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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 3

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-7

The Qualifications of Bishops 1 Timothy 3:1-7 lists the qualifications of bishops.

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

1 Timothy 3:1 “This is a true saying” Paul will use the same Greek phrase “ πιστο ̀ ς ο ̔ λο ́ γος ” on five occasions within the Pastoral Epistles when we read, “This is a faithful saying,” or “This is a true saying,” (1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:1; 1 Timothy 4:9, 2 Timothy 2:11, Titus 3:8).

1 Timothy 3:1 “If a man desire the office of a bishop” Word Study on “desireth” BDAG says the word “desireth” ( ο ̓ ρε ́ γομαι ) (G3713) is used only in the middle voice in the New Testament and it literally means, “to stretch oneself, to reach out one’s hand,” and figuratively, “to aspire to, to strive for, to desire.”

Comments - Paul uses this particular wording in 1 Timothy 3:1 about desiring the ministry because he wants young Timothy to learn how to look for those who could become candidates for the ministry. The underlying qualification is desire. Timothy must note those believers who have a zeal to serve the Lord and have a hunger for more of God. If a person had no desire to become an elder or bishop, then Timothy did not need to consider him, for without desire, a candidate is not going to strive for perfection.

This opening emphasis on desire for the ministry means that these next few verses (1 Timothy 3:2-7) show young men how to strive and how to qualify for something they desire, while the passage shows Timothy how to recognize godly men who are qualified for these two offices.

1 Timothy 3:1 Comments - When we get saved and get into God’s Word, we have a natural desire to do something great for God. This is a good desire (1 Timothy 3:1). However, such a person must go through a time of training and qualifying before he can take such a leading role in the body of Christ (1 Timothy 3:2-13). It is during such time that a person learns submission to leadership and to others. This is the path that takes someone into God’s plan of promotion. Jesus Christ said, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12) This is the way God does things in the Kingdom of God. I have learned that when I submit to my pastor and make his plans work, that God will pick a time when my character has been tried and proved to promote me to a place of leadership. Such a leader is less likely to fall into pride with such a position. We see this same pattern as Paul give Timothy the conditions to the appointment of church leaders.

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

1 Timothy 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless” - Word Study on “blameless” - Strong says the Greek word “blameless” ( ἀνεπίληπτος ) (G423) means, “not arrested, i.e. inculpable.” He says this compound word is derived from “ α ” (negative particle) and ( ἐπιλαμβάνομαι ) (G1949), meaning, “to seize.” BDAG says it mean, “irreproachable.”

1 Timothy 3:2 “the husband of one wife” The phrase “the husband of one wife” found in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 is generally interpreted one of two ways. Some scholars interpret this phrase to mean “the husband of one wife in a lifetime”; hence, they conclude that a previous divorce and remarriage is not acceptable for the ordination ministers. Other scholars say, “one wife at a time,” due to the practice of polygamy in this first century Greco-Roman culture.

If we interpret this phrase to mean the husband of one wife with no previous divorce, we must then place it within the context of other passages of Scripture on the topic of marriage and divorce. For example, we see that the Scriptures allow remarriage in the case of fornication, or death of the spouse (Matthew 19:9).

Matthew 19:9, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

Another passage of Scripture says that the wife cannot remarry when she chooses to leave a marriage relationship (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). Here, the Holy Bible allows a wife to leave a difficult and dangerous situation, but not to remarry if that choice to depart is made:

1 Corinthians 7:10-11, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.”

Although divorce and remarriage should not be part of a bishop's Christian’s lifestyle, there are a few examples of great men and women of God who experienced divorce, and yet became powerful ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, such as Kathryn Kuhlman and Joyce Meyer, and I believe Kenneth Copeland.

Jack Hayford gives much insight into this phrase by explaining that the husband of one wife means more than a physical relationship and a marriage certificate. It involves a dedication to one’s wife and a commitment to love her with all of his affections. A man cannot have a divided or lustful heart and still serve as a competent husband, especially in the ministry. His affections are committed to her and her alone. Thus, this phrase is intended to describe a relationship in which a husband and a wife are of one mind and one accord in the unity of the Spirit of God and in the bond of peace. They are becoming not only one flesh, but as spiritual creatures, they are becoming of one mind and of one spirit in God’s purpose and plan for their lives. [102]

[102] Jack Hayford, The Anatomy of Adultery (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 2004).

