1 Timothy 3


Concerning bishops, their qualifications and work, 1-7.

Of deacons, and how they should be proved, 8-10.

Of their wives and children, and how they should be governed,


How Timothy should behave himself in the Church, 14, 15.

The great mystery of godliness, 16.


Verse 1. This is a true saying] πιστοςολογος. This is a

true doctrine. These words are joined to the last verse of the

preceding chapter by several of the Greek fathers, and by them

referred to the doctrine there stated.

The office of a bishop] επισκοπης. The episcopacy,

overseership or superintendency. The word ορεγεται, which we

translate desire, signifies earnest, eager, passionate desire;

and επιθυμει, which we translate desire, also signifies earnestly

to desire or covet. It is strange that the episcopacy, in those

times, should have been an object of intense desire to any man;

when it was a place of danger, awl exposure to severe labour,

want, persecution, and death, without any secular emolument

whatsoever. On this ground I am led to think that the Spirit of

God designed these words more for the ages that were to come,

than for those which were then; and in reference to after ages

the whole of what follows is chiefly to be understood.

A good work.] A work it then was; heavy, incessant, and

painful. There were no unpreaching prelates in those days, and

should be none now. Episcopacy in the Church of God is of Divine

appointment, and should be maintained and respected. Under God,

there should be supreme governors in the Church as well as in the

state. The state has its monarch, the Church has its bishop;

one should govern according to the laws of the land, the other

according to the word of God.

What a constitutional king should be, the principles of the

constitution declare; what a bishop should be, the following

verses particularly show.

Verse 2. A bishop then must be blameless] Our term bishop

comes from the Anglo-Saxon [A.S.], which is a mere corruption of

the Greek επισκοπος, and the Latin episcopus; the former being

compounded of επι, over, and σκεπτομαι, to look or

inspect, signifies one who has the inspection or oversight of a

place, persons, or business; what we commonly term a

superintendent. The New Testament writers have borrowed the term

from the Septuagint, it being the word by which they translate the

pakid of the Hebrew text, which signifies a visiter, one

that personally inspects the people or business over which he

presides. It is given by St. Paul to the elders at Ephesus, who

had the oversight of Christ's flock, Ac 20:28; and to such like

persons in other places, Php 1:1; 1Ti 3:2, the place in

question; and Tit 1:7.

Let us consider the qualifications of a Christian bishop, and

then we shall soon discover who is fit for the office.

First.-This Christian bishop must be blameless;

ανεπιληπτον, a person against whom no evil can be proved; one who

is everywhere invulnerable; for the word is a metaphor, taken

from the case of an expert and skilful pugilist, who so defends

every part of his body that it is impossible for his antagonist

to give one hit. So this Christian bishop is one that has so

conducted himself, as to put it out of the reach of any person to

prove that he is either unsound in a single article of the

Christian faith, or deficient in the fulfilment of any duty

incumbent on a Christian. He must be irreprehensible; for how

can he reprove that in others which they can reprove in him?

Second.-He must be the husband of one wife. He should be a

married man, but he should be no polygamist; and have only one

wife, i.e. one at a time. It does not mean that, if he has

been married, and his wife die, he should never marry another.

Some have most foolishly spiritualized this, and say, that by one

wife the Church is intended! This silly quibbling needs no

refutation. The apostle's meaning appears to be this: that he

should not be a man who has divorced his wife and married

another; nor one that has two wives at a time. It does not

appear to have been any part of the apostle's design to prohibit

second marriages, of which some have made such a serious

business. But it is natural for some men to tithe mint and

cummin in religion, while they neglect the weightier matters of

the law.

Third.-He must be vigilant; νηφαλεον, from νη, not and

πιω, to drink. Watchful; for as one who drinks is apt to

sleep, so he who abstains from it is more likely to keep awake, and

attend to his work and charge. A bishop has to watch over the

Church, and watch for it; and this will require all his care and

circumspection. Instead of νηφαλεον, many MSS. read νηφαλιον.

this may be the better orthography, but makes no alteration in the


Fourth.-He must be sober; σωφρονα, prudent or, according

to the etymology of the word, from σως, sound, and φρην, mind, a

man of a sound mind; having a good understanding, and the complete

government of all his passions.

