1 Timothy 3 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

1 Timothy 3
Pulpit Commentary
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
Verse 1. - Faithful is the saying for this is a true saying, A.V.; seeketh for desire, A.V. Faithful is the saying (see above, 1 Timothy 1:15, note). This manifestly refers to what follows, not, as Chrysostom and others, and margin of the R.V., to the saying which precedes, in 1 Timothy 2:15. Seeketh (ὀρέγεται); 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 1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 11:16). The noun ὔρεξις, appetite, desire (which is found several times in the LXX.), is used once by St. Paul (Romans 1:27). The office of a bishop; meaning here, as everywhere else in Scripture, that of a presbyter, or priest. Ἐπισκοπή, in the sense of "the episcopate," occurs only here and Acts 1:20, where it is rendered "bishopric" in the A.V., and "overseer-ship" in the margin of the R.V., being the translation in the LXX. of Psalm 108 (Psalms 109, A.V.) of the Hebrew פְקֻדָתו, "his office." Elsewhere (Luke 19:44; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 5:6) it means "visitation." But ἐπίσκοπος, "bishop" (ver. 2) - except in 1 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 the functions of such ἐπίσκοπος (1 Peter 5:2 compared with 1). It was not till the sub-apostolic age that the name of ἐπίσ᾿οπος 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 (Matthew 25:36, 43; Luke 1:68, 78; Acts 7:23; Acts 15:36; James 1:27). Afterwards, when the wants of the Churches required permanent oversight, the name ἐπίσκοπος - vescovo (It.), eueque (Fr.), bischof (Get.), bisceop (A.S.), aipiskaupus (Moeso-Goth.), etc. - became universal for the chief overseer of the Church. A good work (καλοῦ ἔργου, not ἀγαθοῦ, as ver. 10). Καλού means "honourable," "becoming," "beneficial," and the like.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
Verse 2. - The for a, A.V.; therefore for then, A.V.; without reproach for blameless, A.V.; temperate for vigilant, A.V.; sober-minded for sober, A.V.; orderly for of good behavior, A.V. The bishop (see note on ver. 1); "a bishop" is better English. Without reproach (ἀνεπίληπτος); only here and 1 Timothy 5:7 and 1 Tim 6:14 in the New Testament; not found anywhere in the LXX, but used by Thucydides, Euripides, and others, in the sense of "not open to attack," "blameless." 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 (comp. Titus 1:6). Three senses are possible. The passage may be understood

(1) 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;

(2) as prohibiting his having more than one with at a time;