If we interpret the phrase “the husband of one wife” to refer to a man who avoids polygamy, then we examine why Paul placed this restriction upon church leaders. In other words, what would be the reason for a Christian leader to be limited to one wife, even in the midst of those cultures that allow polygamy? We do know that is polygamous cultures that the number of wives a man has often determines a man’s status in that society. He is usually a man of wealth and influence, but Paul’s restrictions mean that a person of influence in the church must come from different factors, rather than from wealth and influence.

One reason that Paul limits a Christian man to one wife in the midst of these polygamous societies is that the original intent of marriage was one man with one woman. God spoke in Genesis 2:24 and said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” This verse says that “a man,” or “one man,” shall cling unto “his wife,” not “his wives.” Sin perverts God’s way. In practice, polygamy creates many difficulties. I have listed a number of problems that I have observed while living in a polygamous society in the mission field.

(1) It Creates an Oppressive Environment for Women and Children - Polygamy is found in societies where the women and children are oppressed. In contrast, societies that have been built upon biblical foundations, as much of Western civilization, find that monogamy brings women out of oppressive lifestyles into the freedom to become what God created them to be.

(2) It Creates a Lack of Intimacy Within a Marriage - There is little or no intimacy in a polygamous home. The husband and various wives cannot know real love because of his relationships with other women, because these wives are not able to open their hearts in intimacy to a polygamous man. This is because God did not create man and woman to live in such relationships. No woman can deeply love and respect a man who is sleeping with various other women at the same time. A good example of this problem in the Old Testament is found in the book of Esther when King Ahasuerus put away Queen Vashti over one incident (Esther 1:10-21). Now, the only way that a man could do such a thing is because there was no true intimacy between the two individuals.

(3) It Creates Sexual Promiscuity Within a Society - Polygamy tends to bring a man into sexual promiscuity. It is found in the lives of King David and King Solomon; and because of it, both men sinned against God in this area of their lives. For King David, polygamy created an environment that resulted in adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11:1-27). For King Solomon, polygamy led his heart stray into idolatry (1 Kings 11:1-8). Having lived in Africa a number of years, I have seen how polygamy distorts a man’s perception of marriage, and it perverts an entire society so that the majority of people become adulterous, both men and women. This is because polygamy confuses the boundaries of marriage. A man who believes that he can seek additional wives while married to one has no way to define adultery. In these poverty-stricken societies common-law relationships replace traditional marriage ceremonies, which are too expensive for most people. Then how does one distinguish between an adulterous relationship and a common law marriage? It becomes impossible to define. A man with more power in a polygamous society is able to steal another man’s wife. How does one define right and wrong is such situation? Was not this King David’s sin? He thought that he had the power to take possession of another man’s wife.

The issue becomes more complicated when a person of multiple marriages feels called into the ministry. I remember talking to one Bible School director who admitted that he faced a challenge when determining how to qualify an African man for the ministry who has only had one wife. If he has had numerous affairs with women before his conversion, who is to determine whether these relationships were short common-law marriages, or simply adulterous affairs? This director implemented a policy that if a dowry was paid, then it was a legal marriage. Otherwise, it was an adulterous relationship that had to be ended, or a marriage ceremony conducted, before a man could enroll in Bible school.

(4) It Creates Strife Within a Marriage Another reason that Paul limits a man to one wife is because the tendency for strife between wives becomes prevalent in a polygamous household. As I have lived in African, and talked to people who were raised in such a household, I have repeatedly heard the testimony of these children being raised in a home full of strife. I read the local African newspapers and hear of constant displays of public arguments between the wives of one man. A good biblical example of this problem is seen in the strife of Abraham’s household. Once Abraham took Hagar as a second “wife,” Sarah and Hagar fell into strife. This strife did not end until Hagar was driven out (Genesis 16:1-16; Genesis 21:9-21). A second Scriptural example is seen in the constant strife between Leah and Rachel, Jacob’s two wives. This strife never ended between these two women (Genesis 29:1 to Genesis 30:24). A minister of the Gospel cannot walk with God when strife prevails in his household.

