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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 3

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Verses 1-16


1 Timothy 3:1

Faithful is the saying for this is a true saying, A.V.; seeketh for desire, A.V. Faithful is the saying (see above, 1 Timothy 1:15, note). This manifestly refers to what follows, not, as Chrysostom and others, and margin of the R.V., to the saying which precedes, in 1 Timothy 2:15. Seeketh (ὀρέγεται); literally, stretches out his hands after. It is peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles and the Epistle to the Hebrews, though common in classical Greek (see 1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 11:16). The noun ὔρεξις, appetite, desire (which is found several times in the LXX.), is used once by St. Paul (Romans 1:27). The office of a bishop; meaning here, as everywhere else in Scripture, that of a presbyter, or priest. Ἐπισκοπή, in the sense of "the episcopate," occurs only here and Acts 1:20, where it is rendered "bishopric" in the A.V., and "overseer-ship" in the margin of the R.V., being the translation in the LXX. of Psalms 108:1-13. (109., A.V.) of the Hebrew וֹתדָקֻףְ, "his office." Elsewhere (Luke 19:44; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 5:6) it means "visitation." But ἐπίσκοπος, "bishop" (Psalms 108:2)—except in 1 Peter 2:25, where it is applied to Christ—always means the overseer of the particular flock,—the presbyter (Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:7); and ἐπισκοπεῖν the functions of such ἐπίσκοπος (1 Peter 5:2 compared with 1). It was not till the sub-apostolic age that the name of ἐπίσκοπος was confined to the chief overseer who had "priests and deacons" under him, as Timothy and Titus had. Possibly this application of the word arose from the visits of the apostles, and afterwards of men sent by the apostles, as Timothy and Titus, Tychicus and Artemas, were, to visit the Churches, being occasional and temporary only, as those of Visitors. For such occasional visitation is implied in the verb ἐπισκέπτεσθαι (Matthew 25:36, Matthew 25:43; Luke 1:68, Luke 1:78; Acts 7:23; Acts 15:36; James 1:27). Afterwards, when the wants of the Churches required permanent oversight, the name ἐπίσκοπος—vescovo (It.), eueque (Fr.), bischof (Get.), bisceop (A.S.), aipiskaupus (Moeso-Goth.), etc.—became universal for the chief overseer of the Church. A good work (καλοῦ ἔργου, not ἀγαθοῦ, as verse 10). Καλού means "honourable," "becoming," "beneficial," and the like.

1 Timothy 3:2

The for a, A.V.; therefore for then, A.V.; without reproach for blameless, A.V.; temperate for vigilant, A.V.; sober-minded for sober, A.V.; orderly for of good behavior, A.V. The bishop (see note on 1 Timothy 3:1); "a bishop" is better English. Without reproach (ἀνεπίληπτος); only here and 1 Timothy 5:7 and 1 Timothy 6:14 in the New Testament; not found anywhere in the LXX, but used by Thucydides, Euripides, and others, in the sense of "not open to attack," "blameless." The metaphor is said (though denied by others)to be from wrestling or boxing, when a man leaves no part of his body exposed to the attack of his adversary. The husband of one wife (comp. Titus 1:6). Three senses are possible. The passage may be understood

(1) as requiring a bishop, (or presbyter) to have a wife, and so some took it even in Chrysostom's time (though he does not so understand it), and so the Russian Church understands it;

(2) as prohibiting his having more than one with at a time;

(3) as prohibiting second marriages for priests and bishops. Bishop Wordsworth, Bishop Ellicott, and Dean Alford, among English commentators, all agree in thinking that (3) is the apostle's meaning. In spite of such consensus, it appears in the highest degree improbable that St. Paul should have laid down such a condition for the priesthood. There is nothing in his writings when treating expressly of second marriages (Romans 7:2, Rom 7:3; 1 Corinthians 7:8, 1 Corinthians 7:39) to suggest the notion of there being anything disreputable in a second marriage, and it would obviously cast a great slur upon second marriages if it were laid down as a principle that no one who had married twice was fit to be an ἐπίσκοπος. But if we consider the general laxity in regard to marriage, and the facility of divorce, which prevailed among Jews and Romans at this time, it must have been a common thing for a man to have more than one woman living who had been his wife. And this, as a distinct breach of the primeval law (Genesis 2:24), would properly be a bar to any one being called to the "office of a bishop." The same case is supposed in 1 Corinthians 7:10-13. But it is utterly unsupported by any single passage in Scripture that a second marriage should disqualify a man for the sacred ministry. As regards the opinion of the early Church, it was not at all uniform, and amongst those who held that this passage absolutely prohibits second marriages in the case of an episcopus, it was merely a part of the asceticism of the day. As a matter of course, such writers as Origen and Tertullian held it. The very early opinion that Joseph, the husband of Mary, had children by a former wife, which finds place in the Protevangelium of James (9.), is hardly consistent with the theory of the disreputableness of second marriages. In like manner, the phrase in 1 Timothy 5:9, ἐνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, is best explained in accordance with the apostle's doctrine about the lawfulness of a woman's second marriage, as meaning that she was the husband of one man only, as long as her husband lived. (For the chief patristic opinions on the subject, see Bishop Wordsworth's note, and Bingham's 'Christian Antiquities,' bk. 4. 1 Timothy 5:1-25.) Temperate (νηφάλιον); peculiar to the pastoral Epistles (see 1 Timothy 5:11 and Titus 2:2), but found in classical Greek. The verb νήφειν means "to be sober" (1Th 5:6; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1Pe 1:13; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8). It denotes that temperate use of meat and drink which keeps the mind watchful and on the alert, and then the state of mind itself so produced. The opposite state of mind is described in Luke 21:34. Sober-minded (σώφρονα); in the New Testament only here and in Titus 1:8; Titus 2:2, Titus 2:5. But σωφρονέω is found in the Gospels and Epistles; σωφρονίζω σωφρονισμός σωφρόνως, in the pastoral Epistles; and σωφροσύνη in 1 Timothy 2:15 (where see note). Orderly (κόσμιον; see 1 Timothy 2:9, note). Given to hospitality (φιλόξενον; as Titus 1:8 and 1 Peter 4:9). The substantive φιλοξενία is found in Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2. Apt to teach (διδακτικόν); only here and 2 Timothy 2:24, and Philo, 'De Proem. et Virt.,' 4 (Huther). The classical word is διδασκαλικός, though chiefly applied to things. In the above-quoted passage in 1 Peter 4:1-19. the gifts of speaking and ministering are, as here, placed alongside that of hospitality.

1 Timothy 3:3

No brawler for not given to wine, A.V.; the R.T. omits the clause μὴ αἰσξρερδη; gentle for patient, A.V.; contentious for a brawler, A.V.; no lover of money, for not covetous, A.V. No brawler (μὴ πάροινον); only here and Titus 1:7; but, as well as παροίνιος, common in classical Greek, in the sense of "quarrelsome over wine." In Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34 "wine-bibber" is οἰνοπότης. In 1 Peter 4:3 the word for "excess of wine" is οἰνοφλυγία. No striker (μὴ τλήκτην); only here and Titus 1:7. It is used, though rarely, in classical Greek for a "striker," "brawler." There is but weak manuscript authority for the reading in the T.R., μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, not given to filthy lucre, which is thought to have been derived from Titus 1:7 (q.v.). The internal evidence, however, is in its favor, as something is wanted to correspond to ἀφιλάργυρον, just as πάροινον and πλήκτην correspond to ἐπιεικῆ and at, ἄμαχον respectively. Gentle (ἐπιεικῆ); as Titus 3:2. So also it is rendered in the A.V. of James 3:17; 1 Peter 2:18. It is very common in classical Greek, in the sense of "fair," "meet," "suitable," of things; and of "fair," "kind," "gentle," of persons. The substantive ἐπιεικεία means "clemency," "gentleness," (Acts 24:4; 2 Corinthians 10:1). Not contentious (ἄμαχον); only here and Titus 3:3 in the New Testament, and in Ecclus. 19:5 in the Complutensian edition. It is also used in this sense in AEschylus, 'Persse,' 955, though its more common meaning in classical Greek is "invincible." No lover of money (ἀφιλάργυρον); only here and Hebrews xiii, 5. Ἁφιλαργυρία occurs in Hippocrates. The positive φιλάργυρος, φιλαργυρία, occurs in 1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Luke 16:14. Neither the A.V. nor the R.V. quite preserves the form of the original sentence, where the three negative qualities (μὴ πάροινον μὴ πλήκτην μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, T.R.) are followed by three positive qualities (ἐπιοικῆ ἄμαχον ἀφιλάργυρον"gentle," "peaceful," and "indifferent about money").

1 Timothy 3:4

One that ruleth well his own house. The ἐπίσκοπος is one who has to preside over and rule (προίστασθαι) the house of God (1 Timothy 5:17; Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12), as the high priest was called "ruler of the house of God" (1 Chronicles 9:11; Nehemiah 11:11). So in Justin Martyr the bishop is called ὁ προεστῶς τῶν ἀδελφῶν ('Apology,' 11) and simply ὁ προεστῶς, and similarly in Hebrews 13:7 the clergy are οἱ ἡγούμενοι ὑμῶν, "they which have the rule over you." How needful, then, is it that he should rule well his own house, and have his own children in subjection! The testimony given in this passage to a married clergy is too clear to need any comment. In subjection (ἐν ὑποταγῇ); as above, 1 Timothy 2:11, where see note. For the sense, comp. Titus 1:6, which leads us to apply the words, with all gravity (σεμνότητος), the contrary to "riot," ἀσωτία), to the children. The children of the ἐπίσκοπος are to exhibit that seriousness and sobriety of conduct which is in accordance with their father's office, μετά, together with, as in 1 Timothy 1:14.

