corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.07.15
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
1 Timothy 3

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 3

1 Timothy 3:1. πιστός] Instead of this, D has ἀνθρώπινος, and some Latin Fathers have humanus. “Haec lectio vetustior est Hieronymo. Quod si vero vetustior Hieronymo, vetustior quoque est nostris codicibus omnibus. Nemo tamen ita temerarius est, ut eam probaret,” Matthaei.—1 Timothy 3:2. Instead of νηφάλεον, Griesb., following the weightiest authorities, accepted the form νηφάλιον; so, too, Scholz, Matthaei, Lachm. Buttm. Tisch.—1 Timothy 3:3. The words μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ are left out in A D F G 5, 6, 17, al., Syr. Arr. Copt. etc. Griesb. is right, therefore, in striking them out; they were probably interpolated from Titus 1:7. De Wette’s suggestion, that they may have been omitted intentionally as superfluous, since ἀφιλάργυρον follows, is very improbable; comp. Reiche, Comment. crit. on this passage.—1 Timothy 3:4. For προϊστάμενον, א has the form προϊστανόμενον, occurring only in later authors.—1 Timothy 3:6. Several cursives have the reading καὶ παγίδα after διαβόλου, which, however, is manifestly taken from the next verse.—1 Timothy 3:7. δεῖ δὲ αὐτόν] So Griesb. and Scholz, following the Rec.; Lachm. Buttm. and Tisch. left out αὐτόν, because it is not found in A F G H 17, Copt. Boern.; in Matthaei it stands without dispute. The insertion is more easily explained than the omission.—1 Timothy 3:9. For ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει, א has the singular reading: καὶ καθαρᾶς συνειδήσεως—which can only be explained from an oversight occasioned by the genitive before.—1 Timothy 3:14. τάχιον] Lachm. and Buttm. read ἐν τάχει, following A C D* 17, 71, 73, al. ( ταχεῖον and ταχέως are also found). The Rec., which has the testimony of D*** F G K L, al., Chr. Theodoret, al., and is retained by Tisch., is the more difficult reading; besides, in the other passages of the N. T. where the word occurs, the comparative form can be easily explained; ἐν τάχει seems to be an explanatory correction.

In 1 Timothy 3:15, D* Arm. Vulg. Clar. Or. Ambrosiast. have σε inserted after δεῖ.—1 Timothy 3:16. For the Rec. θεός, the most important authorities have the reading ὅς, as A C F G(113) א 17, 73, 181. Further, the Copt. Sahid. and Gothic versions, also the Syr. Erp. Aeth. Arm., have the relative. Orig., Theod. Mops., Epiph., Cyr. Al., Jerome, Eutherius, beyond doubt, found the latter reading in their MSS.; with several others it is at least probable. The Rec. θεός is found, on the other hand, in D*** K L, in nearly all cursives, in the edd. Arab. p. Slav. MS., and besides, in Greg. Nyss. (who seems once, however, to have read ὅς) Chrys. Theodoret, Didym. (De Trinitate, p. 83) Damasc. Oecum. Theophyl. In Ignatius (Ep. ad Ephes. § 19) we find θεὸς ἀνθρωπίνως φανερού΄ενος; in the Apost. constitt.: θεὸς κύριε ἐπιφανεὶς ἡμῖν ἐν σαρκι; in Hippol.: θεὸς ἐν σώματι ἐφανερώθη; in Gregor. Thaum. (see pot. Apollin. in Photius): θεὴς ἐν σαρκὶ φανερωθείς—all which passages seem to testify in favour of θεός.

In the MS. gr. D* is found the reading . The It. and Vulg. have: mysterium s. sacramentum, quod manifestatum est, and in this they are followed by the Latin Fathers, excepting Jerome himself. This translation does not, however, point necessarily to the reading ; it might also be taken from ὅς, which was referred to μυστήριον. Till Wetstein, the reading ὅς was generally held to be the right one,—later also by Matthaei, Tittm. Scholz, Hahn, Heydenr. Linck, Mack; the reading is specially defended by Wetstein and Schulthess. Almost all later critics and expositors, both on external and internal grounds, have rightly preferred the reading ὅς, which is accepted also by Lachm. Buttm. Tisch. Comp. the thorough investigation by Reiche, Comment. crit. ii., on the passage.


Verse 1

1 Timothy 3:1. After speaking of the behaviour of men and women in the church-assemblies, Paul goes on to give instructions regarding the proper qualifications of office-bearers in the church. He begins emphatically with the introductory words: πιστὸς λόγος, which here, as in 1 Timothy 1:15, do not refer to what precedes (Chrysostom, Erasmus, and others), but to what follows.

εἴ τις ἐπισκοπῆς ὀρέγεται] Since ἐπισκοπή corresponds with ἐπίσκοπος in 1 Timothy 3:2, the word does not denote here generally “the office of one who is set over others” (Hofmann), but specially “the office of a bishop;” for only in this way can the inferences in 1 Timothy 3:2 f. be drawn from what is said here. Why the previous words πιστὸς λόγος should not be in agreement with this, we cannot understand.

ἐπισκοπή has a similar meaning in Acts 1:20, where it denotes the office of apostle; comp. Meyer on the passage. In the N. T. the word usually means “the visitation.”

ὀρέγεται does not necessarily imply here, as de Wette thinks, the notion of ambitious striving; comp. Hebrews 11:16.

The ground of the ὀρέγεσθαι may indeed be ambition, but it may also be the zeal of faith and love. The apostle does not blame the ὀρέγεσθαι in itself; he merely asks us to consider that the ἐπισκοπή is a καλὸν ἔργον, and that not every one therefore may assume it.

καλοῦ ἔρου ἐπιθυμεῖ] Leo and others take ἔργον here in the sense of τί; but it seems more correct to hold by the meaning: “work, business” (Luther, Matthies, de Wette, Wiesinger, Hofmann, and others); comp. 2 Timothy 4:5 : ἔργον ποίησον εὐαγγελιστοῦ; 1 Thessalonians 5:13, where the church is exhorted διὰ τὸ ἔργον αὐτῶν to the love of the προϊστάμενοι. It is, however, very doubtful, to say the least, that the word is chosen to lay stress on the thought that the ἐπισκοπή is an office of work and not of enjoyment (Jerome: “opus, non dignitatem, non delicias;” Bengel: “negotium, non otium”).

καλοῦ, see 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 4:7.


Verse 2

1 Timothy 3:2. δεῖ οὖν τὸν ἐπίσκοπον ἀνεπίληπτον εἶναι κ. τ. λ.] τὸν ἐπίσκοπον, as a name for the superintendent of the congregation, only occurs in the Pastoral Epistles (here and at Titus 1:7), and in Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1 (the verb ἐπισκοπεῖν is found in 1 Peter 5:2). There can be no doubt that in the N. T. the ἐπίσκοποι and the πρεσβύτεροι denote the same persons. The question why these different names should be given to the same persons has been differently answered.

REMARK.

