1 Timothy 3:1-7
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.…
The apostle who most boldly maintained the brotherhood of believers clearly recognized the necessity for order and office in Christian communities.
I. The MORAL CHARACTERISTICS of the ideal pastor are strongly insisted upon. Strangely enough, nothing is said about his piety, his love to God, his communion with Him, his delight in Him, his devotion to Him; but this is naturally presupposed as the basis of the rest. It is not alluded to here, partly because Timothy did not require to be reminded that personal religion is the first essential in all spiritual work, and partly because he was less able to judge of inward piety in others than of the qualities mentioned here.
1. Self-rule is one of the principal of these, and it is to display itself in all directions. The bishop is to be sober, exercising habitual self-restraint, not only in respect of intoxicating drinks, but also in respect of indulgence in pleasures of all kinds, setting an example of dominion over the carnal and sensuous. But temper is to be as much under control as other passions, for the Christian teacher must be no "brawler," no striker, "but patient."
2. Again, sound judgment is a qualification much needed by every pastor and teacher. This is no doubt one reason of Paul's for urging on Timothy, as he does in the sixth verse, that a pastor in the Church should not be a "novice," i.e., a recent convert. If the young life of a plant be exposed to the glare of the sunshine, death will supervene. And in the life of every creature — insect, and bird, and beast, and most of all in the life of man — the period of development must precede the period of manifestation.
3. Another characteristic of the ideal minister should be open-heartedness and open-handedness. The phrase "given to hospitality" in Authorized Version, or more correctly "a lover of strangers," denotes what was relatively more important then than now.
II. THE RELATIONS OF THE MINISTER TO THOSE AROUND HIM, his right relation with God being pre-supposed.
1. He is to be the husband of one wife.
2. Then allusion is made to the pastor's own house as distinguished from God's house. So it is urged that any leader in the Church should rule well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity. On which Dr. Reynolds has beautifully said, "The child-life of the pastor's home should suggest the sacred ness of a temple and the order of a palace." And is not this true for us all? Is it not in the home that we are the most tested, and is it not there we can best glorify God?
3. The relation the pastor should hold towards the world. Much stress is laid in this passage on being "blameless," and having "a good report of them that are without" — those, namely, who are outside the kingdom of Christ. We cannot afford, as Christ's representatives, to defy the world's opinion about us so far as moral reputation is concerned. The world is a poor judge of doctrine, of motive, and of religious hopes and thoughts; but it is a keen and on the whole an accurate judge of character; and when the members and leaders of the Church are recognized by the world as honest, sincere, trusty, pure men and women, Christ will win the day against His foes.
(A. Rowland, LL. B.)
Parallel VersesKJV: This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.