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Verse 2. A bishop. A minister of religion, according to the foregoing remarks, who has the charge or oversight of any Christian church. The reference here is doubtless to one who had the government of the church intrusted to him, 1 Ti 3:4,5, and who was also a preacher of the gospel.

Must be blameless. This is a different word (anepilhptov) from that rendered blameless in Lu 1:6; Php 2:15; 3:6, (amemptov) Compare See Barnes "Lu 1:6"; See Barnes "Php 3:6".


The word here used does not mean that, as a necessary qualification for office, a bishop should be perfect; but that he should be a man against whom no charge of immorality, or of holding false doctrine, is alleged. His conduct should be irreprehensible or irreproachable. Undoubtedly it means that if any charge could be brought against him implying moral obliquity, he is not fit for the office, he should be a man of irreproachable character for truth, honesty, chastity, and general uprightness.

The husband of one wife. This need not be understood as requiring that a bishop should be a married man, as Vigilantias, a presbyter in the church at Barcelona in the fourth century, supposed, however desirable, in general, it may be that a minister of the gospel should be married. But, while this interpretation is manifestly to be excluded as false, there has been much difference of opinion on the question whether the passage means that a minister should not have more than one wife at the same time, or whether it prohibits the marriage of a second wife after the death of the first. On this question the Notes of Bloomfield, Doddridge, and Macknight, may be consulted. That the former is the correct opinion, seems to me to be evident from the following considerations:

(1.) It is the most obvious meaning of the language, and it would doubtless be thus understood by those to whom it was addressed. At a time when polygamy was not uncommon, to say that a man should "have but one wife" would be naturally understood as prohibiting polygamy.

(2.) The marriage of a second wife, after the death of the first, is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as wrong. The marriage of a widow to a second husband is expressly declared to be proper, 1 Co 7:39; and it is not unfair to infer from that permission that it is equally lawful and proper for a man to marry the second time. But if it is lawful for any man, it is right for a minister of the gospel. No reason can be assigned against such marriages in his case, which would not be equally valid in any other. Marriage is as honourable for a minister of the gospel as for any other man, (comp. See Barnes "Heb 13:4; and, as Doddridge has well remarked, "circumstances may be so adjusted that there may be as much reason for a second marriage as for the first, and as little inconvenience of any kind may attend it."

(3.) There was a special propriety in the prohibition, if understood as prohibiting polygamy. It is known that it was extensively practised, and was not regarded as unlawful. Yet one design of the gospel was to restore the marriage relation to its primitive condition; and though it might not have seemed absolutely necessary to require of every man who came into the church to divorce his wives, if he had more than one, yet, in order to fix a brand on this irregular practice, it might have been deemed desirable to require of the ministers of the gospel that they should have but one wife. Thus the practice of polygamy would gradually come to be regarded as dishonourable and improper, and the example and influence of the ministry would tend to introduce correct views in regard to the nature of this relation. One thing is clear from this passage, that the views of the Papists in regard to the celibacy of the clergy are directly at variance with the Bible. The declaration of Paul in Heb 13:4, is, that "marriage is honourable in all;" and here it is implied that it was proper that a minister should be married. If it were not, why did not Paul prohibit it altogether! Instead of saying that it was improper that a bishop should have more than one wife, why did he not say that it was improper that he should be married at all! Would not a Romanist say so now?

Vigilant. This word nhfaleov occurs only here and in 1 Ti 3:11; Tit 2:2. It means, properly, sober, temperate, abstinent, especially in respect to wine; then sober-minded, watchful, circumspect. Robinson. A minister should have a watchful care over his own conduct. He should be on his guard against sin in any form.

Sober. swfrona. Properly, a man of a sound mind; one who follows sound reason, and who is not under the control of passion. The idea is, that he should have his desires and passions well regulated. Perhaps the word prudent would come nearer to the meaning of the apostle than any single word which we have.

Of good behaviour. Marg., modest. Coverdale renders it, mannerly. The most correct rendering, according to the modern use of language, would be, that he should be a gentleman. He should not be slovenly in his appearance, or rough and boorish in his manners. He should not do violence to the usages of refined intercourse, nor be unfit to appear respectably in the most refined circles of society. Inattention to personal neatness, and to the rules which regulate refined intercourse, is indicative neither of talent, learning, nor religion; and though they are occasionally—not often—connected with talent, learning, and religion, yet they are never the fruit of either, and are always a disgrace to those who exhibit such incivility and boorishness, for such men ought to know better. A minister of the gospel should be a finished gentleman in his manners, and there is no excuse for him if he is not. His religion, if he has any, is adapted to make him such. He has usually received such an education as ought to make him such, and in all cases ought to have had such a training. He is admitted into the best society, and has an opportunity of becoming familiar with the laws of refined intercourse. He should be an example and a pattern in all that goes to promote the welfare of mankind, and there are few things so easily acquired that are fitted to do this, as refinement and gentility of manners. No man can do good, on the whole, or in the "long run," by disregarding the rules of refined intercourse; and, other things being equal, the refined, courteous, polite gentleman in the ministry, will always do more good than he who neglects the rules of good-breeding.

Given to hospitality. This is often enjoined on all Christians as a duty of religion. For the reasons of this, and the nature of the duty, See Barnes "Ro 12:3; Heb 13:2".

It was a special duty of the ministers of religion, as they were to be examples of every Christian virtue.

Apt to teach. Gr., Didactic; that is, capable of instructing, or qualified for the office of a teacher of religion. As the principal business of a preacher of the gospel is to teach, or to communicate to his fellowmen the knowledge of the truth, the necessity of this qualification is obvious. No one should be allowed to enter the ministry who is not qualified to impart instruction to others on the doctrines and duties of religion; and no one should feel that he ought to continue in the ministry, who has not industry, and self-denial, and the love of study enough to lead him constantly to endeavour to increase in knowledge, that he may be qualified to teach others. A man who would teach a people, must himself keep in advance of them on the subjects on which he would instruct them.

{b} "bishop" Tit 1:6 {1} "good behaviour" "modest"


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