Baur supposes that every single town had originally one superintendent, who in his relation to the congregation was called ἐπίσκοπος, but that when several ἐπίσκοποι over single congregations were taken together, they were for the most part designated by the co-ordinate name of πρεσβύτεροι. He finds the chief support for his opinion in the passages, Titus 1:5 : ἵνα καταστήσῃς κατὰ πόλιν πρεσβυτέρους, and Acts 14:23 : χειροτονήσαντεςπρεσβυτέρους κατʼ ἐκκλησίαν; but the form of expression here used does not necessarily imply that every single town (or congregation) received or was to receive only one presbyter. Since κατὰ πόλιν ( ἐκκλησίαν) means: by cities, i.e. in every city, and the plural ( πρεσβυτέρους) is herewith joined with it, it may be taken in Baur’s sense, but it may also be as well taken to mean that the plural refers to each single city. The passage in Acts 15:21, to which Baur appeals, proves nothing for his view, since it is well known that there were several synagogues in each city of the Jewish country.

According to the view of Kist (Illgen’s Zeitschrift f. hist. Theol. II. 2, pp. 47 ff.), the Christians in any one place formed originally several house-congregations, each of which had its particular superintendent. The college of presbyters then consisted of the superintendents of those house-congregations in one city, which, taken together, were regarded as a congregation. The passage in Epiphanius, Haer. lxix. 1,(114) shows that in later times such an arrangement did exist; but there is no passage in the N. T. to prove that that was the original arrangement. In the N. T. the presbyters are always named as the superintendents of one congregation, and there is nowhere any hint that each house-congregation had its special superintendent. Even when James (1 Timothy 5:14) enjoins that a sick man is to summon τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους τῆς ἐκκλησίας,—and not the presbyter of the house-congregation of which he was a member,—his words are clearly against Kist’s view.

The most probable theory is, that originally the superintendents of the single congregations—according to the analogy of Jewish custom—bore the name of πρεσβύτεροι, but that, in so far as they were ἐπισκοποῦντες in reference to the congregation, they were called ἐπίσκοποι; comp. Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28.

There are, however, two striking facts to be noticed. In the first place, Paul in his epistles (the Pastoral Epistles excepted) makes use of the word ἐπίσκοπος only in Philippians 1:1, and of the word πρεσβύτεροι not at all. Nay, he almost never mentions the superintendent of the congregation except in Ephesians 4:11, where he calls them ποιμένες καὶ διδάσκαλοι, and 1 Thessalonians 5:12, where he mentions them as προϊστάμενοι ὑμῶν (comp. also Romans 12:8 : προϊστάμενος); comp., however, the passages quoted above from Acts. From this it is clear that at first his attention was directed to the congregation only in its indivisible unity, and only by degrees does he give more prominence to its leaders. We cannot, however, conclude from this, either that the congregations in the earlier period had no leaders, for it lay in the very-nature of a congregation to have some kind of leading; or that the Pastoral Epistles were not written by Paul, for why in the later period of his career should circumstances not so have shaped themselves that he thought it necessary to give the leaders more prominence?

The second striking fact is, that both in this passage and in Titus 1:7 the singular ἐπίσκοπος and not the plural ἐπίσκοποι is used, though in the latter passage the plural πρεσβύτεροι immediately precedes, and here at 1 Timothy 3:8 we have the plural διάκονοι (comp. also 1 Timothy 5:17 : οἱ καλῶς προεστῶτες πρεσβύτεροι). Is there any reason for this in the nature of the episcopate? The fact certainly might be interpreted to favour Kist’s view; but it may more simply and naturally be thus explained. Both times a τις precedes, and this almost by necessity compels the use of the plural after it.

οὖν] is not simply a particle of transition. From the fact that the ἐπισκοπή is a καλὸν ἔργον, the apostle deduces the necessity of a blameless character on the part of the ἐπίσκοπος; Bengel: bonum negotium bonis committendum.

ἀνεπίληπτον εἶναι] In enumerating the qualities which an ἐπίσκοπος must possess, the apostle begins appropriately with a general idea; so also Titus 1:7 : ἀνεπίληπτος, equivalent to μὴ παρέχων κατηγορίας ἀφορμήν, Schol. Thucyd. v. 17. It is important that they who stand at the head of the church should lead an irreproachable life in the opinion both of Christians and of non-Christians.

μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα] This expression cannot here be properly referred to polygamy; for, although polygamy might at that time be still found among the civilised heathen, and even among the Jews (comp. Justin Martyr, Dialog. c. Tryph.; Chrysostom on the passage; Josephus, Antiq. vii. 2), it was as a rare exception. Besides, there is an argument against such an interpretation in the phrase ἑνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, 1 Timothy 5:9; for similarly such a phrase ought to refer to polyandry, which absolutely never occurred.

Most recent expositors (Leo, Mack, de Wette, Heydenreich, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Plitt) take the expression as referring to a second marriage after the death of the first wife. Heydenreich quotes many testimonies from the earlier Fathers to justify this view. The results which these give are the following:

Firstly, Many held marriage after the death of the first wife to be something immoral. Athenagoras (Leg. pro Christo, p. 37, edit. Colon.) calls second marriage a εὐπρεπὴς μοιχεία; and Tertullian repudiates it utterly, as do the Montanists. Secondly, This was, however, by no means the view that generally prevailed. It had many decided opponents, but even opponents of the view regard(115) abstinence from a second marriage as something praiseworthy, nay, meritorious. Hermas (Past. mandat. iv. chap. 4 : dic, Domine, si vir vel mulier alicujus discesserit et nupserit aliquis eorum, num quid peccat? Qui nubit, non peccat; sed si per se manserit, magnum sibi conquirit honorem apud Dominum) and the later Fathers, as Chrysostom, Epiphanius, Cyril, all write in this strain.

Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, iii. p. 461) says, that he who marries a second time does not commit sin: οὐ γὰρ κεκώλυται πρὸς τοῦ νόμου· οὐ πληροῖ δὲ τῆς κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον πολιτείας τὴν κατʼ ἐπίτασιν τελειότητα. Thirdly, As to those who held office in the church, it was a general principle that they should not marry a second time. The proof of this is the objection which Tertullian puts in the mouth of his opponents against his condemnation of second marriages: adeo, inquiunt, permisit Apostolus iterare connubium, ut solos qui sunt in Clero, monogamiae jugo adstrinxerit (de Monogamia, chap. 12). Origen’s words are in complete accordance with this: ab ecclesiasticis dignitatibus non solum fornicatio, sed et nuptiae repellunt; neque enim episcopus, nec presbyter, nec diaconus, nec vidua possunt esse digami.

On the other hand, there is a weighty counter-argument in the fact that the earlier expositors of the Pastoral Epistles (Theodoret, Theophylact, Jerome, Oecumenius) do not share in this view,(116) though the practice prevailing in their day must have made the interpretation to them an obvious one. Besides, nowhere else in the N. T. is there the slightest trace of any ordinance against second marriages; nay, in Romans 7:2-3, and also in 1 Corinthians 7:39, Paul declares widows to be perfectly free to marry again; in 1 Corinthians 7:8, he even places widows and virgins on the same level; and in this epistle, 1 Timothy 5:14, he says: βούλο΄αι νεωτέρας ( χήρας) γα΄εῖν. It would certainly be more than strange if the apostle should urge the younger widows to a step which would hinder them later in life from being received into the class of church-widows (see on chap. 1 Timothy 5:9).