(3) 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 St. 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; 1 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. 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 1 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. 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 1 Timothy 5:9, ἐνὸς ἀνδρὸς γυνή, 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.) Temperate (νηφάλιον); peculiar to the pastoral Epistles (see ver. 11 and Titus 2:2), but found in classical Greek. The verb νήφειν means "to be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:6; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Peter 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-minded (σώφρονα); in the New Testament only here and in Titus 1:8; Titus 2:2, 5. But σωφρονέω is found in the Gospels and Epistles; σωφρονίζω σωφρονισμός σωφρόνως, in the pastoral Epistles; and σωφροσύνη in 1 Timothy 2:15 (where see note). Orderly (κόσμιον; see 1 Timothy 2:9, note). Given to hospitality (φιλόξενον; as Titus 1:8 and 1 Peter 4:9). The substantive φιλοξενία is found in Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2. Apt to teach (διδακτικόν); only here and 2 Timothy 2:24, and Philo, 'De Proem. et Virt.,' 4 (Huther). The classical word is διδασκαλικός, though chiefly applied to things. In the above-quoted passage in 1 Peter 4. the gifts of speaking and ministering are, as here, placed alongside that of hospitality.
Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
Verse 3. - No brawler for not given to wine, A.V.; the R.T. omits the clause μὴ αἰσξρερδη; gentle for patient, A.V.; contentious for a brawler, A.V.; no lover of money, for not covetous, A.V. No brawler (μὴ πάροινον); only here and Titus 1:7; but, as well as παροίνιος, common in classical Greek, in the sense of "quarrelsome over wine." In Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34 "wine-bibber" is οἰνοπότης. In 1 Peter 4:3 the word for "excess of wine" is οἰνοφλυγία. No striker (μὴ τλήκτην); 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 T.R., μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, 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, just as πάροινον and πλήκτην correspond to ἐπιεικῆ and at, ἄμαχον respectively. Gentle (ἐπιεικῆ); as Titus 3:2. So also it is rendered in the A.V. of James 3:17; 1 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 means "clemency," "gentleness," (Acts 24:4; 2 Corinthians 10:1). Not contentious (ἄμαχον); only here and Titus 3:3 in the New Testament, and in Ecclus. 19:5 in the Complutensian edition. It is also used in this sense in AEschylus, 'Persse,' 955, though its more common meaning in classical Greek is "invincible." No lover of money (ἀφιλάργυρον); only here and Hebrews 13:5. Ἁφιλαργυρία occurs in Hippocrates. The positive φιλάργυρος, φιλαργυρία, occurs in 1 Timothy 6:10; 2 Timothy 3:2; Luke 16:14. Neither the A.V. nor the R.V. quite preserves the form of the original sentence, where the three negative qualities (μὴ πάροινον μὴ πλήκτην μὴ αἰσχροκερδῆ, T.R.) are followed by three positive qualities (ἐπιοικῆ ἄμαχον ἀφιλάργυρον - "gentle," "peaceful," and "indifferent about money").
One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
Verse 4. - One that ruleth well his own house. The ἐπίσκοπος is one who has to preside over and rule (προίστασθαι) the house of God (1 Timothy 5:17; Romans 12:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:12), as the high priest was called "ruler of the house of God" (1 Chronicles 9:11; Nehemiah 11:11). So in Justin Martyr the bishop is called ὁ προεστῶς τῶν ἀδελφῶν ('Apology,' 11) and simply ὁ προεστῶς, and similarly in Hebrews 13:7 the clergy are οἱ ἡγούμενοι ὑμῶν, "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); as above, 1 Timothy 2:11, where see note. For the sense, comp. Titus 1:6, which leads us to apply the words, with all gravity (σεμνότητος), the contrary to "riot," ἀσωτία), 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, together with, as in 1 Timothy 1:14.
(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
Verse 5. - But for for, A.V., knoweth for know, A.V.
Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
Verse 6. Puffed up for lifted up with pride, A.V. A novice (νεόφυτον); only here in the New Testament, but found repeatedly in the LXX. in its literal sense of "a tree" or "plantation" newly planted (Psalm 127:3 (Psalms 128:3, A.V.); 144:12; Isaiah 5:7). Here the novice or neophyte is one recently converted and received into the Church (comp. 1 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 puffed up he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Τυφωθεις, puffed up, is peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 3:4), from τυφός, smoke (comp. λίνον τυφόμενον, "smoking flax," Matthew 12:10). The idea seems to be "lightness," "emptiness," and "elation." Some add that of "obscuration" as by smoke; τυφόω, to wrap in smoke; τετύφωμαι, to be wrapt in clouds of conceit and folly (Liddell and Scott). The condemnation of the devil. A somewhat obscure phrase. It means either

(1) the same condemnation as that into which the devil fell through pride, - and so Chrysostom, Olshausen, Bishop Ellicott, Wordsworth, Alford, etc., take it; or

(2) the condemnation or accusation of the devil. In the latter case κρῖμα would be used in the same sense as κρίσις in Jude 1:9, and would mean the charge preferred against him by "the accuser of the brethren" (comp. Job 1:9; Job 2:4, 5). One of the senses of κρίνω is "to accuse" - like κατηγορεῖν (Liddell and Scott). And this view agrees with ὀνειδισμὸν καὶ παγίδα τοῦ διαβόλου in ver. 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

(2) seems, on the whole, the most probable. The devil (τοῦ διαβόλου) can only mean Satan (Matthew 4:1; Matthew 13:39, etc.), though possibly conceived of as speaking by the mouth of traducers and vilifiers of the Church, as in ver. 7.
Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Verse 7. - Good testimony from for a good report of, A.V.; that for which, A.V. Good testimony (μαρτυρίαν καλήν; see 1 Timothy 5:10). So it is said of Timothy himself that ἐμαρτυρεῖτο, "he was well reported of by the brethren" (Acts 16:2). In accordance with this rule, letters testimonial are required of all persons to be ordained, to the importance of character in a clergyman (comp. 2 Corinthians 6:3). Them that are without (τῶν ἔξωθεν); used in Matthew 23:27; Luke 11:39; 1 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, ἔξω. (For the phrase, "they that are without" (οἱ ἔξω), as applied to those who are not members of the Church, see Mark 4:11; John 9:34, 35; 1 Corinthians 5:12, 13; Colossians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:12.) The opposite is ἔσω ἔσωθεν (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. Reproach (ὀνειδισμόν); the reproaches and revilings cast upon him by unbelievers (Romans 15:3; Hebrews 10:33; Hebrews 11:26; Hebrews 13:13). The verb ὀνειδίζειν has the same sense (1 Timothy 4:10; Matthew 5:11; Mark 15:32; Luke 6:22; 1 Peter 4:14), and so in classical Greek. This reproach is further described as the snare of the devil (comp. 1 Timothy 6:9; 2 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 depends only upon πασίδα, not upon ὀνειδισμόν. The καὶ 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 1 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.
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Verse 8. - Deacons in like manner must for likewise must the deacons, A.V. Grave (σεμνούς); in Philippians 4:8 rendered "honest" in the A.V., and "honourable" in the R.V., and "venerable" in the margin. None of the words are satisfactory, but "honest" in the sense of honnete, i.e. "respectable," "becoming the dignity of a man," comes nearest to the meaning of σεμνός. Ἄνηρ σεμνός is a man who inspires respect by his conduct and deportment. It occurs again in ver. 11 and in Titus 2:2. Double-tongued (διλόγους); only here in the New Testament, or indeed anywhere. The verb διλογεῖν and the noun διλογία are found in Xenophon and Diodorus Siculus, but in a different sense - "to repeat," "repetition." Here δίλογος is used in the sense of δίγλωσσος (Proverbs 11:13; Ecclus. 28:13), "a slanderer," "a false-tongued man," who, as Theophylact (ap. Schleusner) well explains it, thinks one thing and says another, 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 (comp. Titus 2:3 where the additional idea, most true, of the slavery of drunkards, is introduced). Greedy of filthy lucre (αἰσχροκερδεῖς); only here and in ver. 3 (T.R.) and Titus 1:7. The adverb αἰσχροκερδῶς occurs in 1 Peter 5:2, and is one of many points of resemblance between the pastoral Epistles and 1 Peter. Balsam, 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 1 Timothy 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 excessive, it ceases to be clean.
Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
Verse 9. - Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. Μυστήριον, 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, to initiate, of which the passive μυέομαι, to be instructed or initiated, is found in Philippians 4:12, and is common in classical Greek, being itself derived from μύω, "to close the lips as in pronouncing the syllable μῦ," whence also taurus. The idea is of something secret, which might not be spoken cf. In the New Testament we have "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:11; Luke 8:10; Mark 4:11); and St. Paul brings out the full force of the word when he speaks (Romans 16:25) of "the mystery which was kept secret (σεσιγημένου) 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, etc.). "The faith" is equivalent to "the gospel," or "the kingdom of heaven," or the "godliness" of ver. 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 St. Paul (Romans 1:18). He says of himself (Acts 23:1), "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (comp. Acts 24:16; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:5, 19, etc.). It is much to be observed how St. Paul, the great teacher of the doctrine of g-race, lays constant stress upon the functions of the conscience, and the necessity of having a pure conscience.
And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.
Verse 10. Serve as deacons for use the office of a deacon, A.V.; if they be for being found, A.V. 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 vers. 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, not accused, not open to just blame, blameless, let them be admitted to serve as deacons (see ver. 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 (comp. Titus 1:6, 7); ἀνέγκλητος, 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 A.V. and the R.V. The whole passage, from ver. 2 to ver. 13, shows the supreme importance of a holy and blameless conversation in the clergy.
Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.
Verse 11. - Women in like maturer must for even so must their wives, A.V.; temperate for sober, A.V. 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

(1) the wives of the deacons, as in the A.V.;

(2) the wives of the episcopi and deacons;

(3) deaconesses.

This last, 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 (at διάκονοι, Romans 16:1). He conceives of the deacon's office as consisting of two branches -

(1) the deacons,

(2) 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 retrain in ver. 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 (see following notes). Grave (σεμνὰς; see ver. 8, note). Not slanderers (μὴ διαβόλους, corresponding to the μὴ διλόγους of ver. 8). This use of διάβολος, which is the classical one, is peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles (see 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3). Temperate (νηφαλίους; see ver. 2, note). It corresponds here to the μὴ οἴνῳ πολλῷ προσέχοντας of ver. 8. Faithful in all things (πιστὰς ἐν πᾶδιν). This seems to refer specially to their being the almoners of the Church charities, and so favors the explanation of "women" as meaning deaconesses. Πιστός means especially "trusty" (Matthew 24:45; Matthew 25:21; Luke 12:42; Luke 16:10, etc.).
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Verse 12. - Deacons for the deacons, A.V.; husbands for the husbands, A.V. Husbands of one wife (see above, ver. 2, note). Ruling, etc. (προιδτάμενοι); literally, being at the head of, presiding over (see ver. 4, note). In Romans 12:8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12 it is applied to the spiritual ruler, the ἐπίσκοπος or πρεσβυτερος of the Church. Elsewhere only in the pastoral Epistles (above, vers. 4 and 5; 1 Timothy 5:17; Titus 3:8, 14). Their own houses (above, ver. 5). "Their own" is in contrast to" God's house."
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.
Verse 13. - Served well as deacons for used the office of a deacon well, A.V.; gain to themselves a good standing for purchase to themselves a good degree, A.V. Served... as deacons (διακονήσαντες); as in ver. 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. Gain to themselves a good standing. The sense of the passage depends a good deal upon the exact meaning of βαθμός. In 1 Samuel 5:4, 5, in the LXX., βαθμός is the rendering of מִפְתָּן (rendered αἴθριον in Ezekiel 9:3; Ezekiel 10:4), a somewhat unusual word for a "threshold." In 2 Kings 20:9, 10, 11, it is the rendering of מַעֲלָה, "a degree on the sun-dial." This latter seems to suit better the verb περιποιοῦνται, they gain or acquire, which suggests the idea of advancement. It does not follow that St. 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 LXX.; but only elsewhere in the New Testament in Acts 20:28. Boldness (παρρησίαν); very common in the New Testament (comp. Acts 4:13, 29, 31; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:20, etc.), where it is especially applied to boldness in preaching the gospel of Christ. This seems to imply that St. Paul contemplated preaching as a part of the deacon's work. We know that Philip the deacon and Stephen the deacon were both preachers.
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
Verse 14. - To come unto thee; to Ephesus, where Timothy was (1 Timothy 1:3).
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.
Verse 15. - Men ought to behave themselves for thou oughtest to behave thyself, A.V. To behave thyself (ἀναστρέφεσθαι); variously rendered, both in the A.V. and the R.V., "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, in the thirteen places where it occurs in the New Testament, is always rendered "conversation" in the A.V.; in the R.V., "manner of life," "life," "issue of life," "manner of living," "behaviour," "living." It is a favorite word in the two Epistles of St. 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 2 Corinthians 6:16, "Ye are the temple of the living God." The phrase, "the living God," occurs seven times in St. 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 St. 