ThePrimacy of Prayer 2:1 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers,petitions and thanksgivings,be made…”
Paul opens the chapter with the words firstof all. What does this mean? It does not mean that he is beginning a list to be followed with a second and third, as can be observed by reading the para- graph. The word firstrefers to importance and primacy. Chapter 1 stresses the priority of doctrine; chapter 2 stresses the priority of prayer. Prayer is not to be treated as an emergency measure, but as a number one priority. The overall thrust of chapter 2 pertains to worship; and in considering worship, prayer comes first.
There are four synonyms for prayer in verse 1. The word entreaties is a prayer made with emphasis on personal needs. The word prayers is used of making requests of God with emphasis on rever- ence and worship. The verb form of the noun petitionsliterally means to fall in with. It carries the idea of intimacy and involvement in the cause of another. Thanksgivings refers to the appreciation of the privilege we have in approaching God’s throne. This is the permanent part of prayer. The petition ceases when the answer comes, but thanks only begins when the answer comes. These four words form a circle: They begin by asking something fromGod and end by offering something to God. TheSubjects of Prayer 2:2a “…on behalf of all men, 2forkings and all who are in authority…”
TheSubjects in General
The reference to prayer for all menshows that we can never pray too widely. The reason this is true is found in verse 4 where we are told that God desires all men to be saved. Our prayers should be as wide as God’s desire. The word allshould be taken in the most absolute sense—no one is excluded.
TheSubjects in Particular
Kingsand those in authority would represent the class of men most likely to be hated. In the king class would be Caligula, who believed he was a god and actively sought worshipers and set up an image
in the temple at Jerusalem. He was followed by Claudius, who became offended with the Jews and drove them from Rome, among whom were Priscilla and Aquila. Contemporary with the writing of this epistle was Nero, the most cruel of all. He was so hated by the populace that he shifted the blame for his cruel actions to the Christians. History tells us that he illuminated his grounds by the flames of the burning believers. Later on, Domitian initiated a severe persecution that saw John banished to Patmos. It was for these that believers were to pray. ThePurpose of Prayer 2:2b “…in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”
Here is a primary way in which a believer may effectively partici- pate in politics. Our vote is important, but our prayers are more important because they can bypass the ballot box and enter the throne room of God. Scripture teaches that there are two forces behind every leader: Divine sovereignty (Romans 13:1) and prayers of believers (I Timothy 2:1-2). Usually the authority is oblivious to either, but also powerless over either. Our prayers may have an external effect, expressed by the words tranquil and quiet, as well as an internal effect, seen in the words godliness and dignity. TheBasis of Prayer 2:3-7 ItIs Acceptable to God 2:3
“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior…”
Though the grammar does not so demand, it is possible to link the words this is goodto the believer who does the praying and link the word acceptableto God our Savior. Prayer is good for the believer because it serves as a constant reminder of whom we depend upon. The word acceptable carries the idea of being pleasing. Paul uses this idea as a motivation for conduct in I Timothy 5:4.
ItHarmonizes with God’s Will 2:4
“…who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
This verse picks up on the words all menand ties us back to the same words in verse 1. We pray for all men(verse 1) because God desires the salvation of all men(verse 4). Prayer is based on sensi- tivity to the heart of God; our prayers are to echo what He desires. God’s desire is not satisfied merely with the salvation of men;
God’s desire is that all come to knowledge of the truth. God desires the salvation and maturity of all men.
ItHonors Christ’s Work 2:5-6
“For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men,the man Christ Jesus,6whogave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time.”
The word for introduces further reason why we should pray for all men. Three basic truths of Christianity are found here. First, there is only one God. Since this is true, all men must relate to Him or be left in a vacuum. Every man is accountable and responsible to one single God; it is He or nothing! Second, there is only one way to reach Him. There is not one way for slaves and another for kings. If there is only one Savior for all, it follows that we should pray for all. Third, there is redemption for all. Christ Himself is the ransom for sin. The stress is not so much on what He has done, as great as this is, but rather, on who He is—the absolute solution to the problem of sin.