Appeal has been made to the facts that the nuptiae secundae were held to be unseemly for women even among the heathen (comp. Rein, Das römische Privatrecht, pp. 211, 212, and the Latin word univira); but it is to be observed, on the other hand, that it was considered in no way objectionable for a man to marry again after the death of his wife, and that there exists no trace of the opposite principle. (There is no ground for Heydenreieh’s opinion, that the priests highest in rank, e.g. the Pontifex Maximus, could only be married once.) Hence, neither Christians nor non-Christians could be offended if the presbyters of the churches were married a second time, and Paul would have laid down a maxim which in his day had never been heard of. The undecided opposition to second marriages appeared among the Christians only in the post-apostolic age, when asceticism was already taking a non-Pauline direction, and was therefore inclined to give its own interpretation to the apostle’s words. Besides, the expression here, as also in Titus 1:6, stands in the midst of others, which denote qualities to be possessed not only by the bishop, but also by every Christian as such. Accordingly, there is good ground for taking the disputed expression simply as opposed to an immoral life, especially to concubinage. What he says then is, that a bishop is to be a man who neither lives nor has lived in sexual intercourse with any other woman than the one to whom he is married (Matthies, Hofmann(117)). Thus interpreted, the apostle’s injunction is amply justified, not only in itself, but also in regard to the extraordinary laxness of living in his day, and it is in full harmony with the other injunctions. The expression under discussion might also be possibly referred to successive polygamy, i.e. to the re-marriage of divorced persons, but its terms are too general to make such a reference certain.(118)

νηφάλιον] only here and in 1 Timothy 3:11 (Titus 2:2). In its proper meaning it is equivalent to ΄ὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντα, 1 Timothy 3:8; but it is also used in a kindred sense (like the Latin sobrius) to denote one who is not enchanted nor intoxicated by any fleshly passion. It is used, therefore, of sobriety of spirit. This is the meaning of the word here, where it is joined immediately with σώφρονα, and where the original sense follows in the word πάροινος, 1 Timothy 3:3. Even the root-word νήφω occurs in the N. T. only in the figurative sense, as in 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:8, where it is joined with γρηγορεῖν, and stands in opposition to the spiritual καθεύδειν and ΄εθύειν; and in 1 Peter 4:7, where it is also connected with σωφρονεῖν.

σώφρονα-G0-, κόσ΄ιον-G0-] see 1 Timothy 2:9.

Bengel: quod σώφρων est intus, id κόσ΄ιος est extra. Theodoret: κόσ΄ιος· καὶ φθέγ΄ατι καὶ σχή΄ατι καὶ βλέ΄΄ατι καὶ βαδίσ΄ατι ὥστε καὶ διὰ τοῦ σώ΄ατος φαίνεσθαι τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς σωφροσύνην.

φιλόξενον] in special reference to strangers who were Christian brethren; comp. 1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:2; Romans 12:13.

διδακτικόν] “able to teach” (Luther); “good at teaching” (van Oosterzee). διδακτικός is one who possesses everything that fits him for teaching, including also the inclination (Plitt: “inclined to teach”) or the “willingness” (Hofmann). Hofmann is wrong in specializing it into “a moral quality.” That is justified neither by the etymology of the word (comp. the similarly-formed πρακτικός, γραφικός, etc.), nor by the position in which it stands here or in 2 Timothy 2:24. The word is found elsewhere only in Philo, De Praem. et Virt. 4, not in classic Greek. Though the public address in the congregation (both that of the διδασκαλία and that of the προφητεία, 1 Corinthians 12-14.) was permitted to every one to whom the Holy Spirit had imparted the χάρισ΄α, still the ἐπίσκοπος in particular had to know how to handle doctrine, in instructing the catechumens, in building up the faith of the church, and in refuting heretics (see Titus 1:9); hence Paul, in Ephesians 4:11, calls the ποί΄ενες of the church, διδάσκαλοι.


Verse 3

1 Timothy 3:3. The positive characteristics are now followed by two that are negative (or three, according to the Rec.): μὴ πάροινον] This word occurs only here and in Titus 1:7. Though it is used (comp. παροινέω, LXX. Isaiah 41:12) also in the wider sense, as equivalent to contumeliosus (Josephus, Antiq. vi. 10, where it stands opposed to the word σωφρονεῖν), yet there is here no sufficient ground for departing from its original sense. It is true that, as Bengel indicates, the ἀλλʼ ἐπιεικῆ afterwards seems to be in favour of the wider meaning here, without special reference to drunkenness; but the contrast is the same in the other case, if we only remember that πάροινος does not mean simply “drunken,” but “impudent, arrogant in intoxication.”(119)

μὴ πλήκτην] This word also may be taken in a narrower and a wider sense. Here, as in Titus 1:7, it denotes the passionate man who is inclined to come to blows at once over anything. With these two ideas there are three placed in contrast; not, however, in exact correspondence, for in that case the reading of the Rec., μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, would be indispensable, and for this reading there is too little testimony; but in such a way that the conduct denoted in the one case is opposed to that in the other.

ἀλλʼ ἐπιεικῆ, ἄμαχον ἀφιλάργυρον] In Titus 3:2, as here, the first two expressions stand together. ἄμαχος does not occur elsewhere in the N. T. ἐπιεικής does not mean “yielding,” for it does not come from εἴκω, but from εἰκός ( ἔοικα).

The nearest meaning is “beseeming.” As used, however, it has mostly the sense of moderateness and gentleness (in Plutarch, Pyrrh. 23.

ἐπιεικῶς is used along with πρᾴως). Luther rightly: “mild.” ἄμαχος is equivalent to peaceful; Luther: “not quarrelsome.”

ἀφιλάργυρον (only here and in Hebrews 13:5; φιλάργυρος, 2 Timothy 3:2 and Luke 16:14; the substantive φιλαργυρία, 1 Timothy 6:10) lays stress on a point of which no hint was given before. It is joined with ἄμαχος, since avarice necessarily brings strife with it.


Verse 4

1 Timothy 3:4. In the second verse, the apostle touched on the subject of marriage-life; here, he directs how the bishop is to conduct himself in his own house.

τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου καλῶς προϊστάμενον] Though ἴδιος is used at times in the N. T. instead of the simple possessive pronoun, it is here emphatic, in contrast with ἐκκλησία θεοῦ, 1 Timothy 3:5.

οἶκος here, as elsewhere, denotes the entire household, including slaves. It is above all important that he should act properly in regard to the children; hence the apostle adds: τέκνα ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος] From a comparison with the corresponding passage in Titus 1:6, it is clear that he is speaking here, not of the father’s disposition, but of that of the children (in opposition to Hofmann). The ἔχοντα ἐν ὑποταγῇ corresponds in sense with μὴἀνυπότακτα in the other passage, and in construction with ἔχονταμὴ ἐν κατηγορίᾳ ἀσωτίας. The bishop is to preside over his house in such a way that the children shall not be wanting in submissiveness. The words μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος are to be connected with what immediately precedes, and not with προϊστάμενον (Hofmann). If it be right to refer them to the fathers (Heydenrich, Matthies, van Oosterzee), ἔχειν must be explained as equivalent either to tenere (Matthies: “holding the children in obedience”) or to κατέχειν (van Oosterzee). That, however, is arbitrary; besides, the parallel passage in Titus 1:6, where ἀσωτία is the opposite of σεμνότης, is against it. Leo, Mack, de Wette, Wiesinger, are right therefore in referring the words to the children. The idea of σεμνότης does not forbid this reference, if only we avoid thinking of little children; comp., by way of contrast, the conduct of the children of the high priest Eli, in the O. T.


