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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
1 Timothy 3

 

 

Verse 1

1 Timothy 3:1. πιστὸς λόγος, this is a faithful saying) This preface is used, because it does not seem so to the world.— ὀρέγεταιἐπιθυμεῖ) There is here great propriety in the words: ὀρέγω, to stretch out, thence ὀρέγομαι, to ask eagerly with outstretched hand, to grasp: ἐπιθυμία of the mind, seeking τὸ καλὸν, a good thing, produces ὄρεξιν; again ὄρεξις indicates ἐπιθυμίαν: ὀρέγεσθαι, φεύγειν, are opposed to each other: see Arist. 1, Rhet. 10, n. 12. In human affairs, those things are more agreeable, which a man confers or performs of his own accord, than when he is asked: how much more in the affairs of religion? 1 Corinthians 16:15, at the end. But away with sacrilegious solicitation of favour and interest. There were not wanting persons who wished to obtain it, James 3:1. Paul does not altogether reject their desire, but he reduces it to order.— καλοῦ) an honourable good, excellent, demanding noble virtues. To this is to be referred the then or therefore ( οὖν) in the following verse.— ἔργου, work) It is a work, a business, not ease; Acts 15:38; Philippians 2:30.


Verse 2

1 Timothy 3:2. δεῖ, must) Paul shows what Timothy ought to look to in the appointment of bishops, 1 Timothy 3:15; wherefore he so in particular describes the virtues as they meet the eye.— οὖν, therefore) A good office must be entrusted to good men.— τὸν ἐπίσκοπον, the bishop) Deacons are directly opposed to bishops, 1 Timothy 3:8; therefore the presbyter is included in the bishop; Acts 20:28, note.— ἀνεπίληπτον, blameless) without crime, bad report, and just suspicion; comp. Titus 1:6.— εἶναι, be) not only during the time of discharging his duty, but at the time when he is being appointed: 1 Timothy 3:10. The order of the virtues, which follow, should be attended to.— μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα, the husband of one wife) So 1 Timothy 3:12, ch. 1 Timothy 5:9; Titus 1:6. This element of the blameless man’s character is put in the first place. It is the ancient nature of marriage, that one man should have one woman. The husband (man) of one wife (woman) is therefore a simple periphrasis of husband; ch. 1 Timothy 5:9, note. The opinion as to successive polygamy(20) being forbidden here to bishops, seems formerly to have been drawn from “the Canons of the Apostles;”(21) since the 17th Canon runs thus: “Whosoever after baptism enters into a second marriage(22) or keeps a concubine, he is disqualified from being a bishop.” Some have understood it, as if second marriages were forbidden, and certainly the old translation gives this meaning:(23)If any one after baptism is joined in wedlock for the second time, etc.; whence the unfavourable interpretation of the Canon was easily transferred to Paul. But of what importance is it, whether a man has for his help one woman during twenty years, for example, or two after a term of widowhood? But why does Paul, rather taking for granted than requiring that the bishop should have one wife, not add ἄγαμον, or be unmarried? Unmarried persons were then rare, nor does he exclude the latter from the sacred office, but yet he assumes that the father of a family was somewhat better fitted for the discharge of these duties: and that, of two candidates, if they be equal in other respects, he who has a wife and virtuous family, is to be preferred to a bachelor, who has less testimony from actual practice (experience), 1 Timothy 3:4-5; for he who is himself bound to discharge the domestic duties, which are here so frequently mentioned, is likely to be more attractive to those who are in like manner attached by ties to the world, and is of advantage to the community by a more popular example: 1 Timothy 3:4. It is to be added to this, that indiscriminate celibacy has rendered many open to blame. The Jews also teach, that a priest should be neither unmarried nor childless, lest he should be unmerciful.— νηφάλιον) vigilant in mind; so 1 Timothy 3:11 [ νηφαλίους, which Engl. Vers. renders sober]; Titus 2:2; for νήφω is to watch. See on Chrys. de Sacerd., p. 428. This is opposed to slumbering and sloth, which are sins in defect. νήφω, when it is used alone, denotes both watchfulness and sobriety, and by Metonymy the one is put for the other (comp. 1 Thessalonians 5:8, Let us be sober, νήφωμεν); but when γρηγορέω and νήφω are joined (as at 1 Thessalonians 5:6), the latter verb has the strict signification, to be sober, and is opposed to μεθύσκεσθαι, to be drunk. σώφρονα) of sound mind [‘sober’,] under self-control. It is opposed to vehemence (impetuosity) of mind, which sins in excess. The derivatives, σωφρονῶ, σωφροσύνη, κ. τ. λ., have a consonant signification. Comp. Titus 1:7-8, where πάροινος (which in Greek implies a bold and rash man, such as drunkards usually are) and σώφρων are opposed to each other.— κόσ΄ιον, decorous, orderly [of good behaviour]) What the σώφρων is within, the κόσ΄ιος is without. Hesychius defines κοσ΄ίους as ἀνεπιλήπτους; Plato, κόσ΄ιοι καὶ εὔκολοι, men moderate and good-natured. The new man bears somewhat of a sacred-festival character, and is at variance with every species of pollution, confusion, disorder, excess, violence, laxity, assumption, harshness, depravity, mutilation, meanness; he sparingly and in private obeys the necessity of nature, and of the material food, which is put in motion by ingestion, digestion, and egestion, and keeps all the traces of the corruptible body concealed; Philippians 4:8.— φιλόξενον, hospitable) to strangers, especially to the needy and exiles, whom many treat with disdain.— διδακτικὸν, apt to teach) See 2 Timothy 2:24, note.