A bishop should be a man of learning, of an extensive and well

cultivated mind, dispassionate, prudent, and sedate.

Fifth.-He must be of good behaviour; κοσμιον, orderly,

decent, grave, and correct in the whole of his appearance,

carriage, and conduct. The preceding term, σωφρονα, refers to

the mind; this latter, κοσμιον, to the external manners. A

clownish, rude, or boorish man should never have the rule of the

Church of God; the sour, the sullen, and the boisterous should

never be invested with a dignity which they would most infallibly


Sixth.-He must be given to hospitality; φιλοξενον, literally,

a lover of strangers; one who is ready to receive into his house

and relieve every necessitous stranger. Hospitality, in those

primitive times, was a great and necessary virtue; then there

were few inns, or places of public entertainment; to those who

were noted for benevolence the necessitous stranger had recourse.

A Christian bishop, professing love to God and all mankind,

preaching a religion, one half of the morality of which was

included in, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, would

naturally be sought to by those who were in distress and

destitute of friends. To enable them to entertain such, the

Church over which they presided must have furnished them with the

means. Such a bishop as St. Paul, who was often obliged to

labour with his hands for his own support, could have little to

give away. But there is a considerable difference between an

apostolical bishop and an ecclesiastical bishop: the one was

generally itinerant, the other comparatively local; the former

had neither house nor home, the latter had both; the apostolical

bishop had charge of the Church of Christ universally, the

ecclesiastical bishop of the Churches in a particular district.

Such should be addicted to hospitality, or works of charity;

especially in these modern times, in which, besides the

spiritualities, they possess the temporalities, of the Church.

Seventh.-He should be apt to teach; διδακτικον, one capable

of teaching; not only wise himself, but ready to communicate his

wisdom to others. One whose delight is, to instruct the ignorant

and those who are out of the way. He must be a preacher; an

able, zealous, fervent, and assiduous preacher.

He is no bishop who has health and strength, and yet seldom or

never preaches; i.e. if he can preach-if he have the necessary

gifts for the office.

In former times bishops wrote much and preached much; and their

labours were greatly owned of God. No Church since the apostle's

days has been more honoured in this way than the British Church.

And although bishops are here, as elsewhere, appointed by the

state, yet we cannot help adoring the good providence of God,

that, taken as a body, they have been an honour to their

function; and that, since the reformation of religion in these

lands, the bishops have in general been men of great learning and

probity, and the ablest advocates of the Christian system, both

as to its authenticity, and the purity and excellence of its

doctrines and morality.

CHAUCER'S character of the Clerke of Oxenford is a good

paraphrase on St. Paul's character of a primitive bishop:-

Of studie tookin he moste cure and hede,

Nought oo word spak he more than there was nede,

And that was selde in forme and and reverence,

And short, and quick, and full of high sentence;

Sowning in moral vertue was speche,

And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teache.

Verse 3. An eighth article in his character is, he must not

be given to wine; μηπαροινον. This word not only signifies one

who is inordinately attached to wine, a winebibber or tippler,

but also one who is imperious, abusive, insolent, whether through

wine or otherwise. Kypke contends for this latter acceptation

here. See his proofs and examples.

Ninth.-He must be no striker; μηπληκτην, not quarrelsome;

not ready to strike a person who may displease him; no persecutor of

those who may differ from him; not prone, as one wittily said,

"To prove his doctrine orthodox

By apostolic blows and knocks."

It is said of Bishop Bonner, of infamous memory, that, when

examining the poor Protestants whom he termed heretics, when

worsted by them in argument he was used to smite them with his

fists, and sometimes scourge and whip them. But though he was a

most ignorant and consummate savage, yet from such a scripture as

this he might have seen the necessity of surrendering his mitre.