1 Timothy 3:5

But for for, A.V., knoweth for know, A.V.

1 Timothy 3:6

Puffed up for lifted up with pride, A.V. A novice (νεόφυτον); only here in the New Testament, but found repeatedly in the LXX. in its literal sense of "a tree" or "plantation" newly planted (Psalms 127:3 (Psalms 128:3, A.V.); Psalms 144:12; Isaiah 5:7). Here the novice or neophyte is one recently converted and received into the Church. As such he is not yet fit to be a ruler and a teacher of the brethren. The reason follows. Lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Τυφωθεις, puffed up, is peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 3:4), from τυφός, smoke (comp. λίνον τυφόμενον, "smoking flax," Matthew 12:10). The idea seems to be "lightness," "emptiness," and "elation." Some add that of "obscuration" as by smoke; τυφόω, to wrap in smoke; τετύφωμαι, to be wrapt in clouds of conceit and folly (Liddell and Scott). The condemnation of the devil. A somewhat obscure phrase. It means either

(1) the same condemnation as that into which the devil fell through pride,—and so Chrysostom, Olshausen, Bishop Ellicott, Wordsworth, Alford, etc., take it; or

(2) the condemnation or accusation of the devil. In the latter case κρῖμα would be used in the same sense as κρίσις in Jude 1:9, and would mean the charge preferred against him by "the accuser of the brethren" (comp. Job 1:9; Job 2:4, Job 2:5). One of the senses of κρίνω is "to accuse"—like κατηγορεῖν (Liddell and Scott). And this view agrees with ὀνειδισμὸν καὶ παγίδα τοῦ διαβόλου in Jude 1:7, which means, not the trap into which the devil fell, but the trap laid by the devil. It remains doubtful which is the true sense, but

(2) seems, on the whole, the most probable. The devil (τοῦ διαβόλου) can only mean Satan (Matthew 4:1; Matthew 13:39, etc.), though possibly conceived of as speaking by the mouth of traducers and vilifiers of the Church, as in Jude 1:7.

1 Timothy 3:7

Good testimony from for a good report of, A.V.; that for which, A.V. Good testimony (μαρτυρίαν καλήν; see 1 Timothy 5:10). So it is said of Timothy himself that ἐμαρτυρεῖτο, "he was well reported of by the brethren" (Acts 16:2). In accordance with this rule, letters testimonial are required of all persons to be ordained, to the importance of character in a clergyman. Them that are without (τῶν ἔξωθεν); used in Matthew 23:1-39. Matthew 23:27; Luk 11:39; 1 Peter 3:3; Revelation 11:2, etc., of that; which is outside or external literally, as the outside of the cup, the outer ornament of the body, the outside of the sepulcher, the outer court of the temple. It is synonymous with the more common form, ἔξω. (For the phrase, "they that are without" (οἱ ἔξω), as applied to those who are not members of the Church, see Mark 4:11; John 9:34, John 9:35; 1 Corinthians 5:12, 1 Corinthians 5:13; Colossians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:12.) The opposite is ἔσω ἔσωθεν (1 Corinthians 5:12; Matthew 23:25, etc.). So exoteric and esoteric, of doctrines intended respectively for the outside world or the inner circle of disciples. Reproach (ὀνειδισμόν); the reproaches anti revilings cast upon him by unbelievers (Romans 15:3; Hebrews 10:33; Hebrews 11:26; Hebrews 13:13). The verb ὀνειδίζειν has the same sense, and so in classical Greek. This reproach is further described as the snare of the devil, because it is through these revilings that the devil seeks to impair the power of his ministry and frighten him from the exercise of it. The genitive τοῦ διαβόλου depends only upon πασίδα, not upon ὀνειδισμόν. The καὶ does not indicate that there are two separate things into which he falls, but adds, as a description of the ὀνειδισμός, that it is "a snare of the devil." The idea in 1 Peter 5:8 is analogous. There it is by afflictions that the devil seeks to devour the disciple who is weak in faith. Those afflictions might well be described as παγίδα τοῦ διαβόλου," a snare of the devil," set for weak souls.

1 Timothy 3:8

Deacons in like manner must for likewise must the deacons, A.V. Grave (σεμνούς); in Philippians 4:8 rendered "honest" in the A.V., and "honourable" in the R.V., and "venerable" in the margin. None of the words are satisfactory, but "honest" in the sense of honnete, i.e. "respectable," "becoming the dignity of a man," comes nearest to the meaning of σεμνός. Ἄνηρ σεμνός is a man who inspires respect by his conduct and deportment. It occurs again in Philippians 4:11 and in Titus 2:2. Double-tongued (διλόγους); only here in the New Testament, or indeed anywhere. The verb διλογεῖν and the noun διλογία are found in Xenophon and Diodorus Siculus, but in a different sense—"to repeat," "repetition." Here δίλογος is used in the sense of δίγλωσσος (Proverbs 11:13; Ecclus. 28:13), "a slanderer," "a false-tongued man," who, as Theophylact (ap. Schleusner) well explains it, thinks one thing and says another, and says different things to different people. The caution here given is of incalculable importance to young curates. They must not allow themselves to be either receptacles or vehicles of scandal and detraction. Their speech to rich and poor alike must be perfectly sincere and ingenuous. Not given to much wine. The effect of the best sermon may be undone, and more than undone, if the preacher sinks into the pot-companion of his hearers. He at once ceases to be σεμνός, to inspire respect (comp. Titus 2:3 where the additional idea, most true, of the slavery of drunkards, is introduced). Greedy of filthy lucre (αἰσχροκερδεῖς); only here and in Titus 2:3 (T.R.) and Titus 1:7. The adverb αἰσχροκερδῶς occurs in 1 Peter 5:2, and is one of many points of resemblance between the pastoral Epistles and 1 Peter. Balsam, Gehazi, and Judas Iscariot are the three prominent examples of professed servants of God being lovers of filthy lucre. Achan (Joshua 7:21) is another (see 1 Timothy 6:10). When lucre is the price for doing wrong, it is "filthy." When lucre is sought on occasions where none is due, it is "filthy;" and when the desire of even just gains is excessive, it ceases to be clean.

1 Timothy 3:9

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. Μυστήριον, a mystery, is that which, having been long hidden, is at length disclosed, either to men generally or to elect disciples. It is derived from μυέω, to initiate, of which the passive μυέομαι, to be instructed or initiated, is found in Philippians 4:12, and is common in classical Greek, being itself derived from μύω, "to close the lips as in pronouncing the syllable μῦ," whence also taurus. The idea is of something secret, which might not be spoken of. In the New Testament we have "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven"; and St. Paul brings out the full force of the word when he speaks (Romans 16:25) of "the mystery which was kept secret (σεσιγημένου) since the world began … but is now made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (see too Ephesians 3:3-6; Col 2:1-23 :26, etc.). "The faith" is equivalent to "the gospel," or "the kingdom of heaven," or the "godliness" of Philippians 4:16 (where see note); and "the mystery of the faith" might be paraphrased by "the revealed truth of Christianity". What is added, "in a pure conscience," teaches us that orthodoxy without personal holiness is little worth. Holding "the truth in unrighteousness" is severely condemned by St. Paul (Romans 1:18). He says of himself (Acts 23:1), "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (comp. Acts 24:16; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:5, 1 Timothy 1:19, etc.). It is much to be observed how St. Paul, the great teacher of the doctrine of g-race, lays constant stress upon the functions of the conscience, and the necessity of having a pure conscience.

1 Timothy 3:10

Serve as deacons for use the office of a deacon, A.V.; if they be for being found, A.V. And let these also, etc. There is an ambiguity in the English here. It is not" these also"—these in addition to others, i.e. the bishops before named—but "these be also first proved." Their general character, as described in 1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:9, must not be taken upon loose hearsay, but must be put to the test by examination, by special testimony, by inquiry, and then, if they are ἀνέγκλητοι, not accused, not open to just blame, blameless, let them be admitted to serve as deacons (see 1 Timothy 3:13, note). The Church of England scrupulously acts up to these directions by requiring written testimonials, by personal inquiries made by the bishop, by the Si quis, by the appeal to the congregation in the Ordination Service, "Brethren, if there be any of you who knoweth any impediment, or notable crime, in any of these persons presented to be ordained deacons, for the which he ought not to be admitted to that office, let him come forth in the name of God, and show what the crime or impediment is;" as well as by the careful examination of the candidates. Blameless (comp. Titus 1:6, Titus 1:7); ἀνέγκλητος, rendered in the Vulgate nullum crimen habentes (which seems to explain the "notable crime" of the Ordination Service), and in Colossians 1:22 "unreprovable" both in the A.V. and the R.V. The whole passage, from Colossians 1:2 to Colossians 1:13, shows the supreme importance of a holy and blameless conversation in the clergy.