God ordained the family to consist of one man and one woman. A home of polygamy is a home out of God's divine order. Therefore, a man cannot qualify as a bishop when his home is not in divine order; otherwise, his prayers will be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).

1 Peter 3:7, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

(5) It Creates A Society of Murder - It is interesting to note the fact that Lamech, the first polygamist in the Scriptures (Genesis 4:23), also committed an act of murder. We can also note that King David committed an act of murder because of his pursuit of polygamy (2 Samuel 11:1-27). We can note that the religion of Islam, which emphasizes polygamy as a part of hits religious tenets of faith is also characterized as a religion of war and terror and murder. We can note that the African nations are known for their polygamy as well as their internal wars. Thus, there seems to be a relationship between polygamy, or adultery, and the spirit of murder. It is interesting to compare David’s sin of adultery and murder and Lamech with the testimony of Jack Hayford when he was a young minister. His testimony includes a temptation towards adultery followed by thoughts of murder. As a young minister working at the headquarters of the Four Square Church, he found himself becoming close friends with a female co-worker, even though he was married. After some time a mature co-worker noticed this unhealthy friendship. Hayford tells of his emotional experience, how he both love his wife and yet, felt affections for this new lady. He tells how he entertained the thoughts of his wife dying. As he struggled with his heart and the Spirit of God, he felt tremendous conviction, but did not know what to do. He was feeling thoughts of adultery, followed by thoughts of leaving his wife, which was a spirit of murder. However, because of the intercession of others and the work on the Holy Spirit, he came to himself, approached his supervisor and arranged for a separation between himself and this female co-worker. At that point he approached his wife and revealed this struggle with her. Years later, he began to share this testimony from the pulpit and found that it was a frequent struggle with many church leaders and laymen. [103] We find these same two spirits at work in the life of David and Lamech; for they both committed adultery, followed by murder.

[103] Jack Hayford, The Anatomy of Adultery (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 2004).

Summary Paul the apostle had to draw some boundaries for the Church to conduct itself in these heathen societies. He had observed these problems within polygamy and was inspired by the Lord to reject it in the life of Church leadership; for no man of God can live a holy lifestyle and participate in polygamy.

Word Study on “vigilant” Strong says the Greek word “vigilant” ( νηφα ́ λιος ) (G3524) means, “sober,” and figuratively, “circumspect.” BDAG says it means, “temperate (in the use of wine), sober.” Zodhiates says it means, “Sober, temperate, self-controlled, especially in respect to wine. Used metaphorically, meaning sober-minded, watchful, circumspect.” The TDNT says it means, “holding no wine.”

Word Study on sober ” Strong says the Greek word “sober” ( σω ́ φρων ) (G4998) literally means, “safe (sound) in mind, that is, self controlled (moderate as to opinion or passion),” and figuratively, “discreet, sober, temperate.” He says this compound word comes from σῴζω (4982) “to save,” and φρήν (5424) “the mind.” BDAG says it means, “prudent, thoughtful, self-controlled.” Vine says it means, “of sound mind, self-controlled.” Zodhiates translates it to mean, “self-disciplined in one's freedom, self-restrained in all passions and desires.” The TDNT say it literally means, “of sound ( σάος , σῶς , σῶος )  mind ( φρένες ).”

Comments - This person is sober-minded, sensible, level headed, which is the opposite of continual jesting and foolish talking.

Word Study on “of good behaviour” - Strong says the Greek word “of good behaviour” ( κόσμιος ) (G2887) means, “orderly, decorous.” BDAG says it means, “respectable, honorable.” Vine says it means, “orderly, modest.” The TDNT says it means, “honorable, disciplined.”

Word Study on “given to hospitality” Strong says the Greek word “given to hospitality” ( φιλο ́ ξενος ) (G5382) literally means, “fond of guests,” and figuratively, “given to hospitality.” He says it is a compound word, coming from ( φίλος ) (G5384) “friend,” and ( ξένος ) (G3581) “stranger.” BDAG says this word means, “hospitality.” Vine says it means, “love of strangers.”

Comments - He is friendly towards others.