Tenth.-He must not be greedy of filthy lucre; μη

αισχροκερδη, not desirous of base gain; not using base and

unjustifiable methods to raise and increase his revenues; not

trading or trafficking; for what would be honourable in a secular

character, would be base and dishonourable in a bishop. Though

such a trait should never appear in the character of a Christian

prelate, yet there is much reason to suspect that the words above

are not authentic; they are omitted by ADFG, many others, the

Syriac, all the Arabic, Coptic, (and Sahidic,) AEthiopic,

Armenian, later Syriac, (but it appears in the margin,) the

Vulgate and Itala, and by most of the Greek fathers.

Griesbach has left it out of the text, in which it does not appear

that it ever had a legitimate place. The word covetous, which we

have below, expresses all the meaning of this; and it is not

likely that the apostle would insert in the same sentence two

words of the same meaning, because they were different in sound.

It appears to have been borrowed from 1Ti 3:8.

Eleventh.-He must be patient; επιεικη, meek, gentle; the

opposite to πληκτην, a quarrelsome person, which it immediately

follows when the spurious word αισχροκερδη is removed. Where

meekness and patience do not reign, gravity cannot exist, and

the love of God cannot dwell.

Twelfth.-He must not be a brawler; αμαχον, not contentious

or litigious, but quiet and peaceable.

Thirteenth.-He must not be covetous; αφιλαργυρον, not a

lover of money; not desiring the office for the sake of its

emoluments. He who loves money will stick at nothing in order to

get it. Fair and foul methods are to him alike, provided they may

be equally productive. For the sake of reputation he may wish to

get all honourably; but if that cannot be, he will not scruple to

adopt other methods. A brother heathen gives him this counsel:

"Get money if thou canst by fair means; if not, get it by hook

and by crook."

Verse 4. The fourteenth qualification of a Christian bishop

is, that he ruleth well his own house; τουιδιουοικουκαλες

προισταμενον, one who properly presides over and governs his own

family. One who has the command, of his own house, not by

sternness, severity, and tyranny, but with all gravity; governing

his household by rule, every one knowing his own place, and each

doing his own work, and each work having the proper time assigned

for its beginning and end. This is a maxim of common sense; no

family can be prosperous that is not under subjection, and no

person can govern a family but the head of it, the husband, who

is, both by nature and the appointment of God, the head or

governor of his own house. See Clarke on Eph 5:22.

Verse 5. For if a man know not] Method is a matter of great

importance in all the affairs of life. It is a true saying, He

that does little with his head must do much with his hands; and

even then the business is not half done for want of method. Now,

he who has a proper method of doing business will show it in

every affair of life, even the least. He who has a disorderly

family has no government of that family; he probably has none

because he has no method, no plan, of presiding. It was natural

for the apostle to say, If a man know not how to rule his own

house, how shall he take care of the Church of God? Look at a

man's domestic arrangements; if they be not good, he should not

be trusted with any branch of government, whether ecclesiastical

or civil.

Verse 6. Fifteenth.-It is required that he be not a novice]

νεοφυτον. Not a young plant, not recently ingrafted, that is,

one not newly converted to the faith; (old MS. Bible;) one who

has been of considerable standing in the Christian Church, if he

have the preceding qualifications, may be safely trusted with the

government of that Church. It is impossible that one who is not

long and deeply experienced in the ways of God can guide others

in the way of life. Hence presbyters or elders were generally

appointed to have the oversight of the rest, and hence presbyter

and bishop seem to have been two names for the same office; yet

all presbyters or elders certainly were not bishops, because all

presbyters had not the qualifications marked above. But the

apostle gives another reason: Lest being lifted up with pride he

fall into the condemnation of the devil. It is natural for man

to think himself of more importance than his fellows when they

are intrusted to his government. The apostle's term τυφωθεις,

puffed up, inflated, is a metaphor taken from a bladder when

filled with air or wind. It is a substance, has a certain

size, is light, can be the sport of the wind, but has nothing in

it but air. Such is the classical coxcomb; a mere puffball, a

disgrace to his function, and despised by every intelligent man.

Should we not say to those whom it may concern,

"From such apostles, O ye mitred heads,

Preserve the Church; and lay not careless hands

On skulls that cannot teach, and will not learn."

From these words of the apostle we are led to infer that pride

or self-conceit was the cause of the devil's downfall. In

Ecclus. x. there are some excellent sayings concerning pride:

"Pride is hurtful before God and man." "Why is earth and ashes

proud?" "The beginning of pride is when one departeth from God."

"For pride is the beginning of sin; and he that hath it shall

pour out abomination." "PRIDE was not made for MEN." See verses

7, 9, 12, 13, and 18, of the above chapter.

Verse 7. The sixteenth requisite is, that he should have a

good report of them which are without] That he should be one who

had not been previously a profligate, or scandalous in his life.

Such a person, when converted, may be a worthy private member of

religious society; but I believe God rarely calls such to the

work of the ministry, and never to the episcopate. Them that

are without are the Jews, Gentiles, and the unconverted of all

kinds. For the meaning of this term see Clarke's note on "Col 4:5".

Lest he fall into reproach] For his former scandalous life.

And the snare of the devil.] Snares and temptations, such as

he fell in and fell by before. This is called the snare of the

devil; for, as he well knows the constitution of such persons,

and what is most likely to prevail, he infers that what was

effectual before to their transgressing may be so still;

therefore on all suitable occasions he tempts them to their old

sins. Backsliders in general fall by those sins to which they

were addicted previously to their conversion. Former inveterate

habits will revive in him who does not continue to deny himself,

and watch unto prayer.

The snare of the devil.-Some would translate παγιδατου

διαβολου, the snare of the accuser; and they give the same

meaning to the word in 1Ti 3:6, because it is evident that

διαβολους has that meaning, 1Ti 3:11, and our translators render

it slanderers. Now, though διαβολος signifies an accuser, yet I

do not see that it can, with any propriety, be restrained to this

meaning in the texts in question, and especially as the word is

emphatically applied to Satan himself; for he who, in Re 12:10,

is called the accuser of the brethren, is, in Re 12:9, called

the great dragon, the old serpent, the DEVIL, διαβολος, and


Verse 8. Likewise must the deacons] The term deacon,

διακονος, simply signifies a regular or stated servant: from

δια, through or emphatic, and κονεω, to minister or

serve. See it explained in Clarke's note on "Mt 20:26". As nearly

the same qualifications were required in the deacons as in the

bishops, the reader may consult what is said on the preceding


Grave] Of a sedate and dignified carriage and conduct.

Not double-tongued] Speaking one thing to one person, and

another thing to another, on the same subject. This is hypocrisy

and deceit. This word might also be translated liars.

Not given to much wine] Neither a drunkard, tippler, nor what

is called a jovial companion. All this would be inconsistent

with gravity.

Not greedy of filthy lucre] See Clarke on 1Ti 3:3.

Verse 9. Holding the mystery of the faith] Instead of της

πιστεως, the faith, one MS. (the readings of which are found in

the margin of a copy of Mill's Greek text in the Bodleian

library, and which is marked 61 in Griesbach) reads αναστασεως,

of the resurrection. This reading, like many others in this MS.,

is found nowhere else; and is worthy of little regard, but as

expressing what appeared to the writer to be the apostle's

meaning. One of the greatest mysteries of the faith was

undoubtedly the resurrection of the dead; and this was held in a

pure conscience when the person so exercised himself as to have a

conscience void of offence towards God and towards men.

See Ac 24:16. What has been since called

Antinomianism, that is, making void the moral law, by a pretended

faith in the righteousness of Christ, is that which the apostle

has here particularly in view.

Verse 10. Let these-be proved] Let them not be young

converts, or persons lately brought to the knowledge of the

truth. This is the same in spirit with what is required of the

bishops, 1Ti 3:6.

Let no man be put into an office in the Church till he has

given full proof of his sincerity and steadiness, by having been

for a considerable time a consistent private member of the


Being found blameless.] ανεγκλητοιοντες. Being

irreproachable; persons against whom no evil can be proved. The

same as in 1Ti 3:2, though a different word is used. See the

note there.

Verse 11. Even so must their wives be grave] I believe the

apostle does not mean here the wives either of the bishops or

deacons in particular, but the Christian women in general. The

original is simply: γυναικαςωσαυτωςσεμνας. Let the women

likewise be grave. Whatever is spoken here becomes women in

general; but if the apostle had those termed deaconesses in his

eye, which is quite possible, the words are peculiarly suitable

to them. That there was such an order in the apostolic and

primitive Church, and that they were appointed to their office by

the imposition of hands, has already been noticed on Ro 16:1.

Possibly, therefore, the apostle may have had this order of

deaconesses in view, to whom it was as necessary to give counsels

and cautions as to the deacons themselves; and to prescribe their

qualifications, lest improper persons should insinuate themselves

into that office.

Not slanderers] μηδιαβολους. Literally, not devils.

See Clarke on 1Ti 3:7. This may be properly enough translated

slanderers, backbiters, tale-bearers, &c., for all these are of

their father, the devil, and his lusts they will do. Let all

such, with the vast tribe of calumniators and dealers in scandal,

remember that the apostle ranks them all with malicious, fallen

spirits; a consideration which one would suppose might be

sufficient to deter them from their injurious and abominable


Sober] See Clarke on 1Ti 3:2.

Faithful in all things.] The deaconesses had much to do among

the poor, and especially among poor women, in dispensing the

bounty of the Church. They were not only faithfully to expend

all they had got, and for the purpose for which they got it; but

they must do this with impartiality, showing no respect of

persons, the degree of distress being the only rule by which the

distribution was to be regulated.

Verse 12. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife] This

is the same that is required of the bishops.

See Clarke on 1Ti 3:2; "1Ti 3:4"; and "1Ti 3:5".

Verse 13. That have used the office of a deacon well] They

who, having been tried or proved, 1Ti 3:10, have shown by their

steadiness, activity, and zeal, that they might be raised to a

higher office, are here said to have purchased to themselves a

good degree, βαθμονκαλον. for, instead of having to administer

to the bodies and bodily wants of the poor, the faithful deacons

were raised to minister in holy things; and, instead of

ministering the bread that perisheth, they were raised to the

presbyterate or episcopate, to minister the bread of life to

immortal souls. And hence the apostle adds; And great boldness

in the faith; πολληνπαρρησιαν, great liberty of speech; i.e.

in teaching the doctrines of Christianity, and in expounding the

Scriptures, and preaching. It seems to have been a practice

dictated by common sense, that the most grave and steady of the

believers should be employed as deacons; the most experienced and

zealous of the deacons should be raised to the rank of elders;

and the most able and pious of the elders be consecrated bishops.

As to a bishop of bishops, that age did not know such. The pope

of Rome was the first who took this title. The same office, but

not with the same powers nor abuse, is found in the patriarch of

the Greek Church, and the archbishop of the Protestant Church.

As the deacon had many private members under his care, so the

presbyter or elder had several deacons under his care; the

bishop, several presbyters; and the archbishop, several

bishops. But I speak now more of the modern than of the ancient

Church. The distinction in some of these offices is not so apparent

in ancient times; and some of the offices themselves are modern,

or comparatively so. But deacon, presbyter, and bishop, existed

in the apostolic Church, and may therefore be considered of Divine


Verse 14. These things write I] That is: I write only these

things; because I hope to come unto thee shortly.

Verse 15. But if I tarry long] That is: Not withstanding I

hope to come to thee shortly, and therefore do not feel the

necessity of writing at large; yet, lest I should be delayed, I

write what I judge necessary to direct thy conduct in the Church

of God.

The house of God] This is spoken in allusion to the ancient

tabernacle; which was God's house, and in which the symbol of the

Divine Majesty dwelt. So the Christian Church is God's house,

and every believer is a habitation of God through the Spirit.

The Church of the living God] The assembly in which God lives

and works; each member of which is a living stone, all of whom,

properly united among themselves, grow up unto a holy temple in

the Lord.

The pillar and ground of the truth.] Never was there a greater

variety of opinions on any portion of the sacred Scripture than

has been on this and the following verse. Commentators and

critics have given senses and meanings till there is no meaning

to be seen. It would be almost impossible, after reading all that

has been said on this passage, for any man to make up his own

mind. To what, or to whom, does the pillar and ground of the

truth refer?

1. Some say to Timothy, who is called the pillar, &c., because

left there to support and defend the truth of God against false

doctrines and false teachers; and is so called for the same

reason that Peter, James, and John, are said to be pillars, i.e.

supporters of the truth of God. Ga 2:9.

2. Others suppose that the pillar and ground of the truth is

spoken of GOD; and that οςεστι, who is, should be supplied as

referring immediately to θεος, God, just before. By this mode of

interpretation the passage will read thus: That thou mayest know

how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is

the Church of the living God, WHO IS (οςεστι) the pillar and

ground of the truth. How God may be fitly termed the pillar and

ground of truth, requires no explanation.

3. Others think that the words should be understood of the

CHURCH of the living God; and in this case the feminine relative

ητιςεστι, which is, must be repeated immediately after

εκκλησια, the Church. The house of God is the Church of the

living God; WHICH (Church) IS the pillar and ground of the truth.

That is: The full revelation of God's truth is in the Christian

Church. The great doctrines of that Church are the truth without

error, metaphor, or figure. Formerly the truth was but partially

revealed, much of it being shadowed with types, ceremonies, and

comparatively dark prophecies; but now all is plain, and the full

revelation given; and the foundation on which this truth rests

are the grand facts detailed in the Gospel, especially those

which concern the incarnation, miracles, passion, death, and

resurrection of Christ, and the mission of the Holy Spirit.

4. Lastly, others refer the whole to τοτηςευσεβειας

μυστηριον, the mystery of godliness; and translate the clause

thus: The mystery of godliness is the pillar and ground of the

truth; and, without controversy, a great thing. This gives a

very good sense, but it is not much favoured by the arrangement

of the words in the original.

Verse 16. And, without controversy] καιομολογουμενες�

And confessedly, by general consent, it is a thing which no man

can or ought to dispute; any phrase of this kind expresses the

meaning of the original.

God was manifest in the flesh] If we take in the whole of the

14th, 15th, and 16th verses, 1Ti 3:14-16 we may make a

consistent translation in the following manner, and the whole paragraph will

stand thus: Hoping to see thee shortly; but should I tarry long,

these things I now write unto thee, that thou mayest know how

thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the

Church of the living God. The mystery of godliness, which is the

pillar and ground of the truth, is, without controversy, a great

thing. And then he proceeds to show what this mystery of

godliness is, which he sums up in the six following particulars:

1. God was manifest in the flesh; 2. Justified in the Spirit; 3.

Seen of angels; 4. Preached unto the Gentiles; 5. Believed on in

the world; 6. Received up into glory.

Though all this makes a very plain and consistent sense, yet we

are perplexed by various readings on the first clause, θεος

εφανερωθηενσαρκι, God was manifest in the flesh; for instead of

θεος, God, several MSS., versions, and fathers, have ος or ο,

who or which. And this is generally referred to the word

mystery; Great is the mystery of godliness, WHICH was manifest in

the flesh.

The insertion of, θεος for ος, or ος for θεος, may be

easily accounted for. In ancient times the Greek was all written

in capitals, for the common Greek character is comparatively of

modern date. In these early times words of frequent recurrence

were written contractedly, thus: for πατηρπρθεοςθςκυριος

κςιησουςιης, &c. This is very frequent in the oldest MSS.,

and is continually recurring in the Codex Bexae, and Codex

Alexandrinus. If, therefore, the middle stroke of the θ, in

θς, happened to be faint, or obliterated, and the dash above not

very apparent, both of which I have observed in ancient MSS., then

θς, the contraction for θεος, God, might be mistaken for ος,

which or who; and vice versa. This appears to have been the

case in the Codex Alexandrinus, in this passage. To me there is

ample reason to believe that the Codex Alexandrinus originally

read θς, God, in this place; but the stroke becoming faint by

length of time and injudicious handling, of which the MS. in this

place has had a large proportion, some person has supplied the

place, most reprehensibly, with a thick black line. This has

destroyed the evidence of this MS., as now it can neither be

quoted pro or con, though it is very likely that the person who

supplied the ink line, did it from a conscientious conviction that

θς was the original reading of this MS. I examined this MS. about

thirty years ago, and this was the conviction that rested then on

my mind. I have seen the MS. several times since, and have not

changed my opinion. The enemies of the Deity of Christ have been

at as much pains to destroy the evidence afforded by the common

reading in support of this doctrine as if this text were the only

one by which it can be supported; they must be aware that Joh 1:1,

and Joh 1:14, proclaim the same truth; and that in those verses there

is no authority to doubt the genuineness of the reading. We read,

therefore, God was manifested in the flesh, and I cannot see what

good sense can be taken out of, the GOSPEL was manifested in the

flesh; or, the mystery of godliness was manifested in the flesh.

After seriously considering this subject in every point of light,

I hold with the reading in the commonly received text.

Justified in the Spirit] By the miracles which were wrought by

the apostle in and through the name of Jesus; as well as by his

resurrection from the dead, through the energy of the Holy Ghost,

by which he was proved to be the Son of God with power. Christ

was, justified from all the calumnies of the Jews, who crucified

him as an impostor. All these miracles, being wrought by the

power of God, were a full proof of his innocence; for, had he not

been what he professed to be, God would not have borne such a

decisive testimony to his Messiahship.

Seen of angels] By αγγελοι here, some understand not those

celestial or infernal beings commonly called angels, but apostles

and other persons who became messengers, to carry far and wide

and attest the truth of his resurrection from the dead. If,

however, we take the word seen, in its Jewish acceptation, for

made known, we may here retain the term angels in its common

acceptation; for it is certain that previously to our Lord's

ascension to heaven, these holy beings could have little

knowledge of the necessity, reasons, and economy of human

salvation; nor of the nature of Christ as God and man. St. Peter

informs us that the angels desire to look into these things,

1Pe 1:12. And St. Paul says the same thing, Eph 3:9,10, when

speaking of the revelation of the Gospel plan of salvation, which

he calls the mystery, which FROM the BEGINNING OF THE WORLD had

been HID in God; and which was now published, that unto the

PRINCIPALITIES and POWERS in heavenly places might be MADE KNOWN,

by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God. Even those angelic

beings have got an accession to their blessedness, by an increase

of knowledge in the things which concern Jesus Christ, and the

whole scheme of human salvation, through his incarnation,

passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification.

Preached unto the Gentiles] This was one grand part of the

mystery which had been hidden in God, that the Gentiles should be

made fellow heirs with the Jews, and be admitted into the kingdom

of God. To the Gentiles, therefore, he was proclaimed as having

pulled down the middle wall of partition between them and the

Jews; that, through him, God had granted unto them repentance

unto life; and that they also might have redemption in his blood,

the forgiveness of sins.

Believed on in the world] Was received by mankind as the

promised Messiah, the Anointed of God, and the only Saviour of

fallen man. This is a most striking part of the mystery of

godliness, that one who was crucified as a malefactor, and whose

kingdom is not of this world, and whose doctrines are opposed to

all the sinful propensities of the human heart, should, wherever

his Gospel is preached, be acknowledged as the only Saviour of

sinners, and the Judge of quick and dead! But some would

restrict the meaning to the Jews, whose economy is often

denominated olam hazzeh, this world, and which words

both our Lord and the apostles often use in the same sense.