1 Timothy 3:11

Women in like maturer must for even so must their wives, A.V.; temperate for sober, A.V. Women. What is meant by these "women"? Certainly not women in general, which would be quite out of harmony with the context. The choice lies between

(1) the wives of the deacons, as in the A.V.;

(2) the wives of the episcopi and deacons;

(3) deaconesses.

This last, on the whole, is the most probable. The male deacons had just been spoken of, and so the apostle goes on to speak of the female deacons (at διάκονοι, Romans 16:1). He conceives of the deacon's office as consisting of two branches—

(1) the deacons,

(2) the deaconesses;

and gives appropriate directions for each. It must he remembered that the office of the early deacon was in a great measure secular, so that there is nothing strange in that of the deaconess being coupled with it. The retrain in 1 Timothy 3:12 to the male deacon is in favor of understanding "the women" of the deaconesses, as showing that the subject of the diaconate was not done with. Chrysostom (who says, "He is speaking of those who hold the rank of deaconesses") and all the ancient commentators, and De Wette, Wiesinger, Wordsworth, Alford, and Ellicott among the moderns, so understand it (see following notes). Grave (σεμνὰς; see 1 Timothy 3:8, note). Not slanderers (μὴ διαβόλους, corresponding to the μὴ διλόγους of 1 Timothy 3:8). This use of διάβολος, which is the classical one, is peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles (see 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3). Temperate (νηφαλίους; see 1 Timothy 3:2, note). It corresponds here to the μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας of 1 Timothy 3:8. Faithful in all things (πιστὰς ἐν πᾶδιν). This seems to refer specially to their being the almoners of the Church charities, and so favors the explanation of "women" as meaning deaconesses. Πιστός means especially "trusty" (Matthew 24:45; Matthew 25:21; Luke 12:42; Luke 16:10, etc.).

1 Timothy 3:12

Deacons for the deacons, A.V.; husbands for the husbands, A.V. Husbands of one wife (see above, 1 Timothy 3:2, note). Ruling, etc. (προιδτάμενοι); literally, being at the head of, presiding over (see 1 Timothy 3:4, note). In Romans 12:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12 it is applied to the spiritual ruler, the ἐπίσκοπος or πρεσβυτερος of the Church. Elsewhere only in the pastoral Epistles (above, 1 Thessalonians 5:4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 3:8, Titus 3:14). Their own houses (above, 1 Thessalonians 5:5). "Their own" is in contrast to" God's house."

1 Timothy 3:13

Served well as deacons for used the office of a deacon well, A.V.; gain to themselves a good standing for purchase to themselves a good degree, A.V. Served… as deacons (διακονήσαντες); as in 1 Timothy 3:10. In this technical sense only found in these two passages; which well agrees with the late date of this Epistle, when the technical sense of διάκονος was established. Gain to themselves a good standing. The sense of the passage depends a good deal upon the exact meaning of βαθμός. In 1 Samuel 5:4, 1 Samuel 5:5, in the LXX., βαθμός is the rendering of נתָּפְםִ (rendered αἴθριον in Ezekiel 9:3; Ezekiel 10:4), a somewhat unusual word for a "threshold." In 2 Kings 20:9, 2Ki 20:10, 2 Kings 20:11, it is the rendering of הלָעֲםַ, "a degree on the sun-dial." This latter seems to suit better the verb περιποιοῦνται, they gain or acquire, which suggests the idea of advancement. It does not follow that St. Paul had in his mind their advancement from the "inferior office" to "the higher ministries in the Church" (Ordination Service); he may merely have meant to say that the discharge of the duties of a deacon in an efficient and exemplary manner raised a man to high estimation in the Church, and so gave him confidence in confessing the faith of Jesus Christ both by word and deed. Gain to themselves (περιποιοῦνται); acquire by purchase or otherwise. Frequent in the LXX.; but only elsewhere in the New Testament in Acts 20:28. Boldness (παρρησίαν); very common in the New Testament (comp. Acts 4:13, Acts 4:29, Acts 4:31; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:20, etc.), where it is especially applied to boldness in preaching the gospel of Christ. This seems to imply that St. Paul contemplated preaching as a part of the deacon's work. We know that Philip the deacon and Stephen the deacon were both preachers.

1 Timothy 3:14

To come unto thee; to Ephesus, where Timothy was (1 Timothy 1:3).

1 Timothy 3:15

Men ought to behave themselves for thou oughtest to behave thyself, A.V. To behave thyself (ἀναστρέφεσθαι); variously rendered, both in the A.V. and the R.V., "to have one's conversation," "to live," "to pass (one's time)," "to be used" (Hebrews 10:33). It is literally "to go up and down" a given place, "backwards and forwards," hence "to dwell in it." The substantive ἀναστροφή, in the thirteen places where it occurs in the New Testament, is always rendered "conversation" in the A.V.; in the R.V., "manner of life," "life," "issue of life," "manner of living," "behaviour," "living." It is a favorite word in the two Epistles of St. Peter, where it occurs eight times. The house of God. This phrase here denotes, as it is explained in the following words, the Church on earth. So Hebrews 3:6, "Christ as a Son over his house; whose house are we," where the reference is to Numbers 12:7, "My servant Moses... is faithful in all mine house." The Church of the living God. Here is again a somewhat remarkable resemblance to the phraseology of the Epistle to the Hebrews, "Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God.... to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn" (Hebrews 12:22, Hebrews 12:23). However, the phraseology is not peculiar to the Epistle to the Hebrews. Thus we read in 2 Corinthians 6:16, "Ye are the temple of the living God." The phrase, "the living God," occurs seven times in St. Paul's Epistles, and four times in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It occurs three times in the Gospels, once in the Acts of the Apostles, and once in the Revelation. Here it is used by St. Paul to enhance the obligation to a holy and blameless walk in those who have the oversight of his Church. The pillar and ground of the truth. Some apply these words to Timothy himself (Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, and others cited by Alford), after the analogy of Galatians 2:9, where James, Cephas, and John are said to be "pillars" (στύλοι), and Revelation 3:12, where it is said of him that over-cometh, "I will make him a pillar (στύλον) in the house of my God." And so, in Venantius Fortunatus, St. Paul is called "stilus ille." But the metaphors of "a pillar" and "a foundation" do not all suit the verb ἀναστρέφεσθαι; and it is well argued that the absence of the pronoun σε is unfavorable to the application of "the pillar and ground of the truth" to the subject of the first clause. It is therefore better to understand this clause as descriptive of the Church of God. The Church is the pillar of the truth. It supports it; holds it together—binds together its different parts. And it is the ground of the truth. By it the truth is made fast, firm, and fixed. The ground (ἑδραίωμα). This word only occurs here at all; ἑδραῖος, common both in the New Testament, the LXX., and in classical Greek, means "fixed," "firm," or" fast." In the A.V. of 1 Corinthians 7:37 and 1 Corinthians 15:58, "steadfast;" Colossians 1:23 (where it is coupled with τεθεμελιωμένα), "settled." Thence ἑδραιόω in late Greek, "to make firm or fast," and ἑδραίμα, the "establishment" or "grounding" of the truth; that in and by which the truth is placed on a sure and fixed basis.

