I Timothy 3


1 “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he

desireth a good work.”   Desire.  (ὀρέγεταιoregetaiseeks; craves);

literally, stretches out his hands after. It is peculiar in the New Testament to

the pastoral Epistles and the Epistle to the Hebrews, though common in

classical Greek (see ch.6:10; Hebrews 11:16). The noun

ὀρεξιςorexis - appetite, desire (which is found several times in  go to vines

the Septuagint), is used once by Paul (Romans 1:27). The office of a

bishop; meaning here, as everywhere else in Scripture, that of a presbyter,

or priest. Ἐπισκοπή - episkopae - in the sense of “the episcopate,” occurs

only here and Acts 1:20, where it is rendered “bishopric” in the Authorized

Version and “overseer-ship” in the margin of the Revised Version, being the

translation in the Septuagint of Psalm 108. (109., Authorized Version) of the

Hebrew פְקֻדָתו, “his office.” Elsewhere (Luke 19:44; I Peter. 2:12; 5:6) it means

visitation.” But ἐπίσκοποςepiskopos -  bishop (v. 2) — except in I Peter. 2:25,

where it is applied to Christ — always means the overseer of the particular flock, —

the presbyter (Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:7); and ἐπισκοπεῖν - episkopein

the functions of such ἐπίσκοπος (I Peter 5:2 compared with 1). It was not till the

sub-apostolic age that the name of ἐπίσκοπος was confined to the chief overseer

who had “priests and deacons” under him, as Timothy and Titus had. Possibly

this application of the word arose from the visits of the apostles, and afterwards of

men sent by the apostles, as Timothy and Titus, Tychicus and Artemas, were,

to visit the Churches, being occasional and temporary only, as those of Visitors.

For such occasional visitation is implied in the verb ἐπισκέπτεσθαι

episkeptesthaivisited - (Matthew 25:36, 43; Luke 1:68, 78; Acts 7:23; 15:36;

James 1:27). Afterwards, when the wants of the Churches required permanent

oversight, the name ἐπίσκοπος became universal for the chief overseer

of the Church. A good work (καλοῦ ἔργουkalou ergougood work –

καλοῦ means “honorable,” “becoming,” “beneficial,” and the like.




                        The Christian Pastorate a Good Work (v. 1)


The apostle, having in the previous chapter regulated the worship of the

congregation and placed it in the hands of men, not women, now proceeds

to describe the qualifications of the pastors of congregations, as if to imply

that the pastorate did not belong to all men.


·         THE OFFICE OF PASTOR IS A GOOD WORK. “Faithful is the

saying, If any one seeketh the office of pastor [or, ‘bishop’], he desireth a

good work.”


Ø      The office in question was held by persons called by the two names of

bishop and elder.


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


  • The terms came from two different quarters. The term “elder,” or

presbyter,” was of Jewish origin, and was earlier than the other,

having been long in use in the synagogue administration. It had

respect primarily to the age of those presiding over the religious

community, but came by-and-by, and especially in the Christian

Church, to signify its head, and was a title of dignity and gravity.

The other term, “bishop,” came from the Greek world, and was a

 designation of the duties of the office as involving

an oversight of the Churches.


o        The term “bishop” is, therefore, mostly employed of the Churches in

Asia Minor, consisting of converted Greeks, but the Jewish term

elder had precedence of it at that earlier stage when the Church

consisted of a nucleus of converted Jews. In Crete, where the Greek

and Jewish elements were about equally powerful, both terms are



Ø      The office in question is a good work. This was one of the faithful

sayings of the apostle. It was:


o        a work, not a sinecure (a position requiring little or no work but

      giving the holder status or financial benefit), or title of honor,

      but a laborious office, and therefore pastors are called “laborers

      in the Word and doctrine;” (ch. 5:17)


o        a good work, being excellent in itself, and in its aims as for:


§         the good of men and

§         the glory of God.



desireth a good work.” It may be laudably desired, not as an office of profit

or honor, but with a supreme regard to the glory of God and the welfare of

man, and ought not to be undertaken except by those who have a real

delight and pleasure in acting upon these great principles.


2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant,

sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;”

Blameless (ἀνεπίληπτοςanethilaeptos – blameless; without reproach);

only here and ch.5:7 and 6:14 in the New Testament; not found anywhere in the

Septuagint, but used by Thucydides, Euripides, and others, in the sense of “not

open to attack.” The metaphor is said (though denied by others)to be from

wrestling or boxing, when a man leaves no part of his body exposed to the attack

of his adversary. The husband of one wife (compare Titus 1:6). Three senses are

possible.  The passage may be understood


  • as requiring a bishop, (or presbyter) to have a wife, and so some took

it even in Chrysostom’s time (though he does not so understand it), and so

the Russian Church understands it;

  • as prohibiting his having more than one with at a time;
  • as prohibiting second marriages for priests and bishops.


Bishop Wordsworth, Bishop Ellicott, and Dean Alford, among English commentators,

all agree in thinking that (3) is the apostle's meaning. In spite of such consensus, it

appears in the highest degree improbable that Paul should have laid down such a

condition for the priesthood. There is nothing in his writings when treating expressly

of second marriages (Romans 7:2-3; I Corinthians 7:8, 39) to suggest the notion of

there being anything disreputable in a second marriage, and it would obviously cast

a great slur upon second marriages if it were laid down as a principle that no one

who had married twice was fit to be an ἐπίσκοπος (bishop). But if we consider the

general laxity in regard to marriage, and the facility of divorce, which prevailed

among Jews and Romans at this time, it must have been a common thing for a

man to have more than one woman living who had been his wife. And this, as

a distinct breach of the primeval law (Genesis 2:24) would properly be a bar to

any one being called to the "office of a bishop." The same case is supposed in

I Corinthians 7:10-13. But it is utterly unsupported by any single passage in

Scripture that a second marriage should disqualify a man for the

sacred ministry. As regards the opinion of the early Church, it was not at all uniform,

and amongst those who held that this passage absolutely prohibits second marriages

in the case of an episcopus, it was merely a part of the asceticism of the day. (v. 3)

As a matter of course, such writers as Origen and Tertullian held it. The very early

opinion that Joseph, the husband of Mary, had children by a former wife, which

finds place in the Protevangelium of James (9.), is hardly consistent with the theory

of the disreputableness of second marriages. In like manner, the phrase in ch. 5:9,

is best explained in accordance with the apostle's doctrine about the lawfulness of

a woman's second marriage, as meaning that she was the husband of one man only,

 as long as her husband lived. (For the chief patristic opinions on the subject, see

Bishop Wordsworth's note, and Bingham's 'Christian Antiquities,' bk. 4. 1 Timothy 5.)

Vigilant.   (νηφάλιονnaephaliontemperate; sober); peculiar to the pastoral Epistles

(see v. 11 and Titus 2:2), but found in classical Greek. The verb νήφειν - naephein

 means “to be sober” (I Thessalonians 5:6; II Timothy 4:5; I Peter. 1:13; 4:7; 5:8).

It denotes that temperate use of meat and drink which keeps the mind watchful and

on the alert, and then the state of mind itself so produced.  The opposite state of

mind is described in Luke 21:34.  Sober.  σώφροναsophrona - sober-minded;

sane; of a sound mind); in the New Testament only here and in Titus 1:8; 2:2, 5.

But σωφρονέωsophroneo be of sound mind – is found in the Gospels and Epistles; 

σωφρονίζω –– sophronizoto make of sound mind; teach -  σωφρονισμός

sophronismos – discipline; self-control; sound mind -  σωφρόνως,sophronos

soberly; moderately – in the pastoral Epistles; and σωφροσύνη - sophrosunae

soberness; sobriety -   in ch.2:15 (where see note). Of good behavior.  (κόσμιον

 kosmionorderly; decorus; of good behavior -  see ch.2:9, note). Given to

hospitality (φιλόξενον - philaxenon hospitiableas Titus 1:8 and

I Peter 4:9). The substantive φιλοξενία philoxenia – given to hospitality –

is found in Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2. Apt to teach (διδακτικόν - didaktikon

apt to teach) ; only here and II Timothy 2:24.   The classical word is διδασκαλικός

didaskalikosdoctor; master; teacher - though chiefly applied to things. In the

above-quoted passage in I Peter 4:7,  the gifts of speaking and ministering

are, as here, placed alongside that of hospitality.




The Positive Qualifications of the Christian Pastor (v. 2)


The apostle first sets forth those qualifications which respect the personal

life of the pastor, and afterwards those which affect his family life. His

personal qualifications are those of a spiritual and moral order presented



  • HE OUGHT TO BE BLAMELESS. It may be hard for a faithful man

to avoid the censure of a critical society, but he must be irreproachable as

being guilty of no scandal, and, above all, free from the vices enumerated

under the negative aspect of his qualifications. He must be held in high

moral repute by the community around him.




Ø      This condemns the rule of celibacy in the Church of Rome. It is

quite absurd to say that the “one wife’ is the Church; for the

context regards the minister as having relation both to a Church

and to a wife (v. 5). Besides, this Roman idea would make the

Church the wife of many husbands.  Where the apostle, in the

seventh chapter of I Corinthians, seems to favor a celibate

condition “on account of the present distress” (I Corinthians

7:26), it is not on account of any superior holiness belonging

to the unmarried state, but because it sometimes affords a better

opportunity for pursuing Christian work under trying conditions.


Ø      It does not necessarily compel pastors to marry, like the Greek

Church, which yet inconsistently reserves its bishoprics for

unmarried monks. But it clearly gives the preference to a married



Ø      It does not mean that a pastor is to avoid a second marriage

as the Greek Fathers generally understood it under the growing

influence of Eastern asceticism — because a remarrying does

not make a pastor more than the husband of one wife.


Ø      It seems, then, to mean that the pastor was to be “the husband

of one wife,” avoiding the polygamy that was then so common

among the Jews, and the system of divorce still so common in

that age, and remaining faithful to the wife of his choice.


  • SOBER. He must be not only so in eating and drinking, but watchful

over himself, his work, and his actions.


  • DISCREET. With a sound judgment and good understanding, capable

of directing himself wisely in the midst of difficult situations.


  • ORDERLY. With a due proportion in his life, modest in deportment,

courteous to all, of a calm temper and grave demeanor.


  • GIVEN TO HOSPITALITY. In an age when Christians traveled from

place to place, and were exposed to the risks of evil companionship in

public inns, it was important that pastors should be able to show

hospitality, and assist with their counsel as well as with the necessaries

of life.


  • APT TO TEACH. The pastor must have the capacity to impart

Christian knowledge, the ability to interpret Scripture, to explain its

doctrines, to enforce its precepts, and to defend it against errorists of

every class. He must possess the gifts of utterance and knowledge.