Verse 3

1 Timothy 3:3. ΄ὴ πάροινον, not given to wine) ἀλλʼ ἐπιεικῆ, but patient, lenient, reasonable, is to be referred to this expression. For παροινία here, as everywhere else, not only signifies drunkenness, comp. 1 Timothy 3:8; Titus 2:3, but also the violent and unreasonable conduct towards others, proceeding from it.— μὴ πλήκτην, no striker) with the tongue or the hand. For there is nothing to prevent this word from being taken in its proper sense, 2 Corinthians 11:20, note.(24) Refer to it ἀλλʼ ἄμαχον, but no brawler, not using the fists; comp. 2 Timothy 2:24.


Verse 4

1 Timothy 3:4. τοῦ ἰδίου οἴκου, his own house) Many men, for instance, are mild abroad, but are the less disposed to restrain their passion at home, which they direct against their wives, etc.— καλῶς προιστάμενον, one who ruleth well) To this ἀφιλαργυρία chiefly refers.— μετὰ πάσης σεμνότητος, with all gravity [propriety]) so that there may be no luxury [ ἀσωτία, riotous living]: Titus 1:6.


Verse 5

1 Timothy 3:5. οὐκ οἶδε, if a man does not know) Paul intimates that the man who rightly rules his own house will have well-behaved children.— πῶς, how) It requires higher qualifications to rule the Church, than a family.


Verse 6

1 Timothy 3:6. ΄ὴ νεόφυτον) not a man recently converted from heathenism. Such persons might be more easily and more safely set over others who have also been newly converted, Acts 14:23, than over old and experienced Christians, who were numerous, and among whom the number of candidates was greater. It is a metaphor taken from plants; John 15:2, note, [Romans 6:5; Romans 6:11; Romans 6:17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7.] The young plants generally exhibit a luxuriant verdure; the newly converted man has not yet been macerated by the cross.(25) The antithesis is an aged disciple, Acts 21:16 [Mnason of Cyprus, ἀρχαίῳ μαθητῇ].— τυφωθεὶς, lifted up with pride) The same word occurs, ch. 1 Timothy 6:4, note; 2 Timothy 3:4.— τύφω is καίω, to burn: τῦφος, a smoking heat without flame: whence they are said τυφοῦσθαι, whom wine, as well as those whom a high opinion of their knowledge and pride [haughtiness], render no longer masters of themselves, and affect with giddiness [puffed up, having the head turned with conceit]: see Isaiah 28:7, Lutheran version.— εἰς κρίμα, into condemnation) i.e. into the same condemnation into which the devil fell, being lifted up, at the very beginning of his most blessed (brilliant) state, like a novice; comp. Job 38:15 [the high arm shall be broken], concerning the proud ( ὑπερηφάνων, LXX.). “He seems to have been raised and exalted more than the other angels, to the government of many angels, though he was younger than many of them; and this very circumstance became the occasion of pride to him.”—Artem. ad init. Joh. præf., p. 23. The words of Paul do not bear out the whole of this statement. The condemnation here is taken passively; and yet ὀνειδισμὸς, reproach, in the following verse, is active; for condemnation corresponds to the internal condition of the soul: reproach is opposed to “a good report from those that are without;” and the devil may bring a reproach upon men, he cannot bring them into condemnation; for he does not judge, but is judged.


