FROM THE PASTOR'S STUDY
Topic: 1 Timothy 3 Study Notes
1 Timothy 3:1
by Darrel Cline
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
October 31, 2004
1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
1901 ASV Translation
1 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in 1 Timothy 3:1.
- I. Paul begins this new segment of his letter with "Faithful is the saying...".
- A. This is a phrase that Paul was inclined to write often...
- 1. 1 Timothy 1:15 -- the very center of the Gospel.
- 2. 1 Timothy 3:1 -- the text before us.
- 3. 1 Timothy 4:9 -- "godliness is profitable for all things".
- 4. 2 Timothy 2:11 -- verses 11-13 which contain several fundamental realities.
- 5. Titus 3:8 -- "...being justified by His grace, we might be made heirs...".
- B. In conjunction with this phrase is the statement of Titus 1:9: "...holding fast the faithful word...".
- C. This context has to do with church leadership.
- 1. There are two issues.
- a. The question of whether Paul is addressing an "optional" issue in terms of church "structure", or whether he is laying out God's divine plan and order.
- b. The connection between chapters two and three -- where a central issue continues to be "Who is going to determine the agenda?" and "How am I going to relate to that set agenda?".
- 2. If the first issue is determined to be "cultural" and not a divine mandate, the second issue is moot.
- II. Seeking the "office"...
- A. The word translated "desire" or "seek" means "to have a significant longing to possess the privilege involved" [cf. 1 Timothy 6:10 and Hebrews 11:16].
- B. The word translated "office of a bishop"...
- 1. It is used twice to refer to what the AV calls a "visitation".
- a. Luke 19:44 -- Jesus describes the judgment to come as a consequence of being ignorant of the "time of thy visitation".
- b. 1 Peter 2:12 -- Peter urges good behavior so that those who observe it will glorify God in "the day of visitation".
- 2. It is used twice to refer to a position of privilege and responsibility in the service of God to the Church.
- a. Acts 1:20 quotes Psalm 109:8 in reference to Judas Iscariot and uses the quote to validate the choosing of another to take his place in the apostolate.
- b. The other reference is the one before us.
- 3. In this context, there is a connection between being a "teacher" and having the position of "episcopas".
- a. That connection seems to be focused in the reality that both "teachers" and "overseers" have this is common: they settle the questions that arise from differences in perspective.
- b. The fact that both teaching and oversight require distinctions to be made and enforced requires that there be a chain of command.
- 4. Clearly, those who "desire" the position, then, also desire to be able to set the agenda.
- III. Desiring a good work...
- A. Paul switches words in describing the "desiring" of the "office" and the "good work".
- 1. The "desire" for the position is a significant longing for privilege.
- 2. The "desire" for the work is an intensified longing...as the longing of one who is really hungry for food.
- B. Paul also switches the objective from the "office" to the "work".
- 1. There is a privilege that goes with the "office".
- 2. There is also a labor that is required by the "office".
- C. Paul never suggests that the "desire" is illegitimate...only that it is not without qualifications.
- 1. We know the desire can be illegitimate -- seeking the privilege without being willing to do the work.
- 2. We also know that the desire needs to be present in anyone who can do the work...i.e., a willingness to actually do that of which one is capable.
- 3. As is the typical fact, we often have those who could do the work and do not wish to and we have those who cannot do the work but wish to have the status of the office.