He must have both “skill and will, ability and dexterity, being

neither ignorant of his duty nor negligent in the performance of it.”


3 “Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient,

not a brawler, not covetous;”  Not given to wine - (μὴ αἰσξρερδη - mae paroinon

not given to wine; no brawler ); only here and Titus 1:7; but, as well as παροίνιος,

paroinios -  common in classical Greek, in the sense of “quarrelsome over wine.” In

Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34 “wine-bibber” is οἰνοπότης  oinopotaes.   In

I Peter 4:3 the word for “excess of wine” is οἰνοφλυγίαoinophlugia

drunkenness. No striker.  (μὴ τλήκτην - mae tlaektaen) - only here and Titus 1:7.

It is used, though rarely, in classical Greek for a “striker,” “brawler.” There is but

weak manuscript authority for the reading in the Textus Receptus., μὴ

αἰσχροκερδῆ -  mae aischrokerdae -  not given to filthy lucre, which is

thought to have been derived from Titus 1:7 (q.v.). The internal evidence, however,

is in its favor, as something is wanted to correspond to ἀφιλάργυρον -  aphilarguron

not covetous -  just as πάροινον – given to wine-  and πλήκτην -  striker

correspond to ἐπιεικῆ - epieikaepatient  and ἄμαχον - amachon  - brawler –

respectively.  Patient (ἐπιεικῆ); as Titus 3:2. So also it is rendered in the Authorized

Version of James 3:17; I Peter 2:18. It is very common in classical Greek, in the sense

of “fair,” meet,” “suitable,” of things; and of “fair,” “kind,” “gentle,” of persons.

The substantive ἐπιεικεία - epieikeiapatient means “clemency,”gentleness,”

(Acts 24:4; II Corinthians 10:1). Not a brawler - (ἄμαχονamachon - contentious);

only here and Titus 3:3 in the New Testament.  Its more common meaning in classical

Greek is “invincible.”  Not covetous -  (ἀφιλάργυρον - aphilarguronno lover of

money); only here and Hebrews 13:5.  Ἁφιλαργυρία aphilarguria – not covetous –

 occurs in Hippocrates. The positive φιλάργυροςphilarguros – money loving;

φιλαργυρίαphilarguria – love of money - occurs in ch.6:10; II Timothy 3:2;

Luke 16:14. Neither the Authorized nor Revised Versions quite preserve the form of

the original sentence, where the three negative qualities (μὴ πάροινον μὴ πλήκτην

μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, - Not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.) are followed

by three positive qualities (ἐπιοικῆ, ἄμαχον, ἀφιλάργυρον — “gentle,” “peaceful,”

and “indifferent about money”).



The Negative Qualifications of the Christian Pastor (v. 3)


  • NOT VIOLENT OVER WINE. In allusion not so much to drunkenness

as to the noisy and quarrelsome temper which is generated by wine

bibbing. The word impliedly condemns both cause and effect.


  • NO STRIKER. In evident allusion to the previous temper. The pastor

must never lift his hand in anger or violence.


  • FORBEARING. Reasonable and gentle, rather disposed to take

wrong than avenge it.


  • NOT CONTENTIOUS. Neither litigious nor quarrelsome, seeking

peace with all men.


  • NO LOVER OF MONEY. He must appear to be perfectly

disinterested, not mercenary in his aims, not seeking his own things

rather than the things of Jesus Christ; but, on the contrary, he must

himself be generous and hospitable and kind, with a heart and a

hand ever ready to relieve distress.


4 “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with

all gravity;” One that ruleth well his own house. The ἐπίσκοπος - episkotos -

is one who has to preside over and rule (προίστασθαιproistasthai –one ruling;

presiding ) the house of God (ch.5:17; Romans 12:8; I Thessalonians 5:12),

as the high priest was called “ruler of the house of God” (I Chronicles 9:11;

Nehemiah 11:11). So in Justin Martyr the bishop is called προεστῶς τῶν ἀδελφῶν

– ho proestos ton adelphon (‘Apology,’ 11) and simply προεστῶς, and similarly in

Hebrews 13:7 the clergy are οἱ ἡγούμενοι ὑμῶν, – hoi haegoumenoi humon

they which have the rule over you.” How needful, then, is it that he should rule

well his own house, and have his own children in subjection! The testimony given

in this passage to a married clergy is too clear to need any comment. In subjection

(ἐν ὑποταγῇ - en hupotagae); as above, ch.2:11, where see note.

For the sense, compare Titus 1:6, which leads us to apply the words,

with all gravity (σεμνότητοςsemnotaetos), the contrary to “riot,”

ἀσωτίαasotia), to the children. The children of the ἐπίσκοπος are to exhibit

that seriousness and sobriety of conduct which is in accordance with their

father’s office, μετά - meta - together with, as in ch.1:14.


5  (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care

of the church of God?) 



The Christian Pastor in His Home Life (vs. 4-5)


The apostle here turns to the family life of the pastor as an important

element affecting the public examination of his character.



“One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection

with all gravity.”


Ø      The pastor is no ascetic recluse, but shares in the everyday life

 of the world.  Jesus prayed “I pray not that thou shouldest

take them out of the world, but that thou shuldest keep

them from the evil.”  (John 17:15)


Ø      He must have firmness and authority to rule his family

wife, children, and servants; not slack in his rule like old Eli

(I Samuel 3:12-14), but faithful as Abraham, who not only

taught but commanded his children and household to keep

the way of the Lord.  (Genesis 18:19)


Ø      He is to rule gently yet firmly, so as, while securing

subjection in his household, he creates that gravity of

deportment which is the accompanying grace of obedience

in children reared under wise and loving mastery.



FOR THE RULE OF THE HOUSE OF GOD. “For if a man know not

how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?”


Ø      The argument is from the less to the greater. The family is the lesser

sphere, the Church the larger family. The family needs much prudence,

care, forethought, affection. But while it is the narrowest sphere, it is

governed with peculiar advantages, arising from the feelings of love

and dependence on the part of the children. If there is failure here,

there is a self-evident unfitness for the wider and more complex

administration of the Church.  (It is much easier to lead your

children into Sodom than out of it) 


Ø      The Church of God is to be a subject of anxious care to the pastor.

The Greek word ἐπιμελήσεται - epimelaesetaihe shall be

caring for - implies this thought. The apostle himself had the

care of all the Churches upon him. But the pastor has a care for

Zthe individual members of his flock:


o       to seek the conversion of sinners,

o       to instruct the ignorant,

o       to guide the perplexed,

o       to comfort the doubting,

o       to check the wayward, and

to defend the flock against errorists.


“Who is sufficient for these things?” (II Corinthians 2:16)


6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall  into the condemnation

of the devil.” A novice (νεόφυτον - neophuton); only here in the New Testament,

but found repeatedly in the Septuagint in its literal sense of “a tree” or “plantation”

newly planted (Psalm 127:3 (128:3, A.V.); 144:12; Isaiah 5:7). Here the novice or

neophyte is one recently converted and received into the Church (compare

I Corinthians 3:6; Isaiah 61:3). As such he is not yet fit to be a ruler and a

teacher of the brethren. The reason follows. Lest being lifted up with pride

he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Τυφωθεις Tuphotheis  -

 puffed up, is peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles  (ch.6:4;

II Timothy 3:4), from τυφόςtuphos - smoke (compare λίνον τυφόμενον

linon tuphomenon - “smoking flax,” Matthew 12:10). The idea seems to be

“lightness,” “emptiness,” and “elation.” Some add that of “obscuration” as

by smoke; τυφόωtuphoo -  to wrap in smoke; τετύφωμαιtetuphomai -

to be wrapped in clouds of conceit and folly. The condemnation of the devil.

A somewhat obscure phrase. It means either:


·         the same condemnation as that into which the devil fell through pride,


·         the condemnation or accusation of the devil. In the latter case κρῖμα

krima - sentence; verdict; condemnation - would be used in the same

sense as κρίσιςkrisis – judgment; accusation; condemnation –

in Jude 1:9, and would mean the charge preferred against him by

“the accuser of the brethren” (compare Job 1:9; 2:4-5). One of the

senses of κρίνωkrino – condemn -  is “to accuse” — like κατηγορεῖν

kataegorein – speak against; accuse.  And this view agrees with

ὀνειδισμὸν καὶ παγίδα τοῦ διαβόλου oneidismon kai pagida tou

 diabolou – reproach and snare of the devil in v. 7, which means, not the

trap into which the devil fell, but the trap laid by the devil. It remains

doubtful which is the true sense, but this last paragraph seems, on the whole,

the most probable. The devil (τοῦ διαβόλου) can only mean Satan

(Matthew 4:1; 13:39), though possibly conceived of as speaking by the

mouth of traducers and vilifiers of the Church, as in v. 7.




The Pastor Must not be a Novice (v. 6)  Not a novice.”



Apostle does not refer to youth, but to inexperience. Yet the qualification

must be regarded relatively; for a longer or a shorter probation might be

required, according to circumstances. The Church at Ephesus had been

long enough established to admit of a selection being made out of men

of Christian experience and wisdom. It is significant to remark that no

definite age is assigned for candidates for the ministry. In a Church like

that of Ephesus, threatened with heresy within and violence without, it

was necessary that the elders should be men with a rare understanding

of the mysteries of the faith, and with a large fund of sanctified experience.



“Lest, being lifted up with pride, he should fall into the condemnation of

the devil.”


Ø      The risk of the novice is an undue self-elation, arising from the

thought of the dignity of his office and of the estimation in which

he is held on account of his gifts. His judgment would thus

become clouded, and he would fail to see the true relation of things.


Ø      The consequence would be his falling under the very

condemnation pronounced upon the devil. Thus a blinding pride

would receive its just retribution.


Ø      It is evident that the apostle believed in the existence of a personal

evil spirit, the adversary of God and man. It is equally evident that

he regarded the fall of the devil as due to pride, and that he regarded

him as the tempter of man.


7 “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without;

lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”  Good report.

(μαρτυρίαν καλήν - marturian kalaen – good report; good testimony; 

see ch.5:10). So it is said of Timothy himself that ἐμαρτυρεῖτοemartureito

“he was well reported of by the brethren” (Acts 16:2). In accordance with

this rule, letters of testimonial are required of all persons to be ordained, to the

importance of character in a clergyman (compare II Corinthians 6:3). Them that

 are without (τῶν ἔξωθεν - ton exothenthe ones outside); used in Matthew

23:27; Luke 11:39; I Peter 3:3; Revelation 11:2, etc., of that; which is outside

or external literally, as the outside of the cup, the outer ornament of the body, the

outside of the sepulcher, the outer court of the temple. It is synonymous

with the more common form, ἔξωexo – outward; without.  (For the phrase,

“they that are without” (οἱ ἔξω – hoi exo), as applied to those who are not

members of the Church, see Mark 4:11; John 9:34-35; I Corinthians 5:12-13;

Colossians 4:5; I Thessalonians 4:12.) The opposite is ἔσω ἔσωθεν eso esothen

within; inward (1 Corinthians 5:12; Matthew 23:25, etc.). So exoteric

and esoteric, of doctrines intended respectively for the outside world or the

inner circle of disciples. (For the following paragraph, refer back to v. 6 – CY –

2013).  Reproach (ὀνειδισμόνoneidismon - reproach) the reproaches and revilings

cast upon him by unbelievers (Romans 15:3; Hebrews 10:33; 11:26; 13:13).

