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Paul's First Epistle to Timothy, Part 3: Leadership Credentials
As we have already explained, Paul of Tarsus was writing Timothy while en route from the Troad through Macedonia, as he traveled to Nicopolis in Epirus where he had planned on spending the winter before a visit to Corinth in the Spring of 57 AD. Timothy is still in Ephesus, from where Paul had recently departed, and Paul is exhorting him in areas which he must of felt needed special attention, hoping that Timothy would pass these things on in the course of his teachings to the Ephesians. Paul’s comments supporting our interpretation are found in chapter 4 of this letter.
In the last presentation of our commentary on this first epistle to Timothy, in chapter 2, we saw that the apostle passed on to his younger companion a brief sketch depicting the demeanor which he hoped would be born by all Christian men, that they should endeavor to lead quiet and peaceful lives and be found in supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving on behalf of their fellows. Here it should be noted, that this does not mean that Paul expects Christian men to be merely passive keepers of the Faith, sitting around all day and passing the time in prayer. Rather, Paul has described the attitude of Christian men and not their activity. He has explained how they should be found carrying themselves as they toil and struggle in their Christian walk, for the objective of accomplishing good deeds, works resulting in the accumulation of treasure in heaven – things which he mentions here in chapters 4 through 6 of the epistle. The true Christian activity is proactive, and neither sedentary nor pacifist.
Paul went on to describe the expected deportment of Christian women, that they should be modest, that they should not seek to speak in public or to be teachers of men. Rather, Paul taught that women should seek to raise faithful families, being delivered through child-bearing, submitting themselves to their husbands in the pattern of Yahweh’s order of Creation.
As we continue through the epistle, Paul has further instructions for other classes of people, and he commences here in chapter 3 by speaking of those who may seek leadership positions within the Christian assembly. First we will discuss the first clause of the chapter, which is only four words:
1 Trustworthy is this saying.
The phrase πιστὸς ὁ λόγος, or “Trustworthy is this saying”, may have been rendered “Faithful is this word”. The 6th century Codex Claromontanus (D) has ἀνθρώπινος ὁ λόγος instead, or “This is a saying of men.” For which we may compare Paul’s words in passages such as Romans 3:5 or 6:19, however we doubt that Paul used such a formula here. As we noted where it appeared in chapter 1, this same phrase appears three times in this epistle, and once in 2 Timothy. On the other occasions it is part of a longer adage, “trustworthy is this saying, and worthy of all acceptance.”
Here it is difficult to determine whether Paul had intended to apply this remark to the statement which preceded, at the end of chapter 2, or to the statement which follows in the next sentence of this chapter. The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, which also makes a note of this problem, has this phrase at the end of the last sentence of chapter 2. With that we are inclined to agree, that is how we originally had the passage arranged in our first unpublished edition of our translation of Paul’s epistles. But in the typesetting of the Christogenea New Testament it was somehow placed here with the balance of this first verse, which is where the King James Version also has it placed. We hope to correct this in a future edition, as we are persuaded that it belongs to the end of chapter 2. The chapter and verse divisions of Scripture are a late Medieval contrivance and they do not belong to the original manuscripts.
This leads us to another necessary discussion, concerning the adjective πιστός, which is faithful or trustworthy, and the related noun, πίστις, which is faith or belief. Many people, even Identity Christians, endeavor to affix a mystical quality to these words, and imagine that every time they appear in Scripture they are used to describe a certain faith, which is the Christian faith in salvation through Christ or belief in God, etc. That is not at all true. Often when these words appear in Scripture, they bear only a general sense, as these words are the common Greek words for trust or belief, and they can describe a trust or belief in anything. So where Paul says “Trustworthy is this saying”, or “Faithful is this word”, he only means to indicate that a particular statement is reliably true.
Now to present 1 Timothy chapter 3:
If anyone strives for an office of supervisor, he is desirous of good work.
We are not persuaded that Paul meant that this saying is trustworthy, since he is evidently speaking only of honest Christian men who would seek such a position. In later times, there are many men in history who acquired such an office for nefarious purposes, and Paul as well as the other apostles speak of and warn us of such infiltrators in diverse places.
The office of supervisor is the office of bishop, which is an English word that evolved from the original Greek word, ἐπίσκοπος. In Medieval Latin, ἐπίσκοπος was transliterated as ebiscopus, the first p being replaced with a b. Then in Old English it was spelled bisceop, and finally evolved into the modern word bishop. So bishop is essentially the same word as ἐπίσκοπος, and it is not even a proper translation. Like other words, it was brought into English for the purpose of organized church government. We prefer to translate the word literally, as overseer or supervisor, since it literally describes one who watches over.