Verse 5

1 Timothy 3:5 in a parenthesis gives the reason why a bishop ought to know how to govern his house properly.

εἰ δέ τις τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου προστῆναι οὐκ οἶδε] δέ shows that the confirmatory clause is adversative; the conclusion is made a minori ad majus. Bengel: plus est regere ecclesiam, quam familiaim.(120)

πῶς ἐκκλησίας θεοῦ ἐπι΄ελήσεται] The contrast here made becomes still more forcible when it is observed that in 1 Timothy 3:15 Paul calls the ἐκκλησία the οἶκος θεοῦ.

ἐπι΄ελήσεται] The future here, as often with the Greeks, expresses the capability; see Bernhardy’s Syntax, p. 377. The verb ἐπιμελέομαι has not only the more general meaning of “take care of something” (Luke 10:34-35), but also more definitely, “fill an office, be overseer over something,” in which sense it is used here.

For a right understanding of the connection of this verse with what precedes, it is to be observed that the first requisite for a successful superintendence is obedience ( ὑποταγή) from the church towards its superintendent. It is the bishop’s duty so to conduct himself that the members of the church may be obedient to him, not as servants to a master, but as children to a father, that they may show him obedience in love.


Verse 6

1 Timothy 3:6. ΄ὴ νεόφυτον] depending on δεῖεἶναι in 1 Timothy 3:2, is attached to the previous accusatives, 1 Timothy 3:5 being a parenthesis. νεόφυτος is rightly explained by Chrysostom: οὐ τὸν νεώτερον ἐνταῦθα λέγει, ἀλλὰ τὸν νεοκατήχητον; comp. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7. Heinrichs is wrong if he thinks that, on account of what follows, the explanation rejected by Chrysostom is really the right one; for the rapid promotion to the episcopate of one newly admitted into the church, might easily have consequences to be dreaded by the apostle.

The reason why a “novice” (Luther) should not be bishop is given in the words that follow: ἵνα μὴ τυφωθεὶς εἰς κρίμα ἐμπέσῃ τοῦ διαβόλου. τυφωθείς: “lest he being beclouded with conceit (of foolish pride).” The verb (which occurs only here and in 1 Timothy 6:4 and 2 Timothy 3:4) comes from τῦφος, which in the figurative sense especially denotes darkness, as beclouding man’s mind so that he does not know himself, so that the consciousness of his own weakness is hidden from him; in 2 Timothy 3:4 it is appropriately joined with μηδὲν ἐπιστάμενος (comp. Athenaeus, vi. 238d). τυφωθείς describes the conduct of the νεόφυτος which brings on him the κρίμα τοῦ διαβόλου.

εἰς κρίμα ἐμπέσῃ τοῦ διαβόλου] Nearly all expositors take διάβολος here and in 1 Timothy 3:7 to be the devil. Some, again, explain it as “the libellous fellow” (Mosheim, Wegscheider, Hofmann; Luther: “the slanderer”). Against this latter view, however, there are three decisive arguments—(1) According to the constant usage of the N. T., the substantive διάβολος always denotes the devil (it is otherwise in the LXX., but only in Esther 7:4; Esther 8:1).(121) (2) The singular has the definite article, which seems to mark out one definite individual, for the collective use of the singular can always be inferred from the context (as in Matthew 12:35; Romans 14:1; 1 Peter 4:18; James 2:6; this, indeed, is less the case in James 5:6); besides, here the idea of “libeller” is too indefinite for the train of thought; hence Hofmann is forced to define it arbitrarily: “whoever makes it his business to speak evil of Christianity.” (3) If, in the expression τοῦ διαβόλου παγίς, at 2 Timothy 2:26, τοῦ διαβόλου cannot mean anything else than the devil, it is arbitrary to render it otherwise when used in the same expression at 1 Timothy 3:7.

κρί΄α is not equivalent to “charge, accusation” (Matthies), but “the judgment,” especially “the judgment of condemnation.”

τοῦ διαβόλου is mostly (even by Wiesinger and van Oosterzee) taken to be the genitivus objecti (comp. especially Revelation 17:1), equivalent to “the judgment which is executed on the devil” (van Oosterzee), because κρίνειν is not the devil’s business; Bengel: diabolus potest opprobrium inferre (1 Timothy 3:7), judicium inferre non potest, non enim judicat, sed judicatur.(122) But the notion that the devil is delivered to condemnation because of self-conceit, cannot be scripturally proved. For this reason, and also because τοῦ διαβόλου in 1 Timothy 3:7 is manifestly the subjective genitive, it is preferable to take it in the same way here (so, too, Plitt).(123) Of course the κρίμα of the devil cannot mean a trial which the devil holds, but the judgment which serves to give him foundation for accusing man with God (comp. the name for the devil, κατήγωρ, in Revelation 12:10).(124)


Verse 7

1 Timothy 3:7. δεῖ δὲ καὶ μαρτυρίαν καλὴν ἔχειν ἀπὸ τῶν ἔξωθεν] δεῖ δέ (which does not present something opposed to 1 Timothy 3:6) adds a new requirement to those already given in 1 Timothy 3:2-6, a requirement needed for the sake of those who are not Christians. Thus δεῖ here becomes connected with the δεῖ in 1 Timothy 3:2.

μαρτυρία occurs in the Pauline Epistles only here and in Titus 1:13.

ἀπὸ τῶν ἔξωθεν] οἱ ἔξωθεν (for which Paul commonly uses οἱ ἔξω) are those outside the church; ἀπό is equivalent not to “among,” but to “from;” the testimony comes from those who are not Christians. In the choice of a bishop, care is to be taken that he is a man who has led an irreproachable life even in the eyes of those who are not Christians. The reason is added just as in 1 Timothy 3:6 : ἵνα μὴ εἰς ὀνειδισμὸν ἐμπέσῃ καὶ παγίδα τοῦ διαβόλου] ὀνειδισμόν may be taken absolutely (Wiesinger, Plitt), or joined with τοῦ διαβ. (van Oosterzee). The former view is supported by the fact that ἐμπέσῃ separates ὀνειδ. from παγίδα; the latter, by the fact that the preposition is not repeated before παγίδα. The passage in 1 Timothy 3:14-15, when compared with this, supports the former view, which is further established as correct by the consideration that we cannot well suppose ὀνειδίζειν to be an act of the devil. Since ὀνειδισμός is not defined more precisely, it must be taken as quite general in meaning.

καὶ παγίδα τοῦ διαβόλου] the same expression in 2 Timothy 2:26; in 1 Timothy 6:9 it stands without τοῦ διαβ., and there, too, it is joined with πειρασμός (elsewhere only in Romans 11:9, which follows Psalms 69:23). It is a figurative name for the lying in wait of the devil, who is represented as a hunter. The idea of its association with ὀνειδισμός is this, that the disgrace incurred by one who has not a good testimony from the non-Christians, is used by the devil as a snare, not only to tempt him, but also to seduce him into apostasy from the gospel.(125)


Verse 8

1 Timothy 3:8. From this to 1 Timothy 3:13 we have instructions regarding the deacons.

διακόνους ὡσαύτως σεμνοὺς κ. τ. λ.] The deacons, as at first instituted in the church at Jerusalem, were originally almoners of the poor (Acts 6:1-6). They are mentioned again only in Philippians 1:1. In Romans 16:1, Paul calls Phoebe a διακόνος of the church at Cenchrea. There are some other passages which allude to the diaconate

Romans 12:7; 1 Corinthians 12:28 ( ἀντιλήψεις); 1 Peter 4:11. It is known that this office in the church was afterwards not confined to its original object, but there is nothing to indicate how far it was developed in the apostolic age. Many of the duties assigned to the deacons in later times, can only be arbitrarily connected with the office in the apostolic age. Only it is to be observed that both here and in Philippians 1:1, the deacons are named after the bishops.