The verb ὀνειδιζόμεθαoneidizomethawe are being reproached - has the same

sense (I Timothy 4:10; Matthew 5:11; Mark 15:32; Luke 6:22;  I Peter. 4:14), and

so in classical Greek. This reproach is further described as the snare of the devil

(compare ch.6:9; II Timothy 2:26), because it is through these revilings that the

devil seeks to impair the power of his ministry and frighten him from the exercise

of it. The genitive τοῦ διαβόλου tou diabolou - the devil; depends only upon πασίδα

pasidasnare; not upon ὀνειδισμόν (reproach). The καὶ - kaiand;  does not

indicate that there are two separate things into which he falls, but adds, as a

description of the ὀνειδισμός; that it is “a snare of the devil.” The idea in I Peter.

5:8 is analogous. There it is by afflictions that the devil seeks to devour the disciple

who is weak in faith. Those afflictions might well be described as παγίδα τοῦ

διαβόλου,” a snare of the devil,” SET FOR WEAK SOULS!




   The Pastor Must Have an Honest Preparation before the World (v. 7)


He must stand well both without and within the Church.



“But he must also have a good testimony from them that are without.”


Ø      It is a mistake to ignore or defy the opinion of the world in

Matters falling fairly within its judgment. What we do

ought not only to be “acceptable to God, but approved of men”

(Romans 14:18). “Let not your good be evil spoken of” (Ibid.

v.16). The world understands the principles of natural justice.

The minister cannot violate these without loss of reputation

and influence.


Ø      A blameless life is calculated to make a deep impression

on the world.  Let your light so shine before men, that they,

seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is

in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Your holy walk ought to attract

“those that are without” into the happy communion of the



Ø      It is a great evil to blast the reputation if Christian ministers,

 for it undermines their influence for good.



WORLD. “Lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” It

Would be a great risk to introduce into the ministry one who had once

followed a loose life, because those who were familiar with his history

would be ready to suspect the purity of his congregation from the

blemished reputation of its pastor. The effect in the minister might be



Ø      He might be excited to an angry resentment of such

disagreeable attacks.


Ø      He might fall into despair, and thus become reckless,

and ultimately justify  the worst imputations of the world.


Ø      He might cease to reprove transgressors because he had

not the courage to condemn faults which were only too

observable in himself. Thus the devil would set its snares

around him for his undoing. When George III.was asked to

give a bishopric to a clergyman who had made a serious lapse

from virtue, and was told that the clergyman had long ago

repented of it, his appropriate answer was, “I would rather

appoint bishops who had not that particular sin to repent of.”


8 “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given

to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;” Grave (σεμνούς - semnous ); in

Philippians 4:8 rendered “honest” in the Authorized Version, and “honorable”

in the Revised Version, and “venerable” in the margin. None of the words are

satisfactory, but “honest” in the sense of “respectable,” “becoming the dignity

of a man,” comes nearest to the meaning of σεμνός.  Ἄνηρ σεμνός anaer

 semnos is a man who inspires respect by his conduct and deportment. It occurs

again in v. 11 and in Titus 2:2.  Double-tongued (διλόγουςdilogous); only

here in the New Testament, or indeed anywhere. The verb διλογεῖνdilogein

and the noun διλογία are found in Xenophon and Diodorus Siculus, but in a

different sense — “to repeat,” “repetition.” Here δίλογος dilogossaying

the same thing twice -  is used in the sense of δίγλωσσοςdiglossos - a slanderer;

a false-tongued man (Proverbs 11:13 - who thinks one thing and says another

(Reminds me of the media and many politicians today – CY – 2013)  (I am sorry

to say it is much worse today – “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and

worse, deceiving and being deceived.” -  June 7, 2019 – CY), and says different

things to different people. The caution here given is of incalculable importance to

 young curates. They must not allow themselves to be either receptacles or

vehicles of scandal and detraction.  Their speech to rich and poor alike must

be perfectly sincere and ingenuous. Not given to much wine. The effect of the

best sermon may be undone, and more than undone, if the preacher sinks into the

pot-companion of his hearers. He at once ceases to be σεμνός, to inspire

respect (compare Titus 2:3 where the additional idea, most true, of the

slavery of drunkards, is introduced). Greedy of filthy lucre

(αἰσχροκερδεῖςaischrokerdeis); only here and in v. 3 and Titus 1:7. The

adverb αἰσχροκερδῶςaischrokerdos – avariciously; for vile gain -

occurs in I Peter. 5:2, and is one of many points of resemblance between the

pastoral Epistles and I Peter. Balaam, Gehazi, and Judas Iscariot are the

three prominent examples of professed servants of God being lovers of

 filthy lucre. Achan (Joshua 7:21) is another (see ch.6:10). When lucre is

the price for doing wrong, it is “filthy.” When lucre is sought on occasions

where none is due, it is “filthy;” and when the desire of even just gains is



9 “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”

 Μυστήριον - mustaerion - a mystery, is that which, having been long hidden,

is at length disclosed, either to men generally or to elect disciples. It is derived

from μυέω - mueo - to initiate, of which the passive μυέομαιmueomai

 to be instructed or initiated, is found in Philippians 4:12, and is common in

classical Greek, being itself derived from μύωmuo - “to close the lips as

 in pronouncing the syllable μῦ ~ mu – the Greek letter, whence also

mutus. The idea is of something secret, which might not be spoken of. In the

New Testament we have “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven”

(Matthew 13:11; Luke 8:10; Mark 4:11); and Paul brings out the full force

of the word when he speaks (Romans 16:25) of “the mystery which was

 kept secret (σεσιγημένουsesigaemenou – kept secret; having been

hushed) since the world began... but is now made  known to all nations

 for the obedience of faith” (see too Ephesians 3:3-6; Colossians 2:26-27).

“The faith” is equivalent to “the gospel,” or “the kingdom of heaven,” or

the “godliness” of v. 16 (where see note); and “the mystery of the faith”

might be paraphrased by “the revealed truth of Christianity”. What is added,

“in a pure conscience,” teaches us that orthodoxy without personal holiness

is little worth. Holding “the truth in unrighteousness” is severely condemned

by Paul (Romans 1:18). He says of himself (Acts 23:1), “I have lived in all good

conscience before God until this day” (compare Acts 24:16; II Corinthians 1:12;

ch.1:5, 19). It is much to be observed how Paul, the great teacher of

the doctrine of grace, lays constant stress upon the functions of the

conscience, and the necessity of having a pure conscience.




The Qualifications of Deacons (vs. 8-9)


The apostle next proceeds to direct Timothy respecting the character and

appointment of another class of office-bearers.




Ø      Their origin. We find the first trace of the order about two years

after the Ascension (Acts 6:1-4). It owed its origin to a necessity

that arose from the extension of the Church. Seven deacons were

appointed as almoners. They are not so called, but their name is

traceable in the two terms which indicate the sphere of their office,

“ministry” (διακονία - diakoniaministry; service; dispensation)

and serving tables (διακονεῖν τραπέζαις - diakonein trapezais

serve tables). 


Ø      Their sphere of duty. It is expressly distinguished from the

ministry of the Word” and “prayer” (Ibid. v. 4), and was therefore,

as the “serving of tables” signifies, an office for the care of the

poor and strangers who might be connected with the Church.

The deaconship was, therefore, a purely secular office.


Ø      Historic notices of deacons. The earliest notices of the order are

apparently in Romans 12:7, “Or ministry (deaconship), let us

 wait on our ministering” (deaconship); in I Corinthians 12:28

 (ἀντιλήψεις - antilaepseis -  helps; supports); and at a later time

in I Peter 4:11, “If any man minister” (διακονεῖ ~ - diakonei

minister; serve; dispense). We read in Philippians 1:1 of “the bishops

and deacons,” and in Romans 16:1 of Phoebe as “a deaconess” of the

Church at Cenchrea.




Ø      “Grave.” Of a serious demeanor, befitting the position of

responsibility held by them.


Ø      “Not double-tongued.” Not saying one thing to one person

and another to another, under the pressure, perhaps, of

applications for assistance; or, not promising aid which is

afterwards withheld. Misunderstandings would

necessarily arise from any kind of prevarication.


Ø      “Not addicted to much wine.” The deacons must not be given to

pleasures of the table, which render people unfit for disagreeable

duty, and tempt to the consumption of the wealth committed to

their keeping.


Ø      “Not lovers of base gain.” There might otherwise arise a

Judas among the deacons to embezzle the Church funds.


Ø      “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”


o       The mystery is what faith is conversant with — a thing

once secret, but now revealed by Christ’s gospel; called

variously “the mystery of God,” “the mystery of Christ,”

“the mystery of His will,” “the mystery of godliness,” and

“the mystery of the gospel,” which is the great subject of

gospel-preaching. It was the mystery of redemption



o       The mystery of faith was not to be speculatively, but

practically, held and maintained. “In a pure conscience.”

The deacons were to be sincerely attached to the truth,

and to realize its practical power in their life and



o       They are to “hold the mystery,” not to preach it. There is

no intimation that the deacons, as such, were preachers,

though two of them (Stephen and Philip) are afterwards

found acting as evangelists.  (Acts 7 and 8).


  • THE METHOD OF THEIR APPOINTMENT. “And these also let

them first be proved; then let them serve as deacons, if they are without



Ø      The election of the seven deacons was left in the hands of the

Christian people themselves. (Acts 6:3.)


Ø      There is no formal method prescribed for testing their

 qualifications.  Their fitness could be easily judged of without

any regular investigation.  The moral element, however, was

to be supreme in such appointments; for they were not chosen

unless they were “without blame.”


Ø      Their formal appointment to service. Let them serve in the

various branches of their office as deacons.


