Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

1 Timothy 3

Verse 1

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

If a man seeketh (ει τις ορεγεταιei tis oregetai). Condition of first class, assumed as true. Present middle indicative of ορεγωoregō 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 (επισκοπηςepiskopēs). Genitive case after ορεγεταιoregetai Late and rare word outside of lxx and N.T. (in a Lycaonian inscription). From επισκοπεωepiskopeō and means “over-seership” as in Acts 1:20.

Verse 2

The bishop (τον επισκοπονton episkopon). 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 note on Acts 20:28 for its use for the elders (presbyters) in Acts 20:17. So also in Titus 1:5, Titus 1:7. See note on Philemon 1:1. The word does not in the N.T. have the monarchical sense found in Ignatius of a bishop over elders.

Without reproach (ανεπιλημπτονanepilēmpton). Accusative case of general reference with δειdei and ειναιeinai Old and common verbal (αa privative and επιλαμβανωepilambanō not to be taken hold of), irreproachable. In N.T. only here, 1 Timothy 5:7; 1 Timothy 6:14.

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

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

Soberminded (σωπροναsōphrona). Another old adjective (from σαοςsaos or σωςsōs sound, πρηνphrēn mind) in N.T. only here, Titus 1:8; Titus 2:2, Titus 2:5.

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

Given to hospitality (πιλοχενονphiloxenon). Old word (see πιλοχενιαphiloxenia in Romans 12:13), from πιλοςphilos and χενοςxenos in N.T. only here, Titus 1:8; 1 Peter 4:9.

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

Verse 3

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

No striker (μη πληκτηνmē plēktēn). Late word from πλησσωplēssō to strike. In N.T. only here and Titus 1:3.

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

Not contentious (αμαχονamachon). Old word (from αa privative and μαχηmachē), not a fighter. In N.T. only here and Titus 3:2.

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

Verse 4

Ruling (προισταμενονproistamenon). Present middle participle of προιστημιproistēmi old word to place before and (intransitive as here) to stand before. See note on 1 Thessalonians 5:12; Romans 12:8.

In subjection (εν υποταγηιen hupotagēi). See 1 Timothy 3:11.

Verse 5

If a man knoweth not (ει τις ουκ οιδενei tis ouk oiden). Condition of first class, assumed as true.

How to rule (προστηναιprostēnai). Second aorist active infinitive of same verb προιστημιproistēmi and with οιδενoiden means “know how to rule,” not “know that he rules.”

How (πωςpōs). Rhetorical question expecting negative answer.

Shall he take care of (επιμελησεταιepimelēsetai). Future middle of επιμελεομαιepimeleomai old compound (επιepi direction of care towards) verb, in lxx, in N.T. only here and Luke 10:34.

The church of God (εκκλησιας τεουekklēsias theou). Anarthrous as in 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 νεοπυτονmē neophuton). Our “neophyte.” Vernacular word from Aristophanes on, in lxx, and in papyri in the original sense of “newly-planted” (νεοσ πυωneosινα μηphuō). Only here in N.T.

Lest (τυπωτειςhina mē). “That not.”

Being puffed up (τυποωtuphōtheis). First aorist passive participle of τυποςtuphoō old word (from εμπεσηι ειςtuphos 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 (ινα μηempesēi eis). Second aorist active subjunctive with εμπιπτωhina mē negative purpose, of ενempiptō old verb, to fall into. Note both ειςen and κριμα του διαβολουeis as in Matthew 12:11; Luke 10:36.

The condemnation of the devil (κριμαkrima tou diabolou). See note on Romans 3:8 for του διαβολουkrima Best to take tou diabolou as objective genitive, though subjective in 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 εχωτενapo tōn exōthen). “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 (ονειδισμονoneidismon). Late word from ονειδιζωoneidizō See note on Romans 15:3.

The snare of the devil (παγιδα του διαβολουpagida tou diabolou). Here subjective genitive, snare set by the devil. ΠαγιςPagis old word from πηγνυμιpēgnumi 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 1 Timothy 3:6, money 1 Timothy 6:9, women, ambition).

Verse 8

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

Grave (σεμνουςsemnous). See note on Philippians 4:8. Repeated in 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:2.

Not double-tongued (μη διλογουςmē dilogous). Rare word (δισ λεγωdisδιλογεωlegō) saying same thing twice. Xenophon has διλογιαdilogeō and διγλωσσοςdilogia In Pollux, but lxx has μη οινωι πολλωι προσεχονταςdiglōssos (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 “Mark. Two-Tongues.”

Not given to much wine (τον νουνmē oinōi pollōi prosechontas). “Not holding the mind (προσεχωton noun understood as usual with οινωιprosechō 1 Timothy 1:4) on much wine” (μη αισχροκερδειςoinōi dative case). That attitude leads to over-indulgence.

Not greedy of filthy lucre (αισχροςmē aischrokerdeis). Old word from κερδοςaischros (Ephesians 5:12) and kerdos (Philippians 1:21). “Making small gains in mean ways” (Parry). Not genuine in 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 πιστεωςto mustērion tēs pisteōs). “The inner secret of the faith,” the revelation given in Christ. See for μυστηριονmustērion in Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:26; Ephesians 3:9).

In a pure conscience (εν καταραι συνειδησειen katharāi suneidēsei). See note on 1 Timothy 1:19. “The casket in which the jewel is to be kept” (Lock).

Verse 10

First be proved (δοκιμαζεστωσαν πρωτονdokimazesthōsan prōton). Present passive imperative third plural of δοκιμαζωdokimazō 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 note on Philemon 1:10 for the two senses (test, approve) of the word.

