1 Timothy 3:1-7
1. This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
1. Certus sermo, si quis episcopatum appetit, praeclarum opus desiderat.
2. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach;.
2. Oportet ergo Episcopum irreprehensibilem esse, unius uxoris maritum, sobrium, temperantem, compositum, (vel, honestum,) hospitalem, aptum ad docendum.
3. Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre: but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
3. Non vinolentum, (vel, ferocem,) non percussorem, non turpiter lucri cupidum, sed aequum, alienum a pugnis, alienum ab avaritia.
4. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity,
4. Qui domui suae bene praesit, qui filios habeat in subjectione, cum omni reverentia.
5. (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
5. Quodsi quis propriae domui praeesse non novit, ecclesiam Dei quomodo curabit?
6. Not a novice, lest, being lifted in up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
6. Non novicium, ne inflatus in condemnationem incidat diaboli.
7. Moreover, he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
7. Oportet autem illum et bonum testimonium habere ab extraneis, ne in probum incidat et laqueum diaboli.
I think that Paul's meaning is now sufficiently clear; though none of the commentators, so far as I perceive, have understood it. The general meaning is, that a selection ought to be made in admitting bishops, because it is a laborious and difficult charge; and that they who aim at it should carefully consider with themselves, whether or not they were able to bear so heavy a burden. Ignorance is always rash; and a mature knowledge of things makes a man modest. How comes it that they who have neither ability nor wisdom often aspire so confidently to hold the reins of government, but because they rush forward with their eyes shut? On this subject Quintilian remarked, that the ignorant speak boldly, while the greatest orators tremble.
For the purpose of restraining such rashness in desiring the office of a bishop, Paul states, first, that this is not an indolent rank, but a
Here a question arises: "Is it lawful, in any way, to desire the office of a bishop?" On the one hand, it appears to be highly improper for any one to anticipate, by his wish, the calling of God, and yet Paul, while he censures a rash desire, seems to permit it to be desired with prudence and modesty. I reply, if ambition is condemned in other matters, much more severely ought it to be condemned in "the office of a bishop." But Paul speaks of a godly desire, by which holy men wish to employ that knowledge of doctrine which they possess for the edification of the Church. For, if it were altogether unlawful to desire the office of a teacher, why should they who spend all their youth in reading the Holy Scriptures prepare themselves by learning? What are the theological schools but nurseries of pastors?
Accordingly, they who have been thus instructed not only may lawfully devote themselves and their labors to God by a voluntary offering, but even ought to do so, and that too, before they have been admitted unto the office; provided that, nevertheless, they do not trust themselves forward, and do not, even by their own wish, make themselves bishops, but are only ready to discharge the office, if their labors shall be required. And if it turn out that, according to the lawful order; they are not called, let them know that such was the will of God, and let them not take it in that others have been preferred to them. But they who, without any selfish motive, shall have no other wish than to serve God and the Church, will be affected in this manner; and, at the same time, will have such modesty that they will not be at all envious, if others be preferred to them as being more worthy.
If any one object, that the government of the Church is a matter of so great difficulty, that it ought rather to strike terror into the minds of persons of sound judgment than to excite them to desire it. I reply, that the desire of great men does not rest on confidence of their own industry or virtue, but on the assistance of
"God, from whom is our sufficiency,"
as Paul says elsewhere. (2 Corinthians 3:5.) At the same time, it is necessary to observe what it is that Paul calls "the office of a bishop;" and so much the more, because the ancients were led away, by the custom of their times, from the true meaning; for, while Paul includes generally all pastors, they understand a bishop to be one who was elected out of each college to preside over his brethren. Let us remember, therefore, that this word is of the same import as if he had called them ministers, or pastors, or presbyters. 2
He wishes a bishop to be
The only true exposition, therefore, is that of Chrysostom, that in a bishop he expressly condemns polygamy, 5 which at that time the Jews almost reckoned to be lawful. This corruption was borrowed by them partly from sinful imitation of the Fathers, (for they who read that Abraham, Jacob, David, and others of the same class, were married to more wives than one at the same time, thought that it was lawful for them also to do the same) and partly from neighboring nations; for the inhabitants of the East never observed that conscientiousness and fidelity in marriage which was proper. However that might be, polygamy was exceedingly prevalent among them; 6 and therefore with great propriety does Paul enjoin that a bishop should be free from this stain.
And yet I do not disapprove of the opinion of those who think that the Holy Spirit intended to guard against the diabolical superstition which afterwards arose; as if he had said, "So far is it from being right and proper that celibacy should be enforced on bishops, that marriage is a state highly becoming in all believers." In this way, he would not demand it as a thing necessary for them, but would only praise it as not inconsistent with the dignity of the office. Yet the view which I have already given is more simple and more solid, that Paul forbids polygamy in all who hold the office of a bishop, because it is a mark of an unchaste man, and of one who does not observe conjugal fidelity.
But there it might be objected, that what is sinful in all ought not to have been condemned or forbidden in bishops alone. The answer is easy. When it is expressly prohibited to bishops, it does not therefore follow that it is freely allowed to others. Beyond all doubt, Paul condemned universally what was contrary to an unrepealed law of God; for it is a settled enactment,
"They shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:24.)
But he might, to some extent, bear with that in others which, in a bishop, would have been excessively vile, and therefore not to be endured.