ὡσαύτως] marks here, as in 1 Timothy 2:9, the transition to ordinances in regard to another class of persons, indicating at the same time their similarity to those preceding.

σεμνούς] The accusative is dependent on δεῖ εἶναι, which is to be supplied; regarding the idea contained in the word, see 1 Timothy 2:2.

μὴ διλόγους] the word δίλογος only here. In Proverbs 11:13, LXX.; in Sirach 5:9; Sirach 5:14; Sirach 6:1; Sirach 28:13, we have the similar word: δίγλωσσος(126) (comp. also δίψυχος in James 4:8); Theophylact: ἄλλα φρονοῦντες καὶ ἄλλα λέγοντες, καὶ ἄλλα τούτοις καὶ ἄλλα ἐκείνοις.

΄ὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας] προσέχειν here, as in 1 Timothy 4:13 and Hebrews 7:13 : “be addicted to;” Titus 2:3 : μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ δεδουλωμένας.

μὴ αἰσχροκερδεῖς] only here and in Titus 1:7; comp. 1 Peter 5:2 : ἐπισκοποῦντες ΄ηδὲ αἰσχροκερδῶς, ἀλλὰ προθύ΄ως; and Titus 2:11, where it is said of the heretics that they by unseemly doctrine destroy houses αἰσχροῦ κέρδους χάριν. These passages show that we are not to think here of gain from “dishonourable dealing” (Luther, Theodoret: ἐκ πραγ΄άτων αἰσχρῶν καὶ λίαν ἀτόπων), but rather of using the spiritual office for a material advantage (comp. 1 Timothy 6:5).


Verse 9

1 Timothy 3:9. ἔχοντας τὸ μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει] The emphasis is not on ἔχοντας, as if it meant “holding fast,” but on ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει (Wiesinger).

τὸ μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως] This collocation occurs nowhere else. πίστις is not the doctrine of faith (Heumann), but subjective faith (de Wette). ΄υστήριον is the subject-matter of faith, i.e. the divine truth, which is a secret not only in so far as it was hidden from the world until it was revealed at the appointed time (Romans 16:25) and remains hidden to every man till the knowledge of it is wrought in him by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:14), but also in so far as it is even to the believer ὑπερβαλλοῦσα τῆς γνώσεως (Wiesinger). The expression is synonymous with that in 1 Timothy 3:16 : τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον.

ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει] Comp. 1 Timothy 1:5; 1 Timothy 1:19. The clause is to be joined closely with ἔχοντας, and is to be understood neither specially of occupying the office, nor quite generally of the virtuous life, or “the moral disposition” (Hofmann), but of purity and uprightness in regard to the mystery of the faith. It stands in contrast with the impurity of the heretics, who had their conscience stained by the mingling of truth with errors; comp. 1 Timothy 4:2.


Verse 10

1 Timothy 3:10. καὶ οὗτοι δὲ δοκιμαζέσθωσαν πρῶτον] The particles καὶδέ mean and also, καί being purely copulative; δέ, however, opposing and emphasizing(127) something new. Since this new thing, which is necessarily emphatic, always stands between καί and δέ, οὔτοι, as van Oosterzee has rightly seen, must be opposed to those before named, i.e. to the presbyters; it is to be explained: “and these too, i.e. not only the presbyters, but also the deacons, are first to be proved.” It is wrong, therefore, to make δοκιμαζέσθωσαν emphatic, and to explain οὔτοι without reference to those before named (“and these are further to be proved”), as was done in the former editions of this commentary.(128) Had he wished to say that, the apostle could not but have written καὶ δοκι΄αζέσθωσαν δὲ οὔτοι; comp. John 8:16. It is true that nothing has been said hitherto about an examination in regard to the office of presbyter; but, of course, such an examination must have preceded the election. The examination for the office of deacon would certainly refer to the life and stedfastness in the faith. He does not say who was to undertake the examination, but it is natural to suppose that it was to be undertaken by those who elected. At the first institution of the diaconate the election was made by the church, the installation to the office by the apostles. It is not known how it was managed later in the apostolic age. Heydenreich makes the examination too formal when he says: “They are to be examined first by Timothy, with the aid of the presbytery; the votes of the members of the church are to be taken concerning his worthiness,” etc. On the other hand, the force of δοκιμαζέσθωσαν must not be weakened by such explanations as: “Paul wishes only those to be made διάκονοι regarding whom a definite opinion had already been formed in the church” (so in the second edition of this commentary); or: “it is the moral testing which naturally took place when they lived for some time under the eyes of the church and its leader;” or: “it is in substance the same thing as ΄ὴ νεόφυτον, used regarding the choice of presbyters” (Hofmann).

It is quite wrong, with Luther (“and these are first to be tried”) and others, to understand the words as if they meant that candidates were first to be tried in the affairs of the diaconate.

εἶτα διακονείτωσαν, ἀνέγκλητοι ὄντες] The participle expresses the condition under which they are to be admitted to the office of deacon. διακονεῖν, as applied definitely to the office of deacon, occurs only here, at 1 Timothy 3:14, and in 1 Peter 4:11.


Verse 11

1 Timothy 3:11. γυναῖκας ὡσαύτως σεμνὰς κ. τ. λ.] No further hint is given as to what women he is here speaking of; only it is to be observed that these instructions regarding them are inserted amongst the rules for the diaconate, since 1 Timothy 3:12 continues to speak of the latter. They must therefore, at all events, be regarded as women who stand in close relation to the deacons—either the wives of the deacons or the deaconesses. Mack’s supposition, that they are the wives of the deacons and of the bishops, is quite arbitrary. The second view is found as early as in Chrysostom ( γυναῖκας διακόνους φησί), Theophylact, Oecumenius, Grotius, and others; de Wette, Wiesinger, and Hofmann also think it correct. The principal grounds for it are—(1) the word ὡσαύτως, which indicates that the apostle here passes (see 1 Timothy 3:8) to a new class of ecclesiastical persons (Wiesinger); and (2) the fact that the instructions given in this whole section are rather directions for election than exhortations to the persons named. On the other hand, the omisson of αὐτῶν (de Wette, Wiesinger) and the expression πιστὰς ἐν πᾶσιν, usually understood, as de Wette wrongly thinks, of conjugal fidelity, are of no weight.

Against this view, however, there are two circumstances which should be considered, viz., that the instruction regarding the deaconesses is inserted among those given to the deacons, and also that the apostle calls them quite generally γυναῖκες, instead of using the definite αἱ διάκονοι (comp. Romans 16:1). This makes it probable that by the γυναῖκες we should understand the deacons’ wives (so, too, Plitt). The reason of the special exhortation would then be, not, as Heydenreich says, that even the domestic life of the deacons should be considered, but that the office of the deacons, consisting in the care of the poor and the sick, was of a kind in which their wives had to lend a helping hand. Hence we can explain why the wives of the bishops are not specially mentioned.(129)

μὴ διαβόλους] διάβολος, as an adjective: “slanderous,” occurs only in the Pastoral Epistles, here and at 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3.