Verse 7

1 Timothy 3:7. καὶ μαρτυρίαν, also a good report) Not even former life should be open to any reproach. Mere report is not sufficient; but there ought to be a good report along with the practice of the virtues, nay, a good testimony. Paul wishes that the character of Christians should be in high esteem; comp. ch. 1 Timothy 5:14, note.— ἀπὸ τῶν ἔξωθεν, from those that are without) that they may be more easily gained over, and the glory of God be promoted.— ὀνειδισμὸν, reproach) Comp. ch. 1 Timothy 5:14. The devil may occasion the greatest trouble to the minister who is subjected to bad reports, by himself (the devil), and by means of the calumnies of men.— καὶ παγίδα, and a snare) Comp. Matthew 22:15.


Verse 8

1 Timothy 3:8. διακόνους), the deacons) Supply it behoves to be.— μὴ διλόγους, not double-tongued) saying some things to some men, and other things to others. The deacons might take occasion to commit such sins, in performing the duties of their office. The deacons should not be double-tongued, nor the deaconesses calumniators, 1 Timothy 3:11 [slanderers]: it seems the deacons visited more houses than the deaconesses.— μὴ οἴνῳ, not to wine) The danger of drunkenness threatens those who in the way of duty visit many houses.


Verse 9

1 Timothy 3:9. τῆς πίστεως, of the faith) The deacons were often speaking of the Christian faith, as opportunity offered, in the discharge of their duty; and even though they should not speak, still they were bound to attend to the duties of their office, and go to the church with a holy mind, and with the desire to show a good example.


Verse 10

1 Timothy 3:10. καὶ οὗτοι δὲ, and these also) The bishop was bound to have more and greater virtues (qualifications) conspicuous, and he was of greater dignity; wherefore in his case no further scrutiny (‘proving’) is required; but the deacons were bound to give proof of what they were, in performing the duties of the deaconship, before that they be fully admitted into the office.


Verse 11

1 Timothy 3:11. γυναῖκας, wives) This depends on ἔχοντας, having, 1 Timothy 3:9. ὡσαύτως, in like manner) This refers to 1 Timothy 3:8.— μὴ διαβόλους, not slanderers) especially among those that are without.— πιστὰς, faithful) This refers to 1 Timothy 3:9.


Verse 13

1 Timothy 3:13. βαθμὸν) a degree, from the humble deaconship to the higher offices in the church. He who is faithful in an inferior degree, is promoted to a higher station.— ἑαυτοῖς, to themselves) They do not merely promote the interests of others.— πολλὴν παῤῥησίαν) great boldness with regard to God and man, from being well exercised.— ἐν πίστει, in the faith) that they may perceive that they are made most richly partakers of His faith and benefits.


Verse 14

1 Timothy 3:14. ταῦτα, these things) The whole epistle.— ἐλπίζων, hoping) Paul, however, did not put off necessary admonitions.— ἐλθεῖν, to come) ch. 1 Timothy 4:13.