Word Study on “apt to teach” Strong says the Greek word “apt to teach” ( διδακτικός ) (G1317) means, “instructive, didactic.” BDAG says it means, “skillful in teaching.” Vine says it means, “skilled in teaching.” The TDNT says it means, “able to teach.”

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

1 Timothy 3:3 Word Study on “given to wine” Strong says the Greek word “given to wine” ( πάροινος ) (G3943) means, “staying near wine, i.e. tipping (a toper).” BDAG says it means, “drunken, addicted to wine.” Vine says this compound word comes from παρά (at) and οἶνος (wine), and literally means, “tarrying at the wine, given to wine,” but it “probably has the secondary sense, of the effects of wine bibbing, viz. abusive brawling.” This Greek word is used twice in the New Testament (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7).

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

Titus 1:7, “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;”

Scholars are divided as to whether the word πάροινος should be translated in its literal or figurative sense in the New Testament. 1. The Wider Use - Those who favor the wider use of the word without a reference to drunkenness base their argument upon the use of this word outside the New Testament, and the immediate context of its passage in the New Testament.

a) Citations Outside the New Testament - The Greek verb παροινέω is used in the LXX with the figurative meaning of “brawling” (Isaiah 41:12).

Brenton, “ Thou shalt seek them, and thou shalt not find the men who shall insolently rage against thee: for they shall be as if they were not, and they that war against thee shall not be.

Walter Lock cites several uses of the Greek word πάροινος outside the New Testament where it has the figurative meaning, “‘blustering,’ ‘abusive,’ like a man who has been drinking.” [104]

[104] See Josephus ( Antiquities 4.6.10), Aristides ( Apology 14), and Chrysostom ( de Sacerd. 4.1). See Walter Lock, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (I & II Timothy and Titus), in The International Critical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, eds. Charles A. Briggs, Samuel R. Driver, and Alfred Plummer (Edinburgh: T & T. Clark, 1959), 130.

b) The Immediate Context of the Passage - Scholars argue that the context of 1 Timothy 3:3 places μὴ πάροινον in contrast to ἀλλὰ ἐπιεικῆ (but peaceable). The immediate context of its used in Titus 1:7 deals with anger and brawling as well.

Titus 1:7, “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;”

2. The Literal Use - In support of the literal meaning of drunkenness, there are a number of strong arguments.

a) The Context of Parallel Verses in the Pastoral Epistles - one notes the parallel qualification of the deacon, which says it is not to be given to “much wine” (1 Timothy 3:8), and the list of virtues of the aged women in Titus 2:3, both of which do not describe a person’s temperament, but rather his consumption of wine.

b) The Ancient Versions - John Gill cites the Syriac version of this text, which says, “who does not transgress over wine,” meaning that he does not “go beyond due bounds in the use of it.” He says the Arabic version reads, “not insolent through wine,” which describes “one that is heated with it is fierce and furious, and wrangling and quarrelsome, and often very mischievous and injurious;” [105]

[105] John Gill, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus, in John Gill’s Expositor, in e-Sword, v. 7.7.7 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on 1 Timothy 3:3.

Comments The Greek phrases “ μὴ πάροινον ” (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7), “ μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας ” (1 Timothy 3:8), and “ ὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ δεδουλωμένας ” (Titus 2:3) are generally considered to be equivalent in meaning. Thus, the idea is that wine is to be used in moderation among believers.

Paul tells Timothy later in this same epistle to drink a little wine for the sake of his health (1 Timothy 5:23), and Paul also says that no food or drink is to be refused if it has been received with thanksgiving and the Word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5). Thus, Paul is telling the leaders of the church not to indulge in these areas of his life, but to use wisdom and moderation.

1 Timothy 5:23, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.”

1 Timothy 4:4-5, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

It should be noted in a similar manner that the Levitical priests were forbidden to not partake of wine or strong drink prior to ministering in their office (Leviticus 10:9).

Leviticus 10:9, “Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:”

“no striker” - Word Study on “striker” - Strong says the Greek word “striker” ( πλη ́ κτης ) (G4131) means, “a smiter, that is, pugnacious (quarrelsome), a striker.” BDAG says it means, “a pugnacious man, a bully.” Vine says it means, “a striker, a brawler.” Zodhiates defines this word to mean, “a striker, a violent person, figuratively a reviler, one who by reproachful and upbraiding language wounds the conscience of his brethren, a contentious person, a quarreler.”