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 (Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, Basil, and others cited by Alford), after the analogy of Galatians 2:9, where James, Cephas, and John are said to be "pillars" (στύλοι), and Revelation 3:12, where it is said of him that over-cometh, "I will make him a pillar (στύλον) in the house of my God." And so, in Venantius Fortunatus, St. Paul is called "stilus ille." But the metaphors of "a pillar" and "a foundation" do not all suit the verb ἀναστρέφεσθαι; and it is well argued that the absence of the pronoun σε 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 the 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 (ἑδραίωμα). This word only occurs here at all; ἑδραῖος, common both in the New Testament, the LXX., and in classical Greek, means "fixed," "firm," or" fast." In the A.V. of 1 Corinthians 7:37 and 1 Cor 15:58, "steadfast;" Colossians 1:23 (where it is coupled with τεθεμελιωμένα), "settled." Thence ἑδραιόω in late Greek, "to make firm or fast," and ἑδραίμα, the "establishment" or "grounding" of the truth; that in and by which the truth is placed on a sure and fixed basis.
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.
Verse 16. - He who for God, A.V. and T.R.; manifested for manifest, A.V.; among the nations for unto the Gentiles, A.V.; in for into, A.V. Without controversy (ὁμολογουμένως); only here in the New Testament, but used in the same sense in the LXX. 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." Godliness (τῆς εὐδεβείας); i.e." the Christian faith;" what in 1 Timothy 6:3 is called "The words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine which is according to godliness (τῇ κατ αὐσεβείαν διδασκαλὶᾳ)," and in 2 Timothy 1:1, "The truth which is according to godliness." In ver. 9 it is "the mystery of the faith, where ἠ πίστις is equivalent to ἡ αὐσεβεία. Bishop Ellicott, however, does not admit this objective sense of ἡ πίστις ορ ἡ 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 b- 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 ἠ πίστις is either necessary or by far the most natural: Acts 3:7; Acts 13:8; Acts 14:22; Acts 16:5; Galatians 1:23; Ephesians 4:5; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:23; Colossians 2:7; 1 Timothy 1:19; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 6:10, 21; 2 Timothy 4:7; Titus 1:13; James 2:1; Jude 1:3. Having thus exalted the "mystery of godliness," St. Paul goes on to expound it. He who (ὅς). This is generally adopted now as the true reading, instead of Θεός (ΟΣ, instead of ΘΣ). Bishop Ellicott satisfied himself, by most careful personal examination, that the original reading of the Cod. Alex. was ΟΣ, and that it had been altered by a later hand to ΘΣ. The Cod. Sinait certainly has ὅς, and to this all the older versions agree. The Vulgate has quod, agreeing with sacramentum and representing the Greek 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. 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" (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); a word frequently applied to Christ (John 1:31; 1 John 1:2; 1 John 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." We have the same contrast between the flesh and the Spirit of Christ in 1 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 is used), and at his resurrection (Matthew 28:2). The special interest of angels in the "great mystery" is referred to in 1 Peter 1:12; Hebrews 1:6. Preached among the nations (ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν). It would have been better to keep the rendering "Gentiles" here, to mark the identity of thought with 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 (comp. 1 Timothy 2:7). Believed on in the world. The next step in this ascending scale is the acceptance of Christ in the world as the Savior 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 Colossians 1:23, "The gospel which was preached in all creation under heaven" (comp. Romans 1:8). The statement in Mark 16:15-20 might almost have been in St. Paul's mind. Note the use there of the words κηρύξατε ἐκηρύξαν, τὸν κόσμον ὀ πιστεύσας πιστεύσασι ἀνελήφρη. Received up in glory. The change of "into" (A.V.) into "in" is of very doubtful propriety. In New Testament Greek ἐν, frequently follows verbs of motion, and means the same as εἰς, like the Hebrew בְּ. Our Lord is net said to have ascended in glory (as he appeared at the Transfiguration), but, as St. 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 1 Timothy 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 (comp. 1 Timothy 6:11 and following verses).

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