Verse 15

1 Timothy 3:15. ἐὰν δὲ βραδύνω, but if I tarry long) Comp. ch. 1 Timothy 4:13, at the beginning.— ἵνα, that) The scope of the epistle.— πῶς δεῖ, how it is becoming) comp. ch. 1 Timothy 4:11.— ἐν οἴκῳ θωοῦ, in the house of God) God is δεσπότης, the Master, 2 Timothy 2:12.— ἥτις, which) It indicates the universal Church, not universally, but so far as a part of it was then at Ephesus, committed to Timothy.— ἐκκλησία θεοῦ, the Church of God) the community of those who are the Lord’s; 2 Timothy 2:19.— ζῶντος, of the living) The Church of the living God is opposed to the temple of Diana of the Ephesians. The life of God, the foundation of our hope (‘trust’), ch. 1 Timothy 4:10, and the fountain of truth, in this passage. The epithet is not added, in the first instance, to the same name (God;—the living God)—it is afterwards added for the sake of Epitasis (see Append.), as in 2 Corinthians 6:16.— στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα, κ. τ. λ.) Jac. Cappellus, in his Observations on this passage, says, That this was the original reading of this place, was the opinion of the distinguished men, my beloved colleagues, Andrew Melvin, John Cameron, John Fabricius; and not without good reason. Respecting the same reading or the pointing of the words, I have made some slight observations in the Apparatus, p. 709, 710 [Ed. ii. p. 399, sq.], which I would wish to be carefully noticed; but I have reserved further remarks for the Gnomon here. At 1 Timothy 3:14-15, the apostle evidently concludes the former paragraph, which began at 1 Timothy 3:1, and was brought down to this point, and he now commences a new paragraph, which is continued in ch. 1 Timothy 4:1 in so close connection, that the old interpreters, according to R. Stephanus and others, reckoned a seventh chapter of this epistle from 1 Timothy 3:16, inclusive, to ch. 1 Timothy 4:7. The almost universal opinion of interpreters in the present day, among Protestants, fixes the commencement of the period at the word στύλος. I have quoted a great number of them in the Apparatus; G. G. Zeltnerus and J. C. Herzogius are added. Certainly this clause, στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας, is not at all advantageously connected with the preceding words, although Lightfoot says that the great Sanhedrim was everywhere dignified with this title; but this same clause is much more inconveniently separated from what follows. For the particle καὶ, καὶ ὁμολογουμένως, is unsuitable at the beginning of a new paragraph. Suppose ὁμολογουμένως to have been written without καὶ, then indeed one might acknowledge it to be a suitable commencement of the new division; comp. 1 Timothy 3:1 and ch. 1 Timothy 4:9, in which passages, for very much the same reason, the sentence is begun thus, πιστὸς λόγος, without καὶ. Now, when καὶ is in the way (occurs), the words between which it is placed are connected by it; στύλος καὶ ἐδραίωμα τὴς ἀληθείας καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα, κ. τ. λ. The Rabbinical phrases, which are not dissimilar, are usually brought forward, in which the strength and gravity of the subject which comes to be discussed are declared; but the phraseology of the apostle should be considered in the first place. For in this epistle, which is intended to confirm and rouse Timothy, the form of a preface is frequent, by which Paul commends some topic about to be presently discussed by him, as true and good, solid and salutary, and to be laid hold of by all the force of the understanding and the will [the desires]: πιστὸς λόγος καὶ πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος, κ. τ. λ., ch. 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Timothy 4:9; 1 Timothy 4:6, where πίστεως [1 Timothy 4:6] agrees with πιστὸς [1 Timothy 3:9], καλῆς [1 Timothy 3:6], with ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος [1 Timothy 3:9]. He expresses that formula, consisting of two members, in this by far the most magnificent passage, through the medium of loftier words, which are to be met with in the writings of the Hebrews; for example, R. Levi of Barcelona gives this reason, why so many memorial signs of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage are appointed in the fifteen precepts bearing upon the Passover, because that is the great foundation and strong pillar of the law, as well as of the Jewish religion. And Maimonides says, This is the foundation of the foundation, and the pillar of wisdom, that we may know, etc. Therefore Paul says: στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας, καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶ τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον: i.e. This mystery of godliness is the pillar and groundwork of the truth (equivalent to πιστὸν), and is something confessedly great (equivalent to ἀποδεκτὸν). Let us examine the words one by one. These two terms, στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα, are equivalent to one word, expressing something very solid, by which is denoted the mystery, exceedingly high (whence στύλος, from στάω) and exceedingly deep (whence ἑδραίωμα, from ἕζω), Iren. I. 3, c. 11. The Gospel is the pillar and ground of the Church. In Hebrew, אמת, truth, and נאמן, πιστὸν, faithful, are conjugates. In like manner, ὁμολογία (whence ὁμολογουμένως) and ἀποδοχὴ, each referring to the heart and the lips, are equivalent; comp. 2 Timothy 2:19; Hebrews 3:1; John 20:28. Hence also πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιον and ὁμολογουμένως μέγα are equivalent; μέγα is not an epithet which is to be construed with ἑδραίωμα, or with μυστήριον, but is put absolutely, μέγα, a great thing, as in 1 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 11:15; in the same way as ἀγαπητὸς, our beloved, Philemon 1:1, is used absolutely. The mystery is a thing great in itself; a thing to be with the greatest earnestness confessed, and embraced with all the force of confession; is a thing, the magnitude of which, in regard to the great salvation, all the sons of truth experimentally know and confess. Paul did not mention τὸ ἀποδεκτὸν without τὸ πιστὸν in this passage, but he praised both; just as τὸ πιστὸν καὶ τὸ καλὸν are commended together. The mystery of godliness is the subject; the remaining words are the predicate. And godliness is joined with truth, as in Titus 1:1. The Gentiles also had their mysteries, but they were distinguished by ungodliness and error. Departure from the faith, lying, and fables, are opposed to the truth (1 Timothy 3:16), a thing which is most especially to be noticed, ch. 1 Timothy 4:1 (the particle δὲ being interposed in 1 Timothy 3:1): in 1 Timothy 3:1-2; 1 Timothy 3:7, the hypocrisy of those who speak lies, and have their consciences seared, is opposed to confession [ ὁμολογουμένως, confessedly, 1 Timothy 3:16], in 1 Timothy 3:2 : the dotage of old women [1 Timothy 3:7, γραώδεις μύθους, old wives’ fables] to that which is great [ μέγα, 1 Timothy 3:16], and profanity to godliness [1 Timothy 3:16], 1 Timothy 3:7 [ch. 1 Timothy 6:3]. Finally, there is a remarkable Oxymoron [see Append.]: ὁμολογουμένως and μυστήριον, confession and yet mystery. This doctrine of godliness is celebrated in the whole Church, but in the Church alone. Now, reader, read again the text, if you are at leisure, from 1 Timothy 3:14 to 1 Timothy 4:7-8; and consider the subject with an unbiassed and religious judgment.