“not greedy of filthy lucre” Word Study on “greedy of filthy lucre” - Strong says the Greek word “given to filthy lucre” ( αι ̓ σχροκερδη ́ ς ) (G146) means, “given to (greedy of) filthy lucre.” BDAG says it means, “fond of dishonest gain.” Vine says it means, “greedy of base gain,” and is a compound word from αἰσχρός (base, shameful) and κέρδος (gain). Zodhiates says it means, “a person who is eager to gain even if such gain degrades his moral character.” This means the person is fond of dishonest gain, or focused upon money. This Greek word is used 2 times in the New Testament (1 Timothy 3:8, Titus 1:7) and an additional time in the Textus Receptus (1 Timothy 3:3).

Word Study on “not a brawler” Strong says the Greek word “not a brawler” ( ἄμαχος ) (G269) means, “peaceable,” and is a compound word coming from “ α ” as a “negative particle,” and ( μάχη ) (G3163), meaning, “a battle, controversy.” BDAG says it means, “peaceable.” Vine says it literally means, “not fighting,” and metaphorically it means, “not contentious.” This Greek word is used twice in the New Testament (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 3:2).

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

Titus 3:2, “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers , but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.”

Comments The idea of wine bibbing and fighting and greedy of worldly gain go together in the sense that people who drink too much often lose their temper while drunk and desire worldly entertainment. A person given to drink is often characterized as temperamental, and one who seeks pleasures. Thus, the three qualifications of “not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre” are placed together in the list.

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

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

1 Timothy 3:4-5 Comments The Bishop’s Family - The statement about a bishop’s children in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 tells us that a church leader’s children must be faithful to parents and to God. That is, these children must have respect towards their parents and God. God would not require of us something that was impossible to do. This leads us to the unavoidable conclusion that every Christian parent should be able to raise their children to have faith and obedience towards God. This is exactly what Proverbs 22:6 means when it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This verse tells us that a parent’s role is to establish the destiny of their children by instilling within them a reverence and faith in God. Thus, a rebellious and faithless child reflects failed parenting. There is no way to avoid this conclusion.

Scripture References - Note a similar passage in Titus 1:6, “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.”

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

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

1 Timothy 3:7 “Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without” Comments - This phrase refers both to people outside their local fellowship and to non-believers. Not only should this person be treating the unsaved with Christian conduct, but those believers in other denominations should be able to say that this is a man of good character.

Yet, if this qualification for a minister is true, why was Paul spoken evil by the Jews throughout the world (Acts 21:21; Acts 21:27)? How can this balance out?

Because Paul was being persecuted for righteousness sake (1 Corinthians 4:9-10). This verse in 1 Timothy is referring to a believer living a Godly lifestyle in the midst of an ungodly world.

Illustrations - Illustrations of how the Jews spoke evil of Paul:

Acts 21:21, “And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.”

Acts 21:27, “And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him,”

1 Corinthians 4:9-10, “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.”

Verses 1-13

The Appointment of Church Leaders: A Good Conscience In 1 Timothy 3:1-13 Paul deals with church leadership as the second aspect of setting a local church congregation in order. In this passage he discusses the qualifications of bishops (1 Timothy 3:1-7) and deacons (1 Timothy 3:8-13) within the local church congregation. Once Timothy has seen certain individuals who have followed him in corporate prayer, whose hearts are pure, he now begins to work with them on issues of character. He will identify those who are living by a good conscience so that their character among the congregation will one day be instilled into the laity.