10 “And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a

deacon, being found blameless.” And let these also, etc. There is an ambiguity

in the English here. It is not “these also” — these in addition to others, i.e. the

bishops before named — but “these be also first proved.” Their general

character, as described in vs. 8-9, must not be taken upon loose hearsay,

but must be put to the test by examination, by special testimony, by

inquiry, and then, if they are ἀνέγκλητοι - anegklaetoi – unimpeachable;

not accused, not open to just blame, blameless, let them be admitted to serve

as deacons (see v. 13, note). The Church of England scrupulously acts up to

these directions by requiring written testimonials, by personal inquiries made by

the bishop, by the Si quis, by the appeal to the congregation in the Ordination

Service, Brethren, if there be any of you who knoweth any impediment, or

notable crime, in any of these persons presented to be ordained deacons, for

the which he ought not to be admitted to that office, let him come forth in

the name of God, and show what the crime or impediment is;” as well as by

the careful examination of the candidates. Blameless  - ἀνέγκλητος - anegklaetos

 (compare Titus 1:6-7); rendered in the Vulgate nullum crimen habentes (which

seems to explain the “notable crime” of the Ordination Service), and in

Colossians 1:22 unreprovable both in the Authorized and Revised Versions.

The whole passage, from v. 2 to v. 13, shows the supreme importance of a

holy and blameless conversation (manner of life) in the Christian clergy.


11 “Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in

all things.”  Wives.  Γυναῖκας gunaikaswives; women.  What is meant

by these women? Certainly not women in  general, which would be quite out of

harmony with the context. The choice lies between:


  • the wives of the deacons, as in the Authorized Version.;
  • the wives of the bishops and deacons;
  • deaconesses. (The word (διάκονοι - diakonon) is found in Romans 16:1

(Authorized Version "servant") associated with a female name, and this

has led to the conclusion that there existed in the apostolic age, as there

undoubtedly did a little later, an order of women bearing that title, and

exercising in relation to their own sex functions which were analogous to

those of the deacons. On this hypothesis it has been inferred that the

women mentioned in (Romans 16:6, 12) belonged to such an order.

The rules given as to the conduct of women in (ch.3:11; Titus 2:3)

have in like manner been referred to them, and they have been

identified even with the "widows" of (ch. 5:3-10)  (Smith’s

Bible Dictionary)


This last interpretation above, on the whole, is the most probable. The male deacons

had just been spoken of, and so the apostle goes on to speak of the female deacons

(διάκονοι - diakonon -  Romans 16:1). He conceives of the deacon’s office as

consisting of two branches:


·         the deacons,

·         the deaconesses;


and gives appropriate directions for each. It must he remembered that the

office of the early deacon was in a great measure secular, so that there is

nothing strange in that of the deaconess being coupled with it. The return

in v. 12 to the male deacon is in favor of understanding “the women” of

the deaconesses, as showing that the subject of the diaconate was not done

with. Chrysostom (who says, “He is speaking of those who hold the rank

of deaconesses”) and all the ancient commentators, and De Wette,

Wiesinger, Wordsworth, Alford, and Ellicott among the moderns, so

understand it. Grave (σεμνὰς); see v. 8, note). Not slanderers

(μὴ διαβόλουςmae diabolous) corresponding to the μὴ διλόγους

of v. 8). This use of of διάβολοςdiabolos -  slanderer -which is the classical

one, is peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles (see II Timothy 3:3;

Titus 2:3).  Sober (νηφαλίουςnaephalious) see v. 2, note). It corresponds

here to the μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας mae oino pollo prosechontas

not greedy of filthy lucre - v.. 8.  Faithful in all things (πιστὰς ἐν πᾶδιν -  

pistas en padin) This seems to refer specially to their being the almoners of the

Church charities, and so favors the explanation of “women” as meaning deaconesses.

πιστὸς - pistosfaithful – means especially “trusty” (Matthew 24:45; 25:21;

Luke 12:42; 16:10).




The Qualifications of Deaconesses (v. 11)


“Women in like manner must be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all

things.” The allusion is evidently not to the wives of deacons, but to

deaconesses. Why should the duties of deacons’ wives be set forth when

there is no allusion to the duties of ministers’ wives? The omission of all

mention of domestic duties in this case is significant.


·         THE ORDER OF DEACONESSES. There was evidently such an order

in the primitive Church. Phoebe of Cenchrea (Romans 16:1), Euodias

and Syntyche (Philippians 4:2), and probably the association with

which Dorcas was connected at Joppa (Acts 9:36-41), seem to have

belonged to the order. The order did not cease to exist till the fifth century

in the Latin Church, and till the twelfth in the Greek Church. It had its

origin, probably, in the extreme jealousy which guarded the relations of the

sexes in early times, for women were comparatively secluded from the

society of men. Deaconesses were, therefore, appointed to maintain the

religious relationships of Christian women with a Church whose

ministrations were in the hands of men.




Ø      “Grave.” Not given to levity or loose manners, but sober in speech,

gesture, and dress.


Ø      “Not slanderers.” Not too ready to take up an accusation against the

poor, or too ready to use the tongue in the way of false insinuation.


Ø      “Sober.” Not to be given to pleasures of the table, but showing a

seemly abstemiousness.


Ø      “Faithful in all things.” Faithful in all ecclesiastical duties.


o       Faithful to the poor, whose secrets are to be jealously kept;

o       faithful to the Church, which entrusts its funds to their wise

and discriminating distribution; and

o       faithful to God in all religious obligations whatsoever.


12 “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children

and their own houses well.”  Husbands of one wife (see above, v. 2, note).

Ruling - (προιδτάμενοιproistamenoi - being at the head of, presiding

 over) (see v. 4, note). In Romans 12:8 and I Thessalonians 5:12 it is applied to

the spiritual ruler, the ἐπίσκοπος episkoposbishop; overseer; or

πρεσβυτερος –-  presbuteroselder - of the Church.  Elsewhere only in

the pastoral Epistles (above, vs. 4 and 5; ch. 5:17; Titus 3:8, 14).

Their own houses (above, v. 5). “Their own” is in contrast to “Gods house.”


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.”   Used the office of a deacon well - (διακονήσαντες

 diakonaesantesserved… as deacons);  as in v. 10.  In this technical sense

only found in these two passages; which well agrees with the late date of this Epistle,

when the technical sense of διάκονος was established.  Purchase to

themselves a good degree - Gain to themselves a good standing. The sense

of the passage depends a good deal upon the exact meaning of βαθμόςbathmos

rank; degree; stage; step in a career.  In I Samuel 5:4-5, in the Septuagint, βαθμός

is the rendering of  מִפְתָּן (rendered αἴθριον - aithrion – threshold - in Ezekiel 9:3;

10:4), a somewhat unusual word for a “threshold.” In II Kings 20:9-11, it is the

rendering of מַעֲלָה “a degree on the sun-dial.” This latter seems to suit better

the verb περιποιοῦνταιperipoiountaiare procuring; purchasing;

they gain or acquire, which suggests the idea of advancement. It does not follow

that Paul had in his mind their advancement from the “inferior office” to “the higher

ministries in the Church” (Ordination Service); he may merely have meant to say

that the discharge of the duties of a deacon in an efficient and exemplary manner

raised a man to high estimation in the Church, and so gave him confidence

in confessing the faith of Jesus Christ both by word and deed. Gain to

themselves (περιποιοῦνται); acquire by purchase or otherwise. Frequent

in the Septuagint; but only elsewhere in the New Testament in Acts 20:28.

Boldness (παρρησίαν -  parraesian - very common in the New Testament

(compare Acts 4:13, 29, 31; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:20),

where it is especially applied to boldness in preaching the gospel of Christ.

This seems to imply that Paul contemplated preaching as a part of the

deacon’s work. We know that Philip the deacon and Stephen the deacon

were both preachers.




            Qualifications of Three Classes of Office-Bearers (vs. 1-13)


·         QUALIFICATIONS OF A BISHOP. Preliminary direction to Timothy.


Ø      “Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he

      desireth a good work.”  (v. 1)  The Scripture idea of the episcopate is

      that of oversight, viz. of souls. A bishop was one who had the duty of

      overseeing a congregation in spiritual matters, being, in respect of

      gravity and dignity, called presbyter or elder. Timothy was to encourage

      any who sought to enter into the episcopate. The saying in Christian

      circles was to be relied on, “If a man seeketh the office of a bishop,

      he desireth a good work.” It is not a sinecure, but a work or employment

      taxing the energies. Its excellence lies in its having respect to men’s

      highest interests. But if he was to encourage entrance into the episcopate,

      he was not to do so without regard to the proper qualifications which he

      has laid down for him.


Ø      The bishop therefore must be without reproach.” (v. 2)  This is a general

      qualification. A minister is not to be chosen without regard to character.

      If a man gives just ground for reproach — has not character behind his

      giftshe is not fitted for the office of a minister, which is to influence

      men in the production of Christian character.


Ø      “The husband of one wife.” (v. 2)  Some high authorities take

the meaning to be that the contraction of a second marriage, even after the

death of the first wife, was a disqualification for the office of a bishop. But

this forbidding to ecclesiastics of what in the New Testament is expressly

permitted to others, seems to belong to a post-apostolic asceticism. The

language seems to be directed against “any deviation from morality in

respect of marriage, whether by concubinage, polygamy, or improper

second marriages.”


Ø      “Temperate, sober-minded, orderly.” (v. 2)  One who is to be

chosen as a minister must be temperate, i.e. must have command of his

desires and his temper. He must also be sober-minded, i.e. must bring

sound sense to the consideration of all matters, He must also be orderly,

i.e. must have a love for good rules.


Ø      “Given to hospitality.” He must be raised above all meanness toward

      those whom he ought to entertain. How is he to commend the

      generosity of God, if he is stingy in his own dealings?


Ø      “Apt to teach.” (v. 2)  This is a special qualification. With all that is

righteous and sensible and even lovely in his character, he must have

skill in teaching — in opening the Word, and in bringing it to bear for

all its uses on the wants of men. However excellent a man’s character

is, he is not fit for being a minister if he cannot skillfully handle Divine



Ø      “No brawler, no striker; but gentle, not contentious.” (v. 3)  A

       disqualification is being quarrelsome over wine, and consequently

       coming to blows. He must, on the other hand, be gentle; i.e. while

      he is to be thoroughly reasonable, he is to be kindly and forbearing,

      waiving even his rights for the sake of gaining his end as a minister,

      viz. the spiritual good of those with whom he deals. It is a

     disqualification to be contentious, i.e. to be in one’s element, and to

        give way to unholy feelings, in fighting.


Ø      “No lover of money.” (v. 3)  It is a further disqualification to have

      a groveling desire for money, instead of having a feeling of

      responsibility with regard to its proper uses.