ItRecognizes Paul’s Position 2:7
“And for this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth,I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”
Paul emphasizes his truthfulness because some had questioned his calling to open the door of faith and salvation to the Gentiles. Paul is God’s instrument to teach Gentiles the meaning of Christian faith and saving truth. TheLeaders of Prayer 2:8 “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray,lifting up holy hands, withoutwrath and dissension.”
Men and women have different functions in the church. In regard to position before God, men and women know absolute equality. On the other hand, the role and mode of operation of each within a local church is different. This verse excludes women from leader- ship in the realm of prayer. The men who lead in prayer are to lift up holy hands, which means hands unsoiled by sin. There is to be no wrath or dissension,meaning there is to be unity and harmony and proper mental attitude.
THE PLACE OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH 2:9-15
TheAdornment of the Women 2:9-10 TheExternal Adornment of the Women 2:9
“Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly,not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments…”
HER STYLE OF CLOTHING: ORDERLY AND NEAT
This idea is expressed twice in verse 9 by the words to adornand proper. They both come from the same Greek root, which is kosmosand means to put in order, to arrange in an orderly way. Its antonym is the word chaos. Cosmos(order) is the exact opposite of chaos (disor- der). Interestingly, our English word “cosmetics” comes from cosmos. Cosmetics transform disorder into order (usually).
HER FIT OF CLOTHING: MODEST
Here is a matter to be left to a Christian woman’s judgment. Paul could have been more specific and probably could have given concrete examples of immodest apparel.
HER TASTE IN CLOTHING: MODERATE
The word translated discreet means reasonable, reflectinggood judg- ment and moderation. Paul refers to some of the extremes of the first century in the last half of this verse. A few words from Juvenal help us see how women of the Roman world viewed their external appearance. “The attendants will vote on the dressing of the hair as if it were a question of reputation or as though life were at stake, so great is the trouble she takes in quest of beauty; with so many tiers does she load, with so many continuous stories does she build high her hair. She is as tall as Andromache in front, and behind she is shorter and you think her another person.” Another writer notes that women would not even touch their heads and sleep came, he says,“with terror”
TheInternal Adornment of the Women 2:10
“…but rather by means of good works,as befitswomen making a claim to godliness.”
Internal beauty forms the criteria for outer dress. External dress should complement, not obscure, inner beauty. Clothing that is so out of style and drab that it draws attention to itself is inappropri- ate, as is clothing that is extreme in style. Good works are not only beautiful, but enduring. Phoebe is an example (Romans 16:1-2); Mary exhibits inner beauty (Romans 16:6); and Dorcas left a legacy of good works (Acts 9:36-39). TheDecorum of the Women 2:11-15 HerRelationship to Instruction 2:11
“Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.”
The major role of women in the church is learning, not teaching. The words entire submissivenessdescribe the mental attitude that accompanies the received instruction. Submission is not to be grudgingly given. Notice there is no restriction on her desire to learn truth; it may be fairly said that she is to learn all the truth she can.
HerRelationship to Authority 2:12-15
IN TERMS OF SILENCE 2:12
“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, butto remain quiet.”
The tense of the infinitive to teachis present, which points to an ongoing activity. One who continually teaches is a teacher, a role not given to women in the local church. In New Testament times the office of teacher was an authoritative position for communicat- ing doctrine to believers. In Acts 13:1 teachers are listed right along with prophets. It seems best to take this prohibition as applicable only within the context of public meeting of the church. Both Priscilla and Aquila were instrumental in instructing Apollos, but we are told they took him aside to do so (Acts 18:26). Paul reminds Timothy of his good legacy in the teaching of his mother and grandmother (II Timothy 1:5). Titus 2:3-4 exhorts the older women to encourage the younger.
IN TERMS OF WEAKNESS 2:13-14
“For it was Adam who was firstcreated,and then Eve.14Andit was not Adam who was deceived,but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.”