1 Timothy 3:16

He who for God, A.V. and T.R.; manifested for manifest, A.V.; among the nations for unto the Gentiles, A.V.; in for into, A.V. Without controversy (ὁμολογουμένως); only here in the New Testament, but used in the same sense in the LXX. and in classical Greek, "confessedly," by common confession. Great is the mystery of godliness. This is said to enhance the glory of the Church just spoken of, to whom this mystery has been entrusted, and so still further to impress upon Timothy the vital necessity of a wise and holy walk in the Church. The mystery of godliness is all that truth which "in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit." Godliness (τῆς εὐδεβείας); i.e." the Christian faith;" what in 1 Timothy 6:3 is called "The words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness (τῇ κατ αὐσεβείαν διδασκαλὶᾳ)," and in 2 Timothy 1:1, "The truth which is according to godliness." In 2 Timothy 1:9 it is "the mystery of the froth, where ἠ πίστις is equivalent to ἡ αὐσεβεία. Bishop Ellicott, however, does not admit this objective sense of ἡ πίστις or ἡ αὐσεβεία but explains the genitive as "a pure possessive genitive," the mystery appertaining to, or the property of, subjective faith and godliness; but this is a use not borne out b- any passage in which the word "mystery" occurs. It is always mysteries (or mystery) of the kingdom of God, of Christ, of God, of the gospel, and the like. In the following passages the objective sense of ἠ πίστις is either necessary or by far the most natural: Acts 3:7; Acts 13:8; Acts 14:22; Acts 16:5; Galatians 1:23; Ephesians 4:5; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:23; Col 2:7; 1 Timothy 1:19; 1Ti 5:8; 1 Timothy 6:10,1Ti 6:21; 2 Timothy 4:7; Titus 1:13; James 2:1; Jud James 1:3. Having thus exalted the "mystery of godliness," St. Paul goes on to expound it. He who (ὅς). This is generally adopted now £ as the true reading, instead of Θεός (ΟΣ, instead of ΘΣ). Bishop Ellicott satisfied himself, by most careful personal examination, that the original reading of the Cod. Alex. was ΟΣ, and that it had been altered by a later hand to ΘΣ. The Cod. Sinait certainly has ὅς, and to this all the older versions agree. The Vulgate has quod, agreeing with sacramentum and representing the Greek ὁ Accepting this, then, as the true reading, we proceed to explain it. Ὅς, who, is a relative, and must, therefore, have an antecedent. But there is no expressed antecedent of the masculine gender for it to agree with. The antecedent, therefore, must be understood, and gathered from the preceding words, τὸ μυστήριον τῆς εὐσεβείας. It can only be Christ. The mystery of the whole Old Testament, that which was wrapped in types and hidden under veils, was Christ (Colossians 1:27). Moses spake of him, the Psalms speak of him, the prophets speak of him; but all of them spake darkly. But in the gospel "the mystery of Christ" (Colossians 4:3)is revealed. Christ is the Mystery of Christianity. It is, therefore, no difficult step to pass from "the mystery" to "Christ," and to supply the word "Christ" as the antecedent to "who." Was manifested (ἐφανερώθη); a word frequently applied to Christ (John 1:31; 1 John 1:2; 1 John 3:5, 1 John 3:8, etc.). The idea is the same in John 1:14. Justified in the spirit. This is rather an obscure expression. But it seems to describe our Lord's spotless righteousness, perhaps with special reference to the declaration of it at his baptism, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." We have the same contrast between the flesh and the Spirit of Christ in 1 Peter 3:18. And between the flesh and the spirit of a Christian man in Romans 8:10, "The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness." To this clause apparently the remark of Chrysostom applies, "God became man, and man became God." "The spirit" seems to mean the moral nature—the inner man. Seen of angels. Perhaps the multitude of the heavenly host who welcomed the birth of Christ were permitted to see the new-born Babe, as he seems to have done who described him to the shepherds as "wrapped in swaddling clothes" (Luke 2:12-14). Angels ministered unto him after the temptation (Mark 1:13), and in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 22:43, where the word ὤφθη is used), and at his resurrection (Matthew 28:2). The special interest of angels in the "great mystery" is referred to in 1 Peter 1:12; Hebrews 1:6. Preached among the nations (ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν). It would have been better to keep the rendering "Gentiles" here, to mark the identity of thought with Ephesians 3:6, Ephesians 3:8, where, in the apostle's view, the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles, that they might be fellow-heirs with the Jews of the promises of God, is one main feature of the mystery. Believed on in the world. The next step in this ascending scale is the acceptance of Christ in the world as the Savior thereof. The language here is not stronger than that of Colossians 1:5, Colossians 1:6, "The word of the truth of the gospel, which is come unto you; even as it is also in all the world, and beareth fruit." And in Colossians 1:23, "The gospel which was preached in all creation under heaven" (comp. Romans 1:8). The statement in Mark 16:15-20 might almost have been in St. Paul's mind. Note the use there of the words κηρύξατε ἐκηρύξαν, τὸν κόσμον ὀ πιστεύσας πιστεύσασι ἀνελήφρη. Received up in glory. The change of "into" (A.V.) into "in" is of very doubtful propriety. In New Testament Greek ἐν, frequently follows verbs of motion, and means the same as εἰς, like the Hebrew בְּ. Our Lord is net said to have ascended in glory (as he appeared at the Transfiguration), but, as St. Mark has it, "He was received up into heaven, and [there] sat down at the right hand of God," fulfilling John 17:5. This grand burst of dogmatic teaching is somewhat like that in 1 Timothy 2:5-7. There is no adequate evidence of its being, as many commentators have thought, a portion of a hymn or creed used in the Church. It rather implies the same tension in the apostle's mind which is apparent in other parts of the Epistle.


1 Timothy 3:1-16.—The clergy.

It was one of the weightiest duties laid upon Timothy, when called to be the spiritual ruler of the Church of Ephesus, to take care that the priests and deacons were men well qualified for their holy office. The condition of a congregation depends so largely upon the spiritual character of those who minister to it, that the choice of fit persons to serve in the sacred ministry of God's Church is a matter of vital importance to the welfare of the people, and demands the utmost wisdom and fidelity of those who have the chief oversight of the house of God. Accordingly St. Paul lays down with great care the qualifications of priests and deacons respectively. For the priest an irreproachable character amongst those outside as well as those inside the Church, in order to ensure respect; a life of chastity, that his example may give no countenance to a lax morality; strict temperance in the use of meat and drink, both for his own sake and as an example to others; a staid, sober mind and demeanor, as becomes one who lives near to God, and handles holy things; a large hospitality, as one who counts all he has to belong to the Church, whose servant he is; aptitude to teach the doctrines of the gospel, and a delight in teaching; a placable, gentle disposition, abhorring brawls and quarrels, and studying peace with all men; the absence of all greediness and covetousness, as one whose conversation is in heaven, and as one determined to be fair and impartial in all his dealings with men;—these are the things needful for one who is a priest in the Church of God. But besides these strictly personal qualifications he must have a well-ordered house. His family must bear the traces of a gentle but firm parental discipline. He that is a ruler in the house of God must show that he can rule his own children and servants; and a portion of the gravity and sobriety of the man of God must be seen in the members of his household. With regard to deacons, they too must be grave in their demeanor and conversation; in all their private intercourse with the members of the Church where they serve, they must be conspicuously honest and ingenuous. In all social intercourse they must show themselves temperate and abstemious. In handling the public money, and ministering the alms of the faithful, they must make it clear that none sticks to their own fingers, and that they have no eye to gain in the ministrations they undertake. The spirit of their ministrations must be "all for love and nothing for reward." Nor must they be only honest men; they must be devout believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, thoroughly instructed in the mystery of the Christian faith, and adorning that faith by their personal holiness. As regards their families, the same rule applies to them as to the priests. Like the priests, they hold office in the Church of God; they minister in that temple where God's pure truth is fixed and established for ever; they are the expounders, with the priests, of the great mystery of godliness, the incarnate Word, the preached Jesus, the glorified Christ. What, then, ought their character to be; how high above things earthly, how closely assimilated to the glorious holiness of heaven!


1 Timothy 3:1.—The Christian pastorate a good work.

The apostle, having in the previous chapter regulated the worship of the congregation and placed it in the hands of men, not women, now proceeds to describe the qualifications of the pastors of congregations, as if to imply that the pastorate did not belong to all men.

I. THE OFFICE OF PASTOR IS A GOOD WORK. "Faithful is the saying, If any one seeketh the office of pastor [or, 'bishop'], he desireth a good work."

1. The office in question was held by persons called by the two names of bishop and elder.

(1) The apostle uses the terms of the same office (Titus 1:5-7).

(2) The terms came from two different quarters. The term "elder," or "presbyter," was of Jewish origin, and was earlier than the other, having been long in use in the synagogue administration. It had respect primarily to the age of those presiding over the religious community, but came by-and-by, and especially in the Christian Church, to signify its head, and was a title of dignity and gravity. The other term, "bishop," came from the Greek world, and was a designation of the duties of the office as involving an oversight of the Churches.

(3) The term "bishop" is, therefore, mostly employed of the Churches in Asia Airier, consisting of converted Greeks, but the Jewish term "elder" had precedence of it at that earlier stage when the Church consisted of a nucleus of converted Jews. In Crete, where the Greek and Jewish elements were about equally powerful, both terms are used.

2. The office in question is a good work. This was one of the faithful sayings of the apostle. It was

(1) a work, not a sinecure, or title of honor, but a laborious office, and therefore pastors are called "laborers in the Word and. doctrine;"

(2) a good work, being excellent in itself, and in its aims as for the good of men and the glory of God.

II. THE PASTORATE IS A WORTHY OBJECT OF AMBITION. "He desireth a good work." It may be laudably desired, not as an office of profit or honor, but with a supreme regard to the glory of God and the welfare of man, and ought not to be undertaken except by those who have a real delight and pleasure in acting upon these great principles.—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:2.The positive qualifications of the Christian pastor.

The apostle first sets forth those qualifications which respect the personal life of the pastor, and afterwards those which affect his family life. His personal qualifications are those of a spiritual and moral order presented positively.

I. HE OUGHT TO BE BLAMELESS. It may be hard for a faithful man to avoid the censure of a critical society, but he must be irreproachable as being guilty of no scandal, and, above all, free from the vices enumerated under the negative aspect of his qualifications. He must be held in high moral repute by the community around him.


1. This condemns the rule of celibacy in the Church of Rome. It is quite absurd to say that the "one wife' is the Church; for the context regards the minister as having relation both to a Church and to a wife (1 Timothy 3:5). Besides, this Roman ides would make the Church the wife of many husbands. Where the apostle, in the seventh chapter of 1 Corinthians, seems to favor a celibate condition "on account of the present distress," it is not on account of any superior holiness belonging to the unmarried state, but because it sometimes affords a better opportunity for pursuing Christian work under trying conditions.

2. It does not necessarily compel pastors to marry, like the Greek Church, which yet inconsistently reserves its bishoprics for unmarried monks. But it clearly gives the preference to a married ministry.

3. It does not mean that a pastor is to avoid a second marriage—as the Greek Fathers generally understood it under the growing influence of Eastern asceticism—because the apostle sanctions such marriages (1 Corinthians 7:1); and, secondly, because a remarrying does not make a pastor more than the husband of one wife.

4. It seems, then, to mean that the pastor was to be "the husband of one wife," avoiding the polygamy that was then so common among the Jews, and the system of divorce still so common in that age, and remaining faithful to the wife of his choice.

