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Bible Commentaries
1 Timothy 3

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


A church leader. Here for the first time the qualifications and work of church leaders and church helpers are examined. Without a doubt, the first Christians took the synagogue as a model or pattern for work and worship. This was doubtless God’s providence at work. Compare notes on Acts 2:44-45 about the new attitude found in Christians. Paul here praises those who have lawful ambition, and tells how to measure them. [The titles “elder” and “deacon” are used in “standard English” in an unbiblical way, because of the practices in many church groups. See note on Ephesians 4:11.]

Verse 2


A man without fault. This is the basic qualification. He is one who “practices what he preaches.” Only one wife. History shows that the church in later centuries took this to mean: “If he is married at all, he must not have more than one wife.” But the Jewish view would certainly have been: “He must be a married man with children (at least one child).” Christianity does not forbid remarriage after the death of the spouse (see 1 Corinthians 7:8-9; 1 Corinthians 7:39), so “only one wife” is not violated by a widower who remarries. Sober. Not one who runs to extremes. Self-controlled. Sensible; one who thinks before he acts. Orderly. Systematic, well-behaved, an organizer. [It is not often that a good preacher could make a good church-leader as well.] Welcome strangers. This was essential, because persecution often made Christians homeless. Able to teach. He must have both the knowledge and the ability to communicate it to others. In this fact, the “church leader” and the “evangelist” overlap in their duties.

Verse 3


Not be a drunkard. Not an alcoholic. Or a violent man. One who has an explosive temper! Gentle and peaceful. He and the other church leaders (there were always more than one in each congregation) act as ARBITRATORS of the problems that come up in the life of the congregation. He must not love money. He must not be one who thinks religion is a way to get rich (1 Timothy 6:5).

Verse 4


Able to manage his own family. A man’s actual character will be seen in the general character of his own family. With all respect. He must be able to earn the respect of his own children.

Verse 5


For if. “If he does not have the ability to manage so small a group as his own family, how will he be able to take charge of the messianic community?” Note that each church-group was managed by a board of two or more church leaders.

Verse 6


He must not be. Remember the churches were made up of many who had come from paganism, and whose moral standards had been very low. Compare 1 Peter 4:2-4. A man must have been a Christian long enough to demonstrate the reality of his faith. Yet notice Paul appointed church leaders in only a few years time after beginning a congregation. See notes on Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17. As the Devil was. See 2 Peter 2:4.

Verse 7


By the people outside the church. This is one of the proofs of his sanity of judgment. Also, since he will in effect be an advertisement for the messianic community (church), he must not be a social outcast. [MacKnight thinks this refers to the time before he became a Christian, but I think 1 Peter 4:2-4 proves that we are to ignore what a man (or woman) may have been before they became a Christian. Past mistakes should not be allowed to veto present ability.]

Verse 8


Church helpers. See note on 1 Timothy 3:1. They are not to be alcoholics, or those who think religion is a way to get rich.

Verse 9


They should hold. To the revealed truth of God’s act in Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:6-10). With a clear conscience. That is, fear or self-interest will not cause them to either conceal or disguise this truth. See note on 1 Timothy 1:19.

Verse 10


They should be tested first. MacKnight thinks this was done by announcing the names of the candidates to the congregation, so that any charge of misconduct could be searched out. God’s servants are chosen from those who are without fault.

Verse 11


Their wives. The Greek word may mean either women or wives. The fact that no mention is made of the church leader’s wives implies this is something special. Johnson thinks these are either deaconesses or the wives of the church helpers. Probably these were wives who were also church helpers themselves. Many things a church helper would be required to do, could only be done by a woman, especially in the East. See notes on Romans 16:1-2; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Timothy 5:9-10.

Verse 12


Only one wife. See note on 1 Timothy 3:2. Be able to manage. See notes on 1 Timothy 3:4-5. A church helper does not manage the affairs of the church, but he (or she) will be deeply involved in the lives of the members, especially at times of crisis.

Verse 13


Win for themselves. Even the wicked must come to respect those who show so much kindness and mercy in helping the poor, the sick, and the persecuted. Able to speak boldly. Love in action builds up the one who does these things, whether he is a church helper or an ordinary Christian. See James 2:18. Perhaps boldness about their faith grows out of love in action!

Verse 14


I hope to come. We do not know whether Paul did visit Ephesus, but some think he did on his way to Crete.

Verse 15


But if I delay. “I would much rather speak with you in person, but because life is so uncertain, I have written you this letter. It will show you how we ought to live as members of God’s household.” [God’s house is built of living stones (Ephesians 2:19-22), not brick and mortar.] The pillar and support of me truth. Truth if revealed to isolated individuals, no matter how many, would soon be dissipated in the world. But the messianic community (church), in which truth is given an objective and real existence, forces the world to become aware of it, and is its own credential. Compare Hebrews 10:25.

Verse 16


No one can deny. The secret is the disclosure to mankind of practical religion (1 Corinthians 2:6-10). No one can deny the claims of Christianity are tremendous!!! He appeared. The Logos took a human body of flesh and blood! See note on John 1:14. Was shown to be right. The Jewish leaders said he was a phony, The Holy Spirit showed he was right, by raising him from death!!! See John 16:8-11 and notes. Was seen by angels. Angels were at the empty tomb, were the first to see the Risen Christ, and told the women. [The same Greek word means angel and messenger. Some think this may refer to those who saw him after he raised from death, and were messengers who told others about it.] He was preached. Compare Matthew 24:14 and note. [This could refer to making salvation available to the Gentiles (Acts 15:12-18 and notes).] Was believed. See John 17:21 : 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. Was taken up. See Hebrews 9:11-12 and notes. GOD HAS MADE ALL OF THESE THINGS KNOWN IN THE MESSAGE OF THE GOOD NEWS!!!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Timothy 3". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/1-timothy-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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