1 Timothy iii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. He desireth a good work. No doubt but the work, or office, and charge of a bishop is good; but the motive of desiring to be a bishop not always good. However, in those days, the desire could scarce be grounded on temporal advantages. (Witham)

Ver. 2. A bishop (the same name then comprehended priest) to be blameless, as to life and conversation, adorned, (says St. Chrysostom) with all virtues. See also St. Jerome in his letter to Oceanus. — The[1] husband of one wife. It does not signify, that to be a bishop or priest he must be a married man; nor that he must be a man who has but one wife at a time; but that he must be a man who has never been married but once, or to one wife: because to be married more than once, was looked upon as a mark of too great an inclination to sensual pleasures. It is true, at that time a man might be chosen to be a bishop or priest whose wife was living, but from that time he was to live with her as with a sister. This St. Jerome testifies as to the discipline of the Latin Church. (Witham) — The meaning is not that every bishop should have a wife, (for St. Paul himself had none) but that no one should be admitted to the holy orders of bishop, priest, or deacon, who had been married more than once. (Challoner) — Sober.[2] The Greek rather signifies watchful. — Chaste.[3] There is nothing for this in the Greek text at present, unless in some few manuscripts. Perhaps the ancient Latin interpreter added it, as being signified and comprehended in the other words. — Teacher: a doctor, as the Greek signifies. (Witham)

Ver. 3. Not given to wine, or a lover of wine. This, says St. Chrysostom, is less than to be a drunkard; for such are excluded from the kingdom of heaven, whoever they be. (1 Corinthians vi. 10.) — No striker. St. Chrysostom understands not striving, fighting or quarreling even with his tongue. — Not covetous[4] of money, as appears by the Greek text. (Witham)

Ver. 4. Ruleth well his own house, &c. Before he is set over the Church, let him have given proofs of his talents for governing within his own house, by the regularity he has made all his dependants observe. In the infancy of the Church, it was frequently necessary to ordain the most regular fathers of families bishops, for want of others of a sufficient age who had observed perpetual continency. — With all chastity. The Greek implies, grave, sober, temperate; but as this seems to answer what is said in Titus i. 6., it seems to be properly understood of chastity. (Witham)

Ver. 6. Not a neophyte. Not one newly as it were planted, or newly instructed in the faith. (Witham) — That is, one lately baptized, a young convert. (Challoner) — He fall into the judgment and condemnation of the devil, by returning to his evil habits he has so lately quitted. (Witham) — Devil; i.e. into the same punishment to which the devil is condemned; (Theodoret) or into the power of the devil, who will accuse him at the judgment. (Calmet) — Or again, seeing himself so soon after his conversion raised to the first dignities of the Church, might imitate in his pride the devil, who could not bear the weight of glory in which God had created him. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 8. Deacons, &c. By the Greek, grave, sober, &c. But why does he pass from bishops to deacons, not naming priests? St. Chrysostom answers, that priests were comprehended under the name of bishops, their functions being much the same, except as to the ordination of the ministers of God. (Witham) — After speaking of bishops he passes on to deacons, because priests are included in the former title; and every thing that he has said of the first, is applicable to them. (Estius)

Ver. 11. Women, &c. By the Greek again, sober, grave, &c. By these women are commonly understood such as had made a vow of not marrying, and who assisted at the baptism of women; (Witham) i.e. deaconesses, who were women charged with the assistance, and sometimes with the instruction, of persons of their own sex. (Bible de Vence) — Not given to detraction,[5] or calumnies, as in the Greek. A necessary admonition. (Witham)

Ver. 15. The pillar and ground of the truth. By the promises of Christ to direct his Church by the infallible spirit of truth; (see John xvi. 7; Matthew xxviii. 20; &c. (Witham)) and therefore, the Church of the living God can never uphold error, nor bring in corruptions, superstition, or idolatry. (Challoner) — That the Church, the pillar and ground of truth, is to be conducted by the constant superintendence and guidance of the Holy Spirit into all truth to the consummation of days, every one whose mind is not strangely prejudiced may easily discover in various places of the inspired writings.

Ver. 16. Mystery of piety, meaning the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God: and so in most Greek copies, and in St. Chrysostom we read, God appeared in the flesh.[6] — Taken up into glory, by Christ’s glorious ascension into heaven. (Witham) — After having spoken of the grandeur and infallibility of the Church, the apostle takes occasion from it to extol the great mystery of love, the incarnation and redemption of man. By this mystery the Second Person of the blessed Trinity became manifested in the flesh, justifying or proving his divinity by the virtue of the Holy Spirit appearing in his miracles, made known to the Angels, who were his messengers to bear the tidings to man, or assisting spirits to wait upon him, as at the nativity, in the desert, the agony, &c. preached to the world, and at length consummated to the world by his ascension into glory. (Calmet and others)


[1] Ver. 2. Unius uxoris virum, i.e. non bigamum. See St. Chrysostom, p. 285.

[2] Ver. 2. Sobrium, nephalion. Vigilantem.

[3] Ver. 2. Pudicum: some Greek manuscripts, semnon.

[4] Ver. 3. Cupidum, aphilarguron.

[5] Ver. 11. Non detrahentes, me diabolous.

[6] Ver. 16. Quod manifestatum est; Theos ephanerothe en sarki. See St. Chrysostom.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

What sort of men are to be admitted into the clergy: the Church is the pillar of truth.

1 A faithful saying: If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

2 *It behoveth, therefore, a bishop to be blameless, the husband of one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher,

3 Not given to wine, no striker, but modest; not quarrelsome, not covetous, but

4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all chastity.

5 But if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?

6 Not a neophyte: lest being puffed up with pride, he fall into the judgment of the devil.

7 Moreover he must have a good testimony from them who are without, lest he fall into reproach, and into the snare of the devil.

8 Deacons in like manner chaste, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre:

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

10 And let these also first be proved: and so let them minister, having no crime.

11 The women in like manner, chaste, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife: who rule well their children, and their own houses.

13 For they that have ministered well, shall purchase to themselves a good degree, and much confidence in the faith, which is in Christ Jesus.

14 These things I write to thee, hoping that I shall come to thee shortly.

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.

16 And evidently great is the mystery of piety, which was manifested in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, appeared to Angels, hath been preached to the Gentiles, is believed in the world, is taken up in glory.



2: Titus i. 7.