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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
1 Timothy 3



Verses 1-7

(b) III. 1 Timothy 3:1-13.

Church Officials. 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The Bishops.—Not only public worship, but also the appointment of officials, must be regulated. He who exercises oversight—a good work, as is generally admitted—must possess moral qualifications which place him beyond reproach. He must be (a) of disciplined life: e.g. he must not marry a second time, or indulge in the drunken riots prevalent around him (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 11:21); (b) hospitable, since Christians, especially teachers, frequently travelled from church to church; (c) successful in giving instruction—a function usually assigned at this period to particular "teachers"; (d) untempted by money, thus reproving a dangerous error (cf. 65); (e) a proved ruler; (f) not too recent a convert, lest he suffer condemnation for pride, as did the devil; and, finally, (g) of honourable reputation among his heathen neighbours. (The writer is not enumerating the bishop's functions, but insisting that the man elected shall be of the right moral quality.) Cf. p. 646.

vv. 1 Timothy 3:1. Faithful, etc.: 1 Timothy 1:15*.—bishop: not in the sense of a "monarchical," much less in that of a modern "diocesan," bishop. The translation "bishop," indeed, is misleading. In NT the word indicates one who exercises oversight, and the alternative title "elder" (possibly a different function within the same office, cf. Titus 1:5-7) is applied to the same person.

1 Timothy 3:2. Cf. Titus 1:6 ff.—husband, etc.: sometimes wrongly interpreted as alluding to polygamy or adultery, or as forbidding celibacy.

Verses 8-13

1 Timothy 3:8-13. Deacons and Deaconesses.—Certain moral qualities, likewise, are required in deacons. They must be serious, sincere in speech, free from love of wine and (since they administer church funds) from love of money, holding with a pure conscience the truth revealed in the faith. They, too, must be appointed only when, tested by their general conduct in the community, they are found without accusation. (Deaconesses must satisfy similar requirements.) The domestic conditions demanded for bishops apply to deacons also. These varied qualifications are needful because fidelity in their office wins them, among their fellows, both a position of honour and boldness in their faith.

1 Timothy 3:9. mystery: i.e. truth which man could not find for himself, but which, once hidden, is now made known through revelation.

1 Timothy 3:10. blameless: i.e. free from actual charge; "without reproach" (1 Timothy 3:2) denotes freedom from any rightful ground for accusation.

1 Timothy 3:11. women: i.e. deaconesses (cf. Phœbe, Romans 16:1), not "their wives" (AV). 1 Timothy 3:11 breaks the connexion between 1 Timothy 3:10 and 1 Timothy 3:12 so abruptly that it either may have been displaced or may represent a marginal gloss (Köhler).

1 Timothy 3:12. husbands, etc.: 1 Timothy 3:2*.

1 Timothy 3:13. standing: less probable interpretations than that adopted above are "a step in ecclesiastical promotion" and "status before God."

Verses 14-16

(c) 1 Timothy 3:14-16. The Aim of the Instructions.—The purpose of such directions, written lest Paul's visit be delayed, is to teach men proper behaviour in God's household (cf. Hebrews 3:6), the Church, by which the truth is upheld and protected against error. And how great is that revealed truth with which our religion is entrusted! It is nothing less than Christ Himself (John 14:6, Colossians 1:27), who was manifested in the Incarnation and vindicated by His Resurrection (Romans 1:4), who was made known to angels and men; and whose work received its consummation both on earth and in the heavens.

1 Timothy 3:15. men: better than the Western reading "thou" (AV).

1 Timothy 3:16. mystery: cf. 1 Timothy 3:9*.—He who: the famous reading "God" (AV) is unquestionably mistaken. These rhythmical sentences are probably part of an early Christian hymn (or creed); cf. 1 Corinthians 15:42, 2 Timothy 2:12. Ramsay, however, views them as examples of Paul's "lyrical expression . . . in moments of emotional and mystic enthusiasm" (Exp. VIII, iii. 359).—manifested: pre-existence is implied.—angels: by the Incarnation their knowledge of the Son's Person was intensified (cf. 1 Peter 1:12).


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.

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