1 Timothy 3:1
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.

New Living Translation
This is a trustworthy saying: "If someone aspires to be an elder, he desires an honorable position."

English Standard Version
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

Berean Study Bible
This is a trustworthy saying: If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble task.

Berean Literal Bible
Trustworthy is the saying: If anyone aspires to overseership, he is desirous of a good work.

New American Standard Bible
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

King James Bible
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Christian Standard Bible
This saying is trustworthy: "If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work."

Contemporary English Version
It is true that anyone who desires to be a church official wants to be something worthwhile.

Good News Translation
This is a true saying: If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
This saying is trustworthy: "If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work."

International Standard Version
This is a trustworthy saying: The one who would an elder be, a noble task desires he.

NET Bible
This saying is trustworthy: "If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a good work."

New Heart English Bible
This is a faithful saying: If someone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a good work.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
This is a trustworthy saying, that if a man desires Eldership, he desires a good work.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
This is a statement that can be trusted: If anyone sets his heart on being a bishop, he desires something excellent.

New American Standard 1977
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.

Jubilee Bible 2000
The Word is faithful, If anyone desires the office of a bishop, {to be a pastor or elder in the congregation}, he desires a difficult ministry.

King James 2000 Bible
This is a true saying, If a man desires the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.

American King James Version
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.

American Standard Version
Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Douay-Rheims Bible
A faithful saying: if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Darby Bible Translation
The word [is] faithful: if any one aspires to exercise oversight, he desires a good work.

English Revised Version
Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Webster's Bible Translation
This is a true saying, If a man desireth the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.

Weymouth New Testament
Faithful is the saying, "If any one is eager to have the oversight of a Church, he desires a noble work."

World English Bible
This is a faithful saying: if a man seeks the office of an overseer, he desires a good work.

Young's Literal Translation
Stedfast is the word: If any one the oversight doth long for, a right work he desireth;
Study Bible
Qualifications for Overseers
1This is a trustworthy saying: If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble task. 2An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,…
Cross References
Acts 20:28
Keep watch over yourselves and the entire flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.

Philippians 1:1
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

1 Timothy 1:15
This is a trustworthy saying, worthy of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.
Treasury of Scripture

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.

is a.

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ …

1 Timothy 4:9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.

2 Timothy 2:11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also …

Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that you affirm constantly…

the office.

1 Timothy 3:2-7 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, …

Acts 1:20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, …

Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints …

Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, …

1 Peter 2:25 For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned to the Shepherd …


Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore to yourselves, and to all the flock, over the …

Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any …

1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an …

1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, …


Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise.

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels …

Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the …

Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for …

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brothers, warn them that are unruly, comfort the …

James 5:19,20 Brothers, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him…


(1) This is a true saying.--There is no reason why the rendering of this formula adopted in 1Timothy 1:15, "faithful is this saying," should be altered here. The "faithful saying" here refers to the wish for high and arduous work in the Church of Christ, and declares such a wish to be a noble one; for the office in question was a beautiful one, and honourable, and in those days meant stern and ceaseless work, grave and constant danger. It was no doubt one of the well-known sayings among the brethren of the first days, and not improbably, with the other "faithful sayings" of this group of Epistles, formed a part of their liturgy, and was woven into some of their special prayers offered in public. Perhaps this "faithful saying" was a portion of a prayer offered not unfrequently in the public assembly, asking that volunteers might be moved by the Holy Ghost to present themselves for the then dangerous office of ordained ministers of the Word.

"Well might a man desire the office of chief pastor; it was indeed a good work;" but, in the first place, such a dignity could only be held by one possessing many qualities, then and there enumerated.

If a man desire the office of a bishop.--More accurately rendered, If a man seeketh. In the . . Pastoral Epistles the Greek words rendered "bishop" and "presbyter" or elder (episcopos, presbuteros), are applied indifferently to the same person, for up to this period (A.D. 65-6) no necessity had arisen in the constitution of the Church for the appointment of a special order of superintending presbyters. The numbers of the members of the brotherhood, though every year showing a vast increase, were still, comparatively speaking, small. St. Peter, St. Paul, St. James and St. John, and certainly the majority of the apostolic college, were still living; while, till A.D. 70, the Jerusalem congregation still acted as the central authority of the Church, and grave questions continued to be referred to the Fathers resident there.

Early in the second century, however, there is not a shadow of doubt that the episcopal office, as we understand it, was widely established. During the last thirty years, then, of the first century, this great change in Church organisation must have been effected--that is, during the life-time of St. John. How this was brought about is admirably stated by Professor Rothe, of Heidelberg, as quoted by Canon Lightfoot in his dissertation on the Christian ministry (Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians), who, without accepting all the details suggested, still in the main agrees with the famous Heidelberg professor in his theory respecting the very early establishment of episcopacy in the Catholic Church. After painting the distractions and growing dissensions of the Church, occasioned by the jealousies between the Jewish and Gentile brethren, and the menacing apparition of the Gnostic heresy, Rothe states how, in the face of this great emergency, St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. James were carried away by death almost at the same time; while, with the overthrow of Jerusalem very shortly after, the visible centre of the Church was removed, the keystone of the fabric was withdrawn, and the whole edifice was threatened with ruin. There was a crying need for some organisation which should cement together the diverse elements of Christian society, and preserve it from disintegration. Out of this need the Catholic Church in its episcopal character arose. From notices in Eusebius, Irenaeus, and Clement of Rome, Rothe (quoted by Lightfoot) concludes "that, immediately after the fall of Jerusalem, a council of the surviving Apostles and first teachers of the gospel was held to deliberate on the crisis, and to frame measures for the well-being of the Church. The centre of the system thus organised was episcopacy, which at once secured the compact and harmonious working of each individual congregation, and, as the link of communication between the separate brotherhoods, formed the whole into one undivided Catholic Church. Recommended by this high authority, the new constitution was immediately and generally adopted."

He desireth a good work.--The office of a presbyter of the Church in the days of St. Paul was a difficult and dangerous post. It involved much labour; it was full of risk; it meant a hard and severe life; yet, from the Christian's standpoint, it was a work, if faithfully performed, of all toils the most beautiful, the most honourable, the most noble. "Negotium non otium" comments Bengel, in his usual pithy, untranslatable way.

Verse 1. - Faithful is the saying for this is a true saying, A.V.; seeketh for desire, A.V. Faithful is the saying (see above, 1 Timothy 1:15, note). This manifestly refers to what follows, not, as Chrysostom and others, and margin of the R.V., to the saying which precedes, in 1 Timothy 2:15. Seeketh (ὀρέγεται); literally, stretches out his hands after. It is peculiar in the New Testament to the pastoral Epistles and the Epistle to the Hebrews, though common in classical Greek (see 1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 11:16). The noun ὔρεξις, appetite, desire (which is found several times in the LXX.), is used once by St. Paul (Romans 1:27). The office of a bishop; meaning here, as everywhere else in Scripture, that of a presbyter, or priest. Ἐπισκοπή, in the sense of "the episcopate," occurs only here and Acts 1:20, where it is rendered "bishopric" in the A.V., and "overseer-ship" in the margin of the R.V., being the translation in the LXX. of Psalm 108 (Psalms 109, A.V.) of the Hebrew פְקֻדָתו, "his office." Elsewhere (Luke 19:44; 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 5:6) it means "visitation." But ἐπίσκοπος, "bishop" (ver. 2) - except in 1 Peter 2:25, where it is applied to Christ - always means the overseer of the particular flock, - the presbyter (Acts 20:28; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:7); and ἐπισκοπεῖν the functions of such ἐπίσκοπος (1 Peter 5:2 compared with 1). It was not till the sub-apostolic age that the name of ἐπίσ᾿οπος was confined to the chief overseer who had "priests and deacons" under him, as Timothy and Titus had. Possibly this application of the word arose from the visits of the apostles, and afterwards of men sent by the apostles, as Timothy and Titus, Tychicus and Artemas, were, to visit the Churches, being occasional and temporary only, as those of Visitors. For such occasional visitation is implied in the verb ἐπισκέπτεσθαι (Matthew 25:36, 43; Luke 1:68, 78; Acts 7:23; Acts 15:36; James 1:27). Afterwards, when the wants of the Churches required permanent oversight, the name ἐπίσκοπος - vescovo (It.), eueque (Fr.), bischof (Get.), bisceop (A.S.), aipiskaupus (Moeso-Goth.), etc. - became universal for the chief overseer of the Church. A good work (καλοῦ ἔργου, not ἀγαθοῦ, as ver. 10). Καλού means "honourable," "becoming," "beneficial," and the like. This is a true saying,.... Some think this clause belongs to the last verse of the preceding chapter; and then the sense is, this is a doctrine that is true, and to be believed, that there is salvation through the birth of a Son, or through the incarnate Son of God, for men and women that believe in him, and continue in the faith of him, and love to him, joined with works of righteousness and holiness. And so the same phrase seems to belong to what goes before in 1 Timothy 4:8. Though it regards what follows in 1 Timothy 1:15 and so it seems that it should be considered here; and is used to excite attention, and suggests that what was about to be said was of moment and importance, and what was without controversy, and unquestionably true. The apostle, having denied to women the work and office of teaching, proceeds to observe, that though this belonged to men, yet not to every man; and therefore he gives the qualifications of such; which might serve as a direction to churches, in the choice of them; as well as be a means of stirring up persons in such an office, to a proper regard to themselves and their work:

if a man desire the office of a bishop; which is the same with that of a pastor or elder; and so here the Syriac version renders it, "if a man desires presbytery, or eldership"; and it lies in preaching the word, administering the ordinances of the Gospel, and taking care of the discipline of the church, and in the visiting, inspection, and oversight of it; as the word "episcopacy", here used, signifies; and this work and office may be lawfully and laudably desired, with a view to the glory of God, and the good of immortal souls. Nor should any undertake it, but such who find in themselves an hearty desire, and inclination to it, on such principles, and a real delight and pleasure in it; and such an one

he desireth a good work: the office of a bishop, elder, or pastor of a church, "is a work", and a very laborious one; wherefore such are called labourers in the word and doctrine: it is not a mere title of honour, and a place of profit, but it is a business of labour and care; yet a good one, a famous and excellent one; it being an employment in things of the greatest excellency in themselves, and of the greatest usefulness for the good of men, and the honour of God; as the doctrines, ordinances, and discipline of the Gospel; and so must be excellently, honestly, pleasantly, and profitably a good work. CHAPTER 3

1Ti 3:1-16. Rules as to Bishops (Overseers) AND Deacons. The Church, and the Gospel Mystery Now Revealed to It, Are the End of All Such Rules.

1. Translate as Greek, "Faithful is the saying." A needful preface to what follows: for the office of a bishop or overseer in Paul's day, attended as it was with hardship and often persecution, would not seem to the world generally a desirable and "good work."

desire—literally, "stretch one's self forward to grasp"; "aim at": a distinct Greek verb from that for "desireth." What one does voluntarily is more esteemed than what he does when asked (1Co 16:15). This is utterly distinct from ambitious desires after office in the Church. (Jas 3:1).

bishop—overseer: as yet identical with "presbyter" (Ac 20:17, 28; Tit 1:5-7).

good work—literally, "honorable work." Not the honor associated with it, but the work, is the prominent thought (Ac 15:38; Php 2:30; compare 2Ti 4:5). He who aims at the office must remember the high qualifications needed for the due discharge of its functions.3:1-7 If a man desired the pastoral office, and from love to Christ, and the souls of men, was ready to deny himself, and undergo hardships by devoting himself to that service, he sought to be employed in a good work, and his desire should be approved, provided he was qualified for the office. A minister must give as little occasion for blame as can be, lest he bring reproach upon his office. He must be sober, temperate, moderate in all his actions, and in the use of all creature-comforts. Sobriety and watchfulness are put together in Scripture, they assist one the other. The families of ministers ought to be examples of good to all other families. We should take heed of pride; it is a sin that turned angels into devils. He must be of good repute among his neighbours, and under no reproach from his former life. To encourage all faithful ministers, we have Christ's gracious word of promise, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world, Mt 28:20. And he will fit his ministers for their work, and carry them through difficulties with comfort, and reward their faithfulness.
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