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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 3

Gann's Commentary on the BibleGann on the Bible

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Verse 1

1 Timothy 3:1

3:1–13 The topic shifts to church leadership by elders (3:1–7) and deacons (3:8–13). The criteria listed here pertain to character rather than function.

Paul’s emphasis on the untarnished reputation of the potential leader suggests a concern for the public perception of the church; he exhorts communities of faith to avoid appointing a leader whose respectability in the community is (or could be) questioned.

True saying -- "Faithful is the saying" see note on 1 Timothy 1:15

True -- Trustworthy, faithful

1 Timothy 1:15; 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8;

Desire -- "If anyone aspires to be a bishop he desires a noble task." Two implications emerge: (1) It is valid to aspire to church leadership, and (2) church leadership is a noble task.

Office -- position, it is a work.

Bishop -- overseer, superintendent = elder; Acts 20:17, Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1 Letter addressed to the bishops and deacons.

The earliest elders and deacons in the church had been appointed directly by men inspired by the Holy Spirit (Acts 14:23; Acts 6:3, Acts 6:6; Acts 20:28) but now by inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul gives written guidelines for the appointment of elders and deacons in chapter three.

The term overseer (episkopos), sometimes translated “bishop,” is only one of several words used in the New Testament to describe church leaders. “Elders” (presbyteroi) is by far the most common. Other terms such as “rulers” (proistamenoi, Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12), “leaders” (hēgoumenois, Hebrews 13:17) and “pastors” (poimenas, Ephesians 4:11; cf. also Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2) are also used. Though each of these terms may describe a different facet of leadership, they all seem to be used interchangeably in the New Testament to designate the same office. This office is different from that of deacons (cf. comments on 1 Timothy 3:8).

Good work -- It is worthy, it is work. A "noble task".

ELDERS & DEACONS Titus 1:5-9, 1 Timothy 3:1-13 & 1 Timothy 5:17, Acts 20:28, Hebrews 13:17.

Verse 2

1 Timothy 3:2

These characteristics are necessary for all Christians except the married obligations.

Blameless -- not arrested, not open to censure, irreproachable, One who has nothing which an adversary could seize upon with which to base a charge.

The word anepilemptos means “to be above criticism.” Paul requires that leaders maintain a positive reputation inside and outside the community of believers. If not, their actions (those listed vv. 2–7) may become the subject of criticism and discredit the gospel message.

It means to have nothing in one’s conduct on which someone could ground a charge or accusation.

Husband of one wife -- "a one woman man"; "married only once" RSV; 1) Not a bachelor; 2) Not a polygamist.

must be faithful to his wife (or must have only one wife, or must be married only once; literally must be the husband of one wife; also in 3:12):

husband of one wife (Gk. mias gynaikos andra). The Greek phrase is not common, and there are few other instances for comparison. The phrase literally states, “of one woman [wife] man [husband].”

Many commentators understand the phrase to mean “having the character of a one-woman man,” that is, “faithful to his wife.” In support of this view is the fact that a similar phrase is used in 1 Timothy 5:9 as a qualification for widows (Gk. henos andros gynē; “one-man woman,” i.e., “wife of one husband”), and in that verse it seems to refer to the trait of faithfulness, for a prohibition of remarriage after the death of a spouse would be in contradiction to Paul’s advice to young widows in 1 Timothy 5:14.

Vigilant -- Temperate, nephaleos/ nephalios Lit. "without wine"; νηφαλεον, from νη, not and πιω, to drink. to abstain from wine; "1a) abstaining from wine, either entirely or at least from its immoderate use" (Thayer); "It means, properly, “sober, temperate, abstinent,” especially in respect to wine;" (Barnes);

nh + faleos or falios

Sober -- balanced judgment; not giggly or frivolous. Serious, discerning, discrete. Ecclesiastes 10:1

Of good behavior -- orderly, more than appropriate.

Given to hospitality -- Romans 12:13, Hebrews 13:2, 1 Peter 2:9 - Lover of strangers. Good at greeting and welcoming strangers.

enjoy having guests in his home (literally be hospitable): Hospitality was an important duty and a respected virtue in the ancient world. Any traveling Christian would seek out and probably stay with fellow believers (see 2 John 1:10-11; 3 John). In addition, first-century churches often met in private homes (see Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2).

Apt to teach -- relates to ability, "skillful in teaching"; 1 Timothy 5:17; must to capable to refute the false teachers and exhort the faithful, etc. He must be able, competent, to teach those who come to him with questions or personal problems. A duty is to feed the flock, 1 Peter 5:2.

able to teach. This is the one requirement in this list that is not necessarily required of all believers. It is also not required of deacons. Thus, it is a distinguishing skill required of the pastor/elder. It yields the only reference in this list to his actual duties (see not Titus 1:9).

- - -

Holy Spirit appointed position

Acts 14:25; Ephesians 4:11; Romans 12:8; Acts 20:28;

The church now needed guidelines for a time when the HS not directly leading the appoint of such men -- 1Timothy 3 & Titus 1.

Verse 3

1 Timothy 3:3

Not given to wine -- "one who sits long at (beside, para) his wine. In N.T. only here and in Titus 1:7. " (Robertson). The idiom is describing one who does not sits around a long time with his drink. Not one lazy, but industrious. We would describe the guilty man today as one who sits around all day with his coffee.

Not addicted to alcoholic drink. (cf. 1 Peter 4:3-4 )

Striker -- not violent, a smiter, not pugnacious (quarrelsome) a contentious, quarrelsome person; (some strike with their tongue). Not physically violent.

Not greedy -- for money. Some men are always out to make a fast buck.

Patient -- gentle; (Kind, but not compromising.) forebearing.

Not a brawler -- contentious (does not live to fight), quarrelsome, (doesn’t insist on his own rights.)

Not covetous -- not a lover of money, (or what money can do). Emphasis on "love". One who puts "money" or material things above the spiritual, general tenor.

Verse 4

1 Timothy 3:4

Go home with him. How is he considered at home? Here we can recognize his overseeing, or supervising ability. He avoids undue harshness, but not lax in his duties.

Ruleth -- 1 Timothy 3:4, 1 Timothy 3:5, 1 Timothy 3:12

Children -- plural or singular, cf Genesis 21:7. A collective noun, meaning one or more. ex. sheep, fish.

Verse 5

1 Timothy 3:5

church -- "a church" -- an assembly. If he can’t care well for a small sphere of individuals, then obviously he is unfit for supervising a larger group.

Take care of -- -- Luke 10:34; ["Rule" cf. v. 4, and Hebrews 13:7 - same word. He "rules" as a 1) father would in a family; 2) as a shepherd over his sheep.

Verse 6

1 Timothy 3:6

Novice -- new convert, [cf. Acts 14:23, These men could not have been in the church a long time, but some were probably elders in the synagogue before. Also some were appointed by inspiration Ephesians 4:11; Acts 20:28. When Timothy did not have inspiration to guide him in the selection of men to be elders, Paul wrote out (by inspiration) the guide-lines for the type of men to be appointed at elders.]

Condemnation -- 1) given by the devil; OR 2) the same punishment God will give the devil, that which is reserved for him and his angels Matthew 25:41, Revelation 12:9. OR 3) the same pride which was condemned in Satan,

Isaiah 14:12-14 [This application to Satan is questioned by some.]

Verse 7

1 Timothy 3:7

Without -- outsiders, non-Christians. He must have a good reputation in the community.

Snare -- trap, (if he is the butt of ridicule and jokes by out-siders). A trap set for those whose lives are not consistent with what they profess to be.

Verse 8

1 Timothy 3:8

Deacon - Character

1. Worthy of respect

2. not guilty of deceptive double talk

3. not one holding to wine drinking

4. not greedy for base gain - shameful disgraceful

One who serves (cf. Acts 6:2 -- "serves" or "deacons" tables.)

Reverent -- dignified, worthy of respect.

Much wine -- // Greek idea poorly expressed in English, see Romans 12:3 "more highly"

cf. 1 Peter 4:2

Verse 9

1 Timothy 3:9

Deacon - Conviction - A sincerely settled faith

Mystery -- revelation, Sound in doctrine and life. (Mystery, something revealed.)

The faith -- Pure conscience.. possessing knowledge of truth and conforming to it.

Verse 10

1 Timothy 3:10

Deacon - Competence

to be demonstrated

Demonstrated competent and responsible (time - testing - work)

Have shown where their heart is.

First tested -- observed for a while. Must have proved they are trustworthy and faithful.

Also -- this would include then both "Elders" and "deacons", and v.11 both groups wives.

Verse 11

1 Timothy 3:11

Notice in v. 10 "these also" become inclusive of elders and deacons. Elders and Deacons, so in v. 11 "wives" of both elders and deacons are under consideration. [See Alford’s Greek Testament].

Deacons (Elders "also" v.10) -- Companions

Her conduct compliments his work.

1) worthy of respect & high esteem

2) διαβολους slanderers - devilish

3) temperate - in control of their life

Wives -- (women or wives).

Is Paul here speaking of "deaconesses"?

” The ambiguity here derives from the fact that the Greek word gynē can mean woman or wife. The general meaning “women” would seem to be out of place in this context, but women servants in a nontechnical sense is perhaps not out of the question. The two major alternatives in interpretation are “wives of the deacons” (and perhaps of the bishops too) or “women deacons.” Deacons were primarily male, but provision could have been made for female deacons here. The structure of the chapter might favor this: “Now a bishop must be …” (3:2); “Deacons likewise must be …” (3:8); “Women likewise must be …” (3:11). The seeming interruption of qualifications for deacons might not be that at all, for the matters that follow (vss. 12-13) are not specific qualities but have to do with family relationships and the general principle that good service has its rewards. On the other hand, gynē would be expected to mean “wife” when used in context with men without other specification. The requirements stated for women would not seem to pertain to any particular duties (yet the four items closely parallel the first three and fifth items in the qualifications of deacons), and the work of deacons (and bishops), who are here required to be married men, would certainly require that their wives have certain characteristics.

Ferguson, E. (1996). The church of Christ: a biblical ecclesiology for today 1 Timothy 3:11;off=156;ctx=thful_in_all_things.~$E2$80$9D_The_ambiguity_here> (p. 339). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.

Faithful in all things ... trustworthy, reliable, counted on; Reverent, not slanderers.

Verse 12

1 Timothy 3:12

Deacons - Control

(Home life) Fair way to measure a man

Demonstrates leadership in the home (cf 1 Timothy 3:5 )

Husband -- not "if married"

Ruling -- Hebrews 13:17, also 1 Timothy 3:4 (same as elders over the church)

Standing before, supervising, leading

1) Ruling implies providing for supplies (must take time to bring up children right. Ephesians 6:1-4 nurturing the in the Lord.

2) If he neglects home responsibilities, why trust him with church responsibilities (we’ve seen weak husbands and strong-will wives.. not qualified.)

Verse 13

1 Timothy 3:13

Deacon - Confidence

From Character (v.8); Conviction (v.9); Competence (10); Companions (11); Control (12) and Confidence (13)

A good degree -- gain a good standing

Two things that accrue to those doing a good job:

1) a good sanding - acquire or obtain respect, a good rank, and upward movement - cf. Acts 6 & 7 Stephen and Philip; Acts 4:13 of Peter and John.

2) acquire boldness - from experience in their work, proficiency, confidence.

Verse 14

1 Timothy 3:14

I write -- Paul’s purpose (writing about elders & deacons).

These things -- might refer not only to what preceded, but also to what follows.

Verse 15

1 Timothy 3:15

Paul recognized the possibility of being delayed, ot not getting thee at all.

Living God -- contrasted to temples with lifeless idols.

Pillar -- the support of a structure. Also a place where info was posted in a public place.

Ground -- foundation or supporting structure.

The church is entrusted with the proclamation, defense, and support of the Truth.

Verse 16

1 Timothy 3:16

The mystery of "godliness" -- the secret, the revelation that prompts real godliness, is the truth about our God!

1) The Incarnation - (true godliness in the flesh)

2) Justified in (by) the Spirit ... 1) Jesus justified, Matt. 3:15-17, HS at Jesus’ baptism, transfiguration, and ascension, etc. OR; 2) we are justified by the Holy Spirit?

3) Seen of angels -- at birth, temptation, agony in garden, resurrection and ascension.

4) Preached -- from pentecost onward.

5) Believed on -- from almost every nation in the world.

6) Received up -- ascension. Redemption work complete. "with" attending pomp and majesty, as a victorious general.

Some believe this to be a part of an early hymn. If so, similar to our song "Our Day" (see the song and especially its chorus).

Bibliographical Information
Gann, Windell. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3". Gann's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gbc/1-timothy-3.html. 2021.
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