Notwithstanding their prejudices, many even of the Jews believed

on him; and a great company of the priests themselves, who were

his crucifiers, became obedient to the faith. Ac 6:7. This was

an additional proof of Christ's innocence.

Received up into glory.] Even that human nature which he took

of the Virgin Mary was raised, not only from the grave, but taken

up into glory, and this in the most visible and palpable manner.

This is a part of the mystery of godliness which, while we have

every reasonable evidence to believe, we have not powers to

comprehend. His reception into glory is of the utmost

consequence to the Christian faith; as, in consequence, Jesus

Christ in his human nature ever appears before the throne as our

sacrifice and as our Mediator.

1. THE directions given in this chapter concerning bishops and

deacons should be carefully weighed by every branch of the

Christian Church. Not only the offices which are of Divine

appointment, such as bishop, presbyter, and deacon, should be

most religiously preserved in the Church; but, that they may have

their full effect, the persons exercising them should be such as

the apostle prescribes. Religion will surely suffer, when

religious order is either contemned or neglected; and even the

words of God will be treated with contempt, if ministered by

unholy persons. Let order, therefore, be duly observed; and let

those who fill these orders be not only wholly irreprehensible in

their conduct, but also able ministers of the new covenant.

A wicked man can neither have, nor communicate, authority to

dispense heavenly mysteries; and a fool, or a blockhead, can

never teach others the way of salvation. The highest abilities

are not too great for a preacher of the Gospel; nor is it

possible that he can have too much human learning. But all is

nothing unless he can bring the grace and Spirit of God into all

his ministrations; and these will never accompany him unless he

live in the spirit of prayer and humility, fearing and loving

God, and hating covetousness.

2. It is well known that almost every Church supposes itself to

be THE true Church; and some consider themselves the only Church,

and deny salvation to all who are not of their communion. To

such a Church the two last verses in this chapter have been

confidently self-applied, as being the pillar and ground of the

truth-the possessor and dispenser of all the mysteries of God.

But, supposing that the words in verse 1Ti 3:15 are spoken of the

Church, it is the Christian Church, as defined under article the

third above, that must be meant; and we may see from this the

vanity of applying the words to any particular Church, as if it

had all the truth without error, and none else could pretend

either to truth or ecclesiastical authority. The Christian Church

is a widely different thing; it is the whole system of

Christianity as laid down in the New Testament; it is built on

the great foundation of prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ

himself being the chief corner stone. It is composed of all who

hold the doctrines of Christianity; who acknowledge Jesus as

their Teacher, Redeemer, and only Advocate; of all who love God

with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their

neighbour as themselves; or who are labouring after this

conformity to the mind and command of their Creator. It is not

known by any particular name; it is not distinguished by any

particular form in its mode of worship; it is not exclusively

here or there. It is the house of God-it is where God's Spirit

dwells, where his precepts are obeyed, and where pure,

unadulterated love to God and man prevails. It is not in the

creed or religious confessions of any denomination of Christians;

for, as all who hold the truth and live a holy life,

acknowledging Jesus alone as the head of the Church and Saviour

of the world, are members of his mystical body; (and such may be

found in all sects and parties;) so the Church of Christ may be

said to be everywhere, and to be confined nowhere; i.e. in

whatever place Christianity is credited and acknowledged. The

wicked of all sorts, no matter what their profession may be, and

all persecutors of religious people, who differ from them, are

without the pale of this Church. Essentially must their spirit

and conduct be changed, before the living Head of this spiritual

building can acknowledge them as members of the heavenly family.

This text, therefore, will never apply to the Romish Church,

till that Church be, both in doctrine and discipline, what the

Christian Church should be. When it is the established religion

of any country it gives no toleration to those who differ from

it; and in Protestant countries its cry for toleration and

secular authority is loud and long. I wish its partisans the

full and free exercise of their religion, even to its

superstitions and nonsense; but how can they expect toleration

who give none? The Protestant Church tolerates it fully; it

persecutes the Protestants to bonds and death when it has power;

which then is the true Church of Christ?

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