III. SOBER. He must be not only so in eating and drinking, but watchful over himself, his work, and his actions.

IV. DISCREET. With a sound judgment and good understanding, capable of directing himself wisely in the midst of difficult situations.

V. ORDERLY. With a due proportion in his life, modest in deportment, courteous to all, of a calm temper and grave demeanor.

VI. GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY. In an age when Christians traveled from place to place, and were exposed to the risks of evil companionship in public inns, it was important that pastors should be able to show hospitality, and assist with their counsel as well as with the necessaries of life.

VII. APT TO TEACH. The pastor must have the capacity to impart Christian knowledge, the ability to interpret Scripture, to explain its doctrines, to enforce its precepts, and to defend it against errorists of every class. He must possess the gifts of utterance and knowledge. He must have both "skill and will, ability and dexterity, being neither ignorant of his duty nor negligent in the performance of it."—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:3.The negative qualifications of the Christian pastor.

I. NOT VIOLENT OVER WINE. In allusion not so much to drunkenness as to the noisy and quarrelsome temper which is generated by wine bibbing. The word impliedly condemns both cause and effect.

II. NO STRIKER. In evident allusion to the previous temper. The pastor must never lift his hand in anger or violence.

III. FORBEARING. Reasonable and gentle, rather disposed to take wrong than avenge it.

IV. NOT CONTENTIOUS. Neither litigious nor quarrelsome, seeking peace with all men.

V. NO LOVER OF MONEY. He must appear to be perfectly disinterested, not mercenary in his aims, not seeking his own things rather than the things of Jesus Christ; but, on the contrary, he must himself be generous and hospitable and kind, with a heart and a hand ever ready to relieve distress.—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:4, 1 Timothy 3:5.The Christian pastor in his home life.

The apostle here turns to the family life of the pastor as an important element affecting the public examination of his character.

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF A WELL-ORDERED HOUSEHOLD. "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity."

1. The pastor is no ascetic recluse, but shares in the everyday life of the world.

2. He must have firmness and authority to rule his family—wife, children, and servants; not slack in his rule like old Eli, but faithful as Abraham, who not only taught but commanded his children and household to keep the way of the Lord.

3. He is to rule gently yet firmly, so as, while securing subjection in his household, he creates that gravity of deportment which is the accompanying grace of obedience in children reared under wise and loving mastery.

II. THE WELL-ORDERED HOUSEHOLD THE TEST OF FITNESS FOR THE RULE OF THE HOUSE OF GOD. "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?"

1. The argument is from the less to the greater. The family is the lesser sphere, the Church the larger family. The family needs much prudence, care, forethought, affection. But while it is the narrowest sphere, it is governed with peculiar advantages, arising from the feelings of love and dependence on the part of the children. If there is failure here, there is a self-evident unfitness for the wider and more complex administration of the Church.

2. The Church of God is to be a subject of anxious care to the pastor. The Greek word implies this thought. The apostle himself had the care of all the Churches upon him. But the pastor has a care for the individual members of his flock, to seek the conversion of sinners, to instruct the ignorant, to guide the perplexed, to comfort the doubting, to check the wayward, and to defend the flock against errorists. "Who is sufficient for these things?"—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:6.The pastor must not be a novice.

"Not a novice."

I. THE ADVANTAGES OF EXPERIENCE IN A PASTOR. The apostle does not refer to youth, but to inexperience. Yet the qualification must be regarded relatively; for a longer or a shorter probation might be required, according to circumstances. The Church at Ephesus had been long enough established to admit of a selection being made out of men of Christian experience and wisdom. It is significant to remark that no definite age is assigned for candidates for the ministry. In a Church like that of Ephesus, threatened with heresy within and violence without, it was necessary that the elders should be men with a rare understanding of the mysteries of the faith, and with a large fund of sanctified experience.

II. THE REASON OR GROUND OF THE APOSTLE'S COUNSEL. "Lest, being besotted with pride, he should fall into the condemnation of the devil."

1. The risk of the novice is an undue self-elation, arising from the thought of the dignity of his office and of the estimation in which he is held on account of his gifts. His judgment would thus become clouded, and he would fail to see the true relation of things.

2. The consequence would be his falling under the very condemnation pronounced upon the devil. Thus a blinding pride would receive its just retribution.

3. It is evident that the apostle believed in the existence of a personal evil spirit, the adversary of God and man. It is equally evident that he regarded the fall of the devil as clue to pride, and that he regarded him as the tempter of man.—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:7.—The pastor must have an honest preparation before the world.

He must stand well both without and within the Church.

I. THE IMPORTANCE OF AN UNBLEMISHED REPUTATION. "But he must also have a good testimony from them that are without."

1. It is a mistake to ignore or defy the opinion of the world in matters falling fairly within its judgment. What we do ought not only to be "acceptable to God, but approved of men" (Romans 14:18). "Let not your good be evil spoken of" (Romans 14:16). The world understands the principles of natural justice. The minister cannot violate these without loss of reputation and influence.

2. A blameless life is calculated to make a deep impression on the world. "Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Your holy walk ought to attract "those that are without" into the happy communion of the Church.

3. It is a great evil to blast the reputation if Christian ministers, for it undermines their influence for good.

II. THE DANGERS OF A DOUBTFUL REPUTATION BEFORE THE WORLD. "Lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." It would be a great risk to introduce into the ministry one who had once followed a loose life, because those who were familiar with his history would be ready to suspect the purity of his congregation from the blemished reputation of its pastor. The effect in the minister might be diverse.

1. He might be excited to an angry resentment of such disagreeable attacks.

2. He might fall into despair, and thus become reckless, and ultimately justly the worst imputations of the world.

3. He might cease to reprove transgressors because he had not the courage to condemn faults which were only too observable in himself. Thus the devil would set its snares around him for his undoing. When George III. was asked to give a bishopric to a clergyman who had made a serious lapse from virtue, and was told that the clergyman had long ago repented of it, his appropriate answer was, "I would rather appoint bishops who had not that particular sin to repent of."—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:8, 1 Timothy 3:9.—The qualifications of deacons.

The apostle next proceeds to direct Timothy respecting the character and appointment of another class of office-bearers.


1. Their origin. We find the first trace of the order about two years after the Ascension (Acts 6:1-4). It owed its origin to a necessity that arose from the extension of the Church. Seven deacons were appointed as almoners. They are not so called, but their name is traceable in the two terms which indicate the sphere of their office, "serving tables" and "ministry" (διακονία διακονεῖν τραπέζαις).

2. Their sphere of duty. It is expressly distinguished from "the ministry of the Word" and "prayer" (1 Timothy 3:4), and was therefore, as the "serving of tables" signifies, an office for the care of the poor and strangers who might be connected with the Church. The deaconship was, therefore, a purely secular office.

3. Historic notices of deacons. The earliest notices of the order are apparently in Romans 12:7, "Or ministry (deaconship), let us wait on our ministering" (deaconship); in 1 Corinthians 12:28," helps" (ἀντιλήψεις); and at a later time in 1 Peter 4:11, "If any man minister" (διακονεῖ). We read in Philippians 1:1 of "the bishops and deacons," and in Romans 16:1 of Phoebe as "a deaconess" of the Church at Cenchrea.


1. "Grave." Of a serious demeanor, befitting the position of responsibility held by them.

2. "Not double-tongued." Not saying one thing to one person and another to another, under the pressure, perhaps, of applications for assistance; or, not promising aid which is afterwards withheld. Misunderstandings would necessarily arise from any kind of prevarication.

3. "Not addicted to much wine." The deacons must not be given to pleasures of the table, which render people unfit for disagreeable duty, and tempt to the consumption of the wealth committed to their keeping.

4. "Not lovers of base gain." There might otherwise arise a Judas among the deacons to embezzle the Church funds.

5. "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."

(1) The mystery is what faith is conversant with—a thing once secret, but now revealed by Christ's gospel; called variously "the mystery of God," "the mystery of Christ," "the mystery of his will," "the mystery of godliness," and "the mystery of the gospel," which is the great subject of gospel-preaching. It was the mystery of redemption through the blood of Christ.

(2) The mystery of faith was not to be speculatively, but practically, held and maintained. "In a pure conscience." The deacons were to be sincerely attached to the truth, and to realize its practical power in their life and experience.

(3) They are to "hold the mystery," not to preach it. There is no intimation that the deacons, as such, were preachers, though two of them (Stephen and Philip) are afterwards found acting as evangelists.

III. THE METHOD OF THEIR APPOINTMENT. "And these also let them first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, if they are without blame."

1. The election of the seven deacons was left in the hands of the Christian people themselves. (Acts 6:3.)

2. There is no formal method prescribed for testing their qualifications. Their fitness could be easily judged of without any regular investigation. The moral element, however, was to be supreme in such appointments; for they were not chosen unless they were "without blame."

3. Their formal appointment to service. Let them serve in the various branches of their office as deacons.—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:11.—The qualifications of deaconesses.

"Women in like manner must be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things." The allusion is evidently not to the wives of deacons, but to deaconesses. Why should the duties of deacons' wives be set forth when there is no allusion to the duties of ministers' wives? The omission of all mention of domestic duties in this case is significant.