There is a similar passage in in 1 Peter chapter 5 where we read “1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” There we see Peter tell the elders that they have the responsibility of “taking the oversight” of their respective communities, the verb is the Greek word ἐπισκοπέω, the verb equivalent of the office of ἐπίσκοπος, supervisor, overseer, or bishop.
Notice that Peter wrote of elders acting as supervisors, or bishops, that they should not be “lords over God’s heritage”, but examples to the flock. In like manner Paul had told the Corinthians “24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.” Bishops were not to be rulers over their respective assemblies, and the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages certainly acted in a manner contrary to those admonitions.
In Acts 14:23 we read of Paul and Barnabas, who were traveling through parts of Anatolia, “And elders being elected by them in each assembly, praying with fasting they presented them in whom they had confidence with the authority.” The King James translation of that passage has ordained, rather than elected, as if Paul was a pope appointing his own favorites to rule over the assemblies of Christ. But the Greek word is χειροτονέω (5500, cheirotoneō) which only appears twice in the New Testament. Liddell & Scott in the 7th edition of their Greek-English Lexicon define χειροτονέω as “to stretch out the hand, for the purpose of voting ... II ... to vote for, elect, properly by show of hands ... Passive to be elected ... χειροτονηθῆναι, election, was opposed to λαχεῖν, appointment by lot ...” and this is the natural meaning of the compound word, since its components, χείρ and τόνος, are a hand and a stretching respectively. The 9th edition of Liddell & Scott does add “appoint” to the word’s definition, yet it is obviously following the so-called church since it cites only the two New Testament passages where the word appears, but no secular authority in order to show that the word was ever actually used in such a manner.
So while all elders of the Christian community should be respected, a man “strives for an office of supervisor” by seeking to be elected by the people of the community to have such a responsibility. The verb for strive, for which the King James Version has desire, is ὀρέγω (Strong’s # 3713), which is nearly a synonym of the more explicit χειροτονέω, and means “to reach, stretch, stretch out… to stretch oneself out, stretch forth one's hand,” and metaphorically “to reach after, grasp at, yearn for a thing,” according to Liddell & Scott.
Paul discussed the qualities which should be found in a man who is desirous of such a position:
2 Therefore it is necessary for that supervisor to be irreproachable, a husband of one wife, sober, discreet, orderly, hospitable, inclined to teach,
According to Liddell & Scott, the word ἀνεπίληπτος (Strong’s # 423), which is irreproachable here, means not open to attack, not censured, or, as the King James Version has it, blameless. The character of the man which is chosen as leader by the assembly reflects upon the entire assembly, and therefore he should be beyond reproach.
The leader of a Christian assembly should be the husband of one wife. We spoke at great length on this subject, and from various perspectives, a mere ten weeks ago in part 2 of our presentation of Paul’s epistle to Titus, where Paul had given the same advice that he gives to Timothy in this epistle. So here we will only summarize some of our opinions on this admonition.
While there was no specific law in Scripture saying that a woman could not divorce a husband, in the ancient world it was nearly impossible for a woman to divorce a husband, unless she was from a wealthy family, as she had no property rights and no state-enforced parental rights as we now know them. There were no divorce courts in the ancient world, although later on in Rome divorce was governed by a few laws. In the Old Testament, a man divorced a woman simply by putting her out of his house. For that reason, the law required a man to write the woman a bill of divorcement, so that the woman, who typically had no property rights, had the opportunity to find refuge with another man (Deuteronomy 24:1-3). A woman could only divorce a husband by walking away, and she would almost certainly end up as a slave or as a whore.
Levitical priests were required by law to marry virgins, and they were prohibited from marrying divorced women (Leviticus 21:7, 14). But for the rest of the children of Israel, it was permissible to marry a woman who had been divorced (Deuteronomy 24:1-3) and while a man taking a wife who had not been divorced may have rightfully expected her to be a virgin, it was not a requirement (Deuteronomy 22:13-17).
The customs and laws of the Hebrews helped to uphold the institution of marriage as Yahweh God designed it, that a wife should be subject to her husband (Genesis 2:18, 20; 3:16). To think that marriage is made and governed by the State, and that women can take the property of their husbands in no-fault State-enforced divorce lawsuits, has ruined the institution of marriage. So today, we must ask how a man could be held to the same standards, where the State governs a family, and not God, and the man is no longer the ruler of his own house.
In Paul’s time, because it was so difficult for a woman to divorce a husband, and because it was relatively easy for a husband to divorce a woman, the burden of responsibility for keeping the marriage intact and healthy fell mainly on the shoulders of the man. But if a woman walked away from a marriage in Paul’s time, she was ostensibly making a great sacrifice which could stand as a testimony against the man’s character. Today, however, in many cases the woman assumes very little risk, and often it is more financially attractive for a woman to divorce than to stay married. So many women divorce their husbands on a whim, and often they profit from the evil deed. Under today’s circumstances, only the most virtuous of women disrespect the gods of State and submit themselves to Yahweh their God through their husbands.