Nor is this a law laid down for the future, that no bishop, who already has one wife, shall marry a second or a third, while the first wife is still living; but Paul excludes from the office of a bishop any one who shall be guilty of such an enormity. Accordingly, what had been once done, and could not be corrected, he reluctantly endures, but only in the common people For what was the remedy for those who, under Judaism, had fallen into the snare of polygamy? Should they have divorced their second and third wives? Such a divorce would not have been free from doing wrong. Since, therefore, the deed was done, and could not be undone, he left it untouched, but with this exception, that no bishop should be blemished by such a stain.
It is worth while to consider how the Papists hold that the injunctions which the apostle gives do not at all belong to them. I shall not enter into a minute explanation of all the details; but on this one point what sort of diligence do they observe? And, indeed, that gift would be superfluous; for they banish from themselves the ministry of teaching as low and groveling, although this belonged especially to a bishop. But everybody knows how far it is from observing Paul's rule, to assume the title of bishop, and boast proudly of enacting a character without speaking, provided only that they make their appearance in a theatrical dress. As if a horned mitre, a ring richly set in jewels, or a silver cross, and other trifles, accompanied by idle display, constituted the spiritual government of a church, which can no more be separated from doctrine than any one of us can be separated from his own soul.
All covetous persons are
"the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome."
(2 Timothy 2:24.)
In the Epistle to Titus, (Titus 1:6,) he shows what is here meant by the word reverence; for, after having said that the children of a bishop must not be unruly and disobedient, he likewise adds,
"nor liable to the reproach of profligacy or of intemperance."
He therefore means, in a word, that their morals shall be regulated by all chastity, modesty, and gravity.
1 "Ou, Si aucun a affection d'estre evesque." "Or, If any one hath a desire to be a bishop."
2 "Let us know that the Holy Spirit, speaking of those who are ordained ministers of the word of God, and who are elected to govern the Church, calls them Pastors. And why? Because God wishes us to be a flock of sheep, to be guided by him, hearing his voice, following his guidance, and living peaceably. Since, therefore the Church is compared to a flock, they who have the charge of guiding the Church by the word of God are called Pastors. And next, the word Pastor means Elder not by age, but by of office: as, at all times, they who govern have been called Elders, even among heathen nations. Now the Holy Spirit has retained this metaphor, giving the name Elder to those who are chosen to proclaim the word of God. He likewise calls them Bishops, that is persons who watch over the flock to show that it is not a rank unaccompanied by active exertion, when a man is called to, that office, and that he must not make an idol of it, but must know that he is sent to obtain the salvation of souls, and must be employed, and watch, and labor, for that purpose. We see then the reason of these words; and since the Holy Spirit hath given them to us, we must retain them, provided that they be applied to a good and holy use." -- Fr. Ser.
3 "Et non pas le premier qui se pourroit presenter." "And not the first that might offer himself."
5 "Qu'il condamne en 1'Evesque d'avoir deux femmes ensemble vivantes." "That he condemns in a bishop the having two wives living at the same time."
6 "La polygamie estoit une chose toute commune entre les Juifs." "Polygamy was a thing quite common among the Jews."
8 "Recueillant volontiers les estrangers;" Willingly entertaining strangers."
9 "Let every one know that the virtues which are here required in all ministers of the word of God, are in order to give an example to the flock. It is highly proper for every one to know that, when it is said that ministers should be wise, temperate, and of good moral behavior. it is in order that others may be conformed to their example; for it is not for three or four only, but for all in general, that these things are said. This is the way: in which the example of men must be profitable to us, so far as they shall conduct themselves properly, according to the will of God. And if they depart from that will ever so little. we must not yield to them such authority as to follow them on that account; but we must attend to what Paul says, that we ought to follow men so far as they are entirely conformed to the pure word of God, and are imitators of Jesus Christ, to lead us in the right way." -- Fr. Ser.
10 "Il faut que tels s'employent a autre chose." "Such persons ought to be employed in something else."
11 "Some expositors, ancient and modern, take this to be equivalent to
12 "Ne convoiteux de gain deshonneste." "Not covetous of dishonourable gain."
13 "Dives fieri qui vult, Et cito vult fieri." -- Juvenal
14 "Que I'Evesque ne sache que c'est de vivre au Monde. "That the bishop shall not know what it is to live in the world."
15 "C'est a dire, de la moinerie." "That is, from monkhood."
16 "The house of a believer ought to be like a little church. Heathens, who did not know what a church is, said that a house is but an image and figure of any public government. A poor man, living with his wife and children and servants, ought to be in his house like a public governor But Christians ought to go beyond this. Every father of a family should know that God has appointed him to that place, that he may know how to govern his wife and children and servants; so that God shall be honored in the midst of them, and all shall do Him homage. Paul speaks of children; and why? Because he who wishes to discharge his duty as pastor of a church must be like a father to all believers. Now, let us suppose that a man cannot govern two or three children which he has in the house. They are his own children, and yet he cannot keep them in subjection; they are deaf to all that he says to them. How then shall he be able to govern those who are at a distance, and who may be said to be unknown to him, who even refuse to become wiser, and think that they have no need of being instructed? How shall he be able to keep men in dread when his own wife is not subject to him? Let us not, therefore, think it strange if it is required in all pastors, that they be good fathers of a family, and know what it is to govern their own children well. It is not enough to condemn the children, but we must condemn the fathers, when they permit their children to be worse than others." -- Fr. Ser.
17 "The words