This discussion of the appointment of church leadership in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 naturally follows the sequence that Paul has laid out in the previous passages. When a man sets himself in order within the institution of the Church by joining in corporate and private prayer (1 Timothy 2:1-8), and is also able to bring his wife and family in order within the Church (1 Timothy 2:9-15), he is then putting himself in a position for the next calling that involves a person’s relationship with the church assemble, which is Church leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-13). For when a person fulfills his first two roles within a congregation, God will call him to the next level, which is leadership. We can imagine young Timothy calling the congregation to prayer. Those in attendance would be viewed by him as believers whose heart was right with God, and who had a passion for the things of God. It would be out of this group that Timothy would look for potential leaders. Thus, we see a sequence of events in the life of individuals regarding their roles within the local church assembly. There are two levels of leadership; the bishop and the deacon. Later, in his second epistle to young Timothy, Paul will deal with some of the manifold aspects of church leadership.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Qualifications of Bishops 1 Timothy 3:1-7

2. The Qualifications of Deacons 1 Timothy 3:8-13

The Purpose of Appointing Church Leaders - Paul will charge Titus with the same instructions regarding church leadership in Titus 1:5-9.

Titus 1:5, “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”

It is of utmost most importance that godly leaders be appointed over God’s flock as quickly as possible. Why is this so?

1. Godly leaders both save themselves and those that hear them:

1 Timothy 4:16, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”

2. Ungodly leaders can subvert the hearers (Titus 1:11), damning both leader and followers. Titus 1:10-11 explains why.

Titus 1:10-11, “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.”

This is why so many verses in this epistle are given to the subject of qualified leaders. We see its importance when we read how Jesus spent all night in prayer before choosing His twelve apostles.

Luke 6:12-13, “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;”

A Description of The Church Offices within the Pastoral Epistles When we look at the titles given to church leaders in the Pastoral Epistles, we immediately see the office of the bishop ( ἐπίσκοπος ) and the deacon ( διάκονος ). As we continue to read we notice that the title of elder ( πρεσβύτερος ) not only refers to an older man, but also to church leaders as well. Thus, the title of elder would probably signify reverence for age as well as position.

The Basis for Appointments of Church Leaders In the New Testament, the offices of a bishop and deacon are not based on family lineage, as in the Old Testament. It is based on faith and obedience. Even though the Jews of Paul's day were aware of their tribal heritage, for Paul knew his lineage as a Benjamite (Philippians 3:5), Paul instructed the Church to chose leaders based on the divine qualifications set forth in these verses.

In contrast, today in Africa everyone knows his tribal heritage. Each African also keeps track of the tribes of their friends and colleagues. This is because of the belief that each tribe has its own unique personalities and characteristics in its people. In fact, during the reigns of Obote and Idi Amin, these two Presidents of Uganda, East Africa, chose leaders out of their own tribes to lead their nations. These were choices based on tribe, and not on abilities to lead a nation.

Philippians 3:5, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;”

Dating the Epistle of 1 Timothy It becomes obvious from reading 1 Timothy 3:1-3 about the qualifications of bishops and deacons that Timothy was already familiar with the roles of these church offices in the local church; for a no time in this Epistle or any other Pauline epistle does he explain their functions and distinctions to Timothy. This familiarity allowed Paul to limit his comments to the identification of men whose character qualified them for these offices.

We see from Acts 20:17 that Paul had already ordained elders in the church of Ephesus before departing.

Acts 20:17, “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.”

Thus, we know that Timothy had watched Paul identify and set apart such men on numerous occasions. In the epistle of 1 Timothy Paul is now delegating this duty to Timothy. I point this fact out because many scholars use Acts 20:17 to date this epistle earlier during Paul’s third missionary journey, rather than between his first and second Roman imprisonments. They argue that Paul could not have appointed bishops in this church, then wrote to Timothy years later to do the same. But this argument for an early date of writing assumes that Paul had never appointed bishops and deacons before writing this passage in 1 Timothy 3:1-13. However, this is a wrong assumption, because this passage clearly implies that Timothy was already familiar with the functions of these offices of church leaders. Otherwise, this passage would have to be lengthy, and this Epistle be the size of some of Paul’s longer epistles in order to explain everything needed to initiate those offices into the body of Christ.