So where Paul says that those seeking the office of supervisor in a Christian assembly should be the “husband of one wife”, we today should not put blame on men whose former wives took advantage of them under this wicked modern system. But nevertheless, such a man must demonstrate the ability to keep a commitment on his own part, and that is the important aspect of Paul’s admonition. If a man has not kept his commitment to a wife, neither can he be trusted to keep a commitment to the assembly of Christ. And as Paul later advises, if a man cannot manage a family and raise his own children, neither can he be trusted to look over the assembly of the children of Yahweh.
However there is another difference between Paul’s time and ours. Today’s church bishops are mostly figureheads who have no real control over the lives of the people in their assemblies. The State has usurped all control and all authority. So church is reduced to a one-hour-a-week activity for most people who usually spend the rest of their time engaging with the wider civic community in the wicked and non-Christian world. If anyone could be expelled from such an assembly, they can simply join the next church in the community.
But in Paul’s time, Christians were committed to their faith and separated themselves from the world, forsaking the civic community and having for community only the assembly of Christians while living and working to edify that assembly in meaningful ways. So the supervisors of such assemblies had greater authority to govern the behavior of their members, and if a member was expelled for some grievous sin it would lead to greater consequences as there were fewer places left to turn. The sinner would be compelled to return to the pagan world, even being separated from his or her own family.
The word translated as sober is νηφάλεος (Strong’s # 3524), for which the King James Version has vigilant. But while νηφάλεος literally means unmixed with wine or wineless, the fact that Paul used another word, πάροινος, in the verse which follows shows that he did not mean to use νηφάλεος in its strict literal sense here. The word πάροινος, or παροινικός, means addicted to wine where we have drunkard in verse 3, where the King James Version has given to wine.
The word σωφρών (Strong’s # 4998), is to be of sound mind, but also “sensible, discreet, wise” or “having control over the sensual desires, temperate, self-controlled, moderate, chaste…” and for that we have discreet where the King James Version rather ironically has sober. The next word in order, κόσμιος (Strong’s # 2887), is akin to κόσμος, which is often translated as world (Strong’s # 2889) in the King James Version. But κόσμος is primarily order, and then of people, behavior or decency, and κόσμιος is therefore orderly or well-behaved, and even regular or moderate. This is one reason why to us, where κόσμος is employed as a noun, it means society, which is the order of the inhabited world, as the Greeks and Romans perceived it, and it is not merely a reference to the planet itself.
The word for hospitable is φιλόξενος (Strong’s #5382) which is literally loving strangers, and therefore hospitable. As the law says, in Exodus chapter 22, “21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” The intent is expressed more completely in Deuteronomy chapter 10: “18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. 19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
However there were several words for stranger in Hebrew, and when they are compared it becomes evident that the word geyr (Strong’s Hebrew # 1616) which appears in both of those passages is rather close in meaning to its Greek equivalent, ξένος (Strong’s #5382), which according to Liddell & Scott is not merely any stranger, but “a guest-friend, i.e. any citizen of a foreign state, with whom one has a treaty of hospitality… any one entitled to hospitality”. Not all aliens had such an expectation of hospitality, and Christians are not expected to extend hospitality to those outside of the covenants of God, from whom in other Scriptures Christians are commanded to separate themselves.
In 2 John 9-11 we read: “9 Each who going forth and not abiding in the teaching of Christ has not Yahweh. He abiding in the teaching, he also has the Father and the Son. 10 If one comes to you and does not bear this teaching, do not receive him into the house and do not speak to welcome him! 11 For he speaking to welcome him takes a share in his evil works.” So the expectation for a Christian leader to be hospitable does not nullify the expectation for Christians to reject all those who reject Christ and His doctrine.
Likewise, in 2 Corinthians chapter 6 we read to admonition: “14 Do not become yoked together with untrustworthy aliens; for what participation has justice and lawlessness? And what fellowship has light towards darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what share the faithful with the faithless? 16 And what agreement has a temple of Yahweh with idols? For you are a temple of the living Yahweh; just as Yahweh has said, ‘I will dwell among them, and I will walk about; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ 17 On which account ‘Come out from the midst of them and be separated,’ says the Prince, and ‘do not be joined to the impure, and I will admit you’. 18 ‘And I will be to you for a father, and you will be mine for sons and daughters, says the almighty Prince.’” So the expectation for a Christian leader to be hospitable does not nullify the expectation for Christians to separate themselves from all of those whom Christ did not cleanse, and the promises of cleansing in Christ were made only to the children of Israel, who are the only people under the Covenant of Christ. Hospitality does not trump the law and covenants and promises of Yahweh, so hospitality is only for those for who are under the law and covenants and promises of Yahweh.
