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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 3

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentMahan's Commentary

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Verses 1-7

The office of Pastor or Elder

1 Timothy 3:1-7

In this chapter, Paul deals with the qualifications of officers and leaders of the churches and points to the principal reason for writing this epistle (1 Timothy 3:15), ‘that you may know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God, which is the church.’

1 Timothy 3:1 . The apostle, having denied to women the work and office of teaching, proceeds to observe that though this belongs to men, yet not to every man, but to those whom the Lord is pleased to call and equip for this ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12; Acts 20:28; Acts 13:2). He gives to the church some qualifications and directions in regard to men who desire the office and indicates that God has set them apart for this ministry. We know that the call to pastor and teacher involves much more than a desire to do so, but it certainly begins here. ‘He desireth a good work.’ It is not a desire for an office, a mere title of honor, and a place of profit; but the man called of God desires and delights in a laborious work. Elders are called ‘Laborers together with God’ (1 Corinthians 3:9). It is an excellent labor, a useful labor, and an honorable labor, but one which involves full and complete dedication.

1 Timothy 3:2 . ‘Blameless.’ No man is entirely free from sin nor blameless in the sight of God; but the meaning is that be should be a man of excellent reputation among men, a man of honesty, integrity, and upright conduct and conversation.

‘The husband of one wife.’ It is not required that he be married (Paul was not) nor that he not have a second wife after the death of the first, but one wife at a time! Polygamy and divorce were prevalent at that time. The elder is to be married to one woman only.

‘Vigilant,’ watchful over himself and the souls of those whom he leads. He must be alert to the wiles of Satan, the dangers of false doctrine, and to the leadership of the Spirit of God.

‘Sober.’ A better, more extensive word is temperate in eating, drinking, hobbies, and all things pertaining to the flesh.

‘Of good behavior,’ modest, humble, considerate, and kind.

‘Given to hospitality.’ The elders minister words of truth and doctrine, but they minister to PEOPLE; therefore, they must love and be concerned for individuals. Their hearts and hands and homes must be open to all men, especially to the household of faith.

‘Apt to teach,’ one who has considerable knowledge and is able to explain, illustrate, and communicate the truth of the gospel, one who can refute error. A teacher should have the gift of public speaking.

1 Timothy 3:3 . ‘Not given to wine.’ The elder is not intemperate in the use of wine, is not addicted to the use of it nor a follower of it.

‘No striker,’ either with his hands or his tongue! He is not a bully nor a harsh person, but gentle and considerate.

‘Not greedy of money’ (Titus 1:10-11; 1 Timothy 6:6-10). Covetousness and greed are distasteful in any believer, but especially in a minister of the gospel.

‘Patient, not a brawler, not covetous,’ one who can bear trials, reproaches, and injuries patiently rather than quarrel and contend with men; one who is gentle in his rebuke, reproofs, and corrections of those who fail and falter; not covetous of the praise and acclaim of men.

1 Timothy 3:4-5 . How can a man preside over the church, provide for it, and see that everything is in its proper place and done according to the word of God if he does not have the courage, will, and determination to rule over his own household (his wife, children, servants, and all who are under his roof), which is a responsibility of far less importance, much easier done, and requiring less understanding, care, and thought? No man can be what the term ‘pastor’ involves if he is not in his home what the word ‘father’ involves. He must be a good father, a kind father, but one who is determined that God will be honored and served in and by his house.

1 Timothy 3:6 . ‘Not a novice.’ He must not be a new convert, a babe in Christ. Time is not only necessary for the acquiring of-knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, but for the subduing of temper, pride, and impulsiveness. A new convert in such an important and honored position is liable to be lifted up with pride and self-importance, which was the downfall of Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15).

1 Timothy 3:7 . He must have a good reputation with men outside the church; for though they despise what we preach, we must not give them occasion to blaspheme our gospel because of our inconsistent and hypocritical conduct. Involvement in questionable activities and behavior will bring reproach from men and open the door for Satan to take advantage and tempt us to greater sin.