Ø      “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with

      all gravity.” This is in one view an ordinary qualification, inasmuch as it is

what is expected of every one who is in authority in a house. It is expected

even of a man who is not qualified to teach that he can rule well his own

house, i.e. lay down proper rules for his household, and see to their being

carried out. The apostle’s idea of ruling the house well, is the having the

children in subjection with all gravity. “In the phrase, ‘all gravity,’ he is

looking at a kind of obedience that touches the deepest notes of principle

and character. Contrary to this, there is an obedience without principle,

which is obedience with all levity; that which is paid to mere will and force;

that which is another name for fear; that which is bought by promises and

paid by indulgences; that which makes a time-server, or a coward, or a

lying pretender, as the case may be, and not a Christian. This latter — that

which makes a Christian — is the aim of all true government, and should

never be out of sight for an hour.” Parenthesis showing how a bishop

ought to be able to rule his own house well. “But if a man knoweth not

how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?”

(v. 5)  A bishop has to manage men. The Church of God is the family enlarged

and heightened. If one fails in the lower sphere, how, can he be expected to

succeed in the higher sphere? Even Confucius had before this time said, “It

is impossible that he who knows not how to govern and reform his own

family should rightly govern and reform a people.”


Not a novice, lest being puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” By

a novice we are to understand a recent convert to Christianity. Such a one being

necessarily inexperienced in the truth, and also in the evil of his own heart,

was unfitted for office. And the putting him into office was fitted to have a

bad effect upon him. The introducer of evil into the universe was in high

position, but gave way to a feeling of pride. How this feeling operated is

described by a word, which means enveloped with smoke, as if that were

the kind of atmosphere that pride throws around a person. In some matter

in which his rank was involved, under the clouding of pride, instead of

bending to the will of God, which would have been his approval, he

asserted his self-importance, which was his condemnation. So the novice,

instead of being weighed down under the responsibilities of office, is more

likely, under the clouding of pride occasioned by his elevation, to fall into

the condemnation of the devil. “Moreover he must have good testimony

from them that are without lest he fall into reproach; and the snare of the

devil.” He must be able to command the respect of non-Christians,

especially for his acting in a way consistent with his professions. For if he

falls so low as not to be respected by those, then this want of respect is

sure to be used as a snare by Satan for his destruction.


·         QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONS. “Deacons in like manner.”

Deacons, originally the almoners of the Church, came to be regarded as

assistants of the eiders, having the oversight of the temporal affairs as

these of the spiritual affairs of a congregation.


Ø      “Must be grave.” They must feel the responsibility of life, and

      especially the responsibility connected with their office.


Of the three disqualifications,


Ø      “Not double-tongued, the first has respect to a temptation

      connected with the desire for public favor

Ø      not given to much wine, the second has respect to a temptation

                        connected with the enjoyment of hospitality,

Ø      not greedy of filthy lucre.”, the third has respect to a temptation

                        connected with the use of office.


Those who serve God in the management of the temporal affairs of a

congregation must be free from:


o       obsequiousness (attentive to an excessive  or servile degree,

o       intemperate habits,

o       avarice (greed of gain)


Ø      “Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.”

Their duty to the truth, regarded as the object of faith which

was formerly concealed from men, was not to teach it, but to

enshrine it in a holy life, characterized by the power which

has to do with the production of it.


Ø      “And let these also first be proved; then let them serve as deacons,

      if they be blameless.” The deacons, no more than the bishops, were

to be put suddenly into office. Opportunity was to be given for

their being proved, and, if found to be blameless in the estimation

of those who had opportunity of watching their conduct, they were

to be appointed to service.


·         QUALIFICATIONS OF DEACONESSES. “Women in like manner.”

The apostle has not yet given all the qualifications of the deacons; we must,

therefore, think of these women as closely associated with the diaconate

(a body of deacons collectively).  We might think of the wives of the deacons,

but, as nothing has been said about the wives of bishops, and as by the insertion

of the phrase, “in like manner,” we are led to think of the election of women

to office, it is better to think of deaconesses. We have an example of a deaconess

in Phoebe of Cenchrea, mentioned in Romans 16:1. They were probably

assistants in the same way as the deacons, in so far as they had the care of

the sick and the destitute. “Must be grave, not slanderers, temperate,

faithful in all things.” It was fitting that those who were engaged in

such service should be women who were:


Ø      serious, or free from frivolity.

Ø      not to go about from house to house as bearers of evil reports.

Ø      to be temperate, or free from all unholy excitement. And were

Ø      to be faithful in all things, not abusing their charge.



husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own house well.”

(v. 12)  In these two particulars the apostle requires the same qualifications

of the deacons as of the bishops. “For they that have served well as deacons

gain to themselves a good standing, and great boldness in the faith which

is in Christ Jesus.”  (v. 13)  The old translation is preferable here —

purchase to themselves a good degree.” The idea is that they obtain for

themselves a step, or get higher up. In those days this might mean their

elevation to the episcopate. They also obtain Christian boldness, such

as was especially required in those days of peril. For getting up, and the

            encountering of greater difficulties, go together.



The Domestic Duty of Deacons (vs. 12-13)


The apostle here returns to add some further injunctions about deacons, as

well as to suggest a reason for exacting the qualifications already described.




Ø      “Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife.” The same

qualification is needed for deacons as for bishops, for their

houses were to be examples of purity, peace, and orderliness.


Ø      “Ruling their children and their own houses well.” The father

of a loving household would be best fitted for the sympathetic

administration of funds allocated to the poor, while the pious

order of his family would enhance the public confidence in the

reality of his religious character.



“For those who have done the work of a deacon well obtain for themselves

a good degree, and much boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.”


Ø      The good degree does not refer to promotion to higher

ecclesiastical office. The idea, indeed, would be quite an



Ø      It refers to the place of honor and distinction that will be

given to the faithful deacon in the day of final recompense.

The doctrine of rewards is that of Scripture, and especially

of our Lord’s parables (Matthew 25:45; Luke 19:11-27).


Ø      There is the further idea of the joyful confidence toward God

which would characterize him in view of a faithful discharge

of his duties a confidence springing out of faith resting in

Jesus Christ.


14 “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:”

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


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.”  To behave thyself (ἀναστρέφεσθαι - anastrephesthai

to be behaving -  variously rendered, both in the Authorized and Revised Versions,

to have one’s conversation,” “to live,” “to pass (one’s time),” “to be used”

(Hebrews 10:33). It is literally “to go up and down” a given place, “backwards

and forwards,” hence “to dwell in it.” The substantive ἀναστροφή  - anastrophae -

in the thirteen places where it occurs in the New Testament, is always rendered

“conversation” in the Authorized Version; in the Revised Version, “manner of life,”

“life,” “issue of life,” “manner of living,” behavior,” “living.” It is a favorite

word in the two Epistles of Peter, where it occurs eight times.  The house of God.

This phrase here denotes, as it is explained in the following words, the Church on

earth. So Hebrews 3:6, Christ as a Son over His house; whose house are we,”

where the reference is to Numbers 12:7, My servant Moses... is faithful in all

 mine house.” The Church of the living God. Here is again a

somewhat remarkable resemblance to the phraseology of the Epistle to the

Hebrews, “Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living

God.... to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn” (Hebrews

12:22-23). However, the phraseology is not peculiar to the Epistle to the

Hebrews. Thus we read in II Corinthians 6:16, Ye are the temple of

the living God.” The phrase, the living God,” occurs seven times in

Paul’s Epistles, and four times in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It occurs

three times in the Gospels, once in the Acts of the Apostles, and once in

the Revelation. Here it is used by Paul to enhance the obligation to a

holy and blameless walk in those who have the oversight of his Church.

The pillar and ground of the truth. Some apply these words to Timothy

himself, after the analogy of Galatians 2:9, where James, Cephas, and

John are said to be (στύλοιstuloi -  “”pillars), and Revelation 3:12, where

it is said of him that overcometh, “I will make him a pillar (στύλονstulon)

in the house of my God.” But the metaphors of “a pillar” and “a foundation”

do not all suit the verb ἀναστρέφεσθαι anastrephesthaito be behaving –

 and it is well argued that the absence of the pronoun se – se – thee; thou;

thy -  is unfavorable to the application of “the pillar and ground of

the truth” to the subject of the first clause. It is therefore better to

understand this clause as descriptive of the Church of God. The Church is

THE PILLAR OF TRUTH!   It supports it; holds it together — binds together

its different parts. And it is the ground of the truth. By it the truth is made

fast, firm, and fixed. The ground (ἑδραίωμαhedraioma - base). This word only

occurs here at all; ἑδραῖος,hedraios common both in the New Testament, the

Septuagint, and in classical Greek, means “fixed,” “firm,” or  “fast.” In the

Authorized Version of I Corinthians 7:37 and 15:58, “steadfast;” Colossians

1:23 (where it is coupled with τεθεμελιωμέναtethemeliomena  - “settled.”),

Thence ἑδραιόωhedraioo in late Greek,“to make firm or fast,” and

ἑδραίμαhedraima -   the “establishment” or “grounding” of the truth;

that in and by which the truth is placed on a sure and fixed basis.



                        The Importance of a Due Regulation of Church Order

                                                            (vs. 14-15)


The apostle expected to visit Ephesus shortly, but in case of his visit being

delayed by necessary causes, he deemed it right to give Timothy these

instructions in writing respecting the appointment of bishops and deacons,

and other details of Church order. “These things I write to thee, hoping to

come shortly; but if I should tarry, [I write them] that thou mayest know

how thou oughtest to conduct thyself in God’s house.”




Ø      Darbyites suppose that it is wrong for man to make arrangements in

Gods Church that it is the Holy Ghost who should regulate the order

of worship and service, and that His presidency should be recognized in

everything. In that case why should the apostle have been at such pains to

regulate even the ministrations of prophets and speakers with tongues at

Corinth? God is a God of peace, not of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33).


Ø      It was not enough for Timothy to stir up his own persona! gifts and do

the work of an evangelist, but he must execute the special commission he

had received from the apostle, to regulate the appointment of the office-

bearers of the Church, and the details of Church worship. The Church was

to be guided in choice of ministers by the considerations suggested by the



Ø      There was special reason for these instructions in the rise of heresies at

Ephesus and elsewhere.  (ch. 4:1-3.)



house, which indeed is the Church of the living God, the pillar and

basement of the truth.”


Ø      It is the Church of the living God.


o        It is so, regarded either as the Christian congregation with a local

reference, or as the whole Church of the redeemed, in communion

with Christ and with each of its members.


o        Its internal glory consists in the fact that it is no material temple of dead

deities, like the proud temple of Diana which reared itself aloft over the

roofs of Ephesus; but a spiritual community, realizing THE LIIVING



Ø      It is the house of God.


o        This term denoted primarily the temple at Jerusalem, and secondarily

the covenant people (Numbers 12:7; Hosea 8:1), who had God

for a Sanctuary or Dwelling-place (Psalm 90:1; Ezekiel 11:16).