Let them serve as deacons (διακονειτωσανdiakoneitōsan). Present active imperative of διακονεωdiakoneō (same root as διακονοςdiakonos), common verb, to minister, here “to serve as deacons.” Cf. διακονεινdiakonein in Acts 6:2. See also 1 Timothy 3:13.

If they be blameless (ανεγκλητοι οντεςanegklētoi ontes). “Being blameless” (conditional participle, οντεςontes). See note on 1 Corinthians 1:8; Colossians 1:22 for ανεγκλητοςanegklētos f0).

Verse 11

Women (γυναικαςgunaikas). Accusative with δει ειναιdei einai understood (οσαυτωςhosautōs likewise) as in 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 διαβολουςmē diabolous). Original meaning of διαβολοςdiabolos (from διαβαλλωdiaballō 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 διλογουςdilogous double-tongued, women are more prone than men to be slanderers” (White).

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

Verse 12

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

Ruling well (προισταμενοι καλωςproistamenoi kalōs). As in 1 Timothy 3:4.

Verse 13

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

A good standing (βατμον καλονbathmon kalon). Late word from βαινωbainō 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 παρρησιανpollēn parrēsian). A Pauline phrase (2 Corinthians 3:12; 2 Corinthians 7:4; Philemon 1:20).

In the faith which is in Christ Jesus (εν πιστει τηι εν Χριστωι Ιησουen pistei tēi en Christōi Iēsou). 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 ταχειen tachei). Old idiom (locative case of ταχοςtachos quickness, speed). See note on 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 βραδυνωean de bradunō). Condition of third class with εανean and the present active subjunctive of βραδυνωbradunō old verb, to be slow (usually intransitive), from βραδυςbradus (slow, dull, Luke 24:25), in N.T. only here and 2 Peter 3:9.

That thou mayest know (ινα ειδηιςhina eidēis). Final clause with ιναhina and second perfect active subjunctive of οιδαoida to know.

How men ought (πως δειpōs dei). “How it is necessary for thee” (supply σεse more naturally than τιναtina any one). Indirect question.

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

In the house of God (εν οικωι τεουen oikōi theou). 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 οικοςoikos commonly means “household.” Christians are the ναοςnaos (sanctuary) of God (1 Corinthians 3:16.; 2 Corinthians 6:16), and Paul calls them οικειοι του τεουoikeioi tou theou (Ephesians 2:19) “members of God‘s family.” It is conduct as members of God‘s family (οικοςoikos) that Paul has in mind.

Which (ητιςhētis). “Which very house of God,” agreeing (feminine) with the predicate word εκκλησιαekklēsia (church).

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

The pillar and ground of the truth (στυλος και εδραιωμα της αλητειαςstulos kai hedraiōma tēs alētheias). Paul changes the metaphor again as he often does. Those words are in apposition to εκκλησιαekklēsia and οικοςoikos On στυλοςstulos old word for pillar, see note on Galatians 2:9; Revelation 3:12 (only other N.T. examples). εδραιωμαHedraiōma late and rare word (from εδραιοωhedraioō to make stable) occurs here first and only in ecclesiastical writers later. Probably it means stay or support rather than foundation or ground. See 1 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Timothy 2:19 for similar idea. See also Matthew 16:18.

Verse 16

Without controversy (ομολογουμενωςhomologoumenōs). Old adverb from the participle ομολογουμενοςhomologoumenos from ομολογεωhomologeō Here only in N.T. “Confessedly.”

Great (μεγαmega). See note on Ephesians 5:32. “A great mystery.”

The mystery of godliness (το της ευσεβειας μυστηριονto tēs eusebeias mustērion). See 1 Timothy 3:9 “the mystery of the faith,” and 1 Timothy 2:2 for ευσεβειαeusebeia Here the phrase explains “a pillar and stay of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). See in particular 1 Corinthians 1:27. “The revealed secret of true religion, the mystery of Christianity, the Person of Christ” (Lock).

He who (οςhos). The correct text, not τεοςtheos (God) the reading of the Textus Receptus (Syrian text) nor οho (neuter relative, agreeing with μυστηριονmustērion) 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 οςhos (who) is correct and there is asyndeton (no connective) in the verbs. Christ, to whom οςhos refers, is the mystery (Colossians 1:27; Colossians 2:2).

Was manifested (επανερωτηephanerōthē). First aorist passive indicative of πανεροωphaneroō to manifest. Here used to describe the incarnation (εν σαρκιen sarki) 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 (εδικαιωτη εν πνευματιedikaiōthē en pneumati). First aorist passive indicative of δικαιοωdikaioō 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 (ωπτη αγγελοιςōphthē aggelois). First aorist passive indicative of οραωhoraō to see, with either the instrumental or the dative case of angels (αγγελοιςaggelois). The words were probably suggested by the appearance of Jesus (ωπτηōphthē the usual form for the resurrection appearances of Christ) of the angels at the tomb and at the ascension of Christ. See note on 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 (εκηρυχτη εν ετνεσινekēruchthē en ethnesin). First aorist passive indicative of κηρυσσωkērussō to proclaim. The word ετνοςethnos 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 (επιστευτη εν κοσμωιepisteuthē en kosmōi). First aorist indicative passive again of πιστευωpisteuō to believe (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Cf. 1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Corinthians 5:19.

Received up in glory (ανελημπτη εν δοχηιanelēmphthē en doxēi). 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 αναλαμβανωanalambanō 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.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.