νηφαλίους] is not equivalent to ΄ὴ οἴνῳ πόλλῳ προσεχούσας, 1 Timothy 3:8; it is to be taken in the same sense as in 1 Timothy 3:2 (in opposition to Wiesinger, van Oosterzee).

πιστὰς ἐν πᾶσιν] “faithful in all things;” ἐν πᾶσιν forbids us to limit the command of fidelity to any one sphere; it is not merely faithfulness at home nor in the duties of the church that is meant.


Verse 12

1 Timothy 3:12. The apostle returns to the deacons, and gives regarding their domestic life the same instructions as he gave in 1 Timothy 3:2-4 in regard to the bishops.


Verse 13

1 Timothy 3:13. To these instructions he adds in this verse a reason: οἱ γὰρ καλῶς διακονήσαντες ( διακονεῖν is here and in 1 Timothy 3:10 used in the official sense) βαθμὸν ἑαυτοῖς καλὸν περιποιοῦνται.(130) The word βαθ΄ός, which occurs only here, denotes, like gradus, in the figurative sense, a degree of honour. As to what is to be understood by this, expositors are not agreed; but we may reject at once all explanations in which a comparative is put in place of the positive καλόν. This objection applies to the view that βαθ΄ός denotes here the higher ecclesiastical office, the office of bishop (Jerome: “bonum hic pro gradu majori posuit; sunt enim minores [diaconi];” Bengel: “gradum ab humilitate diaconiae ad majora munera, in ecclesia. Qui in minore gradu fidelis est, ad majora promovetur;” so, too, Theophylact, Erasmus, Beza, Grotius, Heumann, Heydenreich, Baur, Plitt, and others), which view, moreover, presupposes a regulation of rank altogether foreign to the apostolic age. The same objection applies to the view that βαθ΄ὸς καλός is a higher stage of the life of faith, i.e. an increase in Christian perfection. The expositors who hold by the positive καλός, interpret the idea, some of the future, others of the present life. The former understand by it “a higher stage of blessedness;” so Theodoret ( τὸν τίμιον τοῦτον βαθμὸν ἐν τῷ μέλλοντι λήψονται βίῳ), Flatt, and others; the latter explain the expression as applying to “respect in the church;” so Calvin, Planck, Wegscheider, Leo, Matthies, and others.

Heinrich, de “Wette, and Wiesinger agree with the view of the former, only modifying it to mean not a stage of holiness, but “the expectancy of it.” This modification is, however, unwarrantable, since the idea of “expectancy or claim” is imported. βαθμός means a stage; it cannot at the same time mean the claim to a stage; and if βαθ΄ός must mean the claim to something, then there is nothing to indicate what the claim refers to.

The decision between the two interpretations depends on the explanation of the words that follow: καὶ πολλὴν παῤῥησίαν ἐν πίστει τῇ ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ] παῤῥησία means, in the first place, candour in speech; then more generally, bold courage in action, synonymous with ἄδεια (Hesychius); and lastly, firm confidence in something; thus in reference to men, 2 Corinthians 7:4 ( πολλή ΄οι παῤῥησία πρὸς ὑ΄ᾶς), or to God, viz. the confidence which the Christian in faith has in the saving grace of God; so in the Epistle to the Hebrews and in the First Epistle of John.(131) If βαθμός is to be referred to future blessedness, then παῤῥησία here, as in 1 John 3:21, Hebrews 4:16, is confidence toward God. But in 1 John 3:21 we have πρὸς τὸν θεόν along with παῤῥησία, and in Hebrews 4:16 μετὰ παῤῥησίας is added to define more precisely the clause: προσερχώμεθα τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς χάριτος; as to the parallel passage in 1 Timothy 6:19, to which de Wette likewise appeals, the reference to the future life is distinctly expressed by the words εἰς τὸ μέλλον. Of all this there is nothing here; there is nothing, either here or with καλὸν βαθμόν, to direct us to the future life, nothing to indicate that with παῤῥησία we should supply πρὸς τὸν θεόν, or the like. Hence it is more natural to refer these ideas to the sphere in which the διακονεῖν takes place, and to understand by βαθμός, respect in the church;(132) by παῤῥησία, confidence in their official labours. These two things stand in closest relation to one another, since only he can possess right confidence in his office who is open to no just reproach, who is honoured for conducting himself well in the matters with which his office is concerned. Wiesinger, against this view, maintains that “the aorist ( διακονήσαντες) makes the βαθ΄ὸν ἑαυτ. καλ. περιπ. appear to be the final result of the official labour;”(133) but if that were the case, the present περιποιοῦνται should not have been used, but the perfect; for the acquisition does not take place after the official labour, but during it.

Certainly the aorist is somewhat strange; but it may mean that the βαθμὸς κ. τ. λ. is always the result of good service.(134)

The verb περιποιεῖσθαι, in the N. T. only here and in Acts 20:28, has even in classical writers the meaning “gain for oneself.” The dative ἑαυτοῖς is added to show clearly that he is speaking of the gain to the deacons themselves, and not to the congregation.

ἐν πίστει τῇ ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ] is not to be joined with βαθ΄όν and παῤῥησίαν (van Oosterzee), but only with παῤῥησίαν.(135) It is not the sphere in which, nor the object in regard to which, there is παῤῥησία (Heumann: “the boldness to teach the Christian faith even in public;” Wegscheider: “free activity for Christianity, or a greater sphere for the spread of Christianity”); but it denotes the παῤῥησία as Christian, as rooted in Christian faith. The construction of πίστις with ἐν following it, is found also in 2 Timothy 3:15; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 1:15; Colossians 1:4 (only that in these passages there is no article before ἐν, while there is one before πίστις; on the other hand, comp. Acts 20:21; Acts 26:18). This construction may be explained to mean that Christ is the object of faith already apprehended; the believer not only has Christ before him, but he lives in communion with Him.


Verse 14-15

1 Timothy 3:14-15. The apostle has come here to a resting-point, since he has brought to an end his instructions regarding some of the chief points to be noticed in the affairs of the church; but, before passing to any new matter, he casts a glance back on the instructions he has given, and tells what was the occasion of his giving them.

ταῦτά σοι γράφω] Bengel’s explanation: “ ταῦτα, i.e. totam epistolam,” in which Hofmann agrees,(136) is so far right, that ταῦτα refers rather to the instructions that precede (from 1 Timothy 2:1 onward).

ἐλπίζων ἐλθεῖν πρός σε τάχιον] ἐλπίζων does not give the real (“hoping,” Matthies), but the adversative ground (Leo: Part. ἐλπίζων per καίπερ seu similem particulam esse resolvendum, nexus orationis docet; so, too, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Plitt). The real ground is given by the following ἵνα. Hofmann asserts, but does not prove, that this view does not accord with the following δέ. Hofmann finds that ἐλπίζων only expresses an accompaniment of the act of writing, and that it was added “lest Timothy should infer from the sending of an epistle that the apostle meant to leave him for some time in Ephesus;” but in this he imports a motive of which the context furnishes no hint.

τάχιον (comp. on this form, Winer, p. 67 [E. T. p. 81]; Buttmann, p. 24) is here taken by most expositors as a pure positive “soon;” the comparative sense (according to Winer, pp. 227 f. [E. T. p. 304]), though in the background, has not wholly disappeared: “sooner” (not “than the arrival of this letter,” or “than thou wilt have need of these instructions,” Winer) “than is or was to be expected.”

