1 Timothy 3:14
These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
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(14) These things write I unto thee.—“These things” probably referred only to the directions respecting the special qualification to be sought for in candidates for the office of the overseers (presbyters) and deacons.

Hoping to come unto thee shortly.—The participle here has a concessive form, “though I hope,” &c. “I write these special urgent directions to you, though my hope is that I shall be with you sooner than such detailed instructions presuppose.”

1 Timothy 3:14-16. These things — Concerning the character of persons fit to be intrusted with the office of bishops or deacons; I write, hoping to come to thee shortly — It seems evident from hence, that Paul intended to have come back to Timothy at Ephesus in a little time, but was providentially called another way; but, as Doddridge observes, it can by no means be concluded from hence that Paul wrote this epistle to Timothy after his imprisonment at Rome. But if I tarry long — If I am hindered from coming, I give thee these instructions in the mean time; that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself — That is, how to discharge thy office properly; (which is the scope of the whole epistle;) in the house of God — In which thou hast the honour to bear so high an office, even in that house, or family, which is the church of the living God — Where he is worshipped in spirit and in truth by his believing people, manifests his special presence, and bestows peculiar blessings. The tabernacle first, and afterward the temple, obtained the name of the house or habitation of God, because there the symbol of the divine presence resided, 1 Samuel 1:7; Matthew 21:13; Matthew 23:38. But under the gospel dispensation no material building or temple is called the house of God. That appellation is given only to the church of God, or to those societies of men who profess to believe in Christ, and join together in worshipping God according to the gospel form. The pillar and ground — Or support, as εδραιωμα signifies; of the truth — That is, of the whole system of gospel truth. “Some commentators think Timothy is called, in this passage, the pillar and support of the truth, for the same reason that Peter, James, and John are called pillars, (Galatians 2:9,) and that the particle ως, as, should be supplied before these words, and the clause translated thus: That thou mayest know how thou ought to behave thyself, as the pillar and support of the truth in the church, of the living God. But, not to insist on the harshness and irregularity of this construction, it must be observed, that seeing the interpretation of the passage hath been much contested, a word, which entirely changes the apostle’s meaning, should by no means be inserted in the text on mere conjecture, because in that manner the Scriptures may be made to speak any thing which bold critics please.” — Macknight. According to the common reading, the church of God is evidently here called the pillar and support of truth. And since the apostle must be understood as speaking, not of any particular falsely pretended, fallen, or corrupt church, but of the true, genuine, catholic church, or, as he expresses himself, the church of the living God, consisting of all the true churches of Christ throughout the world, and comprehending all true believers and lovers of God, all who hold the mystery of faith in a pure conscience; (1 Timothy 3:9;) this church, so constituted, may with perfect propriety be termed the pillar and support of the truth, as preserving, from age to age, the Holy Scriptures, which attest the truth, and as always believing and maintaining the great fundamental articles of the Christian faith. Bengelius, however, and many others, adopt a different reading, so far as to end the sentence with the church of the living God, and to begin the next with the words following, thus: The mystery of godliness is the pillar and ground of truth, and confessedly a great thing. And this reading is approved by Witsius, Whitby, Doddridge, Wesley, and many other eminent commentators. According to this interpretation, by the mystery of godliness we are to understand that wonderful and sublime doctrine which is revealed in the gospel, and immediately specified in six articles, which sum up the whole economy of Christ upon earth.

God was manifest in the flesh — Namely, the Word that was in the beginning with God, and was God, was incarnated, (John 1:14,) in the human nature of Jesus, conceived by a miracle in the womb of the virgin, and born of her, to whom, therefore, the divine names of God, Lord, and Jehovah, are repeatedly given in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments; as also the divine titles of the true God, 1 John 5:20; God over all blessed for ever, Romans 9:5; Jehovah of hosts, Isaiah 8:13-14; Hosea 12:5; the Lord of glory, 1 Corinthians 2:8; the Holy One and Just, and the Prince of life, Acts 3:14-15; the first and last, Revelation 1:17. To him divine attributes are ascribed; omnipresence, Matthew 18:20; omnipotence, Php 3:21; omniscience, Revelation 2:23. And divine works, namely, those of creation, John 1:3; preservation, Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3; redemption and salvation, passim, and judging all mankind at the last day, Matthew 25:31-32, &c. And to him, as we have very often seen in the course of these notes, divine worship was frequently paid by those divinely-inspired persons, who could not be mistaken, particularly in a matter so momentous. He was manifested in the form of a servant, in the fashion of a man, for thirty-three years, his divine glory frequently breaking forth through the veil of his humanity, especially in the wisdom of his discourses, in the power of his miracles, in the holiness of his spotless life, and in his unspeakable and never-ceasing benevolence, beneficence, and other divine virtues, and in a peculiar manner when he was transfigured on the holy mount, 2 Peter 1:16-17. Justified in the Spirit — The Lord Jesus appeared on earth in all the infirmity and frailty of mortal flesh, poor, despised, persecuted, and at last put to death as a blasphemer; yet he professed and maintained a high claim, the highest possible, even that of being the Messiah, the Son of God in a peculiar sense, and one with his Father, John 8:58; John 10:30; John 10:36. Now how could he be justified in making this claim? He was justified in, or by, the Spirit — Namely, the Holy Ghost; 1st, That Spirit had moved holy men of old, (2 Peter 1:21,) to utter many predictions concerning him, and these were all exactly fulfilled in him. 2d, The Spirit descended upon him in a visible form at his baptism, and pointed him out as the person, whom the voice from heaven declared to be God’s beloved Son; and this Spirit he possessed without measure in its gifts and graces, as his doctrine, life, and miracles showed. 3d, By this Spirit he was raised from the dead, (1 Peter 3:18,) and thereby powerfully demonstrated to be the Son of God, Romans 1:4. 4th, He baptized his disciples with this Spirit, particularly on the day of pentecost, according to the prediction of the Baptist, (Matthew 3:11,) and his own often-repeated promise, and thereby convinced of sin those that did not believe in him, whether Jews or Gentiles, and showed them to be inexcusable in resisting such evidence; giving full proof, at the same time, that he himself was righteous, John 16:7-10.

Seen of angels — However regardless men might be of this astonishing mystery, this manifestation of God in the flesh, the angels viewed it with deep and constant attention and great interest, as a most astonishing and instructive spectacle, more mysterious than any work of creation, or dispensation of providence, and giving them such views of their Maker’s justice and grace, and especially of his love, as they had not had before, 1 Peter 1:12. Accordingly they worshipped him at his entrance into the world, Hebrews 1:6; celebrated his birth, Luke 2:9-13; ministered to him in the desert, Matthew 4:11; and in his agonies, Luke 2:43; were present at his resurrection and ascension, Luke 24:4; Acts 1:103:14-16 The church is the house of God; he dwells there. The church holds forth the Scripture and the doctrine of Christ, as a pillar holds forth a proclamation. When a church ceases to be the pillar and ground of truth, we may and ought to forsake her; for our regard to truth should be first and greatest. The mystery of godliness is Christ. He is God, who was made flesh, and was manifest in the flesh. God was pleased to manifest himself to man, by his own Son taking the nature of man. Though reproached as a sinner, and put to death as a malefactor, Christ was raised again by the Spirit, and so was justified from all the false charges with which he was loaded. Angels ministered to him, for he is the Lord of angels. The Gentiles welcomed the gospel which the Jews rejected. Let us remember that God was manifest in the flesh, to take away our sins, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These doctrines must be shown forth by the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly - That is, he hoped to come there to give instructions personally, or to finish, himself, the work which he had commenced in Ephesus, and which had been interrupted by his being driven so unexpectedly away. This verse proves that the apostle Paul did not regard Timothy as the permanent diocesan bishop of Ephesus. Would any Episcopal bishop write this to another bishop? If Timothy were the permanent prelate of Ephesus, would Paul have intimated that he expected soon to come and take the work of completing the arrangements there into his own hands? In regard to his expectation of going soon to Ephesus, see the notes on 1 Timothy 1:3; compare the Introduction to the Epistle. 14. write I … hoping—that is, "though I hope to come unto thee shortly" (1Ti 4:13). As his hope was not very confident (1Ti 3:15), he provides for Timothy's lengthened superintendence by giving him the preceding rules to guide him. He now proceeds to give more general instructions to him as an evangelist, having a "gift" committed to him (1Ti 4:14).

shortly—Greek, "sooner," namely, than is presupposed in the preceding directions given to him. See my [2473]Introduction on this verse. This verse best suits the theory that this First Epistle was not written after Paul's visit and departure from Ephesus (Ac 19:1-20:38) when he had resolved to winter at Corinth after passing the summer in Macedonia (1Co 16:6), but after his first imprisonment at Rome (Ac 28:17-31); probably at Corinth, where he might have some thoughts of going on to Epirus before returning to Ephesus [Birks].

I being now in Macedonia, or at Athens, or some parts thereabouts, have wrote to thee whom I left at Ephesus these precepts about the officers of churches, not being sure I shall, but hoping myself soon to come to Ephesus unto thee; which yet he did not, as we read, for he met Timothy at Troas, Acts 20:5.

These things write I unto thee,.... Concerning the offices of bishops and deacons, their several qualifications, and the rules of judging of persons fit for such service:

hoping to come unto thee shortly; at Ephesus. He could not tell whether he could come or not, and therefore makes no promise, but hoped he should; and since it was uncertain, he thought fit to write the above things for his instruction and use.

{6} These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:

(6) Paul purposing to add many particular things pertaining to the daily office of a pastor, speaks first a word or two concerning his coming to Timothy, that he should be so much the more careful, lest at his coming he might be reproved of negligence.

1 Timothy 3:14-15. The apostle has come here to a resting-point, since he has brought to an end his instructions regarding some of the chief points to be noticed in the affairs of the church; but, before passing to any new matter, he casts a glance back on the instructions he has given, and tells what was the occasion of his giving them.

ταῦτά σοι γράφω] Bengel’s explanation: “ταῦτα, i.e. totam epistolam,” in which Hofmann agrees,[136] is so far right, that ΤΑῦΤΑ refers rather to the instructions that precede (from 1 Timothy 2:1 onward).

ἘΛΠΊΖΩΝ ἘΛΘΕῖΝ ΠΡΌς ΣΕ ΤΆΧΙΟΝ] ἘΛΠΊΖΩΝ does not give the real (“hoping,” Matthies), but the adversative ground (Leo: Part. ἘΛΠΊΖΩΝ per ΚΑΊΠΕΡ seu similem particulam esse resolvendum, nexus orationis docet; so, too, Wiesinger, van Oosterzee, Plitt). The real ground is given by the following ἽΝΑ. Hofmann asserts, but does not prove, that this view does not accord with the following ΔΈ. Hofmann finds that ἘΛΠΊΖΩΝ only expresses an accompaniment of the act of writing, and that it was added “lest Timothy should infer from the sending of an epistle that the apostle meant to leave him for some time in Ephesus;” but in this he imports a motive of which the context furnishes no hint.

ΤΆΧΙΟΝ (comp. on this form, Winer, p. 67 [E. T. p. 81]; Buttmann, p. 24) is here taken by most expositors as a pure positive “soon;” the comparative sense (according to Winer, pp. 227 f. [E. T. p. 304]), though in the background, has not wholly disappeared: “sooner” (not “than the arrival of this letter,” or “than thou wilt have need of these instructions,” Winer) “than is or was to be expected.”

In spite of this hope, the apostle’s arrival might possibly be longer delayed, and this possibility had induced him to impart his instructions by writing, lest Timothy should be without them.

ἘᾺΝ ΔῈ ΒΡΑΔΎΝΩ (the verb only here and at 2 Peter 3:9), ἽΝΑ ΕἸΔῇς Πῶς ΔΕῖ ἘΝ ΟἼΚῼ ΘΕΟῦ ἈΝΑΣΤΡΈΦΕΣΘΑΙ] Πῶς ΔΕῖ ἈΝΑΣΤΡΈΦΕΣΘΑΙ refers not so much to the Christian life in general, as to behaviour in church life, viz. in divine service and in church arrangements. This limitation is clearly indicated by the connection with what precedes, the ΤΑῦΤΑ referring us back (in opposition to Hofmann). Its subject is either Timothy, in which case ΣΈ is to be supplied (Luther: “how thou shouldst walk;” so, too, Wiesinger), or no definite subject should be supplied: “how one should walk.”[137] Both explanations are possible in language and in fact; but the second may be preferred, because Paul in the preceding part (to which ταῦτα refers) did not say what Timothy was to do, but what arrangements were to prevail in the church; Hofmann thinks differently, as he understands ταῦτα of the whole epistle. The expression οἶκος Θεοῦ denotes properly the temple at Jerusalem (Matthew 21:13), then also the O. T. people as the church in which God had His dwelling (Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5); in Christian usage it is the N. T. people in whom the dwelling of God has been fully realized; Hebrews 3:6 (Hebrews 10:21); 1 Peter 4:17; synonymous with it are the expressions: κατοικητήριον Θεοῦ, Ephesians 2:22; ναὸς Θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16.

To elucidate the symbolic expression, Paul adds: ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία Θεοῦ ζῶντος] The pronoun ἥτις (= “seeing it”) makes the explanatory sentence emphatic, by indicating why there should be such behaviour in the house of God as Paul had prescribed (which Hofmann denies); and the reason is not simply that it is an ἐκκλησία, i.e. a church, and as such has necessarily certain definite ordinances, but still more definitely because it is a church of God, of the living God, who as such esteems highly His ordinances in His church.

There follow in simple apposition the words: στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας] These words are in apposition to ἐκκλησία Θ. ζ., and as such are rightly explained by the older[138] and most of recent commentators (Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Beza, Mack, Matthies, de Wette, Wiesinger, Hofmann; now, too, by van Oosterzee, 3d ed.[139]). Some Protestant commentators, however, influenced by their polemic against the Catholic idea of the church, have taken these words as the beginning of the following sentence (first, in the edition of the N. T. at Basel, 1540, 1545; later, Bengel, Mosheim, Heydenreich, Matt; formerly also van Oosterzee). The reasons against this construction are—(1) That the new thought would be taken up in a very abrupt and sudden manner, while by connecting it with the previous words, the train of thought is suitable and natural; (2) That “grammatically the third defining term, simply adjectival, ὉΜΟΛ. ΜΈΛΑ, cannot well be placed in co-ordination with two predicates like ΣΤΎΛΟς and ἙΔΡΑΊΩΜΑ” (Wiesinger, following Schleiermacher); and (3) That, whereas ΤῸ Τῆς ΕὐΣΕΒΕΊΑς ΜΥΣΤΉΡΙΟΝ is nothing else than the ἈΛΉΘΕΙΑ, this construction would make the former designate the latter as ΣΤΎΛΟς ΚΑῚ ἙΔΡ., which would clearly be unsuitable. There is manifestly nothing to be said for the opinion of some commentators,[140] that by στ. κ. ἑδρ. we are to understand Timothy.[141]

ΣΤΎΛΟς in the figurative sense occurs only here and at Galatians 2:9; Revelation 3:12. The ΟἾΚΟς ΘΕΟῦ is called ΣΤΎΛΟς Τῆς ἈΛΗΘΕΊΑς, inasmuch as the pillar supports and bears the roof resting on it (see Meyer on Galatians 2:9), but not “inasmuch as it serves to elevate something and make it manifest” (Hofmann). The same idea is expressed by the second word: ἙΔΡΑΊΩΜΑ, the base, foundation (similarly ΘΕΜΈΛΙΟς, 2 Timothy 2:19), a word which is only used here in the N. T. The thought that the divine truth is supported and borne by the church, has nothing startling when we remember that the church, as the ΟἾΚΟς ΘΕΟῦ, has the Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of truth; the Spirit of truth, therefore, is its indwelling, all-penetrating principle of life, by which it stands in closest communion with its head.[142] But if the church is set up to be the preserver of divine truth, it is all the more important that all should be well-ordered in it. These words stand, therefore, in close connection with what precedes; but, at the same time, they make the transition to what follows, where the apostle in a few brief characteristics gives the nature of the truth, that he may from this point return to his polemic against the heretics, and continue it further.

[136] Hofmann’s assertion, that the reference of ταῦτα to what precedes is forbidden by the present γράφω (for which we should have had ἔγραφα), is contradicted by 1 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Galatians 1:20; also by 1 John 2:1.

[137] The impersonal δεῖ is usually joined with the accusative and infinitive, the infinitive denoting the thing, the accusative the person who must do the action expressed by the verb. More frequently the person is not named, but is easily supplied from the context, as e.g. in Matthew 23:23, where ὑμᾶς, in Luke 12:12, where again ὑμᾶς, and in Luke 15:32, where σέ is to be supplied. Hofmann is therefore wrong in asserting that there is no linguistic justification for supplying σέ here, where εἰδῇς precedes. Sometimes, however, δεῖ refers to no particular person; so John 4:20 : ὅπου προσκυνεῖν δεῖ; Acts 5:29 : πειθαρχεῖν δεῖ Θεῷ; Acts 15:5 : δεῖ περιτέμνειν αὐτούς; Titus 1:11 : οὓς δεῖ ἐπιστομέζειν; the δεῖ in that case corresponds to the English “one must.” It is arbitrary, with Hofmann, to supply τινά here, and understand by it one who “has to govern a house of God.”

[138] Theodore of M. rightly says: ἐκκλησίας οὐ τοὺς οἴκους λέγει τοὺς εὐκτηρίους κατὰ τὴν τῶν πολλῶν συνήθειαν, ἀλλὰ τῶν πιστῶν τὸν σύλλογον, ὅθεν καὶ στύλον αὐτὴν καὶ ἑδραίωμα τ. ἀλ. ἐκάλεσεν, ὡς ἂν ἐν αὐτῇ τῆς ἀληθείας τὴν σύστασιν ἐχούσης.

[139] Van Oosterzee is, however, inclined to conjecture that “there is here a corruption of the text which cannot now be restored with certainty.”

[140] Gregory of Nyssa (de Vita Mosis): οὐ μόνον Πέτρος καὶ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης στῦλοι τῆς ἐκκλησίας εἰσιὁ θεῖος ἀπόστολος καὶ τὸν Τιμόθεον στύλον καλὸν ἐτεκτήνατο, ποιήσας αὐτὸν, καθὼς φησὶ τῇ ἰδίᾳ φωνῇ, στύλον καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἐκκλησίας.

[141] Though Chrysostom construes rightly, he yet inverts the meaning of the sentence: οὐχ ὡς ἐκεῖνος ὁ Ἰουδαικὸς οἶκος θ., τοῦτο γάρ ἐστι τὸ συνέχον τὴν πίστιν καὶ τὸ κήρυγμα· ἡ γὰρ ἀλήθειά ἐστι τῆς ἐκκλησίας καὶ στύλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα.

[142] Wiesinger rightly calls attention to the distinction which should be made between “the truth as it is in itself, and the truth as it is acknowledged in the world,” and then says: “in the former respect it needs no support, but bears itself; in the latter, it needs the church as its support, as its bearer and preserver.” If the Catholic Church has drawn wrong conclusions from the apostle’s words, it has itself to blame, and not the apostle.

1 Timothy 3:14-16. These general directions will serve you as a guide in the administration of the Church until you see me. Your charge is one of transcendent importance. The Church is no human institution: it is the household of God, and also the means whereby the power of the Incarnation is available for man’s use.

14–16. The importance of these directions based on the character of the Church and its Head

14. to come unto thee shortly] The comparative adverb if retained will have the force given by Fairbairn ‘more speedily than I at one time thought or than would seem to call for more detailed communications,’ cf 2 Timothy 1:18, ‘very well,’ lit. ‘better than I need say.’ Westcott and Hort however with Lachmann follow mss. ACD in reading the substantive and preposition ‘with speed.’ As to the supposed inconsistency of this intention with Acts 20:25; Acts 20:38, St Paul certainly there bids the Elders of Ephesus farewell, saying that they will ‘see his face no more.’ But circumstances alter cases. The Spirit did not give him definite knowledge of what would befall him in every place; and it is sufficient to say that at the time he was expecting bonds and possible martyrdom and was impressed with the belief, a mistaken one, that he would not return.

1 Timothy 3:14. Ταῦτα, these things) The whole epistle.—ἐλπίζων, hoping) Paul, however, did not put off necessary admonitions.—ἐλθεῖν, to come) ch. 1 Timothy 4:13.

Verse 14. - To come unto thee; to Ephesus, where Timothy was (1 Timothy 1:3). 1 Timothy 3:14Shortly (ἐν τάχει)

The adverbial phrase once in Paul, Romans 16:20 : only here in Pastorals. Several times in Luke and Acts, and twice in Revelation.

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