Qualifications of Various Ministers. 1* This saying is trustworthy:* whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.a 2Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable, married only once, temperate, self-controlled, decent, hospitable, able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle, not contentious, not a lover of money.b 4He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity; 5for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of the church of God? 6He should not be a recent convert, so that he may not become conceited and thus incur the devil’s punishment.* 7He must also have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, the devil’s trap.c
8* Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful, not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain, 9holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10Moreover, they should be tested first; then, if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. 11Women,* similarly, should be dignified, not slanderers, but temperate and faithful in everything.d 12Deacons may be married only once and must manage their children and their households well. 13Thus those who serve well as deacons gain good standing and much confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.
The Mystery of Our Religion.* 14I am writing you about these matters, although I hope to visit you soon. 15But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.e 16Undeniably great is the mystery of devotion,
Who* was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed to the Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.f
* [3:1–7] The passage begins by commending those who aspire to the office of bishop (episkopos; see note on Phil 1:1) within the community, but this first sentence (1 Tm 3:1) may also imply a warning about the great responsibilities involved. The writer proceeds to list the qualifications required: personal stability and graciousness; talent for teaching (1 Tm 3:2); moderation in habits and temperament (1 Tm 3:3); managerial ability (1 Tm 3:4); and experience in Christian living (1 Tm 3:5–6). Moreover, the candidate’s previous life should provide no grounds for the charge that he did not previously practice what he now preaches. No list of qualifications for presbyters appears in 1 Timothy. The presbyter-bishops here and in Titus (see note on Ti 1:5–9) lack certain functions reserved here for Paul and Timothy.
* [3:1] This saying is trustworthy: the saying introduced is so unlike others after this phrase that some later Western manuscripts read, “This saying is popular.” It is understood by some interpreters as concluding the preceding section (1 Tm 2:8–15). Bishop: literally, “overseer”; see note on Phil 1:1.
* [3:6] The devil’s punishment: this phrase could mean the punishment once incurred by the devil (objective genitive) or a punishment brought about by the devil (subjective genitive).
* [3:8–13] Deacons, besides possessing the virtue of moderation (1 Tm 3:8), are to be outstanding for their faith (1 Tm 3:9) and well respected within the community (1 Tm 3:10). Women in the same role, although some interpreters take them to mean wives of deacons, must be dignified, temperate, dedicated, and not given to malicious talebearing (1 Tm 3:11). Deacons must have shown stability in marriage and have a good record with their families (1 Tm 3:12), for such experience prepares them well for the exercise of their ministry on behalf of the community (1 Tm 3:13). See further the note on Phil 1:1.
* [3:11] Women: this seems to refer to women deacons but may possibly mean wives of deacons. The former is preferred because the word is used absolutely; if deacons’ wives were meant, a possessive “their” would be expected. Moreover, they are also introduced by the word “similarly,” as in 1 Tm 3:8; this parallel suggests that they too exercised ecclesiastical functions.
* [3:14–16] In case there is some delay in the visit to Timothy at Ephesus planned for the near future, the present letter is being sent on ahead to arm and enlighten him in his task of preserving sound Christian conduct in the Ephesian church. The care he must exercise over this community is required by the profound nature of Christianity. It centers in Christ, appearing in human flesh, vindicated by the holy Spirit; the mystery of his person was revealed to the angels, announced to the Gentiles, and accepted by them in faith. He himself was taken up (through his resurrection and ascension) to the divine glory (1 Tm 3:16). This passage apparently includes part of a liturgical hymn used among the Christian communities in and around Ephesus. It consists of three couplets in typical Hebrew balance: flesh-spirit (contrast), seen-proclaimed (complementary), world-glory (contrast).
* [3:16] Who: the reference is to Christ, who is himself “the mystery of our devotion.” Some predominantly Western manuscripts read “which,” harmonizing the gender of the pronoun with that of the Greek word for mystery; many later (eighth/ninth century on), predominantly Byzantine manuscripts read “God,” possibly for theological reasons.
c. [3:7] 2 Cor 8:21; 2 Tm 2:26.