In spite of this hope, the apostle’s arrival might possibly be longer delayed, and this possibility had induced him to impart his instructions by writing, lest Timothy should be without them.

ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω (the verb only here and at 2 Peter 3:9), ἵνα εἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι] πῶς δεῖ ἀναστρέφεσθαι refers not so much to the Christian life in general, as to behaviour in church life, viz. in divine service and in church arrangements. This limitation is clearly indicated by the connection with what precedes, the ταῦτα referring us back (in opposition to Hofmann). Its subject is either Timothy, in which case σέ is to be supplied (Luther: “how thou shouldst walk;” so, too, Wiesinger), or no definite subject should be supplied: “how one should walk.”(137) Both explanations are possible in language and in fact; but the second may be preferred, because Paul in the preceding part (to which ταῦτα refers) did not say what Timothy was to do, but what arrangements were to prevail in the church; Hofmann thinks differently, as he understands ταῦτα of the whole epistle. The expression οἶκος θεοῦ denotes properly the temple at Jerusalem (Matthew 21:13), then also the O. T. people as the church in which God had His dwelling (Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5); in Christian usage it is the N. T. people in whom the dwelling of God has been fully realized; Hebrews 3:6 (Hebrews 10:21); 1 Peter 4:17; synonymous with it are the expressions: κατοικητήριον θεοῦ, Ephesians 2:22; ναὸς θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16.

To elucidate the symbolic expression, Paul adds: ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος] The pronoun ἥτις (= “seeing it”) makes the explanatory sentence emphatic, by indicating why there should be such behaviour in the house of God as Paul had prescribed (which Hofmann denies); and the reason is not simply that it is an ἐκκλησία, i.e. a church, and as such has necessarily certain definite ordinances, but still more definitely because it is a church of God, of the living God, who as such esteems highly His ordinances in His church.

There follow in simple apposition the words: στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας] These words are in apposition to ἐκκλησία θ. ζ., and as such are rightly explained by the older(138) and most of recent commentators (Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Beza, Mack, Matthies, de Wette, Wiesinger, Hofmann; now, too, by van Oosterzee, 3d ed.(139)). Some Protestant commentators, however, influenced by their polemic against the Catholic idea of the church, have taken these words as the beginning of the following sentence (first, in the edition of the N. T. at Basel, 1540, 1545; later, Bengel, Mosheim, Heydenreich, Matt; formerly also van Oosterzee). The reasons against this construction are—(1) That the new thought would be taken up in a very abrupt and sudden manner, while by connecting it with the previous words, the train of thought is suitable and natural; (2) That “grammatically the third defining term, simply adjectival, ὁ΄ολ. ΄έλα, cannot well be placed in co-ordination with two predicates like στύλος and ἑδραίω΄α” (Wiesinger, following Schleiermacher); and (3) That, whereas τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας ΄υστήριον is nothing else than the ἀλήθεια, this construction would make the former designate the latter as στύλος καὶ ἑδρ., which would clearly be unsuitable. There is manifestly nothing to be said for the opinion of some commentators,(140) that by στ. κ. ἑδρ. we are to understand Timothy.(141)

στύλος in the figurative sense occurs only here and at Galatians 2:9; Revelation 3:12. The οἶκος θεοῦ is called στύλος τῆς ἀληθείας, inasmuch as the pillar supports and bears the roof resting on it (see Meyer on Galatians 2:9), but not “inasmuch as it serves to elevate something and make it manifest” (Hofmann). The same idea is expressed by the second word: ἑδραίω΄α, the base, foundation (similarly θε΄έλιος, 2 Timothy 2:19), a word which is only used here in the N. T. The thought that the divine truth is supported and borne by the church, has nothing startling when we remember that the church, as the οἶκος θεοῦ, has the Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of truth; the Spirit of truth, therefore, is its indwelling, all-penetrating principle of life, by which it stands in closest communion with its head.(142) But if the church is set up to be the preserver of divine truth, it is all the more important that all should be well-ordered in it. These words stand, therefore, in close connection with what precedes; but, at the same time, they make the transition to what follows, where the apostle in a few brief characteristics gives the nature of the truth, that he may from this point return to his polemic against the heretics, and continue it further.


Verse 16

1 Timothy 3:16. καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶ τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον] καί connects what follows with the preceding words, and in such a way as to emphasize the following predicate.

ὁμολογουμένως] which only occurs here, means neither “manifestly” (Luther), nor “according to the song of praise” (Mack), nor even “correspondingly” (Hofmann(143)); but: “as is acknowledged” (comp. 4 Maccabees 6:31; 4 Maccabees 7:16; 4 Maccabees 16:1; Josephus, Antiq. i. 10. 2, ii. 9. 6).

μέγα] comp. Ephesians 5:32 ( καὶ τὸ ΄υστήριον τοῦτο ΄έγα ἐστίν), has the sense of “important, significant.”

The subject of the sentence: τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον, is a paraphrase of the ἀλήθεια in the preceding verse. It is so called by the apostle, because, as the substance of the Christian fear of God, or piety, it is hidden from the world: the sense is the same, therefore, as that of τὸ ΄υστήριον τῆς πίστεως in 1 Timothy 3:9. It is wrong to translate it, as Luther does: “the blessed secret,” or to explain it: “the doctrine which leads to godliness.” Wiesinger is incorrect in explaining it: “a secret accessible only to godliness;” and Hofmann in saying: “the truth which is of such a nature as to produce godliness where it finds acceptance.”

The purport—i.e. the christological purport—is now given in the next clauses, Paul laying stress on it on account of the polemical tendency of the epistle against the heretics (chap. 4), whose theology and Christology were in contradiction with the gospel.

As to the construction of these clauses, there would be no difficulty with the reading θεός. If be read, it must relate to ΄υστήριον, which also might be the construction with ὅς. According to the Vulgate (sacramentum quod manifestatum est), the latter is the construction adopted by the Latin Fathers who understood Christ to be the ΄υστήριον,(144)—an interpretation quite unjustifiable and unsuitable to the general train of thought. Several expositors (Mangold, Hofmann, and others) assume the first clause: ὃςσαρκί, to be the subject, and the other five clauses to form the predicate; but “on account of the parallelism, that is not advisable” (Winer, p. 519 [E. T. p. 736]). It is much more natural from their similar form to regard all six clauses as co-ordinate. Then the subject to which ὅς relates is not named; but, according to the purport of the various clauses, it can be none other than Christ. This curious omission may be thus accounted for; the sentence has been taken from a formula of confession, or better, from an old Christian hymn, as its metrical and euphonious character seems to indicate; comp. Rambach’s Anthologie christl. Gesänge aus allen Jahrh. d. Kirche, I. 33, and Winer, p. 547 [E. T. p. 797]. This view is also adopted by Heydenreich, Mack, de Wette, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Plitt.

The opinion of Matthies is untenable, that the apostle does not name Christ expressly, in order to maintain the character of τὸ μυστήριον (in the sense: Acknowledged great, etc., … he who is revealed, etc.), and that this absolute use of the relative pronoun is found elsewhere in the N. T. In the passages quoted by him, Romans 2:23, 1 Corinthians 7:37, John 1:46; John 3:34, 1 John 1:3, the pronoun has not the absolute meaning alleged by him. The first clause runs: ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί] ἐφανερώθη is often used of Christ’s appearance on earth, of His becoming man, 1 John 1:2; 1 John 3:5; it presupposes a previous concealment,(145) and consequently the pre-existence of Christ as the eternal Logos.

