for the appearance of Jesus to the angels in heaven at the ascension. Some would take "angels" here to be "messengers" (the women).

Preached among the nations (εκηρυχθη εν εθνεσιν). First aorist passive indicative of κηρυσσω, to proclaim. The word εθνος may mean "all creation" (Colossians 1:23) and not just Gentiles as distinct from Jews. Paul had done more of this heralding of Christ among the Gentiles than any one else. It was his glory (Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 3:8). Cf. 1 Timothy 2:7.

Believed on in the world (επιστευθη εν κοσμω). First aorist indicative passive again of πιστευω, to believe (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Cf. 1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Corinthians 5:19.

Received up in glory (ανελημφθη εν δοξη). First aorist passive again (six verbs in the same voice and tense in succession, a rhythmic arrangement like a hymn). Cf. Romans 8:29. This time the verb is αναλαμβανω, the verb used of the ascension (Acts 1:11; Acts 1:22, which see). In a wonderful way this stanza of a hymn presents the outline of the life of Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/1-timothy-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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