Verses 1-16

The Second Order: The Appointment and Training of Church Leaders (Emphasis on Renewing of the Mind) 1 Timothy 3:1 to 1 Timothy 4:16 gives a lengthy discourse on how to identify and train members for the offices of bishops and deacons, the primary leaders in a local congregation. This passage will emphasize the renewing of the mind for Christian leadership.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Appointment of Church Leaders 1 Timothy 3:1-13

2. The Training of Church Leaders 1 Timothy 3:14 to 1 Timothy 4:16

Verses 8-13

The Qualifications of Deacons 1 Timothy 3:8-13 lists the qualifications of deacons in the church. The office of the deacon was instituted in Acts 6:1-7, with seven men being appointed to minister to the widows. The office of the deacon is mentioned in Philippians 1:1. Phebe is generally considered a deaconess in Cenchrea (Romans 16:1). Otherwise, there are only allusions to this office in the New Testament (Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28, 1 Peter 4:11). Thus, it is not known how far reaching the office of the deacon extended under Paul’s ministry.

Philippians 1:1, “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:”

Romans 16:1, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:”

Romans 12:7, “Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;”

1 Corinthians 12:28, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”

1 Peter 4:11, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

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

1 Timothy 3:8 “Likewise must the deacons” Comments - In some churches, deacons are ordained and appointed, then allowed to serve as deacons periodically, so that others will have a turn. However, in Scripture a man is appointed as a deacon as a divine office and ministry, so that God will always hold him to the responsibilities and office of a deacon, and not just on a periodic basis.

1 Timothy 3:8 “not given to much wine” Word Study on “given” Strong says the Greek word “given” ( προσέχω ) (G4337) figuratively means, “to hold the mind towards, i.e. to pay attention to, to be cautious about, to apply oneself to, to adhere to.”

Comments The Greek phrases “ μὴ πάροινον ” (1 Timothy 3:3, Titus 1:7), “ μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας ” (1 Timothy 3:8), and “ ὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ δεδουλωμένας ” (Titus 2:3) are generally considered to be equivalent in meaning. Thus, the idea is that wine is to be used in moderation among believers.

1 Timothy 3:8 “not greedy of filthy lucre” Word Study on “greedy of filthy lucre” - Strong says the Greek word “given to filthy lucre” ( αι ̓ σχροκερδη ́ ς ) (G146) means, “given to (greedy of) filthy lucre.” BDAG says it means, “fond of dishonest gain.” Vine says it means, “greedy of base gain,” and is a compound word from αἰσχρός (base, shameful) and κέρδος (gain). Zodhiates says it means, “a person who is eager to gain even if such gain degrades his moral character.” This means the person is fond of dishonest gain, or focused upon money. This Greek word is used 2 times in the New Testament (1 Timothy 3:8, Titus 1:7) and an additional time in the Textus Receptus (1 Timothy 3:3).

Comments The idea of wine bibbing and fighting and greedy of worldly gain go together in the sense that people who drink too much often lose their temper while drunk and desire worldly entertainment. Thus, these three qualifications are placed together in the list. A person given to drink is often characterized as temperamental, and one who pursues worldly pleasures.

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

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

1 Timothy 3:10 Illustration - The apostles were very careful when they chose seven men for deacons in Acts 6:3, “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”

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

1 Timothy 3:11 Comments - The KJV, NIV and others translate the Greek word γυνή as “wives.” However, the RSV, NASB, BDAG use the broader term “women.” The translation “women” means that women can clearly become deacons in the church, so that this passage is not simply dealing with the wives of deacons.

Romans 16:1, “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:”

The word “servant” in Romans 16:1 is the same Greek word διάκονον that is translated as “deacon” in this passage in 1 Timothy.

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

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

Verses 14-16

The Training of the Leaders: A Sincere Faith The next stage in setting a church in order is to train those who have been called out as bishops and deacons. Paul first establishes the purpose and function of the Church on earth by saying that it is “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), placed upon this earth to reveal the “mystery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (1 Timothy 3:16). Thus, 1 Timothy 3:14-16 establishes our faith. However, there are those who will depart from this foundation of faith in Christ because of seducing spirits that deceive men with doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1-5). Therefore, Timothy is to teach sound doctrine by “reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6-16). It is in the continuation of teaching sound doctrine that a sincere faith is developed among the leadership as well as laity.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Defining the Role of the Church 1 Timothy 3:14-16

2. Warnings of Apostasy 1 Timothy 4:1-5

3. Exhortation to Teach Sound Doctrine 1 Timothy 4:6-16

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-timothy-3.html. 2013.
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