ἐν σαρκί] (comp. 1 John 4:2 : ἐληλυθὼς ἐν σαρκί; Romans 8:3 : ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας) denotes the human nature in which Christ appeared; John 1:14 : λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο.

With this first clause the second stands in contrast: ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι] means (as in Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:35): to be shown to be such a one as He is in nature; here, therefore, the sense is: He was shown in His divine glory (as the Logos or eternal Son of God), which was veiled by the σάρξ. ἐν πνεύματι is contrasted with ἐν σαρκί, the latter denoting the earthly, human manner of His appearing, the former the inner principle which formed the basis of His life. Though ἐν with πνεύματι has not entirely lost its proper meaning, yet it shades off into the idea of the means used, in so far as the spirit revealed in Him was the means of showing His true nature.(146) It would be wrong to separate here the πνεῦ΄α from His person, and to understand by it the spirit proceeding from Him and imparted to His own; it is rather the living spiritual principle dwelling in Him and working out from Him (so, too, Plitt).

Chrysostom diverges from this exposition, and explains ἐδικαιώθη by: δόλον οὐκ ἐποίησεν, ὅπερ προφήτης λέγει· ὃς ἁ΄αρτίαν οὐκ ἐποίησε; and Bengel takes the meaning of the expression to be that Christ bore the sins of the world (peccata peccatorum tulit … et justitiam aeternam sibi suisque asseruit); but both views import ideas which are here out of place. The expression ἐν πνεύ΄ατι has also found very varying interpretations. Instead of πνεῦ΄α being taken in its real sense, particular elements of it in the life of Christ, or particular modes of revealing the πνεῦ΄α, have been fixed upon, or πνεῦ΄α has been taken simply of the divine nature of Christ.(147)

ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις] The right meaning of this third clause also can only be got from a faithful consideration of the words. The word ὤφθη is in the N. T. frequently joined with the dative, Matthew 17:3; Luke 1:11; Acts 7:2; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8; Hebrews 9:28, etc. In all these passages it is not the simple “was seen,” but “was revealed” or “appeared;” it always presupposes the activity of the thing seen.

From the analogy of these passages, we must think here of Christ going to those to whom He became visible, so that all explanations which take ὤφθη merely as “was seen” are to be rejected.

In the N. T. ἄγγελοι is especially applied to angels; in itself the word may also denote human messengers (comp. James 2:25). To take it here in this latter sense (which Hofmann does), as denoting the apostles to whom Christ appeared after His resurrection, is impossible, because nothing, not even the article, is used here to point to them in particular. If, then, ἄγγελοι can only mean angels, it is most natural to take ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις of the ascension, by which Christ—as the Glorified One—was made manifest to angels (so, too, Plitt). Still there is nothing here to lay stress on the ascension (as is done in the sixth clause); the point is, that He who was justified ἐν πνεύ΄ατι presented Himself to the angels in His glory.

Baur, indeed, in gnostic fashion interprets the passage of Christ as passing through the various series of aeons, but it is clear that the words neither demand nor even justify such a view. No less arbitrary is de Wette’s opinion, that probably the ὠφθῆναι ἀγγέλοις relates to a supernatural scene differing from the ascension, and forming the antithesis to the descent into hell.

The very form of the expression shows that we are not to think of appearances of angels at various moments in the earthly life of Christ, as some expositors suppose. More noteworthy is an explanation given by Chrysostom and approved by some later expositors, especially by Matthies and Wiesinger. Chrysostom says: ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις· ὥστε καὶ ἄγγελοι ΄εθʼ ἡ΄ῶν εἶδον τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, πρότερον οὐχ ὁρῶντες. Theodoret’s expression is still more pointed: τὴν γὰρ ἀόρατον τῆς θεότητος φύσιν οὐδὲ ἐκεῖνοι ἑώρων, σαρκωθέντα δὲ ἐθεάσαντο. Matthies appeals to passages which he thinks are elucidated by the words, passages where Christ is said to have been manifested as … head to all things in heaven and on earth, Ephesians 1:20 ff; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 4:8 ff.; Colossians 1:15 ff; Colossians 2:10; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 1:6 ff. But, though Christ’s lordship over all is spoken of in such passages, it is not said that Christ was made manifest to the angels only by means of His incarnation. The only passage which might be quoted here is Ephesians 3:10, which, however, rather declares that to the angels the eternal decree of the divine love or of God’s wisdom was to be made known διὰ τῆς ἐκκλησίας. But such cannot possibly be the meaning of ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις. Wiesinger simply explains it: “the angels saw the σαρκωθέντα on earth;” but obviously the sentence is meant to express something which befell not men, but angels.

ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν] for ἐκηρύχθη, comp. Philippians 1:15; and for ἐν ἔθνεσιν, Matthew 28:19. There is no good reason for taking ἔθνη here as relating not to the nations in general, but, as Hofmann thinks, to the heathen exclusive of the Jews.(148)

ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ] ἐπιστεύθη is not, with some expositors, to be explained by ἐδικαιώθη: “He has been testified” (viz. by the miracles of the apostles), or by “fidem sibi fecit” (“he gained belief for Himself”); it is to be taken in its proper meaning. The word κόσμος has the same general meaning as the preceding ἔθνη; van Oosterzee is wrong in thinking that it ought to be taken here in an ethical sense.—“Jesus is personally the subject-matter of preaching and of faith” (Hofmann).

ἀνελήφθη ἐν δόξῃ] Mark 16:19; Acts 1:11 (Acts 10:16), where the same verb joined with εἰς οὐρανόν is used of Christ’s ascension. This supports the opinion of most expositors, that the same fact is mentioned here.

ἐν δόξῃ] may be taken as an adverbial adjunct equivalent to ἐνδόξως (similarly 2 Corinthians 3:8; Colossians 3:4); but in that case the expression of this sixth clause would be quite out of keeping with the others. Wahl takes the expression per attractionem pro: ἀνελ. εἰς δόξαν καὶ ἐστὶν ἐν δόξῃ, which is the only right exposition.(149) The apostle did not write εἰς δόξαν, but ἐν δόξῃ, to show that Christ not only entered into glory, but abides for ever in it (so, too, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee). Still we cannot go so far as Matthies, who says that the result rather than the act of the transition is here mentioned; the expression with forcible brevity includes both points. De Wette’s assertion, too, is quite arbitrary, that Paul is speaking here not of the historical ascension, but of a heavenly occurrence.

In what relation now do these six clauses stand towards each other?

We cannot help seeing that there is a definite order in their succession. It is beyond doubt chronological, since the second clause does not relate to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and the last points more to Christ’s life in glory than to the historical ascension. But, at the same time, we can recognise a close relation between the clauses. Matthies, de Wette, Wiesinger, and Hofmann have adopted three groups, each containing two clauses; but, though ἀγγέλοις and ἔθνεσιν are contrasted, still this arrangement would separate between the fourth and fifth clauses, whose connection Theodoret rightly points out: οὐκ ἐκηρύχθη μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπιστεύθη. Besides, in order to make the correspondence complete, ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν should have come before ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις. It is more correct, therefore, to divide the whole into two parts, each with three clauses, the two first in each case referring to what took place on earth, the third to what took place in heaven (so, too, Plitt(150)).

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-timothy-3.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology