|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:8-13 The deacons were at first appointed to distribute the charity of the church, and to manage its concerns, yet pastors and evangelists were among them. The deacons had a great trust reposed in them. They must be grave, serious, prudent men. It is not fit that public trusts should be lodged in the hands of any, till they are found fit for the business with which they are to be trusted. All who are related to ministers, must take great care to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ.
Verse 9. - Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. Μυστήριον, a mystery, is that which, having been long hidden, is at length disclosed, either to men generally or to elect disciples. It is derived from μυέω, to initiate, of which the passive μυέομαι, to be instructed or initiated, is found in Philippians 4:12, and is common in classical Greek, being itself derived from μύω, "to close the lips as in pronouncing the syllable μῦ," whence also taurus. The idea is of something secret, which might not be spoken cf. In the New Testament we have "the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 13:11; Luke 8:10; Mark 4:11); and St. Paul brings out the full force of the word when he speaks (Romans 16:25) of "the mystery which was kept secret (σεσιγημένου) since the world began... but is now made known to all nations for the obedience of faith" (see too Ephesians 3:3-6; Colossians 2:26, etc.). "The faith" is equivalent to "the gospel," or "the kingdom of heaven," or the "godliness" of ver. 16 (where see note); and "the mystery of the faith" might be paraphrased by "the revealed truth of Christianity". What is added, "in a pure conscience," teaches us that orthodoxy without personal holiness is little worth. Holding "the truth in unrighteousness" is severely condemned by St. Paul (Romans 1:18). He says of himself (Acts 23:1), "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (comp. Acts 24:16; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:5, 19, etc.). It is much to be observed how St. Paul, the great teacher of the doctrine of g-race, lays constant stress upon the functions of the conscience, and the necessity of having a pure conscience.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Holding the mystery of the faith,.... The doctrine of the Gospel, called the "faith", because it contains things to be believed; proposes Christ the object of faith; is the means by which faith comes, and is unprofitable without it: it is called "the mystery", because it is of divine revelation, and could have never been discovered by human reason; and now it is revealed, the modus of many things contained in it remains a mystery; several of the doctrines of it are mysterious ones, particularly the doctrine of the Trinity; and which the ancient Jews call by this very name, (a) , "the mystery of faith"; the incarnation of the Son of God, the union of the saints to Christ, and their communion with him, and the resurrection of the dead, with others. Now this mysterious doctrine of faith is to be held by deacons; they are to profess it, and to hold fast the profession of it and that
in a pure conscience; with a conscience sprinkled by the blood of Christ; with a conscience void of offence both towards God and man; with a suitable life and conversation; a conversation becoming the Gospel of Christ, and by which it is adorned: and this part of their character is necessary, that such may be able to instruct and establish those who are weak in the faith, and oppose and refute the erroneous, and also recommend the Gospel by their own example; otherwise should their principles or practices be bad, their influence on others might be very pernicious and fatal.
(a) Zohar in Gen. fol. 12. 4. & 13. 1, 2. & in Exod. fol. 66. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. the mystery of the faith—holding the faith, which to the natural man remains a mystery, but which has been revealed by the Spirit to them (Ro 16:25; 1Co 2:7-10), in a pure conscience (1Ti 1:5, 19). ("Pure," that is, in which nothing base or foreign is intermixed [Tittmann]). Though deacons were not ordinarily called on to preach (Stephen and Philip are not exceptions to this, since it was as evangelists, rather than as deacons, they preached), yet as being office-bearers in the Church, and having much intercourse with all the members, they especially needed to have this characteristic, which every Christian ought to have.
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