Verse 16

1 Timothy 3:16. θεὸς, God) He had called Him Man, ch. 1 Timothy 2:5. He now compensates for what might there seem to have been derogatory to Him, calling Him here God.(26) (See however Apparat., p. 710, s.) [Ed. II., p. 400, seqq.]; for even the greatness of the mystery depends especially (even most of all) on the greatness of the subject, God. Paul, writing to Timothy and Titus, whose faith was greatly advanced, calls the Father Saviour, and in turn the Son God; and he subjoins three pairs of predicates, in which the whole economy of Christ, from His departure to His return or assumption, is summarily comprehended. The sum of these predicates, viz. He was taken up in (to) glory, is ascribed to the same Subject, God, in Psalms 47:5-6; and this one place compensates for the ambiguity in the reading of Paul, if any such there be, in this passage.— ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκὶ, was manifested in the flesh) The same verb occurs, 1 John 1:2; the same noun, John 1:14. This manifestation applies to the whole economy of Christ, who was at one time conspicuous (visible) to the eyes of mortal men.— ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι, was justified in the spirit) Christ, while He was manifest in the flesh, walked among sinners and men subject to death. He was thought to be just such a one as any of themselves, and in reality bore their sins; but afterwards, by His death which He endured in the flesh, He abolished sin, that had been laid upon Him, and claimed for Himself and His people eternal righteousness, with the entire approbation of the Father, withdrawing from the sight of men, and entering into the spiritual and glorious state, which was suitable to His righteousness, by His resurrection and ascension. See respecting the notion of flesh and spirit, Romans 1:3-4; 1 Peter 3:18, note.(27) He was in this sense justified in the spirit. At the most precious and actual moment of His death, He ceased to be mortal, and to be burdened with the sin of the world. Comp. on the righteousness and justification of Christ, Matthew 3:15; Luke 7:35; John 19:30; John 16:10; Acts 22:14; Romans 6:10; Romans 6:7; Hebrews 9:28; Isaiah 1:8; 1 John 2:1. And He Himself, going in spirit to the spirits in prison, preached that righteousness, and from that time powerfully put it forth into exercise (operation): comp. Romans 4:25. This clause accords with the passage of Peter already quoted; as the expression, He was preached among the Gentiles, with 1 Peter 4:6.— ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις) He was seen, chiefly after the resurrection, by angels, good or even bad; of whom the former were at the same time made acquainted with His dispensation [the plan of redemption by Him], the latter were struck with terror, Ephesians 3:10; in which passage the mention of angels, properly so called, is in consonance with this summary of Paul here.— ἐκηρύχθη, was preached) This elegantly follows. The angels enjoyed the most immediate admission to Christ (“the Lord of angels”); the Gentiles, in their admission, were the furthest removed (in the greatest degree (“afar off,” Ephesians 2:17). And the foundations of this preaching, and of the faith existing in the world, were laid before Christ was taken up (“received up”) into heaven; John 17:18. The preachers and first believers were as it were the seed of the rest.— ἐπιστεύθη) He was believed on.— ἐν κόσμῳ) in the world, i.e. the whole world. [A circumstance calculated to fill us with astonishment.—V. g.] The world, or globe, is opposed to heaven, into which He, being God, was taken up. He fills all things.— ἀνελήφθη ἐν δὁξῃ) was taken up in glory [“received up into glory,” Engl. Vers.]) Supply, And He is now in glory, and comes in glory. The first thing is, manifest in the flesh; the last, He was received up in glory. These things even, especially refer to the greatness of the mystery. Even this single expression, He was taken, or received up, confutes what Artemonius has on this passage, Pref. p. 27.

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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-timothy-3.html. 1897.

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Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
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