on 1-timothy 3 :2
A bishop then must be blameless - Our term bishop comes from the Anglo-Saxon, which is a mere corruption of the Greek επισκοπος, and the Latin episcopus; the former being compounded of επι, over, and σκεπτομαι, to look or inspect, signifies one who has the inspection or oversight of a place, persons, or business; what we commonly term a superintendent. The New Testament writers have borrowed the term from the Septuagint, it being the word by which they translate the פקיד pakid of the Hebrew text, which signifies a visiter, one that personally inspects the people or business over which he presides. It is given by St. Paul to the elders at Ephesus, who had the oversight of Christ's flock, Acts 20:28; and to such like persons in other places, Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:2, the place in question; and Titus 1:7.
Let us consider the qualifications of a Christian bishop, and then we shall soon discover who is fit for the office.
First - is Christian bishop must be blameless; ανεπιληπτον, a person against whom no evil can be proved; one who is everywhere invulnerable; for the word is a metaphor, taken from the case of an expert and skillful pugilist, who so defends every part of his body that it is impossible for his antagonist to give one hit. So this Christian bishop is one that has so conducted himself, as to put it out of the reach of any person to prove that he is either unsound in a single article of the Christian faith, or deficient in the fulfillment of any duty incumbent on a Christian. He must be irreprehensible; for how can he reprove that in others which they can reprove in him?
Second - must be the husband of one wife. He should be a married man, but he should be no polygamist; and have only one wife, i.e. one at a time. It does not mean that, if he has been married, and his wife die, he should never marry another. Some have most foolishly spiritualized this, and say, that by one wife the Church is intended! This silly quibbling needs no refutation. The apostle's meaning appears to be this: that he should not be a man who has divorced his wife and married another; nor one that has two wives at a time. It does not appear to have been any part of the apostle's design to prohibit second marriages, of which some have made such a serious business. But it is natural for some men to tithe mint and cummin in religion, while they neglect the weightier matters of the law.
Third - must be vigilant; νηφαλεον, from νη, not and πιω, to drink. Watchful; for as one who drinks is apt to sleep, so he who abstains from it is more likely to keep awake, and attend to his work and charge. A bishop has to watch over the Church, and watch for it; and this will require all his care and circumspection. Instead of νηφαλεον, many MSS. read νηφαλιον· this may be the better orthography, but makes no alteration in the sense.
Fourth - must be sober; σωφρονα, prudent or, according to the etymology of the word, from σως, sound, and φρην, mind, a man of a sound mind; having a good understanding, and the complete government of all his passions. A bishop should be a man of learning, of an extensive and well cultivated mind, dispassionate, prudent, and sedate.
Fifth - must be of good behavior; κοσμιον, orderly, decent, grave, and correct in the whole of his appearance, carriage, and conduct. The preceding term, σωφρονα, refers to the mind; this latter, κοσμιον, to the external manners. A clownish, rude, or boorish man should never have the rule of the Church of God; the sour, the sullen, and the boisterous should never be invested with a dignity which they would most infallibly disgrace.
Sixth - must be given to hospitality; φιλοξενον, literally, a lover of strangers; one who is ready to receive into his house and relieve every necessitous stranger. Hospitality, in those primitive times, was a great and necessary virtue; then there were few inns, or places of public entertainment; to those who were noted for benevolence the necessitous stranger had recourse. A Christian bishop, professing love to God and all mankind, preaching a religion, one half of the morality of which was included in, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, would naturally be sought to by those who were in distress and destitute of friends. To enable them to entertain such, the Church over which they presided must have furnished them with the means. Such a bishop as St. Paul, who was often obliged to labor with his hands for his own support, could have little to give away. But there is a considerable difference between an apostolical bishop and an ecclesiastical bishop: the one was generally itinerant, the other comparatively local; the former had neither house nor home, the latter had both; the apostolical bishop had charge of the Church of Christ universally, the ecclesiastical bishop of the Churches in a particular district. Such should be addicted to hospitality, or works of charity; especially in these modern times, in which, besides the spiritualities, they possess the temporalities, of the Church.
Seventh - should be apt to teach; διδακτικον, one capable of teaching; not only wise himself, but ready to communicate his wisdom to others. One whose delight is, to instruct the ignorant and those who are out of the way. He must be a preacher; an able, zealous, fervent, and assiduous preacher.
He is no bishop who has health and strength, and yet seldom or never preaches; i.e. if he can preach - if he have the necessary gifts for the office.
In former times bishops wrote much and preached much; and their labors were greatly owned of God. No Church since the apostle's days has been more honored in this way than the British Church. And although bishops are here, as elsewhere, appointed by the state, yet we cannot help adoring the good providence of God, that, taken as a body, they have been an honor to their function; and that, since the reformation of religion in these lands, the bishops have in general been men of great learning and probity, and the ablest advocates of the Christian system, both as to its authenticity, and the purity and excellence of its doctrines and morality.
Chaucer's character of the Clerke of Oxenford is a good paraphrase on St. Paul's character of a primitive bishop: -
Of studie tookin he moste cure and hede,
Nought oo word spak he more than there was nede,
on 1-timothy 3 :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 entrusted to him 1 Timothy 3:4-5, and who was also a preacher of the gospel.
Must be blameless - This is a different word (ἀνεπίλημπτον anepilēmpton) from that rendered "blameless" in Luke 1:6; Philippians 2:15; Philippians 3:6 (ἄμεμπτος amemptos); compare however, Luke 1:6 note; Philippians 3:6 note. 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 Vigilantius, 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 expressely declared to be proper 1 Corinthians 7:39; and it is not unfair to infer from that permission that it is equally lawful and proper for 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 he assigned against such marriages in his case, which would not be equally valid in any other. Marriage is as honorable for a minister of the gospel as for any other man (compare notes on Hebrews 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 practiced, 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 dishonorable 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 Hebrews 13:4, is, that "marriage is honorable 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 (νηφάλεος nēphaleos) occurs only here and in 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 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 gaurd against sin in any form.
Sober - σώφρονα sōphrona 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 - Margin, "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 conversation, nor be unfit to appear respectable in the most refined circles of society. Inattention to personal neatness, and to the rules which regulate refined contact, 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 conversation. 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 suited 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 contact; 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 goodbreeding.
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 the Romans 12:13 note; Hebrews 13:2 note. It was a special duty of the ministers of religion, as they were to be examples of every Christian virtue.
Apt to teach - Greek, "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 fellow-men 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 endeavor 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.
on 1-timothy 3 :2
3:2 Therefore - That he may be capable of it. A bishop - Or pastor of a congregation. Must be blameless - Without fault or just suspicion. The husband of one wife - This neither means that a bishop must be married, nor that he may not marry a second wife; which it is just as lawful for him to do as to marry a first, and may in some cases be his bounden duty. But whereas polygamy and divorce on slight occasions were common both among the Jews and heathens, it teaches us that ministers, of all others, ought to stand clear of those sins. Vigilant, prudent - Lively and zealous, yet calm and wise. Of good behaviour - Naturally flowing from that vigilance and prudence.