There was a mutual indwelling:


§         they in Him, and

§         He in them.


o        It now denotes the Church of God, represented variously as:


§         a spiritual building resting on Christ as chief Corner-stone

            (Ephesians 2:20);

§         as the true temple in which God dwells (I Corinthians 6:16);

§         as the household or “house of God,” over which is Christ as

      Son (Hebrews 3:6) — “whose house are we.” Moses was

      servant in this house, Jesus a Son over it; it was, therefore,

      the same house in the two dispensations. A proof, in opposition

      to Darbyism, that the Church existed in Old Testament times,

      and did not first come into existence at Pentecost.


Ø      It is the pillar and basement of the truth.


o        Negatively, Christ, and not the Church, is the only ground of truth.

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is

Christ Jesus” (I Corinthians 3:11). This passage implies that the

Church rests upon the truth rather than that the truth rests on the

Church. But a misapprehension arises from confounding the truth

as it is in itself with the truth as apprehended by believers and

acknowledged before the world.  Further, the truth does not derive

its authority from the Church, but FROM CHRIST!


o        Positively, the passage sets forth:


§         the presentative manifestation of the truth; for “the Church

      is the pillar of the truth.” The Church is to hold up THE

      SAVING TRUTHS OF THE GOSPEL  before the eyes

      of men. It is a pillar inscribed all over with the truth.

Without the Church “there would be no witness, no guardian

of archives, no basis, nothing whereon acknowledged truth

would rest.” It is the Church which holds THE DEPOSIT

OF TRUTH  (from revelation – CY - 2019) and perpetuates

it from generation to generation.


§         The passage sets forth the stability of the truth. “The Church

      is the basis of truth.” The truth finds its true basis in the hearts

      of believing men, who hold forth the glories of redemption

      amidst all the fluctuations of the world. There is nothing in

      this exposition to sanction the assumptions of the Church of

      Rome, because she must first substantiate her claims to be a

teacher of the truth before she can be regarded as “a pillar

and ground of the truth.”



Behavior in Church (v. 15)


“That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house

of God.” “Behavior” seems a commonplace word enough, and we often

assign it a subordinate place in religion. It is, however, a word large as

“character.” It is a vocabulary in itself. It is not “do” havior, but “be”

havior! What I do may be accidental; what I am is everything. Paul has

been addressing pastors, deacons, women professing godliness, and wives.

He has dealt with marriage, and the ruling of children; and now he speaks

to the Church about the conduct of men in church.


·         WHAT IS BEHAVIOR? A man’s behavior reveals much of what he is.

Earnest or frivolous; gentle or hard; forgiving or unforgiving; selfish or

generous; pitiful or censorious; appreciative or unthankful BEHAVIOR

IS AN EVERY HOUR SERMON!   It corrects the notion that a man’s

religion is mainly in his doctrine or opinions, his ritual or ceremonial.

Manners are not to be put on like a garment, nor can we masquerade in

them and pretend to be what we are not.


Ø      Bending the knee is nothing, if we are not reverent at heart.

Ø      A gift is nothing, unless given from love.

Ø      Prayer is nothing, unless our life is a prayer.

Ø      Praise is nothing, unless our life be a garment of praise.

Ø      Manners are not etiquette, nor best dresses, nor courtesies

of speech; they are the expressions of a life.


In this aspect their potency is wonderful. In church we

are to behave well; not to give ourselves airs, as rich, or learned, or

superior people, but to remember that we are bought with a price.

(I  Corinthians 6:20)  But behavior is not much thought about. There

is an idea that some men are good at heart, though they are brusque,

if you knew how to approach them. This is nonsense. The flower does

not wait for me to unfold it; it does not say, “If you knew how to tempt

my kindness, I would give you fragrant incense.” It is a flower everywhere,

to everybody.


·         WHAT CHURCH MEANS.  “In the house of God, which is the Church

of the living God.” The idea of what the Church is, is to regulate what our

behavior is. The word “church” comes from the Greek words  Κύριος οἶκος -

Kurios oikos  - the Lord’s House.  These two words abbreviated make “church”

or “kirk.”



MUST BE REVERENCE. Reverence is at the root of all religion.

Flippancy of manner,  non-devoutness of heart, will destroy the best service.

We read the old command, “Ye shall reverence my sanctuary, saith the

Lord” (Leviticus 26:2); and wherever we meet together, even in the

humblest church, “THE LORD IS IN HIS HOLY TEMPLE (and we are

to “keep silence” or “be reverent” before Him.  (Habakkuk 2:20)


·         BEHAVIOUR MEANS LIFE. It is the Church, not merely of the God

of Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, but of THE LIVING GOD!  We do not

build temples as monuments of a past glory. Christ said, “Do this in

remembrance of me.”  (Luke 22:19).  Before His departure He said,

“I go away and come again” (John 14:28); and wherever two or three

are gathered together in His Name, there He is in the midst of them.

(Matthew 18:20)  This Church of God is further described as the

pillar, or ground and stay, of the truth; that is to say, that no sacred

books will preserve religion without a sacred life. Men may answer

an argument or adopt a theory, but the victory of the early Church was

won by THE CHURCH’S LIFE OR BEHAVIOR!   “See how these

Christians love one another.” (Tertullian)  Learn, then, the great lesson,

that behavior is everything. “How unblamably we behave ourselves,”

 says Paul to the Thessalonians (I Thessalonians 2:10).  “I will behave

 myself wisely in a perfect way,” says the psalmist.  (Psalm 101:2)




                                    Behavior in Church (v. 15)


“That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house

of God.” “Behavior” seems a commonplace word enough, and we often

assign it a subordinate place in religion. It is, however, a word large as

character.” It is a vocabulary in itself. It is not “do” havior, but “be”

havior! What I do may be accidental; what I am is everything. Paul has

been addressing pastors, deacons, women professing godliness, and wives.

He has dealt with marriage, and the ruling of children; and now he speaks

to the Church about the conduct of men in church.


·         WHAT IS BEHAVIOR? A man’s behavior reveals much of what he is:


Ø      earnest or frivolous;

Ø      gentle or hard;

Ø      forgiving or unforgiving;

Ø      selfish or generous;

Ø      pitiful or censorious;

Ø      appreciative or unthankful.


Behavior is AND EVERY HOUR SERMON!  It corrects the notion that a

man’s religion is mainly in his doctrine or opinions, his ritual or ceremonial.

Manners are not to be put on like a garment, nor can we masquerade in them

and pretend to be what we are not.


Ø      Bending the knee is nothing, if we are not reverent at heart.

Ø      A gift is nothing, unless given from love.

Ø      Prayer is nothing, unless our life is a prayer.

Ø      Praise is nothing, unless our life be a garment of praise.

Ø      Manners are not etiquette, nor best dresses, nor courtesies of speech;


They are the expressions of a life. In this aspect their potency is wonderful.

In church we are to behave well; not to give ourselves airs, as rich, or learned,

or superior people, but to remember that WE ARE BOUGHT WITH A

PRICE!   But behavior is not much thought about. There is an idea that

some men are good at heart, though they are gruff, if you knew how to

approach them. This is nonsense. The flower does not wait for me to

unfold it; it does not say, “If you knew how to tempt my kindness,

I would give you fragrant incense.” It is a flower everywhere, to everybody.


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.”  Without

controversy (ὁμολογουμένωςhomologoumenos avowedly; confessedly);

only here in the New Testament, but used in the same sense in the Septuagint

and in classical Greek, “confessedly,” by common confession. Great is the

 mystery of godliness.  This is said to enhance the glory of the Church just

spoken of, to whom this mystery has been entrusted, and so still further to

impress upon Timothy the vital necessity of a wise and holy walk in the

Church. The mystery of godliness is all that truth which “in other ages

was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto

His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5).  Godliness.

(τῆς εὐδεβείαςtaes eudebeias ); i.e.” the Christian faith;” what in ch.6:3 is

called “The words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is

according to godliness (τῇ κατ αὐσεβείαν διδασκαλὶᾳ – tae kat

 ausebeian didaskalia – which is according to godliness; devout teaching),”

and in Titus 1:1, “The truth which is according to godliness.” In v. 9

it is “the mystery of the faith, where πίστις ae pisteos – the faith –

 is equivalent to αὐσεβείαhae ausebeia - godliness. Bishop Ellicott,

however, does not admit this objective sense of πίστις or αὐσεβεία but

explains the genitive as “a pure possessive genitive,” the mystery

appertaining to, or the property of, subjective faith and godliness; but this is

a use not borne out by any passage in which the word “mystery” occurs.

It is always mysteries (or mystery) of the kingdom of God, of Christ, of God,

of the gospel, and the like. In the following passages the objective sense of

πίστις is either necessary or by far the most natural: Acts 13:8; 14:22;

16:5; Galatians 1:23; Ephesians 4:5; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:23; 2:7;

ch. 1:19; 5:8; 6:10,21; II Timothy 4:7; Titus 1:13; James 2:1; Jude 1:3.

Having thus exalted the “mystery of godliness,” Paul goes on to expound it.

He who (ὅςhos). This is generally adopted now as the true reading, instead

of Θεός Theos – God -  (ΟΣ – OS instead of ΘΣ - THS). Bishop Ellicott

satisfied himself, by most careful personal examination, that the original reading

of the Codex Alexandrinus was ΟΣ, and that it had been altered by a later hand

to ΘΣ. The Codex Sinaiticus  certainly has ὅς, and to this all the older versions

agree. (My Greek New Testament agrees – CY – 2013)  The Vulgate has quod,

agreeing with sacramentum and representing the Greek – ho.  Accepting this,

then, as the true reading, we proceed to explain it. Ὅς, who, is a relative,

and must, therefore, have an antecedent. But there is no expressed

antecedent of the masculine gender for it to agree with. The antecedent,

therefore, must be understood, and gathered from the preceding words,

τὸ μυστήριον τῆς εὐσεβείας - to mustaerion taes eusebeias – mystery

of godliness. IT CAN ONLY BE CHRIST!   The mystery of the

whole Old Testament, that which was wrapped in types and hidden under

veils, was Christ (Colossians 1:27). Moses spake of Him, the Psalms

speak of Him, the prophets speak of Him; but all of them spake darkly. But

in the gospel “THE MYSTERY OF CHRIST (<510403>Colossians 4:3)

IS REVEALED!   Christ is the Mystery of Christianity. It is, therefore, no

difficult step to pass from “the mystery” to “Christ,” and to supply the

word “Christ” as the antecedent to “who.” Was manifested (ἐφανερώθη -

ephanerothae); a word frequently applied to Christ (John 1:31; I John 1:2;

3:5, 8, etc.). The idea is the same in John 1:14. .  Justified in the spirit. This

is rather an obscure expression. But it seems to describe our Lord’s spotless

righteousness, perhaps with special reference to the declaration of it at his

baptism, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew

3:17).  We have the same contrast between the flesh and the Spirit of Christ in

I Peter 3:18. And between the flesh and the spirit of a Christian man in

Romans 8:10, “The body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life

because of righteousness.” To this clause apparently the remark of

Chrysostom applies, “God became man, and man became God.” “The

spirit” seems to mean the moral nature — the inner man. Seen of angels.