Where Paul says at last in this verse that such supervisors should be inclined, or apt to teach, as the King James Version has it, in Romans chapter 15 we see one place where Paul describes what they should teach, where it says “4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” So it is the Scriptures which should be taught, as Paul also admonished the Hebrews where he told them in chapter 5 of his epistle that “12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” Reading the Old Testament scriptures, they only offer comfort to the children of Israel. All other nations are promised only that they would meet their end, which is clear in Jeremiah 30:11, 46:28, Obadiah 15-16 and many other Scriptures.
Continuing with his list of leadership credentials Paul recommends that such men be:
3 not a drunkard, not a brawler but reasonable, not contentious, not loving money,
As we have already explained that the word πάροινος, which is spelled παροινικός in the older Classical writings, means addicted to wine where we have drunkard in this verse. Again, if Paul meant to demand complete abstention in verse 2 where he used the word νηφάλεος, then his statement here would be completely unnecessary. So νηφάλεος, commonly unmixed with wine, should be interpreted metaphorically, and according to Liddell & Scott the word did have metaphoric uses in regard to things other than wine. This becomes further evident where Paul advised Timothy himself to “use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities”, where he used the word οἶνος in chapter 5 of this epistle. The Greeks esteemed wine to have certain medicinal qualities. Paul cannot be interpreted in a manner which forces him to contradict himself.
The Greek word πληκτής (Strong’s # 4131) is brawler here. As we asserted when we presented a very similar admonition by Paul found in Titus 1:7, the word is not meant to insist that men be chosen as leaders who would not fight, as cowardice and effeminacy are disdained in the laws of God, but rather Paul encourages that these leaders not be pugnacious, or men who are quarrelsome or too quick to fight.
After the word for brawler, the King James Version follows some very late manuscripts which interpolate a word that is found in Paul’s similar admonition in Titus 1:7, and which is translated “not greedy of filthy lucre”. That phrase does not belong to the original text of this passage. Then the King James Version continues with the phrase “but patient”, which we have rendered as “but reasonable”, and it is a response to the admonition that a leader not be a brawler, where we have “not a brawler, but reasonable”. So the interpolation breaks the continuity of the passage, which also helps to show that the word does not belong.
The Greek word ἄμαχον in its primary sense was used to describe a person “with whom no one fights, unconquered, unconquerable, invincible”, according to Liddell & Scott. However here in this context it is nearly a synonym with πληκτής, and should be interpreted in its secondary sense to mean “disinclined to fight, peaceful… not contentious,” as it was also often used in the Classical literature.
Lastly Paul advises that prospective leaders are not lovers of money. The single Greek word is ἀφιλάργυρος is literally without love of silver, or money. The King James Version has only “not covetous”. It is not money which is problematical: money is simply a tool, a portion of something exchanged for a relatively equal and agreed-upon value of something else, of which the necessary use is mentioned throughout Scripture in one form or another. Rather, Paul says in chapter 6 of this epistle that it is the love of money which is the root of all evil, and not the money itself.
As a digression, the English word money is said to have been derived from the Latin equivalent, moneta. However in truth both words are derived from the Hebrew word moneh (Strong’s Hebrew # 4489) which means something weighed out, which is in turn from a verb, manah (Strong’s Hebrew # 4487) which is to weigh out or enumerate.
Before we continue, we want to address Paul’s admonitions concerning sobriety and drunkenness in verses 2 and 3. There is an issue which often causes confusion, especially in certain denominational churches, but which is also frequently carried over amongst Identity Christians, and which we feel obliged to clarify.
There are two Greek words which appear in the New Testament that are used to describe wine, which are οἶνος and γλεῦκος. According to Liddell & Scott, οἶνος is wine, and the word has no other significant meaning. The word γλεῦκος is sweet new wine, and in a secondary sense, because the wine is intended to ferment but may not yet be fermented, it may refer to grape-juice. The yeasts which cause grape-juice to ferment are found naturally in the skins of the grapes, and without modern refrigeration or canning and pasteurization, in ancient times people could not keep their grape-juice from fermenting.
That being said, there are other Greek words which describe wine or grape juice but which never appear as wine or grape juice in the New Testament. Among these are τρύξ, which is “wine not yet fermented and racked off, [for which a technical English term is] must...”, μέθη, which is simply “strong drink…”, χάλις which is “neat wine…”, and σίραιον, which is “new wine boiled down…” Some of these are technical terms, and we list them here to show that there was another word which described grape juice, or unfermented wine, which is τρύξ. But οἶνος was not used by the Greeks to describe grape juice or unfermented wine.
The word ὄξος, which is poor wine or vinegar which was made from it, appears in Scripture but is not considered here since it is always translated as vinegar. One other word that appears in the New Testament is σίκερα, which refers to an intoxicating beverage but which is not directly related to grapes or wine. It appears only in Luke 1:15.
Of all the Greek words which describe wine, only οἶνος and γλεῦκος appear in the New Testament. Of these, οἶνος is the common Greek word for wine and it was always used by Greeks to describe a fermented product. Where it had other odd uses it still referred to a sort of wine, such as where it was often coupled with the word κριθή, which is barley, to describe beer, which the Greeks therefore called barley wine.
Now γλεῦκος may refer to mere grape juice, or to wine in the early stages of fermentation, called new wine. But the word γλεῦκος is only found in Acts 2:13. All other occurrences of the word wine in the New Testament are from οἶνος, or from compound words which include οἶνος.
Teetotalers claim that the Scripture teaches absolute abstention from alcoholic beverages, but that is certainly not true. Then they claim that Christ and the apostles never drank wine, but only drank grape juice, and neither is that true. If the apostles had always used the word γλεῦκος to describe wine, they might have an argument, but the apostles did no such thing.
Since the apostles always – except on one occasion – used the word οἶνος to describe wine, the argument by the teetotalers defies reality. That is because by arguing that Jesus and the apostles did not drink wine, they make the poor assumption that the apostles did not know the meanings of these basic Greek words. We would assert that the apostles certainly did know the meanings of these words, and chose to use the appropriate terminology wherever such words appear. So οἶνος is indeed fermented wine, and γλεῦκος where it is used at Acts 2:13 may have been grape juice, since in that passage the apostles were not expected to have been drinking fermented wine so early in the morning. The Greeks, even their children, commonly drank γλεῦκος, or new wine, in the early morning hours, and did not expect to become intoxicated by it.
Of course, being Christians, we should all agree that drunkenness is sinful, but that all things which are not proscribed in God’s law may be employed in moderation for useful purposes. Where wine is abused, we read in Proverbs chapter 20 that “1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” But where wine may be used kindly, we read in the 104th Psalm the praises of Yahweh God where it is said that “14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.”
Paul continues by admonishing that the leader of a Christian assembly must have been the head of his own household, something that was probably easier to do before the State and its intrusive government agencies became involved in and usurped authority over families, something that was unheard of in the ancient world. Thus he says that such a man should be found:
4 governing his own house well, having children in subjection with all reverence,
With this, Paul asks in a rhetorical and parenthetical remark:
5 (now if one does not know to govern his own house, how would he care for an assembly of Yahweh?)
It is no mistake, that perhaps only two generations after various governments of State throughout the formerly Christian nations had enabled sodomites to emerge from social secrecy, that we have a corrupted generation of youth who are entirely confused about gender and who reject traditional sexual relationships in favor of every perversion. We have had men – and women – as community leaders, school-teachers, ministers and priests and in other positions of authority in our communities who were not held to this standard, and now in a very short time, the entire society is corrupted and perverted.
Supposedly religious authorities such as the Roman and Orthodox Catholic Churches have not adequately countered this trend, because the Churches themselves never really cared for the Scriptural authority of the letters of Paul or for the laws of Yahweh. The Roman Catholic Church abandoned this principal – that a leader should be the husband of one wife and should have raised his own family – nine hundred years ago, when it formally began to forbid its priests to marry in the twelfth century, at the Second Lateran Council held in 1139 AD. In some places, celibacy was demanded of priests at a much sooner time, and as early as 304 AD at the Council of Elvira, but the provisions were reject at Nicaea a couple of decades later. (Now we will not address here the fact that there is no authority for such an organized Christian priesthood in Scripture in the first place. But at least when they could marry they had at least a better pretense of legitimacy.)
The Churches have abused certain Scriptures in order to demand celibacy of its priests. The chief of these is where Christ said in the Gospel that some men “have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake” (Matthew 19:12). While in that passage He was speaking chiefly of Himself, even if men followed Him in that aspect for one reason or another there is still no indication that Christ expected such men to be appointed as community leaders, or that all men working for the advancement of the Kingdom of Heaven should live as eunuchs.
Another Scripture which the Catholics abuse is found at 1 Corinthians 7:25-26, where Paul said he had no commandment, but an opinion that it was better for a man to be a virgin than to be married. However the Churches completely ignore the context of Paul’s discussion in that passage. He was speaking of a time of intense persecution of Christians, and therefore he had said in verse 26 that “because of the present violence, that it is well for a man” to remain unmarried, and then, if a man decided to marry anyway, that “these will have anxiety in the flesh, and for my part, of you I am merciful.” Of course, common sense would indicate that in times of extreme duress it is not good to start a family, and Paul’s advice was predicated on that circumstance. Furthermore, Paul’s words in that passage had nothing to do with the selection of leaders in a Christian assembly. This is the deceit of the Catholic Churches which has been ongoing over this issue for over nine centuries.
Where in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 Paul had explained that ministers and teachers of the Christian assemblies should be supported by those assemblies, he asked, speaking of himself and Barnabas “Do we not have license to always have with us a kinswoman: a wife, as also the other ambassadors, and the brethren of the Prince, and Kephas?” So we see that of all of the other apostles, only Paul – and perhaps Barnabas – had forsaken marriage. A little later on Paul explains that he did this, and refrained from some of the other things which he had license to do, “in order that we should not give any hindrance to the good message of the Anointed.” In the context of the passage it becomes evident that Paul, because he was constantly travelling and was usually supported by the assemblies, felt that he would be unburdened and of better service to the Gospel of Christ if he remained unmarried.
But Paul was an exception in that it was his commission from Yahshua Christ to bring the Gospel “before both the Nations and kings of the sons of Israel” (Acts 9:15), as Christ had told him when he was only a young man to “Go, because I shall send you off to distant nations” (Acts 22:21). The rule cannot be nullified by the exception. Missionary work in distant lands is now completed, as we no longer live in the age of the fishers, and all of the scattered children of Israel have heard the Gospel of Christ, as it says in Jeremiah chapter 31 “34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Now we live in the age of hunters (Jeremiah 16:16).
The advice Paul gives to Timothy here is, ostensibly, for the stationary Christian assemblies being established in diverse places. In this same manner Paul had already written to Titus that those set into the position of leaders “be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.” If a man has not sufficient experience raising a family, how can that man advise others on raising their families? How can a man be a righteous guide to many families within a community, if he has no experience raising his own?
Rather, the unnatural practice of celibacy which has been advanced by the organized Churches has encouraged the propagation of all sorts of perversions. Of course for many generations now Catholic priests have been suspected and accused of molesting innumerable boys and adolescent young men, and they have failed to address that situation adequately even among themselves. As I have often quipped in the past, they have rather unnaturally altered boys under the pretense of employing them at the altar. It should be no wonder, since Church policy itself has authored this perverted situation.
Paul continues his advice concerning true Christian leadership credentials and advises that leaders not be chosen from amongst neophytes :
6 Not a neophyte, lest blinded with pride he would fall into condemnation of the False Accuser.
The Greek word τυφόω (Strong’s # 5187), which is found in the New Testament only in the epistles to Timothy, here and in chapter 6 and in 2 Timothy chapter 3, is literally “to wrap in smoke; metaphorically in Perfect Passive...to be in the clouds, to be crazed, demented”, according to Liddell & Scott. So literally, the phrase here is “lest wrapped in smoke”. [Perhaps that is an appropriate pun as the result would be to be dragged through a fiery trial.] Joseph Thayer in his Greek-English Lexicon gives a secondary meaning “2. to be blind with pride or conceit...” with which Liddell & Scott agree when the verb is used in the Passive voice, as it is here. In different contexts, at 1 Timothy 6:4 we have it as conceited, and at 2 Tim 3:4 as demented.
Timothy himself was a relatively young man, and in chapter 4 of this epistle Paul tells him to “12 Let no man despise your youth, but you must be a model of those believing in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, in chastity.” So Paul could not have intended here to exclude merely younger men from leadership positions. Paul himself was considered a young man at the stoning of Stephen, which is evident in Acts chapter 7. However in light of Paul’s many other statements to Timothy here, Timothy must have been learned in Scripture and have had sufficient experience in accord with all of Paul’s other instructions here.
We chose to use the borrowed word neophyte here, where the King James Version has novice, as the Greek term used by Paul is literally newly planted. Liddell & Scott have “newly planted: metaphorically a new convert, neophyte”. In the Book of Acts it may be apparent that some of the men whom Paul chose to assist him in his ministry were relatively new converts to Christianity, but those men had experience in the Scriptures before they were converted. Neither Titus or Timothy were converted from paganism, but rather Paul had met both of these men in the synagogues of the Judaeans. Christianity being the precise fulfillment of those Old Testament scriptures that these men had already studied, they were not truly neophytes.
So it is more likely that Paul refers to new converts who are unlearned, and warns that they should not be appointed as leaders. Not understanding the Scriptures for reason of pride or vanity they may more easily do something by which devils looking to subvert the Christian assembly may condemn and entrap them. Paul’s warning continues in that same manner:
7 Now it is necessary also to have a good accreditation from those outside, lest he fall into a reproach and a trap of the False Accuser.
In both of these verses the term False Accuser is from the Substantive form of the adjective διάβολος (Strong’s # 1228). A Substantive is a word or group of words used as a noun, which are not regularly nouns by themselves. Below, in verse 11, διάβολος appears as an adjective, where it is rendered as slanderous. The verb διαβάλλω originally meant to throw or carry over, and was used for one who was set at variance or set against another. So eventually in Classical literature it came to be used to describe the act of attacking a man's character, to calumniate, and also to misrepresent or speak or state slanderously, and then, generally, to give hostile information, even without malice, but also to deceive by false accounts, impose upon, or mislead… It is in this last sense that the adjective is most often used in Scripture, especially in places where it is used as a noun. In those instances, in the King James Version it is translated as devil.
As it says in Proverbs chapter 16, “7 When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” The apostle Peter had warned his readers in his first epistle to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”. There is a natural enemy in the goat nations and the tares of the field, among whom are the Jews of the time of Christ, and then there is simply the slanderer, anyone who has a cause against a man for any particular reason.
Where Paul writes this in reference to “those outside”, he means to refer to those outside the body of Christians. Likewise Paul advised in Colossians chapter 4 that “5 In reference to those outside, you walk in wisdom, buying the time”. Paul had told the Corinthians that “those outside Yahweh judges” (1 Corinthians 5:13), and the Christian should know that Yahweh has reserved vengeance to Himself, as Paul cites the statement in the prophets in both Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30. As it is written in Nahum chapter 1: “2 God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” Until then, the children of Israel can only “take up the full armor of Yahweh, in order that you may be able to make a stand in the evil day, even to stand, all things being accomplished”, as Paul had advised in Ephesians chapter 6.
Now Paul continues by speaking of some of the qualities which should be found in men chosen to be ministers, which are servants of the assemblies:
8 In like manner reverent [א wants “reverent”] ministers, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not shamefully desirous of gain,
The King James Version has deacons here, rather than ministers, and when the translators of that version chose such a word, it is apparent that in their endeavor to uphold the authority of the structure of the Anglican Church they created an artificial distinction between ministers and deacons. The Greek word διάκονος (Strong’s # 1249) is a servant, and usually in the King James Version it is translated as minister, a word which comes into English directly from a Latin word for servant.
When translating the Christogenea New Testament, we wanted to distinguish between such voluntary servants of the Kingdom of God and common slaves, so we often translated διάκονος as minister, and sometimes as servant, depending upon the context. The King James Version also did this, except on five occasions where the word is deacon, four of which are in this chapter of the first epistle to Timothy, and the last which is in Philippians chapter 1. In each of the five places the term should be minister, ministers or ministering where twice the word is from the corresponding verb, διακονέω (Strong’s # 1247).
The Greek noun διλογία was used in the Classical writings to describe repetition. Here the adjective δίλογος, which is apparently only known from the New Testament, is usually interpreted to mean “double-tongued, doubtful,” as Liddell & Scott have it citing this very passage. The King James Version also has doubletongued here. It is possible that Paul used this term here as he used διαλογισμός in Romans chapter 14, where he seemed to to mean doubtful, but in that passage the word may also mean argumentative. We may have done better to have interpreted δίλογος in that same manner here, as argumentativeness often involves repetition.
Where Paul warns that ministers should not be “addicted to much wine”, the Greek verb προσέχω (Strong’s # 4337) has a wide array of meanings in various contexts, but the King James Version has given here, which is appropriate. Other ways that the word may have been rendered here are attached to or devoted to, for which reason we wrote addicted to. The phrase οἶνος πολύς, much wine, is absolutely literal. Thereby it is evident that the consumption of at least wine is certainly permissible, but of course drunkenness should be shunned.
Paul gave Titus many of these same warnings concerning supervisors, or bishops, and we must understand that essentially, men holding either office should be held to the same expectations.
Where Paul warns against choosing men who are “shamefully desirous of gain”, where the King James Version has “not given to filthy lucre”, as it also does in Titus 1:7. As we discussed presenting that verse, in Philippians chapter 3 Paul spoke of the enemies of the cross of Christ “19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” Then in 2 Corinthians 2:17 Paul wrote in part: “17, For we are not as the many, selling the word of Yahweh in trade, but as from sincerity, rather as from Yahweh.” Judaizers teaching salvation by works basically sell the dispensation of rituals to the unsuspecting sheep. Greedy men would be quick to compromise the Word of God for their own profit. They should be put out of any office that they may acquire. Later, in 1 Timothy chapter 6, Paul warned of those who were “corrupting the minds of men and defrauding them of the truth, supposing piety to be a means of gain.” Evidently, the Medieval Catholic Churches forbid priests to marry so that they may increase their gain. Paul will touch on that subject again in 1 Timothy chapter 4, almost as if he knew what was going to happen.