I. THE ORDER OF DEACONESSES. There was evidently such an order in the primitive Church. Phoebe of Cenchrea (Romans 16:1), Euodias and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2), and probably the association with which Dorcas was connected at Joppa (Acts 9:36-41), seem to have belonged to the order. The order did not cease to exist till the fifth century in the Latin Church, and till the twelfth in the Greek Church. It had its origin, probably, in the extreme jealousy which guarded the relations of the sexes in early times, for women were comparatively secluded from the society of men. Deaconesses were, therefore, appointed to maintain the religious intercourse of Christian women with a Church whose ministrations were in the hands of men.


1. "Grave." Not given to levity or gay manners, but sober in speech, gesture, and dress.

2. "Not slanderers." Not too ready to take up an accusation against the poor, or too ready to use the tongue in the way of false insinuation.

3. "Sober." Not to be given to pleasures of the table, but showing a seemly abstemiousness.

4. "Faithful in all things." Faithful in all ecclesiastical duties.

(1) Faithful to the poor, whose secrets are to be jealously kept;

(2) faithful to the Church, which entrusts its funds to their wise and discriminating distribution; and

(3) faithful to God in all religious obligations whatsoever.—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:12, 1 Timothy 3:13.—The domestic duty of deacons.

The apostle here returns to add some further injunctions about deacons, as well as to suggest a reason for exacting the qualifications already described.


1. "Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife." The same qualification is needed for deacons as for bishops, for their houses were to be examples of purity, peace, and orderliness.

2. "Ruling their children and their own houses well." The father of a loving household would be best fitted for the sympathetic administration of funds allocated to the poor, while the pious order of his family would enhance the public confidence in the reality of his religious character.

II. REASON FOR THE VARIOUS QUALIFICATIONS DESCRIBED. "For those who have done the work of a deacon well obtain for themselves a good degree, and much boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus."

1. The good degree does not refer to promotion to higher ecclesiastical office. The idea, indeed, would be quite an anachronism.

2. It refers to the place of honor and distinction that will be given to the faithful deacon in the day of final recompense. The doctrine of rewards is that of Scripture, and especially of our Lord's parables (Matthew 25:45; Luke 19:11-27).

3. There is the further idea of the joyful confidence toward God which would characterize him in view of a faithful discharge of his duties—a confidence springing out of faith resting in Jesus Christ.—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:14, 1 Timothy 3:15.The importance of a due regulation of Church order.

The apostle expected to visit Ephesus shortly, but in case of his visit being delayed by necessary causes, he deemed it right to give Timothy these instructions in writing respecting the appointment of bishops and deacons, and other details of Church order. "These things I write to thee, hoping to come shortly; but if I should tarry, [I write them] that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to conduct thyself in God's house."


1. Darbyites suppose that it is wrong for man to make arrangements in God's Church—that it is the Holy Ghost who should regulate the order of worship and service, and that his presidency should be recognized in everything. In that case why should the apostle have been at such pains to regulate even the ministrations of prophets and speakers with tongues at Corinth? God is a God of peace, not of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).

2. It was not enough for Timothy to stir up his own persona! gifts and do the work of an evangelist, but he must execute the special commission he had received from the apostle, to regulate the appointment of the office-bearers of the Church, and the details of Church worship. The Church was to be guided in choice of ministers by the considerations suggested by the apostle.

3. There was special reason for these instructions in the rise of heresies at Ephesus and elsewhere. (1 Timothy 4:1-3.)

II. THE DIGNITY AND OFFICE OF THE CHURCH. It is "God's house, which indeed is the Church of the living God, the pillar and basement of the truth."

1. It is the Church of the living God.

(1) It is so, regarded either as the Christian congregation with a local reference, or as the whole Church of the redeemed, in communion with Christ and with each of its members.

(2) Its internal glory consists in the fact that it is no material temple of dead deities, like the proud temple of Diana which reared itself aloft over the roofs of Ephesus; but a spiritual community, realizing the living and personal presence of God in the midst of it.

2. It is the house of God.

(1) This term denoted primarily the temple at Jerusalem, and secondarily the covenant people (Numbers 12:7; Hosea 8:1), who had God for a Sanctuary or Dwelling-place (Psalms 90:1; Ezekiel 11:16). There was a mutual indwelling—they in him, and he in them.

(2) It now denotes the Church of God, represented variously as

(a) a spiritual building resting on Christ as chief Corner-stone (Ephesians 2:20);

(b) as the true temple in which God dwells (1 Corinthians 6:16);

(c) as the household or "house of God," over which is Christ as Son (Hebrews 3:6)—"whose house are we." Moses was servant in this house, Jesus a Son over it; it was, therefore, the same house in the two dispensations. A proof, in opposition to Darbyism, that the Church existed in Old Testament times, and did not first come into existence at Pentecost.

3. It is the pillar and basement of the truth.

(1) Negatively, Christ, and not the Church, is the only ground of truth. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 3:11). This passage implies that the Church rests upon the truth rather than that the truth rests on the Church. But a misapprehension arises from confounding the truth as it is in itself with the truth as apprehended by believers and acknowledged before the world. Further, the truth does not derive its authority from the Church, but from Christ.

(2) Positively, the passage sets forth

(a) the presentative manifestation of the truth; for "the Church is the pillar of the truth." The Church is to hold up the saving truths of the gospel before the eyes of men. It is a pillar inscribed all over with the truth. Without the Church "there would be no witness, no guardian of archives, no basis, nothing whereon acknowledged truth would rest." It is the Church which holds the deposit of truth, and perpetuates it from generation to generation.

(b) The passage sets forth the stability of the truth. "The Church is the basis of truth." The truth finds its true basis in the hearts of believing men, who hold forth the glories of redemption amidst all the fluctuations of the world. There is nothing in this exposition to sanction the assumptions of the Church of Rome, because she must first substantiate her claims to be a teacher of the truth before she can be regarded as "a pillar and ground of the truth."—T.C.

1 Timothy 3:10.—The treasure of truth committed to the Church's guardianship.

I. IT IS CHRIST IN ALL HIS RELATIONS AS THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS. This implies that he is the Revelation of God to man; for God "has made known what is the wealth of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the Hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). Thus Christianity is Christ. He is the Center of Christian theology, as he is the Object of Christian faith and love.

II. THE MANIFESTATION OF THE PERSON OF CHRIST. He is set forth as the Life of the Church, and if he were not God as well as man, the mystery would not be so obvious to our understanding.

1. He was "manifested in the flesh." This very expression implies the divinity of Christ; for it would be superfluous, if not absurd, to say these words of any mere man. The words imply

(1) that it was essential Deity that was manifested;

(2) that it was a manifestation made, not to our understanding, but to our senses;

(3) that there was a real incarnation, for he was manifest in the flesh, or, as John says, "The Word was made flesh." It was not only by the flesh, but in the flesh.

2. He was "justified in the spirit." He was approved to be righteous in the higher principle of spiritual life within him. There is no allusion to the Holy Spirit. The spirit here is the counterpart of the flesh. Christ fulfilled all righteousness. If his manifestation in the flesh exhibited his true and real humanity, his justification in the spirit exhibited his holiness and perfection. The passage consists of a series of parallel clauses, of which every two form a connected pair.

3. He was "seen of angels." In the sense of showing himself to them in his incarnation. They announced his advent, they ministered to his wants, they heralded his resurrection, they attended him in his triumphant return to heaven, and they now see him in his glorified humanity.

4. He was "preached among the Gentiles." Here, again, is another pair of opposites; the angels inhabitants of a holy heaven, the Gentiles inhabitants of a sinful earth. It was one of the six glories of our Redeemer that he was to be a "Light to the Gentiles" (Isaiah 49:6).

5. He was "believed on in the world." Christianity is a world-wide religion, embraced by men of all nationalities; unlike Mohammedanism and Buddhism, which are restricted to the East. The gospel finds acceptance alike in East and West.

6. He was "received up in glory." In reference to Christ's historical ascent to heaven amidst circumstances of marvelous glory. The last pair of opposites is the world and glory. How far they are apart! Yet they are brought nigh by the blood of Christ. This passage, from its antithetical structure, would seem to have been an ancient hymn of the Church, setting forth the leading facts of the Messianic story.—T.C.


1 Timothy 3:15.Behavior in church.

"That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God." "Behavior" seems a commonplace word enough, and we often assign it a subordinate place in religion. It is, however, a word large as "character." It is a vocabulary in itself. It is not "do" havior, but "be" havior! What I do may be accidental; what I am is everything. Paul has been addressing pastors, deacons, women professing godliness, and wives. He has dealt with marriage, and the ruling of children; and now he speaks to the Church about the conduct of men in church.

WHAT IS BEHAVIOR? A man's behavior reveals much of what he is. Earnest or frivolous; gentle or hard; forgiving or unforgiving; selfish or generous; pitiful or censorious; appreciative or unthankful. Behavior is an every-hour sermon. It corrects the notion that a man's religion is mainly in his doctrine or opinions, his ritual or ceremonial. Manners are not to be put on like a garment, nor can we masquerade in them and pretend to be what we are not. Bending the knee is nothing, if we are not reverent at heart. A gift is nothing, unless given from love. Prayer is nothing, unless our life is a prayer. Praise is nothing, unless our life be a garment of praise. Manners are not etiquette, nor best dresses, nor courtesies of speech; they are the expressions of a life. In this aspect their potency is wonderful. In church we are to behave well; not to give ourselves airs, as rich, or learned, or superior people, but to remember that we are bought with a price. But behavior is not much thought about. There is an idea that some men are good at heart, though they are brusque, if you knew how to approach them. This is nonsense. The flower does not wait for me to unfold it; it does not say, "If you knew how to tempt my kindness, I would give you fragrant incense." It is a flower everywhere, to everybody.—W.M.S.

1 Timothy 3:15.—What "Church" means.

"In the house of God, which is the Church of the living God." The idea of what the Church is, is to regulate what our behavior is. The word "church" comes from the Greek words Kurios oikos. These two words abbreviated make "church" or "kirk."

I. IF IT BE THE CHURCH OF GOD, IN OUR BEHAVIOUR THERE MUST BE REVERENCE. Reverence is at the root of all religion. Flippancy of manner, indevoutness of heart, will destroy the best service. We read the old command, "Ye shall reverence my sanctuary, saith the Lord;" and wherever we meet together, even in the humblest church, "the Lord is in his holy temple," and we are to "keep silence" or "be reverent" before him.

II. BEHAVIOUR MEANS LIFE. It is the Church, not merely of the God of Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, but of the living God. We do not build temples as monuments of a past glory. Christ said, "Do this in remembrance of me." Before his departure he said, "I go away and come again;" and wherever two or three are gathered together in his Name, there he is in the midst of them. This Church of God is further described as the pillar, or ground and stay, of the truth; that is to say, that no sacred books will preserve religion without a sacred life. Men may answer an argument or adopt a theory, but the victory of the early Church was won by the Church's life or behavior. "See how these Christians love one another." Learn, then, the great lesson, that behavior is everything. "How unblamably we behave ourselves," says Paul to the Thessalonians. "I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way," says the psalmist.—W.M.S.


1 Timothy 3:1-13.Qualifications of three classes of office-bearers.

I. QUALIFICATIONS OF A BISHOP. Preliminary direction to Timothy. "Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." The Scripture idea of the episcopate is that of oversight, viz. of souls. A bishop was one who had the duty of overseeing a congregation in spiritual matters, being, in respect of gravity and dignity, called presbyter or elder. Timothy was to encourage any who sought to enter into the episcopate. The saying in Christian circles was to be relied on, "If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." It is not a sinecure, but a work or employment taxing the energies. Its excellence lies in its having respect to men's highest interests. But if he was to encourage entrance into the episcopate, he was not to do so without regard to the proper qualifications which he has laid down for him. "The bishop therefore must be without reproach." This is a general qualification. A minister is not to be chosen without regard to character. If a man gives just ground for reproach—has not character behind his gifts—he is not fitted for the office of a minister, which is to influence men in the production of Christian character. "The husband of one wife." Some high authorities take the meaning to be that the contraction of a second marriage, even after the death of the first wife, was a disqualification for the office of a bishop. But this forbidding to ecclesiastics of what in the New Testament is expressly permitted to others, seems to belong to a post-apostolic asceticism. The language seems to be directed against "any deviation from morality in respect of marriage, whether by concubinage, polygamy, or improper second marriages." "Temperate, sober-minded, orderly." One who is to be chosen as a minister must be temperate, i.e. must have command of his desires and his temper. He must also be sober-minded, i.e. must bring sound sense to the consideration of all matters, He must also be orderly, i.e. must have a love for good rules. "Given to hospitality." He must be raised above all meanness toward those whom he ought to entertain. How is he to commend the generosity of God, if he is niggardly in his own dealings? "Apt to teach." This is a special qualification. With all that is righteous and sensible and even lovely in his character, he must have skill in teaching—in opening the Word, and in bringing it to bear for all its uses on the wants of men. However excellent a man's character is, he is not fit for being a minister if he cannot skillfully handle Divine truth. "No brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious." A disqualification is being quarrelsome over wine, and consequently coming to blows. He must, on the other hand, be gentle; i.e. while he is to be thoroughly reasonable, he is to be kindly and forbearing, waiving even his rights for the sake of gaining his end as a minister, viz. the spiritual good of those with whom he deals. It is a disqualification to be contentious, i.e. to be in one's element, and to give way to unholy feelings, in fighting. "No lover of money." It is a further disqualification to have a groveling desire for money, instead of having a feeling of responsibility with regard to its proper uses. "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity." This is in one view an ordinary qualification, inasmuch as it is what is expected of every one who is in authority in a house. It is expected even of a man who is not qualified to teach that he can rule well his own house, i.e. lay down proper rules for his household, and see to their being carried out. The apostle's idea of ruling the house well, is the having the children in subjection with all gravity. "In the phrase, 'all gravity,' he is looking at a kind of obedience that touches the deepest notes of principle and character. Contrary to this, there is an obedience without principle, which is obedience with all levity; that which is paid to mere will and force; that which is another name for fear; that which is bought by promises and paid by indulgences; that which makes a time-server, or a coward, or a lying pretender, as the case may be, and not a Christian. This latter—that which makes a Christian—is the aim of all true government, and should never be out of sight for an hour." Parenthesis showing how a bishop ought to be able to rule his own house well. "But if a man knoweth not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?" A bishop has to manage men. The Church of God is the family enlarged and heightened. If one fails in the lower sphere, how, can he be expected to succeed in the higher sphere? Even Confucius had before this time said, "It is impossible that be who knows not how to govern and reform his own family should rightly govern and reform a people." "Not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil." By a novice we are to understand a recent convert to Christianity. Such a one being necessarily inexperienced in the truth, and also in the evil of his own heart, was unfitted for office. And the putting him into office was fitted to have a bad effect upon him. The introducer of evil into the universe was in high position, but gave way to a feeling of pride. How this feeling operated is described by a word, which means enveloped with smoke, as if that were the kind of atmosphere that pride throws around a person. In some matter in which his rank was involved, under the clouding of pride, instead of bending to the will of God, which would have been his approval, he asserted his self-importance, which was his condemnation. So the novice, instead of being weighed down under the responsibilities of office, is more likely, under the clouding of pride occasioned by his elevation, to fall into the condemnation of the devil. "Moreover he must have good testimony from them that are without lest he fall into reproach; and the snare of the devil." He must be able to command the respect of non-Christians, especially for his acting in a way consistent with his professions. For if he falls so low as not to be respected by those, then this want of respect is sure to be used as a snare by Satan for his destruction.

II. QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS. "Deacons in like manner." Deacons, originally the almoners of the Church, came to be regarded as assistants of the eiders, having the oversight of the temporal affairs as these of the spiritual affairs of a congregation. "Must be grave." They must feel the responsibility of life, and especially the responsibility connected with their office. "Not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre." Of the three disqualifications, the first has respect to a temptation connected with the desire for public favor, the second has respect to a temptation connected with the enjoyment of hospitality, the third has respect to a temptation connected with the use of office. Those who serve God in the management of the temporal affairs of a congregation must be free from obsequiousness, from intemperate habits, from avarice. "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." Their duty to the truth, regarded as the object of faith which was formerly concealed from men, was not to teach it, but to enshrine it in a holy life, characterized by the power which has to do with the production of it. "And let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, if they be blameless." The deacons, no more than the bishops, were to be put suddenly into office. Opportunity was to be given for their being proved, and, if found to be blameless in the estimation of those who had opportunity of watching their conduct, they were to be appointed to service.

III. QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONESSES. "Women in like manner." The apostle has not yet given all the qualifications of the deacons; we must, therefore, think of these women as closely associated with the diaconate. We might think of the wives of the deacons, but, as nothing has been said about the wives of bishops, and as by the insertion of the phrase, "in like manner," we are led to think of the election of women to office, it is better to think of deaconesses. We have an example of a deaconess in Phoebe of Cenchrea, mentioned in Romans 16:1. They were probably assistants in the same way as the deacons, in so far as they had the care of the sick and the destitute. "Must be grave, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things." It was fitting that those who were engaged in such service should be women who were serious, or free from frivolity. They were not to go about from house to house as bearers of evil reports. They were to be temperate, or free from all unholy excitement. And they were to be faithful in all things, not abusing their charge.

IV. QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS RESUMED. "Let deacons be husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own house well." In these two particulars the apostle requires the same qualifications of the deacons as of the bishops. "For they that have served well as deacons gain to themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." The old translation is preferable here—"purchase to themselves a good degree." The idea is that they obtain for themselves a step, or get higher up. In those days this might mean their elevation to the episcopate. They also obtain Christian boldness, such as was especially required in those days of peril. For getting up, and the encountering of greater difficulties, go together.—R.F.

1 Timothy 3:14-16.—Upholder of the truth, and grandeur of truth upheld.

I. REASON FOR GIVING TIMOTHY WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS. "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." Paul hoped to come to Timothy at Ephesus shortly; there was a possibility, however, of his hope not being realized. In the event of his tarrying long, Timothy had written instructions for his conduct as an ecclesiastic. It would be held to be of great consequence that any one who officiated in the temple of Diana should be in a fit state of body and of mind, and should be conversant with the ceremonial. It was of far greater consequence that Timothy should know what was suitable behavior for the house of God. This was not the temple of a dead idol, but—passing over from the material structure to what was typified by it—the Church of the living God. It was "a living and spiritual community, a life-stream of believers in an ever-living God." It was fitting, then, that there should be those arrangements which are most conducive to the life of the community. This Church of the living God is declared to be the pillar and ground of the truth. There was a singular appropriateness in the language. The columns in the temple of Diana were one hundred and twenty-seven in number, sixty feet high, each the gift of a king. Massive in their form, substantial in their basement, they gave promise of the structure being upheld in its integrity down: through the centuries. And such it seemed to Paul was the Church—a columnar structure, substantially based, by which the truth is to be upheld from age to age. It is a great honor which God has laid on such imperfect believers as we are; and we should see to it that we do not belie the representation, that we do nothing to take away from the strength of the structure, that we preserve the continuity of the Church's life, that we witness faithfully to what God is and to what he has done.

II. GRANDEUR OF THE TRUTH UPHELD BY THE CHURCH. "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness." The truth is here called "the mystery of godliness." A mystery is that which, being concealed for a time is brought out of concealment by a revelation. It is also something above our comprehension. And that meaning is not excluded here. For it is the mystery of godliness or piety. It is the mystery by which the Divine life is nourished in the soul. As religious beings, we need something that stretches away into infinitude. We can only breathe freely in an element of mystery. All religions that have ever been have sought to provide for the appetite for the wonderful. And where there has not been found real mystery, there have been dark inventions. But composedly great is the mystery, which the Christian religion provides for our nourishment. It is pronounced great by all who are capable of judging. And even those who reject it do so not infrequently on the ground of its being incredible, or too great to be true. The subject of the mystery is Christ. As set forth in the language which follows it is entirely Christ, or the facts about Christ. And the teaching is that it is by meditating upon these facts that we become pious or religious. Of the facts themselves we can take tangible hold; it is when we try to explain them to ourselves that we rise into the region where our religious feelings are excited and receive their nourishment. The rhythmic way in which the facts are presented has led some to suppose that they are taken from a Christian hymn in existence at the time when Paul wrote. We can believe them to have been written by Paul. In either case they have the stamp of the Holy Ghost. They are to be divided into threes, the first two in each division pointing to earthly relations, the third to heavenly. Of the earthly relations, the first in each division is external, the second internal. Facts particularized. "He who was manifested in the flesh." There is good reason for the change from "God" to "He who." We are not dependent on the old reading for the proof of our Lord's divinity. The manifestation of Christ implies previous concealment. And the language is more suggestive of the concealment of pre-existence than of the concealment of non-existence. The beginning of the mystery is Christ coming out of that concealment. "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." The Creator descended into the conditions, circumstances, of a creature. He was made of the substance of a woman. The almighty Builder of the universe was a helpless infant on a mother's knee. The eternal Son was the infant of days. He descended so low that he had to proceed from weakness to strength, from ignorance to knowledge. That, however, is only part of the mystery. It is said here that he was manifested in the flesh, and that means, not our nature as it came from the hand of God, but our nature as it has suffered from the fall. He descended into our weak, passable, mortal nature, to which the unfallen Adam was a stranger. He was in a state of utter bodily exhaustion from want of food when he was tempted in the wilderness. He sat down wearied with his journey at Jacob's well. He was often worn out with the arduous nature of his work. His compassion brought sorrow to his heart, which found vent in tears and sighs and groans. At last his flesh succumbed, could not bear any longer the burden laid on it; and his lifeless body was laid in the tomb. But still, as we consider, the mystery deepens. He died, not as paying the common debt of nature, but under the stroke of the Divine vengeance. "Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, against the Man that is mine equal, saith the Lord of hosts." This is not so much for the understanding as for the inner sanctuary of the heart. It is not so much to be fixed in words as to be pondered and admired and felt. "Justified in the spirit." In the flesh he did not appear to be the pre-existent Son of God, and the Sent of God to be the Savior of the world; but he was this in his spirit or higher nature, and was vindicated as such both in the Divine marks which were put upon him, and in the principle which pervaded his life. There was a mark put upon him at the very first in his being separated from the taint of our nature through the power of the Holy Ghost. The glimpse we have of him in his youth shows him right in spirit both toward his Father and that Father's earthly representatives. At his baptism he received not the Spirit by measure, and there was the attestation of the voice from the excellent glory, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." At the outset of his public career, under extreme temptation, he showed that he was not to be turned aside from his mission. His starry pathway of miracles witnessed to the truth of his claims. And not less did his opening of the mind of God, and application of the truth to human need, witness to the singleness and loftiness of his spirit. There was a reiterated attestation from heaven to his Divine nature and mission at his transfiguration. But especially was he justified in the manner in which he died. He resisted unto blood, striving against sin. As we with some degree of resignation may bear a light trial, so he with perfect resignation bore the unmitigated weight of the Divine vengeance. As we with some degree of self-forgetfulness may labor for those who are near to us, so he with perfect self-forgetfulness and magnanimity sacrificed himself for sinners. That death in all its terribleness, reaching far beyond our conception, was what pre-eminently made proof of him, and it showed his spirit to be in perfect accord with the will of God in salvation. Last of all, he was justified by his resurrection. It is said, in Romans 1:4, that by this he was declared with power to be the Son of God. It was God setting his seal upon his whole career. Because he was pleased with the manner in which he had acted all along, saw the ends of justice and mercy carried out successfully in human salvation, therefore it was that he raised him from the dead. "Seen of angels." He was an object of interest to the heavenly world. We find angels jubilantly ushering him into this world, within sight and hearing of men. They appear at the commencement of his ministry, strengthening him after his temptation. And again they appear at the close, strengthening him after his agony, and also watching over his tomb. But were they not always there behind the veil? Unseen by us, they go about our world ministering to the heirs of salvation. Would they not minister, more than was seen, to the Author of salvation? They came forward upon the scene at critical times. It was enough; we can imagine the rest. But the language seems also to point to the fact that, in becoming incarnate, Christ made himself to be seen by angels. In the human form assumed by him he held them in rapt gaze. They could not turn away from beholding and wondering. They saw the Son of God in a form that was level to them, that was even below them; for he was made a little lower than the angels. What cause for wonder in the change from that ineffable, unapproachable glory to this frail flesh; from that God most high, to this infant lying in a manger! And as the mystery was developed, how would their wonder increase! He was degraded until he could to no lower depth be degraded. Well might they be overwhelmed with wonder as they looked on at Calvary. Having a desire to look into these things, as we are told, they would be lost in trying to account for them. Even when knowing the object contemplated, they would be amazed to think that, for the accomplishment of it, the Divine Son should descend into such a condition of mortal woe. "Preached among the nations." This is quite a new interest. Angels merely saw, admired from a distance. They were spectators contemplating that in which they were not directly involved. It was different with men. He was the subject of an evangel to them. He was proclaimed as their personal Savior, without whom they were lost, in whom alone they had standing before God and everlasting blessedness. But stress is laid upon the universal reference of the preaching. He was preached, not to one nation, but among the nations (Jews included), without distinction. This was being realized as historical fact. He was being proclaimed without respect to national distinction, without respect to social condition, without respect to culture, with respect simply to the fact that all were sinners and in need of salvation. Following upon his having taken the common nature, and his having wrought out the common salvation, the message of salvation was being conveyed with the utmost impartiality. This was part of the mystery which was then being disclosed, and which the unprejudiced agreed in calling great. It was impressive to the early Church to witness the proclamation of a world-wide salvation. "Believed on in the world." God does not force us to believe. There must be a sufficient cause for our faith, sufficient to move our hearts and gain us over. Our faith must be caused in a rational way, in a way consistent with the nature of God and our own nature. The cause must be homogeneous with respect to the effect; spiritual as faith is a spiritual effect. How, then, is Christ to be believed on in the world, i.e. in that which is naturally unbelieving, which contains no germ of faith which can be cultivated? How can light be brought out of darkness, how can faith be brought out of unbelief? And yet what have we here? There is such a potency in the fact of God incarnate as to work a moral miracle, to evoke faith from that which is naturally incapable of faith. And wherein does the potency lie? It is in the love which the fact manifests. "The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me." He did not spare himself all the humiliation of the death of the cross. That is a fact which requires to be contemplated; but, as it is contemplated, it asserts its power over hearts, so as to make the insensate feel, the unbelieving believe. Now, the apostle regards it as glorious testimony to the greatness of the mystery that Christ should actually be believed on in the world, that there should be some trophies of the power of his love over unbelief, that there should be some to offer him a home in their hearts. "Received up in glory." In the biographies of great men we are told of one achievement gained after another, of one honor conferred after another. But however long and glorious the scroll which can be shown, it has to end with their bidding a long farewell to all their greatness. And, though monuments are raised to their memory, it cannot take away the essential ingloriousness of the termination to their career. With Christ it is at the earthly termination that to outward appearance he becomes great. He had indeed, like others and more than others, to undergo the ingloriousness of dying, and of being laid in the tomb. But that ingloriousness was completely reversed by his resurrection. He lingered long enough on earth for history to attest the fact that he was indeed risen. And then he made his triumphal entry into heaven. "Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever. The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive." He was received up into glory—into glorious exaltation in our nature at the right hand of God—and in glory he forever remains. This is conclusive evidence to the greatness of the mystery. The godly delight to dwell upon and to feed their life, not only with the humiliation, but, beyond that, with the exaltation.—R.F.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/1-timothy-3.html. 1897.
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