Perhaps the multitude of the heavenly host who welcomed the birth of

Christ were permitted to see the new-born Babe, as he seems to have done

who described Him to the shepherds as “wrapped in swaddling clothes”

(Luke 2:12-14). Angels ministered unto Him after the temptation

(Mark 1:13), and in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43,

where the word ὤφθη- ophthae -  appeared; was seen - is used), and

at His resurrection (Matthew 28:2). The special interest of angels in the

great mystery” is referred to in I Peter 1:12; Hebrews 1:6. Preached

unto the Gentiles  (ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσινekaeruchthae ethnesin

heralded among the heathen).   Compare Ephesians 3:6, 8, where, in

the apostle’s view, the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles,

that they might be fellow-heirs with the Jews of the promises of God, is

one main feature of the mystery (compare ch.2:7). Believed on

in the world. The next step in this ascending scale is THE ACCEPTANCE

OF CHRIST AS THE SAVIOUR thereof. The language here is not stronger

than that of Colossians 1:5-6, “The word of the truth of the gospel,

which is come unto you; even as it is also in all the world, and beareth

fruit.” And in (Ibid. v.:23) , “The gospel which was preached in all

creation under heaven” (compare Romans 1:8). The statement in

Mark 16:15-20 might almost have been in Paul’s mind. Note the

use there of the words κηρύξατε ἐκηρύξανkaeruxate ekaeruxan, -

 hearld; proclaim; preach; heralded; proclaimed; preached, τὸν κόσμον

 ton kosmon – the world  - πιστεύσας - o pisteusas – he that believeth –

πιστεύσασι - pisteusasinthe that believe -   ἀνελήφρη

anelaephraereceived up into heaven.  . Received up into glory.

Mark has it, “He was received up into heaven, and [there] sat down

at the right hand of God,” fulfilling John 17:5. This grand burst of dogmatic

teaching is somewhat like that in ch.2:5-7. There is no adequate evidence of

its being, as many commentators have thought, a portion of a hymn or creed

used in the Church. It rather implies the same tension in the apostle’s mind

which is apparent in other parts of the Epistle (compare ch.6:11 and

following verses).



                                    The Clergy (vs. 1-16)


It was one of the weightiest duties laid upon Timothy, when called to be

the spiritual ruler of the Church of Ephesus, to take care that the priests

and deacons were men well qualified for their holy office. The condition of

a congregation depends so largely upon the spiritual character of those

who minister to it, that the choice of fit persons to serve in the sacred

ministry of God’s Church is a matter of vital importance to the welfare of

the people, and demands the utmost wisdom and fidelity of those who have

the chief oversight of the house of God. Accordingly Paul lays down

with great care the qualifications of priests and deacons respectively. For

the priest an irreproachable character amongst those outside as well as

those inside the Church, in order to ensure respect exhibits:


·         a life of chastity, that his example may give no countenance to a

       lax morality;


·         strict temperance in the use of meat and drink, both for his own sake

      and as an example to others;


·         a respectable, sober mind and demeanor, as becomes one who lives near

to God, and handles holy things;


·         a large hospitality, as one who counts all he has to belong to the Church,

      whose servant he is;


·         aptitude to teach the doctrines of the gospel, and a delight in teaching;


·         a placable, gentle disposition, abhorring brawls and quarrels, and studying

      peace with all men;


·         the absence of all greediness and covetousness, as one whose

conversation is in heaven, and, all his dealings with men;


these are the things needful for one who is a priest in the Church of God. But

besides these strictly personal qualifications he must have a well-ordered house.

His family must bear the traces of a gentle but firm parental discipline. He that is a

ruler in the house of God must show that he can rule his own children and servants;

and a portion of the gravity and sobriety of the man of God must be seen in the

members of his household. With regard to deacons, they too must be grave

in their demeanor and conversation; in all their private relationships with the

members of the Church where they serve, they must be conspicuously

honest and ingenuous. In all social intercourse they must show themselves

temperate and abstemious. In handling the public money, and ministering

the alms of the faithful, they must make it clear that none sticks to their

own fingers, and that they have no eye to gain in the ministrations they

undertake. The spirit of their ministrations must be “all for love and

nothing for reward.” Nor must they be only honest men; they must be

devout believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, thoroughly instructed in the

mystery of the Christian faith, and adorning that faith by their personal

holiness. As regards their families, the same rule applies to them as to the

priests. Like the priests, they hold office in the Church of God; they

minister in that temple where God’s pure truth is fixed and established for

ever; they are the expounders, with the priests, of the great mystery of

godliness, the incarnate Word, the preached Jesus, the glorified Christ.

What, then, ought their character to be; how high above things earthly,

how closely assimilated to the glorious holiness of heaven!





                        Upholder of the Truth, and Grandeur of Truth Upheld

                                                            (vs. 14-16)



“These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I

tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in

the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and

ground of the truth.” Paul hoped to come to Timothy at Ephesus shortly;

there was a possibility, however, of his hope not being realized. In the

event of his tarrying long, Timothy had written instructions for his conduct

as an ecclesiastic. It would be held to be of great consequence that any one

who officiated in the temple of Diana should be in a fit state of body and of

mind, and should be conversant with the ceremonial. It was of far greater

consequence that Timothy should know what was suitable behavior for the

house of God. This was not the temple of a dead idol, but — passing over

from the material structure to what was typified by it — the Church of the

living God. It was “a living and spiritual community, a life-stream of

believers in an ever-living God.” It was fitting, then, that there should be

those arrangements which are most conducive to the life of the community.

This Church of the living God is declared to be the pillar and ground of

the truth. There was a singular appropriateness in the language. The

columns in the temple of Diana were one hundred and twenty-seven in

number, sixty feet high, each the gift of a king. Massive in their form,

substantial in their basement, they gave promise of the structure being

upheld in its integrity down: through the centuries. And such it seemed to

Paul was the Church — a columnar structure, substantially based, by which

the truth is to be upheld from age to age. It is a great honor which God has

laid on such imperfect believers as we are; and we should see to it that we

do not belie the representation, that we do nothing to take away from the

strength of the structure, that we preserve the continuity of the Church’s

life, that we witness faithfully to what God is and to what He has done.



without controversy great is the mystery of godliness.” The truth is here

called “the mystery of godliness.” A mystery is that which, being concealed

for a time is brought out of concealment by a revelation. It is also

something above our comprehension. And that meaning is not excluded

here. For it is the mystery of godliness or piety. It is the mystery by which

the Divine life is nourished in the soul. As religious beings, we need

something that stretches away into infinitude. We can only breathe freely in

an element of mystery. All religions that have ever been have sought to

provide for the appetite for the wonderful. And where there has not been

found real mystery, there have been dark inventions. But composedly great

is the mystery, which the Christian religion provides for our nourishment. It

is pronounced great by all who are capable of judging. And even those who

reject it do so not infrequently on the ground of its being incredible, or too

great to be true. The subject of the mystery is CHRIST!  As set forth in the

language which follows it is entirely Christ, or the facts about Christ. And

the teaching is that it is by meditating upon these facts that we become

pious or religious. Of the facts themselves we can take tangible hold; it is

when we try to explain them to ourselves that we rise into the region where

our religious feelings are excited and receive their nourishment. The

rhythmic way in which the facts are presented has led some to suppose that

they are taken from a Christian hymn in existence at the time when Paul

wrote. We can believe them to have been written by Paul. In either case

they have the stamp of the Holy Ghost. They are to be divided into threes,

the first two in each division pointing to earthly relations, the third to



Ø      Of the earthly relations, the first in each division is external, the

            second internal.


o       Facts particularized. “He who was manifested in the

                        flesh.” There is good reason for the change from “God” to

                        “He who.” We are not dependent on the old reading for the

                        proof of our Lord’s divinity.  The manifestation of Christ

                        implies previous concealment. And the language is more

                        suggestive of the concealment of pre-existence than of

                        the concealment of non-existence. The beginning of the

                        mystery is Christ coming out of that concealment.


Ø      “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”  (John 1:14)  The Creator

descended into the conditions, circumstances, of a creature. He was made of

the substance of a woman. The almighty Builder of the universe was a

helpless infant on a mother’s knee. The eternal Son was the infant of days.

He descended so low that He had to proceed from weakness to strength,

from ignorance to knowledge. That, however, is only part of the mystery. I

t is said here that He was manifested in the flesh, and that means, not our

nature as it came from the hand of God, but our nature as it has suffered

from the fall.


o       He descended into our weak, passable, mortal nature, to

                        which the unfallen Adam was a stranger.


o       He was in a state of utter bodily exhaustion from want of

      food when He was tempted in the wilderness. (Matthew 4)


o       He sat down wearied with His journey at Jacob’s well.

      (John 4)


o       He was often worn out with the arduous nature of His work.


o       His compassion brought sorrow to His heart, which found

      vent in tears and sighs and groans.


o       At last His flesh succumbed, could not bear any longer

                        the burden laid on it; and His lifeless body was laid in the tomb.


But still, as we consider, the mystery deepens. He died, not as paying the common

debt of nature, but under the stroke of the Divine vengeance. “Awake, O sword,

against my Shepherd, against the Man that is mine equal, saith the Lord of

hosts.” (Zechariah 13:7)  This is not so much for the understanding as for the

inner sanctuary of the heart. It is not so much to be fixed in words as to be

pondered and admired and felt. “Justified in the spirit.” In the flesh He did not

appear to be the pre-existent Son of God, and the Sent of God to be the Savior

of the world; but He was this in His spirit or higher nature, and was vindicated

as such both in the Divine marks which were put upon Him, and in the

principle which pervaded His life. There was a mark put upon Him at the

very first in His being separated from the taint of our nature through the

power of the Holy Ghost. The glimpse we have of Him in his youth shows

Him right in spirit both toward His Father and that Father’s earthly

representatives. At His baptism he received not the Spirit by measure, and

there was the attestation of the voice from the excellent glory, “This is my

beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” At the outset of His public

career, under extreme temptation, He showed that He was not to be turned

aside from His mission. His starry pathway of miracles witnessed to the

truth of His claims. And not less did His opening of the mind of God, and

application of the truth to human need, witness to the singleness and

loftiness of His spirit. There was a reiterated attestation from heaven to His

Divine nature and mission at His transfiguration. But especially was He

justified in the manner in which He died. He resisted unto blood, striving

against sin. As we with some degree of resignation may bear a light trial, so

He with perfect resignation bore the unmitigated weight of the Divine

vengeance. As we with some degree of self-forgetfulness may labor for

those who are near to us, so He with perfect self-forgetfulness and

magnanimity sacrificed Himself for sinners. That death in all its terribleness,

reaching far beyond our conception, was what pre-eminently made proof of

Him, and it showed His spirit to be in perfect accord with the will of God in



Ø      Last of all, He was justified by His resurrection. It is said, in

Romans 1:4, that by this He was declared with power to be the Son of

God. It was God setting His seal upon His whole career. Because He was

pleased with the manner in which He had acted all along, saw the ends of

justice and mercy carried out successfully in human salvation, therefore it

was that He raised Him from the dead.


Ø      “Seen of angels.” He was an object of interest to the heavenly world.


o       We find angels jubilantly ushering Him into this world, within

      sight and hearing of men. (Luke 2:13-15)


o       They appear at the commencement of His ministry, strengthening

      Him after His temptation.  (Matthew 4:11)


o       And again they appear at the close, strengthening Him after

      His agony (Luke 22:43), and also watching over His tomb.


But were they not always there behind the veil?  Unseen by us, they go

about our world ministering to the heirs of salvation.  “.....some have

entertained angels unawares.”  (Hebrews 13:2)  Would they not

minister, more than was seen, to the Author of salvation?  They came

forward upon the scene at critical times. It was enough; we can

imagine the rest. But the language seems also to point to the fact that, in

becoming incarnate, Christ made Himself to be seen by angels. In the

human form assumed by Him He held them in rapt gaze. They could not

turn away from beholding and wondering. They saw the Son of God in a

form that was level to them, that was even below them; for He was made

a little lower than the angels.  (ibid. ch. 2:7)  What cause for wonder in

the change from that ineffable (too great to be said in words),

unapproachable glory to this frail flesh;  from that God most high,

to this infant lying in a manger! And as the mystery was developed, how

would their wonder increase! He was degraded until He could to no lower

depth be degraded. Well might they be overwhelmed with wonder as they

looked on at Calvary. Having a desire to look into these things, as we are

told, they would be lost in trying to account for them. (I Peter 1:12) 

Even when knowing the object contemplated, they would be amazed

to think that, for the accomplishment of it, the Divine Son should

descend into such a condition of mortal woe.


Ø      “Preached among the nations.” This is quite a new interest.

Angels merely saw and admired from a distance. They were spectators

contemplating that in which they were not directly involved. It was

different with men. He was the subject of an evangel to them. He was

proclaimed as THEIR PERSONAL SAVIOUR without whom they

were lost, in whom alone they had standing before God and

EVERLASTING BLESSEDNESS!   But stress is laid upon the universal

reference of the preaching. He was preached, not to one nation, but

among the nations (Jews included), without distinction. This was being

realized as historical fact. He was being proclaimed without respect to

national distinction, without respect to social condition, without respect

to culture, with respect simply to the fact that all were sinners and in need

of salvation. Following upon His having taken the common nature, and

His having wrought out the common salvation, the message of salvation

was being conveyed with THE UTMOST IMPARTIALITY!   This was

part of the mystery which was then being disclosed, and which the

unprejudiced agreed in calling great. It was impressive to the

early Church to witness the proclamation of a world-wide salvation.


Ø      “Believed on in the world.” God does not force us to believe. There must

be a sufficient cause for our faith, sufficient to move our hearts and gain

us over. Our faith must be caused in a rational way, in a way consistent

with the nature of God and our own nature. The cause must be

alike with respect to the effect; spiritual as faith is a spiritual effect.

How, then, is Christ to be believed on in the world, i.e. in that which

is naturally unbelieving, which contains no germ of faith which can

be cultivated? How can light be brought out of darkness, how can

faith be brought out of unbelief? And yet what have we here?

There is such a potency in the fact of God incarnate as to work a

moral miracle, to evoke faith from that which is naturally incapable

of faith. And wherein does the potency lie? It is in the love which

the fact manifests. “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave

Himself up for me.”  (Galatians 2:20)  He did not spare Himself all

the humiliation of the death of the cross. That is a fact which requires

to be contemplated; but, as it is contemplated, it asserts its power over

hearts, so as to make:


o       the insensate feel,

o       the unbelieving believe.


Now the apostle regards it as glorious testimony to the greatness of the

mystery that Christ should actually be believed on in the world, that

there should be some trophies of the power of His love over unbelief,

that there should be some to offer Him a home in their hearts.


Ø      “Received up in glory.” In the biographies of great men we are told of

      one achievement gained after another, of one honor conferred after

another. But however long and glorious the scroll which can be shown, it

has to end with their bidding a long farewell to all their greatness. And,

though monuments are raised to their memory, it cannot take away the

essential ingloriousness of the termination to their career. With Christ it

is at the earthly termination that to outward appearance He becomes

great. He had indeed, like others and more than others, to undergo the

ingloriousness of dying, and of being laid in the tomb. But that

ingloriousness was completely reversed by HIS RESURRECTION!

 He lingered long enough on earth for history to attest the fact that

He was indeed risen.  And then He made His triumphal entry into

heaven. “Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God

desireth to dwell in; yea, the Lord will dwell in it for ever. The

chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels:

the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. Thou hast

ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive.”  (Psalm 68:16-18)

He was received up into gloryinto glorious exaltation in our nature

at the right hand of God — and IN GLORY HE FOREVER REMAINS!

This is conclusive evidence to the greatness of the mystery. The godly

delight to dwell upon and to feed their life, not only with the humiliation,

                        but, beyond that, with the exaltation!


  The Treasure of Truth Committed to the Church’s Guardianship (v. 16)



GODLINESS. This implies that He is the Revelation of God to man; for

God “has made known what is the wealth of the glory of this mystery

among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the Hope of glory”

(Colossians 1:27). Thus CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST!   HE IS

THE CENTER of Christian theology, as HE IS THE OBJECT

 of Christian faith and love.



forth as the Life of the Church, and if He were not God as well as man, the

mystery would not be so obvious to our understanding.


Ø      He was manifested in the flesh.” This very expression implies the

divinity of Christ; for it would be superfluous, if not absurd, to say

these words of any mere man. The words imply:


o       that it was essential Deity that was manifested;

o       that it was a manifestation made, not to our understanding,

but to our senses;

o       that there was a real incarnation, for He was manifest in

the flesh, or, as John says, “The Word was made flesh.”

It was not only by the flesh, but in the flesh.


Ø      He was justified in the spirit.” He was approved to be righteous

in the higher principle of spiritual life within Him. There is no

allusion to the Holy Spirit. The spirit here is the counterpart of the

flesh. Christ fulfilled all righteousness. If His manifestation in the

flesh exhibited His true and real humanity, His justification in the


passage consists of a series of parallel clauses, of which every

two form a connected pair.


Ø      He was seen of angels.” In the sense of showing Himself to

them in His incarnation.


o       They announced His advent, (Luke 2:13-14)

o       they ministered to His wants, (Matthew 4:11)

o       they heralded His resurrection, (Mark 16:5-7)

o       they attended Him in His triumphant return to heaven,

(Acts 1:9-11)

o       they now see Him in His glorified humanity.


Ø      He was preached among the Gentiles.” Here, again, is another

pair of opposites:


o       the angels inhabitants of a holy heaven,

o       the Gentiles inhabitants of a sinful earth.


It was one of the six glories of our Redeemer that He was

to be a “Light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6).


Ø      He was believed on in the world.” Christianity is a world-wide

religion, embraced by men of all nationalities; unlike

Mohammedanism and Buddhism, which are restricted to the

East. The gospel finds acceptance alike in East and West.


Ø      He was received up in glory.” In reference to Christ’s

historical ascent to heaven amidst circumstances of marvelous

glory (Acts 1:9).  The last pair of opposites is the WORLD and

GLORY.   How far they are apart! Yet they are brought nigh by

THE BLOOD OF CHRIST!   (“That in the dispensation of

the fullness of times He might gather together in one all

things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are

on earth; EVEN IN HIM!”  (Ephesians 1:10)  This passage,

from its antithetical structure, would seem to have been an

ancient hymn of the Church, setting forth the leading facts

of the Messianic story.




            The Treasure of Truth Committed to the Church’s Guardianship

                                                            (v. 16)



GODLINESS. This implies that He is the Revelation of God to man; for

God “has made known what is the wealth of the glory of this mystery

among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the Hope of glory”

(Colossians 1:27). Thus Christianity is Christ. He is the Center of

Christian theology, as He is the Object of Christian faith and love.



forth as the Life of the Church, and if He were not God as well as man, the

mystery would not be so obvious to our understanding.


Ø      He was manifested in the flesh.” This very expression implies the

divinity of Christ; for it would be superfluous, if not absurd, to say these

words of any mere man. The words imply:


o        that it was essential Deity that was manifested;

o        that it was a manifestation made, not to our understanding, but to our


o        that there was a real incarnation, for He was manifest in the flesh, or,

      as John says, “The Word was made flesh.” (John 1:14)  It was not

      only by the flesh, but in the flesh.


Ø      He was justified in the spirit.” He was approved to be righteous in the

higher principle of spiritual life within Him. There is no allusion to the Holy

Spirit. The spirit here is the counterpart of the flesh. Christ fulfilled all

righteousness. If His manifestation in the flesh exhibited His true and real

humanity, His justification in the spirit exhibited His holiness and perfection.

The passage consists of a series of parallel clauses, of which every two

form a connected pair.


Ø      He was seen of angels.” In the sense of showing Himself to them in His

incarnation; they:


o        announced His advent,

o        ministered to His wants,

o        heralded His resurrection,

o        attended Him in His triumphant return to heaven, and

o        they now see Him in His glorified humanity.


Ø      He was preached among the Gentiles.” Here, again, is another pair of

opposites; the angels inhabitants of a holy heaven, the Gentiles inhabitants

of a sinful earth. It was one of the six glories of our Redeemer that He was

to be a Light to the Gentiles, THAT THOU MAYEST BE MY



Ø      He was believed on in the world.” Christianity is a world-wide religion,

embraced by men of all nationalities; unlike Mohammedanism and

Buddhism, which are restricted to the East. THE GOSPEL finds

acceptance alike in East and West.  “And I say unto you, That

many shall come from the east and west, and shall set down with

Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.”

(Matthew 8:11)  “And they shall come from the east, and from the

west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down

in the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 13:29)


Ø      He was received up in glory.” In reference to Christ’s historical ascent

to heaven amidst circumstances of marvelous glory. The last pair of

opposites is the world and glory. How far they are apart! Yet they are

brought nigh by the blood of Christ. This passage, from its antithetical

structure, would seem to have been an ancient hymn of the Church,

setting forth the leading facts of the Messianic story.




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