He then exhorts that servants of the assembly be found:
9 holding the mystery of the faith with a clean conscience.
There are several aspects of the mystery of the faith. The most important is explained by Paul towards the end of this chapter, as the mystery of piety, or godliness, that Yahweh God was manifested in the flesh as a man, Yahshua Christ. Another aspect of the mystery of the faith is found where Paul explains it in his epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, which is the mystery that the nations being gathered to Christ were indeed the nations which came from the loins of Abraham, the children of Israel who were scattered by Yahweh in their punishment many centuries beforetime. Paul also mentioned that mystery in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, and announced in Romans chapter 16 that it had been revealed, as Paul also explained it throughout that epistle.
All together, the mystery of the faith is the scattering of Israel for their sin, the promises of God to regather Israel in His mercy, the reconciliation of Israel in their acceptance of the Gospel of Christ, and the reasons why Yahweh God had to come as a man and die on their behalf in order to be reconciled to them, which Paul summarizes in Romans chapter 7. As Paul said in Romans chapter 16: “25 Now with ability you are to stand fast in accordance with my good message and the proclamation of Yahshua Christ; in accordance with a revelation of mystery having been kept secret in times eternal, 26 but being made manifest now, through the prophetic writings; in accordance with the command of the eternal Yahweh, for the submission of faith to all the Nations [which are the nations of the seed of Abraham to whom the promise was assured, as Paul explained in Romans chapter 4], in discovering that 27 Yahweh alone is wise, through Yahshua Christ, to whom is honor for the ages.” The only promises found in the prophetic writings are those which we have just summarized here. This mystery was made manifest when Paul announced the reconciliation of Israel among the nations of Europe to Yahweh their God, who were the descendants of those same scattered Israelites promised reconciliation and recovery in the prophetic writings.
Then Paul concludes in the next verse, that even holding the mystery of the faith with a clean conscience:
10 But even they must be scrutinized first, then being void of offense they must minister.
Being scrutinized first, meaning before they are elected to any office, they must have the leadership qualities expected of Christians, even before they are permitted to assume such an office. The King James Version has “use the office of a deacon” here in place of the third person plural imperative verb which we have rendered “they must minister”. The clause may have been rendered “...then being void of offense let them minister.”
Now Paul momentarily turns his attention back to women, and in this case more specifically, the wives of men chosen as leaders:
11 Likewise reverent wives, not slanderous, sober, trustworthy in all.
The Greek word διάβολος is primarily an adjective, so it is slanderous here. Paul also used it in a general exhortation concerning women in Titus chapter 2 where he exhorted that “3 Elderwomen in like manner in a condition befitting sanctity, not slanderous, not enslaved to much wine, teachers of virtue 4 in order that they may admonish the young women to be lovers of husband, lovers of children, 5 discreet, pure, good homemakers, being subject to their own husband in order that the word of Yahweh is not blasphemed.”
So a man chosen to serve the assembly is expected to have a wife who exhibits herself in general conformance with the same Christian ideals. Paul then continues concerning men who would be chosen as servants of the assembly and says:
12 Ministers must be husbands of one wife, governing their children and their own houses well. 13 For they that are ministering well obtain for themselves a good degree and much liberty in faith which is in Christ Yahshua.
Like those chosen to be supervisors, the bishops or leaders of the assembly, those chosen to serve the assembly as ministers must also have had experience raising their own families, learning to govern their own houses before being appointed to help govern the greater household of Yahweh their God.
When men are blameless, only then do they really have a liberty to judge others, as Christ Himself said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 7, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Saying that, He was warning against hypocritical judgment. So He said in another place, in Matthew chapter 12, “37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” And on the other side of the proverbial coin, those who judge their brethren without mercy shall have no mercy in judgement. The apostle James said in the first chapter of his epistle: “22 Now you must be doers of the Word and not hearers only, defrauding yourselves. 23 Because if one is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing the appearance of his race in a mirror, 24 for he observes himself and departs and immediately forgets of what sort he was.” But then in the second he said: “10 For he who should keep the whole law but would fail in one thing, has become liable for all. 11 For He having said "you should not commit adultery" also said "you should not commit murder", and if you do not commit adultery but you commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 Thusly you speak and thusly you do as if going to be judged by a law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy for him not effecting mercy. Mercy exults over judgment.” So they who minister well “obtain for themselves a good degree and much liberty in faith which is in Christ Yahshua.”
Here we will end our presentation just short of the end of this chapter. We have already discussed in part certain aspects of the final three verses where relevant topics have arisen in our first few presentations of this commentary on 1 Timothy. When we resume, we will address them once more.