These characteristics and traits ought not be reserved only for elders and pastors, but should be the character of every believer!

Verses 8-16

The office of Deacon

1 Timothy 3:8-16

An account is given here in scripture of the qualifications, faith, character and conduct of those who serve the church in the office of deacon. Most agree that Acts 6:1-4 had to do with deacons. When the number of believers was multiplied from 120 to over 3,000 and still increasing, the apostles found it impossible to give themselves to the ministry of the word of God and prayer and also to care for the physical and material needs of the people.

They called on the church to appoint some men over the tables: the table of the poor, in seeing that none want; the table of the pastors, in seeing to their support; the table of the missionaries, that they be provided for; the table of the sick, that their needs be met; the table of the Lord, by providing the bread and wine. These are to be honest men, for it is their responsibility to distribute the funds of the church. They are to be men led by the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom, that they may know how to lead the church to carry out the will of God in material matters.

The reason for the office of deacon is to enable ministers to give all their time to study, prayer and preaching, and not neglect this important duty. The financial matters of the church, care of the needy, visiting of the sick and the comfort and general welfare of the people are all very important, but not as important as the ministry of the word and prayer. When a church is very small, the pastor can be more involved with these matters, but as the church increases in size, responsibility and influences, these matters must be turned over to the deacons while the pastors study, write, preach, pray and confine their work to individual spiritual matters which require their personal attention.

1 Timothy 3:8 . 'Deacons should be grave' serious-minded, dedicated and honest. ‘Not double-tongued' being middle persons between the pastor and people, they must not say one thing to one and something else to the other. ‘Not given to wine,’ which impairs the health, dulls the mind and wastes the estate. ‘Not given to greediness' and covetousness for money and possessions generous with their own possessions and those entrusted to them by the church.

1 Timothy 3:9 . Deacons must be men who know and love the gospel of Christ. Men should not be chosen as deacons simply because they are shrewd business men, prosperous or worldly wise; but they should be selected from among men who diligently love, hold to and defend the gospel of Christ with a sincere heart and conscience.

1 Timothy 3:10 . One would not ordain a novice to preach or pastor a church, neither should a man be given the important office of deacon who has not been around long enough to assure the church of his faith, dedication and perseverance. When a man is given this office by the church, let him apply himself to it with diligence and dedication.

1 Timothy 3:11 . The wife of a deacon should be a woman of respect, serious-minded, not a gossiper, but a believer who, like her husband, loves the gospel and is dedicated to the glory of Christ. Because of the close relationship between husband and wife, a rebellious, gossiping, intemperate wife would hinder the effectiveness of a deacon or a preacher. A deacon's home life is as important as the pastor's home life.

1 Timothy 3:12 . The deacon does not have to be a married man, but if he is married, he is to have only one wife, and his wife and children are to be in subjection to his leadership and control. He cannot manage the affairs of the church if he is unable to his home.

1 Timothy 3:13 . Those who serve well as deacons are worthy of great honour, respect and appreciation from all. Blessed is the man who takes the office seriously and serves well as a deacon. He can stand before God, his pastor and the church with this boldness and confidence that he has given his best.

1 Timothy 3:14-15 . 'I hope to come to see you personally before long; but if I am detained, I write these things that you may know how to conduct yourself and carry on the worship and activities of the church, which is the prop and support of the truth.'

1 Timothy 3:16 . This verse is a summary of the great truth upon which the church is built, of which the church is the prop and support and to which pastors and deacons are dedicated. From the greatness and importance of this truth, pastors and deacons should judge their office, so that they may devote themselves to it with deeper reverence and greater care. God was manifest in the flesh (John 1:14), justified and vindicated in the Holy Spirit, seen of the angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world and received up into glory. This is the rock upon which Christ builds his church (Matthew 16:16-18).

Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hms/1-timothy-3.html. 2013.
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