As always, Paul does not command without giving accompanying reasons. Paul’s prohibition concerning women as teachers is some- times explained as merely reflective of the position that women held in the culture of the first century, and thus, not applicable today. This explanation is patently false, as shown by these two verses. The reasons for Paul’s prohibition are derived from the book of Genesis, not Roman culture.
The connective forintroduces Paul’s first reason for not allowing a woman to teach: The exercise of authority by women in the local church violates God’s order of creation. God does nothing arbitrarily; there is always purpose and wisdom in what He does. God created Adam, then Eve. The second reason for the prohibition is the woman’s propensity toward doctrinal error. Adam and Eve both fell, but they fell in different ways. Adam sinned with his eyes wide open; he knew exactly what he was doing. We are told that Eve, however, was quite deceived. Eve is not an exceptional case because Paul views her as displaying that which will be characteristic of women to follow. The women of the first century church and today still bear the marks of Eve in this regard.
IN TERMS OF PROMISE 2:15
“But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self restraint.”
If a woman may not teach, where may she find a field of service? This verse points to the home as her sphere. The bearing and rear- ing of children is her opportunity. It seems best to take the pronoun theyas a reference to her children. In the communication of truth to her children, she shall be preserved. She is preserved in the sense that her life is useful for the Lord.
THE WORKERS IN THE LOCAL ASSEMBLY 3:1-16
THE OVERSEER 3: 1-7
HisIdentity 3:1 “It is a trustworthy statement:if any man aspires to the office of overseer, itis a finework he desires to do.”
Here is the second brief doctrinal statement that developed near the end of the New Testament era. One was introduced in I Timothy 1:15 pertaining to the saving work of Christ. I Timothy 3:1 is the second. The focal point is found in the words office of overseer. These three English words translate but one Greek word episkopos.The compound word is epi, meaning over, and skopos, meaning to see. Thus, the translation overseer is quite literal. It came from secular life and was used, for example, to designate the foreman of a construction crew. Its synonym is presbuteros, translated elder. As seen by comparing Acts 20:17 and 28 and Titus 1:5-7, they are not two offices, but one. The noun overseer views the man from the standpoint of function and authority. The noun elder views him as to his age and maturity—overseerstresses duty; elder stresses maturity. The word aspiremeans literally to stretch and pictures great effort. The verb desire involves making something one’s ambition. HisQualifications3:2-7 “An overseer, then, must be above reproach,the husband of one wife, temperate,prudent, respectable,hospitable, able to teach, 3noraddicted to wine or pugnacious,but gentle,uncontentious,free from the love of money. 4Hemust be one who manages his own household well,keeping his children under control with all dignity.5(butif a man does not know how tomanage his own household,how will he take care of the church of God?); 6andnot a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.7Andhe must have a good reputation with those outside the church,so that he may not fall into reproach and thesnare of the devil.”
HeMust Be “Above Reproach”
This is a triple compound word in Greek made up of epi, meaning upon; and lambano, meaning to take; and a, meaning not. He is to be one who cannot be laid hold uponin the sense of blame. This must be understood in a relative sense; if not, no one qualifies as an over- seer.
HeMust Be “the Husband of One Wife”
That this prohibits polygamy is obvious, but this is not what Paul really has in mind for two reasons. First, multiple wives were forbidden to all believers (I Corinthians 7:2). Second, polygamy was forbidden at this time in the Roman Empire, just as it is in our country. Some take this to mean that an overseer must be married. If this is true, the verses indicate that he also must have children. While both of these things may be desirable, they are hardly mandatory. The phrase in the Greek New Testament literally reads “a man of one woman.” The absence of the definite article before the noun man focuses on the kind of person he is—he is a “one woman kind of man.”
HeMust Be “Temperate”
The word means to be temperate in the use of wine and is then used in a wider sense of being calm and in control. An impulsive disposi- tion is not desirable.
HeMust Be “Prudent”
The word refers to sound and balanced judgment. It is similar to the preceding quality in that it involves self-control or the rule of reason over emotion.
HeMust Be “Respectable”
In discussing the adornment of the women, we noted the word kosmos,which means orderly. The word respectable is a similar word that also means orderly.
HeMust Be “Hospitable”
This is a compound noun made up of philos, meaning friend, and xenos, meaning stranger. This was very important in the first century because the Roman persecutions required Christians to look out for one another. It often involved housing traveling Christians for the sake of their protection.
HeMust Be “Able to Teach”
Once again, three words translate one. The word is didaktikon, from which we get our English word didactic. The word does not merely point to willingness to teach or desire to teach, but the actual skill in teaching. The overseer must teach well.
HeMust Not Be “Addicted to Wine”
The idea is that he must not linger over the wine to the point that he ends up in a fight; he must not become quarrelsome because of his use of wine.
HeMust Not Be “Pugnacious”
This is similar to the preceding but differs in that there is no wine involved. He must not be of a fighting disposition due to wine or due to his innate personality.
HeMust Be “Gentle”
This word carries with it the idea of fairness and reasonableness. Approachability is also contained in the word.
HeMust Be “Uncontentious”
Stated positively, this word means peaceableand refers to one who seeks peaceful solutions; he must not “have a chip on his shoulder.”
HeMust Be “Free from the Love of Money”
He must not covet or be obsessed with the obtaining or maintain- ing of material possessions. This has nothing to do with his posses- sion or lack of possession of money; it has to do with his attitude toward what he has.
HeMust Be One Who “Manages His Household Well”
This is the only qualification to which Paul attaches a reason. Simply put, if he cannot manage his family, he cannot manage the church. His family must not only be managed by him; but he must do an exceptional job of it, as the adverb well requires. His children must be operating in submission.
HeMust Not Be a “New Convert”
The Greek word neophutonis found in our English word neophyte Experience in the Christian life is a must for an overseer.
HeMust Have a “Good Reputation with Those Outside the Church”
Paul reasons that if the consensus of unbelievers is unfavorable, there must be something amiss in the man’s character.
THE DEACONS 3:8-13
TheirIdentity “Deacons likewise...”
The noun deacons needs careful attention because it is not a transla- tion of the Greek but a transliteration of the Greek. There are three allied words here. First, there is the verb diakoneo,which means to serve. Second, there is the word diakonia,which means service.
Third, there is the word diakonos, which means servant. These are fairly routine words in the New Testament, occurring just over one hundred times. They were household words in the first century since the New Testament world was one in which servants and masters were a fact of life.
A diakonoscould refer to a household servant, as in John 2:5, 9 where it is translated servants. Matthew 20:26, 23:11, and Mark 9:35 teach that servanthood is a position we must all assume in order to achieve true greatness. It also describes what our relationship should be to the Lord, as found in John 12:26. In Romans 13:4 government is described as a “minister (diakonos) of God to you for good.”
The English word deacon(s) occurs five times in our English Bibles, and four of them are found here in I Timothy 3. It is found as a noun in verse 8; as a verb in verse 10; as a noun again in verse 12; and as a participle in verse 13, translated have served…as deacons. The only other place where the deacon is mentioned as a func- tionary in the local church is Philippians 1:1. This passage recog- nizes that there are certain services to be performed in the local church, and there should be qualified men present to perform these services. TheQualifications3:8-12 “Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addict- ed to much wine or fond of sordid gain,9butholding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.10Andlet these also firstbe tested;then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.11Women must likewise be dignified,not malicious gossips, but temperate,faithful in all things. Letdeacons be husbands of only one wife,and good managers of their children and their own households.”
DeaconsMust Be“Men of Dignity”
While dignity is the inherent meaning of the word, the concept of earned and deserved respect is also part of it. The idea of nobility and seriousness is also included.
DeaconsMust Not Be “Double-Tongued”
This qualification means he must not be one who tells different stories to others about the same thing. One must not alter his account of a matter depending on who he is talking to. This does not mean that everything must be told to everyone, however.
DeaconsMust Not Be “Addicted to Much Wine”
The word translated addicted is perhaps a bit strong. The word prosechomeans to pay attention to or to occupy oneself with. Addiction seems to imply helplessness to free oneself, and this is not implied in the Greek word at all.
DeaconsMust Not Be “Fond of Sordid Gain”
This is a single word in Greek, which means to gain money in a dishonest or disgraceful way. He must gain material things in an honest way.
DeaconsMust Hold “to the Mystery of the Faith with a Clear Conscience”
The noun faith with a definite article refers to a body of truth, a body ofdoctrine. In what sense is it a mystery? First, doctrine is a mystery in that it is truth that would never be known to man unless revealed by God. Second, doctrine concerning the church was unknown in Old Testament times—church age truth is unique.
DeaconsMust “Be Tested”
This parallels the requirement that an overseer must not be a new convert. He should not be given a place of service as an honor or to gain his interest in the church.
Wives or Women?
King James Version gives us the translation even so their wives, but NASB gives us women likewise must be. If women is the proper trans- lation, then we have the concept of deaconesses, or women who serve the church in a special way. This has several things in its favor. First, the word likewise was used to separate the overseer and the deacon (3:8); it follows that here it separates the function of selected men from that of selected women. The word is also fre- quently used to introduce the second or third in a series. Second, the word womenhas no personal pronoun with it. These women are not designated as belonging to anyone. Third, it seems unlikely that deacons’ wives have unique qualifications when there is no mention made of the overseers’ wives. Fourth, Romans 16:1 designates Phoebe as a deaconess. See NASB marginal note.
Whether wife or deaconess, she must be dignified. This is the same requirement as that demanded of the deacon in verse 8 (translated men of dignity) except it is in the feminine gender. The women are not to be be malicious gossips. This is the word diabolos, which is a word for Satan and could be translated “shedevils.” The word refers to slander, to the telling of false things about people. She is to be temperate,which is the same word as found in 3:2 in reference to the overseer. Being faithful in all thingsmeans she accepts and fulfills responsibilities.
DeaconsMust Be the “Husband of Only One Wife”
This is identical to the requirement of the overseer found in 3:2.
DeaconsMust Be“Good Managers of Their Children and Their OwnHouseholds”
This does not mean that he must be married. However, if the deacon is not married, a very important measure of his character will be missing. TheReward 3:13
“Forthose who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidencein the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”
The pronoun thosepoints to both men and women who have served well. Notice the idea of high quality service throughout this chapter. The overseer must be a skillfulteacher, and he must manage his household well; and so the deacon must be a good manager. Externally these are rewarded with high standing in the church; internally, because they have done their job well, they gain great confidence.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS INSTRUCTION 3:14-16
Becauseof Timothy’s Responsibility 3:14-15 “I am writing these things to you,hoping to come to you before long; butin case I am delayed,I write so that you may know how one ought to conducthimself in the household of God,which is the church of the living God,the pillar and support of the truth.”
Paul emphasizes who the church is and what it is to do. First, it is the household of God, which refers to its membership. The church is never referred to as a building in the New Testament; in fact, the first “church building” did not come along until the third century. Second, the function of the church is the upholding of truth. The teaching, maintaining, and defending of doctrine is the major duty of the church. Becauseof the Greatness of the Gospel 3:16 “And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh,was vindicated in the Spirit,beheld by angels, proclaimed among the nations,believed on in the world,taken up in glory.”
Mysterymeans the open secret—that which is unknown until revealed. Six lines of simple statement are given in order to give proper honor to Christ. First, we have reference to the incarnation—God the Son taking a human body forever. Second, His vindication by the Holy Spirit is found in His resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4, 8:11, I Peter 3:18). Third, He was beheld by angels at His birth (Luke 2:13), at His temptation (Matthew 4:11), in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43), at His resurrection (Matthew 28:2), and at His ascension (Acts 1:10).
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