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One Timothy Three

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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1 Timothy 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

bishop. The office of “bishop” (Greek episkope) apparently refers to the same office as that of elder or pastor or overseer. The same word is translated “overseers” in Acts 20:28, in Paul's address to the Ephesian “elders” (Acts 20:17). Similarly Peter, addressing the “elders” (Greek presbuteros), signifying older men, or at least older in the faith in the churches to whom he was writing, urged them to “feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; ... being ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-3). The elders thus are shepherds (which is the same word as pastors) to the flock, consisting of the constituents of their local church. By whatever name they were called, each church evidently had one or more “bishops” or “pastors” to teach God's Word to the people and to oversee the ministry and testimony of the church as a whole. Pastors (Greek poimen—same word as for shepherds) seem to have been those elders who were particularly responsible for teaching the Word to the congregation, feeding the flock with food from the Scriptures. Note “pastors and teachers” in Ephesians 4:11. Also note 1 Timothy 5:17, speaking both of “elders that rule well” and “especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.

1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

one wife. Both bishops and deacons (1 Timothy 3:12) must be monogamous and permanent in their marriages, in accord with God's primeval command, as reinforced by Christ (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:3-8).

apt to teach. It is vital that a bishop (same office as pastor) have the gift of teaching God's Word. This is not mentioned as a requirement for deacons.

1 Timothy 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

1 Timothy 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

1 Timothy 3:5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)

1 Timothy 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Not a novice. See 1 Timothy 5:22. A bishop must be an “elder”—that is, a man older and more mature in Christian faith and life.

condemnation of the devil. Pride is thus identified as the worst sin of all, as it was the very sin which caused Lucifer to fall and become Satan, the Devil (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-18). Pride, of course, is essentially identical with the arrogance of rejecting God's Word.

1 Timothy 3:7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

snare of the devil. There are five times in the New Testament when believers are warned about a “snare.” In addition to this verse, see also: Luke 21:35; Romans 11:9; 1 Timothy 6:9; 2 Timothy 2:26.

1 Timothy 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

1 Timothy 3:9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

1 Timothy 3:10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

first be proved. Deacons, as well as bishops, should not be new Christians. There may be a temptation to give an office to a new convert immediately if he happens to be wealthy or influential, but this is a dangerous mistake.

deacon. Both the pastorate and the diaconate are “offices,” to which qualified men are to be carefully selected and ordained. The Greek for “deacon” is diakonos, also translated “servant” and “minister.” A related word, diakonia, is frequently translated “service” or “ministrations.” Thus a deacon is one who performs necessary services other than the responsibilities of the pastors for the church. The seven appointed in the church at Jerusalem to handle “the daily ministration” (Acts 6:1) and the “business” (Acts 6:3) were apparently the first deacons. Note that they also were to be “of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.”

1 Timothy 3:11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

wives. It is interesting that no requirements are specified for the wives of bishops, just for those of deacons, even though it was certainly as important for the one as for the other. Possibly this was because various services for the church were needed by godly women, as well as men, and it would be natural and appropriate for them to be wives of the deacons; thus they could serve together when so needed. They may have been considered “deaconesses,” even though this is not said to have been a specific office. In Romans 16:1, “Phebe, our sister” is called “a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea,” and the Greek word is diakonos, the same word as translated “deacons” in 1 Timothy 3:12. She could, just as properly, be called a deaconess of the church, and had even been entrusted with carrying Paul's epistle to the church at Rome. Note especially Romans 16:2.

1 Timothy 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

1 Timothy 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 3:14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:

1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

church of the living God. Although the context around this verse is stressing the officers and activities of the local church, the greater meaning here concerns the church, consisting of all true Christians of every nation and time as a whole. That church is “the house of God” (compare Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:1-5), the “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23), and “God's building” (1 Corinthians 3:9-11). It is, therefore, here called “the pillar and ground of the truth.” These principles were to be applied by Timothy in the local church at Ephesus where Paul had sent him for the time being, but also everywhere he would go later.

1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

mystery. The “mystery” may be difficult for the ungodly world to comprehend, but it has been revealed to all who receive Christ (compare Ephesians 1:9; 3:3, 9; 5:32).

manifest in the flesh. Before “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14), “no man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18). The Father and the Spirit are still omnipresent and therefore invisible, but the Son has finally become Son of man as well as Son of God, and will henceforth and forever be in His glorified human body.

seen of angels. Evidently God was for the very first time “seen of angels” when they saw Him as a babe in the manger at Bethlehem (Luke 2:9-13). Before, He had been invisible to them as well as to man, “dwelling in the light which no [one] can approach unto” (1 Timothy 6:16): In this verse, “man” is not in the original. No one may see God in His essential glory, even though He has occasionally assumed human form in “theophanies.”

Gentiles. “Gentiles” is the same as “nations.”