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1 Timothy Chapter Three


1 Timothy 3

The apostle next points out to Timothy the qualities necessary for a bishop or a deacon, as well as for the wife of the latter. [1] He supposes here that there were some who desired to undertake this work. It was a good work. To care for souls and have a vigilant eye upon the walk of believers; to watch over them in order that the members of Christ should answer to His love and lose no christian privilege; to do this by maintaining that happy order and that precious unity which were realised at that time, and to protect the flock of the Lord against the ravaging wolves that were seeking to invade it: this indeed was valuable work, and he on whose heart the Lord had thus laid the souls of His people might well desire to undertake it. The apostle felt this: it was a true and faithful saying; but certain qualities were needed to make any one fit for such a charge. Gifts are not included among them, unless the being "apt to teach" might be so considered; but even this is presented as a quality-the man must have 'aptness' [2] for it-not as a gift. Power to use such truth with others was very useful in fulfilling his charge, without saying at all that he taught publicly in the assembly. The essential thing was that which gave moral weight.

Timothy was not left at Ephesus to appoint elders; but these were the qualities necessary to a bishop, and Paul exhorts him to be watchful on this point.

It is not needful to enter into the details of these qualities; they are plain enough, as well as those required for a deacon.

We see what was the subject of " the condemnation of the devil:" he exalted himself at the thought of his own importance. (Compare Ezek. 28) "The snare of the devil" is another thing. If a man is not of good report, he will yield somewhere to the enemy, because he will not dare to withstand him boldly.

It will be noticed that the apostle speaks of the wives of deacons, not [3] (except to say that these must be the husbands of one wife only). Bishops had a charge, in which they were occupied with souls and exercised authority in the church, in which women were not to act. Deacons were necessarily occupied with family details and circumstances. In these women might well be concerned and often very useful. In the spiritual cares of elders they had nothing to do. It was requisite therefore that the wives of deacons should possess qualities which would cause their husbands to be respected, and at the same time guard themselves from becoming busybodies and tale-bearers.

Faithfulness in the charge of a deacon-the exercise of which in fact is a matter of the greatest delicacy, and requires much christian love and patience-was a means of acquiring strength in the work of God. Stephen and Philip are examples of this: their spiritual powers soon carried them beyond their services as deacons.

What was the assembly in those happy days? That which surely it always is in the sight of God, but then in fact, when love displayed itself in an order maintained by the energy of the Holy Ghost, and when the oneness of the entire body developed itself in the action of all its members, it was the house of God. Thank God, it is so always; yet what a difference since then in its practical condition!

But let us here examine the character which the apostle gives to the assembly on earth. He wrote hoping soon to come, but in order that, in case he might tarry long, Timothy should know how to conduct himself. He then tells us what the assembly is.

In the first place it is the 'house of God'. God dwells in it upon the earth. (Compare Eph. 2:22) We understand that it is here viewed as on the earth, because the apostle is speaking of how to behave in it. But this truth is important. It gives a character to the assembly of the highest importance for us with regard to our responsibility. It is not a vague thing, composed of the dead, of the living-a thing which we know not where to find, because one part of it is alive on the earth and another part consists of souls in heaven. It isthe house of God here below, in which we have to behave (whatever other position we may hold) in a manner that becomes the house of God. God dwells in the assembly upon earth. We cannot too earnestly remember this fact. Whatever would bring confusion into the presentation of the truth, through the idea that some are dead and that the whole assembly is not here, comes from the enemy and is in opposition to the word. The assembly viewed as subsisting on earth, is the house of God.

In the second place it is the assembly of the living God. God, in whom is the power of life, in contrast with men and with dead idols, has an assembly not of the world, having set it apart for Himself. It is not a nation like Israel. That people were the assembly of God in the wilderness. The assembly is now the assembly of the living God.

In the third place it is the pillar and support of the truth. Christ on earth was the Truth. (He is so always, but He was so on the earth.) He is now hidden in God. The assembly is not the truth: the word of God is the truth. His word is truth. Truth exists before the assembly; it is faith in the truth which gathers the assembly together. But the assembly is that which maintains the truth on earth. [4] When the assembly is gone, men will be given up to a strong delusion. It may be that there is only a little remnant of those that call themselves Christians who maintain the word of truth; but it is not the less true that the assembly-as long as it remains here below-is the only witness for the truth upon the earth. It is God's witness to present the truth before men. At the end that which God owns as such will be the feeble flock at Philadelphia; and then that which is in the responsible position of being the assembly (Laodicea) will be spued out of the mouth of Christ, who Himself takes the character of Amen, the faithful and true Witness. But the assembly as planted by God on the earth is the pillar and support of the truth. Authority is not the question here, but the maintenance and presentation of the truth. That which does not maintain and present the truth is not the assembly as God understands it.

The presence, then, of the living God, and the profession of the truth, are the characteristics of the house of God. Wherever this assembly of the living God is, wherever the truth is, there is His house.

The mystery of piety, which lies at the very centre of what the assembly maintains before the world, is great, and relates essentially to the Person of Christ. The apostle naturally does not here develop all the different parts of the truth, but that which is the living centre of the whole-that which is essential to the relations between God and men.

God had been manifested in the flesh; marvelous truth in fact! There, where all is confusion and sin, in the nature of him in whom all this sin and all this confusion are introduced, the Centre of all blessing, He who is Light itself, He who as the light puts every thing morally in its place, and who by the fact of His presence shews that love is above everything, God who is love, has been manifest in the flesh. Where sin was, there was love above the sin. Man, who is the slave of evil, sees here in his own nature the source and the power of all good. In the centre of evil and of weakness, in human nature, God Himself has been manifested. Was there then evil in Him who was such? Did He undergo the lot of the common bondage? By no means. Truly in the same circumstances, in the same nature, He proved superior to all evil, perfect in all respects. The absence of all sin was made evident by the power of the Holy Ghost during His whole life (if men had been able to discern it; and, in fact, it was manifest to the conscience of every man, for He was pure light shining upon all), and with power by the resurrection. (Compare Rom. 1:4)

Thus God was made visible to the angels, was preached to the Gentiles (not merely the God of the Jews), became the object of faith in the world (it was not the manifestation of visible power, claiming His rights and His glory), and at last took a place on high in the glory whence He had descended. It is thus that God is known in the assembly according to the truth. There is no truth outside the maintenance of this revelation of the Person of Christ.

It is worthy of notice that in this epistle, and even in the second, the apostle speaks nowhere of the relationship of Christians with God as His children, of the privileges of children, or of that which is known within in the intimacy of the family. He speaks of truths that are essential as testimony before the world; that which the assembly is externally, that which it is as the witness of God towards men. It is the house of God, the assembly of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth: that which it is as responsible in the world, and in order that all should learn what God is. The mystery of piety, of which the assembly is the vessel for testimony, answers to this. It is the grand essential truth on which all relation between God and men is founded, by means of which God has to do with men. Therefore also he says previously, '"There is but one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus."

We have not here the privileges of children, nor the heavenly bride of Christ, but the foundation of God's relations with all men. Thus the Father is not named, nor even the Spirit, except here in connection with the Lord's Person, as the justification of His testimony. It is God the Mediator, and man, and the assembly as the vessel and depositary of this truth of the testimony of God; or else evil spirits turning men away from the faith. This deserves all attention.

Not only, as we have seen elsewhere, the testimony of the grace of the gospel maintains the great eternal principles of the nature and glory of God, and His relations according to that glory with men; but even in the pains the apostle takes that the assembly may be cared for and guarded, during his absence, from the assaults of the enemy and from disorder and improprieties within; it is not of its internal privileges that he speaks. God is set before us, and the Lord Jesus Christ. God, in the majesty of His immutable truth in His relations with men as such, and in the revelation of Himself in the flesh-God was in Christ, reconciling the world; dwelling in the assembly, in order that it should present and maintain the truth before the world-the truth (as we have seen) with regard to Christ, of the revelation of God in Him. God desires to be in relation with men: it is thus that He accomplishes it. The assembly maintains the rights of the Creator and Saviour-God on the earth. The assembly itself must be maintained in moral order that it may confront the enemy who is in the world and be able to sustain this testimony.


[1] So it would read in English; but I see no reason why "gune" should not apply to the elders' wives. It runs really thus, "In like manner [the] deacons ... In like manner [the] wives."

[2] Some translate this word ('aptness'), "ready to learn."

[3] So it would read in English; but I see no reason why "gune" should not apply to the elders' wives. It runs really thus, "In like manner [the] deacons ... In like manner [the] wives."

[4] But the assembly does not teach. Teachers teach the assembly, but by faithfulness in holding fast the truth taught, it sustains it in the world. Thus, in order to judge what the assembly is, we must know and be able to distinguish the truth and the living God. It is this which the apostle says with regard to the individual, "the Spirit is truth." These are the cardinal points with regard to unbelief and faith, the truth and the Spirit; and the word of God is the truth.

── John DarbySynopsis of 1 Timothy


1 Timothy 3

Chapter Contents

The qualifications and behaviour of gospel bishops. (1-7) And of deacons and their wives. (8-13) The reason of writing about these, and other church affairs. (14-16)

Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:1-7

(Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7)

If a man desired the pastoral office, and from love to Christ, and the souls of men, was ready to deny himself, and undergo hardships by devoting himself to that service, he sought to be employed in a good work, and his desire should be approved, provided he was qualified for the office. A minister must give as little occasion for blame as can be, lest he bring reproach upon his office. He must be sober, temperate, moderate in all his actions, and in the use of all creature-comforts. Sobriety and watchfulness are put together in Scripture, they assist one the other. The families of ministers ought to be examples of good to all other families. We should take heed of pride; it is a sin that turned angels into devils. He must be of good repute among his neighbours, and under no reproach from his former life. To encourage all faithful ministers, we have Christ's gracious word of promise, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world, Matthew 28:20. And he will fit his ministers for their work, and carry them through difficulties with comfort, and reward their faithfulness.

Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:8-13

(Read 1 Timothy 3:8-13)

The deacons were at first appointed to distribute the charity of the church, and to manage its concerns, yet pastors and evangelists were among them. The deacons had a great trust reposed in them. They must be grave, serious, prudent men. It is not fit that public trusts should be lodged in the hands of any, till they are found fit for the business with which they are to be trusted. All who are related to ministers, must take great care to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ.

Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:14-16

(Read 1 Timothy 3:14-16)

The church is the house of God; he dwells there. The church holds forth the Scripture and the doctrine of Christ, as a pillar holds forth a proclamation. When a church ceases to be the pillar and ground of truth, we may and ought to forsake her; for our regard to truth should be first and greatest. The mystery of godliness is Christ. He is God, who was made flesh, and was manifest in the flesh. God was pleased to manifest himself to man, by his own Son taking the nature of man. Though reproached as a sinner, and put to death as a malefactor, Christ was raised again by the Spirit, and so was justified from all the false charges with which he was loaded. Angels ministered to him, for he is the Lord of angels. The Gentiles welcomed the gospel which the Jews rejected. Let us remember that God was manifest in the flesh, to take away our sins, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These doctrines must be shown forth by the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 1 Timothy


1 Timothy 3

Verse 1

[1] This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

He desireth a good work — An excellent, but laborious, employment.

Verse 2

[2] A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Therefore — That he may be capable of it.

A bishop — Or pastor of a congregation.

Must be blameless — Without fault or just suspicion.

The husband of one wife — This neither means that a bishop must be married, nor that he may not marry a second wife; which it is just as lawful for him to do as to marry a first, and may in some cases be his bounden duty. But whereas polygamy and divorce on slight occasions were common both among the Jews and heathens, it teaches us that ministers, of all others, ought to stand clear of those sins.

Vigilant, prudent — Lively and zealous, yet calm and wise.

Of good behaviour — Naturally flowing from that vigilance and prudence.

Verse 4

[4] One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;

Having his children in subjection with all seriousness — For levity undermines all domestic authority; and this direction, by a parity of reason, belongs to all parents.

Verse 6

[6] Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.

Lest being puffed up — With this new honour, or with the applause which frequently follows it.

He fall into the condemnation of the devil — The same into which the devil fell.

Verse 7

[7] Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

He ought also to have a good report — To have had a fair character in time past.

From them that are without — That are not Christians.

Lest he fall into reproach — By their rehearsing his former life, which might discourage and prove a snare to him.

Verse 8

[8] Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

Likewise the deacons must he serious — Men of a grave, decent, venerable behaviour. But where are presbyters? Were this order essentially distinct from that of bishops, could the apostle have passed it over in silence? Not desirous of filthy gain - With what abhorrence does he everywhere speak of this! All that is gained (above food and raiment) by ministering in holy things is filthy gain indeed; far more filthy than what is honestly gained by raking kennels, or emptying common sewers.

Verse 9

[9] Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.

Holding fast the faith in a pure conscience — Steadfast in faith, holy in heart and life.

Verse 10

[10] And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

Let these he proved first — Let a trial be made how they believe.

Then let them minister — Let them be fixed in that office.

Verse 11

[11] Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

Faithful in all things — Both to God, their husbands, and the poor.

Verse 13

[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.

They purchase a good degree — Or step, toward some higher office.

And much boldness — From the testimony of a good conscience.

Verse 15

[15] 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.

That thou mayest know how to behave — This is the scope of the epistle.

In the house of God — Who is the master of the family.

Which is — As if he had said, By the house of God, I mean the church.

Verse 16

[16] 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.

The mystery of godliness — Afterwards specified in six articles, which sum up the whole economy of Christ upon earth.

Is the pillar and ground — The foundation and support of all the truth taught in his church.

God was manifest in the flesh — In the form of a servant, the fashion of a man, for three and thirty years.

Justified by the Spirit — Publicly "declared to be the Son of God," by his resurrection from the dead.

Seen — Chiefly after his resurrection.

By angels — Both good and bad.

Preached among the gentiles — This elegantly follows. The angels were the least, the gentiles the farthest, removed from him; and the foundation both of this preaching and of their faith was laid before his assumption.

Was believed on in the world — Opposed to heaven, into which he was taken up. The first point is, He was manifested in the flesh; the last, He was taken up into glory.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 1 Timothy


Chapter 3. Standard of Ministers

A Clear Conscience
The Deep Truths of the Faith

I. Qualifications for Overseers

  1. Respectable moral Discipline
  2. Testimony of Household
  3. Good Reputation

II. Qualifications for Deacons

  1. His Own Learning
  2. Testimony of Household
  3. Excellent Standing

III. The Spiritual Meaning of God's Household

  1. Church of the Living God
  2. Pillar and Foundation of the Truth
  3. Appear in Flesh

── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament

Chapter Three General Review
1) To examine the qualifications necessary for bishops and deacons
2) To appreciate the noble view that Paul has of the church
In this chapter we find the qualifications necessary for those who 
would serve as bishops in the local congregation (1-7).  A similar list
is included for those who would be deacons (8-13).
Paul then explains the purpose in writing this epistle.  Though hoping
to come soon, he writes so that Timothy will be well-instructed on how
to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church, the pillar
and ground of the truth (14-15).  Mention of "the truth" prompts a 
summation of "the mystery of godliness" which pertains to the coming of
Christ into the world (16).
      1. It is a position, or office (1a)
      2. It is a good work for a man to desire (1b)
      1. Positive qualifications
         a. Blameless (2a)
         b. The husband of one wife (2b)
         c. Temperate (2c)
         d. Sober-minded (2d)
         e. Of good behavior (2e)
         f. Hospitable (2f)
         g. Able to teach (2g)
         h. Gentle (3d)    
         i. One who rules his own house well (4a)
            1) Having his children in submission with all reverence
            2) For if he can't rule his own house, how will he take 
               care of the church? (5)
         j. A good testimony among those outside (7a)
            1) Lest he fall into reproach (7b)
            2) And into the snare of the devil (7c)
      2. Negative qualifications
         a. Not given to wine (3a)
         b. Not violent (3b)
         c. Not greedy for money (3c)
         d. Not quarrelsome (3e)
         e. Not covetous (3f)
         f. Not a novice (6a)
            1) Lest he be puffed up with pride (6b)
            2) And fall into the same condemnation as the devil (6c)
      1. Positive qualifications
         a. Reverent (8a)
         b. Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience (9)
         c. Proven (10a)
         d. Found blameless (10b)
         e. The husband of one wife (12a)
         f. Ruling his children and house well (12b)
      2. Negative qualifications
         a. Not double-tongued (8b)
         b. Not given to much wine (8c)
         c. Not greedy for money (8d)
      3. Their wives
         a. Reverent (11a)
         b. Not slanderers (11b)
         c. Temperate (11c)
         d. Faithful in all things (11d)
      1. Those who serve well obtain a good standing (13a)
      2. Also great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus
      1. He hopes to come shortly, but writes in case he is delayed 
      2. That Timothy might know how to conduct himself in the house of
         God (15b)
         a. Which is the church of the living God (15c)
         b. Which is the pillar and ground of the truth (15d)
      1. Without controversy, it is great (16a)
      2. In summation, it key elements are these:  God was...
         a. Manifested in the flesh (16b)
         b. Justified in the Spirit (16c)
         c. Seen by angels (16d)
         d. Preached among the Gentiles (16e)
         e. Believed on in the world (16f)
         f. Received up in glory (16g)
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The qualifications for bishops (1-7)
   - The qualifications for deacons (8-13)
   - Paul's purpose in writing (14-16)
2) How does Paul describe the position of a bishop? (1)
   - As a good work
3) What are the positive qualifications required for a bishop? (2-7)
   - Blameless, husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good
     behavior, hospitable, able to teach, gentle, ruling his own house
     well, a good testimony among those outside
4) What are the negative qualifications required for a bishop? (2-7)
   - Not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, not 
     quarrelsome, not covetous, not a novice
5) What are the positive qualifications required for a deacon? (8-12)
   - Reverent, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience,
     proven, found blameless, the husband of one wife, ruling his 
     children and house well
6) What are the negative qualifications required for a deacon? (8-12)
   - Not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money
7) What are the qualifications for the wives of deacons? (11)
   - Reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things
8) What is said of those deacons who have served well? (13)
   - They obtain a good standing and great boldness in the faith which
     is in Christ Jesus
9) Why did Paul write this epistle? (14-15)
   - So that in case his coming was delayed, Timothy would know how to
     conduct himself
10) What does Paul call the house of God? (15)
   - The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth
11) What are the basic facts of the mystery of godliness? (16)
   - God was manifested in the flesh   - Preached among the Gentiles
   - Justified in the Spirit           - Believed on in the world
   - Seen by angels                    - Received up in glory


The Work And Qualifications Of Bishops (3:1-7)
1. Instructing Timothy as to proper conduct in house of God (1 Ti 3:15),
   Paul discusses the work and qualifications of those who would serve
   as 'bishops' - 1 Ti 3:1-7
2. The word 'bishop' comes from the Greek word episkopos...
   a. Translated 'bishop' in four passages - Ph 1:1; 1 Ti 3:1,2; Ti 1:7
   b. Translated 'overseer' in three passages - Ac 20:28; 1 Pe 2:25; 5:2
3. Paul describes the position (office, KJV, ASV, NASB) as "a good work"
   - 1 Ti 3:1
   a. What exactly was the 'work' of a bishop in the New Testament
   b. How did the required 'qualifications' prepare them for this work?
[Consider first...]
      1. A congregation that was completely and scripturally organized
         - e.g., Ph 1:1
         a. Contained a plurality of qualified men serving as bishops
         b. They were assisted by qualified men serving as deacons
      2. The bishops were also known as
         a. Elders (Grk., "presbuteros", presbyter) for they were older
            men - cf. Ac 20:17,28; 1 Pe 5:1-2
         b. Pastors (Grk. "poimen", shepherd) for their task was to
            shepherd and feed the flock of God - cf. Ac 20:17,28; 1 Pe
      3. Bishop, elder, and pastor were not three distinct offices, but
         different ways to describe the men and their work - cf.
         Easton's Bible Dictionary, Moody Handbook of Theology
      1. Bishops were 'shepherds' (pastors) of the flock (congregation)
         a. Taking heed to themselves - Ac 20:28a
         b. Taking heed to the flock of God among them - Ac 20:28b; 1 Pe
         c. Leading by example - 1 Pe 5:3
         c. Watching out for trouble - Ac 20:29-31
         d. Depending upon God and His Word - Ac 20:32
      2. Bishops were to be 'teachers' and 'rulers' of the flock
         a. Able to teach - 1 Ti 3:2
         b. Able to rule others well - 1 Ti 3:4-5; 5:17
         c. Holding fast what they were taught - Ti 1:9
         d. Able to use the word to exhort and convict - Ti 1:9
[The work of bishops (elders, pastors) was to oversee the flock, leading
and guarding the sheep. This helps us to understand why Paul calls it 'a
good work'.  Such a work required qualified men.  The qualifications are
found in two places (1 Ti 3:1-7; Ti 1:5-9)...]
      1. They describe what an bishop 'must be' - 1 Ti 3:2; Ti 1:7
      2. A bishop must be 'a man' - 1 Ti 3:1-2; Ti 1:6; cf. 1 Ti
         2:11,12; 1 Co 14:34-37
      3. A bishop must be 'blameless'- 1 Ti 3:2; Ti 1:6,7
         a. One against whom no evil charge can be sustained
         b. Free from accusations that can be rightly proven - cf. 1 Ti
      1. The husband of one wife (i.e., married) - 1 Ti 3:1; Ti 1:6
      2. Ruling his own house well - 1 Ti 3:4-5
      3. Having faithful children, not accused of dissipation or
         insubordination - Ti 1:6
      1. Temperate (vigilant) - 1 Ti 3:2
      2. Sober-minded (prudent, sensible) - 1 Ti 3:2; Ti 1:8
      3. Good behavior (orderly, respectable) - 1 Ti 3:2
      4. Hospitable (given to hospitality) - 1 Ti 3:2; Ti 1:8
      5. Able to teach, exhort, convict - 1 Ti 3:2; Ti 1:9
      6. Gentle (patient) - 1 Ti 3:3
      7. Good testimony from without (well thought of) - 1 Ti 3:7
      8. Lover of what is good (of good men, of goodness) - Ti 1:8
      9. Just (upright) - Ti 1:8
     10. Holy (devout) - Ti 1:8
     11. Self-controlled (temperate) - Ti 1:8
      1. Not given to wine (not a brawler) - 1 Ti 3:3; Ti 1:7
      2. Not violent (no striker, not pugnacious) - 1 Ti 3:3; Ti 1:7
      3. Not greedy for money (not fond of sordid gain) - 1 Ti 3:3; Ti
      4. Not quarrelsome (not contentious) - 1 Ti 3:3
      5. Not covetous (no lover of money) - 1 Ti 3:3
      6. Not a novice (not a new convert) - 1 Ti 3:6
      7. Not self-willed (must not be arrogant) - Ti 1:7
      8. Not quick-tempered (not soon angry) - Ti 1:7
1. The list of qualifications can be revealing about the work of
   a. Their work involves teaching, patiently guiding and leading the
      family of God
   b. Their work try one's patience (when there is murmuring,
      discontent, or apathy among brethren)
   c. It can place one in volatile situations (e.g., that faced by the
      apostles, cf. Ac 6:1-2)
   d. It can be tempting for those attracted by money (e.g., Judas, the
2. For the flock of God to be well-fed and well-led, it requires men who
   meet both...
   a. The positive qualifications (what a bishop must be)
   b. The negative qualifications (what a bishop must not be)
It is certainly a 'good work' for one to desire (1 Ti 3:1).  May the
Lord raise up men to serve His flock in this way; for the need is
certainly great...!
Note:  For a detailed series of outlines on the work and qualifications
of bishops (elders, pastors), please see my series entitled "Shepherds
Of The Flock".


The Work And Qualifications Of Deacons (3:8-13)
1. Having described the work and qualifications of those who serve as
   'bishops' (1 Ti 3:1-7), he does the same for 'deacons' - 1 Ti 3:8-13
2. The word 'deacon' comes from the Greek word diakonos...
   a. Lit., it means "one who executes the commands of another,
      especially of a master" - Thayer
   b. In the NT, it is variously translated as:
      1) 'minister' - e.g., Ro 13:4; 1 Ti 4:6
      2) 'servant' - e.g., Jn 12:26; Ro 16:1
      3) 'deacon' - e.g., 1 Ti 3:8,12; Ph 1:1
   c. It is evidently used in our text in a technical sense, a position
      or service performed by duly qualified individuals
3. Paul says those deacons who serve well "obtain for themselves a good
   standing and great boldness in the faith" - 1 Ti 3:13
   a. What exactly was the 'work' of a deacon in the New Testament
   b. How did the required 'qualifications' prepare them for this work?
[Consider first...]
      1. The actual reference to deacons in the New Testament is very
         a. Paul's salutation to the church in Philippi - Ph 1:1
         b. Their qualifications as found in our text - 1 Ti 3:8-13
      2. A congregation that was completely and scripturally organized
         - e.g., Ph 1:1
         a. Contained a plurality of qualified men serving as bishops
            (elders, pastors)
         b. They were assisted by qualified men serving as deacons
      1. It is generally supposed they were servants to assist the
         elders in temporal matters
         a. "Their office seemed to have been to look after the temporal
            matters of the church, and especially to care for the poor
            and the widows." - B. W. Johnson
         b. "The word here evidently denotes those who had charge of the
            temporal affairs of the church, the poor, etc." - Barnes
         c. "...the character of their qualifications makes it clear
            that they were to be appointed as dispensers of alms, who
            should come into close personal relations with the poor."
            - ISBE
      2. Many believe the first mention of deacons or their prototype is
         found in Ac 6:1-6
         a. Though the seven selected are not so named
         b. Their service allowed the apostles to focus on spiritual
      3. It was not the work of deacons to preach per se
         a. "No qualifications are mentioned, implying that they were to
            be preachers of the gospel." - Barnes
         b. "It is not the work of deacons to preach, although some
            deacons may be preachers also. (cf. Ac 6:5; 8:4,5; 21:8)"
            - H. E. Phillips (Scriptural Elders And Deacons)
[The work of deacons "is to administer to the physical needs of the
church" (Phillips).  It is an important work that requires qualified
      1. Reverent (grave, serious, men of dignity) - 1 Ti 3:8
      2. Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience - 1 Ti
         a. 'Mystery' means that which had been concealed or hidden, but
            was now revealed - cf. Ro 16:25-26; Ep 3:3-5
         b. 'The faith' refers to that which is believed, i.e., the
            gospel - cf. Ju 3
         c. 'With a pure conscience' - without hypocrisy - cf. 1 Ti 1:19
         d. A deacon "should hold firmly the great doctrines of the
            Christian religion which had been so long concealed from
            people, but which were now revealed. The reason is obvious.
            Though not a preacher, yet his influence and example would
            be great, and a man who held material error ought not to be
            in office." - Barnes
      3. Tested (proved), being found blameless - 1 Ti 3:10
         a. Before being officially appointed as 'deacons' let them show
            themselves to be servants who are dependable, trustworthy
         b. Note the qualification "of good reputation" - cf. Ac 6:3
      4. Husband of one wife - 1 Ti 3:12
      5. Ruling children and house well - 1 Ti 3:12
         a. Must have children
         b. Must have them under control - cf. 1 Ti 3:4
      1. Not double-tongued - 1 Ti 3:8
         a. "Speaking one thing to one person, and another thing to
            another, on the same subject." - Clarke
         b. "This is hypocrisy and deceit. This word might also be
            translated liars." - ibid.
      2. Not given to much wine (not addicted to much wine) - 1 Ti 3:8
         a. "It may be remarked here, that this qualification was
            everywhere regarded as necessary for a minister of
            religion." - Barnes
         b. "Even the pagan priests, on entering a temple, did not drink
            wine. Bloomfield." - ibid.
         c. The use of wine, and of strong drinks of all kinds, was
            absolutely prohibited to the Jewish ministers of every rank
            when they were about to engage in the service of God; Lev
            10:9." - ibid.
         d. "Why should it then be anymore proper for a Christian
            minister to drink wine than for a Jewish or a pagan priest?
            Shall a minister of the gospel be less holy than they?"
            - ibid.
      3. Not greedy for money (greedy of filthy lucre, fond of sordid
         gain) - 1 Ti 3:8
         a. "Men who are covetous and unscrupulous as to modes of
            getting money are not to be chosen." - B. W. Johnson
         b. "The special reason why this qualification was important in
            the deacon was, that he would be entrusted with the funds of
            the church, and might be tempted to appropriate them to his
            own use instead of the charitable purposes for which they
            were designed; see this illustrated in the case of Judas,
            Jn 12:6." - Barnes
      1. The Greek word gune can mean either:
         a. "a woman of any age, whether a virgin, or married, or a
            widow" - Thayer
         b. "a wife; of a betrothed woman" - ibid.
      2. There is a diversity of views as to what Paul has reference
         a. The wives of deacons (and perhaps also wives of elders)
            - e.g., Barnes, Gill
         b. Women who serve as 'deaconesses'- e.g., Chrysostom, JFB
         c. Women in general - e.g., Clarke
      3. Those who believe it refers to female deacons (deaconesses)
         note the following:
         a. Phoebe is called a 'servant' (the female form of diakonos)
            of the church - Ro 16:1-2
         b. The post-apostolic church makes reference to 'deaconesses',
            who ministered to other women at baptisms, the widows, etc.
            - Apostolic Constitutions, ca 390 A.D.
      4. My own observations:
         a. NT evidence is not sufficient to require deaconesses
         b. NT evidence is not sufficient to condemn deaconesses,
            provided their service does not violate limitations placed
            on women elsewhere - cf. 1 Ti 2:11-12; 1 Co 14:34-37
         c. Many churches have women who serve in unofficial capacities,
            just as they do men
      5. Whether the wives of deacons, deaconesses, or women in general,
         they should be:
         a. Reverent (grave, dignified, serious) - 1 Ti 3:11; cf. 3:8
            (of deacons)
         b. Not slanderers (not malicious gossips) - 1 Ti 3:11; cf. 5:13
            (of young widows)
         c. Temperate (sober) - 1 Ti 3:11; cf. 3:2 (of elders)
         d. Faithful in all things - 1 Ti 3:11; cf. 5:10 (of elderly
1. Those who serve well as deacons will be greatly blessed, for they
   will obtain...
   a. 'a good standing' - highly regarded by the Lord, cf. Mt 20:25-28
   b. 'great boldness in the faith' - confidence or assurance, cf. 1 Jn
2. Thus the work of deacons should not be lightly regarded...
   a. By those who would be asked to so serve
   b. By those who are served by them
In the words of Paul, we should "esteem them highly in love for the
work's sake" (1 Th 5:13), and if called to serve, to do so with
reverence and humility...


The Great Mystery Of Godliness (3:16)
1. Paul wrote to Timothy regarding proper conduct "in the house of God"
   - 1 Tim 3:15
   a. Which is "the church of the living God"
   b. Which is "the pillar and ground of the truth"
   -- I.e., the church supports the truth that has been revealed through
      the apostles
2. The truth supported by the church is described as "the mystery of
   godliness" - 1 Ti 3:16
   a. A mystery is described as "great"
   b. Its greatness is described as "without controversy"
   -- Evidently Paul sought to inspire proper conduct by reference to
      this "mystery"
[What is "The Great Mystery Of Godliness"?  Perhaps by understanding it,
we too will be inspired to proper conduct as members of the family of
God.  Toward that end, let's first examine...]
      1. The Grk. word is musterion, meaning "hidden thing, secret,
         mystery" - Thayer
      2. "In the NT it denotes, not the mysterious (as with the Eng.
         word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted
         natural apprehension, can be made known only by Divine
         revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time
         appointed by God, and to those only who are illumined by His
         Spirit." - Vine
      3. "In the ordinary sense a 'mystery' implies knowledge withheld;
         its Scriptural significance is truth revealed." - ibid.
      -- In the NT, it refers to that which had been hidden, but is now
         made known by Divine revelation
      1. What was hidden has now been made known through the apostles
         and prophets
         a. It could not be discovered by human wisdom alone - 1 Co 2:
         b. It required Spirit-filled men (apostles) to reveal them
            - 1 Co 2:-16
         c. Written that we might understand - Ep 3:1-5
         d. That Gentiles might also be fellow heirs of God's promises
            - Ep 3:6-9
         e. Made known for the benefit of all nations - Ro 16:25-26
      2. What has been revealed still defies description at times
         a. It was beyond man's ability to foresee - Ro 11:33-36
         b. Some elements may be beyond full comprehension (e.g., God in
            the flesh, see below)
      -- Thus there are spiritual truths that God has revealed that we
         might know, though some may challenge our understanding
[The "mystery" now revealed pertains to "godliness" (1 Ti 3:16).  "The
word 'godliness' means, properly, piety, reverence, or religiousness. It
is used here, however, for the gospel scheme, to wit, that which the
apostle proceeds to state." (Barnes)  As we continue, we note that it
centers around the coming of Jesus Christ...]
      1. Jesus' coming was Deity in the flesh!
         a. Proclaimed in the prologues of John - Jn 1:1-5,14; 1 Jn 1:
         b. Proclaimed in the epistles of Paul - Ph 2:5-6; Co 2:9
      2. Notice the name "Immanuel" (God with us)
         a. Foretold in Isaiah's prophecy - Isa 7:14; 9:6
         b. Explained in Matthew's gospel - Mt 1:22-23
      -- The coming of Jesus in the flesh was God working to reconcile
         man back to Himself; isn't that great? - 2 Co 5:18-19
      1. "Justified" - as used here, it means "to vindicate"
         a. Was Jesus vindicated in or by the Holy Spirit? (cf. NKJV,
            KJV, NIV, NASB)
         b. Or was He vindicated in His own spirit? (cf. ASV, NRSV)
      2. "in the Spirit" - shown to be the Son of God by the agency of
         the Holy Spirit (Barnes)
         a. E.g., the Spirit bore witness at Jesus' baptism - Mt 3:16;
            Jn 1:32-33
         b. E.g., Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit - Mt 12:28
         c. The Spirit continued to bear witness to Jesus through the
            signs and wonders given to the apostles - cf. Jn 15:26; 16:
            13-14; He 2:4; 1 Jn 5:6
      3. "in (the) spirit" - vindicated as divine 'in His Spirit,' that
         is, in His higher nature; in contrast to 'in the flesh,' His
         visible human nature (JFB)
         a. E.g., His words manifested His higher being - Mt 7:29; Jn
         b. E.g., His works also - Jn 2:11; 3:2
         c. E.g., His Father's testimony as well - Mt 3:17; 17:5
         d. Ultimately, declared to be the Son of God by His
            resurrection - Ro 1:3-4
      -- Either way, Jesus was certainly vindicated as the Son of God!
      1. Angels who previously marveled at what was to come
         a. The suffering and glory of Christ foretold by OT prophets
            - 1 Pe 1:10-12
         b. Which the angels desired to look into - 1 Pe 1:12b
      2. When Jesus came, angels saw and ministered unto Him
         a. After His temptation by the devil in the wilderness of Judea
            - Mt 4:11
         b. During His agony in the garden of Gethsemane - Lk 22:43
      -- The angels also attended His ascension, and will accompany His
         return! - Ac 1:9-11; 2 Th 1:7
      1. This was the purpose of the Great Commission - Mt 28:19; Mk
         a. Fulfillment began with the conversion of Cornelius - Ac 11:
         b. It was the ministry Jesus gave to Paul - 2 Ti 1:11
      2. This is an important element of the "mystery" now revealed
         a. That Gentiles should be fellow heirs, partakers of the
            promise - Ep 3:3-6; cf. 2:11-22
         b. Paul felt blessed to preach to the Gentiles - Ep 3:7-9
      -- The grace of preaching the riches of Christ to Gentiles
         continues to this day!
      1. Not all believed, but many did
         a. Some of His own people did not receive Him - Jn 1:11
         b. Many of His own people did - Ac 2:41-42; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7
         c. Where some did not, many Gentiles did - Ac 13:43-49
      2. Why is it so great that Jesus was believed on in the world?
         a. Because the gospel is foolishness to many people -  1 Co
         b. Because to many, Christ crucified is a stumbling block
            - 1 Co 1:23
      -- Even today, countless multitudes believe in Jesus around the
         world - amazing!
      1. His ascension foretold in prophecy
         a. Prophets spoke of the glories to follow His suffering - 1 Pe
            1:10-11; Lk 24:25-26
         b. One such prophesy is the vision of Daniel - Dan 7:13-14
      2. His ascension and glory that followed described in the NT
         a. Jesus ascended and was received up into heaven - Ac 1:9-11;
            Mk 16:19
         b. He sat down at the right hand of God, with all authority
            - Mk 16:19; Ep 1:20-23
      -- Thus Jesus received the answer to His prayer - cf. Jn 17:1,4-5
1. This mystery of godliness does not end with Jesus being received in
   a. For He will one day come again in glory! - Mt 16:27
   b. Those raised with Christ will appear with Him in glory! - Co 3:
      1-4; 2 Th 1:9-10
   -- Have you been raised with Christ in baptism? - cf. Co 2:12
2. From beginning to end, the mystery of godliness is great...!
   a. The Divine intervention into the world of sinful men
   b. The Divine grace offered through such intervention
   -- Are you letting the revealed "mystery" motivate proper conduct?
      - cf. 1 Ti 3:15
Receive the grace of God in such a way as to conduct yourself properly
in the family of God while waiting for the Lord's coming in glory...!
- cf. Ti 2:11-14


--《Executable Outlines


Standard of ministers

A clear conscience

The deep truths of the faith


I.  Qualifications for overseers

1.    Respectable moral discipline

2.    Testimony of household

3.    good reputation

II.Qualifications for deacons

1.    His own learning

2.    Testimony of household

3.    Excellent standing

III.       The spiritual meaning of God’s household

1.    Church of the living God

2.    Pillar and foundation of the truth

3.    Appear in flesh

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament